Flying Virgin…

…which is what I did in 1986, London/ New York courting Meredith.

(Virgin Atlantic, that is!)

Yesterday that phrase took on an entirely different meaning….

We live in a rectory or presbytère, next to a disused church.




This statue has been our neighbor for 25 years.


Our Ladies pose for a photo!

Yesterday our Lady took FLIGHT–albeit assisted–to the cemetery hard by.






Short flights can be stressful–even when you know you are in safe hands….


Now she presides majestically over generations of Dauzatois–permanent residents of the graveyard.


Occasionally a new grave is dug, a visible sign that these quiet souls will soon be joined by a new arrival; more often the newcomer finds peace in one of the many family tombs.


After decades beside the church door, an edict was issued from on high (the Mairie–owners of the church) that she was to fly again to her new perch.

A couple of years ago the church was deconsecrated and stripped of its interior statuary.


It was a curious site to see these iconic figures lifted off their pedestals, standing around in the middle of the empty church, like awkward guests at the start of a cocktail party–awaiting the arrival of the removal van.


They’d known each other by sight for perhaps more than a century, shyly stealing glances from the safety of their niches–but never obliged to speak….Now they were face to face–no escape!

The wall murals tell the story of Saint Martin in primitive fashion and the vaulted ceiling is still a brilliant BLUE.

The martydom of Saint Martin


The demur figure of Mary has led a solitary life.

For years she’d stood at the end of the Curé’s garden–looking back at the church and the presbytère.


Parishioners with the statue in the garden about 60 years ago.

But then the previous owner of the house–feeling perhaps uncomfortable under the constant gaze of the Virgin Mary–decided it was more appropriate that she should stand vigil at the church door, welcoming the worshippers.

So Monday wasn’t her virgin flight–pardon me–but maybe it was her last.

She has, in turn, modestly presided over:

  • a garden around which the live-in priest would walk while transposing his thoughts into sermons.
  • a church to which a loyal, but dwindling group of adherents would come to worship.
  • and a cemetery in which many of those worshippers are resting.

Now she has time to reflect on all that and one might guess she’d be happy to be left in peace.








We had the best of times!


Washington DC; Philadelphia; Naples, Florida; North East, Maryland and Whitstable, England


East Coast folk from both sides of the “Pond” came together in South West France, where the sun shone for us every day.

It even managed a mackerel sky to match Friday lunch–spanking fresh fillets of this tasty fish.


We peeled and chopped–worked hard and chuckled a lot.


We made chickpea pancakes to stuff…



French omelettes….


Italian frittatas too, to compare….

I  forgot the grated parmesan for the frittatas–had to retrieve them from the stove and mix again!

Julia Child and her inspirational insouciance was kindly invoked by the Bravehearts: “Never mind, nobody knows but us!”

Over coffee, we talked of Cabbages and Kings and the Mediterranean way of cooking.


All our lunches taken al fresco, with a backdrop Leonardo would have been tempted to paint between mouthfuls.


Our neighbor Celine even taught us how to clean and braid garlic. Some, like Leslie, were naturals….


Others, try as they may…


will never master it…


What a lovely lot!

(Even the gatecrashers!)



(Shows it was just picked from the garden!)

Here’s to us!

Who’s like us?

Damned few!

…Well roughly 29 (Bravehearts!) at the latest count!











How good it is to be ALIVE!


We had a visitor night before last–towards midnight, scarcely visible in the dark but crying a pitiable cry.

She was small and furry black with a kink in the tail.

She was distressed and hungry, a exhausted refugee searching for sanctuary.

Meredith was immediately on hand with a plate of food and some water.

“Don’t feed it,” I heard myself saying.

“I definitely am feeding it!” retorted an indignant wife.

In a flash, I had run through all the drawbacks that might occur in the coming days and weeks. (There were precedents.) The effect on the resident cats; the fact that maybe we had enough cats (three indoor and three outdoor) to be going on with etc…I quickly came to the conclusion that the mite was more a problem than a gift.

Then I saw the little black bundle and backed off knowing it was a done deal–we were a four” indoor “cat family!

The following day the vet said HE–for she is another he–is about three-and-half months (milk teeth still in place), of good character and in sound shape–and gave him his first vaccination.

Lundi? Sidney? Gaston?–names on the list of possibles.

Pippa does her usual hissy fit and we’ve seen little of Ben.

Beau is wary but tolerant from the comfort of a strategic chair.

The little mite–not a bad name–slept through his first full day in the wicker basket Meredith had “made nice” for him.

“What-a-ya-gunna-do?”! ? Here I am! Nice lady! Comfy basket. Food in the dish–go for it! “

There’s a lesson for us worry guts…










*french for monday)






 The polling booths are open and the show is on the road.



From the Highlands to the Lowlands from the east coast to the west coast, over 90% of the population is expected to vote–unprecedented in a western democratic referendum.

It’s a game changer, they are saying; even if it’s “NO”, nothing will ever be the same again.

Watching the NO campaign in panic mode, desperately playing catch-up when the polls started shifting–promising the kitchen sink to save the Union, has been entertaining.

But now, there’s nothing left to do but vote–if you live in Scotland–or twiddle your thumbs, if you don’t, awaiting the results tomorrow morning.

I fell to a spot of speculation while my thumbs were twiddling.

Just supposing the vote today was taking place in the far west of ENGLAND.

The Cornish were deciding whether to cut loose from Albion (“emmet land” to the Cornish) and go it alone! (There have been rumblings!)


And just supposing Ross Poldark had the gift of eternal life (well, Mammoth TV Productions are doing a convincing job reviving him!), how would he VOTE?

Trotting down the lane to the polling station in Pendeen, where would his cross go?

YES or NO??

Any clues?

He’s a free spirit, independent, anti-establishment, a risk taker, a convention flaunter, out of his time even.

He’s been “elsewhere”, albeit to fight for the “oppressor” in America. He has seen another side of things.

He’s a landowner, mine boss, member of the privileged class, yes–but…

Unlike the denizens of Downton Abbey, upstairs at least–safe to bet on a “no” there–Ross is less easy to predict.

(Though I felt disappointed to read that later in life he’d accepted a knighthood and become a Tory MP and best friends with Foreign Secretary George Canning! Ross Poldark!? Scourge of the local gentry, defender of the poor, natural leftie?!  Oh dear…!

So voting “NO”, Ross?

I’ll answer for him. (Well we were quite close for a while!) Begging Winston Graham’s pardon for the presumption of course….

 I’d wager that he’d not be able to resist the call.

Cornwall for the Cornish! Clear out the cupboard and start over–a new order!

“We’ve tin and copper–well, we’ll find it and china clay too.”

The old radical Ross would awake and be leading the charge–to the cliffs’ edge some would be saying.

“You know me well,” says Ross. “Did you see Andy Murray’s tweet this morning?”

“Let’s do this!”





There is an air of perfect calm today.

From where I’m sitting, reading, the back door–open to the terrace–frames the day.

A still life–cloudless blue sky with trees.


Young Ben…


comes in through the door, pauses, purrips a greeting, looks towards the food bowls, then strides passed them–apparently affording me preference.

His black coat is warm from the sun as I stroke him.

He continues on, jumps up on the table under the window to the courtyard–looks out briefly and exits through the grill.

Eating will keep and there are lizards to chase.


I go back to my book.

As I finish a chapter Ben appears again at the back door, pauses, sniffs the floor just inside the door, where a few pellets of dry food have fallen.

He cracks a couple with his teeth and moves off–no greeting this time.

He walks across the entrance hall into the dining room, stops suddenly, sits and throwing his right hind leg in the air starts cleaning the underside ferociously. He changes legs and licks the left one stretched out in front of him–paying special attention to the toes.

He moves off again and disappears in the direction of the garage.

Five minutes later he comes in through the front door with a loud greeting “meow” and pauses.

I get ready for a friendly approach; instead he turns away and mounts the staircase.

I write the last sentence and then hear “pad-pad-pad-pad” down the stairs and here he is again– head pointing towards the front door and out he goes–into the sunshine.

After a couple of minutes I become aware of a whirring sound–thrump, thrump–getting louder–THRUMP, THRUMP–begging investigation.

Some sort of flying machine? Helicopter? Ultra-light?

I go out through the courtyard to investigate just in time to see the rear end of a vast combine harvester disappearing down the field opposite–shattering the quiet calm of a perfect day.

No sign of Ben.






Yesterday  (September 1st and officially the first day of autumn for the Met office) our neighbour Alice–beekeeping teacher–arrived with a basket of summertime goodies.


She and Meredith had been collecting honey from her many hives and our ONE in the garden.


There has been precious little “summertime” this year, so the honey harvest is modest


and the basket a reminder of what might have been–peches de vignes, tomatoes and delightful looking little red chilis, the last–“tres forts–attention!” warned  Alice.


This year our tomatoes were “carried off“–as they used to say about people who caught the plague–by mildew.

According to Alice, this has happened to many gardeners–but not to her tomatoes because she saw the signs and acted to stop the rot.

The unusually wet weather with little drying sunshine is the cause.

Result–in our case–a quick demise of the entire crop; we were away when the plague struck.

Alice advised keeping a few seeds from the largest tomato, for planting next year which we’ve done, but not before a bit of coarse “look at the size of it!” acting.


It’s now in the fridge–a tasty sauce waiting its turn in the limelight, which maybe tonight as part of the stuffing for one of its cousins.





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