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Posts tagged ‘Belledonne Mountains’

How it feels to be this alive

My spouse, who I generally refer to as ‘The Husband with Two Brains’ or HB² lived in Grenoble throughout the 1980s and regularly used to say to himself when he looked out of the window of his house that he must never take the view for granted because one day he wouldn’t be there any more.  I feel exactly the same way.  I love this place, experience it as the most natural of alignments as though I was born to be here and having the mountains so close by to explore freely and at will has been the greatest of gifts.  One day this time will simply be a memory, as indeed will be every moment of this little life I lead, but surely the silver lining is that I had this time, that I was granted the rare delight of living here, and the opportunity to get out whenever I want to and explore the other-worldly delights that such a naturally stunning place affords free of any charge.

The picture was taken in les Alpes Belledonne last summer.  It was an eerily beautiful day …. by turn brightest bluest sky with flouncing little fluffs of low cloud and a sudden mantilla of mist lending an ethereal atmosphere to the sturdy peaks and an irridescent sheen to the water.  It was unforgettable, I hope … for who knows if I will always have the gift of easily bringing memories forwards.  Who knows how motheaten my mind may become and how many moments will simply be lost like so many fragile bubbles too delicate to do anything but pop and fragment into the ether of my psyche, that curious morass of matter weightily wedged in my skull.

I share the moment with you in response to the weekly challenge tagged ‘Out Of This World’the many laudable entries to the gallery found here


PS:  The title is from The Cure’s song ‘Out Of This World’ which instantly popped into my still vaguely functioning brain when I saw the challenge.  I can only hope that I will always remember how it feels to be this alive because I know that I am prosperous indeed.  I chose the clip simply because it was shot in Nyon which is not far from here just over the border in Switzerland on Lac Genève.

My first husband went to see The Cure in Amsterdam in the same era as HB² was living in Grenoble first time round.  He secured himself a fine viewpoint in front of everyone but regrettably failed to realise that he was standing precisely on the spot where the safety barriers would rise out of the floor as the show began.  As Robert Smith, wax faced and angsty with his extra-long pullover sleeves all ready to flop foppishly at his thighs as he performed, took to the mic, the aforementioned husband that would be for a while, was raised almost messianic in front of him …. I believe the stunned expression on the artist’s face was worthy of one witnessing something quite out of this world …..

When we look back at it all as I know we will
You and me, wide eyed
I wonder…
Will we really remember how it feels to be this alive?

And I know we have to go
I realize we only get to stay so long
Always have to go back to real lives
Where we belong
Where we belong
Where we belong

When we think back to all this and I’m sure we will
Me and you, here and now
Will we forget the way it really is
Why it feels like this and how?

And we always have to go I realize
We always have to say goodbye
Always have to go back to real lives

But real lives are the reason why
We want to live another life
We want to feel another time
Another time…

Yeah another time

To feel another time…

When we look back at it all as I know we will
You and me, wide eyed
I wonder…
Will we really remember how it feels to be this alive?

And I know we have to go
I realize we always have to turn away
Always have to go back to real lives

But real lives are why we stay
For another dream
Another day
For another world
Another way
For another way…

One last time before it’s over
One last time before the end
One last time before it’s time to go again…

A learned fool is more a fool

 Mr Clarke had the unenviable task of being my ‘Form Tutor’ in my last two years at senior school.  Mr Clarke, an undeniably smart man, only taught the top two years.  Those that ostensibly really wanted to learn his subject.  English Literature.  We, being witty as well as bright called him  ‘Forsooth Verily’ by dint of his superbly Shakespearian air made more acute by the fashions at the time … softest suede desert boots that made no sound, not even a whisper, as he glid across the high-polished wood floors, velvet jacket fitted to his slender form and what here in France they would call a ‘foulard’ of embroidered cheesecloth casually draped around his neck.  His beard was deliberately bard there is no doubt.  He had the delight of teaching me and the double wham bam no thank you mammy of being in charge of what would these days be called my ‘Pastoral Care’.  It is fair and truthful to own up at this point in my too rapidly ageing life, that I was a handful.  Twice a day, at it’s start and finish, the group of us that formed Tutor Group 6SB congregated in the library, for this was his domain.  This was his exhalted place.  This was his book-lined empire.  We did our prep, we swatted for exams, sometimes he led a discussion, sometimes we rehearsed an assembly.  I say ‘we’ but I might reasonably admit that I had a habit of being less than engaged with the process.  One fine afternoon he asked me to please, for goodness sakes please, concentrate on the work in hand and added that I was ‘vacuous’.  This provoked an inevitable barrage of ‘what does that mean, sirs’ from the tiresome object that was me.  He suggested, quite reasonably that I might look it up in the dictionary.  These vast volumes lined the bottom shelf of his cave and I remember sitting cross legged finding the correct tome.  Quite askance I read the all too obvious definition.  He of course implied that I was ‘as a vacuum’ …. absolutely bugger all going on in my head.  Mr Clarke was a very smart man.  So acutely embarrassed and humiliated was I that my reset button was pressed toute de suite.  Later that summer I would open the envelope with my all-important A-Level exam results and be really proud of what I had achieved rather than quietly ashamed of wasting what ability I had.  Thank you Mr Clarke.  You sealed my future with your withering remark.  You made me face the fact that given the gift of something of an  intellect, it is honestly the height of fatuous rudeness not to at least try to use it wisely.

I give you this little story as my offering for the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge ‘Dense’ of which you can find all the suitably solid entries here.  My picture, taken on Sunday on la Crête de la Molière, seemed rather apt – the dense cloud trying it’s hardest to mask the snow covered Massif de Belledonne, the tree who has seen it all before, now old and weathered, battered and broken but stripped though it is, it still stands sentinel surveying it’s realm.

DSCF1188PS:  I remember in my salvo of protests asking Mr Clarke if he was actually and really telling me I was dense.  He replied that he most certainly was not.  For density implies that there is a good deal of matter in the cranial caverty and he rather prefered to leave me in no doubt that there was nothing between my ears whatsoever.  Stinging.  Really it was stinging.

The quote is from Molière’s ‘Les Femmes Savantes’: ‘a learned fool is more foolish than an ignorant one.’  I would postulate that this is inarguable and that if we are to be learnèd we would do well to use our learning wisely throughout our days.  Even those jolly days of miscreant behavior before we step blinking into the light and have to be vaguely growed-up.

Awards season Part 2 ….. Second Time Around

Yesterday I just snuck in before the Oscar ceremony with my acceptance of and nominations for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award.  Hot on the heels of that award last year, I was also nominated a second time for a Liebster Award.  Now I don’t consider myself a greedy girl but I do like to engage with these awards because I believe I can help others in so doing.  So I graciously accepted it and three months later here I go with my little ceremony.  Less glitz than Beverly Hills but nonetheless a huge tantarra, and a huge boost for a newcomer to the heady world of blogging.  At this point, I would like Julie Andrews to step onto the stage and sing the song I used to threaten my daughters with when they were dragging their heels on the walk to school.  ‘The Hills Are Alive’ sung slightly too high and certainly too loud more in the style of Gracie Fields than Maria had them trotting along begging for mercy EVERY time – but absent Ms A’s beauteous presence you will just have to make do with me and I promise, no song.


Just the place to sing The Hills Are Alive – plateau de l’Artense in the Belledonne above Grenoble

The Liebster is an award for newcomers.  There is a  criteria for followers but to be frank I ignore it partly because of my innate maverick tendencies and partly because on many sites the blogger doesn’t display a counter for number of followers.  So I am going my own sweet way and nominating blogs that I like irrespective of their pulling power.  Gill who writes Blog sur Aude nominated me and I do urge you to take a look at her blog.  It follows the trials, tribulations, triumphs and frustrations of renovating a village house in Southern France.  Fortunately, though not a professional, she is passionate and clearly talented with interiors.  This, though,  does not render her immune from the inevitable difficulties attached to working in a different country, much of the time remotely.  I’m a sucker for pretty things and I enjoy reading about her journey probably more than she enjoys being at the effect of the deep desire to just get her place finished!  So thank you Gill – I am very touched that you thought me good enough.

Here are the rules of engagement:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog to your post
  • Answer 11 questions they have asked you
  • Nominate 11 bloggers who have 200 followers or fewer for the award
  • Ask 11 questions of those bloggers
  • Let your nominees know you nominated them
  • Add the Liebster Award logo to your blog

And here is the pretty award which this time I will add to my blog along with the other award … I shall have to ask for help from Two Brains though because it’s all a bit beyond me when they start talking about code and widgets!



Gill asked me these questions and I have genuinely enjoyed thinking about my answers (for 3 months …)

1. What is the best thing about blogging, for you?

It’s slowly slowly ever so slowly increasing my self-confidence.  This in turn has made my husband happy … he is my biggest advocate and support and is quite determined that I am smart and talented.  I may not be either of those things but I do now understand that out there are some people who I please with my words.

2. Do you ever read your old posts and cringe? (no, that’s just me then..)

Not really – sorry but to be fair I very seldom re-read any of them

3. If money was no object, where would you live and why?

Right here.  In my coin perdu.  Because it is beautiful, because the people have just accepted the oversized English woman with the French of a Spanish Cow into their fold with no questions asked but mostly because for the first time since I left the house I grew up in, I am home and I can put down roots

4. What book can you read over and over again and still love it?

Apart from any one of my far too large collection of cookery books (my children cruelly took 9 boxes full to a charity shop 5 years ago leaving me with less than 100 but I am slowly replacing every one of my lost boys ….) there are so many – I love poetry and often read it out loud to anyone prepared to listen or just to myself … Yeats, Neruda – far too many to mention.  I love to read Shakespeare and then there are lists and lists and lists of books I have read and re-read.  The Master and Margarita stuns me every time.  Oh, and Winnie The Pooh …. which I still think is one of the greatest masterpieces of 20th Century literature.

5. What was the best piece of advice anyone ever gave you? and

Just do it … my boss and mentor when I was a wet-behind-the-ears trainee in the industry that brings us the Oscars, whenever I was looking for affirmation would simply say ‘Just do it’  A few years later, Nike stole his strapline …

6. Did you follow it?

Yes – and I fell on my face and I got bruises and lesions but I have never regretted a single time that I followed those words

7. What was your favourite lesson at school

I loved learning and of course I preferred the things that came easily – which was most things except Maths.  I was good at that too until they brought letters into the game … algebra and I were not friends and have continued to ignore one another quite happily ever since

8. Who is your best friend?

My husband – he of the Two Brains.  And The Bean.

9. What is the best gift you ever received?

Self confidence.  It’s a work in progress.

10. Coast or Country?

The country so long as I am close to water

11. Now or later?

Now – preferably sooner which may seem odd given that it has taken me 3 months to address this … but I can honestly say when things are not done they niggle me to the core

Now for the best bit … 11 nominations – passing the love to:

1.  The Worlds Biggest Fridge Magnet – Cameron is in his own words ‘a fatty’ and he is about to have surgery which will change his life.  Funny, touching, informative, sometimes uncomfortable but hugely readable personal take on what is one of the biggest epidemics in the western world – obesity

2.  Storing Hope – Wilson Agaba believes that love is the answer.  His blog is full of lovely stories that prove his point

3.  It’s a Wonderful World – Can’t argue with that!  Shikha has a fabulous blog about her travels and hopes for more travels illustrated with some really stunning pictures

4.  Santosh Namby is a civil servant in India and loves photography … I have linked to his Gravatar rather than pick one of his blogsites – there are three and I leave it to you to explore and enjoy the beautiful images and the wisdom with which he accompanies them

5.  Travels with Choppy – written by Sarah Ferguson and following her life and travels with the dog she brought home from a pound as a 12 week old puppy some 6 years ago

6.   Yelling Rosa – is a Finnish Poet, has more than one volume under his belt and is interesting as a writer of poetry and songs from a culture I know virtually nothing about, but want to.  That’s me in a nutshell really – I want to know all about everything.  Life’s too bluddy short!

7.  Le Drake Noir – takes stunning photographs and has a slightly lateral take on the world … spending part of the year on Merseyside and part in Alsace is immediately appealing to me given my family links to both.

8.  Another Cup of Coffee – Margaret came to the US from Cuba where a childhood in the 60s as a Catholic with a conscience was maybe less than straightforward.  She is a sensitive and beautiful photographer and has a lovely self-deprecating style when she writes

9.  Minding my Ps with Q – the Q is for Quirkiness and I suppose most would think it quirky for a grown human to believe that toys play when we are not looking and fairies live at the bottom of the garden … but I believe both those things and I could fly as a child, so I should know

10.  Anita is another where I am linking you to a Gravatar rather than a website … she has three and they are all rather gorgeous – one for her stunning photographs, another for her lovely beads and jewellery and my favourite of all the one devoted to all things yarn

11.  Dunelight when questioned as to why she had settled in Michigan said ‘it’s the light’ and she is all about light … beautiful often stunning photos and well chosen words to accompany.  Besides, she defended The Bean when photographed sitting so patiently outside the door in the snow recently so she has to be on my list!

Now, I appreciate that some will see this as a double edged sword, I understand that most of my list do not need my help in raising their profile but I was thought of and I can think of less offensive things to do than say I think someone is worthy of recognition outside of their normal circle of trust so here are the questions I would like answered by those that choose to do so:


1.  Where in the world would you like to go that you have not been so far?

2.  Dog, cat or something else entirely?

3.  Last supper – food and guests?

4. What would you do differently if you knew no-one would judge you?

5.  The one inanimate thing you would save from your burning home?

6. What do you think is your greatest strength?

7.  And conversely what would you say is your greatest weakness?

8.  What is the best compliment you have ever received?

9.  Which character in literature could be you?

10. In the film of your life, who would play you?

11. And what would the title of the film be?

Off you go if you will and I will not be offended if you won’t.  The fact is that all the blogs listed give me great pleasure and I hope mine gives a little too.  Now I’m off to try and pin these awards on the left lapel of my blog.

PS:  Rather fittingly the title is a Lady GaGa song … she who wore an entirely normal ensemble to belt out a medley of Sound of Music songs at last night’s Oscars to mark the 50th anniversary of the film that I must have seen at least that many times ….