July 2007

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Het weer in de Gers


bath leg

marche de nuit
A detail from 'La Marché de Nuit' by Perry

grass snake
Caroline found this little grass snake struggling to get out of
our 500 litre rain catcher. He is a smaller relative to the
1,5m long, non-poisonous couleuvres that seem to have
increased in numbers this summer. Probably because mice, their food supply,
are everywhere in the garden this year

spot on site
Spot On centre de bien-être and art gallery. The place for
reflexology, massage and to exhibit your work!
Perry designed and built the centre's site which has just been launched.

Even after a relatively wet spring and summer, the farmers
are busy watering the maize fields to give the crop all the
moisture it can get to ripen.

Ernest's sister, Jeanette, wandering through the cosmos field

perry painting
A work in progress. Picasso Taylor on one of his 'painting days'

gedimat choice
Decisions, decisions. Mr Odd Job on one of his 'DIY days'

market day
A detail from 'Mardi matin'. A market day scene.
For sale on Perry's site and at the Spot On gallery in Trie.

anabelle and Lauren
Lauren and Annabel led the wave of guests we
have landing at our door over the next few months.

depeche article
My Mum will be so proud! Might have to translate it for her though.

I pronounce this bath now open!
When Caroline first gave the guys a deadline to have the bath installed, it seemed so long away that it would not be an issue. "I want to take a bath on 15 July" she said and half a year seemed ample time. In the end it was a close run thing. Finding the tiler, getting the electrician in on time, waiting for months for the bath to be delivered. The date started to loom and progress seemed to have stalled. In the end the guys did good and the first bath was pulled a full week before the 15th. A well deserved dip after a day of heavy weeding in the vegetable garden. Celebrated with a few savoury delicacies, chilled wine and Caroline's favourite ambiant CD, it was our first bath in three and a half years!

Night market
Every August, there is a night market in Trie. Stalls of arts, local produce and traditional crafts. We headed for the champagne tent, where we met the usual suspects, and then on to the duck dinner at the long tables under the arches of the Mairie. But the highlight of the evening was the Bal Dansant. A three-piece band played foxtrots, waltzes, tangos and 'Mexicains'. It was the older generation's turn to let their hair down. We watched, fascinated, as more than a hundred couples sashéd around under the illuminated arches in close formation. The more extravagant swinging and twirling with a flourish, the more elderly just happy to hold onto each other and shuffle away for a few circuits. There was a comforting feeling as each couple moved together, arm in arm, without even thinking. Each man leading his wife in and out of the circling shoal of happy faces. These freshly bathed and coiffured farmers and their wives in their tenue de ville stole our hearts and made us realise again how it is the simple pleasures that make us so rich. It inspired Perry to attempt to capture the moment in an ink drawing, and it even inspired both of us to start dance classes in September.

Auberge du Lac, 20 today!
The local ferme auberge has been open for twenty years. A great excuse for a party. The field was filled with cars and lots of familiar faces gathered at the bar for an apero. In all, we were more than 350 for dinner. Thierry, the hard-working owner bathed in the glow as he welcomed us one by one. He had organised entertainment. A little less sophisticated than what you city folks are used to, to say the least. First a singalong 'spot that tune' competition, a woman singer with her drum and bass machine, two young, tarty go-go dancers (which had more than a few of the older farmers craning their necks for a better view.) and a magician. A very bad one. He was tall and skinny and his bald pate and wild, white mane reminded us of the mad professor in Whacky Races. As the first course arrived, he started clanking away with a double handful of large metal rings. linking and unlinking them in a very confusing manner for what seemed half an hour. His next visit was as the profiterols arrived. This time with a box of tissues. He proceeded to pull them out, one by one and eat them. Tommy Cooper eat ya heart out! It was as the rain came and he started his ventriloquist act with a hairy dog puppet that we called it a night.

Rasberry Liqueur, ooh er...
The rasberry patch has produced a huge amount this year. Unlike the cherry tree. Since the cherries in eau de vie will have to wait 'til next year, we decided to try a recipe that we found in a recipe book that Perry's mum had sent us. Rasberry liqueur...dangerously delicious. Caroline was trying it out long before it was supposed to be drunk. "just a sip". Thankfully we had enough to make four bottles, which will get better all the time, if I can keep it hidden from my wife!

Flower power
Mr Pierrot has a house on the outskirts of Trie. He farms and decided that since the field opposite his house had to left fallow for a season, he would sow it with cosmos flowers. It has now been the subject of newspaper articles and much attention from the female population of Trie. A beautiful waist-high carpet of pinks, purples, orange and white that attracts many passers by. That is one big field of pleasure for a 135 euro sack of seed. Caroline is now thinking about giving our front meadow a similar splash of colour next year.

Recycling taken to extremes
The old stables have long manger grills, made of wood, along the walls. We plan to use one as a balustrade across the front of the mezzanine in the chai. And now that the guest bathroom is ready we need a banister to the stairs to stop us stepping into the gap one dark, need-a-pee, half-awake excursion to the loo. With the help of Ernest, we now have a beautifully adapted manger in place. Having asked for two quotes for a new staircase and supports, we were very happy to be able to reuse material from the house. Waste not want not. It was possible that it was still inhabited, so we had to treat it a couple of times to kill off anything that could migrate into the rest of the house.

Old friend, new neighbour
Perry's best mate, Malcolm, turned up with his wife Linda, to move into their own new bottomless money pit. Namely a farmhouse in need of renovation, just eight kilometers to the north of Puydarrieux. Not a full time move, you understand. Just a four week Summer indulgence before the builders attack the place in the Autumn. New roof, drainage, plumbing electrics, bathroom, swimming pool, kitchen and a huge garden to tame. We wish them a lot of luck, energy, patience and money. We should know! It wouldn't surprise us if more of our friends juggle with the idea of settling into the area over the next years. And to think we came here to get away from it all!

Unlike Perry's first exhibition in Trie in December, this time he gave himself plenty of rom to create the required number of pieces to fill his wall at the gallery. The build-up to the show was a relaxed affair consisting of a couple of 'paint days' per week, accompanied by fellow painter and exhibitor Jon Wainwright, a young book designer and recent immigrant from sunny Brighton. Perry had rediscovered the French cartoonist, Sempé, who specialises in capturing the French way of life with just a few simple lines and a humouristic perspective that often appears in Perry's work. The theme for the expo was life in Trie; capturing the characters on market days and other daily activities. You can see the Summer exhibition on Perry's professional site, La Baguette Magique.

And while all this was going on we were busy painting, plastering, sanding and waxing in an effort to have the two bathrooms ready for the wave of visitors. You can see what we got up to in the Our House section.

Caroline's old boss, Andrew 'Woods' Woodham and his wife Liesbeth, have become good friends. They arrived with their two daughters, to pitch their tent in the garden for a few days, which were spent catching up, eating well and sleeping late.

Until next month,

A bientôt.

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© 2007 Perry Taylor and La Baguette Magique, France.