Les Grandes Vacances

Or sleepy, summery slumber.


This is not the normal, full-sized, epic newsletter you’d expect from me, but a relatively brief summer note between friends. Just a hi, how are you? Have some pretty summer photos.

So many greater flamingos this year

We are barely into August and many of the trees believe it is autumn, their leaves golden, red, brown or already fallen. As we returned home recently, following some time away at the coast and then deep inland, we were met by the sight of a line of flames leaping across the mountainside, whole trees igniting, the wind whipping all into a mesmerising fury. Here, in Isère, such fires are rare, unlike the dry Mediterranean south of France, where the climate and vegetation combine to make fires common.

Things are changing, quickly.

I think this year is the one where I have heard and seen more discussion about how the climate emergency is very real and very present — how it is no longer something that will happen ‘in our lifetimes’; it is already here. As strange as the statement sounds, this is a good thing in some ways — if more people accept this is happening, now, rather than as an abstract idea, then more people can place pressure on those who place profit over the continued existence of our species. I do suspect these early days of post-capitalism (or late, late days of terminal capitalism, depending on who you read) will be difficult for many to negotiate. Change is not so much coming, as already here.

There is still hope, but have a plan, have a community — and keep your axe and your mind sharp.

Taken from the moving car, hence it being a little shaky

As I write this, we are back in our home for a few days, before heading up higher into the mountains again for just under a week. The sun is lower in the sky, the mornings cooler already — I have been keeping notes on the weather, on the angle of the sun, where it hits in our small garden, and for how long. Next year, we shall grow more things based upon these observations. The three different mints I planted out have survived the ridiculous heat and are doing their mint thing, spreading and taking over the bed they are positioned within, as planned. There will be a good crop to dry for mint teas.

The Château de Chavaniac from the back

This month I am not taking part in any group promotions, or promotions of any kind at all. I simply don’t have the time to share and promote as I would like — hopefully there should be something to share next month, September being very much back-to-school (a phrase which always reminds me of a line from You’ve Got Mail, about stationery supplies and a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils – Nora Ephron was a superb writer, and her sister, Delia, still is).

However, if you wish to have a look at the books I have for sale, or for free, then this link takes you to them. I will be updating this, and where my work is available, soon, including direct ebook downloads from my website (thereby earning me a little more money).

Quite clearly a portal to a silent northern forest with winter rapidly approaching

One thing I have managed to do in the last month is to start posting to Hive (or Hive Social, depending on where you look). At the moment the Android app is in Beta and a little buggy, but that’s to be expected. It’ll get there, I hope. It doesn’t have the money or power of the big social media empires but what it does have is the soul which social media began with, that promise that this might be something useful, something friendly and special. Like it was, before it all went wrong.

It feels a little like a cross between early days Facebook, Instagram, Twitter AND Tumblr, all rolled into one (with, perhaps, even more selfies — maybe I should up my own selfie game!?). I know, right, that’s a lot. However, I have chosen to concentrate on the content and material I would have previously shared on Instagram — utilising the platform for photos and attached text. If you are on Hive, I’m @AlexanderMCrow, as I am on most of the other places I frequent.

Alchemist’s Row, obviously

At the moment, I’ve been concentrating on regular posting, interacting with those who interact with me through comments, following those who follow me etcetera. At some point, I’ll get around to trying to find other accounts to follow, and leave comments of my own but, for now, building up a pretty feed and showcasing certain little miniature tales and ideas is taking all the time I have available. At this moment, I would rather create new art, rather than do the endless scroll thing; having deleted the other social media apps from my phone means I am being extra careful not to slip into bad habits. There are, after all, books to write.

Tiny details on the Palais Jacques Coeur. The snail! <3

Speaking of which, and September being back-to-school month, I fully intend the next newsletter to have been crafted in my new office and I’m rather excited by this. I have a desk, I have bookcases, I have a whiteboard. Now all I need to do is put them together, along with treasures and, err, a skirting board, and all will be well. It has been a long time since I had a proper workspace of my own, so I’m putting a lot of thought into it.

I’m very much looking forward to having a much tighter schedule too. As I mentioned last month, time has been used for other things, such as planning a wedding, getting married, cleaning and renovating and, of course, getting rid of copious amounts of cat and dog pee and poop.

I enjoy walking empty streets which have been trodden for centuries. You can feel the past whisper

I intend to get back into good habits, sharing what I have watched, listened to, or read, for example. I will be talking more about projects I am working on, and their progress too — I intend to start daily posting on my site (notatravelwriter.com) when I am working on drafts, as I used to some years ago, sharing my daily wordcount and brief snippets of information, for example.

Over the last couple of weeks away from home I’ve been working on what needs to happen next — what needs to be done for each project and roughly how long it should take, a tick list, some sort of structure to see me forward and beyond.

On a similar note, I shall also be getting back into structured exercise, something which has been more or less non-existent in the nearly ten months since Ailsa arrived. Not surprisingly, really. I have a plan for this too, and an inkling of an idea of how to use my own exercise for another project. Watch this space (talking of exercise, and what works for me, is something I’ve threatened to do for a while, but have been unsure how best to do so. I have ideas now, though, sorry…).

Pretty sure this would still go bang if hit hard. Found in a tree throw, probably WW2


As I begin to type this final section, the wordcount for this letter is 1117. This is indeed much smaller than I often send, but I also feel that I have shared more than I thought I might. Admittedly, much of this is “wait until September for more”, or hints and whispers of what is to come, but still, it’s an update of sorts.

Even a brief glance at the news or, of course, out of the window, demonstrates how we are living in challenging times. The temptation to concentrate on discussing this is strong — but, as I have said before, I prefer to pour truths into my fiction instead, sugar-coating the unpalatable with a tasty layer of story and seasoned with chewy characters. We must all fight our battles to the best of our abilities, and I firmly believe story plays a crucial role in helping readers digest otherwise unpalatable issues.

I suspect I will continue to discuss this issue here, but I would like to try and curb my urge to concentrate upon it, instead sharing the things I’d prefer, as I’ve discussed above. Whether I will be successful in doing so remains to be seen.

Until the next time, sharpen those pencils and keep applying the sunscreen (or extra warm, dry layers, if you are in the global south). Take care of yourself.

Up, up, up at the stupendous Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Bourges


All mine, of course. This time, I chose pics from my time away in Aude, Haute-Loire, and Cher, including a visit to the medieval city of Bourges. Not a place I knew much about before visiting, but I enjoyed it; the architecture was splendid, full of doors and portals to other places and times. The weather was great and, because it was Monday morning, the streets were almost empty, making photography easier. (I resisted the temptation to include a dozen images of different cathedral carvings, or a dozen different beautiful doors.)

Other pics here come from Chavaniac-Lafayette, birthplace of Lafayette, where we spent a night between our time in Gruissan in Aude, and Méry-ès-Bois, in Cher. I should point out that there’s no processing work done on any of these images, including this last one, the light really was this remarkable at the salt pans.

Storms make the best backdrop
Share this article:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.