Thursday, 23 August 2007

A postcard from Ceret to Madame Grognonne

Dear Madame Grognonne,

How thoughtful of you to send me a cartes Postale of the Chief Druid. However it was rather difficult to decipher as your writing is a trifle small and the tendency to cover the card in script then turn it at an angle and continue writing in the other direction across the original text makes reading if quite impossible in places. May I also point out that ink blots did not make the task any easier? Should you feel the urge to communicate again perhaps you would consider utilising some of my writing paper from my desk and writing in bold script with a sharp pencil and confining the text to one direction only please?

I sit here under the fig tree in the shade and hear nothing but the cicadas and the excited trill of the fast running river beyond the trees, hurrying its eager way to its lascivious rendezvous with the sea. The air is hot and heady with the scent of wild thyme and rosemary. The world is at peace.

Here, on the border with Spain, we have taken private rooms at a chalet at the very foot of the Canigou Mountain where, according to Catalan legend, God placed his hand on the earth and declared that in this place all men would be at peace, which, I imagine, accounts for the distinct lack of Sardine gutters in the vicinity. A fact that is refreshing in itself.

I take it Chez Loufoque is also Sardine gutter free but would appear from what little I can make out from your missive seems to be under attack from Druids. Please take extra precautions with the household’s linen. The last time the chief Druid called in unannounced I recall we discovered, after his departure, several good damask tablecloths missing and a number of other items , including a muffin warmer that I can not help but notice closely resembles the hat he is wearing on the front of the cartes postal. Would it be too much to ask that, should the opportunity arise, you might be able to check the laundry mark on his hat and robe and if they contain the Loufoque crest retrieve them with as much tact as possible? The Muffin warmer was a wedding gift from the Belgium Nuns in Bordeaux and I am quite sure Reverend Mother did not intend it to be used as a hat by a heathen!

We travelled by automobile to Quimper where Jacques loaded us and our luggage on board the sleeper train to Bordeaux, all went well, apart from a minor inconvenience concerning youngest , a freight train and a lump of coal, which I mentioned in passing in my carte postale, and spent a few pleasant days enjoying the busy thrill of the bustling city, the opulence and elegance of a wealth built on fine red wine, the theatre, the opera house, long elegant boulevards, and promenades en Famille in all the fashionable places. The warm days echoing with tantalising half remembered memories, images glimpsed fleetingly in passing, recalling others long lost in childhood. Revitalized by a revisiting of a more civilized world and our wardrobes refurbished for the southern climate we travelled onwards through Carcassonne and Perpignan upwards to the cool mountain air, fresh and welcoming after the intense heat of the plains.

We have come here to the mountains for the cure, three weeks of taking the hot sulphurous waters at the thermal spa, of evenings spent sipping chilled champagne in languid contemplation of nature’s beauty, of mud baths and massage to rinse and pummel and ease away the drab, damp Breton Summer and fortify me for the cold wet winter that inevitably lies ahead. Meanwhile Chief Patissier will indulge himself with good wine, fine food and the company of others of similar persuasion, whilst the children will run wild like street urchins tickling trout in the streams and chasing each other like wild goats on the mountains passes.

I do hope all is well Chez Nous but trust you ,Madame Grognonne, to maintain the family home in some semblance of order in our absence. If there are any problems please do not hesitate to alert me to them.

Yours Madame Un Peu Loufoque

The painting is by Spanish artist Juan Gris, who was born in Mar. 13, 1887 previously known as Jose Victoriano Gonzalez, he changed his name having become the friend of a man called Picasso in Paris, , although Jacques never mentioned Picasso in person, I wonder if he knew him. Perhaps you might ask him? The painting shows the town of Ceret, through which we travelled en route to our chalet. The painting captures the heat and the strength of the landscape depicted in the cubist style that is so modern and popular here. If you can get to grips with the strange angles and the odd juxtaposition of trees and houses I think you might find it quite appealing in a rather avant-garde sort of way.


Pondside said...

Mmmmm - what a wonderful holiday - sun, food, taking the waters etc etc
While I don't normally enjoy the modern art of the region, this landscape is wonderfully evocative.

Anonymous said...

One word...stunning! Really loved this.

Blossomcottage said...

I will show my friends this wonderful postcard it beats the devil out of "Having a Lovely Time, gald you'e not here!"

bodran... said...

I used to use my nans T cosy as a turban, memories hey! yet again you had me captivated..

Theres a piture of my mobiles on janes blog does that help..and i think zoe might have posted one..
My cameras broke so, i can't yet..xxxx.I do do elderflower with the samr recipe.. was it you who asked???

Cait O'Connor said...

We stayed on holiday near Ceret a couple of years ago, what a lovely town it is.

Grouse said...

Just a word of caution my dear.....when taking the waters do not be so carefree as to discard one's liberty bodice and so catch a chill..........