With Halloween just around the creepy corner, Sally and I settle down in our comfy cinema seats to watch It, the latest remake of Stephen King’s novel. I look around to the left, then to the right, to make sure there’s nothing unexpected lurking to the rear. Just darkness. Could be anything waiting to grab us from behind.

Over the years, Sally and I have been steadfast companions regarding attendance at scary films. We always get very excited beforehand and much deflated afterwards. In fact, we’ve yet to see anything that requires viewing from behind hands. I recall sitting amongst shrieking and screaming people during a screening of Paranormal Activity and discussing how, during the three week setting of the story, no-one had changed the bed-sheets. Yawn. Blair Witch was a stroll in the woods; Babadook was a bad day at the library. The Conjuring was a short lesson in not listening to the estate agent and so on and so forth. Nothing but disappointment. I suppose we’re old school. Or just old.

For my money, you can’t beat the 1973 film, Don’t Look Now. Even Poltergeist or The Omen are still worth yet another viewing. And tonight’s offering? Well, if you’re not scared by clowns, and we’re not, forget It. It dragged on and on and on. Two and a half hours in, they’d reached September. Bloody hell, I observed, is it going on until year’s end?

On the other hand, earlier in the day, I visited the Christmas shop upstairs at The Range with my daughter. Before we’d even arrived amongst the tinsel and baubles, we were greeted by a particularly unpleasant mechanical Santa riding a unicycle along the aisles. That’s a bit scary, I remarked before we advanced into the world of jingle bells and super furry animals. We wandered and oohed and ahhed and immersed ourselves in all things Christmassy. Suddenly, the screams of a distraught child alerted us to something far from seasonal. This wasn’t the slap-deserving wail of yet another spoilt brat: this was FEAR.

The parents of a little girl, maybe 18 months in age, had momentarily turned to look at something leaving her sat in the trolley. Small child, attention grabbed by an unusual sound, had twisted in her seat to see evil Santa approaching the trolley on his bike. Real tears were falling as her mother, instantly in action, ran to place the mechanical atrocity in the opposite direction. Evil Santa was having none of it. Refusing to be turned, he continued on his dastardly route straight for the now hysterical child.

This being The Range, no staff were in evidence so other customers, largely of the extremely aged variety, rushed to help the young mother. Santa refused to be turned so the, by now extensive, rescue party, baying for blood, picked up Santa and his unicycle and placed him at the end of a nearby aisle. As in all good horror films, the problem was only partially resolved: Santa came away from his bike and slumped on the floor, doubled up in apparently drunken repose but, I suspect, lulling us all into a false sense of security. The unicycle, however, kept going. Fortunately, the oldies managed to wedge it behind a snow-covered wooden lamp-post, at least until Epiphany.

And the moral of this story is, if you want a scary sight to remain with you, don’t go to the cinema; go to The Range. Alternatively, if you’ve never visited the ‘about’ page on this blog, then you’ve missed this photo of the author




A very French day

2016_1127tarasconmm0011On a gloriously sunny November morning, with the bluest of skies that have been cleaned by recent storms, we arrive at Tarascon. So far, it’s been a good start to the day: we have heating, water – hot and cold, electricity, fuses in the upright position and hens donating prolific numbers of eggs.

2016_1127tarasconmm0016I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: no matter how much the rest of the world deem Tarascon to be a non-starter, I inevitably find it an interesting place full of surprises. Where else do you find a weather vane depicting a monster? What other town has open access to the relics of St Martha? And, where else, at a point in the year where there are no tourists, can you take your expresso on a tiny terrace listening to a Provencal folk troupe and watch Arlesienne ladies dancing a Farandole?

2016_1127tarasconmm0021We are minded to visit the Christmas crèche. In fact, for the duration of our ten day sojourn, this is the only thing that I’ve been adamant about seeing. Naturally, we can’t find it. There are plenty of signs but, as a long-time ex-pat resident said only the other day, the French don’t do directions. We wander along the back streets, find this choir by accident and ask every other person including two police officers. They all know the creche is in the aptly named Chapel of Perseverance but no-one is quite sure how the chapel might be located.

A Provencal Christmas crèche is unlike any other: the nativity is a minor inclusion; the point and purpose is that all of the other santons depicting Provencal life will be present because, of course, Jesus was born in Provence. If you think his visitors comprised only shepherds and kings, think on. 2016_1127tarasconmm0025 2016_1127tarasconmm0034 2016_1127tarasconmm0029 2016_1127tarasconmm00332016_1127tarasconmm00352016_1127tarasconmm0032 2016_1127tarasconmm0030












Wow Tarascon! Thank-you but we must dash as we’re due down the notorious road that runs between Noves and Cabannes. Only those that have read THE book will understand the significance of this. Phyllida and the partner who cannot be named are hosting lunch. After, we sit in the sunniest of gardens and I bemoan the fact that the small spotted ponies are nowhere to be seen. Phyllida suggests we visit Monsieur Martin. Oh yes please! And Monsieur Martin, who doesn’t know he is a literary character, is delighted to have so many visitors on this delicious Provencal Sunday in November.

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