Wednesday, December 17, 2014


I think I mentioned that Christian asked me for some photos for framing and things.  This is a tray he made including four of my pics.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Coming up next... Christmas!

Not long to go now.  I put the Christmas decorations up last Tuesday and even if I say so myself; they're looking good.

Dom and J-M will be coming for Christmas with Holly the cat.  Olivier might be coming.  He will have to spend a lot of time and money on trains so he must decide if it's worth it.  He's at work on the 26th.  Rob will be working on the 26th too.  We still find the idea strange, even after 30 years.

When I was teaching at the language school years ago.  I had a lesson at 7.30 in the morning on the 26th December.  My student didn't show.  It turned out she was very ill on Christmas day and tried to contact the school, leaving a message on the answer phone in the office which was locked.  I managed to get the next bus home after waiting around for half an hour.  The sun still hadn't risen by the time I got back!

I haven't been blogging much, or visiting.  Rob is borrowing my laptop most evenings as his is very slow.  hopefully we will be reorganised in a couple of weeks - a friend is fixing his old laptop.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy thanksgiving to all those who celebrate with their family and friends today.

I’m thankful that, through the internet, I’ve made contact with all sorts of people from all over the world. I appreciate the opportunity to learn that we are not all the same and despite this we can all be friends.

 Let’s hope that in the future, the people that manipulate these same differences to create chaos and hate will be made silent by us, the peace loving majority.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The eggs were well and truly scrambled

I was very disappointed with N.C.I.S. yesterday evening. It is very popular in France. Friday evening we have episodes of N.C.I.S. and on Saturday evening episodes of N.C.I.S. Los Angeles.

 In episode 23 of season 11, Tony finds himself in Marseille. Why wasn’t the episode filmed in Marseille? The outside shots looked suspiciously like thinly disguised Washington sets. When Tony asked for breakfast in French the waitress arrived with scrambled eggs! In a café, breakfast is croissants or baguette and jam or both if you ask for ‘petit déjeuner complet’.

In my etiquette book the question is asked “What should one give American guests for breakfast?” and the answer is that American guests do not travel all the way to Europe to be served with their own food, so give them what you normally eat yourself. (The book dates from the 1930s)

I’m sure that CBS could have done better there.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Postcards, Beaujolias Nouveau and Hyacinths

I was going to update sooner but life seems to keep on getting in the way.

 The day after Dom’s big day, the alarm went off at 3.30 am as we had the 6 o’clock train to Bordeaux to catch. I wasn’t as tired as I thought I’d be and we managed to dodge any showers thrown our way. We hadn’t been back to Bordeaux for over a year. Auction time, and there were some postcards that we were interested in. We had an excellent day, despite discovering that our favourite restaurant had closed. The station at Bordeaux seems to have had a facelift too. A new bar has opened and some very interesting shops to explore, which was a good thing as we had to wait nearly two hours for our train home.

 Olivier came home for a few days mid-month. We didn’t really see that much of him. It’s so good to know that he’s enjoying what he’s doing now and seems to be appreciated by his co workers. He might be able to move to a bank closer to Rennes next year, which could save him a lot of money in rent and transport costs. Though I won’t be able to say; “my son who lives in a chateau” anymore.

I sorted out the Christmas decorations. They are ready for the beginning of December. I even found the Advent calenders!

We had a lot of rain at the beginning of November – very serious flooding in the south, but we were okay here – just a soggy garden. The last three days have been mild and sunny; I’m waiting for the bubble to burst. This afternoon I did some gardening and planted some hyacinth bulbs.

The Beaujolais Nouveau this year is very good

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Thursday 6th November

This was the day that Dom presented her Thesis to the jury. We arrived just in time due to fog and road works on the motorway.

 The room was full of family and friends – I suppose there were 30 of us altogether. From beginning to end Dom’s speech just flowed. Her PowerPoint presentation was clear and worked perfectly from beginning to end. She just had 22 minutes for her presentation and then the jury asked her questions about her work. She answered it all with no problems and noted their suggestions.

 During question time there was a lot of coming and going as people were popping in to see how it was going and going off to lectures etc.; all in silence. Dom had suggested we sat at the back in case we found it boring. Definitely not at all!

Her supervisor ran through all of the other work she’s been doing during her PhD which was very impressive and made Rob and I feel very proud of her.

Then we all had to go out while the jury made their decision. It didn’t take too long and we all went in to hear the result; her doctorate was awarded with the note “Très honorable avec félicitations du Jury”. That’s the highest you can get.

We had champagne and nibbles and met some of the people that we had only heard about over the past few years – as well as some old friends. I thanked her supervisor (who is also vice president of Poitiers University!) for all of the lovely things that he had said. He’s a very nice man – Dom has been very fortunate to have had such a supportive department.

Dom dedicated her Thesis to J-M , her husband and also to Holly the cat who gave her love and support despite not really being interested in human dialogue.

After that, we went out to lunch and back to Dom & J-M’s for a cup of tea. Holly gave us a really friendly greeting – I thought that she might have forgotten us. It’s the first time we’d visited since helping them to move in, so it was interesting to see how the rooms looked without piles of furniture and boxes.

It was getting dark when we set off home, fortunately the fog had cleared.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Gardening question and a busy week coming up

A question for gardening experts: At the beginning of October I bought some Anemone bulbs and planted half of them in the garden. The remainder went in half way through the month. This week I have observed that they are already growing. Is this normal or has the mild weather woken them up too early? I was so looking forward to seeing the flowers in the spring.

Next week is going to be a busy one. On Thursday Dom will be presenting her Thesis. We’ll be going to Poitiers to watch and also visit their house. We haven’t visited since we helped them to move in just over a year ago. Hopefully on Friday we’re off to an auction in Bordeaux. It’s been 18 months since we were there last time. Hopefully the weather will be kind to us on our travels.

Talking of weather; it is still very mild and sunny. The news reports are still full of people swimming in the sea and dining out of doors. We are threatened with huge drops in temperatures within the next few days.

Oh, and Olivier will be home for a few days next weekend

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Falling back

The year is on its way out again. I hope that everyone has remembered to put their clocks back. This morning you had an extra hour in bed if you are an optimist.

Yesterday evening, on the news, we were treated to film of people sun bathing and swimming in the sea in the South of France. Then there was the report about the first skiers of the year in the mountains… Well, the journalists have to report fun things sometimes. No doubt tonight they will be talking about the rising unemployment figures. They always act surprised to discover that a lot of people don’t go on holiday at all; let alone have an October break.

It’s been sunny here today – after the fog lifted. When I took the recycling out to the garage this afternoon, the birds were in full song. Are they planning their migration or were these the ones that are brave enough to stay with us for the winter? This evening the sun will set here at 6 o’clock and a few seconds.

Next stop Christmas

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


One of my earliest memories of colouring was when I’d just started school. I was busy colouring in a picture with one of those fat wax crayons we used to use, when one of the boys came up to me and with the wisdom of his 6 years, told me that I had no sense of direction.

I used to be quite good at art later on in my school career and in my 40s went to lessons every Thursday morning which I enjoyed – and my teacher never, ever mentioned sense of direction.

When the children were small I loved colouring pictures in their colouring books for them. When Olivier was three and had his operation for glue ear, I bought him a colouring book and some crayons. He sat in bed and watched while I coloured in the pictures before his op. It had a calming effect on both of us.

Going back 12 or 13 years when I was teaching problem children; I had a stock of photocopies of intricate patterns to be coloured in by those who finished their work quicker than the others. A good way to keep them quiet and occupied while the others finished their work.

 Yesterday Rob and I went to the ‘media’ centre to buy my diary for next year – which they had not got – but I was drawn to a display of intricate colouring books, Inspired by the patterns on the walls of a Hammam. Who needs meditation when you can spend hours lost in colouring in? Well not exactly. I also treated myself to 24 crayola ‘super’tips. Apparently now it’s cool to colour.

I wouldn't have used that purple if I'd have know it would spread that far...

Spiderman reviews all of Crayola’s 96 colours.

Friday, October 03, 2014

A few days in England

The middle of September found us in England for a few days. We visited Christian and J and explored their new house which is lovely. Christian looks as if he’s heading for a career in interior design. He took us to an old school which is now a huge antiques shop where he finds old furniture which he turns into other things. He has the gift of seeing what could be, rather than what is. I wish I could do it.

We had lunch at a lovely place called “The Cake Hole”*, everything is fresh and local. I chose the cheese platter. We resisted finishing off with cake as we were going out for a meal in the evening.

Spot the deer

We walked off our lunch in the grounds of a local stately home. As always plenty of pictures of trees. I love trees. Trees don't grow as big as this where we live.

Christian and J took us to Ikea. Our first visit; a bit over whelming, but it was fascinating. Fortunately, we had to think of getting things home on the plane, so we didn’t buy anything.

We then went and stayed with Rob’s mother for a couple of days. She was happy to be driven around or taken out in her wheelchair. Christian joined us for a day too. We also saw my mum but didn’t really have time for much else.

 We popped in to the Colwall Coffee Lounge and had an English breakfast on the last day. I chose the vegetarian version.

I only put on 300g after all of the food we ate!

 *Christian took a lovely picture of Rob and I at The Cake Hole which I’ve used part of for my new profile picture.