Friday, 29 April 2011

Archbishop of Canterbury in gold

What glamour! And what a beautiful frock! Rarely have I him look so classy -it was definitely Rowan Williams day.

Bob and I spent the day on the beach at Narbonne so I don't know how Mavis's street party went. There were three gendarmes having a cigarette outside the Maire this morning. Fear they were expecting trouble.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Thérèse Camelin née Bieules

Thérèse will be cremated in Paris tomorrow at Père Lachaise, 11.30a.m.; her ashes will subsequently be buried next to her husband Pierre.

Messages can be left for the family at

lunch with Andrée

Andrée offered to take me and the Captain to lunch; we went to Le Canal, often seen (on the corner at the crossroads at Quillan, next door to Annie and Petes), always assumed to be shut.
It's classic french stuff, in decor and service. The food is fabulous. I had a fish souffle in a lobster sauce to start, slices of duck in orange sauce next; perfect slabs of Roquefort and Camembert followed by warm banana in carmelised chocolate sauce with a special ice-cream. We drank a very delicious Corbieres.
Can just about waddle now.

Other news; here is dear Bieke leaving us again but only for three weeks. (Shes actually flying to Ghent, not cycling -)
and below, an historic meeting in Sundays market when Andy and Louise introduced little James to Titas baby, now 20 days old; watched by many friends and family going oooooww

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

International news

Our unnaturally clever Marcus writes:

"I'm pleased to announce the publication of my new book on the early life of Claude Cahun.

The French surrealist photographer and writer Claude Cahun (née Lucy Schwob, 1894-1954) spent a year at Parsons Mead School, Ashtead, England during 1907-1908.

This book examines newly-discovered material and writings from that period of her life.

Paperback book

PDF download

Marcus Williamson

Congratulations to Marcus - an important contribution to our knowledge of Claude Cahun, a neglected artist massively ahead of the game.

Our own Iain has written from Edinburgh; Ive been trying to cut and paste his engaging letter but failed, dunno why. The gist is that for the first time in his long and lustrous life he is living alone and discovers that it suits him; Edinburgh, whilst cold, has its compensations.

His letter is far more amusing than that precis! Will try in another blog to post it.

Also failed to copy Kat's beautiful pictures of the Festival of Hermits in Tilling on Sunday.

Any techies out there at a loose end?

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Shocking news

Therese Camelin
22 September 1939 - 22 April 2011

Therese died last night - incredibly, that little dynamo is still.

Those that knew her will be shocked. I spoke with her on Monday. Her very husky voice was as ever. She was recovering from a virus but marshaled her thoughts as she dealt with the news I had rung to give her, at the request of Gilbert Toustou;
the untimely death of his son.

It was Gilbert who rang me tonight, uncertain that the news of Therese's death was true - I rang Sophie, her daughter, whose voice confirmed it before I had to ask.

Therese's heart gave out in the night.

Therese was my first french friend. She and Mimi were cleaning the yard at Mimi's house - since sold to Leo and Toby - and I was painting in what was then a ruin, the bones of the house in the Impasse du Dr Duffour. Therese and I would smile at each other and (emboldened by Mimi's embarrassment), she eventually called out to me to come for an apero.

Therese and I often chatted subsequently about how we recognised each other as friends. We had a great deal in common and enjoyed sharing our experiences.

One day we were driving to Paris and as we past a sign to St Maur I asked her to get a move on as that was the name of my school. She nearly crashed. There are two Convents of St Maurs; mine in Weybridge, Surrey and the other in Toulouse - where Therese was educated.

Therese kept her large and stylish house in Esperaza but spent more and more time in her Paris apartment after her daughter gave her grandchildren. She wanted to be near them. She adored them wholeheartedly. We all missed her and her crazy evenings, where apero was the rule followed by pizza from T Rex or someone of the party getting hungry enough to cook.

She befriended many of us Brits. Her family are an old and honoured one in these parts and her adoption of us eased our integration into this community.

She will be buried in Paris next to her much-missed husband.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

blackbirds and lady painters

The blackbirds in the courtyard are doing a bit better so far this year, fingers crossed.

Last year the magpie ate the eggs and the year before they raised a solitary cuckoo.

Here are three babies: we spend a lot of time tiptoeing past them and listening for alarm calls in case the magpie is back. Nerve wracking.

Anyone know anything about the pic below? Ive carried it around for years, can't remember where or when it appeared. Obviously it is of interest because it has girl painters even if they are only stroking a frock, watched by St Anthony of Padua (=monk holding child) and the very masculine portrait looking like Lord Leighton. The clothes look foreign but the backing of the print is English - and of an age -

You can see it better by clicking on image. All info welcomed.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Katherines first film

Katherines first film is of the Toques et Clochers at Limoux last weekend.

If you are of these parts, you will see many familiar faces...
if not, you will enjoy our region and atmosphere.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Welcome Sanaa

Here's Tita and Sanaa - Sanaa underwhelmed by todays market, which was loud and frisky as one might suspect on a sunny spring Sunday. Tita is well and the babe adorable.

Below is a sign from the Cantina. Someone made it to the Toques et Cloches then.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

country life

This handsome beast now lives in the field under my bedroom
window -

Good news and bad news. Good is that the Captain arrives today
for 2 weeks. Bad is that the little restaurant up by the Maison de
Chapeliers is closing this weekend.
The bank are pulling just before the season starts.

On their facebook page they have written;

Voila le schmilblick ferme ses portes definitivement nous tenions

a remercier tout les gens sans qui cette avanture n'aurait pas pu

etre possible nous avons fait de belles rencontres et avons vecu de

bons moment malheureusement tout s'arete par le bon vouloir

d'une seule personne(le directeur de la banque)bien que notre

chiffre d'affaire augmente chaque année ce monsieur malgrés

sa grande intelligence n'a pas juger utile de nous augmenter

un petit decouvert et a préférer nous assassiner avec des frais

de banque .J'epere que ce monsieur est fiere de lui il a reussi

a couler des petits commerçants.

Voila.......Nous nous devions de vous expliquer notre depart .

Merci à tous pour votre fidelité au schmilblick pendant ses

deux ça été un plaisir pour nous

Banks, eh. Dontcha love 'em.

Anyone make it to the Toques et Clochers? I was too knackered.
Reports as and when -

El of a night

Says it all, really -El is entering the wonderful world of grown-ups
with grace and beauty, style and panache -

Terrific party. I remember knighting Stuart but I'm not sure on
whose authority - my own, probably.

Before the party was the prize-giving among the artists at the
Toques et Clochers, held this year in Limoux; Victoria Milroy
won a major prize, a sack of money and a Jeroboam of blanquette.
(Not sure if it was a jeroboam actually- I just like the word,
sounds biblical - but its BIG)
Hurrah for Victoria!!!!

T and C have a WikiP page now so I wont try and attempt to
explain in again - this is the third year its been blogged, so see to try and
understand its role in our community.

Young Ezra, Kate and Marks boychild, also won a prize which is
a bit worrying - no-one wants their kid to take art as a career.
Lets hope it doesn't turn his head in that direction. will doubtless carry
more info.

It was crowed inside so Matthew Hilton and his friend took to
the courtyard. There was talk of art and meaning...

... dear to my heart as I had spent the day in the top of the garage,
repacking 40 years of unsold paintings prior to their move to new
Hideously depressing though some sweet surprises, as in this
portrait of my old friend Frank B. Wright, painted in the 1980's
-Frank must be in his '90's now and is still painting and exhibiting.
Maybe he knows why. Must ask.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

masks illegal

Now that France has banned the burka by way of making it illegal to cover your face in public, what happens to the masked carnivalists at Limoux and beyond, as in pic below?

News: Tita has been delivered of a baby girl - more when I get to visit her over the bridge - Phil is tucked into his stylish black Morgan and driven off to London - all now calm at Tilling Towers - Max is back, Scottish Dave and Ell are back, Bieke arrives tonight Sally, Petes daughter, is visiting with the kids

The sun is back -

Oh and journos from the News of the World have been to Fa to seek news of the 'orrible twins who have been arrested.

Sunday, 10 April 2011


Yesterday, took Phil, Capt H.'s brother, to Limoux to meet the
president Elfish Sarko at the festival;and afterwards to Rennes les Bains to say hi to Marvi and her
daughter Sophia

Saturday, 9 April 2011


Here are Andrees Peonies, with herself and two Harrises...

Theres been a lot happening while I was away. Turns out that two
twins, Brits, of the region are wanted by Interpol for deeply
heinous crimes and have been caught. The locals are shocked, as
are we all; one of them has been living in Tilling behind the Mairee
but is currently under lock and key awaiting extradition.

And on a literary note, you might to know that Kate Moss, her of
Labyrinth and erm something else fame, is currently working on
a novel about the WW2 women Resistance fighters of Couiza.
Can't wait.
...Monique gripped the grenade between her teeth. As she
straightened her beret, she noticed that the Saltz was running a
little fast. Was that a basket swirling in its eddies? She reached to
the balustrade to control her dizziness. Surley - it couldn't be -
as she gasped in surprise the grenade fell from between her lips

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Home in Tilling

I'm back and just to prove Ive been away here
are some pictures -

In St Gallen at this time of year they make little crowns of onions
and hang them off trees...

whilst in Prague they festoon them with ribbons.

I dunno why.

In Tilling all is sunshine and blossom and Kat assures me that
nothing has happened which means there's something she isn't
telling me, probably.

Below is something my siblings will recognise; a model of the brain
that used to sit on our fathers desk. Its now in a Swiss museum.

Perhaps we should make little models of brains and hang them
off trees? - hmm, quite like that -