December 2008 Archives

A New Year



I am, I think, looking forward to a New Year. We are both a little scared too. I am cutting down my orchestral work; teaching may well be building; we both have book ideas in various stages which could or could not do well; Julian will not paint a painting a day for the rest of his life; we may or may not have a third and hopefully even a fourth member in our family some day.... One thing seems pretty sure, this will not be our last Christmas à deux. ....

Luckily there is a new man in the White House, who seems to think that calm, courage and peace are more important than drama, fear and war....I hope his influence will spread. We will see it all unravel, doubtless, but I have never known so many tremors of hope coursing through so many lives at the brink of a new year. New era even?

We will celebrate with friends on New Year's Day with a walk, or sledge or ski up on the Ventoux, weather permitting, and Julian's special feast. Today we did the shopping at Les Halles in Avignon:

When we told the potato seller that we will be crushing the potatoes with fresh truffles under a chapon, he recommended that we have the big rattes which are more floury, because the Normoitier, though twice the price, tend to become buttery and melt when crushed. Then, the butcher recommends that we spare a hundred euros and get the Red Label 'Fermier' capon instead of the Chapon de Bresse, because it is quite delicious, even though the Bresse has been milk fed and the fat is better distributed. The fishmonger insisted that the best oysters were Utah beach, not Gillardeau (another fifty euro saving). I took a quick break while Julian got some necessaries from the supermarket, and had six fines et claires d'Oleron with a small glass of white in the little stall next to the oyster seller. Then, wanting to support our local businesses rather than stock up in supermarkets, we drove to our favourite wine makers in the region - Mireille and Jean Pierre Cartier at Domaine Les Gouberts. On arrival, I insisted we owed them forty euros for a 'vieux millesime' bottle of Cuvée Florence from our anniversary in July. We considered buying four more bottles for New Year's Day, it was so good..... She said the 2000 Gigondas really was very special, a little less animal, and would perhaps go better with the capon. Luckily it was half the price. When we left, having paid our bill, Mireille gave us a 93 Cuvée Florence as a festive gift. That's my kind of credit crunch shopping!

SHOP LOCALLY! SUPPORT LOCAL SMALL BUSINESSES! every pore of my body screamed!!!!!

Meanwhile we are back home, stocks are being made, carcasses prepared and trimmed. 'How does such a huge fellow survive on such a tiny heart?' says Julian, pulling the small organ from the capon carcass. 'And look at the liver! It's huge! Just like mine!'

The New Year's resolution? Goes without saying, I think.

Happy New Year!


happy christmas


babus christmas

In the beginning she was all into nature and stuff...


but now, of course, she has turned in to a typical materialistic teenager. What can a mum do?


Happy Christmas!

ventoux snow

Cottage Industries



Last weekend I ran a little stand, enjoyed some mulled wine and mince pies and wept through In the Bleak Midwinter at Domaine de Mourchon's warm and fuzzy Christmas fair. We did well and and are only just emerging, both of us with various strains of the Bedoin lurgy, from a pile of bubble wrap.

We are padding to and from the post office under a blanket of snow. This morning I stood and listened to it; to the rustle, fizz, hushed splat and occasional thump of it melting......

Meanwhile, the offer on Julian's prints runs till the 14th December. It is free shipping to all subscribers on all signed, limited edition prints and a 10 percent discount on more than one. Subscribing only takes two seconds and you can do it here. They make stonking Christmas presents for all of those you know who long for these parts and I can add personal messages to friends, kids, Mums, kittens, Uncles and Yoga teachers too. I have a very nice fountain pen and decent handwriting (amazing one can still do it after all these years tapping away on keyboards with two fingers!). I do not apologise for this shameless plug. It seems an ideal time to be supporting cottage industries and in recent weeks, though often unable to see for the mounds of tape and stiff card and labels and foam padding, and even as I unpack six paintings that I have forgotten to scan, and even as I cough and splutter over one which then has to be reprinted, I have felt so proud of the creative hive we have here, and grateful that it is still buzzing.