Monday, 29 December 2008

29th Dec 2008

Haven't missed a day, hooray.... Got up reasonably early to another bright cold day. Didn't feel too bad at all. I must admit that the last few days I have been feeling a bit off to say the least. Maybe it is to do with the pressures of having too many people around. It seems to be a round of cooking and arguing all day, and so much noise. I do like a quiet life - suppose it is to do with my age.

Dear old Jeff has woken with a rotten cold. He obviously thinks he is dying.... he has had his flu and pneumonia jabs for this winter so he is well protected. I think it is just a cold and the fact that he is no longer smoking he is getting rid of all the crap in his system. Persuaded him to visit the pharmacy and he has been given loads of 'gloop' which I am sure will help. He has slept a lot today and went to bed early after a reasonable curry. He should be on the mend tomorrow. I do hope so as I have some things to do with him whether he likes it or not.

Had to bawl Vicki out earlier. She was not too happy but I did lay down some rules when they first arrived and the rules were slowly being eroded. Also bawled Jeff out for not supporting me - I am his wife after all and he should back me up regardless.

This evening is quiet (thank heavens) and the latest superman film is on - not really grabbing my attention though. I do so miss French TV and some of the progs that they show.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Sunday 28th Dec 08

Missed a day again. I felt a bit unwell yesterday, didn't do much at all. Weather was very clear here but oh so cold. Minus something degrees. Don't like the cold. Was a bit on auto pilot. Had too much alcohol over the last few days so really feeling it.... Cooked a leg of mutton today - poor old 'Big Mamma' - hate to say it but beautiful tender meat. The leg weighed around 8lb - cooked the 1st 20 min at 230 celsius - then 3 hrs at around 160 - covered of course. Drained the juices every hour or so. Studded the meat with rosemary and garlic. It didn't need anything else. Roasted some potatoes and also had carrots (orange and white) with freshly cut cabbage. Delicious.....

Again, today has been bright and very cold. Saw the frost forming on the ground after I had got up. Really should take advantage and go out for brisk walks but don't really feel like it.

Chickens are still laying, on and off, it is really too cold for them. Need to get out and start doing bits in the garden in preparation for spring. I have some saplings and young shrubs to plant but the ground is far too cold. All I can do out there is clear up and remove weeds. So much to do.

Gonna go out tomorrow to the sales and get some bits for young Tom. He is so short of clothes, poor lad. Don't think his mum takes too much interest in him, and being the eldest grandchild in the family there are no hand-me-downs. Apparently he wants to revert to Tom White now that his mum is divorcing his stepdad - good!!

Looked at the exchange rate - definitely got to lower our sights now - we are down so much per month - disgusts me.

Friday, 26 December 2008

Today we have had a quiet day, so different in France compared to the UK. The shops are all open, it is not a Bank Holiday. life goes on as normal. Took Vicki and Kevin out to get their Christmas present. Vicki expressed a desire to go to Leclerc in Bressuire - the Jardiniere. We found a lovely mosaic table kit. A small table - just enough for one bottle and two glasses. Kevin thought it would be ideal so - present bought. I am glad that they liked it.

Kids are fine, playing with their Nintendo DS's - so much for Ludo etc..... Oh let's play something electronic, so much better than a proper game. House got a bit noisy this afternoon. I am becoming a bit of an old woman I'm afraid. I do so love my daughters and grandchildren but I do so also love my peace and quiet.

Today weather is very cold, wind from the North and North East, and so crisp. The sky is very blue and at night so clear - the stars are amazing but it is too cold to stay out and look.

So here we go, kids are settling for bed. Dear sweet baby Georges popped his first tooth on 24th Dec. - months old to the day. Charlotte has her DS and is feeling so grown up using such a game.

Me, at the moment feeling a bit p'd - someone who's name will not be mentioned has polluted my airspace with the smell of 'pot', makes me feel very nauseous to say the least. It is something I do not want in my house - their own I don't care but mine - no way..... One day they will realise - I suppose if this is read by them.... They know who I mean.

I do hope and pray that my house will be my own again, maybe from the beginning of April '09 or even earlier. So far it has not been my own (since Sept '06) and I find that I am no longer the 'chatelaine'. Where did I fail? Why didn't I get the support that I needed? Oh shit, I am getting maudlin again.... Maybe I need to get away (hmmm again??) and clear my mind....

This holiday has consisted of UK tv. I now remember why I did not miss it. Oh to have French TV back, so fresh and delightful. I think that the Uk puts out so much purile rubbish - and the amount of ads - unbelieveable. As for the news - I just do not want to know and I do need to know what is happening out here, especially with the weather etc.... The United Kingdom means diddly shit to me. I have had 7 years of French tv and that has suited me down to the ground, and yet I have been cajoled into getting freeview - blah - I did not really want it at all and now I can see why - it is Kathy and Ian that wanted it!!!!!!!!...................... Oh for the sanity of non-UK tv - fuck the football, fuck the reality programmes, fuck the soaps..... give me something decent to watch. If there is anything decent it starts an hour later so it finishes an hour later....... blah, boo, sucks.....................etc................

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Christmas Day 2008

Christmas Day, We have all opened our gifts and had a superb lunch cooked by Kathy and Kevin. Home reared turkey, home made bacon and sausages and home grown vegetables. Fantastic - we know exactly what went into our 'tums'. Wine was good as well - not organic though which is a shame - maybe next time - who knows.

Children have all enjoyed their day (so far) not arguments and the only tears were from Becky when she grazed her elbow after coming off her scooter. George sampled his first christmas dinner and it was the first time he had meat. He really enjoys his food. Everyone has settled down to watch the Pixar 'short' movies DVD - really funny stuff. Didn't see the Queens speech - not exactly our families cup of tea.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Christmas Eve 2008

Christmas Eve, went shopping with Vicki, yes she is full of angst again. Maybe it will 'clear' don't know if you can get medication for it - every time she is the same. Kids are fine, guys are fine, Ian and Jeff have had their holiday haircut at last. They both look a lot better. Am writing this whilst kids and grandkids are out for a long walk. Maybe they will all come back tired but refreshed. Have cooked up some lamb for tonight and finished wrapping presents.

It is now a few minutes before midnight, no sign of Santa, oh dear - do I really believe in him? Must not forget to have those childhood moments......

Dinner was done and thoroughly enjoyed. Children are all safely tucked in until the morning. Presents are all under the tree. Kitchen is ready for the food onslaught in the morning. Kathy is cooking with (I think) Kevin as commi chef. Kevin made sausages this evening and Kathy has brought out the first lot of bacon. Looks good so far. If everything on the table is home made then good for us, but must confess the Christmas pud has come from the UK and - quelle horreur - I have not made a cake - 1st time in umpteen years. Never mind I am sure all will work out well.

Happy holidays to all

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Charlottes 7th birthday

Today is Charlottes 7th birthday. Vicki, Kevin, Alex and Becky all arrived from the UK yesterday afternoon. We ate late and drank plenty - family all went to bed fairly early I stayed up and cleaned before going to bed.

Anyway - back to today. Children were up early - breakfasted and then off to Bressuire, Ice skating at the Bocapole, an annual event and it is so reasonable. Back home for lunch of sorts, there were bods calling to pick up turkeys and Don arrived to collect his leg of lamb. Charlotte had a party this afternoon - french style - so different to UK versions.

Chillin out this evening - Jeff cooked liver and bacon, too salty by all accounts. Kids will just have food - Kath and I something different. Total mix and match. I have given my kitchen up for the moment. Will have it back Christmas day.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Vicki, Kevin and their children Alex and Becky arrived this afternoon, as predicted 5.30 pm. Mayhem has ensued...... no - not really - just seemed like it. Oh so many people talking about so many things all at once. I suppose I will get used to it over the next couple of weeks. I really love my family and love to have them here but it is so intense as you can well imagine.

Kathy prepared spicy meat balls (from our own pork) really nice and oh so spicy. We all drank plenty and started to feel 'jaded' early. Jeff went to bed around 9 pm although Kevin beat him to it by about half an hour. Hopefully we will all feel well in the morning....

At least today has been a nice sunny day - albeit a bit on the chilly side. Charlotte and I had a nice walk up the lane - very crisp. Enjoyed it.

Vicki came out with the news that my Mum has at last decided that she will move to a smaller home next year. We lost Dad in 2006 and she now feels that it is time to move on. It had been their home since Feb 14 1947 - a long time. The only home that my Mum has known. (She was brought up in a convent - never knew a family - I am on her case!!) Good for Mum it will be easier, she has three bedrooms and a large garden, not ideal for a lady of 87 years.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

French TV vs Freeview

Just a little thing, since we moved out here in 2001 we viewed French tv. Canal + and all their channels - we then a year ago dropped the extra channels and had just the basic Canal channel which included all the French free channels. Found that it satisfied our needs. We don't watch a lot of TV except in the winter months and then we had films and some UK programmes that were ok if not good, and some of the French progs were excellent - and we were beginning to understand most of them. So it cost us 22 euros a month - not bad at all. Anyway whilst I was away in Turkey Kath, Ian et al decided that we should have freeview - I never said "Oooh yes please, would love it, as I miss the UK programmes so very much" etc.... I suppose I was cajoled into having it, after all it was talked about for many months (I suppose they missed UK TV).... Oh how I HATE English tv.... what a load of utter peurile crap.... and as for the ITV and channel 4 or 5 or whatever programmes - so many advertisements interrupting films etc!!! I am finding it quite unbearable. All the recycling of old films - at least on French tv there was new stuff and new series shown before they are shown in UK.... Maybe this is not such a little thing at all. That is why I have so much time to write this blog. Am I being a truly grumpy old bird? or just expressing my feelings? I think it is the latter.
Didn't blog yesterday, seemed to have too many things to do and in the evening I sat and chilled with a film. An old one that I didn't remember much about. 'A Knights Tale' with Heath Ledger, Paul Bettany et al. Forgot how funny it is - the depiction of Chaucer was great and Mr Bettany has quite a nice bum too!!

Just had a look on the BBC news website - oh boy is the UK in trouble. All down to Mr 'Prudence' Brown and his mismanagement of the UK economy. Selling off UK's gold reserves and then destroying the pension system, milking money off all and sundry - Good housekeeper no way, and there he is an unelected Prime Mnister running the country into the ground. I know I am going on a bit, but if I could contribute to a change in the UK I would, but I forfeited that when I moved out of the country. The electorate has become too apathetic over the past few years - I hear complaints but nobody seems to be asking the government to stand down. People should be able to demand a fair election if they are not happy with the situation. England has become a 'tin-pot' dictatorship under New Labour - sucked in by all the smooth talk and promises. Oh enough, I could go on and on but it is the season of goodwill etc...... Oh yes, one question - how and why did Peter Mandelson become a Baron? Can anyone answer? Everybody I have spoken to (no politicians) do not know the answer..... nobody knows - it just happened...

Did I say, Kathy, yesterday, prepared pork belly for baconing (I assume that is the right word) for the very first time. She also made some chorizo sausages. Hope it all works out - at least we will get some decent bacon if it does. 1st time for everything in this life.

Tomorrow Vicki and Kevin, her husband, and their two children Alex and Becky arrive for Christmas. They are with us until 2nd January. Should be fun. Vicky will probably do the 'angst' thing by manicuring her nails the whole holiday. It is a bit like obsessive compulsive disorder with her. She will also be 'worrying' about her children and their behaviour etc... as well as her chickens/work/friends..... Trouble is - she is a scientist and analysing everything 24/7. As a child she wanted to know the whys and wherefores of everything, used to drive me up the wall as you can imagine. She is no different as a 37 year old. Some people seem to have a mindset in action from birth and she is one of them....strange. Kevin, on the other hand, takes it all in his stride and weather permitting will be straight down the river and fish - even if he does not catch anything he is happy. His way of winding down. Alex is very intelligent and, I think, could go into something like engineering. He creates the most amazing machines out of lego and has a wonderful imagination. Becky is a blonde - nuff said!!!. They will be bringing their Wii and all the accessories that goes with it. In the big lounge not my living room this Christmas.... I want a bit of space!!!!

Friday, 19 December 2008

Today we have had the pig and sheep/lamb carcases cut into joints. M. Fradin has made, again, a brilliant job of it. The pigs he cut English style as Kathy wants to make bacon. Looks as though the French Lops are meatier than the ones we had last year (Old Black / Tamworth cross) and they were leaner, much less waste - the amount of fat last year was unbelievable. Turkeys went to abbattoir - collected pm - some nice weights. We have a bronze this year for Christmas - last years was a big white one. If it cooks well then maybe next year we will have more bronze (black in France!!!) will keep you posted.

With the sheep 'Big Mamma' had an enormous amount of fat round her middle. M. Fradin was quite amazed at the amount. When Big Mamma was around her back was as wide as a table - no kidding - we knew there would be some fat in her but did not realise how much. One mutton and two lambs were 'done' - the other two mutton and lamb to be done later. Bye bye sheep, the rest go on the 7th Jan '09, we will then be able to do something with the meadow and the lake. I won't miss them as I have been taking cuttings of all sorts and want to get them planted up. I dearly want to see the land being used for trees, it could look so good. Jeff is in two minds about my plans. All I want is to make life easier. All well and good having livestock but they take time and money to look after. We are retired after all and need to have time for ourselves.

I am, from the beginning of 2009, putting excess money after all the bills are dealt with to a savings account. We should then have a 'fund' to pay for holidays and other 'surprise' bills. This year we had to lay out over 1200 euros on the car, bit of a bummer as it was not budgeted for. We have an invitation to go to Sri Lanka with some friends in 2010 and also want to go to Costa Rica as well so we need to put as much away as possible. I did my Turkey trip and absolutely loved it. If Jeff does not want Sri Lanka then I will go and he can stay. I know he wants to go to see Leo and Doris - what did he say when I mentioned Sri Lanka "been there" hmmmm - I haven't - but he hasn't been to Costa Rica. Look out Doris & Leo, he may come on his own!!!

Little Georges has been a bit of a problem today. It all started yesterday, Kathy went to a Basketball match in the evening, Georges was not happy and cried for over an hour. Ian tried to settle him and eventually I succeeded. Kathy did not get back 'til after 11.30pm. I was absolutely knackered, Ian and Jeff had gone to bed. Anyway, the upshot is Georges decided today that he did not want his mum out of his sight!!!! So he carried on as though she was not there - Kathy now realises how difficult he can be when she is not around. He needs his mum while he is teething, nothing else will do...... Generally though he is such a happy chap but at the moment he is in pain and unhappy.

I will be off to bed in a bit, have caught up on correspondence (got another client for next year - yippee), cleaning in the kitchen, changed the bed etc...... and caught up with some friends I have not seen for months. Tomorrow, I hope, will be sunny and bright - lots to do in the garden.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Missed a day, oh well doesn't matter that much. Yesterday was a very disjointed one, I had a headache nearly all day, there were too many people about, too much noise and I got a bit bad tempered.

Don't feel much better today, head is full of cotton wool and ears are ringing all the time - especially the left. I hate tinnitus. Don't seem to be able to settle down - it is almost as though my life is not my own at the moment...

Will get a bite of lunch and go out for a long walk to try and clear the cobwebs..

Had my walk and feel so much better, when I got back I found the bedspread that needed patching. It is a patchwork quilt that my sister made years ago. The lining had a couple of tears in it and was in desperate need of repairing. Trouble was, couldn't do it on the sewing machine, definitely a hand sewing job. Took me a couple of hours but at least it is now done and on the bed. Warmer nights!!!! goody.

The pigs were slaughtered today along with 1 sheep and 2 lambs. M. Fradin will be back after Christmas to do the other 2 sheep and 1 lamb. Kathy wants to try making chorizo sausages and bacon this year. She didn't have the opportunity last year. Don't know why we have all this slaughtering done just before the holiday. Turkeys go to abbatoir tomorrow morning, then they are collected over the weeked. All this dead meat - yeuk!!!!

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Evening of the 16th December, have bought some more Christmas presents, wine and other bits and bobs. Still haven't finished the ITA minutes, must get it done soon. Cleared and cleaned more of the lounge (it has been an absolute pit for the last few months!!!) so that it will look sparkling and new for the holiday season. I have new curtains for the lounge but they will not be going up until Kathy et al move out. I have so many plans that have been put on ice over the last couple of years. Found a really nice Corbieres wine from Lidl in Bressuire, puts the wine from Bradeo to shame. The bubbles we bought were dismal to say the least. Stick to Vouvray I say or Nicholas Feuillatte - lovely champagne - knocks Moet into a cocked hat.

At least the family are taking notice about my desire for the house to be cleaner and tidier. I used to be able to keep on top of it in the past.

Gonna settle down and watch a film later. Oh to relax a bit. I will continue knitting Mels scarf, it won't take long to finish at all.

More to say........ Weather is crap at the moment, dismal damp days, typical winter out here but we do have some lovely sunny, crisp days in the winter. Checked out the price of hypericum for Jeff, 21 euro plus for 1 months supply of tablets - only 7 or so quid in the UK - got to source some from UK - much too dear out here. It is surprising, many medications are so affordable yet the herbal stuff is out of the pocket.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Here I go again, it is evening, got over this mornings rant and rave but have not achieved a lot at all. Got the Christmas cards done and posted, wrote a letter to a lady arriving next August (our first booking for the apartment!!) confirming receipt of her deposit and confirming date etc. didn't do a lot after that, a bit of tidying, babysitting, no knitting - will do some later. Started typing up the minutes of last weeks ITA* meeting. Am babysitting at the moment as Kathy has gone to play basketball in the village. Jeff is holding the baby at the moment. Ian has just come back from a very cold and wet weekend of fishing in the pays de Loire, just north of Angers.

* ITA is the International Tourist Association Deux Sevres, a group of around 35 members who run gites, B&B's, campsites etc. The association was formed 5 years ago after the Comite Departmentale de Tourisme (departmental tourist office) realised that there was an untapped resource to help them with tourism, tourist providers who were not French and who could therefore bring in more tourism from abroad. The association has been supported by the CDT up until the end of this year. They would provide a grant for us to get underway and to help with the ITA website and advertising. promotion etc. We are now a stand-alone association so now we are pulling out all stops to generate income and to encourage other English speaking tourism providers to join us. I recorded the meeting on my little mp3, a godsend, but with too many interruptions it is difficult for me to type it up.. maybe in the early hours of the morning!!! I think not....

Oh and guess what? My dear husband who has been told by four health professionals to quit smoking has had two cigarettes this evening on top of the one (or two) he had earlier. He is nicking papers and baccy from Ian now he is back....... Jeff didn't smoke at all over the weekend as there was no one for him to nick from..... Oh well - will keep posting on his health
Just had a look at my bank statement. Quelle horreur!! this month our pensions are down by around 90 euros EACH! over the last year. That is getting on for 300 euros a month, could be a decent holiday or two, more improvements in the house, new sofas etc.......


Sunday, 14 December 2008

Sunday 14th Dec...2008

Only 11 days to Christmas, Oh my I have so much to do. Got to finish sorting the living room out, find the decorations and source another tree. Make sure the bedrooms are ready for Vicki, Kevin and their children Alex and Becky. They arrive on the 22nd or is it the 21st - not sure. Also got to finish the present shopping and get them wrapped. Not written the cards yet, must do it and get them in the post as well. Maybe I am spending too much time writing the blog and not enough on what I need to do. I tell a lie, it only takes me a few minutes to do this, typing as I am thinking, been doing this sort of thing often enough for long enough. Have made a positive change to the living room today and it won't take too long to finish it. If I get up early tomorrow morning - trouble is I might disturb my old man! Talking of whom, has already put away 6 kronenburg lagers before having his supper. Not good as too much beer (or an apology for) can make him lippy and maudlin. Drives me up the wall!!

Went to see young Charlotte's end of term do at Montigny Salle de Fete. Missed the beginning but saw the entertainer/magician. Quite good for an amateur thing. Shame we missed the kids though, we were not sure what time it started although Kathy was there in good time.

Weather brightened up at the end of the day, got quite warm for a change as it has been really cold. Wind is coming from the south not the North East.

bye for now

Saturday, 13 December 2008


Day 2 of my Blogging... It is 13th December 08, only 12 days to Christmas.

A little more about here.

As I wrote before, I run a B&B in France. The name is La Tranchardiere - well the name of the little hamlet is so a little history:- The property we have was farm workers cottages. The main farmhouse was originally a small 'chateau'. It is a stone built building with one large ground floor room with an enormous fireplace and upstairs (accessed by an outside stone staircase) is another large room. I suppose the original floor space was around 25 sq metres. There is also a small 'outbuilding' attached that was used as a cave (cellar for storage) A house was later attached to the 'petit chateau' to create a larger property and that was again later extended. This property is right on the river (Sevre Nantaise) and has in the past been prone to flooding. I have found this hamlet on an old map dated 1752 so we go way back.

Back to our house. It is called a longere which is a long low building that was originally (we think) two properties. The house was originally one room deep with small doorways going from room to room. Attached to the back of the house was an 'ecurie' (stabling or cowshed) which had doorways knocked through and turned into a kitchen and games room. The original stairs in the house went up to the grenier which is a loft for storage of grain etc... Looking at the house the left hand side is separated from the rest by a thick stone wall. This room and above are our living space, the room downstairs goes into the kitchen and turning right in the kitchen takes you through past my large pantry into the B&B lounge. From the lounge there is entry to the hallway with two bedrooms either side and our soon to be apartment upstairs in what was the family suite in the grenier. Both the bedrooms have their own sanitary facilities and also the suite upstairs.

Behind our house is another barn which was converted to a lovely house some years ago. It is owned by a very kind and gentle frenchman called Gilles. He has become a good friend since we have moved here.

Both Gilles house and ours are set back and uphill from the river so we have no risk of flooding. A large flood meadow is in front of us and when the river is overflowing it is absolutely beautiful to see looking like a large lake. We are very fortunate as we know that there will be no building in front of us. At least the French have got it right when it comes to managing flood meadows and rivers, not like the English!!!!

Friday, 12 December 2008

My first entry - thoughts and me

Oh my, never thought that I would be a blogger. What to do, what to say. Can I put whatever I like, post my joys and disappointments, news, what does a first-timer write? A little about me I suppose.

Who am I? I am a lady (I hope!), a pensioner (just), who lives in France. I have lived here since end July 2001. Who am I with, my husband of course, more about him later methinks!

Why am I here, 'cos I love the place. Wanted to move to France since 1989 when I had my first holiday here.

Things were fine at first. Lovely place, lots of work to do in it. Got it finished (to a degree - bits to be finished off) opened a B&B. Welcomed loads of guests, some really nice people, French, English, Belgian, Dutch, Australian and American. Quite a varied range - so very interesting too. Just love it, the work is hard but so rewarding.

Money not so great though, especially in today's financial climate. For the Eurozone it is OK but for the Brits - wo ho - not so good. At least for the time being it will slow down the migration of English to my part of the world. Got to be deadly serious these days to invest out here.

Our pensions are pathetic right now, we are about 150 euros down each month. Thank you America and Mr Sub Prime, Thank you Mr Brown and Prudence..... makes me sick...

Makes me sound like a miserable old Biddie - hence my blog name.... My youngest daughter called me a Biddie last year. Wow, I have reached Biddie status at last. I am not too bothered, I am a happy bunny - just get a bit p'd off with politicians.

As I continue with my blog over the following months/years (maybe) you will find out more about my life out here and my family in the UK as well as in France.