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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Quarter past nine and still 30C!

The windows are open in an effort to persuade even the feeblest breeze to make a welcome detour through the house. The back doors are open wide inviting in whatever air might be passing however far from fresh it may be. For some reason today feels as if it should have been the hottest day so far during this period of exceptional weather and yet it fell short of the record set last week but a few degrees. Perhaps we have reached and gone beyond the point where our bodies can deal with this heat?

At least we don't have a hosepipe ban so every other day but only twice a week - I use a watering can when I feed the plants - I give the most recent plantings and the container plants a good soaking. Strangely I have not heard any other hoses being employed and I am wondering why.

The frogs were back to their full complement of 3 today and all were basking side by side alongside the pond. Just as I cannot imagine gnawing at one of the limbs of, for instance, a lamb, I can no more imagine devouring the back legs of a frog. I did once many years ago and it is true it does taste a bit like chicken. That said why don't people eat chicken instead? The plastic bags of frozen froggy legs - or cuisses as they are called - look pathetically sad in the deep freeze at Auchan. I can never stop myself from wondering if there are retirement homes for amputee frogs with little prosthetic back legs. So sad...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Fish gotta swim!

I seem to be on a bit of lyrical roll currently, but never fear, I am not going to wax, lyrically or otherwise, in this posting about any messages in Showboat. Today my thoughts are with patience and again I have been inspired by the garden or more specifically, by the pond.

There it lies all green and murky and not particularly inviting. We were told that fish lurked somewhere within though we had never seen any sign of anything pescatorial. It is the home to three very patient and diligent frogs. They sit either on a small ledge, or on the side, or with their heads just above the surface of the water and wait. They wait all day. They wait for the possibility of a fly who might chance by and whom they might, if they are quick enough, lasso with great dexterity with their incredibly long tongues.

One found its way into the house last week. It tried to press itself into the brickwork in corner of the hallway certain no doubt of its imminent demise at the hands of the giants towering over it - though more accurately Max was more a tremble at a safe distance. Scooped into a plastic containter and repatriated, it does not appear to have repeated the trek since.

A short while ago I concluded that the supposed fish(es) were a figment of the previous owners' imaginations as we had seen not a fin. I imagined that should they - or it - have shifted its domicile to the great pond in the sky, then its last mortal remains would have come floating to the surface. Then suddenly, last week, I caught a glimpse of something moving in the pond, darting in a very fish-like manner around close to the surface of the, admittedly, green water. It was a fish, just the one fish, but a fish nevertheless.
We anguished for hours as to whether the poor thing had come to the surface to seek the oxygen it no doubt could no longer find at the bottom of the pond. We even looked at pumps in the local DIY stores. But no, it seemed happy enough skimming along. We bought it some v expensive food and today, having not seen Monsieur Carp for a few days, he appeared and - to my enormous pleasure - was eating the food. He likes it! Look he's eating it! I could not have been more delighted had I been an Italian mamma whose family had wiped their dishes clean.

So patience did pay off as it does for the frogs who seem to get by on their occasional fly.

I also heard from LilleTourism today having waited only four months and still I have no firm appointment but at least I shall be seeing a director. Watch this space.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Friends we lost along the way

Bob Marley wrote and sang the evocative lyrics to the song "No woman, no cry", in other words, don't cry for the loss of a friend, and maybe rejoice in what is left behind to us from knowing them.

Of course one person's interpretation of the written word , be it creative or otherwise, is another person's claptrap , yet increasingly I wonder about people who have been in my life and are now no longer part of it. Instinctively I still sense loss and yet I also now realise that often the knowing of those people has left something behind, something valuable, their legacy perhaps woven into the template that is me.

Whether I thought their particular attributes positive or not, and at some time their positive traits would surely have outweighed the negatives, I wonder whether I have avoided befriending similar people since or maybe I just treat people differently now with a little of life's experience behind me: keeping a distance, arms length, kid gloves ...

I have an every growing list of friends who have disappeared into the mist. There are those who no longer walk this earth and those who, without my really knowing why they no longer can or want to be part of my life, have distanced themselves from me, and then of course those whose names I have actively chosen to delete from my address book and about whom I do not fret for lack of contact!

Emma and Stuart, Clare, Matthew Smith, Bill and Geoff, Derek, Liz, Charmayne and Mark etc etc. Where are you?

It is said that we have many friends for now, some for a while and a few for life, and whereas that is undoubtably true, the loss of a friend for whatever reason is not easy to bear. This is especially so for one for whom making friends was a difficult, if not painful, lesson to learn. Put another way it was learning the real value of friends myself and not as a received wisdom: as a child I put all my energies into a few friends, often one at a time, and did not surround myself with mates. Not being obsessed with football and other such activities meant I did not acquire vast cohorts of acquaintances: this was of concern to my late father who, on reflection, I realise was mirroring his own apparent failings.

So celebrate our friends, keep them close and cherish them. They may not be with you for the whole of the way.

Enjoy the memories and the words:

No, woman, no cry;No, woman, no cry;No, woman, no cry;No, woman, no cry.
Said - said - said: I remember when we used to sit In the government yard in trenchtown,
Oba - obaserving the ypocrites As they would mingle with the good people we meet.
Good friends we have, oh, good friends weve lost Along the way.
In this great future, you cant forget your past; So dry your tears, I seh.
No, woman, no cry;No, woman, no cry .ere, little darlin, dont shed no tears: No, woman, no cry. Said - said - said: I remember when-a we used to sit In the government yard in trenchtown. And then georgie would make the fire lights, As it was logwood burnin through the nights.
Then we would cook cornmeal porridge, Of which Ill share with you;
My feet is my only carriage, So Ive got to push on through.
But while Im gone, I mean: Everythings gonna be all right!Everythings gonna be all right! Everythings gonna be all right!Everythings gonna be all right! I said,
everythings gonna be all right-a!Everythings gonna be all right!
Everythings gonna be all right, now!Everythings gonna be all right! So, woman, no cry;
No - no, woman - woman, no cry. Woman, little sister, dont shed no tears;No, woman, no cry.

Monday, July 17, 2006

England 4 - Germany 1

Conscious of the fact that I have not blogged for a fortnight (zut alors!) here is an update on life in Lille. The header is not the score from a recent football match in a well-known tournament but our tally of visitors was augmented over the weekend by an impromptu visit from my cousin Marion from Germany. She drove from Lippstadt (where I was born) in around four and a half hours, underlining the ease with which people can get around on the continent. We don't have a car that would happily do the journey at the moment and getting there by train to return the visit is possible but rather pricey - or maybe it seems that way because we have become used to cheap air travel - at something over 100€ each.

We had a great weekend and were able to show Marion the town in it's best (sun) light and at a time when parts of the centre of Lille are temporarily pedestrianised for the summer. We had lunch on the pavement outside a restaurant in Old Lille (or the Old Lille as they will insist on calling it) and I was reminded how nice it would be to have another income and the ability to treat ourselves like that more often. Note to self - must get on with it! At home we ate outside at every meal starting with one of Max's famous risottos and followed by another outing for our old Delia fave, the warm lentil salad with goat's cheese and rocket.

The garden is looking lighter now that we have pruned back some of the trees and given the plants beneath them a chance. In addition to the three frogs who bask all day long in pond number one, this morning I espied for the very first time a fish! Just the one though, skimming the surface for food probably.

Our friendlier neighbour, Mamy, has given us a pot of jam made with our very own cherries - I printed off some labels using the computer to design a Bonne Mamy label - and also we couldn't get out of acquiring what must be the ugliest chair ever. We are hoping to offload it onto les parents who can then get rid if they find they too detest it!

I don't think I will be able to keep this image here permanently!!! Yuk.
We have covered it with a throw but it still lurks on the top landing and is not much improved.

Have added another link - see right - to Charles Bremner's Paris blog in the Times. Very interesting and well written, take a look.

Expecting 38C on Wednesday. This is le canicule that wiped out so many elderly french two years ago, stuck in their attic rooms unnoticed and forgotten. It was a real wake up call and now at the merest hint of a heatwave we are given information and asked to check on our neighbours. Ours of course just give us their old furniture!