Sunday, December 21, 2008

Have a Happy Christmas

By the end of the week there was a notice up at the school of commerce informing people of the slippery walkway. For a couple of days I had a strange tingling in my right leg when I bent it into certain positions, I wonder if I trapped a nerve when I fell. It’s much better now.

Dom is home for Christmas and Olivier is on holiday even though he hasn’t really been at school for two weeks because of the strike.

This morning we went into town for breakfast and then a little Christmas shopping. It was so quiet, I expect everyone was in town this afternoon…

It’s my mum’s birthday today. I telephoned this morning and thought that I was talking to her, I was talking to my aunt who thought that she was talking to my sister! It’s like that in my family. My aunt was telling me that Eleanor, as well as having two gold medals, has a gold Blue Peter badge!! Eleanor hadn’t arrived at my mum’s when I phoned, so I didn’t get to speak to her.

I've written another story for Christmas and last year's is here.

I doubt very much that I will have much time for blogging over the next few days. A very Merry Christmas to everyone. I hope that Santa brings you everything on your list!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A shite start to the week

It’s exam time again so I’ve been very busy with that. Unfortunately I had to work some of the time with someone who doesn’t share my idea of doing a job as well as I can. On Monday we were in half of a big exam room which is usually divided off. The room wasn’t divided so we shared with another exam group – that’s not a problem because exams are silent anyway so we didn’t disturb each other. The people supervising the other group noticed that my colleague was just sat texting or reading a folder, instead of walking around observing. I walked by the desk, her folder was full of photocopies of cartoons! She also went to the loo several times. At the end of the exam she was quite nasty to some of the students who didn’t understand her instructions (One of the rules of leadership I learnt in my bank training was that if a group botches up it’s usually the one who gives the orders who hasn’t explained well).

As usual in that place I had the start of a migraine (I think it’s the air-conditioning). Then when I left the building to go home, I slipped on the wooden walkway and landed flat on my back. A student came running and helped me up – bless her. Only my pride was injured, fortunately and I have a nice bruise on my derrière.

I discovered on Tuesday that someone had mentioned the problem in Monday’s exam to the exam office, I was relieved, though when I talked to Rob and Olivier about it they warned me to watch out as they know this lady has Latin blood and a bit of a temper. I saw her on the bus this morning and she was the same as usual towards me so, I’m still alive.

On the bus I also saw one of my pupils from when I taught problem children. She hasn’t changed, her mental age was always behind that of her peers, but now she’s physically grown up and living with her boyfriend, I wonder how that will work out. It was nice to see her again, but she’s not in contact with her classmates at all.

Roll on the weekend...

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

BlogExplosion Forums and Approvals

For a while now MJ and I have tried to answer whatever questions we could on the forums. Unfortunately there is no one around to give access as moderators. Today I went to see if there was anything I could help with and the forums are completely inundated with spam. It’s impossible to find any real messages, that’s how bad it has got.

What I propose is to post any information I can here so that when you surf you’ll hopefully come across the information. If you’re waiting for your blog to be approved the queue is just over three weeks long. A lot can be done to shorten the time and avoid disappointment simply by reading the requirements on the add/edit blogs page. If anyone has more information as to what is going on please leave a comment.

As for the forum spammers I think that you will find that no one is reading your ads anyway…

Me and my legs

Thought you all might like to know about how yesterday morning’s session on my veins went. I assumed I would be having electrosis, but in fact a product was injected instead. It was bearable and my right leg seems to be more sensitive than my left. My legs were really sore during the afternoon. I’ve got four more appointments spaced roughly a month apart and by the third appointment we should know if it is going to work.

Sunday, December 07, 2008


Is it just me? Has anyone else noticed that the word verification words are now - words?

Some of them aren't proper words but they make a sort of sense. I'll have to start compiling a list of the more interesting ones. This evening I came upon 'Oringes'

A healthy post

For me at least...

The children always used to laugh at me because I couldn’t put those mini earphone thingies into my ears and make them stay put. Those of you who have been paying attention will remember that back at the beginning of August I had a nightmare about robots which left me with a shh, shh noise in my right ear which keeps coming back. I can still hear it as I type this.

On Friday I went for my three monthly check up. I mentioned the noise in my ear and the Doctor had a look with great difficulty because my ears are a funny shape inside; I have unique ears and now they can’t laugh at me. There is a bit of a blockage which could be responsible for the noise, so now I have eardrops for a week.

As usual he was pleased with my blood sugar readings in my little booklet. My blood pressure has been perfect the last few times so a month before I go back I’m to stop taking the tablets to see what happens. I’m really pleased about that because I will be able to eat grapefruit again.

Tomorrow I’m off to have the first session on the veins on my legs. She says it might not work as some of the veins are very old - 40 years for example.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Christmas is coming...

Christian has come and gone. We took him back to the airport last Friday morning. It was strange to see him again after two years. Most of his old friends seem to be scattered all over the world so he didn’t really have anyone to visit. He sorted out a lot of his old belongings and loaded up a suitcase to take home, they will now be in his grandmother’s loft instead of our garage. The weather was really sunny and we went for a lovely walk and he took lots of photos which I hope he’ll forward to me so that I can post some here

I’ve started decorating the Christmas tree. For years Rob did all of the decorating at Christmas, as it happens I’m happy to take over as I don’t put so much out and it was always my job to clear away….

Next week and the week after I will be supervising exams nearly every morning. As the school of commerce grows so does the examination period – good news for us exam ladies.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Looking for Jack

I spoke too soon. Yesterday afternoon Olivier’s friend phoned him as he had a flat tyre and couldn’t find the jack to lift the car. So we very kindly lent him ours. Olivier came in an hour later with a bent jack.

Today, minus the half hour lie-in I was looking forward to, I have been out looking for a new jack (I should be so lucky!). Nowadays they make what I can only describe as a camping stove look alike. Rob phoned the Renault dealer and all he could offer was a new jack at 200€ and told rob to try the scrap merchant. There is one nearby so I dragged Olivier along with me and we got one for 10€ cash. Rob will collect it this evening as I didn’t have any cash. The nice man remembered that we used to have a Citroën 2 CV… twenty years ago.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A bit of everything

Two good pieces of news to start the day bright and early. The most important is that Debbie’s father is fine. They had to wait and worry for a lot longer than necessary for some results due to the slow wheel of the NHS in the UK.

Then, when I put AOL on to look at my emails this morning I saw that they have a feature on France in 1900. This should stimulate interest in vintage postcards. All in all a good start to the day.

I spoke to Dom on her birthday. Her parcel had arrived okay and she was pleased with the contents, especially a purple jacket exactly like this one. Though she still insists she prefers the orange/pumkin one! She is teaching English twice a week now and really enjoying it. The job at the library is very demanding indeed. It’s very quiet so she’s on MSN most of the time AND getting paid for it. The afternoon of her birthday was going to be spent baking and preparing food for her party in the evening. One of her friends was kindly lending their flat as Dom’s has only got standing room for about 4 people (one in the shower) and two of her friends were coming from Paris. I haven’t heard anything since…

Olivier is being driven to lycée this week by his friend who is an apprentice chef. The building where he studies for 1 week every month is next to the lycée so they go together. Half an hour extra in bed all round, much appreciated by me. It’s strange to see them going off, it only seems 5 minutes ago they were sitting on the doorstep together, in the sun with their toy cars.

Rob and I worked flat out for a few days last week. Ebay put on a special offer for professionals (that’s us); free placements. You can imagine we prepared a maximum amount of postcards and managed to put on 180. We’ve been selling groups of cards too, to clear our stock, which have been doing very nicely. I was rather proud of this group, which now has a bid I’m pleased to say.

Click on the image for a much better view..

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Happy Birthday!!

Dom is 20 years old today. I haven’t managed to speak to her on the phone yet. I imagine her struggling back from the post office with the parcel we sent her. I remember driving to the hospital in the early hours of the morning. I started to panic when we hit the streets around the market and there was a lot of unloading going on. We got blocked in for a couple of minutes…. The rest is history. Yesterday she phoned me for a recipe for mustard cake, she’ll be making her famous carrot cake and asked me for other ideas. Hope you all have a great time tonight Dom!

Bad Medicine by Bon Jovi was the number one hit according to Billboard magazine the week that Dom was born

I got my page a Day diary out for 1975 to see what I did on my 20th birthday. It was a Friday so I went to work as usual. My friends at work gave me a couple of books ‘The Fortune Tellers’ and ‘Natural Magic’. In the evening I went to see some friends and we went out for a drink. It was the start of a new relationship which lasted 4 years. I didn’t have the time to write much else.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Dreams and Children

It’s strange how the subconscious works. Just before Dom left she went to the hairdressers to have her hair cut, it looked really good but the real test is when you have to do it yourself. She washed her hair just before she left and it hadn’t dried properly when I took her to the station, so I didn’t really see how it turned out. Last night I dreamt that Dom was home and I asked if she’d turn round so that I could see her hair. She obliged – she’d just washed it and it was still wet! I had my hair cut last week. My hair is very fine and needs a little lenghth to hold it down, it's too short and all over the place - at least it will grow.

Christian phoned this evening. He’ll probably be coming to stay at the end of November for a few days!!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Me and science

I participated in a scientific experiment last week. I had to finish around 200 sentences and not use pronouns, be grammatically correct and all in French. Needless to say I was hopeless, I was also a bad subject as I’m not a native French speaker. The idea was to see if people used the correct forms under stress, I suppose to see how the subconscious takes over. The sentences were messed around a bit to trip you up and I kept reading qui as que which changed things a lot. It certainly was stressful for me. The only other experiment I’ve taken part in was at the common cold unit in 1984. I had flu and was given placebos.

I took Dom back to the station this morning and collected Olivier from a friend’s on the way back, how’s that for ecological co-ordination? (Or perhaps convenient children)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A visitor

I've just seen the Eurasian Jay again. He was sat on the wall when I went into the kitchen, so I sneaked up to the window and stood very still. He hopped down to where I leave out crumbs for the sparrows and had a ltttle explore. His colours in real life are really lovely, much better than all the photos and paintings I've seen.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tempus fugit

On Saturday evening the telephone line went off so we lost our internet connection with it. Rob went into town twice on Sunday to put the postcards I had prepared onto ebay and to deal with inquiries etc. from customers. I did feel cut off from the world.

Yesterday morning my annual check up with the Swedish chef*. As I was undressing he popped out to his receptionist and collected his post. A parcel from England! He asked me it I minded him opening his parcel. A book on the anatomy of the brain. He was as pleased as punch and before I left showed me some of the pages he’d been send via the internet; Oh yes, everything is tickety boo – I find it quite amusing that Rob pays for another man to tell me I’ve got impeccable breasts! (for my age)

After that, across to the other side of town to collect Dom from the station. She was waiting for me and half of the very busy, too small car park was closed off for resurfacing. Dom is fine and she was very tired. She’s got a job in the university library when she goes back. 7 hours a week. She’s decided that she is going to open a bookshop. I’ve passed her my notes from the Chamber of Commerce about setting up a business. Working 7 hours a week she is going to take a while to save up enough to start a business, but at least she has ideas. Olivier is panicking a bit, I think, about what to do next. In the immediate future I’m pleased to say that Dom has taken up drawing again. She was always very good and I was disappointed she didn’t pursue it more. I am now minus all of my watercolour equipment and would I look for a tin to keep the tubes of paint in?

Olivier looks less like a Hamster now but is in pain still. He’s eating more solid food and is as hungry as ever – he’s making up for last Wednesday when he didn’t eat anything.

Me? Busy doing the washing, of course.

*Rob had his wisdom teeth out the day before I saw the Swedish Chef for the first time!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Hamsters, hedgehogs and yoghut

Still continuing with the mushy food. I visited lots of sites giving advice on what to or not to eat. As usual advice varies from country to country, culture to culture. He still looks like a giant hamster….

Did you know that if you come to my house with a yoghurt you have to store it at a temperature one degree centigrade lower than if you visited Zoe’s house with the same yoghurt?

This evening Rob and I were putting the car away when I heard the sound of rustling leaves. From underneath came out an adorable young hedgehog. He took no notice of us at all and came right up to us looking at us as if to say ‘What are you doing here?’. He snuffled back into the leaves and went on his way again.

Don’t forget to put your clocks back. It’s the last weekend of October already!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A little bit of wisdom - not

I took Olivier into the clinic this morning to have his wisdom teeth out. He makes a bad patient, he was grumpy, tired and hungry. Matters weren’t helped when we all had to wait in a room with vending machines full of chocolate. Not the best place for people who haven’t eaten for 12 hours. About half an hour ago the clinic phoned to tell me that everything had gone okay. We are picking him up this evening at 6.30. He was sure he was going to be one of those people who are awake during their operation, I’ll be interested to see how he got on if that was the case.

He’ll be off school till the weekend when the holidays start

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Computers and Postcards

We had no internet for most of yesterday afternoon. There were so many ‘things to do’. Now I’ve discovered the new widget where blogs that are updated come to the top I’d like to put everyone onto that and show the top five. I’d keep the ordinary blogroll too. On my other blogs I’d do the same with the blogs that were relevant to them.

We’ve been digging through our ‘put to one side’ stock. Rob had the idea of selling lots of 50 postcards. So far we’ve come up with two good lots. We’ve also found some gems which we overlooked in the past because of lack of experience. That gave me something to do away from the computer.

Someone is selling a lot of 100,000 postcards on eBay (yes, one hundred thousand). We’d love to have them, the starting price is only 14,000€. It is, in fact, a bargain at only 14 cents a card. It's fortunate that we can’t afford them as we haven’t got the space to store them. I think we’ve got around 20,000 postcards at the moment, which is just about manageable.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Just village life

Our mayor is being taken to court by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Before he retired he was the inspector of inspectors in the Ministry of Education and his mission was to research the various sects in France. He wrote something in his report that the witnesses did not like, something to do with education. He’s a good man and has done a lot for our village, particularly the schools which were neglected under the previous mayor. BTW: Our schools are named The Rose (maternelle or nursery) and The Fox (primary) after ‘The Little Prince’ because Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s great uncle was Mayor of L’Houmeau (Now I'll have to go and find out the years).

There are even more road works. We seem to have had roads closed all over the village since the turn of the century (I’ve always wanted to use the phrase ‘the turn of the century’). The cars are being diverted through our quiet little road. We live on the corner and it’s quite noisy at times as drivers are in a hurry. I’m waiting for someone to miss the corner.

There is a plant in our post office. It’s grown very big over the years and occasionally has rose like flowers though I think it’s more of a Begonia* type bush thingy. The post office lady, who has been there longer than us (more than 22 years), can’t remember a time when it wasn’t there. This morning she was sweeping up leaves. The poor plant looks really sad and is losing its foliage. She’s tried feeding it but it seems not to even want watering at the moment. This year it had more flowers than usual, I suggested that perhaps it was tired.

*Begonias are named after Michel Bégon who was steward of La Rochelle 1694-1710.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The weekend draws to a close

Some times the world seems turned upside down. I had an email from Dom. Last weekend she went to Paris to stay with a friend. The visited the Louvre. They get special treatment because they have a friend who is studying there. Can you imagine studying at the Louvre???? Dom’s great discovery was that you can have pancakes there. (This is my arty, historical, intellectual daughter speaking.)

Olivier arrived home two hours earlier than expected and there was only fish in mustard sauce and broccoli and cauliflower to eat – dreadful! Anyway I quickly made him some pasta so he didn’t die from vegetable contamination. I think he was a little disappointed with his weekend. It was quiet. The students all seem to have gone home for the weekend. He says would have liked a tour of Nantes and he only saw the river Loire from the train. They ordered a salmon pizza last night and it was awful. He told me he was glad to be home. (Isn’t that nice to know).

While Rob and I were out for a walk this afternoon we met a couple we knew years ago. Rob taught all three of their sons English. There were all lovely boys. They are all grown up now and one even lives in Canada, installs computers and stuff into control towers, all in English thanks to Rob’s influence. It was lovely to catch up. We like to know how the youngsters we saw in the past have got on in life.

A good weekend

This has been a strange weekend altogether. Olivier went off to Nantes on Friday evening for the weekend to visit a friend who is at university there. I made spinach tart for lunch yesterday and chicken and bean casserole in the evening and there was no one to complain! I lay awake for a while during the night wondering if he’d been beaten up and thrown into or perhaps fallen into the River Loire in a drunken state.

The weather has been magnificent, 25°C yesterday and no wind. This afternoon I went out and cleaned out the gutters which was easy as the leaves were dry and just needed brushing out. I don’t mind going up a ladder but I don’t like coming down. Managed to get my foot tangled up in some rosemary on the way down once, but I only panicked a little bit.

I think I’ve seen more butterflies this weekend than I have all summer. Yesterday two gendarmes were mating on the kitchen windowsill. They are very quick and both run off in opposite directions afterwards. Once out in the garden I did a little tidying up cutting and pruning, I’d forgotten to look out for these (don’t look if you don’t like spiders). They weave magnificent webs and have very plump bodies. Fortunately, I didn’t find one in my hair.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Eyebrows and charcoal sticks

About 4 months ago In May I wrote that my eyebrows were dropping out. I looked as if I’d had an argument with the tweezers. On my next visit to the doctors I asked to have my thyroid medication increased. My eyebrows still aren’t what they used to be but the hairs are growing longer and stronger. I feel better too.

The man across the road set fire to a tree in his garden a year ago and since then we have had a giant stick of charcoal to look at from the kitchen window. He finally cut it down yesterday.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Blogrolling anyone?

My Blogroll seems to have disappeared. When I went to look so has the Blogrolling site. Does anyone know what's going on? I'm sat here all alone without my friends...


Last year at this time I was writing about the benefits of spreading dung on your field. This year I’ve come up with something a little more romantic. When Christian was 6 he had a poem to learn about autumn. It caught my imagination and I’ve often wondered what it was and who wrote it. This morning I Googled it. It was by a Belgian poet called Maurice Careme (1899-1978). He had been a teacher for some of his life and wrote many of his poems for children. In France you will find 5 schools named after him. Don’t worry – the poem is short and I’ve dared to translated it.

Autumn in the corner of the woods,
Plays harmonica.
What fun for the leaves!
They waltz in the arms
Of the wind that carries them.
They say they are dead
But no one believes it.
Autumn in the corner of the woods,
Plays harmonica.

Maurice Careme

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


You must go and read Worldman's farewell to Darfur post. He has been working there for the past four years looking after the refugees.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Good News

I haven’t heard from my friend Willow in Norway for so long. Today I saw that her blog had been updated at long last with some very good news!

Willow, I hope that you and Tito will be very happy together.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

You might not believe this

This afternoon I received a chain email from an old friend, Malcolm. It was a prayer from Saint Theresa whose fête was yesterday. It told me that if I forwarded the letter to 11 people something nice would happen; so I sent it off to 11 people and one back to Malcolm, except that the e mail was empty. (I’m really sorry about that) Cassie very kindly let me know so I sent it out again.

When Rob got home he opened two letters from the tax office. When he read the first one he couldn’t decide whether we owed them some money or they owed us. He opened up the second letter and there was a cheque worth having. Really.

Here is the prayer:

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing,
Dance, praise and love.

It is there for each and every one of us.

In which I don't do the homework

My big burly 17 year old son asked me last night if I’d colour his homework map in for him. He’s learning about the major canals and waterways of the world at the moment. The map had to be coloured mainly orange for some reason. I told him that I’ve coloured maps and filled in enough density of populations dots for one life time thank you.

In France they have to ‘do’ philosophy in their last year. Most pupils hate it because they just don’t get it. Olivier is one of them. Dom has taken it as an extra two years running at university she loves it so much. Any way I thought of telling Olivier he will just have to be philosophical about it, but I don’t think he’ll appreciate the joke…

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Why didn't I find this last week?

You must try this. It tells you everything you need to know about your birthdate.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I think I have proof that it works

On Saturday we went out to tea at an old friend’s who I’ll write about in another post. She’d made a chocolate cake so I had some of that, after a walk round by the beach we had an aperitif. In France you can drink port before a meal and very nice it is too. She’d also made my favourite, a savoury olive cake* and there were other nibbles. Rob and I returned home late and so I made pizza (as in out of the freezer into the oven) as I didn’t feel like cooking much and had the last of the lemon meringue pie from my birthday meal on Friday. Needless to say I didn’t take a reading of my blood sugar before I went to bed. On Sunday I felt rotten all day – almost hung over. It is a long time since I went off the rails to that extent and proof that I do need to stay sensible if I want to feel and stay well. We won’t mention weight.

*Dom made a few cakes in the summer too, they must be in a cake conspiracy together.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Emmett Till

Emmett Till died a month before I was born. Since I discovered his story I’ve written about him several times on my birthday. If you want to see what hate looks like look here (You’ll need to scroll down). His mother, Mamie, should be remembered alongside Rosa Parks.

Strangely enough at the moment, Olivier is studying those people who wear white gowns (I won’t put the name, but I think you know who) and guns in the US in English. We had to look up the white gowned people at home because the lycee computer blocks those kind of sites. So I told him about Emmett and showed him the picture, then I found him the Lyrics of Strange Fruit and he listened to John Martyn singing them. We both felt pretty sick after that.

A day later, he gave a talk on the subject, he thinks it went pretty well, he made an effort to speak slowly to the rest of the class. His talk lasted longer than intended and he didn’t use all of the material he’d prepared (I’m familiar with that one).

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Helping people

This morning I was heading for the door into the newsagents and the lady in front of me held the door and waited until I came. I thanked her of course. She shuffled ahead of me, obviously handicapped and I was struck by the effort she must have put in to hold that door open. On my way out I held the door open for three men who came in at the same time (the door opens inwards so it was logical or me to hold it open for them). The first man said nothing, the second thanked me and the third, who happened to be my doctor, thanked me and wished me a good day.

Chandni has been writing about helping people too.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A busy Autumn

I think that I saw a Eurasian Jay this morning. He was on the wall across the road and strutted around while I fetched my book to look him up. Fortunately I had my glasses on or I wouldn’t have noticed he was special.

Yesterday I crushed a big grass hopper in the front door. We thought we’d thrown him out earlier, but it appears we hadn’t. Olivier told me he was cycling along one evening when one landed on his shoulder and was enjoying the ride. I should have told him it was Jiminy Cricket. Perhaps he should have listened to see if he would have given him some careers advice. I told Olivier (again) the story of the time I was hanging out the washing and felt something wriggling around inside my t-shirt…

A week ago I discovered a European House Centipede (Cute, aren’t they?) in the bathroom, he was very close to where I had hung up my hair washing towel. (Thank God he didn’t hide in there). Olivier came to the rescue with a shoe, leaving a few legs on the wall – oh well. Looking him up (the centipede not Olivier) I discovered that he is a goody and quite harmless. They run very fast when they get the chance to.

Here is a tip: Don’t crush cockroaches. When Dom was on the campus last year there were cockroaches, fortunately they didn’t reach the 4th floor. Students were asked not to crush them because that releases the eggs. The forth floor was also where Dom discovered that earwigs have wings.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Unconscious Mutterings

It's a long time since I took part in Unconcious Mutterings. Thanks to Titania for reminding me.

  1. Cut the crap :: Spit it out

  2. Scent :: animals

  3. Vanishing :: cream

  4. Wetness :: nappies/diapers (The memories stay with you a long time)

  5. Cheap :: cheerful

  6. Badges :: school blazers

  7. Puppy :: wuff

  8. Problem solver :: me!

  9. Gambling :: waste of time

  10. Sophia :: Catherine the Great

On the subject of families

Try to imagine having a telephone conversation with someone who doesn’t speak your language and you don’t speak theirs. Now imagine this ‘conversation’ lasting for 17 minutes. One of Rob’s Norwegian cousins phoned the other day. She phones about twice a year and I always seem to be the one who draws the short straw. I’m not completely speechless in Norwegian I can say ‘I don’t speak Norwegian’. Unfortunately, she seems to think that if she speaks to me long enough I’ll be able to understand (a bit like how babies learn). I’m too polite to hang up, after all she is family. Oh well at least I know I’ve got about five and a half months until the next call…

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The new girl

For quite a while now I’ve been reading the blog of a lady called Jo. I’ve been wanting to add her to my blogroll for ages because I know that many of you would enjoy her writing too. Unfortunately her blog was by invitation only.

Yesterday I discovered that she has now gone public with a second blog which promises to be as good as the first - or even better because she’s had more practise. Her blog is called Brilliant Girl Genius which is what she is, why not pop across and say hello.

Another year passes

The 11th September was my Grandfather’s birthday and also that of Isaac Stolzfut who wrote this poem, scroll down to September 11th. ( Isaac went out over a year ago now and still hasn’t been found.)

I was thinking about what could be my contribution to this day. I did know someone who was indirectly involved, fortunately her story had a happy ending (they married in the end). All I can think of is suggesting that everyone make some sort of effort to make sure that this never happens again. If everyone decides to be more open minded and tolerant towards others. More accepting of everyone’s right to be different, or even to be the same. Perhaps the world might start to be a better place for everyone, wherever they are.

A long day

Not Dom's place just part of the street.

On Tuesday morning we set off at 3 o’clock in the morning for Poitiers loaded up with Dominique’s belongings. It takes around two hours to get there. As we rarely spend longer than about twenty minutes in the car at a time this is a long journey, especially in the dark. We arrived 20 minutes earlier than we said we would, despite two stops for coffee on the motorway. As it was only 5.30 we sat in the car and waited for a while before ringing her to let her know we were there. The early start was worth it, there was no traffic at all in Poitiers and we parked right in front of her front door.

Dom’s little flat/apartment/studio is lovely. Plenty of cupboard space with useful furniture and the main part, after two years as a university tenant, her own toilet and shower! When you stand by the front door you can see (and hear) the fountain and the Prefecture (picture possibly taken from her street). After unloading the car and helping Dom to assemble her Ikea table we took her to collect her fridge which she doesn’t need. It’s very small so I’ve put it in our kitchen now to store the overload from the other one. Then we had to drop her off at the university as she was addressing the 1st year students in her roll of the psycho association president.

Rob and I spent the morning wandering around Poitiers until she was free again when she look us on a guided tour. Dom likes her history so it was interesting with dates which I’ve forgotten. We left her after lunch and started the long journey back. Rob stopped and we both slept for a while. We arrived home at 5 o’clock and went to bed and slept again. I’m still tired now, I need 8 hours.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Me and the frog

Anji: (Kneeling down beside the car) Come on out, you can’t hide under the tyres, you’ll get squashed
Frog: No! Leave me alone
Anji: Come on, I’ll take to a safer place and then we can move the car.
Frog: No, my mummy said to always hide under a rock if I was frightened.
Anji: But it isn’t a rock, it’s a car tyre.
Frog: It smells.
Anji: That’s because it’s made of rubber and it’s not for frogs.
Frog: Don’t poke me with that stick
Anji: I’m not poking you, I’m trying to make you move out of the way
Frog: Alright, I’m coming out – don’t hurt me
Anji: I don’t want to hurt you, I’m going to give you a little ride in my dustpan and put you in a safe place
Frog: whoa! Where are we going now?
Anji: Into the long grass where it’s nice and wet and the magpies can’t see you.
Frog: Thanks.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The year moves on

I think it’s time for a little update. We went to the ‘seaside’ at the weekend. We don’t count here as the seaside as the beach is stony and the island is not far across the way. Last time Rob and I went we decided that we wouldn’t go again. Not much fun without bucket and spades and children. Dom asked if we would go just for old times sake so we went and it was one of the three hottest days of the year – the end of last week. So we swam and it was lovely, very crowded though and lots of Brits. In the evening we ate at The Goldwing which is decorated Mexican style. I love the colours warm and faded. We were really surprised at how good it was and not too expensive. American style burgers, though I suspect any passing Americans will wonder where that idea came from.

Olivier has finished at the restaurant and they were very pleased with his work. He earned more than we all thought he would. I told him that I hope he doesn’t spend it all on sex and drugs and rock and roll. I’ve got a feeling that as he worked so hard to get it he’ll hang on to it, for a while. We shall see. He’s started school again – last year, hopefully. They broke his class up as there were a lot of trouble makers but he doesn’t mind too much as he knows most of the others in his new class. So far he’s been pretty cheerful

Dom is busy packing. I’ve been given some makeup she doesn’t want/need any more, so I will experiment with that when everyone is out of the way. She’s just put in a request for new socks before she goes. All the socks in the house seem to have disappeared this summer. Perhaps there is a sock fetishist in the neighbourhood?

Me? I’ve been postcarding most of the time though I did prune the roses and clean out a gutter last week. When we go for our walk in the evenings there are lots of frogs around and they seem to be all sizes. I don’t know if they are different species or all the same but at different stages of development.

The spiders have started to come in. So far just medium sized ones. Winter is on its way.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Into the future

Just have a look round at some of these ideas. Not all of them are as far fetched as you would think. Especially the film about the kitchen....

Friday, August 22, 2008

Thunder, pineapple and roses

Early this morning , around 5 o’clock, I was woken by a huge clap of thunder. Seems like half of the district was woken too. Olivier got up to see what was going on and annoyed his darling mummy by asking if he could run round the garden with a metal pole. I don’t know where he gets his ideas from.

My dear son is still washing up and making salads at the restaurant. We went to the drive-in at MacDonald’s the other evening and while we were waiting he explained to me how to cut up a pineapple professionally. He can cut it up next time we have one. He’s looking forward to being paid, which I think is his main inspiration for getting out of bed in the mornings.

Dom went to Ikea with a friend and bought herself a small table. It’s a long way from here so I’ve never been to Ikea. Sounds like there are some good bargains for students. She also came home with a new computer (not Ikea), so Olivier now has her old one. She couldn’t sell it because sometimes the screen turns off. I haven’t heard Olivier shouting yet.

Rob and I have been very busy with the postcards. As professionals we sometimes get special reductions so we prepared a lot of cards in advance this week. We now have over 1000 postcards in our shop. This was the 1000th card. My mouse clicking finger aches a little so I even tried using the mouse left handed, I’m very slow.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

My Olympic announcement

As everyone else seems to be writing something:

I’ve just had an email from my sister to confirm that our very own  cousin will be swimming in the paraplegic Olympics in September!! I haven’t met my cousin, but I do know that she is very young and very small - and very courageous.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Dreams and Robots

I dreamt that Rob had a very rich aunt who died and we all had to gather at her huge house for the funeral. For some reason she decided to frighten us all by making lots of banging noises, slamming doors and tuning lights on and off. A female relative (non existent as far as I know) and I were being chased through the house and garden by a robot – we were terrified. Fortunately I woke up. I could hear shhh, shhh, shhhh in my ears, I realised it was my pulse, it disappeared as I relaxed and calmed down again.

I remember the robot film from when I was small. A little boy was chased around by an unstoppable robot who rescues him in the end (!). It really frightened me and I still worry about robots coming onto general use – even though I used to know the three laws of robotics. Isaac Asimov died in 1992 so he isn’t around anymore to sort things out for us...

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Yet another fridge post...

I’ve now got a new fridge and I won’t have to defrost it- ever. The delivery man phoned at twenty to twelve on Tuesday announcing that he would arrive in half an hour. I was in a real flap. Empty the old fridge, dust it down, clear a space for the new one, unpack it and put it into place, clear away all the polystyrene bits, make lunch and have the kitchen cleared for my pupil at two. Olivier says he loves to see me in a panic. He and Rob did help though.

Olivier got the job as washer up and salad maker. The lady who was coming for the job permanently turned up late on the first day of her tryout and then not at all, so they asked Olivier to do the job for a month. It is hard work but he is so pleased. He’s going to show me how to make croq monsieur properly and knows how to remove the pith from oranges. I’m expecting him to tell me I need to buy a proper set of knives next…

Dom and I went shopping on Friday. Looking for odds and ends for her new home in September. How many years is it since I really looked around household and furniture shops? I’d love to start again and have bright orange cake tins (when did I last make a cake?). We did enjoy ourselves.

Memories of a special time and place

While I was visiting blogs today a post on Dru’s blog reminded me of a roof that I had been lucky enough to visit.

At the end of the last century (!) I was teaching English in several primary schools locally. One of the schools in the north of the department was in a old convent which had been seized during the revolution. I imagined the beautiful old staircase being quietly used by the nuns – not by noisy children as it is today. I was teaching the children who would be leaving for the ‘big school’ the following September. I really thought that their teacher was called Boris Vian - that was the name on the classroom door. When I went into the headmaster’s classroom I realised that their headmaster couldn’t possibly be Victor Hugo. I was pleased I hadn’t addressed the teacher as Monsieur Vian. Anyway, the teacher, whoever he was, was someone really special. The class had adopted one of the contestants of the Vendee Globe boat race and he was using the race as a way of teaching all of the subjects throughout the year. The children were learning to plot a course, study weather, geography, natural history and so on in the context of the race - oh yes, and compose a letter in English! In the March of the year they would be staying for a week in Vendee and hopefully greeting their adopted contestant as he sailed home.

The teacher was also an artist so he’d arranged for the children to pass some time at a workshop based on the work of a late local artist – I forget his name. Towards the end of my time there the teacher took me up into the roof which was beautiful, completely wooden and divided into three areas; computers, library and art. One of the dividers to the areas was a huge sail painted by the children at the art workshop. With the sunlight coming through the windows it equalled stained glass!

Those children have probably left the school system by now. I hope they remember and appreciate their teacher

Thursday, July 31, 2008


Because of the wet spring this year there have been lots of flowers. My clematises (clementi?)seemed to flower and flower for ages. The roses have been abundant, despite my laziness in pruning. This year is a bumper year for hollyhocks in Charente Maritime, the department where I live. We’re famous for our postcards of little houses on Ré island with green or blue shutters and tall hollyhocks decorating the walls – this year the hollyhocks are as high as the roof in some cases, the local paper devoted a colour double-page spread to them.

I’ll leave you to browse the pictures I found on Google. It seems we have ‘hollyhock’ cookies too! ( They contain hollyhock petals and the cook also makes honeysuckle cookies.)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Last of the fridge poetry

Dom’s friend Iris (who sometimes wears a top hat with a toy rabbit in the band) has finished learning about Spanish insects and has come home for the summer. As usual when she visits, she leaves me poems, or at least lines of poetry on the fridge. I cleared all of the words away today as hopefully at the end of next week I should have my NEW FRIDGE at long last! I noted down and translated the few remaining lines before I broke them up

Don’t smile at gastronomes

Little daddy tender peach

Your mummy in a bin is delicious

Weekends, not before Sunday

Bring me all the children for washing up

We find the stars are very good

Always need presents

It’s not easy as the words work their way down the fridge and disappear underneath. When the men take the old fridge I’ll ask if I can scrape off any lingering words from the bottom. Poems seem to have a foodie theme as I had a few sets of words free with something or other we used to eat.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Now glowing in the dark

Yesterday morning we had a power cut just as I was in the shower. Fortunately it didn’t last for too long and it wasn’t dark.

I know that the leaks in the nuclear power stations in France have made the headlines in the UK – after all, a lot of electricity you use over there comes from over here. Perhaps now is a good time to lay in a stock of candles and matches.

I remember when the children were small EDF/GDF (one company then) used to advertise their nuclear power. A man knocked on the door of a house and asked his neighbour if he could borrow his electric drill; “ You mean nuclear drill!” the neighbour would proudly remind him…

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Life continues

Dom went off to Poitiers at the weekend for a birthday party for the brother of a friend. She made a carrot cake as her contribution. It always sounds weird to people but it turned out really well and everyone loved it. She came home with some cartoons of herself that had been drawn by the birthday brother; they are amazing. I won’t ask why she was given green spiral eyes. He’ll be studying art next year.

Olivier still doesn’t know if he’s got the job at the restaurant. We all went and had breakfast on the port this morning before he and Rob went to the bank to open an account for him. Dom and I looked around the shops until it was time for her to go to work. Then I looked at the sales. Everything in my size has gone!

Monday, July 21, 2008

From inside the paper bag

I don’t seem capable of organising my way out of a paper bag at the moment. That’s why I haven’t posted much at all. The garden is overgrown and the pile of ironing is so large it keeps sliding onto the floor. I don’t seem to get anything completed. We’ve been very busy with the postcards as Rob has had a few days holiday (there will be outings later). Yesterday was one of our best days for sales ever. I must admit I feel sad when they go – I’d like to keep them all.

The harvest is well under way and the village was covered in chaff this afternoon as it was so windy and blowing the bits over from the fields. There is a lot of bird noise this evening, I’m wondering if there will be another brood of chicks before they leave in august.

Olivier has applied for a salad preparing and washing up job at the restaurant in the village. In France it is very difficult to work if you are under 18, lots of paperwork and responsibility for the employers. I wouldn’t want him to work anywhere like that illegally. I used to know a girl who worked in a posh tearooms in England, she was under age and when she burnt herself one afternoon, they couldn’t let her go to the emergency department. Fortunately it was alright in the end, but…

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Dom's new home

While we’re on the subjects of chicks. Dom will be moving to here in September which means that she will have her own little home. You can click on the pictures if you like. The ‘studio’ as they call it is just off the square with the fountains

Honorary Grandma

I’ve got another brood of chicks on the porch, though not so many this time, I think. Like all parents, the nightingales are much cooler second time around. I don’t get shouted at when I go outside. They weren’t too happy when they saw Olivier out there yesterday. I’m obviously considered one of the family.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Peeping Tom

My son is a typical 17 year old I think. Now the long holidays have started he stays out late, usually hanging out at a friends house. I’m not too keen on him coming in as I’m getting up, but it does come in useful sometimes. The other morning I could hear footfalls outside as I got up at six and assumed Olivier was making his way home at last. He didn’t come into the house straight away. Not unusual as the freezer is in the garage and he sometimes brings a snack in if he’s hungry. When he did manage to get the key into the lock and come in he was quite animated. As he was walking towards the house he saw a man come in through our gate and plant himself outside our bedroom window (we live in a bungalow). The wooden shutters don’t fit too well after 23 years of blazing sun and damp winters. He can see in if the light is on, though he wouldn’t be able to see much unless he was lucky (!) enough to be there as I walk out of the bedroom. Olivier managed to approach the man, who was intent on seeing inside, which must have given him a shock. The man ran off and Olivier chased him until he got onto his bike which was parked in the little path between the houses.

This isn’t the first time we’ve had problems over the years which is why I didn’t think Olivier was hallucinating. I’ve cut out some cardboard to put just inside the shutter to act as a screen though I don’t think he’ll be back for a while.

Olivier had his exam results today. He didn’t do too badly and surprised even himself!

Monday, July 07, 2008

That's my girl!

Recently a local butter company ran a competition and the prize was to eat a meal in an unusual place. The unusual place was the Saint Nicolas Tower and Dom happened to be the guide who got to work overtime. She gave a much appreciated guided tour and she and her colleague were invited to join in on the meal. She knew that the local press were there to record the event, but didn’t realise they had taken a photo – until this morning. So here is Dom strutting her stuff in costume.

Not so convenient

In the past few weeks I’ve had problems with public toilets. The first was at a bar where Rob usually goes before work for coffee. I noticed that the men’s toilets were closed on the way to the ladies, locked myself in, double checked the lock and low and behold a man opens the door to find me – well, doing what you do in toilets. Round two was at the cyber café; I know that this is a bad one (and mixed) so Rob went in first to check it was reasonably clean. I locked the door etc., etc. and when I was finished couldn’t open the door to get out. Fortunately the door gave way before I really started to panic. Number three was McDonald’s in Poitiers. We had brunch before coming home when we collected Dom. Nice, clean and very modern. So modern in fact that I discovered how an infra red light decides when you are finished and flushes for you, even when you are not ready.

My stories are quite comical really, but it isn’t always the case. Go and read Dru’s story about someone else’s problems with public loos

Saturday, July 05, 2008

My son, the gentleman

Olivier and I went shopping on Thursday morning for his shoes. I tried not to look as if I was with him, but he was quite nice as I was the one with the credit card. He told me that I wasn’t too bad to go shopping with. The worst thing – he confided in me- is shopping with a girl. “Especially when they expect you to carry the bags”.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

In which I dress myself

When my cholesterol levels were high 7 years ago, rather than give me tablets, which are dangerous in the long term, my doctor sent me to the nutritionist. One of the things she advised me to do was to make my own salad dressing in a cocktail shaker. The cocktail shaker was getting on a bit and the rubber seal came off. Last Wednesday evening I was shaking up a batch of vinaigrette when the lid flew off. As my hand became covered in oil the shaker flew out of my hand and I was covered in dressing and shattered glass. One of the worst messes I’ve cleaned up must be oil, vinegar and glass. In the past week I’ve broken three small plates, a cocktail shaker and finished this evening with a glass bowl which shattered into an enormous amount of pretty yellow glass.

Where have I been?

Last week was very busy for us. Wednesday was auction day so we went to the viewing in the morning and stayed in town for lunch. To kill time we went for a walk along the port to the marina. We walked on top of the wall and it was windy and sunny. On the way back I walked along the side so now I have a half red nose. The auction went very well for us and we came home with nearly 2000 really interesting postcards. Thursday was spent catching up with Wednesday and sorting out cards.

On Friday morning we headed for Poitiers to collect Dom and all of her belongings. She’s been looking at apartments. She’s seen a really nice one right in the middle of Poitiers. I hope she can have it, though it will stretch her budget. If she does move in there it will mean she’s really left home. Still, it will be a good excuse to visit Poitiers which is a beautiful old town. Needless to say I’ve had a lot of washing to do over the last few days.

The plug of the adapter of Rob’s laptop started to make noises. When I tested it in the kitchen it really sparked. Rob phoned up the company, Packard bell, and they found him another adapter. His Laptop doesn’t exist anymore and it’s only 11 months old. All the pictures on the site showed the adaptors complete with plug. The adaptor arrived without a plug. The people at Packard Bell were very helpful but kept disappearing for at least 15 minutes every time Rob phoned. Olivier discovered the CD player plug fits, now he’s not happy. We haven’t found another plug anywhere else. Sharing a computer has been hard as both Rob and I usually work on two computers. Needless to say I always come second…

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I went to see the specialist about the veins on my legs. She ultra sound scanned them and there is nothing sinister going on. She said that we could give electrolysis a go but as some of them are very old (nearly 40 years) it might not work. A session is not too expensive and would be once a month during the winter months. If it looks as if it is not working we would stop. I don’t have to do anything until October so we’ll see what the finances are like then.

She's nothing like the doctor of the same name on TV so Rob won't be coming with me...

"Last night I had the strangest dream..."

A couple of nights ago I dreamt that I was in a clearing in a woods sat at a table with some other people. In front of me I had the narrative to a play I was in. I knew that the lines I had to read were in the form of a poem. I couldn’t learn them because I didn’t understand the words. The rest of the cast were cross with me because they could see that I intended to have my script in front of me when I was sat on the stage.

The reason why I had this dream was all thanks to the computer. The clearing in the woods was on one of the postcards I’d been preparing during the day. Then, when I was having a stroll around my blog friends I came across a word I’d never seen before and had to look it up. Next, I popped via the comments to a new blog where I learnt that the lady who used to organise the poetry&words tent at the Glastonbury festival had died. Strange the things that stay in your head.

When I woke up I remembered a play I was in in my early teens; I was the narrator in The Pied Piper of Hamlin by Robert Browning (I didn’t remember it was by him!), I tested myself and I remembered the first verse. This took me on in my thoughts to a Canadian film, *The Sweet Hereafter, with Sir Ian Holm about a school bus which crashes and kills most of the children in the village. The poem runs through the film (The survivor used to baby-sit and read the poem to her young charges.). Sir Ian Holm is the insurance investigator who is sent to decide whether the survivors should be awarded any money. He is also trying desperately to reconnect with his daughter, who is a drug addict, at the same time. It’s a very sad but beautiful film. I remember the lady who drove the school bus saying that when she picked up the children for school every morning she felt like she was picking berries and putting them into her basket. If you haven’t seen it I recommend it.

*Adapted from the novel by Russell Banks

Friday, June 20, 2008

I wonder...

How long will you spend on this?


Don’t ask where the in-between bit went.

I slept very badly last night and this morning had a slightly upset tummy. Yes, it’s Olivier’s exam day today. Taking an exam not having read two of the set books must be a recipe for disaster. This afternoon is biology. I made sure he had two pencils and a rubber (eraser) in his bag, he’s bound to have to draw something.

Dom phoned, she retook her driving test on Tuesday (our 23rd wedding anniversary) and has passed. Well done Dom!

I watched Love Story yesterday evening. Rob was working late and Olivier was out. It was lovely to see it again – ‘sigh’.

Monday, June 16, 2008


I went off to the clinic this afternoon for a mammogram. The bus stops right outside these days and I got off with a lot of little old ladies clutching their past results. Perhaps I look like an old lady now too. Everything is normal, so that’s another set of results under the belt.

As the clinic for veins is on the same ‘campus’ I went and made my appointment there too. I must say that everyone is very polite, cheerful and helpful there. My appointment is for next Monday.

When I got home Olivier had made a pot of coffee and it was delicious. I didn’t know he knew how to make it. He’d been revising for his French Bac exam. The first work he’s done all year, the exam is on Friday. He left the house clutching his science revision book. Perhaps he’s got a new girlfriend he’s trying to impress?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's day

It’s not an easy day for me today as it’s the anniversary of my dad dying seven years ago. Sometimes I think that I miss him more and more as the time goes on. He would have loved my postcards. Whenever I find a viaduct, bridge, train, engine, plane or anything mechanical I think to myself ‘Dad would have liked that one’.

I had a lesson later the same day and it was easier to continue than try to phone all of the parents and explain. We were making ‘Father’s Day Cards’. Fortunately my class was well occupied colouring and carefully copying out the English text I’d written on the board to notice that I was quieter than usual. The worst part of the day was sitting through the school musical which Dom was in. Final rehearsals meant that she didn’t come home beforehand. Then when we got back to the car afterwards we had to tell her.

The last time I saw him I kissed him goodbye and told him to take care of mum.

Today is not only a difficult day for all of us who no longer have dads with us. It’s also a miserable day for the dads who for lots of complicated reasons can’t be with their children. So I’ll say have a Happy Father’s Day to the dads without children from the children without dads.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The continuing fridge saga

Last summer I was on the verge of buying a new fridge when the computer blew up. Because of this Rob bought a laptop as a back up. No fridge

As the bars have all fallen off the door, bottles, cartons etc. are balanced inside. A week or so back a carton of raisin juice spilt so I ranted and raved a bit and got as far as choosing a new fridge. Rob than had a puncture in the tyre of his bike; this is expensive to replace as it’s a special tyre that doesn’t have punctures (!). He rides his bike to work everyday in all weathers so his bike is a priority. No fridge.

Last week a bowl of cold rice fell onto my foot as I was getting the milk out. ( Have you ever had a slipper full of cold rice?) . This evening it was salad dressing all over my toes. At the moment I’m visualising myself a new fridge, one I don’t have to defrost.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Gone and never called me Mother...

I was alarmed this morning as there was no activity in the nest. They can’t have learnt to fly without my noticing? After a little research I discovered that birds of this type (known as chats in English) remove their chicks from the nest before they learn to fly. They hide them in the undergrowth. Two reasons: The chicks are getting bigger and there is no room in the nest. As the chicks grow they become more interesting to predators. My babies are out there hidden away in the garden. With any luck the parents will be back to nest in the same spot next year.

At lunch time I turned the radio on as ‘World on the Move’, a program about migration, was finishing, they happened to mention that they have a nest with a webcam in it! The quality isn't very good at the moment.

I was saving this poem for when they flew the nest, but as they’ve gone I’ll post it now:


Come to the edge.
We might fall.

Come to the edge.
It's too high!

And they came
and he pushed

and they flew ...

(Not sure who wrote it really and sometimes the words aren't quite the same)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

My babies

Our babies are growing fast. The parents don’t come back to feed them so quickly now. I managed to count 4 this morning when they all reached up to be fed. I was told to mind my own business as usual. I also saw the cock and hen together, she’s quite a bit lighter in colour than he is. A fly landed near to the nest and the chicks turned to watch it straight away. They didn’t make an effort to catch it though

Rob managed to get a few pictures though the window when it was ajar. He was scolded for being nosy when the parents came back and caught us in the act.

Messy, aren't they?

I'm 'Normal'...

Friday evening was the time of my appointment with the Doctor. He told me that my results were excellent and that I could be considered as normal! Meaning that I’m controlling my diabetes very well without treatment. We talked about my eyebrows dropping out, tiredness and not losing any weight, so he’s put my thyroid hormones up a little and assured me that my eyebrows will come back. Then he took my blood pressure and listened to my heart. Pulse is nice and steady and my blood pressure is slightly down which is good, perhaps if it’s the same next time I’ll ask him about stopping the beta blockers.

Then came the really nice bit; I was wearing my favourite linen trousers they are flared and loose so they rode up a bit and he noticed the thread veins on my ankles and calves. I’ve had these since I was 14 and they got worse after the children. I showed him the worst veins and so I’m going off to see specialist, I might be able to have electrolysis and it might be paid for by the social security. Even if I can’t afford to have anything done I will be pleased to see a specialist. My mum has the same problems so they are hereditary. We both walk a lot.

I had a little chuckle to myself because since the children were small there has been a French series on TV called ‘Under the Sun’. I still watch occasionally for old times sake. Rob’s favourite character is a lady Doctor Olivier, she works at the Atlantic clinic. I will be going to see a lady Doctor Olivier at the Atlantic clinic. I think Rob would like to come too.

Friday, June 06, 2008


Life is becoming extremely difficult on my porch. I have no business there whatsoever. A couple of times the nightingales and I have come pretty close to each other and I can assure you, you would not like the tutting and tail flashing that follows every meeting. Late yesterday afternoon I managed to watch a feeding session; I can see three heads and beaks now. They are growing very quickly. I was discovered and scolded. They now tut if they think I might be near the curtain. I leave them alone of course, I’d hate them to abandon the nest because of me. I only go onto the porch when opening the shutters and very quickly put the washing out the other end to their nest. I can understand that tempers must be a little short, they seem to be coming back to the nest with food every couple of minutes all day long. I watched one of them in the road in front of the house pecking at the grit, they really are busy every second of the day . Free as a bird ? – The golden chains of freedom more like.

I often think of Karma as a negative idea. All of those nasty people who will get their nastiness back later is a satisfying thought sometimes. Karma can be a lovely thing too:

Yesterday evening we were coming home from our evening walk along by the marsh and two swans were swimming right next to the road with 6 7 or 8 signets/chicks/nicks. We couldn’t agree on the number because they were pretty active, in and out of the reeds and behind the trees which are in the water at the moment. We stayed and admired the family for a good 10 minutes. I don’t know why anyone should call a signet an ugly duckling, these were lovely and fluffy and various shades of grey. I told the swans how beautiful their babies were and thanked them for letting us admire them for so long. That was my reward, I think, for all of my ‘troubles’ with the nightingales.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


I can't work out how to do it so you'll have to make do with a link and go fom there.

Back in October 1973 I stayed up late to watch 'The Old Grey Whistle Test'on TV. That particular night a group called Greenslade was on. The next day I was on holiday from work so I went into town and bought the album. I still have it today even though I can't play it. Like Peter, I've just discovered Youtube as a way of listening to music and watching performances. I was really pleased to find Chalkhill by Greenslade. Joie de vivre is how I'd describe this one. It takes me back to happy times.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Life on the outside

Me: I really pity the poor girl that ends up marrying you!

Olivier: I’m really kind and considerate in real life.

Time for a walk

As it was Rob’s day off yesterday we managed to get out for a few walks. We always come home on the road which runs along the side of the marsh. In recent years there have been marsh cattle and horses during the summer months, but not this year. They’ve let the marsh stay flooded and all sorts of new birds have made their nests. A week or so ago I saw a crane seeing off a magpie! I love the cranes, they get upset very easily and circle round with their long pink legs trailing behind them making a lot of noise, quite comical. The frogs have been very noisy, there must be thousands of them out there every evening calling to each other.

There is one bird which seems to have disappeared though. The road was used as a diversion earlier in the year because of road works, so some of the drivers raced round to make up for the two minutes they lost not going in a straight line. I saw at least two squashed moorhens which I think must have been the moorhen population. The moorhens were very good at dashing across the road like headless chickens (sorry, but it’s the only way I can think of to describe them). They used to be so proud of their chicks in past years.

We passed some scientists with binoculars , they were observing the birds and making notes. It was nice to see that they were enjoying the wildlife as much as we do

Last summer the farmer planted linseed. This year the wheat fields are lined by red poppies and blue linseed flowers. It really is a lovely site.

Still very few butterflies.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Blood sweat and pee

This morning was the morning I’d put by for my blood tests. I also had to provide 24 hours of pee; 3.5 litres, which is quite heavy to carry around in a bag, you know. As usual, after bood tests, Rob treated me to breakfast on the port. Since smoking has been banned in public spaces it’s very difficult to sit outside a café on a warm day without being kippered by all of the smokers. We sat inside.

I’m looking forward to seeing the results. If you read my post about eyebrows you’ll see that someone talked about thyroid problems in the comments. I have been very tired lately, but the worst part is feeling that life is one long set of chores stretching out before me. I had this feeling for a few years before I was diagnosed so I’m hoping to get that sorted.

Olivier and Dom tell me that the non-smoking rule emptied the night clubs at first. Not because people weren’t allowed to smoke. Apparently cigarette smoke does a lot towards masking the smell of sweaty bodies. The last I heard night clubs were going to introduce artificial cigarette smoke so solve the problem.

Feeding time

Our little family is growing. I managed to watch feeding time through the window yesterday and the parents perch above the nest now. I managed to count three little beaks raised upwards for food. This morning Rob, the fresh air fanatic, is at home so the (French) windows are ajar. We are both quietly working and can tell when a parent comes back to the nest. There is a little chorus of cheeping ‘Me! Me! Me!’ or should that be ‘Moi! Moi! moi!’

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Nightingale update

The nest is in between the supports of the porch and there is an awful lot of cheeping going on at the moment. The father doesn't seem to panic as much when I go outside but he keeps a close eye on me from next door's roof

I'm glad that one's over.

This week has been yet another busy one, exams to supervise, postcards to prepare and administration to sort out. As I was looking for work when I set up my business I’m entitled to some allowances. In theory my social security charges etc should be smaller for two years. This year something went wrong and I’ve been charged at the highest level. Last month we were advised to bounce the payment by one department and then received a letter from another department to say I would be charged twice next month. Fortunately the problem has been sorted and I should get a refund. Then Rob took the tax forms in. These are more simple than in the past and now arrive printed with the declaration of how much you earned in the past year from any employers you might have. This is a very new idea. Imagine how much extra money they are raking in!

Dom phoned, she will be taking her driving test on Tuesday so please keep your fingers crossed. What she really wanted to know was what was the question which gives you the answer 42. You see I’m a mother who knows everything. I advised her not to search for the question as if she finds it the universe will probably come to an end. Then I had another phone call a couple of days later. She has had a ‘mention très bien’ for her exams and came first in her year; I am a very proud mummy indeed, as you can imagine. Well done Dom!

Olivier had a letter from the ministry of Defence. The second, so I was just hoping he hadn’t signed up yet. Do you remember that I wrote that he had a train ticket to nowhere when he was called up for the day? Well, they handed their unused tickets in and got a cheque for 8€ travelling expenses (that was the letter). As he only went two stops after his lycée anyway to get there he used his school journeys which we paid for at the beginning of the year. Rob and Olivier couldn’t help wondering how much all that cost the government.

Nasty find

I spend far too much time reading the back of the postcards I’m preparing for sale. Yesterday I came across one which was a bit of a shock to say the least. It was of a girls boarding school at the beginning of the 20th century. All of the girls were arranged on the steps in front of the school in their best dresses. Very pretty and charming. We were putting it up for sale for the second time. I was preparing it when I looked at the back to see if it was interesting enough to scan. At first I thought that there was a drawing of a cannon on the back – a bit odd considering the subject of the card. It wasn’t a cannon and the landscape sketched behind wasn’t a landscape. Then I deciphered the text. The writer of the card was indicating where under age girls could be found. The card had been sent in an envelope and was in good condition so I suppose had been hidden away until the death of the owner when it was sold on. I felt quite upset by it.

When the children were small a two year old boy was kidnapped and assaulted and murdered by two older boys, you probably remember that. My mum wrote to me at the time and told me that when I was small I disappeared for a while and everyone in the village was looking for me. There were lots of tears when they found me. This upset me a lot because I couldn’t remember anything about it at all. Over the years I’ve let it go, but events like finding that postcard, sometimes bring it back...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

My turn

It’s Mother’s Day at long last here in France. Bonne Fête des Mères!

Rob gave me the American Gigolo DVD. We went to see it together before we came to France in 1984. I see that the film was made in 1980. I spent half an hour reading through my diary for 1984 trying to find exactly when we saw the film; I haven’t managed to find the date. I was disappointed, but the trip down memory lane was worth it.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Good enough to eat

Sometimes when an exam lasts two or three hours time hangs heavy. Fortunately we have to keep circulating, if I sit down for any length of time with nothing to do I fall asleep. It’s nice when we work in pairs and there is one lady I like to work with, she’s ten years older than me and will be retiring soon.

One morning she happened to mention to me that one of the young men was especially nice. He had longish blonde hair and beard, he was slightly muscular (don’t like too many muscles), tanned and wearing a white shirt and a neat pair of tight jeans. He was also very pleasant and polite so I’m not really sure what my friend meant. I checked his name on the list – Mr. Gateau.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Anyone who reads any of my four blogs on Blogspot for the next day or so will see this identical post. After humming and ha-ing for several months Rob and I have decided to open an Ebay Shop for our postcards. A lot of people have asked why we haven’t done it before. The simple reason is that we sell small price items and a shop isn’t always viable in that case. As there have been recent changes to charging on ebay accounts for professionals in France we thought we’d give it a go.

If you have a moment could you please have a look and tell me what you think of the colour scheme etc. I know it’s in French, that’s our main market, although we do sell all over the world. Please leave a comment if you have anything to say or a question on any of the cards.


Sunday, May 18, 2008


I found this one chez Bomarzo. The most difficult was 10 years ago and yesterday. If you’d like to have a go you know what to do…

4 things I did 10 years ago: (1998)
1. I started teaching as a self employed teacher which was to last three years
2. I got the contract help marine biologists with their English – one of the most interesting things that I have done
3. Prepared for my eldest son to go into secondary education, a big step as it meant a 20 minute bus journey for him!!
4. The teacher of our art class arranged for us to have a real live nude model, not very easy at first, but I have some sketches of naked backs which I am proud of.

4 things I did 5 years ago: (2003)
1. Started blogging
2. Put our eldest son onto a plane to live with his Grandma
3. Was made redundant from my secondary school teaching job and the after school group which I’d been teaching for 10 years. Altogether 5 teaching jobs dried up at the same time.
4. Dom started lycée

4 things I did yesterday:
1. Cooked, washed, ironed
2. Blogged
3. Handled a postcard which was sent in 1880, the oldest one I’ve seen yet!
4. Spoke to Dom on the phone

4 shows I love to watch:
1. Numb3rs
2. Cold case
3. N.C.I.S.
4. C Dans l’Air (French current affairs programme)

4 things I love to do:
1. Read
2. Walk
3. Write
4. Sleep

4 people to get it:
1. Anyone
2. Who
3. Wants
4. To

Unconscious Mutterings

Week 277 already!

  1. Concentration :: thinking

  2. Relocated :: moved around

  3. Clot :: blood

  4. Joints :: aches and pains!

  5. Satellite :: space

  6. Money back :: deposit

  7. Kittens :: ahhh

  8. Shady :: trees

  9. Drain :: exhausted

  10. Stroke :: kittens

Saturday, May 17, 2008

17th May

Today is Independence day in Norway. So ‘Hello’ to all my Norwegian friends, passing Norwegians and my Norwegian cousins by marriage! Do you do anything special to celebrate?

17th May

Today is Independence day in Norway. So ‘Hello’ to all my Norwegian friends, passing Norwegians and my Norwegian cousins by marriage! Do you do anything special to celebrate?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Nightmares, vacuum cleaners and irons

Mother’s day here isn’t until next weekend, so this week the supermarkets and shops have been sending out their free magazines with lots of good ideas. Olivier was studying one a couple of nights ago and called me over saying “I’m sure you want one of these”. It was a page crammed with vacuum cleansers and irons. No thanks, if I have a present it must be something for moi. Did I tell you about the Christmas Eve that the iron blew up? Fortunately for me it was too late to go out and buy one to wrap and put under the tree.

I told Olivier the following story: When the children were small, Dominique was a baby, I think. I woke up in a cold sweat after having a nightmare about someone buying her a pink toy vacuum cleaner. Not long after some friends came to stay. Their daughter was two or three at the time. It was late summer so the autumn/winter catalogue had come out full of ideas for Christmas. Her mother called her over all excited; toy vacuum cleaners and irons!!!! Needless to say I took myself off to the kitchen to escape.

Dom did go through a Barbie phase but it had finished by the time she was about 5. She’s never taken an interest in vacuum cleaners, pink or otherwise – That’s my girl!

Mystery solved

I really think that the mystery bird is a - Nightingale! I went outside this afternoon after a particularly amazing outbreak of song (The bird, not me) and this is what I saw!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Yesterday was not a good day for me.

In some of the exams the students are allowed to have what we call an ‘anti seche’. This is a piece of paper of designated size where they can note information they feel that they might need during the examination. They choose the smallest writing possible, the tiniest margins and cover the paper all over. This is often for an exam on business law like yesterday. My job was to check everyone's paper, which I did. Then I came across a young man with paper which seemed rather thick. He had two papers! As the exam had not started I asked him to put the paper away and take his bag to the end of the room as usual. I still felt uneasy about this paper and kept an eye on him all through the exam. Towards the end of the exam I could see that he did indeed have the second paper under his note paper. He swore he didn’t use it and I don’t think he did but we had to make out a report. Checking his answers he hadn’t cheated. He barely answered any of the questions. I felt really rotten, but it’s important for the reputation of the school that there is no cheating in exams.

Rob and I went for our evening walk, there was a beautiful sunset reflected on the water which was really calm. When we got to the cliff we could see that something was wrong. Further down there was a car on the rocks. Our cliffs aren’t that high really, if you decided to jump you’d probably break your ankle and suffer a few bruises. A young man had decided to try to kill himself by driving off the top of the cliff. The emergency services arrived soon after we did. The tide was coming in and it was getting dark. We were stood with a few other people near to a camping car which was parked up for the night (illegally) and when a woman arrived (from the scene of the accident) another woman asked if she knew if her husband was okay. The newly arrived woman was really stroppy with her and walked off. The woman started to cry and explained that her husband had gone to help (remember the tide was coming in). I comforted her the best I could and we watched the rescuers running around trying to sort out how to get the equipment onto the beach round by the cliff. We sent the woman into her camping car and watched for a while. The husband returned and was soaked. He told us that the man had wounded his neck and was still alive. Not long after that a helicopter flew over towards the fire station (there is a helicopter pad in front of it). We walked home and I went to bed.

Olivier was on the beach at the time it happened, heard the car rev up and saw the car go over the cliff and roll over a few times. The young man had taken off his seatbelt and finished up in the back seat. Olivier told me that as the car was an Audi the body wasn’t damaged much. The helicopter came back with equipment was used to help remove the roof and then lift the man to the top. The car was pulled up from the beach this evening damaging the already fragile cliff. The rumours have started, some say the man was dead when they got him up from the car. Olivier doesn’t think so because they fit him up with a drip.

I didn’t sleep very well and it suddenly occurred to me in the small hours that my young man who was cheating could have been the man in the car. Not true of course.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Happy Blogbirthday to me!

Today is my 5th blog birthday. This is what it was like before. It seems like I’ve always been blogging and yet I remember setting up Anji Patchwork with the help of Dom like it was yesterday. Christian tried to help me set up the comments and we ended up with the blog inside the comments box! You can see that page here. I remember in those days if you wanted archives you had to sort it out for yourself.

Lots of bloggers have come, gone changed identities too. A couple got swallowed up in World of Warcraft . I remember Carol whose son was serving in Iraq, I wonder where she is now. Then there was Isaac who went out for a walk and never came back last August. Spyke, he was good at disappearing – twice!.

Five years ago after having his wisdom teeth out, we put Christian onto a plane heading for his Grandma’s. I was teaching children with behaviour problems for the last time in the two colleges – a job I really loved, I started taking beta blockers. My children were amazed when I bought a little book about HTML and actually started to use it (Widgets came later). My blogroll started to grow and grow.

Thank you to everyone who has visited and contributed to the last five years and I hope we have many more to come.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


I think that the mystery birds might have moved out. They weren’t happy when the shutters were opened and closed so they’ve gone.

I’ve been feeding birds around the front by the kitchen window. The blackbird arrives first at about 6.30 in the morning. He perches on the wall, looks down, looks at me, then looks down again “Where’s the food?”. A bluetit fluttered up the other morning and landed on the windowsill for a couple of seconds as if to say “thanks”. The only problem is that the magpie gang are muscling in and the sparrows end up with nothing if they don’t arrive early enough.

There aren't many butterflies again. Have you noticed a decline in the butterfly population where you live?

I haven't heard a cuckoo so far this year

Where does it go?

I really don’t know where the time goes, but it goes. Exams have started up again so I’m working out of the house most mornings. As well as my postcards I’m still checking blogs for BlogExplosion. It’s not as easy as it looks and I wish everyone would read the rules before submitting their blog. I’d say 4 out of 10 blogs are suitable. I try to help in the forums a bit too – that takes up a lot of time which I can’t afford. I don’t blame some people for moaning but I think people forget it is a free service.

I saw one blog, it belonged to a teenager who’s mum and dad have split up. She was heatbroken and was pleading for comments. Then she wrote she’d got a boyfriend and hasn’t posted for a month or so. I hope she’s okay. I do get involved with what’s going on…

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Eyebrows and mystery birds

For the last twelve months or so my eyebrows have been thinning dramatically. I haven’t been near them with tweezers. Around Christmas Dom asked me why I’d plucked them so thin – that’s how bad they are. All I could find on Google was a link with thyroid problems. Well my thyroid hasn’t functioned for nearly 15 years now so they would have dropped out long ago. Has anyone any ideas why this should happen, what I can do to make them come back again?

The mystery birds have set up home in the roof just above the French widows so when I open the shutters first thing in the morning I get a real telling off. The bird that I see, the male I suppose, is about the size of a sparrow, reddish brown with dull orange undertail feathers which he flashes at me in warning. He then sits by the roses and ‘tuts’ at me until I go away. I tried the RSPB’s excellent bird identifier and found nothing. Perhaps he doesn’t visit the UK?

Friday, April 25, 2008


Olivier came in yesterday with the story that the mayor’s wife has lost some fingers. She was closing the shutters in the wind and the shutter blew back onto her hand. I did something similar when we were living in La Rochelle. The shutter flipped back onto my fingers. It took a while for me to pluck up enough courage to look. Our shutters are old, wooden and ill fitting after the years of damp winters and very hot summers, so hopefully I don’t have to worry too much.

On the edge of a cliff

The new school term has started and Olivier appears to have turned over a new leaf. He’s been getting up in plenty of time to get ready for lycée. He hasn’t missed the bus once this week. I saw him revising for a maths exam, he had a reasonable mark in his Economic science exam. We talked (calmly) about his future and he has been researching his ideas. I had a note that he had skipped school for a day when in fact he was on a school trip.

Now I’m waiting for something horrible to happen….

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Where are you?

Spooky - what's happened? Where are you? What about the socks?

A good day

This morning I was driving to work when I saw a (red) squirrel running along the side of the road on the grass verge. I was concerned in case he headed into the road but he continued in a straight line and I left him behind. A little further on I waited at the traffic lights (yet more road works) and who should I see leaping from branch to branch in the trees at the side of the road? It’s nice to see so many squirrels around but I’m concerned that they are leaving the park and wondering so close to the busy road.

A little further on I came to the burnt out chateau which has been turned into holiday flats. There were 4 helicopters parked in the clearing. Rob and I had seen them fly over yesterday evening. So I wondered which rich and famous personalities came to stay near our village complete with convoy of helicopters. Or perhaps and Arab prince? Olivier told me later that it was to film and episode of a treasure hunt for French TV – I never watch it so I wasn’t impressed. When I got home and lunch time Olivier had opened all of the shutters (which we left closed because of the early start) and all of the widows to let some sunshine in.

This afternoon I went to surf on Blog Mad and discovered that I had two messages. Recently my blogs have been voted blog of the day!!

The sun is still shining and it’s starting to feel warmer too. Not a bad day at all

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Busy bee

I thought that I was busy before, but now I’m even busier. This week I’m exam supervising again. The week kicked off with a four hour exam and I was on my own. Fortunately someone replaced me for a few minutes half way through so I could pop to the ladies. The main season starts at the beginning of May and will go on till the beginning of July. The school of commerce has expanded so much over the last couple of years the exam period has more than doubled – good news for us supervisors! I’ve asked to work mornings only so that I can carry on with the postcards in the afternoons.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Random game

I haven’t played many games like this. For once I've been sent one by Bomarzo with clear instructions….

Random things about me

1. I was once laughed at because I suggested wasting paper was wasting trees!

2. I’m very hard to make friends with in ‘real’ life

3. I was once in the ladies room at a hotel at the same time as Stevie Nicks or Christine McVie, I’m not sure which - and I couldn’t think of anything to say

4. I consider that I’ve had a lot of ‘lucky escapes’ in my life

5. My personal diary was used as evidence in a court case many years ago

6. Although I’ve lived in France for 23 years, I can’t write in French (I have read quite a few books and novels in French)

Rules of the game …

· Link to the person who tagged you.
· Post the rules on your blog.
· Write six random things about yourself.
· Tag six random people by linking to their blogs.
· Let each of the six know they’ve been tagged by leaving them a comment (on their blogs).
· Let your tagger know when your entry is up.

The victims …

  1. Doris Mash
  2. The Introverted Exhibitionist
  3. Because I can
  4. Bo He Mi An RhApSoDy
  5. Neutron News
  6. A Fifth of Therapy