Sunday, 22 January 2012

Maison Grillou goes social

Do you like me? In a Facebook-y kind of way, I mean?

Well, I hope you do, because I've just spent a while huffing and puffing over creating a Facebook page for Grillou. On a personal level, you could say I've been a bit of a FB dullard since I signed up a couple of years ago, originally simply to look at a friend's photos on there: I rarely post, mainly because there never seems to be time but mainly because I can't quite find it in to me believe that everybody wants to hear my daily dribbles of trivia. But what I do do on a regular basis is follow up some of the links that various friends post, on the grounds that if I like them I might just like what they like. (Yes, I know, it's called social networking. And yes, I know, it's probably a modus vivendi to most of you ... But just humour me here).

Anyway, all sorts of people have been trying to persuade me that I really should start Going Social. And the more I think about it, the more I rather like the idea of 'meeting' more people who are drawn to Maison Grillou and/or to the Ariège, whether or not they might actually want to come and stay here. Being at heart a community minded kind of person, after five years with only a trowel to talk to (oh. And John) I'm more than ready to engage with the world again ...

So meet my new page: Maison Grillou on Facebook. And if you're a Facebook user yourself I need your help. Apparently once I've got 25 people who 'like' me I can get a new, much shorter URL for the page (at the moment it would take half a page if I wrote it out in full ..). So - um - do you think you might - um - like me? Please? Oh, and just one other thing: would you also mind awfully 'liking' our main website as well? (There's a new 'like' button right at the bottom ...).

Eternally, grovellingly, gratefully, yours .......

Saturday, 14 January 2012

A frosty morning drive to Toulouse

Grillou's garden in the frost

Frozen leaves

Taken from our track, on the way down to the valley

On the way up to Carla Bayle, across the Plantaurel

A corner turned, and there - the chain appears as if by magic

Views in all directions

Mont Valier, right in the middle of the picture

Mist down in the valley

Beats the M25, non?

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Hello again blogosphere

Oh, and a happy new year. At least I think it's new year. I don't get time to look at my diary much these days.

Actually, there's a very good reason why I haven't been blogging much. Well, there are two.
  1. I haven't actually had anything to say. And that's because
  2. I've spent the last five weeks or so at my desk, at the laptop, from morning to night early morning, designing and coding and writing our two new websites, one in English, one in French.
And if one more person says to me that they don't understand why it takes so long, I might just commit an unaccustomed act of violence ... so to save you the trouble of having to take an unscheduled trip to urgences, it takes so long because
  1. Each site has 21 pages. So far. There are more in the pipeline. And that's because I happen to believe that it's really important to get a good fit between the people who are going to come and share some time here with us,  the place where they're going to come and spend time, and the people they're going to come and spend time with - us. Look, let me put it another way. I'm in this more for the fun than the money. If we ain't compatible - like, for instance, the guest we once had in north Norfolk who spent a very unhappy weekend complaining that she couldn't walk on the village's cobbled pavements in her stilettos - I'm not going to have fun and nor are you, and to be honest I'd much rather help you find somewhere else where you're going to feel more at home.
  2. I'm not a html or css (or any kind of) geek. I've only just given up Microsoft Frontpage. I fly by the seat of my pants, borrow bits from here and there, and frequently break my own code. Finding just what I've done to break it reminds me of doing Sudoko, to which I have periodic addictions. And sometimes I just have to give up and start over.
  3. Selecting, and editing, photos is incredibly time consuming.
  4. The English site and the French site are not translated mirror images of each other. Each has had to be written from scratch, holding a different focus, because the issue is more about culture than language. When I'm writing I have to understand where my readers are coming from, what their cultural values are and their collective unconscious is saying about what they're reading, and then write to all of that. In other words, I have to move between my inner Frenchwoman and my inner Englishwoman.
    Let me give you an example. On the English language site I have a page devoted to 'ten things that make us different'. I don't have that page on the French site: that would be far too threatening. The French are at heart a conservative nation that sometimes seems to live within their own stereotype - although many do have a goût de l'insolite (taste for the unusual), they're on the whole only comfortable with experiencing 'difference' when it departs from a framework which is part of their zeitgeist and therefore familiar. So instead I get to talk a lot more about la slow attitude and our démarche écologique, both of which are increasingly important here. 
Anyway. I'm delighted to say that both sites have now gone live, and are now in the 'snagging' stage. If you want to have a look, you'll find them at (English) and (French). And if you happen to notice any bits that don't work, typos or wording that's just plain ugly, I'd be delighted to hear from you!

The other bit of news is that bookings have just opened for this year, starting from 2 April, with a rather good early booking offer for all those who signed up on our mailing list. I sent out a newsletter yesterday with all the details, but an awful lot of your email addresses have proved to be undeliverable to (appalling grammar deliberate): if you're one of them and you think you might be interested, why not get in touch?