Now, Angoulême is a lovely town. I've enjoyed a lot of it. I've enjoyed hunting for the murals on the buildings, I've enjoyed sitting in bars doodling in my sketchbook, and I've enjoyed wandering aimlessly.
But I am knackered. Which worries me. Last week I was ill and lost my voice. I took Thursday off, and went into work on Friday only because it was a training day and there were no children. It's been a week now since I lost my voice. And, while my throat feels a lot better, I feel more ill than I did before.
Half term should be an opportunity to take a step back, breathe in a few deep breaths, and reorganise for going back to school.
I never ever find that this is the case. Invariably it's an opportunity for bugs to overrun my more relaxed immune system, to spend most of my time in bed, and then to panic in the last weekend about all the work I haven't done because I've been ill in bed.
The only difference with this half term is that I'm feeling ill in a hotel bed, and I'm forcing myself to be a bit more active than I really want to be so that my holiday isn't wasted. And now I'm worrying not just about next week at work, but the whole of the next half term.
Because if I'm suffering from fatigue, which all signs are now suggesting I am, then that's how long it's going to take to recover. No late nights, no alcohol, lots of paracetamol. Until Christmas.
A Bird and Two Hands
Yesterday was nice, apart from feeling a bit rough. I wandered down to the Musée des Bandes Dessinés, which is the Comic Museum. Unfortunately I discovered that they're in the process of moving across the road at the moment, so the free museum part is closed until next year.
They do, however, still have the bookshop and the library and an exhibition open at the moment, although you have to pay €4.50 for the exhibition, which is all about cartoon wolves. A good choice of subject. Speaking as a bit of a Roald Dahl kid, any creature that summarily eats small children gets both thumbs emphatically up from me.
I also made a small number of beautiful purchases from the bookshop, and I'm keen to try out a couple of ideas and techniques in my own drawings (though undoubtably in my own style, of course...)
On my way back I decided to walk the ramped pathways back up the ramparts, rather than stick to the road (the museum is outside the ramparts). When I arrived near the top, a man wearing a bandana and a big black bushy beard stepped from behind a boulder ahead of me, and rather than continue, I decided it wise to continue onto a downward route and go all the way back down to the bottom.
One thing I've discovered about being away on my own this time is that, one year on from being robbed at machete point, I'm still quite paranoid about encountering would-be attackers. This man did not look particularly fierce, he just had a beard and a big long dirty looking coat.
I have a beard. Why should I be intimidated by beards?
No matter. I was not sure whether he might simply be very scruffy, whether he was a tramp, or whether he was some sort of pirate, so I played it safe. And I'm glad I did. Because although I walked much further, without him I would have encountered the giant concrete hands, like monuments to Thing from The Addams Family, and even more bizarrely, a brick pillar next to them with a cast iron bird on top.
I have no idea whether they were originally intended as a single piece of art, or whether the two entities just happened to be placed next to one another, but I thank the Pirate-Tramp fellow for my finding them. I now like to think that he must have been some sort of benevolent spirit guide, sent to correct past wrongs, like Sam Beckett in Quantum leap.
Yesterday, I found in interesting how I didn't see much of the typical lazy meritless graffiti that annoys me so much at home. I thought perhaps the comic murals had raised the bar somewhat and that local graffiti artists as a result marked buildings in more aesthetic ways to show they'd been there.
I'd noticed as well that only a small number of people had sprawled their tag talentlessly across existing artwork and murals. Certainly as well there is more attractive and thoughtful graffiti than I ever see at home.
Today, though, looking more closely, I've noticed a lot of buildings where someone has had to clean off the scrawl of some idiot who has felt the need to make their mark on the town without giving any serious thought of how to do so. So the idiots and the rubbish graffiti are here, but some one actually bothers to clean it off.
I'm not sure whether to be disappointed in the existence of idiots, or pleased that someone is differentiating between street art and vandalism.
When I arrived back in the town, I went for lunch in a nice place called Le Jardin. I can't really be bothered saying much about it, but I had a nice salad, and the lady there mustn't have heard the first thing I said to her as she decided that I couldn't speak a word of French, until I put her straight when she asked me why I didn't know French if I'd been to France so many times.
After lunch I went back to the hotel for three hours or so to sleep and rest, and then set the theme of the evening by going to two bars called Le Chat Noir, and La Souris Verte. Sadly that's as far as the theme stretched, as I couldn't find any more establishments named after different colours of animals.
I did, however, spot a man on a home made Segway Human Transporter.
Which made my day.