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Friday, 31 May 2013


Excitement is mounting. The manuscript of Ruth's book "The Shaping of Water" went off to the publisher last night. Let's see how long it is until we have the finished book in our hands!


Souvenirs d'un Marathonien

My attempts to download the photos having failed, I can only direct you to the Labatut-Riviere website:-

Let's hope the site server doesn't pack up this time!


Friday, 17 May 2013


Yes! I am looking forward to a relaxed and tension-free January 2014. For not only have I completed both our French Income Tax declarations for 2012, which were due in by 27th. May and which in the two previous years we had completed by accountants, but I have today posted off my UK Income Tax Declaration for FY 2012/13. The latter is only due in, in paper form, at the end of October or online by 31st. January. So, for once in my life, I shan't be faced with a panic to meet the year-end deadline which I have every year and the performance with being levied with a penalty and then appealing against it. The threat of what is to follow immediately after Christmas is lifted.

I feel this merits some sort of celebration. Any ideas?

8/6/13 HOLD the Celebration. HMRC have sent back the Return because no Foreign section was included and which the Notes said I didn't have to do. Well, it's raining today so, instead of finishing off the lawnmowing I shall complete the bloody Foreign section - the work of a moment - and send it back to them.

OK. You've another couple of weeks to think up celebratory ideas.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

The Drought Witch - A Taster

The weekend of 27th.-28th. April, the village held its "Reveillez Vos Talents" weekend featuring the work of local artists plus, on the Sunday, a Plant and Car Boot Sale. This year Ruth exhibited her children's story The Drought Witch together with her own illustrations and a translation into French by myself and Marie-Edith Labarthe, one of our friends.  Here is a photo of part of the display.

And here, as a taster, is the first page, in a draft French version:-



En plein cœur de l’Afrique, dans une vallée fertile et verdoyante, vivaient Simon un agriculteur travailleur et son épouse Dorcas gentille et sérieuse.


Simon et Dorcas avaient un fils Adam et une fille Constance. Adam aidait Simon à rassembler son troupeau au poil luisant et Constance aidait Dorcas à sarcler le jardin où poussaient du maïs et des légumes. Les enfants s’entendaient bien et allaient  ensemble chercher de l’eau à la rivière ou chercher du bois de chauffage dans la forêt.


Un jour après la première pluie d’été, toute la famille alla aux champs pour préparer la terre pour les récoltes de mil et de tabac. Avant que Simon ait  le temps d’atteler ses deux meilleurs bœufs à la charrue, il y eut un bruit comme l’arrivée soudaine et le crépitement d’un feu de  brousse et un énorme tourbillon de poussière déferla sur la vallée. Simon et Dorcas dirent aux enfants de courir s’abriter, mais Adam et Constance se cachèrent près du palmier Ilala pour regarder le vent qui faisait tournoyer l’herbe dans les airs. Ils rirent quand le tourbillon passa car il arracha un morceau de tissu rouge du Chitenge de la clôture de la Boma où il séchait.


Tout à coup ils virent une sorcière maléfique chevauchant au centre de la tempête parmi la poussière et les débris. Elle était tout en os  et peaux de lézard avec les yeux incandescents d’un hibou .Constance et Adam étaient choqués et effrayés, mais avant qu’ils puissent faire quoi que ce soit, la sorcière leur avait jeté du sable au visage, les empêchant de voir ce qu’elle faisait et où elle allait.

The story is currently seeking a publisher. For further details you could see Ruth's blogs, Marginal Scribbling at or at


Monday, 6 May 2013


We were leafletted on Saturday morning - by a religious group. I shan't mention their name lest our site receives a load of spam, but it wasn't the content which annoyed me, it was the presentation. The thesis of the leaflet was that the Earth is ruled by demons under the direction of Satan, but that's as maybe; I'll read anything. It may be rubbish, but there's always the chance that there may be some interesting ideas in it.
Three cars containing five people drew up outside our little group of houses. They were all soberly dressed in dark clothing, jumped from the cars and put leaflets into each of our letterboxes. Then they drove away.
Now where we live is in a thinly populated part of France, many young people go away to find work and relatively few people speak English. So what language was the leaflet in?   English! And what were you supposed to do after you had read the leaflet? Write, yes Write! to one of the 16 contact addresses on the back of the leaflet. All the addresses were in English-speaking countries. No phone numbers, no email addresses, no websites, no hashtags! What kind of World do they live in? How effective is it to send teams of people round the planet distributing literature which hardly anyone can read and running away before anyone can engage you in conversation, leaving only an address in a foreign country to which you have to write in a language not your own? They cannot be serious!
I think Ruth may be right. Perhaps they were Americans sent out on punishment duty. But it's not a way to save the World, is it?
P. S. The Pic du Midi ski station opened this week to take advantage of the remaining snow. It's almost tempting.