Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Forthcoming elections

I have just watched the channel 4 news, and saw Mr A. Blair giving a speech (or part of) in Trimdon, County Durham. I know County Durham, my mother in law was born and bred in County Durham and I have visited there on many an occasion, and on my visits I did not see a foreign face. (But I love Durham Cathedral - I am sure that St Cuthbert is turning in his grave!)

One of the region's most colourful legends involves the Hartlepool monkey. During the Napoleonic wars around 1805, a French boat was shipwrecked on the beach. The only survivor - a monkey - was presumed to be a French spy, questioned, and hung by the fishermen. This makes me wonder, of course....

Mr Blair is, or was? MP for Sedgefield, County Durham, and thinking about it... there are not many coloured people in that neck of the woods or not many Eastern Europeans. Unless of course someone knows more than me! Could they tell a monkey from a (suspect) politician?

In the S.E of the UK there are gangs of children (mainly black or asian or muslim) killing other children (mainly black or asian or muslim) - with knives.

South of The Wash there are Eastern Europeans possessing other people homes, moving in and changing locks and keeping owners out. There are Eastern Europeans taking Swans, Ducks, Carp etc. from Rivers and Lakes....The list is endless.... Is it happening in the North of the UK and Scotland.. I wish I knew, I do not hear!

That is my thoughts on the UK at the moment.

Monday, 29 March 2010

New Modem

The new modem arrived this morning, I hope that it will last a very long time. I can't be doing with the hassle of sending broken ones and receiving new ones. Time consuming and frustrating.

All is well on the home front. We are starting to get things organised in the house. Himself is becoming a bit more pro-active and realises that if we are going to get interest in this pile then it must look appealing to all comers. There are just the 'little' bits that need doing, nothing major and we need to get some paint for the walls. I am happy with a paint roller, brilliant exercise, good for the back, shoulders and arms (I think and hope!). Got some stuff to put round the arched doorway to the kitchen as well as the kitchen walls, have prepared today and will start tomorrow (peut etre).

Have done odds and ends in the garden, weather permitting. We are getting little annoying showers, turning up when least expected and making us retreat to shelter.

Jensen is being better behaved at the moment, hope it lasts.

Have noticed the seasonal arrival of various birds. There is a Hoopoe lurking about near the barns, we have both seen it with its distinctive colour and flight. The Black tailed Redstarts have arrived this last week - no sign of the swallows or the Golden Oriole yet. They are a little late. We have had a Great White Egret around all winter which is a little unusual as they are normally in the southern parts of France. (I wonder where it sheltered during the cold.) Also spotted down the river, and in one of the ponds in the lane, a Little Grebe, I couldn't believe it at first. I have the most comprehensive book on European birds, a brilliant buy which is well used out here!

My love of all nature stems from my Father. He had a wonderful patient way of explaining things and enjoyed passing on his knowledge. I think that, as a boy, he would escape from his home (and his stepfather) and discover the world for himself. He would show how to grow plants, how to take cuttings and even showed me how to make a graft between host plant and new cutting (on an apple tree). I used to follow him about as a young child just listening to him and watching closely. There is a lot though that I have probably forgotten and I sometimes wish he was still around for more advice. He used to work at a sand and gravel quarry when I was small. It was also a magnet for all wildfowl and eventually became a wildfowl reserve. We would go there on weekends for picnics in the summer and count the different varieties of ducks and geese and try to spot other birds... Halcyon days!!

Exploding Modems

26/3/2010. And so today I am writing my blog in Microsoft word as my modem blew up! (I have a friend who knows exactly how I feel as hers sometimes do the same as well!) We have had some very high winds over the last 4 or 5 days… the weather has been coming up from the Atlantic with rain and storms. It has been appalling, but the cloud structures have been absolutely amazing!

Well, this morning everything was fine until around 12.15 when there was the most almighty clap of thunder and flash of lightning. Our power went out. Jeff went through to check the fuse board and re-set it. It was after the re-setting that we realised that smoke was coming from the modem (which arrived with us just 2 weeks ago after the last one failed!). I phoned our interned provider and let them know that it had been blown up. The guy at the other end of the line had quite a chuckle when I explained what had happened, and so I am now waiting for a new modem.

When I think that 15 years ago I would not have had such problems… This will be posted once the new modem has arrived and been installed!!

Oh the joys of living in the countryside.

But this week has not been good.

Jensen had the opportunity to catch one of our hens. A lovely Copper Maran. A really lovely hen that was just coming into lay after such a cold spell. This particular hen had a habit of getting out of the chicken run. On more than one occasion Jensen had caught her but then we had caught him and put her back safely. This time we didn’t. So we are down to 11 hens instead of 12.

Then yesterday he caught Peu Peu, our dear little bantam. He had caught her before and we had intervened before any damage was done. Not yesterday though.

Both the Maran and Peu Peu died of shock! We, as you can imagine, are not at all happy with Jensen. Jeff went absolutely ‘ape’. Jensen has been chastised but whether it will make any difference or not, I do not know. It seems to be in his nature to chase, catch and play. Yesterday morning Jeff was walking Jensen and they came across a ‘buck’ hare. Fortunately the dog was on a lead, if he had been loose he would have chased the hare for miles (and the hunting season has ended).

On a better note: Last weekend our granddaughter Charlotte was in a Judo competition. Bless her, she won a Bronze medal and certificate of distinction. She has, apparently, learned some moves out here in France that are not know in the UK. If she plays her cards (and moves) right, she may be in the 2016 or 2020 Olympic Games if she continues the way she is.

And tonight the wind continues to howl down the chimney. I find it very disturbing, it unsettles me. A friend (of a scientific background) told me that ballerinas cannot stand on their points when it is windy, the air pressure is upset – even in buildings. I can well understand that!!

I have been trying to get things organised in the garden. I have three large Phormium and they were severely affected by the prolonged cold weather. These wonderful plants were originally one small version! Boy, have they taken out here! The plants are absolutely enormous. I have cut them back and pulled out all the dead leaves. They really need splitting and re-planting. Whether I get round to doing it or not is another matter. I found a website which explains how to use Phormiums, from making mats to using the seeds (dried) for a drink!! But no, I am not a Maori and do not have the necessary equipment to do the aforesaid..

I just need to get the garden looking good, it is the first thing that any visitor sees and makes an initial impression. The house, interior, is fine, I just need to get the outside sorted. I seem to have lost a lovely clematis. This particular one is related to clematis Montana – it has white blooms (in April) and is evergreen. This last winter it lost all its ‘life’. I think it has suffered over the cold spell. Looks like I might have to replace it. I have some lovely little delicate wild white violets showing their faces in the lawn. I do not want to use ‘weed and feed’ as it will kill them. There are also some crocuses poking their heads through. I do so love to see the beginning of a new year growing and showing their faces…

In the lane there are Celandines and Primroses. The Early Purple Orchids are showing their speckled leaves. There are also so many other delicate little wild flowers coming to life. I had a guest a few years ago that was into botany. She came in April and was absolutely amazed to see the variety of wild flowers in our lane. It re-kindled her interest. I do so hope that it lasted.

I love this time of year – BUT I HATE THE WIND!!!

Thursday, 18 March 2010


I have acquired an ipod touch.... a wonderful gadget on which I can store all my beloved music and also check emails etc.... It would have been wonderful all those years ago when I was learning the art of communication at school whilst during a course on shorthand and typing so that I could become the most efficient secretary ever... I do love this modern technology it suits my demeanour!! Just imagine, learning to touch a screen (minute to boot!) and create words to send to the rest of the world, instead I learnt how to touch type on a 'sit up and beg' Imperial manual typewriter. I developed muscles on my fingers and discovered how far my little fingers could stretch so that I could type a letter!! There was no 'spell check' and carbon copies were 'carbon copies' Tippex was forbidden and, if an error was made, we had to use an eraser (carefully I might add)to make your correction. I learnt to type, in rhythm with the rest of the class, to the 'William Tell Overture' Dum de dum, dum de dum, dum de dum dum dum, etc.... I cannot now listen to this lovely music without my fingers going into overdrive and wanting to type out 'now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party' or 'the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog'

And so I am getting to grips with my ipod touch. My son-in-law set it up for me last month and in doing so he downloaded from this computer some photographs. Amongst these photos are a lot of another son-in-law and his fishing photos. I do not want lots of photos of fish it is not me at all. So I have tried to get these photos off my ipod and I cannot for the life of me find out how to remove them. I have looked through the manual and I cannot find out how... So I have contacted s-i-l no.1 and he is looking into it for me. If he cannot find out how then I will be contacting Apple to see how to do it. Watch this space!!

Today a gentleman from a local electrical supplier came out and fitted a new satellite dish. Ours went awol on the night of the 28th Feb and was found in various pieces in our little hamlet. I have not missed the television, there are plenty of other things to occupy my mind. So we are now connected to the UK again and all the purile programmes that are pumped out. Mind you, he also fixed the faulty cable from the tv antenna so, if necessary, we can always watch some decent french tv.. vive la france!!

Weather has been very good, daffs etc. are out and I have even seen a Brimstone butterfly in this last week. Wonderful, I think that the winter is now over and done with. My husband is so much better. He has been clearing felled (by the tempest) trees.

We have acquired an 'electric' collar for training Jensen. He is still continuing to chase and catch poultry and cats as well as chasing moving vehicles. We need to stop him and this is a last resort. So far he is responding (just one shock) and we hope that we will only have to use it another couple of times (fingers crossed).

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Spring or not just yet

The last few days have been absolutely glorious. Early morning there is a fine mist covering the meadow and river and beyond that the world disappears... The nights are generally cloudless which means that there is inevitably a frost in the morning, so beautiful to see but so cold.

We have been clearing the debris left from the storm (xynthia) of the 28th Feb. I am so glad that I was is in the UK and only witnessed the edge of it. Here the damage was not too bad but on the Atlantic coast it was so very bad. The Ile de Re was cut into three parts by the storm!!! There are hundreds of hectares of farmland in the Vendee that cannot be farmed for at least 5 years because of salt intake due to the flooding.... Oyster and mussel beds have been destroyed. The devastation is unbelievable.. The problems we have suffered here are minimal in comparison.

We are fine, my man has been walking the dog at least once a day and is going further up the lane. He is looking so much better and his demeanour has changed as well. Now this is the man I know and love.... I think we have reached a change for the better.

We are clearing out all the rubbish, not only damage from the storm but also stuff that has been hanging around for some time. After many months in the doldrums my husband is becoming pro-active instead of pro-inactive..... what a difference medication can make!!!! I think also that knowing of what is wrong with himself has made a difference. He knows that he has a specific condition and that his time is not limited but that he has a condition that he has to live with. His mind is relieved!! Does that make sense??

A local estate agent got wind (somehow) that we have put our property on the market. So I got a phone call this morning from their English rep. And so he came to visit... 1st impression I got was that he was a 'negative' person.... ie: "lots of work running a B&B" (only if you want a lot of work!). We shall see how this pans out!!!

I say this is almost spring... not until 20th March according to the calendar!! I have seen a brimstone butterfly and my almond tree blossom is beginning to open (1 nut last year). My daffodils are ready to break their buds and the snowdrops are just finishing (thought that I had lost them). In the lane the celandines and primroses are looking very happy... At least they seem to be unaffected by climate changes and rely solely on the length of the day, or so it seems.

I do so love this place and the changes throughout the year, I will miss it enormously if and when we move.

Friday, 5 March 2010


I am home, yes I had my break from la Belle France and my ailing husband...

Arrived in the UK early evening, son-in-law and daughter shared the driving (I navigated!) We travelled through sunshine, rain and snow before reaching Calais (no illegals in sight I hasten to add!) in good time and caught an earlier ferry to Dover. Arrived at daughters picking up fish and chips en route (yummy!). Sunday was a 'chilling' day. Both youngest and middle daughters turned up with their offspring, so I had the pleasure of all of my 7 grandchildren under one roof for an afternoon. Got a superb picture of Thomas, Alex and Georges together, brilliant!!! Young Terry was still getting over surgery and looked quite poorly. The girls (my daughters) had a furious row (comme d'habitude) which diffused quickly once middle daughter left. Sometimes I do despair.

On Monday went for optician check - the 1st in years I hasten to add - and a quick look around the local town. Oh so different to here in rural France. Lots of young unemployed guys around during the day - wasn't like that 10 years ago. I find that the traffic is horrendous and so much pollution. I do so love the South East of the UK but is has become so, well, busy .

Tuesday I went to see my dear sweet Mother, she will be 89 years old next week. We had a lovely quiet time together. I am trying to get my family history together but when it comes to Mum it is difficult. You may gather from the previous sentence that she was born in 1921, yes it is true but she was born in Ireland and then brought up in a convent. There are records missing and I am having problems finding more about her family.... Am on the case though.

Dear Mum, she is losing her hearing... My older sister takes her to see the audiologist.
He says "hello Mrs W..., I understand you have a problem with your hearing".
Mum replies, "Pardon?",
Consultant says "you have a problem with your hearing!",
Mum says "Pardon?",
Consultant moves his chair closer and looks Mum squarely in the face and says "Mrs. W... you have a hearing problem?".
Mum says " Oh yes, I do!" and then she gives one of her lovely chuckles.....
I can just picture this.

So now Mum is up for hearing aids that will cut the disturbing noises and give her clarity of hearing. It will make it so much better for me when phoning her - I will not have to shout down the phone "Mum, it's me Patsy, Mum are you there?" etc...).

It was so good to see her again, it is just once a year. She is on her own, rambling around in a big house with a big garden to contend with. As she said to me "I am not moving, no way, this is my home, the only proper home I have known." Mum and Dad moved in when I was 2 weeks old on the 14th February 1947.. I moved out on the 14th February 1970, the day I got married......

Did a lovely carvery lunch on Tuesday with Mum, Big Sis, Little Sis and Sister-in-Law. Oh would so like to do it again soon. It snowed as well!!!!

On the Weds I went to stay with a dear friend (of 30+ yrs) who lost her husband last year. It was a super afternoon and evening. We had so much to talk about. She has moved into a superb little house in a local village not too far from my Brother and Sister-in-Law. Went and had lunch with their daughter on the Thurs and Vicki and Kath joined us. It was an absolute delight. I haven't seen Karen for ages, she is an absolute darling and has her own business making unique cards for all occasions www.crumblecards.co.uk

Thurs and Fri stayed with Vicki and then off to Kaths for Sat Sun and Mon. Dear Georges was poorly and cried a lot. I slept on Ians Fishing bed (chronic back ache!).
Met up with some young mums that I have known for some time. Was lovely to see them after such a long time. By Tuesday I was ready to come back.

I had been phoning Jeff daily - he was not abandoned at all. I needed to check on him, just to hear him. If there was any problem I would have changed flights etc just to get back and see if he was OK.

Took Ryanair flight from Stansted to Poitiers. What a lovely trip, weather was clear, a nice companion in the next seat, and it was not a lumpy flight at all. I think I could do it again no probs. I would like to become a seasoned traveller - I could cope with it..

When Kathy dropped me off at the airport she said, "Mum, would you like me to come in with you?" I chuckled "I am sure I can cope". She left me to my own devices... It was so easy.

So I arrived home to a hale and hearty husband.

Jeff went to see the pneumologist on the 1st March. A friend went with him, just to sit in on the consultation in case he missed anything said. Consultant was pleased that the smoking had been stopped and after examination confirmed that he had COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) which I had already looked up and thought was the problem. So now my dear husband and life long partner (43 years!!!!) must now reconsider his lifestyle. It is an 'affectation longe duree', he will never get better and may get 5% or 10% improvement in his lungs. He has been told to walk at least 3k a day. To the top of our lane and back is 2k and he does that twice a day walking the dog so he is on the right track at last. A friend of Vickis is a physiotherapist and she suggests blowing up balloons to improve his lung function. I have also suggested that he goes to the local pool a couple of times a week so he can swim which will also help... I just want him to survive for as long as possible.