The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Scored!!

Slowly but surely I'm starting to see "progress" in my bid to declutter and make space in my garage. While it's looking cleaner and less cluttered, believe it or not not everything is being put down in the basement, although some of it is, of necessity! With the people coming to lay my new downstairs floor at the end of November I have to make space for them to move everything in my living/dining room out and into the garage while they lay it. I suspect some stuff will have to be covered up and left outside under the balcony but this being planned for the end of November I would like to make as much space in the garage as possible in advance and take what I can down to the basement. I'm also getting rid of stuff from the basement where possible but that has slowed down somewhat at the moment. I guess I can get back to that later after the new floor is down and when the bad weather hits. I'm also trying to put my garden to bed for the winter, and while it's mostly done it is still a work in progress. But, I have finally gone through the entire kitchen, emptied every cupboard and scrubbed everything with bleach and this weekend I'm going to look into buying the paint, in the hopes that I can get it painted before my new floor is laid. So as you can see, it's all go here at the moment but I have to admit I do like being busy!

In other news, we now have a small, but fairly efficient minibus service running through the local villages and the town of La Roche. I was looking up their routes and schedules and at a very reasonable cost of €1.50 per trip into town (cheaper with a weekly/monthly/annual bus pass, of course) it might be something I'd be interested in using on a regular basis. One of the reasons I thought I might eventually have to leave this village was the lack of any public transport at all because I'm guessing at some point I will no longer want or be able to drive. I may even just use it when I no longer feel up to driving on the snow! So that's finally some positive news!

As for the rugby world cup, I was disappointed that last Saturday's match between England and France had to be cancelled because of the typhoon (I think it would have been a good match, although I think England were the favourites to win), but I guess during a typhoon there are more pressing things to worry about than rugby aren't there! In any case, both countries have gone through to the next round, but if anyone has been watching it what do you think about Japan????? What a surprise they have been! I mean, when you say the word "rugby", "Japan" isn't the first word that springs to mind is it!! Just wow!

In other news, I don't know if I mentioned it before but the daughter next door asked me if I would be willing to teach English at her daughter's primary school a few hours a week as the teacher was panicking at the idea as she doesn't speak a word of English! I wasn't too keen, to be honest, as I'm not a natural teacher (even though I like little kids and I wasn't bothered by the fact that it would be unpaid) but I agreed to think about it. In the end, as someone at my sewing club pointed out, I would be back to being constrained by school holidays, knowing that they wouldn't want me to take leave outside of those dates so I decided to say no. I'm enjoying my life at the moment and it is pretty full on so I don't want to take on any more commitments that I'm not totally up for! I felt bad for saying no but in the end I think you have to put yourself first. All the more so since I just heard on Wednesday about another very nice colleague with what sounds like terminal cancer, and he's only in his mid-50s, if that, and in very good shape! Again, leave (if that's what you want) and really start living your life as soon as you can seems to be the only way to go!

Well I guess Mathilde isn't too mad at me for turning down the English teacher role as she told me that she and her English fiancé are trying to put together their wedding in the town hall as soon as possible (what with Brexit looming and him currently living in Switzerland there is an added bunch of BS paperwork for him to do). Anyway, she asked if I would be willing to stand in as the "official" interpreter at their wedding. Since his French isn't very good he is obliged to have an interpreter with him (one who is not related to him) and this time I was happy to say yes! It can't be that difficult, judging by Jordan and Jen's wedding ceremony at their Mairie in March. It did strike me as odd though as my ex spoke no French when we got married in Switzerland in 1985 and I just basically said "stand up", "sit down", "say 'oui'", and we got through it like that! Oh well, I guess times have changed!

And moving swiftly on, I saw on Facebook last night that the Tour de France will be ending one of the legs of the race in our local town of La Roche next year. They will be riding up to the Plâteau de Glières (where I visited the resistance museum with my family in the summer) and then coming down and ending that day's racing in La Roche. This will involve quite a lot being spent on some of the mountain roads and will almost certainly involve a lot of hassle for us, but I guess most French people think it's a great thing, although I can't say it interests me much! I'm sure it'll be good for local businesses though! I had a drink with my lovely Dutchman last night in Geneva and he mentioned it, saying that he had wanted to visit Glières for ages, so I told him to get his backside into gear and we'll go, but please can we make it before it snows as it is quite a nasty route!

While I was sitting there with him, a colleague stopped and asked if I had any idea who was back in Europe? Now she was one of the people who, along with me, signed a complaint against a batshit, crazy former boss who put us through hell. So I immediately said "don't tell me Batshit is back" and she nodded. When she told me the name of the city where she would be working I thought "oh my God" and named the only large (and very important) organization I could think of in that city and she nodded a second time. Again "oh my God"! Despite having on her resumé that she was a "former student of the Institut de français in Nice", the woman literally couldn't string two words together in French (we would write stuff out for her phonetically and she would give up on sentence two and revert back to English)! It's odd because the other week I bumped into another colleague who mentioned her and I said I thought it must be about time for another "firing" as she seemed to have been at the latest place about 18 months, and looky looky, it would seem that the mad cow has indeed "moved on" again! Now that makes four places I know of that she was fired from and if she wasn't fired from her last-known place in Australia I'll eat my hat! The good news is that it is obviously becoming common knowledge that Batshit is back so I'm sure word will get out again. I'll give her 15 months or less at this new place!! I just feel sorry for the poor buggers who will be in psycho's firing line this time around!

On the exercise front I'm four-for-four so far this week - but my bloomin' shoulders are killing me tonight! Our newly-retired gent did, indeed, show up for yoga on Monday and I thought initially he would find it boring (you know, the gentle stretching and breathing exercises you start with), but she soon had us twisting ourselves into pretzels and I was aching by the end of the lesson, so I'm pretty sure he was too! He's off to Thailand for two weeks now but I'll be curious to see if he comes back - somehow I think he will!

At yoga on Tuesday my neighbour was so relaxed she fell asleep during the relaxation at the end again (😀), I was in to Geneva yesterday using the work's gym, followed by my pilates class this morning. Since I didn't go to bed until 1.30 a.m. this morning it was a struggle to get up for pilates to be honest but, yet again, I'm glad I went. After that I walked down to the market to do my shopping and then stopped off at the mobile drinks van to have a drink. While I was there a lady sat down next to me and we eventually got chatting. I would guess she is a few years older than me, also divorced, and after one short meeting somehow I seem to have agreed to go cycling with her!!! I must be mad, I haven't been on a bike for years, but while she agreed it wouldn't be much fun around my village because it is too mountainous, she told me I could always throw my bike in the back of my car and we could cycle round her area, which is flatter! So working on the basis that it's better to say "yes" than "no" to new opportunities, it looks like I'll be out cycling with Ginette the next time the sun comes out! Lordy, lordy! So it would seem that sore shoulders and a sore bum are soon to be on the agenda!

As we were chatting a couple of older gents walked up and asked if they could sit with us (there were no spare seats). She recognized the one I will call "Mr. Personality Plus" as the older chappie who had invited her to dance at their village fête, and he was quite the character! Turns out he was 85 and his friend, Mr. More Reserved, was 89 (but didn't look it) and we ended up spending a lovely hour sitting chatting with them telling us stories from "the olden days" when they were both still farming! And you know what, I loved it! I love the old characters and I love meeting new people and having new experiences! They told us if we wanted to meet them "same time, same place" next week we'd be all booked up for another one-hour chinwag. So there you have it, "scored" again!

I bought some beautiful goat's cheese from this guy!

The spice merchant - I only bought ras-al-hanout this time (north African spice)!

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

This and that!

Well not much is happening here at the moment - just what has now become my new "normal" - my different classes and clubs are all up and running with me seeing if this amount of "busyness" suits me - and so far it does! I started the week with my morning yoga lesson at our young teacher's home on Monday. She is limited for space so we are a maximum of five people per lesson but that's not a bad thing at all. She was telling us that she has now received permission to build a yoga studio in her garden so hopefully by next autumn she will be better set up to take her association a step further. I have to say, though, that she actually lives and breathes the entire "yoga" lifestyle and while it doesn't all appeal to me, as yet (the chanting for instance), she certainly looks wonderful on it. She told us she has a newly-retired gent who will be joining us on Monday for a trial class. He is apparently very into different sports and wants to add the flexibility of yoga to his list of strengths. We'll see what he makes of it, of course, as men are often very strong but don't have the flexibility that women seem to have so it will be interesting!

Then on Tuesday my neighbour and I had our Tuesday afternoon yoga session - you know, the one I virtually dragged her to kicking and screaming and which she now loves! Actually, it gives me a lot of pleasure to see her get so much out of it as I am very fond of this neighbour. She is a very "nervous" type, says she can never sleep (this I believe as I often hear her up and around throughout the night) and suffers from various aches and pains, in part due to scoliosis! Anyway, "Mrs Hyper" here actually fell asleep in the relaxation part at the end of the yoga class yesterday! I know!!! I actually had to wake her and we were all laughing - as was she as she said she never would have thought that just a 90-minute lesson could do that for her! To be fair she wasn't the only one though. The lady next to me seems to start snoring at the drop of a hat, but this is the first time my neighbour has done it. So I guess we now have a new "in joke", but good for her!

Our Monday night sewing club has grown fairly exponentially too. I don't know where they put out the advertising but all of a sudden we have eight new members, making our relatively small sewing room fairly cramped, but I'm sure we'll get something figured out. And they seem to be a nice crowd so here's hoping. I was talking to one of the new ladies as I left and she was saying that one of their group had taught sewing for about 20 years at another local MJC (community college) but that suddenly they wanted to add extra classes to her schedule and drop the amount they paid her so she told them to get lost! So now that particular MJC no longer has a sewing group and I guess that is where our new members came from. It sounds to me like someone had an ax to grind but .... Our group didn't have a paid teacher until last year in fact. We had a couple of ladies who knew how to sew and would help out as and when necessary. Since they have both decided to stop (they are both a fair old age), we now have Patricia who we actually pay, but I don't feel €100 per person per year is a lot to shell out for such a group. On top of that the local commune actually gives us the room rent-free so we really have nothing to complain about do we!

And talking of sewing, I finally got my new curtains put up in the living room. If you remember my others shrunk by about 10 inches after I washed them so I dashed out and picked out two new sets, hemmed them very roughly and got the new rods put up in time to get them all up and hanging over my lovely clean windows by yesterday evening!

It's been peeing down rain today so I decided not to go in to work to use the gym as bad weather inevitably brings with it accidents/tailbacks on the motorway and I didn't feel I could face it today as I've got my Italian lesson tonight and need to be back out my side of the lake in good time for that. Goody Two Shoes that I am, I've done my homework already though! And I've actually starting going through the paperwork contained in the "handbook for French citizens", trying to learn all about the French political system, it's values and French history. I don't think it'll be too bad actually, but since I could have my interview for French citizenship sprung on me at any time (although I doubt it'll be any time soon), I suppose I should get moving on it!

In other news, I mentioned the other day that I seem to be getting more and more scam artists coming through on my email. You know, the ones who have millions of dollars they want to put into my bank account out of the goodness of their hearts! I've been updating a word document of all of their scams and each time a new one comes in I send my word document back to all of them and suggest they may want to keep in touch with each other. I guess that's why their numbers are multiplying but at the moment it tickles me to keep doing this. But I've received about 15 since my birthday on 24 September, including one supposedly from Yahoo saying that my yahoo account would be closed unless I did X, Y and Z but I was not to change my password/log-on ! Crikey! That one I forwarded to the Yahoo abuse line and no, strangely enough, my account didn't get closed yesterday evening after all. I'm also being bombarded with info from the British Government about "what to do after Brexit" - I received 15 in just the last 10 minutes, would you believe! Now admittedly I signed up for these emails and most of them aren't relevant to me anyway but crikey, talk about being bombarded!

And talking of Brexit, last night Jordan invited me, Jen and Jen's mom out for dinner near them for our respective birthdays - mine on 24 September, Jen's mom on 30 September and Jen's 30th birthday on 7 October! It was just a five minute walk from their place so he could actually enjoy himself and have a rum cocktail for starters and wine with dinner. I stuck to a glass of white wine as I had to drive, but it was a really pleasant evening with the kids I have to say. On the way back to their place I was walking with Jordan and he was telling me that he has two jobs in Switzerland "ready to go" as and when he wants them (think double, or even triple his French salary) but  ... "bloody Brexit"!!! For the one job he just has to give the date when he would be available - i.e. give his notice in with his French employers but I told him to hang fire because when Brexit rolls around he will need to prove that he has an income and that he has been gainfully employed for some time. He actually likes his French company but says it is so badly run that they can't keep the staff. For instance, he has to be at the office to pick up his work load for the day by 7.45 a.m. and then they very often have him making his first maintenance call 30 km away at 8 a.m. in rush hour traffic, and of course it's impossible! The night before last he finished at 8.45 p.m. because he couldn't get all his appointments done during the day because of the traffic! They have all told their employers that the scheduling is all over the place and they keep promising to do something about it but it doesn't seem to be happening. Then his other problem is that to take up one of the offers of employment in Switzerland he has to prove that he is legally-resident in France - which he is until ..... and even though he can get residency and citizenship in France as he fulfills all the requirements you can't actually get a bloody appointment to hand in your dossier because the French won't set up the appointments until they know where they stand! I can't blame them for that but bloody hell! Living on a knife-edge is just so bloody miserable and yet we are the lucky ones. There are some British expats who may well end up having to go back to the UK because they don't meet all the new requirements for residency in their respective countries! Can you imagine! You've been legally living in country A for X number of years and all of a sudden they rip up the rule book and move the goal posts! I know I bang on about Brexit but hey, people's livelihoods are at stake here and we are being sold down the swannie, as, I fear, will Northern Ireland be. I hope to God not, but I really think the powers that be will cut we expats and Northern Ireland adrift without a second thought and God alone knows what will happen on the island of Ireland after that!! Again, "piss up" and "brewery" spring to mind!

And finally, I have taken to watching Strictly again after a couple of years of "nah, I can't be bothered" (to US readers I guess that equates to your "Dancing with the Stars"). Now I love Kelvin and think young Karim stands a very good chance of winning, but I have to say I am very impressed with Michelle Visage! She's not my cup of tea in any way, shape or form (she'd be what I call a "brassy blond" if she wasn't a brunette), but I have to say she just oozes confidence and she can actually dance! Add to that that she is dancing with the gorgeous Giovanni who seems to have so much fun with his partners, she has actually been a pleasure to watch. Do I think she'll go far? No, not really, but you just have to admire her chutzpah!



Thursday, 3 October 2019

Sorry about that!

I went into Geneva yesterday to have lunch with some friends and on the way in my car "diagnostics" began to "ping", informing me that my headlight had just gone! Bugger! Once you cross the border there are three fairly long tunnels and I could tell instantly it was the right headlight that had gone as it was hard going in the tunnels! Anyway, I made it in to work in time for a very pleasant lunch, and then tootled off back home a couple of hours later in time, hopefully, to miss the worst of the traffic and the encroaching dusk. What I never thought about (until I got home, that is) was that I should have left earlier and dashed off to Ford to get them to fix it before they closed for the evening. But I never thought that far ahead and that effectively put the kibosh on my going to my Italian lesson last night as it means taking the back roads and what with the pelting rain and the darkness I didn't feel safe! Oh well, I'm sure I can make up what I missed in one lesson, although it was a bit disappointing not to go as I had actually done my homework you see!! Damn, and here's me being all Goody Two Shoes and all!

So this morning I had my third pilates class (it's beginning to grow on me - I wasn't sure at first) but instead of heading off to the market afterwards I ran down to Ford to have them replace the bulb before they closed for lunch. Now with my old car I used to be able to change the bulb myself but, seemingly, with this car it's more difficult so I knew I had to get down there before lunch as I had things to do in the afternoon.

After that I decided I might as well come home for lunch before heading off to do my grocery shopping so I was checking my emails when another bloody "scam" email came in - they are coming in thick and fast at the moment - you know, General X's widow who needs somewhere to stash millions of dollars in a foreign bank account! Since last week I decided I won't delete them any more but have created a word document with all their texts and emails in so as soon as a new one comes in I forward it to all the others. Little things please little minds I guess!

Anyway, while I was out shopping I received a message to say that a gift I had ordered for Jen's birthday could be picked up in town. Jen will be 30 on Monday so I thought it would be nice to get her, among other things, a copy of a French newspaper issued on the day of her birth. When I had a look at what they had, though, I wasn't too thrilled so decided to get her a copy of the Paris Match that came out the week of her birth. Now that it's arrived it doesn't seem to be the most exciting issue I've ever seen, but I guess there's not much I can do about that, is there!


Just look at that 1980s hairstyle!
Then as I was coming out of the shop I felt a hand on my arm, and when I turned round it was the "kissy guy" I made an idiot of myself with at the market the other week - you know, the one I waved at thinking it was my neighbour and as he took his glasses off and went in for the kill (the kiss on both cheeks), I realized to my horror that I didn't know him!!! Anyway, it was him and he obviously recognized me from then and said he wanted to apologize!!! Err, actually I would say it was more my fault but hey, if he thinks he goofed I can live with that! So he said he wanted to apologize to me for his "lack of respect" the other week (in French it's perfectly ok to say "I showed disrespect to you" - in English it sounds a bit naff though eh)! He said it was disrespectful of him to shout "hallo gorgeous" across the road and then trot over to kiss me (and here's me thinking "any time bud, any time!") but I explained that I had mistaken him for a neighbour too so I'm sure we were both to blame! But guess what, he told me his name was Dominique and asked if he could buy me a drink!!!! Yikes!!! When I explained to him that I had a car full of groceries melting as we spoke, he said maybe next Thursday, if I was at the market, and he would look out for me!!! I suppose that leaves me a whole week to decide if I ever intend to go to our local market again then!!! Oh dear!

Sunday, 29 September 2019

My first time at a "desalp"!

So yesterday I got up at stupid o'clock to meet my friend for our trip up to Gruyères to see our first "désalp". The "désalp" is when the cattle are brought down from the higher pastures for the winter, although I always knew it as "la transhumance", but whatever! I'd never been to one anyway so it was another first for me. We booked this trip with the bus company that we did our trip to Cinque Terre with as they were so well organized, although I'm not really sure why we treked almost three hours into Switzerland when they do the désalp around here too! Oh well, no matter I guess. Moreover, my friend very kindly paid for my ticket as a birthday present - I kept asking her when she thought we should go and pay for our tickets and she said she had called them and they had said we could pay on the bus - not true - she had already been and paid a couple of weeks ago! Very nice huh!

Our route took us through Geneva and along the northern bank of Lake Geneva, which is just stunning. As you get towards Vevey, which is just 10 minutes from Montreux (think Montreux Jazz Festival), the motorway starts to climb and the view over the lake and the mountains is so beautiful. At that point I guess we had been on the road a couple of hours so the bus pulled off and the drivers (there were three buses) laid out the picnic that they always bring for the passengers on these trips - bread, various cheeses, ham, salami, cake etc. and tea, coffee, water and red wine! I know! Much as I like a drink I couldn't drink red wine at 9 a.m. (or at any time really as I don't actually like red wine - give me white any day)! The drivers obviously didn't drink but there were a few people partaking - still, I guess since most of us had been up since around 5 a.m. it could technically be classed as lunchtime. Or, as the saying goes, the sun is always over the yardarm somewhere isn't it! Still it was a wise move as Switzerland is anything but cheap and that particular service station, while spotlessly clean and serving very good food, is particularly expensive!

Vevey - where Charlie Chaplin lived until his death. Picture by MySwitzerland.com
We made it to the village of Charmey at bang on 10 o'clock and only had to wait a few minutes for the first cattle to come through. This being Switzerland it was very well organized - and somehow they even managed to have the sun shine all day when it had actually forecast rain! I guess a herd was driven through the village about every 30 minutes or so, so we had plenty of time to wander around the cute little back streets in between times. It was, however, pretty crowded, and quite an effort to get from A to B in good order. They had all kinds of market stalls and food and drinks tents on the go all day. There were also various brass bands playing at different times which were very good - but my absolute favourite part was hearing the alpine horns in the distance!!! I wasn't quick enough to get over to film them but their sound is just beautiful! They used to be used to call the cattle in from the pastures at milking time, but that has obviously fallen by the wayside nowadays, which is such a shame as their sound is just beautiful!


I also saw this cute little plant holder which I thought about going back to buy (I didn't want to carry it round with me all day) but never made it back to the stall in time! Shame, as I think it's really sweet!


Each herd was driven through the village by its owners, who were all dressed in traditional costume. The cattle were also all decked out in their Sunday best, with huge cowbells and beautiful flower headdresses. Now while this all looks lovely, a friend who did a désalp last year to help a neighbour out was telling us what hard work it was - walking through the mountains for hours at a time, then sleeping overnight in a tent and continuing the next day until all the cattle were brought down. She said it wasn't for the faint of heart - as was proved when a few people called it quits after the first day! We calculated that all in all they must have driven over 1,000 head of cattle through the village that day!


Cattle drivers in traditional dress!






What neither of us realized was that there was to be no trip to the village of Gruyères (where they make the cheese), which we felt was a shame as it is a lovely little village and definitely worth a visit - as are the cheese factory and the Cailler chocolate factory. It didn't bother us much as we had both lived in Switzerland (me for six years) and had been to Gruyères many times, but I think some people were disappointed, and given that it was only 10 minutes away and we had all day, we think it should have been on the programme. We mentioned this to our driver at the end of our trip and he said that this was their first time at the désalp but they would definitely rethink their programme next time

Gruyères Castle - picture by leman-sans-frontiere.org

Medieval Gruyères - picture by oleandra
Since we had plenty of time to kill we treated ourselves to a rather long lunch of fillet of perch (a local speciality), followed by meringues with Gruyère cream - again, another local speciality! Talk about the diet being blown to smithereens yesterday!


Thanks to making good time and no accidents we got back around 8 p.m. - so all in all it was a lovely way to spend a day out!

In other news, my neighbour got back to me to say that apparently our team came in 10th out of between 150-200 teams (there were 806 participants so I'm not sure how many teams that meant) at last weekend's whodunnit (no thanks to me), so I was dead impressed!

And tomorrow sees my sewing club starting up again for the year, so what with my other classes my weeks are going to be pretty full from now on. I did see the following on Facebook this morning though, that kinda tickled me: "A yoga retreat" - translation - "an expensive stretching holiday"!

And finally, I don't know if this has ever happened to you, but a couple of people sent me a "friend" request on Facebook recently. One person I knew so just hit "accept" and I must have accidentally hit "accept" for the other lady. Only problem is, I have no idea who she is! She "likes" pictures I post and so on, and I've looked at her profile to see if we have any mutual friends but nope - like I say, I have no idea who she is! Oh well, maybe that mystery will clear itself up one day - or then again, maybe it won't and I shall forever be none the wiser!

Thursday, 26 September 2019

More this and that!

Max called me on Tuesday night asking if he could come over the next day to finish installing the valves on my radiators. I told him I had to go in to Geneva but would leave the back door open for him and to let himself in through the garage. So when I got back from Geneva he was pretty much finished up and I'm now done with workmen for a couple of months!!!! We got chatting over a cup of coffee and I told him I was looking to do both my bathrooms, probably next spring, and he was just full of ideas from projects that he had carried out in other homes. He gave me quite a lot to think about going forwards so I have a few months to have a look around and see what I might want/be able to afford and how much upheaval it might entail. It's exciting stuff!

Then yesterday morning, as I was getting in to my car to drive in to Geneva for lunch with a friend, my phone pinged and I got a WhatsApp message from an old flame, Luis, wishing me happy birthday!! After my husband left me in 2010 I had a brief foray into internet dating and as weird as it was for me (I'd been married 26 years after all), I actually met up with probably eight men for coffee or dinner and dated two of them - a sexy Spanish lawyer in Lausanne and Luis - a lovely Panamanian (now Swiss through his ex-wife) engineer working in Berne! We dated briefly but the problem (for me) was that (1) he lived in Berne (which is about three hours away by expensive train) and (2) he is 12 years younger than me!!! I am more than wary of dating someone that much younger than me because I honestly don't see much future in it when there is a big age gap. However that notion is pretty ridiculous really as my lovely Dutchman is 13 years older than me and it doesn't bother me in the slightest. What attracts me to a man is his intelligence and his humour. I also need a man to be his own man and know his own worth - all qualities these guys possess! Anyway, back to the plot. I wrote a quick message back to thank him for the birthday wishes, saying I couldn't talk right now as I was about to drive in to Geneva. At that, he texted back saying "at last, it only took me two years to get an answer from you"!!! Say what? Now he did, indeed, text me birthday wishes on my 60th birthday last year when I was in Sicily. I wrote back to thank him - and then that was the end of it - nothing, nada, zip - which I found pretty strange because why bother getting back in touch so many years later if you don't at least intend to keep up the communication? I was intrigued by his comment about my not replying so asked him what he was talking about. At that he sent me a screen shot of his message from last year and the one from yesterday with no response from me in between! I wrote back and said I did indeed write back several times but that he hadn't responded - ever!!! So we went back and forth for a while and I thought I would just send him a screenshot of my messages which, weirdly, I still had in my phone - and it was at that point that I discovered that I had two mobile phone numbers for him! Turns out, he had switched phones (and numbers) sometime ago and I had been sending my replies to his old number - the one that either no longer worked or now belonged to some poor sod somewhere else in Switzerland who must have been wondering who the hell I was!!!

Anyway, with that mystery cleared up (and both of us feeling somewhat less "wronged"), we have been chatting back and forth today catching up on the last 8-9 years!!!! He is good company and we have so much in common but I don't know if or where, if anywhere, this is going. Maybe I'm a chicken but I'm not sure how I feel about his renewed "enthusiasm". He actually asked me to move up to Berne to be with him (this was in 2010) and he would "take care of me". I told him no way, I had a mortgage, a kid still living at home, a pension pot to fill and no way was I giving up my financial independence! So it pretty much fizzled after that, more on my part than on his, I have to say! After that my lovely Dutchman and I got together and the rest, as they say is …. just how life turned out, I guess! He's now 49 to my 61 and while it's nice to be back in touch it still feels kinda weird to be "chatted up" by someone so much younger. And like I said, it really isn't a case of the "older woman with money and a passport" in this case because (a) I ain't got no money anymore and (b) a British passport? Really? Right now? As I was saying, he is Swiss and earns good money as an engineer! Yikes, I really don't think I'm cut out for dating any more!

And in other news, I understand there is a possibility of a new post opening up for a part-time staff counsellor at work (or something to that effect). Now this would have been right up my alley when I was still at work as it involves knowledge of the staff rules and regulations and those of the pension fund and the medical insurance, all of which I had - and guess what, feelers have been put out to see if I might be interested in it! The idea is that it would be part-time and pro bono, and while that wouldn't bother me I really don't know if I want to get into all that again even on a very limited basis, as I really don't want to start doing that God-awful rush-hour commute again. One of the "big bosses" asked me something along these lines sometime ago but, like I say, it isn't a lack of goodwill on my part, but more the idea of that dreadful commute, and the fact that my retired life is filling up nicely and I'm loving it!

And talking of filling up my time, I had my second Italian lesson last night, and now have to work out the best way to discipline myself to get my admittedly very limited amount of homework done to best effect! But, as I was driving home last night in the dark I started to get a little worried because I was having real difficulty finding my way on the unlit backroads - gosh, I thought my bloomin' eyesight had suddenly gone totally to pot! It was only when a couple of people flashed their lights at me that I realized I hadn't got my headlights on!!! That's a relief, at least, to think I'm not suddenly going blind! Senile maybe, but not blind!

Then this morning I had another pilates lesson, and while I did have my doubts about whether I would like this class, this morning, for definite, I absolutely loved it! I'm already starting to feel like I might just be strengthening my shoulders and core/lower back muscles just a little as it is already so much easier to stay in a seated position with a pretty straight spine for a good while - something I found more difficult previously - probably as a result of poor posture!

Then after the pilates class I settled in to watch England's second match in the rugby world cup. It was against the US and they absolutely nailed it - end result 45-7 to England! It was an exciting match so I was happy. Their next match is against Argentina, which could be a whole new kettle of fish but one I'm looking forward to all the same!!! After that I set to and cleaned my front windows and frames before putting up my new curtain rods and the newly-washed curtains - and then - bloody hell! I finally got those babies hanging and the bloody things had shrunk - by about 20 inches!!!! Damn and drat! So now I have to go out and buy new curtains. Aaarrrggghh! Not the end of the world I guess, but I'll have to be more careful when it comes to washing curtains next time!

And finally, just in case Anne in Alabam' is reading this, I don't know if it was deliberate or not but I tried commenting on your latest blog post but seemingly "comments are no longer allowed". I thought you might want to know just in case! Cheers!

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Whodunnit!

At our last board game evening, my neighbour, Isabelle, mentioned that they had seen an upcoming "Whodunnit" event to be held in Annecy and did I want to go! When I jumped at the chance she went ahead and got tickets for herself and her husband, Philippe, and for Jen and me for last Saturday's "Sherlock Holmes" whodunnit being held about 20 minutes from here. Now Annecy is stunningly beautiful and on a sunny day it can be hell as it gets so crowded, but even though we had trouble getting into our preferred parking lot, and considering over 800 people (as it turns out) had signed up for the event, it really wasn't too crowded at all! So a definite win there, even before we started! (All pictures taken from the Annecy Tourist Board site).

The old prison!

Lake Annecy


When we arrived at the starting point we were given a map of the city with (I think) 36 different locations marked out, all indicating places where clues could be found. We then downloaded their app, walked over for a small "pep talk" by one of the "cast" and set off. Now, considering there were over 800 people taking part, it really wasn't too bad at all as departures seemed to be pretty staggered, with all teams having three hours, more or less, to solve the crime.


In a nutshell, the "crime" took place around 1892 (I can't remember the exact date), with someone blowing up a car factory in France causing two deaths. At the same time, the local town was gearing up for the imminent take-off of a zepplin/blimp, but we had to try to solve the crime because we knew the culprit also intended to blow up the blimp!




We started off pretty slowly, looking for clues at the closest spots indicated on the map. The organizers told us that we didn't have to visit all the clue sites, and that indeed some of them would prove to be red herrings, so to be careful how often we used the app to "question" potential suspects as doing so would score points against us! Turns out most, but not all, of the clues were on yellow cards tied to lampposts and such like!

The clue to be taken from this card and punched into the app was 03403!

After we had solved a few riddles we reached a location where a cast member was handing out a newspaper "published" on the day of the explosion and containing more details of the crime, but also more red herrings!


As time started to run a bit short we split up into two groups of two, sending Philippe and Jen off to locate the clues at the most far-flung spots (we're not daft are we), while Isabelle and I tried to locate clues around the cathedral area. Trouble is, once we got to the cathedral we couldn't find clues anywhere! We wandered round and around for a good 10 minutes but nothing doing - that is, until Isabelle took a closer look at a local artist in the square!




Turns out, he was the clue! In "jigsaw puzzle" pieces attached to the back of his shirt were snippets of the code we were after but which he kept well hidden by the cloth over his shoulder and by constantly turning his back away from us! In the end, we had to volunteer to draw something on his canvas, after which he handed us his cloth to "wipe our hands" - and stitched into it was the code we were after!! Clever huh!

Anyway, the four of us met up back at the starting point and tried to hash out what we made of the clues we had collected! In the end, Jen figured out the killer and his motive! I was really stunned, but then as a psychiatric nurse I reckon she always had the edge!!!! As for me, frankly I was about as useful as a chocolate teapot! Seriously! I guess it's just the way your brain works, but whichever way you look at it I was useless! Just as I can not do cryptic crosswords! Ever! My sister can bang them out in record time while I don't even get off the starting block! Still, having participated in one event now I reckon I'd have more of an idea what to look for next time, but in the meantime, thank God for Jen!

When I got home I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep straight away so I stayed up (until 2 a.m. as it turns out) and watched a 1998 de Niro/Samuel L. Jackson movie called "Jackie Brown". And you know what, it was really good! I'm not a great fan of de Niro as I find he always plays the gangster, and this film was, indeed, a "gangster" movie with all the inherent bad language! But it was still a very clever and entertaining film about a corrupt air stewardess who couriers dirty money from Mexico back to the States for the bad guy (Samuel L. Jackson). When things go horrendously wrong, she tries to not only get herself out of her dangerous predicament but also to put one over on both the police and the bad guys! You end up feeling strangely sympathetic to "Jackie Brown", as played by the very sexy actress Pam Grier! Very well worth staying up late for!

And finally, today is my birthday, and while being 61 feels a bit weird, it definitely beats the alternative doesn't it! I didn't see my kids because André is still in Korea and Jordan worked very late, but I'm sure I'll see them at some point. What I did do was attend my regular Tuesday afternoon yoga class with my neighbour, who came out of there today in raptures about how "she didn't have a single ache or pain in her body for the first time in years"! Result then - I'm so glad I was able to nag her into it in the end! Then when I got home my lovely Dutchman was just getting ready to leave my place (I told him I wouldn't be home that afternoon but he is, and always has been, a law unto himself)! Anyway, he had bought a birthday gift over for me, which was all the more remarkable since he always used to whinge about the one-hour journey over to my place! He must be going soft in his old age huh! And judging by the birthday cards I received from my sister and my friend, I guess the "classy" image I try to project in my daily life isn't exactly working for me!

The birthday card from my sister - that's not me by the way - as if I would drink beer!


And the birthday card received from my friend.


But I forgave her when I opened it and found this.


It's a photograph taken from the brochure for our trip next Saturday. We're heading up to Gruyère (in Switzerland - where they make the cheese) to see the "désalp" - or where they bring the cattle down from the mountain pastures at the end of the summer! And she'd only gone ahead and paid for my ticket too!  So all in all, it was a lovely way to spend a quiet birthday!

Sunday, 22 September 2019

A busy week!

Crikey, last week was busy! Not that I mind that for the most part, but what with the house being all torn up (my furniture is still in the middle of every room so that the heating engineers can have access to the radiators) the chaos has taken some serious ignoring skills, I can tell you!

I went to yoga twice (Monday and Tuesday) and then went on the hike I mentioned in a previous post. Normally I try to go in to work on a Wednesday also to use the gym and meet up with friends, but Max phoned and asked if they could come over on Wednesday to finish hooking up of my water heater and the fuel heating system, so I had to stick around. It took the three of them all day to get it set up but I have to admit I'm dead impressed! That stuff looks complicated! So when my hot water started coming through and even the radiators that had previously died on me started heating up, I was dead chuffed! "Oooooh look Max, it works" - at which point he gave me the evil eye which, if I'm not mistaken, seemed to say of course it works you dumbkopf, that's my job! He has to come back sometime this week to install adjustment valves on the radiators but that shouldn't take him long, and in the meantime I have heat and hot water, which is just as well since the weather is starting to turn (although I can usually live without turning the heating on for a long time too - you know, being English and all that)! But, after they had left for the day I realized that Max had left his sweatshirt in my basement, so I threw it in the wash with some of my stuff, ironed it and since I had my sewing machine out I sewed a name tag in it - you know, like your mom did when you were at school - and sent him a message to remember to pick it up when he comes by this week!!!

So since I was somewhat trapped at home I went back to pulling apart and cleaning my kitchen and this time it was the turn of the spice cabinet. Crikey, some of that stuff was ooooolllllldddd! Now normally I don't care too much if stuff like that is out of date but there does come a point when it no longer has any flavour either so I decided to get rid of a lot of it. I must have thrown 20-25 bottles of various herbs and spices (there were many duplicates of things like allspice that used to be so difficult to find here) so I emptied each bottle into my bin and put the glass bottles in the recycling but, honestly, my home smelled like a curry house for a good 24 hours until I got that bin out of there! After that, still trapped at home, I started work in the garage and found 13 gas bottle caps - you know what you put back on the gas bottle when it's finished which helps you to lift it (the bottles are pretty heavy). But thirteen! I probably had five bottles myself - for the BBQ, the hob and the camper, when I had one - and got rid of any excess bottles. But when my husband went back to the States without emptying his house I ended up with God-alone knows how many more gas bottles and caps (one guy asked him if he was planning to blow up the town hall), so I'm now planning to get rid of all that as well! In the meantime, my lovely neighbour was out in my garden hacking back my hazelnut, damson and plum trees (I get the impression he didn't like my handy work so decided to put himself out of his own misery and finish it himself)! And, he took it all to the tip for me too! Win/win then! He gets to keep his sanity and I get my garden sorted!

Michel - terrorising my damson tree!


Then on Wednesday night I had my very first Italian lesson and I loved it! I got there pretty early so I could find my way around - and then sat there, and sat there. You see, the lady teacher was a "typical" Italian and was chatting away gaily with the group before us, seemingly oblivious to our group waiting outside. That being said, she was delightful - your very stereotypical Italian, talking very loudly and using her hands constantly! I actually found the lesson pretty straightforward (ok, it was only the first lesson) because I speak Spanish and so it seemed to sink in easily. She also didn't clock-watch at the end of our lesson and as there are only seven of us in the class I suspect I might enjoy myself very much. I realized long ago how lucky I was to have had such an excellent French teacher in high school. He was so strict but he drilled French grammar into our heads with silly little rhymes and songs and it worked! The grammar stuck! Actually, after I got my job in Switzerland in 1980 I wrote to thank him for his wonderful teaching skills as I felt that they went a long way to helping me to get such a great job - he wrote the sweetest letter back (which I still have somewhere). I learned that he died not long afterwards, so I'm so glad I made the effort to show him my appreciation!

As I couldn't find Italian lessons in my local town I had to drive 45 minutes to another community centre, but since it was dark on the way back I made the decision to stay on the motorway (I usually like to take the back roads) because the Facebook group I follow on "the state of the roads" has had "scam" warnings one after another, after another lately about foreign-registered cars (usually Bulgarian or Romanian, sad to say) supposedly broken down on the side of the road with the guy waving a bank note at passing motorists. I mean seriously, we might get five of these warning a day and it will very often be exactly the same "broken down car" at various spots along the lesser-frequented roads! People call them in to the police but there is very little they can do to stop them, I reckon. Having had a friend almost caught out by these bastards over 30 years ago on a dark country lane (she managed to throw her car into reverse and swerve round the four men who got out of the car), there is no way I would stop for anyone, particularly late at night! Sad though, isn't it!

Then on Thursday morning I had my first pilates lesson in town - and crikey, I discovered muscles in places I didn't even know I had places!!!! I had tried pilates very briefly a few years ago, but as ever it was the eternal problem of not being able to make the class on time because of the traffic. I must admit I had visions then of doing a few "piddly little exercises while sitting on a space hopper", but boy did I ever get a shock (and some very sore core muscles the next day). But all's well and good this time because at least it gets me into town early on a Thursday morning in time for the market, when otherwise I might get hooked on reading on the computer and end up missing the market yet again!!!


Oh, and I was playing Words with Friends on FB the other day (I actually had one word score 198 points would you believe!!!!) when I realized my oldest was online. I had forgotten that he and Lily are in Korea so bugged him to send me some pictures, and how lovely they are! Lily's mom was originally from Korea and Lily spent nine (I think) months in Korea learning the language a few years back. It's a country they both love (Seoul is a young people's city I understand) so if they ever decided to leave Switzerland I could see them heading out that way, although I don't actually reckon they will ever leave Switzerland, to be honest!

And finally, I sat down today to watch England's opening match of the rugby world cup. My lovely Dutchman was obviously doing the same as he kept sending me WhatsApp messages throughout the match!!! I had mentioned to him that a retired colleague had seemingly suddenly been taken very very ill and it turns out she died on Friday night. Anyway, C then sent me a message that another retired colleague died this morning also, having not been ill for very long either!!! We worked for a relatively small, friendly organization and all tended to know each other, so two deaths in two days has come as a big shock, and since I don't think either of these colleagues was 65 yet, that made the shock even worse! I guess you really never know what's around the corner do you - I hope that's enough to make all of us more determined than ever to go for it while we can!