Edited to add another link relating to woad.Scroll down.

Yes, folks, I am home again. Been home a few days, in fact, but somewhat busy.

Have  I really not written since  the New York segment? ?? Apparently. I expect I was having so much fun, racing about the countryside, meeting other bloggers, making new friends, learning, first-hand, about tortoise biology….Others have written about the blogging house party in Norfolk so I’ll skate over that lavatorial episode.

Instead, I’ll jump ahead to my cross-channel quickie.

I flew to Toulouse to spend a few days with Ange in a lovely old farmhouse in the country. My first time in the south! Hard to believe that in all my years living just across the “sleeve” I never got that far south!

What treasures I missed! Still, I did make up for some of that and have certainly whetted the appetite for more!

Ange and her family live just outside the village which, once a month, at midnight, is closed to vehicular traffic for this little parade.   click the top image


Foolishly, I, with TWO cameras, took neither, not realising quite what we’d see as we drove into the village late one night!

The logistics of moving an A 380, albeit in its component parts, are mind-boggling. And not a little hold-your-breath scary! But I’m so pleased to have seen it, being a bit of an aeroplane freak.

And the next day we headed for Carcassonne (passing the Airbus parts in the workshop yard on the way!). I think my earliest knowledge of Carcassonne came from a jigsaw puzzle depicting mounted knights riding up to the castle. Not quite as forbidding today, it’s still an impressive place. The winding, narrow streets are (as you’d expect) a tourist mecca, with, sadly,some of the merchandise marked “frabrique en Chine.” But look carefully and you can still find items produced locally.Or, at least, in the Eurozone. This, I think, is vital, given the fiscal mess so many places are in.

But let’s keep politics out of this!

Sorry.Can’t! Political clout has always played a part in history and the next place I visited was no different.

The Toulouse area owed its prestige and wealth to the humble plant,Isatis tinctoria,  from which an all-important dye is derived.We visited to learn more.


Ange’s son, assisting in a demonstration* Note the greenish colour of the cloth-this will dry blue.


Blue bunnies. Erm…just what is in those carrots!


Blue doors and shutters at every turn…

IMG_0139And, apparently, blue cars!

And just to show that I’m not completely besotted by blue, here’s something black…

black petunias

Petunias! Aren’t they gorgeous? Madame,the cafe “Rouge Gorge” owner said she had planted red-and-black,to complement the decor, but the frightful early summer of cold rain made the reds revert to a faded white and pink. But these beauties thrived.

Had enough of France? OK…back across the Atlantic  for this:

subway ladies

A block-mounted print of one of my friend, Victoria’s, subway paintings. See her site and Etsy shop for more. Some of you already know that I have other work by Victoria and it was lovely to see her again on this trip. We cruised a couple of exhibitions and wandered around East Village haunts and talked a lot! This little gem now hangs above my desk.It puts me in mind of Degas. What do you think? Thanks, Victoria.

Of course, it would not have been New York without my favourite guide...but that’s for another post!

And I think the cats  have something to say, too, now that Estorbo’s people have restored his password and are home with him. For an armchair safari I can highly recommend this blog and this one.

* Aeration/oxidation is an important stage in the process.See this link  for more information.
I’ve found a link to the lyrics of a song I have been known to sing, first, at school and later at parties.


…yes, I do! Hotter than a jockey’s saddle, but hey! It’s New York.

So very different from my first visit! IMG_3825

Trees with leaves! And the banner, above? Some of the roses on my friend’s terrace. I do have some other pics, but I’m a bit pushed for time, so here’s a small amusement for you…

Wylye Girl, over at the River Cottage (no, not Hugh get-yer-hair-cut) has a post about ageing and how to tell whether you are showing the signs of same. It amused me, possibly because I am approaching that time of life when people expect one to show such signs. Unless, of course, you’re like me and quite happily get on a bike (eventually!) and pedal around Central Park. (no photos of that, I’m afraid. Daisyfae and I were intent on not being taken out by a herd* of skate-boarders.More later…)

Anyway, while you wait to hear more about my cycling adventure, see how you score. This is an Anglo-centric quiz, but I’m sure you can adapt it for your own locale. These responses are mine.

…came across some new research that claims to have found the top 50 signs that you are getting older so I thought I would see how I stacked up against them, so here goes:

1. Feeling stiff. Yes, but some things have been stiff for years.

2.  Groaning when you bend down. No. Might groan if I can’t bend!

3.  Saying ‘In my day’. Probably.

4.  Losing my hair. Yes, to the extent that I no longer tear it out when ranting. The cats are looking a bit mangey…
5.  You don’t know any songs from the Top 10.  Didn’t even know there still is a Top Ten!

6. Getting more hairy (nose, ears, eyebrows, etc). I notice they don’t mention the Menopausal Moustache. So neither shall I!

7.  Hating noisy pubs. Yes.

8. Saying it wasn’t like that when I was young. Does repeating #3 suggest the author is getting old?

9.  Talking a lot about joints/ailments. What is “a lot”?

10. Forgetting people’s names. Like the new James Bond? Or the fellow who wants to be my next MP?
11.  Choosing clothes and shoes for comfort rather than fashion. Honey,comfort has trumped fashion for more than 40 years.It is possible to have both, y;know.

12.  Thinking policemen/teachers/doctors look really young.  Well, given that most who are older than I have retired…

13.  Falling asleep in front of the TV. Oh, yes.

14.  Needing an afternoon nap. Only at weekends when we have leisurely lunches involving wine (sorry, Z!)

15.  Finding you have no idea what young people are talking about. I often have no idea what ANYONE is talking about

16.  Struggling to use technology.  Like DVD recording and electric can openers?

17.  Losing touch with every day technology and tablets. see #16  Oh,wait! Maybe they mean the pill kind of tablet? Forgetting to swallow them. Um, yes. But only because I forgot to pack them…

18.  When you start complaining about more and more things.  See! Repeating questions again!

19.  Wearing your glasses around your neck.  Good God! No. When I need them, I need them in front of my eyes. Not dangling around my navel.

20 .  Not remembering the name of any modern bands.  I’d also like to forget that I heard some of their music.
21.  You avoid lifting heavy things due to back concerns.  Hey! That’s not age, that’s the wisdom that comes with age. Says she who was side-lined 6 months ago!

22.  Complaining about the rubbish on television these days. Doesn’t seem to have any effect ,does it?

23.  Misplacing your glasses/bag/keys. Does it count if you did these things at 20?

24.  You move from Radio One to Radio Two. For me, that would be like switching from Triple J to Classic FM.  (All radios Chez Dinahmow  have been tuned to Classic FM for 20 years.Sad.I know)

25.  You start driving slowly. Start? With constant roadworks and heavy traffic slow is the norm (except out by the golf course!)

26.  Preferring a night in with a board game rather than a night on the town. I wonder if this is not a typo?     Broad? Bored? Knight?

27.  Spending money on the home/furniture rather than a night out. Probably.This is a small town.

28.  You talk to colleagues so young they can’t remember what an Opal Fruit is. Who the bejeezlehoop has conversations about Opal Fruits? In my day (!) colleagues talked about a)other colleagues b) the boss c) the chances of snagging a Saturday date.

29.  Taking slippers to a friends’ house.  Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

30.  Listening to the Archers. Blimey! Is that still running? No, never did

31.  Falling asleep after one glass of wine. Define “glass” in terms of size

32.  Never going out without your coat. I live in the tropics.Don’t have a coat

33.  Getting bed socks for Christmas and being genuinely grateful. Pretty unlikely.On both counts
34.  When you can’t lose six pounds in two days any more. Wouldn’t you need to be bulimic?
35.  Gasping for a cup of tea.  Not me. I’m a coffee gal.But I still don’t see that tea-drinking qualifies one for an Old Fogey award.

36.  Taking a flask of tea or coffee on a day out.  Nope

37.  Joining the WI. Here, that would be the CWA. And my answer would still be no.

38.  Taking a keen interest in the garden. Less keen than when I had a much bigger garden and much younger body

39.  Spending more money on face creams/anti-ageing products. I don’t spend any money on such things. Probably why people think I’m old!

40.  Taking a keen interest in Antiques Roadshow. No. I have a lot of “old” things. And one of them refuses to throw the rest of them away.

41.  Taking a keen interest in dressing for the weather. Again with the “keen interest.”No, I don’t

42.  Putting everyday items in the wrong place. My bone folder in the pantry does NOT count. That’s not an everyday item…

43.  Obsessive gardening or bird feeding. Not obsessive.And I don’t feed wildlife (unless in rehab.Them, not me!)

44.  Really enjoying puzzles and crosswords. Nope. Too busy.

45.  Always driving in the slow lane or under 70 in the middle lane. No. see #25

46.  Consider going on a ‘no children’ cruise for a holiday.NEVER! sprogs or no sprogs.

47.  Your ears are getting bigger. Are not!

48.  Joining the National Trust. Why?

49.  Drinking sherry. Hmm…the elderly ladies whose tipple is sherry have probably been drinking it for years in the belief it would not make them tipsy.So, no.

50.  Feeling you have the right to tell people exactly what you are thinking even it it isn’t polite. It is seldom polite.
* is there a collective noun for 200+ skate boarders? Herd suggests Serengeti wildebeest, which certainly was what it felt like the other day!



(That’s the Very Polite version of the “interesting” flight from Korea to New York.)

Just in case any of you didn’t know…on the day I was due to fly in, the worst blizzard in years hit this city.

But it’s difficult to keep this tough old bird down and I did make it to the Big Apple, on one of the last three planes to land before the entire airport shut down.

Of course,  the drama really began in Australia – with a cyclone! Luckily for me, it was ‘way up north so we had no damage in Mackay.  But the intense low pressure system that it became added more water to already flooded areas. Many towns have been evacuated, many homes lost and many people ruined. May all those people have a truly Good New Year.

So, I arrived in rainy Brisbane, queued for a cab and…got driver who took a wrong turn.Twice!

Back to the airport with the Flatulent Sparrows and on to Korea where I had a short wait for my NY connection.

some Korean snow, just to get me in the mood.No Glenn Miller

Checked-in, boarded and seat-belted…we got an announcement from our captain… due to heavy snow at JFK airport, we would not be able to take off on time.

Well, we had a few repeats of this announcement…then we were told we’d have to refuel ( we’d been guzzling our av-gas just keeping our plane warm and lighted.)

Next announcement…snow had been mostly cleared from JFK and we would be leaving once we’d been de-iced. So, off we trundled to the de-icing field where a huge machine with a kind of cherry-picker attachment squirted steamy stuff all over our ‘plane.

Then an announcement that we were waiting for the final all-clear from JFK.

By this time I was seriously worried that the rumbling from my stomach might be mistaken for a mechanical failure. Bloody hell! I was hungry!

But the engines roared and off we went.

The next bit is boring.

My first sight of New York as the ‘plane circled was pure magic! Golden and white for miles. As we dropped lower I could make out a few coloured lights here and there, then identify freeways and streets. B ut almost no moving lights!

Oh-oh …We circled low and wide over Brooklyn and I could see “my” block!

Once on the ground we just sat there. And sat there. Eventually we were told to go and stand in the corner park behind some big hangar-thingy. For ages. I saw a 747 with icicles about a metre long hanging from its nose. I guess it must have been very,very naughty waiting a long time.

But at last we were directed to a parking bay, with much cheering and clapping from passengers.

And then the fun started…maths was never my strong point so you figure out for yourselves how many people would have been in the arrivals  area from THREE big jets. And only two officers in the immigration line.

Word was filtering through that nothing was running , either on the streets or subways, as people with cell phones contacted their families.

Through immigration and on to Baggage Claim. Are we having fun yet? A baggage conveyor broke down. Our baggage conveyor. Thousands of bags and boxes were stuck in the bowels of the monster. And there was no maintenance crew.

The Customs Officers just wanted to go home, too. And at 2 am, that’s what they did. Yep! They took our declaration of good intent as stated on our cards and wished us “happy holidays” and told us to bugg come back tomorrow for our bags.

Upstairs, a throng of meet-and-greet people, holding signs (mainly written in Chinese and Arabic) and, ta-daaa! one woman with a sign reading ”


Melanie, another cyber-friend, was waiting to take me home to her place in the Bronx.

I’ll spare you much more than to say we were dug out of a snow drift by a wonderful chap who had a shovel in his car. A Jamaican to boot!

Snow-schmo! I was in New York an’ lovin’ it, baby!


to be continued…