Thursday, December 24, 2009

Have a Happy Christmas

Wishing everyone a very Happy Christmas. Hope Santa brings you everything on your list!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Anyone for Tennis?

I worked ‘outside’ for four mornings last week, supervising exams. It all went smoothly and quickly too except for the morning we were in the big amphitheatre for two exams. It’s a large cold room, especially when not filled to capacity, so most of us (students and supervisors) kept our coats on. The second exam required simple calculators, which are provided and are solar powered. We were just getting everyone seated when the electricity went off. Would you believe that these intelligent future captains of industry and commerce started calling that their calculators didn’t work? I’m sorry but I found the situation really funny. The electricity supply was restored and the calculators soon recharged enough to work properly.

We had about 30 seconds of snowflakes yesterday lunch time. It will probably be my ration for the year. A robin and a blue tit were hanging around in front of the kitchen window hoping for something to eat. The robin found a piece of bread so the blue tit came and sat on the window sill waiting for his share. How could I resist?

Olivier came home on Saturday, just as I was serving up lasagne – poor soul hadn’t eaten all day and his train was delayed by the snow in Poitiers. Dom will be home late on Wednesday night and will leave on the 7.30 train on Sunday morning. More sociable times cost an arm and a leg (or "the eyes in your head" in French).

Yesterday evening I was arm wrestling with the Doctor (his way of checking to see what was wrong). It seems that I’ve got Tennis Elbow. Not very pleasant and he told me to be careful with heavy saucepans full of hot liquids in case I drop them. That’s the end of my career in weightlifting.

The shopping was done yesterday morning, the turkey is sitting in the fridge and now all I have to do is make the stuffing and cook it all. I’m beginning to feel Christmassy, I’ll have to hunt out the Christmas Carol CDs.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Aperitifs and timetables

We went to visit some friends for tea on Saturday afternoon. This is what I like about living in France ; after a little walk the tea as followed by an aperitif. Aperitif dînatoire seems to be the new fashion. The nibbles are more substantial, in this case quiche and courgette tart amongst other things. When we got home we didn’t need to eat. Fortunately for me Rob never drinks and drives, so I get to have a drink.

Olivier came home for the weekend. We drove him to a neighbouring village for his lift back. It’s nice when we do that because we have the time to talk to each other before he goes off.

This morning I supervised an exam. It went well and despite the clatter of the air-conditioning I did not have a migraine. I was with a colleague who used to be a colleague of Rob’s. Apparently a month a go she told him that she will be a grandmother in January. He forgot to tell me. She’s so excited – she’ll be present at the birth (there isn’t a papa). He daughter is a very lucky girl, she has such a loving family to support her.

Since Manpower took over appointing us, the timetables appear to be a little confused. I’m working longer on Wednesday morning (though I suspected I might be) and I haven’t got to go to work tomorrow. I’d been told I had four mornings in January, but I’ve only got one after all. It’s a good job I’m not desperate for the cash.

The weather has gone really cold here, the wind is coming from the North East which means from Siberia. I wonder if we’ll have snow?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Saturday to Tuesday

We had a very good, but busy weekend. Managed to send Olivier off with his clothes all washed and dried in time. We went to a Christmas market in a nearby town, mainly to see our friend Janet who has a stand there and makes amazing things to give as gifts. She hadn’t made any mince pies this year, still we got some from the Irish Counter in town a few days ago.

Poor Dom ended up with a migraine on Saturday night. She rarely drinks alcohol and had a kir (White wine with an alcoholic blackcurrant syrup) at a bar in town. I think it’s the high sugar syrup which causes it. Anyway she slept for 14 hours. She works so hard. While she was here she printed out a report to read, 50 pages, amongst all of the other things she has to do. However, she does get rewarded for her hard work. J-M also bought work to do with him, he’s studying philosophy.

On Monday I helped to supervise a TOEIC exam. Lots of papers to sort into alphabetical order at the end. I came home with a migraine which didn’t go even after a sleep. We went out for a walk, it was dry and windy, coupled with a big dose of paracetamol it did the trick.

Yesterday was my visit to the leg Doctor. It went as well as can be expected. She was only 15 minutes behind and I swear the bus drivers hid around corners in wait for me, the buses co-ordinated perfectly and I was home earlier than I expected. While I was waiting to go in the receptionist came into the waiting room to change a light bulb. Fortunately I asked her if she was sure the light was turned off, which it wasn’t. She was running around in her bare feet as she’d taken off her shoes to climb onto a chair; ‘It’s a good job there is no one here’ she said to me. I’ll take that as a compliment.

Friday, December 04, 2009

The dreams coincide

Olivier is home for the weekend and we’ll be picking up Dom and J-M later. I was telling Olivier about my dream (see Grumble, Grumble post below) which made him laugh, he liked the thought of sitting there while I peddled away. Then he asked me about dreams of teeth. I found my book about dreams and the dreams he is having indicate a passing from one stage to another i.e.: he’s growing up. I think that my dreams are about letting him go – it’s becoming more and more difficult for me to look after him in the way I used to.

Then we were talking about the importance of silence between friends. You don’t have to fill every second with noise and it’s a nice feeling, shared quietness, he said. Yes, he’s definitely growing up.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Grumble, grumble

I feel really grumpy today though grumpy is too nice a word for how I feel; murderous perhaps.

I dreamt that I had to take Olivier to his usual lift back to Poitiers. We were running late and he hadn’t packed or changed, he was in shorts because the sun had been shining. He said he wouldn’t bother to change and had I bought his new shoes as his others had holes, I told him I thought he was going to buy the shoes. He changed his shoes with holes for a pair of flip flops. Our means of transport was a bike with tiny wheels like a child’s scooter. I had to pedal while he perched on the back with his nearly empty bag. It was such hard work, lots of fast peddling for very little progress and we were late. When I got to where we were going I missed the turning so I had to find a place where I could reverse to turn around. I nearly reversed into a ditch and there was a tiny bird, a wren. I dropped Olivier off and set off for home, it was dark and my tiny light at the front was almost falling off and I had such a long way to go alone.

Fortunately the alarm went off.

The road we went along wasn’t the real road we use, but it is a road I’ve travelled along a lot in my dreams and I’m usually late or lost on it. Does anyone else have familiar dream places?

I’ve been out of sorts all day. Rob and I went into town this morning and had breakfast on the port – Rob wanted to sit outside which was a bit cold but not windy so I didn’t mind too much. Then we did a bit of shopping. Christmas pudding and mince pies and some Christmassy bits so that was nice, but it look up the whole morning. It’s cold and wet and windy so we set off for a walk and it started to rain and so on…

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

How to improve my Potnecy

I know that I shouldn't and I suppose that everyone must have seen these by now. They just crack me up.

In a spam received this morning:

"Be porud of whaat you havee in yoour truosers!

Hoow caan I imporve my potnecy if I gavee brith to 2 childern?
If you havee a feevr of 102 F moore thaan trhee daays proabbly the druug you take deosn't woork.

Shee haas her faiilngs-as whoo haas noot?-buut I nveer kneew her do it wheen copmany waas preesnt, at wihch timee you maay ferely turst her with wiens, spriits, or maalt liquros. My oown abdoe is logdings at Pneton Palce, Pentonvil-le. It is lwoly, buut aairy, oopen at the baack, and consdiered one of the 'ealthiset otulets. Miiss Summerosn! In the miledst langauge, I aodre you. Wolud you be so kiind as to al-low me (as I maay saay) to filee a declaratoin-to makee an of-fer!"

I do hope that Miiss Summerosn appreciates a proposal that has been distibuted around the world

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Breakfast anybody ?

As there was nothing much on TV last night Rob and I watched a couple of episodes of Fawlty Towers (the one with the body and the Anniversary episode). I still find them hysterically funny. Anyway, I was reminded that John Cleese blogs too, so I went and looked at his blog to see what he’s up to. He’s recently been interviewed by a bunch of young men the Idiots of Ants. I’ve never heard of them, so if you have I'm sorry, but I’m out of touch with the English comedy scene unless it’s radio. This made me laugh so I thought I’d share it

Dom bought John Cleese’s book on psychology a year or so back, I must ask her to lend it to me.

Friday, November 27, 2009

That was the week

This last week has flown by and there were a lot of interesting things for me to blog about but I’ve forgotten them all. Olivier came home last weekend having been in Poitiers for the two previous weekends. He doesn’t look as if he’s dying from malnutrition or alcohol poisoning. I didn’t even have piles of washing to do. He and a friend had tried out using a laundrette, the university one had ‘broken down’ so they went into town, which was quite expensive so they did a communal wash to save money. He seems happy and answered my questions without losing his temper, usually a good sign.

I spoke to Dom recently on the phone and she might be heading for Edinburgh in the spring to a psychology conference. She’ll be meeting her colleagues from all over who are working on the same thing as her (don’t ask me I don’t really understand ). Later I got an email and she could have a job next summer in a Scottish laboratory. I wonder if she realises how different the climate is between here and Scotland. She and J-M are coming to stay next weekend so I’ll have more details then.

I’ve started to think about putting up the Christmas decorations. Rob put the outside ones up on Friday afternoon. We put them on when it got dark and I heard one of the little girls from next door exclaiming ‘ooooh!’. I expect her parents are now cursing us because she wants some too.

Spam Sandwich

Stoop choletserol toady and you wiill livee withuot vascluar dsiease tomrorow!

I just had to share this one with you. I get the impression that the writer is so excited about his/her discovery that they haven’t had time to correct the typos before sending out the spam

“Yoour diganosis is bronhcial ashtma? Buut thiis is noot the eend of lifee!”
I’m so glad to know that

“Hundrdes of aanti-fluu reemdies advertsied nowdaays aree moore myth thaan real savlation.”
I don’t think they are sold as remedies it you read the packet. They just ease the symptoms to make you feel more comfortable.

"Coome ngiht, coome drakness, for you can-not coome tooo sooon or staay tooo loong by suuch a plcae as thiis! Coome, strgagling ligths into the windwos of the uugly hosues; and you whoo do iinquity tehrein, do it at laest with thiis derad scnee shuut oout! Coome, flmae of gaas, burinng so slulenly aobve the iroon gatee, onIt is weell thaat you shuold caall to eevry pas-serby, "Loook heere!"”

I think they’ve copy and pasted part of a different spam letter here.
I especially like this part; "wihch the poiosned aair depostis iits wicth-ointmnet slmiy to the tuoch!” It would have been a useful line to threaten the children with when they were small.

Makes a change from all the lotteries I’ve won recently. Oh - I forgot to mention the threatening letters I’ve been getting from the FBI. If I stop blogging you’ll know why….

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Have you seen this girl?

Our time traveller has cropped up again. Keith said in a comment:

“Remember the 'time-travelling girl' in on one of your old postcards? I was watching the news on Yahoo last week about the rioting in London and I saw a girl in the crowd wearing the same clothing. I noticed her particularly because everybody else was dressed for the cold weather except her. I searched your archives and sure enough she was the spitting image of the girl on the card. I know it was just a coincidence and I had a vivid imagination, but I thought it was very strange at the time; and no, I hadn't been at the meths bottle either!”

Which left me wondering if anyone else has noticed her around the world. Have a look at the picture from a postcard which is from August 1925 below. If you have seen her please leave me a comment saying where and when.

In the meantime have you seen this man?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Oh to be beautiful...

Today was the third session of my second year of injections into the veins of my legs. At the end of the session I told the doctor that I always mean to count them but usually forget. She told me that others had managed to count. ‘How many?’ I asked, ‘About 100’ she replied. I’ve still got a long way to go. So you can tell how bad my legs are. One day I’ll wear a mini skirt again….

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Dom!

Dom was seven and a half years old when this photo was taken. Today she’s 21. I just can’t believe how the time has passed. Happy Birthday Dom! Hopefully she’s been able to take some time off from studying to celebrate in style. I wonder what time I should phone her up?

This is the second weekend that Olivier hasn’t been home. I’m really pleased that he’s bonding with his fellow students, as it were, but it’s very strange, especially today as Rob is working and I’m all on my own. Oh well, I can dream about all of the washing that’s sure to come my way…

Last night was a first for us. We’d decided to fetch a pizza from the pizza place in the village. It’s only open on Friday and Saturday nights. We discovered it’s not open at all in the winter months. So we decided to phone and have one delivered. Olivier and his friends have done it lots of times so we chose one of the companies he uses. The service was excellent, they delivered before the time they told us and the young girl (was she really old enough to drive?) that came to the door was really polite and chatty. Our call went though the Yellow Pages so she was in a bit of a panic when she saw the Parisian number (five hours drive!), she told me. Oh yes, the pizza was very good too.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Blogging, bloggers, blogs, blogrolls...

I’ve just spent a happy hour sorting out my list of blogs. I wasn’t happy with Blogrolling anymore, I didn’t like the advertisements; Now everyone is on the blogger list and will come to the top every time they up date their blogs. If you think that you’ve been missed please let me know.

I’ve added Helen and Lucy, so welcome to two newcomers! There was some sad news though. I’ve taken Leslie off and Titania still hasn’t come back, I know that she was having health problems, I hope that everything is okay there. Miimama –Demi, last posted when her husband was taken into hospital over a year ago, unfortunately he died in the spring.

All I have to do now is sort out the Blogrolls on my other blogs! I shan’t be doing that this evening.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Back to the ice age

I’ve spent quite a large part of the day involved in a very important archaeological dig.

Anyone that knows me well knows that I just don’t get housework. I like the house to be clean and tidy etc. etc. but I don’t like how to get there. I’d rather read a book or go for a walk. Recently I’ve been having problems fitting the weekly shop of frozen food into the freezer in the garage. I don’t buy that much frozen food and it’s a big chest freezer, so something wasn’t right.

We were given the freezer by some neighbours years ago, they were too lazy to take it to the tip, or the top of the cliff so they asked me if I would like it. I was very pleased at the time, an old freezer is better than non at all. Unfortunately, the seal around the lid isn’t perfect anymore and so it ices up. I’ve developed a technique whereby I go out and hit the ice with a hammer from time to time. Over the years the freezer has filled with ice.

Today I gritted my teeth, managed to squash everything into the kitchen freezer and proceeded to defrost. I emptied out a lot of the loose ice with a serving spoon because I forgot I needed to buy a new trowel. (the only thing I learnt in three months on an advanced secretarial course was – improvise! – improvise!). As the day wore on and the ice wore down I started to find remains from past ages, a couple of slices of bread, one or two long lost chips/French fries, a mini quiche, a sprout, bits of packaging and so on. Unfortunately there were also one or two labels that had dropped off and some booklets of vouchers for reductions for microwave burgers (fortunately Olivier has gone off those). The best before dates were 2006 and the vouchers expired at the end of 2005.

I’ll try to defrost again before 2013 I promise

Sunday, November 08, 2009


When I see postcards like this one I always ask myself ‘Where did the survivors go?’. Lens was occupied at the beginning of the war in 1914. Only half of the population survived the war and then there was the Spanish flu…

Was this little boy standing on top of the ruins of his school? Let’s not forget the millions of civilians whose lives were never the same again.

There were moments of hope

Friday, November 06, 2009

Some ideas are better than others

I’ve got my Igoogle set up so that when I click the icon for Mozilla it’s all there. All decorated (Elena Suprun) just like home. The latest widget I’ve acquired is the Writers Idea Bank; every time you refresh the page, 5 more crazy ideas pop up. Great for blogging too!

This morning it asked me to imagine kissing someone twice my age. That would mean someone of 108. Needless to say, I refreshed the page.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A very good start to the week

This has been a true week of Gifts of Prosperity if ever there was one. In the post on Monday came a nice cheque refunding me for over-payments to the social security last year. Next came a knock at the door. I’ve recently translated a CV and letter for a neighbour applying for a job with a foreign company. My neighbour presented me with a very posh platter of expensive sweets/candies; marzipan fruits, stuffed dates jellies...

I’ve written recently about buying some albums of postcards back in September, they came from a château. Yesterday the present owner of the Grandmother’s château contacted us. He’s very kindly sent me some of the history of the family from before our postcards were sent. Our postcards have brought to light a daughter he didn’t know about. I’ll try to compile as much as I know so far to help him , unfortunatel, I'm going to have to try to write in french:( . This is exactly the kind of thing I love about my postcards, real live history. For example; in the summer I gave Dom a catalogue from one of the auctions we went to because it contained a quote from a letter George Sand sent to a friend. Only the people who have seen the catalogue would have seen that quote. Our expert is a mine of little details, we learn a lot from him.

I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next!

The main news of the week is, of course, that Debbie has now had her surgery and is doing well.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Not here, there or anywhere

I overslept this morning. I don’t think that I’ve ever done that before. Rob had got up earlier and came to see why I wasn’t moving around. I sprang out of bed and don’t seem to have managed to get my body and mind synchronised again all day.

It’s the end of October and it’s as warm outside as in and the lizard was out on the kitchen windowsill at lunchtime. Very strange, he should be asleep.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Health matters

Yesterday evening I was very shocked by a report shown here on French TV ; I think that the journalists told us that they had been to Virginia and visited a hospital or clinic. It was early morning and lots of people were waiting outside. They were waiting to take part in a lottery to see who would get treatment that day. These people weren’t the poorest, these were people who had lost their jobs and their health cover or they just couldn’t afford it. One woman was asked what was wrong with her; I could tell immediately from her face and neck. She needed hormones for her thyroid. That really struck home with me. I was undiagnosed for two or three years and I remember how much better I felt when my treatment was sorted out. Goodness know what happens to your body if you are treated for a while and then not.

The reporters 'forgot' to mention that in France, Médicines Sans Frontièrs looks after the people who have slipped outside the system. I had a friend who did some voluntary nursing for a while and she was very, very shocked that even in a ‘well to do’ town like La Rochelle there were so many people in need.

Now I know that I’m really old. This morning in the post I received a bulky pink envelope with no indication of the company which sent it. In the past this meant samples of disposable nappies /diapers, baby food, beauty products (posh cotton wool discs) and sanitary products. Well, I’ve discovered that I’ve been promoted to the ‘leaky ladies’ list. Perhaps I should book that shampoo and set at the hairdressers today – what about a lavender rinse?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


When I was young I loved playing around with yoyos. I was never very good at it, but that was probably because I could only afford a cheap plastic one. In more recent years all three of my children have enjoyed yoyos and they were certainly more sophisticated than the ones I played with. I seem to remember one which lit up; needless to say mum had goes too.

I’m very tempted to start yo-yoing again now that I’ve discovered the existence of Yoyo Shop UK. You can buy yoyos online to your hearts content from beginners to pros, all colours and designs…. You can even by Tom Kuhn yoyos. You may well ask what or who is Tom Kuhn? Tom Kuhn is a dentist from San Francisco who makes amazing wooden yoyos. These are items of beauty as well as fun to use. You can’t get them from anywhere else in the U.K.

A yoyo might just be the stocking filler you were looking for and the postage is free…. I might just put one on my wish list.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Just another Sunday

I’ve been time travelling today: First I celebrated the 6th birthday of a little girl who was born in 1899. Then I ogled the handsome young cyclists of the Tour de France in 1950. Next I admired the new white cape and ‘Kepi’ worn by the French police men at night from 1949 onwards and then I finished off by watching the Russian troops march through a French town when they joined the First World War effort. Not bad for a quiet Sunday.
How about you?

Monday, October 12, 2009

The joys of being a mother

I try really hard not to be a neurotic mother, but sometimes fate just overwhelms me. On Sunday lunch time Rob told me that a report was coming up on TV about riots in the centre Poitiers! I sat and watched the pictures of the devastation with my stomach churning. Such a quiet, peaceful town, holding a festival. I knew that Dom and J-M would attend something like that on their doorstep. Dom and I managed to converse with each other via our message services. They were fine, but disappointed that the event they were going to attend on Saturday evening had been cancelled.

A gang of around 250 hooded and masked men had passed through the town centre on Saturday afternoon smashing shop windows, letting off smoke bombs and causing damage. Fortunately only one person was injured. From the far left, they were protesting about the building of a new prison. What is shocking, besides the violence of the attack, was the way that the protest had been highly organised.

Olivier had come home for the weekend so I knew that he was safe and sound. Or was he? On Saturday evening he went into town with some friends on their bikes, which they normally do if they know that they will be drinking. I know, bikes can be lethal too when mixed with alcohol. They park them just outside the police station, so that they are well guarded. Somehow he managed to loose his phone. We tried phoning him to see if we could locate it, but the battery was flat. He spent Sunday afternoon organising a new one. Fortunately he was almost at the end of his contract. Thanks to the internet he can pick the new phone up from a shop in Poitiers during the week.

He remembered to take his alarm clock back with him. If he misses lectures he will lose his ‘grant’.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Time to take up the treatment of the veins in my legs again. I really messed up the buses. I looked at the weekend and holiday timetable so I got off one bus only to see the connection disappearing into the distance; I had plenty of time so I walked; it was a lovely hot day. We don’t have many hills around here, just the one I had to walk up to get to the clinic. It was a very hot day by the time I arrived. The doctor told me that her secretary shouldn’t have made any appointments for legs yet, it’s too hot, so she just did a few little veins…

I don’t like waiting for buses, so I usually look at the timetable and walk to the next stop. I though it was a safe option as there wasn’t another bus for 20 minutes at least. The bus was running late and passed me halfway between the twp stops so I had to walk all of the way back again. It was still hot.

I was shattered when I got in. We walk a lot but not usually in the heat.

During the evening I stubbed my toe on the wine rack in the corridor. It’s been there for years, why now? Also I don’t walk around in bare feet anymore as my dad had a toe amputated. I have a very painful and fast turning blue toe. I suppose as long as it’s painful it means it’s ‘okay’

On Friday I’m off for my annual visit to the Swedish chef. That’s a car journey, I just hope it starts….

Wonderful Weekend

I really had the most wonderful weekend. It was my birthday on Saturday. We had to go to Tours for an auction viewing, so going somewhere different was a treat in itself. My heart sank a little as we left the station to look for somewhere to have lunch. All that we could see were fast-food restaurants. Fortunately we found a little brasserie and had a lovely meal. Then we spent an agreeable 2 hours looking at postcards. We went to our expert’s shop(yes the shop front really does look like that and the website doesn’t do it justice). If you ever go to Tours you most look it up in Rue Michelet; A real Aladdin’s cave of treasures. We didn’t have much time to explore the town. The area around the station reminded me of Birmingham, but I’m told there are some historical streets

I was quite happy going home on the train with my book, but we had to wait an hour for a taxi when we got back to La Rochelle. Quite a few drunks, but only a danger to themselves when and if they fell over.

Dom and J-M came for the weekend and so did Olivier in the end. Dom and J-M cooked Sunday lunch, steak in pepper sauce and they made an amazing lemon pie (are you reading this Nicky?) with a crushed Speculoos (little cinnamon biscuits) base. We were glad they all went home so that we could finish it off on Monday evening.

I also had some lovely cards. My sister made me a beautiful card, hand painted with sweet peas on it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ann, Anne or Annie?

I loved teaching at the language school during the summer months. It was a real challenge to cater for several groups of different ages and abilities for three hours every morning. I loved preparing the lessons and finding them ‘things to do’ if they finished their work before I got back to them. One week I remember having three groups, unfortunately one girl was on her own. She was obviously uncomfortable, not only being on her own but because she had been sent to improve her English before school began again in September. As it happened I left her to do an exercise on possession and when I got back she challenged me. The possessive adjective agrees with the possessor i.e. 'his house', if the house belongs to a man. Why does Ann pick up her book? She explained to me that in French Ann is the masculine form of the name and Anne is feminine. I had no idea that Ann could be a man’s name and we both agreed that we didn’t know of any male with that name. The fact that she taught me something about French boosted her ego no end and she made good progress over the week that followed.

This evening I was listening to the radio. There is another film about Darwin and his daughter Annie being released. This is my blog post about Anne Darwin from July 2004:

“Darwin’s daughter

When we visit Malvern priory I like to look at the old grave stones. A lot of them are unreadable now, being a couple of hundred years old. I was very surprised to see an elderly lady tending one of the graves. She came up to me and asked if I was interested in History. She told me about the grave she had been looking after; It was the Grave of Anne Darwin who was brought to Malvern by her father, Charles Darwin, when she was ten years old to take the cure. She had T.B., unfortunately she died and was buried at the Priory. The lady told me that although she’d lived there for over 50 years she didn’t know about this until recent years. She lives in a flat which contains the room where Anne died.

Looking again at the grave stones I could see that a lot of people were from other parts of England, a lot of them were women and girls.

The cure consisted of drinking lots of water and walking the hills. I think you’ll agree that a lot of people would benefit from that today.”

Anne or Annie?

Friday, September 18, 2009


We’ve had a busy week. Monday and Tuesday were spent in the medieval town of Chinon. I’d have loved to explore the town more, it’s very beautiful and - old. As we travelled towards the town by train we could tell there was a change of mentality. We were on a little train just behind the driver’s cabin. Every station we stopped at he shook hands and exchanged words with the guard. We went through Azay-le-Rideau which is famous for its chateau but I didn’t see it. The country side is different to here and the houses have taller roofs with slate tiles instead of terracotta. Almost like another country.

We knew that the auction house being out of town would be a problem. So on Monday afternoon after finding our Hotel, we set out to walk there. 3.5 kilometres along a busy main road . I’d changed my handbag so I didn’t have any sugar cubes with me so I started to panic a bit when I felt the familiar dryness and tingling in my mouth which indicates my blood sugar is low. Fortunately there was a café so we had an orange juice, it helped a lot. There was also a bus stop opposite to the auction house but the bad news was there was only one bus a day there and one bus back. We decided that the bus would be a better idea for the next day. If we bought postcards and had to carry them several kilometres in the pouring rainwhich had been forecast, they would certainly be ruined. We walked back via the troglodyte caves, now empty and blocked up.

A lot of businesses are closed on Mondays in France, so our evening adventure was to find something to eat. As it happens we stumbled on an excellent restaurant which wasn’t too expensive. It was just warm enough to sit out side and eat. We could tell from the voices around us that Chinon is very popular with Americans – in fact it reminds me of Broadway (England)

On Tuesday we caught the bus and killed an hour at the café. The postcards we looked at were as good as we expected them to be. There were quite a few people viewing but as coins and stamps were being auctioned too I didn’t worry too much.

Lunch at the café was completely opposite to the restaurant the night before. The workers start arriving at twelve and the service is swift and well organised. The food was quite good for the price and everyone was very friendly. I wonder what they thought of this strange English couple venturing out of the touristy limits of the town.

I really enjoy auctions. Rob does the bidding and I keep the score. We came away with almost everything we wanted, even a postcard of a troglodyte dweller!

The journey home was long and very tiring, we changed trains twice and had a taxi home from La Rochelle. We managed to miss the rain.

Next time we might just go to the viewing in Tours. The expert has a shop there which I really want to visit

Olivier is home for the weekend. Doesn’t seem to be showing signs of malnutrition or alcohol poisoning yet. His main moan seems to be the cold showers – perhaps they will be good for his character.

Dom and her boyfriend, J-M, will be coming home next weekend for my birthday.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Last of the flowers

Since the last week of August I’ve had the impression that the leaves are changing colour and are ready to start falling. They have. At the beginning of September we had lots of rain which washed some from the trees. This week has been hot and windy, so there are even more lying around on the ground.

I’ve started to find lots of spiders and so far three very big ones have made their way into the house. Where did the summer go? What summer? You may well ask. Last weekend there were more swimmers here than we’ve seen all summer.

These are some flowers I drew 10 years or so ago when I used to have lessons. Dom’s nicked my tubes of water colour paint and the only reason she didn’t take the acrylics last time she came was that they had all dried up. So even if I had the time...

Anyway, in those days I used to have free time in the holidays because I was teaching back then. I bought some flowers in from the garden, arranged them in a vase and started to draw them, much to the fascination of one of Olivier’s friends. He asked very politely if he could watch and he was very quiet for about 15 minutes, but I could tell something was about to come to the surface.

“Would you like me to turn them round so that you can draw the backs?”

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Time Traveller

This postcard came to us last week in an album we bought online. The card was posted in August 1925. My eye was immediately drawn to the lady walking in the street. Not a costume worn in the 1920s. The postcard hasn't been interfered with at all. A time traveller? What do you think?

Friday, September 04, 2009

Time marches on... and on

A lot of water has flowed under the bridge in the last couple of weeks. We’ve been getting Olivier ready to go off to university. Buying cups, plates, saucepan, and all the rest including corkscrew/bottle-opener combined. I’ve made endless lists, questioned Dom, trawled the internet and so on. Olivier kept putting off the packing until ‘later’. The night before he left he was out with his friends until one-thirty; packing to leave home took half an hour, so he was in bed for two. I was waking him at five. He had packed half a suitcase, which was fine by me as I could put his sheets, pillow cases and towels in his case which saved a bit of space. He took Dom’s little fridge too and we got it all into the car. I even thought to put the pillow and quilt handy so my baby could sleep reasonably comfortably on the way.

I have now learnt that there are some people who go through life without a list or plans and that my youngest son is one of them and he’s happy that way.

Everybody and his dog was waiting to be allocated a room, so we waited for about three hours. Rob slept in the car. Dom was in a building nearby helping 1st year psychologists with their paperwork. As the wait was so long we could all go out to lunch together after we’d taken all of Olivier’s things up to his room. When he told Dom his room number we discovered he was in the room next to the one she was in in her first year.

Dom is glowing! She really seems to be doing what she loves, has a lovely boyfriend and she got the job in the university library that she was after. The library looks like an egg box to me, but as long as there are books in it Dom doesn’t care what it looks like.

The house is really empty and I seem to have more time. I’ve been using it to clear and clean Olivier’s room and have a good tidy up for the first time in ages. He will be home for the weekend this evening, to collect the rest of his clothes, perhaps? We don’t even have to go to the station, one of his friends is collecting him.

In just over a week Rob and I are going to Chinon to an auction. It involves a stop over so we have chosen a nice hotel and are really looking forward to a romantic business trip! The week after will be my birthday. I don’t understand how that has come round so quickly again.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

"Travel notes"

Our local newspaper reported one morning last week that an English plane full of passengers heading for Portugal made an emergency landing at our airport, which is about 5 minutes drive from here. Smoke was detected aboard and they think that it may have been an overheated laptop. MIL told me the other day that Christian would be going to Portugal around now. Wouldn’t that be a coincidence? I can imagine him pointing out his parents house to his friends as they landed.

Dom’s train was delayed by an hour and a half last Thursday as someone had been hit and killed by a train They were only about ten minutes away from the station, but nothing could move. The already too small car park was absolute havoc as the delayed trains all arrived at the same time. It was good to have her safely home.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Which laptop?

Olivier is trying to choose a laptop. He can afford one after working all summer, but he’s agonising over which one. Most of his friends aren’t too helpful because their parents have paid for theirs, so they don’t see the problem from the same perspective. He doesn’t want one that is too big as he will be travelling with it and taking it to lectures, etc. He doesn’t want a really small one either. He wants to have a coupe of games on it just in case. After sales is important to him after taking his ipod back three times before they gave him a new one.

What kind of laptop did you choose? Why? Are you satisfied with it?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Twenty-five years ago

Something I haven’t done in a long, long time is delve into my old diaries. So today I’ve gone back in my time machine 25 years and arrived at Tuesday 14th August. I was still living in England then. Nothing much really happened, work and Indian meal with friend. I had chicken korma. At the bottom of the page it says “Started to eat meat again”. That was the end of my year long vegetarian experiment. Funnily enough, Dom did something similar a couple of years ago.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Dark and gloomy and a glimmer of hope.

As the roads of France are blocked with cars either coming or going on holiday it is a very dark and dull Sunday morning. Dom went to the mountains with her boyfriend mid-week. They went on the night train which reminded me one of my favourite Alfred Hitchcock films; North by Northwest. I wonder if she managed to sleep?

Talking of sleep, or lack of it, none of us slept very well last night. Rob got up at five to start work on the postcards. He sent off an email for confirmation of an auction we’re interested in and our ‘expert’ replied almost straight away (someone else who had difficulty sleeping perhaps?) Olivier got in at 5 too and when I got up myself just before 7 I could hear his TV so I went in to turn it off and he was awake and watching the news. He’s got to get up at 10.30 to got to work – I can see we’re in for a struggle this morning.

On Friday evening I got a message from Google every time I tried to visit a blogspot blog using Firefox. It told me that my computer was sending out multiple requests. When I tried using AOL (or whatever it is called nowadays) I had no problems. Yesterday morning I managed to pick up three Trojan horses – there seem to be a lot of problems around at the moment.

Finally on a feel good note, I’m linking to a YouTube video as I don’t like to put up screens in every post. A dog rescuing another dog. You might have seen it already. Am I loony for saying it restores your faith in human nature when you see something nice like this happening.?

Friday, August 07, 2009

For Nancyrowina and Tennyson’s bicentenary

This is a little thank you for Nancyrowina who lives on the Isle of Wight and, if I remember rightly, has a video of my cousin playing the saw. Nancy has been helping approving blogs on BlogExplosion and is really involved. If you’re reading this because of BlogExplosion, Nancy is one of the reasons why.

Paul Armfield is my Cousin; I last saw him when he was about 14 and a punk. It was a long time ago, but we keep in touch. He’s set the poem “Sweet and Low” to music, it’s lovely.
Jo! I’ve written to him this evening asking if he knows your cousin Emily (who also sings). If he does it means that we’re sort of related!

SWEET and low, sweet and low,
Wind of the western sea,
Low, low, breathe and blow,
Wind of the western sea!
Over the rolling waters go,
Come from the dying moon, and blow,
Blow him again to me;
While my little one, while my pretty one, sleeps.

Sleep and rest, sleep and rest,
Father will come to thee soon;
Rest, rest, on mother’s breast,
Father will come to thee soon;
Father will come to his babe in the nest,
Silver sails all out of the west
Under the silver moon:
Sleep, my little one, sleep, my pretty one, sleep

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Great Gatsby across the miles

It’s a little while since Dom told me this one so the details might not be exact:

Before Christmas Dom borrowed a copy of ‘The Great Gatsby’ in English from the library at Poitiers. As she was busy she had to hand it back unfinished, so she left a bookmark in at the page where she had read to and returned the book. When she went back to re-borrow the book it was out, which she thought a bit of a coincidence considering the book was in English. She kept a look out for the book and surprise, surprise, she found it again with her bookmark still in place and a little note. The note was from an American student who could not resist trying to find out who would be reading ‘The Great Gatsby’ in a French town. They corresponded for a little while – probably about books and went their separate ways.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

For everyone that had a father

You must go and see Henry's tribute to his dad. As always he writes and illustrates his ideas beautifully.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Comings and Goings

The last month has flown by and we’re still waiting for some real summer. We took Dom to the station this afternoon. The platform was very crowded. The train to Poitiers is also the Paris train so lots of holiday makers were going home.

The Russian wedding in Avignon wasn’t as good as expected, just the French civil ceremony. There were Muscovites and Parisians. Everyone in France knows that there are the French and then there are the Parisians, who are not to be mistaken as French. The same probably goes for people from Moscow. They slept in a tent and it was very, very cold. Dom did get to see the famous bridge, you have to pay to go on it.

I’ve done all of my blood tests and collected pee for 24 hours. The results are good except for my thyroid which is out of normal range. I’ll go and see the Doctor next week. We raised the thyroid medicine when my eyebrows dropped out, but I think that it was due to stress. They are growing back, but It will probably take a decade for them to come back completely.

I’m slowly starting to prepare for Olivier’s moving at the beginning of September. I think that he probably thinks he can get by with a bottle opener/corkscrew, though he did say he would come shopping with me – to choose the correct bottle opener/corkscrew no doubt.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Clarysville Inn

The Inn stood on the National Highway between Cumberland and Frostburg from 1807 until 1999 when it was destroyed by fire. It also served as a hospital during the civil war, perhaps Doctor March was nursed there by Mrs Marsh while Jo and her sisters stayed at home!

It was a Stagecoach stop rather than a Waggoner’s stop, “Waggoners knew where and how to have more fun”. I’ve looked online and this is the oldest postcard (from the 1920s) I could find, the image also appears on this site along with the very interesting history of the Inn. Here you see a picture of the Inn after the fire, almost exactly 10 years ago

If you click on the image you can read “Chicken Dinner”, “Excellent dining Room Service”, there is a Coca Cola advertisement and a Bath would have cost 1$50.

Researching this sort of postcard is what I love best about my job. If you’re from the Frostburg - Cumberland area, do you remember the Inn? Why did a fire start?

Ahem, the postcard is for auction here. If you scroll down far enough you'll find some English details . My postcard blog is Time and Oft

Friday, July 24, 2009

Oh those Russians

Dom has gone off to Avignon this weekend with her boyfriend . They’ve been invited to a Russian wedding. When they met, they both met someone who can speak Russian – if you see what I mean. On the way to the station in the car last Sunday evening they were talking to each other in Russian. It’s a lovely language to listen to; like a cat purring. Reminded me of Illya Kuryakin ‘sigh’. Illya even has his own Wikipedia page!

Talking of Russia, Dom asked me the other day if I had heard anything of Spyke Martin. He helped her with her Russian homework once. ( Are you out there somewhere Spyke? – we miss you!). Spyke is a French Canadian, bear hugging, tomato paste loving, ex priest, last known to be living in Denmark. Has anyone any news of him?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Every 'mm' counts

Life is an uphill struggle at the moment. I just don’t have time for myself, let alone my blogging friends. Hopefully better days are coming.

As most of you know I’m a professional power seller on ebay. Rob and I have made over 5400 sales and have 2000 postcards in our shop at the moment. Today we had an email from a customer; she was complaining because we sold her a postcard that was ‘too small’ She maintains that postcards should be 140mm x 90mm, the one that we sent her was 139 X 90. Fortunately for us (!) she will accept the card. I have several postcards in front of me a I write. Do you think that they are all exactly the same size?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Please don't ...

....Sit on the edge of the cliff.

Unfortunately, in some areas, they have to collect the dead bodies of tourists throughout the summer. Here we have soft yellow rock, like limestone. The waves scoop out a hollow at the bottom and eventually the top crumbles and falls down. It falls down a lot faster if there is the weight of someone on it. The cliffs aren’t high here, but if they collapse with you on them you will be injured enough to ruin your holiday.

We do have barriers but they are made of wood. As it is very damp in winter and hot in summer they don’t last long. A gap in the barrier doesn’t mean ‘you can sit here’.

Thank you

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How to feel safe

We went to pick Dom up from the station at 10 to midnight as she’d been to Paris over the holiday weekend. I went in on my own to wait for the train while Rob dozed in the car. I was all alone on the platform except for 6 or 7 CRS police. They’re the ones that deal with riots and crowds. I was very well behaved and very self-conscious standing there clutching the ham and tomato sandwich Dom had asked for. As it happens there were only about 10 people on the train, so I don’t think they had any problems

For the last 5 days we’ve hosted the annual Francofolies music festival. a lot of people flock to La Rochelle see their favourite bands, some of them are weird and wonderful (fans and bands), hence the heavy police presence. On Friday when Olivier and I returned from Poitiers we were greeted by a sniffer dog. There are also two English Police Ladies on duty here for a couple of weeks. I hope that they are enjoying strolling around in the sunshine

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The results are in...

The results are in; Olivier was expecting to scrape a pass and managed to get a “quite good” pass (the levels are; pass – quite good – good - very good). He was pleased and had made a lot of progress in maths by doing some work – surprise, surprise. Dom got “very good” and will continue on the “master’s” course next year. We are very proud of both of them.

Olivier and I went to Poitiers by train to enrol him at the university. It was a long day as the early afternoon trains were full and we had to wait until four to come home. We looked around the shops and explored and found where Dom’s new flat is. We stood and wondered which was her window.

The nicest part was that Olivier treated me to lunch. The train cost an arm and a leg and I offered to make a picnic, but Olivier had already planned to take me out to lunch. We found a restaurant by the “Notre Dame la Grande” church and sat outside to eat. It was lovely, as well as helping to pass the time. In fact the service was very slow, even for a French restaurant and I swear that the waiter didn’t have a beard at the beginning of the meal.

Other than that it’s work, work, work, I’m just about on top of sorting out the cards we bought two weeks ago. Tuesday is a holiday and Dom has gone off to Paris for a long romantic weekend. Rob and Olivier will be working. I would like to catch up with my blogging friends. Perhaps I’ll see you then.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

A quick copy and paste...

When we picked Dom up from the station two weeks ago she was worried sick about not having a summer job; by the following Wednesday she had two interviews which led to work in July and September. She’s home for July, working in the tax office inputting data which is not interesting and they’ve already told her not to work so fast. She’s passed her exams which means she has a ‘licence’ and can now continue for her ‘masters’ exam in 2 or 3 years. We also met her boyfriend. He came to stay for a few days and is really, really nice. His parents are meeting Dom this weekend. My motherly advice was ‘parents get nervous too’.
Dom told me that she has kidney stones. She’s always drunk plenty of water and eats a healthy diet with lots of vegetables and fruit. What else can she do – any ideas?

Olivier finished his exams and, on the whole, he seems pretty satisfied with himself. Remembering he’s hardly worked for 3 years we must wait until Tuesday to see if he’s passed. He’s working in the towers during the summer and then he’s off to Poitiers to study ‘economics’– we hope.

Rob and I want off to an auction last weekend which involved leaving the house at quarter to 5 in the morning and getting home at 10 in the evening. Like the last time we went , two years ago, it was very hot. We came home exhausted with lots of interesting postcards.

I phoned my mum recently. She made Rob a lovely card for his birthday. In her village they have ‘dabble days’ where they can have a go at different crafts. She usually makes lovely birthday cards for everyone. I forgot to ask her how the court case went.

I’m writing this on word but don’t know when I’ll be able to post it. AOL is amusing itself by letting us online for two or three minutes at a time and not very often. Rob spoke to his mother today for a very short while as AOL has control over the telephone too.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Time marches on...

What have I been up too? Working for the main part. Remember I talked about MIL falling down the stairs? She’s still in pain and very, very tired all of the time. She had been talking about selling her lovely house, she even found a flat/apartment, but in the end she’s decided to stay. We’re worried about her being so tired.

My mum is due to go to court as a witness, next week, I think. She was sitting in a café having a coffee with a friend one day. They were seated near to the toilet door and when one young lady went into the toilet she kicked my mum’s bag in with her, took the money and when she came out kicked the bag back under mum’s seat. Fortunately the café owner’s wife saw this from the kitchen. They chased the lady down the road and managed to recover most of the money. Unfortunately she has pleaded not guilty so everyone must go to court.

Dom and Olivier have both had exams, so I’ve been very stressed and not sleeping too well. Dom has finished. These are the end of 3 years of study. She’s decided to go on for another 2 years after all. The bookshop can wait.

Olivier is just over’ half way through his Baccalaureate. So far so good. He had to travel to another town for his English oral. He said the examiner was a mixture of my sister and Rob’s sister-in-law so he was immediately at ease with her. He’s really worked on his maths, which he took today. He thinks he should have a good mark.

Dom is coming home tomorrow, so I’ll know all of her gossip then. Her boyfriend will be coming to stay in the middle of next week. We haven’t met him yet, so I’m nervous about that. He’s very, very clever and Dom says a really nice person too, so it should go well.

We might have a couple of auctions to go to over the next fortnight. Nothing happens for months and then it’s action stations all round. I’d just like to sleep now for a while and wake up when it’s all over!

Sunday, June 14, 2009


In the past I always listened to 'Go 4 it' on Sunday evenings after the Archers on BBC Radio 4. 'Go 4 it' was a magazine programme for children and was always fascinating to listen to. The BBC discovered that the average age of the programme’s listeners was - ahem- fifty something, so they axed it.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A couple of pictures of my butterflies – only you can’t see them. The flowers look good though, don’t they? The blossom and the rose petals have all gone with the wind.
Rob took the pictures

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

How to use up lots of paper

We voted on Sunday with about half of the population of the village who were eligible to vote. It was Olivier’s first turn to cast his vote. The thing that annoys me about French elections is the amount of paper involved. A pile of lists of each party’s candidates is laid out on a table, you then pick up a list from each pile with an envelope before you go into a booth to put your chosen list into the envelope. The rest goes into a bin. I refuse to pick up a National Front list.

The week before the election every person of voting age receives an envelope with all of the same lists and a paper about each party in it. The idea is you can take your lists with you if you want to. The paper gets recycled and the envelopes are the kind that can be used again. I prefer the English system BUT I remember that my voting ticket had a number on it. They could check who you voted for if they wanted to. d

One of Rob's colleagues was running as a candidate for the Royalist Party. There party was too small to have lists distributed everywhere so you could download them if you wanted to. Would you believe this? They only had women’s names on their list because it is obligatory and most of them were a name only as the party didn’t really expect to get enough votes to have a representative at the European parliament.

As usual that’s the last we will hear until the next election.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Birds, bees and the rest


In the past I’ve written about the dwindling numbers of sparrows and butterflies on different occasions. I’m pleased to say that I think that I’ve made a difference. When I put out scraps of bread I can sometimes count as many as 20 sparrows as well as blackbirds sharing the crumbs. This afternoon I was watching the action in my deutzia bush outside the kitchen window. It is alive with bees and butterflies, mainly painted ladies but there was also a rather large swallowtail type butterfly which hung around for a while so that I could observe him/her.

So I think that next I would like some more tiny blue butterflies, I haven’t had one of those in my garden for a few years and we seem to be a bit short of Emperor and other dragon flies at the moment. I’ll let you know what happens ..


There were more and more butterflies as the afternoon wore on. Whenever a car or pedestrian passed by the butterflies flew up into the air. I’m sure there were at least 50 on the side of the bush that I could see. Later I was ironing in Dom’s room (nice to have more space – I now have an ‘ironing room’) I heard some juvenile chattering and a blue tit with one of it’s youngsters came in search of food. The parent was very busy picking insects from the branches and feeding them to their chick. It was pretty windy and both of them had quite a job hanging on.

This morning the painted ladies are slowly coming back as the day becomes warmer and they’ve been joined by a couple of red admirals. There is also a rose chafer ‘caressing’ the flowers. I wonder who’ll turn up next?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My turn to have a day

I haven't had Mother's Day yet so I think that I'm entitled to pass on this link "Why God made moms" It's really funny and I think I'll have to die my hair blue.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Another week slips by

Wednesday lunchtime found me sitting outside the deputy head’s office with Olivier. He had had a dispute with his English teacher and called his lessons a load of ‘merde’. The result was a lecture about how he has never really put any effort into lycée and two days suspension from lessons; I’ve made a list of things for him to do over the two days, mainly revision, the Baccalaureate is in a month.

On Wednesday afternoon Manpower telephoned with some hours of exam supervising starting on Thursday.

Thursday morning I went to the loo with George Cluny before I started work. He’s on the toilet door urging us ‘girls’ to save water (put a brick in the cistern) and the planet. I hung my coat up over him. I mean, George Cluny, I want him to have a good impression of me….. I wonder who the boys have got in their loos?

I had a nice exam. There were supposed to be 8 international students but the Russians had gone home and someone else was taking the exam in their own country so I had two very polite young men from India; One of them was recovering from chicken pox. Friday was good too. Everyone finished well before time and I had a good chat with the lady I was working with. You remember I had a few problems with someone before Christmas? The class representatives had noticed her rudeness too and she was asked not to come back.

The washing machine went funny again this morning. I had to unplug it to stop it from making a blowing noise. I tried it again after a few minutes and it was fine. I must phone up and see if the company has been reinstated. I discovered that in France nowadays a company that’s due to go under is given 6 months to try to sort things out. Hopefully my guarantee will come back to life.

Yesterday, Rob worked until midnight. The idea was that visitors would admire the sunset from the top of the St Nicolas tower. It was windy, cold and wet – but they were still quite busy.

I also had an interesting find.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sunday was a good day

Even though it was wet we enjoyed our morning walk. There was a meeting of marching bands being held in the park. The rehersals for that were noisy to say the least, but all of a sudden the load speakers were playing Verdi’s requiem - Dies irae, a pleasant surprise. The afternoon walk was rewarded by a pair of swans showing off their 7 sygnets. Why they are called ugly ducklings, I’ll never understand. They were so sweet and kept together with one parent in front and the other behind.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

News report

This was the news report yesterday evening. It's in French, but the images of the divers are excellent. Rob managed to go up and watch from above the divers, he doesn't think that it was the best view. I managed to see one dive with the webcam. One of the divers was injured, but nothing too serious.

I tried some Red Bull last night, Olivier was right; a mixture of cough syrup and lemsip, yeuk.

Friday, May 08, 2009


Here's a link to the La Rochelle webcam Select 'Les Tours' and you might see them diving off the top of the St Nicolas Tower as I write..... Unfortunately they keep moving around to catch the crowds. Rob is working inside the same tower this afternoon so he won't get to see what's going on. Perhaps he'll bring me a can of Red Bull home - not.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Some light at the end of the tunnel

You wouldn’t think it could get any worse, would you ? Well it did…

When I finally got through to the company that was supposed to mend my washer/dryer they informed me that my guarantee wasn’t valid anymore as the company I bought the machine from had gone bankrupt. We looked on the website and they went bankrupt in December of last year. All claims had to be filed by the end of last year, so my guarantee until the end of 2011 is worth nothing. We phoned the help line and their was a message to day that they would be back in business for 12th May! We’ll be checking to see what happens next…

Anyway, I went to visit my sad machine and I was thinking about the last time I had an engineer to visit. They always ask ‘Have you tried to use the machine since the problem developed?’ So I thought I’d give it a go. Rob ready to phone the emergency services in case I blew myself up. As the machine was still full of water I decided to try to empty it, so I set the controls to ‘empty’ , held my breath and pressed buttons. The machine emptied, no problem. Next, I decided to give it something a little more complicated. I fetched in the hand washing I’d done earlier and set it to spin dry. No problem. I couldn’t resist trying a full wash…, two full washes later and it was fine. All that stress for nothing.

My interview at Manpower wasn’t really an interview, just form filling. Another of the exam supervisors was there to. Manpower are very, very busy, the phone was ringing non stop and a queue of people waiting to be seen. All I have to do now is wait for my timetable, it looks like I’ll be working more in June.

We both had emails from MIL. She fell down the stairs last week, on her back. She’s in pain but okay. She’s 86, it could have been a lot worse.

Monday, May 04, 2009

The bad news or the bad news

When it’s a case of the bad news or the bad news, I suppose the best thing to do is tell it in the order it came. Since 2000 I’ve been supervising exams at the school of commerce in town. Just over a week ago I received a letter telling me that I would now be employed by Manpower as regards my work there. Tomorrow I have an interview with them and they will tell me my hours. I’m just hoping that I can continue to work just mornings. If I stay longer I get migraines. I also have my business to run. Will I be paid less? Will I have to pay some kind of entrance fee? Watch this space.

The other bit of bad news is that my washing/dryer machine has broken down. I went to remove my washing and found lights flashing. When I checked out the problem pages in the booklet it just said “call the engineer”. So I had soggy washing and another load which I washed in the bath. I tried to turn the machine on to empty the water out – nothing. The engineer doesn’t’ work on Mondays. The good news it is that the weather is sunny at the moment so I can dry things out side and if I wash them early in the morning they will be almost dry by the evening. I don’t normally need the dryer except in emergencies or the wet days of winter, but it’s impossible to wring out washing and get it as dry as a spin dryer.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Another BlogExplosion update

You will probably come across this post on one of my other blogs:

A couple of times now the approval queue has been right down to zero. It was a strange sensation after all this time. Some of you might have noticed that your blogs were approved almost instantly! We worked very hard to get the approval queue down to a minimum. Despite all the best efforts sometimes bad blogs do get through. If you see something which offends or you think shouldn’t be there you can report the site. You’ll see the link just below the banner at the top of the page when you are surfing.

Badmin continues working quietly to fix and change things. Lots of people enjoyed the Shoutbox in the past and hopefully there will be some sort of text based chat coming soon.

The forums have been very quiet recently, why not pop by and see what there is on offer nowadays? There are new bloggers saying ‘Hi’ or details of the assigned credits bonus during the month of May. If you have any ideas, worries about BlogExplosion or general questions about blogging there is always someone around willing to help out. We’d love to hear what you think about the changes.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Carpe diem

The recent rise to fame of Susan Boyle and her incredible voice serves as a reminder to us all how important it is to pursue your dreams before it is too late. In my mind 50 is the moment when you still have the time to try. A year or so back I decided to write down the thoughts and ideas that were in my head. Word made things easy for me; when I was 10 my teacher, Mr Sadler, sat observing me while I wrote and came to the conclusion that my brain was working too fast for my hand. This was why my handwriting was and still is, so bad. It’s taken me 40 years to really start to write. It doesn’t matter that I will never be properly published, I’m having a great time just making up stories and trying to make the people in them behave as if they were real. Some stories are useless and other are much better.

What are you doing?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Just call me Orange Eucalyptus

Stolen from Peter!

1.Your rock star name (first pet, current car) – Tippy Renault

2.Your gangsta name (favorite ice cream flavor, favorite type of shoe) – Lemon Boot

3.Your Native American name (favorite color, favorite animal) – Purple Elephant

4.Your soap opera name (middle name, city where you were born) – Mary Worcester

5.Your Star Wars name (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 of your first name) - Knuan

6.Superhero name (2nd favorite color, favorite drink) – Turquoise Martini

7.NASCAR name (the first names of your grandfathers) – Richard Walter

8.Dancer name (the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy) – Opium Chocolate

9.TV weather anchor name (your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter) – Forrester Faverolles

10.Spy name (your favorite season/holiday, flower) – Autumn Rose

11.Cartoon name:(favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now) – Grapefruit Jean

12.Hippie name (what you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree) – Orange Eucalyptus

13.Movie (or porn) star name (first pet, first street where you lived) – Tippy Furze

I think that the names work out well. Let me know if you decide to play.


Jo has decided to make her blog, BrilliantGirlGenius by invitation only. If you were a regular reader and would like to have access to her blog, email her at revolutioninmyhead(at)gmail(dot)com, or me at the address on the lefthand side just above the lime clock and I’ll forward your email to her. If you are shy you can always check out some of your other sister’s blogs in my list.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Easter visitor

Dom came home for a few days last weekend. She thinks that she will be staying in Poitiers after all. She wants to do research in to language/bilingualism sort of things. Well she’s already an expert there in a voice on sort of way. Her job in the library has been suspended. No funds to pay them with. She’s seen the head of her department and he’s gong to see if he can’t get the money somehow. This is the document library we’re talking about. How can a University function with that closed off?

She has a boyfriend now and it sounds as if they are pretty serious. I’m pleased she’s met someone that matches up to her high standards. She has a friend, M, who is studying in Paris. He lent them his flat for the weekend. Apparently boyfriend and M have a lot of friends in common and now Dom has met a most of them. They went to visit Iris, the fridge poetry writing, insect lady with the rabbit in the hat band of her top hat. She has a flat in Montmartre! How cool can that be? Though it is tiny she does have a real toilet. The last place she had only had a Turkish toilet (where you have to squat). Bonnie (The bird rescuer) came to visit Dom too and they went out for a drink together. It was lovely to see Bonnie again. She is such a pretty girl, very French, looks wonderful in anything – how do they do that?

Dom’s visit went all too quickly, but she has left me her first paper to read.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Creme Eggs

We managed to obtain a supply of Cadbury Creme Eggs for Easter. We paid a euro each for them. Can you get them where you are and how much did you pay for them?

Hope you have a sunny Easter with lots of eggs, if that's what you like.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Mini heros

I almost forgot to mention this one: A man walked into a school in France and tried to take a little girl by force. He hadn’t reckoned with the rest of the children. One brave boy went for him and tripped him up while the others made lots of noise and ran to fetch an adult. They were all only 7 and 8 years old.

The headmistress of the school is very proud of her pupils but still has to explain why the school gate was left unlocked. Since a hostage taking at a nursery school over 10 years ago school gates are supposed to be kept locked.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

All grown up

The monuments in France are now open through the lunchtimes as of April 1st. This means that staff have to be covered while they take their lunch breaks. Now that Olivier is 18 he can work part time, so he is working weekends and throughout the Easter holidays. He’ll be working almost full time throughout the summer as well. It’s good all-round as far as our family are concerned, it gets him out of bed at a reasonable hour, he doesn’t have to keep asking for bus fair and he’ll be able to pay for his own clothes. (He’s got expensive tastes). He did appreciate working at the restaurant last summer for the same reason.

Today he is going to give blood for the first time. The blood doning centre have a mobile service which visits villages, businesses, factories and now I’ve discovered, lycées. Rob and I haven’t been for several years because of the BSE problem in the UK. (We weren’t allowed to give blood) Rob used to donate his plasma which was rich in tetanus antibodies too.

Like I said; all grown up.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I've wanted to show everyone this ad for years. It's in French. The French railway are careful to look after ideas. Those pink things are the ideas, aren't they sweet?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Not liver again!

Me : I’m looking for my liver with sage recipe.
Olivier: But we’ve only just had liver!
Me: It was a month ago.
Olivier: Why couldn’t you leave a ten year gap like last time?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Blogs and flowers

This has been a normal week in blogging land, Some have good news, some have bad, some leave, some appear… Time marches on and now it is Spring.

I’ve been so busy; preparing postcards, approving blogs, gardening, feeding hungry men, hoovering up spiders - the usual. I’ve been taking my keep fit very seriously as I spend so much time on the computer. I have to go carefully because of my back but I’ve managed to put a 20 minute routine together. (As well as walking for around an hour or more everyday) I lift weights a little too. Normally 4kgs = 8.8lbs, but Olivier had added another two kilos so I thought that if I did half as many I could manage. It doesn’t work like that. I hurt my elbow. It’s settling down so I’ll be able to start again in a couple of days. I think that my clicky thumb might be coming back and the joints of my mouse clicking finger are stiff. The weather might be warm outside but our houses are designed to be cool in summer, therefore they are freezing cold in the early spring. Some days I feel quite decrepit.

Olivier has now put in his ‘wishes’ (yes they really call it wishes in French) for next year. He had his mock baccalaureate results and worked out he’s just about passed with 1 and a bit points to spare. If he put in some work he’d have really good results. Unfortunately anyone who has the bac. Is entitled to a university place here. They have them sitting on the steps in the amphitheatres on some courses. The exams at the end of the first year are really tough in order to weed out the rubbish.

This morning I’ve been approving the blogs submitted at the end of February. There are more of us doing the job now and it’s so much faster. If you haven’t heard anything from us it means that your blog has been put back into the queue for various reasons.

The new administrator has been working very hard trying to get everything up straight. He’s even tidied up the Homepage. The forums have been cleared of all that nasty spam and the spammers have been banned. There have been a lot of other problems to sort out. I know he works till the small hours and then goes off to his daytime job. He answers queries patiently and even emailed someone about problems with their mp3 player because they’d submitted a support ticket about it.( Please don’t start sending in support tickets for problems outside BlogExplosion!!)

Thank you Badmin we do appreciate all of the hard work you’ve been putting in.

Here's a weird and wonderful way to waste a few hours. If you can find your way to the garden you can create a flower too!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pictures of eggs

Rob came home with half a dozen eggs the day before yesterday. Home grown ones from one of his colleagues. They were beautiful, dark brown and speckled. I wish he’d let me use his camera so that I could take a photo*. Just recently I’ve seen a lot of things I’d like to photograph – not just pictures but textures. I’ve been inspired by Caroline’s blog (Scroll down to see her top 10).

I suppose I could get my paints out, but the eggs would be rotten by the time I’d finished. By the way, I had a lovely omelette for lunch

*It’s not as if I’d have to have photos developed nowadays, is it? If they weren’t any good I could delete them all.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

An earthquake in a coffee cup

The last time I bought coffee they didn’t have any of my favourite brand left. I usually buy fair trade from somewhere in South America. I nearly got tricked into buying the decaffeinated tin but I noticed the blue instead of green writing just in time. I settled for a packet of fair trade organic fro central America. Just as I was taking it off the shelf all of the packets jars and tins began to wobble. I was the only person in the aisle but I could see an elderly lady at the end looking worried. I didn’t think I was that cross…

Thursday, March 05, 2009

BlogExplosion - Good News!

We now have a new administrator who has been given powers to clean up the forums. The spam has gone so if you have a question it is more likely to be seen and answered by someone. Why not pop by and say hello.

The administrator has many tasks, hopefully soon we’ll be able to get more volunteers for helping with approvals, both of blogs and banners. There is a huge a pile of unanswered tickets to deal with and information to be updated. All of this will take time. For more details see the forums. (I know I’m plugging the forums but I’m really proud of what we achieved there.)

Thank you to everyone who took the time to write to the owners. I don’t think we’ll ever know how many letters there were. It’s good to know that people can pull together and obtain results.

Feeding the birds

I’ve been observing the birds that feed on the scraps of bread I throw into the garden. The blackbirds are the first to arrive in the morning and sit on the wall looking down hopefully, reminding me to throw out the scraps. The magpies are quite happy to scare the smaller birds off so that they can gobble all of the bread up. When it was colder the starlings would arrive as a group to feed and to my surprise would not chase the sparrows off. The sparrows are very nervous feeders with the exception of a few greedy ones. Mr Robin arrives on his own and waits to feed alone.

Sometimes I put out stale brioche (a delicious buttery tasting sweet bread) which I’ve noticed get eaten first in preference to the bread. Is it because;

1. It’s easier to spot because it is a yellowy colour and stands out more,
2. It’s softer and breaks up without so much effort?
3. Birds have a sweet tooth – ahem, beak?

Friday, February 27, 2009

The spring is coming

We’ve had a beautiful week. The sun has shone and the days are definitely warmer. The mornings are really cold due to the clear skies overnight. A couple of days ago a carpenter bee hit the kitchen window. A lot of people are frightened by their appearance (big and black) but they are quite harmless. I read somewhere that when the males get the urge they will try to mate with any thing that is dark and shiny, I can’t find confirmation of that now. Ours aren’t quite as big as this one.

The tree in front of the house has lots of buds ready to blossom, but this afternoon I was surprised to see one or two leaves unfurling. There are quite a few daffodils out and other flowers not far behind. This evening there was a tit right at the top of one of my Russian olive trees singing his heart out.

In the last week a new road sign has been put up on the road to the marsh warning that frogs an toads may be crossing. We’ve already seen one or two toads out in the evening and heard the frogs on the marsh this afternoon.

All we need now are the squirrels in the park to come out and a lizard or two on the kitchen windowsill

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I went for my three monthly check up this week; my results are all normal, so I was praised. For the last month I haven’t taken anything to lower my blood pressure and it is normal. Now I can go until the next check up without blood pressure tablets. This means I can eat grapefruit again. I love grapefruit.

Dom has come to stay for one night as she is busy and only has one week’s holiday. She’s been sorting out her clothes. While I was dividing the leftovers into three piles; me, rubbish and charity, I said to Olivier that perhaps one day I’ll be slim enough… He told me ‘Yes you can!’ Comes in useful, doesn’t it?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Happy Birthday!

This photograph was taken 15 years ago today on Olivier’s third birthday. Today he comes of age. Happy Birthday Olivier!

He didn’t tell me until Tuesday that last week was the week of the mock baccalaureate. Perhaps it was for the best or I’d have been agonising over whether his biro would run out of ink or should he replace his calculator batteries. He showed me some of the papers..

Philosophy: His worst favourite subject of all. They only have to do a year of it and they either get it or not. Olivier doesn’t get it. He chose to write for 4 hours on ‘Is it possible to be yourself?’

Maths: I didn’t do ‘modern maths’ so I don’t understand most of the paper (plus it is in French). Probabilities was quite good , he says, all about a drinks machine which ignores orders and gives out drinks as it likes….

History: For this you have to remember that a French man is supposed to know something about every thing, so his choice of history questions covered the recent history of USA and of Israel.

English: A doddle for Olivier, an extract from something by Ken Follett

Last night he went to a night club to celebrate his birthday. It’s in the north of the department on a very busy road. I was a little concerned about transport as there have been youngsters killed on that road in the early hours of Sunday morning in the past. Some friends took him up and then he was staying with a friend who lives halfway because they put on free transport home to some of the nearer villages.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

BlogExplosion: very Important!!

A letter has been composed for everyone to send out to the company that owns Blogexplosion on 20th February, you can copy the letter from here.

Or you might prefer to go here for more instructions and access to a rich text format of the letter. I think anyone outside the US would probably like to send their letters a little earlier. The addresses are supplied. Just pick who you would like to address your letter to.

There is no reason why you shouldn’t compose your own letter if you want to. Please be polite. A lot of effort has gone into this project by people who care about the blogging community. If you belong to BlogExplosion, please help.

And yes, you will be seeing this post on all of my blogs

Thanks to thewatchlist, MJTaylor Spicybugz, bokonon, kelson, SelinaKimsey, sightlydrunk, bluegrassBloggo, McSpazz, lando411 and others I have surely missed for keeping the forums looking like forums. A special thanks to thewatchlist and MJTaylor who have put in all of the work for the letter.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Small and Sweet

Just a very short film that Dom made in her first year. You must have your speakers on so that you can hear the music.

P.S. She told me that I could post it here as long as everyone made nice comments about it

Sunday, February 08, 2009

BlogExplosion: You can help

Thanks to an idea by thewatchlist, BlogExplosion members can help with the spam problem in the forums. All you have to do is reply to a message or start a new thread so that the spam doesn’t show up. Anything will do. Even a message of support. There is even a story you can add to in one of the threads. If you don’t feel like doing that. How about writing a post like this one? I think the more members who see it the better.

As regards approvals I’m afraid that we’re still in the middle of December. I did have a couple of hours to spare last weekend, but as BlogExplosion was off I couldn’t o anything. This weekend I’ve got problems with my internet connection, so I’ve approved about 3 blogs. There are just over 3000 blogs waiting approval. Probably 1000 are real blogs suitable for blogExplosion. It would be so much quicker if we didn’t have to wade through some of the rubbish.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

It's the little things...

This week has been scattered with little events which made me smile. I’ve been supervising exams again. I was on the bus on Tuesday morning when I looked up at a building and an open balcony window caught my eye. The traffic stopped for a couple of minutes and I could see a couple talking to each other. Then they gave each other a lovely big hug.

One of the students asked if he could speak to me after the exam. I had three hours to wonder what on earth he would want to talk to me about. Later he explained that he had lived in Alaska for a year and stayed with a family Knutsen. He obviously enjoyed being with them. He wondered if I was related. I don’t really know any of the foreign Knutsens. So Christine in Alaska, if you ever read this, this paragraph is about you!

I was eating lunch one day and the jay appeared again. He was very considerate and hopped around so that I could see him from all angles. I managed to reach my glasses without the movement frightening him off, but he was too far away for them to make much difference.

This morning we were in the middle of a probabilities exam when we heard singing. There is a large grassed area around part of the building. It was a beautiful morning, blue skies and sunshine. One of the Chinese students had taken her music outside to rehearse the part she was singing (opera I think), she had a beautiful voice and I certainly would have loved to continue listening. Unfortunately my colleague had to go out side and ask her politely to stop. The singer was very embarrassed and went off to find somewhere else.

I wonder what will happen tomorrow.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Double take

The coots are still on the marsh which is well flooded at the moment. I haven't seen any sign of the mice. Did they listen to my advice about moving out?

Oh, I almost forgot; I saw a dodo. I was surprised to discover on Wikipedia that the last known stuffed Dodo was discarded in 1755. As you can see, if you follow the link, they are wrong. Perhaps I should write to them....

Strikes, history and colds

Rob and Olivier are on strike today. Olivier went off to school early for history which was the only lesson he had with a non-striking teacher. The buses are on strike most of the day so he hasn’t come back. He’s probably hanging out around town or perhaps he joined in the march. Strikes are tolerated in France – You wouldn’t like us to get the guillotine out again, would you?

We’ve all been ill with colds. This is my first cold for three and a half years. The last one I had was in England on our last visit. No exams this week but I have four mornings next week. I’m keeping my fingers crossed there won’t be another strike next Thursday – I’ve done my share of walking to work in the past. Looking up the dates, I've had a long walk to work and back every two years, perhaps I should start taking bets on next week...

A new housing estate is due to be built in a field on the outskirts of the village. While they were digging and surveying they found remains of a settlement. The dig delayed the start of work by 8 months and now some buyers are backing out because of the economical problems at the moment.

That particular part of the village was inhabited from the 2nd century onwards it seems. There were a lot of bones. Families buried their dead around where they lived in the past. There were traces of buildings and some kind of oven. Sorry, the site is not in English. If you click on the photo the rest will be displayed one by one. It seems that near to that place other remains were found 20 or so years ago but the previous council decided to ignore it and allowed building to carry on. The little port next to the village has always been used even by Romans, Normans and was even visited by the King on one occasion.

I’ve never found anything of interest on the garden, except for fossils and geodes.