Tuesday, January 17, 2017


15 January 2017

Cool and wet.  8 degrees

OH birthday

Having been laid low yesterday by evil beer, I hadnt purchased a card for OH birthday. You can make me one, he announced, you have enough craft stuff.

Of course I do, I have rooms full of the stuff...  I tend to do more buying than making but nevertheless, I have recently purchased the Calming Book of Origami, full of the most beautiful papers, and some ideas of what to make.  I had thought of making a beautiful little pocket which folds out and writing Happy Birthday! in the middle.  There were 22 steps.  Perhaps something a little less challenging.  It was 8 am.  Everyone else was in bed and snoring.

I got some copy paper and attempted a walking crab.  All was going swimmingly until I got to step 8, when it became incomprehensible.  This is what my walking crab looked like.

Undeterred, I thought I would try a fish.  OH likes fish.  How the xxxx did I get beyond step 9.  I didnt.  This is what my fish looked like.

The crane!  Surely that was possible.  It wasnt.  So I tried a fox and managed to actually complete it.  Like my cooking, it didnt turn out like the picture.

I suddenly got a flash back and remembered that youngest had had an obsession with origami.  It extended to getting books on advanced origami from the library and then he would choose which one 'we' would make.  Origami is not calming.  It is bfffxdddxxx!!!xxx. It was now 9.30 and I had got through a lot of copy paper.

Sod this for a lark.  I could make a card.  I chopped up some balloon paper into balloon shapes and looked for some glue.  What I needed what was some craft glue.  All I could find was some fix everything to everything else glue.  The fumes were intense.  Dog left the room.  It didnt spread very well and I forgot to put the top back on.  I lost sense of time.  Eventually I persuaded the balloons onto the paper.  It occurred to me that the spare paper resembled a dog so I stuck that on too.  And then added some claws and an ear.  Last of all I cut out a five and an eight and then realised that I had done the five the wrong way round.  Never mind.  I stuck them on with a flourish and presented it to OH, with his Gatorgrip present and a card from his sister.

OH was rather non plussed.  Why does it say 82?  Is that a dragon?  I found his glasses and he managed to answer his own questions.  Yes and perhaps....

He opened the card from his sister.  It was a beautifully drawn fish which didnt look like someone who was on day release from a mental institution.

Curses on arty people?  He suggested.  We hate Aunty Poo. said eldest.  Curses indeed....

Went for a walk on the prom to clear my head.  The oven still isnt fixed so I dont have to make the promised lemon meringue.  

hydrangea skeletons


Edited and surreal

Fab planter

Tweaked hydrangeas

Saturday, January 14, 2017


13 January 2017

Snow 3 degrees

Well, not very much snow by Derbyshire standards, where it was easily capable of snowing a metre during the morning and I would have to ring OH who was happily ensconced in his office in nearby Cheshire, and tell him that the decorative frosting which was making his office view so delightful, was feet deep of the sodding stuff back chez nous.  Being near the sea, it is a delightful sparkling on the rooftops and a little bit of slush on the ground. The sort of thing which drives anyone south of Manchester into cardiac arrest.  North of Manchester, the newscasters suggest you wrap up and go out to break a few bones.  South of Manchester, you get evacuated to school halls.  Get your big girl knickers on Southerners.  Try a winter in Derbyshire....  or thirteen.

So, eldest has a try out in a hotel near Keswick and we set off into a glorious early afternoon.  How on earth can it take so long to get to Keswick?  The Armathwaite Hall eventually appears and we drop him off.  Notably, the car park is still full of the sort of cars which make pubescent children shriek with delight.  We stayed here fifteen years ago.  On getting to the room, I opened the curtains and was dismayed to see just a view of the car park.  The boys were thrilled to bits.

The road back to Windermere gave us a display of colour and drama which you only get where the sea meets the mountains

I particularly liked the effect of the trees whipped horizontally along the images.  We arrived at Windermere and did a quick bit of shopping and OH rejected every bar because it was poncy.  I had to be dragged away from the prospect of mulled ginger wine.  Bugger. All of the beer came in little bottles and OH wasn't disposed to finding out how much one of them might have cost.

He suggested we went to Bowness.  I said we had sheets.  This went right over his head. He said he had been in a brilliant pub, covered in scaffolding.  This proved hard to find. When had he gone in?  November....  Unsurprisingly, the scaffolding had been taken down. We sat down by a tiny fire, burning sticks, and OH ordered some really horrible beer.  This is sodding awful, he said.  I had to drink my half to make sure.  He downed his.  People were drinking like they had never seen alcohol.  It was 6 pm and livers were being ruined. Women were drinking 1/3 of a bottle of wine in huge balloon shaped glasses.  Men with shaved heads and stretched jumper stomachs were downing beer.  Everyone was cackling madly.  We went home to swordfish and stir fried veg and I had two tiny glasses of wine and woke up feeling like hell the next morning.  Obviously, beer is not very good for me.

Thursday, January 12, 2017


11 January 2017

Cold and misty
7 degrees

I did write today but it was the beginning of my novel How Hard Can It Be?  Tales of heroic failure in SW France.  So I fished through my last year's blog and found the following, which was one of my favourite posts

      My mother and my mother in law were both born in 1921 and were female.  They had similar working class backgrounds and lived through the Second World War.  Their resemblance one to another stops at that point.  My mother was born in Birkenhead, Lancashire  and lived with her three sisters and one brother in a terraced house.  She was the baby of the family and when she was born, Frank, the eldest, was already 15.  Her father was a butcher and her mother was a cook.  When the War started, she was evacuated into the countryside: she missed her family and the city and was only away a month.  She came back home and was then sent to Bletchley to do 'something with wiring'.  She was away a month there too and came back to find a job in the NAAFI which was much more her style.  Mum loved being the centre of attention and enjoyed her War to a large extent.  Dances, dying legs with coffee dregs and drawing a line on the calves to simulate real stockings, peroxide, exciting US soldiers (two of her sisters became GI brides), makeup and clothes.

      In 1942, having been bombed out of three houses, the family decided to leave the city and went to the tiny village of Weston Rhyn in Shropshire.  After the initial shock of no electricity (gas provided both heat and light until into the 1950‘s), no shops and so much grass, they settled in.  The War did not physically touch Weston Rhyn - on the one occasion when a German plane passed overhead, apparently my Grandmother ran out of the house, clutching her ration book, only to find herself alone in the street; the locals still warm and quiet in their beds. 

      I have a photo of my mother taken in the early 40's, standing on a rock at Llandudno, wearing a ruched one piece swim suit and with a figure that I have never, in any decade of my life, achieved.  She was always glamorous.  She was always well turned out.  Just about the only piece of advice that she gave me was 'get yourself ready first'.

      My mother in law was born in Preston, Lancashire and had two brothers and a sister.  Naturally blonde, she was once teased that she ‘touched up’ the colour with peroxide and was embarrassed.  She was conservative and never discussed the past with me, apart from mentioning that she and her sister Betty used to be on ‘fire watch’ which in the early stages of the War involved going onto roofs of tall buildings and spending the night looking out.  The most interesting story of all which is one which my hubby told me.  Apparently Lilian was in Ribbleton, it was in the early 60’s and she was hanging out washing on the line.  She looked up.  There was a space ship - a classic spinning saucer, hanging over the garden.  It span for a minute and then flashed up high and disappeared.  If my mother had told me this story (and she would have told this story to everyone), I would have assumed it was the gin talking.  I have no hesitation in believing my mother in law - she was completely unfanciful and would not have welcomed the attention that this story would have brought.

      Apart from a spell in Birmingham, my mother in law spent the rest of her life in Preston - the latter twenty odd years in Penwortham, which is where my husband was born.  Her life was her family and her Christian faith and she was content with it.  My mother always hankered for a more exciting life.  We were in the garden once and a passenger plane passed overhead ‘take me with you’ shouted mum at the tail stream, and then laughed.  I was 13 at the time and it disturbed me.  We did not have a quiet life - mum and dad’s favourite occupation was moving house.  We must have moved on average about every couple of years.  Of most of the houses I only remember one or two rooms or a patch of the garden.  I have had to write them down in case I forget.   My brother and I had numerous primary and several secondary schools.  They were mostly dreadful and we emerged with poor exam results.  My mother in law was horrified to hear of our fractured education.  ‘You can move house all you like, but you’ll still be the same person’ she concluded.  A conclusion that my mother didn’t arrive at even after dozens of removals.

        It was my mother in law who came to stay when we had our babies and who cooked and cleaned for us.  She came on holidays and babysat.  She loved her grandchildren completely.  I remember her holding William in her arms when she came to see me in Chorley Maternity unit and saying with wonder ‘its as if I have known him all my life’.  Her views on the relation between husband and wife were very different to my own and the cause of much grinding of teeth (probably on her part too) but I miss her enormously, so this is my tribute to you Lilian.  We all loved you and now your lovely malt loaf will be out there in the wider world xx

My Mother in Law’s Malt Loaf

3/4 pound of self raising flour
cup of fruit
cup of sugar
1 tablespoon black treacle
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1 egg
1 cup of milk

Mix altogether well & put in a greased loaf tin, medium oven 1 hour.

The cup I use is a large tea cup - I fill it with mixed fruit and add some nuts.  I use three quarters of a cup of sugar.

Take a large pan and put in the fruit, sugar, treacle and syrup.  Warm gently until the treacle and syrup start to run.  Add the cup of milk and stir.  Sift in the flour, mixing well.  Finally add the beaten egg.  The mix is quite stiff.  Grease the rectangular loaf tin and I usually line with baking parchment so it comes out easily.  Fill with the mix, leaving at least three centimetres between the top of the mix and the top of the tin.  It does rise considerably so place in a baking tray to avoid oven floor spills.  The top will crack as it cooks.  Test for doneness with a skewer after an hour.  It is better to cook for longer at a lower temperature than for shorter at a higher one as the elevated sugar content will cause the top to burn.  About 170 degrees C in my fan oven is usually fine.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


10 January 2017

Patchy clouds with fleeting sun

7 degrees

OH still has hacking cough and sounds like he is on 40 Woodbine a day so he booked himself in again with the singing replacement doctor and I had a run around Cartmel. The normal doctor has taken herself off to a more clement climate and there is a young doctor who is still developing his style.  You tell him what you think is wrong with you and he humms and says, yes....  hmm hmm hmm oo doodly doo .... and he punches the keyboard and tells me I am on a massive dose of steroids.  This is news to me - I have been on the same dose of what my French doctor called low dose steroids for the past 13 years.  He says I need to be weaned off them but perhaps not yet.  I have trouble breathing and blow into a peak flow meter and it is 150 instead of 350 so I get a packet of strong steroids and some anti biotics.  Imagine my bones like a bag of Bombay mix.  Aren't steroids linked with osteoporosis?  Must have words with my French doctor.

OH gets some anti biotics and then shows the singing locum the cyst on the roof of his mouth.  We have had numerous appointments with a specialist in France, and it took various sessions with xrays and scans to establish it was a cyst.  Oh yes, says the locum, poking it with a spatula, that is definitely a cyst - do you want it whipped out?  OH does. But only under a local anaesthetic.  No one wants to deal with it other than by a general. OH doesnt like the idea of a general.  

He talked me out of having a general anaesthetic when I had a lump taken off my arm.  I didnt have a problem with the lump but OH said it ruined my perfection (silky tongued devil that he is) so I went in and had a local.  It was deeply unpleasant to be wheeled into the theatre, compus mentis. And I then had to hold onto my deadened arm on the way back to the ward.  Have you any idea how heavy and badly behaved a completely dead limb can be?  It ran amok, smashed the drip and whacked a nurse in the face.  Behave yourself you bxxxxrd, I muttered at it as it fell off the end of the bed; again.

Back to the house and the Candy man cameth...  he was small and wiry and hopefully strong enough to haul the beast of a range cooker out from the wall and see why the main oven wasnt heating.  He was of the genre of workman who liked to convince you that he was an expert.  'Oh what a builder', he exclaimed within seconds of discovering how the cooker had been installed.  By the previous owner who was a builder.  The Rangemaster had been siliconed to the wall.  'I will try and get it out but I dont have the right to dismantle anything in the kitchen.  You may have to get someone in to get it out'.  We ran away and hid in the hallway and left him to moan and chunter.

Eventually he hauled it part way out and changed the thermostat and invited me to put my hand into the very hot oven.  He then went and I was happy for an hour until I discovered that the reason the oven was hot was that he had turned on the grill function and the main oven still wasnt heating.   Hurrah though, OH is capable of ringing up and demanding a new appointment.

Back to cooking in the side oven which is one hand span wide and a half arm deep......

Went for a walk in a wood above Newby Bridge.  The trees were tortured into strange shapes and we were in mist by a couple of hundred feet.  People and dogs appeared out of the murk, crying out cheerful greetings and saying at least the gale hadn't happened yet.  

Back to the house and a man came up and said hello to OH and then tore off up the lane. 'that is Norman' said OH 'he lived in our house for 60 years'.  Norman looked like Bruce Forsyth.  He had, apparently accosted OH in the garage, back in October and invited him to guess what he had in his pockets (leeks, before you are too traumatised to ask...)

RJ had sorted out some interviews for the end of this week and the start of next.  He snored on the sofa, dog snored on the hearth (carefully avoiding the large Persian run on which he is not allowed to place a paw) and OH spread himself out on the sofa and asked what was for supper.  This is all wrong.  Need to get back to France before they go into spontaneous hibernation.....

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


8 January 2017

8 degrees and misty

Some photos of the wonderful things nature provides...

Sunday, January 8, 2017


7 January 2017


8 degrees very misty.  Very short day.

In France, the trick is to get out of bed and down the shops before they close.  As they close at midday, this is a trick I am still not very good at.  Oh hurrah, I thought, to be in the UK for a week or two when the shops are open all of the time.  There is an unexpected hitch.  Daylight arrives in a reluctant fashion towards 8.30 am and then, if it is raining or cloudy, starts shuffling off at around 3 pm.  After 13 years in the far south west of France, where even in the depths of Winter, it doesn't start going dark until about 5.30, this is a shock to the system and the trick is to try and get something done in daylight.  

My body thinks, aha, it is dark therefore I need to sit on the sofa and have a sherry and encourage OH to cook something.  My day's work is done.  Alas, OH isnt of the same opinion, we are both on holiday, and we have a kitchen which cant fit more than 1.5 people and no dogs at all; at the same time.  I dont feel inspired.  I still only have an oven which is only a hand's breadth wide and half an arm deep.  Remind OH to ring up the oven people and we are both hoping that it cant be fixed because, under the terms of the new warranty which the Baumatic people were very keen we should take, we get a new cooker.

Whilst the dregs of the day are still draping themselves wetly over the houses opposite, we head out to Barrow in Furness to look at Asda.  The car park is full and the lights of the football stadium glow luminously in the saturated air.  The shop is heaving.  And, horror of horrors, OH is not feeling decisive.  He normally loves shopping and is enormously decisive and I trail around after him with the trolley.  I spend a half hour throwing things in the trolley and he takes most of them out.  I take to whacking him with the coat hangers.  We emerge with a chicken, some steak and some sheets (yes we found sheets quelle surprise).  And back home.  This is not inspiring stuff for the blog so I choose a date at random from 2015 and come up with the following - a story of some Russian clients

The day of the reservation contract on the big house sale!  Hit the road early and there is already a heat haze over the Pyrenees, although they are still carrying a crisp white snow cover.  Traffic is light and we stop for a coffee in a driving through type town, its shops set out regularly on either side of the narrow ribbon of asphalt.  At 12.15 we arrive and the Russians are there, looking pink and hot and waving their hands.  We go into the cool interior of the hotel and sit by the window and enjoy the air conditioning.  Again, they have driven.  'We are crazy people' smiles the man ''we have five children.  When we drive we find the time to talk'.  The journey is part of the experience.....

They are vegetarian and, by some miracle, there is a wonderful buffet as first course.  They have never tasted mussels and are impressed.  They avoid eggy mayonnaise and have a lot of beetroot.  I ask what sort of food they eat at home - they say vegetables and beans. They are the slimmest vegetarians I have ever seen.  Perhaps because a lot of western vegetarians eat bread and pasta.  They don't eat that either.  They give thanks for their food and tell us that they are Lutheran, which is a very simple form of protestantism. They kiss and start to eat, slowly, and discovering the new types of foods.

Our second course is fish for myself and the clients and OH has pork which turns out to be a chop.  We all have ratatouille and the fish comes with saffron rice, which is absolutely delicious and delicately perfumed.  To finish, we have apple pie. OH and I have coffee and the Russians ask for hot chocolate, which request comes as quite a surprise to the server.  I don't think he has ever, in his life, been asked for hot chocolate at the end of a meal.

We emerge into the sunlight and head to pick up the owners of the house and go to the notary office.  The owner has recovered from her nerves and is looking very summery, in a long flowing flowery robe.  She smells of shampoo and citrus shower gel.  The animals, newly shorn, are hiding from the heat.  I didn't realise that newly shorn animals can burn in hot sun.  Not a problem in the north of England where all of our sheep live.  

The notaries office is unmarked, and looks like a bungalow, and is in the middle of a field of maize.  I elect to lurk in the car park and wait for our notary to arrive.  She arrives at some speed, spots me at the last minute, does a handbrake turn and skates into the car park with whizzing of wheels and spurting gravel.  She is persistently late.  A very slender lady, with blue eyes and blond hair, and today she is sporting some violently red ski pants and spotty blouse.  People just don't wear suits here.   A memory which makes me smile is that once, I was standing in a check out queue at a large French supermarket.  A man in the queue ahead of me was wearing a suit and a small girl was watching him closely.  He paid and left and the small girl turned to her mother and asked 'mamma - was that the President?'

The sellers notary, who resembles a snarky school teacher, shoes us into her office, which does not have air conditioning, and starts the read through.  She goes at some speed and only myself and the other notary understand the proceedings and I have to keep on interrupting to make sure everyone is up to speed with what is being said.  After an hour and a half, when we are all dripping, except for the other notary, we are finally released from the claustrophobic room.  Everyone has to receive a copy of the reservation contract so much photocopying is being done.   Many trees are sacrificed in France, says OH happily.  My notary makes a face - she doesn't think much of the other notary 'she's a bit dry' is her comment.  We all go out into the field and enjoy the breeze and my notary chats with the Russians.  She is surprised to learn that you can be married just by going to church and saying your vows.  In France, you are not married until you have been to the Mairie to have it registered.  We tell her we marry before God and not before the State.  'ah bon' she says

We then all go back to the house and the owner shows my notary around the house.  She is very impressed and says it is done with a lot of taste and is 'très class'.  She then leaves in a cloud of dust.  The Russians drift around in a daze and are thrilled.  The owner, from whom you normally don't get more than a cup of tea, produces champagne and we sit in the pergola where the scent of the wisteria mingles with that of the hot earth and we all talk and it is dream like.  The llamas peer out from the shelter and scent the air and buzzards circle on the high thermals.

These Russians turned out to be extra mad.  Not only did they drive over from Russia in a beat up car to see the house (twice) before coming over to sign the reservation contract but they brought us lovely presents, rang us up weekly, showed us many photos of their house and children.  What they did not manage to show us was deposit money.  At any time.  And, at the end of two months, during which the sellers went nuts and nearly turned me into a mad woman, they admitted that they did not have any money for the deposit.  They did not have any money to buy the house.  They were waiting for some money 'to come in'.  I pressed them to know how much money.  Finally, they came up with the sum of a million euros. From their 'friends in the East'.  I didn't pass this information onto the sellers.  They hated my guts.  It was all very unfair.  

I was particularly aggrieved because the Russians were such lovely people and had invited us to come and stay with them.  I never did like the sellers who tried to deal privately with some other buyers which I had brought and it all came out accidentally and I did end up earning fees on this one.  OH said we had had a lucky escape and that he had not been taken in at all.  He can be very annoying.

Saturday, January 7, 2017


6 January 2017

Misty with very fine rain.  Not a lot of light today

7 degrees

By the 6th January, many Brits are feeling depressed (apparently) - the cake is eaten, the turkey just a carcass in the overflowing bins, the rellies have gone home and we have binged at the Sales.  However, in many countries this is an exciting date because it heralds the arrival of the Three Kings.

In Spain, there is quite a debate raging regarding whether Santa Claus is displacing the traditional Three Kings.  The truth is that Santa Claus is becoming more and more commen but even familities who sign up with 'Papa Noel' usually keep their accounts open with the Kings.

As for the Kings themselves, they continue to arrive on schedule every year to villages, towns and cities throughout Spain to make the annual parade which is known as Cabalgata.  This starts at dusk on the 5 January.  Melchior, Caspar and Balthasar are magically able to appear simultaneously throughout the country and they don't come empty handed.  They process on floats and throw handfuls of sweets to the waiting children.  The same night, children leave out their shoes to receive gifts.

It is also traditional for families to set up a nativity scene in their homes or gardens and move the images of the wise men closer and closer to Bethlehem over the Christmas season.  The idea is to have them arrive at the stable right on the 6 January.

Ten facts about the Feast of the Epiphany

  1. The three Kings (Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar) represented Europe, Arabia and Africa respectively.
  1. Hundreds of years ago, roast lamb was traditionally served at Epiphany in honour of Christ and the three Kings' visit.
  1. Whoever finds the small statue of a baby Jesus hidden inside their slice of the Rosca de reyes throws a party on Candlemas in February. In France of course, we have the Gallette des Rois and whoever finds the little china model gets to wear the crown.  It is known as the 'fève' which actually means bean.  It now can be whatever character the patissier fancies throwing into the mix.  Not being obsessed with health and safety in France, if you break your tooth, it is your own fault......
  1. In some European countries, children leave their shoes out the night before to be filled with gifts, while others leave straw for the three Kings' horses.
  1. According to Greek Orthodox Church's traditions, a priest will bless the waters by throwing a cross into it as worshippers try to retrieve it.
  1. In Bulgaria too, Eastern Orthodox priests throw a cross in the sea and the men dive in - competing to get to it first.
  1. In Venice a traditional regatta that started as a joke in the late 1970s has been incorporated in the celebrations of Epiphany Day.
  1. In Prague, there is a traditional Three Kings swim to commemorate Epiphany Day at the Vltava River.
  1. In New York, El Museo del Barrio has celebrated and promoted the Three Kings' Day tradition with an annual parade for more than three decades. Thousands take part in the procession featuring camels, colorful puppets and floats.
  1. The day's activities involve singing holiday carols called aguinaldos.
A Coruna town hall

breakfast view

Our lodging

Hallway chap

Large model railway 

More railway with firefighter tower

German bit

Sodding Minions

Basque bits - ikastola is a college and Txistorra is a dish.  Euskal is basque for Basque

If you fancy running yourself up a traditional gallette des rois, here is Raymond Blanc's recette

For the puff pastry
400gPuff pastry, all butter, ready rolled (*1)
½Egg yolk, free range/organic, beaten (*2)
For the almond cream
75gButter, unsalted, at room temperature
75gIcing sugar
75gAlmond, powder
1Egg, free range/organic, whole
1Egg yolk, free range/organic
1 tbspDark rum or cognac
For the glaze
1Egg, free range/organic, whole
½Egg yolk, free range/organic
1½ tspSingle Cream

Cooking Method

To cut out the pastry
Using metal rings or plates as guides, cut out a 20cm round from one pastry sheet for the base, and a 22cm round from the other for the top. Place on a tray and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour (*3). Any excess pastry can be kept for other use.
To make the almond cream
In a large bowl, whisk the butter, icing sugar, ground almonds, whole egg, egg yolk and rum or Cognac together to a smooth paste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble.
To make the galette
Spoon the almond cream onto the centre of the puff pastry base. Using a palette knife, spread the cream evenly over the pastry, leaving a clear 2cm margin around the edge.
Brush the pastry rim with beaten egg yolk and carefully drape the other puff pastry circle neatly over the top. Press the pastry edges gently together to seal and expel all air, using your fingers and thumb. Cover loosely with a sheet of greaseproof paper and refrigerate or freeze for 1 hour to firm up the pastry before finishing (*4).
To finish the galette
Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4 and place a baking stone or baking tray inside to heat up. Using a sharp knife, trim the edge of the galette to neaten. With the back of the knife, crimp the edge of the pastry all around (*5).
For the glaze
Lightly beat the egg, egg yolk and cream together until evenly blended. Brush the galette with the glaze.
Now, using the back of a knife, score a spiral of curved rays starting from the centre of the galette and extending right to the edge. Alternatively, you could simply criss-cross the top of the galette with the knife.
To bake the galette 
Carefully slide the galette onto the preheated baking stone or tray in the oven and bake for 45 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden brown. Carefully lift the galette onto a wire rack and leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

- See more at: http://www.raymondblanc.com/recipes/galette-des-rois/#sthash.kQjAfwZG.dpuf

And of course, what else could song in my head be?

Friday, January 6, 2017


Thursday 5 January 2017

5 degrees nippy wind bright skies

When I am in France, I long for time to do arty things.  I imagine myself in a studio, full of arty things, sewing machine, paints, wonderful views, classical music, coffee/tea and indulging full on my muse.  I know very well that engaging one's muse is actually very hard work which is why I often avoid her by doing housework.  My contribution to art is buying materials.  I have materials for every type of artistic activity under the sun.

Thanks to everyone being ill, and finding myself in a house which is not piled up high with crap, free of pain in the butt clients, and no massive garden demanding to be tamed, I was forced to engage with my muse.

I had received Angie Lewin's Plants and Places for Christmas.  If you dont know Angie, she is a print maker and specialises in botanicals.  I have drooled over her lovely prints for an age.  I gathered some plant material and coffee and found a place where the light was good.  The dog snored in a corner.  Some crows patrolled on the glass roof.  I started sketching.  The problem, I rapidly discovered, is to get something 3d onto a 2d bit of paper

I always think 'how hard can it be?' and I always want to be very, very good - immediately. It was, of course, very hard.  I felt the copier paper was to blame.  I refused to let myself look at the laptop and order some lovely Japanese paper.  Must concentrate.  I referred to Angie Lewin and drank a cup of coffee.  No point in rushing into things.  AL simplifies things down to basic shapes.  You cant be too complicated with lino cut.

I simplified things and obtained the following results

In case you dont recognise them, the pointy things are the grasses and the spiky things are the ivy. Angie Lewin's stuff was a lot better.  Perhaps I could copy her in the first place....

I got out my brand new lino cut set and had a choice of Softcut or Lino.  The softcut looked much easier to start with.  I drew freehand on a little bit and carved away at it.  I have to say, it was enormously satisfying, rather like paring back cuticles.  The tricky bit was actually differentiating between what was cut and what was not cut.  I looked at Youtube and discovered I needed to paint in the bits which would be coloured.  No paint to hand.  I got a bright light and pared away.  

I have yet to print it.  OH crawled out of bed and said he fancied roast chicken and roast potatoes.  I suspect he wont fancy it enough to make it.....