Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sort of waterlogged

The weeks have flown by again as I’ve been really busy and a few family issues have been thrown in.

 After visiting the Swedish Chef at the beginning of the month, I decided to experiment with drinking three liters of water a day. I’m still in a little pain from the bout of cystitis. All the antibiotics in the world won’t help if you don’t keep your pee as diluted as possible. The last check up I had came back with no bacteria at all. I don’t find it easy to drink large amount of water. Little and often is the secret. I also refill a half liter bottle so that it seems a little less like Mission Impossible. I'm truthfully managing between 2 and 3 liters a day.

Olivier now knows where he will be working and roughly when, but not for a few weeks yet. He’ll be replacing someone on maternity leave so it’s a short contract. At least he will have his foot in the door and will be able to put experience on his CV. By coincidence it is in the same town as the lycée that J-M is teaching in!

Dom phoned during the week, she has now driven in the snow for the first time. No snow here – just cold.

M-I-L is in hospital. She’s very weak. This month she celebrated her 91st birthday! I hope that they let her go home soon, she hates hospitals.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Twenty-five years ago today

I remember it was quite misty as we drove off in the early hours of the morning. When we got into town the market traders were setting up and the road was blocked by someone unloading a van. I thought that I was going to give birth there and then in the car!

A couple of hours later, a beautiful baby girl was born and I shed a few tears. I never thought that I would have the privilege of having my own daughter. Today is Dom’s quarter century. The first of many, I hope.

Happy birthday Dom!

Friday, November 08, 2013

Death and destruction

I can’t believe that time has gone so quickly – again!

We had a bit of an adventure last weekend. On Saturday, I was sat at my computer and looked over to the farmyard across the road to see that there was a dog attacking the hens! I went across straight away to see if the farmer was there – he wasn’t (the windows of his house don’t face the yard where the hens roam). So I headed for the piece of land he has behind the town hall. On the way a man in a car stopped and asked if I’d seen a husky dog so I told him yes, the dog was in with the hens. In the meantime, Rob was shouting from the office window to try to distract the dog and saw that the man had difficulty trying to call the dog, the dog ran off down the road.

We saw the farmer on Sunday morning and told him what we had seen. The dog killed 6 hens. Anyway, because of this, I found out what kind of hens they are: Poules de Maron. They are very special hens that lay “golden“eggs

  l'œuf de la Marans - 
Image from Wikipedia

 I’ve seen the farmer since then and the dog owner hasn’t been back to apologise.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Death of a million Hamsters

As anyone who uses iGoogle knows, it will be closing down in a few days. All over the internet there are people like me worrying about their pet hamster. Mine is purple and called Jupiter. She’s lovely and I’m going to be very upset when the plug is pulled out.

Jupiter was invented by a very nice person called Adam Bowman who has shared his work with millions of people over the years.

I've created a new home page using   It’s not the same, but I will make it into my home very soon. Fortunately, Mr. Bowman has made a new hamster to live in the NetVibes home page and you don’t have to fiddle with code like I did for hours and hours and get nowhere. On your NetVibes page there is a button in the top left hand corner called “Add”, click on that and type hamster into the search box that appears. There is a choice of hamsters, click on ‘hamster widget’ and you can follow the instructions to put your hamster on the page. I haven’t found a way to change the colour so I have a pale grey Jupiter this time.

How else would my computer get the electricity to work on?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Houses and stories

Today I updated all of my blogs! Some of them have been really neglected of late.

The main events of the last few weeks are having to continue antibiotics for a few more weeks. Fortunately, I only need one dose of orange flavoured power in water once a week. (and)  More pleasantly, we helped Dom and J-M move into their new house. It’s rather cutting edge, built to be ecologically kind and has solar panels and super dooper insulation. It was built this year. They have their own bathroom off the master bedroom. They were looking to rent an older house (including an old mill, but the ceilings were too low). Just goes to show, you never know what might turn up. J-M’s mother, brother and a friend as well as Olivier were helping too and Dom and J-M took us to a very good restaurant in Poitiers for lunch as a thank you.

All of a sudden it is autumn. The weather has changed, the leaves are falling and it’s becoming much darker in the mornings and evenings. I don’t know why this year a feel quite sad that the year is drawing to a close. We’ve had a good year and managed to fit in three visits to the UK.

If you’re interested; I updated my official writing blog with the next chapter of a longer story and I’ve started a new short story on my ‘culture’ blog. Inspiration is not flowing from me - I wrote both of the stories 3 or 4 years ago.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Back from the UK

We had another week in the UK. It was a little strange at first as we didn’t get to stay with Christian and J because they were in Florida for a couple of weeks.

Mainly the visit was to see M-I-L again. She told us that she’d gone downhill since our last visit, but you wouldn’t have noticed. Despite a couple of days of wind and rain we managed to take her for a couple of walks (or wheels?) in her wheelchair in the sunshine and a cup of coffee in the Colwall Coffee Lounge. We managed several cups of coffee there and scones and lemon drizzle cake. If you’re in and around Colwall, near Malvern, it is well worth a visit. We also took her for a couple of drives around. The country side is beautiful on the verge of autumn.

We saw my sister and my mum too and met up with some friends – more coffee and cakes wherever we went!

We decided that we do not like motorway service stations. They don’t seem to have any real food outside of burgers, chips and fry ups. The escalator down was broken in one we visited and I hurt my knee as the steps are very deep (not noticeable when it’s working). There didn’t appear to be another way down. I would have used the disabled toilets on the ground floor if I had known.

There is nothing like Boots in France

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

On hold

In the last 6 months I've had to take antibiotics 4 times for different ailments. My eye and salivary gland have recovered, but now I'm enduring cystitis....

What did I do to deserve this?

Monday, September 02, 2013

The wonderful thing about tiggers

It took me a long time to get anywhere near this cat. I don’t know her real name or even if she is a she. "Tigger" was what sprung to mind when I saw the stripes. The first time I saw her she was pretending to stalk the hens in the yard across the road. Needless to say the cock was keeping a careful eye on her. On our evening walks we’d find her sat looking down on us from a high wall in the fading light, just like the Cheshire cat in Alice.

The first time I found her in the garden she was lying in the shade of the clothes horse on a hot day. At first I was not allowed to go near her, but over time she got used to me. I’m allowed to stroke her head while she talks to me in her whiney voice; she doesn’t have a normal cat mew. Then she’ll roll over and squirm around showing me her fluffy tummy which I am not allowed to touch.

She’s been told not to catch the birds in the garden, so when she sees me coming she pretends to be intently looking for a mouse under the hedge. She’s not allowed to roll around on the carrot tops so they are all squashed flat where she’s been. Her favourite trick is to lie down behind me when I’m putting out the washing so if I don’t pay attention I’ll tread on her tail.

When I go back indoors my last sight of her is of a majestic queen sat up straight with her tail neatly wrapped around her front paws.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I'm still alive!

I seem to have been too busy to visit blogs, let alone write a blog post. Olivier is home for the summer and Rob has had some time off, so I haven’t had much time to myself at all. In three weeks we will be back in the UK again to see M-I-L.

I’m suffering from conjunctivitis at the moment. It’s not at all painful, but my eye waters a lot. The vision in my left eye is blurred most of the time which is quite tiring. I’m keeping my eye clean with diluted cider vinegar, it stops the stickiness at least. If you know of any good home remedies please leave a comment!

Monday, August 05, 2013


I expect that you’ve heard these news items in your own country, but they are such good news:

The state of Texas will have to put executions on hold because the European company that supplies one of the ‘ingredients’ has stopped doing business with the state.

The King of Morocco pardoned a criminal not knowing that he was a pedophile and has now withdrawn the pardon. The man left Morocco and is free, out in the world somewhere, but his picture has been seen by millions as the news was broadcast…

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I take flight

Rob's been wanting to go on the ferris wheel for some time.  On Sunday morning it was sunny and calm, the ferris wheel goes round at a slow pace so no travel sickness...

 looking towards the St Nicolas tower

 Towards the Port

 The 'Gabut'

 Towards Rue St Nicolas

Me with railway station in background

All photos by Rob who can be seen reflected in my sunglasses.

Monday, July 15, 2013

I knew that I would come in useful one day

Dom phoned me yesterday afternoon. She has a conference in Valencia this week and was packing just before leaving. She telephoned so that I could ask her all of those mummy questions just before setting off on a trip: Have you got your telephone cord?, computer cord?, passport?, ID and so on. She didn’t seem to have forgotten anything. She even had her bikini for her day off. She will be addressing her fellow scientists on Wednesday afternoon. In two weeks she will be repeating the packing to go off to a conference in Berlin (without bikini, I suppose). She did find time to tell me that they have at last arranged their honeymoon. They will be renting a cottage miles from anywhere somewhere in Scotland. They are hoping for cooler weather at least.

 J-M is now an official teacher! Hopefully he will be given a placement not too far from home. Unfortunately, young teachers in France have to go where they are sent.

Olivier is now holding down two part time jobs. He seems to have settled into the local KFC and the weather is hot so that I can wash and dry his smelly uniform without having to rush. He’s been bringing home bits and pieces for us to try, though the desserts have been banned (they are soooo good). Yes, I like the chicken, but the spicy wings are too hot for me. Love the pepper dip sauce!

 He helped a man who had just finished having an epileptic fit. The man’s wife was fetching help, so Olivier found him a bottle of water and stayed with him to make sure that he was okay.

It is so hot here at the moment. After all the months of cold and rain we seem to have swung to the other extreme. What’s the weather like with you?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Painted pylon painters

While travelling along the duel carriage way into town the other day, we noticed that some of the huge pylons parallel to the road had been painted, some red, some yellow. They weren’t finished and when we took the exit road, sure enough, there were the painters putting on their climbing gear and getting ready for a day’s painting. We knew they were the ones because their clothes and hats were beautifully splattered in red and yellow. Unfortunately, I didn’t think of taking my phone out to take a picture.

Yesterday we went south to meet some friends who live near to an estuary. Again the road was accompanied by huge pylons. These hadn’t been painted and are probably not to be disturbed for some time. Perched near the top of each pylon were one or two stork’s nests, complete with busy parents coming and going in order to feed their young. I did try to take photos, but we were moving too fast.

Google has lots of them, some in Spain too:

French Wikipedia tells us that storks make their nests at the top of pylons especially in the marshes surrounding Brouage - which is where we went!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

I think that I shall never see A poem as lovely as a tree

Whenever we go back to England I'm always struck by the greenery and how large the trees are! C & J took us on a walk through the fields which I thoroughly enjoyed!

 Would you believe that this is a public footpath?

We also crossed a golf course (on a footpath) and the golfers very kindly waited for us to go by.

I think that I shall never see 
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest 
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast; 

A tree that looks at God all day, 
And lifts her leafy arms to pray; 

A tree that may in summer wear 
A nest of robins in her hair; 

Upon whose bosom snow has lain; 
Who intimately lives with rain. 

Poems are made by fools like me, 
But only God can make a tree. 

Joyce Kilmer, 1913

Easy once you know how

I expect you can imagine how Olivier's eyes rolled heavenwards when I told him I couldn't remember how to get at my pictures.  I was trying to find out how via the computer when I needed to use the phone settings.

So here are the WW2 train pics:

At the top we have King George VI and Queen Elizabeth - and they later waved to us!  We had our IDs checked by a British Bobby with a lovely moustache and a German soldier - is his uniform more WW1? Well, we were time travelling back 70 years...

There were soldiers everywhere. Sorry I didn't get a picture of the GIs - there were too many young ladies in the way. 

Lots of cars, motorbikes, tanks and of course, the trains themselves to look at.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

There and back - again

I was hoping to include some pictures in this post, but I still can’t get the pictures from my phone onto my computer. Dom shows me what to do every time she comes, I forget very quickly.

We’re just home after spending another week in the UK. We originally planned to return in September but Rob was looking for cheap flights and we ended up going 8 weeks after our first visit in April. The plan was the same as before; stay with C & J and then with MIL for a few days. We took her shopping which she didn’t really enjoy from the height of a wheelchair. On other afternoons we walked around the village and also visited a garden centre and had a cup of coffee. We also went to see my mum and sister as well a shopping in Worcester. Top of my list was Honey trap lip balm from Lush. I discovered a shop, Healthy Planet Books for Free, where I could choose 3 free books – which I did. How could anyone throw away a book? We made a donation in exchange.

The best part of the visit was the weekend we arrived. C & J took us on a trip on a steam train on The Great Central Railway. The stations on the route were holding a WW2 event. Each station represented a different country, Germany, France and a US base. There was plenty to see, even George VI and Queen Elizabeth, Winston Churchill and others, plenty of singers and music from the 40s. Many people were dressed in clothes from the time and uniforms, some were carrying gas masks. We even had ID cards which were checked while we were on the train – once by a very severe looking German soldier. It was a lovely day.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Health (and wealth) report

Yesterday afternoon found me at the Dentist as well as the Doctors. My gums seem to be fine now and the cleaning process was a lot quicker than in the past – must be keeping them much cleaner myself. The dentist X-rayed my three crowns at the front. They are 40 years old now and will need to be replaced. He gave me a quote for 2400€ (that’s $3140 or £2051). Unfortunately he’s not registered with my insurance company, so I would have to go somewhere else to get more money refunded. I can’t afford 2000€ at the moment - I don’t think that I can ever remember being able to afford 2000€! Fortunately there are two other Dentists locally that work with the insurance company.

The Doctor’s visit went better for me. It’s taken me a while (two years) to get used to my new Doctor after having the previous one for 22 years. My thyroid is playing up a bit. I’ve got to lower my dose of thyroxin (e) a little. He suggested doing it by alternating 150µg and 125µg every other day. I have noticed myself being moody recently – Rob has noticed too. Perhaps that is why. Other than that everything is tickity boo!

The sun is shining and it’s starting to feel warm at long last. Olivier went off to spend the afternoon at his friend’s pool.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Marriage for all

Some recommended reading: Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert. She’s done all the research on marriage that you could wish for. Nothing is new:  The story of Mr and Mrs Loving, in their day mixed marriage caused a lot of trouble!

 Tomorrow the first ever gay couple in France will officially marry. This is at the end of several months of sometimes violent protest by the anti marriage for all movement. The movement has been led by Frigide Barjot (a play on the name of Brigitte Bardot), who in my opinion often shoots herself in the foot. She said that marriage is for a man and a woman who want to make babies. Does she mean that couples who do not want children, couples who cannot have children and couples who are too old to have children, cannot marry?

Then we get on to the subject of adoption. “A child needs a Mummy and a Daddy in order to thrive properly”. In France one child in 5 is being brought up by a single parent. How do they think lone parents feel when they hear that statement? What about parents whose partener just went off. “The responsibility of a family is too much for me” (We know someone who left their wife and two children with those parting words)? Not to mention the children who end up murdered or ill treated by their step-fathers? What about the wives of Soldiers recently killed in Afghanistan and Mali; what do they make of that statement?

As I see it, any idiot can make a baby – and they often do. I’ve worked with teenagers who were well aware that they were unwanted by their parents from an early age. Only highly committed couples get the opportunity to adopt the baby or child that they really want. Children need love from consistent adults in their lives to thrive.

 I wish Vincent and Bruno all the best in their future life. If they choose to adopt, I hope that they are treated with the same fairness that any heterosexual couple could expect.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

At long last it's my turn. 

A bit of a quiet day for me as Rob is working and my children have all flown the nest. 

Have a lovely day - wherever you are.

Friday, May 17, 2013


This week I went to the dentists for a checkup and one of my teeth has been aching again. The same one that hurt 7 months ago when I last went. As before; it’s not the tooth it’s the gum. I’m taking antibiotics at the moment and using mouth wash three times a day. The pharmacist advised me not to drink alcohol at all, as even a tiny amount of wine will feel like the whole bottle.

Why tooth-hurty? That was the time of my appointment. The next one in a couple of weeks will be at tooth-hurty too (oops, not 2.32 - two thirty)

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Recipe for disaster

I don’t usually make pudding/desserts. There are normally plenty of pots of yoghurt and the like in the fridge. They really are the best way to control portion size in my book.

When Dom and J-M came to visit at the beginning of April, I thought that I’d give my favourite dessert, Lemon Meringue Pie, a go...

 First off; I was too lazy to look for the Royal Worcester Evesham design flan dish which would have been perfect for the job. I used a non stick cake tin instead. Unfortunately, I had to bake the pastry blind, so a high sided cake tin was not a good idea, the pastry ‘sides’ just slid down to the bottom. Before I put the pastry into the oven I’d placed a piece of greaseproof paper sprinkled with rice (no baking beans) on the base. When I came to take off the paper with the rice on it, some quite a lot of the rice got stuck to the half cooked pastry. I managed to pick most of the rice out and burnt my fingers.

The lemon part was tricky too, my grater for grating the zest from the lemons has seen better days, so there was a lot of hard work for little result. It smelt nice though. Next came the corn flour. I should have sieved it, but I thought the thing about corn flour was that it didn’t go lumpy. I ended up with a mix that looked as if it had polystyrene bits in it. It took ages to strain through a tea strainer.

 The egg whites whipped up beautifully (I know what you were thinking).

Everyone was very brave and ate some: It tasted fine, just looked a bit odd and we had a good laugh about it. For the first time ever there was a left over piece of pie – can’t think why.

Image taken from Wikipedia

My very first post

Ten years ago!  You'll see that I hadn't quite got the hang of it.  I've arrived in blog land.

Doesn't the time go quickly when you're enjoying yourself!

Friday, May 03, 2013


The weather here has been cold and wet. When we came back from the UK we needed to put the heating on again. It’s still on as I write. Hopefully this weekend we’ll be able to close it down until next winter.


At the beginning of the week we went for an evening walk as the sun was setting.The colour was amazing so I asked Rob to take a picture.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

There and back again

I haven’t been blogging or visiting blogs much these past two weeks as we went for a week in the UK. It was our first visit home for 8 years. We flew to and came back from East Midland’s airport. It only took around one and a half hours. We tried out acupuncture bracelets for travel sickness; we highly recommend them. I also put in ear plugs as I really suffered with pain as the air pressure changed last time we flew. I put them in for takeoff and landing and I had no problems whatsoever!

 We stayed for a couple of nights with our eldest son C and J. It’s 10 years since C moved to the UK. It’s quite strange being looked after by your children. We were taken out for two lovely meals and treated to homemade Paella too. I don’t know how I only managed to put on 1 kilo. They also put us up for the night before we left.

We hired a car and headed for Rob’s mother’s house and stayed with her for the middle part of our visit. She’s 90 now and we hadn’t seen her for a few years. She looks surprisingly well and gets around very slowly using a frame and various bars around the house. We took her out for a walk in her wheelchair and did simple things like eating fish and chips which we all enjoyed. I visited my mum and went to see my sister in her ‘new’ house at long last.

While I was cooking something tempting for MIL I spilt boiling water on my hand, which I put under the cold tap straight away. MIL told me to break off a piece of her Aloe Vera plant and apply the gel to the burn. I had no pain, swelling or redness. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it for myself; I’m going to get myself a plant!

It was strange being home again. The spring is advanced by a couple of weeks here. Though we had sunny weather in the UK, we came home to good weather had two very hot days. Yesterday and today have been quite cold, cold enough to consider putting the heating on again. There was some sunshine in the middle of the day. I didn’t a bit of gardening and planted lettuce, parsley and rocket seeds as well as a Cosmos mixture and some sunflower seeds. When I finished the rain kindly watered them – how organized is that?

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Shiny new bridge

When Olivier came out to lunch with us in Bordeaux a couple of weeks ago, he told us that he hadn’t explored that part of town. That weekend he went for a stroll along the quays with some friends and he took this picture of the rainbow over the brand new bridge. He did take other pictures and some captured two rainbows, but this is the best one. As you can see he wasn’t the only one. The platform lifts up to let shipping pass underneath:

This weekend we had Dom and J-M, as well as Olivier home (although Olivier goes out most of the time with his friends). Dom bought me a pile of books by John Irving including the English version of Last Night at Twisted River which I read recently in French. If you know John Irving books at all, you’ll know that it is a hefty pile. I will be occupied for months to come.

As usual she sorted out my computer so that I can get at the pictures on my phone at long last. We had a lovely weekend which went much too quickly.

Olivier went back to Bordeaux at lunchtime; the house is very quiet

Thursday, April 04, 2013


This post also appears on my Affiliate blog:

In the last couple of days when we’ve been rolling over our announcements on eBay and also creating new announcements we’ve been getting the message (more or less this as it is in French):
Javascript Unescape/FromCharCode …and HTML refresh are refused

 It took 40 minutes to roll over 25 postcards this morning. I’ve checked that we’re not knowingly using forbidden scripts and any links we have are inside our personal part of our announcements. They only lead to other parts of our store anyway.

My theory:

 This seems to be happening randomly and I wondered if it was something to do with the ads that eBay places onto our announcements. I understand that JavaScript is to do with movement. Could this be happening when an ad that moves or refreshes comes up on our page?

 We have written to eBay – two days ago. No reply as I write this. Could this mean they are having problems too?

Have you ever had this problem? Any ideas as to how to solve this?

Sunday, March 31, 2013

They've got my number

A couple of weeks ago I started getting calls and messages on my phone from a number I didn’t know. The messages were in French teenage-speak asking me who I was. I don’t answer calls from anyone I don’t know. Anyway, I took advantage of my big tall strong son with a deep voice being home and asked him to answer the phone.

 It turned out that my phone number was on the toilet wall at a school somewhere we’ve never heard of in France. After talking to Olivier they stopped phoning and sending messages. Hopefully I’ve been scribbled out.

Happy Easter

Happy Easter to everyone, whether your eggs are delivered by a giant rabbit, Snoopy or the bells; I hope that you receive the ones you want.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Time keeps on slipping into the future...

That’s how I feel at the moment. I don’t seem to get a minute to myself.

Last Friday we went to Bordeaux to an auction which I love, but is a very long tiring day. The nice part was that Olivier met up with us for lunch. We also saw the new bridge that lifts up to let the boats through. We came home with some excellent postcards.

Olivier has also been home for a few days, so I’ve been washing and ironing and preparing meals. We don’t have a bus service to this village so I ferried him to the nearest bus stop a couple of times – as well as just passing time talking.

The weather has been sunny but cold – nothing to do with the end of March here. We’ve still got the heating on and the clocks go forward this weekend!

Dom and J-m are coming to stay next weekend as J-M is in a play this weekend by Steve Gooch; Female Transport, about 6 women convicts sent off to Australia. Dom will be giving her first lecture in an amphitheater during the month of April. She’s looking forward to it! – Brave girl. She knows her subject well so there should be no problems.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Did we save a life?

One of Rob’s colleagues is ill and as he is in charge of the time table she left him messages at 5.30 and 6.30 this morning (he puts his phone on silence at night these days – can’t think why!).

At breakfast he phoned her up to let her know that she wasn’t working today anyway and to ask how she was. It seems she has flu and was dosing herself up with paracetamol and a cold/flu cure which is popular here, it also contains paracatemol, as well as another medicine we don’t know. As soon as he put the phone down he realized what she had said and sent her a message telling her she was double dosing on paracetamol. She didn’t know it was dangerous at all and thanked him.

We then forwarded the number to the anti-poison center (first page of telephone directory in France), so that she could check whether she was okay. She contacted us a few minutes later to say that they had instructed her not to take anymore paracetamol for at least 15 hours. She lives alone, had she continued to dose herself up every four hours goodness knows what would have happened.

 In France you have to go to the pharmacy to buy all medicines. If you buy paracetamol and the cold cure together they always advise you not to take them at the same time. I hope that everyone knows how dangerous paracetamol can be.

From Wikipedia:

 “The onset of analgesia is approximately 11 minutes after oral administration of paracetamol, and its half-life is 1–4 hours. While generally safe for use at recommended doses (1,000 mg per single dose and up to 4,000 mg per day for adults), acute overdoses of paracetamol can cause potentially fatal kidney, brain and liver damage and, in rare individuals, a normal dose can do the same. The risk may be heightened by chronic alcohol abuse. Paracetamol toxicity is the foremost cause of acute liver failure in the Western world, and accounts for most drug overdoses in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand”

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bits and Pieces

Recently, we’ve had snow, warm spring weather and now we’re back to cold with the threat of snow. Although we seem to be in winter still, we’re only a week away from spring. Where has the time gone?

On Monday in town I saw a hollyhock in flower.

Last week there was a small earthquake locally – it didn’t wake us up.

I watched “The Lake House” on Sunday evening. Lovers corresponding to each other from different time zones – just the kind of film I like!

Just finished “Last Night at Twisted River” in French. Dom is going to lend me it in English next time she and J-M come to visit. I’ll review it on Still Learning when I’ve finished the second reading.

Findus France have announced their recent troubles as a “problem with labelling”.

Sunday, March 03, 2013


This morning a flock of geese flew over. I heard them before I saw them, flying in the clear blue sky in a ‘V’ formation.

All of a sudden I was transported back to over 30 years ago when I lived on the farm. Flocks of geese would arrive to make short work of the new shoots of wheat. Come harvest time there would be quite a bald patch in the corner of the field. I used to go out for a walk with my collie, Elkie. Although she wasn’t trained to herd sheep, she definitely had the herding instinct and would go down onto her tummy and shuffle silently towards the geese. Then she would wait for my command, struggling to stop her tail wagging. “Sedemoff!” (send them off) meant that she had permission to rush at them barking and they would rise into the air, a noisy cloud of surprised geese.

For a little while I had a lump in my throat, Elkie is long gone, the farm is no longer a farm and I live in a different country.

Friday, February 22, 2013

22 today!

Happy birthday to Olivier who celebrates his 22nd birthday today – the 22nd - and he was born on a Friday. It must be a lucky day!

Unfortunately, I know that he has 4 hours Friday afternoon and 4 hours Saturday mornings with the same lecturer every other week (VIP who travels to Bordeaux from one of the financial capitals of Europe). Fingers crossed that this is one of his free weekends.

Here's a picture of him when he was three

Thursday, February 21, 2013

You must see these

We hardly ever get snow here - about once every four years.  I love snow picrures...

Snowflakes caught in a spider's web

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Do not feed the horse

This is a picture of Groseille (Currant) the local star in our village.  She's very friendly indeed if she thinks that you've got something for her to eat.  We used to take her an apple every time we walked by.  Someone told us that the apple should be cut up, so we cut it into four pieces.  She can count and would wait for the forth piece before continuing with the grass.

Unfortunately, everyone was feeding her tit-bits, including stale bread.  See how muddy her back looks in this picture.  One day as we were preparing to feed her an apple her owner, the mayor, came over to us and explained that she had been rolling on the ground in agony with colic.  So he's asked everyone not to feed her.  She's written a very nice notice explaining how too much food makes her ill.

Unfortunately she doesn't come over to say hello anymore, just snuffles a greeting and continues grazing.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Strange week

It has been rather strange and Rob and I have certainly been feeling a little strange coping with the flu. 

I had a new pupil this week. A farmer, who had lessons with Rob when we first came to France. I met him and his wife when I was expecting Christian. He asked me how my little boy was these days, expecting him to be 10 or eleven. Christian was 26 on Thursday! We had a lovely long phone call to celebrate. He’s now as old as Rob was when he was born.

Something else that is strange, though I don’t expect to feel the impact until next week, is that ExposeYourBlog! is closing down this weekend. I’ve just sent out my last newsletter (twice as usual – I never did get that right). Friar Don and I are sad to be letting it go, but we both have busy lives elsewhere now. Don needs to devote more time to his spiritual life and I wish him well for the future.

 Me? I’m busy with my postcards and hopefully more blogging and writing.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Careful how you comment

There was I gleefully leaving a comment on Kath’s blog about how good the flu vaccination is…and I was struck down. We’ve all heard about the dangers of viruses over the internet, but the flu virus spreading online? Hopefully Kath is now recovered from her bout of flu and mine seems to be clearing up okay-ish (very tired if I try to do too much at once).

It seems that 75% of the children in our village (ages 3-11) were absent from school last week because of flu. Someone mentioned that this year’s vaccine here wasn’t quite the right one. Rob’s next.

I apologise in advance for typos and sentences that go nowhere.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The end of the world

I dreamt that we knew that the end of the world was coming. I was in a house with children that I loved; my own children, my parents, my sisters and brother and some others (perhaps ex pupils). They were all children. I was the only adult with them.

We were on the first floor and there were stairs leading down to the front door, though it couldn’t be seen from the room we were in. There was an explosion a long way away and out of the window we could see buildings collapsing and turning to dust radiating out from the blast. I called the children to me and most of them came, although some preferred to carry on playing. I didn’t insist, as long as they weren’t afraid and happy with what they were doing.

I was expecting an explosion as the crumbling buildings became closer and closer to where we were. Some dust was coming in through the front doorway which I realized was open. The dust was coming up the stairs. I decided there wasn’t much point in closing it. Through the windows we could see dust rising to the level of the room we were in. It was a greeny yellow dust. At this point I realized that we were going to suffocate and be buried in the dust. I started to pray; at first for help, when I realized there was no use in that. I asked for peace and calm so that the children wouldn’t be afraid. I woke up when my breathing started to become really difficult, but I was still calm

Monday, January 14, 2013

More cookery?

Incredibly I dreamt about cooking last night. I was in a long narrow kitchen, there were plenty of cupboards ovens and electric and gas burners but no work surfaces. It made life very difficult – nowhere to put down hot saucepans and dishes, let alone prepare the food. I’ve not long started reading 'Last Night in Twisted River' by John Irving – hence the busy kitchen. I already knew that the loggers ate well, but the descriptions of the huge quantities of food that they eat and the conditions of preparation obviously went to my head. It’s a great read, but not if you’re on a diet.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Moi, giving cookery advice?

I don’t think I’ve ever blogged about cooking before*. I came across a very interesting tip the other day which I thought I’d share: When you are cake making, substitute the butter with pureed avocado pear. Yes, you did read it right. Apparently cookies that were made with avocado were less crumbly and it doesn’t change the taste.

 At Christmas I made a mustard cake which was very dry, it sounds like the ideal way to solve the problem. (Mustard cake makes a nice nibble to go with drinks before a meal)

Don’t forget to let me know how you get on.

Check out the comments in my previous post. Keith has left a link which could be useful if you are aspiring to make the perfect omlette.

*I tell a lie, if you click on the cookery label below,  I posted something about 7 years ago.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

About those New Year resolutions

I’ve actually written some down.

I wonder how many people like me have decided to lose some weight this year. Millions, judging by all of the advice that is cluttering up my email box. I’ve  read  a few (100 or so) ideas and surprise, surprise, I already carry out a lot of them. I drink water, don’t take sugar in tea or coffee, eat breakfast, eat plenty of fibre, don’t snack between meals, dessert at lunch time is always fruit and so on. I know what my problem is – portion size. That’s another resolution for the list, reduce portion size.

One useful tip I did pick up: Just aim for a 5% weight loss and then take it from there. A lot of health websites tell you to aim for 10 %.  5% seems more obtainable to me.

 I’ve also decided to exercise for at least 10 minutes 3 times a week (as well as the normal walking I do). I accidently discovered something to help. Just now, I thought I’d start off with 5 minutes to music. I put on Boz Scaggs; an old friend of mine for exercising to. 6 minutes passed without any effort at all! I hadn’t realized how important a good tune was to get me moving.

 I’m also aiming for more blogging. I’ve been rather slack over the past year. I’m also going to try to make my posts more interesting. While I’m at the keyboard I need to write more fiction and poetry. Hopefully I should have slimmer fingers at least from all of the typing.