The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Saturday 17 February 2024

More this and that!

Well the world's slowest renovation project is still ongoing and I'm starting to get really fed up of it, to be honest. I had thought that at least the big bathroom would have been finished last week but unfortunately the plumber couldn't install the shower door pane as he needs the tiler to come back in and build him "an exact vertical" on which to attach it (I'd guess none of my walls are particularly straight). Unfortunately (for me) the tiler had to dash home to Kosovo for a few days so that's where I'm stuck at - so close and yet so far! On a positive note, I now trust both these men enough that if I have to dash out I know I can leave them in the house alone. I was telling the tiler that I'd just gotten back from the charity shop and he asked me if I always took stuff there, rather than dumping it. When I said of course, we were poor when I was growing up, he smiled and said "good, because that's the way we live in my country"! I guess if people want to try to sell stuff that's fine too, but the thought of putting perfectly good items in the trash horrifies me!

In the family next door to ours in England there were 10 children, and not long after I'd come to Geneva one of their older daughters came out to Geneva to work as an au pair for two physicists working at CERN (the European Nuclear Research Centre - think Hadron Collider). When I met up with her one time she was telling me that when the children grew out of their clothes they just dumped them in the trash (!!!!) so she spent half her time climbing in the trash to get them back out again and take them home for her brothers and sisters! She also said that they would buy a whole, large salmon, take what they wanted from it - and then dump the rest! While they obviously made good money, I will never understand that mentality, and nor do I want to!

Anyway, I know my tiler would like to buy a house and he was asking me about next door's place and another neighbour's place - the Jehovah's Witness couple who are having to move out because of old age/frailty. He'd done some work for next door and liked the house and they keep their garden nice too, but the other neighbour (who introduced me to the tiler) had also told him about the problems with the basement flooding, so I don't think he would want to take that on. One thing I also mentioned to him though is that living in Annecy, his three kids would probably hate it out here - too rural and you can't just pop into town and go shopping when you feel like it. Absolutely beautiful of course (but then so is Annecy) but no public transport and I felt that his teenage daughters, at least, would hate it. We were lucky because André was just two when we moved here and Jordan was born here, so they never knew anything else, but tweens would probably hate it. I would be happy to have him move in next door as he seems very nice, but (a) I honestly don't see next door ever selling and (b) you have to take into account all the inconveniences too. I think I gave him food for thought, at least!

On another note, I follow a FB group who post on burglaries/break-ins in the local area, and I don't know if they are actually increasing or if I'm just more aware of it, but in any case I called back a company who had come round in the summer and within 24 hours I had a complete security system installed and with a monthly payment will have a 24 hour emergency contact too. They installed five sensors downstairs (doors and windows), an internal camera, two external cameras (front and back) and even a "smoke" alarm - you know, a bit like the artifical fog you get at a pop concert. It's very easy to use (once I got the hang of it) and so far I've only set it off briefly twice. I also gave my neighbour a disc that will cancel the alarm if it goes off when I'm not here, and will give the kids one each when I see them. So job done then!

In other news, there seems to be an awful lot of product recall going on in France right now due to the "detection of pesticides". Hmmmm!!! Several such products that also hit the news, although only in a "small" way, were various bottled waters produced by Nestlé. It seems that they have been treating their bottled waters in the same way as regular tap water is treated, and while this doesn't necessarily make the water "bad" (for want of a better word), having the label spring water means it shouldn't be treated at all! Thankfully when this was discovered Nestlé's reps dashed off to Paris and managed to get a derogation before too much harm was done. Oddly enough the executive working at Rothschild Bank who was put in charge of the sale of Pfizer's infant nutrition division to Nestlé was none other than ...

... so I'm sure they had good contacts!

The other day I was in town and spotted the most beautiful baeckeoffe dish (earthenware dish), and despite my decluttering efforts I knew I just had to have it (I know, I know)! I promptly bought it home and cooked a large chicken with tons of garlic and potatoes. Of course I couldn't eat it all so stripped the chicken and threw the gravy, garlic and potatoes into a soup I made yesterday. While it was lovely, somehow I think if I'd realized I'd used that much garlic I would have eaten it on Friday night - that way I probably wouldn't have had to pay for a business class seat to Thailand on Saturday as I'm sure no-one would have wanted to sit next to me!

My baeckeoffe dish! I love it!

And finally, I brought my suitcase upstairs to start packing and pulled out a nice shoulder bag that I only use when travelling. While I was rummaging around in the pockets I found a lottery ticket I bought for 24 December and when I checked it I had won €50!!!! I have no idea why I dropped it in that bag and as it was almost expired I went into town today and cashed it! All good stuff then, as I'm off to Thailand on Saturday and it would have expired by the time I get back. I doubt I'll be able to keep in contact much on my phone, so if not, take care and "speak" when I get back!

Saturday 3 February 2024

A brain like cottage cheese!

So the meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos is finally over, having accommodated up to 150 private jets per day in order for a group of unelected billionaires to tell the rest of us how we need to cut our carbon footprint. Yes I'm talking to you, little old lady at the back there - how dare you expect to be able to heat your home and eat. The nerve of some people, eh Klaus!

In other news, I'm not really sure what's going on with next door's divorce, although it is apparently common knowledge now as the husband has seemingly told everyone. As for him moving into his daughter's empty apartment, well that seems to be the world's slowest move out I've ever seen. I saw him putting one chair into his car this week so now I'm assuming he has one knife, one fork, a cup and a chair to be going on with. He's obviously still living here so I'm thinking life is just as miserable for both sides, but to be honest, I don't actually see this divorce ever happening, no more than I see the house going up for sale in spring. I could be wrong of course, but I just don't see it happening somehow!

My poor friend from sewing group is not having the best start to 2024. Her husband managed to injure her foot by driving off before she'd gotten out of the car completely, he got covid, she got covid and then 10 days ago she fell while putting some dishes away and broke her arm!!!!! She's already been operated on and is slowly on the mend, but I bet she wishes 2024 would just hurry up and bugger off already, the poor thing!

The weather has picked up again so much that you would think it was spring - which of course it isn't, but I'll take it while it lasts. To that end, my friend and I managed to get our act together and took several bags of stuff to the charity shop on Friday, and followed it up with a celebratory lunch in what turned out to be a very good Indian restaurant in town. To be honest I don't eat out very often, so that ended up being a real treat! I follow several walking groups on FB of people who go hiking in "74" (which is this area of France) and with the gorgeous weather the photos they are posting are just stunning. I know for the most part I couldn't do many of the hikes (if any) but this one tickled me - can you imagine if I'd just tagged along thinking I was going on a "little hike"! They're obviously not all anywhere near as hard as this but .....!

His tagline was "and the guide
said it was an easy one!"

I was planning on checking my car over yesterday (oil and windscreen fluid) but when I opened up the hood I found two slices of brown bread sitting on the engine! No joke - and since it's not the first time this has happened, I looked and the bloody fouines are back in the engine nibbling away at any rubber tubing - to go with the brown bread, it would seem! Fouine translates as "weasel" but I always thought weasels were much bigger than these little buggers. Either way, they're back to doing as much damage as they can while keeping warm on the inside of my engine. I gave it a good spraying with the anti-weasel stuff I bought ages ago, but now I think I'll just keep a can in my car and spray it every couple of days until/if I can find a more permanent solution!

Our friendly neighbourhood fouine!

My first reaction to finding the brown bread was that I must be losing my mind, or my brain is turning to mush, until I realized that I'd seen it before. That was kinda reassuring about my mental state but when I popped into my local supermarket for a couple of things later that day I found people wandering around like something out of a zombie movie. Not quite bumping into each other but nobody knowing what the heck they were doing and shooting off in all directions. You see, they suddenly decided to tear the whole place apart, change the entire layout and nobody could find anything they wanted so in the end I just gave up and left. Maybe there's some intelligent reason why they do this - make people wander round more so they end up having to look more closely at what's on the shelves - but I'm not sure how many sales they made that day because people were just giving up and leaving!

So I ended up stopping off at another supermarket, the one where I drop my books off at the book exchange, but much to my shame I ended up picking up a rather lovely Jamie Oliver cookbook so it was a case of drop off five and pick up one. After that I stopped off at the cash machine, withdrew the cash I wanted and when it asked if I wanted a receipt I pressed "yes", only to find out when I got home that I'd not only forgotten the receipt but had left the Jamie Oliver book on the little shelf there at the bank. Then when I got home I couldn't find my house keys. I mean, how hard can it be to find your keys in your handbag, but I searched and searched, panicked a bit and then searched some more. In the end I had to give up and was just wandering down to my neighbour's to ask for my spare key, when I reached into my jeans pocket for a hankie and there were my keys. I don't think I've ever been absent-minded so many times in any one day so I really was beginning to worry if my brain had started turning into cottage cheese!

When I finally got in the house I decided to assemble a simple towelling rack that I'd bought for my almost-finished bathroom. It was really easy to assemble, just four small screws at the top and four larger screw at the bottom. But when I opened the packet of larger screws I searched and searched - but nope, there were only three of them. They were of a very specific size and I didn't have anything equivalent in my somewhat extensive screw collection. So off I trotted back into town to the hardware store to buy one bloody screw!!!! Still it was a relief to find my brain hadn't actually turned to mush - I just have a screw missing!

Thursday 18 January 2024

This and that!

Well after feeling all gung ho and getting so much junk out of the house last week, I kinda ran out of steam somewhere mid-week and took a few days off. Mind you, the bloody awful weather - constant rain - is enough to make anyone pull their hair out, I reckon. I've never really minded rain and positively love the cold, but this non-stop drizzle is bloody awful. As I've mentioned before, both my neighbours have problems with water coming into their basements so I hear their pumps working constantly. And then of course we have the downed trees and landslides, as the water obviously has nowhere to go!

I did get a walk in last week at the lake in Passy (one of my favourite places) which was just as well I went when I did because the next day we got about eight inches of snow! I've learned my lesson well however in that I never let it sit anymore as it's just so hard trying to shift ice the next day. I needn't have worried though because the temperatures went right back up the next day and it all melted - just adding to the dank and misery!

I had a nice time last Saturday as rather than holding our board game evening at someone's home, Jen asked if we would like to join in a game evening at the ludothèque (toy library) in their little town and we were all up for it. This was how I had originally tried out board game evenings in my local town, but to be honest the groups were already so well established that I felt like a spare part and only went back one other time with my neighbour, Valérie, where we got the same result. This time though it was much better and the organizers took time to show us new games and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. Everyone made finger food (and took wine, of course) and after about 90 minutes the organizers basically just raided everyone's bags and put all the food and drinks on the table for everyone to help themselves. We even adopted a new young man who sat and played with us, so I'd say the evening was a big success!

Oh and remember I wrote in my last post about a possible scam email telling me I'd won gift vouchers, well it turns out it was legit. I was invited to show up at the Mairie in town and about 60 of us were presented with vouchers averaging around €150 each as a thank you from businesses for shopping locally. Now I honestly can't remember filling in any form for this but it was a nice surprise all the same. There are two vouchers for €50 each for a local optician's so I've told the kids they can have them if they can make use of them - if not, I guess I'll just get new glasses sooner than I planned, although it actually must be about four years since I got my last pair, so maybe it was a sign!

I see "everyone's favourite troll" (Rajani Rehana) is back doing the rounds, telling everyone that they have a "great blog"! I wonder if it's a bot trying to push more traffic to their site or if it really is just some bored little man sitting in his underpants in mommy's basement! Guess we'll never know!

In other news, British in Europe have done a sterling job in getting back our right to vote. A law had been introduced sometime ago whereby anyone who had been out of the country for 15 years lost the right to vote in UK General Elections, and this despite giving 3.5 million non-Brits in the UK the right to vote. Many European countries do have representatives in various countries looking out for the interests of their citizens abroad and affording them representation in their respective parliaments, but not the Brits! So as of 16 January I have applied for my right to vote again, since Brexit meant that I, like many others, was totally disenfranchised everywhere!

And talking of the right to vote, I watched Youtuber Andrew Gould interviewing writer Norman Baker, mainly it has to be said about Prince Andrew and what went on on Epstein's Island. I've heard many stories over the years about Andrew and his boarish behaviour - including one time when the security staff didn't open the gates to his property quickly enough so he rammed the gates with his car, causing £80,000 of damage???? So nah, I never liked him in any case, but then Mr. Baker got on to the subject of the rest of the monarchy and "why, for instance, did King Charles not pay a penny in inheritance tax on the money left to him by his mother" and on and on it went. Anyway, he's just brought out a book called "So What Do You Do" (standard royal chat to adoring members of the public) and as I was so impressed with the interview I've found the book on Audible and will be starting on that shortly. I honestly don't know what I think about the monarchy because when I was growing up they were just always there. And I think people genuinely did have tremendous respect for the Queen. However, if we were to have a vote on keeping the monarchy or getting rid of them, I honestly don't know how I'd vote - not that there's much chance of that ever happening right? As for the book, I'll reserve judgement until I've read it!

Saturday 6 January 2024

How to get things done!

So the snow line's getting closer and Christmas and new year have come and gone. I don't really make new year's resolutions and my mind goes blank when I try to think of a "word for the year", so I guess I'll pass on that too! Christmas was nice and new year was quiet, as I mentioned previously, which is just the way I like it! For some time I had been wanting to go and see either Barbie or Oppenheimer (or both) but never got around to it when they were in the cinemas in Geneva. Our local cinema probably has them playing but I really don't want to see them dubbed in French, so you can imagine how pleased I was to see that Amazon (I think - not Netflix) had them both available to rent for the grand total of €4.99 each! If you consider that driving into Geneva is a hassle and cinema tickets are around SF 25-30 each (just over $25-30) it was a no brainer to sit and watch them in the comfort of my own home with a glass of wine, right! Barbie was better than I thought it would be, but I probably only really watched it because I adore Ryan Gosling - he's such a ham. Oppenheimer was good and I thought Cillian Murphy did a sterling job, but something that made me think was when they were doing the initial test on the atom bomb at Los Alamos - how important was the music? They really built up the tension with the music and if you think about it, if they'd played something out of Mary Poppins the effect would have been totally destroyed. So yeah, I guess there really is a helluva lot more to movie-making than meets my amateur eye!

My walking tally for 2023 limped along to around 800 miles so maybe that should be one of my resolutions for this year - walk at least 1,000 miles again! Hell I clocked up way over 1,000 miles during covid lockdowns when we were only allowed out of our cages for one hour a day (unless you were a politician, of course) so I really have no excuse! I've already managed a couple of walks when the weather cooperated and really enjoyed them, all the more so since I used my air pods and listened to either podcasts or a book while walking - although admittedly I still feel a bit stupid with an antenna sticking out of each ear like some remote controlled robot! That notwithstanding, I'm getting so much more done now that I can "take my podcasts/books with me" rather than staying glued to the sofa in order to listen to them! At the moment I'm listening to Matt Haig's "The Midnight Library", and while it's pretty weird, I do like him. I read his book "The Humans" some time ago and that was also weird, so I do wonder how his mind works on occasion. A bit like J.K. Rowling I suppose - who on earth could dream up the Harry Potter books? That being said, I think I once read that Lewis Carroll was supposedly on LSD when he wrote "Alice in Wonderland" (probaby why it is so brilliant), so who knows!

On a totally different subject, the other day I got a text message informing me that I had won a gift voucher during the "La Roche fortnight" (huh?) and was invited to the Mairie in La Roche next Thursday evening to be presented with my voucher by the Maire! I checked on the La Roche website to make sure it wasn't a scam but it's legit, although I certainly never filled out any competition entry forms. Maybe they just picked my name out one time when I used my loyalty card somewhere - I've no idea, but I guess I'll find out soon enough!

Next week many are going back to work (if they haven't already) and yoga and sewing club start back up again, so I expect I'll fall back into something of a routine. My tiler has come over several times this past week for between four and six hours at a time and while he's making progress it's very slow going. He explained to me that it's taking so long because the wall tiles I chose are really small and are therefore so much more work, but I have to give it to him, he's a hard working young-ish man. The other day I was trying out a new cannelloni recipe so invited him to eat lunch with me. I was asking him about his country (Kosovo) and he explained that it was a pretty poor country with a population of only around two million, with maybe another million living outside the country and sending money back home. It floored me when he said that in many respects prices were similar to here, but when he said, say, a cashier working full-time would earn around €400 I was stunned. On the reverse side, he said that many people owned smallholdings and still lived off the land, although younger people were not so willing to do that anymore and wanted out! He had come here as a teenager after the Serbia/Kosovo war (as a refugee presumably) but even today still many more want out!

Anyway, while he's been here working I try to stay out of his way, so have been pulling more cupboards and drawers apart. And oh my word how on earth did it ever get that bad??? Well I suppose having once been home to five people at any one time, and of course when people move out they leave a lot of their crap behind, but still, I'm amazed at what I'm pulling out and throwing away even now! I reckon I've spent six hours on the cupboards by the front door alone (food storage, baking supplies, etc.) but when I ever thought I was going to want to cook 250 cupcakes all at the same time is beyond me! So out went the tatty old cupcake trays and other "cute" stuff I've simply never used. The unwanted good stuff I'll probably take to the charity shop next week, so I hope someone gets more pleasure out of it than I obviously did!

So trying to stay out of his hair has meant me setting my timer (repeatedly) to one hour and continuing to attack the clutter. It's weird because every time another bag of stuff goes out of the house I genuinely do feel like the air flows more freely - maybe feng shui is really a thing! Since I drink tea rather than coffee I've unearthed goodness knows how many boxes of fancy tea that people have given me over the years, so I thought hey, how about you start drinking that stuff rather than bunging it in a cupboard! In reality I like "builders' tea" (i.e. plain and simple) but some of the fancy stuff isn't too bad at all!

We call that "builder's crack",
for obvious reasons!

So, all in all the decluterring is going pretty well and I'm already thinking about what small pieces of furniture I'll want in the big bathroom when it's finished. Then I had something of a brainwave and realized I could probably take a small chest of drawers out of the third bedroom and use that in the bathroom, i.e. shop from home. I mean, it's not like if anyone was staying in that room they'd be able to use that piece of furniture - because it's full of what I call my "travel junk"! So having completed the cupboards by the front door, next on the list is the small bedroom and the "travel junk" unit! 

André sent me a "happy new year" text from Italy and when I asked him how it had gone (with the young woman he met in Thailand) he sent back a flood of photos showing him out with her and her friends watching the fireworks on new year and having dinner with her family. He hit it off really well with her dad, who kept cracking open the champagne and wine, so two sore heads later they are apparently now best buddies! She lives just south of La Spezia, which is where you catch the taxi ferries to get to Cinque Terre - so a beautiful part of the country!

Cinque Terre!

They got along well so Bekka is coming up here around 18th January so we'll all get to meet her. I'm still working on my Italian lessons (and still enjoying it) but obviously my Italian remains very limited. But hey, did anyone ever see that episode of Friends where a door-to-door salesman tries to sell Joey a complete set of the Encyclopaedia Britannica but Joey only has enough money to buy one volume? He picks the volume covering the letter "V" and so tries to keep bringing the topic of conversation round to "Venus" (and they switch to talking about the Mars landing), and then the Vietnam war - at which point Monica starts talking about the Korean war, so he never gets to show off his knowledge. I reckon if I can keep the topic of conversation on her "big dog" (assuming she has one), whether she'd "like a new black backpack", or asking directions to the market and "is it really cheap", she'll be dead impressed! Watch this space!

Tuesday 26 December 2023


Blink and you've missed it - but what a lovely stay we had at the safari park. We got there around mid-day and as our chalet wasn't ready yet we went for a wander round the park first. The weather was glorious and not at all cold - which obviously helped - so we got to see quite a few animals before it was time to head on up to our chalet. The chalet was lovely with two bunkbeds in one room and a double bed in the second room, but the best part was that our balcony overlooked the wolf enclosure! As soon as they heard rustling they came running over to the balcony, although we were under strict instructions not to feed them, of course!

If you can imagine a place designed and furnished by IKEA this would be it, and the design fit so well with the location!

One of the windows in the main bedroom!

My boys get along really well and both have a great sense of humour, so we were treated to their renditions of various songs from The Lion King as we made our way round the park. The funniest had to be at the lion enclosure though, when André raised Charlie above his head and yelled "he's alive" in his best gibbon voice!

At one point we were heading down a tunnel in order to get below the waterline at the seal enclosure when Jen turned her head and came face to face with a hyena. She yelped and they both beat a hasty retreat! I think the seal enclosure was probably Charlie's favourite spot in the whole park, and I must admit we all found it fascinating to watch as they kept swimming past us, "showing off" or probably just playing around!

Charlie really was a little trooper and the only time he whinged was when Jen tried to put him in a stroller. He wasn't having any of it and when my fitbit logged 15,000 steps at the end of the day we had to give it to him - he'd done so well!

The company prepared dinner for us, which they left in the fridge and all we had to do was heat it in the microwave. It was really good - foie gras for starters (not my thing though), roast capon, gratin and green beans for the main course, and tiramisu for dessert, with a chocolate yule log and a bottle of wine to top it all off. After that none of us particularly felt like trudging back into the park for the light show, but we were all so glad we did as they had all the fairytale characters lit up so it took us another hour or so get round it all yet again!

We were also first in to see Father Christmas,
although to be honest Charlie was none too sure!

André and Jordan stayed outside chatting until around 2 a.m. and said they could hear the lions in the background most of that time. I didn't hear that but oh my goodness, at least three times the wolves set off a complete howling cacophony during the night and it was wonderful!

As we were staying in the chalets onsite, the next day we were allowed access to the park one hour before it opened for the day, although even when it did open up it still wasn't busy so we had none of that Disney feel to it where you just get shuffled along with the crowd. This was when we did the car ride through the main park to see the elephants, rhinos (you wouldn't want to cross them, I can tell you), hippos, moose and so on and we were lucky enough to see what must have been a very confused bear lying around in the sunshine, probably wondering where all his mates had got to!

We got back home around 6 pm and were all so tired I don't think anyone really wanted to "celebrate" Christmas Eve. Next day everyone was coming to my place and we'd decided on raclette (basically melted cheese, potatoes, dried meat and salad) to make it easier all round. Presents were exchanged, we all enjoyed a really good meal - and then of course André spotted the whoopee cushions and false noses so off we all went. Jen's mom's partner, Fabrice, is pretty quiet but André had him doubled up laughing, particularly when he unleashed an app on his phone with (I think) 112 different fart sounds! I thought Fabrice was going to fall over, he was laughing so much. Oh, and I forgot to tell you, when I asked André what he was doing for New Year he told me he was off to Genoa in Italy! Huh??? Turns out on his trip to Thailand they met up with a couple who were travelling together with a young Italian designer and they sorta followed each other's circuits and kept meeting up. So now he's off to Genoa for New Year and having dinner with her parents (????) I just hope she's equally enthralled with his farting app, 'cos he's classy like that! If it goes well, she's coming up to France on 18th January to spend a few days with him - so things could be looking up for him. At least I hope so for his sake!

Oh and I also forgot to tell you another bit of news. When we were in the chalet Jen was getting Charlie ready for bed when he came out of the bathroom wearing his jammies and a t-shirt which read "sometimes you've got to be able to read between the lines". I never paid any attention to it because, well, a t-shirt, but Jen's mom read it out several times and said "are you trying to tell us something?" - and she was. It was maybe a little early to be spreading the news but --- Jen's pregnant again, and we're all thrilled. So right now I just can't see how things could get any more ...

Friday 22 December 2023

Like a kid in a sweetie shop!

We're off tomorrow morning to spend the night in "tree top cabins" in the safari park near Lyon that Jen organized. It's only an overnight stay but I'm really looking forward to it and hoping the weather plays along. I just checked it out and it's looking good so fingers crossed the weathermen got it right! I feel kinda guilty feeling so happy when things with my favourite neighbour are just horrible. The silence coming from that house is explosive, but on a positive note I understand the husband is slowly moving stuff into his daughter's apartment in the next village over as her tenant has just moved out. I had mentioned to the wife that I would be going back and forth to a fabric store in a place called Sallanches as I was dropping off and picking up our sewing club sewing machines for servicing, so I sent her a message to say I was going on Wednesday and did she want to come. The reply I got back was that it wouldn't be a good time right now so I'll mention it to her next time I go. Her husband had had to go all the way to Lyon for tests a couple of weeks ago since two of the local hospitals won't deal with him any more. At the first hospital he was in bed waiting for an operation to insert a stent in his leg and they told him the surgeon would be along at 3 p.m.. When 3 o'clock rolled around and the surgeon hadn't showed up yet (unavoidably detained in surgery) he got dressed and left the hospital in a fit of pique. At the second hospital they inserted yet another stent in his leg (must be about six by now) and wanted to keep him overnight. Well he wasn't having any of that and signed himself out against medical advice for the second time so I believe that hospital won't deal with him any more - hence having to go all the way to Lyon for tests on his heart and lungs. When he got back she asked how it went and he just said "fine" and walked out, only for her to find out when she answered the phone later that day that they were scheduling insertion of a stent, in his heart this time, for the following Wednesday. When she asked about it he told her he didn't feel like going (probably scared but seriously, can you keep messing medical personnel around like that?)! Ultimately he ended up going for the operation and was kept under observation for 24 hours. When she popped round for a coffee she said it was the best 24 hours she'd had in a long time! How sad is that - but I know how she felt! When my ex used to travel for work the tension levels in the house used to drop from 100 to zero only to shoot back through the roof when he got back!

So it looks like he'll be moved out sooner rather than later - which can only be a good thing for both of them. I was asking her what she was going to do about banking and she told me "she didn't like to snoop" but that she was also afraid he was going senile. Ha, any man that can visit a lawyer to effectively try to disinherit his wife of 51 years, locks her out of their joint bank account and who has a complete file labelled "divorce" isn't senile, he's trying to put one over on her! So I offered to help her with using my old laptop as he will be taking their one and only laptop with him. She's very resistant to "technology" but hey, she'll have no choice now, will she! His public persona is Joe Helpful but what goes on behind closed doors is quite another thing!

She was telling me that with age he has gotten more and more like his mother, who was apparently a nasty piece of work. He was the only son and had three sisters and I remember his mother telling me one time how lucky I was to have two sons rather than daughters! I was shocked and said I was just happy to have healthy children - the sex doesn't matter! So I guess having been treated like the Boy King all his life he has no respect for anyone! I remember a few years ago when her father died very suddenly, grandma came to stay with them for a few days after the funeral. When I walked in to give her a hug she slumped down on the sofa and the husband said "see, look at how she just slumps down on the sofa when anyone is around - it's all an act"! I basically balled him out and said that she'd buried her husband of 50+ years just a few days ago, I don't care if she's slumped down on the sofa! So yeah, I'm sure this separation can't come fast enough for either of them!

I think I mentioned in my last post that I'd bought myself a pair of earbuds/airpods in order to be able to get stuff done while I'm listening to books or podcasts. It was been nice to get into bed and have someone "read" to me, BUUUUUTTTTT I hate the fact that as soon as you tap one airpod it either tries to answer or make a phone call for you! The other night I was listening to a podcast in bed around 1 a.m. and when I turned my head my bloody phone tried to call my gynaecologist!!!!! I think I've managed to cancel this function because I don't want to be randomly calling people if I nod off in bed!

And joy of joys, our local bus company just sent out an advance copy of their 2024 catalogue and Corsica is back on the menu again next year. I called my friend and knowing that this trip will sell out quickly we drove down to their offices this morning to put a deposit on the Corsica trip and a trip later in the year (just an overnighter) to a place called Guédelon, which is a place I have long wanted to visit. It's a medieval castle that is being slowly and painstakingly restored and is just a couple of hours from here! 


Skimming through their catalogue I must have listed about 15 trips I would like to do (hence the kid in the sweetie shop reference) but realistically we'll only do a couple, plus a few day trips and save the rest for next year, I guess. After we'd reserved we stopped off and ate in a very good Indian restaurant in town and while the quantities weren't big, and in any case I didn't finish mine, I flaked out on the sofa for a good few hours when I got home. Then for some reason I decided that right now would be a good time to start going through my food storage cupboards and I'm ashamed to say it took me a good few hours to go through it and throw out some stuff that must have been bought when Guédelon was originally being built! Just like my freezers, shame on me for letting it get that bad, but at least it looks good now! After that I've just crashed on the sofa again tonight but oh, pro tip, if you want to waste a few hours going down the feel good rabbit hole, start watching Nate Eaton's (East Idaho News) Secret Santa videos. If that doesn't make you grateful for everything you have, nothing will - and god bless the wonderful Secret Santa in East Idaho for making such a huge difference to struggling people's lives!

So I'll be off tomorrow and get back late Sunday evening, and after that it'll be Christmas Day. I doubt I'll get to read any blogs for the next few days so I'll wish you all a Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays, and speak to you all again soon!

Tuesday 19 December 2023

God I'm glad I'm retired!!!

Come 31 December I will have been retired five years - and I'm still so, so glad! I mean, who wouldn't be? I don't actually know anyone who regrets retiring - or maybe one or two, which surprises the heck out of me! The other day it was peeing down rain when the Amazon delivery guy showed up, so when it's like that I usually offer to make them a coffee to go. He didn't accept because he had so much stuff to deliver, so while I like being able to find pretty much anything I want on Amazon, and I guess they're also keeping a lot of people in employment, man do those delivery guys work hard (and of course it's not just Amazon delivery guys). Then earlier this week another delivery man knocked on my door but when I looked at the address I told him that he'd got the wrong address - it was destined for next door. At this point my other neighbour came out as she'd been expecting to take in the stray parcel but when she tried the QR code it wouldn't work. So she called the intended recipients, who were in Annecy, and the husband did his nut because he'd been expecting it on Saturday!!! Try what they might, it just wasn't going through so when I offered this young man a coffee he gladly accepted. We ended up having quite a little tea party, with him saying he'd come back around 7 pm to try to catch them. So yes they work damn hard, which might also explain why they tend to drive like lunatics too!

The friend who I met on my first day in Geneva called me last week for a catch up. We only worked together for about a year as she moved on to another organization, but we have kept sporadically in touch over the years. I asked about her kids - one of whom was doing well in Switzerland and the other had sadly just lost her job in England. She mentioned that she would be having her ex-husband over for Christmas as he still lives in Geneva. Not my business of course, but I never particularly liked him. I found him arrogant, bragging about his "fancy job and fancy company car" - well that was until he lost the job and she later found out that he'd stopped paying the bills, including the mortgage. She'd just had a baby and had switched to part-time work and then he got made redundant in his mid-40s, and as far as I know never really found another decent job! They had bought at the height of the housing boom and ended up selling in a depressed market so basically they lost everything they had put into the house. She then moved into France and bought a small apartment for her and the kids and him - well he ended up living in a small studio in Switzerland on not very much money, I imagine. It's funny how life works out, isn't it. One day everything looks like it's hunky dory, and the next, well it just isn't any more! Sadly they're not the only couple I know where that happened either! 

I've been very tired lately so actually had to laugh when someone asked me if I would be going skiing over Christmas! I don't think I'd even be able to walk with those boots on any more, let alone ski! I also finally bit the bullet and signed up for audible as I found I was wasting so much time sitting on my bum reading or listening to podcasts on the computer when I could be quite happily doing something else while listening to them on my phone. It only took me how many years to figure that out?

I have been in the mood for trying out new recipes lately, so it's good when a new recipe piques my interest. I had to laugh though because there's a lady on a FB group that I follow occasionally who is posting some pretty nice recipes. It's a group for people who've been cheated on by their partners and since I'm so far out I only occasionally catch up with them. But what have recipes got to do with being cheated on, you might ask? Well this lady's husband (they're still in the process of divorcing) moved in with his girlfriend and apparently the gf can't cook. So he's been asking his wife (who's a pretty good cook by all accounts) for some of her recipes. When she told him to get lost he deleted her online recipe collection!!!! And if ya think that's weird, I was putting some of my clothes aside for Goodwill when my still husband asked if he could take them because he thought his gf would look good in them!!!! Anyhoo, this lady is slowly reconstituting her recipe collection so every so often she'll post one on FB, especially if it's one of his family favourites. This is a private group and she posts them knowing he'll never have access to them again. Yeah, I like that kinda petty!

Earlier this week I had a dermatologist's appointment in Geneva so I left really early in order to park at the border and catch the bus in. Problem was, when I got to my usual car park, it kept indicating one or two spaces available (there are usually loads) and about 10 of us kept driving round and round looking for them. But no luck - I then drove on to another car park and it was the same thing there. Turns out French transport workers were on strike so people who usually took public transport in to Geneva were taking their cars, hence no bloody parking spaces. I called the doctor's office to explain and they were very good and said they wouldn't charge me as they knew what had happened. Then today I had a different doctor's appointment (trying to get them all in before the end of the year) and the same bloody thing happened. No parking at the border, the car park near the hospital full (turns out there'd been a landslide on the railway line), but I eventually managed to get a spot in a car park in central Geneva, and then legged it up to my appointment. Good thing I left so early right? While I was waiting to get a blood test, I heard the receptionist very firmly telling someone on the phone that "no, if she didn't make it this afternoon she'd either have to go to her local clinic or come back in January" (apparently this lady frequently cancelled at the last minute). I commiserated with her about juggling appointments but she said this was a 53 year old lady who was pregnant through IVF???? Yikes, I would not want to be pregnant at 53, all the more so when she pointed out that this lady already had four daughters, but wanted a son. She probably shouldn't have told me this, but when she found out this latest baby was another girl her whole attitude totally changed! Again, yikes, I would not be going through that again at 53 no matter how many daughters I had! Which reminds me of my Uncle Phil who approached my dad when I was born and asked if they could adopt me because "you've already had six children" (even though they'd lost two). I guess it was sincere and they would have treated me well, but man oh man am I glad that my parents said no!

And finally, I had just got home when the doorbell went again. I was crabby because I thought it would be another wrong delivery (I'm not expecting anything) but when I opened the door there was a charming older gent from the Mairie delivering Christmas gifts to all the over-65s in the village! Which kinda surprised me because when they sent round the registration paper earlier in the year I didn't fill it in because I wasn't 65 yet. We'll open it on Christmas Day I, but I wonder what's in it - biscuits maybe or chocolates? That'll teach me to be such a crab!