A Summer Day

The tobacco growing and drying activity declined in southwest France throughout the post war period, and in the small town where I live, it died altogether at the end of the 1990s. Since then, the (main) activity has centred on the grain silo. Not exactly throbbing industrial heartland, but at this time of year, it’s busy.


Grain silos aren’t very inspiring buildings, which is perhaps why the site was chosen to host a weekend of graffiti jamming, entitled A Summer Day. We went down to look at it this morning and the graffers were finishing the silos and starting on the (rather run-down) school sports complex opposite. Giant comic book hulks, rats and robots isn’t my thing. It’s an exclusively male activity, and the results are, well, what you’d expect, but it adds a bit (a lot) of colour to a group of industrial buildings.

Maybe next year they will invite different graffers to get a more diverse palette, hyper-realists, trompe l’oeil, the more ‘artistic’ styles of street art. We might even see a few female graffers and we might be able to give Hulk a rest too.




Mise en abyme.











Hay raking


The hay is raked in the west meadow waiting for the baler to arrive this evening. 40°C in the shade; it should dry out quickly.

hay raked3.jpg

hot air whines with

insect wings and the pounding

pulse in my ears

throbs with each solar flare flash

each belch of fiery magma


There is still about an acre of bottom land uncut, too irregular for a tractor and full of ditches and willow trees.


green air brushed

with fox tails and meadow grass

hangs still and frog-cool

in cricket silence

trickle of birdsong

Room with a view

Lately, the weather has been wind, rain, storm, sun, repeat. From my desk, in the angle between two windows, I see the changing sky and how the wind and rain set the air in motion. Each evening, the wind drops, the sun comes out and I can hear the birds rather than the wind sighing. Straight ahead, I look west.

from west window.jpg

and over my left shoulder, I look out of the south-facing window.


from south window

and if I go to the south window and look right, this is what I see.


south window looking west.jpg

The sky and the trees are in constant movement, but I love the peace that falls at the end of the day.


calm as a still lake

at dusk when swans roost and

only nightingales

make the air tremble with

their ceaseless song



Morning light

I took some photos this morning, it was so still and warm. Amid the usual racket of thrushes, blackbirds, wood pigeons, nightingales, great tits and woodpeckers, (and the bactrian army) I could hear the first flutes of the golden orioles from the poplars and somewhere close the oop-oop-oop of the hoopoes. Everyone who is anyone has arrived. Spring can begin.


Looking west and south.April192.jpg


Looking into the sunrise and the pond where the bactrian orchestra practices.


Poplars, hibiscus and the rose tree planted round about the time of the Great War.


North side of the house where we ought to build a moat for drainage. One day…


Bear’s garlic grows everywhere in the shade by the house. Like white blue bells…but the smell isn’t exactly the same.


The meadow is full of blue flax flowers. Too much light to get the colour though.

flax flowers1.jpg


So much light

caught in petal bowls

bounced along blades of grass

fueling root and stalk

jungle of life.


Bonjour tristesse

Photo ©Maddie.d.photography


Last night we went to bed numb with shock. Not because of a human catastrophe with loss of life, but because of the loss of a monument, the heart of Paris, our Paris where we started our life together. Human tragedies draw on sympathy with the victims and their families. Grief is a sharp, stabbing pain because we are all human (whatever some people may tell us) and violent, untimely death is something we can all empathise with. Perhaps because it’s human, and we know death is waiting for all of us, the pain fades. We get compassion fatigue, there being only so much we can give to people who are after all complete strangers.

The loss of such a symbol, a jewel of Gothic architecture, the heart of Paris is different. It can never be replaced. We are all touched in the same way. There are no families who will take their grieving with them for decades to come, long after the rest of us have forgotten their personal tragedy. We, who have ever been parisiens or parisiennes, feel the loss of Notre Dame as the loss of a little part of ourselves.

For me, Notre Dame is fourteen years of my young adulthood, the place where I had my first job, where I was married. Four of my children were born at the Hôtel-Dieu whose rooms look across the river to the cathedral. I walked across the parvis twice a day, on my way to and from work, and when I was pregnant, a pew at the end of the nave by the main doors was a handy mid-point where I could have a sit down to get my breath back and watch the light falling in red and blue from those tiny pieces of heaven. One piece of good news is that, contrary to what was believed last night, the rose windows have survived, though the fear is for the fragility of the stonework holding them in place.

You don’t have to be a believer to be awed by the splendour of Gothic cathedrals, just an ordinary human being. Empty the building of the chattering hordes of tourists trooping around behind their guides and trooping out again, and we are left with jewel glass and soaring stone, vaulting too high to work out any detail, but we know it’s there, lovingly carved by some stonemason dead maybe eight hundred years since. Now, we are just left.

I cried last night. Time passes for flesh and blood, but stone and genius and beauty are supposed to last forever.


Sprung spring

First Sunday lunch outside this year. Hastily cleared away one lawnmower, one bicycle, a lot of plant pots waiting to have something done with the contents, and there we are, watching the pheasants of what turns out to be an established breeding colony (yay!) and their crazy aerial acts. I hesitate to call it flying…

sunday lunch 2

One hot dog getting a dose of sunshine.


Spring flowers

It’s spring flower time. Photos taken over the last fortnight.

The blackthorn was the first to blossom.


The daffodils have been in flower for a couple of weeks now.


and the celandine


This monumental stack of blue flower isn’t ceanothus but rosemary.


The shade beneath the hedges is full of violets


and the meadow is an ocean of deep blue muscari