Saturday night, hearing the Durrells could not come to Paris, I boarded a train and went to Nîmes. I’m so glad I did. Not only are Durrell and his wife wonderful, he so deep and she so gay, but to see the Arlesienne countryside, the Nîmes Arena, to find again the beauty I had missed so much, the river, the house, the Roman town, the bridges, the castles. The Durrells have a small peasant house, but a lovely garden. They grow all their own vegetables. No hot water, no bathroom, no W.C.! It is like Mexico.

You cool bottles by lowering them down the well. He is very poor as they have two sets of children whom other parents take half the time. Both were married before. Claude is more international than I am—Irish, French, brought up in Alexandria, in New Zealand, in France — a saucy girl. They took me to an arena where bulls wear tassels on their horns and the men have to remove them for a prize. They try, and they run for their lives and jump the barrier, and some bulls jump too. The whole thing is very gay as there is no death. The men do get hurt now and then, but not as seriously as during bullfights. They drink red wine from morning till night, which keeps everyone glowing but never really drunk. Durrell has known so much poverty that he is obsessed with succeeding. He has already been compared to Proust in France.

We explored Nîmes, sat at the cafés, talked non-stop for two days, and I returned this morning tired out, but with my spiritual batteries recharged for years to come. I had to see Durrell to complete the carnet de bal. No one could be homelier and so humorous. He has an Irish prizefighter face, a thick potato nose, a large head on a small body, shorter than I, and as fat as [my brother] Joaquín…So there is nothing to threaten any husband! But you and he would hit it off — he hates cities, loves the sea, used to have a boat; they paddle a canoe down the river and swim. As soon as you get out of Paris you can live on nothing.

Anaïs Nin
13th May 1958 letter to her lover Rupert Pole

red wine and chocolate

July 22, 2018

She loves red wine and chocolate, and feeling your fingers on her skin as you kiss her neck, then her breasts, then between her legs. That always makes her happy. Afterwards you make her hot chocolate her favourite way: with a good measure of brandy. And every day should be this way…

Only by Cunning Glimpses

January 28, 2017

a-whim-engine-house

Diary 26th January

Grey, cloudy day. Cold wind, too. Coming straight off of the arctic wastes.

The cottages on fore street all have smoking chimneys today. The cottage next door to corner-cottage pumps thick black-grey smoke from its chimney; the smoke swirls in the strong gusts of wind and fogs the street near the farm shop. Coal smoke, I think it is, but it really stinks and catches unpleasantly in my chest. The wind takes your breath away, but the smoke kills you…

In the farm shop I purchase a bottle of red wine, some dark chocolate for C and some soft baps for lunch.

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The old mine workings nearby are a ruined labyrinth of pleasures. You can see a few trees about them: Hawthorn, Grey Willow the odd Rowan. Moss-covered stones and ruined mine-buildings abound. The path you walk on is the old railway bed and it runs for miles. There are rare liverwort and moss species growing around here. Spoil and spree, the environmental catastrophe of an earlier age, grow up to right and left of you. Maidenhair Spleenwort, Black Spleenwort, Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Common Heather, mosses, liverworts, and Wild Strawberry all grow in the gaps of the stonework in these ruined engine houses. Horse Shoe bats use the buildings as an hibernation site in winter time…