The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Wednesday 31 August 2016

First day at school

My colleague told me last night that he would be late this morning as his little boy was starting his first day at school. I told him to take plenty of pictures so that he can embarrass the hell out of him when he's 21 so he did. Really sweet pictures actually as his little boy was very good (probably because he hasn't yet realized he has to go back again tomorrow, but hey, that's part of tomorrow's fun right?).

We actually filmed my oldest son's first day going to the "big" school (he was five) and he whinged and cried the whole time, which is actually pretty funny now as he turned 29 yesterday! Ha, I knew it was worth the wait, the little bugger!

It did bring to mind an awful example of our dreadful parenting with him many years ago though. I was offered a job back in Switzerland when André was just 22 months old. It was a dreadful wrench for the US grandparents as he was their only grandchild at that point but as we were both unhappy we made the decision to move back to Europe. I came out to Switzerland ahead of my husband and son (they stayed in England with my parents for three weeks) in order for me to find an apartment, buy a car and find a place in a daycare as we knew my husband would have to find a job too. It was a very stressful time for me, trying to work full-time and set up the whole "family" side of things too, so-much-so that I actually ended up on beta blockers for a short period of time as my heart was beating 100-to-the-dozen. Still I managed to get it all done and they were able to come out and join me three weeks later.

Initially we were advised to put André in the daycare for just a short period of time in order for him to get used to it, more particularly since he didn't speak a word of French. Well, I had no choice so he was more or less thrown in full-time right from the get-go. I felt awful but what could I do?

My husband was lucky enough to find a temporary job straight away so early mornings were a rush, to say the least, what with the traffic and rush-hour and getting to daycare and work. One morning my husband was getting André ready and I was dealing with other stuff when André started playing up, he didn't want to go to the crèche, his feet hurt etc. We had just bought him new shoes and were pretty pissed off that he was play-acting right now when we were in a rush to get to work. I remember my husband yelled at him and I could have cried.

Anyway, we did make it to the crèche and I explained to the owner that he was having a "bit of a hissy fit" and complaining about his new shoes hurting (he hobbled all the way up the path!!!). She said not to worry, that he would get over it but to just get on and leave. So she took him on her lap in order to make a bit of fuss of him and took off his shoes to put his slippers on. When she took off his shoes she found the padding paper in the toes that my husband hadn't thought to take out! Poor kid, it's a wonder he could stand up. I feel bad about it to this day but we laugh about it now of course. I'm sure we've all done dreadful things like that but hey ... we all make mistakes right? Tell me it's not just me!

Friday 26 August 2016

Going round in circles

As I mentioned previously, I drive to the French/Swiss border every morning, park my car and catch a bus across Geneva to work. On a good day this bus ride takes about 45 minutes - on a bad day - oh my God, I hate to even think about how long it can take! The only positive thing about this bus journey is that it is way less stressful than driving, it halved my petrol consumption and obviously makes for less wear-and-tear on the car. Well I guess there is really another positive thing in that as I go terminus-to-terminus I get to read for almost two hours a day - something I love to do anyway!

I actually get on the bus at the last-but-one stop where the parking lot is, travel the final stop back to the border and then do the complete journey in the opposite direction, so that I can be sure to get a seat. Well, this morning my friend and I hopped on the bus at the parking lot and right at the back there was a young man sprawled across the floor along the central aisle, fast asleep and reeking of booze. We decided to go further up the front of the bus because at some point other people were going to get on and they would be needing to get past him/step over him. I mentioned him to the driver but he said that he knew perfectly well about the young man as he had been "driving him around continuously since 5 a.m."! He went up to the young man and with great difficulty managed to get him into a seat out of the way and propped him up against a window. In one of his few coherent moments the young man said he was "heading for Ferney", whereupon the driver just laughed and said "you've been going round and round in circles for the last three hours and you're still no closer to getting to Ferney". I thought the driver was actually pretty good natured about the whole thing because I get that this kind of stuff happens a lot, particularly on the late-night/overnight buses and trains!

In fact, my colleague's husband is a bus driver. He prefers to work the night shift and he was saying that the drunks and the druggies are always doing this kind of thing on the late-night buses "but they never buy a bloody ticket"! (I thought that comment was great - like that is the problem with these people)! Of course, that doesn't negate the fact that I suppose they could also be a real threat to the drivers but she has never mentioned any incident like that. The biggest problems seem to be the lunatic drivers who pull out in front of a bus giving no thought to just how much damage a bloody great bus could do to them!

My colleague did say though that one time her husband had a passed-out druggie on his night bus. When he got to the terminus he picked up the guy's bag of dope and walked over and threw it into a bin, then walked back to the guy, woke him up and told him that he had seen the transport cops waiting at the next stop. The guy shot up, jumped off the bus and ran off like a lunatic - and all without his stash of dope! Cruel? Maybe - but definitely very funny!

Thursday 25 August 2016

And post number 100!

Wow, I really can't believe it. I have actually written my 100th post (and here's me thinking I would struggle to find things to write about)! I guess I now realize that I write like I speak - think I have nothing to say and then never stop rabbiting! Oh well, here's to the next 100 and even if no-one reads this stuff I am really enjoying writing it!

So to end on a funny note, I see that they published the funniest jokes from The Fringe yesterday. All pretty good but I actually really liked this one:

"How come old people are always going on about how there's no place like home? But as soon as you put them in one ....." Cheers!

Yuck - there's no getting away from her!

After work last night I stopped in to say hi to my mate Stan again and lo and behold my ex's skank ex-girlfriend showed up there again. I know to expect it of course because she lives about 150 metres away from me but I wish someone would just do a "beam me up Scotty" on her and have her end up in a magical land, far, far away. As I guess that's not going to happen anytime soon I shall just have to keep on sticking my nose in the air.

It did get me to thinking again about a few things though. When my ex first buggered off, after much egging on by my friends I joined an internet dating site. I have written about this before and while I did indeed meet a few nice men on there (just one sicko), it wasn't for me. I mean, I was married 26 years and the internet wasn't even around when I first started dating! But the whole episode did bring to mind another incident while on this site which was an absolute hoot.

One night I got a message from a lady called Mary - "did I want to chat"? Now she wasn't a "woman looking for a woman", she was a "woman looking for a man" but explained that she hopped over to the "other side" to see what kinds of drivel some of the women were writing in their profiles. I knew exactly what she meant because the men who were "sensual, romantic, liking long walks on the beach" etc. were really starting to get on my t*ts. I mean, have you ever met anyone - male or female - who was any or all of those things? I haven't. I had actually put a real tongue-in-cheek profile which was funny, and I'm convinced that is why I did so well on that site - in fact that was what made Mary contact me. Turns out she was Irish and worked close to me so we agreed to go out for a pizza one night and a chinwag. Well what a blast we had! She had been married and when we compared notes on our exes we were doubled up laughing. I have to say that was one of the funniest evenings out I had had in a long time and definitely worth doing. I think she retired back to Ireland not long after that so wherever you are Mary, I hope you are still having a blast!

On an only slightly related topic, since I enjoy writing my blog, as you will imagine I also enjoy reading other people's blogs. In fact, when I "discovered" blogs I was in little piggy heaven because as someone who loves to read there was a huge great bloggy universe out there just waiting to be read on any topic I could wish for!

I like reading cookery blogs, crafty blogs, chit-chat blogs you name it. Recently I came across a fabulous blog that has been going a few years about people who had been cheated on by narcissist/psycho partners and it was/is such a great read. BTW, I don't consider my ex to be in that bracket but I certainly had an ex-boss who was the supreme example of a psychopath so it really is interesting to read about it from that perspective. And while there are many, many sad tales on this blog there is also an awful lot of gallows humour.  I have been reading the whole blog from the beginning and it is taking me ages (I am up to June 2013 at the moment). Well in last night's post the blogger had written an internet dating site profile for her ex-husband. Other people then chimed in with their own versions, sometimes giving the "what he really means by that" comments in square brackets.

One lady wrote for her ex-husband:

"Age 57, great physique, am told I look 10 years younger, a real stallion!" (or words to that effect).

She then wrote her version of his profile:

"Age 57, looks 67, drives like he's 97 and acts like he's 27. Takes three lots of medication for high cholesterol, high blood pressure and problems with his 'waterworks'." I burst out laughing at that one. She had actually found his profile on Ashley Madison while still married to him and published his username on this blog so everyone could hop over and have a laugh. He must have thought his profile was really pulling the women in after that!

Another guy had written about how his partner kept losing his job because "hey, they actually want me to show up occasionally, but it's really your fault when I don't! I mean you are supposed to get me up in time. What do you mean, that's what the alarm clock is for and I'm 28 FFS - can't you see that it's your job to get me up!" This made me really laugh because my ex always swore blind I turned his alarm off and that I was the reason he either was late to work or didn't show at all!  No shit Sherlock, you're 45 - time to put the big boy's knickers on and get yourself to work. N.B. I eventually stopped even trying to wake him and just let him run his own three-ring circus. It didn't change his behaviour of course but it made it easier for him to blame me, so I guess kudos to me for that!

I had intended to go to bed early last night but I got into reading the over 100 comments on that particular post and laughing my head off and only ended up going to bed after midnight. Then of course, I was mentally writing a dating profile for my ex and couldn't stop my mind from whizzing by. Maybe someday I will do it and post it here. Watch this space!

Wednesday 17 August 2016

Who'll blink first?

During the month of August traffic here in Geneva is great. Most people are on holiday, the kids are off school and there's not much going on at work - quiet time. Monday being 15 August it was even quieter since France, as a Catholic country, celebrates Assumption (I think that's how you write it) so it is pretty much a national holiday. All-in-all not a bad time to do the work run. It actually means I get home about 30 minutes earlier too - which can't be bad. So last night I got home around 6.30 pm and decided to pop in to Stan's cafe for a drink. It was hot so I decided to sit inside and chat to Stan as we watched the Olympics.

But bloody hell, sitting outside is my ex's tart - the skank that he left me for in 2010! Now she is actually from the village where I live and she and her new boyfriend - you know, the one she cheated on my ex with - rented a place in the village near me. In fact, it is so near me that if you look at the main picture at the top of my blog, across the field at the back of my garden is her rental property backing on to the same field. Maybe I should invite her over for a coffee sometime - or maybe not!

Don't get me wrong, I couldn't care less that my ex buggered off with her. Truth be told I should probably thank her (but I wasn't going to tell them that). I had wanted a divorce for many years and he wouldn't agree to it, nor would he agree to move out "cos it's my house"! Well, actually it was our house, or more likely my house, because I had put most of the money into it. I knew almost from the beginning that my marriage was a mistake but after getting married we moved to the States, where my first son was born. I knew if it would even be possible to get a divorce that I couldn't support myself and my son on whatever salary I could earn in the States. I also knew that his father would never agree to allow me to take my son back to Switzerland, where I had a job waiting for me and where I could earn enough to look after the both of us. And of course, as far as the US was concerned, my son was/is a U.S. citizen (although he is also British), so basically I was stuck in the States with the ex. I hated that feeling of being trapped!

Eventually though, even he hated our life in the States too and when I was offered a job back in Switzerland we moved back. We had another son but actually I would say life got worse not better. You know the score, two kids, two full-time jobs, long commute, etc. and basically just the usual pressurized life. As the pressure grew and grew my husband became more and more aggressive (he was aggressive enough to begin with) and eventually went from just screaming and giving orders all the time to actual physical violence.

While I documented everything, to the people who say "I wudda, cudda, shudda", I say you weren't living my life, trying to get by on three non-consecutive hours sleep a night so I don't really want to hear about how you would have magically gotten yourself and your kids out of there. I'm not stupid and I'm not weak, but after years and years of violence and lack of sleep I could barely see straight, let alone negotiate my way through a divorce from an unwilling husband!

Anyway, all that was to explain why I was not in the slightest bit bothered when the twat ran off with the skank. In fact, I almost had to nail my feet to the floor to stop myself jumping for joy when he finally came home after six weeks absence to solemnly let me know I was going to be receiving divorce papers! Yipee was all I could think!

You see, he had started going down to this cruddy bar in town - you know the kind where they all come crashing out through the window at closing time, and where the landlady keeps on serving regardless of how drunk the customers are.

Anyway, skank looks like a bad version of Amy, in the Big Bang Theory (although truth be told the actress that plays Amy is, in my opinion, very pretty in real life). (On that note, I must tell you about the time I waltzed in there one time, all dolled up to the nines, to have a look!!!! - skank and twat couldn't get out of there fast enough, but maybe more on that another time.)

You may wonder what the skank could possibly see in my scrawny, violent, alcoholic husband but since she earned a pittance working in France and my ex was on a good salary working in Switzerland I think I can see why she found him so amazingly attractive.  Anyway, long story short, they ended up shacking up together at her place, and it only took him six weeks to come home and "drop the divorce bombshell" on me (I repeat - yipee)!  What I do resent though is that my ex had the gall to introduce the skank to my kids before he had even told me about her and that I will never forgive him for, even if my kids were older. It was putting them in a dreadful position, but then hey, that's the kind of person he is.

Of course about three weeks after the "bombshell" he decided that "he didn't think we should throw away over 20 years of marriage" (i.e. skank ain't so great and can I come back? - the answer of course was not f*ç*çing likely). And it strikes me that the person who couldn't keep it in his pants was the one throwing away over 20 years of marriage, not me, but I digress! Well we got divorced after I served him with papers. It took about two years and in order to get him to finally sign I ended up taking on all the joint debt and some of his debts, plus buying him out of the home - which he tells people he "gave" me - yeah, to the tune of €300,000 worth of debt in my name, ya prat!

Immediately after they shacked up together but before the divorce was finalized was the worst period of my life, because although he was gone, he and the skank behaved like the drunken idiots they were and roughly every three weeks they would both throw a hissy fit and he would move back with his suitcases "cos it's still my house" - it almost broke me! Eventually the paperwork went through and I changed the locks. It still wasn't over though because he still thought we were "great friends" and actually bought a couple of cousins of his who were visiting from the States up to the house in my absence to show them round (eh, actually, it's now my house - seems we have a problem with boundaries here).  Anyway he and the skank were together about three years when guess what, the skank cheated on him with another guy and he was devastated! Makes me laugh now to be honest, this coming from a guy who was in Ghana for work and woke up with a prostitute in his bed but "don't worry, I was too drunk to do anything"!!!!! I kid you not. Oh the stories. Maybe one day I will write them all down and while for some it would seem unbelievable, for many more it would just go to show them that they are not alone living in this kind of hell.

Anyway, and back to the original narrative, I had met a chap in Stan's a few times and would always say "bonjour" and "au revoir". Turns out this guy is the skank's new boyfriend!!! He seems pleasant enough, but when I rolled up to Stan's the other night and saw her and the boyfriend sitting outside I didn't know what to do so I just stuck my nose in the air and ignored everyone. This has happened more than once and sometimes acquaintances of mine will be sitting with the skank but what do you do? I have no desire to say anything to that tart. Not easy though. Tellingly though, at one time she told Stan (who subsequently told me) that she "had to leave my ex or he would have ended up killing her"! I said to Stan, I really don't give a shit about her or her life, but as far as that goes, I can believe it 100%.

I'm not actually sure whether I should be writing some of this stuff down but I have read quite a few blogs written by women who have been cheated on and it is good to know I'm not alone. Actually some of those blogs are incredibly funny and I think therapeutic for others so keep up the good work ladies (although of course men aren't the only ones who cheat). In the end my alcoholic ex was diagnosed as bipolar, which may go some way to explaining some of his behaviour (his spending for example, and the fact that he could go three nights without sleep and hence I shouldn't be allowed to sleep either), but it neither explains nor excuses his violence. Having said that, while it is hell for those that are afflicted by this, I can tell you it is hell for those that have to live with it too!

Friday 12 August 2016

Another busy weekend!

When my little neighbourhood got together (in July?) to do our annual clean up, my neighbour's daughter suggested a small group of us got together for a potluck lunch one last time before one couple, Marc and Valérie, moved out. With just one daughter left at home they now find their house too large for them, so they decided to sell up and look for something smaller. They put the house on the market and it sold really quickly - in fact, I think they move out in September. It will be our loss as they are such a lovely couple, and while they are not moving far it won't be the same somehow. My immediate neighbours very kindly offered to host it and we really lucked out in that after a wet and miserable Friday, that Saturday turned out just scorching.

The food was lovely, although of course there was way too much, and the company excellent - just ripe for a bit of silliness I guess (so that would be where I come in of course).  One time when I was England my sister had bought me a game called "Doughnuts", which I took round and dared everyone to have a go.

Our host, Michel, playing doughnuts
We had a silly half hour, with everyone cheating like mad, but it certainly added up to good fun!

Then, just in case we hadn't been silly enough, I got out my ipad and started taking pictures using an app that my niece from Denmark had shown me. Wait for it, it gets better!

Me (on one of my better days)

Our host, again
And then there was Dani!

And last of all, another version of me!

I tell you, if you ever need an ice-breaker, this certainly did it. Of course another really good ice breaker is to take a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey down to the local pub and get your poshest friend to read out a random extract from it (but I guess that will have to wait for another time!) In fact, Michel came round last night and asked me how to download the app and how to use it. Maybe it's just me but I love "silly".

So after a very long, protracted, but hilarious lunch (about six hours all in all - well it is France), we all said our goodbyes and staggered home bearing enough left-over food to feed an army.

Then on Sunday it was the last day of the local Bluegrass Festival. This is an annual six-day event in my small town which features about 30 bands from all over the world, although oddly enough the majority seem to be from Eastern Europe (the Czech Republic and Russia are very well represented). I think the original idea many years ago was that different towns worldwide would host this event but apparently La Roche did it so well that it has hosted it ever since - well certainly for the last 11 years that I can remember. It is a fabulous event featuring extremely talented musicians, with food and drinks stalls, souvenir stalls and everything in between. Again, as another sign of the times, the roads around the event were blocked off with concrete bollards to stop any through traffic, just like in Geneva at the moment, but if that is the price we have to pay for greater security I'm happy to pay it!

Friday 5 August 2016

Don't let it rain on my parade!

As I explained yesterday, both banks of the the lake are pretty difficult to navigate right now due to huge concrete bollards being placed in the middle of the road during the Geneva festivities, so last night, for the first time, I decided to take the ferry-boat over the lake. The journey is only about 10 minutes long and cuts out the centre of town and the bridge and you know what, it was really nice.

The ferry-boat pick up stop
You can just see part of the fun-fair set up for the Fêtes de Genève.

The Jet d'Eau in the distance
The crossing was very pleasant and calm, although in the winter it might not be so much fun I guess.

But for some strange reason I had the most amazing urge to burst into "Don't let it rain on my parade"! Not sure the other passengers would have enjoyed it much though, cos Barbra Streisand I ain't (although I might have her nose).

Since the roadblocks will last another week I tried a different approach this morning, getting off my bus at the station and switching to the tram which would take me nearer to work, but not quite all the way there. Touchingly a young man offered me his seat but as I was getting off in a couple of stops I thanked him but refused. Which kinda goes to show that (a) good manners still exist and (b) I probably need to up the night cream if I am starting to look like a little old lady! (To be fair though, if an older person or pregnant woman gets on the bus someone will always offer them a seat, so again that could mean that (a) I am indeed starting to look like an old biddy or (b) I need to do something about my gut)! When I got off I had about a 15 minute walk to work and managed to avoid the rain by nano-seconds. But it did bring home to me how slow I walk, I mean, old ladies with zimmer frames were passing me! I guess I could speed up my walking by taking my hands out of my pockets, but I like to think of it as a sign that I am rather laid-back (unruffled by the world, so to speak) as opposed to overweight and unfit!

And talking of alternative means of transport, I was delighted to read in the British news today of a "UFO" being "chased down the road" by Irish police! Well those were the headlines but I think it was more a case of some kind of art work designed for publicity purposes. Rather nice though eh!

My colleague and I were joking that it is really a cunningly-designed "Trojan Horse" aimed at baffling the Irish but actually full of Brits trying to slip into Ireland illegally after Brexit ("have you got enough room in the back there Ethel")!

Today is Friday and the weekend looms bright and sunny. Tomorrow I have to go into town to play our syndicate's lottery. When I worked in my previous post we had an absolute psychopath of a boss (and I mean that in the literal sense of the word). The bitch made everyone's life hell wherever she went (or had been, or indeed eventually ended up after us) and apart from filing an official complaint against her (she eventually "left"/"was pushed" - whatever you want to call it) a group of us also set up a lottery syndicate. Something like the two-pronged approach in warfare - "if she doesn't leave we'll just win the lottery and all do a runner"! Anyway, my colleague collects the money from everyone every five weeks and I play it in France since lottery winnings are taxed in Switzerland (about 35% I think) but not taxed in France. So tomorrow I get to check our winnings (fingers crossed) and play again for the next five weeks. Isn't daydreaming about winning the lottery a nice daydream though! And for me it is just that - a nice daydream. Many years ago though I would have given anything to win just a little something as I was desperate to get out of my dreadful marriage and a lottery win would have given me a wonderful head-start to getting away from him and the violent, debt-ridden life he was inflicting on me. Then I hated going home on a Friday night because I knew what I was in for and I remember one Friday night crying as I was heading home, praying to God to just let me win "a little something, just enough to help me get away from him".

And I reckon someone somewhere must have been listening because the next morning I got a phone call from my local supermarket. It turns out I had entered one of their competitions (I don't remember doing it) and they asked me to come down to pick up my winner's prize! Turns out I had won a raclette machine! Bloody hell, what was I supposed to do with that? Throw it at him? Tie it round his neck and  push him in the lake?

Whichever way you look at it, I guess God really does seem to have a sense of humour!

Thursday 4 August 2016

A (sad) sign of the times!

As I mentioned the other day, 1st August is Swiss national day and this year they lucked out and got lovely weather to hold their parties and let off the fireworks. I have to let you into a little "in" joke though. My colleague is married to a Swiss guy and they were over at his family's for the celebrations when his cousin asked his aunt if "the fireworks were starting at 9 pm or 9.05"?  She burst out laughing and they didn't know why! Well put it this way, there is probably a very good reason the Swiss watch-making industry is so successful - I mean that potential five minute difference for the firework start time could have been really important.  Sorry if you don't get the joke but to say the Swiss are sticklers for time-keeping and very punctual would be an understatement!

Anyway, the beginning of August is therefore a busy time here in Geneva. After Swiss national day we have Geneva Lake Parade, followed by the Fêtes de Genève. I guess in total about 10 days of very well-organized celebrations (again another Swiss trait).  Now I park every morning at the border and catch the bus across town to work. I am lucky in that the no. 25 bus goes door-to-door for me so once I am installed I don't have to move again until I get to work. Yesterday, however, there were repeated announcements on the bus to say that until 14 August the two buses that normally go to my particular stop would not be going that far and that we should all get off after the train station and catch the shuttles which would be laid on. Well since about 80 people get off the bus and I'm sure the shuttles will only take about 12 people at a time I decided to walk, but to be honest I didn't really understand the whole "why" of having the bus cut short it's route. When I got to the lake, however, I realized what it was all about. Placed strategically all along the middle of the road were huge concrete barriers which would allow cars to get through slowly but no way would a bus be able to get through. Anti-terrorist-nutter barriers! How sad that we have come to this. Of course nothing will stop a nutter with a knife or a back-pack but at least Geneva is doing what it can to avoid another "Nice" situation! The lake front will be packed until the end of next week and the Swiss are, rightly, trying to take precautions. Again, how sad that we have to.

So tonight I will trot off down towards the bridge and, for the first time, catch one of the ferries over the lake to try to make up for not being able to get into town by bus. Could be interesting (I hear the ferries are great). I suppose, trying to put a positive spin on it again, if I end up walking twice a day for a while (30 minutes each way) it could help me lose some of the blubber. Who knows, maybe I will enjoy it enough to take it up long-term!

Given the fact that it is the holidays here and there is less traffic on the roads during the month of August, I have been getting home that bit earlier and taken to stopping in at "my mate Stan's" little place. In my little village we have a grand total of zero public transport, zero shops and one small (but excellent) restaurant. Basically if you don't drive here you're screwed, unless you are like some of the old-timers who walked everywhere, but when you are in a rush, as we always seem to be, it just isn't feasible to walk everywhere nowadays. I reckon it would take me an hour to walk to the local train station (which isn't exactly a major transit centre anyway) and maybe 45 minutes to the local supermarket, bearing in mind that the walk back from said supermarket with my groceries is up an alp! So that's not gonna happen. Anyway, "my mate Stan" saw potential and after much too-ing and fro-ing managed to open a little shop/cafe in the village. Basically it is just two portacabins stuck together from where he sells a small supply of basic groceries and where you can sit for a coffee or beer etc. But the pièce de résistance is that the location is absolutely spot on. To be fair, he did the grunt work of clearing the roadway and lugging the portacabins in but slowly it has become a very popular spot indeed. There is room for the farmers to park their tractors (I kid you not), the view is fabulous and Stan is well liked.

Now Stan is Nigerian, married to a French woman, and has had to put up with his share of racism, but over time has become quite the local character. My kids grew up with his kids and are close friends and I have to say that he and Martine have three lovely, well-balanced and polite kids who are a pleasure to be around. In fact OH likes going to Stan's for a drink or a plate of fries and they get yacking about Nigeria or politics or whatever is the subject of the day. In a few years Stan will retire and spend more time in Nigeria and you know what, he will be very much missed. In fact, if I had some uuuooomph left in me I would love to take over his little place, do it up and do what I have always wanted which would be have a little cafe with second-hand books, etc. I could really see the potential there, but I'm not sure I will have the energy when I retire in a couple of years. Who knows, we'll see! Watch this space.

The view from Stan's

The outside of Stan's place - painted by one of his kids' friends!

Tuesday 2 August 2016

Goodness, over 10,000 hits!

Wow,  I just realized I had already over 10,000 hits for my little blog. Just wow. To be honest I suspect about 9,900 of them are me trying to get my photos in the right way up but hey, I can live with that. I also omitted to say hi to Tricky Wolf  who started following me, and of course, my sis  - no introduction necessary there. Goodness, what a small world we live in.  A

Monday 1 August 2016

It's been a while

I can see it's been a while since I last posted, but I have been extremely busy (which I like) and I have to admit the horrific events of recent weeks have meant that I haven't felt like posting anyway. I mean, what right do I have to post about the banalities of my life when there are such awful things happening! Obviously I am more aware of what has been happening in France but the madness has been taking place everywhere! I did give some thought to just stopping reading the news entirely on the grounds that "the big stuff" would filter through to me eventually anyway and the smaller events, about which I could do nothing anyway, would pass on by without my being any the wiser. I know a couple of people who do this and it works for them, although I don't know that I am ready to cut myself off completely just yet. We'll see.

Talking of lunacy, on Thursday Geneva airport went into virtual lockdown due to "specific information received" by the Swiss authorities from their French counterparts. The roads around the airport were backlogged and although passengers were allowed into the terminal it was very slow going. It turns out that a woman from Annecy had called in "information about a possible terrorist threat". Seemingly she was a jealous wife who wanted to make life difficult (impossible?) for her husband who would be travelling through the airport that day!!!! Jesus H ...... I can think of a million ways of making my ex's life difficult without doing something as insane as that! Well the French moved quickly and she was hauled into court the next day. Given a six-month prison sentence - three months suspended and three months inside! I think in other times that might have been seen as harsh but in today's climate I can only say "foolish, foolish woman" and well done the French for moving so quickly and (hopefully) setting an example! Not sure how that stunt improved their marriage though!

On another note, I was pleasantly surprised to see Hugh Fernley Whittingstall back on TV last week in his war on waste. This time his major gripe was against the three major coffee sellers in the UK and their supposedly recyclable cups. It turns out that while the outer part of the cups are indeed recyclable, the inner lining is plastic and not recyclable, so while most people think they are doing their bit by putting their cups in the recycling bins it is a waste of time. In fact, there is only one facility in the UK capable of handling these cups and and none of the big three send their cups to this facility! But then, as the Mean Queen said, it beats me why people have to walk around with their coffee anyway. Why don't they have a cup before they leave for work or when they get there - saves waste and money! On the other hand, the big success story last week would seem to be the amazing drop in the use of plastic bags since England introduced a 5p charge for each bag in major stores. If I remember correctly, the number of bags distributed in England dropped by 6 billion since the introduction of the charge, although what took them so long to introduce it when others have been doing it for ages beats me!

In other news I finally got round to preparing my son's first US tax return last week. As a US citizen he has to file both here in France and in the US (pain in the butt that is I can tell you). He doesn't owe anything in the US because there is a foreign-earned income exclusion of over $100,000 (I wish) for those living outside the US but he has to file anyway. So while the filing was late he won't owe anyway. Since he is also going to do another two years' apprenticeship (he qualified as a plumber in June but wants to take additional courses for two years) I also filled out the school forms for him for the next year. So with everything finally being sent off I thought I would stop over to take copies up for him on Sunday. He lives about 20 minutes from me in a lovely quiet little village in the mountains. Absolute tranquility! I had thought when he and his girlfriend started looking for an apartment together that they might want to be in town, but not a bit of it. They both love the mountains and the little villages so chose an apartment "in the back of beyond" almost. But good luck to them.

After I left him I decided to head off to Samoens as I had seen that they were having a vide-grenier (car boot/yard sale) up there. My son told me how to take a back route and I was up there in only 20 minutes. On the way out of his village I passed the local "farm shop" where you take what you want and if no-one is there you just leave your money in an honesty box! How lovely is that! I didn't stop in but I will next time. Anyway, it turns out the vide-grenier in Samoens is today not yesterday (which explains why it wasn't that busy) but it was lovely to spend a few hours up there just pottering around. (The sign you can just make out on the wall of the Town Hall in the photo reads "Soutien à la ville de Nice" - "Support to the town of Nice")!

The weather was lovely when I left home in the morning but started to turn when I was up there so after a little potter round I left and just made it home before the heavens opened!

When I got home I called my brother (the one who lost his wife in January) and we got talking about how life can be lonely sometimes. He was a saying that while he would never even want to try to replace his wife he would like some companionship, just someone to go to lunch with or maybe to the cinema. I understand absolutely and to be honest I think he is doing amazingly well. He joined the Ramblers, a widows and widowers' group and the University of the Third Age. Now this group seems to do amazing things in the UK - I am so impressed - but when I looked up the equivalent here in Geneva or in France it strikes me as more geared towards the arts and literature - and that's something that I am not interested in joining a group for. In any case most of their activites take place during the day time, and I am still working, so that's pretty much ruled that group out.

While surfing though I happened to stumble across a group called Quintonic, and it is designed for the over-50s who are looking to meet up for various activities.  It is not a dating site (I'm not looking for that in any case) but it would be nice to meet older people outside the work environment to talk about things other than work. Anyway, I will give it a shot and see if anything pans out.

OH, as I may have mentioned before, is Dutch and while I was "site surfing" I found a free online site where you can learn various things (thanks to Jane at Shoestring Cottage) and guess what, they offer a free course in Dutch! Now I love languages and am game for most things so I have enrolled.  Watch this space - but don't stand too close as I suspect I will be spitting all over the shop trying to get the pronunciation right!  We'll see if it impresses OH - although somehow I doubt it!

And finally, today is Swiss national day (oh if only the traffic was this easy every day). So Switzerland is pretty much "closed for business", except for the likes of me who have to work. But I am sitting here at my desk, with a view of the lake, listening to fabulous salsa music being played in the park behind me - what's not to love!