Wednesday, May 06, 2015


Espresso, by Christopher Reid.

Little cup of melancholy,
inch-deep well of the blackest
concentrate of brown,
it comes to your table without ceremony
and stands there shuddering
back to an inner repose.
Pinch it: it's still hot.
Soon, its mantle of bubbles
clears, but the eye –
all pupil, lustreless –
remains inscrutable.
Rightly so. This is your daily
communion with nothingness,
the nothingness within things.
Not to be sipped, it's a slug,
a jolt: one mouthful, then gone,
of comforting tarry harshness.
Which you carry now as a pledge
at the tongue's dead centre,
and the palate's, blessed
by both the swallowed moment
and its ghost, its stain.
 From Christoper Reid's Nonsense (Faber, £12.99 Guardian bookshop)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A New Print Shop and A Mother's Day Discount


(A quick link to the new shop is on the right hand sidebar on the blog. Or here.) 

When I came across those little boxes of prints that I hadn't sold and put them on etsy I was reminded of how nice it is to send my photographs out into the world, to see my pictures as physical objects, to hear that people like them enough to exchange them for money and to know that they will be enjoyed for more than the 15 seconds it takes to skim a blog post. I was also reminded however of what a total pain in the tits wrapping, packaging, labeling and posting things is, and that was with ordering them from the printers taken out of the equation. The logistics of doing that for a mere 12 sets of prints had me quivering on the edge of boredom and frustration induced tears more than once. I'm not big on repetitive tasks, feats of organisation or going to the post office. 


So when I heard about Society6 (thanks to my friend Laura, check out her shop, she's awesome) and that I could upload my images and they'd do the rest and maybe I'd make some money out of it, I was really pleased. Sure, it's a little sad not to actually see my photos as prints and not to feel them in my hands before sending them off, sure it's a little less personal than etsy or suchlike, but it is also just that much easier, especuially now that I live on a mountainside, on the edge of a village where the mail comes occasionally and the post office is open for three hours a day. 

Scottish Landscape, I

My shop is here, and everything is for sale in a number of sizes. For now the images are mainly from the last few years and are divided into loose categories of France, Scotland, New York, Gardens (you can see the various 'collections' here.) I'm hoping to add more of France over the next few months, or maybe even to start a separate shop with only French images. 


I would love your feedback. If there are any of my images that you would particularly like to see listed please let me know. 

Just for today Society6 is offering a $5 discount and free shipping (maybe just to the US? I'm not sure) on everything as Mother's Day is coming up (again. We already did it in the UK back in March but who am I to argue with American timekeeping) but it is just for today, Tuesday April 28th, so hop to it. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Four weeks ago.

We are all in France, together. I don't quite believe it.

It is the Spring Holiday so W&P have been off school for two weeks. 

I'm sick, I have a vile virus that has left me completely useless. 

I have done nothing for weeks. It has stopped being relaxing and started being stressful and depressing.

It's asparagus season. I think asparagus is alright but I don't entirely understand it.

All of France smells of wisteria and lilacs.

This is our local place to walk and play and go to the organic market on a Tuesday night. I've never seen anywhere more French. Four weeks ago it was really cold, we wore hats. Yesterday I wore a dress and bare legs and made daisy chains in the grass. I was too ill to take a camera with me. I want to take photos before the wisteria falls though. I've already missed the blossom trees. Even when time has stopped it just keeps going. 

* I don't have a proper computer here, just a tiny little laptop that doesn't edit photos. I can resize them and stick pairs together, it takes forever but  I can do it, but I can not colour balance and adjust brightness and contrast and that stuff. Posting pictures without editing them is kind of killing me. Just so you know. 

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Free Range in France.

It always surprises me how quickly I can settle into a routine, even in the most unfamiliar circumstances. I'm someone who likes to know what's coming next, and when I don't know on an existential level it helps to know on a day to day scale.

I had half hoped that as soon as I got to France I would have an epiphany, that the clouds would clear and I would start to have a feeling for what the next steps would be. HA! If anything the clouds have thickened and I've spent the last eleven days in a complete fog of cotton-wool brain and treacle limbs. Despite the epic and inexplicable hangover I seem to be suffering from (I drank too much London last year and now I'm suffering. Or something like that) we have eked out a small and gentle routine from the confusion. 

We wake up after a night more or less asleep, more or less kept awake by frogs and wind and nightmares and unsettled children. The girls and I have horrible sugary museli together (the French suck at breakfast cereals) and then we spend an hour getting dressed, rolling around on the floor, attempting to shower, preparing snacks for nursery and arguing over who gets to give me my 17 different vitamins. Then we go upstairs to harangue grandpa into giving us a lift to nursery on time. 

The girls have been going to nursery in the mornings for just over a week and while they don't love it, yet they don't hate it every day, which is as much as I'm willing to ask for at the moment. While they're there I finish the shower I didn't manage in the morning; stare into space; tidy up; fill in the forms that get sent home from nursery with the help of google translate; stare into space; attempt and fail to answer emails, struggling as I do with putting words together in either English or French; walk the dog in the howling mountainside wind and then stare into space some more. 

We pick the girls up, we have lunch (pain, fromage, jambon, pomme, repeat), the girls have a quiet play time in their room and I stare into space some more and then when they're up we go and play in the woods, which is my favourite part of the day. The house is the last one on the edge of a national park and ancient oak forest is literally (literally literally) on our doorstep. We've been to visit this house several times but it's only in the last week that we've stepped off the fire path that winds up the hillside and into the trees. They're low and scrubby and the branches are at head-height. . . for four year olds. Walking through the trees involves a lot of me getting stuck in bushes, having to backtrack, losing sight of the children, swearing quietly as the dog looks on confused but happy. His five year routine of 7am and 4pm walks with my father in law has suddenly exploded into anarchy, people walking all over the shop at any hour of the day, total madness. My irritation at getting scratched, prickled, trapped, backached and lost is tempered by my delight at seeing my children explore and climb and fall, to see their disregard for the path, their glee at getting dirty, their willingness to get hurt and to get up and try again; that is what I wanted for them, for their childhood, not the paved paths and predictable climbing frames and rubber flooring of city playgrounds. 

All of the difficulty, the unfamiliarity, the revolting breakfasts melt away and become completely worth it when I see my kids wild, unplugged, free range in France. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Day Three.

I have moved to France, alone with my children, to live with my inlaws. My husband will follow in time, but for now he still lives in South London, fixing up the house that we thought we'd live in for a decade but which we actually outgrew emotionally within two years. Times are strange.

The girls and I flew to Languedoc on Saturday after 24 hours spend mostly crying about the impending move. I'd been so excited about getting out of fucking south London that I forgot I was leaving Nye behind for 18 days, that in nine years the longest we've been apart for was nine days and that the girls won't see him for a further week, having spending most of their waking hours with him for four and a half years. The reasons I had for thinking that this wouldn't be a big deal escape me right now. It's a big deal.

We are settling. It's now (...counts it out on my fingers...) Tuesday. We've done three days and three nights. The girls start l'ecole maternelle (nursery) tomorrow and although I have no idea what that will comprise of (because I still don't speak a damn word of French*) we are all excited and looking forward to this next, huge, milestone. We visited the nursery on Monday and it seemed very sweet, smaller and more structured that our nursery in London, which was what I think is described as 'child-led' (the French are not led by children.) There were tiny desks in rows and hand-writing exercises on the walls. I can't help but recoil at the shock my children will get when they realise that 'nursery' is not a standardised thing, that it will not be simply what they already know but with new children. But then again perhaps they won't recoil, I hear that children are more adaptable than adults, less thrown by things being different. Here's hoping.

Other things that are happening; I am being kept awake every night by a god damn frog that lives in the pond outside my bedroom door. It is raining in biblical proportions. I have no idea which of the six types of flour is the right one for making cakes. French toothpaste tastes funny. We have yet to catch a wild boar. And to learn the French for 'where is the lightsaber shop so we can buy one to kill the wild boar which we are going to catch and make into dinner because wild boar is just hairy pig and pigs make bacon, did you know?'

*not true. I can invite someone to dine with me and then tell them 'I'm sorry but it's not very comfortable for me like that.' The language course I've been using is clearly catering to a more sociable traveller than me.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Time is gonna take so much away.

Time is gonna take so much away
but there's a way that time can offer you a trade.
Time is gonna take so much away
but there's a way that time can offer you a trade.
You gotta do something that you can get nicer at.
You gotta do something that you can get wiser at.
You better do something that you can get better at
'cause that's the only thing that time will leave you with.
'Cause time is gonna take so much away
but there's a way that time can offer you a trade. 

It might be cabaret.
it could be poetry.
It might be trying to make a new happy family.
It could be violin repair or chemistry.
But if it's something that takes a lot of time that's good.
'Cause time is gonna take so much away
but there's a way that time can offer you a trade.
Because your looks are gonna leave you.
And your cities gonna change too.
And your shoes are gonna wear through.
Yeah, time is gonna take so much away
but there's a way that you can offer time a trade. 

You gotta do something that you can get smarter at.
You gotta do something that you might just be a starter at.
You better do something that you can get better at.
'Cause that's the thing that time will leave you with.
And maybe that's why they call a trade a trade,
like when they say that you should go and learn a trade.
The thing you do don't have to be to learn a trade
just get something back from time for all it takes away. 

It could be many things.
It could be anything.
It could be expertise in Middle-Eastern travelling.
Something to slowly sure to balance life's unravelling. 
You have no choice you have to pay times price,
but you can use the price to buy you something nice.
Something you can only buy with lots of time
so when you're old, which you will, some whippersnapper's mind. 

It might be researching a book that takes you seven years.
A book that helps to make the path we take to freedom clear.
and when you're done you see it started with a good idea.
One good idea could cost you thousands of your days,
but it's just time you'd be spending anyways.
You have no choice, you have to pay times price
but you can use the price to buy you something nice. 

So I've decided recently,
too try to trade more decently.