About this blog

This is a window into the weird world of Anglicanism, as experienced on a Cathedral Close. Has anything much happened since Trollope's Barchester Chronicles? You will still see the 'canon in residence' hurrying across to choral Evensong, robes flapping, as the late bell chimes. But look carefully and you will notice he is checking the football score on his iPhone as he runs. This is also a writer's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the novelist's life. And it's a fighter's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the judo mat. Well, the agony, anyway.

Saturday 10 September 2011

WEEK 34 & 35 -- A New Vice; Driving on the Right.

 Well, I assume you all recognise this famous landmark.  Le Mont St Michel, France.  If you are planning on visiting during the tourist season, get there nice and early to avoid the queues.  This year we were in France when the holiday season was almost over, and the narrow streets winding their way up the mount were not quite as packed with tourists.  The coffee was as expensive as ever, mind you.

We've been holidaying in Brittany for the past six years.  I dare say we'll look back on this period as the Brittany Years.  There was an elegiac feel in the air this time; partly because it was starting to feel autumnal, but also because this was probably our last family holiday, just the four of us together.   I'm amazed we've sustained it this long, really.  Many teenagers opt out of holidays with mum and dad after the age of 14, preferring instead to stay at home and trash the house with illicit parties that spiral out of control.

Now then, the new things.  Obviously going to France is not a new thing.  But as promised in an earlier posting, I did smoke my first cigar.  My first tin of cigars, in fact.  A new vice.  Comparable, I think, to drinking a tiny intense espresso in an Italian piazza whilst wearing Ferragamo pumps.  I have a pair of Ferragamo pumps, as it happens.  Got them in a Charity Shop in Shirley.  I'm glad I only spent £12 on them, to be honest, not £250, as they aren't very comfortable.  I'm determined not to be beaten, but so far it's 3-2 to the pumps.  The picture of a cow field shows you the view I contemplated while smoking my cafe creme each evening.

My other new thing was driving in France.  Driving on the right.  Shriek.  The experience would have been even more alarming had the car been a left-hand drive.  I can imagine myself fumbling in panic in the glove compartment for the gear stick each time I approached a junction.  In fact, it wasn't too dismaying an experience as it turned out.  French roads are generally pretty empty.  On the whole, I prefer to be driven, so that I can stare blankly out of the window.  Staring blankly out of windows is part of the writer's job description, and is not easily compatible with driving.  Still, the challenge of driving on the right was there, and I rose to it.  Nervously and timidly, but there we are.  I hope I'm a better person for it.


  1. Dear Catherine Dear Fox, I have just discovered your interest in judo and found it very interesting. In France, it is inconceivable that the wife of a manager does judo in full sight of everyone. But in Britain, people are much more respectful of individual behavior...I have ordered your book "I have fought the good fight" and I look forward. When I finished reading your book, I will contact you again to share with you. Here (I live in France), many women aged about 35 years start (or re-start)judo: they are mothers who have free time, once the children are raised.Are you still involved in judo?
    I hope you enjoyed the visit of the Mont Saint Michel and climbed to the top of the grand staircase (a good exercise for a judoka): the show is worth it! I also hope that you avoided to taste the famous omelet Mere Poulard: This is a trap for tourists!
    Hervé (in France, near Paris)

  2. Yes, I climbed those steps! And avoided the omelet. The coffee alone almost bankrupted me. I love the Mont St Michel. It is the inspiration behind the imaginary magical city in the novel I have almost finished writing (along with the city of Durham, and countless beautiful medieval French cities, too.) Hope you enjoy my book. Yes, I still do judo once a week.