I'm now caught up in packing boxes (again!); preparing generally for the move South, where, at least, it seems to remain blue-skied, sunny and (uncomfortably, perhaps!) warm. We reckon about 15 - 17 hours should do it but will break the journey down with an overnight, hotel break somewhere North of Barcelona.
Charlie is keeping a wary (worried?) eye on progress. I collected Jack and his feline buddy and inquisitor from the kennel/cattery this morning. Charlie was hiding, wide-eyed, in a small playboxy thing in the darkest, farthest recesses of his substantial cage and outdoor run, whinnying pitifully when he heard my voice. I eventually had to get down and drag him out into the light - and into his dreaded basket. But he's been fine since getting back home. Jack just takes it all in his stride; he's widely experienced in both the travel and kennel stakes.
While in London, (and one reason for going over) I managed to catch a young US band from Saint Loius, Missouri. A few months ago, a fine professional US bluesman and guitar picker friend had tipped me the wink about them and insisted I see them before they become BIG, as he says. He has played with them at music festivals in Denmark and the States, so sent me along to introduce myself and pass on his best wishes, for which they were genuinely pleased. All in all, it was a good gig and I, too, expect this outfit to 'crack it' and do very well in the States, where they are already making inroads, including the heartland of cynicism and overfed musicians, Nashville, TN:
Pokey LaFarge & The South City 3
They had just arrived following a few gigs in Wales - Cardigan and Abergavenny - and will be in both Scotland (including Stornoway, Isle of Lewis: http://www.lanntair.com/) and Ireland next before flying back home to USA. Great fun band and nice lads, to boot. Catch them, if you can, and don't forget to say 'Hello'. They'll appreciate it!
En route from the airport yesterday afternoon, I stopped for coffee in a small, provincial town. An unprepossessing sort of place with the usual overblown but quintessential pomp of French architectural excess evident in its local authority buildings. God knows what Cleggy, Cameron and the dreadful coalition mafia would think of these - sell 'em off, no doubt, executive apartments or som'at!:
|La Marie, what else!?!|
There is a pleasing symetry to these typically Froggo constructions, seats of countless beret-wearing, fag smoking, pastis slugging local politicians. The spirit of community in rural France is gradually eroding/changing but still remains strong, deeply rooted and genuinely felt by many French people, of all ages, it seems to me. Very different from the UK - or certainly - the London and SE English way of life, these days. It's hard not to notice the difference and resent the changes in the UK. Although I've little doubt that this largely lost spirit remains intact in some outposts: The Hebrides, Orkney, parts of Wales, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Northumberland etc., - the more remote, the greater its chance of survival, I suppose! And hope!
It also prospered in Sweden, albeit to a lesser extent, due to the 'reserve' of the Swedes and the distances between houses/homes. However, for example, on one memorable occassion we bought a huge amount of metre-lengths of chopped timber for fuel from a farmer's widow about thirty Kms from our place. To haul it home took about eight return journeys with a neighbour's huge John Deere tractor and this enormous trailer hitched to its back:
Håkan - for it was he - and his wife Monica helped with the first few loads, as did our Kraut friend and neighbour, Ina. Thereafter, Håkan simply gave us the use of the rig - which we'd never before driven, save for a quick lesson from Monica, consisting of a drive down the road, a turn by the lake and back home - to collect the remainder of the stock! It was a bit hairy at times, but we made it without mishap - and possibly without insurance cover, for all we knew!!
J is looking forward to getting Hamish over to Spain on holiday in early August. There is a very good, newly built village commune swimming pool on a hillside with great views South, on the village outskirts. So she plans to continue his swimming lessons, to build his confidence, and as a needed escape from the heat. The Med is only a forty minute drive away, too. There is a nice little coastal village there, not touristy and frequented mostly, if not solely, by local Spanish families.
The'll both be glad of the shade in the tracks of the countryside behind the house, which is natural parkland fortunately, so untouched and prettily green - for southern Spain! The above piccy is here in France, with the pair of them trundling behind an expectant Jack, berry picking by the look of things!
Our daughter, LVP, won't be coming out to see us there until October, when the weather is generally about perfect. She unfortunately suffers severely with SLE: http://www.uklupus.co.uk/ As a result sunlight is not a favourite of hers, though she does like warmth! Something that's often missing in West Wales where she currently resides by the Teifi river estuary at Poppit Sands:http://www.cardiganshirecoastandcountry.com/poppit-sands-beach-cardigan-bay.php
I'll be off now - Charlie has just returned, calling to me loudly. He wants and needs affection after his recent, short period of incarceration! God knows when I'll be back, mind, manana will no doubt play a part in getting an internet connection in the Sierra Nevada hills: http://www.andalucia.com/villages/alpujarras.htm