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.