Sunday, April 23, 2017

Election Day....


Screaming point here - Election Day in France. It's anybody's bet who will win this first race, but I think that whichever two do ride home, there will be a lot of losers too and not necessarily the also-ran candidates. As many people keep their cards very, very close to their chest, despite talking politics non-stop, there is no real way of knowing how things will turn out until the results are announced. That moment might well prove to be explosive and so everyone will lose out as the notions of Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité are put to the test, now and then for the final round in May.

Right, I'm off to vote!


The day after. Mixed opinions all around, but rather somber all in all...


Floral Starry Night....

Night Sky Petunia
True wilderness is short on the ground in a city, even more so when you live on the fifth floor of a block of flats. Nevertheless, glimpses of the weird and wonderful of Nature are still to be found, even if not strictly speaking very 'natural'.


Cue in the many cultivars that I love to gaze at in the local garden centre and the latest find that really took my breath away.... The Night Sky Petunia. The paint-splash petals truly resemble the stars up in the firmament above and underline how nature is able to replicate itself, albeit with a little help in this case.


I was not the only one to be amazed by the Night Sky; when I returned, they had all gone!


However, the other flowering plants were still there to be admired, revealing their often subtle magic.


All those veined petals, feathery leaves, tiny hairs and downy layers - often barely visisble at a distance.


Some the beauty is pure, obvious elegance....


Some is just plain simplicity...


Or just bright and jaunty...


Well, as a tenuous (and rather depressing) link to starry skies, here's Don McLean's Vincent.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Budding Grapevines.


Spring burst a few days ago, with the first warm days triggering the tight buds to open out from amongst last year's dark, tangled vine tendrils.


Set in the heart of these delicate, pink-tinged leaves are the tiny future grapes, whose growth I will track as these particular vines are just in front of my workplace!


At the heart of the Champagne region, Reims has a key position in the production of the sparkling wine of world-wide renown.


Unsurprisingly, there are numerous references to the place which champagne occupies - past and present - on the town architecture.


There is no danger of these delicate, future grapes ever being used in the champagne process as they are growing in defiance of the pollution from the traffic that rolls past on a daily basis.


However they do make my day a little brighter. And then, of course, there is the wine itself...

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Nine Lives of a Cat.....




Nine years ago today, our big. bad, batty Siamese cat died: almost as many years without him now as with him. At the time, the children and I were so shocked by the suddeness of his loss, and saddened by the void he left behind him, that it felt truly unsurmountable. 


However, we did resolve to think of him with a smile rather than sadness, as this was far more representative of the effect he had had on our day-to-day lives. As he was forever hell-bent on getting into any available space, it's safe to say that he had an effect on many areas of our lives.


Of course, as a kitten he was always on the look-out for new pranks and foul practices and his beastly intentions could be read by his body language.


When he wasn't skulking around, clambering and clawing his way up furniture or flinging himself off great heights, he would be lolling and lounging around in the most carefree, feline manner.


His earliest forays generally appeared to be quite innocent, but he upscaled these with time and practice.


And practice certainly makes perfect, or purrfect, should I say?


Once he'd discovered an appetite for such antics, there was no stopping him...


Anything or anywhere he could get into, he would, with a certain ease and great, grim determination.


Regardless of the consequences and the numerous trails of devastation he'd leave in his wake.


As he was a housecat, and I often prepared work from home, he would be a constant companion.


Ever watchful for a scrap of activity that he could join in with...


Paws ever ready for action, in whatever form that might take...


Shredding any handy paper, homework to be marked or the odd paper hanky, invariably feeding a serious fascination with boxes that soon grew into a marked fixation.


Of course, this is an interest shared by the majority of moggies, worldwide.


But you do wonder what it is, exactly, that draws them into any box, regardless of shape or size.


And why they feel compelled to radiate such an air of smugness once in their cardboard castles.


They just seem so pleased with themselves, and their latest exploit, even when it's a bit 'passé'.


And this behaviour is something cats simply do not grow out of, even when they have out-grown the boxes themselves!


Or when they are no longer the 'baby' of the family, strictly speaking.


They simply up the ante and become evermore resourceful in doing so...


When they have become mature cats, this tendency seems to escalate.


After all, why limit yourself to mere boxes?


Paper bags will do quite nicely, but something a little more upmarket will go down well too.


Any domain is fair game for the domestic lion, even more so when there is competition, in the form of a human baby.


Always best to mark out the territory as soon as possble so that intruders know their place.


 And to repeat the message several times, for good measure.


We don't want anyone getting ideas above their station...


Or thinking that anything that they can do, you can't actually do a whole lot better...


And with far more style and swagger!


And play far more sophisticated games with any toys that might be hanging around...


And for anyone who still has trouble grasping the law of the land, you can always resort to spelling it out in the bluntest, feline fashion so that there is no room for ambiguity.


Any vantage point will suit in order to keep a watchful eye on proceedings...


From way above, in order to outstare, in the most nonchalant way...


Or lower down, as cupboards do lend themselves to the more dignified, formal comtemplative pose...


But if you want to get a little superior, more original sites are there for the taking.


Feline versatility knows no bounds...


In the kitchen, it is advisable to take the no-holds-barred approach....


The fridge may be a rather obvious choice...


But there are plenty of options, with the various utensils, gadgets and appliances just waiting to be occupied...


No space is too small, and with a bit of imagination, the humblest of places may take on a whole new dimension...


Yet, territory and experience is limitless for the more adventurous feline...


Even if getting stuck into exploratory mode could lead to unexpected consequences - getting literally stuck!


But hey! All in a day's work...


And whatever, a cool stance in required, even when you look plain silly!


And if all else fails, you can simply close your eyes on this world, and just relax...


Or gaze on, with those eyes bright and attentive that burn so many precious, privileged moments into our lives. They may only have 'nine lives', but cats, just like dogs, live on forever in our memories.