The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Friday, 28 December 2018

The square root of bugger all ...

… is what I did on Boxing Day. I think I literally sat on the sofa all day flicking between books, the computer, and the TV. It was so bad I think my backside is now square and flat!! But you know what, it was very nice! It's not something I would want to do often but very occasionally I suspect that might be a real treat. Actually, I'm just sitting here with an old, unused 2018 diary making lists of all the things that need to be done or that I want to do. The nice thing is I can tick a few things off each day from here on in and they will all get done - although not necessarily any time soon.

One thing I did do though was cancel my automatic toll contract. Since I was using a toll road every day, twice a day to go to work and back, I had a contract with the toll company to the tune of €55-€60 a month (I can't remember exactly) which got me a reduced rate on the toll that I used the most and then standard rate on any other tolls. I had a badge on my windscreen and could just go through without stopping (as long as it was only around 30 km an hour) and the monthly bill was debited automatically. Well this was one of the first things I wanted to cancel since I don't want to be paying €60 a month for something I don't need any more. So yesterday a friend and I went out there to cancel our contracts and set up a pay-as-you-go contract, which only costs €1.90/month for the automatic badge if you use it, plus standard toll fees, and nothing at all if you don't use it. The "telebadge" is very convenient so I wanted to keep it if possible but, as I say, not at the cost of €60/month. No problem, everything was sorted in about 10 minutes and I will now be that much better off each month.  My poor friend retired in August 2016 and hadn't given it any thought so she has indeed been paying €60/month since then while using probably only about €10/month in tolls so she, at last, cancelled that too. Kids today!!! Whatever can you do with them!

On the way back I wanted to stop in the next little town from us to check out their swimming pool (or nautical centre as they call it). Our local town only has an outdoor pool (unless they've built an indoor one since I was last there 20 years ago) so I have this vague idea (very vague actually) that I might start going swimming once a week. When I say "vague" the thought of me in a swim suit and swimming hat is probably enough to kill that idea before it even gets off the ground but we'll see. Again, as I say, my idea is to try to do some kind of activity, if not every day, but most days, so I'm trying to gear myself up to that. I already have a 90 minute yoga class to check out on a Tuesday afternoon in the next little village to me as that is one of the things I want to take up again, and a hiking group, but I also don't want to commit to too many activities until I get a feel for how this "retirement thingy" actually feels. Right now, all I can say is that it feels like I have a huuuuuggggeee weight of traffic jams lifted off my shoulders already!

In other news Christmas day was very nice, spent with my kids and their partners and a friend. I actually didn't stress about this one - it's probably psychological because I know in the future I won't have to get everything done in one mad rush at the end of the work year. I cooked pork this year and actually set it off in the slow cooker at 1 a.m. since I was up anyway and it worked out perfectly. I made a gratin since I love it (to hell with the others) and other stuff and at the last minute thought I would have a shot at making yorkshire pudding for my youngest as he loves it. I do too but I have never been able to get the timings right since they need to be in a really hot oven and then trying to keep everything else hot is what always throws me. They didn't turn out too bad this time (well they all went) and my eldest basically took a second entire Christmas dinner home with him as leftovers. For once I didn't make desert as my friend always brings cookies or mini pies and they went down really well too.


I think I mentioned in a previous post that I had bought morph piggyback suits for my sons for Christmas, well they loved them, and since I already had one for myself we did a fashion parade. The photos didn't come out very well but they were really funny, particularly on my sons because they are taller and the suits looked better!



Since my youngest and his fiancée already play in our board game evenings I invited my oldest and his wife to our next evening, which is on 12 January at my house and they said they are going to come. So with that in mind, we got out a game called "Time's Up" and played that for a while, as well as "guess who I am" (not sure what the real name for that game is) and it was good fun.


A little later the daughter from next door came round with her (relatively) new English boyfriend. He was a good sport and joined in easily so I wonder if they will join our group. It's always nice to have new blood, although to be honest there are sometimes difficulties with the different cultures/languages. Obviously most of these games are French and sometimes I will have no clue what I am supposed to be "guessing" since I don't even have French television. OK if you have to guess "Harrison Ford" that might be easier but some of the French celebrities just go straight over my head. Lily is Swiss so I had her guessing the name of a local Swiss politician who would seem to be as "morally bankrupt" as it is possible to be. Some very, very dubious expense accounting going on there and the local Geneva population are trying to get him out. He, like most of them, is clinging on by his finger nails. None of the others had a clue who I was talking about but as soon as I gave Lily a few clues she got it. So like I say it isn't always easy given the different nationalities involved but it is fun, although I wonder if next time, if we are about 14 or so, maybe we should split into a couple of groups and play cards. With that evening in mind, I have beef braising in my slow cooker at the moment as I want to try out a "French dip sandwich" idea which, if I like it (we used to like this kind of thing before but made slightly differently), I will make a bunch of them as my contribution to "dinner".

So on that note, I'm looking forward to a quiet New Year's eve. I don't particularly like to go out on NYE and I certainly don't want to be on the roads so I will snuggle up on the sofa and try to stay awake till 1 a.m. here to watch the fireworks in the UK. I don't always make it but ….

And finally, thank you to those ladies who sent me Christmas cards in the Christmas card swap organized by Anne (New Happenings). Seeing your cards, though, does make me realize how appalling my handwriting is as yours was so lovely. Now in my defence I left this till the last minute and was trying to get all my Christmas cards mailed from work on my last day so there was a tequila-sodden "leaving party" going on behind me in my office. Not that I think my handwriting would have improved much without it but that's my excuse and I'm sticking with it.

Cheers to you all and have a happy new year's if you are celebrating!



14 comments:

  1. We stay home for NYE too, want to stay out of the fray. Sometimes we manage to stay up until midnight, sometimes not. Jan 1 is the day I pack up everything Christmas which is a big job. Love those costumes lol. Happy New Year to you!

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    1. I don't think I have ever really liked NYE - well not big "dos" anyway. Don't like the crowds and the rip-off prices either. When Steve came over a couple of years ago we had had a fabulous day out at a hot springs, stopped in Evian and then back home for champagne and smoked salmon. Bliss!

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  2. a gratin pork? or potatoes? or what?

    Happy retirement!

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    1. No it was roast pork and gratin is quite the speciality round here. Sliced potatoes with (in my case) a bucket load of cream, garlic and cheese (and you can put bacon bits in it if you like). I like it really crispy under the grill (duchess potatoes?) but then anything with a bucket of cream on is good as far as I'm concerned. And thanks for your retirement wishes. I am SO looking forward to it. Anna

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  3. It pays to go through your bank account regularly for items you no longer need or want that have auto renew.

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    1. Oh I will be hot on that as I'm retiring earlier than planned so less of a pension than I had banked on - not that I'm complaining. In any case that money is better in my pocket than in theirs isn't it. When my husband left I went through everything with a fine tooth comb and easily brought my bills down by €1,000 a month by him leaving!!! I look at that €60 as groceries or dinner out or the theatre and so on. And don't even get me started on speeding tickets. I get so p...d off if I ever get one (although they are extremely rare - maybe 3 in my lifetime). It's just money down the drain isn't it! Well there's no need to preach to you about it is there. Have a happy new year Tania.

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  4. I am so happy you had a lovely Christmas with your family. Love the pajama photo also! I think what I like best about the holidays is the family conversations and remembering all the funny things that have happened at Christmases past.

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    1. As you well know, you don't get to see your kids that often once they have flown the coop do you and I like to think (hope) that they enjoy our times together. Well the youngest must enjoy the board game evenings because they haven't missed one yet. One of the gifts I gave my oldest was "Mad Libs" (I couldn't do it for the youngest as his fiancée doesn't speak English). My oldest just went "oh wow, that brings back so many memories of when we were kids". Success then! And yet again my oldest got the photo albums out as soon as he came in! So I'm hoping that when I make this blog into a bound book for them (I hear you can do it through Amazon now) that they will treasure these memories. Actually I bought them beautiful photo albums when I was in Costa Rica in March and Jen (Jordan's fiancée) said she is going to put their wedding photos in it she likes it that much! I'm glad they're sentimental! Happy new year Anne

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  5. Sounds like a wonderful Christmas. And smart to cancel that toll contract!

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    1. It was a lovely Christmas - very relaxed. And I had my eye on that toll bill for a while I can tell you. The next one to go will be the mortgage insurance because that should be paid off in April. Happy new year to you - and so sorry for your loss. Anna

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  6. Your retirement is starting well, long may the savings, good times and stress-less continue!

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    1. Thanks Kylie, I just have to add in the "exercise" bit for 2019 and I'm set. To be honest, I've missed it as I haven't exercised in maybe two months - too much to do. Have a happy 2019 too. Anna

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  7. We're staying in as well. I have steaks to make,wine, nice cheese and will appreciate the calm. Your gatherings sound so fun.

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    1. I enjoy the calm too (and I don't like New Year's Eve prices either). I hope you have a lovely evening, and yes our evenings are pretty fun (the wine helps!)!

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