TechnomadicsVagabonding Europe

Vineyards, Limoux/Alet-les-Bains

I know.

We’ve been conspicuously silent.

So silent, in fact, that a few kind souls have actually written to us to make sure we’re still, you know, alive (thank you, souls!).

We have good reason though – we’ve been having a truly splendid creative time working on projects. Katherine’s been busily creating a set of paintings for her Etsy-store-to-be, and I’ve been going full-tilt on my own new project, Audiobus.

Mike’s Stuff

This is most certainly the most exciting point in my career so far — I’ve invented and am currently building a system that will allow music app developers on iOS — iPad and iPhone — to let their apps send audio to each other, live. Basically, it’s like virtual cables that let users connect apps together like they were modules in a studio, and start to create whole new creative setups that are greater than the sum of their parts. Musicians are going to be able to take their favourite music instrument apps, and combine them with audio effects processing engines, and sequencers or loopers, effectively creating a virtual studio setup. Even cooler, this stuff is working over the network, between multiple devices, so one can be playing an iPad, and manipulating the audio on a second iPad, over the air. This is something that’s never been done before, and it’s going to open up the iOS world to a lot more serious music stuff. We’ve got a lot of interest, and the world is watching closely — exciting stuff.

Along the way, since I put together the first experimental prototype back in November, I’ve become good friends and now business partners with another iOS music developer from Germany, Sebastian, who’s got a fantastic grasp of workflow/user interaction design and has been instrumental in taking the basic concept and turning it into something that’s really going to be very good. We’re now in the initial stages of creating a new company together, and are about to meet up face-to-face in Barcelona.

Okay, okay. I know. No more geek talk.

Katherine’s Stuff

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work in progress art-3

work in progress art-4

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work in progress art-7

Travel Stuff

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So, suffice to say, there’s not been a great deal of travel stuff to write about in the last five months. All the same, we’ve loved living in Alet, our little village in the Pyrenees in the south of France, and watching the seasons change around us. We’ve never been in one place this long (our previous record was three months or so in Wales), so it was quite novel seeing the countryside undergo such a shift.

Not so long ago, we were surrounded by shades of olive and brown — lovely, but arid:

Alet-Les-Bains, Winter

Now, almost overnight it seems, we’re surrounded by bright green:

Alet-Les-Bains, Spring

The trees around us have all flowered too, in shades of vivid purple and white, and we’re surrounded by drifts of fallen petals.

In the last weeks, a nightingale has taken up residence, and sings every night, all night, and then all though the next day. We, who have never heard nightingales before, are thrilled.

Le Val d'Aleth, Alet Les Bains

There’re a few now-familiar faces; the long-termers. There’s Nicky, the friendly thick-accented Brit who’s lived here for 9 years now, along with the horde of cats that follow her around — she has a bewildering tendency to start stories in the middle, leaving us a little lost, but is a perpetually cheery (and cackling!) presence. Until recently her tent was bedecked with colourful fairy lights which she’d turn on every night (you’ll just have to use your imaginations).

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Wendy and Phil are a British couple who were long-termers and had planned to create a new life here. Very sadly, their house back in the UK just wasn’t selling, so they were eventually forced to give it up for now and head back to the UK. Mick and Gene are an elderly British couple who we exchange friendly greetings with when we see them about, and Jacques and Claudine are a French couple with whom we have a silly “Bonjour! Ça va?” greeting routine — we don’t really speak enough French to actually converse, so we’re limited to the trivialities. There’re a couple of other French residents we don’t really know, including a younger guy who lives in a little caravan a couple of emplacements over, who brings out a didgeridoo every now and then and toots away, to our surprise.

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In the last couple weeks a young couple have been staying beside us, French Alexi and Colombian Alejandra, who’d been travelling around France for the last year in their motorhome. They flip actively between speaking Spanish and French with each other, bring out assorted musical instruments periodically — like bongos and a mouth harp — and are really enthusiastic about this thing called Chromatherapy, which is all about using colours to diagnose and treat ailments. They gave us a demo, having us select four colours from each of 8 vertically-stacked rows of 8 random colours each, and subsequently diagnosing (low incidence of blue) my difficulty switching off and sleeping at night (actually, not far off the mark), and (low green) Katherine’s need to move on and have a change of scene.

We get fresh baguettes from Josie at the local épicerie, and ride our bikes into Limoux to visit the supermarket when we need more stuff — the ride is a lovely 8km journey through the mountains alongside the Aude river (but can get a little onerous on the way back, with 30kg of groceries!).

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But…our time here has come to an end. The season has changed, and there’s a world out there waiting for us to visit it (has it missed us?). I feel agoraphobic and very sad about leaving this beautiful place which has become our home and heading out into the unknown again, but it’s for the best. There are other beautiful places and, besides, our home travels with us.

So, we’re off!

Au revoir et merci, Alet.

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2 Responses to Leaving Alet

  1. Barry Gray says:

    So glad to see you’re both okay and having a good time. I’d thought about enquiring earlier when I hadn’t seen an update, but… :-) none of my biz!

    I really envy what you’re doing and love to hear and see every detail.