Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Flying Saucer in Tilling

This alien craft, called Le Bugarach, is available from the bakers in Rue Ellie Sements* for 2 euros and very good too.
Glad that there are signs of cashing in on the end-of-the-world crisis, albiet in a small way.
I have just invented rather a fine cocktail which I'm going to call Sang de L├ęzard. It involves boiling organic lemons with rosemary, adding sugar, freezing and deconstructing using lemon liqueur.
*Una bagetta longa, that one.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

annie at work

Here is Annie in her office, I'Origynal - Pete is outside on his portable having a multi-conference. Its too noisy in the cafe, apparently.
They are off tomorrow, I'm gutted, so much so that I can't even remember where - just, elsewhere, Glasgow, whatever. Back April, they think.

But I'm not alone- Jim has pushed off to Norway and I have his tortoise Oswald in the yard. Doesn't say much but I can chatter enough for two. Lily and the hens are interested in him, not often you see a rock move round here.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

a double lunch

We celebrated the birthdays of Andree and Kat, on a lovely day - with far too much food provided by all comers and possibly not enough wine because we are all old enough to be sensible now.
Here are Andree, Jacquie and Edmunde -

and young Charlie, the life and soul who quickly paired up with Delphine - seen here on hen watch - or getting extra cake ("I NEED cake") off Sian.

Kelly may win the dinkiest prize, seen here with James who can now walk and sweep -

here he is, holding a brush and a small pizza -
and below, bunfight scenes featuring many old friends.

Rather gloriously here are Jacquie, Jill and Lily followed by a selection of garden shots. All can be viewed bigger by clicking on the image.

Missed Hilary, away in England attending to her new grandson (congratulations!) and Max and family, Leo, Toby, the Scottish Daves, Peter D and Claire and a handful of others who will be turning up again in the next month.
So very happy birthdays to Kat and Andree and many more of them -

Community -

Musing in an idle moment on the nature of community, it struck me not for the first time how strange life is here. People of many countries hove up and meld with each other and the French. And having bonded we keep in contact as we come and go across the globe - wonderful, really; heaven knows how or why.
Which is by way of introducing a part of Tobys letter from India;

Update from Agra, in the most heavily populated state of India, Utra Pradesh. This morning we were up at 6 to see the Taj Mahal at sunrise and it still is the most stunning building that I (Jim thought so as well) ever saw. Breathtaking and moving (almost to tears). To morrow we leave for Varanasi, I kept the most Indian-drama-chaos-spiritual-ununderstandable city for the last days. And then already coming home on 28th.

Kat, it will probably pop up at facebook, or through Leo's internet, but already, way in advance, HAPPY BIRTHDAY. I thought it was 25, or maybe 27, or maybe Andree... ?? We'll drink to your health anyway and throw some flowers in the Ganges River.

I already confirmed with Elle that I am coming for Toques et Clochers - arriving around 29th March - and maybe staying some 10 days. Leo was invited for the Pete and Clarie party so now is considering to come as well. Stewart will be back in time from his trip to South India so yes. IT"S PARTY TIME AGAIN. WINTER IS OVER.

Sweethearts, it will be a pleasure seeing you again soon and show you pics of this amazing country, and chat and share experiences and.. well like always,

Love Toby

Yes, indeeedie, its birthdays and parties and spring, hurrah!

Friday, 24 February 2012

annie and pete rebuild the mill

Dinner with Annie and Pete, Toni and Dave at the mill - haven't seen it for a while and it is progressing along the bourgeois path of comfort. Up to a point.
Excellent nosh though.
Here is the bathroom, featuring plastic over the windows - sissy stuff -

and the dry toilet, which is a great pleasure to use in the bathroom de luxe with the sound of the river flowing underneath the window

Here is Annies poem of a few days back when it was cold, extolling the virtues of the new bathroom:
The moon is lovely, silver behind the tree
the temperature in the bedroom is minus 3
l have to go upstairs to pee

Shivering, I climb the broad stairs; - l arrive
in the bathroom,it is less than minus 5
I will survive

Morning: sky blue, snow is sparkling, appeasing
sun and stove have bought the kitchen above freezing
the effect is pleasing

Thursday, 23 February 2012

sightings and meetings

This beautiful Heron photographed by Nel in Quillan -
and here the core of the Association of Galerie K have a meeting and arrange glorious arty things. More anon.
Below, the back of the Dinosaur Museum, by Andrees, featuring newly shorn plane trees.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Tilling nite-life

Kat and I high-tailed it to l'origynal for one apero last night, how disciplined is that, eh - it was great fun, sundry friends were there - here can be seen the work of art in process on the building, plus the restaurant next door that used to be Le Cantou and is now Plan B. It is open Sat nights and by appointment till the season starts.
And the divine Luc!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

News from Scotland and 2 hours south of Paris

Iain has written and as ever, his news and views are highly shareable; though when did he start being concerned about uncomfortable bedfellows?? Has age finally cornered him?

Good day,
And once again it is an absolutely beautiful day. The sun has been shining pretty relentlessly, if not particularly warmly, for a couple of weeks now. It seems a bit odd. We have been watching the weather in the rest of the country and have been warned on numerous occasions that we are next but no, the sun shines on. I, of course, had readied my car with new shoes for the winter which all looks so unnecessary now. Naturally now that I have written this a blizzard will ensue.
I’m regularly tuning in to Gardeners World on the radio to find out when I should be planting my strawberries. I’ve planted fruit bushes, gooseberry, red currant and blackcurrant as well as rhubarb so I’m encouraging friends to hold on to jars so I can fill them with summer goodness. It’s all very therapeutic and quite good fun.
I’ve joined a choir. I expect Annie and Pete will approve. It’s called Loud and Proud, and the sound of chanting lesbians and queens brightens up my Monday evenings. Unfortunately I don’t sight read so learning new parts can be a bit of a chore but I’m getting better. They have about four major concerts a year and I’m hoping to progress enough to be involved. I haven’t sung since I was at school so I wasn’t sure what sort of sound was going to appear as I was a soprano then. Now I am apparently a tenor so I have matured after all.
Just spent the weekend in Fife, celebrating Francis’s partners 30th birthday. Happily I was not the oldest person there. I went to bed about midnight and missed all the dramas. A particularly dreary drunk was hit over the head with a party sized trifle by an equally dreary drunk. Apparently as the the chap slumped to the ground they all seemed to think he was dead. Happily he was just knocked out and I say happily for capital punishment for being a dreary drunk seems a little strong. Still that’s what happens when you stay up after midnight, madness.
The news continues to be financial doom and gloom but to be honest I don’t see much of it here in sunny Edinburgh. The place is till awash with tourists and Steve tells me they have had as busy a year as ever. I’m fully booked with the dogs so I feel pretty insulated.
The current big debate is of course devolution or devo max. It seems to be gaining some momentum and Mr Salmond is pushing to lower the voting age to sixteen, presumably as he thinks they are likely to vote his way. I expect he is right. It would be a pity. I rather like the union. Scotland has a very strong identity and great national awareness. Much more so than in England which seems more fractious. I believe that Scottish identity is strong because of the union rather than in spite of it. The ability to blame the union for any ills pulls the nation together. I suspect that an independent Scotland will find that it is not as united as it likes to think. Of course the one part of Scotland that would benefit from independence is Edinburgh as it did from devolution but, as with that, to the detriment of Glasgow. Plenty of scope for tension there I suspect. Salmond wants devo max to be on the referendum which will just make things more complicated and will put us at loggerheads with the north of England particularly Tyneside. Unfortunately David Cameron is taking the lead for the unionists and given that Scottish Tories are an endangered species seems a little unwise. The problem for the unionists is that the labour party has declined so much in Scotland and they would be the natural supporters of the union. Unfortunately hardly anyone knows who the leaders of the Scottish party are whilst everyone knows who Alex Salmond is. It should all be quite exciting but I just wish it would go away. I’ve been thinking about getting involved but it would mean some uncomfortable bedfellows.
All of which is of no importance in sunny Esperaza. I hope you are all well and looking forward to spring. Have fun.

And here is Joans news - slightly edited in the interests of not enriching lawyers -

Hi Everyone,
Now that I've defrosted sufficiently, and while I sit housebound waiting for my car battery to recharge for about the 5th time in two weeks, thought it would be a good time to touch collective base and express thanks to anyone who in any way facilitated my house sale and/or
transport of my goods temporarily left behind. For the most part that would be Kat, who was enormously helpful throughout the 16 months it took to complete a sale once I'd moved out, and Pete for bringing me a collection of my pots, paintings, etc. when we caught up during his
pre-post Christmas passings through.

For all of you, I hope this winter hasn't been too brutal. I have a first rate woodstove---as well as a second rate one, and so, if I didn't try to do anything in any of the other rooms including my studio, there was no amount of pleasure that couldn't be generated by the application of 12 plus sters of wood. What a year to decide one couldn't afford oil! Actually, all was pretty OK before the vague froide, but when it hit and the temperature in my room in the morning was 4 celsius I started to think about other winter solutions. At least there's double glazing.

And no snow! And, like Ferren, I have my multi-kw animals. I think of all you hardy souls down there and wonder how you've fared. Can't imagine how miserable 6 rue alexandre dumas would have been. Kat, how are you doing in your rambling house? Did you put the old woodstove in?
I understand there's a new gallery in town---of course. Things always happen when I leave. I have a 3 week show in July in a gorgeous old mill 20 minutes from here, but have yet to really penetrate the art world here--if any. Of course the real issue is that barely a soul speaks English. This has done wonders for my French,, but it's still dreadful. My bureaucratic French, on the other hand is quite good---again a matter of absolute necessity considering all the cockups, routine and unimaginable . So much time spent at les Impots and the Mairie dealing with endless catch-22s makes me think those who choose to fly under the radar have an excellent point.
[...] knowing you all was certainly a great pleasure and the time there I wouldn't have wanted to miss. And, yes, I do miss the mountains, despite this lovely, watery landscape. And this time my front rooms overlook the river and canal which are right across the field. We love guests here as long as they promise to speak English to me---a lot of English.

In any case, feel free to visit. I'm a bit over 2 hours south of Paris and have lots of room, though, if you contemplate a visit I would advise waiting until the bathrooms thaw.

Cant find out how to get rid of the italics which is why this editors comments are in bold. Sorry. Anyway, shall we get up a charabanc to go to Joans expo? Not that we've been asked but July is a while away yet-

shameless self promotion

the very wonderful Bridgeman artists library are offering 15% off my prints - when you order, enter BALARTIST in the promotional code box.

Help keep the blanquette flowing!!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

our Kat is back

Here is Kat returning on the Tilling express to a classic Tilling welcome - a night in the T- Rex with Pete and Annie and Michel playing guitar and none of the photos any use:) Since T-Rex have reopened they have slightly enlivened their well-thumbed menus but retained their unique ambiance. Oh and they have smart new chairs.

Nel is back too, no photies alas - she and Pete are cocooning (is that the word?)so more anon.
Letter from Joan T-S who has survived the winter in her new part of France and sends love to all -
Everything has thawed, birds are singing, it aint freezing anymore. Allelujia!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Tuesday in Tilling

Was excited to note that the floor of the captains terrace was wet - the thaw had started:)
---Thats when it started to snow, great curly feathers of flocons.
Here is the view from my window, rather girly but hey - and under the window my wastepaper bin, indicating exactly the state of my


Better news from Amsterdam where they are more equipped to enjoy themselves in this kind of weather. Here is Nel skating on a canal (or possibly walking on water, depending on your view) and, ahem, a shag on the ice.

Saw Annie and Pete last night, still alive and well despite the rigors of their mill-house life-style. Today is valentines day so bisoux all round and love to Jill and Hilary who have their birthdays today.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Kates birthday tea

as usual, Kates birthday followed hot on the heels of Oscars - yet he still lives -
Brilliant cakes!

Here is Ceri blessing Andy -

-our Vivienne, looking beautiful as ever -
and a fine time was had by all! Thanks Kate, always a pleasure to share your day

RIP Blossom

Blossom Adler (nee Abhrahamson)
b. 12 July 1919 Chicago, of Lithuanian family - d. 7 Feb 2112 Quillan, France.

Blossom was born into a Jewish family where the expectation was , as the youngest, she would be the one to care for the parents. She was allowed to go to art school however - no harm in a girl having a hobby.
At the Chicago Arts Institute she was taught by Boris Anasfelt (1878 -1973) and by Lazlo Moholy-Nagy (1895 - 1946) though she argued almost immediately with the latter. He was a forceful character with a circle of acolytes and Blossom challenged him on an issue now forgotten. He told her that if she didn't agree with everything he said, she could not be his pupil. So she left.
Later he told her that that had been just an expression of speech -

When the City of Chicago arranged to 'welcome home' servicemen who had been fighting in Europe, Blossom painted the murals in the reception building and worked on many portraits of the young survivors. After the war she became a medical illustrator. In 1947 she met and married her husband who had been fighting in Japan; eloping in order to escape her parents she nonetheless had to stop work and devote herself to home and family as the prevailing culture of the middle classes dictated.

Her adopted son Stan Adler arrived in 1954. Blossom did her bit to encourage his innate musicality, against her husbands wishes, playing musical games and recording his early band in the days when this was very novel. Later it was she who bought his (now famous) electric cello.

In the 1960's she was allowed to teach the French language in Chicago. She was extremely successful - some of her students went on to have careers in the French-speaking world - and after retiring she opted to teach art to other seniors. She held workshops in Mesa, Arizona and was a volunteer in the local high school.

She moved here in 2006 to be with Stan and his family, bringing with her some excellent examples of her artwork and her notebooks. Its a curious thing that when artists can't paint they will still draw.... it is hoped that a selection of her work will be exhibited soon and that the images will be available on line. It is a glorious mix of the epoch, a young womans' exploration of styles and the confident work of the mature artist.

I'm sure that Tillings denizens join with me in sending condolences to Stan, Debs and Miriam -

Friday, 10 February 2012

annie and pete very rich

Annie and Pete are safely back but insisting on staying at the mill in -7 degrees and falling. I fear for them but you know what they are like. Pete enjoys waking with icicles in his beard.

Still, with this 540 billion euro note in their hot hands, they can do anything they want:)

Thursday, 9 February 2012

bleedin frezzin

Baffling images... one of which is Captain H having just blown out his birthday candles about 15 mins before midnight.
The others are of space aliens, like as not. Click to enlarge.
We are so COLD:)

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Tapies dead, alas

Another arts catastrophe - very saddened that Tapies has died though on the plus side there must be some corner of the after-world that it zinging with the greats who have died recently.
Here is a link to Marcus' obituary of Dorothea Tanning, also newly departed.

bored with snow

--we got snow, pretty but boring after a while. Its cold. Enough (the sky this morning is largely blue and the sun is looking down again -)
Here is a divine photo that Pete took in his garden just before the snowfall. Lets hope the little chap is keeping warm - its a tree frog, apparently.
Kat got to Bristol yesterday, Margaret and John got to Belfast no doubt with adventures but they've all made it safely. This bodes well for the arrival tomorrow of Annie and Pete and birthday boy Captain Bob - suppose I'd better do some housework.

Monday, 6 February 2012