Saturday, March 27, 2021

Taking care of the bees

 This post also appears on my Facebook page:

Last year our Japanese pagoda tree flowered for the first time and was alive with bees, bumble bees, different types of wasps and other insects.  I did put out a bowl of water which mainly attracted the local wasps.  This morning, on Facebook, I saw a photo of a bowl of water and marbles put out for bees (sorry, I don’t remember where).  The idea is that the bees can drink standing on the marbles and are less likely to fall in and drown.  I seem to remember being told long ago that bees like shiny things, so in theory they will be drawn to the bowl of shiny marbles.

After doing a little research online I’ve learnt that the water should be changed regularly to prevent mosquitoes from breeding there.  Don’t add sugar or honey to the water, not good for the bees.



Tuesday, February 09, 2021

... and that was 2020

 

Well what a year we have had.  It started in January when my mum was taken ill at my sister’s house.  She’d been staying there for Christmas. She spent a few days in hospital and went back to my sister’s as they thought she was recovering well.  She died on 8th January.  My sister and I both agreed that we were glad she hadn’t died at home all alone, although she has good neighbours who would have acted if she didn’t show signs of being up and about. We had to wait until February for the funeral as the coroner had a backlog – nothing to do with covid yet. 

Our flight to the UK, for the funeral, was delayed by 5 hours because of high winds but we managed to take off eventually. It was windy in the UK too and there were lots of people milling around the airport as flights were on hold or cancelled.  My nephew and his girlfriend were on the record breaking flight from the US – blown over the Atlantic by the strong winds!

Rob was told not to go into work mid-March.  We decided to treat him being home as a rehearsal for retirement.  The rehearsal went very well. We got plenty of jobs done around the house and garden and as the weather was good we sat outside and enjoyed the sunshine.

In May there was a bad storm and the drain couldn’t cope so eventually the steps down to the back door flooded and came into the house.  At 1.30 am I was madly mopping up water while Rob tried to bail the water away in the garden in the pouring rain.  After I’d finished that, I tidied up and slipped on a step inside the house and cracked a rib.  That was quite painful for several weeks.

Rob eventually went back into work for the summer, but for shorter hours and then a four day week as we went into another lock down.  Lockdowns involved filling out a form every time we left the house in case we were stopped by the gendarmes. At the moment he goes into work once a week.  We’re free to go where we want, but being older now we like to know that there is a café open so that we can have a coffee and use the toilets. All cafes and restaurants are closed at the moment, except for take away.  The curfew is from 6 pm to 6 am, which is okay at the moment as the sun sets just after 6, as the days draw out we’re going to miss our evening walks by the river.

We managed to visit Dom and J-M and the girls in September for my birthday.  It was very strange, everywhere in Lille seemed so quiet.  We didn’t go shopping in the town centre like we usually do.  We visited Ikea and it was so quiet – very unusual.

At the end of 2019 there was no way that anyone would have imagined how life would change for everyone.  We’re fortunate as all of our relatives and friends have been safe and sound. I hope  that yours have been too.

Monday, July 15, 2019

To and from Russia with love

Dominique has been invited to speak at a conference in Moscow in the autumn. She’s had a bit of paperwork to fill in as you can imagine. She needed to know the exact dates of her last visit to Russia. It was a school trip back in 2004. I received a message asking if I knew the dates (I don’t even know what day it is most of the time). Fortunately, I remembered blogging about the trip, so I told her to look it up. As it happens, I had blogged about taking her to the bus at the start of the trip and I blogged about collecting her at the end. I was really pleased that I could be of help.

If she’d have asked for dates from the last couple of years I’d have been no help at all.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The best laid plans...

Don’t always come off as they should. Rob came home from work with a nasty cough one day just before Christmas. By Christmas Eve we both had dreadful colds and felt quite ill. We managed to have a traditional Christmas dinner but didn’t feel much like eating and we forgot to finish opening the presents! Fortunately, Santa brought us some interesting DVDs, which we sort of watched/slept through.

Three weeks later we still have bouts of coughing. We were looking forward to Christmas in our new home so much. I took down the tree today, always a little sad, but the sun is shining and the evenings are slowly drawing out again. There are some little sprouts showing on the lawn, could they be the crocus bulbs I planted or a surprise left by the previous owners?

Monday, December 03, 2018

Moving on

We moved house on my birthday in September. We were sad to leave the village where we had been living for the last 7 years, but it was time to move on. The stairs were more and more difficult for me.
We have changed village, department and region as we now live in the Vendée department.

A new garden

Christian helped us with the decorating, he is a slave driver, but has such a good eye and lots of ideas. After cleaning up and decorating the new house, packing up to move and cleaning up the old house I was exhausted. I lost a bit of weight too The new house is not your typical house, I call it quirky. There are some steps and stairs but they are in small groups and not as deep, so I manage them quite easily.





The bathroom needed a change of colour! 


That's better.












Kitchen now comes with matching husband




I'm really pleased with what Christian helped us to do with the mezzanine, which doubles as a spare bedroom




Cosy living room

The corridor is wide enough to take a sofa bed.  This is now the grand-children's area with games and books (for when they are old enough).  It's really cosy and I like to snuggle up there with a book myself.

 We have a slightly bigger garden and a terrace facing south which is closed in on 3 sides so we have plenty of privacy. I have a cherry tree and a fig tree. Our new village is lovely, although very different. We are close to two rivers and canals and on a slope which used to be a vineyard. There is a vine in the garden so I’ve been reading up on how to prune it properly. We’ve been told that the grapes aren’t very good to eat, so who knows, we might make some wine!

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Travelling and a growing family

I never thought that I would take a pause from blogging for such a long time. Since we visited Prague we haven’t stopped. We were mainly visiting towns throughout the west of France and after that, a couple of trips to England.


 I really don't remember where this tree was

 What happens when you run around the park without your shoes

A seashell penguin

Bridge we travelled over in Brittany

The trip we made to the UK in April was really special as we met our month old twin granddaughters! Dom never does things by halves. They are non-identical, I‘m sad that we can’t see more of them, but we get to see lots of photos and sometimes a video. Dom and J-M, Lise and Sofia moved back to France at the end of August. Unfortunately it’s more complicated to visit them and the girls than it was when they lived in the UK.

Their parents don’t want pictures of them on the internet so I can’t share with you how beautiful they are.


 Like a lot of places we had a long, hot summer, excellent for hollyhocks.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Prague at the end of September

This year my birthday started early as we had trains and planes to catch. We went off to Prague to spend a few days with Oliver.




Petrin Hill

 There was so much to see. We spent a lot of time out of doors – the weather was really good to us. There are a lot of parks to visit that are not only beautiful but give you wonderful views of the town. We are walkers in our family so we spent a lot of time walking. We tried to avoid the very touristy areas – you wouldn’t believe how many people can squash onto the Charles bridge. We went early in the morning when there were fewer people.


Charles Bridge

Olivier also took us to the shopping centres; there are several and well worth a visit, though clothes are often the same price as the rest of Europe. Food is important of course when you visit a foreign country. Restaurants are cheaper, but the quality and quantity of food served it very, very good. We also drank locally brewed beer which was excellent.


John Lennon Wall


The dancing House


The Time Machine!


View from the top of the Czech Monument

I didn’t want to come home. We saw a lot more than if we’d have gone there on our own. Olivier was a good guide and of course knows the kind of places we like to visit and see. There’s still lots left over for next time!


Even drain covers can be interesting!


Staircase


The famous clock

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Visiting our children

Last week we flew to the UK and visited two of our children. First were Christian and partner. They’ve not long moved into a lovely house in a tiny village. Think Agatha Raisin or Midsomer Murders, a really charming place. I’m hoping that they don’t get murdered.

We also visited a super shopping centre in Sheffield and the city of York while we were at that end of the country. After being used to the French country side around here, everything seemed to be so green and the trees so big!

Moving further south into the Midlands we took my mum out to lunch and I presented her with a signed copy of my book! After that we spend a day visiting Hay-on –Wye via Ross-on-Wye, Christian joined us on this trip. Hay-on-Wye is very, very famous for books. We visited back in 2004 when the children were small. Funnily enough, I am the book lover and was the only one who didn’t buy a book on this trip.

We finished the day eating at a restaurant which is special to our family. Rob ate there with his parents when he was a child. The first time I met his mother and step father we had a meal there and the last time Christian took his grandma out was to eat there too. It’s a very special place for us all.

On the last day we spent the afternoon with Dom. It was nice to catch up with her. We went to visit the Beth Chatto Gardens near Colchester. Well worth a visit; you must look at the lovely pictures on the website. Topped off with a cream tea! To walk the tea off Dom wanted to show us Brightlingsea Beach and all of the lovely bathing huts. The tide was out, but it was a very interesting walk.








Next week we’ll be in Prague. I’m looking forward to seeing Olivier of course and there is that beautiful City to see and explore.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Visiting Monet's garden






Even in the rain the garden is beautiful!  It really is a lovely place to visit, unfortunately the rest of the world thinks so too.  There really were a lot of people. The village of Giverny is very beautiful and interesting to look around.  I'd like to go back at other times of the year just to see the different flowers

Monday, August 21, 2017

A few days away






We had a few days away last week. We based ourselves in Cognac which is a lovely old town famous for the drink of the same name. The old part of the town is beautiful and very interesting. François 1 was born in Cognac in 1494.



We also visited Angoulême, another old town which is famous for its International Comics Festival. Indeed, there are many surprise illustrations on buildings around the town! As well as this statue.




Yesterday on the way home we visited Jarnac which is famous for being the birthplace of the late President François Mitterrand. If you like walking by the river this is the town. Absolutely beautiful!

 All three towns are on the River Charente.