Thursday, 9 December 2010

We are now the 9th December. I have been back in La Belle France for a couple of weeks.

It started to snow in the UK as I left, and Normandy all the way to Rouen, was sprinkled with varying depths of snow. I found it really cold. I do not like the cold weather, it makes my joints hurt - not ache, but hurt!

Arrived at our friends home and hubby came to collect me and baggage.

Got home and he had prepared a meal for me - good!!

The next day I started to go through what needed to be done!! (secretary wise!)

Phoned France Telecom and they agreed to refund one months rental and any extra expense I had incurred using my mobile phone providing I sent a copy of the bill with the items highlighted. I did all of that with pleasure...... It even helped improve my French grammar skills..

I am still waiting......

Sent a letter with copy of detailed invoice to Insurance company (bypassing Mme Talon) and am still waiting............

It has been freezing cold here for a few days but then it started to warm up and then we had a lot of rain - the river is looking so healthy I wonder if it will flood..

Dog has been up to his antics. He is only 18 months old and is still a young pup or adolescent. If he sees anything on the move he wants to chase it, trouble is he has (in the past) seen our neighbours chickens moving about and has leapt over their fence and has wanted to play. We have managed to get him away from the chickens without any damage done and kept it under our hats....Oooh, is that a good idea?

So a few days ago the hound decided he would play with the chooks again and our neighbour saw him and chased him off... and then came to see us and let us know what has happened..

Hubby was suitably apologetic and ensured our neighbour that it would never happen again.....

And what happened today? When the hound was being walked this morning he caught sight of a fox! possibly a vixen as it was not a little beast but a larger beast.....

Ah quelle horreur! If this beast decides to take a feast from our neighbours chooks then our dog will get the blame (possibly).

Hm, what action to take - do we let him (our neighbour) know that there is a fox about or keep quiet? We are torn between letting him know and not. Our lovely boy will chase but does not kill - he has caught our chickens but hasn't killed them. Would Mr Sais-tout understand that?

Or am I reading more into this?

Our chickens are not laying at the moment so they are all destined for the pot. Coq au vin, curry, soup etc... poor girls don't know this yet.
I found the following written on the 14th November, the birthday of Prince Charles and also our eldest daughter:-



Sunday

So far we have been without a telephone line for 1 week, sept jours.

That means we have also been without internet.

We do have a mobile phone but that is only for short local calls.

Our neighbour, who is French, lost his line on Wednesday, two days after we lost ours.

He got his line back on Saturday.

Are we happy?

No, no, no, we are NOT!!

We have no idea about our English neighbours, we don’t speak with them.

Tomorrow I, (you do it better than me) will phone France Telecom and ask them if they have a racist policy (yes, I am joking). I will demand that they repair our line and give us recompense for the week that we have lost.

I will ask my dear French neighbour, who has so generously offered his assistance, to phone them and speak to them with our (my) demands, he is so genuinely ‘good’ he will do this for us.

Hopefully it will result in a success.

And we are still waiting for a cheque from the insurance company (Hah!).

We have also had a lot of rain.

Coming through the ceiling of my laundry room.

Why?

Because around 7 years ago a new roof was put on the hangar attached to the house and guttering was not replaced.

Every rainy season I have said to my other half that the guttering needs to be done – he has said “yes, OK”.

Is this a valid reason for divorce?

And so we (I) have, again, water pouring through the ceiling.

Had an immobilier come to visit. “Can you claim on the insurance?” he asked. ‘Not with ours!’ I thought!

We do have someone who will come and do the guttering, we have all the parts needed, and I just want to get it done!

But he (the builder) is waiting for a weather window.

So am I.

Weather: somewhere warm and sunny, without the hassle of house, and land, and husband; just a place where I can relax and be me. Fat chance!.

Went to a local Amateur Dramatic Society production last night.

Absolutely brilliant! (t’was ‘Allo, Allo!) and we knew some of the cast!

And for a bonus, we ran into some people we had not seen for many months, or even years.

At least they now know that we are still around.

Also met another couple that have been here 5 minutes.

I did so want to sell them a yarn:

“Oh yes, we have been here forever and have bought a chateau and have eight children (three of which are in prison – one being a so gay politician) and had won the lottery which is why we could buy the said chateau which needs millions spending on it to make it liveable as well as our properties in Florida, Spain and Tuscany, have a couple of lovers each, his cutie twenties (helped with the blue pill) and my toy-boy, guru, personal trainer, hmm that is why I look soooo young, and umpteen grandchildren between our five marriages” etc. etc….

Have got to get my man into the storytelling mode, I could follow his lead!!!

What business is it of total strangers as to how long we have been here, how would they react if we asked them loads of personal questions?

It really annoys me – not him – just me. I am a private person and will give out info to those that need to hear – mind you, I am writing a blog (anonymously?) but there are the ‘chosen few’ out there who know who I am.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

November 2010 diary

At the moment I feel that the world is against us.

We have still had no joy from our insurance office in spite of telephoning Mme Talons on a daily basis last week (just 3 days as Monday was a holiday and she does not work on a Friday).

We went to our Bank on the Friday 5th November and spoke with our ‘conseillere’ Mme Sourire who was expressed her disgust with what was happening with our insurers. We explained the predicament we were in what with the extra taxes we have to pay this year on top of dipping into our fioul money to pay the builder. We have no heating in the house at the moment and it is getting colder and colder.

God bless Mme Sourire, she did no more than telephone the insurers and advise that they would be receiving a fax to be put on Mme Talons desk for Monday morning.

At last, someone who is willing to help us sort out this mess.

Mme Sourire said for us to give her a call if we receive nothing within two weeks…..

And so the weekend looked good.

We were invited to a lovely Anniversaire meal with some French friends on Saturday night, had a lovely relaxing Sunday and then…..

Monday morning …. 8th November

We had a violent storm – short and sharp – and it not only gave us a power cut but took out the telephone line…..

I phoned France Telecom helpline via my mobile and got very angry at listening to a 5 minute message repeated very quickly. Now this is costing me money!! Free from a landline – yeah but I don’t have a functioning land line!!

I got angry, very angry and just wanted to speak with someone in a language that I am fluent in and they are also – i.e. English!

I phoned again in the afternoon, when I had calmed down, and eventually spoke to a young woman who confirmed that my line was inactive and that an engineer would call either Tuesday or Wednesday.

By 5.30 Wednesday no one arrived….. Armistice Day on Thursday …..

As I said I feel that the world is against us!

I am writing this Wednesday evening – will finish it on Friday and maybe even post it on Friday!!!

Friday……

Yesterday was Armistice Day. I did remember the fallen in both wars, especially my Grandfather who lost his life on May 16th 1915 in Normandy.

When I was a ‘youngster’ I would, with my family, visit the local War Memorial and leave a poppy on a cross on Remembrance Sunday. My Grandfathers name is inscribed on that war memorial which has a beautiful bronze statue of a soldier.

I would ask my Father if that was a statue of Granddad… he would squeeze my hand and smile…. It makes me sad as my Father never knew his Father – my Father was born in July 1915.

The weather is still foul, very high winds and lots of rain; at least there is water in the river now!

Had a visit from a French Immobilier this morning. He is a guy that we have known a long time and has been selling property all his working life. He arrived and we went through all the necessary regarding the size of the property, what renovation had been done, why we want to sell etc… He is a very charming man and will let us know his valuation next week.

He also mentioned that the 1st house in our little hamlet had been flooded 10 years ago.

Now this is interesting; When our (new) neighbours enquired of Mme (pre purchase) whether the house was ever flooded she said ‘No, never, never, no!’ I have also heard from a French friend as well as one of Mme’s nephews that the house had been flooded in the past. We have been here 9 years and have seen the river rise very quickly and cover the meadow until it looks like a lake – a stunning sight – then drop again. But it has not, apparently, reached the proportions of 10 years ago. Will the weather bring the river up to levels of 10 years ago this winter? It will be interesting to see as we have had no flooding to speak of for 3 years now.

And so, back to the saga of the telephone. It turns out that in our little hamlet all the phones are out, our neighbour Gilles had reported his line went down on Wednesday, two days after ours. I phoned France Telecom just after lunch today (no good phoning during) and spoke to a charming young man who said that our line would be fixed aujourdhui, après-midi….. I verbally confirmed what he had said and ‘Oui Madame, aujourdhui, après-midi’. I thanked him.

Ha!!! He was having a laugh!!!

So it is Friday evening and we have no telephone or internet.

We also have no cheque from the insurance company……………..

Grrrrrrrr.

Gilles telephone line went back on Saturday afternoon. He phoned FT for us and they confirmed that ours would be fixed Monday.

Monday 15th arrived. I phoned FT in the morning to confirm that the line would be fixed. The advisor told me that it was a collective problem and that I would have a line by 6.00 pm.

Wrong!

I have phoned today (Tuesday 16th ) nine days now since losing the line. Spoke again to another guy and guess what – he spoke and understood English!! I explained that I had been promised a line on three separate occasions and that I was still without a telephone line after 9 days.

He will get back to me.

And so the saga continues.

Still no cheque from the insurance company.

Wednesday 17th

Phoned FT again this morning and was told, again, that it is a collective problem, yes I said I know. My neighbour lost his line last Wednesday and it was reinstated on Saturday and I am still waiting since Monday 8th, she paused then said that I must be patient. I said I have been patient, she paused again and apologised saying that it would be fixed soon.

And I am fed up having to update my spell-check to UK English from American English!

I also phoned Mme Talon at the insurance office – there is a letter on the way!

I go to the UK to visit family on Friday and I am travelling with friends rather than solo.

I need the break but would like all these niggles resolved before I leave if not I will be leaving my husband to cope with it all. He is not happy at the prospect as I am the one who manages better with the language.

Thursday 18th
Phoned the English helpline and got through fairly rapidly.

I spoke with a charming young man and explained the sorry saga of my non-functioning telephone line.

At least I wasn’t stumbling through the explanation in my inadequate French and I could understand him perfectly! (hmm I wonder if BT has non-English helplines?)

I asked why it was taking so long and what the problem was. I also explained that my French neighbour lost his line on the Wednesday and that it was restored on the Saturday!

The explanation was that there was a power surge on the Wednesday afternoon that severely damaged the telephone relay equipment. We didn’t have a storm on Wednesday afternoon – if I remember rightly it rained a bit but nothing drastic!

The upshot is that we have to wait another 72 hours (that takes us up to Saturday) and I won’t be here.

The guy I spoke to was very helpful but when push comes to shove it is all out of his hands – he is only the go-between (Hmm, but he did ask me if I had internet connection).

Now I have a theory about this.

We lost our line Monday morning due to a storm. I let FT know Monday afternoon and I was told that it would be repaired Wednesday. I think that the Engineer sent to fix the problem possibly caused a greater one by damaging the equipment he was working on. I might be wrong but you never know!

Letter from insurers has not arrived today. Went to the UK on the 19th November.

Arrived back home late on the 29th November, leaving the snow behind in the UK and Normandy.

Whilst I was away my husband dealt with FT and eventually an engineer arrived on Friday 26th, checked the internal phone sockets, checked the connection to the house, checked the line back to the junction box. He then ran a new line through to the house, re-checked the sockets; hey presto! It is fixed!! We can phone out and receive calls again.

Why on earth they couldn’t have done that in the first place I will never know, engineers and the way they work are a mystery to me.

Letter arrived from insurance company, they need an invoice. They have had an invoice but the wrong type. They need a detailed invoice which has now been prepared. I will forward it to them and see what happens next….

Still waiting………soon be Christmas

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Families


Hmmmm.

It is the end of October - winter is upon us - we have cold rain, violent wind and frost. The leaves are changing their colour and falling from the trees and I keep raking them up and then more fall again.... I am putting the leaves on my border just behind the privet hedge. This is a hedge that I have nurtured over the last 6 years, remembering the advice that my dear Dad had given me about 'rearing' hedges. The hedge is now looking thick and healthy - the advice has worked. God Bless you my dear Dad. (I miss you so much) Oh, can grief last so long??

We are still waiting for the final settlement from the insurance company (they will be rejected in the next couple of months) and we are keeping our finger crossed that we don't go 'tits up' with the bank. Have made a rendezvous with our lovely conseillere who has looked after us for the last 9 years, she has known us and our plans from day one and also knows our situation; she has been an enormous help through all our ups and downs... Mind you, she does not know yet that she will be surpassed when we change our bank for one that is not so heavy on the charges etc...

The last couple of years have been shit... No other word for it.... absolute shit, merde, faeces, bollocks etc... I sometimes think I may be heading for a nervous breakdown (is that the current expression or is it something else nowadays?? 'an acute time-limited reactive disorder' hah!,) No, I am not depressed - I did the depression thing after the birth of daughter no 3. This is different - I get so very, very angry with what is going on and just find myself in 'tears' for no reason - tears of sheer frustration and anger at what is happening in my life.

When I was young my mother used to say that I was 'sensitive' - I know what she means - I am sensitive to situations and others and my 'emotions' get the better of me.

I do not scream and shout or throw things (maybe that would be better!) - I just burst into tears if it (life) becomes too difficult!!

My husband has said that I am a 'control freak' - no I am not - I like an ordered life and someone has to look after that life. If he cannot be bothered to look after our financial/domestic/emotional situation then - well, someone has to. So, therefore, I am in 'control' of it all - not only am I his wife, housekeeper, financial expert, mother of his daughters, but also mother to him as well!!! Can he accept that??? Hmmm I wonder, I have not bothered to ask.

I think that maybe my 'sensitivity' is through the trials I went through as a small child when I was very ill and, according to my Dad, close to death - my first memories are of being in hospital!!

We have a bill, a tax bill, it is for a modification of the 'permis de construire' of the hangar - the house that has been under construction by our daughter - and it is a lot of money that we can ill afford. We did notify our daughter that it was for her to settle. Did we get it sorted straight away? no..... we did not. Her partner (the guy that she has been supporting for the last year) queried it... I do so hope that the transfer comes through in time, the thought of going overdrawn without permission does not appeal to me (we never did in the UK).

Oh dear, this is a bit depressing... I am going through a bad time at the moment and need to get it off my chest.

I love my husband but do not always like him... does that make sense?? He can be a pain in the butt but then I suppose I am felt the same way. We 'bounce' off each other in various ways - a bit of a ballet I suppose that has been going on for the last 40+ years..

Middle daughter has been an absolute gem over the last few weeks. She has had so many problems over the last couple of years and it was so good to have her visit this year. She needed the break having a severely disabled son and husband who could not cope with it. She came for a holiday with her eldest son. Her husband had his daughter and son (Terry who has cerebral palsy, microcephaly, epilepsy + other problems). The first break she has had for a very long time. I used to have a few problems with this daughter and having this time together brought us closer. We talk at least twice a week and we can discuss most things.... We have become very close. I always thought that I was close to daughters no 1 and no 3... wrong!!! Middle daughter has come up trumps over the last few months.

Our daughters have been brought up to be independent young women and are so different in so many ways, yet they are so alike.... Sometimes I cannot understand them yet there are times that their thoughts gel with mine instantly. Am off to the UK in a couple of weeks. Will see how we all get on!!! Mind you, I am really going to see my darling Mum (now 89), I miss her so much!!

Families are so complicated!!

Photo is of me and daughters taken on the Isle of Wight 1981 I think!!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Merde etc.


I often log onto a particular, and very useful, website – Angloinfo – for my area.

I look at the postings in their general forum, and there are many from people – those who are departing and selling up their homes and possessions, those who want legal advice regarding divorce or child care, those who do not know about registering their motor vehicles (cars or vans) into the French system, those who know nothing about the healthcare system out here and – sadly - those that have no knowledge of the French language and are desperate for an English speaking Doctor, Dentist etc… I do despair.

I am fortunate, in as much, that my man and I did our research before relocating to La Belle France. We had been visiting for many years and we (I) downloaded information, bought books (all sorts about life in France) had language lessons etc. prior to our arrival. But no, we did not do enough research; there were many things that we were not fully aware of. We were on a learning curve after we arrived; and no, it did not peak like some learning curves; for us it was a gentle curve (mind you it was a gentle wave for the first 3 years!

I belong to an association – LIFT – Ladies In France Together – a brilliant idea from a couple of young (non-French) women who were in need of company. They brought women, girls and ladies of all ages and nationalities together for lunches, laughs, sharing, support, and the opportunity to integrate.

And so I return to Angloinfo – There was recently a request from a young mum on their forum for help. She needed to find other young mums so that she was not so alone out here and she made a request: “can someone please help me?”… yes there were many responses but one person stood out alone… and he suggested a ‘blog’ which was tenuously connected to LIFT and referred this poor mum to that ‘blog’…. Poor girl, I do hope that she was not too interested in cooking. I decided to make my post and refer her to the official website for LIFT.

Yes I find it quite disturbing that so many English ex-pat persons out here in La Belle France take it upon themselves to declare themselves as experts on France, the French, their culture, language, food etc. I have had people referred to me for advice in my capacity as an English person who is running a B&B business out here. This is from the local Office de Tourisme who know me and think that I can help the newbies. Yes, I am willing to help those that need it but no way can I declare myself as an expert. All I can say is, you will need to speak to xxx, visit yyy, and then they can give you advice to your situation. So far it has worked.

A couple of years after we arrived our dear son-in-law Kev bought us a copy of ‘A Year In Provence’ with John Thaw and Lindsay Duncan, he thought it would be useful - what a load of cobblers. I have also read Stephen Clarke and his ‘Merde’ version of France….. Blahhh! What a load of merde that is too (so is the X Factor).

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Experiment


Have had a long hard look at our financial situation.

We have had a successful outcome from our insurance company so we are not totally in the mire at the moment, but we have the dreaded fonciere and habitation taxes to pay - we are now in the income bracket for habitation, which we haven't been for the last three years, so that has come as a bit of a shock!

At least himself was up to discussing what we should do.

And so the decision was made to draw just 100 euro a week for our necessary groceries/toiletries/cleaning and what is left at the end of the week will be put in a jar. We are not to use our bank cards!

I have not had to budget like this for a very very long time and I really should have started to do this out here from the beginning, but no, there was too much going on for such discipline.

Should be fun.

First shop was done yesterday and we spent just over 52 euro and purchased enough meat for a couple of weeks, veg for a week as well as dry and tinned goods and, of course, wine.

We should not need to shop until next Monday (fingers crossed).

He is heaps better than he has been in a long time. He has had a change of medication and is now more animated and getting out of his 'shell'. He has been very depressed since being told about his emphysema, I think that maybe he thought that his world was ending, and now this new anti-depressant seems brilliant for him.

I am pleased to see him smiling and thinking for himself again.

The cloud is lifting and it makes me feel a lot better too.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Fibrositis and Husbands

Tuesday:

My husband is having to think like me,

Today I have a problem with my lower back and am unable to move and do the things that I would normally do during the day. I am a 'Hobble-it'

And he is on a learning curve.

I was sorting laundry for washing… Was taking washed things from machine to put into tumble dryer and I felt this tension happening in the lumbar region of my back.

Now this happened before a couple of years ago and I ended up confined to rest for around 5 days as my back had seized completely... Not good

At least then I had another female in the household to help.

This time I have my husband!!

So what did he do for me..

He prepared lunch (he found some soup that I had made some months ago in the freezer and re-heated it). Yes! Initiative came into play!!

I did have to ask for him to prepare a hot water bottle and find some ibuprofen for me – would he think to ask if I needed – NO.

I also had to ask him to check the tumble dryer to see if the clothes therein were dry and if they were to put the next load in on a different temperature and also to explain how to change the said temperature… he is on a learning curve!!!

Then I had to ask for a refreshed hot water bottle for my back and also if he had checked the second load in the tumble dryer – also to light the fire that I had set yesterday. Also to stock up the said fire some 2 hrs later…… etc….

And I had to remind him to take the dog to the vets for his annual check up and whilst he was out to buy more painkillers.

He found some minced beef in the freezer and decided to make spaghetti bolognaise for our dinner tonight…..

“Where’s the Basil, where do I find the Bay leaves?” etc…… it then came to assessing the amount of pasta… “How much?” he said… I showed him. He decided that it was not enough and added extra…. Typical bloke! I did ask why he asked me and then add more… He just sort of shrugged!

There is a lot in this house that is done…. It just does not happen on its own, someone makes it happen and generally that someone is me! Today he learned some simple everyday things that go on…

In the past we had another young, able, female helping us – she has since departed so if I am incapacitated then he has to do what should be done..

Wednesday:

Had an excellent night sleep, woke with an almost pain free back but was still careful… I thought I would get a little ironing done – not too taxing a task at all. The clothes he had taken out of the tumble dryer yesterday were in a little heap – beautifully creased. No, I know he wouldn’t know to fold the clothes I was expecting them to be creased.

I asked him to get the second load out of the dryer – ‘it’s still wet!’ was the cry I heard… He had depressed every button and the machine tumbled on cold!!!

Am I being cruel letting the world know that he is inept in some things. He is doing his very best for me and making a good job of it, also proving to be a good cook as well! Trouble is he is from a masculine household and had a lovely mum who did everything for him, and for the last 40+ years had a wife (me) who has done the same.

I did a little tidying – very difficult when you are unable to bend and then realised that I was doing too much. Even lifting the kettle for a cup of tea put a strain on my lower back which was beginning to tighten.

I am now ibuprofen’d to the hilt and massaged with Voltarol hoping that the spasm will cease soon. I am missing my freedom.

On a good note:

Our insurance company have decided that they will give us a little more towards the repairs. It looks as though they have calculated around 33% of the original invoice and, added to the 25% already awarded, we get just under 60% in all.... Better than a kick up the **** I suppose. We don’t normally challenge decisions but this time it was so unjust. We will be speaking with other insurance companies and sorting the ‘wheat from the chaff’. At least we now know a lot more – our learning curve is not as steep as it used to be.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Patience part 2


We have received a letter from the insurance company.....

We are not happy....

We went to their local office Friday afternoon...

Their claims manager has Friday off...................Grrrrrrrrr......

We will go visit next week.

From what we understand - (they say) because our barns are very old 'vetuste' we only get 25% towards any claim......................

So, it costs us 2000 euro for the repair to the roofs and we only get 250 euro....

Are we happy??

Noooooooo.

We are not happy.

I think we should sell the barns for whatever we can for them and let whoever buys them take the brunt of it all.

We are very disappointed with our insurance company.

We made a legitimate claim some 6 yrs ago.

We had a day of extreme weather during April... high winds from the West with hail and rain. It came in powerful gusts. It took out the centre roof of our hangar.. We called our insurance agent and he came to visit.. We made the claim with photos - what was the result? "Sorry but the winds (according to Meteo France) did not exceed 50km per hour that day in your village, it was not a tempest " (ergo no claim)!!

We take out insurance for peace of mind. Haaaaa!!

Once this claim is fully settled we will change our insurers, and check that they will give us 'peace of mind'....

What really comes to mind is: Our house is around 250 years old - if we have to make a large claim for any reason will they pay out???? I lose sleep over this!!

{In the meantime we have gone from one insurance company to another!! (AGF - Allianz)} Makes me sick - changes going on when the customer has no say!!!!


And so Autumn settles upon our part of the world.

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'erbrimmed their clammy cells.

etc..... (John Keats - Ode to Autumn)

I had to learn the above poem at school - It was a C of E School and as a Catholic I did not have Religious Instruction there, so I was given a poem to learn.... and the first line sticks in my mind - I could not get beyond it.

We have harvested some delicious plump hazelnuts and also chestnuts..... yummy - their clammy cells are well o'erbrimmed!!!!!

Not ALL is bad in La Belle France.....

Photo is of Liquidamber in our garden

(started to edit this posting - computer threw a wobbly so have had to alter text.. grrrr - I am not going to touch it again)




Monday, 27 September 2010

Patience


The canine visitor has departed....

My cats are now more relaxed......

(I show a picture of one of our cats sitting is upon an insect killer which is upon a microwave oven which is on the top of a refrigerator - she was around 7.5' off the floor.... So very safe!!)

Today I lost a lovely Denby butter dish.... (stressed cat pushed it off the work top at 6.00 this morning - it was totally shattered on the tiled floor)

Never mind, it was only something I had had for many years!!

Have done lots of things in the house and all my plans have been accepted without any problems by himself. Radiator taken off wall (haven't turned it on in 4 years so I considered it redundant!) so I had space to move furniture... It has worked!!! I now have a lounge that looks less cluttered and has more space... wow - all I need now are a couple of large rugs/small carpets...

Have taken the sewing machine out of retirement and am making more cushions, so far they look good.

Bought some lovely curtains many months ago and have to do a little alterations then get the poles re-established and the curtains hung before the winter begins... (It is beginning to get a little bit on the chilly side at the mo).

I just want to make our home look sell-able - is that so wrong??

There are ideas and plans flooding my mind - sometimes too many plans and ideas... I know it will all come together - eventually.

Children are fine... our son in law (married to no. 1 daughter) has recently lost his grand-dad. The funeral was today. Our daughter, in her infinite wisdom, asked their children if they would like to go to their great-grand-dads funeral... Of course, it is a day off school!!!!

Daughters Mum-in-law was absolutely horrified.... Children at a funeral!!! It is not the done thing!! etc. etc. This is the lady who was mortified when she heard that her grandson had seen a pheasant shot by his other grand-dad!... (didn't bother the boy at all!)

Spoke to no. 1 daughter this evening... kids were fine. The adults had red eyes but the little ones were OK. Children accept death easier than adults - why make a mystery of it all?

Am waiting, still, for builder to come visit regarding guttering and other little jobs. He was supposed to come last week.

I am a perpetual lady in waiting.... waiting for a builder, waiting for the insurance company to sort out the claim, waiting to get my little garden sorted outside the kitchen, waiting for the car to be completely mended.... and so it goes on...

Maybe my name should be Patience!!














Saturday, 25 September 2010

I am really getting a bit pissed off with my intermittent connection to the internet. I intend to look something up and what do I get ‘Ooops Google Chrome could not find www.Google.co.uk.’ Or even, ‘service unavailable – error 503’, (mozilla). I managed to get through on Internet Explorer but I could not copy and paste the first three lines of this text….

So I am typing this up on Microsoft Word. Would I do better using another system I ask myself. I hear that Apple have a good system, have even heard of Linux (what is it?) – shall I go with them next?

I like to communicate and at the moment communication via the internet is the best option for me. What did we do 15 or so years ago? Letters, telephone and telegrams followed by visits via car, bus or train ..

We still have to take some branches off a lovely Blue Spruce. This tree is blooming now – it is not a spring bloomer (and I am allergic to conifers) so it will have to go…. Our telephone line is caught up in some of the branches. We have taken out the branches of the Maple that the line ran through, but we are still having connection problems. These trees were planted some 30+ years ago by the previous owners of this house. We have taken out three conifers so far and a weeping willow that was seriously ill. The trees had not been well maintained at all. There was also about 25 Silver Birch competing for space and were extremely tall and spindly. At least they gave us plenty of firewood and some parking space. We have put in some specimen trees more suited to our situation.

Talking of the regular telephone line it is absolutely appalling, there is so much static that conversation is very difficult.

We had a guy come to visit – he is a tree surgeon employed by the local Electrical Company checking the lines and wanting to know who owned which trees where the lines passed through. I think that some of these trees are ours and will need to be pollarded. No great problem – I just hope that when they are cut back our telephone line will be better. I will, though, contact France Telecom afterwards and ask them to come and have a look at our telephone line which is so slack that it is almost touching the ground!

So what has been happening chez moi…

We have been dog sitting for the last week. A delightful dog called Ben – he is a collie of large proportions and rather overweight. His mistress had to go back to the UK for her sick father, and his master had to follow very quickly - Jenson and Ben are pals, mates, hounds that get on. They are both very social and enjoy each others company – they are good for each other. Just one problem though…. We have two cats – Ben chases cats, he chases them with a vengeance.. So we now have two stressed cats. At least the cats can shift under the furniture and out the door, but dear galumphing Ben has to make his way around the furniture, slipping and sliding on the floor, before he can get to the said door, and, by then, the cats have made it up to the third branch on the nearest tree where they sit and taunt the dog, mieow.

I have been making changes in the house. Something that has been needed for a long time and it is working. Moving furniture from one wall to another and what a difference it has made, there is now more light and space. My man was not sure that it would work but he is pleased with the result.

I have many wine glasses of various sizes and quality in a glass fronted cabinet. The cabinet was to be moved, after taking a redundant radiator off the wall, and I took out the 60+ glasses (I didn’t realise that there was so many!) and took them through to the kitchen for washing and polishing and was aware that himself was watching me…. hmm... I found a clean and dry tea-towel and threw it at him. He took the bait and actually dried and polished the glasses…. Result!!!!

Cabinet was cleaned and polished then moved to its new location. The shiny glasses were put back on their shelves. Another cabinet was moved into its place next to the glass cabinet and our lounge was transformed…

I think that I am motivating him a bit more (he is even cooking more often) as I am knuckling down to serious cleaning, clearing bits and bobs etc. – de-junking I suppose. We have bought the necessary to paint the walls in the kitchen – once our canine visitor has returned home then we can pull the stops out and start on the walls. I must admit that Ben is leaving a lot of hair and dust around the place – grrr – it will fill my vacuum cleaner!!)

We do have another immobilier coming to visit in the next week or so…. Got to make the place sellable!!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Religion.....


Does it really matter whether halal meat is served up to the general public in the UK? I have no problem with it. We have reared sheep and pigs and we have had a travelling butcher who has come and despatched the animals. – a swift ‘knock’ on the skull and then their throats slit and bled…. The animals did not suffer any stress and the meat was absolutely delicious. Years ago people reared their own animals and when they were ready/mature enough to eat then they were despatched the same way…. So why the problem now with something that has been happening for centuries? Is it because it is a ‘Muslim’ way of doing things? – it is also, apparently, a Jewish way, and I am sure it is the way it is happening in various parts of the world without any criticism or protest.

I was baptised into the Roman Catholic faith and was brought up in the Roman Catholic faith (God Bless fathers Donnelly, Moran and O’Sullivan). My mother was Irish Catholic and my Dad C of E. I took my Mothers religion (a bit like Jewish children I suppose). I was quite happy being a Roman Catholic and went to Church on Sunday for Mass before breakfast, Religious instruction in the afternoon and confession on Saturday (whether I had anything to confess or not – “bless me Father for I have sinned”). It was the norm for me.

When I reached my teenage years and Pope John XXIII was elected and started to make radical changes in the church I started to have a re-think. (I suppose now I would be likened to a ‘selective’ Catholic) Yes, I do appreciate and acknowledge the teachings of the Church and hope that I am keeping the Christian attitude to my fellow men (as well as suffering from occasional bouts of Catholic guilt). I abhor the attitude of some of the ‘luvvies’ (atheist, homosexual and some of the ex-Catholic Faith) in England who have decided to deride the Pope and our Church. Yes, there have been lots of problems with some priests and, in the past, some of the nuns in their convents, and it is absolutely abhorrent that the events that have been reported/recorded happened. But to get it into perspective you have had the same in ordinary parochial schools, children homes, etc. No, it is not only in the Catholic Church that this has happened. His Holiness has been elected to an elevated position, and I am sure it was not desired by him and now he is there he has to take the brunt of criticism from the rest of the world (non-Catholic). I applaud his stance in his apology and his also letting the United Kingdom know that their stance towards multi-culturism and the dumbing down of Christianity is wrong… I like to wear my crucifix, as many other do, and proclaim my faith without fear of being ridiculed. Catholics had bad enough press five hundred years ago, so why now? Have I made sense??

My husband and I married in a Catholic Church but my husband did not convert and, incidentally, I did not declare that I would obey, it – was - not – obligatory - then!

Our children are all baptised, but in the Church of England, an easy option I think. I did not pressure them into going to Church, R.C., C of E or otherwise. I thought it would better if it was up to them if they wanted to follow any religion.

Therefore: -

Eldest daughter: - ‘Religion? I am a scientist!’

Middle daughter: - ‘Wiccan’,

Youngest daughter: ‘???? Just live life’

But they are all happy and well adjusted. Ergo; Mum is happy as they are happy in themselves.

And I am still having problem posting on my blog…………………..

I am sure it is to do with the Spruce – IT HAS TO GO!!!!! And after it has gone I will get France Telecom to check the phone line and see it it is ok. Maybe it is a problem with their line……. We will see!! And no..... it is not a religious issue!!!!!

Above picture, taken by me, is a heavenly storm brewing one evening in the West.... perfect for this post!!!

Friday, 10 September 2010

School

I see that Mr Michael Gove, Minister for Education, has decided it was time to re-introduce Technical Schools. RAB Butler introduced the Education Act in 1944 and, I believe was instrumental in creating a three tier system of education. Secondary, Technical and Grammar Schools. I remember reading about and listening to Mr Butler on the BBC home service and then later seeing him on the Television - in black and white I hasten to add.

I was educated first in a small crowded Infant School housed in beautiful Victorian buildings. I then progressed to a Girls Primary School. This again was housed in a grand house with stunning staircases, beautiful tiled floors, highly polished wood, high windows and set in beautiful walled grounds. I remember an absolutely stunning Monkey Puzzle tree that seemed to touch the sky. There was also a sunken garden where the school put on a summer production of Alice in Wonderland... Super memories of a lovely school with lovely teachers and a very scary Headmistress. I did not pass 11+ exam. I couldn't cope with looking at an exam paper - everything I had learnt just went. This school has since been demolished and exclusive 'executive' housing has been built behind the walls... I was horrified when I saw what they had done!!!

Next school was a 'Secondary Modern School for Girls'. Brand spanking new!! I settled in and plodded on along with my classmates. Had brilliant English, Geography, Science, Domestic Science and French teachers but my Maths teacher was a dragon. I scraped through with my 13+ exam and eventually went to a Technical School. I bet you wondered where all this reminiscing was going!

I had to travel by train to school, along with other children going to the same town that boasted Grammar Schools, Technical Schools and also some 'dead posh' Private Schools. We were a mixed bunch on the train with children from 11 years old up to 18 years old, boys and girls, I am sure a few romances were underway. The train would stop midway and pick up another large group of children, by then the train was almost bursting at the seams, standing room only!

I had three years at the Technical School (Girls only!) and there I learnt Pitmans shorthand, how to type, using a very large manual Imperial typewriter, and also all about 'Commerce', I suppose now it would all be classed as Business Studies. I enjoyed my time there and now a great-niece of mine attends the same school and absolutely loves it too. The school has also gained a good reputation for languages, I remember our French teacher with fondness. If I had stayed at the Secondary School I would have probably become a shop assistant or a hairdresser - not really my cup of tea at all.

Yes, academia for some children, they need it and shouldn't be held back. Practical education for other children, again lots of them need it and if Mr Gove has his way then there will be lots of lads learning lifetime skills which have been lacking in the education system for around a generation. And of course, just education for those that who will never be top of the class or have no aptitude for practical things, but go through life in the background keeping things ticking over. Let's hope that Mr Gove's proposals work..

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Insurers and Sorting !!!!

We suffered roof damage to our barns and also lost a wall during the storm of the 27/28th February 2010. We had the repairs completed by our builder and submitted the 'facture' to our insurers. At last it is done and we can sit back and relax a bit. No.....no way!! We received a cheque from our insurers in final settlement of the 'facture'. "WHAT the EFFF!" was my man's response when he opened the letter from our insurer, they had decided to pay just 25% of the total cost of repairs..... Hmm...

They had already refused to pay for severe damage to a 'hangar' some 7 years ago that lost its roof during a very bizarre day of high winds, hail, rain, sunshine etc. repeating itself. Apparently that day, according to the Meteo, the wind in our village did not exceed 50km per hour. In the village no, we are on the edge of the village and on a hill!! At that time we were not savvy about damage/mayors/insurers out here. We found out later, much later, that if we had had a letter from our Mayor to send to our insurers giving details about the bizarre weather we would have been OK. As you can well imagine we were well p'd off with the insurers and took the hangar off the policy.

Since we have gained more knowledge about things out here we decided to take the bull by the horns and went into town to see our lovely lady insurance agent (who does not speak a word of English). We explained the situation. She looked at the cheque, looked at our dossier, looked at my copies of paperwork from the quantity surveyor, who had been looking at lots of damaged/destroyed properties in our neck of the woods for the 5 months prior to seeing ours, looked at the paperwork and the cheque again. OK!! She will contact the quantity surveyor and get copies of his report and then contact the insurers. "Look after the cheque you have received and I will either telephone or send you a letter" she said... We wait with baited breath - as does our builder...

I have over the last couple of weeks been doing a 'daily sort out'.. Sorting the 'stuff' that has been accumulated over the past few years. I didn't realise that there was so much 'stuff' and the awful thing is that it is 'stuff' that I have accumulated. His 'stuff' is in the Barn. When the time comes it will be up to Him to sort out his 'stuff' - I dread to think what I might find! It seems to me that the larger the space to store 'stuff' then the more 'stuff' is acquired. It seems to breed!!!!

I used to have a small cupboard, and a drawer, in the UK where the 'stuff' was stowed, so when it came to relocating to La Belle France it was easy to 'sort out'. Pas de probleme!! His 'stuff' in a 9' x 12' shed in the garden was not properly 'sorted' and for weeks/months/years afterwards He groaned and griped about what was left behind. Pas ma probleme!!

I didn't realise we had so many books; romances, thrillers, sci-fi, fantasy etc. as well as historical, cookery, DIY, reference, language and just easy reading. The books are now sorted into those that I would love to read again, those that He would love to read again, those that we definitely need to keep and those that must to go. They have then been sub-sorted into author/title and then into different bookcases in different parts of the house. It seems to be OK, at the moment.

"I should have been a librarian!" she shouts!!!

I have always liked to keep my hands occupied, it could be knitting, crochet, embroidery, tapestry, drawing, painting etc.. so I have a stack of 'crafty' things lurking about the place. Many of the 'crafts' that I had started were stowed away when daughter and granddaughter arrived (2006). I know from past experience what small girls can get up to when you are not looking and I did not want things unpicked, unraveled etc.

I have now found what I had started. At the moment I am finishing/completing a crochet tablecloth. It is a glorious design that I found out here in a publication in 1990. I only have to do one other motif and it will be finished. When that is done I will try to finish the cross-stitch picture that I started 4 years ago for our eldest daughter and then maybe try to finish the embroidery that my mother gave me to finish and I also have a tapestry cushion cover and a Mabel Lucy Atwell cross-stitch, the list goes on.... I also want to start knitting again - I see such awful garments out here and would rather make my own. I can sew so that will also be on the agenda - maybe next year.. After all, I do have plenty of time now.

At our local Social Centre they have 'Ateliers Adultes' - I will go to the Vendredi - cafe, tricot, broderie, crochet... and improve my French as well as complete some of my projects. I am really looking forward to it!! Will also (if He can stand it) go to the Franglais session on a Weds evening.

It is just us two now. We do not have to worry about family here or clients... We can do what we want, when we want!!







Friday, 27 August 2010

Friends, Curry and Darts, Hindi

There I was typing away, on the 'big' computer and my text was coming up in Hindi.... What on earth????

I seem to have acquired an extra button in the blog toolbar on the 'big' computer, but not on this one, my laptop. A language icon has appeared to the right of 'remove formatting from selection' button and it only gave Asian languages and as I was typing it picked up Hindi.... Lord knows how this icon appeared but it did. I must admit it first gave me a 'turn' then a laugh..

Now - my blog must be done only on the laptop.... remember...

Last night we had a curry night. Curry and Darts night. A glorious night.

We have some friends that arrived in La Belle France the same year as we did. They bought a delightful holiday home and have been spending the last 9 years updating and improving, twice a year, spring and autumn. We met them in 2001 in Mr Brico. We were newbies out here as well. I heard this ladies voice from down the sanitary aisle asking 'how do you say plumber in French?' and a male voice reply 'I don't know!'. My man and I looked at each other and decided it was time to intervene (although, I must stress, we don't always do that!). I made my way to the lady in distress and said to her 'plombier!' Well, we got on like house on fire, chatting away in the aisle about English DIY in France. Meanwhile her husband and mine had got together. Her man said to mine 'Blimey, I didn't realise my wife's French was that good!' after seeing her and me chatting away. My man's response? 'That's my wife she's talking to.'

And there began a good and lasting friendship starting in Mr Brico.

They came and saw our pile before any works had been started and we saw theirs in the same sort of state.

It is strange how friendships develop. We have a good relationship with them, we are not in each others pockets but are close. We have shared stories about our daughters (they have two) and grandchildren, as well as mutual ups and downs over the past few years. It is an absolute delight to see them - there is a good and healthy continuity in our relationship.

And so for two days I was preparing for a curry night. One guest vegetarian, one coeliac (Gluten Free) and one 'mild curries only please'. It was an absolute doddle. Sag Aloo, Rajma Dahl, Uble Chaval, Korma Murgh, Rasedar Sabzi. (Spinach & Potatoes, Red Kidney Bean with Ginger & Chilli, Plain Basmati Rice, Chicken Korma, and Mixed Vegetable Curry). Followed by my special Fruit salad (laced with alcohol!)

The evening went like a dream, our guests had a lot in common - all of them being involved in the scouting movement, and four of them from the same area in the UK! The darts matches ended up a draw... Everyone Happy!! The meal went down a treat and not a scrap was left.... Result!!

I don't do this sort of entertaining that often but sometimes I feel the need - I am sure that most women know what I mean.....

Next special meal - I will be trying oriental, courtesy of a couple of lovely Chinese/Australian girls I know.... Just watch this space...









Monday, 23 August 2010

Children and Trouspinette


We have had our middle daughter and her eldest son to stay with us.

Middle daughter is going through a bad patch at the moment and needed a well earned break.

Her son, our 1st grandchild, is in the pre-teen stage. He is a lovely boy, very bright and is into Greek, Roman and Egyptian history/mythology. Good with computers and also very keep on Astronomy. But, whilst here his favourite phrase was "I'm boooored." He was forbidden to go on the computer as the weather was absolutely superb so we arranged many trips out for him, and his mum. My hubby could just about keep up with all that was going on.

There is a 'Forest of Adventure' fairly close to us. You are harnessed and can make your way through the tree tops on fine rope ladders and also slide down ropes etc... The boy loved it, his mum avoided it at all costs and Granddad did half the course... I didn't go to that one. They also did a visit to the local Ostrich Farm where they have also created a maze out of maize!

We also did Puy du Fou - still my favourite - it is a long time since they had been there and they absolutely loved it. At last they boy forgot his boredom. We also managed to fit time for the beach and also a day with some friends... I know that our daughter went home feeling chilled out and relaxed and that our Grandson had a good time with us. He hopes that he can now come out to stay on his own in the future and stay all summer. He is learning French at school but says he is only learning 'words' at the moment. Hmm - I wonder. We now Skype each other all the time... Love it!!

We also celebrated our friends 75th birthday. He is amazing for his age. His family were there, of course, as well as many of his friends. We had a lovely evening in a beautiful setting by the river that runs past their mill.

The new owner of our local restaurant has been to visit for afternoon tea and we had a wonderful 'getting to know each other' chat. She is an absolute treasure and we got on very well. She is a devotee of 'Ginger Nut' biscuits which she loves to dunk! She also partook of some of my 'Coing' Aperitif. She called it Trouspinette. This sent me on a websearch. It seems that originally Trouspinette was a Vendeen aperitif 'fait a la maison'. The recipe, it seems, could include any fruit or nut, so the delicious stuff that we have been making under various names is all Trouspinette.


Sunday, 15 August 2010

Spelling

At school I was not only encouraged to spell correctly but to also apply a proper grammatical construction to my sentences. This I did, reluctantly, but my teachers persisted until I got it right.

When I left school I became a secretary. I needed to pull on the knowledge that I had gained from my English teachers especially when my boss dictated a letter and then asked me to “Pad it out a bit.”. I thank them wholeheartedly.

Not long before having my first child I worked for a publisher, typesetting with a Olympia Golf-Ball typewriter, and also proof-reading, which I do automatically nowadays. It has become a most annoying habit as I find errors in newspapers, magazines and books and feel that whoever proofs should be moved to another department!

Why am I writing about spelling and grammar? Simply because I see so many absolutely appalling mistakes written by my countrymen and women on various forums etc. (or is it ‘ect’ as so often used?) Am I wrong with my spellings?

There are so many examples, I recently saw someone advertising an antique chesterdrawers for sale ‘hmmm’ what can that be?

I have seen the word definitely often spelled with an ‘a’ for the second ‘i’ – could it be to do with regional accents? No, I don’t think so, another word I spotted today was religion spelt with an ‘e’ for the second ‘i’ in a response to an article in a national daily newspaper.

I know that there is ‘text’ speak which is being used a lot nowadays – a modern shorthand that is not a lot different to a system used many years ago.

And so it goes on. I encouraged my own children to pay attention to their written work at school and I hope that they are doing the same for their children.

Oh yes, there is always spell-check on the computer but it is usually ‘American’ English spell-check so I have to add words for the correct ‘English’ English spelling. I wonder if the children in English schools who do their homework on computers submit their work to their teachers with ‘American’ English spellings and whether their teachers correct the work to ‘English’ English. Food for thought methinks.

I remember a company I worked for had an employee with the surname of Murray – spell-check always changed him to Murky!!

Acer and Internet


We have a Maple in the garden, sorry, not just one but three Maples. I do not know the names of them, just that they are Acer ‘something’. Two are absolutely stunning with dark red leaves. At the moment they are housing the families of Wood Pigeons – I don’t really have a problem with that at all but they do leave some ‘cr*p’ on the car…..

The other Maple has pale green leaves (see picture), not exactly Maple shaped, but we have been told by a superb French tree surgeon out here that it is an 'Acer’.

I think that this particular ‘Acer’ is causing me some problems….

I remember reading some time ago that anyone out here in ‘La Belle France’ has a responsibility to maintain trees that could interfere with either overhead Electrical or Telephone lines. The maintenance being keeping the branches and foliage clear of the cables….

Well, this particular tree has not been ‘maintained’ for around 3 years and as you can imagine the branches are very well developed. I did suggest to my ‘other half’ the beginning of this year that maybe the branches should be cut back… What was the response? “No, it is OK for now!”. (Also, looking at the tree it had been severely cut back prior to our purchase of the property so that tells a tale!!!!)

And so the branches have grown and are well populated with leaves, sparrows etc… I do not mind the leaves or the birds but I do mind the fact that the telephone line runs through the tree and we keep getting problems with the internet…. Lots of problems with the internet!

My theory is that if there is slight movement (via the wind maybe) it will interrupt the signal we are getting (bearing in mind we are the end of the line!) and knock out the internet (briefly) through the modem in spite of the fact that the modem’s lights are all on. Once the signal is 'upset' then we lose internet connection. And I do not want to get France Telecom involved in this!!!!

I am having the devils own job of getting an 'instant' connection at the moment. I have to constantly ‘refresh’ to get a page up – and this is on not only Google Chrome but also Internet Explorer and through Mozilla Firefox… And it is happening on not only the main computer but also the laptop and my iPod.

I am not an unintelligent woman, I do read up on things and keep up to date and don’t like it when ‘he’ sighs and looks at me with the though of “what the ‘f’ does she know, she is a woman after all!” And no, he does not think it is anything to do with the tree……

He has agreed to lop some of the branches from the tree… fingers crossed!!

And I am amazed that I am able to post this................

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Mid July 2010


An eventful week, well for me it was!

Brilliant visitors last weekend, that is what it makes it all worth while. I am glad that I have done what I have, it has broadened my horizons so very much. Would love to continue with this but changes must be made.

Saw a young stag in the lane, absolutely incredible. He had two tines on his antlers so he was still a young beast, and drat, I did not have my camera with me. Also saw a mum partridge with ten youngsters in tow. My man saw two mum partridges last week with twenty babies... It is superb to know that in spite of problems that are happening in the UK that the wildlife is thriving out here - in spite of Chasseurs!!! Our department are making all sorts of laws protecting the flora as well as the fauna here... heavy fines if you do not comply!!

Thursday we made a visit to some friends that we have not seen for a few weeks, had a lovely lunch and caught up with so many things. He celebrates his 75th birthday next month and I look at him and think he does no way look his age. Maybe it is because he is a Buddhist and has a very laid back attitude to life. We are really looking forward to his birthday party!!

Friday we had a Ladies Lunch. One that I had organised, first time for me I must add. One of our local village restaurants has new owners. Previous owners had been there for 30 years and were desperate to sell up and retire! Under their ownership he was the chef and created superb meals, traditional for the area, such as anguilles et ortie (eels with nettles) etc. But after all that time things were getting a bit 'tired', especially the decor.

The new owners have re-decorated and introduced an incredible menu. They have an English chef for lunch menu and he is an absolute darling! We had been in for lunch one day and had a long chat with the Patron and Madame. She is very much the Anglophile and said that yes she would love to have the Ladies for lunch one Friday. She also has plans for an English evening with, maybe, Roast Beef & Yorkshire puddings or Fish and Chips... and an English musician (of which there are many!)

And so the 'Lunch of the Month' was organised. At first it seemed that there would only be around 6 of us, then the numbers increased and by Thursday it was up to eighteen! I was absolutely delighted that so many girls would attend. All arrived but one dropped out, 17 though was not too bad! Madame created a menu to suit not only fish lovers but meat eaters as well, and she threw in an extra cheese course!

All the ladies were very impressed with the ambiance and meal. For me success!! My local restaurant is now on the list of preferred places to eat... The Patron and Madame are delighted that they have been introduced to other diners from further afield.

We were invited to a Barbecue to celebrate the retirement of a French friend. He is a chasseur that has hunted in our locality for many, many years. We have known him and his wife since we moved here in 2001. We have never, ever, done a French version Barbecue before.... hmmm how do they do it? They have been to many of ours....

Comments were made about my bruising! We did say that my Man did not 'clock me' and that it was due to a fall... Whether we were believed or not I don't know - they saw the bruises on my forearm and shoulder as well as my face (they have almost faded). I did say that if he had then he would have had a knife in the chest, hmmm they laughed not sure if I meant it!

(I must admit though that I still get a lot of neurological pain from my cheek - I think it will persist for some time as the cheek bone is bruised as well as the flesh!)

We left with our neighbour and proceeded to another friends for aperitifs.. 1st drink of the night! We sat and chatted, as best we could, they do not make allowances for us being English! We then left in convoy to the Barbecue site. The chasseur has a lake and land a few kilometres from us. It was a stunning area with has a vegetable patch, poultry and geese, fruit trees, a mobile home and ancient BBQ overlooking his lake with fish for catching and eating!!

There were more Aperitifs (fait a la maison) with nibbles, followed by many salads then a course of barbecued meat and beans (from the potager) and then dessert. There were also discussions about the Asian Hornets, various masculine 'things' which were an embarrassment to some ladies, politics, food, holidays etc..... My head was hurting from too much French!!! But it was a brilliant evening. Himself, though, did not cope too well. He began to flag quite early and we left before he passed out!!!! (Not through alcohol - he just was not too good!)

And so, my last week has been good for me at least....

Next week builder arrives to start doing the repairs to the storm damages from February storm, what fun!!

Photo is taken at the top of the lane.... Sunflowers again this year - stunning!

Friday, 16 July 2010

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Bruises



I fell out of bed last Sunday night! Oooh er, silly thing to do.

Some ex-work colleagues stopped by on their way further south. We last saw them around 8 years ago in the UK, such a long time, so we had plenty of news to catch up on. They arrived late afternoon and we had planned a barbecue, eating out of doors in the summer is so much nicer than being indoors - not only that but himself does the cooking!

We wined, chatted, wined then dined and chatted more and then, I think wined some more..... Bad move!

I think we were all a bit 'squiffy' by bedtime, I know I was. I had cut right back on alcohol and this 'party' went straight to my head.

I think I must have been wanting to get out of bed and pushed myself up with my left hand. Trouble is the hand was on the edge of the mattress and down I went... I have a beautiful bruise on my forearm, another on my shoulder and a stunning one on the side of my face. What a mess!

My doctor suggested I have an x-ray to check that my cheekbone wasn't fractured. Fortunately it is OK....

Because I was feeling so rough we missed the celebrations for the Fete Nationale in our local town but heard them here, miles away, the fireworks are usually absolutely spectacular.

So 5 days later here I am sporting a multicoloured cheek, shoulder and forearm. Should last for another couple of weeks, and I am definitely going to be more careful in the future with what I am drinking.

I have eventually taken some pics of the boy with his new haircut, but would he pose for me, no, not until today!


Thursday, 15 July 2010

10th July 2010




No modem, again!!

The dog had his first appointment at the Boite a Toutou – his first professional shampoo and haircut. What a difference it has made! He is Top Hat and Bow Tie and now looks absolutely fantastic, but also smaller and totally different. Beatrice has cut his coat short, about 3/4 inch in length. She has trimmed the hair on his ears, beard and muzzle to the same length. His eyebrows are now neat and tidy, so facially, he looks a bit like a trimmed 'terrier'. She has also trimmed his tail so it looks really neat. Such a difference!!

The weather has been far too hot at the moment and he was suffering with the heat, not only that but picking up all sorts of nasty things in his coat. I would spend hours combing him out and then having to do it all again after he had been out of doors. We took a visit to Toutou yesterday (9th) and had a little chat with the owner. She was absolutely lovely and booked the boy in for this morning (8.00 am – early for my man!). She was absolutely delighted with him and he was as good as gold. When he was collected Mme was working on another pooch and our boy was just resting on the floor waiting for his Papa.

Another canine milestone, it is amazing how good he is. He loves people, young and old and is very social with other canine species. We cannot believe how lucky we have been.

The weather is still very warm but on Thursday 8th we had the most horrendous storm arrive in the evening. It started, I suppose, around 6.30 pm. The clouds had started to gather and there were a lot of rumbles going on in the sky. That was the day that I was looking forward to as there would be an opportunity to see the International Space Station overhead later on. I was a bit put out by the pending storm to say the least.

I decided to unplug the modem – just in case! And sat, and read, and waited – the night arrived along with lots of clouds and more thunder and lots of lightning. I kept taking a peek outside and around 10.30 spied a gap in the clouds with stars. Hmmm maybe I would be lucky!

The thunder and lightning continued and I kept a check on the sky. Just after 11.00 pm the ISS passed overhead heading in the direction of WNW to ESE…. Absolutely perfect. The window in the clouds stayed open long enough for me to witness this wonderful thing.

We went to bed not long after and the storm continued throughout the night. I think it eventually blew itself out around 6.30 am…. It was the most ghastly of nights, there was a couple of times I thought that we would be shaken out of our bed. The power was knocked out briefly at 2.00 am when the storm was overhead. The noise was horrendous…

Friday morning woke nice and clear but the air was still very heavy. There was no damage done, well at least not in our neck of the woods.

Plugged the modem in, went online during the day. No problems at all. Then in the evening a little – just a couple of drops – of liquid was spilt on it….. Drat!!!! No modem again…. Don’t know what my internet providers will say about it.. Oh well will see.

Did another trip to Puy du Fou on Thursday. Brilliant as usual. The shows that we have been to see before have been updated to include other things, absolutely fabulous. I still find it an absolutely amazing place to visit.




Monday, 5 July 2010

Ennui

Ennui: listlessness and dissatisfaction resulting from lack of interest or boredom.

That is my situation at the moment.

Life is not, or does not seem to be, offering what I need. In fact, I don't really know what I need at this time.

I occasionally get these moments in time and am going thought one of these moments right now!

I do not know what the trigger is or was.

Is it to do with 'biorhythms', weather (hot & muggy), hormones (are mine still ticking?) or just being here? Not too much analysing please, it can only confuse. But I do really feel 'out of sorts' as they say.

I found a haematite bracelet that I have had for many years and thought that I would wear it today. I put it on my right wrist - it felt too heavy to wear so I changed it to the left and it is sitting comfortably without any effort. I have some other crystal bracelets that need repair - will do so and then see if they will help my well-being.

It is no use me trying to explain to himself. He hasn't a clue about these things at all. Is he the cause of my 'ennui'?

I will get over this, have done before and will do in the future..

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Vegetables versus Weeds

Rose fairly early this morning, had breakfast and then went and did a bit of weeding and hoeing before it got too warm. Just did a little bit around the Aubergines, French Beans and Sweetcorn (love corn on the cob - just cannot buy it reasonable out here). Will do the same tomorrow and gradually work my way down the garden.

Whilst weeding I found, what I think is, Purslane growing in the garden. Having a read up in my Encyclopaedia of Herbs and Herb Growing, I know it is full of vitamin C and has been used for centuries either cooked or in salads. I just need to confirm that it is the said plant! There is an English lady out here who has a cookery Blog and I thought that maybe she could help with this plant late last year. She hadn't a clue! Oh well.. never mind! My man went to the pharmacy this morning to renew his prescription and I suggested that he took a sample of the plant with him just to check that it is comestible - he forgot! I will have a word with my 'wise' neighbour, who found the most wonderful bolets growing around my spruce last autumn, and see if he knows.... failing that back to the pharmacy. Out here it is not what you know but who! We have lots of Fat Hen growing and there is also a plant that a Greek born friend said that his mum would harvest and cook like spinach. I don't know the name of that one at all. What I am thinking is just let the weeds take over and we eat them instead of growing veg. I will avoid the deadly nightshade though!

I have found a website devoted to all things naturalistic in France (www.planetepassion.eu). I love wild flowers (weeds included), birds and wild animals. I suppose it is to do with the way I was brought up. They (planetepassion) have a posting showing how to grow potatoes successfully above ground. You put your seed potatoes on the ground and cover them with straw... simple. Obviously the last sentence is a potted version but it seems as though it works well. Maybe I can get himself to try it next year. If the hay used will keep the weeds down then all to the good!!

If I see a butterfly or bug that I do not know then I try to find out what it is, when I was a child my Dad answered the questions. When our daughters were young and they asked a questions that I did not know the answer to I researched it so that I had an answer for them. I acquired a library full of reference books in order to help them! (Thank you Readers Digest!). The books are now distributed between our children so that they can pass on the 'knowledge'. A few years ago we had a nocturnal visitor into our house. My husband thought that it was a bat as it was flapping around in a blind panic, but it was a moth with a 5 inch wingspan, absolutely beautiful and amazing. I did an internet search and found a website via Google France and sent them a (poor) photo of the moth. The website was www.leps.it an italian website devoted to butterflies and moths. Absolutely amazing, they identified the moth as a Giant Peacock Moth (female) and wished me well in La Belle France.

So I think I will use planetepassion just to satisfy my curiosity with anything natural in La Belle France along with these other wonderful websites that I have found, and of course, my neighbour!

At the moment it is 'Soldes' in France, nearly everyone I know is off to find a bargain, me NO! I don't think that there is anything that I need. I have the furniture, linen and clothes that we need. What I would like to find though is the elusive woven, and cool, cotton clothes for the summer. Do you think I can find them reasonably priced? No!! There are plenty of knitted (jersey) cotton garments about but very few woven cotton. My body needs to breath! So I will need to find patterns (if they are suitable) and then the fabric to make the said clothes. Grrr I don't mind sewing at all, although it is a long time since I have done so. I think the last actual clothes that I made were for pre-teen daughters and that was a long time ago!! I just cannot imagine my dear man trying to pin hems for me!!

We have our middle daughter and her son, our first grandson - now 12 yrs old, coming to visit at the end of the month. We are really looking forward to seeing them. Our daughter has been going through a rough time over the last couple of years and for her this will be a well earned break. Our grandson has also been through this trying time as well and, we feel, is growing up too quickly due to familial circumstances. Plans are being made for trips to various places and other delights for them and for our grandson to enjoy his childhood a little longer. It will be so very good for us all.

Have updated my profile picture. Again it is of Clematis Jackmanii - again beautiful this year and we have more and more bloom. The picture has not been digitally enhanced in any way, the sky was that colour that morning... Absolutely superb, I love it!