Nostalgie du Pays

Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the Front de Gauche, after the success of the hard right parties in the European elections in France in May this year.

Even if you don’t normally watch videos, even if politics leave you cold, even if you don’t understand French, please take the time and have the patience to look at this – a man visibly moved by what is happening to his country.

 

Va, la France. Va, ma belle patrie. Allez les travailleurs, ressaisissez-vous, ne laissez pas que tout ça soit fait en votre nom. Ne permettez pas… Ne permettez pas que la France soit autre chose que ce qu’elle est dans le coeur du monde entier…

 

Forward, France, Onward , my beautiful country. Workers, organise; do not permit all this to be done in your name. Do not allow…Do not allow France to be any other than that which she is in the hearts of the whole world.

 

This came back to me in the wake of the murder of the young  Canadian soldier guarding the war memorial in Ottawa….we can know our country is not perfect, but we can love it despite – and sometimes because.

The corpse of that young man travelled the 310 miles of the Highway of Heroes – named as such when the dead from the war in Afghanistan were brought home  -with, it seems, every inch lined by people wishing to express solidarity with his family and solidarity with the values of the country in whose service he died.

Because the people of Canada have not reacted with hatred, but with sorrow, not by instigating witch hunts, but by expressing their love for a young man whose life was needlessly lost – and by setting up a trust find for his young son.

Practical, kindly, level headed people.

 

So why should this remind me of the words of a defeated French politician?

 

Because the love of country is a strange and unfathomable beast.

 

You can loathe  a system yet love the people who live under it….

You can live under oppression yet find relief in the memory of ancient freedom…

You can experience nostalgia for a way of life that once you knew, that you know to be gone, but whose memory lingers like the scent of lavender in your grandmother’s handkerchief drawer.
A scent which comes to you, softly, faintly, when you least expect it and rouses memories of times past.

Apollinaire in his ‘Cors de Chasse’ says that memories are like the calls of the hunting horn, dying away in the wind…but for me those calls bring the past vividly to life…while you live and remember, these things are real.

And the love of country seems to me to be to be a love of your memories…not the abstract ideals trumpeted by politicians who defile the very ideals of which they speak.

Much as I, a Scot, loathe ‘Flower of Scotland’, that dirge now sung on all national occasions…the lines ‘fought and died for your wee bit hill and glen’ conjure up for me my grandfather’s farm…the cattle in the byre, the sheep on the hill, someone cursing the reaper binder and all its works …and although I know that all that world has passed its memory still attaches me to Scotland.

I might know of the Declaration of Arbroath and all the tarradiddles about its real intention; the Wars of Independence, the Darien scheme which brought the country to its knees …but Scotland to me is my own small world when young; the neighbours – ‘canty and couthy and kindly, the best’…the soldiers of my father’s regiment, so kind to me when a child….my grandmother – the terror of the family – explaining to me that every stranger who knocked at the door was the Christ and was to be received with respect and assisted if in need…not that that prevented her from asking the Christ to chop a few logs…

I never really took to England…formed too early in Scotland, I suppose. Perhaps had I grown up in Edinburgh and gone to the right schools…but I had not.
I lived there, I worked there, but despite knowing a number of good kind people, overall life there confirmed my father’s view of the English.

The English? They’re like kippers. No guts and two faces…
Unfair, I know and untrue in private life, but all too evident in the public sphere.

I remember the miners’ strike in the Thatcher years…and how glad were the other union bosses that Scargill would not take the – by then – legally obligatory ballot for strike action…those yellow bellies sold out their own movement and now we have unemployment…people working zero hours contracts…and tax evaders ruling the roost.

I enjoyed the county shows…the magnificent animals and their proud owners…but no landscape held me, no one place anchored me.

But I came to England as an outsider..as a child…

When I moved to France it was as an adult, eyes wide open.

I had made the move as, at that point, property was much cheaper, as was the cost of living and I could still work by fax….without the commuting, without the hassle. Less money, more time.

I was lucky…the neighbours were decent, welcoming people…I made friends with them and, through the man who ran the library in the local town, met others of a more literary bent.
I began to get to know the place through their eyes….

And what a place it was!

I felt at home as I had not since childhood…there was a real inclusion in local life, an expectation that I would participate.
And participate I did, in the Maison Pour Tous – the local centre for activities for all, young or old – in the walking group, in the gardening club, and the Am Dram, playing Feydeau farces under the manic direction of the local dentist.
Unfortunately I wasn’t then eligible for the Old Age Pensioners meetings…a real den of iniquity under the guise of cards and knitting.

Walking the dogs in the evening I would be invited to join the game of boules in front of Jules’ farmhouse, or get hijacked by Papy into helping him fix the window of his little Renault van..Edith would pile us all into her ancient 2CV and we would visit Alice in the next hamlet, her garage full of the implements invented by her husband, who had been a surgical instrument maker…

These people let me into their world and gave me a great love for France – not the France of the caste of vain, incompetent buffoons who run the place, nor the France of the colour supplements where people sit at cafe terraces inhaling vehicle emisssions, nor yet the France of culture and architecture – but the France of ordinary people getting on with their lives as best they can and what those lives bring forth.

I love to keep in touch with it all…I can still see in my mind’s eye the woods at the back of my first house where the flowers of the sweet chestnut trees burst in yellow fireworks against the soft green foliage….I can still ‘hear’ the town band on its erratic way round the commune on July 13th.

Costa Rica has proved to be an amazingly happy place in which to have landed and has conquered me hook, line and sinker…

But, from time to time, I have nostalgie du pays.

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Boots, Boots, Boots, Boots….

IMG_2554
Boots. upon the availability and solidity of which depended the British Empire as its small professional armies marched to support the interests of the Lancashire cotton barons and the monopolies of the London Stock Market against the wild hopes of native leaders to exploit their peoples in their own interest without having to share the profits.

In this post imperial age, boots were to play their part in our journey back to Costa Rica from Spain.

My husband is into boots – and before the back row of the stalls starts slavering I mean gardening boots, not thigh high horrors in latex, whose existence only became apparent to me when trying to buy boots in his size on eBay.

There is a whole world on eBay which is unknown to me and which, with a bit of luck, will remain so.

While the size of his feet posed no problem in the U.K., lesser breeds without the law first in France, then in Costa Rica, seem to go in for small feet. His size is unobtainable.

While we lived in France he would buy his boots – and shoes – on visits to England….and then occasionally would find a clutch of them in the end of line shops: Noz, Mille Stocks, Moulin des Affaires, who would knock them out for absurd prices given that no Frenchman worthy of the name would sport feet which took size 47.

In Costa Rica there is no chance….though he did once find a cache of boots on a trip to Nicaragua and made the salesman’s day as he bought up the entire stock. Costa Rican customs officers – more accustomed to cocaine and heroin in their rummaging activities – were very puzzled, but no doubt put it down to mad gringo syndrome.

His health had been very poor in the last few years in France, whose much vaunted health service had let him down very badly, so by the time we left for Costa Rica he could no longer wear gardening boots, the weight being more than he could bear. Accordingly we left them behind and, as the dishonest caretaker took a smaller size, they were still at the house when we exchanged it for the house in Spain and so came down with the removal van last year.

He greeted them with delight…there were four pairs, steel toe capped, all weighing a ton…and they became the footwear of choice, offering as they did firm support for his ankles.
Given the tiled floors you could hear him coming from a long way off which gave rise to the more irreverent of the party goose stepping to the strains of ‘Die Fahne Hoch’ or the ‘Panzerlied’ as he arrived in the kitchen to cries of ‘Godverdomme!’ and a brisk exchange of ammunition in the shape of almonds from the trees in the garden.

The family gone, our holiday nearly over, it was time to pack.
Travelling in sardine class we had only carry on luggage and one suitcase in the hold…23 kilos limit.

What to do about the boots? Let alone the books?

Come to that, how to weigh the suitcases?

Luckily the gentleman who looks after the house could lend us his bathroom scales and at the first attempt it was apparent that not only were we well over the limit but that we would risk a hernia trying to move the suitcases more than an inch at a time.

What to discard?

Not the marble pestle and mortar.

Nor the books.

Nor the ceramics.

It had to be the boots.

Two pairs were put aside for the next trip…one pair was packed and one pair would be worn.

We were just under the 23 kilos.

The gentleman who looks after the house and his lovely wife – a real English rose – were to take us into town to catch the bus to the airport….and they were kind enough to show us a caff in the port area for a light meal….it was a perfect end to our holiday…a balmy night, simple food, good wine and better company and so in high good humour we settled down in the bus station for the couple of hours remaining.

As you do we surveyed the (limited) action in late night Castellon de la Plana.
A series of dustcarts came and went…a few beggars tried to tap us for money (no chance)…other passengers arrived for buses to the ferries to Morocco…and a light went on in the window of one of the flats opposite our bench.

For the next hour or so we..and the other occupants of the bench… were the spectators of a floor show as a young lady changed her garments and donned and doffed pairs of elbow length gloves. No nudity, but a great deal of suggestion.

Someone should put her on Tripadvisor.

Our bus arrived.
A surly eastern European driver who refused to load our suitcases for us.
People sitting in our seats to be ejected.
Stuffy overheating.
A halt at a miserable service station for forty minutes.

Finally we arrived at Barcelona airport…but at which terminal?

The driver had not elaborated…and it is a long trek between Terminals 1 and 2.

Leo descended to ask..got a dusty answer and called me to unload our luggage as it was clear that the driver had no intention of offering assistance.

Luggage unloaded we headed for the zebra crossing to the departure area.

But the driver was blocking the way, scratching and yawning.

A polite request to pass got us nowhere….so Leo went ahead, stamping on the driver’s feet with his gardening clodhoppers in passing. The path was clear..the driver displayed more activity then heretofore revealed to us…and we were on our way.

The clip below is so familiar to me…not just the music but the surroundings…I hope you will play it and enjoy the pleasures of a past age.

Is it time for the quiet revolution?

Blogging is both a small and a big world….we ‘meet’ other people, hear what is on their mind and it starts us thinking – and acting together.

I found this post from Lindsay really inspirational and have her permission to reblog it here.

I think it might well strike a chord with those of you kind enough to comment here…she starts by talking about her village in France and expands lessons learned there to the large scale.

Life and the Lot

I am tired by the turbulence and unsettled by the political jostlings. I am unsure where the final rounds of voting in the local elections in France on Sunday will leave us all.

Will this be a new dawn for local politics where there will be openness, transparency and accountability? Will future projects be relevant and undertaken after thorough and sound research and public consultation? Will decisions be made based on the best interests of most people with vested interests eschewed? Might there be imaginative solutions and risk taking and daring to deviate from the well trodden path of ‘we don’t do it like that here’?  Are the talents and energies of interested, local people likely to be harnessed for the greater good of all?

In the village where I live, I watch and wait to see. Benefit and doubt etc. But I won’t be holding my breath.

The ‘Puppet…

View original post 2,223 more words

It Would Drive You Bananas

iwishiwasindixie.com
iwishiwasindixie.com
Dragging what is laughingly called a hand of bananas down to the house, risking not only a hernia but also indelible latex stains on a clean top from the freshly cut stem I asked myself what else I expected….I had, after all, come to live in a banana republic.

And I can imagine that when I honk on about Costa Rican politics on this blog there are those who might well ask what else I had expected when moving to a banana republic with my eyes wide open.

I have to say that nothing so far has come as too much of a shock…but then before moving here I had had a masterclass in the mores of banana republics: I had lived in la belle France for over twenty years, under the reigns of Mitterand, Chirac and Sarkozy – and my friends in France keep me up to date on the doings of the latest incumbent, the Lesser Helmeted Hollandouille.

Now, while I suspect that years of contagion from the European Union has rendered the U.K. just about as corrupt as France, when I crossed the channel the process of turning a crafty private penny from public resources was in its infancy, so France came as quite a surprise.

Didier, done for having a defective rear light on his farm trailer, went to see an insurance agent who was the fixer for the local senator.
Didier undone for having a defective rear light on his farm trailer.

A neighbour’s son had lost points on his licence after driving under the influence and being tactless enough to run his car into the ditch in the presence of a gendarmerie van.
His father went to see someone at the court bearing an envelope and the points loss, awarded in court, never appeared on his record.

A maire managed, by the use of several shell companies, to buy a building belonging to his commune for a price below that offered the commune by a private buyer.

A retired senator had borrowed an enormous amount of money from the regional Credit Agricole bank, to finance the acquisition of property on the Cote d’Azur and the Ile de Re – neither area known for property bargains.
By way of security he offered some bonds…which were kept in his own safe deposit box at the local branch until the day when he walked in and removed them without a word being said on the part of the bank.

Mitterand brought about the process of decentralisation of government…by which more faces could be brought to feed at the publicly funded trough….and later Presidents extended the process, or trough, as often as needed.

But should one trough not suffice you could feed from several.

As maire of your commune, town or city you drew money related to the number of citizens you ‘represented’.
But you could also be a departmental councillor…for more dosh….and a member of the National Assembly for even more dosh and until relatively recently you could be paid for all these at the same time, and, in addition have an expenses allowance which was never checked….let alone an allowance for staff which enabled you to pay your wife for polishing her nails…and in some cases an official residence and a chauffeur driven car.

Needless to say, the egos became inflated.
The top dogs and their families were untouchable.

A chap whose car was damaged by Sarkozy’s son’s scooter found that a simple insurance job landed him with being accused of making a malicious prosecution….and he narrowly escaped a two thousand euro fine…; the Sarkozy family lawyer had even ‘phoned the chap’s insurance company to extract information by pretending to be the chap’s own lawyer.

But the top dogs fall out….usually at a handover of power, when the appointments made by Party A are joyously unmade by Party B and party A’s henchmen scramble for the seats on the magic roundabout of the well connected in France – the jobs in business which are at the disposal of the temporarily dispossessed party.

And it can prove nasty…..and is proving nasty for ex-President Sarkozy.

Escaping from charges of taking financial advantage of a senile old bat who was heir to the Oreal fortune, he applied to have his diaries, which were seized during the investigation, returned to him as he was worried that they might be used in other investigations involving him….a state pay out to a well known financial crook, and two little problems of campaign financing from dubious sources….one Pakistani and one Libyan.

He was quite hopeful…he had inside help at the court.
A well placed judge who thought he could talk his colleagues into seeing things the Sarkozy way in return for Sarkozy’s help in getting him a well paid retirement job in Monaco.
His lawyer thought it was a done deal…unless, as he said, they took a decision based on the law…

He was not only hopeful, he was cautious.
Suspecting, rightly, that his ‘phones were tapped, he got his lawyer to buy a mobile ‘pone in an assumed name – not so easy in France where they seem to want ID to go to the loo let alone buy a ‘phone – but no obstacle for this lawyer…the same who impersonated an opponent’s lawyer in the Sarkozy scooter case.

Unfortunately though, the judge investigating his little problems got wind of the mobile ‘phone and had that tapped too with the result that he now faces further charges of perverting the course of justice…..and the chase is on for the ‘sleepers’ he left in place when he left office.

So when, in Costa Rica, I hear that the candidate who wasn’t a candidate has become a candidate again…or that ballot papers for the second round of the Presidential election have been found in the street….that the warehouse where they were stored is owned by a company whose boss is a second cousin once removed of the President of the Election Tribunal, under a contract which does not meet standards of government transparency and which obliges the Election Tribunal to pay for all the services available at the warehouse in addition to the rent….I am not surprised.
Nor am I surprised when a Vice President of the Election Tribunal says that the newspaper which published the details should be sued.

I just think:

How French.

When History Repeats Itself

Parc Monceau Gustave Caillebotte Commons wikipedia.org
Parc Monceau
Gustave Caillebotte
Commons wikipedia.org

Paris has never appealed to me: I regard it as a place to slog through to get to somewhere more interesting and am relieved that I have rarely had to stay there for more than a couple of days.
I must be a provincial at heart – not even that gem of a book ‘Paris des Pas Perdus’ by Alain Rustenholz can enthuse me enough to check out whether or not the Eiffel Tower is painted in three different shades of grey to make it look as if it tapers.
For one thing I would have to pay an entrance fee and for another I much preferred to return home to see my own Eiffel Tower…the metal spire of the village church designed by Eiffel and destined to become the subject of a French rural version of Bleak House as the village, varying departmental architects of Batiments de France and a firm of painters slugged it out in the courts for years to see who was to take the blame for the paint peeling off it and who was to pay for the solution.
I could have told them the answer: they must have used that wonderful French invention – non stick paint.
It would peel from my shutters in under a year, so no wonder it peeled from the steeple in two.

Still, were I to be lumbered with a longer stay in Paris I think I could seek solace in the alleys of the Parc Monceau, still not all that different from its depiction by Caillebotte above.
Quiet today as when he painted it, but not many years before it had been one of the sites where the supporters of the Paris Commune were shot by the troops of the bourgeois French Republic in May 1871….those rounded up had their hands inspected to see if they had been firing weapons and those thus incriminated were sentenced to immediate sentence of death by firing squad by an ad hoc military tribunal.

Pavillon de Chartres Pavillon de Chartres Parc Monceau scholarsresource.com
Pavillon de Chartres
Parc Monceau
scholarsresource.com

This building at one end of the Parc Monceau is one of the few remains of the Wall of the Farmers-General, built in the late eighteenth century to encircle Paris at the behest of the ‘Ferme generale’ – the corporation of private individuals who collected most of the taxes on behalf of the government.

The royal government had long since given up the task of tax collection by that time.
It had hived off the function to the Ferme generale whose members would bid for the chance to collect a particular tax in a particular area….thus the government was guaranteed a certain income, and the members of the Ferme generale were guaranteed a whopping profit as – thanks to their spirit of solidarity – the bidding process was not exactly competitive.
They collected all sorts…taxes on land, taxes on that most basic of commodities, salt….and taxes on everything that entered Paris.
Thus the wall.

After a brief moment of revolutionary madness when the tax on goods entering Paris was briefly abolished before being rapidly reinstated, the wall remained – not to disappear until Paris was torn apart by Baron Haussmann in the 1860s, its narrow insanitary streets being replaced by the wide boulevards we see today and as the wall disappeared so did the tax which gave birth to it.

The wall had long outlasted its progenitors however: prominent members of the Ferme generale having filled the maw of Madame Guillotine the new French state took taxation into its own hands.
No more middlemen.

Well, not until recently, that is.

The previous government of France, that of Sarkozy, signed an agreement with a private company, Ecomouv which enabled that company to organise a system of tax collection on the usage of particular stretches of road by heavy goods vehicles in return for a fixed tariff to be paid to the French state.

Once the system was due to come into force there were protests – notably in Brittany whose hauliers claimed that they were being penalised for being at a distance from Paris, out on their peninsular.
Several of Ecomouv’s installations were destroyed and the Hollande government promptly announced that implementation of the tax would be postponed.

In the meantime, journalists at ‘Marianne’ have uncovered an opinion of one of the civil servants most closely involved with the Ecomouv concept that the infrastructure as set up not only enables the company to monitor heavy goods vehicles – but all vehicles

And not only that…with the technology available road pricing can be put into place.
You’re a rich bugger – your company can pay for your use of a road rendered empty by price fixing and lay it off to tax.
You’re a minister or high civil servant – the public purse can pay.

It all makes me think that the Green lobby has a great deal for which to answer.

Why do we use inefficient wind power when we can use nuclear power?
Because nuclear power produces spent uranium which has to be stored…or used in the military weapons which have made a devastation of Iran.
But if we use thorium we don’t have that problem.
Except that governments don’t see it as a problem. They like having depleted uranium available for military purposes.
Where is the Green lobby here?

What do we propose to do to enable people living in the country to access the services they need?
Public transport? Don’t make me laugh!
Elderly neighbours in France were already limiting their trips to town for shopping before I left.

Carbon exchange credits…what does that do apart from permitting polluters to continue to pollute?

I’ll have time for the Greens when they stop taking ‘planes to conferences; when they take into account the lives of the poor in first world countries and when they disassociate themselves from money raking enterprises.

But I won’t be holding my breath.

How Penguins Part from their Partners

Wikicommons Pere Igor
Wikicommons Pere Igor
Driving to and from the hospital at Poitiers I would be reminded that this was a landscape known to man for a long time, and that my preoccupations were nothing new under the sun.
Megaliths abounded in that area; menhirs and dolmens, bearing witness to the antiquity of the human presence – and how many more would there have been had they not been destroyed by forces of, successively, religion and agriculture.
In the commune where I first lived a dolmen had been blown up as late as 1912…..it was ‘in the way’.
North of Taize was a group of four…one clearly visible from the road, that Roman road from Poitiers to Nantes which was frequented by St. Hilaire of Poitiers, Apostle of Poitou and his follower, St. Martin of Tours in the fourth century A.D.
St. Martin les Baillargeaux, Noize
St. Martin les Baillargeaux, Noize
The church of Noize, now standing out in the fields far from the village, was named for St.Martin.
Its earlier parts date from the tenth century A.D, and it is supposed that, like many Christian sites, it took the place of a pagan temple…but I can’t imagine that either St.Hilaire or St. Martin would have left such a temple untouched.
baptisiere St. Jean, Poitiers l'internaute.com
baptisiere St. Jean, Poitiers
l’internaute.com
Normally I would have driven on..to the hospital outside Poitiers at La Miletrie, and with some time to spare would have visited the Baptistry of St. Jean, said to have been founded by St.Hilaire in the period when baptism by immersion was the rule…but today I will turn aside between Taize and Noize to go to Oiron, via Bilazais.

fontaine de bilazais site officiel de la commune de oiron
fontaine de bilazais
site officiel de la commune de oiron
Bilazais is today, as it always was, an undistinguished little village……but it could have made its fortune had an entrepreneur taken it in hand in the great days of the spa, at the end of the nineteenth century. Its waters were the equal of those at Bareges in the Pyrenees…but in the late nineteenth century it was easier to go from Paris to Bareges than to Bilazais…so the fountains of Bilazais slumbered on…the source no longer even used for the health of the old people in the almshouses in Oiron, just up the road.

Those almshouses had been founded by Madame de Montespan.….once the mistress of the Sun King Louis XIV…. when, retired from the court, she took up residence at the Chateau d’Oiron.

Chateau d'Oiron monuments. nationaux.fr
Chateau d’Oiron
monuments. nationaux.fr
An ambitious woman, she had succeeded in becoming the king’s mistress by pretending to befriend the then holder of the title, Louise de la Valliere, and – with or without the aid of black magic – had succeeded in supplanting her.
The relationship was so notorious that in 1675 the Church refused to allow the king to take communion at Easter unless he parted from his favourite…..and eventually the his Most Christian Majesty agreed to the separation….which lasted no time at all and once reunited added two more illegitimate children to the quiverful already produced between them.

In her turn she was to be supplanted…first by a silly girl who died in mysterious circumstances….then by the woman she had hired to bring up the brood of royal bastards, Mme. Scarron, whose aim was to draw the King back onto the path of virtue….and did it so well that after the death of the Queen Louis married her.

But the Sun King was courteous where women were concerned….he would raise his hat in their presence whether the woman be countess or chambermaid…..and Mme. de Montespan was not banished from Versailles.
She remained at court until her children, now legitimised to the fury of the aristocracy, made splendid marriages and only then did she retire from public life. Comforted by a generous pension she turned her attention to improving her chances in the afterlife by taking to religion and good works. Thus the almshouses at Oiron.

Louis XIV had a sense of his own worth which attached to anyone to whom he had given marks of favour: the glamour of his attachment extended to seeing that his favourites – and ex favourites – were respected.

Francois Hollande, President of the French Republic, has a well developed sense of his own worth too….at his recent meeting with the Pope in the Vatican he had his backside well anchored to a chair while the other Francis was still on his feet. Someone should tell him that one may be an atheist without being impolite.

But the signs were there….at the handover of power he turned on his heel to enter the Elysee Palace, leaving Sarkozy and his wife to find their own way to their car, which may have been the inspiration for Carla Bruni-Sarkozy’s song…Le Pingouin.
I don’t propose to inflict it on you….you can look it up for yourselves on Youtube….but the penguin of the title is popularly supposed to be Francois Hollande.

A clumsy gait, but a superior air; sure of himself; a sly narcissistic cheapskate; and cold hearted to those around him.

Judge for yourselves….

But he is scarcely the Sun King, our Hollandouille: where the former would have raised his hat to his former mistress the latter could only manage…..the finger.

Givingthefinger

A Busyness of Bloggers

marksinthemargin.blogspot.com
marksinthemargin.blogspot.com

Adullamite, whose blog gives me a great deal of pleasure, said in a recent post

‘I looked through the usual blogs, commented on one or two and will do on one or two others once I have read all the words. The blogs are so good, taking me all over the world, into lives I would never know otherwise. People in different worlds than mine with very different lifestyles….and differing views educate, inform and entertain better than the so called professionals do. They of necessity are limited to what pays, blogs reveal the heart! That is why they are good. At least the ones I choose to look at are.’

Thus he sums up what I enjoy about the blogging world – people talking about what they observe, what interests them, what moves them, what is important to them, what they ferret out – and the blogs I follow, return to time after time, are those with heart.

But they are as rare as hens’ teeth.

I look at the WordPress ‘Freshly Pressed’ section from time to time in the hope of finding a new blog to read…but less and less often.

I need a translation to know what LBGT might be…but I suspect it has nothing to do with gin and tonic…..

I couldn’t give a hoot about people moaning on about their ancestors’ slavery – it’s a rare family that hasn’t known oppression in its past and I’d be a damn sight more interested if these bods would look at current slavery practices with the same anal attention they give to their families’ pasts. Get involved…do something….stop grizzling.

Parenting blogs…yuck!
‘How I refused to believe that my little girl was a pain in the backside and interpreted her last minute refusal to take part in the Nativity play which had taken so much work to stage as an example of an independence that would one day enable her to say ‘no’ to drugs’…Double yuck!
There are some brilliant blogs on being a parent – take a look at some of the family posts on Mark Charlton’s Views from the Bikeshed or Stephen Herrick-Blake’s Bloggertropolis where the love just shines through in both cases…but parenting….no.

Exhibitionists pretending to dally with racism to give an unholy thrill to their audience…not that either.

Expats whose posts seem to consist of saying ‘Wow!’…..

The self promoters – oh look I have five thousand followers….

People who can’t use their own language…..

But enough of ‘Freshly Pressed’ as the blogs I see there , with honorable exceptions, show more attention to technique – to tricks – rather than content.

And content is what counts.

I’ve logged in to blogs about France and found myself enjoying music I’d never heard of….The Diary of Amy Rigby….
Films and how to view them from the blog which ceased to be written with the death of its eponymous owner – Boris in Ayrshire.

Discovering the difference between English and Australian thunderboxes thanks to Days on the Claise

Romanesque architecture illustrated by marvellous photography on the Via Lucis blog…

Recipes with a context on Cheffiles

It’s the sheer vitality of it all that counts…and I haven’t told the half of it.

And how many blogs lack just that….vitality.

Pedants who tell you what each French word means – without the faintest idea of what is happening in their own French backyard….

The well connected – to each other – who receive your comment on their post with a pale ‘thank you for your contribution’ and return to the contemplation of their well connected friends’ navels, minds closed to anything outside their own world…

Photographic blogs….which leave me asking whether the technique of taking a pic has taken over from communicating something through that pic….

Oh, stop grizzling, woman!

A blog with heart, with vitality, doesn’t need to be a literary master piece, nor does it have to be about the extraordinary….but it does need a blogger who tells you how it is – lets you see their world as they see it – and who enjoys the relationship with readers through the comments section, which is, in my view, the best part of my blog!

Just doing a swift trawl through the blogs I enjoy I can visit Scotland, England, Wales, France, Spain, Gibraltar, Belgium, Turkey, the Gulf states, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Canada and the U.S.A……

I can learn about knitting, crochet, ceramics; cooking and preserving; riding and walking; animal rescue and architecture; religion and politics; wildlife and town life; I can see the sights and discover their history…..

And it’s all thanks to those special bloggers – those with heart.