Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Say "cheese"

I really shouldn’t be nibbling while I’m on the computer, but we can get a most amazing cheese at the moment. It’s called Mediterranean Gouda. It’s got all sort of teeny bits in it. I don’t understand how something that is supposed to come from Holland can be called Mediterranean. There you go…

Hair Straighteners

If you live in the UK and use hair straighteners you might be interested in the special offer of cheap ghd hair straighteners. At the moment there are 9 different offers. If you are unsure which one to buy Paul Paterson is on hand to guide you in your choice of iron. It’s possible to save up to $45 on some models.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

See you next summer, perhaps

Although I knew about it already I didn’t know the whole story. The Chain Tower (Tour de la Chaîne) in La Rochelle is closed for refurbishments and will reopen in May for the celebrations of Quebec’s 400th anniversary. So if you’re coming over next summer all the way from Quebec you will probably see Rob and you may even meet Dom. I love the French Canadian accent.

Friday, September 21, 2007

How they get in

I know how the spiders get into the house. Like everyone else they come through the front door. Olivier came in one morning and a big one shot round the door frame. I went out to get the newspaper yesterday and one huge one walked in as bold as brass. I shoo-ed him out with the newspaper and he went off down the steps in a huff. This morning I opened the front door and a small (fortunately for me) spider was dangling down from the frame at eye level. I wish they’d learn that our house is ‘invitation only’ this winter.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Stars in my eyes

Recently, when the sky has been clear just before it gets light, there has been a planet visible low down over in the East. It really is bright and shiny. This morning I remembered that Rob has some very good binoculars so I got them out (dusted them off) and had a look. I was amazed to see that there were craters visible on the surface. Does anyone know which planet I can see?

I dream of storage space

Since I came to live in France I never seem to have had enough storage space. Our house seems to be over run with ‘useful’ objects and if I dare to throw anything out you can bet a use for it will turn up the next day.

CarGuyGarage.com has a huge range of storage bins for all sorts of needs. I love those units with lots of little drawers, just right for all of Rob’s Christmas decorations. Have I ever mentioned those? At the moment they spend most of the year in cardboard boxes of all shapes and sizes. A neat row of little yellow drawers is just what I need.

Then there are my teaching props, Rob’s coin collection, garden tools, toy cars, out of season clothes and accessories……

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

A bit of culture

We had breakfast on the port this morning, followed by the surprise. As the monuments are free today, lots of other visits are organised all over the town. Rob decided that a visit to the railway station would be a good idea. We learnt about the old station and that this month is the 150th anniversary of the railway system coming to La Rochelle. Unfortunately, Rob and I already knew quite a bit about the old station because of our interest in postcards. We could only visit the outside of the ‘new’ (opened in 1922) station because the French railways are very strict about having the public going all over the place. The visit was a bit of a disappointment.

This week has been the week of the television festival, which used to be held at Saint Tropez. While we were learning about the station some of the festival cars arrived to deliver the stars to the Paris Train. I didn’t recognise anyone, except for our favourite ex TV news reader Bruno Masure. Rob had seen him during the week when he visited the towers, but hadn’t got round to asking for an autograph. In fact we got his autograph about 20 years ago and he wrote us a little note with it. I presume he was covering the festival for one of the French newspapers. Checking his biography on Wikipedia I see that he is on the radio now and that he used to present the news wearing slippers which is why he always seemed so relaxed, I suppose.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


If your husband offers to drive you somewhere and drops you off in the car park. If you come out half an hour later with your purchases and get into the car. If your husband has parked by a concrete edge because there is a cute baby tree that offers no shade at all. Then if he drives off in a straight line and hits the concrete: It rips a hole in the tyre.

We then spent another half hour changing the wheel (I read the instructions). We nearly had to call out the garage because we couldn’t undo the screws, eventually Olivier did it by kicking the winder thing with the bottom of his foot. Fortunately the spare was okay, though it’s not the same make.

The car has to go for a service soon anyway so we now know that we must buy a new tyre, if not two or even three…

Friday, September 14, 2007

A 'This 'n That' update

We set off early yesterday morning in order to take Dom back to Poitiers. Last school year we took and collected her on a dark rainy day, so it was very pleasant to see the place where she lives in sunshine. She’s in a different block this year, though her room is exactly the same but painted white, it looks much more cheerful. She's on the forth floor again, I found it hard going carrying things up the stairs (three trips). I need more exercise! In her block is the library – her library apparently as she’s applied to be president of the library committee this year. What more could a bookworm want (except perhaps a bigger library)? The part of the block she’s in is all girls, she thinks it will be quieter, Ha!

The house seems very quiet now and when I was putting away some of her clothes it looks like she’s forgotten to take socks. Fortunately shops in Poitiers sell socks too. We had a lovely summer, Dom has really grown up in the last year and is great company, I will really miss her. They were very pleased with her work in the towers too.

Olivier seems to be settling back into lycée okay, but he doesn’t like being educated against his will. He was even cheerful this morning when I went in to wake him up. This year there are girls in his class too, perhaps that is why. He’s got a theatre trip coming up – I do feel sorry for the teacher who will be responsible for that evening.

There was a hire truck parked down the road yesterday evening. Looks like one of our neighbour’s daughters is moving out. He has brought 3 of his children up by himself since his wife walked out the week before Christmas about 6 years ago (she has them from time to time when it suits her). It must be very difficult for him because she’s done her best to turn the children against him. Hope the moving out daughter comes back to visit from time to time.

We have the most lovely weather here at the moment, though the mornings are cold. everything is still lush and green because of all the rain at the beginning of August. I hoovered up my first big spider of the season the other day, though it was a small big one. There are quite a few smaller spiders around too.

The monuments in France are free to enter this weekend. Rob isn’t working (he makes a point of avoiding the chaos), so he’s arranged a surprise visit somewhere for me on Sunday morning. Hope the weather stays nice Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


This is a true feel good story: A thief somewhere in France had a surprise when he tried to steal a packet of cigarettes from a blind man. The victim just happened to be the handicap world judo champion. He held the thief down until the police arrived.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Back to school

It’s been a very stressful time here at the Knutsen residence. Olivier returned to school on Tuesday afternoon. Of course I was the one biting my fingernails down to the quick. I made something special for lunch before he left (the condemned man eats his last meal). Unfortunately we gave one of his friends a lift and I messed up getting onto the ring road because there was so much traffic. If you read this and are planning on having children in the future, find out if it’s possible to fast forward their adolescent stage.

Dom is fine, planning what to take when she goes back to Poitiers next week. I’ve never worried about Dom like I’ve worried about the boys, she always seems to know where she’s going. She’s a very lucky person.

Best wishes

Mary Lou is in hospital as she’s been rather tired lately and now they are sorting her out. I think that getting her revenge on Phyllis for the photo will spur her on to a quick recovery. Please pop by and say ‘Hello’.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Sushi time!

Dom is a great fan of Sushi and every time she eats out it seems to be what she chooses. Since the beginning of the summer she’s been offering to take me out for a Sushi. Yesterday we finally went out together. First of all we spend an agreeable hour looking for shoes for her. There really are some lovely boots around at the moment, all I have to do is loose some weight to get my calves into them.

We went to a restaurant by the port that Dom knows and trusts, so I asked her what the name if the restaurant means. (She knows a little Japanese and Chinese). She couldn’t tell me because the restaurant was Vietnamese. I had the menu so that I could try everything sushi and have some meat too. Dom chose Chinese food for a change.

As Dom says, it’s a bit strange at first, so I’ll have to try it again. I do know that I really liked the cabbage salad I was given with the soup. I found the sticky rice a bit strange but the fish was nice. I ate 95% of my food with chop sticks!

We didn’t wait for the bus but walked back out of town to where I had parked the car. For a change it was sunny and the buddleias were full of peacock butterflies.