Issoire and Bourges but everything is shut

Up and out in the morning and considering the consumption of wine last night I was surprisingly alert as I got back in dear laden Bergman and spanked it down the toll roads to The Auvergne.

I was hungry and stopped at Bourges, only to discover that nothing in France is open on a Monday. Late last year Lou and I found lunch with vegetarian options on the cobbled streets by the cathedral. We sat on a bench in late autumn sunshine. We marveled at the buttresses. We goggled at the stained glass windows. We sighed at the iconography. It’s a gorgeous cathedral inside and out.

It was literally the only open door in town today though. Nothing to eat. And so unbelievably cold. I didn’t stay long. Just long enough to whistle stop the cathedral again and light a candle. Good old God, keeping the door open for us while he stands at our own door knocking.

Back on the road, hoping for better things from Issoire, stopping briefly for a three day old Croque Monsieur and a rubber coffee from one of the aires (which is what they call the service stations). They are less dominated by the fuck-you brands that turn everything to shit. You can still find MacDonalds and Pizza Hut and Starbucks etc, but there’s a bit more independence. Sometimes there’s a lovely one with actual food. I didn’t find it though so I was hungry as the dusk fell in Issoire.

There’s a little Indian restaurant in Issoire, Jasmine’s, which opens at 7pm even though it’s a Monday. I found it at ten to seven, and it was locked but the lights were on. Washed formica and strip lights. Generic curry and rice on the menu. We have the best curry in the world in London. This is only going to be disappointing, I think, as I try to work out what the hell is going on.

Inside was a concerned looking woman. Outside, possessive of his space, stood an uncommonly short man, faceblown by long days working outdoors. He was singing through the locked restaurant door in terrifying falsetto. Ten minutes later, when it was supposed to be open, I came back round and the situation had not changed, nor the tune. It creeped me out. She evidently didn’t want to open the door and I couldn’t blame her. I decided not to be a real customer and make her have to unlock to him. I went to a takeaway pizza place which, apart from Subway and the chemists was the only open door. I slung my disappointing pizza back into the car and hauled it back to my triannon.

The ice cold wind whistling down the ancient and modern streets in Issoire, the total lack of anything open – no bars, no restaurants, just pharmacies in their dozens – it didn’t endear me to the place. There was a restaurant in the square, lights on but shutters closed, lively conversation inside. I knocked: “What time do you open tonight?” “Ah no tonight we do not open.” In Issoire at 7 on a February Monday, either the staff are getting drunk without the punters or the singing gremlin is preparing his next victim to put in the curry. Hopefully tomorrow will be a little better. I’ve had enough cheese now thanks. Never thought I’d be saying that so quickly.

Last night spoiled me. The sheets here feel like plastic, and the huge room feels like it is intended to feel – a generic room in a party house. This place is for getting smashed as part of a group of twelve. This place is for all night thumping music and for shouting your head off. No party here tonight thank God. It’s just me. At least it’ll be quiet.

Over 500km to Barcelona and then it’s a difficult sleep in a chair on a crowded boat. I’m over halfway through the journey though. The miles go by fast on those toll roads. Joseph Campbell still droning away on the radio, helping me frame and rethink journeys and identity and psychology and how we seek meaning. He’s a product of his time, but there’s always a moment or two to take home from his extrapolations about myth to religion to science, about how tales grow from needs until needs grow from tales. I’m enjoying the thoughtholes. The miles feel shorter with JoJo even if he wouldn’t stand up in the Twitter age.

Majorca 2.1. First night.

Oh my God. I feel great.

I am just pumped full of endorphins.

I’m in bed. Tout ça change, but this bed is in France. It’s all natural fibre with beautifully reupholstered antique bedware in a little tiled nook in Champagne. Chez Fred et Cecile.

In season these guys are gonna be sold out, even at this price. Out of season this is still a luxury first stop on any journey south from London. It was an easy day driving. The later sunset helps, as Chartres was roughly equivalent and it was dark when I got there. This time I had a bit of light on arrival.

I’m on another mission to Barcelona and beyond. I decided to treat myself this time as last time I stayed in budget places and ended up spending loads on meals. Fred fed us. It was extra, but I was happy to pay. This journey is less stressful now I understand it. A working holiday, en effet. I choose whether or not to come home with profit, and I choose not to.

Leek and potato tart, pork entrecote, local 50% Armagnac and CHEESE.

Everything very well presented and very convivial. It was me, Fred, and an antique Polish couple who have lived a lifetime in France. We ate and mostly I tried to let conversation flow. I was perfectly happy but my ear is not so quick yet that I can immediately keep up. Add to that the fact that I hate small-talk in English. They were talking about jam for ages, then livestock. French landowners. After the cheese they got onto COVID and how it is scientifically impossible for the disease to have speciesjumped from pangolins in the protein form we first had it, so it must have been adjusted in a lab at some point and therefore was it released on purpose or by mistake? In this day and age that’s still small-talk, unless you’ve got a friend who has indoctrinated themselves one way or other and speaks in certainties. Still I hate the potential for smug in that conversation. “Do you understand us?” “Yes, I’ve got you well enough about pangolins and proteins etc but I’m not really sure if you’re saying it’s deliberate or accidental, but don’t worry on my account I’m happy with the cheese.”

Then the old fellow got onto Brexit. He wants something similar for France. My my this goats cheese is remarkable what is it again? I must message my girlfriend about it. If my French was better and I wanted a long night, yes, there’s material. But I was already tired out from live translating. I took myself into the shower and from thence to this bed and these endorphins.

We are in The Marne, where the trenches started. Occasionally I go past fields of white crosses. These quiet hills and plains carried so much death to so many. Now much of what is left is this – stone houses, beams, the smell of burning logs. Good wine. Light. Warmth. Happiness. Whatever those boys were fighting for, I hope their spirits are happy with this peace, here, far enough West for now from where the death is raining down once more.

I’m back in my wonderful warm room now, cosy in these excellent sheets after a good hot shower. I’ve eaten my fill of local produce. This is half a day’s drive from London and it feels like another world. Not as neurotic, nothing like as polluted. Good food, friendly people, heated houses, clean products to consume. Surprisingly though, the petrol prices here are worse than London – although that’s maybe on the exchange rate too. I filled up at Applegreen Vauxhall on the way out at £1.43 and again locally to here, between Reims and Paris at €2.08. Although I guess motorway stops in UK want £1.88 and Applegreen is the best in London.

Ahhh though. I’m so relaxed. Gonna sleep like a baby. I’d stay here again happily on the quality of the bedding alone. I want a duvet like this at home. And it is SILENT. Mmmmmm.

Pulling back before shooting forth

Ahhhhh. So I think I’m packed. Got my passport. Got chargers and three travel plugs and my Kindle. Kindle is a horrible way to read books, but it’s the only way to do it if you travel lots. For decades the bulk of my weight was books. Now I have this piece of plastic. It makes everything much much lighter. It’s bad for the book industry generally, as I am sure I’m not alone in noting what people are reading and trying the book. You can no longer see what people are engrossed in, and marketing algorithms really don’t understand people who don’t have patterns. They just try to sell you things like the things you consumed already as if we all just want to get stuck in a rut.

It’s much earlier than I’d normally be in bed, but I’m trying to start this long drive positively. I’m going another way through France this time, so first night will be in the Champagne region and then down from there. If I get up earlier, the sun is setting later, and I might be able to appreciate something about the places I’ll be sleeping in as I go. I’m not hammering myself on the way down, but I will be covering a lot of ground every day.

It’s not even ten and I’m exhausted. All I’ve done is admin and packing. I have no business being so tired. I think its just my body and mind preparing for the big adventure to come. Eurotunnel tomorrow and then out into the world. If last time is anything to go by, it isn’t as horrible as anyone could have expected post Brexit. I didn’t even get stamped on the way out last time though. Fingers crossed it’ll be as easy this time.

I needed time at home, and Lou wanted me to take her walking boots to Majorca and some heavy clothes as rain is forecast. She popped up to London as a return ticket from Brighton is cheaper than a checked bag. As if in a dream we spent a part of the early afternoon together today and then she went back and I got back to admin. Her stuff is already in the car. Bergie is downstairs packed to the gills. Barely room for my stuff. I’m looking forward to another little trip together, covering some ground, learning a thing or two. Down down down. Distance. A change. And surely before long some good news on a casting?

Back home from stoke late and knackered

Speedy drive back to the smoke from Stoke. They’re a good lot, the students we are working with, but one of them found me on the internet and found my phone number published on an old website. Good to know it was there as I’ve taken it down now. But it was an odd moment to tracked down by a student. A little privacy shift. It was just their cleverness and expression, and in the end, no harm done. It had to be formally reported though. I gave just enough about myself away for him to find me. Safeguarding etc. I should remember to go by Alex in that context as then the crime writer blurs it.

I’ve mostly just been informally interviewing the students the last few days. Spending a bit of time with these young individuals starting a journey into this strange and worrying world, but picking up some skills that might just lift them. Lots of them are concerned about AI, of course they are thinking about climate change. War is back on the table and more young people are thinking themselves back into the arms race than a few years ago. It’ll be interesting to see how learning AI can augment the Russian propaganda machine around elections in every other country. A year now since he rolled into Ukraine and we all realised that he would just keep rolling until somebody resisted. I don’t like to think of it too much, but I suppose we must. There’s a land war in Europe. It’s been going on for over a year now. It really does feel like we might be moving slowly towards something irretrievable.

I’m home though, briefly, and safe for the moment. Very happy to be here, warm in my bed. It’s later than I wanted it to get. I lost track of time and did that thing of forgetting this blog until I was about to switch the light off. But… I know I’m gonna sleep well tonight. I’m shattered. Tomorrow I can do all the car admin and packing and invoices before I’m off again on another adventure. Life ain’t bad.

Nuts and bolts today. I’m too tired to do this properly. Good tired after doing work that might bring positive change. But tired is tired. Sleep time.

Heading to sleeeep

Now I get to be peaceful, just for a moment. Still no towel and I forgot my toothbrush until I wrote this sentence. It’s coming up to midnight and I barely slept last night. Bedtime.

I’m staying in this Airbnb in Stoke. Even though I’ve got no towel, it feels like I got lucky compared to some. Apparently half of our group were so pissed off that they dug their heels in and ended up in a Premier Inn after they felt unsafe. Bullet holes in the walls? Yuk.

I get it. I arrived here last night still wearing a suit and a dicky bow, after the corporate entertainment joy. I parked my car and immediately assessed the area and took off the bow tie. Cold or not, I didn’t want to be seen coming out of a car that would be sitting there overnight wearing a costume that makes one look like a legitimate after dinner entertainer in London and a target almost anywhere else. I covered my suit with my coat and shuffled in.

I’m back with our cohort of young engineers. It’s a brilliant group of people and it really feels like we can be part of building the future. I wish I was as focused as they are, these young women and men. I’ve been interviewing them all over the course of the day. That’s been my primary job.

I’m asking them about the things that matter to them. Poverty is a big thing in many of their concerns – there really is a yawning gap up here. These young men and women have been given this chance and it might be enough. Talking to them, their interests are so varied. Some are into designing fighter jets for war, others are trying to find models that stop greed and start to push towards societal models with less selfishness. All of them are excellent at maths and are very much involved in seeing how equations work out in the real world. This is an extraordinary group of young people to be working with.

Driving up last night was almost a bust, but getting here was worth it for being able to help these students grow. I’ve somehow managed to combine engineering with acting. It fell out randomly with me and was likely fuelled by the fact that my best friend at school was pulled into an engineering programme by IBM in Romsey and I made some great friends out of his contemporaries. I never wanted to be anything other than an actor, but my friends and family were scientists, so it probably infused my worldview. My brother is a scientist. There but for the grace of God… Either way, the world is big and life is long, and I’m very tired. Bedtime.

This is the sign outside our home…

Globe to Stoke

They let me park in the tiny little car park at The Globe this evening, which is a relief as I’m not on until about half nine and then I’m gonna have to drive to Stoke on Trent. I’m not gonna be in bed until 2am at the earliest, and it’ll be in a shared house so I’ll have the least appealing bedroom.

Right now I’m in The Swan with Ffion. About an hour to go before we are up. They fed me us with prawn brioche and have twice asked us if we want wine and twice been surprised we just want water. Professionals, dahling. Upstairs lots of nice rich people are having dinner and we will stride in shortly and be charming at them. Normally I’d be husbanding my energy for the show and then accepting the wine when it’s over. This time though I’m gonna make sure my energy can take me safely and swiftly up through the empty roads. It’ll be fine if they don’t do that late night bastard trick of theirs of closing all the roads for roadworks.

“Do you think we should go and lurk?” says Ffion. Maybe so. Maybe we should go and be available for the client…

Now we are in a tiny little corner of corridor between the cloakroom and the lift, next to a little adapted carpenter’s bench where I’ve spent hours of my working life now all told, waiting and listening to them eat and talk next door and holding on for someone to pop out and say “ok I think they’re ready now,” at which time we’ve got to go in and make them love us.

A new arrangement of lines and thoughts to remember this time and we might be on any moment so I’m gonna stop writing and blither lines until they give us the all clear…

Well that was lovely. A pleasant thing well received and then I was off onto the dark but mercifully open roads. With the help of Radio 4 and the world service, coupled with the fact I haven’t been keeping up with the news recently, the miles wore away quickly and now at just ten to 2 I am in bed and annoyed with myself for forgetting my toothbrush.

This has got to be one of the worst Airbnbs I’ve ever stayed in to be honest. It was booked by the company. Absolutely devoid of character, one tiny room with plastic sheets, a big telly and an IKEA print of a lion on the wall. All I have to do is sleep in it, and occasionally to to the loo. All the doors are closed with people sleeping. I found a tiny cubicle with a sink and loo, but I can’t open doors to see if there’s a shower behind one or a kitchen, as it is totally unclear which are the bedrooms and which are not. I was hoping for a kitchen for chamomile tea but I’ve already switched the lights on and off in someone’s room when trying to make light happen in the bathroom.

There’s a radiator switched on right next to my bed. I’ll need water. No cups or mugs though, and no towels! I’ve gone and got a plastic bottle from the car and bent it to fill from the tiny little sink in the loo that you can’t access until you’re inside and you’ve closed the door.

There are so many properties like this all over the world now, and a whole generation that can’t afford to buy a home.

I’m gonna try to sleep in it. I might get close to six hours if I can go down like a log. Fingers crossed. Ugh.

Online forms and recovering from cold

Still feeling pretty ill, but people don’t stop for colds. I’m not working though so I slept in and felt a bit better for it. Today was about online training for future dayjobs. I’m trying to think ahead and keep my options open. This little gap is my own fault for taking some work for granted, but I’m glad of it as I can take care of myself with this damn cold.

“If you repeatedly try to explain something to a student and try different methods to make it clear and they still don’t get it so you tell them they are stupid, is this abuse?” Questions like that in the online training. I guess it’s out of the compensation culture – they want to have a paper trail for every eventuality so if someone complains about a staff member they can drop the hammer on the employee and keep their head held high. I get it, but you wonder if there’s anybody doing jobs at this level that isn’t able to navigate the modern world.

I’m trying to think of the things I thought were normal at school that wouldn’t be tolerated now. I had a teacher whack me with some wood once… Another one threw a board cleaner at students frequently enough that there would be sweepstakes. Some were still caning. One of them bonked the back of my head so I butted the desk. Another one grabbed me and my friend Jocelyn who were shouting over each other trying to blame the other one, and banged our heads together. That shut us up. It was his fault.

None of these things were particularly remarked on or bothersome by us back then. This was in the private sector of course, and at some institutions it has since turned out that there were some darker things going on that I was blissfully unaware of. For the most part we were climbing trees and cutting knees and hitting each other with sticks and experimenting. One boy drank hemlock tea thinking it was magic and almost died. Another set fire to bits of the garden while showing off his woodsman skills.

I think it’s for the best that youth these days are largely safe from being punched by grown ups who are in positions of responsibility. I worry about the lack of mud and sticks though. I guess it’s a new form of character building doing the social things through a screen a lot of the time. Maybe I’m only suspicious cos I didn’t have it, although given the portion of my pocket money I would put into the slots of arcade machines by the seaside, I reckon I would have taken to the things pretty well.

That said I don’t like online training. Who does? I’m not a fan of online meetings really either. I get how they were a useful tool when we had to isolate, but we humans need to be in the same place as each other for the full breath of communication to take place. There’s a lot going on outside of the words and facial expressions and you can see when you work with young people that they have got slightly behind when it comes to the subleties of communication having missed a year.

Today has been precious though as it’s the last time I’m gonna have time to totally relax for a good while. All the everything picks up tomorrow and I’ll be a little random hamster on numerous wheels once more. Fun.

Booking a long drive with a cold

It’s a Monday. I’m going to excuse my lack of behaviour because of the old “Monday is the actor’s day off” trick.

I woke up in the morning to discover that my nose was leaking. While I had been sleeping, someone had filled my brain with sponges and then taken a blowtorch to the back of my throat. I honestly hadn’t heard them sneaking into the flat. There was no trace of them. But their work was thorough and I am still in quite some discomfort as a result of it. It was so bad that I didn’t want coffee. I didn’t. Want. Coffee. Too dehydrating. I had water instead. Then I slowly and contemplatively ate a donut. Then I went back to bed and slept until repeated phone calls hauled me back to pain.

Majorca is ON. It took a while for the deposit to come in, and sadly the lost time means that I have missed the chance of a cabin on the boat over. I’m gonna drive to Spain and then sleep in a fecking chair. I’ll arrive at 6am and my first day there is going to be hell. I slept or languished for an entire day on arrival last time – and that was with a cabin.

But… I had to be awake to sort out accommodation etc before that all gets booked up and closed down too. Lou is gonna fly and meet me. She thinks about things further ahead than I do. It was her pulling me from sleep so we could find somewhere nice to stay.

Still, even on a Monday, a man can’t stay in bed all day even if it’s warm. Once you’re active the symptoms of cold tend to recede. I got up and booked things so I now have the whole route to Majorca and back to Barcelona sorted for transport links and accommodation. I’m holding off on clarifying the return leg just in case Tristan can be persuaded to get a cheap flight to Barcelona ahead of a post Brexit ROAD TRIP through the South of France, or my downstairs neighbour needs something from Biarritz. I’ll want to have the details all squared off before I leave though so I can tell immigration when I’m coming back to the UK. They might get antsy if I don’t have a return booked, now that we’ve isolated ourselves and destroyed our economy because of squabbling old Etonians and a large number of frightened simple folk with primary school ideas about sovvrinntee.

Most of the bookings were made with these leaky eyes and this squeaky brain though so maybe tomorrow I’ll wake up and discover that I’m driving to Barcelona via Budapest. It is done though. Now I just have to not break down or drive off the road etc. Having done the drive before it is not such a concern. Last time, it was a surprisingly pleasant journey despite one day of absolutely torrential rain. I might get an interesting dense book on audible. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire perhaps.

Hopefully there’ll be sunshine in the Balearics and on the way for a clear drive. Last time I was worried and there were no issues. I don’t want to be not worried this time in case something goes to tits. It just takes one asshole… It’s a long way, and Bergie dropped his clutch only a few months ago. I’ll likely shell out again on expensive insurance and change the oil etc etc. Better safe than sorry.

I hate having a cold, but at least I don’t have to go to work today.

Another self tape day

Self tape club this evening, across town near Camden. I drove home afterwards and only realised as I was about to crash that I neglected to do my musings. A near miss.

The room where we used to do the tapes is now occupied with a lodger. It used to be a huge empty space. Turns out we don’t need it. We can build a little studio in a small space, and we did. Two lights, a reflector, a background and a tripod for the camera. Similar kit in cupboards across town. I’ve got one too, but the comforting habit takes me to hers, and occasionally – like this evening – I get a tasty goats cheese tart out of it when we are done.

We manage to roughly alternate who gets to do the acting. This time the focus was on me and she was doing the reading in and foley. “The tone of this one is reasonably serious,” I tell her. She understands what I mean. We have come to like doing this with one another. It’s a form of playfulness. Just occasionally one of us – always the one reading in – busts out a silly voice almost by mistake and bins the take.

Three scenes, none too long, none too complicated. It’s a fresh learn, so not as fluent as I like it. Mostly that was my morning. I woke up, ordered a Deliveroo breakfast which is exactly what I’ve been saying I’ll stop doing, and I spent a large portion of the day in bed playing sound files and talking back to them. This thing I have of eschewing the autocue … it cost me a day of February sunshine, but there’s a joy in learning things. I always say it’s a muscle. If I put my mind to it I can learn a lot in a short time, and I’m sure that that is partly due to me pushing poems into my head on long evenings at school. I don’t even really know why I did it. I had lofty fantasies that, after dinner, the host of the party would say “And now, my beautiful guests, it is time for us all to share a poem each!” I would not be caught out in such a circumstance. Problem is it only ever happened at youthful Burns Night parties where I was the host and half the guests were dreading it. Perhaps now COVID has lifted I should start having salons for the last few months in my Chelsea abode and boring everybody with my poetry like Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz… “Oh freddled gruntbuggly…”

The new flatmate surprised me in that we had briefly met before the millennium turned. Ralph Fiennes of all people came and did a workshop with Lost Theatre, and at the time I was part of their Hamlet so I got to be part of the workshop. The flatmate was a friend of the company back then and sat and watched it cos he was just hitting the big time and the PR guys wanted a kinda “back to his roots” type angle. I remember it being helpful and insightful – none of us had trained so the insights of a crafty actor were golden to us.

I ask flatmate: “Did Cecil do one of his weird sculptures of you?” “Yes… I thought it was normal…” There were some oddities but it was a lovely community of people. It was before Fulham Broadway was homogenised so there was a good old pub where Jan and Ang cooked Thai food. An almost forgotten period now, buried by the experiences that were to come. Life is long. We didn’t have time for a proper deep dive into mutual friends but I expect there’s many intersections. He went off to the RADA. There are plenty of actors in London, but actually not all that many. You can tell that by the regularity with which the same faces pop up. Still there’s room for hopefulness. Things change fast. I’m rather hoping my face will pop up a bit more in the next year or so, as I’m pretty ready right now. Perhaps this tape will help…

Birthday friend and freedom to tape

I’m in an Uber home from Chiswick. A birthday party. Remember them?

The driver is on the phone, low volume, in an unfamiliar language. Madonna is singing Vogue on the radio. The lights of London flash through the windows. It’s a Prius, driven by 5 Star Adeel. People in cities across the world are having similar experiences right now in the same make of car.

He just got the dingle of a new job and ejected me into the warm night near enough to my flat to walk. Palpable optimism on his part. “Here is ok?” “Yes it’s fine”. It’s a warm night. Just a couple of minutes walk.

I’ve been out! Birthday partayyy!

One of my oldest friends. Copious amounts of wine. I feel happy and numb in equal measures, and I’m going to drink a huge amount of water now and maybe even run a late night bath. I pulled out earlier than my habit cos there’s stuff to do tomorrow. I’ve been carrying three scenes handwritten in my pocket to learn before tomorrow evening when I’ll have to put them down with a good friend as another of those self-tape audition things. One that for various reasons I’m very happy to get and thus one that I’m not going to interfere with by getting off my trolley and staying up until 4am. Self care now and I’ll likely go to sleep running lines in the hope they latch in my dreams. “Use an autocue,” a few of my friends say, but that just means double the work if there’s an in person recall/they book you, and I’m an optimist. Red wine though so I WILL have a bath and wash my face. I don’t want tannin lips even if it works for the character. It’d be good casting, this. God Bless the Professionals.

Bergman is chilling out absolutely full of stuff. For tonight he’s exposed but any robber would have a nightmare as it’s a huge and esoteric collection of antique furniture in there that I Tetrissed together over many hours this afternoon. The unload is gonna be interesting. Everything is dependent on everything else. There are things that I still can’t believe I fit in. It’s all going to Majorca soon, and hopefully the trip will be as stress free as the last one. They didn’t even stamp me going into France last time. My only issue was on the return, empty but for a bit of wine, when the lovely customs official in France didn’t like stamping my arrival back to England when my exit had gone unmarked. I’ve told my wonderful agent that I’m off to Majorca and she just laughed. Last time I taped for a French Captain in a little quiet room somewhere in the south of France after a long day driving and learning. This new culture of self-taping has an advantage in that it opens movement as a possibility. I don’t feel quite so strapped to London. I can do interesting life things. I can drive to Majorca and still do the auditions. Embracing the positivity of this shift in the industry towards self taping.

It was lovely to hang with Tanya and her friends this evening. Good people and good food. A bright birthday and the first of her birthdays I’ve ever managed to get to over decades of friendship. This Antisocial job and my habits do often see me flying southwards at a moment’s notice to do service for friends and there’s obviously something karmic about the thing where I move old things that are stagnating and take them to places where they are alive and loved again. Everything in that car is wanted by my client. It’s a gift from her dead parents that would otherwise sit and gather dust. Mice had been at the bird bath, spiders lived in the dressers. Soon they will be loved. I packed all the things exactly as they were found, keeping things in drawers. Photos of them as children in the dressing table. Memories memories memories… I know that complicated knife. Bereavement can stump us for a while but it can also galvanise us. I think these memories will help my client continue to propel herself forward with dynamism as she has been. And I’m grateful to her for trusting me with her wonderful things all the way back down to where, perhaps, the sun is still shining!

Bath is running. I’m guzzling water. Time to look at the lines the lines the lines.

Oh and anyone needing anything brought from Northern Spain or anywhere in France to England, let me know. I’ll be going back empty. I’ll do you a deal. 🙂