The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Thursday, 25 May 2023

Old lady knees!

I'm still waiting to hear from the plumber - he said he would call this week to set up a final walk through - so until that's done I don't really feel like I can make any plans. Trust my luck they'll end up starting work the week of 16 June - which is the day my fireplace insert is also being installed!! I foresee a stressful and dusty few days ahead, but I suppose it'll be worth it in the end!

I spent a few minutes the other day deleting blogs from my favourites list again because while I obviously liked them enough to bookmark them, I found I just wasn't reading them. Can you believe I actually deleted about 50 blogs???? Just as well really I suppose because if I'd spent my time reading all those blogs I'd never get anything done and in any case, do you really want to spend your time reading about someone else living their life while spending your own life in front of a compter? I think not, right? I also cleaned up my main email address too. Not that I ever let it get that bad but I really hate having a ton of emails sitting there in my inbox. I was just thinking to myself that I hadn't had so many scam emails lately either - you know, Colonel Ghadaffi's only surviving daughter who wants to give me $10 million! But then as I was playing Words With Friends on my phone the other day, xfwxyag.na tried to start a game with me and then immediately sent me a "hallo Treaders" message, so I hit "block" on that one right away!

The last few evenings I've watched a couple of episodes of Social Catfish on Youtube and boy are some of those stories sad. It's mainly women (although not always) who are getting scammed out of quite a lot of money and I find it hard to understand how they can fall for this crap, although I guess when you're lonely it must feel nice to have someone who seems interested in you. One woman was convinced she was in an online relationship with Johnny Depp???? and another one with an Australian actor from Stranger Things who was "getting tired of his beautiful girlfriend but had to be careful because she was very jealous"! Say what??? They did do an episode on a rather lovely English woman who turned out to be the first person who did not send any money. She said she was not on any dating websites but had been contacted by Mr. Handsome via her Linkedin profile and while she was initially cautious, he did manage to draw her in after a couple of months chatting. Where she was smart though was when he started telling her that he just needed $5,000 to buy a plane ticket because his bank account had been blocked in the Middle East, she would just ask him what he was going to do about it. She must have driven him nuts because he kept getting more and more angry and demanding, to which she just kept on asking him what he was going to do about it. Smart lady!

Things are still just as fraught here in France as the protests are not going away. Macron was due to give a speech about a month ago and I reckon all of Paris took to the streets with saucepans and wooden spoons - so much so that they tried to ban the "casserolade" but that didn't fly! So now every time he or his senior ministers go anywhere they are greeted by a saucepan serenade!



I did manage to get my back terrace pressure washed the other day and it looks decidedly better with most of the winter muck washed off. I suspect at some point I'm going to have to redo my terrace but that will have to wait for the time being. Then later that night my bloody knee gave out. Oh it wasn't anything like arthritis, but just felt like something had been dislocated. So then I was stuck trying to get around without putting any pressure on my right leg. I can tell you, getting up and downstairs was a laugh a minute (not)! The worst thing was that I had to go into Geneva that night to pick my friend up from the airport but luckily my leg didn't bother me at all to drive - just when walking about. This has happened before but after a night's sleep it had cleared up by the morning. So yesterday morning when I couldn't feel any pain in my knee, I swung myself out of bed - and went down like a sack of spuds! Seems it hadn't cured itself overnight this time after all! But I'm stubborn as hell so I was determined to go out shopping and duly hopped into the supermarket on one leg. The strange thing is though, when I was leaving the store and putting my cart back, I realized the pain had completely gone! I don't know, maybe the act of walking (hopping?) was what cured it but either way I'm glad it didn't last too long! On the way home I stopped in at the Chinese market and at the cash register I realized I'd forgotten to buy ice cream, so I picked up a tub of strawberry ice cream for later. When I got it home I looked at the label and saw that it was "red bean ice cream"!!! Seriously, red bean, as in the stuff you put in chili!! God it was gross - I won't make that mistake again!

So today I took my granny basket down to the market and when I finally found a parking space (it isn't easy) I had a good old wander and bought a week's worth of fruit and veg. On the way home I got stuck behind one of those little "licence-less" cars - the cars that have an engine about the size of a sewing machine and which you can drive without a licence. That thing must have been going about five miles an hour all the way home, but when I saw it swerving in order to avoid pot holes, I realized that the back bumper was held on with duct tape and it was looking very rough indeed. I know how you feel mate, I know how you feel!

Monday, 22 May 2023

In my defence ...!

I got virtually nothing done yesterday, despite having every intention of going for a walk and then coming home and getting stuck in. In my defence, I didn't get to bed until 3 a.m. as we'd had another board game evening Saturday night (finishing up at 1 a.m.) but since I can't go to sleep straight away I was up reading until the early morning hours! Still, it annoys me a bit when I just sit around and do not much of anything, so thankfully today has been better!

I decided to go to our local market last Thursday for the first time in ages, and I'm so glad I did. We have farmers' markets every day round here in different towns, with ours being on Thursday mornings. It's one of the larger markets with, I would guess, maybe 50 stalls, and it was such a treat to get out and have a wander in the lovely weather. It's also sociable as there are places to sit and have a drink and you can pretty much guarantee you will bump into at least one person you know (I did - Cynthia from sewing club). A few years ago I bought a pair of very lightweight trousers at the market in Turin and have worn them half to death. They are so easy and comfortable to wear (and cheap too), so I had a wander round and picked up another similar pair (although they do make me look a bit like Andy Pandy)!

Andy Pandy - remember him?

I noticed they also have an organic stall (not sure if that was there before), so I'm thinking I might start shopping at the market again to see how it goes and to put money back into the pockets of the local traders, rather than the big stores (I've even dug out my old lady wheelie bag for next week)!

La Roche market!

My friend and I are off again to Turin market for the day on 10 June and my ex asked what was so great about it if they just sell the same stuff as here. Well it's about 50 times bigger and is a permanent market, but I guess he'll never understand the pure joy of wandering round such a huge market with all the smells, sights and sounds. Plus it's Italy of course!!! Oddly enough, I was talking to the kids about it and they agreed with me that as soon as you come out of the Mont Blanc tunnel into Italy you can feel the whole atmosphere change - I just love it!

There's a big hoo-haa going on here at the moment about a proposal to build a €60 million velodrome in La Roche, with many, many people against it as they feel that money could be better spent. My first thought was that it was for bikes, but when my friend told me she thought it might be for motorbikes that would change everything. I can just imagine the noise and to be honest I can only think of one very small hotel in La Roche, so I just don't see that the infrastructure is there. I don't know, I suppose we'll have to wait and see what they decide!

There has also been a push to encourage people to come up with local initiatives, with small grants being available for anyone whose proposal "passes the sniff test". I've mentioned before that my little village has one restaurant and a bus stop - oh and and one of those book exchange thingies - and that's it. Anyway, one enterprising young lady put forward a proposal to set up a mobile manicure unit and I see that she was successful in winning a small grant to get her started. Apparently she will be in our village on Monday afternoons, so I must show support and stop in for a manicure sometime, even though she'd probably be horrified at the state of my hands!

The mobile manicure unit - I think it's great!

I had yoga today and it was tough although as usual I felt wonderful when I came out of there. Then I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon on a zoom call with André, who had left it till the very last day to file his French taxes! Wouldn't you know it! He had to transfer his taxes from paper to online so I went through it line by line with him until we got it done. Now he and Jordan just have to file their US taxes and we can all relax!

My ex left last Thursday and made it home safely. I thought he looked terrible to be honest. I think "zombie" was a word that popped into my mind more than once, but I know he's taking lithium (for bipolar) and I also know he's drinking like a fish so I guess I shouldn't be surprised at the state of him. When he was here my stomach was in knots and it was only after he'd left that I realized it was because I was constantly in a state of hypervigilance - just like I used to be when we were married. I don't know if you get what I mean but he wasn't "thoughtless", he just doesn't think and I was forever waiting for the other shoe to drop. For instance at the lake at Passy there is a path that goes all the way round the lake. In order to get to the restaurant there is another path that climbs to maybe ten feet about the lower path. Well ex picked up a huge rock to show Charlie how to throw stones into the lake, and we all yelled at him to stop as there was a young family cycling past on the lower path and he could have hit them! Then when he would play with Charlie we had to remind him he is two, not 12! Or he would wind Lenny the horrible cat up to the point he would scratch him. Lenny's a nasty cat anyway and Jordan and Jen watch him like a hawk because of Charlie, but try telling my ex to leave the cat alone and he just gets worse!

I've always felt like I was forever running round trying to put out forest fires while he was running behind me with a flame-thrower! For the longest time I figured it was thoughtlessness, but I did once read an article that said this was often deliberate - even if subconsciously - because by keeping you on the back foot they always have the upper hand! Interesting! Like the time after we were divorced when he called me as he was not well, and André and I found him lying in the snow in his underwear in February trying to cool down (lithium and booze again, I reckon), and then refusing to go to the hospital. So the next time he pulled that stunt I sent the ambulance directly to his place and then met it at the hospital. So I sit there, and I sit there and I sit here - and after four hours they come out looking for me because he had suddenly felt better and had done a runner, leaving me sitting in ER like a lemon. I also happened to have plans for that day but .....! Or how about the time he smashed his own car up (drunk) and then a few days later totalled the loaner car from the garage (also drunk) - so two cars in one week!

I tried as tactfully as possible to suggest he might want to be more honest with his doctors in the US about his drinking since they "can't find anything wrong with him" (he can't eat and is hunched over like a 90 year old), but that was when it came out that he'd actually cancelled his medical insurance through his employer over here when he retired last August! Well he must have seen my eyes pop out on stalks because his insurance was fantastic, cheap, offered worldwide coverage and would be permanently subsidized by his employer and he cancelled it???????? Apparently he is insured with his partner but I asked him what happened if they split, and did it cover him "over here" anyway. To which he replied that he "didn't know". Oh great, get sick in France - or even worse, in Switzerland - and you don't know if you're covered!!!!

So there you have it. While it was fine between us and I'm glad he's gotten to see Charlie again, as soon as that plane took off I felt all the tension drain out of my body and while I don't wish him ill, I'm just so, so, so glad I am no longer his chaos janitor and don't have to deal with his BS anymore! 


Tuesday, 16 May 2023

Inspired!

It's been a tiring few days yet again. There've been a few fun things and few not so fun things going on (which I may or may not write about later), suffice it to say my ex is still in town. Not that he has done anything untoward but I was "moithering" again last night and didn't get to sleep until around 3 a.m.! Maybe I'll write what's bothering me down another time to get those thoughts out of my head! We'll see!

On the fun side, we all got together again at Jordan and Jen's for dinner (easier that way for Charlie) and when Charlie saw me he came running over saying "Nanny camion" and took me to see his blue truck. So I cooed appreciatively over it for a while and went to sit down, but he wasn't having any of it, grabbed my hand and dragged me over to the blue truck again. Well this happened a couple more times and I finally realized that apparently I was supposed to get on the blue truck and chase him on his red truck!!!!! Of course if I'd sat on that thing I'd be at the hospital right now having broken pieces of plastic removed from my backside, but as he was so insistent I ended up "chasing" him crouching as low as my legs and bum would allow. Ha, who says those gym sessions aren't working!

After that, since Jen had taught him where his "nombril" (belly button) is, I asked him where his "nombril" was and he pulled up his shirt and pointed to it. At which point I pressed it and went "beep, beep" - which of course he thought was hysterical. It's my own fault, I know, because I bet you can imagine what happened next. Yep he came over and lifted my shirt looking for my "nombril"! Thankfully I had an undershirt on but at this point all dignity gets thrown to the wind and he did indeed get to see if my nombril also went "beep beep"! In my defence I would add that we hadn't started eating yet! Of course then everyone else had to be checked out too and apparently both papa and uncle's belly buttons also worked, although nobody else's did!

Anyway, as I was saying, I couldn't sleep again last night but just as I was finally about to drop off a bloody fly went buzzing right past my nose. And again, and then again, so I knew in the end I'd have to get up and try to "encourage" Mr. Fly to go into the TV room. So I open the bedroom door, put the light on in the TV room trying to be as inconspicuous as possible and wait for him to make his escape - which he does and I slam the door shut! Trouble was, I then needed to turn the light off in the TV room so I ever so carefully opened the door, reached my hand up to the switch - and the bloody fly was back in the bedroom again!!! Damn! 

After a few unsuccessful attempts, my next brainwave was to ever so nonchalantly open the bedroom window in case Mr. Fly needed a breath of fresh air. Rather naively I thought Mr. Indoor Fly would then fly out, but in fact Mr. Outdoor Fly came in for a chinwag with his cousin! Even I had to laugh at this point because it put me in mind of the sketch where comedy genius Tim Conway plays the exhausted salesman trying to get some rest and being tormented by a fly (you can see it here)! Pure genius! In the end I don't know what happened to the Fly brothers because I reckon at that point I was so exhausted I must have passed out!

In other news, remember the card group I joined where the average age was 97? Well we had a nice little day out today!



And finally, I've got quite a bit of stuff in the fridge that needs using up as I'm tired of wasting food. So I was looking online to see what I might do with potatoes, ham and Brie when all of a sudden the clouds parted, a rainbow formed and I do believe I heard angelic voices singing "tartiflette"! How did I not think of that before? Tartiflette - the food of the gods! Now admittedly the traditional recipe uses lardons (I had ham) and a local cheese called Reblochon (I had Brie), but I kinda threw it all together, stuck it in the oven and even if I say so myself, tonight's dinner was simply inspired!

But of course mine looked nothing like this!




Sunday, 14 May 2023

Finally back to Holland (well Belgium actually)!

If I don't get round to writing up the last part of my trip to Holland in my blog/online diary, I'll probably forget a lot of it, since so much has been happening lately. So on the last day we were set to travel by boat over to spend the night in Antwerp (Belgium). Things didn't exactly go to plan as there was a problem at one of the huge locks which ended up costing us over four hours!!! Then when it was ready to go, obviously the container shipping had to take priority over us. I wasn't really that bothered actually as we were still onboard the boat and got to see some amazing engineering in action. And if we didn't want to watch, we always had our cabins to retreat to!



I think they were able to fit six boats/barges
into the locks at the same time!
Fascinating stuff!

The only downside, of course, was our late arrival in Antwerp, which meant tearing into the old town on foot and not really having much time to appreciate just what a pretty city it is. Still, you can't have everything in life can you!



The catherdral was very impressive!

This is a google image as I couldn't get it all in.
Guild houses on the Grote Markt.
I had to google what guild houses were too.
Originally they were used for collecting taxes.
So now you know (they must have collected
a lot of taxes though, judging by the
size of the place)!

In the evening we had our final dinner on the boat, followed by dancing for those that wanted it. I have a video of one much older lady "dancing" (murdering more like) the macarena. She had everyone in stitches and couldn't have cared less about it! As she was alone I got up and waltzed (badly) with her a couple of times and then a man danced with her quite a few times because they were having such a blast! She told me that she had no partner so I figured she was a widow, as she was wearing a wedding ring. But no, her husband was so embarrassed by her he sat out the dancing bit, but even he must have appreciated what good fun she was. I would have put her in her 80s, truth be told, but it turned out she was just 71, so I guess you wouldn't want to urgently need me as an eye witness, would you!

The younger woman is trying to keep her
facing the right direction - with not much luck -
but she really was the highlight of the evening!

So next day it was up early and back on the road for what turned out to be a 15 hour journey, although not all of that was travelling as the driver needed to rest every so many hours. I enjoyed my time and found the architecture beautiful and the engineering amazing, but honestly, it was just too flat for me. As one man said as he was getting off the bus "isn't it great to be back in the mountains" and I thoroughly agreed!

A goole picture of one of the amazing
dikes in the Netherlands!


Friday, 5 May 2023

Exhausted!

I haven't even finished up writing about my trip to Holland (the Netherlands!!!) and yet this week has been full on. My ex didn't come over in March for Charlie's second birthday but decided to come now (or this weekend as I thought) - which actually makes more sense. Anyway he turned up last weekend with his niece and her new husband as they are heading down to Italy for a wedding next week. So, I got to see Leslie (and hubbie Jake) for the first time in about 20 years and it has been a real treat - they are so nice! They're all staying with André but Jordan and Jen took the week off and we've been tootling around together. The weather has been glorious (although I think it's scheduled to pour down this weekend) and while we've done the usual tourist circuits we actually did a "new to me" trip to Chamonix yesterday, and took the cable car up to the Aiguille du Midi (basically next to the Mont Blanc). Many years ago we took the train up the Mont Blanc to a glacier called the Mer de Glace with my inlaws, but I had never been up to the Aiguille du Midi, even though it's only 40 minutes from home! Mind you it cost €73 per person so maybe that's why I hadn't done it before! Jake was very nervous about taking the cable car and Jen said no way, so she stayed home with Charlie, but the rest of us did it and it was wonderful! At the top you are at 3,842 metres (12,600 feet) and you feel like you are drunk (we weren't!!!)! Well actually we alternated between light-headed and sick to the stomach, and then walking through the tunnels to get to the viewing points we all felt like we were drunk!!! Jake wouldn't go near the edge as he really hates heights, but kudos to him for doing the cable car anyway. We told him we'd take a picture of him doing a thumbs up and photoshop him into all the pictures. It's been fine with my ex. I had them all over to dinner last night and cooked way too much but it was a nice evening anyway. When they left my ex hugged me for so long it was getting embarrassing! Anyway, I'm off over to Jordan and Jen's for fondue now and hope normal service will be resumed shortly!

At Cascade de Rouget waterfall!

Leslie and Jake at the Horseshoe Gorge!








We would have done this (it's called stepping into
the void) but the wait was too long!

Looking down over Chamonix!

Chamonix! It was very quiet (between
seasons I guess)!

Jordan actually worked on the
building to the right (it's the town hall)!

Thursday, 27 April 2023

So where did April go????

I can't believe it's the end of April already. Well I think of it as end April because my pension gets paid today, as the last working day of the month. I know I went away for a few days but I can't believe April has already come and gone all the same!

Since I've been back from Holland (I know I should say the Netherlands as Holland is a region of the Netherlands but ....) it's really weird because when I start watching anything on Youtube I'm consistently seeing ads for the cruise company we travelled with. It's all the more strange to me because we didn't actually book this company - it was done by our local travel agent (GAL Voyages) - so how the algorithm is picking me out for these ads I don't know. That being said, I did pick up their brochure on board and they seem to do some lovely cruises, with the Vietnam and Africa cruises really piquing an interest! But talking of algorithms, lately I've also started getting loads of Youtube video suggestions of hair styling for afro hair which is really odd! I did click on the first video where a stylist was working with ladies suffering some pretty extreme hair loss and working with them to cover it. Okay she used hair extensions and weaves in some cases but the end results were a work of art! One lady who was seriously balding insisted she wanted to use only her own remaining hair, and the stylist created a style for her which was out of this world! And just now I've watched a video of little boy with a huge afro having his hair cut and styled and boy did he look gorgeous by the time the stylist had finished with him (although truth be told, I kinda liked his afro even better)! So maybe there is method to the algorithm's madness as now I'm hooked on afro hair styling videos! That being said, I went to the hairdresser's today to get my decidedly non-afro hair cut and thought I'd come out with my usual little old lady cut, but nope, I'm now sporting a "wonky" cut (although I think the technical word is "asymmetrical") and I love it. Whether I'll be able to keep it up myself remains to be seen (I doubt it), but who knows, maybe I'll go the whole hog and get it dyed green next time (another one of my madcap ideas)! I also finally got round to downloading a VPN onto my computer but I'm not so sure about it. It's supposed to prevent sites from being able to track me (like sites looking to sell you stuff), but it seems to me that it's actually preventing me from checking in on some of my regular reads (and even my email address!!!) unless I disable it, so I reckon I'm gonna have to delete it unless I can figure it out properly!

Anyway, back to our trip. Next stop was the city of Rotterdam and our guide spent some of our travel time telling us more about the Netherlands. One thing that did surprise me a little was that the average wage is not as high as I thought it would be (I always got the impression the Dutch were pretty well off, comparatively speaking). Of course many people make much more than the average wage, but it surprised me nevertheless how relatively low it was - even if it was still higher than France. Another big surprise was that taxation starts at 37% (yeah, I know), but I think there must be an awful lot provided out of that taxation (as in Denmark), like health care, education, etc. Still, that was also a bit of a shock! I must say I enjoyed the boat trip but would not want to go on a big cruise liner. Somehow it's just not my thing, but this boat being small it was easy to hop on and off and I didn't feel so trapped! Maximum capacity was only 180 people, most of whom were French, with about 10 Spaniards also on board, so you can see it wasn't a big boat! 

I don't know what happened but there was yet again a bit of a cock up and we ended up arriving in Rotterdam later than planned so didn't really have time to explore - which is a shame as some of the architecture looked pretty interesting. It must have been heavily bombed during the war because so much of it was modern, but interestingly modern and not boring modern so, as I said, it was a shame we didn't get much chance to visit!

Arriving in Rotterdam!

This is a google pic as mine was rubbish!

Another google pic as I got a large truck front
and centre of my picture!

Early next morning we were up and off to Keukenhof, home of the tulip gardens. Apparently it's only open eight/nine weeks of the year so you can imagine what the car park looked like, but once inside it wasn't bad at all, and there was room to sit and admire the view without feeling like you were in a mass stampede. Not all the flower beds were in bloom yet, but it was still very beautiful, so I'm guessing the rest of this post is likely to be pretty picture heavy!

Keukenhof!








We had the option of buying bulbs at the gardens or just down the road (the place was surrounded by tulip fields), but in the end I picked up a catalogue and will order something when I've had a chance to go through it as there is no way I could make my mind up with so much to choose from. There was also a very colourful exhibition of paintings by Dutch artist Anja Keijzer which was right up my alley. Just remains to be seen if I can afford any of her work!


After that it was back to the boat for the "gala dinner" where the chef and his staff exceeded themselves yet again, after which we hit the sack to get some sleep ahead of our departure for Antwerp (Belgium) the next day!


If I tried that I'd probably end up
having to move house!




Tuesday, 25 April 2023

Movin' on!

After our visit to the open air museum it was time to move on to the main attraction (for me anyway), which was the city of Amsterdam - and it certainly didn't disappoint! While there is obviously some traffic in Amsterdam, most of its inhabitants use bikes rather than cars, for the simple reason that there is nowhere to park! Bikes are everywhere and you'd better be pretty careful crossing the road because bike lanes are crowded and those bikes move! Our first stop was a guided tour of the diamond quarter, but quite frankly my friend and I weren't interested in that so took ourselves off to visit the flea market nearby (selling pretty much the same tat as they do in Geneva, to be honest). We wandered around for a bit and then sat and waited for the others to get back - which was a good move, as it turns out, because everyone said the people at the diamond place weren't interested in "the likes of us", but rather in the people getting out of the Bentleys! Or as one woman said, "if I actually had €9,000 to spend on a bracelet, I doubt I'd be travelling on a bus tour"!

Amsterdam!

Apparently the houses are so narrow because
people were initially taxed on the width of their
homes (just as in England centuries ago people were 
taxed on the number of windows in their homes - so
they took them out)!!!


And of course you can't visit Amsterdam without visiting the red light district, although our small group of women was adamant that we did not want to visit "the prostitute windows". This is an area where virtually naked females stand behind glass so that potential clients can "take their pick"! Prostitution is legal in the Netherlands and prostitutes are expected to pay tax, although I'm pretty sure they don't pay that much tax as I doubt many johns pay by credit card! Even assuming it's the personal choice of the woman, I find it degrading that they should be on display like meat at a butcher's shop so we decided not to visit that part of the district. That being said, I'm pretty sure some of these young woman are trafficked and not actually prostituting themselves freely, and I well remember seeing the very effective campaign video put out a few years ago by anti-trafficking campaigners (you can see it here if you are interested)!

A dance show put on by the young "window" women!

... with this sign as the finale!

We wandered through a few back alleys and happened to pass in front of three "windows" off the beaten track, where older, fatter Asian women were standing "plying their wares" dressed in next to nothing and looking bored out of their minds, so I guess we did get a sad glimpse of what the main prostitute area is like! There were a few sex shops in these alleys and the goods in the store fronts were eye-popping, with the miniscule "sexy" outfits being the least of it! And the smell of the place - I'm surprised we didn't get high just walking around, as weed is neither legal nor illegal, but can be freely smoked in places called "coffee shops"!

After leaving the red light district (it's pretty small), we took a walk through the flower market with its amazing array of flowers/bulbs. The bulbs were humongous so I can just imagine how big the flowers would grow to be, but I decided against buying anything to lug round with me and save my money for Keukenhof the next day!