Listen to the robin

As I write this, the robin is singing outside. The sun is slanting up over the hedge. I can hear a rook on the roof. I heard a lot of robins in Dublin too last weekend. It’s time. The days are lengthening. We have daffodils and snowdrops and crocuses. It’ll be Lá Fhéile Bríde in a few days. Listen to the robin. It’s worth your while.

The Winter of The Blackbird

This has been the winter of the blackbird. I haven’t been out and about much for one reason or another but I seem to be seeing and hearing blackbirds wherever I go. I haven’t seen a redwing or a fieldfare yet, maybe they’re not around, or maybe I need to get out more. Well, that’s definitely true, I do need that.

The morning sun, the evening sun

The morning sun talks about today. The evening sun talks about tomorrow. I love the evening sun the best. The morning light’s a wonder, and it’s fresh. And whiter than the evening light, and pristine cool. It floats up over the hedge, bundled with optimism and energy, rising, encouraging something meaningful from the day. Expectant with significance, the morning sun.

Bracia / Brothers – A Masterpiece of Film

I resolved to see some of the Film Festival this year and booked a ticket for a Polish documentary called Bracia/Brothers by Wojciech Staron and boy am I glad I did. It may be the best film I ever saw. I’m not sure yet. But it’s way up there – that’s for sure. Two brothers, Mieczyslaw and Alfons Kułakowski have returned to Poland after an exile of 80 years (yes), in Siberia and Kazakhstan, to resume their lives as best they can. The film, shot over 8 years, tells of their lives, as they live them, now.

Five Days Walking in France – Day 5: Saint-Jean-de-Côle et Angoulême

We did a bit of sightseeing before today’s walk (our last of 2016 together) in Saint-Jean-de-Côle, which is listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France. M. Besson and most of the books had recommended it. And the Romanesque Byzantine church to Saint-Jean Baptiste  was very special I must say, its stone walls almost white, with small rounded chapels to the side. They had choral music playing through the sound-system and long elegant candles (Pad and I lit two) and I could have stayed there longer and prayed. There was a map on a notice board at the side showing a walk through the village all the way to Santiago de Compostela, a good walk, beginning in Vezelay – almost 1,500 km according to Googlemaps. Now that would be a walk and a talk. But we agreed to settle for somewhat less that Friday. Maybe some other time.

Five Days Walking in France – Day 4: Words of Love

Thursday came with our first clear dawn and a hard frost. I put on a hat and gloves for the short haul down to Madame Aldi – we weren’t quite on first name terms yet, myself and the woman who opened it up in the morning, but we were getting there. Light had been filling my East facing bedroom since well before eight and I went outside with a cup of tea to enjoy the sun’s rising over the glen. It came up clear under a blue sky ribboned with aircraft contrails, my breath misting in the cold Autumn air, long shadows appearing behind the garden chairs and the porch column and on the pages of my notepad and my pen was enshadowed now too, and the back of my cup. Funny how the shadows are longest at the dawn and the dusk. Mist from my nose and mouth in

Five Days Walking in France – Day 2: La Palombière

Our second day’s walking was around Agonac, a small town about a 20 minute drive south-east, and the morning fog hadn’t yet lifted, so we couldn’t see much of the countryside as we headed down there. But we knew it would, as the sun rose and warmed the day. Der had been up and out on the porch when I’d come back from Aldi with the baguettes rustiques first thing that morning, watching a watery dawn rise over the glen beyond, brightening the trees – the same trees the sun had reddened as it set the evening before, the darkening slowly pushing up its soft and tired red light until finally it was only a thread at the treetops and then it was gone.

Five Days Walking in France – Day 1: Bonjour White Rabbit

We wanted to start our first day’s walking from the house so that’s what we did. By making our way down to the town via the paths along the meadow, and then taking on two loops in a figure of 8 route around Brantôme, near to where we were based. We’d had a short stroll around the town the day before finding our bearings and that was pleasant – it’s picturesque and old and cobbled and French. We were buoyed just to be there, after the long drive down from Nantes the day before and having met Aude and her nephew Bastien, and Marine, and especially Aude’s mother, all of 88 years old – that was a wonderful treat.