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Thursday, 2 February 2012

A Janus Moment

For New Year, we spent a few days in Tarragona, Spain. It was sunny and warm, or, at least warmer than it was at home in France.

The first photo was taken while we were waiting to pass through the one-way Bielsa Tunnel through the Pyrenees, looking back towards France.

The second picture was taken inside Spain, looking back at the (barely) snow-clad mountains.

Next comes a shot of one of the Roman gateways of Tarragona which had been the administrative capital of Spain under the Romans.

Finally a photo from the same gateway of the setting sun. It was all so much more impressive at the time!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

It’s a miserable day – grey cold and rainy. The day feels dreadful because winter feels endless, the world seems in stasis, and the sky sits on my forehead obstructing my third eye.
The cement mixer is chuntering on here and the compressor gragging on next door.
Next door is a painful eyesore. The adjoining terrain à bâtir – larger than our plot was sold in three p

ieces to a kit-form housing firm. Three little boxy houses have sprung up inside 7 months, each without trees, gardens or any kindnesses right in front of us. They look especially grim now as my garden is shrunken and leafless and doesn’t offer us a screen. They must be endured because they will not go away. I tell myself they will have compensations and they are somebody else’s dreams. I don’t know if I am ashamed of my feelings or of having the houses as neighbours. The house I was born in was the same size and boxiness.
God knows what they are doing next door. There are always 3 or more men inside but no materials ever seem to be taken in with them. By now one imagines that such a small building would be fully insulated, plastered and fitted with electricity, water and kitchen. I am dying of curiosity on two counts. One, to see how the house is constructed inside, and two, to find out if they are just playing poker. They come out now and then to make a pi-pi. They discretely hide from the road and the house to the south, but pee where they are in full view of our house. Strange indeed.
Here John and Eugene are doing a fantastic job of putting down a cement floor in the chai. The area of floor that is to be pantry is nearly complete. John is mixing the cement, standing in the drizzle on the back of the remorque, wearing in my opinion, inadequate winter gear.
It took us the weekend to clear the chai out though most of the work was done by John. All his lumber and tools and junk have been rearranged in the new garden shed and my roulotte. I managed to squeeze the preserves and tinned food into odd places in the kitchen and dining room. It felt good to have the space cleared – it was badly organised because the floor is uneven mud and mould liable to flooding and it’s a dark cold damp space at any time of year. It will improve our lives enormously when it is done. All the shelving used to stagger and slouch propped up with odd bricks and planks under its legs – soon it will stand straight and presumably stored tools won’t be tumbling off it in the same way. It will be progress and progress appears tidier at first.
John has almost finished the grenier which is his study/office and once the floor in the chai is laid, he will begin to sort out the upstairs bathroom. We should be able to use it by March though it won’t be tiled for a while longer.
It is time for me to go to the Supermarché. I decided that the market was out this week. It is far too wet. Must go and make a list!