Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Puy du Fou

Oh the Hill of Fools... went there this afternoon hoping to catch the 'Gladiator' experience and what happened? they changed the times. c'est pas grave, we went to see the Mousquetaire de Richelieu instead. At least it was under cover and not in the sunshine, what a wonderful experience. Totally different to what we expected but, nevertheless, very accomplished. d'Artagnan and his cohorts along with Cyrano de Bergerac and the Duc de Richelieu strutting their stuff.. Costumes, lighting and special effects were fantastic!

We also watched 'les grandes eau' a brilliant musical/fountain experience. Loved it but my camera did not!!!! It would not take a single picture... Probably too much sunshine. Grrr, will have to see it again and see if I can take a good picture. I am so glad that we took the option of a season ticket this year, just drive up there for a couple of hours of 'chill out' it works and is doing himself so much good, he comes home really relaxed, best therapy in the world at the moment!!

Have been in contact with someone today who I have not seen for absolutely ages. It is quite strange, her husband, I think, used to be an immobillier, whether he is or not I don't know. She needed some equipment that I happened to have but it was not for her but for a friend. These friends have a mill on a river a few kilometres north of us and, about 5 yrs ago, I accommodated in my B&B a couple who were looking to buy out here, that stayed with them for around a fortnight, but they stayed with us for longer. The couple that own the mill had, I believe, a little contretemps with some neighbours (apparently a lawyer?) down river regarding ownership of 'part' said river. I am looking forward to meeting them (mill owners) when the equipment is returned. Curiosity is my thing, I am intrigued!!!!!

Am I so awful observing the ex-patriot community on the sidelines... I hear so many things and am embarrassed at being English and seeing what the English are up to. I hate being in the supermarket during the summer months and hearing those that have their holiday homes out here, or even those staying in an English owned gite, who are 'slagging' off the French... Why the **** are they here if they don't like it?? It really annoys me.

At least I see that more people are selling up and going back. There is a nice modern house just outside the village that is now up for sale. The price that is being asked is just astronomical. I know the house and the original French owners. It was around 85,000 euro 5 yrs ago. A lovely house with land and a lake. It was bought by an English guy at probably less than asking price. He lived there three years and after a few improvements sold it via ebay and shot off to who knows where (the tax-man and gendarmerie would love to know). This house is now on the market, via its English owners, for 3 times as much.... Is it worth it? NO!!

Oh dear, I am on a run aren't I. But then, that is what is happening out here.

I have some lovely English friends out here that love the country and are here for the duration. They embrace the whole French 'thing'. They are learning the language and prefer to go to French gatherings and ignore the ex-pat thing.

Maybe 'the hill of fools' is where a lot of the ex-pat community should be sent!!

Monday, 28 June 2010


We celebrated my Dear Man's birthday on Saturday night with a Barbecue. An annual event that has been happening over the last thirty plus years (BBQ that is). In the UK we used to invite the nearest neighbours (that way they had no reason to complain about the music and revelry that went on into the early hours) as well as family and friends. We were never let down by the weather in the UK and never here!

So last weekend we invited our group of French friends as well as some English friends. There were a couple that we had invited that had never been to one of our 'gatherings' before and they brought the in-laws. The in-laws were worried about spending an evening with a lot of English people. They were in for a pleasant surprise as there were only four English there including us out of the 16 people! Unfortunately there were others both French and English, that could not come due to other commitments, it would have been great if they had.

Three young children, 2, 4, and 8 yrs came with their mama and mamie. They got on famously and Jensen was as good as gold, especially letting the youngest drape his arms over his back and walk with him. We couldn't have wished for a better behaved dog. All in all it was a good evening. The weather was fine, the food was good, the wine flowed but nobody got drunk (except for the birthday boy). A very restrained party indeed compared to ones in the past!!!

The weather has been gorgeous over the past couple of weeks, am spending a lot of time indoors, just taking a little time outside during the day as I do not want to get sunburn. Early morning and evenings are fine, so far all is OK!

Veg are growing, so are the weeds! We have had some new potatoes, delicious!! Peas have pods with peas that need to plump up and the carrots are coming along, beans need some water. There is a water restriction going on at the moment as well so we are being very careful. Helicopters come over and you don't know whether they are checking or not!!!

The grass is looking very dry and that weird line of brown that comes up parallel to the house is showing, I am sure there was a wall there sometime ago - for another building or not who can tell!! Do I call in Tony Robinson? Er, I think not....

There is a glut of cherries this year, so I have taken some and made (experimental) cherry aperitif - if it works we will see. I bottled it today and it seems a little 'raw' but after a few months it should improve. I made a cherry 'liqueur' seven years ago - I found the recipe on the internet and thought I would give it a go. It was made with yellow cherries which were growing in abundance. The tree has since been felled as it just died back!! This particular liqueur was a bit 'sheech' on the teeth when it was new. Now it is so mellow and delicious - but strong! So I have hopes for the stuff I have bottled today. Got to try and keep it for a long, long time.

I have nothing to say about the football!!

The dog needs a haircut, do I try it myself of get a professional??

The photo above is of one of our cherry trees, it's first proper flowering and fruiting. I hung some old cd's in the tree to keep the birds off and it worked, lots of cherries - yummy.

We had a pair of magpies nest in the top of a very high poplar tree (around 65ft). It was amazing to see the nest being blown around by the wind - a good 4 metre from side to side. They produced 3 youngsters!!! Wonderful to watch them try to get height on their first outing... But they did not go for my cherries!!!!

Thursday, 24 June 2010


I have just seen on the BBC news a report about the French marching and striking because of the proposals to increase the retirement age from 60 years to 62 years. We also discussed this problem with our plumber last week and he is thrilled to bits that he will reach the magic age of 60 before the new law is implemented.

In this area of France, a lovely, healthy, rural area I hasten to add, the elderly live in excess of 80 years, many well into their 90's (probably down to the daily nip of eau de vie, fait a la maison!). You only have to look at the weekly obits in the local newspaper. So these wonderful elderly people have had 20+ years of the state taking care of them with a very healthy pension but there isn't the money going into the coffers to pay for it and as the elderly population increases because of the wonderful healthcare, preventative medicine being to the fore, more money is needed. We have some wonderful French friends who raise their eyebrows in amazement when we tell them that in England ladies retire at 60 years and men at 65 years. "c'est vrai??, zut!!" "Oh oui, c'est vrai", we tell them. They shake their heads in wonderment!!

I have had some guys stay in the gite this week, one of them has finished early, why? Greve he said... hmm I didn't enquire any more but he will be back he said.... They find it very easy to down tools and strike out here!!

Last weeks budget in the UK was very harsh, but then it needs to be. The previous government had left a huge financial deficit that needs to be rectified. I remember this happening before and having to 'tighten our belts' in the the 70's. It was very hard as we also had three small children and only one income. We had a mortgage and the interest rate rose to 15%, yes it was difficult but we managed. People in the UK who have had it fairly easy over the past few years with a lifestyle beyond their means will have to adjust to a leaner lifestyle. We did not have holidays abroad, gym membership, huge tv's and obviously there were no computers or similar then but luxuries were just not entertained. We even gave up going to the pub on a weekend!! A vist to the cinema was an absolute treat, the theatre was never ever thought about...

We grew to appreciate a better life once the children were older and I was able to return to the workplace, until then the children, and keeping a roof over our head, were the most important part of our lives. Their future was paramount, we had had our past and our future (retirement!) was put on hold. Oh I do sound a bit old fashioned but then that was how we were brought up.

Speaking with our daughters they will cope with the changes, they are all grafters and know how to economise as well. I think that a lot of their friends are of the same 'ilk'. I haven't heard anyone I know complain about the new measures so maybe the journalists are just having a 'field day' reporting the most negative side of the budget.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Summer solstice and all that

I did not celebrate the summer solstice but no doubt my middle daughter did, she who professes to be a 'wiccan', did no doubt light some candles and perform a ceremony of sorts - me, I don't know what she does, but she does it! And I did not ask her! Amazingly enough, my dear man has over the last 40+ years that I have know him has done the countdown to the 'longest day' in the solar calendar, or the summer solstice, (21st June) but, this year, has not done so... I wonder why? The girls and I always used to try to pip him to the post, starting at the beginning of June and doing a countdown for him, and, as you can imagine, a lot of laughter ensued. This year though, totally different. Hmmm. He seems to have lost the plot.

We now have some reasonably good weather. Veg are growing along with the weeds, or is it weeds along with veg? Potatoes are good this year, loads in every root! Peas and beans are coming along as well as the sweetcorn and aubergines. We have chillis, tomatoes and cucumber in the poly-tunnel which will suit us just fine. We wont be growing tomatoes for bottling this year and I have given up on the soft fruit. I just cannot be bothered any more. I have done it for too many years and just want a break. When I work it out it is not really cost effective any more. It is nice to freeze. bottle and make preserves and chutneys etc. but if you are not using what you preserve then what is the point? There is too much for us to do!

There seems to be a glut of cherries this year and our dear French neighbour has offered to us the fruit from his trees. Wonderful. I have used a kilo of cherries and am in the process of steeping them in sweet white wine and eau de vie. I do so hope that the resulting liquor will be a delight! So far it smells absolutely wonderful! It also looks like I will have another good crop of quince this year - more 'coing' aperitif - last years is yummy! There will also be wild plums and sloes as well - now that is preserving!!

We are not taking Wwoofers this year simply because it works out as un-cost efficient (for us that is). I did enjoy having them here with us over the last couple of years but when push comes to shove we still have to pay for their food and the cleaning up of their rooms, or whatever accommodation, afterwards. There is also the extra laundry and water costs!! So this year, fewer veg, more weeds, less preserving at the end of the season. After all, we are only needing to grow for two not for a family and B&B guests, or pigs or sheep!

I am glad that my man has 'seen the light' and is now slowing down and just doing what is necessary. We do have a man we can call on to do some 'heavy' work for us and we get on with him quite well. There is just too much for my man to do and I am not that physically fit either (damned arthritis!).

Have been watching the World Cup football, not that I really like it but he does. It is good to see that England have eventually got somewhere. I was beginning to doubt their talent. From what I have seen and read they seem to be more interested in money than the game! Of course I might be wrong (but I think not!). France just lost the plot completely - unbelievable - as one of our French friends has said 'disastre!!'

Whoever wins the World Cup will rightfully deserve it I am sure. In another couple of years it will be the Olympics in London - Oh my! Will England be able to cope with it when you see the level of debt that the current government has inherited??

Three of my grandchildren are 'judo-ists' and recently they took part in a local competition. The two newest (aged 10 and 6) at the 'game' won silver (10 yrs) and gold (6 yrs) and the one that had been playing longer won bronze against players some 3 years older and playing at county level (she did say "but I am only 8" when the others were 11yrs old). Maybe these youngsters (of my children) will be representing England in 2016 or 2020. It would be wonderful!!

Friday, 18 June 2010

World Cup Football

At the moment the Football World Cup in being played in South Africa. Very good for the South Africans, not good for some of the teams.

Being English, I should be an England Team supporter, and living in France I should also support the French Team. Well I have watched/listened to the commentary on both of England's matches and also on the one the French have played.

From what I have seen my young grandchildren and their primary school mates could have played better than these overpaid professional footballers.

I can't see the English team improving at all. They failed dismally in their game against America, an up and coming team by all accounts, and tonight's match against Algeria - well, what can one say? Capello should have taken some of the 'better' players off and given some others a chance to play for England instead of leaving them sitting on the benches. England were useless! France lost their game against a lesser team much to their disappointment, and mine. I hasten to add that I am not a football fan so there will not be too much from me over the next couple of weeks. Give me a good game of rugby any day.

Of course I have the Wimbledon fortnight to look forward to - a chance to sit and listen to the gentle sounds of the ball going from racquet to racquet and the murmuring from the crowd in centre court, very soporific.

Have had another visit to Puy du Fou today, warm and overcast with just a small threat of rain. Just took in one show, brilliant. Will be going again next week, weather permitting, to take in another couple of shows. It is so nice living so close and it is such a beautiful place. From our first visit 9 years ago they have made so many changes. I believe that it has been in operation for around 32 years now and it goes from strength to strength - I believe they have had in excess of 10 million visitors and bearing in mind that they are only open for 6 months of the year it isn't bad at all.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010


Had some wine with dinner tonight. I asked my man to open the bottle for me. I have this wonderful gadget called a 'wine tap' for opening bottles. It does work, for me that is! This particular bottle of wine, a reasonably priced Chardonnay, has a short cork - compound cork that is. I should have handed my man a regular corkscrew but no he used the 'wine tap' - the upshot is that the cork, at the base, broke into little bits, and so my first glass of wine was sprinkled with tiny floating bits of cork. Never mind it went down well.

There has been talk out here of vintners using metal screw caps on their bottles instead of corks, oh what will the sommeliers do? Arrive at the table with the white cloth wrapped around the bottle and then proceed to unscrew a cap - Oh no!! We have to gently take the blade of the corkscrew around the neck of the bottle and lifting the top of the foil before inserting the screw into the cork and gently prising the said cork out of the bottle. We cannot have the uninitiated just screwing a cap off a bottle of Montrachet or Chateauneuf de Pape or whatever - heaven forbid!! Centuries of tradition gone in a matter of seconds, and what are they doing using plastic corks let alone screw caps!!

I have had some lovely wines out here, I don't go for the overpriced ones at all. Our tastes have matured and we have sourced some really nice, drinkable (too drinkable sometimes) wines at acceptable prices. We have yet to go to some of the vineyards, they are not that common in our locality - I need to get himself out for a 'wine' trip and find something decent...

We have become addicted to Channel 4's series of 'Come Dine With Me' - it is the funniest programme we have seen in such a long while. One week there was a guy who created a dinner for the other contestants in that weeks slot. He was a wine buff - and a lawyer to boot!! He was so pretentious about the wines that were offered at the dinners provided by the other contestants yet at his own dinner party he only provided one bottle of wine for the five of them. He did not win!! We just sat and chuckled through the whole experience..

My man has made some Epine this week - his first attempt - whether it will cut the mustard or not I don't know... fingers crossed for him.

I must admit that the quince aperitif I made last year is tasting really good. I still have a few bottles left. I might have to hide them as the longer they are kept the better they are.

I am sounding quite alcoholic..... but am not - decidedly - I have cut down got weight to lose....

Friday, 4 June 2010

Short term memory loss!!

We had a lovely conversation at dinner this evening and also a good laugh, and do you know what? neither of us can remember what it was about!! Is there hope for us I ask myself. My thought at the time of this lovely conversation was that it would make a good Blog subject... Oh dear! It will come to me in time I am sure but at the moment - well!!

This week has been wet, very cold with wind from the north and now it is very hot and sunny, apparently it is changing again - we will see! So during the dry days we have cleared weeds, which grew overnight, mowed and generally tidied.

And so over the last few days we have seen a Lib/Dem MP lose his Treasury position in the new coalition cabinet because he had not disclosed that he had a £40,000 expenses claim that is related to his accommodation and homosexual relationship with another man. Why on earth he thought that the general populace would be offended by the fact that he has a 'gay' relationship is beyond me - my goodness, when you look back at some of the Lib/Dem histories then his is within the bounds. I cannot understand some of these men at times.... It seems to me that men have the problems, there is very little scandal attached to women in parliament - it is the men that queer the pitch (if you can excuse the expression!).

We have also had the most dreadful news about the Israeli attack on a peace convoy to Gaza. As far as I am concerned the Israelis should be grateful that they were given some land to settle in 1948 and let the Palestinians live in peace. When push comes to shove they are all, invariably Arab. It is tribe against tribe which has been going on for centuries.

BP are having a tough time of it as well. I heard a guy from BP talking on the TV when the leak first started. The platform boasts the BP sign but - the platform, pipes, employees etc... are all owned by other (American?) companies, so why are BP being penalised and slated by the press? I wonder....

There has also been the awful tragedy in Cumbria. A man, who was obviously in a total mental derangement, killed so many people including his brother.... Oh life is so cruel, I pray for them all.

My little corner of the world is calm, peaceful and unaffected by the outside world. I sit and ponder.

I have started painting doors and door frames. These are the ones that have been put off for the past 3 years.... So far it is looking good and I am enjoying the excercise, I hope to finish within the next month! Himself, well he detests decorating, if I mention the 'd' word he breaks out in a sweat and starts to hyperventilate. So I do it and just ask that he takes care of the bits I can't reach. I don't do ladders, I get vertigo - even up a high ladder!

Years ago when the children were in infant and primary school I went fruit picking. There were very tall apple trees. I could only go halfway up the ladder, I could not go to the top (these are ladders that start of wide at the bottom and narrow at the top). My 'boss' he would go to the top of the tree (around 5 metres)and balance on the tiny top step of the ladder. I felt ill!! So, I don't do high stuff on ladders - I will go so far on household steps and no further. I must admit he is good as he appreciates my 'height' problem. I do suffer with tinnitus and have had a couple of bouts of 'Menieres' and been quite ill, so there is definitely an ear/balance problem with me. At the moment it is quite nice that I can lay on my right side and not hear a thing from the left which is the most affected ear. I don't hear the sparrows chirruping in the morning or the crickets at night. I know that I will eventually go totally deaf in that ear and I am quite prepared for it.

The above picture is of dog daisies in the garden, I have also put a picture of the white wisteria I have in the garden, it is the 2nd time it has flowered and was absolutely beautiful, it is a shame that it finished. I have also been taking pics of plants and shrubs as they flower so more to come.