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.


Yesterday night started calmly enough: We went to bed around 10.30 and I wondered if the storm was a false alarm. I woke several times and the wind was blowing and then not. At two thirty the storm was really raging, the trees quite close to the roof were making a lot of noise. I couldn’t sleep, so an hour later I got up to make a cup of tea, just as the kettle boiled the electricity went of and a few minutes later Olivier came in. He had only been two minutes away normally but he got home a lot quicker!!

We woke around seven (I say woke, but we’d hardly slept at all) and the electricity was still off - it came back on just before 9. Once we’d had breakfast and cleared one or two small branches from the foot path we could see there was very little damage around us and the roof was fine.

Like 1999 the sea had come over and across the marshes. The bottom of the road parallel to ours was submerged. We walked round to the beach on the higher road and there was a lot of damage and a lot of water. Roads into the village were flooded and an old path used mainly by hunters had fallen into the water. There was more water damage because it was an exceptionally high tide. One tree had fallen in the park.

The port of La Rochelle is flooded, as well as the station. People the other side of town were rescued from their roofs by helicopter Water has got into the basement at the Chain tower and caused a lot of damage. Rob’s spare bike he kept there is soaked. Fortunately he’s not working today. He did take some photos but there is a problem with his camera so we have lost them all…

One of Olivier’s friends took his bag for him on Thursday when he knocked himself out. He bought it home for the weekend and his house has been flooded so Olivier has probably lost all the notes etc which would have been in his bag for his lectures on Thursday.

It’s still windy, but pleasantly so and the sun is shining, a lovely afternoon for a long walk.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The lumpy course of life

Olivier is home for the weekend to celebrate the 20th birthday of one of his friends (I’ve already mentioned that). Just after lunch he beckoned me into his room and asked me to promise not to get upset. If anything gets a mother going it’s being asked not to get upset. He’s been into hospital. On Thursday morning he slipped on the staircase of the student residence, fell down some stairs and knocked himself out. He remembers passing out waking up and then waking up again in the ambulance. He didn’t want to stay in hospital, but they told him that they would call the police if he left and locked up his clothes. Anyway Dom had to go and collect him yesterday afternoon as they wouldn’t let him out alone. He didn’t mention it last night when he got home, in fact he came in, muttered hello and went out straight away. He says he feels fine today after a decent night’s sleep. We now have to sort out his social security information as his new card arrived Monday and was here. Now he understands why it’s important to have the card with him.

As I write, we’ve put away all of the garden furniture and collected up candles lanterns matches etc. (We don’t have a torch that works at the moment). There is a storm coming towards us. On the shipping forecast they said perhaps hurricane force 12. When we were at the café the prefecture phoned and told them to put everything away and not go out later on. The boys were going to go into town to celebrate the birthday, but as the bars will be shut up, there is no point. They will celebrate at a friends and Olivier is aware that he might not be able to walk home even – if he’s capable, that is.

All we have to do now is wait.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Did someone say February?

Half term has come and gone, so has Olivier’s 19th birthday. Two weeks ago (already!) Dom and J-M came for a quick visit. J-M never comes empty handed and presented me with a glass vase with mini daffodils in it, the kind where you can see the roots. When he arrived there were about 7 flowers, now the plant is past its best with 20 blooms!. Does anyone know what I should do next? Should I plant the bulbs out in the garden for next year? Olivier is back this weekend for the 20th birthday of his friend. I remember the 20th birthday party of one of his sisters which was more of a thanksgiving*.

I’ve been enjoying the signs of spring. Walking to the post office yesterday I saw a red squirrel and the tree in front of the house looks as if it is about to burst into blossom. We had high winds last night (with more to come), this morning the skies were blue and the sun felt quite warm in places sheltered from the wind. The robin is still hanging around waiting to be fed in the mornings. I keep meaning to find out where they go to in the summer.

Where did February go?

*"This is my story of September 11th, even in a small village across the atlantic we felt the vibrations when the towers fell....

Our neighbours daughter, Hélène, had just come home the week before from working for a year as au pair for a family who lived close to New York. In fact the Mother of the family worked in one of the towers. She changed to a new job in a different place the same time that Hélène left them. Hélène also found herself a new boyfriend Mike. She spent several days trying to contact everyone, the phone lines were down and it was impossible to send e-mails. To make matters worse her families computer wasn't working properly, so she came to us checking her mail box regularly for news.
Everyone was safe and sound, Mike studies in France now so that they can stay together. It's nice to have a happy ending, isn't it? "From September 11th 2003

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

BlogExplosion logging in and surfing - or not

Perhaps I was too quick off the mark. It seems that the problem has now been fixed by an administrator. It will be interesting to see what happens next…

If you’re reading this chances are that you’ve come through Google or book- marked my blog for future reference. As I write some members cannot log in and if they do they are unable to surf. We are trying to find out what is going on, but as there is no administrator it’s very difficult. You should be able to log into the forums and even if you can’t log in, you can read the threads. We’re trying to keep them as up to date as possible. Please DO NOT send in a support ticket - there is no one to deal with them.

The good news is that, by chance a few days ago, I managed to find the names of some of the people at LiveUniverse that we wrote to last year. I’m not sure how many of them are still there. As some of you know as long ago as last September there were reports that LiveUniverse were unable to pay some of their employees. I’m going to try sending messages to them via LiveUniverse

I think it goes without saying; don’t buy any credits or banner impressions for the time being. If you paid using PayPal and want to get your money back you probably can – it certainly works like that on eBay.

What you can do to help

Spread the world! Post on your blog about what is happening, you can copy parts of this post if you like – I don’t mind. Ask other members that read your post to spread the word too. I’ll try to keep you updated on my blogs and the forums should be pretty active if the last few hours are anything to go by

Hopefully normal service will be resumed as soon as possible

Saturday, February 20, 2010


As I was washing up after lunch I saw my first butterfly of the year. It was a Common Brimstone (Citron in French). The butterfly fluttered over the wall across the road and disappeared.

The lady at the post office saw two (red) squirrels as she walked to work through the park this morning. Last night when we went for a walk before going to bed we could hear two owls calling. Spring is in the air.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


This morning the temperature was –6°C for the second day in a row. When I opened the shutters there was a single daisy standing defiantly against the elements.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Not such a raving loony - the proof

I’ve recently acquired a new pupil, she’s an ex-colleague of Rob, an ex-colleague of Dom and an ex-colleague of mine too. Her brother lives in England and she wants to be able to talk with her sister-in-law and nephew. He level is conversational, so I get paid to chat and think things up to chat about. Music is always a good subject and it turns out that we’re both fans of Kate Bush. So I told her about the time I went to see Kate Bush in Birmingham and the people I was with were supplying a light filter and we were late so the show was held up for us. I told my pupil that I’d look out the program. I expect she thought that she’d misunderstood me when I said that I’d kept Kate waiting. Going through the souvenir program I found my guest pass:

April 4th 1979 and it was the Lionheart tour.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Happy Birthday Christian

Twenty-three today. February is a big month this year; new job, birthday, moving away to share a new home with a friend. No doubt parties all the way!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Just stay

A friend of mine sent me this story in an email. You might have seen it before:

"Just Stay
A nurse took the tired, anxious serviceman to the bedside.
'Your son is here,' she said to the old man. She had to repeat the words several times before the patient's eyes opened. Heavily sedated because of the pain of his heart attack, he dimly saw the young uniformed Marine standing outside the oxygen tent. He reached out his hand. The Marine wrapped his toughened fingers around the old man's limp ones, squeezing a message of love and encouragement.

The nurse brought a chair so that the Marine could sit beside the bed. All through the night the young Marine sat there in the poorly lighted ward, holding the old man's hand and offering him words of love and strength Occasionally, the nurse suggested that the Marine move away and rest awhile. He refused. Whenever the nurse came into the ward, the Marine was oblivious of her and of the night noises of the hospital - the clanking of the oxygen tank, the laughter of the night staff members exchanging greetings, the cries and moans of the other patients.

Now and then she heard him say a few gentle words.. The dying man said nothing, only held tightly to his son all through the night. Along towards dawn, the old man died. The Marine released the now lifeless hand he had been holding and went to tell the nurse. While she did what she had to do, he waited. Finally, she returned. She started to offer words of sympathy, but the Marine interrupted her.
'Who was that man?' he asked. The nurse was startled,
'He was your father,' she answered.
'No, he wasn't,' the Marine replied.
'I never saw him before in my life..'
'Then why didn't you say something when I took you to him?'
'I knew right away there had been a mistake, but I also knew he needed his son, and his son just wasn't here. When I realized that he was too sick to tell whether or not I was his son, knowing how much he needed me, I stayed.'

The next time someone needs you ... just be there. Stay. "

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday

While doing my weekly shop at the supermarket I was amazed to hear that they’d tapped into all of my favourite tunes on my computer: Bob Dylan, Tracey Chapman, Peter Gabriel, George Harrison… it was all very strange because they usually have the radio on which is useless - or perhaps I imagined it?

The afternoon found us trying to sort out my Social Security. I seem to have been taken off the list somewhere. It’s very complicated in France and I’ve been having problems for 3 years now, since I set up in business. We were amazed to see that all of our letters were scanned and on the computer so that whoever is unfortunate enough to get landed my case can see what went on. At least my blood tests have been paid for so I’m still in there somewhere…

Christian started his new job at head office on Monday. Apparently he talked and drank coffee all day which he found very boring. He’s used to being rushed off his feet all day and missing out on lunch. He’ll be moving into a house he’s renting with a friend on Friday and his birthday is on Sunday (23 already).

My pupil whose daughter is adopting a little girl from Haiti looked much more relaxed. The plane with the orphans arrived at midday, just before her lesson with me. They were really worried that the children would be trapped there because of all the problems with kidnapping. This adoption had been set up a long time before the earthquake.

I went for my usual leg treatment and just missed the bus by a few seconds so I had to wait in town for the next bus; another afternoon gone..

I got out into the garden; pruned the roses right back and cut away the dead ivy. There is a nest cradled in the branches of the ivy, so I was careful not to disturb it. I’ve got so much to do in the garden, it’s a real jungle, but I didn’t see any lions and tigers.

Rob got home at around 6 and it was light enough to go for a walk to the sea, it made a lovely change. We saw and heard blue tits calling to each other We know that spring is on the way when we can go for a walk in the early evening.