Friday 7th November

Only just realised that it is November! Have just been into Céret with Olivier. He made me hang my head out of the front window like the dog (who had her head out of the back window) just because I ate six or seven cloves of roasted garlic for my lunch. All the way. My nose was quite chilly by the time we got there, even though the weather continues to be mild. The ‘gousses d’ail’  (garlic cloves) were left over from last night’s roasted vegetables and it seemed a shame to throw them away, so I noshed the lot. He tells me the dog has better breath than me. Well, at least I can fill a whole room now just with my presence – I must admit it is rather strong –lucky I’m a lady and never burp!

On our morning walk today we stumbled across an abomination – purply-blue slug like chaps on top of each other – very yeuchy. Don’t know quite what they are and might have to consult the Oracle (Roger) so will get back to you when I know more about them.

Yummy! Sainsbury’s curry for dinner – the joys of moving to France and experimenting with Mediterranean cuisine!

{Saturday 8th November
Omigod! Before I even had time to consult the Oracle, I received a missive from an eminent slug and slime specialist from Chalfont St Giles who pointed out that I have posted up a photo of copulating snails!!

In fact, according to the article ‘How Slugs Copulate the slugs “entwine themselves corkscrew fashion, detach themselves from their base and hang by a twisted cord of the thickened mucus 8-15 inches long. Still twisting in their embrace, they extrude from their heads their blue, club-shaped penis sacs which then extend into a fan shape at the tips.. The two “penial masses” are then intertwined in a tight spiral, the upper coils expanding to form a kind of umbrella. When this is achieved, sperm transfer takes place and the slugs untwist themselves, crawl back up the mucus cord (which one of them eats)……..”

No more, no more, I can’t stand it! Since I’ve found this out from Slugdoc, I see them everywhere I go, I dream about them and worry that I will find them in my All bran in the morning. Oh yeuch and double yeuch!! And in public too! Well, that’s the French for you!

Wednesday 12th November

Well, it’s raining today, rather damp and miserable with low cloud on the mountains, but on the whole October and most of the first part of November have been fabulous so a few days of gloom won’t do us any harm!

In fact, they make me appreciate even more my great fortune.

Temperatures are still a pleasant 15 – 16° but autumn is definitely on its way, with stunning splashes of red, scarlet and gold amongst the leaves, many of which are still clinging on determinedly to the branches.

The light is uplifting – and in fact today, one of the first days which have been dark and ‘couvert’, really makes you realise how important it is to take your your daily dose of brightness. It keeps that smile on your face, lifts the spirits, and chases away the blues.

In my other life in Leeds, at this time of year, I used to get up in the morning in the dark, go to work in the dark and come home in the dark – I couldn’t imagine doing that now.

The Canigou is wearing its white winter bonnet – what a sight! Rudyard Kipling descibed it as “a magician among mountains……… Nothing that he could do or give birth to would now surprise me, whether I met Don Quixote himself riding in from the Spanish side, or all the chivalry of ancient France watering their horses at his streams, or saw (which each twilight seems quite possible) gnomes and kobbolds swarming out of the mines and tunnels of his flanks”

I have to say that waking up on a clear autumn morning, when the snow topped Canigou glows pink in the rising sun, it is easy to believe.

It is apparently snowing heavily in Les Angles at the moment according to Mumbles in the Mountains with Jen, and this winter looks very promising for skiing. I do hope so as recent poor snow seasons have put a lot of people out of business and they really do deserve a bit of good luck this year

Sunday 16th November

A lusty Tramontane at the end of last week blew away the clouds, leaving us with a perfect weekend – blue skies, warm sun, all the qualities of a pleasant spring day, and a welcome return to that healing light which makes the heart soar! Early mornings and late evenings can only be described as ‘brisk’ and there was definitely a touch of frost in the air this morning, but it quickly melted away, leaving us with this superb day.

Preparations are in hand for the Christmas fair next Sunday, organised by FAB P-O, of which I am the vice president, a newly established group of both English and French speakers who have got together to run events, promote tourism, promote each other’s businesses……..

Lots of running around, newspaper interviews, photographs, poster putting up….

It is to be held at the Art Themis ‘International Art Space’, the white building between Ceret and le Boulou, with an ear sculpture outside which should make it quite easy to find.

There is a very good selection of stalls, along with Santa, clairvoyance sessions, arts and crafts and we’re hoping it will be a great success. Quite looking forward to it in a slightly nervous sort of way. Here are some of the photos we attempted for the newspaper articles – myself and Karen, who is president of the association and who (thank Heaven) is infinitely more photogenic than I am!

She is also somewhat taller than I am and in fact, in the first photo we are both standing though it does look as if I am sitting on a chair doesn’t it?

The place itself is potentially superb. It is already crammed with art and antiques, ready for an auction which will take place on the 30th November and Ist December November, and is fronted by Sir Antony AUDHOUI, (a rose between two thorns in the photo – right) president of the association ART THEMIS, auctioneer, Officer of the ’Association Franco-Britannique, Chevalier des Arts et Lettres, former president of the Association des Métiers d’Art and author of several novels…… so plenty of experience behind it.

His intention is to create a small ‘village’ for public auctions, themed exhibitions, concerts, conferences, art workshops, a classic car museum and a community for art both ancient and modern……. also a chance to provide more jobs for the area which can’t be

Friday 28th November

Definitely rather chilly now, with an inventive Tramontane finding new and better ways to pierce the winter armour!
The past few days have nevertheless been fantastic – dry, bright and sunny. The snow-topped Canigou, watching over us, is magnificent. You could believe that its peak is inhabited by large factories of white paint manufacturers, with massive night time leaks! Every morning, a new wave of paint is released, dribbling further and further down the mountain each time.. The rosy glow of the rising sun in the morning turns the white peak into an ethereal, mysterious wonder. Staring up at it, you can easily lose yourself in its legends of dragon slayers, sorcery and fantasy.

The Christmas market was a great success – literally thousands of people of all nationalities packed the building. Stalls sold wine and Christmas cards, carrot cake and gingerbread houses, jewellery and artwork, fabrics and furniture. There was Papa Christmas to spoil the children and face painting to spoil the adults (well, I admit that I was the only adult to have my face painted as a tiger – thanks Lou) and the whole thing was summed up in the Indépendant the next day as ‘Immense succés pour le marché de Noel’ – a lot of hard work by a great group of people but well worth it in the end – I think.

P-O Life is out – another great result (though I say so myself – the big head makes up for the little body!!) and continues to be enormous fun to compile and research. This month, we went up into the mountains and interrogated a variety of activities and even made some new friends.

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