Wednesday, June 30, 2010


I was invited to participate in the annual summer show in the Château in Lacapelle-Marival this year. I sent in a few drawings, and attended the opening this evening, not expecting terribly much.

The standard of work this year however is very high. One painter who blew me away is former graphic designer Jörg Hermle, a Berliner who has a house in the Lot. I was immediately drawn to his work with it's strong design and colour. The imagery is playful yet very powerful and disturbing. Not only am I planning to go back, I am even considering buying one of his watercolour and gouache paintings.

To see more of his work, click here.

Too much of a good thing...

Since moving to France, I have put on des kilos. At first I thought it was because I wasn't walking Thabo in Central Park for three hours a day the way I used to, so two years ago I got serious about exercise again: Gym Tonique three times a week plus a stretch class. Last summer I bicycled to Aquagym twice a week, and early this year took part in a 4 month cardiac research program involving three hours of speed walking a week.

This morning I had to be tested, measured...and weighed. I was horrified to find out that I had gained another kilo since the beginning of the program! This bunny needs to do something drastic about the tummy situation. The good life over here is getting out of control! Ok blog. You gotta help me out here. Rabbit diets consist of lettuce and carrots after all, not le pain et le vin. So, expect weekly progress reports...

To see more work by Gillian Goldbing, an English artist who summers in Marcilhac-sur- Célé, visit

Monday, June 28, 2010

Off the beaten track

I arrived at the Gramat pool for my swimming hour on Sunday to find the place packed with at least 3,000 screaming kids and their enthusiastic parents for a swimming meet. Quelle horreur!

It must have been 50 degrees, so I loaded Thabo into the car and set out for the river. Our usual spot was inundated by more sweltering kids and their families seeking relief from the heat. Thabo goes absolutely manic near water, driving everyone nuts with his barking, so we had to leave. But on the way home, I spotted a rough track through a field and followed it to find the perfect spot for us to swim and either read The New Yorker (me) or gamble in the field (Thabo). 2CV's are fabulous for venturing off the beaten track.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Midsummer's Eve

Last night I forgo the annual Fête de St Jean in Rignac to attend a vide grenier at a friend's castle. We were all told to bring stuff we didn't want anymore to sell and swap. Being a perennial pack rat, I had difficulty finding anything to bring, but eventually opened a mobile bookshop/art gallery in the back of my 2CV.

I totally scored! Came home with a hand embroidered linen tablecloth, wooden salad servers, an old pewter tea service, a colourful painting of tulips, a lovingly mended Quimper plate, two old Provençal pots and a dozen white dinner plates after selling and swapping a couple of children's books and rooster prints.

After we packed up our loot, our hostess biblically produced enough humous, aperitifs, green salad, tomato/lentils, cold pork, cheese and desserts to feed over a hundred people.

A rising full moon completed the magical evening.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Making hay while the sun shines

After almost a month of wild storms and torrential showers, the sun finally came out on Sunday. Everyone has been busy clearing ronces et orties (brambles and nettles), trimming lawns and clearing out weeds. My garden was a veritable jungle. On the way to dinner with friends tonight, I stopped to snap this shot outside Rignac. The farmers have literally been making hay while the sun shines.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Le Lieu Commun

Tucked up a little side street behind the church in St Céré is Le Lieu Commun, a small communal eating house where anyone can feast like royalty at midday on Wednesdays for five euros, provided one does without meat or alcohol. Christine and I had lunch there last week and volunteered to provide the group with some South African dishes this week. I made a cold cucumber/yoghurt /garlic/raisin/walnut soup served with toasted pita bread, and Christine wowed everyone with a South African curry replete with sambals: chopped tomatoes, green peppers and red onion, bananas, grated coconut and fresh coriander. Someone else brought along a ginger cake with fruit gathered from her garden and crème anglaise for desert. The conversation was as spicy as the meal. Bafana Bafana had just beaten the French Bleues the night before!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ah- sweet literary revenge...

A very unhappy family arrived at my cottage for two weeks on Saturday. Their grand tour of Europe was obviously not going as planned, and the cold and rainy weather wasn't helping things. The stolidly built bleached-blond wife looked around at the farm animals in dismay, jumping nervously at the sound of a nearby squawking chicken and shouting at her young son not to touch the dog or cats who had come to greet them.

Early the next morning, the bespectacled and harried husband was sent over to demand the return of their deposit. No one had slept a wink! Mother and child had come down with asthma and eczema and needed immediate medical attention!

Their arrival and departure have subsequently been the source of great local merriment, with "asthma and eczema" coming into almost every conversation. Perhaps these downunder suburbanites will provide fodder for the next volume in my Monsieur Monmouton series...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sangoel goes to Yemen

These photographs were lifted from Karen Lynn Willams's blog. Her co-author, Khadra Mohammed, took My Name Is Sangoel (which I illustrated) on her visit to refugee camps in Yemen. Here is what she wrote in the email with the images:

This little boy is 10 years old. His mom drowned when the boat they were smuggled in capsized. He is an orphan and UNHCR is caring for him under their unaccompanied minors program, his big smile melted my heart. His name is Hussain my new friend in the camp. He has been in the camp only for 6 months! He loves his book.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Wild lion

My sister Vanessa lives on a game farm on the Zimbabwe side of the Limpopo River. She sends mesmerizing emails from time to time, like the following:

"Thought the attached photo would be of interest - an interloper from Botswana, we think, who was attracted to our lions by their calls. He's now hanging about OUTSIDE our garden fence, near the lion enclosure, and has been here for 4 or 5 days. Slightly disconcerting, as he is quite wild! Digby captured him on a motion triggered camera last night, sniffing pieces of meat we put out for it. He was obviously spooked by the flash, as he didn't eat any, but went back to the other end of the enclosure and spent the night there. Woke to dogs barking last night and the sound of border jumpers wading through the river. Not exactly a welcoming party on our side, is it!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

The 2010 Opening

This is what the opening of an exhibition in rural France looks like in June. Specifically the opening in my little gallery, La Sirène du Causse.

My Monday night life drawing class opened our annual show last night. There were bottles of chilled rosé, hunks of cheese, quiches and tarts, and for those who stayed on past twilight, boeuf Bourgignon, salad and chocolate/banana/walnut cake.

Christian Leguay not only brought along his accordion but three musicians he plays traditional music with.

This is the second time the weather has blessed us with a balmy evening- the first summery one of year.

Thanks to Caroline Simon for emailing these shots.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Living in the moment

I have just discovered a fabulous new artist: Jim Denevan. Using a piece of driftwood like a pencil, a rake like a wide brush, or even a bicycle or truck, Jim scrapes large temporary geometric images onto the sands of beaches and deserts. A trained chef, he also serves meals to hundreds of strangers in outdoor settings in a project he calls Outstanding in the Field, which is all about being aware of where our food comes from.

See more, including some videos, at