31 July: the journey so far
This week we continued our journey to Alloue in the Charentes region, then south west across the Bordeaux region for a couple of days at the beach, then back East, into the Perigord Noir region, along the Dordogne and finally over into Haute Corrèze, which is where we are now, in Saint Angel, parked in the grounds of artists Phil Illingworth and Natalie Dowse's home.
Phil and Natalie are in the midst of self-building from a stone ruin, doing most of the work themselves, including the roof! They are incredibly resilient and very patient, and still manage to keep their respective art practices going. Chapeau. Also guests here are Jan and Chris of the Caravan Gallery. Another hard-working, hard-travelling couple who use their caravan as an kind of art vehicle too, in more ways than one. A happy coincidence and lots to talk about! I've met them before of course, but never had the pleasure of so much time to talk. Jay is pictured below wearing Phil's trousers after ripping his own trying to climb out of the bathroom window after getting locked in...Delphine is tackling a banana that is almost as big as she is.
21 - 31 July: more in-situ shots
Some of the other places we parked this week, sometimes just for a few minutes, sometimes overnight...
21 July: Haiti via Alloue
Our 15 mins of fame...in the national newspaper of Haiti: http://lenational.ht/?p=4067, courtesy a young writer Dangelo Néard who is currently in residence at La Maison du Comédien Maria Casares, Alloue, France (Charentes), and who we had the pleasure of meeting on 21st July. Jay did an artist residency here in May 2013, so it was good to go back, chat to the programme director and stay in the same room too!
Lakes, rivers, oceans, castles and factories
The river Lot, the Dordogne, some lakes and ponds, the Atlantic, where Delphine had her first experience of the ocean, plus some promontories of the rocky and also man-made variety...
Life in the van
The everyday stuff, sleeping, playing, storage, washing, peeping toms, resting under shady trees...
25 July: The pervert
We had a rather bizarre experience with a pervert...who knows though, he could be a serial killer too...we had stopped for the afternoon in a peaceful and shady forest picnic area by the roadside, frequented by other families too, so it looked fairly innocuous. We ate lunch and made some work, but gradually the type of visitor changed and the mood became a little sinister. A strange man in a car was staring at us, for at least 10 minutes. Jay suggested we move on, but I was busy finishing some work and hadn't really noticed this, Then the man walked over to us and stood much too close to me. Very uncomfortable. Very weird. Trying not to panic I casually mock-swatted some mosquitoes to create some space and begin to pack up our things to leave. By now back on the other side of the car park, the man stood next to his car, still watching us and waving something in his hand. As we drove off we saw it was a 50 euro note!?!?!...we were relieved to be back on the road. About a km down the road we had to pull over briefly to close a cupboard in the back that we had overlooked in our haste to get away. At that point we saw the same car pass us. Oh no. When we drove on we saw him pulled up ahead, waiting for us. He followed us relentlessly for several more kilometres and we couldn't shake him off. The sun was slowly setting and it was no longer funny; we needed to find somewhere populated and safe, quickly. After what seemed like endless empty road, we pulled into a small village called Damazan. All looked deserted, apart from the main square, where we pulled to a sharp stop in front of a bar - L'Escapade Damazanaise. The blue car stopped behind us. Jay got out and confronted him, immediately the curious locals, our handy witnesses, joined in. I filmed, photographed and called the police to report the incident and number plate. But after a few minutes, the man, who was unfazed and in complete denial, drove off. One of the local families kindly offered us their drive to park in for the night, as well as coffee and their warm hospitality. The next morning they gave us a generous breakfast of croissants and pains au chocolat. The father was a fireman and the two boys Leo and Louis loved our van because it looked like a pompier van, so I drew them a little souvenir to say thanks. Nonetheless a very strange night indeed.
Cultural stuff and art and all that...