Friday, 30 April 2010

Oh dear!

As you may know I have three daughters....

Today my man has been shocked by a photo of our middle girl.

A few years ago she came home sporting her first tattoo and navel piercing. OK it was a young woman thing. A discreet little tattoo on her buttock (a dolphin). Yes it was acceptable. Then came the tattoo on the shoulder, her 'star' sign, again a discreet unobtrusive decoration. Then she had a pentacle placed on her breast. Then her daughters name and then her youngest sons name on her arms. Then all sorts around her navel. She has also had 'dermal anchors' attached to her skin... By the time I had heard the latest I was feeling a bit on the queasy side - well she is, after all, nearly 40 years old - and surely enough is enough! But noooo!

So today on dear old FB there she is with the newest tattoo. It is in the middle of her back between her shoulder blades and must be 6" diameter. It is a ying/yang symbol with her eldest child's name and his date of birth...... Admittedly she did say she was going to have one done with his name..... but!

Her Dad just shook his head. I don't think that he realised just how far she was going with 'decorating' her body.

What next??

Thursday, 29 April 2010


New hinges are fitted....

And this is the result...

An evenly cooked cake....

That tastes so very good....

I am so pleased - no BURNT bits

Monday, 26 April 2010

Newbies and Friends

I took the picture on the right on Friday last, I was taking a walk with my Dear Friend and Jensen. The farmer had brought the cows, calves and the bull down the lane on Wednesday. It is always a pleasure to see the new life and their innate curiosity about the world. Papa bull is a huge lumbering creature that looks fondly at his offspring, as well as their mama's! He seems a gentle soul but - when push comes to shove - he is a bull!! There are other calves even younger than the one in the picture they are kept close to the boss's house on the farm. It wont be long before they will be put to pasture nearer us. I do so love to see them all.

The fruit trees have masses of blossom this year and there has, thankfully, been no sign of a frost. It looks as though we may escape that this year and have a plentiful harvest later on. The birds are busy creating their nests and on our walk Friday I saw where the nightingale was keeping himself hidden. He was teasing us with snatches of his repertoire. I have only seen pictures of them in books and to see him for the 1st time was a pleasure. Yes, they are dull little birds but their song makes up for his lack of physical beauty. The Golden Oriole has arrived and he is just beginning to make tentative calls from his niche by the river. Would love to see him though - patience will out.

My DF arrived late on Wednesday, not too late I hasten to add, she was able to find a flight into la Belle France and then train/coach to our neck of the woods. Poor girl was exhausted after 2 days of travelling. We started to catch up on all news on the Thursday, what a pleasure hearing how things were in her quarter, and lovely to be able to chat! (Men just do not do chat!!) Since her arrival the time has flown, we have done so much! and that is without going anywhere. We did try out our local restaurant Friday night. It is under new ownership. The previous owners, that we became great friends with, retired after 30+ years and moved away. The restaurant now is so very different. Newly decorated and a new menu. Benoit would cook traditional fare, 'ortie et anguille' was one of his specials - he did a fantastic confit de canard and his steak dishes were tender and tasty. The house wine they kept in the cellar was delicious and very drinkable.

The new menu is very 'nouvelle cuisine'. My dear man looked through the menu, looked through again then uttered the cry "They don't do steak and chips!". "Oh dear darling, you will have to choose something else." "Hmm" was the response. After we had eventually placed our order the waitress brought us an 'amuse guele' - a tasty salsa with guacamole served in little glasses - delicious!! Both he and I settled on a 'pinceau de crab' served on an oblong plate with dots of balsamic vinegar and a streak of something green, followed by 'souris d'agneau' with tagliatelle then 'fromage' and 'nougat ice cream' for dessert... Our DF had 'duo de salmon' again on a decorated plate, 'filet de cabilleaud' then 'creme brulee au fleur d'oranger' We chose a lovely crisp and fruity Muscadet and superb Saumur Champigny. Neither wines were too heavy for the food. In all a very attractive and delicious menu with super service. Will go there again - but not too soon. It is one I will definitely recommend - they are not open every evening just Friday and Saturday but they do a lunch menu.

DF took the opportunity to avail herself of my kitchen and cooked a lightly spiced chicken dish for us Saturday evening - it was yummy, will try it myself sometime - must get the recipe - Sunday we had our friends A&L round for Lunch. They brought their collie with them. Jensen and Collie are great mates and the pair of them just played, ate, drank loads of water, rested, and started all over again. They were just fine and there was plenty of room for them. The guys were having a drink at the 'bar' with French friends (all men - no ladies - a Sunday ritual) We girls chatted away as I prepared and cooked our last leg of mutton with roast veg, carrots and broccoli. I also made baked eggs with creamed leeks as a starter - so easy and delicious, and a raspberry brulee for dessert. It turns out that our friends had visited the restaurant Friday lunchtime and they thoroughly recommended the menu served - and at 10.50 euro a head very good value. Also in the course of our conversation heard some gossip about our mayor. No doubt we will hear if it is true or not in due course, but as they say - there's no smoke without fire. Lunch was a lazy affair lasting well into the afternoon. It was a super way to relax, just us grown-ups doing our thing. After A&L left us another couple, R&J, who we only see twice a year, turned up. They have a holiday home out here and come in spring and autumn. Again it was tea and coffee for all. We first met in 2001 and hit it off straight away and I think that because we only see them for a short time each year that it is keeping our friendship fresh. We spent a couple of hours catching up on each others news and will be seeing them again next week (for food - he is an ex-chef!). Am so looking forward to it.

It seems that my blog getting a bit foody... I wonder what a psychologist would make of that!!

I now have new hinges on my oven doors. J fitted them today without too much hassle. The first was the worst as is normal for any such exercise. Tomorrow it will be baking without, I hope, lopsided results. (more foody thoughts!)

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Hot Air

We have got the car back, it still needs some work but at least it is now driveable. So some of the waiting is over.

I am pleased that we are unaffected by the volcano in Iceland, it is mother nature at her best, or worst, just showing what she is capable of. I heard an Icelandic guy on the TV saying that the last time this particular volcano blew its top it continued to spew out for around 2 years. What will the airlines do if it continues thus. At the moment it is only seriously affecting countries in northern Europe because of the wind direction I suppose that once those winds change then the air should become safe again. I would not like to be in the shoes of the meteorological guys at the moment - their predictions for future weather changes (are there any?) might be wrong. The skies here though are very quiet.......

On Thursday night there was a first time political debate on the TV. I sat and watched it. I thought that it should be my duty, not that I vote any more, so that I could get an opinion on who should be the best man to 'run' the country.

This is how I saw it:-

Hmmm, it was quite interesting to see how they responded to the 'set' questions. There was no surprise for these three men, nothing out of the ordinary, and they had their stock answers ready. It was so completely staged. None of them were stumped for an answer and all had just 2 minutess or less to answer 'the question' when it was posed. Mr Brown had been primed 'obviously' to make little jibes at Mr Cameron. There was that awful, telling, leery smile on his face - like a child 'gotcha!' when he has got one up on his classmate. I think he was secretly counting 'strikes' for every little jibe. Mr Cameron though put up and ignored it and did his best to answer - to me he looked nervous and tense. Young Mr Clegg, who Mr Brown agreed with a lot, "I agree with Nick" , seemed very assured and confident and gave clear answers but towards the end 'tripped' a little over his words. There were a lot of 'statistics' and 'facts' quoted by all three of them which were not exactly true - whether it was off the cuff or memory problems I don't know. Mr Brown was very inaccurate with his figures. According to the polls Mr Clegg came out on top and Mr Brown at the bottom. It was interesting and I think I will watch the next one as this first one was, I think, a trial run...

Weather is absolutely stunning, cannot fault it. It is a little chilly in the morning and evening but the days are glorious. Have just heard the tree frog, so soon - does it bode a good summer? Gardening is underway and we are taking on a guy to help Jeff with the 'heavy' stuff, just a couple of hours a week. His breathing gets laboured if he does too much so now is just doing 'petit par petit' keeping it all under control.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Noisy skies

And I am not talking birds singing, they are an absolute pleasure to listen to morning and evening. I am talking about low flying military jets. I believe they are known as MiGS - whatever they are they are noisy, they fly low - just topping the trees and I am sure only a few feet from the top of our house. They swoop into our lives with no warning and disappear without a trace - just leaving their noise echoing around the valley. It is the season of flying practice and this is the 2nd day that they have interrupted our peace and quiet. Yes I know that they need to get their flying hours in and in this area there is the river which is used as a guide.

The farmers beasts have been allocated their fields and these young cows and heifers are disturbed by the noise. Jensen ignores the noise of the aeroplanes but he does not like to see cows around. 'What is that large white thing moving about over there?' is the impression I get from him when he growls and barks at sight of them.

We are without motor car at the moment. Well our own that is, one of its wheels fell off last Friday and we are having to hire a car until ours in mended. Always this time of year, when I think I have got extra in the bank, the wretched car 'breaks' somewhere. So new bearings on the wheel, plus 2 new tyres and it needs a new power steering pump. Me, I am not happy with this motor, never have been. Next one will be French not American - spares will be cheaper for a start.

Garden tidying is well underway, the weather has been so good for gardening and I do like to get my hands in the soil.

Daughters in the UK are fine, so are the grandchildren. Georges is starting at a nursery, it is hard to believe that he is nearly 2 years old.

We are waiting on an insurance claim for damage caused to our barns by the tempest on 28th February.

It is only the 2nd time we have made a claim. The first time was in April 2005, we had strange weather one day - it was bright and sunny then high gusts of wind followed by hailstorms. This pattern happened four or five times during the day. The gusts of wind were very powerful and they took out the centre section of the roof of a large hangar. We called our insurance man who came and took photos then filled in the claim form. They refused to pay out because the 'Meteo' declared that wind speed did not exceed 50k in the village which is their nearest point of reference. We are about 5k outside the village! . The building is not insured now and the roof continues to fall down, bit by bit.

And so we wait. I am also waiting for hinges for my oven doors, a new data cable for my digital camera as well as the car to be fixed....

Thursday, 8 April 2010


We have a Hoopoe living in the locale. I first saw it around 10 days ago. It flew up from the garden, over the wall and gone! This morning though, just after 8 am there it was outside our kitchen. Absolutely stunning! It was making its way up the edge of the lane poking its long beak into the ground looking for grubs etc. It was difficult to get a good photo of it. A regular camera with a good lens would have done the job but that camera is packed away and probably needs new batteries. A digital camera is fine but you cannot beat a decent SLR (ours are Pentax).

Yesterday my man went to the local Polyclinic to have a scan done on his chest. Off we 'toddled' (in a friends car as ours is so unreliable at the moment, more of that later!) and arrived there are around 2.30 pm. The Polyclinic is HUGE and was completed around 12 months ago (that is, all consultants had moved in!). We found our way to the 'scanner suite', booked in and waited - brought a book with me - and we waited and waited. Eventually, around 3.15 my man was taken in and 'scanned'. We waited and waited and then we were called through - scan results were ready. Off now to see the consultant!! Down the corridor we went (Kandinsky was the favoured artist there - it was Matisse near the scannner) and found the consultants offices. Again, we waited and waited - I didn't bother getting the book out (Dune by Frank Herbert - haven't read it for around 40 yrs!). It must have been 5 pm when we saw the consultant, and his prognosis. "Monsieur, eet ees Emphysema, anozer radio een seeks monz." He also said that my man is doing fine and just needs to keep up with his walking - he should improve but will never be 100% ever again.

And so my husband has to adjust to this situation. We have and have had friends with Emphysema. He now knows that he should have listened to the health professionals when he first had his bout of 'bronchite' and was told to quit the tobacco... At least he is not smoking and he smells so much better. So do his clothes and our home.

At the moment April is being very kind to us. The weather has been superb since Tuesday (guests arrived for the apartment and brought the sunshine with them). I have been busy in the garden outside the house clearing 'dead' bits and cutting back the shrubs that were affected by the cold and windy winter. I have the feeling that those plants needed the incentive to get moving!

As I am typing at 7pm I am listening to a Black Tailed Redstart in the garden, we also have a Chaffinch competing with his song. It won't be long before we hear the Golden Oriole down by the river giving us the benefit of his call. I have seen a cuckoo and heard it today. I love this time of year, everything coming alive. There is a Great White Egret the other side of the river, it has been there all winter. They are normally in the South of France and I might just contact the local Ornithological group and let them know that it is here, I am sure they would be interested. Again I have to thank my Dad for this interest....

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Easter come and gone

Strange weekend I must admit. Saturday came and went, weather again was appalling. Did not do too much in the house, just cleaning and laundry and cooking.... what a boring life. Jeff has been having a few minor health probs... mainly coughing and breathlessness which is worrying. He is doing a little too much I think.

He has started on the step to the bathroom. This 'step' was covered in beige carpet, in fact the bathroom (this is our bathroom) had beige carpet. I hated it - with a vengeance. Before we bought this house it was owned by a French family as a holiday home so the bathroom was used, maybe, only 8 weeks out of 52 (Easter/Summer/Christmas).

So, this carpet didn't get any wear to speak of - until we arrived. The carpet in the bathroom was ripped up and thrown out and a nice vinyl flooring put down instead. But, the step was still covered- for 7 years!! Well 6 weeks ago it was ripped out and there was rough boards and glue left behind.. This needed changing and me, being the person I am, wanted it done asap. Jeff has now started to create a new step for me... he has cut the boards to put down and has come to a stand still. He is not sure how to proceed. I dare not make any suggestions as I am a female and do not know about such things so I stay 'shtum'.

The weather improved for the better and yesterday, Easter Monday, we had some friends come to us for lunch. I cooked shoulder of mutton and it was delicious. We ate well and drank much and the conversation flowed like a gentle stream. We enjoyed ourselves and hoped that our friends did as well.

Today the sun has been our friend and I achieved a lot in the garden. There were some plants that suffered severely during the winter and had to be taken out. I have cleared pots and space for some lively geraniums, I love the 'electric' pink and red, am not too fond of orange colours. I just cannot wait for them to come into full bloom and fill the garden with colour.

The clematis, except for the one, are making strides with their growth. Jackmanii is my favourite with its beautiful large blooms. Each year it is stronger and stronger. I have a Ville de Lyon which has been a bit tardy but looks as though it will be better this year. My purple Wisteria is a mass of bud and will be superb in a few weeks, again that has taken time to settle and learn to live in its own little plot. Can't wait for the flowers and their sweet perfume...

Friday, 2 April 2010

Good Friday

So here I was, trying to get onto my blog site and I get the following error message:- bX-kghhiz… so I try to find out what it means. Oh yes; As you can imagine there is not a single reference to it on the World Wide Web. That means, no matter how hard I try, I cannot update my blog.

Never mind, I have a plan, a cunning plan… I type up what I want to say on ‘word’ and copy and paste later on…. I have done this many a time. You cannot fool me (Ha ha).

Seriously though, today has been crap, utter crap. The weather is absolutely appalling, it makes me feel physically ill. I just cannot cope with the wind! I woke this morning feeling unwell. I slept well (apart from himself having a lively dream in the early hours!) but once I was up and about I just wanted to hide away from the world until all was better. I found myself in tears for no reason at all… I am so sure that it is to do with the weather – not really SAD syndrome – I can cope with grey days but cannot cope with the violent winds that we are getting… It must be to do with equilibrium. I don’t know if anyone had done research into this but I do know that the wind affects me (and I am not talking about too many beans!!).

Today I was supposed to be going to a lunch with the LIFT ladies, I pulled out as I felt so ‘unright’ I don’t think I could have coped with sitting there listening to the chatter and gossip going on. J said that I should go, “It would give you someone to talk to” he said. I replied, “Oh yes, but what do I talk about, I have nothing to talk about!” “ Hmm” he said. “OK” was my response, “there will be girls there that live a long way away who have there own little groups and have there own ‘gossip’, I don’t know what is going on, am I to sit there like a lemon? I like to have interesting conversation, not to listen about where to get a good haircut or buy cheap clothes, or who is doing what with whoever, see others drink too much wine and end up maudling!” He then shut up!!

So today I continued to put ‘crepi’ on my walls, this time in the little couloir between the kitchen and the B&B lounge. I didn’t realise that I had not finished decorating that small part of the house… It is now half done. Other half tomorrow (it is looking good!).

I will also need to get some paint for the doors and varnish/gloss paint for the door frames. There is a lot more to do than I realised. Mind you, I had budgeted for this (albeit 3 years ago!) and am just getting round to do it.

And so the weather continued wet and extremely windy… The river rose a couple of feet, and I felt more and more unhappy. I don’t think this is a depression, I went through that years ago after having my children. I only suffer like this when the weather is extremely windy… never had this in the UK. All I can say is, roll on summer and let me find a buyer for this house so that I can move to a sheltered place.

No hot cross buns in this house, it does not feel like Easter weekend, I suppose it is because it is not so hyped up as in the UK. I might have friends round for either Sunday or Monday. It is still open..

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Poisson d'Avril

All Fools Day, but no fooling in this house today.

I woke this morning feeling good, sun was shining, saw first Swallow of the year yesterday and first Cuckoo of the year today. Daffs are glorious, got loads of little wild white violets poking their heads through the grass and some fantastic deep purple ones that came out from the UK...

The Japonicas (chaenomeles) that I grew from seeds from my parents aged plant are now putting out their first flower buds - only taken them 5 years but then they were confined to small pots for 3 of them. Hopefully they will excel themselves. My little almond tree is covered in blossom. Last year I allowed it just one nut, this year I will thin them out again. Better for the tree whilst it is young apparently. There are loads of bud on the pear trees and it looks as though their will be plenty of peaches and plums. Not too sure about the apples just yet, some buds are showing. Should get some good quince again (more lovely aperitif this year I hope!)

I have 'done' the archway. I undercoated the plaster, two coats as it dried so very quickly, and then one coat of 'crepi' which is a lightly textured paint. It looks very good indeed, now I just need to do the walls and the window reveals! Ho hum, once I start I must finish...

I also made a cake this morning, a Farmhouse Fruit Cake, very nice and an easy recipe. Trouble is I am having a problem with my oven, and it looked a bit overcooked when it came out. The doors do not shut properly (I have two ovens - one fan and one conventional) so the heat goes a bit haywire. I have ordered new hinges and am just waiting on them. Hopefully future cakes will be good..

Have dug leeks and am going to have them this evening with fish and mashed potatoes. Yummy.