Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Food and Books and Things

I have just finished reading Julia Child's (with Alex Prud'homme) book, My Life in France. It was left behind for me to read by November's visitor....

A very interesting book and I get the impression that Julia was a no-nonsense, fast talking woman who wanted to grab the world (especially France) by the balls and extract as much knowledge about food, and the preparation of, as humanly possible... There should have been so much more written, it seemed to me to be a quite condensed history with some pieces missing. I don't think I will watch the subsequent film made of Julia's life in France as I don't think it will quite have her 'essence'. (Yes, Meryl Streep is a superb actress and I have enjoyed so many of her performances but.... after seeing her in Mama Mia I don't think I can take her seriously again!).

I would have loved to have read her cookery books and maybe seen her television series, but I got stuck in the rut of English cookery - at school and once married. I do now possess a copy of 'Le petit Larousse de la Cuisine' which is becoming as dog-eared as my copy of 'The Good Housekeeping Cookery Compendium' that I bought some 40+ years ago. I also have a 'Readers Digest' Cookery Year from way back that is now falling to pieces.... How I love those three books, they are so useful.

There is another book though that I have discovered.... Take Three by Jenny White. I was given a copy by my son-in-law - much to my daughters disgust... "Don't worry" he said "I will get you another one!" wrong - he could not find another copy - he got it from a book club. Well, Take Three stayed with me for around 4 years.... My son-in-law never got round to finding another copy. So this year the original went back to my daughter.... I was bereft... I had lost a new friend...

I found a book company online.... I gave them the details of the book (Take Three) I was looking for (it had been advertised on Amazon at a phenomenal price!!!! 5 x's its original cost) and they logged my details. They contacted me after a couple of months and gave a link to another company - hey they had the book! An ex-librabry copy that had only been out of the library twice!!! And it cost under £6.00 (postage and packaging included) was I delighted or what!! I now feel that my kitchen library is again complete..

On the BBC they have show a 2 part adaptation of 'The Day of the Triffids' - which got me thinking of the John Wyndham books that I had years ago. Not only the Triffids, but Trouble with Lichen, The Kraken Wakes, The Midwitch Cuckoos, Chocky etc.... What on earth happened to those books? Did I loan them out or throw them out ? I just do not know where they went. I would like to read them again..... and yes I have found them - same place as Take Three. Really low price but postage a bit on the high side.... will investigate further and see if I can get a good deal.

My older sister lived in a house just outside the town close to where John Wyndham lived. The house is called Wyndhams (maybe it was his home) - she also worked at the school where Wyndham was a pupil.. I think that maybe there is a family connection.... albeit a tenuous one. 3 or 4 degrees of separation....

There are so many excellent science fiction writers that came out of England during the 30's and 40's and, of course, not forgetting H G Wells, books that J and I used to read through the early years of our relationship and marriage.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Sunday after Christmas

We went to lunch with some new found friends yesterday.

An English couple that have recently moved here and now run a B&B and Gite.

They are also trained and keen archers.

Ho ho, bows and arrows....

I remember them from my childhood. A long piece of strong twig with a couple of notches at either end and some string from one notch to the other and a handmade arrow which always went up in a very short arc and landed at ones feet!

Wrong! archery is a precise science I have discovered - yes both J and I have had a lesson, gratuit I hasten to add. I thought it was amazing, energetic (yes energetic!), and incredibly relaxing/unwinding! Could I hit a target (a Large Target) no I could not. I used to be pretty good at darts in the pub after a couple of 'Double Diamonds' but then that was years ago. I did not realise that archery was so interesting.... we will (eventually) have further sessions with them and, maybe, I will hit the target first shot!!

They are also the 'parents' of one of Jensen's brother, Django. I first met Django when he was
2/3 months old. He was so very shy and fragile, it was then that I decided that I would like one just like him.... Serendipidy or what!!

So the brothers got together again - what fun! There was a French visitor - she was around 5 yrs old, a Basset cross... Boy did she have a 'deep' bark- very hound(ish) and an 18 month old cocker spaniel Leon. Jensen fell 'in love' with Leon. I have never seen a pup so intent on making himself know to another... It was like a teenager who has just discovered that he is able and is wanting to let everyone know.... Maybe it is because Leon has been castrated and also has no tail to speak of, (which I find abonimable) that Jensen found him so desirable. Whatever, we found it absolutely hilarious. Eventually, the canines sorted themselves out so that we humans could have a good lunch and afternoon.

We arrived home early evening, both satiated with good food and some wine and brilliant conversation and amusement from the animals.

My younger sister phoned around an hour after we had got back. She had not had the best of Christmas's. For some reason I had decided not to phone her on Christmas day - probably a premonition, I don't know what - I was going to phone her yesterday evening and she pipped me to the post....

Her Mother-in-Law died on 21st December.... totally unexpected - not good for them at all. Apparently she had been a little poorly for a couple of days and then - well she died of heart failure. There was no indication at all that there was a problem. My brother in law and nieces are devastated that she has gone.... God Bless Betty - you were a sweet lady - a little eccentric I know but a good soul...xxxx

Friday, 25 December 2009

Christmas Day 2009

Woke late... but does it matter.

There are only the two of us - plus Jensen, Bisto and Pixie and the hens and two young cockerels.

Had a lovely shower, dressed, went downstairs with two cats in tow. Both meouwing (is that the right spelling???) for their breakfast.

Last night I swept through and then mopped the floors.... didn't wan't to wake up to grubby floors! Yes, it looked good to me!

Went to bed around 12.30 am having watched a couple of comedy progs on BBC1. I must admit it helped a lot as I laughed and relaxed... Slept so very well. J is still sleeping at the other end of the house. Whether he will come back to our marital bed I do not know, it is his choice to sleep away from me. I must admit that, as I am a person that 'migrates' around the bed at night and likes to wrap the duvet around herself, it is better that I sleep on my own. When J was working shifts I found that I slept so much better when he was on night shift!! J will set his head on his pillow and sleep/snore/kick/talk/snore etc. all night, all the time laying on his back without twisting side to side...... we are definitely incompatible when it comes to sleep.

So this morning, I woke well and felt truly refreshed. Cats were fed, cup of green tea made and pot warmed for his tea. Woke him up around 9.45 - Jensen was let out.... another night of him not peeing in the hall. It is the only place that I trust Jensen at the moment. He is a bit of a 'tea-leaf' (thief) and I don't want him to take things that are not good for him. The hallway is safe for him. Jensen has taken fresh eggs out of the bucket when J has collected them and has played with them and then enjoyed their fresh flavour when broken.... ho hum - got to stop that caper!!

Started cooking dinner around 12.30 - chicken, carrots, roast potatoes and parsnips and fresh brussel sprouts from the garden. A simple Christmas dinner for two. Prawns for starters and Christmas Pudding for dessert. Some bubbly for me (Charles Volner demi-sec)and rose (cabernet sauvignon) for J. Nothing too excessive or alcoholic. It is the first time I have cooked a Christmas dinner for around 6 years......tooo long!

So we have had a relaxing afternoon, catching up on various things and also having some of the wonderful, un-PC, 'Carry On' films on TV, love them! Turns out Liz Frazer has the same family name as me!!!! Hmmm could she be a cousin??

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Jensen


This is the boy today, he is such a lovely chap. J took him for a long walk this morning. I took him for another just before lunch and then again for a long one late afternoon. He has so much energy and is really keeping us fit. And he still had heaps of energy to play with the cat.
He is in desperate need of a bath.... he really smells 'doggy' which is a bit much on the nose as far as I am concerned. I had quite forgotten how dogs can smell... A nice shower for him tomorrow morning then a blow dry... what fun!!!
J went to see the Doc this afternoon for more medication. He was prescribed some tablets for his lungs and it turns out we have a stack in the medicine cupboard... so who hadn't taken the full prescription last time then???? Drives me up the wall it does. So now I will have to make sure that he takes all his medication this time. (hmmm, do I have to buy a nurses outfit??) He has admitted that he does not want to be ill over the Christmas and New Year period. Thank heavens that he now realises (I think I have said that before). He has also said that he will start to work on getting bits sorted in the house prior to it being sold. Oh goody!!!
Had a chat with my older sister the other day... she has had some bad news, her partner has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He is 6 months younger than me. The cancer was discovered quite by accident. He had a heart attack a couple of years ago and has since had 6 month check-ups. On his last check-up they did a blood test and through that discovered that there was a problem. Further examination revealed that there was cancer. He has since had the offending part dealt with and is now due to go and have a MRI scan to check his bones etc..... I do so hope that he is OK. He may also have to have chemotherapy, which isn't the most brilliant of options. My sister, who has a medical background, knows who to see and what strings to pull. She also had a scare... Oh, not just one thing but another. She had a mammogram and there was a suspicious lump. A biopsy was taken and all is clear. She could not believe that the both happened within two weeks. I really must speak with her more often, I am very lapse.

Monday, 21 December 2009

The shortest day


Today is considered the shortest day of the year in our calendar, sunrise 08.39 - sunset 17.01 French time of course! It is also designated 1st day of Winter (in France). This all means that it is now officially Winter until the 20th March when Spring begins... OK, the snow started at the end of last week, and it was pretty cold in the weeks before. My thoughts are that Winter started earlier than today.

The France Meteo website gives 'remarkable' facts and figures for your local area - our department town had a maximum temperature of 19.2 degrees celsius on 16th December 1989 - whew! But, on the 31st December 1996 the temperature dropped to minus 10.5 degrees celsius - Brrrrr! And, on the 19th December 1982 rainfall was recorded as 51.5mm (2.027 inches).

So, enough of the weather watching... I do not like the winter, I do not like the cold and the damp. I like my weather dry and warm. Must be to do with my age. I know I was born a winter baby but that does not mean that I should enjoy it!

Preparations for the holiday season are underway. I have done the cards - bought gifts via the internet for my Daughters, Grandchildren and Mum. I hate to say it but it is getting rather expensive for us. Have only send cards to family members, most other people I know are online so they will be getting their greetings via email. In the UK it is possible to buy boxes of lovely Christmas cards but out here they 'do' the New Year and only sell Christmas cards as individual ones at a price. Gets very costly - if I want to send cards to everyone then that means a trip to the UK so it becomes even more costly, and heavens knows how much the postage would be. I wouldn't want someone to choose for me - I know what I would like to send. Oh, I do sound like a scrooge!

Have been walking Jensen the dog in the snow, slush, rain and wind (note! no sunshine). And good news on the husband front, he is feeling so well now that he walks Jensen to the top of the lane and back without having any ill effects. It wasn't that long ago that hated walking any distance - now that he is no longer smoking he is doing so much better!!

Jensen has settled extremely well. Bisto is also brilliant. Took them both to the vets on Thurs. Bisto was due his 2nd injections and was very well behaved. Our vet is very taken with him and loves his soft coat. She even kissed his nose when she put him back in his cat basket! Jensen was impeccably behaved. He was given a quick check over and declared a lovely dog as well as being declared fit and healthy.

Bisto and Jensen play together, they have their morning play and their evening play. Bisto usually starts by 'play' attacking Jensen, no claws. It escalates to the pair of them haring around the house, Jensen catching Bisto and pinning him down with a paw and then 'chewing' the cats coat. Bisto will retaliate by jumping on Jensens back and biting his ear. It seems as though one of them might get hurt but both have very thick coats so no skin is scratched or bitten. Bisto will sit on his haunches and 'box' Jensen on the nose - they are an amazing pair to watch. Pixie in the meantime is now back in the house and still has hissy fits with both the kitten and the pup. She would rather be in the warm putting up with a couple of juveniles than in a cold barn!

Children are fine, except K and her family. They are all suffering from sickness and diarrhea. They are supposed to be with her older sister over Christmas but it looks as though it may be postponed. Not good for them at all. Seems as though there is a nasty bug doing the rounds. The weather is the UK is bad and again everything has come to a standstill. There is problems with the Channel Tunnel so people coming and going are being held up. Not sure about the ferries and the aeroplanes. I feel for all those affected by weather and traffic problems and am secretly glad that we are staying here for the holiday period.

Ho hum....... days start drawing out now - hoorah!!!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Changes

Had the guy that looks after my website to visit today. Have agreed on all the updates that need to be done. Will email, and post all the details to him later on.

Have finished writing all the importand Christmas cards.... family and close friends. It is so difficult. Some of them have email addresses and some are still living in the 'dark' ages...

Dan, Dan the website man is quite willing to take young Jensen on if need be. He fell in love hook line and sinker with the pup. Good for us I say, someone reliable who knows about the canine species.

Have had a brief chat with my dear husband ce soir about relocation.... have looked at the map of the Poitou Charentes to find a suitable area to start looking - easy reach of the coast is premier.. Saujon looks a possibility but then...... who knows??

Have shown him (J) a house I really think may be possible in Mirambeau, half way between Royan and Bordeaux. We stayed there some 10 years ago when we had a family holiday. No 1. grandchild was just 16 months old and No. 1 daughter was pregnant with her 1st child... It was a lovely holiday, 8 adults staying in a large gite within a farm that produced wine, and assorted crops. There were sunflowers growing around us, amazing to watch them following the sun. It was also the first time that we encountered Hoopooe's - incredible. The town of Mirambeau has everything that we need (thank heavens for the interernet - you can find out so much!!) and I personally feel that it would be right for us; Compact with everything we need. So, come new year, off we go to investigate. (+ putting this pile on the market - oooo er!).

Can't go any further south as I react badly to trees of a resinous nature. Had a camping holiday at Soustons some 5 years ago in May and had to cut it short as I had such a bad reaction (seasonal rhinitis) when there. The receptionist at the site we stayed at said it was just as well that we were not there 2 weeks before as the pines were in full 'pollen'..... So - south of Bordeaux would not be good for me. Looks like deciduous trees for me in the future. We cut down 3 pine trees here, not good for me. No Christmas pines in this house (had problems when I was a youngster too!) Am really looking forward to house hunting in the new year!!

Monday, 14 December 2009

Bargains I think!!

It has been 3 weeks since I have been to Qi Gong. J has been so unwell with Bronchitis that we have both missed the classes. I have really missed being there, enjoying the peace and the movement. I must admit, it sets me up for the week! I have had lots of exercise, walking Jensen two or even three times a day, but Qi Gong is so very different than a solid work-out.

So this morning, I had a session without J. He dropped me off at the class and came to fetch me later. He is still not breathing well and should go back to see our Doctor. She checks him out then writes out a long prescription and off he trots to the pharmacy where the prescription is 'filled' - he then comes home and pulls out of the bag boxes of encapsulated capsules, bottles of little pills, bottles of 'gloop' and another inhaler.... and he does not seem any better. Maybe he needs to see a 'chest man' to thoroughly check his lungs...... Will have to ask the Doctor for a referral.

So, after my class this morning we 'popped' into a large supermarket on the way home. As we are under the threat of snow we thought that we needed to stock up on emergency supplies. Off to the meat counter and what do we find... Boxes of pork, boxes of pork chops, single chops and thick roasting chops.... wonderful - bought 2 boxes. Gave us 9 meals for 17.42 euros - that is meals for 2. Also bought some chicken legs - 6 for 4.41 euro - another 3 meals... works out that meat for 12 meals worked out to 1.82 euro per meal... we have a freezer full of vegetables and also our own potatoes... Also bought some bargain price duck and sausages. Don't need to meat shop until the new year at least. I am very pleased with myself!!

I still haven't written all the Christmas cards yet, I just can't get my head around the fact that this most celebrated event in the Christian calendar is a few days away. There seems to be so much hype about Christmas, it used to be so much simpler even only 15 years ago. Difficult to explain I suppose my thoughts and feelings about it. Easter is so much more important than Christmas within the Christian calendar yet it seems to me that that has lost it's importance. Is it to do with my age or that I have given up on my faith, who knows? I certainly don't.

Had friends round for lunch yesterday. Prepared a lovely carrot and tarragon soup, delicious recipe and so very easy, followed with Beef in Red Wine with potato and celeriac mash and garden peas (all our own). Dessert was a raspberry brulee. We had a light rose wine to start and finished with a Buzet. It all went down very well. This is the first time I have cooked a full meal for RH and SH, in the past it has been barbecues in the summer which is J's 'thing'. I do enjoy cooking for friends and will do a lot more.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Middle daughter arrived today

1972 - me , a young Mum.... have a daughter just 13 months old... and I go into labour with child no 2.....



I had had lots of problems with this pregnancy. Thought I would have the baby in August.... I was so very ill with polynephritis... thought that I would die.



Anyway, I carried this baby until 2 weeks before due date. I continued to have problems and was , basically, on bed rest. I was staying with my dear Mum and Dad for a month before today 1972.



I felt the beginnings of this child arriving and called an ambulance. My dear husband was staying with his mum... 1st and only separation for us. I needed the peace and quiet and rest.



So the ambulance arrived and I was swiftly taken to the local maternity unit. I was checked and the doctor in charge decided that I needed a cesaerian to deliver this baby. So, I was shunted off the the large maternity hospital about 15 miles away. I arrived and was put on drugs that had me floating about 1ft off the bed. (could do with some now!) Then labour pains started and I was taken, post-haste, up to the delivery suite. Baby arrived within 10 mins... talk about quick. She was small - just over 5lb - and whisked off to the prem baby unit. (she was 10 days early as well - due date being 21 Dec.).



I did not see her until the next morning, tucked up in the prem baby unit. She looked so small and vulnerable. I have rhesus A negative blood, my baby had rhesus O positive blood, so I had to go through all sorts of blood tests and had (I believe) a 'gamma D anti-globulin' injection to counteract any antibodies that could affect any further children. I felt like a pincushion - so many jabs.



One of the nurses in the ward was the older sister of one of my school friends... She was an absolute gem and she was so much help to me. Bless you Sue.



And so, my middle daughter survived this start to her life, she is now 37, has 3 children of her own - and no blood problems!!!

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Cats and Dogs


Oh yes, it is still raining in this sunny corner of La Belle France.... Apparently we get the same amount of sunshine during the year as the Mediterranean Coast.... so who are they kidding?? That aside, when it's not raining the sun in superb - what I can't understand that it is clear at night, stars twinkling away and the moon, now 'waxing', is brilliant - so we are getting second-hand sunshine at night (does that sound logical??).


Talking about Cats and Dogs, we have acquired a dog, a lolloping six month old 'Labrit' or so it is called. I Googled Labrit on the web and found that it is an alternative name given to the Berger de Pyrenees. Well, this young beast resembles a Berger de Pyrenees but has not so much coat although his coat is curly and so very soft - I expected it to be wiry but no, as soft as Bisto's 'angora' coat...
The history of this dear canine is rather sad. He and his brothers and sister were found in the most appaling of conditions in the flat of their 'master'. Their home was filthy and urine soaked. Their mother was in such a poor condition that she had to be euthenased. The pups were all found new homes via a local organisation. The owner now forbidden to keep dogs as well as fined. Two of the pups, named Neo and Jensen, were taken on by a young couple. Unfortunately this young couple are leaving France and are unable to take both dogs. Neo has some issues and they felt that he would be better staying with his original family. Jensen though is an outgoing personality and he is the who has joined our family. We also know one of Jensens other brothers who is an absolute delight..
He arrived Thursday, aged six months and one day old.... Initially he was a bit reserved and unsure of it all. Pixie has decamped to the big barn... this pup is much too much for her.. she only comes in if he is out for a long walk. On the other hand, Bisto is delighted with his new friend, playmate, tease or whatever a cat thinks to call a puppy. They are the same age (and colour) and so far they are fine with each other. There were a couple of little spats but once Jensen (aka 'J') settled down and stops chasing him and Pixie there should be no problems.
So another life changing episode in our lives.. Walkies twice a day, and that is just us humans. We should get truly fit with the help of Jensen.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Wet Wednesday

Rain, rain, rain, thought that it was easing up a bit. Was nice beginning of the week, sunshine, river dropping, hoped it would last.... no such luck! Ah well, it is December after all. Could be worse - like snowed under..... not very likely this time of year.

J had to go to the Doc's on Monday, bronchitis again. No he's not smoking (although the wood burner is a bit!) but it has been damp outside and that is what seems to trigger it. It must be the 4th or 5th time over the past 5 years. For someone that never suffered chest problems prior to coming out here it is not so good. So he has been prescribed loads of pills and potions in order to help ease his cough. I am shoving multivitamins down him as well and trying to cook him the healthiest foods - well getting him to eat healthier... He does love his fried food.

Bisto the cat is fine, he is in and out of the cat door, demands to be dried off when he gets wet. Seems to enjoy eating everything I give him - except cat food!! I wonder why? Pixie has even started to play again. She was getting to be a bit lazy , it is doing her good having another cat keeping her on her toes!

Went to sort out some of our daughters problems today, problem with the bank, problem with the tax office. All of this done in my official capacity of 'Mum' . The guy at the bank could not be more helpful. He didn't speak any English but my French was good enough for him to understand the problem that our daughter had. That was the first thing solved.

Then to the tax office this afternoon.

I can't understand why so many people have a problem with consulting the tax office. It was the same in the UK. The company I worked for as 'wages' clerk sent me on a course at the tax office, so that I could get everything done correctly. I found them very useful and helpful. If I had a query with any tax affairs off I went and got the help I needed, it makes their job easier in the long run if we 'Joe Public' get it right in the first place.

There were 3 'things' at the tax office. The receptionist looked at the three, then smiled, "OK, premier etage, porte B, et apres, a cote." So off we went , 1st floor , door B. Lovely lady, just said that we need to get the form to our daughter for her to sign and then back to them.... 1st tax problem solved. Then out to the open desk on that floor. I explained the 2nd problem. "pas de probleme, madame!" She printed out a form , I completed and signed it and she was happy, (me too). "c'est tout, au revoir et bonne journee." Down to reception for the 3rd item. A guy took us into his office, I explained the 3rd problem. He went onto the computer. Checked things out and , once again - problem resolved. These three things all related to the renovation that our daughter and her partner are doing to the barn attached to our house..... Three different departments in the tax office. Each and every staff member were understanding and the whole exercise was completed within half an hour.... and it is rumoured that the French take forever to resolve things.....

So today, on a wet Wednesday, I had my 'Mum' hat on (or was it chapeau de Maman?) and solved, once again, problems for our daughter... I never thought that I would be doing that!!

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Baby weather and curries


Definitely 'Baby weather' - wet and windy.........It is horrible outside..... The wind is howling around the house, bringing the rain with it, it is almost as though the parts of the Atlantic ocean has been picked up and dumped on us!! These westerly winds are the only 'down' about living here... When they blow - boy do they blow. The stand of bamboo in the garden is almost horizontal! It has been like this on and off for the past few days. The river level has come up by about 1.5 metres... The picture shows the river from our kitchen door (neighbours geese) this was taken at the beginning of the week just before it started to rise, if the rain continues then it will be in full flood within a couple of days. It is not just the rain falling into it but the run-off from the fields around. I don't know whether it is gale force winds or not but it certainly feels like. BUT.... we are indoors watching the weather with a wood burning stove warming the house..... soooo cosy, mmmm.

J took our friend to the railway station this afternoon. She is wending her way home via too many countries. I do so hope that her journey is not too traumatic, I most certainly would not like to be travelling in this weather, 'safe journey hun'.

We had some friends round last night for a curry meal. I have been so looking forward to this for ages. We have missed having evenings with other 'grown-ups' (no children involved!) over the past couple of years, so for me it was an absolute treat to be chef in my own kitchen, preparing food for friends.

I had already made a mutton curry and just needed to remember to take that out of the freezer. I also prepared a 'Chicken Tikka Masala', 'Chhole', 'Sag Aloo' and some plain 'Uble Chaval' - I must admit I did cheat on the Chicken and the Chhole dishes. I have found a guy out here in France who does the most amazing curry pastes in packets. http://www.packetcurry.com/ The results are the most authentic curries that I have tasted apart from indian restaurants in the UK. There are no artificial colours, flavours and no msg. We do not have curries very often but when we feel 'curry time' is coming round again, we order and the packs arrive within a couple of days... brilliant!

The Chicken dish and Sag Aloo I prepared on Thursday in advance. Chick peas went in to soak Thurs evening and I cooked them Fri morning. Mutton taken out of freezer and the basmati rice was the last to be cooked. Guests arrived just after 8pm. introductions made as the two couples I had invited had not met before and, remember, we had our house guest as well. Apero's served and good conversation started and continued through the meal until after 1 am. Yes, we all had wine with the meal but not copious amounts.... For me, it was a superb evening, I had been so out of practice!! Must do it again in the not too distant future....

Friday, 20 November 2009

Another fine day


And so I awoke feeling very refreshed.... Out of bed by half past eight and raring to go..... unusual for me!
I breakfasted on 'Special K' which my husband thoughtfully bought for me. Is he hinting at something? I wonder.
I thought I would post another picture of Bisto.. this one shows his colour. He has settled in so very well and is beginning to explore further afield.

I went for coffee with some friends yesterday morning, it was very refreshing to sit and catch up and put the world to rights. We were at L's, I hadn't been there in months so I had the opportunity to have a look and see how her renovations were coming on. It was absolutely amazing what had been done. I wish my man would pull his finger out and think about finishing the odds and sods that need doing here. I makes my blood 'simmer' when I see how others are doing and how pro-inactive he is.

So this morning, after the guys (Wwoofer and husband) had gone out to clear and burn rubbish I set to and tackled the kitchen. I must confess that I had been putting the day off but this morning seemed right. The sun was shining and I was in the mood. So all the surfaces were cleared and scrubbed, the 'buffet' which was loaded with 'odds and sods' was stripped off and, again, scrubbed down, the rubbish thrown away and necessary bits put back... Looks good - I wonder how long it will last...

I then tackled our bathroom, we have hard water here and it leaves calcium deposits around the taps and if it is not dealt with quickly then there are problems removing it. The bath, basin and loo are all around 30 years old and are starting to lose their glaze so no amount of scrubbing will bring them up perfectly. I do my best....

It was then coming up to lunchtime and I also had laundry to hang on the line, too much laundry.

I will do more housework tomorrow morning, I have lots of brass to clean, not the best of jobs but someone has to do it! NOT IN THE AFTERNOON!!! I may make some time to do some more work on a painting I have started... hmmm could I get J to cook for me so I won't have to cut my time short? There always seems to be something else for me to do than paint.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Mid November


How time flies, next thing I know it will be Christmas with all its trimmings.

Today the sun shines but it is windy. We have had a few damp days which are really affecting my joints... Age!

Bisto has settled in really well and we are having no more little 'accidents' indoors, thank heavens. Yesterday we took him for his 1st vaccinations. He was brilliant in the car (in his cat carrier) and at our lovely local vet practice he was as good as gold. Our vet checked him over and pronounced him as a very fine cat in good health. He was given his jab , a good 'bombe' for the puces and worming tablets. All in all it was a very good experience for him and he did not complain once. Back again next month for the next jab.... He slept most of the afternoon and evening though! Pixie is still having the occasional 'hissy' fit with him but as they now eat out of the same bowl at the same time it is a good sign that she is beginning to accept him. Another few days methinks and they will be cuddling up together. See Picture above - Pixie who is so very easy to draw..... she is a lovely cat.

Have a Wwoofer with us for a week, he is a young Frenchman who is biding his time before going off to the Alps for the ski-ing season next year. He is helping J clear up all sorts in the grounds. Can't say garden as it is much more than that. There is an area at the back of the group of barns that was used for pigs last year that remained untouched and has now become overgrown. It all needs clearing and the fences taken down and the pig 'house' dismantled. Too much for one person and I just don't have the muscle strength to help J do it. Hopefully it should be cleared over the next few days along with some other bigger 'things' that need doing.

I would rather see my small new garden being started but no - once again that has been put on a back burner. I can't see me getting to enjoy it until next year now. The story of my life.......

Our friend has taken herself of to London to sort out her 'paperwork' supposed to be done in Paris but no, she has had to go further afield. I think that she is finding this whole trip far too complicated, confusing and frustrating, nothing seems to have been straightforward for her. It is a huge learning curve - a bit like a moebus strip - keep going over the same ground, again and again.. She will be back to join us again at the weekend for some respite (I hope).

I have come to a standstill with the decorating project. Need to get some paint and probably new rollers and brushes. Got to sort out new colours and also get some filler for holes etc.. Also got a problem with some of the original walls that were external and are now internal. Walls between the back end of the house and the front. The back (kitchen, B&B salon, utitlity room) were originally a livestock barn. The main house had one door that went through to the barn and another couple of doors were knocked through. The barn floor was levelled (3 levels) and 'tiled' and a couple of dividers put in. Well, it was only used as a holiday home by the previous owners..

The 'original' walls do not have a damp course, come to that neither do any of the external walls, so there is an amount of damp that seeps up the wall and it all needs to be sealed as the paint is now beginning to come away and leave what they call moissure to grow on the walls. It is like a fluffy mould..... A bit of a nuisance to clean up and to prevent happening. So we will need to pull furniture etc. from the walls, as well as our fingers out, to get started..... I hope to get it all done by the beginning of 2010 - we will see!!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Ages and things.....


Yesterday was my eldest daughters birthday, her 38th birthday........ boy does that make feel old!!

Remembering her as she was at birth, such a sweet dear vulnerable little thing, just 6lb 10oz in weight - don't ask me what that is in kilos as I do not have a clue being brought up 'imperial' not 'metric'.

Her birth was an exhilerating experience, yes there was pain and so much hard work that afterwards when she had arrived all pain and tiredness was forgotten and I just wanted so much to hold this long waited for infant. She was very pink and had light reddish gold hair. Her eyes were screwed up so I did not know their colour. She was plump and smelled delightful... Totally overwhelming!

When she was a couple of hours old and I was back in the ward recovering (boy is it tiring giving birth!!) the midwife came in and said that my dear little girl had a birthmark on her head... Panic set in as you can imagine.. The midwife picked little Vicki up and looked for the mark to show me and eventually it was found. Vicki had so much hair it was well hidden. The birthmark was behind Vickis ear - at least it was not visible, it had to be looked for.

My baby had the bluest of eyes and a very knowing look about her. My husbands aunt Myra took one look at her and said "She's been here before!" I think Myra was right!

And now my no. 1 daughter is almost middle aged and has two delightful children of her own. Her daughter is just like her mother - incredibly so.

Today, in la Belle France, the weather is typical autumn. The trees have shed their leaves and the sky is grey. There is moisture in the air but it is not heavy. Was just going out the door this afternoon for a walk with my friend Doris when the phone rang. It was middle daughter;
"Hi Mum, just a quickie, can you give me some advice?"
"Hi Mel, what's up then?"

"The cat has peed in the boys bedroom and I can't get the smell out, what can I do?"
"Er, what have you tried?"
"Oh, scrubbing it and all sorts but it still smells, you have had cats a long time Mum, what can I do?"
"Try some bicarb, that might work, sprinkle it in the carpet and leave a while then vacuum out" "Look, I am just off out - can I get back to you later - I might email you with a solution."
"Oh, thanks Mum, love you, byeee xx"

So here I am 300 miles away from my children and they still ask me first, not the internet or inlaws... I feel so honoured .

So we took our walk, and very nice it was too.

This morning though J came rushing in with a piece of fungus in his hand. 'Guess what, this is good we can dry it for later use'... Our french neighbour had spotted a big group of Bolet on the outer part of our garden. Perfect for drying. Just strip the 'mousse' from under the cap and dry them. Store in a jar and add to beef stews etc. later on... So we harvested, stripped and are now drying them. What a wonderful world this is.

Yesterday I bottled some quince aperitif, made with red wine, eau de vie, sugar and quince. I have also made a white wine version and am 'macerating' the rose wine version. By the time all this is done there will be 27 bottles of quince aperitif - I have also made a wild plum aperitif as well. Trouble is, we have to wait months before drinking. The longer it is kept the better it is.

Yesterday I opened a cherry aperitif that I made 5 years ago.
I made it with yellow cherries, alcohol and sugar and I had completely forgotten about it - I don't remember the quantities of the ingredients so I don't think I will be able to reproduce it. It was sampled by us ladies - Oh sweet nectar! so drinkable, delicious but not too much at any one time.. Will be delicious over vanilla ice cream. Must try it..

Friday, 13 November 2009

Bisto


And no I am not talking gravy.....


A few weeks ago, friends of ours adopted a rescue puppy. The poor little chap had been born into the most horrendous circumstances in a flat in the local big town... He was a small emaciated black cross breed - he was named Django by his adopted owners. The most adorable little boy ever. I enquired about how they came to get him and was given the name of an English woman who helps re-house unwanted and stray animals. I got in contact with her...


She got in touch with me around 1st November and said that she knew of a black cocker spaniel needing homing. The dog was around 5 years old. I asked whether he was good with cats as I have one cat (having lost Sunny last month) and do not want a dog that could attack the cat. She replied that she knew of a black kitten needing a new home.... well, I jumped at the opportunity.


So, Saturday 7th November off we went to find this kitten, he was in the Vendee, miles away from where we lived, couldn't believe the distance. Anyway, we arrived at the carers house and met this little chap.... He is not black - he is the darkest chocolate brown with the slightest hint of red in his coat.... amazing colour. And, as a bonus, he is fluffy.... apparently his father is an angora cat!


So we brought the little chap home.. he settled in straight away but Pixie has still got a long way to go before she accepts him.... Talk about 'hissy' fits - she can't stand the sight of him at the moment... time will tell though - we will wait and see.
So we have a new member of the family, he has taken to our family life very well and loves to cuddle up to me. He is getting used to our routine and is using the cat-flap without any problems. He is so adorable.....
We did not know what to call this little chap... suggestions from family were:- Satan (oh no!) Midnight, Twix, After 8, (+ other chocolate bars!) and then the day before yesterday I was still trying to find his name when I suggested Oxo, then Bisto.... Well: my dear husband immediately pounced on the name Bisto..... so Bisto it is.
Welcome to our household Bisto... you are adored..

Thursday, 5 November 2009

November


Today is the birthday of my 2nd Grandson Alex. He arrived to the sounds of fireworks - for those that do not know, the 5th of November celebrates the demise of Guido Fawkes who wanted to bring down the House of Parliament and those in it during the Gunpowder Plot 1605..... I would suggest that you Google this fact.

So today we took our dear friend from Costa Rica to Poitiers airport so that she could have a short sejour with her mama. She will be back with us in a week. Oh, it is such a change to have good, intelligent and amusing conversation with someone that we love so much. Verbal is much better than email!!

The weather is not too bad for the beginning of November. Sunshine, wind and rain. Typical November weather. We have had a new grate put into our woodburner and it is so very, very good to have heating 'gratuit'. The house is now feeling warm!! We have loads of trees that are regularly 'pruned' back to provide firewood. I hate to have to pay for central heating when it could be for free.

Our daughter moves into her new home in the UK next week. She will find it difficult, me thinks, moving into something smaller than here. Have spoken to Charlotte this week and she loves her new school, so far. She has a new friend Georgia who she is getting on with quite well. Apparently, when she got home from school today she was singing. Now that is a good sign....

I have started on varnishing the new windowsills today. I am so pleased with the work that has been done. I have found a varnish that does not need white spirit to clean up. I am hopeless with these chemicals and prefer easy clean up - water suits me fine. Some of the chemicals upset my sinuses so much so I have to be careful.

I know it sounds bizarre but having these little jobs sorted so I can 'finish' the rooms have made me, I suppose, excited... OK - whatever turns you on!!

I have included a picture of one of the finished windows (well - nearly finished! need to work on the stone and brick surround next....).

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

And 5 weeks later




Didn't realise it was such a long time since I had written anything.... Oh my!




Did I write about Pornic and our visit to the Planet Sauvage ? Oh I don't know but here it is anyway - maybe I will be repeating myself - who cares ! I am getting to the age (I think) where I do repeat myself :)

I had found a camp site with 'chalets' that was right on the coast - it boasted as being the only one in Pornic with a beach. Oh yeah!
The chalet - or static caravan had two bedrooms - they were tiny. I worked out it would have been cheaper for us to have stayed in our apartment and we would have had more room there!!
At least we were somewhere different. We took a walk to find the beach, ho hum - you needed to walk a couple of kilometres to find the beach which was not too special. A very rocky cove with a stretch of sand. There were some very nice properties that were boarded up for the winter and it was only September. Dread to think how much it would cost to buy one of them......
We also took in the Planet Sauvage whilst we were there. It was not exactly cheap but I found it quite interesting. It is a wildlife park and to see Elephants, Giraffes, Camels, Lions and Tigers etc all out in the open was, for me, an experience. I have never done the wildlife parks in the UK only Zoos so this was a treat for me. Unfortunately most of the big cats looked bored out of their skulls! The Elephants looked pretty bored as well.. What I did like was a baby Zebra. I did not realise that their manes were full length at birth. Quite amazing!! Generally though we just slummed around ate and drank. It was a nice break but himself was still in a depressed state. I had hoped that I might generate an interest for him but he seemed on automatic pilot.
Kathy went back to the UK with the children on 13th October. It is very quiet here and the house is strangely empty. J and I are rattling around and not getting on each others nerves. We are having to adjust to being 'us' again. Our last visitors went a couple of days before Kathy left. They loved the apartment. We had the tourist office come to check the apartment out and give it its rating and they gave it 2 stars - I am as pleased as punch. I did not expect two stars!! Now I must get the website updated properly for next years visitors.. As my guy for the Office de Tourisme said "It is ideal for couples who want peace and quiet in beautiful surroundings." The nice thing is I will not have to do early breakfasts!!
We are also getting on with all the small jobs that need to be done. I have had new wooden window sills put in indoors. They look very good and the guy that did them definitely knew his job. Just need to get them varnished and the rooms re-decorated. Our bedroom needs work doing on the walls and we still have doors to be finished at our end of the house. I just want to get it all done this winter then I won't have to worry about it and neither will he. At least being on our own we don't have family interruptions.
I am still picking up pencil and paper and knocking out a few drawings and have some ideas for some paintings as well. I will have time. At the moment I have a house guest, a very dear friend who I haven't seen for absolutely ages. We are having a super time catching up on all and everything. It is so refreshing to have intelligent conversation.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Sunny


My dear sweet Sunny, a cat. Not just any cat, as a cat owner - or a person who is owned by a cat - will tell you.

Sunny arrived with me in 1995. He was born in April - he was an Aries.

As you may have guessed he is now no longer with us.

As a small kitten he was an absolute delight - but he did not meouw or let alone squeek. He would just sit and look at me in the hope that I would tune into his brainwaves. He had ESP or thought he had.

He had a long coat, not 'Persian' long but long. When he had his first trip to the vet all we heard from the nurses was "Oooh he is so fluffy!" Yes, he was fluffy and his belly fur was as curly as a poodles. He had a black and tabby back (with a little hint of red!), white legs and belly and the most glorious white 'ruff' around his neck and throat. His front legs boasted a stripe across the front - just above the paws (this is what made him different from his siblings as they had no stripes on their front legs!).

His paws boasted a huge amount of hair. When he padded across the floor you could not hear him at all, not like Smudge our other cat, he would 'click click' across the floor and if Sunny was chasing a ball then he took off as though he was on ice skates. He could not get a grip with the hair between his pads.

I always thought that he was something special. Hairy paws, no speech (at all!) and such a glorious coat. His beautiful amber (sometimes) green eyes were so knowing. He would look and absorb all around. He also had the knack of being able to get his toys out of two boxes. The toys would be put in a 'ferrero rocher' plastic box which was placed in a shoe box. He would nudge the shoe box across the floor to a 'wall' and then using his nose open the lid of the box then with his paw manage to open the plastic box and retreive his toy. He was amazing!.

I did not know his name until he was with us about 2 weeks. I tried all names for him and none of them got a response until one day I said, (in exasperation) "Sunny!!" and he immediately turned and came to me... I had found his name.

It wasn't until he was around 18 months old that I heard his voice...... It was like the tiniest of kittens....

I later saw reference to the Norwegian Forest Cat and also the American Maine Coon Cat. Yes he fitted their description; markings, colouring, size, paws, intelligence, the tufts of hair from his ears, curly belly hair, hairy paws and, of course, the lack of voice.... He was not a pedigree but he had all the attributes of these two beautiful breeds.

Today we took him to the vets, he had been poorly for 3 days. I had been away staying with a friend and was shocked when I saw him yesterday. Our dear vet kept him in the surgery for blood tests and he was also severely dehydrated. The news came this evening - he had a large inoperable tumor on his lungs.... My dear sweet cat is no more. He had to be euthenaised. There was no hope for him at all.... I will miss him so much. XX

Thursday, 17 September 2009

sixteen days


It has been 16 days since my last post. The wwoofers have gone, bless them they were an absolute godsend for us. They both worked so very well and put up with a lot from us. They went back to the dismal and wet UK with sunkissed skin and a healthy outlook. I do so hope that they remember us - we will certainly remember them. They left us with poetry in our Wwoof book!!

There has been a very strange, loud, grating noise in the garden. Whatever it is, it is competing with Peu Peu and our neighbours Guinea Fowl. We eventually tracked it down to a stunning petit rainette. Watching his throat swell to almost his body size to make the noise that he was making was amazing. The last time that we saw these little tree frogs in the garden was 5 years ago... They are beautiful!! We have also had stick insects in the garden but I have not seen any preying mantis this year.

We have had rain since Monday (14th Sept) not a lot but enough to give the ground and the plants in it a breath of life. It is so very good. Everything was so very parched - I am sure that I have lost lots of plants - the lovely willow bought for me in the UK
(Salix Integra Hakura Nishiki) for my birthday, I am sure is no longer with us.... but the Kilmarnok willow is looking good. If my garden off the kitchen had been done earlier this year then the Hakura Nishiki would have been installed and growing.... never mind - will have to buy a new one then!!!! It seems that the weeping willow cuttings that I had going have passed on as well. BUT - the lovely juvenile linden from St. Clementin is looking good and we have a site for it this winter...

K and children will be leaving us before the end of October.... it is a shame - I dread to think how young Charlotte will cope with English education. She has had 3 years of 1st class teaching out here and now she will be leaving it. I think it will be harder on her than her parents think. She has two languages and is able to read and write in both of them. She is a bright child and I do worry that she will fall behind going away from here. Georges though will be no problem. He says '"hi ya", "bye bye" and "'ello", "au revoir" with ease at the moment. God, I will miss him so much! He has even developed one of his granddad's mannerisms - he can drop his bottom lip to expose his bottom teeth - the rest of us can't do it!! Amazing.

We have despatched our cockerel - his spurs were the size of sharks teeth ! He made a very good curry. We have his two sons - both hatched by the delightful Peu Peu (from St Clementin - brilliant saint as well as village!!) They are stunning birds, both pure bred Marans. We may keep one, not too sure - can see the 'buds' on their legs where the spurs will grow. Will have to see how to de-spur them.

J has now accepted that things need to be downsized...Had a long chat. Getting older, forgetting things, too much land to look after, too much maintenance cost, etc. etc.. What if one of us has a stroke/heart attack/breaks as leg, etc, etc... and he now agrees that "yes! it would be a good idea to think of the future".... hoo-effing-ra!! We have also had invitations to go to Sri Lanka, New Zealand as well as South America.... the only way is to downsize (
lower taxes and household bills), save pennies and then go travel and yes he agrees - Oh! it has been such a battle over the past few weeks but am getting there.

Have given up the B&B but the apartment is in the offing. It has been awared the prefecture 2 star as well as Clevacances 2 keys. I am really pleased with that. The B&B was 2 key I was not too sure about the apartment. I suppose it is because we are situated in such a lovely area, it is so very quiet and peaceful. I have had people there this year already and they have all said how nice it was and that they felt rested after being here... It will make life so much easier for me. I find it very difficult to do the mornings**; there is a reason, explained later on. I need to finish off some of the small detail in the B&B and have found a guy to do some work for me. J does not mind, he is glad that it is taken off his shoulders. I should have done this a long time ago but didn't want to upset him. We have reached an understanding. If he cannot, or does not know how to, do the job then we get someone to do it for him/us. He realises that he has limitations. It has taken a long time for this but we are getting there. At least we are talking!

Mornings**: I sleep well at night until around - anytime between 3 & 5 am - when I am woken by J talking/shouting in his sleep. It has become a regular thing over the past couple of months. Some of the time I understand his words - a lot of his words are 'agressive' - he also thrashes about in his sleep. I wake up - and stay awake!! I suppose I get around 5-6 hours sleep a night if I am lucky. I get so very, very tired and cannot sleep during the day (too much light)
I need my sleep at night - at least 8 hours..

Have booked for us to go to Pornic for a few days. Last time we were there was during 1996. We were en vacance at La Baule and took a trip out over the bridge at St Nazaire and found Pornic, what a delightful fishing village - we are looking forward to some good sea food - YUMMY!!!!


Tuesday, 1 September 2009

another month

it is now the 1st Sept 2009......

Another month, wow.

What has happened since my last entry, I do not remember. We have had a german wwoofer stay with us. She was a 19 yr old student, due to find a university in Germany to study psychology. She found one eventually. Her mother used to call every evening - her daughter was her only child. A lovely girl who did not know a lot of the practicalities of life. I do hope that I taught her something.

At present we have a couple of English girls (both 26 yrs). They are absolutely delightful, have a fantastic sense of humour and work very well. One of them is studying neuroscience.... wow - she looks into the brains of fruit flies!! The other one is studying for social work - and has done archaelogical digs in the SE of UK.. Both are wonderful girls - I like them very much and would like to be a mother to them!!

We have had some rain today, not a lot, just some.... it looks as though the drought is about to break. Everything is so dry... it is unbearable. I do, though, have lots of tomatoes to bottle. In 2006 I bottled 40 litres of tomatoes. 2007 and 2008 we were severely affected by blight so this year it is a bonus for us. My shelves will be groaning with produce!! (I hope) but I do not really want to spend my summer weeks doing this!! Have also harvested the Bramley apples. Made some chutney and also bottled some for apple sauce. Got some more for chutney. Also made beetroot chutney and courgette chutney... am really into the preserving lark! Mind you, I did it in the UK for many years... The aubergines are absolutely lovely this year, even the 'ancient chinese varieties' that we grew from seed. Looks like lots of ratatouille to be bottled or frozen as well - yummy....

K came back from UK with children last week....

It looks as though they will be relocating to the UK for the time being. They need to get the money together to finish their house.... Lord knows how long that will take... K said that they plan to go back for December.. Will miss them of course.. I do love Georges so much. He is as much mine as I have know him since birth.. I will get used to the change of course.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Almost Autumn

Almost the end of August... and it is still very, very dry. The grass sounds very crispy underfoot.. My trees and shrubs are looking very poorly. We are not getting any rain at all. There is mist from the river in the morning which leaves a heavy dew-like moisture on the tables and chairs in the garden... but no moisture for my precious plants... Even our neighbour has said that his fruit trees are suffering from lack of moisture.. The French news papers and channels say about the 'canicule' in the south of France but it is the same here.

I am really not very happy at the moment. 'His' ride on mower has just had 700 euros worth of work done on it.. The man that did the work said it was a shame that it had not been regularly serviced.... Same with our motor car...neither of them are regularly serviced.... hence the very large bills that I have not budgeted for... Now you know why I am not too happy... What did my man say to me??? As long as it -seems OK I don't worry..... That has been his attitude since I have known him and throughout our relationship.. (40+years) If it ain't broke then don't fix it!! Trouble is, I think our relationship is broke and he thinks it seems OK, well I assume that is what he is thinking as he does not communicate with me.. I have do my doubts now. Today I mentioned us taking days out and he gave me black looks as if to say "why disturb my peace and quiet here?"

Can't see us taking a nice trip together anywhere in the near future.

Do I really wan't to keep on writing this??

Seems as though there is only one step to take next..


Italic

Friday, 14 August 2009

Today - another sunny day in Western France

So far we have had around 2 months of continual sunshine, albeit with the occasional shower for maybe an hour. C'est tres seche..... peut etre une canicule.... I do not know - I listen to the French radio (do not get the BBC - could do on the TV or computer but it is not the same as listening to a transistor radio!!) and do not hear anything about weather probs. Also, as we are now obliged to watch English TV, coutesy of the the daughter and her partner, we are missing out on French newscasts. Oh how I miss Canal + and their wonderful programmes and TF1, TF2, etc.... OH well, maybe we will get back to the French way..

Have an English couple arrived yesterday. They left Dover in rain, arrived in Calais in rain, drove through Normandy in rain. Rain stopped at Le Mans..... They thought they were going to have a wet holiday.

Had some clients from Normandy, last week and this week, they also remarked about all the rain that they are experiencing..... c'est normal!! Even when we came out for our hols all those years ago it always rained in Normandy!!

Sud de Loire = soliel.... C'est vrai!

My grass is so very beige and crisp underfoot. I worry about my spring planted shrubs - they look as though they are about to die..... We water them but they still seem to be in autumn mode... But; the piment, poivrons, aubergines, courgettes, tomates, haricots, onions, are all absolutely fantastic.... Lots of Ratatouille this year (my man does not like Ratatouille in spite of it having his '5 a day' in one dish). Me... well , I could eat Ratatouille all the time - I love it!!! I also like Aubergines in middle eastern cookery - tough on my man - he grows it - he will eat it!! Good for his heart :-)

I have a Bramley apple tree, sourced from a very nice garden centre in Kent, it has been through many traumas since arriving here 5 years ago.. Planted in a suitable spot, growing well then having its bark chewed to the core by some ravenous sheep.... It was then relocated two years ago. The bark on the trunk is absolutely amazing! I must take a photo and add to this entry. It has, this year, produced the most magnificent apples.. such a delight to see. The tree is on a Malling rootstock (can't remember which one but I think it is a dwarf rootstock!). I should have taken notice as I worked at the East Malling Horticultural Research Station when my girls were small. I learnt a lot about fruit, pruning as well as about the types, breeding, as well as when to pick... Anyway, back to the Bramley apples... I will harvest in the next couple of weeks. weigh them and then probably make some of my special apple chutney and turn the rest into apple sauce - I have got bottling down to a fine art now. Better to see on a shelf than taking up room in the freezer.

I still ask myself, "why am I doing all this preserving??" "there is only two of us now" "why is he growing so much? we are a couple not a big family anymore." etc.....

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Motherhood

I have three daughters... Goneril, Regan and Cordelia.....

Goneril - a blue eyed blonde, Regan - a brown eyed brunette, and little Cordelia - a blue eyed blonde...

My three dear daughters..... 1st and 2nd both born 10 days before their due dates.... third born on the day predicted....

Goneril, very enquiring mind, grew up to be a scientist.

Regan, slow did her own thing - with a bit of assistance.

Cordelia, born on due date - did everything exactly.

My concern now is Regan.... she is a mother of three in the process of divorcing her husband. She has child no 1, a lovely boy - father unknown!! Child no 2, a feral daughter. Child no 3, a son with extreme disabilities. No 2 and 3 fathered by the husband who is now being divorced...

Regan was born end of 1972 - she is nearing her 37th birthday. She like to go clubbing every weekend. She leaves child no 2 and 3 with their father I think. Child no 1 (11yrs old) is left to his own devices.... This of course concerns me. I cannot say anything as I am not there in the UK witnessing this.... His stepfather is and so are her neighbours... Word gets back to me.

Goneril and Cordelia visit Regan..... give her hell - they are after all concerned sisters/aunts. They report back to me (Queen Lear??) that her house is an absolute pigsty. Child no 1 is average with his SATS (he is a very bright boy!) child no 2 is kindly talked about by her teachers and child no 3 seems severely neglected.......

What can a grandmother do when she is not in the same country as her grandchildren. As for dear Regan - well I don't know! I sometimes think that she is a changeling. She definitely has a problem - Lord knows what.

She should never have had children.....I think that these grandchildren of mine would be better off with a responsible adult.... I hate to say it but I do not think that Regan will make 40 years....

Do I shrug off responsibility for this daughter? I do not know..... What I do know is that I will not lose sleep over her but I will over her 1st child....

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Weds 12th August 2009


I have now been blogging for quite a few months...
Sometimes I have been sad, sometimes mad, sometimes happy and sometimes well - you know indifferent.

Today I am OK... I woke early feeling well having had a good nights sleep. The first in such a long time. I feel calm, I feel myself... Good eh?

The weather is incredible at present.... Hot, hot, hot. Early morning the meadow is under a cloak of white mist.... beautiful and watching it slowly dissipating is amazing as it reveals all the trees and other treasures out there. Including stick insects....more of them later

During the day I stay indoors unless it is imperative I go outside - it is so very hot and dry. No cloying humidity at all. My plants are suffering - I just hope that they survive this spell.

I can do my washing - hang it out and half an hour later it is too dry to iron.....

Have clients, very nice people again. I find I am getting more people staying for more than 2 days at a time. It makes life so much easier for me. With my dear daughter away I need the breaks between room changes. Maybe that is why I feel better in myself - my home is my own now.

It seems awful to say, but I do love my children, but it does not mean that we have to live together. I miss her but again I don't. Seems a strange thing to say I know but I am sure that you know what I mean.

Have decided not to open the B&B for next year. Not sure of what will be happening here at all. Will let the apartment of course, so much easier for me. Glad though that I did not open a Gite. Went to a friends the other night for an evening 'do' very nice it was too but their Gite guests were there - Adult Brits in holiday mood.... Oh my, what a lot of alcohol passed their lips and landed on the girls hips... I am sure there was some 'illness', to put it politely, overnight and next morning...

I don't think that I could put up with that here.

We have a wwoofer here, a young german girl. She is very nice, an only child who needs to learn a lot.... I think I mentioned her last posting.... hence the comment above para 3.... she is so tall and slim. Or am I being unkind. She admits that she has trouble with her height and that one of her teachers at school was under 5 ft tall and many comments were passed in her school as well as class. She is not worried about her height but is concerned that if she marries someone taller than herself how tall will her offspring be. At least she is thinking carefully to the future. I have warmed to her.

The garden is almost weed free now.. Potatoes are lifted for storage, tomatoes are coming along nicely. Beans (french) are harvested, Beans (runner) are not so special. Sweetcorn a dismal failure but the chickens are enjoying what has been produced. Cabbages OK, carrots poor. Beetroot fantastic. Soft fruit being moved this year has been absolute rubbish.

Quite a mixed lot this year. My Bramley apple is brilliant with some superb clean fruit and my quince are coming along well. Pears aren't so good though. Think that the trees are a bit too old. Haven't looked at the orchard but Michel and his mates came and collected the fallen plums - we know what for... and will get our share later on.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

August


My first entry for the month of August.

It is quiet in my house, I am preserving..... So far have made some Courgette chutney and some Beetroot Chutney... Both look very nice - am only doing it because we have a 'glut' of both vegetables. Was supposed to get a recipe for beetroot curry from Siggi.. didn't materialise - will have to email her to get a copy... Might be worth trying.

The plum tomatoes are looking brilliant at the moment. I think I will excel myself this year and bottle more than the 40 litre I did in 2006.... 2007 and 08 we had the dreaded blight and I had to buy tinned tomatoes - quelle horreur!!

We have a new Wwoofer with us. She arrived yesterday after spending a couple of weeks with Siggi. A very tall (6'1") young 19 year old German girl, but she is delightful and is so willing to learn. I had her chopping onions this morning for the beetroot chutney. I don't think she has chopped onions before!! She will be learning how to bottle tomatoes in the next couple of weeks!!
I then have a couple of English ladies coming to stay and help as well.. I need them this time of year purely for all the harvesting and preserving.....

Haven't heard from K for a few days. I think she is OK with everything. She has an itinerary planned out and is at the moment with her partners aunt and uncle. She is back in Kent at the weekend with her sister (who will be climbing Ben Nevis on Sunday - scary for her mum!).

Will be interesting to see how she got on with one and all after her return to la Belle France.

We have a Golden Oriole nearby. I have eventually confirmed that the call I have been hearing on and off for the past 7 years is the wonderful, beautifully coloured and elusive Golden Oriole. I have usually heard it in the spring but to hear it within the last week is unusual. Would just love to see it though. We have also had an Egret hanging around by the river. No Hoopooes this year to date - but there is still time!!

Peu Peu has hatched, and is about ready to kick out, two young Maran cockerels. There are definite spurs on their legs already and they are only 6 wks old. Their pa, Bernard, is for the pot and we will keep one of the youngsters (maybe) to continue his legacy. He is such a beautiful bird but an agressive one... I don't think he has enough ladies to occupy his time!!

Am thinking of taking a few days at Pornic with my man. It is 15 years since we have been there and we found it a delightful place on that visit. I have found a nice B&B to stay in. Just got to convince J that it is worth going.... Still wan't to cross the Atlantic though.....

Have got a new digital camera, from the local supermarket. It is a top of the range on special offer and with my loyalty bonus it only cost 25 euro... Not bad at all. Am taking it all places with me - I have so missed the opportunity to take some good pics of places since my last one bit the dust.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Friday last day of July 2009


Again, it has been a sunny day, and a quiet day.

I have achieved so much, no interruptions from any sources.

My clients, English, staying for two nights are really nice. They are a family of four heading to the south of France - but - they decided to do Puy du Fou for the day and cinecine for the night. Mrs saw it advertised in the UK and thought "that would be nice for the family" so they came here for two nights - a nice little earner I must say. And, as a bonus, they come from the same part of the UK as we do!! Small world.. I just hope that they tell their friends all about P du F and us :-)

Also have a French party over the weekend - 4 in the new self catering suite and a couple for one night - a wedding... Looks as though they are going to have a good weekend. The weather promises to be so very good for them all...

I still would love to quit this though. I do so like to meet new people but I do not like the waiting around for them and the work afterwards.... Oh well.

K and family are happily settled with daughter no. 1 in the UK. Daughter no. 1 thinks that little Georges is just like her firstborn Alex.. I must admit that there are striking similarities. Poor little chaps are going to look just like their maternal grand-dad when they get older then!!

Thought I would upload Mont st Michel this time.... will scan in and put on some drawings next...

Ho hum - time for bed; night-night!

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Thoughts


Just had a review of my last few postings...

Thank you blogspot for letting me put my thoughts out there in the ether.

Makes my life easier for me.....

Makes me content..

Thank you..

(sunset from my mind painted by me around 5 years ago)

Peace


My dear youngest daughter and her two children have taken an aeroplane today and flown to the UK. It will be the first time since the end of August 2006 that they have been there. It will be the first time for little Georges, he will be meeting his great-grandmothers and two of his cousins as well as other relatives - peut etre.

Today has been very quiet for me... in a way. I have been able to turn up the radio to the volume that suits me when I am doing the housework. Back to normal for 3 weeks. BLISS!!!!

I do love my children and grandchildren but there are times when one needs time and space for oneself to do what one wants.... and I am doing that - as well as sorting the veg harvesting and freezing.

I am trying something new. There has been a lack of sloes in the hedgerow over the past couple of years but this year we have some wild plums... I have some 'alcool pour fruits' that I bought about 4 yrs ago sitting in the pantry so I had a little thought... why not try 'sloe gin' with alternative ingredients... So far it smells so goooooood... Leave it in the bocal until xmas and then bottle and try (as hard as I can!) to leave it for a couple of years before drinking..... Oh! maybe 6 months or so.

We do have some eau de vie but that is a bit potent, although with the (handwritten) recipes gleaned from my dear sweet French neighbour I am sure we can come up with some alternatives. Oh for a decent apero...

Business is good at the moment, just enough to keep me ticking over. Not too much that I can't cope. Am still thinking of down-sizing, he is hearing me and listening.

Am looking to taking a few days break in Pornic later on - early Oct. We went there around 15 years ago for a few hours. Had a holiday at La Baule (very expensive!) and took a trip south over the bridge at St. Nazaire and ended up at Pornic. What a delightful place!! Our neighbour goes there when the tide is really low and harvests moules!! It will be nice to go there and explore more - there is so much to see only a couple of hours drive away.... Will probably book in the next week.

Strangely enough I have not had any sign of a headache today.... hmmmmm I wonder why...

Incidentally - I am adding some of my pictures..... (yachts 2009 - for the Boat Room)

Saturday, 25 July 2009

WW1

Harry Patch passed away today aged 111. Oh my, One hundred and eleven years old. When I told Charlotte her eyes grew so large and she just looked at me as if to say "what! that old". Last week we lost Henry Allingham. Both of these guys were Old Soldiers from the Great War. That is the War that my grandfather lost his life in.

My Granddad, Charles, lost his life on the 16th May 1915 in France, a matter of 6 weeks before his last child was born, my Dad. My Dad was the 7th son (ho hum) and there was an older sister. I never knew my Granddad - or my Grandma come to that. I honestly felt that I was a deprived child as I never had that (+ 1) generation to go to when I heard all my contemparies at school saying how they had weekends and holidays with the grandparents....Never mind, I think that I am a well adjusted person in spite of... Dad wasn't too close to his siblings - probably to do with the age difference and the fact that he buggered off to serve King and country as soon as he was able. A lot to do with the stepfather - but then that is another story.

I do so miss my Dad, he was a fount of wisdom. Sometimes a bit cranky (especially when he got older) but he knew so very much, especially when it came to plants. I just have to search back into my memory to find what he told me. A truly loveable man. xxx

Understanding


Oh hoo flipping ra! My man now understands me, it has only taken 39 years 5 months and 10 days...

We have had a 'minor' discussion this evening regarding our dear daughter, her partner and the barn. Her partners father insists that before he advances any money to his son for improving the barn, that we produce a document that says that the property is theirs in full.... As you can imagine I have had serious doubts about this. Yes, the young persons have a document, officially notiarised, saying that the property is theirs... But, to date no money has changed hands. There is a private agreement, agreed by the notaire, that the amount, in full, will be paid within 5 years... Yes, we are all happy about this.... except for me..... I would like assurance from his father that he will cough up the dosh to help his son complete the project..... Oh eventually, today, I have got through to my dear husband that I would like this in writing..... Hooo flipping ra!!!!!!! He (my man) will have a chat with our daughter explaining this - she would not listen to me at all (grrrr). Is it any wonder that I have high blood pressure and all related things.

I have been listening to my gut over the last few weeks and feel that I am now getting the same problem I had before coming here.... Too much acid!!! which equals IBS!! I had so many tests before 2001 and after arriving here I was fine - it is all happenning again, bleuh!!!. Relaxation, Qi Gong breathing, and a lot of wine helps.

Apart from all this, I am fine... Saw a dear friend the other day, he does my website. He kicked his wife out of his life earlier this year... Bit of a fraught time for her and her daughter but he is now so happy and relaxed it is amazing. Wont give any details at all... but he has a new lady in his life and it has made a remarkable change.. Got me thinking though!!!

Anyway, have had a chat with my man and it looks as though, if I can sort the finances, we will be taking a trip in the new year.. Got to do my sums - but he has to do bits in the house that need desperately sorting. He is not exactly pro-active when it comes to DIY. I don't mind the decorating etc. but when it comes to the 'maintenance and building' bits then I am lost. I hate power tools, I learnt from my Dad how to use a saw and hand drill, but electric stuff throws me.
Now he understands and seems to be in agreement that we put our pile on the market beginning of next year.

I would love to have a smaller place with space for me to have a studio so that I can paint. It will happen in the near future I am sure. Thought I would display something I painted 20 years ago... (no title)

Monday, 20 July 2009

40th anniversary of Moon Landing

I was 22 yrs old when man landed on the moon. But did he? I have wondered ever since that day. I remember watching on the television in black and white, mum and dad did not have colour tv then so it was all shades of grey..

I am not a scientific person, but that event did not look quite right to me. I remember seeing the landing and the men leaving the 'space craft' - moving on the 'moon' - 'erecting the stars and stripes' - etc.. it all looked a little bit 'staged'.

What I would like to know is - why haven't they gone there again? If it was so easy in 1969, when technology was not so advanced as now, why haven't they been back there and set up a 'colony' or whatever.. It seems strange to me that they haven't. I know that there are lots of 'theorists' out there and it appears that their questions are not fully answered. Was this the worlds greatest hoax?? Maybe we will find out in the future....

Back to my hundrum life...

I am getting clients for weekends which is good, generally bookings are over 3 days so I have 4 days to get myself organised for the following weekend. If it continues like this then I can cope. I am being more circumspect about who I take. It is working for the moment, at least I will be able to pay my taxes this year!!

I find that I get very tired, I am not a morning person, never have been, and having to do breakfasts early really does affect me. I get so very weary. I know that I am a direct descendent of laundresses but even that doesn't really mean that I should enjoy the washing and ironing of bed linen.... oh to be retired and enjoying my life instead of working.... blah!

Kathy and children return to the UK for 3 weeks from end of July. Bliss! No more young female shrieking around - I did not know that one child could make so much noise. I am sure that my three girls were a lot quieter. I suppose it is because Charlotte was a singleton for such a long time.. maybe she just needs to let of steam when not at school. I don't know. It will be deathly quiet here whilst they are away and I know that I will miss them but - it will be so peaceful and Jeff and I will be able to have (grown up) people around without having to consider children.... 1st time in three years..... Oh joy!!!

Dear sweet Georges is now making more 'words' - his favourite when seeing someone is 'Hiya', he also knows flower, cat, shar (Charlotte), Dada, Mama, grandad, more, and occasionally he will say a proper word just the once. He is learning very quickly. He is a beautiful boy.






Saturday, 11 July 2009

Saturday and hot

This weekend they will be celebrating the fete nationale in our local big town by the very ancient chateau. If the past couple of years are anything to go by it will be fantastic..... On Monday they will be celebrating in the nearest town with all sorts of things going on..... Will probably do that one as it is nearer.... Will write up in due course.

Saw a programme about David Hockney on TV the other night. Absolutely brilliant! What a man, and seeing him working on his paintings in his native Yorkshire was an absolute delight. Yes, he has inspired me and I even contacted him to let him know - and I received a very nice reply from one of his assistants. It would be nice if he came here and painted some of our countryside.

Back to 'Old Biddie' thing, treated my self to something new - what a thrill for me - a new vacuum cleaner!! It is quiet and so efficient, boring, boring... yes I know but it is better than a broom and we don't get that much 'muck' in the house. No dogs shedding hair and the cats spend most of the time outside anyway. It is mainly human dust that is drawn into the bag, along with the odd crumb and dead insect. Next 'treat' for me will be a new washing machine!!! Ho hum..

The house is definitely cleaner anyway with just himself and me in it. Clients are easy to clean up afterwards and we are not getting many of those at the moment. Just the odd flurry every other weekend. More like it for me, less work....

Am working on a picture at the moment, don't know how it is going to come out, sure it will be OK. Need to buy some canvases - they are not madly expensive out here. Would be nice to try watercolours again. Find a that medium a bit difficult. Much prefer oils and acrylics. Kathy has seen some of my doodles and reckons that I should frame them and sell them. They are cartoonish I suppose. Trouble is I can't doodle to order, it is a 'switched-off daydreamy' thing that I do.

Had a dreaded mammogram test 3 weeks ago. Had a long wait for the result and was told that I needed further investigation..... pause, think, lose sleep etc.... went along to the radiographers as instructed and saw nice Dr B. who ultrasounded my boobs and proclaimed - no problems - just opaque cysts - nothing sinister - come back in two years time..... relief washed over me and my man.....

Monday, 6 July 2009

Monday - or is it Tuesday?

Woke up feeling good this morning. A good nights sleep as it was so much cooler overnight. Feel positive today!

J had some chores to do, one of which was taking a document to our insurers. I said it would need to be put in the postbox as today was Monday, J thought it was Tuesday and had to really think hard as to what day of the week it was. I suppose it could be to do with the pills he is on. He is sleeping so much better (and snoring well).

Had clients over the weekend, Friday and Saturday, have got all the bed linen washed and ironed and rooms done by 10.30. Feels good.

The LIFT (Ladies In France Together) group has opened a website - just 4 months after the group was thought of - not bad going - and it has also become an association (according to French law). There are around 100 members in the department alone and it is spreading. All nationalities are welcome - not just English.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Art

Just a little byeline....

Have had artistic Wwoofers here this year. Firstly Camille and Kim, both artists in their own right, and then Amanda, an art teacher. They all looked at the work I have done, sketches, paintings etc. and they all agree that I ought to go for it. I have a talent it seems and should use it.... Thank you girls for giving me the inspiration to do more. I will.... Just gotta convince the family!!

Independance Day and Gay Pride in the UK

The titles mean nothing to me at all, for a start I do not celebrate Independance Day although the film was a good one.. And as for Gay Pride - why don't they just keep themselves to themselves. do you see Straight Pride marches or Heterosexual Day, no you don't - why can't the 'gays' be like ordinary folk and just be ordinary? Don't like their policies thrust in my face all the time and no I am not 'homophobic', just as I am not against black, white, yellow, red, male or female. If people are nice, open and pleasant then I am happy with them.. Colour or creed does not matter without a third (sexual) equation coming into it.

Anyway, it is 2 weeks since I put my thoughts online. It has been hot here, really hot, and it does not suit me at all - too much too soon. I ache with the heat, I do not sleep well and I know it's the humidity that does me in. There have been storms threatening but not materialising and the pressuire on my whole self is too much. I yearn for a good thunderstorm to relieve it all. My ankles hurt and I cant spend too much time on my feet.... grrrrr.

There have been a few little 'arguments' going on in this household. I think that himself is now realising that things need to change. I am retired and don't want to stagnate in this perfect part of the world. I do love it very much and have created with his help a haven for people to come and stay and to chill. I have so many come back to stay even just for one or two nights, they like it here and I like them. It is becoming too much, I get so tired.

Our last Wwoofers have been gone a week now. Two delightful girls from Australia but of Chinese origin. I miss them enormously. They were such fun, worked hard and were brilliant cooks. Now I have a couple of easy oriental recipes..... Will definitely keep in touch with them.

Getting some good business. All to the best when it comes to sell. Have even written up the 'blurb' and people I know reckon we should have no problem selling as it will sell as a going concern with nowt to do.. And of course there are those who want to do this sort of thing. It is definitely for younger people.

Ian is working well in the UK and getting good bonuses. With luck he a Kathy will be able to get their place finished. Kathy is talking about going back to the UK at the end of the year to work so that they can get it all done. What worries me is that Charlotte will not be able to cope with the education system in the UK. She is doing so well out here and I am sure she will find it difficult slotting into the UK education system. I know also that Kathy will miss being here as she has slotted in so very well. We will see how it all pans out.

Our dear little Georges is toddling, learning words at last. Hard to believe he is now 14 months old. Sometimes he looks just like his mum othertimes like his other grandpa and sometimes like my dear Dad. He is an endearing little chap but still has problems with teething. I suppose it is a male thing not finding pain acceptable (unless you are a weird sort of guy!). He has also discovered his little piece of flesh and when he is nappyless he is quite content. I absolutely adore little Georges and will miss him when he goes back to the UK.