Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Corsica Bound: Diary of Departure: 3

Up to the sound of rain. We can’t see out beyond our terrace. The house is shrouded in cloud. We ring the Estate Agent and cancel the viewing with Lucy. The house is modest, it’ll be the views that sell 'Chez Diane' and there will be no photo opportunities today. 
Brunch of goat’s cheese omelette  and… fig jam.
We take a drive towards the sunshine; we’re coast bound. We realize that the car has no CD player. Disaster. I have to listen to Di solo voce mauling everything from ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ to ‘Here Comes the Sun’. I need a USB connector fast.
We make our way down a dusty dirt road to a rocky outcrop imaginatively named ‘Le Roche’ and do a little coastal walk. Di’s rushed ahead waving camera in the need to ‘Instagram’, her latest craze. I chat briefly with a mother and daughter from Marseille who are charming. The daughter is Sandrine, 30 something and almond eyed. She points out to sea at her boyfriend who’s snorkeling for ‘Poulpe’; octopus. “Too tough” she says “I’m hoping for calamari..." The coastline is rock strewn with maquis, the rough heather of this area - The Balagne - with the occasional relief of a sandy beach. We’re heading for ‘Juliette’s Beach’ named after the local who introduced us to this secret stretch of sand. When we get there it’s strewn with seaweed. We backtrack and get whistled down by Sandrine. She invites us to share a snack with her family. Turns out her boyfriend Jean Christophe had given up on octopus as he’d harvested a richer crop. Orsin are spiky, apple sized sea urchins that populate the shallow waters along the coast. Loathed by kids, loved by their elders. I’ve seen many an adventurous snorkeling child carried off a beach wailing with a foot full of spiteful Orsin spikes. We have friends Russ and Lindsey who came to stay a few years back and their youngest Oscar still has black bits of sea urchin embedded in his pinkies. However, slice the Orsin’s spherical body in half to reveal an astringent salmon pink flesh that’s regarded with reverence by the locals. 
They use it sparingly, like a sea truffle, flavouring pasta and omelets with its earthy flavour. Sandrine’s mother Zezette offers bread for scraping the out the tasty treasure. “Or use your finger. Use your finger!” Di initially turns her nose up and then devours 3 without being asked. (“I had 4 actually!”) It’s an acquired taste but once you are accustomed, very moreish. Jean Christophe offers a bottle of beer and the meal is complete. We chat about the Sorrento coast; Zezette is French but her family originates from Naples. “My Grandmother was Sophia Loren’s best friend…” Sandrine is intrigued by my music as she plays the guitar too. “Spanish and electric…” She loves “Beatles, Stones and The Beatles. British is best, and the best is Bowie. Britain has two Queens no?” We discuss our favourite Bowie albums ‘Hunky Dory’ (me) ‘Aladdin Sane’ (her). I promise to deliver a CD of my music to her campsite in Calvi and we depart, but not before Jean Christophe thrusts three freshly caught fish into my hands. Two are unnamed and ‘tasty’ but he’s proudest of the pink beauty that I recognize as ‘rouget’. Etching an ‘X’ on the rocks we agree to rendez-vous in a year’s time.

When we get home I do my best to behead, gut and fillet the three fish. Di’s shoulders shudder as she makes for the bathroom. We’d planned on a local variation of fish and chips but the flesh rescued from the carnage will just about flavor a risotto…. Our mobiles finally kick in and we start getting reminders of the outside world. One text is local, from our oldest Corsican friends Janet and Antoine Albertini. Janet has somehow heard that we intend debunking. “And what’s this about selling? Ur NOT leaving Paradise!” My iPhone absorbs her obvious textglare. I brace myself for the inevitable dressing down.
The fish and rice have been devoured with some home made aoeli, cobbled together with mayonnaise, Dijon, olive oil, chopped garlic, parsley & fennel tops. Stale bread makes for teeth testing texture…
Bed, book and brandy.
We’re both breathing noxious aioli fumes so lie back to back; a pair of scissors.
Ipod: David Sylvian’s ‘Gone to Earth’ (the sublimely soporific side 2) then Calexico’s ‘Algiers’.
Song of the day: Di’s beloved Calexico: ‘Hush’.
“In the afternoon of orange blossom days” is the last thing I hear…


  1. This sounds like the progression of a story called Unsold, or They Never Came Back, or something like that.

    1. We are reluctant Seamus. It's been a homely haven for nearly 12 years. There have been 'developments' that have stressed the shit out me and... I don't do 'stress' too well. Di's bottom lip on permanent wobble...

  2. You're selling your place???? That's sad!!!! reading your blog, I feel like I'm there. Good stuff Trevor!

    1. Thanks JHB and... welcome.
      Have we met?

  3. Yep defiantly good reading, sorry your selling though......!

  4. Me too Geoff. "Only an idiot can't change his mind' keeps rattling through my mind. Is it Oscar Wilde?

  5. Good to have you back Trev. Sorry you're selling up as you both obviously love the place.
    'Hush'. My favourite Calexico song, thanks!
    Tel Aviv

  6. There's a chance you're eligible for a complimentary Apple iPhone 7.