Wednesday, 26 December 2012

digging into Christmas: tartelettes au chocolat

We dig into Christmas, hollow out a space and fill it to the brim with: homemade stockings, pound shop key rings, mistletoe and stewed red cabbage served with chantrelle mushrooms that the vegetable man said he picked from the forest just next to his house. We sit beside the fire and mislay our sense of time in embroidered vintage tablecloths and silk PJs. Gifts are unwrapped, toys built and thank-yous said. In the middle of the day, he encourages fresh air and we are blown from the appartement and venture outside wearing fake fur coats that are not discreet, but fun. Upon returning, we eat, nibble, drink and I finish the day munching my chocolate ganache tart. Pre-bake little tartlettes of a sweetened pastry. Then, melt chocolate in a bain-marie. Heat double cream until nearing boiling. Add to chocolate with a smidgen of butter. When it resembles chocolate mayonnaise stop stirring. It's ready. Fill pastry cases and refridgerate. Yum. Parfait.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

these days, just before christmas

These days, we are walking in the forest, nestling into our cosy home, burrowing into Christmas. I have baked a cake, unexpectedly. Decorated a tree. I am reading Foucault, Claire Vaye Watkins and a book about the origins of writing. Science is reassuring, I tell him as we sip tiny glasses of blackberry gin, lit by the winking of fairy lights. Philosophy structures thought, I explain and we talk about that and then my vegetable soup, made from turnips, carrots, leeks, potatoes and a handful of chestnuts. I flavoured the soup with sprigs of thyme and a solitary bay leaf; liquidized it was divine. 

Friday, 14 December 2012

art rhythms

On the 14th of December, I am thinking about the way we organize time, our rhythms as we make art: do you snap time into pieces, travel to and fro, hold it, encircle it or lose all sense of time. When I make theatre, time is ritualised, an organised limbic experience for the actors and spectators; a collectif sense of time preceding from beginning to middle to end. Whilst, writing time is constant, always at the back of my mind, words and ideas churning; like waves that rise up from my inside until I am full and then, the water pours out onto the page. 

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

handles turning on the last days of autumn

Early, I leave hot coffee and jumble of brooms. Outside clouds hang like sky whales,  pencil grey on turquoise sky. A pinky ink is seaping into the daybreak. Bold golden light carries the dawn to a tar black, starless earth that is frozen, stone daubed with a swift breath of frost. Soon the sun will rise, unlatching the door to green grass. Handles turning on the last days of autumn light.

Monday, 10 December 2012

a winter morning

I leave my home wrapped in the smell of baked christmas cake, driving, steering through the darkness, the cars opposite like miners with headlamps, ready to descend into the pit, the trees line the hedgerows and point us forwards, driving, on this road there is no turning back, half-awake and half-asleep in this period of hibernation where the animals are tucked into earthy holes, suddenly when i turn there is the winter light, a hot globe burning, hanging low, just above a lace of black branches, hope and warmth where life goes on.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

jam tarts in bed

There is nothing quite like jam tarts in bed, crumbs wriggling into sheets as you take a bite. It is comfort, safety, like a bedtime kiss from a parent who says it will all be right.  A chill draft is sneaking through my window, but I under my Welsh blanket I am eating jam. Slivers of pastry linger at the back of my mouth as I creep, deeper into my bed. There is nothing quite like jam tarts in bed. Do try!

Monday, 15 October 2012

watching what sophie calle saw...

Sat in the Perrotin gallery, I watched three screens, three backs, three people watching the sea, meeting the sea for the very first time. I watched what Sophie Calle saw. I watched the waves roll, shoulders shift and then one of the people turned, faced me, watching me as I watched him having first seen the sea. On another screen a man turned, faced us, watching him as he looked out of the screen, the experience marking each line on his face. Eyes closed, open. Tears ran. On the third scree, a women turned. Faced us facing her, her face facing us. All of meeting in the gallery, for the very first time. Sat in the Perrotin gallery, I watched  the three screens a second time and then, a third. Mesmerized by first times, I wanted to stay there, in the pure white room, in the tenderness, caught in a neat nostalgic rewind, for the first time, another first time, another first... 

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Octobering Paris

On the twelfth day of the tenth month, we steal days soaked with Parisian rain. Days measured in city steps, marked on pavements, eyes drinking in roof-tops and capital smells.

Three days made from ramen soup, tempura and Molière's statue, in the elegant shadow of the Palais Royale. We eat and sleep in the 1er arrondissement, crammed with Japanese restaurants where pin thin chefs, with aprons wrapped round non-existent waists, whisk metals sieves of udon noodles from bubbling baths of broth. Morning coffee is pertained from moustached barristas - moustaches are the latest ting - who draw tulips into milky froth and treasure a collection of miniature owls. In the Marais, we drink lemon tea from glasses in the Jewish quarter, split a bitter poppy seed rugelach and watch doe-eyed families shopping for Friday Sabbath. After, we hunt for Sophie Calle and find first and last times in words and videos and I sit, stop, watch, think.

Watch the backs of the people discovering the sea, watch them turn to face us watching them, for the first, the very, very first time. Think about first times, memories. Fresh, unscarred by the tread of time. Nothing is ever the same. The next day, coffee drips through paper filters. Drips it drops to the sound of rain. Men wear scarves draped carelessly around wet necks. Silk, wool, cotton, knotted into negligent Parisian chic. It rains and we walk to the the Quai Branly Museum and fall into continents, dreaming time. Aboriginal Australian art.

I stop, once again, at these topographical wonders, journeys measured in dots and lines, circling sacred space. The museum is breath-taking, both the form and content. Then, in the evening, Chekov, starting and stopping, a Benedetti's version with pauses into which the audience can stride and gaze - for a second - upon casual tableaux, the actors on the stage with the ease of horses. Sunday, we eat boiled eggs. Walk. Get wet and then, come home on a silent train. Remembering all that rain.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Stealing the last piece of summer

Far too early in the morning, I took my holiday feet back out for a stroll, accompanied by three pairs of lovely shoes. Before the sun rose, I put my sandy plimpsolls on a boat bound for Jersey, to the nearest bit of England from here. The plan was to steal the last bit of summer, continue to drift in an unplanned way - keep loose before life tightens. It felt almost right, this last snatched day, felt almost right - despite the fatigue - to tease the summer out before la rentrée, before timetables loom on the horizon, before school, before workshops, before manuscripts are to be written, train whistles blown, before time is cut into predestined pieces and improvisation cast to the administration dogs, who are asking for papers, appointments and my signature, just at the end of the page, s'il vous plait. Before all of this, we took the time for ice-cream, to dip our limbs into an art-deco swimming pool, dream and admire the turquoise. 

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Nostalgia : a wistful yearning for the past

Going to wrap my journeys up, all of them, in bus tickets printed in alphabets that I don't understand, in the taste of Spanish cakes and Korean spice, in the smell of otherness as I step off the plane, train and out of the van door, bouncing on a hotel bed and sleeping on a mountain floor, I'll put the thoughts of wandering in my dreamland, until I repack my bag and start moving, all over again.

nostalgia (n.)1770, "severe homesickness" (considered as a disease), Modern Latin (cf. Fr. nostalgie, 1802), coined 1668 by Johannes Hofer, as a rendering of Ger. heimweh, from Gk. algos "pain, grief, distress" (see -algia) + nostos "homecoming," from PIE *nes- "to return safely home" (cf. O.N. nest "food for a journey," Skt. nasate "approaches, joins," Ger. genesen "to recover," Goth. ganisan "to heal," O.E. genesen "to recover"). Transferred sense (the main modern one) of "wistful yearning for the past" first recorded 1920. 

Saturday, 25 August 2012


We are still returning to everyday life. We joke that summer is going, "Away, away, away..", as we finish salted almonds, drink the last bitter orange drop of Vermouth, the plastic carton bought from a dusty mountain shop. We cling, with tenderness, to the memories of hot days that stretched from the morning to evening aperitif, new friends, mountains, cards games and a Jeff Koons dog. I have left some of the bags unpacked. The smell of summer crouches, hiding in folded clothes, crumbs of earth from our journey roll inside, whispering to each in foreign tongues: Matarana, Navarre, Pamplona, Bilbao, Estella, Charentes. There are rollos de anis aniseed Spanish biscuits that are yet to be eaten - squirreled for a rainy Breton day, there are wrinkled black olives and garlic octopus in jars. I wear shorts and a misshapen T-shirt as I work, tackling revisions of my book, the clothes make me feel free and the hours suspended and open, (somewhat silly, but true.)

Sunday, 12 August 2012

This morning - before breakfast

From the wall of Santa Barbara hermitage, La Fresneda, 2012

I planned a series of posts about Spain, a list of the things that I love: eating dinner at ten at night, eating lunch at three, days reconstructed by the very hot sun, siesta dripping, endlessly, the tortas, the tapas, the wine, The Guggenheim, the plastic curtains separating the inside of houses from the outside world, the surreal ice lollies, the olive groves, the greenest river pools you ever saw, the hermitages stuck onto the sides of dry mountains, rivers sewn through the heart of stone, the old men gathered in white short sleeves, the teenage swimming pool girls who serenaded mine, the drive across the desert, the second breakfasts ( we think of ourselves as hobbits when we travel), the cortado, the living in the van ( which a man called Dusty named our wagon), the sleepy Charentes, the Navarre mountain plateau where horses rode wild, the...but the day is dawning and today is back to work time and today - before breakfast, I must eat something -  I imagine time going backwards, the unpacking of bags, the unreading of maps, the places travelling back from my mind to the page, evrything becoming unknown again, the unpicking of a path.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Postcards from Aragon : 1, 2012

Wish you were here, that is what we write on postcards, words of longing from sunny days moments for aspiring rest and and here it's so hot that I can't find the full stop and the heat drips sweet pearls of sweat between shoulders blades as we spot the bull upon the hill and we swim in mountain pools where the water is the kind of deep green where souls get lost to river mermaids and my littlest says she is scared of the sullen monsters lurking below and I know how she feels and we sleep under a tree in the midday shade a family huddled in olive shadows and visit a hermitage up on a hill where my heart stops and go to a bar which feels like a western where the  customers stare as we walk through the curtain of plastic cords and we wonder if cowboys will come striding in and tell us it time we were leaving town and so we sit with the piles of old men in uniform white shirts in the corner of parks where the trees give shadow and the day rolls on from water to water, heat and liquid marking time, in aragon, southern aragon, wish you were here...

Thursday, 5 July 2012

A Breton light

Just before bedtime I cannot resist crossing the road and taking the pictures of the meeting place of storm and sunlight, sea and land, bruised shadows kissing the blue goodnight. Sleep tight.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Meeting the plants and the trees

A few days ago, I was reading words written by emily, a special piece of writing, evoking childhood, edgeless time, fixed by the taste of summer sweat, smooth bark and the itch of grass. The piece is about how we first meet the earth, feel the plants and the trees (what she calls the natural world). It planted a thought seed in my mind. I fell back into memories, sensations. Bare legs. Sunshine. Rain. Instant connections between the buzz of flies, the scent of pine, fingers tinging from white touched snow, and the body, inhabited. My memories of nature when I was a child are of a place that held me while I imagined stories, a nest to return to in moments of fear; hope sprung from daffodils.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Afternoon tea and other stuff....

Bitter black tea with a cinnamon twist philosophizes with a crumbling butter biscuit. The beverage and the snack keep perfect company with a sullen afternoon, a greying sky. Venus is partying with the sun today, the astrologers write reams about once-in-a-lifetime while I think of the teacup handle that my grandmother held, placing my fingers on bone china that she touched. Everyday we trace a pattern in the physical world, sew a hem of particles as we move. I like used things that have their own material history, think about my body meeting the one that came before through this object, a wordless rendez-vous. This afternoon, I leave a trail of biscuit crumbs, sip and listen to the washing spin.

Monday, 28 May 2012

In between

This afternoon was in between, half-finished coffee, all the pieces of yourself that wanted to sleep, or work, or do something, despite the heat and the tingling sensation on your back from too long spent on the beach in the sun and the salt from the water and the first swim of the year, entering the water at the count of three and emerging from the cold yelling out loud, so loud, feeling free enough to roar, and good to be alive and now, after lunch, crunchy roast chicken and the taste of garlic linger on your tongue, everything is in between, for the evening has not yet come and the house is napping and the coffee is waiting, waiting to be drunk, for the light to fade and the waves to return to the shore.

Hungry, but not.

Hungry, but not. It is the evening now. Train travel home on a journey from a course. Via a hotel room, tucked into the eaves, warm baths and bad TV. Outside the window, the cloudless sky is navy blue, dark azure, nearly black. Bartok on the Ipod. Have spent days in movement and drama - fleshy art crafted from muscles and minds. Hands danced against locked yellow light. In the train carriage, a stark bob bissects a passenger's chin. A fat bespectacled lady rustles her evening paper. A biscuit box is opened. To eat or not to eat? Have consumed an apple. Sushi for lunch.  Heat. Heat. Heat. The sun has stolen my hunger.  Would like a cup of tea and something sweet, made with salted butter, just a pinch. Bartok bangs on piano keys, up down, up down, rhythms rolling. "Le train est a destination de..." says a voice, falling from the speakers, reaching our ears. I could stay here forever, bound into this train, watching the bob and the newspaper rustle.  Suited men carry cases as we leave another station. We are off. We. Are. Off.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Packing on a rainy day

It's raining again. Chill air, damp bones. The cold creeps into every corner. We are wishing, wishing on spring.  Meanwhile, I pack my bag. I am very fond of these preparations. Tucking objects into space, nestling miniature containers in tidy rows. Moving has been etched into my bones. I seek to balance the equation of a minimum weight to a maximum sense of home, bringing little pieces of everything with me, perhaps, carrying little pieces of me everywhere: hibiscus teabags, two butter biscuits, green notebooks, a sample of silken bath oil. Following the roots of the verb to pack, I am taken to carrying together in a bundle, and the making of secret arrangements. The latter definition suits me fine. I am arranging the objects for the comfort of my journey; putting stuff into private patterns.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

what will happen next...

On Sunday night, overlooked by my grandma's Japanese doll, life falls in lines around me. I wonder to myself, what will happen next.

The manuscript has been sent, the washing turns, clothes tumble in a watery spin. The travelling has paused, just for a little while and I stare at the sudden spring sky. I look at my feet on our old living-room rug (that we keep on promising we will replace). I examine the lines that divide our space, straight things moving from A to Z.

I think of promises and deadlines; words typed on top of Spanish mountains. My toenails are red and pillar box bright. I think of building and climbing and mystery, and how the lines of our existence generally curve. 

I am working on stories and a project that makes me laugh. In between the workshops and the eating of garlic aioli (served with steamed vegetables and a bite of salt cod), I imagine an entirely new tale. I scrub floors, unexpectedly. 
On Sunday night, I murmur, quietly to myself, you know, it will happen next...

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Basking in the blue

Been on the road, on the railways, tarmac and over-head wires, criss-crossing over land, through the rain - it seems to have been pouring endlessly. Wet, wet, wet. We met friends in damp Spanish mountains, drank cosmopolitans and café con lêche

People dodged puddles amongst the pollarded trees - that remind me of ink drops and midnight monsters (I am against over pruning). 

I caught a train from South to North, passed a shaven-headed surfer scented with thirty unwashed nights; a muzzled dog licked my foot as a fat woman swigging beer gave up her seat to a pin-thin old lady saying, "You have to think of the others". Rain, rain  on window panes. 

After, I ran theatre workshops, moved and imagined, acted and breathed; made ephemeral monuments, something from nothing, acting leaves no trace. It rained. At home, unpacked, washed, wrote. Celebrated with dandelions.

Made a brioche that did not rise. Made a loaf of bread that did. Finally, now, the sun's come out. We're basking in the blue.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Things found on walks

On my travels again, with the rain in my stride. Early in the morning, I make the time, find the time, just because, to take photos of the metalwork I meet on my path : swirls, hearts, spirals, manhole covers; malleable and shiny beauty, incidental light.