Tag Archives: Languedoc

TROBAIRITZ. Who were they?


Trobairitz songs were called cansos

Trobairitz were troubadours. Female troubadours. They sang songs and poems about love, tradition and current affairs. Their songs were called cansos. Their language was Occitan – the language that gave its name to the region of southern France where they lived and worked.

Langue means language.

Langue d’Occitan became Languedoc

The region of Languedoc stretches across southern France from west to east.

This where the Trobairitz came from.  This is the area they covered when they travelled in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Not much is known about them. Very few of their songs remain.

Trobairitz Azalais de Porciragues

Azalais came from Portiragnes

Azalais de Porciragues lived in the twelfth century. Her home town is called Portiragnes now and is a popular beach resort in the summer.

Women like Azalais were strong and independent. It’s thought they must have had their own means to support their lifestyles.

This is where I live. The departments might have slightly different names now, but the rivers are all in the same place and the mountains funnel the winds as they always did.

land of the Trobairitz

land of the Trobairitz

Languedoc is a land of tradition and superstition. Its people love the Arts: it’s in their genes. This is where I’m writing about a twenty first century Trobairitz. She has stories to tell. About love, tradition and current affairs. Her name is Weed. Like the Trobairitz of old, she’s strong and independent. She has her own means to support her lifestyle. She travels the land of the troubadours in her truck. She tells her stories at an overnight truck stop.


Edit: Book One – Trobairitz – the Storyteller is available on Amazon from Friday 28th November 2014.

Food, wine and friends

helping hands

helping hands at the Chinese New Year table

I love this picture. I think it sums up the essence of what our Chinese New Year celebration was about.

We had emergency chairs and borrowed chairs. We had guests bringing starters and desserts. We didn’t stop eating till almost eleven pm.

I didn’t write anything all weekend and it doesn’t matter.

13th Red Day

Our electricity tariff in France is what we inherited when we bought the house. It’s called Tempo. You need a university degree to understand how it works. There are Red Days, White Days and Blue Days and within each price band there’s a cheaper night rate that kicks in at ten pm. A forecast box on the wall in our utility room tells us what to expect for the morrow. From November onwards, it’s a house rule to check the forecast.DSCN0087

White Days equate to standard charges. Blue Days are cheap rate all day long. They come in summer when you don’t want any heating and it’s too damned hot to cook anyway. Red Days, though. Oh, Red Days. There are twenty-two of them spread through the winter months. Red Days are when you switch off all the lights. Red Days are when you hope somebody invites you out to dinner. On Red Days, we bring in the camping gas stove and set it up on the hob. We don’t use the electric kettle or the dishwasher or the washing machine and tumble dryer, or the vacuum or the iron. We don’t have on the computer and the television. We eat stir-frys and anything else that cooks quickly in one pan. Red Days’ electricity costs ten times the cheap rate.

The upside of all this is

a)    Red Days are a good excuse not to do any housework.

b)   On summer Blue Days you can afford to put on the air-conditioning

c)    By law, our supplier can’t give us a Red Day on Sundays or Bank Holidays.

d)   It’s rather nice sitting by the log fire in a room lit by candles

The downside of all this is

a)    I spend all day Sunday washing, drying and ironing

b)   I’ve taken to wearing winceyette pyjamas and taking a hot water bottle to bed

c)    You can’t read by candlelight

d)   Dinners can be a bit boring

With this last in mind, an idea for a book comes to mind. Red Day Dinners. Now, how would I pitch that?

First of all, I’d have to ask friends to donate recipes. I’m no great shakes in the kitchen. My greatest culinary strength is the one handed down by my mother: never waste anything. Throw it all in a pan and fry it up. The results can be surprisingly tasty, even if they are an odd colour. If the colour turns out too obnoxious, you crack in a couple of eggs.

See, there’ll probably be an expert out there who knows how to use a steamer on the one gas ring of a camping stove to cook a whole three course meal. I think I might manage two: warmed up leftovers in the bottom and a steamed slab of chocolate cake in the top. Voilà. And there we have it. Celia’s Simple Red Day Supper. Perhaps I should rethink the title of that book!

But, I’ve neglected to mention what’s happening outside on Red Days. It’s cold. It’s very cold. It’s a dry kind of cold that feels like daggers in your eyes. The wind slices through your clothes as if it’s trying to rip them from your back. Huge cedars and sky-piercing cypresses rock and sway  and the distant mountains have done some overnight magic. The peaks are covered in snow. In the crystal light of a Red Day, they seem closer than ever, majestic against that winter blue sky, rock faces glowing pink at sunset.

Birds gather each morning on the top of a neighbour’s television aerial. They sit in tight rows and speculate on the day before they fly off to eat. At four thirty every afternoon, there they are, back on the aerial again before dusk summons them to roost.

Only 9 more Red Days to go.