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.