Sunday, 31 October 2010



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


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


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..


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??


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)