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…