Monday, June 22, 2009


I've just been over to check on progress on the mill (I usually observe from afar, i.e. the upstairs bedroom window, in case I'm asked to hold something for about 10 hours) and there are now internal walls on the ground floor: I have a kitchen, a sitting-room and a laundry room into which I can fit myself and the laundry basket simultaneously, and a long wide balcony where I'm going to sling my hammock and lie and contemplate the mountains.

My favourite bit of the house is the staircase going down into the cellar. I've always dreamed of a house with a cellar - a creaky old wooden door opening into a dark secret passage - but in my wildest imaginings, I never envisaged myself descending into that dark secret place and being confronted with one door into a wine cellar and another into an indoor swimming pool!

After I'd held a measuring tape for about 10 hours, I practised walking up and down the stairs for a bit then stood on the spot in the wine cellar where the mill wheel should be (actually where it still is, only it's buried under two inches of concrete), picturing rows of dusty bottles of wine (that really is a wild imagining) and shelves of jams and jellies and preserves and compotes, of dried herbs and infused oils and candied fruit and crystallised violets, of pâtés and confits and soused herrings, pickled cucumbers, cured hams and sun-dried tomatoes and wild mushrooms.

After all that imagining I felt like lying down - but there's veg to be planted (Roquin's donated leeks, cabbages and caulis), grass to be cut, geraniums to be re-potted, jams to be made, mushrooms to be dried, oranges to be candied ......

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