The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Saturday, 6 August 2022

This and that!

Well the weather finally broke just a little and we had a mild storm last night for about an hour. It brought the temperatures down slightly today but the ground was so dry I doubt it did any real good, that is unless it rains again soon - which doesn't seem to be on the cards right now!

It's been so hot (38°C/100°F yesterday) that yet again I haven't felt like doing much, although on Monday I did manage to make a trip to the tip and also to drop some stuff off at the big charity shop. Since I was out that way anyway I took the back road over to Jordan and Jen's place to check in on Leni, The Horrible Cat! Their neighbours are taking care of him while they're gone but I thought I could take a book and read for an hour or so, in order to open up the place and give him some time on the balcony. In the end I spent 90 minutes there and he seemed glad to get some fresh air, although you wouldn't know it because he still treats me with complete disdain!

I mentioned some time ago that I had received an email from "the gendarmerie in Paris" indicating that they had evidence that I'd been looking at child pornography and to call them pronto if I didn't want the matter to go any further". Well I saw an article in Le Parisien this week where one of their reporters followed up on these scammers and was told he could "pay an immediate fine of €7,000 if he didn't want the matter to be taken any further". So he called them back pleading poverty and they kindly offered to let him pay an immediate amount of €3,000 (with the balance to be paid later) and gave him the bank account details where it should be paid. So they tracked down the female owner of the bank account and as a result up to 100 arrests were made! Well done that reporter! I suppose it begs the question why someone would pay anything to these bastards if they were completely innocent, but I can actually see that some people might be confused or just frightened thinking they might accidentally have landed on a site like that - I don't know really, but all I can say is that I'm glad at least some of them got caught. Now if they could just catch the slimeballs who are "holding my parcel until I make a payment" or the people from McAfee (whose email address reads something like xsajksdkfjasdfasdfjdj182@asdfkdfj.com) and let them know that I haven't used McAfee ever so no, my coverage isn't about to run out, I would be really grateful!

In other news, I called my fuel supplier this week to order 800 litres of fuel and thought the lady was very decent when she asked if I could hang on until I needed to order at least 1,000 litres because I'd get a better rate! It's expensive either way you look at it, but I thought it was kind of her to mention that. She also told me that the price of fuel is currently going down so to keep an eye on the price at the pump and try to time my order in accordance with that! Huh, there are some nice people about aren't there!

I don't know if any of you play Words With Friends but if you do, you'll probably have noticed that after every second play you have to sit through advertising blurb before you can continue. Well I noticed this week that the advertising at the moment seems to consist entirely of a sales pitch for the game Family Farm Adventure and I just realized how awful it is! In one scene a young woman runs in to show her partner her positive pregnancy test and next thing you know he's physically throwing her out of their home into the snow! Then in another scene Mr. Macho is just about to hit his partner (for whatever reason) when the dog jumps up and bites him on the arm! Damn, I hadn't noticed it before, but I can tell you I'm mad as hell to see that these game developers think that kind of crap is a good idea for a game! So guess who's going to be writing them a stinking review!!!

And talking of abusive AHs, I saw a book review of My Daddy Is A Hero - the story of Chris Watts, the murderous pig who killed his pregnant wife and two very young daughters! I've only gotten to the part where they have just discovered the bodies but the book is written to ask the question "are psychopaths made or born?" - which is why I bought it in the first place. That is something that really interests me - but how that monster could murder his entire family because of his infatuation with a skank is beyond me - or probably beyond most of us, I suspect!

In other news Jordan and Jen left Brittany today and are heading south for a few days, and André - as far as I know - is now in Slovenia and they will be making their way back to France via Bulgaria next week. It's all right for some isn't it! That being said, I'm going to check out a few of the "solos" holidays available between now and Christmas and see if there are any European trips I could join up with by driving to meet the group. I've got the travel itch starting up again!

And finally, my friend spotted that there was a pottery market taking place this weekend up at Grand Bornand - which is about 30 minutes from here. Since we both fancied a trip out despite the heat, we headed up there yesterday morning, knowing full well we would most likely ding the bank cards pretty hard but ,,,,! Well the market was pretty small so it didn't take long to wander round but their stuff was beautiful. I spotted a large salad bowl that I fell in love with and intended to go back and buy it after lunch, but my friend trotted over there and bought it for me as an early birthday present (she'll be in Spain for the next two months)!!! Did I need it? Not in the slightest! Do I love it? Absolutely! How lucky am I?

I just love this sculpture!



Made out of recycling materials!










Friday, 29 July 2022

Ooof!

I have been offline for a few days because, well frankly not much has been happening anyway. I don't like the bleh feeling I have at the moment, but when I think about it, I always get like this in the heat of the summer, and boy have we been having a humdinger this year! I don't know for certain but I would guess it hasn't rained for about a month, and we've so far had temperatures as high as 36°C (97°F) round here, bearing in mind that most homes don't have AC! Oh a few people are putting in AC in maybe one room now, but whole house AC, nope! I haven't done it because until we hit 36° I was able to cope with it, you know, by keeping shutters shut and opening strategic windows to create an air flow, so in the end it hasn't been so bad - even if I hate the heat. And to think I was once considering retiring to Spain in order to retire earlier! Ha, the joke would have been on me wouldn't it! Today as there was "a 90% chance of rain" I was almost jumping for joy. And then it happened, all 15 minutes of light drizzle and we were back to where we started. Still, at least for a few days it should be down around 30° so I'll take that!

As in so many countries there have been massive wildfires breaking out in France (in the Gironde they have lost over 20,000 hectares so far). They're also breaking out in other southern départements too, although in one case a volunteer fireman has been arrested for arson! What the flip!!! What kind of lunatic does that? I sure as hell don't know!

Moving on, I had to laugh the other day because I've been watching a British journalist/Youtuber for some time now and I've come to realize he's a bit of a Mrs. Malaprop, not only mispronouncing words on occasion, but sometimes using a completely wrong word. I've often thought "oh he'll cut that and rerecord it", but nope, he just plows on - and I find it pretty great! When I actually looked up the origins of Mrs. Malaprop (Richard Brinsley Sheridan's 1775 play The Rivals, apparently), I came across this quote which was attributed to Mike Tyson - although I'm not sure I'd have laughed at him!

That put me in mind of an incident 20+ years ago where I worked. There was a massive negotiation taking place regarding our pension fund. I was in the thick of it - as a grunt, not as anyone important - but it did mean I got a ringside view of what was going on. Anyway, when the negotiation was finally successfully concluded, the big boss - who was Italian - called the staff to a meeting to announce the outcome. I was sitting opposite my friend when, with all the innate theatricality of an Italian, he stated that "it was the most difficult negotiation in which I have NEVER participated"! Of course English wasn't his first language but I looked at my friend and we both had to put our heads down to prevent from bursting out laughing!

On another note, Youtube randomly suggested to me a video about the demolition of slums in the late 1950s in Birmingham, England (where I was born) in order to replace the many insalubrious homes that were either just old or had been bomb damaged during the war. I had always heard that Birmingham City Council were (and still are, apparently) very proactive and even if some of the high-rise flats were later demolished, I still remember moving out of our house in the city centre into the new "posh place with two toilets", even though I was only three years old when we moved. I honestly didn't recognize much (if anything) from the video but when I sent it to my sister, my BIL knew most of the places shown as he had been a young copper on foot patrol in that area for many, many years! What's weird though is that dad came from inner city Birmingham and mom came from the prettiest little village in Snowdonia National Park (North Wales) and travelling between the two as I was growing up was surreal - but then as mom said, there was no work in North Wales and you had to go where the work was!

From my memory, these places look "posh"
compared to where I was born!

Moving on again, I recently received notice that I would shortly be getting the breakdown of my annual electric bill and so far my consumption is down 44%. Yay me, and yay André for moving out. Likewise, my last three water bills went from a consumption of 43 cubic metres, to 51 cubic metres - to 14 cubic metres! Again yay me and thank you André! Mind you, given how energy bills are increasing it's probably just as well that my consumption has been going down, isn't it!

Then the other day I noticed that things had been kinda quiet round at my neighbours, so when I heard her out in the garden this morning I stopped round to see if they were okay. She told me that she had ended up at the emergency room because she'd taken a drink of water and hadn't noticed that there was a wasp in her glass - which promptly went on to sting her in the mouth! Since she is allergic to wasp stings, her face swelled up immediately, the only saving grace being, I guess, that it had stung her on the inside of her cheek and not at the back of her throat! She's okay now, thank goodness, but I'd say that was a close call!

And finally, we had our latest board game evening on Saturday and it was again a really nice time, playing a game that for once interested me called I Know!


The next day Jordan and Jen set off for three weeks in Brittany, staying with Jen's friend and then moving on to Jen's grandparents! From the pictures/videos they are sending they are having a wonderful time at the beach and it's nowhere near as hot as here! Then this Sunday André and three friends are heading for Slovenia via Switzerland by car, and will figure out a way back depending on where the almost Europe-wide farmers' protests are located (in support of the Dutch farmers) blocking the main highways! I hope they all have a good time, and hopefully with the cooler weather I can get some decluttering and maybe even some walking done too, as I'm failing miserably at that so far this year!


Wednesday, 13 July 2022

This and that!

When I got up the other morning the internet was down (shock, horror). First thing I do when I get up is read the news with a cup of tea in my hand, so you can imagine this was seriously going to mess with my day! Oh, I could still get the internet on my phone but I really don't like reading on that so after about 15 minutes of piddling around I gave up. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how your day suddenly becomes about four hours longer! I think I'm pretty aware how much time I waste on the computer but even so, the fact that I went out and got a week's worth of grocery shopping done and the internet hadn't even been restored by the time I got back really brought home to me how much time I waste! I reckon if I could knock that on the head and get to bed by midnight I'd score a whole extra eight hours a day!

My friend is having her balcony rebuilt by the same young man that did mine five years ago. He does excellent work, is very friendly and he and my kids apparently have a couple of friends in common, one of them being Max. Anyway, when I stopped to check my mailbox, he wandered over to me and asked if it was correct that Jordan was a plumber/heating engineer. When I said it was, he handed me his card saying that he routinely gets clients asking if he knows any reputable plumbers and to have Jordan give him a call if he's interested. So I explained to him that at the moment, Jordan's biggest problem is lack of tools (that stuff is expensive), but he said not to worry as he had pretty much everything Jordan could need! How nice of him! And talking of Max, Jordan told me he sent him a message the other day to say that he (Max) hoped they would remain friends despite everything, that he realized just how much work Jordan had voluntarily put in when Max was renovating his farmhouse (he was over there most weekends), and that if he ever needed to borrow tools to work on his own place to just let him know! Wow, that was nice wasn't it - now if only his brother hadn't been such an AH to work with!

Things at work are going fine for Jordan. He's been at a different site these past couple of weeks and said the site manager is a bit of a jerk (he said the heaviest tool he's seen him pick up so far is a pencil!!!) but that the other guys are nice enough. There are three Romanians and a Polish guy on site, and while the Romanians kept themselves pretty much to themselves, he and the Polish guy got along well. Then, when the Romanians realized that he wasn't in fact French they started asking him to translate English words into French for them - and now they all get along just fine! The temp agency also said they want to extend his contract for another month but he told them he'll be taking leave come August and then they could see what happens after that. That's not a problem apparently!

I had Charlie again on Friday and as it was really hot, after a trip to the farmers' market I went to a bar and sat outside in the shade with a bottle of Perrier water. He loves drinking out of bottles, so he had the other clients cracking up every time he took a slug of my Perrier and then made the funniest faces when the bubbles went up his nose. And again, I have to say just how much I like their town as it has everything you could need right on your doorstep within easy walking distance - something that is very much lacking in my little village! It was a bit of a pain in the butt on Tuesday for them though as the main road was blocked off all day when the Tour de France came through town - but since that only happens once every few years, I'm sure they weren't too put out!



The clock tower in St. Jeoire

Then on Saturday a group of us neighbours were invited to my favourite neighbours' daughter's house for lunch. It was scorching hot, they have a pool, and a wonderful time was had by everyone. The husband next door had his legs operated on yet again this week, but the surgeon has told him they can't put any more stents in his veins as they are "too far gone" now, so he is looking at by-pass surgery in the near future. And to be honest, he looks dreadful, terribly thin and stooped now - much older than his 74 years. His wife was telling me that he now struggles to get up the stairs and while he is talking about building an extension onto the house, she's talking about selling up, him taking his share of the proceeds and she'll move back to the west coast of France! Doesn't sound great does it!




I like both the son and the daughter from next door very much, so again I was shocked when the son and his wife arrived to see how gaunt and tired he looked at just 45! He works in catering for a large company in Geneva and when the pandemic hit they laid off four of the seven employees. In the meantime the company expanded and now they can't get staff back to keep up with demand, so he's working 14 hour days, servicing cocktails in the evenings, and he looks dreadful. He asked me if there was any way André could get him in where he works, but how do you let somebody down gently and explain that he doesn't really have the relevant skills for where André works. Years ago my organization outsourced the guards, then the messengers, followed by the catering and most of the IT staff so the trend really is leaning heavily towards outsourcing (although to be fair to my employer, they never laid anyone off - anyone who wanted to stay was found alternative employment). I really hope he can find something else as it does seem to be a buyers' market at the moment - companies are crying out for staff and are not able to find them!

While I was there I got a message from my American friend who lives in Annecy. She was mortified a couple of months ago at having to "uninvite" me to her son's destination wedding in Spain because I'm not vaccinated and there would be medically fragile people there. I was perfectly fine with that because hey, it's their wedding, and in any case, I didn't want the hassle of the ever-changing rules and restrictions regarding foreign travel and covid. Well as it turns out, the entire wedding party (with one exception) came down with covid, including her very pregnant daughter and the daughter's FIL who had a liver transplant earlier this year. Thankfully it seems everyone is fine now, but I wonder how many of those guests unknowingly jumped on planes back home before they knew they were covid-positive. Either way, I wouldn't have fancied the idea of trying to find accommodation and/or rebook flights because so many of the flights were cancelled anyway due to staffing shortages. I'm relieved that everyone was ok in the end, but also so glad I was already uninvited, for obvious reasons!

The young salesman came by on Wednesday to give me the info on solar panel installation (strictly speaking, photovoltaic panels) and I've gone ahead and signed up. It's weird because the cost and the projected savings would seem to align exactly with what my sister in England is experiencing, so that's reassuring. It's going to cost me €12,000 to install and he reckons that at today's prices I should knock around €1,000/year off my bill, without taking into account what I can sell back to the grid. So it occurred to me I'd have to live another 12 years to get my money's worth out of it - although I hardly think I'll be on my deathbed yelling "damn, I wish I hadn't had those solar panels installed", do you!

I also took an executive decision this week regarding money I am holding as the treasurer of our little second-hand book store at work. There were just three of us handling the logistics of this bookshop so a while ago I sent a message to the other two saying that I thought it was madness for me to be sitting here with €1,000 in the kitty for over two years when the local food bank was crying out for help, and did they mind if I took €300 and made a donation? Well I got a "greetings from Peru" message from one lady and the other guy didn't respond at all, so on Tuesday, when I took my usual crate of food down to the food bank, I also handed over €300 in cash to them (I got a receipt of course - not my money). Still I don't think anyone will object, I just wish I could have gotten a "go ahead" first!

And finally, I see Bojo finally got his "et tu Brutus" moment, after being stabbed in the back by his own MPs. It probably should have happened ages ago but I don't think anyone is surprised. The problem now is who will replace him, and while I didn't like him playing the buffoon on the international stage, I'm not sure if any of the potential candidates will, in reality, be any better! That being said, I don't know much about British politics so was interested to look up some of the names involved and again, while I don't know this lady or her politics, when I first listened to her speak I was very impressed with her poise and how articulate she seems!

Kemi Badenoch

Can you imagine if she got in as Prime Minister - wouldn't that just upset the apple cart of the old boys' network!!!! Oh, and I just had to post this - a letter from Bojo's former tutor to his father regarding Boris!

Martin Hammond, who was Johnson’s housemaster and taught him classics, spotted early on that the prime minister showcased a certain irresponsibility and inattention to facts.

Writing of him in a school report in April 1982, he said: “Boris really has adopted a disgracefully cavalier attitude to his classical studies . . . Boris sometimes seems affronted when criticised for what amounts to a gross failure of responsibility (and surprised at the same time that he was not appointed Captain of the School for next half): I think he honestly believes that it is churlish of us not to regard him as an exception, one who should be free of the network of obligation which binds everyone else.”

So yeah, hopefully things could be achanging in the entitled old boys' network. Macron got his a$$$ handed to him in the legislative elections last month, and while he still has a relative majority in the National Assembly he no longer has an absolute majority, and so will have to actually negotiate instead of just having his legislation rubber-stamped from now on!



At the G7 summit in Madrid recently. Divulging
 "confidential" information regarding Middle Eastern oil production?
Macron: Oh my goodness, are those cameras?
Biden: Who the hell was that!

Sunday, 3 July 2022

Andy scores an own goal!

For some reason I felt a bit meh last week (better now), so only got the bare necessities done as I wasn't motivated to do much more. Being retired I have the luxury to do that, of course, but I was really annoyed at myself because I ended up wasting a fair amount of fresh fruit and veg that I'd bought the previous week because I was just too lazy to do anything with it. I think part of the problem is that I get carried away when I see all the beautiful produce and think "oh I'll make this, and then I'll make that" and I go into fresh food overload. Since I also tend to go grocery shopping just once a week I have this compulsion that I must buy all the ingredients for everything I might want to cook just in case. Well that blew up in my face last week and I'm annoyed as hell at myself! If I don't shop at the farmers' markets I go to a wonderful shop called Fresh which, as the name would imply, only sells fresh stuff. It's the kind of place where you're just bursting for someone to take a look in your shopping trolley so you can feel smugly self-satisfied because it's full of "virtue", whereas in fact anyone shopping in that store has the same kind of shopping cart because they just don't sell junk. It's all fresh fruit, veg, meat etc. with nothing pre-packaged and it's lovely!

So then I had the bright idea that maybe if some of my shopping choices were taken away from me I might get inventive and actually use up some of the stuff I bought. I've seen UK bloggers talking about buying "no waste" boxes for a couple of pounds - boxes where you have no idea what you'll get but it's heavily discounted because the store needs to get rid of it. In fact France passed a law in January (of 2021 I think) whereby supermarkets are no longer allowed to throw perfectly good food away - they have to make arrangements with soup kitchens or other outlets to take this stuff - or they can offer it to the public at heavily discounted prices. I'd seen a couple of these at LIDL once or twice but they looked a bit mangy, whereas some of the UK bloggers do really well with these boxes. Out of curiosity I googled the Too Good To Go app and bingo, they do the same thing here too - only it's called anti-gaspillage - no waste here - and lo and behold there are maybe five places locally that use this app to sell off goods that are nearing their sell-by date. To be honest I'm not interested in buying bread/pastries because I don't really eat that stuff, although I suppose if I had room in the freezer it might be worth freezing the bread. There are a couple of the health food stores that also do it, and then I spotted a new-to-me store that had no waste boxes available for €6, so I decided to give it a shot. I signed up for one, paid my €6 and had to go into town the next day to pick it up. As I said, this shop is new to me and I was delighted when I found it was an organic bring-your-own-container place, although honestly, I'm not totally sure my little town is big enough to support four of these places. Still, the lady was very nice and went into the back to bring out what she had put aside for me. Now I was expecting maybe a bit of fruit and veg but when I got it home and unwrapped it it contained: 1kg of rice flour, 1kg of semolina, bee pollen (????), organic chicken bouillon and sun-dried tomatoes! Not what I was expecting at all, and when I think back to the UK bloggers planning a whole week's menu around their surprise box I had to laugh because unless I want to eat sun-dried tomatoes cooked in organic chicken stock for the whole week, I'm buggered! Still, as I actually shop in these kinds of places, I was very pleased with what I received and I certainly got more than my money's worth - it was just not what I expected! A local supermarket also recently offered a last-minute no-waste box but I couldn't be bothered to drive down there to check it out. I might do so next time because I'm sure the food bank would be more than glad to receive the packaged/canned goods (if any)! While I can see that prices are rising, at the moment it's not so in-your-face - except, that is, when I went to buy my weekly treat of a Starbucks coffee. Crikey, they used to sell for €2, then they went up to around €2.10 - and then this week they were asking €3.10!!! Sod that, I'm not paying an extra 50% for a Starbucks coffee - they can go off in the freezer for all I care!

Someone mentioned that as a result of her no-waste box she'd decided to cook Jack Monroe's "sort-of paella" so I decided to give that a shot too. It wasn't bad actually, but I would use less tomato if I make it again. But it was good to get back on Jack's site as it was a blog I read quite some time ago when she first hit the scene. Yes Jack is a woman! I remember reading her blog A Girl Called Jack years ago and admired her very much. She was (is?) a single mother who, if I remember correctly, had worked as a fire department despatcher before her son was born. When she tried to go back to the fire department on the night shift in order to accommodate her child-care needs they refused and she ended up unemployed and broke. She was at great pains to point out that while she did not live with her son's father, he was still very much involved with his son, but at one point she found herself with empty cupboards and completely skint. It was at this point that she wrote Hunger Hurts - which kinda took off and fame sort of found her. She is an ardent and articulate supporter of the working poor and did not hesitate to take on MPs who paid lip service to helping but then did bugger all about it. The trolling and hate she received took a toll on her but to this day she continues to fight for the less fortunate in society! 

Jack Monroe

On a completely different note, four of us and two kiddos took a trip out to a place called Le Grand Parc d'Andilly today, which despite the fact that it is only 30-45 minutes from my home, is a total new one for me and it was lovely! It's a fantasy land with giants and elves and goblins set in so many acres of woodland. The website doesn't do it justice because it was so much better than I expected and even if it really is for little kids, I had a great time over the almost seven hours we spent there!


Telling the story of Ebeneezer Scrooge
and A Christmas Carol

Tree-top walkways!



Elf houses built into the trees!

The magic owls!


My friend on the giant's rocking horse!

Thankfully the giant was still sleeping!


At elf school!

Sitting in the shade "at the beach"!


The woodcutter's house!

I can't believe I've known about this place for years but never been before. I guess I was thinking it's just for kids (it is) but there really was so much to do and take in that we could easily have spent another couple of hours there if it hadn't been so hot!

And finally, how about that Andy guy then? For those of you who haven't heard of Andy, Halifax Bank in the UK recently decided to spend a fair amount of money to "urge their customers to declare their gender pronouns"!

Frankly anyone that wants to wear this kind of name badge
should feel free to do so but if Halifax obliged me to do so
for my job, I would not be pleased at all! What's more, I know if 
I had to have dealings with "Gemma", I'd spend all
my time transfixed by her chest!

Well apparently quite a few of their customers felt that Halifax's money could be better spent and wrote in saying that as a bank they would rather that money be spent keeping rural branches open, or maybe lowering their interest rates. To which Andy, from Customer (non)Service replied that customers should feel free to close their accounts if they didn't like it. So that's what they did - in their thousands! One man wrote that he had closed a £450,000 investment with them and some quoted as many as 10,000 other customers followed suit!


Whatever you think about this issue, I'd say Andy has quite a bit to learn about how to address sensitive issues with customers wouldn't you. Anyone want to take a bet on whether Andy still has a job or is now joining the ranks of the unemployed?




Tuesday, 28 June 2022

How not to resign!

Monday was the last day of sewing club for the year and as you know, even though I was the president I couldn't go for many months because of the passe sanitaire! All's good now (for how long?) but in any case, since I've lost the enjoyment of sewing (even though I like the group very much), I went in last week with the intention of telling them that they would have to find someone to take over. One lady mentioned that she was taking in a clafoutis (a kind of tart), so I took in a bottle of red and thought I'd stop and have a chat with them. Then Cynthia showed up with her five month old grandson so no-one actually got any sewing done anyway, and I ended up walking out of there still being the president for next year! That didn't go quite as planned did it! Unlike when Jordan resigned the other week - done and dusted in a couple of minutes!

Last week there were quite a few things that I wanted at our local supermarket that they seemed to be out of (computer paper being one of them) so I was curious to see if it was just this supermarket or more generalized. I ended up going to a much smaller and nicer supermarket in the next village to mine and they had everything I wanted. A bonus point is that whenever I go to this place they are never crowded, even on a Saturday, so I think it might be worth switching - although I'm so used to the other supermarket that it might take some adjustment. After that I thought "to hell with it" and took a drive down to Annecy to the big hypermarket there, where I always treat myself to lunch, and of course they were fully stocked, so I'm thinking it might be just this one particular chain. That morning we had a power cut which started at around 6 a.m. and when I got back from Annecy at 4 p.m. the electric had only just come back on - so a 10 hour power cut!!!! Yikes, wouldn't want that in the winter!

Which brings me to my next question. This afternoon a rather handsome young man came knocking on our doors trying to sell heat pumps (not interested, I just got a new heating system) and solar panels. I know they're not cheap and you take a few years to get your money back but my sister in England loves theirs and we get so much more sun than they do, of course. In fact I'm very lucky with the positioning of my house because I get the sun all day long, so I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts, particularly given the fact that apparently all energy costs are going to go up and up and up? I have the money to pay cash as I won't take out credit for this, but would be curious to hear if you have any thoughts?

On a totally different note, I went to my dentist's for a check-up the other week and when I got my bill I submitted it to my insurance at 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoon via the app on my phone. At 9 p.m. I got a message from them to say I'd been reimbursed!!! Talk about efficient huh! Then last week I went for a long overdue eye check up. I think the last one I had was in Switzerland near my work about five years ago and I'm pretty sure she's retired, so I got an appointment at the same place Jordan and Jen went just down the road from here. In Switzerland I paid about CHF 240 and here I've just paid €41 for the same thing, and given that the Swiss franc and the euro are pretty much 1:1 at the moment I was stunned! I'll be keeping my gynae and my dentist in Switzerland because I've been with them for years and I like them, but I think if I need anything else I'll look around in France in future! I'm sure the insurance company would be grateful too!

And finally, getting back to the subject of resigning, Jordan finished work on Friday but even though he was off on Monday he asked if I'd have Charlie on Monday for a few hours (he is only in the crèche Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays) so he could run around. No problem of course. Then this morning he had to stop back in at work to sign some more papers and pick up his pay cheque, and then just before lunch stopped in at an employment agency to sign up for temporary work. About an hour later he sent me a voice mail he received from them to say he starts work tomorrow and she will have long term contracts for him any time he wants! I'm delighted for him because, as he admitted himself, it boosted his confidence no end. He even told me that he went into plumbing because if he lost his job he wanted to know that the work would come to him rather than him having to go out looking for it! Smart move! He then had a follow-up appointment with the employment agency lady this afternoon and I was pretty impressed with the complete dossier he had put together for her. He didn't know how much the salary would be but in any case they are obliged to pay more than he was earning with Max because there is no job security of course! So great news, he knows he can get work any time he needs it. In fact he wants to work in France for the next month and then in August they will be taking a couple of weeks off, and after that he's going to start seriously looking in Geneva. Either way, if he will be making more than with Max they're set, but I'm so, so pleased for them both - their relief is palpable, even though we all knew he could do it!


Sunday, 12 June 2022

Busy again, but damn I'm tired!

Damn, I was tired last week, I guess things started catching up to me. I know so much of it was to do with getting over the birthday party I had here and putting everything back to rights, but I guess I also have to admit that I am 63 and have to start realizing that I don't have the energy I had when I was younger, right? That doesn't stop me half the time but ...! For instance, the day before the party when I was trying to get everything set up, I took one look at the back lawn and thought "oh no, I can't let it go like that"! My gardener usually stops by approximately every two weeks - it very much depends on his schedule and the weather, of course. But my lawn looked terrible so I took a deep breath and wandered over to my neighbour's to ask if I could borrow the new, battery-operated lawnmower that their son had bought them for Christmas. I still have a very good lawnmower in my garage but I haven't used it for a couple of years and that thing is heavy! Well their lawnmower was a delight, pretty lightweight and I got the lawn cut in about 45 minutes. The downside was that the battery only lasts about 15 minutes so I had to use three batteries just to get my piddly little lawn cut! I think if I ever had to go back to cutting my own grass for some ungodly reason I'd get one of those things, though I really have no intention of ever going there! And then, of course, I noticed that the peonies - while beautiful when in full bloom - were making a real mess now that they were wilting, so out came the secateurs and I got those and the rose bushes done too! So I guess there's a reason I was tired, right?

What I hadn't really given much thought to last week was that this Saturday I had volunteered to host our monthly boardgame evening, so here we go again. This time it was easier, of course, because we were only 10 and we've now gotten it down to a pretty fine art, but still, while it was a lovely evening I was really tired today too. I had set up Charlie's birthday present (twin tents with an interconnecting tunnel filled with 100 plastic balls!), but when we went to let him get into it we discovered that there were wasps and creepy-crawlies inside, making that an absolute no-go. So then I had the fun task of picking up 100 plastic balls (seriously, why does any kid need one hundred of those things?) and realized he'd probably be just as happy with about 10 balls in a plastic tub - and he was. Well no, in fact, he was even happier, singing to himself and then turning round to make sure we were all watching as he "made his cake"! He really was enjoying himself!


Someone noticed the veggie plants on my balcony and pointed out that there was now a rather nice looking courgette hanging from the balcony where the plant had wound itself back round the railings, so I ran upstairs and "harvested" my first courgette. But seriously, can you imagine sitting on someone's terrace having a nice glass of wine and getting hit on the bonce by a courgette???? We started off having an apéro and eating outside, but by around 9 p.m. some were getting chilly so we moved indoors where we played a few games, with the intention of having Charlie sleep until it was time to go home - but he was having none of it! He slept maybe 30 minutes and that was it - he wanted to be with us! So I spent most of the evening quite happily playing with him while they played their games but I don't quite know how he managed to stay up till 1 a.m. on so little sleep. He's got me beat, I can tell you!

Everyone helped clean up before they left, but of course there's always stuff to do the next day, isn't there. I paced myself better today and worked a bit, then sat and read for a while, then worked a bit, and so on, and in the end it got done. In fact, Isabelle (my neighbour) sat on my tatty old sunbed yesterday and said she could absolutely see why I spend so much time sitting on the terrace as it's just perfect. It has the house's best view and sitting on the sunbed under the balcony out of the sun is just heaven. I swear if we'd gone quiet for a few minutes she would have fallen asleep! I mentioned to her that if she would like a couple of lettuces I had growing on my terrace in my plant pots to come over and get them because I couldn't eat them all, even taking into account that the slugs and snails had had their fill. When she said she'd be over in about 15 minutes I thought "right, that's it, let's get those bloody mattresses into the car before she comes"! You see I'd been to IKEA the week before and bought two new mattresses for my bed and still had the old ones to get rid of. They weren't terrible but every so often I like to get new ones to freshen everything up. Having wandered round (been trapped in?) IKEA for a couple of hours I was amazed at the price of some of that stuff. I don't have any problem sleeping (except when my mind is whirring) so don't need special mattresses or pillows, but crikey, the price of some of that stuff!!!!! My bed takes two 80cm x 200 cm mattresses so that's what I needed to get into my car in 15 minutes to take to the recycling tomorrow. So being nothing if not innovative, I decided to throw the buggers out my bathroom window rather than try to lug them down the stairs! Worked a treat and I now have them both in my car ready for tomorrow - and about a six inch nose space between my seat and the windscreen!

Jordan and Jen mentioned that they were going out with their neighbours today, either to Les Lindarets (the goat village I've written about before), or to the Parc de Merlet (which I don't know), so I might take myself off this week to visit the Merlet in the hopes of discovering somewhere new!

Charlie at Les Lindarets. He wasn't the least
bit scared (which was good, as they can be
quite aggressive)!

Then today the Critérium du Dauphiné (bike race) came through this area, cycling up to the Plâteau de Solaison and my only thought was "oh my God"! I've written about hiking at the Plâteau de Solaison before and that climb is nasty! I don't know how they do it (but then I guess they're not 63 either, are they)?

So all in all, it's been nice having a quieter day today. As I was sat in the back garden I heard a birthday party at the neighbours, with lots of kids squealing and playing in an above-ground pool. That's a real treat and will never bother me - it's what kids do!

Oh, and the big news is ... Jordan's been having a hard time with Max (but more particularly his brother, Arnaud) for some time. The other day Arnaud complained that a radiator Jordan had installed under a window was off by one centimetre. Jordan explained to him that he'd had to follow the plans rather than the positioning of the window because that's where the relevant piping was. Then an electrician who was also working on the site walked over and pointed out to Arnaud that the last four radiators he (Arnaud) had installed were the same because he, also, had had to follow the plans, and in any case, who could spot a 1 cm difference? Basically Arnaud told the electrician to f..... off because "Jordan was just a waste of money"! I've been hearing some of the stuff that has been going on over the months and it has really been getting to Jordan, so this week was the last straw. Even more disgusting though are the so-called "jokes" about Charlie's parentage!!!! and Jordan has had enough. So he's drafted his letter and when he gets to work tomorrow he'll be giving them the requisite two weeks' notice and handing in his resignation! Let's see how many "squared up" radiators you get done all on your own then, shall we Arnaud? He's got nothing to go to but there should be plenty of temporary work (have you ever met an unemployed plumber? Plumbers are like hen's teeth!) and since's André's neighbour came back to him again to say to get Jordan to give him his cv (done) as he's got people asking in Switzerland, it looks like things could be all change in the next few weeks! I'll let you know more as and when!


Wednesday, 8 June 2022

Brilliant!

I didn't get to watch all of the platinum jubilee celebrations but what I did see was wonderful - and even the ubiquitous British weather cooperated. I can only think Adam Lambert has nerves of steel to pull off a performance in front of that crowd (and the guy didn't even win American Idol????)! Still, it's a once in a lifetime event - or not even that since she was only 26 when she ascended to the throne. Not likely to happen again is it. Queen Victoria reigned for 63 years so now they've got 70 years to beat. Just a shame Freddy M didn't live to see it!