Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Apéros à l'anglais

Anita spent some time in England recently, and came back with some munchies that are hitherto unknown in France (at least to me).  I look forward to the expansion of French cuisine out here in the sticks, to incorporate such delicacies.

Thursday, 13 October 2016


The french word for carpenter (also shipwright) is charpentier (m); there is a clear similarity between the words in the two languages.  But the French have also the word charpente (f) that means framework, or structure, probably since most structures at the time the words were forming were made of wood.  Charpenté means well-built, which probably speaks well of the artisans of the period.

A local chateau was open for visits a few weeks ago; here's some of the charpente that was holding up the roof of a tower.   They didn't mess about in those days.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

La Côte Flûte Festival

I spent last weekend in Switzerland, not far from Geneva, in an area known as La Côte,  at a flute festival .   I have never been disappointed by this kind of event.   There was a standard mix of extraordinary things: masterclasses, concerts, exhibitions of flute-related things, and plenty of people who were enthusiastic about making music with flutes.

I have always come away from this kind of event with two conflicting emotions: there's "Why do I bother, I'll never be as good as these guys", and also "Hey, there's lots of interesting new techniques I can use to improve my practice, and playing".

The simple truth is, that the professionals that I admire started from about 6 years old, practiced two hours a day in their early teens and five hours a day in their late teens and early twenties.  Aint going to happen for me.  On the other had, I do it purely for pleasure.  I have spent considerable time doing things I was good at that I didn't particularly like, so now I'm doing something different, just for the enjoyment.

How about these plastic flutes and piccolos?   They hardly weigh anything, and are bright and colourful, with a good sound.  What kid wouldn't want to play one?  I quite fancy one myself.

The main venue was architecturally dodgy; soviet brutal style, with the inside finished in concrete.   But the on-site theatre and music rooms were well-appointed and comfortable.   There were other (prettier) venues around the town where some concerts and classes were held, with a shuttle bus service between them all.

The two highlights for me were the jazz jam session with Geoff Warren and his amazing band, and the concert by Wissam Boustany and Aleks Szram, but these are personal preferences.  There was nothing not to like.

It was all organised by a petite bundle of energy; Carol Reuge.  Nice work.

Monday, 3 October 2016

A walk

Early Autumn; cool, bright, but not cold.

Sunday, 2 October 2016


The BD, "band dessinée", or graphic novel is hugely popular in France, and there was an exhibition this weekend at Château Gontier, perhaps half an hour from my place, so I went to see.

I rather like BDs, though I'm not an addict as many French seem to be.  But I see it as a perfectly good art form, and I like the way that it provides a big outlet for graphic artists in France, whereas the market is very much smaller (relatively) in the English-speaking world.  And they seem to me to represent a strong argument against putting everything on Kindle.

Actually I'd like to see the Shakespeare plays in BD form.  I find reading the raw text to be rather dry, although do-able, and I think that a BD interpretation in the hands of a talented artist could lift them onto a different plane.  And you could keep the original text intact.

I stumbled across a guy, Yann Lesacher, at a small stand, he was selling the books he has produced, showing his watercolours and sketches of the Brittany coast.  He's going along the GR34, a long coastal footpath known as le sentier des douaniers, the customs officers' path, making sketches and watercolours as he goes.  The pictures in his books are leavened by light-hearted or humerous comments that sometimes relate to the pictures, sometimes don't.   He's on his eighth volume of books, and you can find more of his work here.

Friday, 23 September 2016


A couple of deer grazing in the field out the back this morning. - Mother and fawn?

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Flexi balls, iron rods and strawberries

The battle for posession of the strawberry crop was won by the birds again this year.  They are content to eat the fruit before it is ripe, so I never get a look in.  I had protected the plants with netting stretched across semi-circular hoops, but it didn't seem to keep them out.  Sterner measures are called for.

I saw these "flexi balls" promoted in a garden catalogue some time back, and bought a pack on the basis that they might come in useful, and constructing a bird-proof strawberry cage seems like a good thing to try.   I got some iron rods such as are used for reinforcing concrete, cut them to size and joined them with the flexi-balls.  The result is the framework you can see in the picture.

The metal rods are flexible, as are the flexi-balls (surprise) so the structure sways quite easily, but seems to stay reliably together.   I have enough plastic netting to stretch along its length, but I need to think a bit more about the sides.  I need to be able easily to lift the netting up to get at the strawberries, so I am thinking about individual panels that correspond in size to the positions of the metal frame pieces.   I could use chicken wire (expensive but relatively rigid) or plastic net, on some kind of wooden frame suspended from the horizontal metal rod.

The battle for the strawberry crop 2017 has started and the enemy isn't even aware yet.  Hehehe!  <= evil cackle.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...