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Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
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Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Teutonic is best

FRANCE: EVEN MORE ORGANISATION Younger daughter, Occasional Speeder, thinks our villa holidays are languid, unstructured, lacking in direction so she's created a schedule covering the whole fortnight. Yesterday she locked us into "the definitive supermarket” (Super U at Clermont l'Hérault) followed by morning drinks (coded 4 OJ, 1AJ, 1 DC), lunchtime drinks (2L, 3 Lf, 2 Sp), a speculative Cathedral?, ending with evening drinks (3 BW, 3 L). And the answer's no. I neither know what these drinks are or whether I consumed them.

Today the list insisted we went to Collioure, a narrow-streeted port, inserted basin-like into the cliffs, prettily regarding the Med and close to the Spanish border. Very soon we discovered Collioure's USP (unique selling proposition) was parking; there wasn't much of it and all of it was jam-packed. It seemed that either OS or I, the two insured drivers, would have to drop the others, park in an empty field 2 km out then walk back in for lunch.

Just before this sub-plan was put into action we noticed a P-sign, followed it 800 m. more in hope than expectation and found ourselves in an enormous, virtually empty car-park near the station. Four hours cost us 4.5 euros and then the penny dropped. All that scrabbling round the town had been for free parking. Anything rather than pay £3.

FRANCE: CONSUMABLES In Le Fregate, a restaurant overlooking the harbour I ordered loup mediterrané entière – a whole sea-bass. OS ordered a dorade (bream) that wasn't labelled whole, but came whole and was, in any case, bigger than my fish. Go figure.

In a deliciously cool and empty Collioure wine bar, done out in bare stone and devoted to selling regional wines, I ordered Banyuls for the first time: a red wine tres sucré. Rather like a dessert sherry but lighter. A white is also available. Probably good with certain types of cheese. I liked it; is this a sign of growing age?

I must confess, in Hereford we use quilted toilet paper - our justification being that that's a part of one's body one shouldn't misuse. The French have no idea: miserable, almost transparent stuff, eminently vulnerable to a misdirected finger. Yes, I know it's in bad taste but people should be warned.


  1. Am I right in believing that Matisse and Picasso both at some time lived and painted in Colliure? It is there under the influence of the Mediterranian that Matisse is supposed to have discovered colour (no pun intended).

  2. Who gets the 3L, is it liters, drinks? And to finish it off I'm laughing out loud.

  3. Joe: I fear it wasn't that kind of visit. Don't you find that culture gets driven out by hot weather? Perhaps not, given your affection for Spain where it's ususally even hotter. If I can toss one thing into the cultural pot: our villa, which is very fancy-schmanzy and costs a bomb, is decorated with a rather superior selection of prints. In the dining/living room is what must a life-size print of Matisse's Blue Nude 1 1952, a wonderful paring-down of the female form into a collection of curves. Famous, of course. But I wouldn't mind owning just the print.

    Ellena: I am encouraged to continue living provided I can make you laugh every now and then. Unfortunately this richly rewarding experience (for me, that is) seems to come at a price: I frequently act the smart-ass and this can make you cry (I speak metaphorically).Only you can say whether you emerge in profit from these transactions.

  4. Joe (again): I've been trying to access your blog but something is getting in the way. Error messages, etc. All other blogs are available. I'll persist

  5. Does the Regimental Sergeant Major (OS) have you out of your bunk doing press-ups at 5.00am? Like you, I prefer an unorganised holiday where I can go with the flow. Which does not include the vain hunt for car parking. I have driven away in complete frustration before from such towns - notably Port Isaac on Cornwell.
    I rather liked your Collioure wine bar, though. Your relief and relaxation is apparent in your writing!

  6. Keep trying if you don't mind. What can I do?