The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Tuesday 20 June 2017

A girl needs all the support she can get!

Just this week a comment on another blog about buying underwear (you know, the kind of thing you discuss transatlantic with someone you have never met) reminded me of a "bra buying" story I had all but forgotten about!

Some years ago my oldest sister, her daughter and I decided to go to Marks and Spencer's in Dorset to be properly measured for a bra. We have always been "well stacked" in my family (well the female side anyway, although apparently cosmetic surgery for "moobs" (man boobs) is now the fastest growing cosmetic surgery for men, but I digress). Anyway, we went in to be measured in turn and all three of us came out in fits of giggles. As is pretty common, we had all been wearing totally the wrong size of bra for years! Of course the "right" size bra ended up basically looking like two wheelbarrows welded together, so not exactly a turn on, but my niece said that as soon as she started wearing the correct size bra her back pain totally disappeared! Ha, who wudda thunk!

A few years later the same sister had to have an operation on her shoulder. Shortly after the op she decided that she would like to be re-fitted for a new bra, so back to Marks and Sparks she trotted with her husband (who was driving) and my mom in her wheelchair (who was just along for the ride).

When her turn came to be measured she went into the changing room with the lady but with her shoulder operation being so recent the lady was afraid to touch her in order to take a proper measurement. In the end they called my sister's husband into the changing room thinking that he could help very gently move my sister's arm/shoulder in order for the lady to measure her.

After a little while they finished up and my sister and the assistant walked out. At that point, my brother-in-law stuck his head out from behind the curtain and called out "Who's next please? Professionally qualified bra fitter at your service!" They said the look on the waiting ladies faces was a sight to behold, and my mom went into a fit of the giggles! Oh, and did I mention that my brother-in-law was a cop!!!! So ladies, if you are looking for a professionally-qualified bra fitter and you're in Dorset, you know where to go!

Monday 19 June 2017

And even busier!

And still as busy as ever, but at least on the positive side, I know that this will be my busiest period so I know what to expect. That being said, added to the general exhaustion of last week, the weather was scorching and the traffic was awful. I mean, one night when I didn't work late, I left work at 5.30 pm and made it home at almost 8 p.m.!!! Not sure what that is all about but I am so looking forward to the kids getting out of school and there being less traffic on the roads for a couple of months!

Add to that, the state of my house has been getting to me and when I get like that I always feel like I am chomping at the bit to do something about it. By European standards I have a fairly large house with an enormous basement, and of course when you have all that space you fill it up don't you. Not just me of course. At one time we were five living here but as the kids (and one gf) moved out and the ex left me, my house became the repository for all things unwanted, particularly an entire three-bedroomed farmhouse' worth of stuff that my ex left behind two years ago. Admittedly my kids took what stuff of his they wanted but that still left me with a shedload! Oh, and does anyone else have the same problem that when you switch from summer tyres to winter tyres, all the leftover tyres get dumped back at your place! Then of course, nobody can really recognize whose are whose summer tyres to put them back on when summer rolls around! Urrggghh!

I'm not totally blameless of course. I love to cook and for more than 20 years subscribed to the BBC Good Food Guide. Trouble was, I went through the magazines and either highlighted recipes or ripped them out, meaning to get around to trying them later. Well you can imagine how that went can't you, and while I have discovered some fabulous recipes, if I live to be 1,500 years old I would never get around to trying them all. On top of that, being just me at home now, why would I want to cook Ken Hom's full Peking Duck menu!! So to that end, I vowed to not only attack the basement but also start going through the house, and much to my shame, the picture below shows the recipes "I was going to try out" taken from just one drawer!!! (Man, this is like washing your dirty underwear in public!!!) Shame on me!

I took quite a large load to the tip on Saturday - stuff I could donate or give away I will advertise on Facebook or take to the local charity. It's amazing though how just getting rid of one small pile of stuff instantly lifts your mood isn't it!

Still, not being too hard on myself, I have to show you my "major achievements" this weekend too. Every time I go on holiday I tend to pick up little souvenirs but with the intention of actually bringing back something "useful", or at least not just a dust collector. For instance, the table runner you can see in the above picture I bought on the Floating Islands in Peru four years ago. I had a few things I fell in love with in Greece last year that I wanted to put up on my external walls, but had no drill to put them up with (the little drill I bought after my ex left was not strong enough).  Anyway, having cleared some stuff out of the basement I came across my ex' power drill so thought "sod it, I'm gonna put those things up". I tell you, it was hard going as I was drilling into solid concrete, sometimes with metal inside it (I hit that in a few places), but after much sweating and swearing, and a couple of my neighbours looking on laughing (they did offer to help), I managed to get six pieces put up in about an hour, so if anyone needs a "handywoman" just give me a call!

I thought, living in France, my little frog was quite appropriate!
My little lizard is actually very, very brightly coloured - but the sun drowned the colours out!
And after the terrible events in the UK in the past month (two terror attacks in London and a loser blowing himself up at the Ariana Grande concert, plus the tower block going up in flames) it felt nice to find a small bit of "joy" this weekend. My next door neighbours have three grandchildren. The nine year old is down's syndrome and then there are two five year olds. Well, I was out in what I laughingly call my "veggie plot" attempting to take it back from the encroaching field, when the three kids came "to help". I think in reality they were more interested in watching the horses galloping around (you can see them better from my garden which backs directly onto the field) but the excuse was "to help me"!

Anyway, the two five-year olds eventually left but the oldest, the little DS boy, stayed to "help me", and eventually, with the help of his dad, he was able to tell me that he now knew when he had to go pee and could tell his mommy and daddy! I was shocked because, I suppose, not being in their situation, I had never given it any thought how long it would take to "potty train" him. But, he was as pleased as punch, and for the first time ever I got a big kiss!

Oh, and if I really want to be a nasty cow (I do), I stopped in at Stan's for a coffee on my way back from shopping on Saturday and as I walked in just routinely said "bonjour" to the couple who were waiting to pay him. Turns out, it was the dumpy, fat-ankled little cow that my ex-husband ran off with in 2010 and maaaaaaan has she got fat! I asked Stan if she was pregnant (she looked about eight months) and he said of course not as she is nearly 50 (she is 10 years younger than me). I had been working in the garden that morning and looked a bit of a mess but decided to clean myself up before going shopping - good thing eh - bumping into her like that. I must ask her when the baby is due next time! (Yeah, strike me down I know)!

Wednesday 7 June 2017

Busy, busy, busy!

As I have mentioned before, my work is very cyclical and right now we are busy gearing up for a big meeting in July. I don't mind at all because I hate the "down" times and get a real buzz out of being up against deadlines. Ok, I wouldn't want to be like that all the time but it certainly makes the days go faster.

So, what's new? Well although my oldest got married in a civil service in March (they bought the wedding forward in order for Lily's granddad to be there. Thankfully they did as he sadly died shortly thereafter), the big celebration will be in July. As the best man, it was up to my youngest to organize the stag do. I only got to see the one photo posted on Facebook but I saw a couple on my youngest's mobile phone - and it was quite a do! One of the girlfriends found a "Heidi" outfit for him but by the time they had added a red cape apparently he looked more like Little Red Riding Hood. As they were about to set off though, one of the girls decided that his make-up wasn't quite right so they set about putting that right!

After a few drinks (nobody was driving) they went off to play "balloon football". Berrrrrkkk. The thought of a few drinks in me then running round a field playing balloon football doesn't bear thinking about, but apparently he was fine (at that point at least)!

Next up was a trip to the local go-kart place where I'm given to understand his stomach didn't make it past the finishing line at the same time as the rest of his body! Oh well, you only do it once right? That's where he lost his Marilyn Monroe wig too apparently. Man, I have to get hold of some more photos!

After that it was back to Max's place (he of the tattooed arm in the photo) and BBQ and partying till 5 a.m. when they all passed out until about 2 o'clock in the afternoon. All good fun I guess. On a side note, Max is a friend of both my sons as they play in a band together. His father has his own plumbing business and took my youngest on as an apprentice a few years back, so technically Max is Jordan's boss too. To give credit where credit is due, Max bought a run down old house on around 10,000 square metres of land and over a period of about three years has slowly done it up to what is apparently a stunning home now. Not bad at the ripe old age of 27 but hey, he put the hard work in and is now sitting pretty, something I hope my youngest will be able to do in a few years when he has acquired more skills.

After that it was Jordan's turn. He turned 25 last Wednesday so his girlfriend organized a surprise party for him at a bar about 200 metres from their home. She got him there by saying that the bar was doing a special that evening and how about they just go out for a quick drink before dinner. Well when he got there she had arranged with a whole bunch of his friends to be hiding inside the bar! Apparently they had a great evening!

It's so nice that these kids have been friends for so many years and still make time to get together or go hiking or skiing when possible. The bar is called the "684" because it is 684 metres above sea level, just in case anyone is asking!  Oh, and the handsome young black man kneeling down in the red T-shirt is my friend, Stan's, son, the professional rugby player. And again, another party. Daniel had been chosen to play for France in the rugby sevens held in the UK the week before so his girlfriend organized another surprise party last Monday for when he got back. Lovely times indeed!

In other news, I am starting to see all the little things that need fixing up in my house and realize I should get round to having them done. So a couple of weeks ago I had the chap who painted my house take a look at my external balcony, which is in a very sorry state. The cement had started to leak and the underside paint was starting to chip because of it. It didn't make any difference to the inside of the house but it was looking pretty shabby. I was therefore somewhat shocked when he came up with a quote of €1,800! I mean the balcony is probably only about 7 square metres and I am not asking him to do the barrier at all. So thinking that was a ridiculous quote I went out to the DIY place and bought a few basic supplies to have a go myself. Cost me €140 for the lot and that included some of the tools that I would need. Anyway, while I was chipping away at it my doorbell rang and my friend had sent over a guy who does work for her - reliable if a bit pushy. So I asked him to take a look but made the mistake of telling him what the other guy had quoted. His response was "oh, that's about right, but did he mention you would have to do this, and this and this too?" Turns out his quote would come in at around €2,000 but he "would do a better job"! So still not convinced, next time I went up for a drink at Stan's I happened to bump into Philippe, who is in the business, and asked him to give me a basic quote "off the top of his head", given that he knew my house and had already seen my balcony. He came up with about €400, and that included the supplies! When I showed him the written quote I had he nearly fell off his chair. As he said, "they can see you coming can't they!" I hate the thought that these people are taking advantage of me (a) because I'm a woman and (b) because I'm alone. So to make a long story short, Philippe is going to come and do it for me - we just have to set up a time.

And on the subject of the balcony, the wooden barriers are also pretty shabby having been exposed to the elements for so long. My sons have a friend who has his own sheet metal business so tonight he is coming to give me a quote to get that done. My house looks out onto a dairy farm so I have an idea of what I want for the balcony itself.  What do you think?

And I want him to give me a quote for putting in a gate at the side of my house. So far my gardens have been totally open but as they are building more and more in the village and I have had a little sod come into my back garden and steal my decorations (the neighbour caught him and gave him a bollocking), I think I may as well go ahead and get the gate put in. At least that way it would be "fenced off" from the front, even while still being open at the back, although to get into the back they would then have to go through two other neighbours' gardens. For the side gate I have seen a picture of a gate made by this same young man with a cat chasing a mouse. We'll see - I guess it depends on the price!

As I said, all the little bitty things that need doing around the house have been getting to me, so amongst the pile of junk in my basement I finally managed to track down my ex' heavy duty drill. Over the course of my travels I have picked up lovely little souvenirs that I wanted put on my walls but never got round to it. Well now Jordan has shown me how to get the drill bit in right (yeah, I'm that good), last night I decided to get a few pieces put up. Trouble is, all my souvenirs stand a chance of being put up at eye level because I "ain't getting up no ladder!"

And finally, a bit of a rant. I don't rant very often and tend to keep my political opinions to myself but I was horrified at the insensitive, oafish tweets that the tangerine buffoon posted about Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, in the aftermath of the latest atrocities. I don't remember him being so offensive to the Mayor of Manchester - oh right, Sadiq Khan is muslim, not that that's got anything to do with it of course. Thankfully, people have come out overwhelmingly in support of Sadiq Khan, who at least knows how to conduct himself with class, which is more than can be said of you-know-who! And to think he has the code to the "big button"! It's downright scary!