The end of the month. I wonder if it is the end of the winter. I mean, of course, the real winter, the winter defined by the elements, not the winter designated by the calendar. Here at La Ville au Roi we have well defined seasons for the most part. Today could really be the firsr day of spring. Tara and I have been for a walk around the grounds and you can see the tips of the snowdrop leaves poking through the ground. January has been a big freeze up. Now it feels like the lull after the storm. Makes my mind wander back to the day I crossed the sea on the ferry from Korea to Japan. Dead calm. The day before, the crossing had been cancelled due to typhoon. Then the following day there was another typhoon, so we actually crossed during a little gap. I don't think we shall have a typhoon here in France tomorrow. I think we shall have a better week. It is actually a great delight to be able to walk around here taking in the first signs of life returning with the turning of the year.

My visitors never did arrive, but on Sunday they sent me a message telling ma about their change of plan, full of apologies for not letting me know and hoping to come later in the year. Let's hope it works out next time. A nice aspect of having visitors is that one tends to make or buy nicer food than one bothers with on one's own. After they have gone one generally has some pleasant left-overs to eat through the week. Of course, if they never arrive in the first place, as in this case, one does rather well out it, though it can mean that one has quantities that are more than adequate :-) I've decided on the basis of my cooking experiment that the plain pastry is best for larger pies and the puff pastry for smaller ones. Next time I'll try that. Being a pastry chef is an almost completely new adventure for me.

Well, of course, hermit or not, like you, I expect, I am rather rivetted by what is happening in the USA at the moment. I'll not put political opinions into this news item, but there is a sense that some great change is happening. Being in such a remote spot one feels a bit as though on an island watching the sea swirling around - even though the real sea is a long way away. Perhaps this image comes also from the Iris Murdoch novel I am reading. i'll add comment about that elsewhere on the site too.

It is gratifying to see that our admitting Spanish onto the site has led to an upturn in participation by friends from further south. I hope that we may get a similar effect now venturing into French. To me this is not just about making it more possible for my friends to take part - something important in its own right - but also a statement about internationalism. Our ability to communicate and care about one another across the artificial boundaries that get thrown up is so important and so much under threat at the moment.

I have a deep feeling in my heart of affection for all the people who take part on this site. We feel to be almost a little secret society of voices for peace and understanding. May love and peace prevail!

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