Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Easter Saturday in Carcassonne

Saturday morning started off agreeably enough. I forgo the chores that were beckoning to me and skipped out to join friends for coffee in sunny Place Carnot. I use the word 'skipped' loosely but one couldn't help but feel uplifted by the marvellous weather. I trotted out my usual annoying tit bit of information that the market has a wonderful vibrancy at 8am (or earlier)  and proceeded to wax lyrical of the gleaming glistening mounds of fresh wide eyed gaping fish piled high in Les Halles. Sumptuous cuts of meat lovingly labelled and wrapped for the many families and friends joined together for Easter.  Cheeses galore in every shape, size and mellow colours vying for attention as people bustle with purpose clutching onto their woven baskets with worn leather straps or dangerously weave their trolleys past unsuspecting ankles. 
Artichokes, wild asparagus, plump cloves of pink tinged garlic, sticks of rhubarb, fresh green fat leaves of chard, spinach leaves, beets covered in soil, crisp celery, endives, tiny new potatoes snuggling against each other, fat cauliflowers, robust cabbages and spindly turnips to name but a few were being inspected and prodded with enthusiasm.
 I lifted my face to the sun and savoured the moment. In my friends basket I spied the large chocolate rabbit with huge white eyes and perky ears. 'I've got my eye on him' I said. 'He's got his eye on you' he retorted and so began a passionate discussion on the merits of individual chocolate producers of the region, the never ending choice of Languedoc wines, the feel, smell, seductive look of the food we are so fortunate to have close at hand;  Soon we all began to look rather dreamy at the prospect of Easter Sunday lunch which was promising to be a feast bought together by the spoils of our Saturday morning foray in Carcassonne market.

By then it was time for me to depart and throw myself into work.  I weaved my way through the crowds and as I passed the Musée des-Beaux-Arts I spied the solitary marble statue sitting quietly alone in the corner of the courtyard. He was sparsely covered in moss, the shadows of the gently stirring trees caressing him.  No-one else was there and so I slipped in and went to see him close up.

He appeared to be in deep thought, poised and confident and surrounded by silence save for a few birds twittering.  He was mainly lost to the crowds pouring past on the street outside, oblivious to the struggle of everyday life.  And it gave me the opportunity to reflect for a moment, to think of friends and family far away who are ill,  to know and be aware of the suffering of others as they seek to enrich our lives and are drawn into battles of which they have no power over.

I thought of an Easter message from a friend of mine. He said:

Happy Easter to all who celebrate this weekend! And to those who don't, just love life a little bit more.


Wednesday, 16 April 2014


There are many things to which I would like to unlock the secrets to in life.  I would love to discover the secret to patience. I have none, I cannot sit and wait, I cannot stand to wait, instead I prowl and look for distraction. My days work is done, I've been up since 6am, it is now after 6pm and I want to go and play. But I am duty bound to wait so I fiddle with my camera and send funny messages to people I love to make them smile.

Easter is nearly upon us, it's funny isn't it how acceptable it is to utter the 'Easter' word but mention 'Christmas' and everyone shudders. Just as much feasting and frivolity goes on, well it does here. Easter is when the season truly kicks in. I would love to say how much I am looking forward to eating my chocolate eggs but they went.... I can't be the only one surely ?

My cooking utensils hanging rather pleasingly in a row remind me that I have a menu to ponder. Easter Sunday will see us dining on roast lamb with lashings of garlic and an exciting array of vegetables sought from our wonderful market on Saturday mornings. Apparently the dessert is a surprise.  I love a surprise as long as it involves chocolate. 

So I do a bit more wandering round the house taking pictures and by now I really am ready to finish my day and just run....

Run down my stunning staircase to the street down below and catch the last rays of the sun.

The secret to patience is going to elude me for a while longer I fear.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Life in the slow lane

The title says it all...  Make of that what you will, those who know me well will read between the lines.  And there's something to be said about living life in the slow lane, unless you want to go anywhere of course in a hurry and then it presents problems.

You frequently have the occasion to wonder how people 'run' a business here. It's Monday morning and I'm chasing. I'm onto the Agents who manage the building, they are supposed to be onto the Architect who in turn is supposed to be sitting (hard) on the roofer who was going to start the new roof at the beginning of November. H.E.L.L.O, it's a week into April... What the hell, it's practically midday, nearly time for a two hour lunch.

Had the occasion to dress up on Saturday night. Every woman loves the excuse to pop on a dress and high heels, a bit of sashaying never goes amiss. Was treated to a superb Maharashtra curry from the district of Kolhapur. Combining a local red wine with this splendid dish we consulted Vin&Vinos, a small but highly informative wine boutique and tasting room here in the Bastide. The 'sans plus attendre' from Domaine Modat had us all crooning with pleasure. For dessert the chocolate mousse chosen from the endless seductive display at La Ferme, the epicerie and delicatessen was joined by a glass of very pleasing 2005 Muscat de rivesaltes from Domaine Cazes, another little Roussillon beauty.

To round off the evening we partook in some some light nibbling of hand produced chocolate from Marions les chocolats of Pennautier whilst standing on a terrace complete with a view of La Cité, all magically lit up in all its mystery. It was a moment for reflection.   It was a particularly fine evening, the moon had a pleasingly crescent shaped curve with stars sparkling bright and clear.

Life in the slow lane...

Why try to run when walking will get you there just as quickly ?

Monday, 31 March 2014

Dreams in Carcassonne

Sometimes you meet people and they blow you away.  The impression of them remains with you long after they have left and you find yourself thinking back to that split second when they entered your heart. I met someone who had their new iphone stolen the other day, it contained his music, his photographs, his contacts, his information, his life.... And what really hit home very hard was the fact that he bore them no ill will even though this person had wronged him, had caused him pain insofar as he had trusted a group of people. I was commiserating with him and in the back of my mind wondering what my reaction would have been. I know the answer and his attitude humbled me. 'Perhaps the person who felt the need to steal it doesn't have such lovely things in his life as me' was his reply.

And I just thought 'wow' because it stopped me in my tracks and made me reflect awhile. This was the intention the other week with the 'line of dreams' that fluttered happily in the breeze in Place Carnot. Children interpreted their dreams through colourful drawings and it was good to see people taking the time to admire and ponder. I couldn't help but wonder what sort of pictures would appear if adults were asked to do the same thing, if their aspirations and hopes would differ greatly.

I think we should all take time out to dream, it's good for us.

I want to live in a castle
See shooting stars in the sky
The moat will wrap itself around us
Just you and I

I want to lie next to you
Each and everyday
All the other distractions
Will simply go astray

I want to believe in you
Trust in what you say
Look deep into your soul
Blow the nightmares away

I want dreams that turn into realities
Not flotsam upon the shore
But in my heart of hearts I know
It’s not  possible anymore    ©SallyTownsend

Please leave a comment with your dreams and share with others if you enjoy !

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Carcassonne, Chocolate & Wine.

Back down to earth with a bump after a few weeks of 'plane hopping'. So difficult not to take advantage of some seriously seductive prices from Carcassonne, Toulouse or Beziers, all easily accessible from No.11, and more importantly so simple for you to get to me !!

Buoyed up from a few trips away it's down to the serious business of 'working'.  Tonight for example I'm off to an evening of chocolate and wine tasting, an exciting new concept from my friend Brent of Cocoa & Grapes who combines the exciting experience with walking tours bringing the stories of Carcassonne alive along with the sometimes violent story of chocolate, the "Food of the Gods", along with the ancient story of Languedoc-Rousillon wines, dating all the way back to the Roman times.

Along with making beds, serving breakfast's and dealing with enquiries, (multi tasking with texting, facebook, twitter, skype, pinterest, blogging and every other distraction under a vague heading of 'social networking') the life of running a bed and breakfast can be terribly good fun and very rewarding if meeting people is 'your passion'.

So there's really no excuse not to come and visit some of the varied delights Carcassonne has on offer, otherwise simply join me as I 'dollydaydream'

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Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Distraction in Carcassonne

I am the Mistress of Distraction. Always have been, always will be. I am unable to sit still and concentrate on anything that does not hold my interest fully.  Repetitive tasks and routine are a horror to me. A flighty and fickle person perhaps.  Which I suppose are rather good qualities if you run a bed and breakfast and meet different people on an almost daily basis because everyone is a tiny challenge.  I can provide an endless list of places and events with which to beautifully occupy most of my visitors. And mainly people are most complimentary because if you can exude enthusiasm along with a smile then it can be infectious.

Take yesterday for example, a list of horrors to achieve, all dismissed as I headed out to the springlike sunshine. A quick walk ended up as a two and a half hour hike. My companion was sighing deeply, I was undeterred however. The River Aude was tumbling and gushing like a madman possessed. We admired the early blossom, spied the first daisies and dandelions and peered closely at the tiny wild violets that hid shyly under fresh green shoots. We passed solitary fishermen standing in the gloomy shadows of the solid stark naked plane trees and grinned at the runners and cyclists as they sped by.

And once again the mystical presence of La Cité loomed over us it's spell capturing our imaginations as I waxed lyrical on the hours that could be spent happily roaming within it's walls.

When I got home I penned a little poem because Carcassonne is full of ghosts and memories of times and people past and some are simply impossible to forget.

I love to watch the river flowing by
See the stones where we would sit
Take silly pictures
Giggle a little bit

The only thing that keeps me going
Is knowing I will see you soon
We can go out dancing
Return home by the light of the moon

We pretend it never happened
That life did not change
We will grow older together
It won’t seem so strange

But every time the sun shines
Or the rain pours down
I think of the times we spent together
With a smile not a frown

Monday, 17 February 2014

The weekend that was...

That's Valentine's weekend out of the way then.  Thanks for the roses, (you know who you are) so do I, which is sort of flattering but not terribly intriguing. And the e cards which although well meaning are so cheapskate and about as gratifying as a reduced box of chocolates. 

I can't complain though that we weren't paid a inordinate amount of attention as we hit the carcassonne carnival on Saturday afternoon, we just stood giggling as we were showered with confetti and joined in the fun.  The guests left a lovely bottle of bubbly so we lit all the candles in the sitting room put the music up loud and danced the night away. 

By Sunday I was regretting the whole shebang because unlike some still slumbering I had to work, the show must go on and all that.

But someone asked me an interesting question as to why I wrote and I replied thus;

‘Why do you write’ ? he queried and she pondered for a while as her thoughts carefully picked over the words that were forming in her head.

‘It’s difficult to explain she eventually replied although if you asked me to write it down I could quite easily. Writers have the ability to pluck forth from the air a choice from the wonderful wealth of words that form the rich tapestry of language. It’s simply an ability to be able to arrange them in such a fashion that they can evoke emotions such as to soothe, delight or even disturb and distress. But ultimately to be able to present to the reader a pleasing array of prose that has meaning but equally it can enrich the writer also.

He gave her a long hard look that held an element of fear behind the seemingly fearless eye’s. ‘That’s quite a power’ to possess he said. She met his stare head on,’I suppose so’, the words lingered and hung between them, but the power of the written word is set in stone whereas the spoken word can be lost on the air and melt from the memory with time.

‘I had better be nice to you then’ he joked. ‘yes’ she retorted and gave him her most beguiling smile.

To top it all I took possession of a new phone, possibly not the best weekend to tackle the changeover, managed to block all contacts and then find it randomly dialling people at all hours.

The weekend that was....


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