Au revoir for now

The blog is going into a state of suspended animation for a while.

Trying to simultaneously finish three manuscripts leaves no time to do a great deal else, nor enough creativity to write anything remotely of interest on here. However I will still be following all those other bloggers I enjoy.

I’m on Facebook if anybody would like to keep in touch there –  press the blue button on the side-bar, and details of all my books, including those which will be published next year, are on my website: French Footprints. I’ll be keeping it updated with news and publication dates. Feel free to Stumble the site, and if anybody would like to share Stumbles, just leave a comment here and I’ll be happy to oblige. 😉

You can also Tweet me @WAPIFARASI.

It’s a bit early, but Merry Christmas to everybody, and thank you for following me. 🙂






Book launch party

If you’re reading this and weren’t at the party, then I’m sorry, but you missed a wild event. 🙂

When Stephanie Zia of blackbirdebooks suggested a Facebook party to celebrate the re-launch of Best Foot Forward, I had a moment of panic, envisioning tens of thousands of feral youths turning up and trashing our house, frightening our animals, upsetting the neighbours and generally causing mayhem.

Thanks to a heavy police presence and some cunningly positioned snipers, we managed to keep at bay any undesirables, and although one or two guests did have perhaps just a little too much to drink, and one lady did molest a waiter (who it later turned out was gay and is taking us to court), all in all I think it went very well indeed.

Stephanie thoughtfully recorded the whole event, so if you were there and need a reminder of how you (mis)behaved, or if you didn’t make it and would like to see what you missed, here’s a taster: Facebook Party.

If you want to get down and dirty and see just how badly some of the guests conducted themselves, you can go here and scroll down till you reach the purple-wrapped chocolate. Then go to the thread above where there are 192 comments and watch the whole event unfold. 😀

I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun. We must do it again soon.

Signed copies

I have nine copies remaining of the paperback version of “The Valley of Heaven and Hell” if anybody is looking for Christmas presents.

€9.90, plus P&P, signed and dedicated on request.

Please email me at doolally dot tap at gmail dot com if you would like one.

See reviews

Anarchic gardening (2)

Now we come to pruning and cutting back for winter.

The conventional system was to chop everything down and give it to the goats to eat. People who haven’t kept goats believe that they eat anything, which is not true. They will eat cardigans, stale bread, paper bags, but they do not eat nettles (unless they have been chopped down), mullein, or any of the other rampant weeds. What they like most of all is roses and ornamental shrubs.

As autumn really begins to take hold, it’s that time of year when I cut down anything that looks sleepy or floppy or too tall or not tall enough, or has grown too big or not grown very much at all. So pretty much everything. Chop, chop, wheelbarrow, into field with goats, job done. Next year it will all grow and bloom again. It always does.

One of our goats is very old, and he is bullied by his younger, smaller companions, so we have let him into the garden to take his pick of all the delicacies. He’s make a start on the roses and evening primrose, washed down with some ivy. He’s like a child let loose in a sweetshop, trotting from one treat to the next.

Anarchic pruning cuts out the hard work.  Except for the wisteria. I wish goats could climb ladders.


Anarchic gardening, part I

When we bought our house, it came with several vines, a giant walnut tree, an even bigger oak tree, an almost-as-big lime tree, and a plum tree. And grass. A hectare of grass. Pristine, weed-free, uniformly high grass. All kept in neat order by five sheep, who stared at us belligerently as we wandered around what they regarded as their territory.

The vendor moved the sheep to an adjacent field, from where they glared contemptuously and knowingly as I dug a pond, planted shrubs, made a rose bed, some flower borders, and planted a wisteria.

It took a short while for things to start to grow. About a month. And then whoosh! Everything went mad. The forsythia. The vinca. The rhus. The tamarisk. And the wisteria. Oh my goodness, how that grew and grew and grew.  And the grass thrived on the combination of heat, occasional rain, and frequent dew. And it called for mowing at least twice weekly.

Mowing grass is one of those things that has never enthralled me. Frankly, it’s a chore that give little pleasure apart from the smell. But it has to be done, and the only thing that comes to mind that I remember as being equally uninspiring was Saturday morning stocking-darning at boarding school.

Our lawn is too small and irregularly shaped to warrant a sit-upon mower, but we have a good electric machine that does the job quickly and efficiently. However, I simply cannot stand pushing it backwards and forwards to make neat stripes. The very thought makes my hair go lank. So I have a particular method of mowing that I recommend to people who are similarly depressed each time they drag out the mower.

Make islands. I find triangles work best, but trapezoids, rhombi, or kidney shapes are all worth a go. Start by mowing the outer edges to form the shape of your choice.  Then you can snip off a point, or mow a single edge. Keep chipping away thus at the shape, and marvel as it becomes smaller and smaller, until you deliver the final coup de grass, and that’s one island gone. Your heart gives a small leap. Now make a new island; it doesn’t matter where, because eventually the whole area will be mown without the monotony of going backwards and forwards in regimented lines.

Tomorrow I shall be revealing the secret of anarchic pruning.



Last minute preparations

As we begin the countdown to the Facebook launch party for Best Foot Forward, I am taking an hour for a quiet lie-down before proceedings kick off. Slightly worried that the breaking news of the Kevin Katchadourian divorce after only 72 days will overshadow the event.