May 2009 Archives

I will miss...

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I will miss our home grown veg and marvellous wine at an affordable price....


But I am looking forward to Beethoven, cheddar and a good pint of beer!

I am off to England play in Garsington Opera. I will be sitting with one of my closest friends, in whose section I played for twelve years at Glyndebourne and who is just about to adopt as a single Mum. How glad we are that we may finally become mothers together! Perhaps a bit of a last fling for both of us?

Meanwhile, in the move, Julian has fallen twice down the crumbly unattached bricks and amputated ladder that have served as a staircase (and barrier) to his hemp mezzanine for the last few years, and we have broken some fine pottery (but luckily not the finest), but right now he seems content, inspecting his artichokes, dreaming of an insulated, well lit space, and singing 'Oh what a beautiful morning; Someone is coming my way...'

Perhaps he was right about Cuckoo Hamlet?


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It's hard to leave at this time of year. We have pulled our first carrots, made the most sublime pasta dish with our own artichokes and parsley. Our first ever roses are about to bloom and Oscar is sitting proudly on the roof of the car admiring a rainbow.


Three years ago, Julian moved his printer and office into 'my' room in order to 'do the work' on the studio himself.

'It'll only be a month' he said. Humph.
Knowing it would be at least a year I said 'Perhaps you should put your office in the spare room?'
'You don't understand. I can't move the printer into the spare room; there are wires, plugs, phone points to consider.....'

('He's never gonna leave her'...When Harry Met Sally).

Today, three years (yes, years) later, Olivier started that very same work that Julian never began on Julian's studio. It has taken this long for Julian to realize that he will never be a painter and a builder (and open a restaurant and internet cafe and make websites and climb all the mountains on Skye) all in one lifetime.

He moved the printer and plugs and phone points and wires in to the spare room, no problem. And, of course, his paints and easels into my room.

Olivier is sensitive to The Artist. He does not play a radio. He shows up on time. He says 'Perhaps I should do this bit first as it makes the most noise....Then, when Julian is working I can do the quiet things. I have a new machine that just goes SHHHHHHH...'. Olivier is from the North.

We may even have gallery by the time I get back from two months in England.

confit pot

Meanwhile, the wildflowers continue to amaze. Wile pyramid orchids, wild gladioli, broome, poppies, and the Provençal sage flower which, Mmme Chauvet assures us, when boiled down with Eau de Vie, makes and excellent remedy for digestive problems.


Life in the Cuckoo



When we arrived in L'Hameau des Cougieux (as it was spelled then) - what, six years ago? - we were told by the estate agent that it was named after the 'pink flower that grew in the spring'. This we took (I can't remember why now) to be the Mallow flower and we decided we lived in Mallow Hamlet. We liked Mallow Hamlet. We were planning purchasing Mallow on which to publish various books about life in the Mallow. When the mallow sprung up in my flower bed I thought twice before cutting them down since they were so authentique. One day the mayor changed Cougieux to Couguieux on the sign because 'that was the correct Provençal spelling'. We changed our pronunciation (making the g hard) and spelling accordingly. Proudly. And now, a new Parisian neighbour arrives ('oh we'll just rent for a while and then find somewh....ohmygod, we never want to leave this exquisite magical spot) and tells us Couguieux is a bastardisation of the Provençal cougious which of course means Cuckoo! (Durrr). And tonight I go down to the new Cellier du Ventoux in Bedoin to get our daily ration of one bottle and he is playing Provençal music and it turns out his son is a professional Provençal folk musician and he is very interested in Provençal culture and he has a Provençal dictionary behind the counter and...well of course it is cuckoo!

Cuckoo Hamlet? Cuckoo Press? Life in the Cuckoo?

We have been walking around today in a daze, me practicing, him painting, both lunching and checking the artichokes and all the while bursting out with 'coucou, coucou', just to see how it tastes in our mouths, our new name.

I like it, because I love the round sound of the birds in the morning, especially when they trio with the recently arrived golden oriole and the hoopoe. Julian thinks there are overtones of cuckoo clocks and cuckold. I say beh.....

So here I am on the terrace, thinking how awful it will be to leave this emerald poppy dotted paradise and go play Beethoven in the Cotswolds next week. Julian is upstairs having his shoulders and back (knackered from peony painting) rubbed by our excellent Californian masseuse. Linseed oil is being sundried on the stone bassin. OK and yes I do have a glass of rosé in my hand.

Life in the Cuckoo...hmmm, cuckoo life? life in the hamlet of the cuckoos?... is very tough, as always.

smelling the roses

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May day.



It is May day. It's the fĂȘte des travailleurs. It's a voluntary day off for Julian - the day Mo will be unveiled to Mo herself; a day for retraining roses and digging holes; for stroking cats in the sunshine; a day of green, of podding, of fecundity and planting seeds, of small figs and furry almonds with echoes of maypoles and morris dancing on the village green back home, and a cycle ride up hill through an emerald landscape to lunch and down hill home again.

And on this day it occurs to me that many of you have shown interest and concern in our own seeding process, and that to some I owe an explanation. It is such a personal and private process I have not wanted to write about it much, but this is where we are:

We have had our dossier in Mali since February last year. In March 2008 we paid our Bamako lawyer a handsome down payment and took a trip to meet him. He was stuck in Madagascar. The trip, of course, was extraordinary. The two orphanages which we visited tore us apart - so many souls to put in our pockets and take home; too many words and emotions and books to write.....

More than a year later we are still two and still in the dark. A commission has been and gone and we were not selected. In January this year, finally, I met our lawyer - tall, charming and so handsome - in Paris and he explained that one of his clients, though she had been selected, had not responded; that if she didn't we could take her place; that he would know by wednesday; that I should call him wednesday; that he had a sixth sense about this. I did call him, on skype from a pub in London. His number was no longer in service. Five months later we have heard nothing more. I presume he is still stuck in Madagascar....

Meanwhile, through a delightful collector of Julian's paintings who has himself adopted there, we became interested in having a sibling group from Haiti, for which country I have been compiling a dossier for the last five months. Now here's the rub:

If I send off the dossier to Haiti next week we will most likely be attributed two older children (three and six maybe?) immediately. This would mean photos, love, and it would mean family at last, in our hearts. And of course a down payment of 8000$. However, the procedure in Haiti is such that we would not be able to bring these - our - children home for two years. Meanwhile, should we be accepted in the next commission in Mali, which may or may not be in October, we would be attributed a baby within a few months and would ba able to take him or her home immediately, at which point we would lose our right to adopt 'our' children in Haiti. We could then, if we so wished, reapply to the French authorities for a new agreement (a year's process with yet another home study) for those children, but with no guarantee of being accepted or the children still being available.

We have been agonizing over so many things, but mostly: How could we bear being attributed a child or children that we then were forced to reject? I am not a depressive person, but I felt myself ceasing to feel. Anything. Joy at a blue sky, pain at a cat's wound; pleasure in playing the cello....something was wrong.

Luckily, our friend who recommended the lawyer in Mali is a bit more ballsy than me and, bless her, she called up both the orphanage and the office that deals with the adoptions in Bamako on our behalf. She ascertained that our dossier did exist, had been renewed and that indeed we did stand 'a good chance' of being selected at the next commission.....

With some regret, (so much support from Eric, Conor, Gladys...) we have decided not to send the dossier to Haiti until we know about the next commssion in Mali.

Today I am loving the blue sky, enjoying my scales, celebrating the season of green and of growth, cuddling a cat...It feels like the right decision. For now.

grain stores, outside djenne