Saturday, 26 February 2011


I love deadlines.
I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.

Douglas Adams, but clearly written especially for Grillou, February 2011.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Stylish? Moi?

Not a word usually uttered in connection with yours truly, especially at the moment when every day is spent in clothes that are multi-coloured with limewash and stiff with tile cement, but my fellow blogger Sandee, who writes (and far more diligently than I do) a lovely rambling blog called, appropriately, Sandee's Ramblins, has just passed on to me something called the Stylish Blogger Award. I'm impressed, even if I think she might need a new pair of glasses ....

Said award, however, comes with a price on its head. I have to share seven random things about myself. So here goes.

1. Neither of my names bear any relation to those given me by my parents: my first name Kalba was given to me by an Indian mystic; my second, Meadows, I chose for myself.

2. Grillou is the twentieth house I've lived in during my lifetime.

3. I actually quite like French television.

4. I am the World's Worst Facebooker. I have an account; I even have friends. But I've never posted and rarely remember to log on.

5. When I'm slogging up a steep mountain slope on a hot day I often have a vision of an ice cold can of Coca Cola just in front of me, even though I don't like the stuff.

6. I love Marmite.

7. I am fascinated by language, and languages. When I was seventeen I spent a summer in Finland and tried to learn Finnish but finally gave up, beaten by (amongst other things) the fifteen noun cases.

There. That's pretty random, huh? Now, the second thing I'm supposed to do is to pass on the award to 15 other bloggers. That might take a while, as at the moment I rarely have time to read other blogs (I know, I know). But watch this space.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Lazy(?) Sunday afternoon

After nearly a week of the kind of damp cold that gets into your bones and won't let go, a very pleasant anti-cyclone has decided to hang out with us and the last couple of days (along with the next four or five, if Metéo France are to be believed) have been cloudless, windless and warm. And after two weeks or so of intensive cement therapy (aka tiling two showers and associated floors), this afternoon I decided it was time to leave the house before my gold slipper turned into a dwarf's pumpkin. Or something.

I sometimes think that when we get the kind of weather we're having at the moment - dawn to dusk sun, with shade temperatures of around 19 degrees and sun temperatures approaching 30 - Imbolc time is possibly the splendid-est time of year here at Grillou. The signs of spring seem to me to be almost more unbearably exciting than the arrival of spring-proper: the sudden lengthening of the days; the buds on the forsythia and japonica growing and beginning to burst almost as I watch; the birds taking their first steps towards proper song; the first yellow crocuses appearing from nowhere in the middle of the day and daffodils seemingly growing centimetres in a matter of hours; the first sighting of a Yellow Brimstone butterfly. And there are no leaves on the trees to obscure our view of Mont Valier and the Pyrénéen chain.

This time round Grillou's garden is a bit more open and welcoming than it has been before: three days ago the six maple trees that shaded and obscured the whole of the front of the house and whose dense foliage gave a clear message to 'keep out' , along with one tall ash tree that was beginning to threaten our main power cable, were expertly dispatched by two lovely grimpeurs-elageurs from Moulis. Not only were they lovely, they were also incredibly tidy: they cut all the wood into 50cm lengths, and piled all the branches up ever-so-neatly into - er - piles. Today we started shifting it to a new wood pile where it will season for two years or so before we burn it.

So far we've shifted and stacked some 4 steres (cubic metres), with maybe another 3 or more left to go. And with good hardwood for burning selling at around 60 euros a stere, we're hugely in profit even after paying for the work. In fact looking at the garden and our bits of woodland today and how we might manage it over the years to come, we realised that we're unlikely to have to ever buy in wood. How good is that?

So what last year looked like this

... now looks like this

While all this was going on our dog Noodles was nowhere to be seen - unusually, because any garden activity involving both of us is sheer bliss for him, because he can indulge his sheepdog nature by continually rounding us up. We eventually tracked him down outside L'Atelier d'Artiste where he was watching over a male bullfinch that was sitting on the grass, presumably stunned after flying into the (still un-curtained) window:

He stayed there, in the same position, for two hours until the bullfinch recovered enough to fly off. I've said it before and I shall no doubt say it again: dogs really are strange and wonderful creatures ...