Monday, May 31, 2010

Toulouse, encore

Sister Rose and I are back in Toulouse. We are both very tired after our first day, but in a nice way. We spent part of the afternoon in a salon de thé doing our homework. I had menthe à l'eau (minty water) and Sister Rose the Admirably Adventurous had Thé Magie - Magic Tea, which was an infusion of rosemary, lavendar, and 2 other things I can't remember.

The salon is a cool, kind of bohemian little place. Here's Sister Rose working on les devoirs (which means the homework, for the non-francophones) in front of the walls of pictures and handbills.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Last Day in Brighton (this trip)

It was raining and cold and blustery - about as far from last weekend's perfection as possible. England was reminding us of her other face. We went for a walk in the rain. Snapped pictures of a row of pretty houses in the North Laine.

Took the recycling to a drop off point, and watched the seagulls raiding the rubbish bins.

Then we went to Harry's English Food restaurant in Hove and had English Food. The COG had kippers - which he said were really good. I had Scotch pancakes ( disappointingly not oat pancakes, actually just like American pancakes) and some really fantastic bacon. We drank 2 huge pots of tea and had a lovely time. I think Harry's will become a tradition.

Then home to clean and pack etc.

English News Headlines- They're Better Than Ours

Not better in the sense of 'good news' but better in the sense of more inventive and fun to read. Of course, the story behind this murder is very sad, but the headlines are fantastic! They've arrested a graduate student writing a dissertation about serial killers. You couldn't write a better mystery. The latest episode is that they've found 'what they believe to be body parts' near where one of the bodies was discovered and they are running tests on them.

Monday, May 24, 2010

British Place Names

I love British place names. Some of them are very old, and I try to look them up in books I've acquired about naming.

In fairness, I do have to point out that this sign was defaced and it's not really Poo End, but Pool End. But the other names are correct.

And the second sign is not defaced - Wyre Piddle is a real place in the Cotswolds. There's also a Much Piddle, but we didn't pass a sign for it.

Click on either of the pictures to enlarge them.

Puzzling British Signs: Part 6 in the continuing series

Lovely Weekend

This weekend we visited family in the Cotswolds and then in Herefordshire. The weather has been perfectly beautiful. And the drive, once we left the motorways, was lovely.

The COG's cousins in Herefordshire live in the most idyllic spot possible, and they have a beautiful house and garden. It was lovely to be out in the country and hear birdsong and see the amazing views of countryside.

Here are some random pictures I took from the car on the way. You may have to click on them to see them really well.

First picture is for Vivi - a flowered Mini - I missed the sign on the back that said "this car runs on fairy power'.

Everywhere there are fields of the most intense bright yellow. They are rape fields - growing rapeseed used for making vegetable oil. In America, they'e renamed it Canola Oil, but it's the same thing.

A miscellaneous motorist with a unique hairdo. I'm sure he was coming from Brighton.

A Cricket game in progress. Cricket is always so picturesque with the white clothes against the green cricket lawns.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Brighton Beach

Beautiful weather has arrived and today is particularly warm and sunny. We went for a long walk on the beach. Brighton beach is not a lovely expanse of sand, as you might imagine. It's a shingle beach, meaning it is a beach of rounded stones. They make a lovely sound when the waves pull back, but they are not as easy to walk on as damp sand.

The COG recherche du temps perdu

Proust-like, the COG revived memories of childhood holidays by the sea, by having a snack of whelks on the beach.

Next time he's going to have jellied eels.

I had a little bite of a whelk. Tough and tasteless, and it didn't take me back to my childhood. So I don't think jellied eels are in my future.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Blackbird Singing on a Lamp at the Pavilion

Yesterday in the Pavilion garden we saw this wonderful blackbird singing on top of a lamp. A very proud bird with a lovely song. He had a bright yellow bill which he opened very wide when he sang - I wish you could see it better on the video.

I hear so much birdsong at home, but in Brighton it's mostly seagulls raucous cry. I love them, but it's nice to hear other birds sometimes, too.


Today we went to Nyman Gardens, a National Trust property about 13 miles (an hour by bus) from Brighton. The house is a fake 15th century manor house, built in the early part of the 1900s. Most of it burned in 1947, leaving a beautiful, romantic ruin covered by the most amazing wisteria, which smelled of green tea. We did go in the remaing house - used as a second home by the Messel family until it was acquired by the NHS 20 years ago or so. It was not very interesting to us - except to remind us of Baddesley Clinton, a much better and REAL 15th century house also run thethe National Trust.

It's the garden that's the real attraction. And, for us today, the Bluebell woods, which were amazing. There were not that many Spring flowers out - the daffs are long past it and the roses aren't out yet, but the air was fragrant in all the woods around the house, bluebells, wisteria, and a bunch of other flowering bushes that I couldn't identify.

The most amazing, peculiar one is called the handkerchief tree and that is exactly what the blossom looks like - dainty white handkerchiefs drooping from the branches. I hope this picture gives you an idea of what it looks like. There were many of them all over the estate. Delightful.

One thing the National Trust does really well is lunches. All the foods are local and kind of traditional and it's fun to eat there. I had English Pea and Mint soup with locally made bread. The COG had a venison burger on a locally made bun. We shared an apple and elderflower crumble with custard for dessert. We drank tea, but we could have had beer made on National Trust properties, or elderflower or ginger or apple carbonated drinks made locally. Really a pleasant menu.

Busy busy busy

We've been so busy that I haven't had time to get to the pub to blog. What have we done? We had a lot of chores to do yesterday - talking to the property managers, buying little odds and ends etc. But last night we went to see The Lady Boys of Bankok.. Yes, that's right, the Cranky Old Geezer and I went to see the Ladyboys. They've been appearing in Brighton almost every time we've been here and the time just seemed right.

To cut a long story short - they were fantastic. It was really a fun evening. The show is held in a huge tent on a green area kiddy-corner from The Pavilion, probably part of the old Pavilion garden. You sit at tables, not in rows, and you can get Thai food and lots of drinks there. We had eaten ahead of time and didn't drink anything, but most people were pretty sloshed. The audience was probably 80% women out for a ladies night.

The show was all lip synced popular songs - from Lady Gaga, to Beyonce, to a big Michael Jackson tribute, a song from Grease etc. All big numbers, and in between big numbers, a humorous number performed in front of the curtain. These were music hall saucy, and lots of fun.

And the ladyboys - my God! the most beautiful women you've ever seen, and all of them men. At the intermission they did pictures with people from the audience, so 4 of them spent 1/2 an hour in front of the curtain talking with each other except when pictures were being taken. Even the way they moved was feminine.

The whole thing was kind of surreal - especially since we had been reading about riots and civil disorder in Bankok yesterday. But we had a great time.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What a difference a day makes

The weather is warm and lovely today. We spend the day at Ikea, where they did not have the sleep sofa we wanted. It will be in stock tomorrow and they suggested we come back.

So we are waiting until we come back for the sleep sofa.

But we got a table and I put it together while the COG was making dinner. I also installed a slide-out shelf under the sink.

We are in a different pub tonight - the St. George - and it's a pleasant place, but for some reason I am having trouble uploading pictures.

Maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cold, Freakin' Cold

Can you see how cold it is here? Can you see how the cold wind blows off the sea? Can you imagine me in long underwear, cashmere, a lined trenchcoat and a scarf tied around my head and neck, hands in pockets, shoulders hunched and still cold.

Sigh. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Still, we arrived safely in Brighton around 1 am this morning. We spend the day walking around, going to the bookstore, getting groceries. The COG made a really nice chicken stir fry for dinner. He used an actual recipe, so maybe that's why it turned out to be so much better and more interesting than my stir fries.

Or maybe it was just not having to cook it myself that made it so delightful.

We are in 'our local' pub with a number of drunken people. It's the same guys, sitting on the same bar stools, having the same drunken conversations they were having when we left in January, so we feel right at home.

Not much else to report at the moment.

Cold, Freakin

Friday, May 14, 2010

Adopt a Shelter Pet Stamps

I bought some of these stamps the other day. I had to. Dog of COG and Cat of COG could have modelled for them.

Second from the bottom on the right - could be Dog of COG and the upper right, could be Cat of. They are wonderful. The stamps, that is.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Having put away my power tools, I have switched to the sewing machine. I've been making various kinds of cozies. On the right made of wonderful Chinese-y brocades, the kind of fabric I'd never use for clothes or decoration, but it has made lovely shoe bags. On the left, a tea cozy for the flat in Brighton and a case for my new computer. Which is kind of a computer cozy.

But my sewing machine is being irritating and jamming, so I've put it away and I'm packing now.

And my office - I feel so good everytime I walk into this room and sit down at the computer. Such a relief to have this done.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

New Desk

(just to remind you)


Not fully titivated, but finishing will have to wait til I get back in July. I need to add decorative molding above and at the floor level, as well as edge trim on shelves and cubbies. Plus, it needs proper merchandising, However, it's a huge improvement and works very well for me as is.

Are you wondering how I built the cubbies? Don't ask. It was not pretty. I have no idea what I'm doing most of the time. The men at the local hardware store (may they all wear starry crowns in heaven) are sooooo helpful, but I don't even know what to ask for or what to call things most of the time.

But it looks nice from a distance. And not horrible up close.

Sushi: second try

Tried sushi again. Better this time because I used actual instructions and a recipe. Still not perfect, but the grade is 'shows improvement'.