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?