Friday, December 31, 2010

Bye, bye 2010

On the whole I think that it’s a good thing that 2010 is on its way out. Looking back over my blog entries, January saw pictures of snow - December too. February is good for birthdays, Olivier and Christian are both February boys. 2010 say the hurricane Xanthia passing through. Unfortunately we drove through the village where there were several deaths quite regularly. It’s still shocking to see the bricked up houses that used to be people’s homes. In March I was still posting about the aftermath of the storm.

Then McAfee did an update which closed down a lot of computers including ours. 2010 wasn’t too cheerful, was it? Nothing interesting to remember in May.

June saw the opening of ExposeYourBlog! A few of us got together disgusted with the way that the owners of BlogExplosion were treating members and volunteers and created our own blog traffic exchange. This is one of the nicest parts of 2010 for me. Being part of building up a new blogging community and making a lot of new blogging friends. June saw celebrations too. 25 years of marriage on the 17th and Rob’s 50th on the 30th.

Only two posts in July!

In September we visited Dom and J-M in their apartment and moved Olivier into his. Christian had also moved out of his Grandma’s and was renting a house with a friend which they eventually bought. I fell over and my knee is still swollen. I celebrated 55. (me!?)

Autumn: Doms’ birthday in November. Mild weather brought, wasps and a hornet as well as the annual hoovering up of spiders, but twice this year.

Time flew by and the year finished with snow and cold weather. We are lucky compared to a lot of places.

I’m looking forward to 2011. As Rob said earlier tomorrow will be 1.1.11. That must be a good omen all those ones - a fresh start.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!


There are a lot of people who this year will not be spending Christmas exactly as planned. Some elderly people will be alone because their families can’t get to pick them up because of the snow. Many people will be sleeping in airports and railway stations. Wherever you are, I hope that you manage to have the best Christmas you can manage.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dream time

We were going to the restaurant in the village and decided to sit at a table on the beach. (The restaurant is a about mile from the beach). There were 4 of us, me Rob and I think Dom and J-M though I couldn’t see them. As we approached the tide started to come in very quickly and was pretty rough. The sea was a beautiful silvery blue with white crests. It was freezing as it landed on the stones of the beach. So we started to move away and came upon Howard Hughes talking to groups of pretty girls about his aeroplanes. He would only talk to pretty girls as long as they didn’t start asking intelligent questions, when one of the girls tried to ask a question he rammed a microphone down her throat. We made for the beach again and other people were hurrying away from the sea, but they came from other times in the past. We knew it was getting colder but I was surprised that I didn’t feel the cold. Then I was in an old fashioned shop selling things (food?) and a woman said I was dishonest. I was very upset about being called dishonest because it wasn’t true, though I don’t think anyone else thought that. I could still see the sea through an arch in the rocks and people leaving.

A picture on Mary-Lou’s blog triggered the dream I think. Here’s more.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

About that phone

This week is exam week every morning for me. It’s gone very well considering I’ve been getting up at 5.15 in the freezing cold and had lessons and a clinic visit to fit in. Last day tomorrow.

One little incident which almost made me laugh out loud: I was with one of our few male colleagues. He’s a very nice man, a gentleman, he keeps well away from any flirting and teasing which goes on, that kind of gentleman. When he noticed that one of the students had her phone on the chair between her knees; Students aren’t allowed to have their phones on them during an exam, he confiscated it and wrote a report out. He wrote that the student had the “telephone between her legs” – sorry I have a dirty mind, I couldn’t help wondering if it was on vibrate…..

Saturday, December 11, 2010

They'll take good care of you

Rob has been on a First Aid course this week. If you visit the towers in La Rochelle* and have a heart attack from climbing the hundreds of stairs you can rest assured that Rob and his colleagues will shave your chest and use a defibrillator to shock you back to life. They learnt other useful things too. Rob did his last course 22 years ago when I was pregnant with Dominique (or was it 24 years ago, when I was pregnant with Christian?) and was surprised how things have changed.

From next year in France there will be other changes. No more feeling for a pulse, apparently it’s not much use. Also, no more mouth to mouth, that doesn’t do much either and could be dangerous in this day and age of HIV and other nasties. What’s it like in your country?

*Link to webcam.  The port is empty at the moment because it is being cleaned.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Monday

I’ve had a bit of a strange day today. This morning I was supervising an exam at the school of commerce (yes, it’s that season again). I had to get up early and leave in the dark, in the pouring rain to catch the bus. Then wait in the cold waiting room for 20 minutes for the next bus. The waiting room isn’t heated in order to stop homeless people camping there for the day. When I finally arrived, the building has changed and the reception area split up into three different desks. Fortunately the exam department is in the same place.

There were 4 of us looking after about 60 students (we thought we were having 80). Most of the students this morning were Chinese and studying tourism in English so their French is not good. I gave out instructions in two languages. Nothing was straight forward at all. Then the wait for buses and home again. Next week I could be working there for 4 mornings. When the weather is like it is at the moment I’d rather work at home.

This afternoon I’ve been at the mercy of AOL – again. Perhaps there are so few of us left in France on AOL we’ve all been put onto the same decrepit server.

One thing I did manage to do this weekend was put up the Christmas tree and Rob to put out the outside decorations. I’m looking forward to Christmas but I haven’t got into the spirit of Christmas just yet.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Another week skids by on the ice rink of time

After getting wet and frozen on a visit to the next town for an auction. last weekend was spent in the company of Dom and J-M. Dom has decided that she wants to study more about artificial intelligence – does the name Susan Calvin ring a bell?

On Wednesday I did something really stupid. I couldn’t get online. I was really pulling my hair out. Fortunately Rob had a half day and when he got home and couldn’t get online either. He telephoned one of his colleagues who is geeky. He told Rob to try pulling out the plug and putting it back in again. It worked – why didn’t I think of that? We’re still suffering from very poor internet connection, nothing to do with that though

Yesterday was the day that we woke up to snow. No school for the children and no buses. It was nice to walk through the village and, because of the snow, to see everyone enjoying themselves. It started to thaw out pretty quickly and now we have nasty frozen, half melted snow.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

We've got snow!

Well, it is unusual for us.
This was the view from the kitchen window this morning.


From the street.

Rob didn’t go into work, too slippery for a bike and the buses weren’t running. This afternoon he’s ‘working from home’ busy with the timetable for work.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Black Friday to Cyber Monday

If you’re shopping online over this weekend and you’re Googling for gifts, you might come across one of my ads. There are the products I’m running ads for. They are targeted at the US market but some of them do overseas shipping.

Christmasdepot.com: Sell Christmas lights all the year round, indoor and outdoor, lots of imaginative designs. Accessories and other decorations too Their artificial Christmas trees are made in America. Don’t Ship outside the U.S.

Abernook: lots of ideas for imaginative gifts for all of the family – all occasions. Now ship abroad

Timeless Message In A Bottle: These are unique ‘Message in a Bottle’ gifts. For shipping outside the US you will need to email them

AGiftPersonalized.com: Thousands of personalized gifts for every occasion you can imagine, especially Christmas. From Friday 26th to Monday 30th; Cyber Monday - Deal 25% off at A Gift Personalized, code 25offall

All About Gifts and Baskets: Amazing Gift Baskets and cookies galore,some for under $25! Only ship to mainland US

HipsandCurves.com: Oh la la lingerie for the larger lady – why should the slim ones have all the fun? Ship Internationally

www.AfterglowCosmetics.com: Natural and Organic beauty products. Get ready for the party season. FREE Priority Mail Shipping over $100, Ship to US and Canada only

Strapya Inc All the little bits and pieces to make your cell phone complete as well as anime. Look out for special offer codes on website. Ship worldwide

OrnamentShop: Choose from over 3000 personalised decorations for every occasion, especially Christmas; This is also the website where you will find real Piggy banks. Shipping to US only as far as I can see.

Well that’s my little contribution to Christmas shopping 2010.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours

In reply to Sue’s Tuna Fish Pie, here’s the recipe that I use to make Impromptu Tune Fish Casserole. It comes from The Sainsbury’s ‘American Sampler’ by Patricia Lousada, published in 1982

2oz (50g) butter
1 green or red pepper, seeded and chopped
7oz (198g) can of tuna fish, drained and flaked
8oz (225g) Chinese or other egg noodles
10 1/2oz (295g) can of condensed cream of celery or mushroom soup
5fl oz (150ml) carton of single cream
½ teaspoon (2.5ml spoon) curry powder (optional)
1oz (25g) fresh bread crumbs
salt

Gently heat 1oz (25g) of the butter in a small frying pan and sauté the pepper until it is soft. Remove from the heat and stir in the tuna.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, bring 4 pints (2.5 litres) of water to the boil, add 1 tablespoon (15ml spoon) salt* and the noodles and boil briskly until the noodles are ‘al dente’ – with quite a bit of bite left in them. Drain the noodles, pour them into a greased ovenproof dish and toss with the remaining butter. Pour the tuna and pepper mixture over the noodles.

Empty the soup into a bowl and mix in the cream, and the curry powder if you are using it. Pour this soup mixture over the tuna and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs. Bake in a pre-heated oven, Gas Mark 7/425°F/220°C, for 15-20 minutes.

*This much???!

I’ve adapted the recipe over the years as I couldn’t find good old condensed soup here. I made up packet leak and potato soup and thickened it with flour or I made a sauce using whatever vegetables I had, flour and milk I also use pasta to make it too.

Anyone else got a tuna recipe they’d like to share?

The invasion of the hornets...

Continuing the hornets saga. Our Mairie (town hall) is situated in the park and I walk through the park every morning. This morning, returning home, I was very surprised to see blue flashing lights and a fire-fighter’s van coming into the grounds. The fire-fighters were greeted by our village policewoman who pointed to a huge hornet’s nest high up in one of the trees It was like a huge ball suspended from a branch. Now the leaves are almost gone from the trees it had come into view. At that point I met Robert, my elderly friend, so we watched them looking at it and he told me that someone had pointed out another nest to him in a tree in the middle of the village. Hopefully next year we will be rid of them.

When we were small, my two sisters were attacked by a swarm of bees one hot Sunday morning. The owner of the hive decided to move them (not a good idea on a hot day). Years later people were still giving us advice on what to do if you see a swarm coming. Lie face down on the ground, the swarm will fly over you. When they are swarming the angry bees stick to and sting whatever gets in their way.

An amusing review of ‘The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest’ film.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dance of the young lovers

I had my first Christmas card this morning from my aunt. She included a newspaper cutting about my cousin Paul who is going to have his beard and hair cut off for charity in the new year. Here’s the story and a podcast.

This is one of the songs from his Blood, Fish and Bone album, Dance of the young lovers. His blog is here

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It’s called progress

Since the beginning of the year we can’t buy the old type of light bulbs. I’ve been replacing old with new low energy ones as they stop working. The new ones are awful, not as strong as they say they are and take three minutes to get up to power. My retired student says that she and her husband have one on their stairs, very dangerous for elderly people (they are both in their 80s). Before we always turned off the light when we left a room, now we tend to leave them on. The worst part is knowing that I shouldn’t have to change them until 2018.

Secondly, our region of France has now switched over to numeric TV. J-M very kindly fixed us up with his old box and an internal aerial. Up until the change over we did have more channels and then they went strange on us, but I discovered that this would be normal in the days prior to changeover. Since the changeover we can get 3 of the old channels (there used to be 6) and two new ones. That means 5 out of the 19 we were promised. We do have an old telly. Fortunately, Rob watches the news and that’s about all. I watch Cold Case (on a channel we still receive) but I can’t watch Medium or N.C.I.S. anymore.

Oh well, there is always ironing to do I suppose.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Happy birthday to Dom, 22 years old today.


Here she is when she was three being an elf at the school end of year festivities.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Another one gone...

Sometimes you find a new blog only to find it’s gone. Today it’s the turn of Dufusdownbeat, a music blog, to bite the dust. The last post is about the Rolling Stones’ Under My thumb, with a clip from Ready Steady Go.

It made me think of one of the presenters, Cathy Mcgowan, we all wanted to be like her, all of that lovely shiny hair. My research led me to this little gem of her miming and messing about with the Rolling Stones – and don’t they look young?  Thanks to Dufus.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hidden benefit

A few days ago I hurt the side of my foot in the edge of a rocker on a rocking chair. The pain kept me awake for two nights with its coming and going. There was no swelling at all and walking was no problem. I’d also had difficulty sleeping because right my shoulder and elbow were aching (too much computer probably)

No pain at all today (the part of my hand which was stung is better too). Then I remembered something about bee stings being used as treatment for arthritis. I checked to see if I could find anything about the medicinal benefits of hornet stings. Nothing really as bee stings come up on Google more. Has anyone any ideas?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mummy!


I was just getting the washing inside when I disturbed a European Hornet on my pullover which stung me. I’m applying an ice pack - it hurts a lot.

Lots of sympathy please.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

A lucky escape

Rob and I had planned to got to an auction in Chinon on Monday. This involved travelling the day before and staying overnight n a hotel. Just like we did last year in September. As we’d be going by train we knew that once there, we would be relying on the once a day bus service to get to the auction house on the outskirts of town. When the catalogue came it soon became apparent that by the time they got to any of the bids we might be interested it we’d have left to catch the bus.

For the last two days we’ve had storms and rain, especially on our coast. We’re so glad we didn’t go, we’d have been stuck in the middle of nowhere with nowhere to go in the cold wind and rain.

Friday, November 05, 2010

The river of life flows on

I’ve been to see the doctor twice recently. Once for the usual check up and renewed prescription; All of my test/examination results are excellent. This week I had my flu vaccination which apparently includes the new flu too. I also asked him to look at my knee which I injured two months ago. It still has a swelling on the side. There’s fluid trapped in it, I’ve got to massage it with some gel every night for a couple of months and it will disappear – hopefully.

I was suffering from headaches for about a month. I tried to resist taking too much paracetamol because it gives you… headaches! I cured it by buying a new pillow. - Woke up the next day feeling completely different and no headaches since.

Our doctor will be retiring at the end of the year. He’s been here since I was expecting Dom, she’ll be 22 in ten days time. That’s an awful lot of family history passing under the bridge. He’ll be replaced by a lady doctor.

Talking about time passing. Have a look at this. You have to scroll down to read what it’s about.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

You can't win them all

Today was a little different. Rob had a message yesterday from a friend who keeps an eye on the auction house in town. There were a few boxes of postcards coming up this afternoon. We spent the day in town and had a good look around – like tourists. We had a lovely lunch in the little square (triangle really) by the magic tree (meeting place of all young people with guitars and funny cigarettes for many years until they took the low wall away). I had toasted goat’s cheese salad with walnuts, apple, goat’s cheese, etc. and Rob had salmon tartar (but I didn’t tell him that the salmon was raw) which he really enjoyed. We went to the auction and waited patiently for our lots to come up… we were outbid. That’s life.

We also found the house which had been the home of this lady. Rob took a picture with his super iPhone and will forward it to me tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A lady I’d like to meet

I haven’t done the 'meeting the other parents' bit yet, but I’m really looking forward to meeting JM’s mother. I don’t remember all of the details exactly but I seem to remember something about her having a Citroen 2CV and two Dobermans (Dobermen?) when she was young.

The family has an apartment in Paris where JM lived when he was studying there and his younger brother lives now. Unfortunately his younger brother arrived home one day after visiting his parents to find the place taken over by squatters. Can you imagine how upsetting that must have been? He phoned home and I’m not sure how quickly his mother came, but when she came she was armed with chains ropes and super glue (again I’m not sure of the details exactly). She started to board up the shutters and doors with the ropes and chains. Of course the squatters wanted to know what the hell was going on. She told them as they wanted to stay there they could, but they wouldn’t be able to get out. They left.

A few weeks ago the family home was burgled during the night. She bought herself a Rottweiler.

Now read Keith’s post about breaking the law in the UK

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween

Before you roll your eyes and stop reading. I thought I’d tell you about how Halloween has changed in the little part of France I live in the past 20 years or so. When the children were small the big dressing up and asking for treats day was Mardi Gras. There would be knocks at the door all day if it fell in the school holidays.

Then Halloween started up and little by little grew and took over from Mardi Gras. We even organised a big Halloween party for the children in the village, with prizes for the best costumes. When I was an English assistant in Primary and secondary schools it provided and excellent lesson in Anglo Saxon culture, followed a few days later by the story of Guy Falkes

Now both Mardi Gras and Halloween seem to have been forgotten by the children for some reason. Despite half hearted attempts to sell costumes, wigs and masks in some of the shops.

November 1st is All Saints Day and is a holiday in France. Traditionally people visit the graves of their loved ones and leave chrysanthemums. It’s a good moment for a family get together. It’s lovely going shopping at this time of the year, the shops are full of pots of Chrysanthemums.

What do you do in your country?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Catch Me If You Can




Rob and I took a little time off yesterday afternoon. As it was pouring with rain we put on a film. Not only is Catch Me If You Can worth watching, it has one of the best opening title sequences, on a par with the first Pink Panther film.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Update on my eyebrows

It’s been 3 years since they dropped out due to stress I think. They are coming back very slowly. I hadn’t been drawing them in because I didn’t want to clog the hair follicles up, but I was getting fed up with a straight fringe in my eyes most of the time. I took my courage in my hand and left a comment on Cherelynn’s blog Makeup University Inc. asking for help. I got a very quick reply and she suggested drawing the eyebrows in with eye
shadow first then using a soft crayon; I tried it and it was so easy to do. I couldn’t believe how good they looked. I’m still working on getting the thickness right, but they look pretty natural and now I don’t panic when the wind blows.

Cherelynn has all sorts of advice on her blog and giveaways too if you live the other side of the (Atlantic) pond. Well worth a visit.

Can I put the record straight?

In order to start receiving a state pension in France you have to have worked for 41.5 years. People who are entitled to retire at 60 will be people who started full time work before the age of 19. This means that they didn’t go far in their education and worked in low paid jobs. Most people in low paid jobs work well into their 60s in order to obtain a decent pension. Nearly every one works extra years to bump up their pensions. People who work on the black market never get a pension and work until they die or become too infirm.

The marine biologists I used to give lessons to calculated they could start thinking about retiring after they were 70.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Just a thought

I just wondered it anyone else had noticed: As far as we know, the miners that were trapped underground seem to have managed to get along reasonably well together. Do you remember the behaviour of some of the inmates of ‘Big Brother’ (in France ‘The Loft’)? It made me think….

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I can dream

I got to have a go with Olivier’s Blackberry. We were coming home after taking him to his lift to go back to Poitiers early on Monday morning. We could hear music and as a car was overtaking us at the time thought that they had their music turned up loud. A second car overtook with it’s music, the same music, playing loudly. I assumed they were listening to the same radio station. Then the music played again. Olivier was phoning us (his phone) with his friend’s phone to tell us that he’d left the blackberry on the back seat. We had to turn around and go back to the pick up point. Fortunately they had only lost 10 minutes. They both had lectures at 10.15.

I expect that’s the closest I’ll get to using his phone.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Blood and gore

Not really but it caught your attention, didn’t it?

Back to the veins on my legs; year 3. I counted yesterday, 109 injections. The needle doesn’t hurt but the product burns a little especially around my knees. Funnily enough they weren’t sore afterwards.

I watched the last two episodes of Season 2 of The Tudors yesterday evening, lots of beheading and blood. Fortunately no nightmares.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

October 88 and pregnant

Something I haven’t done for a while is get out my diaries to see what I was doing on this day in 1988. Not a lot it seems, Dom was due in November and I was childminding as well as looking after Christian who was by then 20 months old. Looking at the days around that date squeezing in rest time seems to have been my goal. The little boy who I was looking after at the time was the same age as Christian, so they had an afternoon nap at the same time. I was eight months pregnant and weighed 4 kilos lighter than I do now!!

It’s nice to look back on those days but I don’t think I’d like to go back in time if I had the choice.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Autumn begins

It’s a little bit like leaving the birthday cards out when you leave the post about your birthday at the top for a few days, isn’t it?

We had a lovely weekend, I am now a fan of tiramisu. By the time we got back from taking Dom and J-M to the station on Sunday, Olivier had left too. So all that was left were the empty rooms and the washing.

I don’t know how it is where you come from, but all of a sudden the leaves have changed colour and are falling off the trees. It’s quite cold in the mornings, though still sunny during the day. I’ve had lots of big spiders to vacuum up before I go to bed.

This year we don’t seem to have seen so many insects. I think it’s got something to do with the hundreds of butterflies I saw last summer. The village was sprayed with something by a helicopter in the spring. I’ve seen a few butterflies but only really during the month of September. One stick insect, no praying mantises or ladybirds, very few bees, one queen wasp and a few wood lice. I was a bit silly, I sprayed the woodlice with insecticide, by an open window and couldn’t breathe properly myself for a few minutes. (now I know what it feels like). I hope that they come back next year –but not the woodlice.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Today is my turn

Today is my birthday!! Dom and J-M are slaving away in the kitchen. Dom is making ratatouille and J-M has finished making tiramisu (and he let me lick the bowl). Among my presents I had this beautifully illustrated book!

It’s beautifully sunny, but will it be hot enough to eat lunch outside?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The day without cars

As today was the day without cars in town, Rob and I took the bus this morning, which was free. I think this must be about the 15th year without cars, but the first time I’d actually been along to see how it works. The strangest part was the (almost) silence. There were buses and electric cars and also a few residents who lived in the streets leaving the zone to go off to work. There were other activities here and there as the town is keen on encouraging people to walk more, take up sport and eat sensibly. (Who allowed the three MacDonald’s I wonder).

I was surprised at how disorientating it is not to have the flow of the traffic to remind you where to go. I always take a wrong turn when I leave the opticians for some reason (Perhaps I should put my glasses on). I got lost!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Busy town

In the last couple of weeks our town has been extremely busy.

First off was the French TV Film Festival. We stole this one from Saint-Tropez! The red carpet was out at the cinema on the port and the TV film stars arrived in town. The journalists that cover the event are more famous than the stars in most cases, but never mind.

Next was the boat show. I’m not really that interested in boats myself; I was born inland. Last night was the enormous firework display on the port to close the show. We forgot to walk to the outskirts of the village to watch from a distance. To add to the confusion La Rochelle’s rugby team, who are now in the first division, were at home playing Biarritz yesterday afternoon. La Rochelle lost. I imagine there was a lot of ‘fun’ in the bars after that.

Many of the monuments in France were open for free this weekend. Rob’s most unfavourite weekend. People don’t like waiting to go in – fire regulations and 600 year old uneven narrow stairways mean alternating one way traffic up and down. The staff at the Arch de Triomphe were on strike (pensions). Olivier has been home to work with Rob this weekend – it’s probably his most unfavourite weekend too by now.

The 22nd will be the day without cars, in town. It’s very well organised and was invented by our late Mayor Michel Crepeau. Out of town car parks and buses will be free. Unfortunately some people seem to think they can do as they like on bikes* and skate boards and it can become quite dangerous. We all receive a leaflet with reminders about safety. There are games and sports and information on keeping fit and eating well. The idea is that people will take up using public transport, it’s easy to hire bikes and electric cars in town and there is even a boat bus.


* When he was younger my brother was engaged to a girl whose mother was accidentally knocked over and killed by cyclists.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Warning - Don't follow me!

Last week I received an email supposedly from my sister. A company called Feed Share was asking me to follow her. There were ‘yes’ and ‘no’ buttons and it said that I could choose to follow or not but I must click. I didn't like the way it told me I MUST click on 'yes' or 'no', so I Googled it and discovered that it was a virus.

I wrote to my sister who already knew about it via other friends who had been victims. Her sons dealt with it as they are both in the computer business. The part that is worrying me a bit is that she said she didn’t click but she opened the mail. I hope that no one has received an email from me inviting them to follow me on Feed Share. I don’t like those kind of things anyway.

Over the last couple of days I’ve turned on my computer twice to find that it’s gone back to the beginning, as it were. I’ve been invited to take a tour an find out how to set up the computer as I’d like it. Fortunately I’ve turned it off and left it for a few minutes and everything is back again. Anyone any ideas as to why it should do that?

I’ve posted some history that I’ve recently learned about the occupation of the village on Still Learning. I thought it was important to write it down as quickly as possible so that it’s preserved. I hope that you find it as interesting as I did.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11th

I imagine that nearly everyone can remember what they were doing on September 11th 2001. Most people know someone who knows someone, or has a tale to tell of that day. The thing that always makes me catch my breath is the English (as a foreign language) text books used in secondary schools. Every book had a character who was fortunate enough to travel to New York and they always visited the twin towers. Book published after 2001 include a visit to ground zero.

In one book someone who was in the towers on the day, talks of meeting “fire fighters rushing up the stairs” on the 30th floor. Can you imagine being able to continue rushing up the stairs at the 30th floor? How many stories of bravery are there from that day that we will never know about? – More than 3000.

September 11th was my grandfather’s birthday, had he lived he would be 99 years old. Today is also Isaac Stozfut’s 91st birthday, he disappeared without trace just over two years ago. Here is the poem he wrote about September 11th.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fahrenheit 451

I know I don’t usually ‘do’ political posts; just a few ideas going around in my brain at the moment:

Is supposed to be the temperature at which paper burns. (it’s 450 °C which is 842 °F) I remember being horrified by the book of the same name. Who in their right mind would want to burn a book, any book?

I’d also like to say that in my opinion God does not dwell just inside churches and holy books. God is around us and in open spaces. Burning books will make matters worse. There is no such thing as a holy war – how can there be?

I own a copy of the Koran, though I’ve read more of the Bible coming from a Christian background. When I opened my Koran to read I was amazed to find the same stories inside…

I found this online this morning, which explains a lot to me as someone living outside the US. What it boils down to is democracy. We’re supposed to be free to have our own ideas and beliefs. Is democracy a good thing? I remember the two weeks of worry I and many of my pupils (all of us immigrants) went through when Jean-Marie Le Pen almost became President of France – the result of democracy.

When I lived in England the Irish conflict/ war was in full swing, but we certainly didn’t think that all Catholics were terrorists.

Fahrenheit 451

Jean-Marie Le Pen

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Brought to my knees

Dom is home from all of her adventures safe and sound. We went to Poitiers yesterday with Olivier’s things, so we spent some time with Dom and J-M too. She had a great time in Chicago both on a professional level and touristy level. She took some great photographs and remembered my copy of the Chicago Sun Times. She also met and spoke to the main scientist in her field, who sounds really nice and the best part was that he asked her lots of questions about her work.

The visit to England so that J-M could meet the family went perfectly too. They had time to visit London and Bristol where she took photos of fantastic rainbows. They saw the family and all went perfectly – even driving on the left!

Olivier’s apartment is really nice too, spacious, and as Dom would say ‘flowing’ with light. He has two windows and a skylight.

They both live on the 2nd floor (third in the US) and I went up and down both sets of stairs twice, I also ran up the steps to the park near to Olivier’s twice. When I got home I tripped over the doorstep and fell onto my knees. Very painful (to put it politely), I was frightened to move at first. I massaged my knees with arnica gel straight away and before going to bed. My left knee hurts where I grazed it but there is no stiffness or sign of bruising. Today has been back to work catching up on what I didn’t do yesterday.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Complicated son

Life can be complicated, especially where Olivier is concerned . He’s been home since the end of May and has worked all of June, July and three weeks of August. He finished work last Thursday and announced that he was going camping with his friends until Tuesday. On Tuesday I had a message to say that he would be home on Wednesday. We were supposed to take him and all of his belongings to Poitiers yesterday.

In the meantime he transferred his telephone account into his own name and ordered a Blackberry. The phone was to arrive on Monday and I would collect it on Monday and put it on charge. As it happened I went to the collection place on Friday to collect the new bedding I’d ordered for him and the lady explained that she doesn’t have deliveries on Monday and anyway he must collect his own order with his ID card. He called there on Wednesday, on his way home at seven, just as she was closing and had already turned off the computer. She was closed Thursday morning so he had to go Thursday afternoon.

The agency for his apartment couldn’t see him to check over the place (a legal requirement in France) until Saturday, So he’s still here until tomorrow. Rob is now at work until Tuesday so we won’t be going until Tuesday or Wednesday to take most of his belongings. The phone is lovely and didn’t need charging up for too long. It isn’t connected yet so he’s taking two phones with him. Oh I forgot to mention, he hasn’t fixed up his electricity yet….

I keep telling Olivier to be aware of Mr. Unforeseen-Circumstances who is always hanging around waiting to stick his leg out and trip you up. He never listens.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Matching dreams

I had a lot of difficulty sleeping last night. A couple of years ago I had blocked salivary glands and, the doctor told me, a touch of arthritis in the jaw. When I’m stressed I lie in bed wondering if I’m holding my jaw in the right position (The opposite of grinding my teeth I suppose), then I tense up and it starts to ache which makes me worry more and the circle continues. My legs were restless too. I finally drifted off to sleep with the help of some paracetamol and started to dream. Rob was in the car and kept on getting out of the car without putting the handbrake on so the car was rolling backwards as he walked away. He did it three times even though I told him not to do it again.

This morning I was half awake when Rob told me he’d just be dreaming about me driving a bus, but I kept on leaving the handbrake off.

I wonder what that means…

Monday, August 23, 2010

Third Forth time lucky

Since Friday I’ve been trying to write a post about our visit to Tours last Thursday. I’ve finished the first sentence a couple of times only to be interrupted by major events like tea making or urgent ironing..

Anyway, we went to Tours for the viewing of an upcoming auction. This time we took an earlier train so that we could explore the historic part of the town during the morning. We weren’t disappointed. It’s lovely. We had a great lunch too, a little way from the very touristy part – which just seems to be restaurants and very crowded when we went back later. During the afternoon we went off to the viewing. Lots of good postcards and albums, it was hard to prepare a list, if only we could afford to buy all of them.

The best part came afterwards. We had a little time left before the train home and wondered through a little park. My attention was drawn by a huge cedar tree. Just like the one in Nimes. The cedar tree in Tours is just over two hundred years old and needs a bit of support, but is magnificent nonetheless. Rob called me over to see a poster on the wall. It was Fritz! I’d forgotten that I was intending to find out where Fritz was. When I finished reading the poster I turned around and there he was, on display. Fritz was big as elephants go. The link to my post about him, explaining his sad story with a picture is at the bottom.

When I’d finished admiring him it was time to get the train. It wasn’t too crowded, but we were still glad to be liberated at la Rochelle station. Just as we came out of the station my phone rang. Dom phoned to give me her news about what a lovely time she was having in Chicago. She was making useful contacts and her work has been appreciated by the right people. She’s got some pictures of some paintings by Monet which are in a gallery somewhere in Chicago, but I’ll probably have to wait until after her trip to England to see them. She remembered my copy of the Chicago Sun Times.. we talked for five minutes.

Since then she’s confirmed she got home safely on Saturday. I expect she’s dealing with the effects of jetlag as I write.

Now all I have to do is find the time to get this posted to my blog and wait to see if our bids were accepted. (It was then time to go for a walk so I had to wait yet again – hopefully I can do it now)

Cedar tree image

Cedar tree in Nimes


Fritz

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Good people doing good things

I’ve recently started to read a blog about a centre for aid for handicapped young people in Hanoi; Hold The Future. The blog is a cheap way to let the world know about what is going on there and show off the website selling some of the beautiful gifts that the young people are making (Click on the Union Jack in the top right hand corner for the English version). There are still scars left by the war that finished in the mid 70’s. Children are still being born with disabilities because of the use of ‘Agent Orange’. Today I read that they have set up a Wikipedia page.

Good person number two is Peter the Worldman. I think he’s just about to retire for the third time. Will they let him go? I wonder if he will be sent to Pakistan next. Thank you Peter for all of the years of hard work you’ve put in to help people in need.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The chicks fly

As I’m writing this Dom is probably at the airport in Paris waiting to board her flight for Chicago. I hope that she hasn’t forgotten anything, her poster for example, which she’ll be presenting here. Dom is number 18 on Page 8. An old school friend of hers will be in Chicago too to keep her company and help her to explore in her free time. We’re wondering what ‘continental breakfast’ is like Chicago style and do they have croissants and are they anything like the real ones.

She came to stay for two weeks at the beginning of August, it was good to see her, especially as she is a good cook too! J-M came for a few days too and mended the gate!! Remember the episode of Sliders when they thought they were in then wrong universe because the gate didn’t squeak anymore?

At the end of August they will be driving to England so that J-M can meet the family.

Olivier will be moving into his own apartment in September. I’ve seen the pictures and it looks quite spacious. It’s very light as there are two windows plus a skylight. We’ll be taking him to Poitiers on the 2nd September. I’m looking forward to seeing where he will be living for the next year or so. It’s next to the park, I’ve seen the park on lots of old Postcards of Poitiers but never managed to see it for real.

Rob and I will be real ‘empty nesters’ next year. Once Olivier is settled I expect he won’t be home at weekends.

On Thursday Rob and I will be off to an auction viewing; This time we’re giving ourselves more time to visit the town of Tours. I always enjoy seeing our ‘expert’ he’s a human Google and Wikipedia rolled into one. Of course we’ll be seeing some beautiful postcards too…

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Back to normal



I’m sorry that I haven’t been writing as much as I usually do, (real) life gets in the way sometimes. I’ve missed you all. Hopefully from now on I’ll be catching up with visits and comments. I’ve also got some great new blogs to add to my list.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Radio ExposeYourBlog! needs you

Did you know that ExposeYourBlog! Had it’s own radio station? Did you know that you don’t even have to be logged in to EYB! In order to listen? All you need to do is click on the link of your choice.

WinAmp/iTunes
Windows Media
Real Player
All others

If you have any requests or ideas about the type of music you’d like to listen to, if you’d like to be interviewed or if you are looking for a lost blogger, pop along to the forums and leave a message in the Radio ExposeYourBlog! section.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

“But I am withered worn and grim”

A month ago I went off for my two yearly mammogram like the good woman I am. I was a little surprised to receive through the post shortly after, a second invitation. I opened it so that I could send the form off explaining why I was turning down their kind offer and discovered another invitation to a different party. A free test for Colon cancer – how lovely!

Last week I trundled off to the doctor’s, armed with latest blood and pee test results, for my free full medical because I am an entrepreneur and he awarded me with the necessary kit for the cancer test. Done and ready to post. In the mean time I’ve also received a leaflet on how to look after my heart because I am getting old….

The title of my post comes from a poem featured in The Queen’s Gift Book, published on aid of Queen Mary’s Convalescent Auxiliary Hospitals (World War I). The book is falling apart but I still have some of the original pictures which were pasted in – W. Heath Robinson illustrated this poem for the book

THE MAN OF WORDS
By Mrs. Henry de la Pasture
(Lady Clifford)

Paintings and Drawing,s by
W. Heath Robinson


The old lord to the goose-girl said,
" 'Tis not your beauty that I prize,
Nor raven hair that crowns your head,
Nor slender waist, nor soft grey eyes.

" I love you for your simple truth
And for the mind and soul of you.
And would the gods but grant me youth,
I straight would be your husband true.

" But I am withered, worn and grim.
And you a flower fresh and wild,
And all the world makes mock of him
Who, in his dotage, weds a child."

The old lord to the goose-girl said.
With courteous smile and silver tongue,
" I love you and I fain would wed —
But I'm too old, and you're too young,

" And yet withal I do admit,
So gentle and so grave your mien,
So low your voice, so kind your wit,
One would suppose you bred a queen.

" No high-born dame could please me more,
And would the gods but grant to me
To lose of all my years a score,
Then we might wed right faithfully.

" So we would make Old Time confess
(Who brings mankind to sure decay)
We loved each other none the less
For eyes grown dim and heads grown grey."

With blush of peach and candid eyes
The goose-girl answered straight and free,
"To be your wife I fain would rise.
For I love you as you love me."

The goose-girl said, with heart on fire,
" Oh, what is age when love is true ?
No dearer mate covild I desire,
I love the noble words of you.

" And since 'tis not my looks you prize.
And since 'tis youth for which you pine —
I've nothing else to sacrifice —
I'll pray the gods to grant you mine."

A passing cupid caught the sigh.
And bore it in a crystal dish
On his swift flight from earth to sky.
Jove, smiling, said, " I grant that wish."

The old lord dropped of years a score.
Each shrunken limb grew round and fair,
In manhood's prime he stood once more.
Back to his temples stole his hair.

The old lord's sunken jaw plumped out.
His teeth stood firm, his eyes shone clear.
He was as straight and strong and stout
As man could be at forty year.

The goose-girl took his load of years
That on her shoulders now was cast.
She knew no doubts, she knew no fears,
She kissed Love's hand that bound it fast.

Her fleeting charms of youth were lost ;
A buxom dame with comely face
And raven hair just touched with frost
Stood smiling in the goose-girl's place.

Full wistfully she looked at him,
Nor needed words his blank dismay.
Her candid eyes grew something dim,
Love shut his wings and stole away.

She stood alone — unseen, unheard — •
And pondered, wondering, o'er the change.
" I did but take him at his word.
And oh," she said, " but men are strange ! "

Then homeward trudging — on her staff
She leaned a trifle heavily —
Her wise eyes wrinkled with a laugh.
'' He was a man o' words ! " quoth she.

The moral of the poem is; careful what you wish for

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mrs Bidery’s spidery bedroom

As I was closing the shutters one night last week I noticed several small spiders on the curtains and window. Looking around they were on the walls and along the angle where the ceiling meets the wall. Not nice, but they were small enough not to panic me. I decided to vacuum them up. One or two that had tried to escape onto the ceiling dropped onto the bed. Needless to say I vacuumed the whole room, floors and walls before going to bed. The next night there were a few and the night after, just one or two.

This morning I had to vacuum around the computer, there were four or five hanging around. I wonder if they are drawn by the wifi – or perhaps they like me?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Soap nuts - part II

I’ve now done three washes with the soap nuts. The first two were at 30°c and the last was towels and tea towels which I wash at 60°c. I’m not sure that the nuts were up to a hotter wash on their third go. The strangest part is the lack of smell. I suppose that I associate the smell of scented chemical products with clean.

As I type this, I think I’ll probably save 2 or 3 euros (3euro = $3.65 = £2.42)a month on cost, but much more on the cost to the environment. The nuts came in a ziplock bag printed with the details. The bottom of the bag is badly printed, so for the moment I’ll be using an ordinary product for whites as I add a whitener. I don’t normally use a softener except for woollens, I can’t say that the washing feels softer after using the nut and I haven’ ironed anything washed with the nuts yet. I’ve yet to try a couple of drops of scented oil with the wash. As I have two men to wash for I’ll have to choose my perfume carefully.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Champagne

Just before we were married 25 years ago we were given three bottles of champagne. The bottles were already 10 years old. We drank two on our wedding day and decided to keep the 3rd for this year. I opened it last week. First of all the cork fell apart, then when I poured it, out came a very dark looking liquid, not at all bubbly – I didn’t taste it as I thought it smelt like paint stripper. We weren’t too disappointed as we half expected it to go wrong.

On Friday night Olivier worked late as there was a function at one of the towers; They asked for an extension until two in the morning and rewarded Olivier and his colleague with – a bottle of champagne. Olivier was horrified when the other person poured Olivier’s share into an empty plastic coke bottle and gave it to him (do you think that this person could have been French?). He doesn’t like champagne so he brought it home and put it into the fridge. When I first saw it, it reminded me of a pee sample. Rob and I drank it yesterday eveing and it was very good – despite the coke bottle.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Nuts

I came across some soapnuts the other day at the supermarket. Apparently you put 3 or four into a little bag and place it in the washing machine. When the nuts are warm they release the ‘soap’ that cleans and the final rinse is cold which releases softener properties of the nuts. The nuts can be used two or three times depending on the temperature of the wash and then they can go into the compost How convenient of nature to arrange things naturally for us.

They don’t smell, it says on the packet, so you can put some natural oils into the wash if you want to. I think that they might work out cheaper than the product I’m using at the moment. Has anyone used them?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Silver

Today Rob and I celebrate our Silver Wedding Anniversary ; On Monday 17th June 1985 we were married in the Town Hall in La Rochelle. Afterwards we had a drink with Rob’s mother and step father. We went to buy a cake and as we both love it, chose custard tart ‘flan’. Today we were planning to have lunch outside at the Avocet in the village, as it's raining and a bit cold we're going to wait until the weather gets better. I always thought that silver weddings happened to old people.

Inside court yard of the Town Hall. To get married we went through the door at the end.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

April 1931 - June 2001

It’s nine years ago to day since my dad died. We didn’t always see eye to eye and I moved away and didn’t see him that often, but I miss him just the same. One of the things that I can’t get used to is finding something I know that he’d be interested in. He’d had loved my postcards. Thanks to the internet I’ve grown very fond of a lot of Gordon Lightfoot songs in recent years. I know that my dad would have liked this song. The story of the navvies that built the railway across Canada. He was never afraid of hard work well done and I’m sure that if he’d have lived then he’d have been ‘Living on stew and drinking bad whiskey’ with the best of them. My paternal grandfather was born in the US, but his parents had to return to England when he lost his fingers in a saw mill accident. So it would have been in his blood.



Canadian Railroad Trilogy, ©1967 by Gordon Lightfoot

There was a time in this fair land when the railroad did not run
When the wild majestic mountains stood alone against the sun
Long before the white man and long before the wheel
When the green dark forest was too silent to be real

But time has no beginnings and the history has no bounds
As to this verdant country they came from all around
They sailed upon her waterways and they walked the forests tall
Built the mines, mills and the factories for the good of us all

And when the young man's fancy was turnin' to the spring
The railroad men grew restless for to hear the hammers ring
Their minds were overflowing with the visions of their day
And many a fortune lost and won and many a debt to pay

For they looked in the future and what did they see
They saw an iron road running from the sea to the sea
Bringing the goods to a young growing land
All up from the seaports and into their hands

Look away said they across this mighty land
From the eastern shore to the western strand

Bring in the workers and bring up the rails
We gotta lay down the tracks and tear up the trails
Open her heart let the life blood flow
Gotta get on our way 'cause we're moving too slow

Bring in the workers and bring up the rails
We're gonna lay down the tracks and tear up the trails
Open her heart let the life blood flow
Gotta get on our way 'cause we're moving too slow
Get on our way 'cause we're moving too slow

Behind the blue Rockies the sun is declining
The stars they come stealing at the close of the day
Across the wide prairie our loved ones lie sleeping
Beyond the dark ocean in a place far away

We are the navvies who work upon the railway
Swinging our hammers in the bright blazing sun
Living on stew and drinking bad whiskey
Bending our backs til the long days are done

We are the navvies who work upon the railway
Swinging our hammers in the bright blazing sun
Laying down track and building the bridges
Bending our old backs til the railroad is done

So over the mountains and over the plains
Into the muskeg and into the rain
Up the St. Lawrence all the way to Gaspe
Swinging our hammers and drawing our pay
Layin' 'em in and tying them down
Away to the bunkhouse and into the town
A dollar a day and a place for my head
A drink to the living, a toast to the dead

Oh the song of the future has been sung
All the battles have been won
On the mountain tops we stand
All the world at our command
We have opened up her soil
With our teardrops and our toil

For there was a time in this fair land when the railroad did not run
When the wild majestic mountains stood alone against the sun
Long before the white man and long before the wheel
When the green dark forest was too silent to be real
When the green dark forest was too silent to be real
And many are the dead men too silent to be real

Monday, June 14, 2010

Quiz time

Not long after I started blogging I set up a quiz about the people on my blogroll. That was back in 2004. I wonder how many of these you might be able to answer this time:

1. There are four guitarists, can you name them?
2. Her name happens to sound like the past tense of what she does well
3. Someone who has been blogging since 1996
4. Two sisters
5. Who’s family has been likened to a mixture of The Osbournes and Absolutely Fabulous.
6. Who is the youngest blogger on my blogroll (Though she hasn’t blogged for a while)?
7. I see pictures at an exhibition…
8. Give her a cake
9. He travels the world as his name suggests
10. Someone who is getting more football than she bargained for.

One question is exactly the same as last time, which one is it?

Yes!!

In front of the post office is a handicapped parking space with plenty of room to get in and out of a car if you have difficulties. Rob and I sometimes sit drinking our coffee and watch people drive into the space, often they pull out again when they realise. Some of them that stay look very fit and sheepish. This morning there were two gendarmes in motorbikes (gasp), I think that they were doing some training as they were going quite slowly. A people carrier drove into the space carrying two well to do middle aged people. The gendarmes stopped and asked if they had a disabled sticker. They said they were parking there because there weren’t any other places. The main car park is about 10 meters away from where they were. They had to move – poor things.

We’ve got the brocante (think boot sale without cars) in the park this weekend. If you’re thinking of coming there will be less parking space than ever. Four houses are being built on the field that was used by the stand holders and the one way street now has a foot path along with a wooden fence to protect walkers from the traffic and parked cars. To add to the chaos as from tomorrow (Tuesday 15th) all junctions will be priority to the right (more gendarmes on motorbikes!!!).

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Vinegar

I decided to look up Vinegar in my ABC of Natural Beauty by Dian Dincin Buchman. I used organic cider vinegar on my hair, she says that apple-cider vinegar is the best vinegar for skin and hair care in her opinion. It is also a reliable cure for dandruff. Vinegar is good for skin care and blackhead control. You can pour vinegar into the bath and soak in it (only a cup to the bath – you don’t want to smell like a fish and chip shop) to restore energy.

It can be used as a ‘douche’, but not every day. I think I’d talk to the Swedish Chef before trying that one out.

I had an interesting comment from Dreamer13:
“I use Apple Cidar Vinegar on my hair all the time! :) I do 50/50 mix with water and use it in place of conditioner. Works great! :)”

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Silicone and me

A few months ago I had some real problems with my hair. It suddenly became like candyfloss. I was heartbroken, it had never been so bad before. Dom had had some problems too and her hairdresser had said something about silicone; Silicone is what makes your hair glossy and straight by sealing the outer layers. It works very well for a little while, but it seals the moisture out. Then your hair begins to look awful. I decided to do some research, especially as my hairdresser told me to throw out anything containing silicone. Non of the products I had in the cupboard said that they had ‘silicone’ in. Silicone gets called all sorts of names and some types are a lot worse than others. I cleared out quite a few products. How to remove the remaining silicone in my hair was the next problem. Some are water soluble, some can removed with a gentle shampoo and some needs sulphates to remove them. This is what I found. Follow the link entitled ‘ clarify your hair’.

This afternoon I rinsed my hair with vinegar to clarify my hair. Rob came home early and we went off for a walk before I had chance to dry my hair as I would have liked to. I was expecting it to go all fuzzy and it didn’t. It’s not as nice as it used to be (before silicone), but I’d recommend the vinegar – I’m not sure about the smell, though it’s not as strong as I thought it would be.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Auction time

We went off to an auction on Friday. I do enjoy auction days, we treat it as a special day out as it takes all day with the viewing in the morning.

This one wasn’t far away so we took the 20 minute ride on the little train which goes along the coast. There is still a lot of damage lying around from Xanthia, a lot of mobile homes and holiday cabins were damaged or destroyed along that part.

The weather was beautiful, so after the viewing we didn’t mind walking around the town and sat outside for lunch. We didn’t get everything we wanted but were well pleased with what we did get. I would have liked the postcards of the early soviet cosmonauts but they were just too expensive. We did buy some costume postcards, mostly eastern Europe and for the first time autographs. Now comes the difficult part; selling them.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

It’s all happening on the wall

I was startled to see a bird fight on the wall across the road the other morning. A pair of European Greenfinches appeared from nowhere and disrupted the Sparrow population’s morning feed. One of the intruders was chased off at high speed with a piece of bread in his beak. The bird left behind had managed to get its beak entangled in some fur left over from the night before when our neighbour groomed his dog. He was hopping around with a beard. Then it occurred to me that perhaps he was trying to disassociate himself from his partner’s bad behaviour.

A little later, when it was pouring with rain, I noticed two doves on the wall getting pretty romantic. I could tell by the way they were caressing each other’s necks what was going to happen next. Poor things, they reminded me of a pair of desperate teenagers with nowhere to go. “pretend we just got caught in the rain”*.

*The Faces -You’re so Rude

Monday, May 31, 2010

ExposeYourBlog

For the past week I’ve been working on a little project with some of my friends from BlogExplosion. We have been so disappointed by the lack of response from the owners, LiveUniverse, that we decided to create our own blog exchange ExposeYourBlog! I’m hoping that you’ll see this and if you’re interested come and see what we have to offer. The big launch is tomorrow 1st June. Remember we really are at the beginning of this. I’ve been testing the system along with the other members of the team and we’ve ironed out the lumps and bumps to bring you the best we can. If not, I can assure you that any support tickets will be dealt with.

We have a brand new forum ready to go and we’d love to have feed back and suggestions from you – see you over at ExposeYourBlog!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

It’s my turn at last



Today is Mother’s day in France, so Bonne Fête des Mères. Rob is working today so I’m on my own (Olivier doesn’t count as he will be asleep most of the day), I’ll be working here on the computer, I love my postcards so I don’t mind. I’ve had a shower with my new shower gel and am wearing my new super-gooey-strawberry flavoured-watercolour-lip gloss ready to give Rob a kiss on his way out.

To all mothers, women who can’t be with their children and all the women with children on their care, have a lovely day.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Read to the end before clicking on the links...

I have eaten horse meat.

As an ex vegetarian I think that if you are going to eat one animal, then why not another? We had horse steaks while visiting friends in the North of France 25 years ago. They did ask us if we minded first and as far as I remember I’d rather eat beef. When we first came to live in the village there was a horse butcher who came to the village on Saturday mornings and the local supermarkets sold horse meat too. Then a lot of people became ill after eating diseased meat. The problem being that in France people prefer their meat underdone. Someone is supposed to have calculated you could get 1000 portions from one horse (different cuts of meat, sausage, offal, black pudding and so on) Since those days the horse butcher stopped coming round and the local supermarkets stopped selling the meat too.

I though that the practise had died out… This afternoon I was shocked to read A Taste of Garlic which contains a link to a post about the way that some horses are treated. I’m not sure whether they are all bound for the abattoir or not. Do not follow the link from his site if you are easily upset.

I’d just like to point out that most French people are just as horrified at the ill treatment of animals as everyone else.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Busy week

On Tuesday we went to collect Olivier’s belongings from Poitiers. We also went to visit Dom. She and J-M have got a lovely flat in an old building. She wrote to me earlier in the year and told me that it was ‘flowing with light’, she’s right. We also had a little walk around Poitiers in the sunshine. Olivier didn’t really have much to bring home and as he was staying on in Poitiers for a few days and kept the big suitcase with him so the car wasn’t too full.

Rob and I have a very black sense of humour. On the motorway on the way there we left the service station at the same time as a hearse. The hearse undertook us on the slip road and we both laughed at the same time. ‘Undertaken by and undertaker.’ On the way home we stopped for coffee and there again, was a hearse. Fortunately there wasn’t a third…

This morning I supervised a law exam. The atmosphere isn’t like it used to be as there have been a few problems. Needless to say I’ve had not quite the start of a migraine all afternoon.

We wondered if we might have to pick Olivier up from the station this evening. I tried texting and phoning him as we like to have a glass of wine in the evening at the weekend and don’t want to drink and drive. Olivier’s phone was ‘off’. Then I remembered, I unpacked his phone charger on Tuesday when we got back. He’s got his laptop with him so perhaps he’ll send an email from the train – let’s hope we’re online at the same time.

Does anyone know how Helen (HelenChapel) is? Her blog has been gone for a little while now and I wondered if she is okay.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Taste of Garlic

My blog has been reviewed! Just as I remembered that I’ve recently passed my 7th blogging birthday. A Taste of Garlic must be the ultimate collection of blogs written by ex pats living in France. Here’s the review of my blog if you’d like a well researched summary of what I’ve been up to over the past few years.

As I’ve been asked very nicely a couple of times, I’ve now added one of those blog follower widgets to the sidebars of my blogs so that I can see if I have any fans.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

A busy weekend

Dom and J-M came for the weekend. It’s the first time that they have driven here so on Saturday afternoon they invited me out with them. We went to Brouage which is a fortified village which was once close to the sea. It was a holiday so there were lots of tourists milling a round as there are craft and gift shops and there was a market. It was very pleasant. On the way home we stopped at Rochefort-sur-Mer. I’ve been their several times but only in the shopping streets. We went to see the Corderie royal (where the cordage for French ships was made – a very long building) and the arsenal and wondered around the grounds and other buildings which had been built by the military. It was beautiful, the chestnut trees especially reminded me of England. Both of these were designed at some point by Vauban who seems to have created fortifications in just about every part of France. One of Dom’s old school friends, Q, came with us. He told us a lot about the buildings. His father is an architect so I can imagine Q being shown all of these places as he was growing up. He was a good guide and as he’s spend time in Sweden And Norway has an amazing accent when he speaks English. My voice was disappearing as we were on our way home. I hope I didn’t talk too much.

This evening they’ve driven off and I waved until they went round the corner out of site. It’s quiet and the house seems so empty now. Olivier will be here on Tuesday. The year since last September has gone so quickly.

Dom asks if any of my readers (!) can recommend places to see and things to do in Chicago

Monday, May 03, 2010

Babies, children and irons

Dom has her ticket for Chicago in August and within a day of her telling me that Christian phoned to say that he’s got a new job at Santander which will save him commuting for two hours every morning and is a step upwards! Sometimes I wonder what is going to happen next.

Olivier and Dom are in the throes of their final exams for this year. Hasn’t it gone quickly?

(Dom, you might prefer to skip this paragraph) Since Dom doesn’t come home so often, her bedroom is now my ironing room. I was busy ironing Olivier’s shirts when he came home the weekend before last. ‘Dashing away with th smoothing iron’ comes to mind. The iron suddenly shot off the ironing board and landed on the floor. Hot side down. I was ironing a cotton shirt on very hot and the carpet is made of nylon. There is now an iron shaped patch on the carpet. I manage to scrape the melted carpet off the iron without too much trouble and it still works. I’m trying to figure out how to move the furniture around to cover it up.

Me? I’ve just been very busy with my postcards, though things have been quiet for the past few days. I can hardly believe that we’re in May already. My irises are in flower. I did sew some lobelia seeds but I keep forgetting to water them. In a month we’ve got another auction to go to, so I’m really looking forward to that. We usually try to make a special day out of our auction visits.

On Saturday evening I went outside to close the kitchen shutters after dark and all of a sudden I heard out next door neighbour call ‘boo!’ I jumped out of my skin and he came over to apologise; He was taking his dog out for a walk and had jumped out at her from behind the wall. He and the dog do enjoy themselves. A lot of dog owners we see seem to be very stressed on their walks. Anyway, he was looking very happy; their third daughter was due to make her appearance in the world. She was born on Sunday in fact. They are such a nice family. Our neighbour’s father taught all three of my children maths.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Nature Notes

Spring has certainly sprung here now and today was quite hot. The other day while walking through the park I saw a squirrel run up a tree. He was so confused by the mowers and tree surgeons that he didn’t notice me.

The flock magpies which were at the side of the marsh seem to have disappeared. I noticed that someone had been putting maize down, whether they were feeding them or poisoning them, I don’t know. We haven’t seen any dead birds around and there was a notice on one of the huts by the shore not to leave food for animals or birds (there is a colony of wildcats there too – if they survived the flooding a month or so back). The magpies aren’t so present in the gardens across the road either. It looks as if the jays they chased away last spring have made a comeback.

The most exciting event to report is that when Rob and I were coming home from a walk the other day along the side of the marsh a water rat European Water Vole swam up the stream alongside us for quite a way. We were talking as usual but it didn’t frighten him/her off. I was wondering if it could be a beaver, but a dive into the water showed off a ratty tail

This morning when I opened the kitchen shutters I almost stepped on a toad. He was very still (pretending to be a stone) and stared at me.

Now you must go and see the adorable, furry, bundles of fun that Mary Lou is babysitting at the moment.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Human rights



We call ourselves human beings, but we don’t always behave better than animals. Please watch until the end … you might learn something.

Monday, April 26, 2010

(M)cAfee break

I was just writing a comment on a forum on Wednesday evening at 9 o’clock when I was told that the system was closing in a minute and the seconds started counting down. Of course I panicked and tried to open Word in order to save my comment and close down both AOL and Firefox – impossible within 40 seconds. It was impossible to hide from Rob that I had a problem and he accused me of going where I shouldn’t and letting in a virus. Half an hour later his laptop went through the same. (Na, na! ) Try as we could there was no way we could get back online, the scanner had disappeared and we could do nothing to correct the problem. I sent Dom the names of some files in a text message to check on Google that they weren’t viruses. I think that she was probably asleep as it was getting close to midnight.

Rob and I are opposites; he was sure we wouldn’t be able to carry on our business on eBay and I went to sleep positive that a good night’s rest would mend the computer problems. We were both wrong. I could use Word the next day, but I couldn’t copy and paste, so I could still prepare the descriptions of postcards for sale and record them onto Rob’s key. Rob could then put the descriptions online at the cyber café. What to do about the scans we just didn’t know. Olivier phoned as I’d sent him a text warning him not to bring his laptop home as we had a virus. I explained what had happened and he looked the symptoms up on Google. Apparently McAfee sent out an update which took something in Windows as a virus and put it into quarantine. I don’t know about your country, but in France McAfee are used by hospitals and universities, so you can imagine the chaos.

When Rob arrived home on Thursday evening we set about starting to re-install XP. This was another problem because our computer was more up to date than the original discs. We decided that we’d get someone to clear off the computer and we’d start again.

Olivier arrived home on Friday lunchtime ready for battle. Using his laptop, he could get online. French websites are useless; very pretty to look at and that is all. The link to the solution to the problem went nowhere. We both thought of looking at forums and he found exactly what he wanted. Rob’s laptop was easier to fix than the main computer but after three hours we were back in action.

All I have to fix now is the media thing so that I can listen to my music again - and would you believe that Deezer France was out of action this morning?…

Friday, April 09, 2010

Time for a few numbers.

April 1st was the anniversary of us moving to the village way back in 1986. It was also the third anniversary of my postcard business and yesterday Rob called me over to his laptop so that I could see that we now have 3000 cards online! In a couple of months (17th June), it will be our 25th wedding anniversary. It can’t be right - that only happens to old people.

I heard my first cuckoo of the year on Wednesday 7th.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Bad dream

I woke up at four this morning having had the most terrible nightmare: The computer was making awful noises so I thought I’d better turn it off in case it blew up. I turned it off, but the screen stayed on and I could see images of people in slavery and destruction, ruins of buildings. The people in charge weren’t quite human and I started to realise that we’d been invaded from another planet. The dreadful realisation set in that there was nothing anyone could do about it. I felt like going outside to look at the sky and then thought better of it and stayed inside.

It was all quite logical once I was awake (though I didn’t get back to sleep again). The computer noises were Rob’s snoring! I think the scenes of labour and destruction came from the Lord of The Rings films. I can’t shake that feeling of dread though.


Saturday, April 03, 2010

How about a holiday?


The prison on the Ile de Ré has been up for sale and has been bought by Club Med. This is the famous prison where ‘Papillon’ and many other prisoners set off from to serve their sentences of hard labour overseas. The new owners are obliged to offer the present staff new jobs. The thought of an ex-prison warden as holiday camp host conjures up all sorts of pictures up in my imagination. I think that they might have to do something about decorating the rooms too.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Things to do

If you have a half hour over the weekend with nothing to do but twiddle your thumbs. Twiddle them while listening to David Sedaris. He is so funny – it’s really interesting to see how an American views Europe. The programme will be left up to listen to for a week.

You could also pay a visit to my new store which is just on the right with the pretty flowers. I’ve used them to create some gifts and things. I’ve also used our eBay Store picture too. I’m rather pleased with the results and I’ll be looking at my other favourite postcards to use to make things. Please let me know what you think.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Dogs and submarines

I’m not sure whether I’ve written about this before or not. I haven’t managed to find any references to my blogs when I looked on Google.

A couple of years ago I was looking at the back of a postcard and saw a reference to a French submarine sinking in 1939 a few weeks before the outbreak of war. One of the officers was a young man from La Rochelle and I discovered that just before the submarine set off for the last time the dog that lived on the submarine ran off and two of the crew went after it (fortunately for them). ‘How strange’ , I thought, ‘a dog on a submarine’.

I’ve recently had a new pupil who is half English. Her mother married a French submariner and came to live in France. She never spoke to her daughter in English, hence the lessons. During the war this submarine fought alongside the allies and many of the crew married English and Scottish girls. My pupil explained that submarines had dogs as mascots. Not very hygienic in such a confined space but the dogs would collapse before men if there were problems with the air supply.

I wonder if the dog who ran away sensed something.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Babies, books and storms

This weekend was pleasant with both Dom and Olivier at home. Olivier was helping a friend’s sister and her family move so we didn’t see much of him really. Dom arrived with a copy of ‘The catcher In The Rye’! I haven’t read that since I was 17/18. it’s funny, but when I read the first page while was waiting for the kettle to boil I remembered the words so well.

On Sunday afternoon Dom went to visit a friend who has had a baby. It’s a very funny feeling seeing your daughter cooing and aahing over her friend’s baby. She did take some photos so I could say aah too. Dom also told me that one of our ex neighbour’s daughters is expecting – I remember seeing her on her first day out of hospital when she was born. How did that happen? Time goes much too quickly.

Dom isn’t planning anything in that direction at the moment. Normally she’s going to Chicago in the summer, August I think, she’s decided to go whether or not she’s presenting her paper. Her summer job is in Poitiers so we won’t be seeing much of her this year.

Olivier is coming home on Thursday for two weeks and then he’s almost finished. I think that he said that his final exam is on May 10th. He’ll be home as he’s working in the towers with Rob during the summer.

Today was a beautiful day. Warm and sunny. Tomorrow is a high tide and strong winds are forecast again. Everyone is keeping their fingers crossed that the small amount of work done after Xynthia isn’t undone again by tomorrow evening.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

An interesting exchange

A week or so ago I was walking back from the post office when I saw that an elderly man walking a few meters in front of me needed to stop and rest. He sat on a low wall and looked very out of breath, so I stopped and asked him If he needed help. He assured me that he would be fine after a brief rest and that he’d had two operations on his heart which wasn’t working too well. I decided to leave him as I didn’t want to agitate him by making a fuss.

This morning I saw him again, this time sitting on a bench in the park to rest on the way home. He was very pleased to see me and we walked slowly together for a while. He explained that he would be having new tests and that they would change his medication as his heart was beating very slowly. He joked about visiting Lourdes. In fact he had visited Lourdes when he was a young man - not that he needed help then. He remembered having a great time. He also told me about visiting London – he saw the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, which he enjoyed. Our village is full of newcomers, but he is a real villager and remembers the war, when he worked at La Pallice (Wow! Some of Indiana Jones II was shot there ) and then after the war was over he joined the army and made a career of that. I think that during our conversation he forgot about his health for a moment. I really enjoyed our little talk. Next time I see him I’ve got some questions about the history of the village.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring, a time to be cheerful

Unfortunately I don’t have much news as such. Today is dull and wet, a contrast to the sunny days we had during the week. At least it’s not freezing cold.

Something I haven’t done for a long time a few years, is dip into my diaries to see what I was doing on this day in the past….

20th March 1999
1999 was the last year that I managed ‘a page a day’. The 20th was a Saturday too. Christian had been on a school skiing trip and we collected him at 7.30 in the morning. I was really pleased to see him as I’d had a phone call on the first day that he arrived asking us to come and fetch him as it was awful. The following day he telephoned to say that everything was wonderful and that they were going to have a karaoke evening. Somewhere amongst my papers I have a letter from Dominique, written when she was around 12. She went on a school trip to Carcassonne and wrote to tell me how much she hated it and that no one liked her and she didn’t like anyone either. ...

Christian left home to live in the UK when he was 16 and Dom left for Poitiers when she was 17. They are both happily settled, so their first times away from home couldn’t have been too bad.

Friday, March 19, 2010

It’s difficult

Last weekend when I took Olivier back for his lift to Poitiers, we took the road which was furthest away from the sea. It didn’t seem right somehow to ogle the misfortune of the people that live in that village. Even on the road we took we could see that the sea had entered into the fields, there was still a lot of water. We could smell the sea too.

This morning I went to collect Olivier and decided to take the road nearest to the coast. Everywhere is brown, the sea and salt burn the plants. We can see where the sea came to in our village too, just by the browned grass and winter wheat. The ‘sea’ smell was very strong and the side of the road was just about there. Some of the tameris trees have fallen as the ground around their roots was washed away. The worst part were the houses that had been flooded, some of them empty ,now. Outside piles of ruined bits and pieces of furniture, wood and other belongings and everywhere the trace of brown silt, now dry, but covering everything at ground level. Olivier said that even as they arrived in the village this morning they could sense that something had happened. He was right.

I parked outside the school which is our arranged pick up point. I used to teach there when I was an assistant. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for the teachers having lost some of their pupils.

Olivier is taking the train to go back on Sunday. I’m pleased I don’t have to go there again for a little while

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Calm after the storm

The water has all gone on our little bit of coast. The marshes have been drained so the water level is lower than it was before the storm. There are still mountains of stones from the beach that need pushing off the road and back into the beach. Several people drowned in the village where I take Olivier back for his lift to Poitiers. When I went for my leg treatment last week my doctor told me that her husband operated on a man from that village just before the storm and on Sunday they had to tell him that three of his family were gone.

A man was arrested because he’d gone to the mayor of the same village claiming to be in charge of the cleaning up procedures. The mayor was suspicious and made inquiries. It turns out the ‘official’ has already been in prison for organising the building of two kilometres of motorway a few years ago. (the modern version of delusions of grandeur perhaps?). He’s on his way back under lock and key.

The wind has turned around and is now coming from the North-East (Siberia). It has been very cold for over a week and looks like we’ll have to wait for another week to get back into spring mode. It’s lighter in the evenings, so when Rob gets home we go out for a walk, it’s lovely, but so cold.

I have daffodils! About twenty years ago I planted some bulbs and for several years now I’ve seen the leaves but no flowers. I think that some animal or bird must have moved them around or something because they are quite separated out and I have four flowers.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Taken with Rob's iPhone

I'm afraid the quality isn't up to much. As you can see the weather is beautiful - now.


Where did the bridge go?



The road is one big jigsaw puzzle



The cycle path!



No way out of the village this side










This was a field yesterday

A lot of damage can be done within a few hours.