Sunday, 31 May 2009


Haven't noticed them before, I think that this is the first year since we have been here, but there are swifts around. I am seeing them now on a daily basis and I can only assume that they are nesting nearby. We have always had swallows nesting in the barns - they are so wonderful - but it seems to me that the swift (martinet) thing is new. Watching their wonderful shape cutting through the sky is amazing, their flight is so different to swallows (hirondelle). The owls are always around and this time of year the little owl is out during the day calling its mate - or whatever.

I think that the barns are well habited by birds and other creatures. So far we have for our summer visitors, black redstart, swallows, swifts, pied wagtails, yellow wagtails, golden oriole (we only hear it down by the river - very distinctive call!), cuckoo, nightingale, blackcap plus many others. I do my best with my wonderful book to identify these birds.

There are of course our residents who are very busy this time of year creating the next generation. Blue tits, great tits, wrens, robins, blackbirds, chaffinches, goldfinches, starlings, magpies, crows, rooks, herons, mallards, pheasants, partridges, turtle doves, wood pigeons, collared doves...


Saturday, 30 May 2009


Charlotte achieved her yellow belt in Judo this afternoon. As you can imagine she is 'chuffed' to bits - and - she bypassed the white/yellow belt. Good girl.....

A week later

Have been thinking a lot this week, about all sorts of things, like: Why do people say they want a room then not show? It is such a bloody nuisance, the room is prepped, got the croissants in wait in anticipation - blah! Also been thinking (seriously) of downsizing and moving.

It is hard work running the B&B, there isn't a great return financially and the bills aren't getting any less and we aren't getting any younger. I want less worry and more peace in my life, got to that age. Just got to persuade J. that he has got to that age as well.

Got a couple of Wwoofers in, we had Dany and Kim who went last weekend, they made a great start on clearing the weeds, moving rocks and general tidying. This week we have had Ariella, a young American girl of Italian descent. She has been brilliant continuing the good work that Dany and Kim had started. We have also been joined by Amanda, an English Art teacher who is taking time out to do her own thing. She is fitting in well and has made a good team with Ariella.

The 'season' is starting and we now have clients booked for most weekends. At least I know they are genuine and that they will be coming as I have received either full payment or substantial deposits.

The apartment is now finished although the Wwoofers are in it at the moment. They will have to move out to the caravan soon as we have bookings. It looks good and we are very pleased with the result J-P made a very good job of installing the 'cuisinette'. Kathy tiled the surround and finished off the walls. We found a 'jonc de mer' carpet on special offer (and less expensive than vinyl) and Ken helped with the laying of that. Just got to get Clevacances out to give it a rating..

Weather has been brilliant, Everything is growing well. We have fruit on the trees - last year was dismal - no apples, pears, peaches, plums etc... This year a complete turnaround. The Bramley had loads of blossoms then tiny fruitlets. Thinned them out and now we have some really good looking young fruit... Bramley apples for chutney, sauce and pies later on - yummy. The fruit bushes have settled into their new plot but I don't think the quality of fruit will be so good this year. The veg plot looks superb, peas, broad beans, runner beans, potatoes, cabbages, carrots, etc - can't wait for the first harvesting.

The garden by the house is looking really neat, tidy and colourful. My white wisteria bloomed for the first time this year. The blooms were almost a metre in length. Superb!!!

Saturday, 23 May 2009


Strange title I know but I find that at the moment my tolerance is low. That is, tolerance of everything. The weather is up and down, dry and hot, wet and hot, damp and hot and it is only May. I am fed up with the weeds, the flies that are appearing, the chickens getting out and digging in the garden and Peu Peu coming into the house and leaving her messages...

I have had enough of cooking and cleaning and would just like to have some time out for myself - a couple of whole days to creat some artwork and chill out -and let someone else look after the necessary daily things. Fat chance.

I have also had enough of small children - and grown up children!

Been to dentist to see about pain in my face, jaw and ear, First of all it was an infection - antibiotics - then he said I needed a crown - different tooth and upper jaw not lower where the 'infection' was. I still have the pain and did a bit of research online - all my symptoms indicate trigeminal neuralgia. Am going to cancel dentist and see doctor.

Maybe that is why I am so ratty, living between my long lived tinnitus on the left and neuralgia on the right is not much fun!

Dutch woofers left yesterday and an American is arriving today. This one will do a bit of my garden, forget the veg patch and Kathy's plot, mine needs a bit of heavy work as well!!!

Just got our new passports - horrendous cost from British Embassy. God knows how they justify asking so much. Maybe it is to help line the MP's pockets in the UK. At least now I am able to travel abroad again.

I think at the moment I am a grumpy old Biddie. Still, tomorrow is another day.......

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Baby or Toddler

Well, little Georges is now taking his 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc.. steps. He is now becoming a little person that walks. A bit unsteady, using his arms as balancing aids. He does better if he is carrying something though. He can get quite a move on and now the cats have to watch out.... he heads straight for them with only one thing in mind ..... tail...... I suppose it will be the same when he is a young man - chasing tail!

The Speaker of the House of Commons, the Honourable Michael Martin MP, has announced that he will be standing down on the 21st June. I wonder who will be going next, hmmmm. I still find it unbelievable that so many MP's have abused the expenses system. I would trust though that there are far more honourable members than dis-honest members.

The garden is at long last looking better, knocking it slowly into shape and making it more manageable. Am in process of pricing up my 'private' garden. Looks like Leclerc is a better bet than Brico Depot.

J-P the plumber is coming in to fit the kitchenette tomorrow. Then we lay the carpet, (sea grass) which worked out cheaper than vinyl flooring. Got all the furnishings already. Already got the accessories as well. Then we get the photos done and on the 'net'.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Musings of Maid of Kent

I am English, no, not just English, I am a Maid of Kent, and I live in France.

There are many places in England that I have not visited. I need to do the tourist thing in my home country. I have seen most of Kent but have not visited all the great houses. One of which is Ightham Mote, just a few minutes from where I lived but I have never ever visited….

Why?? Who can tell, I suppose it is because I lived there and it was on my doorstep!

I visited Hever Castle with my eldest daughter, when she was 10, as a school helper; and also Tonbridge Castle which I knew as a child when I used to visit my Great Aunt, I also went to school in Tonbridge. I have been to Leeds Castle and living in Sevenoaks I know Knole Park like the back of my hand as, in my childhood, it was my playground. Canterbury Cathedral is truly beautiful but it does not have the power and simplicity of Durham Cathedral.

The new Coventry Cathedral is breathtaking and some parts of old Coventry are amazingly preserved, at least I hope that they still are. I have been through Sussex, Hampshire, Dorset (which I love), Some of Somerset, Devon and Cornwall. I do not know Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Buckinghamshire and all the other ‘shires’ I have passed through Essex, Cambridgeshire, Nottinghamshire and the York 'shires' on my way to Durham to see my ‘in-law’ family. I did Liverpool, briefly, seeing a guy that I knew way back when. Hmmm parts of Chester are pretty in a Tudor sort of way! There is so much I have not seen of my country of birth and I think maybe I need to do the tourist thing… but it will take some time. Drove past Buckingham Palace - didn't stop for a proper look though. Also driven past the houses of Parliament. Been to Harrods, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols but only bought bridesmaids dresses from Selfridges for Vicki's wedding. Went to the National Gallery (loved it). Visited Hampton Court with the school when I was 12. C'est tout.

I have passed through Wales on my way to Eire, Swallow Falls were beautiful in 1969, I wonder what they are like now. The wildness of parts of Wales were wonderful and I was in awe of the height of the mountains… Went through Killarney and drove over the Mackillacuddy Reeks and ended up at Dingle.. stunning. Had a Guinness or two in Dublin. Sliante!!

I have never been to Scotland……………………

Now I am resident in France, but what parts of France have I seen? I have stayed in Brittany, near St Malo (oh how love that town! it is so beautiful). Had a couple of weeks in West Brittany near Morlaix - another beautiful town, walked through the forest at Huelgoat - stunning - those stones are amazing!. Been to Quimper and bought the pottery! Visited Concarneau and bought the sea salt. Stayed near Vannes and visited Pont-Aven but didn't buy the painting (too expensive!). Stayed in Carnac and saw the standing stones - amazing! (didn't bring any home though - too big) Visited Quiberon when it was just a lovely fishing harbour - before it became oversubscribed and expensive... bought a beautiful cider jug (which is no longer with us - grrrr).

Stayed at La Baule, it has a fantastic long beach - goes on forever. went to Guerande, (bought the salt!) checked out le Croisic on the cote sauvage - I liked it there but La Baule is mega-expensive. Had a Lebanese meal at a small restaurant in le Pouliguen - delicious!! would go again...

Travelled through the Vendee and stayed for a short while on the very windswept coast. Walked through the pines to naturist beaches Oooh laa la! Visited Les Sables d'Olonne (before it became the centre for the Vendee Globe). Visited the Zoo at La Palmyre - lovely place. Pornic is tucked away at the base of cliffs and looks out to the Atlantic. A stunning town. Visited the Ile de Noirmoutier. Just only 2 hrs from us now. Again - a place that I love. Stayed a la Tranche sur Mer - clean and tidy. Been to La Rochelle - lots - never in high season though - too many tourists!!! Ile de Re is very flat and very expensive, stayed just the once in November a couple of years ago. No tourists, just wind and rain - brilliant. Been to Ile d'Oleron just the once a long time ago. Must visit again sometime.

Stayed at St Palais sur Mer, just north of Royan, about 16 years ago. Nice area and I enjoyed Royan and found the beach at St Georges de Didonne lovely. Bet it has changed though! Did the tourist visits of Meschers s/Gironde and Talmont s/Gironde. Liked both. Went to Cognac and tried some of the real stuff - so smooth! yummy!! Checked out the vineyards but then we were wine 'virgins' and not too sure about it all. Do things differently now. Visited Lacanau Ocean, Arcachon, stayed at Soustons, did lunch in Biarritz and took a short trip into Spain and back.

So yes, I have done the west of France..... Time to look at the Centre, East and South, peut etre.

Travelled through Normandy - not my cup of tea (or cider) at all!!

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Politics and things

A week later and here I am again.

What do they say, "a week in politics is a long time" I think that is the saying, I won't bother checking. But I think it has been a very very long week for some politicians in the UK.

I cannot believe some of the things that are coming out in the press. It is so damming for all concerned. I think there will be a lot more resignations, maybe arrests and prosecutions - at least it will cleanse parliament (well - I am sure that is what many think). The populace are not pleased!!

Family are all fine, Georges is finding his feet and trying to walk unaided, he is not doing too bad at all at the moment. We all need to keep an eye out for him now. Charlotte is doing well at school but is having an extra hour lesson in the week along with another 3 children. Just for her (and the others) to catch up on some things. All in all her teacher is pleased with her progress.

Had some sad news this last week, Jeff's cousin Meryl lost her long battle with cancer. She had Peritoneal Cancer which I understand is quite unusual. She was ill for nearly 3 years and was only given 6 months from the original diagnosis. She had a heart attack just over a week ago. Her husband Harald couldn't find our number in Meryl's filing system so it took a few days for the news to get to us. She was a beautiful person with a gentle way about her. Well loved by us all.

Monday, 11 May 2009


Oh my it is nearly a fortnight since I posted on this blog..

Not a lot has been happening although enough to keep me from typing up my life experiences.

Have been decorating in the 'soon to be' apartment. Wasn't too sure about the colour scheme but it looks OK. We have used 'enduit' on the walls and 'cire' to colour. The colour I chose is blue - hmm - it looks a bit dark but it works - there are light and dark patches and it seems to work. The kitchenette has been purchased and is waiting to go in. Got to get new flooring then all we have to do is get the kitchenette fitted and flooring down, furniture in and wey hey! it is done... I have created an artwork for the room and am eager to do some more - in reds, oranges and yellows as a contrast to the blues...

Have got bookings for the apartment for June, July and Sept/Oct...

One of the daughters of the previous owners has contacted me about coming to stay and bringing her children as well, to show them the holiday home that they enjoyed for so many years. She is dying to see the changes we have made and it appears one of her sisters would like to come as well. Am waiting to hear from her again.

The UK press and BBC (good old auntie!) has been full of MP's expenses... Oh my, what a farce, you could not make it up! It looks as though a high percentage of UK Members of Parliament have been abusing the system and have profited enormously from these allowances. The reading is truly unbelievable - and they are all blaming it on someone else.... It seems that someone (anonymously) has passed the information to the Daily Telegraph who has revealed the extent of claims day by day. It is thought that the 'supplier of information' is possibly the person who revealed information relating to the 'Hutton' enquiry - maybe a new 'Junius' ....Oh what a tangled web we weave when we practice to decieve.....

It seems that most of the MP's questioned about their expenses have said "but we are entitled to it" etc.... and as for 'Gorbals Mick' well... I will leave that unsaid!

I do so hope that my beloved Great Britain will recover from the last few years of total inefficient management. It disturbs me to see that it is turning into a 'megalomaniac' run third world country and that the general populace are suffering from the mismanagement that is creating so much poverty and crime. Will they have to beg from the rest of the world. Will Oxfam have to give to the UK??

On a lighter note, I have lost another kilo.... hmm 6 in 12 months - slowly but surely.........

The garden is looking better than last year - we are keeping on top of the weeds!

I am happy!!