Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Chateau Rushton

Chateau Rushton at St Jean le Bec was the scene
of tonights smashing dinner; Frankie,
Rushtons daughter and Jo (above), aided by the able
Tom, did the cooking - leaving the
aged and jaded to catch up with each other.

Actually its only Rushton that is jaded-
splendidly so -
Clare always looks fab.

A wonderful and charmed evening, where Helen
enjoyed meeting our friends... thanks guys.

Helens here!

Helen arrived yesterday so we ate at the Café de
la Gare and got waylaid by Robin and the Scottish
Dave freres plus Peter G...and Robin dragged in Mat,
an innocent bystander,

and despite Yves keeping us drinking till late

we went back to PeterG's and sorted out the world.
Actually we did, really. Mat has some xcellent notions.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Annie and Petes Christmas party


Lorraine has been in England for her mothers
Everyone I've spoken to in the market this morning
sends sympathy.
Much love to you dear one xxxxxxxx

PeterG Xmas

Peter's Chrismas report follows... anyone else want
to spill the beans on theirs? Please send!

From a general feeling that I have nothing better to
do, it was decided to have Crizy dinner here at no. 24.
I was delighted to get plenty of help from our friends
from the North - Joan (north USA) Ole-Bendik &Eileen
(Norway) and Katrina (Devon (northish)- in acquiring
and decorating a "Sapine de Noel".

[Plse imagine a beautiful xmas tree here -
unable to transfer image. Ed.]

The day itself started sedately with Blanquette at 2ish
then people started to arrive and much to my relief it
became not so sedate. I'm told that somebody even fell
off a chair, I don't think it was me. [I heard she was pushed,

The food was great thanks to Eileen, Joan and Katrina and
a surprise dish ( curried Moules ) from Stephan who I
vaguely remember talking to about poofs on motorbikes
but we both agreed that I was referring to straight poofs
not gay poofs (it made sense at the time). Jim, Ian, Ferren
plus 5 friends from the USA contributed much to the general
mayhem and later Father Christmas arrived with his wife
Annie, son Theo and one small reindeer ( don't mention
And then some of us went for a walk.
Thanks everybody for making me and my house happy.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

robins nest

Robin and Jennifer's Christmas lunch party...

Scottish Dave and family made it in the
early hours despite the snow and
despite thinking they wouldn't get here-

Louise was VERY good, honest -

Stuart Douglas also - despite the shocking news that
his Glasgow apartment has been burnt out last night;
what elan, to carry on despite the heartache and

Me and my friend Jules helped le debate entre
les deux cultures, vrai de vrai -

and heaven knows what Victoria and Barbara
are plotting.

Voila, Robin gets his own back on the Poste -

and this little rogue has a wonderful time!

-As do we all.
Bravo, la Famile Edwards-
for both courage and panache.

Snow Lily

yesterday morning, it started snowing - this morning there are a couple of inches.
Lily loves it...

Steve rang from elsewhere last night for all the gossip that's unfit to publish; he sends love to all and hopes to be here with Jezza in Jan. I rang Thérèse in Paris, where the sun is brilliant - she sends kisses to all her friends.
I think PeterG should send a report of the Christmas day party, Pete??Hmm?

Thursday, 25 December 2008

christmas day in the haute valley

Started the day with a walk above Rennes le Chateau
beautiful clear day with sun on the snow in the mountains...

...and the mist clearing over Coustaussa.

Then home for breakfast and for Lily to open her pressies.

Shes so clever.
We have been resolutely lazy and wish all our friends a happy christmas!
Be out again tomorrow, I expect.

crimbo night

Christmas Eve in the Café de la Gare in Quillan....
Stan and out hostess shakin their thangs

The captain avoiding oysters and
introducing one of several visiting

Made some new friends and
generally had a fine soirée.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

glorious day

The battle for the championship of Languedoc
started with apero at the MJC and moved onto
a splendid lunch, thanks to Robin who organised
it - here he is illustrating a finer point to Sue and
Victoria -

and here are me and Stephen artfully
portrayed in Philippe's sunglasses.

After the very good lunch Stephen and I
tipped down to the match, against
Montreal and mercifully at home. Thats
why the back road was blocked for the
afternoon -cars just abandoned by the

It was a needle match, it seems, since
Montreal have beaten us before. If you
click on this pic and big it up you can see
affectionate way they tug at each others
shirts -

I've never mastered the subtleties
of rugger though I enjoy watching
men run around as much as the next
girl: having eaten a deal of lunch I
walked home for what is called in Tilling
a DoDo. A bit of a kip.

Robin and Jennifer gave me and PeterG
a lift to the mountains for Angus and
Marys solstice and joint birthday party.
All our friends were there - mega big and
excellent event! Stan played cello, some
boys guitar; the food and drink were fab.
As PeterG remarked, Angus and Mary must
have some pull to get so many people to come
to such a remote spot. Vraiment.
(I think he meant that they are much loved)

Enormous fun - thanks to all -
and on getting home found the
Ruggerists celebrating their win,
urinating copiously in the impasse,
hurrah for the championship!

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Crimbo commencent

Big big thanks to Martin for getting a Christmas tree -
the last in the Aude, probably - and to Ali for a stonking
lunch. Why did I forget my camera? -Not enough carbs!!

And* IMPORTANT *please note: Annie has asked me to
announce the Bowyers Christmas Party will be on the
28th December. Shes worried that she won't get to see everyone
to invite them in time. So, you are invited. No need to ring
and check that you are still acceptable after your last ghastly
faux pas: all is forgiven, please come. Bring bottle and plate.

trumpet blowing

As anyone who knows me will affirm,
I am a shy and retiring sort.

But when- yesterday - wrestling with a
moment of difficulty in a painting, I
threw a few darts and came up with the
above, I was sure the waiting world
would want to know.

2 darts in the 25 and one splitting a dart.
Rotten score but great style!

I showed the photo round at dinner in
Quillan with Annie and Pete and family
plus Peter G.; it seemed to me there was
a lack of appreciation.

Notwithstanding, the evening was terrific -
Annies cooking and company and the family
were entertaining and engaging, as ever.
Even their pets are fun!

Friday, 19 December 2008

pre-xmas excitement...

Pre-Xmas excitement? -There isn't any.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Nostalgic nosh

Tonight had a lovely dinner at Impasse du Dr
Duffour: two Tims, Jane, Yvonne and Pete.
It was a mega nostalgia nosh evening...
highly sophisticated.
Prawn cocktail, Chicken Kiev and Black Forest
Gateau, or similar. We drank Rivesault and Mucat
because we couldn't get sherry; Lambrusca, briefly,
until we opened the Corbiers; Blanquette (in preference
to Champagne) for the pudding. Snuck in salad and
cheese, but not even nostalgia is what it was...
thanks to Yvonne, all rounded off with after eight mints.
Thanks for everything, team. Really enjoyed it.

I've been trying to upload a video of the Fournil bakers
window display in Rue Voltaire - the fully mechanised
snow scene and the bambi, owl and fox tableau - ahhh-
but clearly this computer is copyright sensitive. Bah.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

meeting the mayor

This may not be coherent as I've just had a large rum
cocktail. There is something about meetings in town halls
that makes me on the one hand loose the will to live and
on the other enlivens me to the point of psychopathy.
Notwithstanding, as one of your English reps at the MJC
here is my report:

The mayor complemented us on the new committee.
On having a good constitution and a letter box.

We spent some time working out who was the previous
owner of Kates house but relaxed when it became clear
that it was next door to the house that used to belong to
Mr I'oeufs mother. (I cant spell his name - the director
of the Dinosaur Museum, the one that told me and
Jeremy that our fossils looked like rocks to him)

The Mayor informed us that Animators were essential
to our village (Village?? I think of Tilling as a large town)
And went on about good communications. The problem
at the MJC, is, he said, the photocopier.

Now we all know about this. The deal for the photocopier
was entered into years ago by someone unqualified to sign it,
just when photocopiers were rendered obsolete by scanners,
and paying for it virtually bankrupted the MJC. It was churlish
to mention it. Kate moved the agenda on swiftly by announcing
that the MJC was for everyone.

Today it is like this, said the mayor; what do you plan?
A flurry of talking at once commenced.The only bit that was
memorable was the President saying that something offended
his sensibilities- but I don't know what.

Bit of paper were found and cries of Trés Bien! went up.

Then the serious stuff started.

There are two light bulbs missing at the Salle Louis Albert.
There is not enough Ping Pong kit. Despite the lack of central
heating we must not use the electric fires. We must not store
anything other than metal; fire risk. The security check that
happens every two years discovered the cupboard we all use
to store cloths, paper, material to be full of clothes, paper,
material... woops.
A bad memory at the town hall is not relevant, cried mon
president resourcefully.

After a bit more chatter chiefly about responsibility - especially
the responsibility of those who take children picking morels and
other mushrooms - and where to store skis for the two months
of the year when people ski, we parted.

Much, much older.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

little grey cat

A little grey cat has been found lost behind the Town Hall.
Any claimants?
And now - ahhh - its snowing. Poor little cold hungry
lonely thing.
Don't look at me, my butch dog Lily is terrified of cats.

Just go to the town hall and ask if its been claimed yet....

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Philippes show

Philippe Ripo had an exhibition launch at Carmens in
Campagne-sur-Aude tonight... a grand and glittering expo,
despite the weather.
Nice to see so many artists out; here are Cathy Pech and
Michel Sermet -

- and Mike Hincs, who is currently showing in

Congratulations to Philippe! (and Mike, but we didn't get
invited to the Barcelona show -)

Went to dinner at the Café de la Gare in Tilling after
wards; it still amazes me that it is possible to get a
classy meal in this little town.
The crepes in Grand Marnier are parfait,
especially after saltimbucca, following on from crudites.

blue alien

I have heard of people who think that blue lights that appear on
photos are aliens. I've had then before and can generally explain
them - reflections on glass, for instance. This one, however I
cannot explain. It doesn't occur on the pictures that flank it.

Nor can I explain why an alien would want to hang about on
a pathway above Tilling on a muggy Monday afternoon.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Surprise! Daniel is 50

Daniel came down from the mountain in time for lunch and lo!
His friends and family were
assembled to celebrate his birthday.

He coped well with the shock. We had a smashing lunch, thanks to Alan from the Auberge Faby who did the couscous and the artisanal bakers who did the cake. The salad looked as if it might be carrying messages...... but if so I missed them. Phew, I'm nervous of lettuce after last night.

The piece de resistance though was when the kids got together
and did a slam - they did a tribute for Daniel that had us all
laughing and sniffing rather - Daniel was clearly very moved.

A charming and talented brood - he must have
been thrilled by their show.

So, heres to the next 50 years!!

le carnozet

Since I make my precarious living painting
food and writing captions on the pictures, it was
disturbing to find that last nights lettuce carried
its own message. This tiny slip of paper was in
the salad.
What can it mean? When the food starts addressing you it is only polite to pay attention.

My sleepless night was spend pondering this, though in honesty the sleeplessness may have been caused by over indulging in everything, especially the fantastic cheese fondu.

Le Carnozet is much raised in my estimation.
First time I went there was with Margo; so long
ago that our evening was ruined by cigarette
smoke and I was a vegetarian. Haven't been
back since but went last night with Marcus and his
mate Tim and found it flawless.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

news and plans

Rowena is on the radio on Sunday at 9.30 -
a programme called Rue des Arts, on

Victoria and others are holding
La Petite Expo de Noel
at La Maison des Couleurs,
St Jean de Paracol on Friday 5th -15h - 18.30 h
which gives you time to get to Garths show at
Pecadille, 80 Rue Felix Armand in Quillan, 18h - 20h.
see www.pecadille.com

And a letter from Iain, edited highlights
from which are below;
We had a lovely night on saturday at Molly's
50th birthday party. Lots of people there including
Leo, Toby and Scottish Dave. Toby was up trying
her fancy footwork at Scottish country dancing.
Molly was looking radiant and rather glad to be 50
as indeed would I were I 50 again. It was about
minus six on the night of the party but the city was
awash with rich taxi drivers so all was well. Actually
the weather has been wonderful since I returned,
hardly any rain and lots of cloudless skies, perfect
for walking. I am about to go out and it is another
cloudless day although minus four.
Katrina arrives on Monday and is going to stay with
me in Burntisland.
Steve is taking the day off so it should be fun.
I can't believe that it's nearly Christmas.
I finally gave in and started to organise a family
Christmas here in Burntisland. I had asked Francis
what he was doing for Christmas and he informed me
that it was not him but us which actually meant me.
That means a group of about a dozen people with
whom I never sit down to eat at any other time,
eating food that I normally never prepare and
normally avoid eating. Ah well I suppose as I get
older the idea of a white bearded Caucasian clambering
down my chimney begins to seem better than no one
at all so perhaps it's not all bad.
I think Steve is trying to get out to Esperaza in
January. I think I am more likely to go skiing
but we shall see.

Give my love to all.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Les Toilettes du Pape

Monday night, I was at the Cinéclub in Quillan, with Annie
and Pete and Gus and Micheal and Simona to see Les
Toilettes du Pape; much taken with it all though what
was described as tragécomic turned out to be mostly
tragic. And in Spainish with French subtitles.

-Bare bones; piss poor community in Uruguay gets by
on a bit of smuggling, cycling like mad over the mountains
to Brasil. Vile customs officer makes life miserable.
But help is at hand - the Pope is visiting! There will be
pilgrims to feed and cater for. Our hero builds a toilet.
It ain't that simple of course and it has its moments,
visually rich, but we guessed that the pilgrims
wouldn't buy and that the father of the poor would float
off, indifferent. Everyone looses everything.
But hope springs eternal...

Got home late and switched on to make my report and
wow!! -See entry below.

I was baffled for a moment.
How did Leo and Toby get here??
It took me a while to realise that dear Mr Hall
was FINALLY reporting from elsewhere!

More, Steve, please. I think that there are more
Tillingites in Edinburgh than there are here.

-eh, and lovely to see Scottish Daves sporran...

Monday, 1 December 2008

Esperazanais(e) abroad

It was a great pleasure to welcome Scottish Dave, Elle, Leo and Toby to my place of work in Edinburgh for a rather splendid little lunch. It was very strange seeing Esperazanais in Edinburgh but much fun. Toby has much better photos than me which might follow.

For those who met Molly in Esperaza, you will be amazed to hear that it was her 50th birthday party this weekend and Esperaza was well represented. Here is Scottish Dave at the shindig at Heriot's Rugby Club. I did have one of Molly but its very blurred. Can't imagine why.......

It's very cold here now. If you turn your head you can see my niece, Emily with this year's first snowthing.
Lots of love to all in Esperaza
Steve xx