The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Friday, 24 February 2017

Beginning to get the hang of this exercise malarky!

Five weeks in and I think I'm beginning to get the hang of this business. My weight is not down as much as I would like despite the fact that I have been counting calories as between hormones and water retention my weight still tends to go up and down like a yo yo. Still the general trend is down so I guess I need to stop myself chomping at the bit. Last year I had some credit with Amazon so I bought myself the cheapest fitbit I could find that would sync to my phone, and I have to admit I am loving it. They say you should walk at least 10,000 steps per day for optimal fitness and my fitbit really brought home how sedentary I was/am. I guess on an average work day I am hitting around 5,000 - 6,000 steps, so in order to hit the 10,000 I need to hop off the bus 30 minutes from work and walk in and walk at lunchtime. A tall order some days, although to be honest once I have got my backside into gear I have enjoyed it. The trick for me is not to look up too much when I am going uphill as it is a bit soul destroying to see how far you have to go yet. I have to admit though it it is getting a little easier - not a lot, but we're getting there. Walking in in the mornings also brings home to me how slow I walk. Seriously! Even when I was young and relatively fit I was always a dawdler and not much has changed, although I'm told if you take your hands out your pockets it does help you speed up!!

When we lived in D.C. my ex and I didn't get to spend much time together since he worked nights and weekends and I worked the opposite schedule. When we did have some time, however, we liked to go to Washington zoo, where I think my favourite animal was the sloth! And don't get me started on Sid in Ice Age - what's not to love? They are so cute and seemingly laid back, so maybe that is where I get my dawdling tendencies from!

Sid


Anyway, this morning a Tunisian colleague caught the same bus as me so I made him hop off the bus on the Mont Blanc bridge with me and walk in - well I got to run alongside him as his legs are much longer than mine. Imed is a great friend and always good for a laugh, so it was a pleasure to get a chance to chat to him too. We met many years ago at work when he had come into my office to help a colleague with her computer. All of a sudden there was a loud "ping". My colleague didn't notice but Imed did and looked up. Seemingly my bra had finally admitted defeat and the strap broke, flinging a plastic bit out the top of my shirt. Imed looked at me with a "what just happened" look on his face, so I waved my bra strap at him. One big, cheesy grin from him later and we have remained great friends to this day!

It is weird though being able to go out walking over here when I see the damage being done by storm Doris in the UK and Ireland. The weather was supposed to break here today but it really hasn't. A little rain (snow in the mountains - always welcome at this time of year) and that's it apparently for the next week or so. Long may it last, is all I can say is I love spring.

Talking of "springs", the subdivision where I live is called "Fields of Song" in French not, as I originally thought, because of the bird song, but because we have loads of underground springs which apparently "sing" as they make their way down the mountains. Well since several of us homeowners bought the small plots of land behind each of our properties recently in order to prevent an access road being built if ever the field behind the houses is sold for construction, some of the neighbours have laid pipes through their land in order to channel the springs properly and keep the water off the road when the heavy rains come. I haven't got round to doing mine yet so at the moment I have a spring flowing through my veggie plot, which is fine if it is contained, but I guess I had better get moving on that too, unless I want an impromptu swimming pool appearing!

And finally, a small group of us at work run a second-hand bookshop, the profits from which are donated to various charities of our choosing. I am the treasurer and last year, for instance, a Peruvian colleague asked for 500 Swiss francs to take to Peru where her chosen charity was able to buy two wheelchairs with that money (you certainly wouldn't get even one wheelchair for that over here). Anyway, Yoli also collects plastic bottle tops which she takes with her when she goes home to give to the same charity since she gets $250 for every 250 kg of plastic! So yesterday as I took a plastic bag of bottle tops up to her office she laughed as she told me that last time she went home she was entitled to take three suitcases with her, so she filled one completely with bottle tops - and then got stopped at Peruvian customs! The customs officers told her they thought they had seen pretty much everything, but Yoli proved them wrong! I am very interested in recycling, organic farming etc. and would love to get involved with a Transition Network group but have yet to find one locally. But the thought of French bottle caps being lugged to Peru to end up buying wheelchairs for a charity definitely appeals to both my sense of good husbandry and irony!

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Ooohhh la la!

Last week we started a new project at my monthly patchwork course - "I ❤ Paris". It is a kind of tote bag and we are going to learn how to appliqué pictures, add different kinds of decorations and so on. I am going with the theme "I ❤ Paris" because our teacher has tons of ideas for it (and she's from Paris incidentally). Our task this month is to embroider a lamppost onto one of the panels and the Eiffel Tour on another, just to get the hang of the kind of needlework/stitching she wants us to do. Next lesson we will be adding in a panel with a photo on it (I still have to chose my photo) and she also asked us to find small snippets of fabric with a "Paris" theme to it to add later. Now a couple of the ladies have the same fabric for this with pictures of stiletto heels, leather handbags and so on, but do you think I could find anything similar? No, of course I couldn't. What I did find was fabric along similar lines except it was beach-themed - sunglasses, parasols, beach balls and so on. Yeah, yeah, I know, Paris isn't on the ocean so please don't tell anyone, but I think the little cutouts might be quite nice anyway so I'll just have to go with what I have.

In order to make this bag we had to pick out six different, coordinating fabrics. I am useless at this stuff as I really don't have an eye for colour, so I decided to nip down to Cluses to ask Lydie, my teacher, for help, with the proviso that she does not allow me to chose anything pink and green or orange and green or yellow and green! I love those colours so tend to gravitate towards them all the time but this time I wanted something different. Anyway, she did a great job and we picked out a really nice selection of strong, bold colours that are not green and something!  Actually her shop is a little Aladdin's cave for anyone who likes that kind of stuff (we don't have the same selection as in the U.S. or the U.K.). But, I totally forgot to look for the "I ❤ Paris" fabric so last Saturday I decided to run out to a local "chain store" fabric shop a bit nearer to me.

Mondial Tissus ("World Fabrics") exists throughout France (I believe) and is a kind of generic fabric store, as opposed to Lydie's Aladdin's cave where she really specializes with some beautiful (if expensive) stuff. Anyway, Mondial Tissus is located in a commercial area about 20 minutes from home - you know, the kind of place that houses every shop/garden centre/garage possible. The trouble is, since all the roads/roundabouts tend to look the same to me I tend to go shooting past the "Mondial" turn off..... except that I now have a fail-safe trigger - yes, it's the sex shop right next door! No kidding, they share the same parking lot - Easy Love and Mondial Tissus! Or I guess more correctly, Mondial Tissus has about six parking spaces and if they are all full you just walk round the corner and use one of the 50 or so Easy Love parking spaces! You can imagine the look on some of the little old grannies' faces can't you!




Actually, that right there could be a business opportunity - buy all your kinky gear in Easy Love then nip into Mondial Tissus and have your alterations done! Who said the entrepreneurial spirit is dead!

Now I don't know what got into me but as I was heading towards my car I thought "what the heck, why not", so decided to have a quick look in "the other place"! I have never been in a sex shop before and since I am technically an adult I talked myself into going in because "I have every right to go in this shop and no I'm not the slightest bit embarassed and don't I look like a woman of the world" kinda thing right! Well I went in and had to go up some dingy stairs that made it look a bit like a speakeasy. I got to the top of the stairs, took a deep breath, one good look around (still standing at the entrance) and dashed out of there. Honestly, I think I made more of a prat of myself by doing that than if I had just wandered nonchalantly around! Maybe next time! Actually, the first time I had ever seen a sex shop was when my sister moved to Copenhagen in 1979 and we went past a sex supermarket!!!! Can you imagine grabbing a trolley outside and filling that up. To be honest, what was I thinking - "oh I'll just buy these fluffy handcuffs and handcuff myself to the bed"! What a pillock!

So, moving seamlessly on, on Sunday I drove over to my son's to drop off some paperwork I had for him. As it was a lovely day I decided to take a trip out in the car afterwards to try to find the departure point for a hike up the Môle. It's not a particularly arduous hike (apparently) but there are several different departure points for it so I decided to try and find one of the them for the day when I get my act into gear and actually hike up it. I found it eventually and while I was up above the snow line there wasn't much snow and there were loads of people making their way back down it on such a glorious day.

The Môle is the smaller mountain on the left
Departure point for the hike
One of my goals for this year is to get out into the mountains more. Well, that and lose weight in time for the wedding. I had been really, really good last week, watching everything I ate and exercising every day, so on Sunday I weighed myself and was thrilled to see I was down 6 lbs from my starting weight. Problem was on Monday (weigh-in day) I was up 5 lbs!!!!! What the flip!!!! So I tried again today and I am down 3 lbs again! Crikey, talk about hormonal! It can be so discouraging, particularly as I have been so "good" but I have to keep the faith I siuppose, and in all honesty the exercise alone was making me feel wonderful anyway. Time to get the nose back to the grindstone I think. Actually, when my friend Steve was over at New Year we were both moaning about how unfit we had both become compared to when we met in Peru four years ago, so we have a bet that next time he comes over we are going to walk up the mountain behind me to the Chalet de Balme. It's not a particularly difficult hike but I guess you have to get started somewhere right?

Chalet de Balme
Let's see if I can put my money where my mouth is!

Friday, 17 February 2017

Oops!

As I mentioned previously, I have been looking around for groups to join locally in order to get out more and meet different people. So finally, after many years of diddling around, last Friday I went to the first meeting of our local "village committee"! This is the group that organizes most of the events in the village (village fête, the annual car boot, Papa Noel comes to school, dinner for the "oldies") and a damn good job they do too. Our is a small village and compared to some of the villages on the other side of the Lake, we are relatively "parochial" (i.e. read "poor") and our village fête looks nothing like some of the other village fêtes where there are quite a few wealthy inhabitants. Think "deepest France" (to cobble a line from Paddington Bear) or "la France profonde". But you know, it is actually lovely. Nothing fancy, as epitomized by kids trying to catch trout in a barrel with their bare hands! Anyway, for several years I have diddled about saying "oh I must join in" and done nothing about it, but last Friday I bumped into my neighbour as he was heading off to the meeting and decided to tag along finally. They are desperately in need of new and young blood so all I can say is hats off to them for doing as much as they do. I'm not sure how many hours I can put in as I am gone at least 12 hours a day, but I will most certainly do what I can - which is only fair when you think of it. I mean, I have lived in this village for 28 years now (I only lived in the UK for 21) so time to pitch in I think.

I also went on a vegan cookery course the other week, given by Migros in Geneva. Migros is the Swiss equivalent of Wal Mart or Tesco, i.e. they are a supermarket but have a finger in every pie, and over the years I have taken many of their evening classes, particularly when I was single. This course wasn't actually that great, nor was it actually that "vegan" given that one of the deserts was made with chocolate made from cow's milk, but since I am not looking to become vegan and am only interested in doing more interesting things with non-meat products, I thought I would give it a shot. Problem was, one of the young women managed to explode the soup while blitzing it so we ended up spending at least 20 minutes wiping walls and floors to get the soup off. As I say, it really wasn't that good, but at least I have tried it right!  I see Migros are also offering a one-off Persian cookery evening that looks interesting, plus vegetarian Indian cookery so I'll have to check them out.

In France, the local "night school" (they call it the MJC here - Maison de Jeunesse et de Culture), is where I took the infamous tap dancing try-out (in over 100 degree weather). They are all over France and offer some interesting possibilities also. As I was leaving my board game evening the other night, I noticed that my local town is hoping to set up a jardin partagé - something which interests me very much. Now I'm not sure exactly what they mean by "jardin partage" but I take it to mean "communal veggie plots". Not allotments exactly but something along those lines, and they are hoping to bring in people to teach organic gardening, if I understood exactly. Valérie, my former neighbour and board game evening co-conspirator, is also interested in this so we have agreed to meet up for the next meeting on this project. It's all go isn't it - but as I said before, I like "all go", and now that I am single and my kids are moved out, I am looking forward to doing more of this kind of stuff. In fact, I remember as a single girl in Geneva, during the five years before I married I never, ever spent one evening at home in all those five years! Crikey, it looks like I'm heading that way again.

On Thursday as I was heading to work I stopped to let school kids cross the road and they were all dressed up for Carnaval. This relates to mardi gras (which is on 28 February this year) but local schools spread out the celebrations over a couple of weeks. I have to say I liked seeing the teenagers dressed up as rabbits, clowns and so on. Halloween hasn't really taken off over here (I don't see any reason why it should either), but Carnaval has always been part of the local traditions.
I obviously couldn't be taking pictures of the kids crossing the road while I was driving!
And finally, a bit of drama the other Friday. I work directly opposite the Israeli Mission which, for obvious reasons, has huge concrete bollards outside it and armed guards. Well apparently there was a bomb scare last Friday evening, the police were called and an untended suitcase was eventually blown up. Turns out it was just someone's suitcase left at the bus stop, and my colleagues think it could have been "one of ours". We regularly have training courses for groups from various geographical regions on the work of our organization. They suspect a group of trainees was running to catch the bus at the end of one of these courses and someone must have ran over to get his ticket while the others held the bus up for him. End result, he forgot his suitcase and his underpants and toothbrush were blown to smithereens! Still, better an unfortunate incident like that than a real bomb any day.

And on that note, I am looking forward to a quiet weekend. No news as yet from the Nutty Professor or the mailbox name-plate Gods. Weigh-in on Monday. I have been really careful counting calories and have exercised every day but I don't actually feel as though I have lost any weight. Damn and drat. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Worth the effort!

I always end up running round like crazy on Saturdays because God forbid anything should be open in France on a Sunday - nope - that's  not going to happen round here. So for me Saturdays are always pretty chaotic. It's always a shock when I go home to England and find things open on Sundays. I mean, last time I was there I had an optician's appointment and they offered for me to pick up my new glasses on the Sunday! Well you could have knocked me down with a feather. Round here (I hesitate to say "in France") there ain't nothing open on a Sunday! Well in the summer months you might get a garden centre, but definitely not a DIY place (crazy, I know - how much money could they make?). I have to say after nearly 30 years in France I still find it very customer "unfriendly" but that may have more to do with France's strict employment laws. We have an Asian restaurant opened up in town which is very good and very popular and they were forced to close on Sundays. It beats me, I can tell you, but in a way it isn't always such a bad thing. I mean, do you really want Sunday to be just like every other day of the week? I'm not religious so I don't even say that coming from a religious angle, but I'm not sure I'd want everything to be open "as usual" (except maybe the DIY places)!

Anyway I digress, but as I said Saturdays I am always pretty busy trying to get all my running around done. I whizzed off to the market first thing and then dashed off to the hardware store (before they close for the day at noon - see what I mean - they don't open back up in the afternoon)! Since I have gone back to my maiden name I had ordered two new name plates for my mail box (one for the outside and one for the inside which can only be seen by the mail man when he opens all the boxes up at once). I had specifically asked for "Ms T, formerly Mrs. B" since I realize I will be getting mail for a while in my married name. I thought they might get my maiden name wrong as it isn't easy for the French but no, everything was just as I asked for. Except, when I went to put them on the mail box, the second plaque (which was hidden behind the first one) was in the name of "Aquitaine Solutions"!!! Bugger, I hadn't noticed it when I picked them up, so I had to dash back to the hardware store to drop that off and get them to order the correct one. (Anyone at Aquitaine Solutions wondering where your nameplate is - I have it and am holding it to ransom until ....). The chappie was very nice and apologetic of course, but still!

Then, I managed to make it back into town just in time to catch the jeweller (a.k.a. the Nutty Professor). I had dropped off a necklace that had been given to me by my ex for my 50th birthday (he left me four months later - nice) since the Nutty Professor buys gold. As I had never worn the necklace I wanted it out of the house as it had no sentimental value to me. He had originally told me to come back in two weeks' time. So getting somewhat more savvy to the ways of the Nutty Professor I went back three weeks later just before lunch (thinking he would want to be out of there to go eat). I was right of course, but while he indeed had the gold chain and pendant he couldn't find the precious stones that he had removed. He said they were quite small but there were a lot of them and I might want to have them re-set into something else. But do you think he could find the bag with them in!!! No of course he couldn't. Frankly the place was such a mess it makes me wonder how he ever found anything. So he spent 30 minutes searching up and down for the stones but to no avail. In the end we agreed he would pay me for the gold and I would come back when he had found the stones, but then do you think he could find his cheque book????? Of course he couldn't. So 45 minutes after he should have closed for lunch the two of us are still rummaging around looking for his stuff but only managed to find the cheque book. As I waited for my cheque I happened to glance at a collection box he had on his counter collecting small coins for various charities. I told him I didn't want to ruin his day any more than it already was but he should have handed in the collection box at the post office by noon that day (it was now nearly 13h) and of course the post office shuts (for the day) at noon on Saturdays! He wasn't too worried about that though as he said (quite rightly I suppose) that they would soon come round asking for the piggy bank when they wanted their money. And to top it off, since he was buying gold he had to register the purchase with the French authorities (fill out various forms etc), except that he had used the last of his forms without thinking to make copies of a blank so now I have to go back in the coming weeks to sign off on the cheque he gave me!  It was quite comical actually but as I said before, while I am incredibly patient I think it isn't such a bad thing he is retiring in two months!

So the weekend was just one mad dash after another but I realize I actually like my life to be busy (although not the  "chasing your tail" kind of busy) so I have signed up to a couple of more things to keep me out of trouble (more about that in another post).

On a totally different note, I am doing well with the exercise (pretty much five days a week) and as I love the side effects of the exercise and the weather here is gorgeous I hope to keep it up and get some weight off (weigh-in with Janet in Florida on Monday - "hi Janet").  I have exercised all three days this week so far during my lunch hour, but today I made a point of taking my ipad with me as the weather is so gorgeous. I had bought a lovely little bag in St. Lucia which I wasn't using so thought it would be good to carry my ipad on my walks. I trotted (read "crawled") up ("up" being the operative word) to the US Mission and while it is still a challenge for me it seems to be getting easier. But oh the walk back down - definitely worth the effort!

My pretty St. Lucia bag

Through Geneva's botanical gardens

Saw this little man in the botanical gardens!


Believe it or not the alps are over there - but it's too sunny to see them!
What the view from the same spot looks like on a good day - photo by the Swiss Watch Blog
So while the aim is to lose weight, I think the scenery is worth the effort anyway (and long may that enthusiasm last)!

Friday, 10 February 2017

The appearance of wealth!

I was just talking with some colleagues about a couple of vacancies that had come out, who had been transferred and who had retired at the end of the year and so on. One colleague mentioned that X was no longer working as a driver and had been moved to another department and couldn't understand how that had happened. As I had worked in HR for over 20 years I explained that sometimes people had other qualifications/skills that they either brought with them or had developed over time which allowed them to move up. So this colleague then commented on how he didn't know how X and his wife (she works here as well) managed because X always had new, top-of-the-range cars and so on, and neither of them "were the sharpest knife in the drawer"! So this led to a whole big discussion on how an outward show of wealth does not necessarily indicate real wealth - usually the opposite in fact (says me, trying to kick my €10 bag bought in Turin market under the table). But I agree absolutely, so many people have to have the latest "designer" bling and run up thousands in debt to get it. In fact a colleague of my ex had got himself into so much debt that my ex, as his supervisor, was called in to try to sort it out (big joke that is)! Ex couldn't sort his way out of paper bag financially! I am so much better off with only half the income but no ex - but then I digress. Anyway, ex's said colleague had a fair income for a single man with no dependants, but he went out every night to the bar, eating and drinking, doing the same at lunch-time and then sometimes couldn't pay his rent - you get the idea.

I had been mulling the idea of advertising or even "subliminal persuasion" over my mind for some time. Geneva is obviously a pretty wealthy city and on my journey in to work, once I catch the bus at the border (with my musings and €10 bag for company), I go past a few high-end shops in the centre of town - Gucci, Louis Vuitton, etc., but there is one advert outside a shop that I absolutely hate. I have no idea why it bothers me so much but I think it is so lame and no way would it persuade me to part with my money (even assuming I had that kind of money - which I don't). I can't say their stuff isn't good or quality or anything like that - I just hate the ad!


I think the guy is supposed to look like some sexy silver fox (obviously with money) and so appealing to the young, beautiful woman behind him. I personally think he looks like the Lion King's geriatric granddad and I think that's what bothers me. All their ads seem to show some suave, sophisticated man being "adored" from a distance by some insipid waif. It just gets on my nerves, I suppose.

Talking of irritating adverts, the worst I can think of at the moment is that bloody awful Moneysupermarket.com ad! I think Sharon Osbourne actually appears in it too but I can't bear to watch it through to the end!



Which then got me to thinking about what some people will do for money (or more to the point, what won't some people do for money)? Like these bloody awful reality TV shows (cue raised eyebrows, startled look, dramatic music and tears), Real Housewives Of Fill-In-The-Blank, Keeping Up With The You-Know-Who-You-Wished-You'd-Never-Heard-Ofs, I'm A Celebrity Watch Me Chew On A Piece Of Camel's Ass etc! I have never sat down and watched any of these programmes but have come across them, on a few unfortunate occasions, while channel hopping, and I can't believe my eyes. I mean, once you have had sex with a total stranger on TV what does the next person have to do to top that? Just how vulgar do you have to be, or how low do you have to go to "win"? Beats me. I suppose the film Indecent Proposal really put that idea out there didn't it?

Now I'm no Demi Moore (never was, never will be) but after my ex left I briefly dated a very wealthy Spanish lawyer (Mr. Testosterone Plus - great fun for a while but not in the long run). One day he asked me how much money I had to borrow to buy my ex out of the house. After I told him he offered to pay it off for me!  I just laughed (because he was obviously joking right?) but when he said it a second time "because I have given more money than that to the Prado" (and after I had picked myself up off the floor) it took me about three seconds to say "thanks, but no thanks"! He couldn't believe it (and neither could I frankly) but I had to explain to him that you can never put a price on freedom and I value mine too much! Although we have since split, I think that may be the reason we've remained friends to this day. No amount of money is worth giving up your independence for - it's worth more than gold dust!

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

There's madness in the air!

They say round here that you always know when it is going to snow because the kids get all hyper. That may well be true but yesterday it rained and I swear all the loonies came out anyway. Tuesday's and Thursdays are the worst days on the road for getting to work for some reason, and yesterday being Tuesday and raining for the first time in ages, it seemed like all the crazies came out. I decided to take "the back road" down to the motorway, thinking that traffic might be a bit backed up in town because of the bridge still being down (six months and counting). The road I have to take to get down to the motorway is called "la route forestière", or the forestry road - and for good reason. It is a winding road down through the forest and quite steep in parts, but as there was no snow I didn't mind taking it. That was until I heard "boy racer" zooming up behind me as soon as I pulled out of my village. Round here they do quite a bit of rally car driving as the roads are obviously ideal. They are not ideal, however, for rally racing during ordinary, non-rally days, but that didn't stop boy racer roaring up my backside revving his souped up piece of crap. As soon as I got to the next village I pulled over to let him and another car go past as I can't stand being tailgated. Immediately leaving the next village the road goes under a railway bridge and then takes a sharp right, so you can't see if anything is coming in the opposite direction. Logically (to my mind at least), since it is still dark, you slow down before the bridge and flash your headlights just to make sure, but boy racer was obviously too good a driver for that and went tearing hell for leather at the bridge - only to have to slam his brakes on at the last minute for the truck coming from the opposite direction. Then, once he had recovered sufficiently from that piece of insanity, he went tearing off again, belting over a speed bump without slowing down, (it's called a speed bump for a reason) and promptly had his exhaust pipe fall off! Idiot had to then stop and pick it up while we drove past, and I do believe the woman in front of me gave him the royal wave!


The royal wave
When I finally got on the motorway at the second exit there is always a long line of traffic lined up on the hard shoulder trying to head off in the direction of Evian. It is dangerous and if you live round here and don't want to get off there you stick in the outside lane and again, slow down! Except one eejit stayed in the middle lane and then slammed his brakes on, gave a redneck turn signal and just pulled straight over to the next lane - right in front of the truck I was passing! Why anyone would try to argue with a 10-tonne truck I have no idea, but thankfully for both of us the trucker was a bloody good driver and avoided hitting him, but gave him a severe blast of the horn nevertheless.

Redneck turn signal!
Then about 5 km further up the road there was a big sign saying "direction Paris - accident - 10 km further ahead". Thankfully I don't have to go that way but as it leads to a major customs post you can imagine the tailbacks! That is one of the problems round here of course - the massive numbers of cars trying to get into Geneva every day, from France in particular. I think I heard once something like 250,000 cars a day cross the local borders so you can imagine what just one accident does to the flow or traffic. Moreover, you can also see why it would never be possible to pull over every car that crosses the borders between France and Switzerland every day, terrorist threat or not!

So about another 5 km ahead, just before I get to the border, there is another difficult motorway exit for people trying to exit at one of the local French towns, and again people keep way over to the left and slow right down. Unfortunately for me, I came up behind a young man in the left-hand lane who obviously wanted to get over to the third right-hand lane so he just stopped in the middle of my lane!!!!  Again, luckily, I know not to drive fast but bloody hell. Whatever you do, you don't just stop!   Aaaaarrggghh I think I am losing my nerve. At least I hope I don't lose my nerve before I can retire in a couple of years time because this rush hour commuting business is just miserable.

I finally got past the border and was trying to pull into the Park and Ride but when the light hit green for us to get over to the parking lot we couldn't as the place was jam packed with cars dropping off school kids for what I guess was a day's skiing trip. While I was sitting there at the lights I saw a woman with her umbrella up, talking on her phone, just waltzing across the road to the bus stop, totally oblivious to the fact that the traffic coming towards her had a green light! Like I say, I really do think I must be losing my nerve. Sadly, last Friday I was on the bus when we drove past an accident just a little further up the road. The emergency service were working on someone and a truck driver was standing there sobbing. It turned out that a 27 year old female cyclist had gone under a truck that was turning right and she was killed on the spot. I don't know who was at fault, but in the end one young woman lost her life, the truck driver's life will presumably never be the same and I imagine two families' will be destroyed. All because of a moment's inattention!

When I did finally make it on to the bus I had the dubious pleasure of sharing it with about 20 eight-year-olds going on a school trip. I'm not knocking the kids of course because they were incredibly polite, but you can imagine the decibel range on that bus!! Still better loud kids than someone's tears I guess.

Thankfully today was absolutely glorious so I got to go walking again at lunchtime. It doesn't take long to forget all your troubles does it.

Monday, 30 January 2017

A veritable heatwave!

When I left to go to work this morning it was +1°!!! My goodness, after the last three weeks or so of well below zero (-9° last Wednesday) it almost feels tropical! This weekend we were so lucky to have temperatures above zero and bright sunshine. You could almost be forgiven for thinking spring was on its way, although realistically I know we still have the crappy weather to come in February and March. One thing I did notice with the dry weather though is that I keep getting shocked by static electricity. My colleague was explaining that it was because there is no moisture in the air (it snowed two weeks back but nothing since) so every time I touch the car or the tap to fill up the kettle I get a shock. Yuck. She said don't feel sorry for yourself, imagine how my bloody cat feels!

Picture by Bianoti

On a positive note, I weighed myself this morning and I have lost 4 lbs! Yipee (and finally. I have been pretty good since new year exercising and such but for three weeks my weight wavered back and forth around those same 3-4 lb. I have to admit it was getting a bit frustrating to be making a sustained effort and see no reaction from the scales, so this morning's weigh-in felt pretty good. I have been exercising at lunchtimes three or four times a week since the beginning of the year but seemingly with little effect, so in order to get somewhere I knew I had to sort out the "calories in" too. My friend is following the Dukan diet and doing pretty well so far but the big "but" there for me is the lack of fruit. I have my reservations about that diet anyway but you know how when you are desperate you will try anything. I checked it out online (from the UK site) as I already have the books, and by their calculations I should hit my ideal weight by May 2017. For the privilege of joining up and receiving online support though, they wanted £232!!! I couldn't believe it. When I looked at Slimming World online (the meetings are not available over here) or Weight Watchers they were pretty much of a muchness price-wise and I think both of them are pretty good systems. Dukan, however, wanted £232 to cover online support for just that 16-18 week period until I would supposedly achieve my goal weight. Thankfully I didn't sign up in my initial spurt of enthusiasm because I only stuck it out 36 hours before I caved and ate fruit. Going on a total protein diet just wouldn't do it for me, even if the results are (initially) very good. I crave fruit so decided to give it a miss and have signed up for a wonderful site called myfitnesspal.com. It has a free calorie and exercise counter plus online support and forums etc. I think in the end the only way I will lose weight is to do it sensibly and slowly, and looking at the calories in certain foods does bring home how the "extra" calories seem to slip in. We'll see I suppose, but so far I am enjoying it.

On Saturday I stopped in at the local jeweler's - a Harry Potter kind of oldy-worldy shop in town - supposedly to pick up a cheque for a necklace I had sold him three weeks ago. On my 50th birthday my ex bought me a pendant gold necklace with precious stones in it. I never wear necklaces (and he knew that) because I hate anything around my neck. Moreover the marriage was already on the rocks (he left me four months later) so I finally decided to take this necklace down to the jeweler he bought it from (I had the receipt) to see if I could get something for it. He was only interested in the gold so told me to come back next week when he knew the price of gold and he would have a cheque for me. So I stop in three weeks later and I wait 45 minutes while he is dealing with a customer. And you know what, I actually don't mind the waiting. I think I have spent so many years working full-time with young kids and a three-hour daily commute that finally arriving at a point in my life where I can just stand around and daydream is fine by me. Except of course, when it actually came time to serve me he explained that he hadn't had time to remove the stones so could I come back next week? It does baffle me a little that he couldn't have told me that 45 minutes earlier though, but oh well. I guess I have become zen in my old age.

For some strange reason, while I was daydreaming I got to thinking about a post by John over at Going Gently. He asked if people had ever "made a scene". Being "very British" it's not something I would typically do although I can think of one instance when I made a very justifiable scene in a French shop, but that I suspect is a story for another day. No, this story relates to my mom and dad's old neighbour. When they first moved to Dorset they lived next to an old widow named Vera. Eventually Vera died and her son decided that rather than sell her place they would rent it out. Now the only reason I "knew" the new people (or had any dealings with them) was because they owned a home in France and asked me to help them with the French while they were trying to sell their place. Eventually they moved out and the son went in to the house to clean it up for the next set of renters. Apparently the place was a pig sty although you would never have guessed it to look at them - all "butter wouldn't melt in their mouth" types. He was furious. He knew that the wife worked in a local charity shop so one day he went into the shop with a very large bin bag, plonked it on the counter and said "oh you left this behind at my mom's place" and walked out! When the woman picked it up he had cut the bottom out of the bin bag and filled it with all the crap and dirt that he had had to clean up after them - which subsequently spilled all over the floor and counter of the charity shop! Well done him is all I can say, I just cannot believe people can be so filthy.

And finally, now I am back in my work/home/work routine I am, as ever, getting plenty of reading done on the bus part of my commute. I am an avid reader and tend to have 3-4 books on the go sometimes, depending on my mood. I have just finished a lovely book by a Swedish writer called Frederik Backman. If you want a feel good, beautifully written, easy read I can highly recommend "A Man Called Ove". Utterly charming, is about the best expression I can find for it.