First published on 5 October 2014
Our local Ariège tourism department has just published a rather gloomy report on the state of this summer's play, including a long section on 'visitor profiling'. In a nutshell, it seems that the department remains very much loved by its visitors, but while the overall number of visitors is holding up pretty well, as each year goes by they're spending less and less while they're here. Instead, they're stashing their car boots full of food from home, buying provisions only from the 'hard discount' shops like Aldi and Lidl, brewing up coffee by the side of the road rather than stopping in a café, rarely if ever eating out, and generally ignoring the Ariège's small and rather precarious local economy.
First published 5 June 2010
As many of you know, I seem to have interspersed a life of doing Socially Useful Things - civil servant, welfare rights activist, CAB manager, citizen advocate, and counsellor/psychotherapist - with various forays into the hospitality world: prototype vegetarian guest house in the 1980s, meditation and workshop centre, dance and other camps, restaurant with rooms, and of course Maison Grillou!). It's a pretty big thing to me, the H word.
First published 19 October 2013
I had to spend a couple of days in London this week, and with the best part of a Friday morning going begging before my flight home I decided to revisit an old haunt, Borough Market. We were quite fond of this place in our resto days - the retail 'farmers' market' bit, with all sorts of interesting producers, hadn't been going for very long and it seemed very 'real' and non gastro-porn-y. And it was always good to nip over the road and have a coffee at our coffee bean suppliers, Monmouth Coffee.
We've been writing here and there and about this and that since we arrived at Maison Grillou in 2007, just as we did back in our Norfolk days. From 2008 all the way up to the end of 2012 I blogged regularly about our first years in the Ariège and our - um - adventures renovating this house and welcoming its first guests. If you really have nothing better to do (or just want to see what we used to look like or know what we got up to in those days), you can still read those early posts here: