Monthly Archive for May, 2012


An airport run again this afternoon, this time to Bordeaux. An easy trip there and the aircraft arrived 25 minutes early. This was mildly puzzling. You’d think its driver would know how long it took to travel from Edinburgh to Bordeaux in a traffic-free environment. One could understand five minutes early with a decent tailwind, but nearly half an hour seemed excessive.
However we missed a motorway turning on the return trip. This is not difficult to do in France since, compared to the UK, one receives little warning of an approaching junction. It meant that we spent an hour meandering through Bordeaux trying to find a way out. Having never been into the city before I was mildly interested to see it and, having done so, I need never go there again. I prefer sitting on my terrace looking at France to spending time in any city I have ever been to.


After a lecture from my neighbour, I have usually remembered to lock the house when I go out. I took the car to the garage yesterday and on my return found that I’d left the house key on the car’s ignition. I was mildly distressed to find that it took me some 20 seconds to break in. I now have to worry about whether I should make more of an effort to secure the house in the knowledge that I shall have to smash windows if I lose the key. In truth this has to be one of the safest places in the nation. Any stranger who comes to the village is followed round by the two wheezily-barking neighbouring dogs, nicknamed Pain and Panic by a recent visitor. Surreptitious break-ins are simply impossible.


My neighbour had a gang with smart machinery hacking back his leylandii today, very public spirited. I tried to employ the same bunch to chop down the excesses of the brush in my adjacent hedge but I was ignored.
Half the cats in the village have only half a tail. If Mendel were around he’d be able to work out how recessive that particular gene might be, but it does show relationships. The cats that hold their ground and tell Cato to piss off are all half-tailers. The fully endowed still run.


A peaceful run to the airport with virtually no traffic on the road since it’s a holiday. But I succeeded in getting lost on the way there, which is most unusual since it’s on the way back I normally have trouble. Perhaps my lack of ability to remember the route is a sign of deteriorating brain function because it otherwise is nothing but daft. It was uncomfortably hot but, I hope, this will have been the last trip without aircon since the car is supposed to go into the garage tomorrow for several days for its overhaul. This has already been postponed three times but tomorrow may be it’s lucky day.

Tea party

A blue day in which I did domestic things. ‘It must be it’s birthday’ said my neighbour when he caught me mucking out the car. He’s very snotty about the vehicle largely because he wants me to buy one off him. It, and others, nestle in his garage cum workshop at the bottom of the village. He once showed me the one he had earmarked for me but I have forgotten both its make and colour. I didn’t tell him that my Volvo will have a fortune spent on it next week and that it is not booked into his mate’s garage.
The salle de fete has balloons hanging from trees leading up to it. ‘For a baptism,’ I was told. And the church bell dinged this afternoon to celebrate and this was followed by a very decorous tea party.


Did the tourist thing to Carcassonne today. It’s at its best when viewed from the motorway and from there it’s stunning. Once you enter the old city you realise you’re inside a tourist trap and not that subtle a one. The knick-knack shops are gross and the restaurants, of which there are about as many as there are souvenir shops, compete for price on their menus and one collapses into them to escape from the polyglot hordes shuffling through the narrow streets. The church is a haven of peace and today a male quartet was singing. One was a marvellous basso profondo who produced the low frequency rumble of an elephant which you could feel through the soles of your feet.


First Garonne walk for a while in perfect blue weather. Not a lot going on save the curious spectacle of a black swan and a white swan apparently mates. One of the dogs decided to swim after a brace of mallards and received the fright of its life when a large carp breached alongside. The orioles were fluting from the poplar plantations but successfully remained invisible.


I should think most of the birds that are going to turn up have turned up by now. I’m afraid there’s one arrival that make me wish for a shotgun. It’s one of those small anonymous brown jobbies and this one is called a zitting cisticola. It spends its day flying over the field in front of the house going ‘zit’ – endlessly. Just when you think it’s gone off to do something more useful with its time, it begins zitting again. Dementing.


My latest visitor turned up with a case stuffed with M&S food. I have squirreled most of it in the freezer as being far too good to waste when there’s a couple of days of perfectly good chicken thing to be eaten.
I’ve taken to using the motorway to the airport and returning cross-country. I have perfected the skill of collecting tickets and paying tolls from a right-hand drive car. When the passenger window goes down, the dog vacates the seat. I coast to tyre-squealing distance from the machine, flip into neutral and lean across. It’s quite a lean but with fingertips I can stuff the orifices with ticket and card and linger till the card is spat out, fortunately almost immediately.


The car has had its repairs postponed for a week which suits me as it can be put to useful work over the next few days which will include a run to the airport.
Otherwise, it rained. I seriously began tackling the job of turning some novels I wrote some 25 years ago into a form suitable for Kindle. They’ve been scanned and turned into Word documents which I can largely cope with but the OCR errors have to be carefully corrected.
The first I’m tackling is dreadful. I can remember having to produce it in about three weeks but even so… The temptation is to suppress it completely and it’s impossible to avoid some minor edits but there are another half dozen to go and somebody bought this in the first place and so somebody may download it on Kindle. The others may be better. I live in hope, otherwise it’ll be a long summer.