The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Sunday 28 July 2019

Sometimes your feet just never seem to touch the floor!

On the Saturday morning Jordan and Jen told us that they had arranged to meet the realtor at 11 a.m. at the apartment they had just put an offer on and "did we want to come to see it"? Now at this point, while the vendor had accepted their offer and the bank had said, in principle, it was fine, nothing had been finalized as yet, so they were still crossing their fingers. Anyway we arranged to meet them at their place at 10.45 a.m. and then drove up to St. Jeoire, which is about 15 minutes "further" into the mountains. This makes no difference, work-wise, for Jordan and for Jen it is 20 minutes closer to her work, so what's not to love!

St. Jeoire - photo
I have been to St. Jeoire many times before - or rather,  have driven past it many times before - but I have never really stopped there - turns out it's a lovely little town! They have everything they need there - a school, parks, shops, doctors - everything they could possibly want, in fact. The apartment has two bedrooms and is on the second floor of a two-storey building with a lift and it is really nice. OK, it needs freshening up but otherwise it is "hot to trot", as we say! Before we all went in I made Jordan do the right thing though, and carry Jen over the threshold! Aaaahh, to be young again!

The big selling point of this place, though, is the peace and tranquility! It is off the main road with plenty of parking, but just 100 metres from the small high street. It also has the most wonderful, large balcony ever, with a view overlooking the Môle mountain. It isn't where they want to be forever as they want to renovate a larger place with land eventually, but as a starter home it is fabulous!

The view from their balcony
Actually, Jen sent me a message a couple of hours ago to say that they had received final approval from the bank and can pick up the keys in three weeks! They are so excited, it's lovely. I sent her a message to say I had several large boxes plus six empty trunks in my basement if they wanted them for the move. I also offered to come over and help pack - "pack" in French is "emballer". Only problem is, my phone is programmed in English and it changed "emballer" to "embalm" - just hope Jen doesn't realize I offered to "embalm" her!

After we left them we headed up to my favourite ski resort of La Clusaz, because the last time my sister was over she had bought a winter jacket there which she says is "the best jacket she's ever had" and she wanted to buy another one. While we found the right shop she didn't find what she was looking for, but we still ended up having a delicious lunch in one of the restaurants in the village and for some bizarre reason the municipal parking lot was free - between seasons maybe - either way, that was a definite plus!

La Clusaz
We could have taken a cable car up to a place called Beauregard but given the heat and the accumulated tiredness we decided to head back home for a rest - because of course we had been invited out again later that evening for a drink! Well actually it was a surprise 40th birthday party that my neighbour had organized for her daughter, Mathilde! She had invited the neighbours round for a drink but she had also been conspiring with Mathilde's friends to have them all show up to make it an even bigger surprise! The plan was for Ben, her boyfriend, to get her to her parents under false pretences and we, the neighbours, would be there as the surprise. Well that worked!

But then as we started singing happy birthday all her friends came running round from behind my hedge. To be honest, she looked like she was going to have a coronary (thankfully she didn't!). There was one slight blip in the proceedings because her mom had made a big "vat" of planter's punch which her husband had put into a cooler, on top of which he stacked blocks of ice because of the appalling heat. Only thing was, he had managed to wedge one of the blocks of ice onto the tap in the punch barrel - and subsequently emptied all the punch into the bottom of the cooler! I said to Mathilde's brother "I bet your mom went 'oh you silly goose, Michel, what a frightfully unfortunate thing to happen'" or words to that effect, at which Seb, the brother, just burst out laughing and said "I think you know mom better than that"! And he was right! She then had to dash off and make more punch (which was just a little too strong, so cheers!) but everything turned out ok in the end - mom having done a great job!

Jen, the little minx, went up to Mathilde to hug her and wish her a happy birthday. Trouble is, Jen is also a psychiatric nurse and, on occasion, has had to restrain patients, so using her nursing skills she stood behind Mathilde, grabbed her wrists and raised her arms - apparently in this position you can't free yourself - at which point the girlfriends came running over and threw her in the pool! Thankfully, she took it in good sport - but I now know not to get too close to Jen if she's in a bad mood!

Mom, Mathilde and Ben

After the cocktails we neighbours left to allow the family and friends to get on with dinner. Turns out Ben had one more surprise up his sleeve (in addition to buying her a beautiful bike - which he hid under all the green wrapping paper above). After dinner he whisked an engagement ring out of his pocket and asked her to marry him! Luckily she said yes!! But I would say that's a weekend she won't forget in a hurry - and it couldn't happen to nicer young woman!

Saturday 27 July 2019

A dilemma!

The day after the wedding, "groggy but unbowed from so little sleep", we set off to visit the Plâteau de Glières, site of a remarkable and courageous battle between the occupying Germans and the French resistance in March 1944. France was occupied during the war, of course, but many interior areas of France were left "unoccupied" by German troops, to be "governed" by the local French administrations. This region of Haute Savoie was not so lucky, given its proximity to neutral Switzerland, and so suffered more than many other regions during the war. My nephew particularly wanted to visit this site so off we went, up a mountain road which, in places, was little more than a goat track! I seriously wonder how my nephew's rented Fiat 500 made it up there, to be honest, but made it we did! I won't go into the whole story of the battle at Glières, except to say that fewer than 200 maquisard (resistance fighters) took on 2,000 German soldiers up at the plâteau. The British parachuted supplies in to the resistance and it was fascinating to see the metal cylinders that they used to get the arms on to the mountainside! As I said, I won't try to tell the entire story, except to say that although the maquisard were ultimately defeated, this defeat would be transformed into a moral victory, giving a much-needed boost to the French resistance. If you want to read more about it you can do so here: - Article contributed by Alain Cerri

Fittingly, the plâteau has not been turned into a tourist trap - no cafés, no nothing, except a museum, and a couple of places where you can sit and picnic as it is pretty well frequented by hikers and history buffs alike! But get this! I had somewhat "over-cooked" the previous couple of days so we just threw all our leftovers into a cooler and took that with us for lunch. When I have a few people over, rather than setting the table, I just put out a very pretty ceramic jug with all the cutlery in it, so I took this as well. And you know how when you are out "slumming it" with your supermarket sandwich where the corners of the bread are all turned up and the people next to you pull out a three-course picnic? Well that was us!! Tee hee! Seriously, when the people at the next table saw us get out the pretty cutlery jar they must have wondered where the chandelier and the wine-waiter were!! Doesn't happen very often but it did feel pretty good, I can tell you!

Plâteau de Glières

The resistance monument

After lunch we headed back towards Annecy to visit the Jardins Secrets that I had visited with my friend last year. I have to say the menfolk were probably less enthralled than we women and to be honest the gardens were probably not as pretty as last time - different season I guess. Plus it was incredibly hot so while we enjoyed it we didn't stay much longer than hour as we just had to get out of the heat!

That evening we were invited to Jen's mom's house to have dinner with her grandparents and a few friends. It was somewhat awkward since only Jordan and I spoke both languages so we were seated in the middle of the table to do running commentaries. Still, it was a nice evening, even if the conversation didn't exactly "flow"!

Which puts me in mind of my sister's wedding many years ago when my mom and dad "dropped me in it". My sister married a Dane and his parents came over to England for the wedding. Now I know we assume that all Danes speak English - which is probably true of the younger generation - but neither of his parents spoke a word of it! So my mom, using logical thinking, landed me with accompanying them around when the bride and groom left because "you speak French"! Yeah mom - that makes a lot of sense! Still, they were sweet and we got through it in the end!

And on a totally different note, the other day I went to the market and since our town's market is one of the larger local markets, they always have one of those, what I call "everything for €1 stalls". Well, technically everything isn't priced at €1 but you can certainly pick up some good bargains. Anyway, I spotted a garlic press in what seemed to be the €1 bucket and it had the "cherry stoner" bit that I wanted too. I had broken mine ages ago so at €1 it was a bargain. But when I went to pay the guy he said "that'll be €6"! When I queried it he said that it was, indeed, €6, but he had an identical one at €1 in another bin. When I asked why the difference in price he said that the €1 press had been made in China and the €6 press in Europe so which did I want? Bugger it, I'll take the Chinese one - and seriously, they appeared to be identical!

Anyway, that wasn't the dilemma I was referring to in the heading to this post! The other night I was looking up the courses at the MJC (the local community centre) and see that enrolments take place on 7 September. I have seen a beginners pilates class on a Monday (same day as my sewing club, but there is no clash) and they have a "pilates+gentle gym" class on a Thursday, specifically aimed at exercises for your back. Now I don't have a bad back (and long may it last) but I am always up for any form of exercise that keeps it that way. So, my dilemma is, do I sign up for both of the classes, seeing as I already have my wonderful yoga lesson on a Tuesday and my commitment to going to my work's gym on a Wednesday? That would be four classes in one week! Do I actually have the staying power to commit to all these classes? I'm a Libran so you can only imagine my anguish! What to do? What to do? I know, I'll toss a coin! There you go - sorted! I'll sign up for both!

Friday 26 July 2019

Everything except the photos!

We're still waiting for the photographer's pictures of the wedding - more exactly, we're waiting for him to finish the web site that he will then forward on to the kids so that we can make up our own albums/choose our favourites. Can't be long now though can it! Anyway, back to the visit from my family. On the morning of the wedding we had a wander around the market in our little town followed by a drink in a local café. I also wanted to buy flowers as it was my neighbour's daughter's 40th birthday and I wanted Jordan and Jen to present them to her at the wedding. This was the neighbour who took care of Jordan when I went back to work after my maternity leave. She only ever babysat one kid - him (was he that awful that she couldn't face any more? Nah. She loved him - and still does). So Jordan was deliciously spoilt by a lady (and her husband) who treated him like the third child that she had wanted but never had. He also got to grow up with her kids as though they were an older brother and sister and they are still close to this day. Anyway, after the market we got changed and headed off to the château and oh, was it ever pretty! It's a lovely spot anyway, but all the more so all done up in its finery - I'll post more pictures when I get the photographer's photos, which are obviously much better than my iPhone pix!

The kids looked absolutely stunning of course - by gosh they scrub up well - but we got the shock of our lives when we saw Jordan - because he had had his long hair all cut off! His hair was so long he could sit on it; he used to wear it up in a "man bun", which I kinda liked, but nah, he decided he wanted to go with something different and got it all cut off the day before. Jen's grandfather led the service and it was really sweet, with Jen struggling on valiantly saying some of her vows in English. She did really well - and didn't blub until after she had gotten through it (at which point my family cheered her!). Very thoughtfully, the caterers were handing out ice cold water bottles, including during the ceremony, as it was so hot! Then they had what they call a "vin d'honneur" which is what the French do to invite a wider group of people to have a drink with them but who would not normally be invited to the sit-down meal. There was a lovely selection of snacks and cocktails out on the terrace with, what I am told, was a pretty strong gin and orange mix, champagne, beer and non-alcoholic drinks, all the while with a saxophone player playing in the background and the photographer's drone flying overhead taking pictures. Really neat huh!

A few hours later we went indoors for what turned out to be an excellent meal accompanied by delicious wine, all chosen by the kids. They really excelled themselves to be honest as everything was perfect. After the main course the saxophone player starting playing a few bars of different songs and each table had to try to "name that song". We were at a serious disadvantage here as many of the songs were French but we had a lot of fun anyway. At the end he played "the most difficult song of all" and started playing "Happy birthday to you", at which point Jordan picked up the birthday card I had had everyone sign, I handed him the bunch of roses and he went up to Mathilde, the neighbours' daughter, and wished her a happy birthday - at which point she promptly burst out crying! Great eh!

Mathilde - at 40!
Then there was music and dancing which went on until 3 a.m. (the cut-off point for music). We managed to last until 1 a.m. but after that we decided to leave it to the youngsters. I was pretty hyped up and couldn't get to sleep anyway, so it was no surprise that I heard my oldest son and four others coming in the back door at 5 a.m. going "shhhh, don't make a noise", followed by creak, creak, creak as they tiptoed up my noisy stairs. They tried really hard not to make a noise but that's pretty much impossible in my place.  I had made up five more beds/mattresses for them to crash on, although I swear I have no idea who one of those kids was (I just hope my son did and that they hadn't picked up a "stray" on the way over). It was ok with my ex too, which was a relief. As I have been sorting/decluttering a load of his stuff from my basement I found a leather-bound bible that a previous girlfriend had had engraved for him (one of the gfs after our divorce but before the latest gf - hard to keep track of sometimes isn't it!) and I handed that to him at the wedding and he surprised me with a photo of our son that he had had blown up and made into a picture for me - so it was all very civilized in the end. Thank god for that!!! It really was a perfect end to a perfect day!

Sunday 21 July 2019

This and that!

Well things have finally calmed down now after all the excitement of the wedding and I seem to have (almost) come to a full stop. Some days I really need to give myself a good kick up the behind to get anything done, but that may be because of the heat. After the god-awful heat of a couple of weeks ago it cooled down a little last week but I understand the mercury is set to rise again this week and we're looking at 100°+ by Wednesday. Yuck!

I did manage to shift into gear a little last week though and decided to go in to work on Wednesday to use the gym and then meet up with my friend for a drink and to give him his birthday presents. I showered and washed my hair before leaving home and tried using what was tantamount to quick-setting cement as a hair spray to try to keep my hair somewhat decent looking but after a work-out in the gym followed by a cold shower I still ended up looking like this!

Cartoon by Shutterstock

I give up! Seriously! My hair isn't even that curly but it always ends up looking like I just stuck my finger in the electric socket! In fact, the day before the wedding I had just gotten out of the shower and plugged in the hairdryer when the bloody electricity went off (again) - my brother-in-law just burst out laughing as you should have seen my hair. I ended up having to put on a headband and go for the au naturel look, but I was praying it wouldn't happen again before the wedding. At least give me a chance to look semi-decent during the ceremony! Oh, and we're still waiting for the photographer to get back with the wedding photos so I will write more about that when I get them, although those that I have seen are beautiful. He actually took fabulous aerial photos with a drone too - neat huh!

Anyway, I met up with my friend and gave him a book for his birthday as he is as avid a reader as I am (probably more so in fact). But, I also gave him a rubik's cube, which is probably driving him to distraction even as I write!! Or he may have thrown it out the window by now - we'll see I guess.

And talking of reading, after I retired I found, sadly, that I wasn't reading as much - unlike when I worked and had 90 minutes each day on the bus to read. This saddened me because I have always loved to read but I'm glad to say that I now seem to have mastered the art of sitting on my back terrace in the shade and ploughing my way through a good book again. I have so many books sitting looking at me waiting to be read, so I'm glad I have started up again. On another note, having discovered some 20 year old cookery magazines stuffed away in the basement while decluttering, I have also decided that I am going to try at least one new recipe a week from now on. The down side of being alone means that I have no-one to cook for other than myself, but the upside is that I get to cook (and eat leftovers) just 3-4 times a week so I really enjoy it. The other day I made a Moroccan cucumber salad that had icing sugar (powdered sugar) in it but meh. Not so great! I then made a lovely (again Moroccan - it was a feature in that particular 20-year-old magazine) aubergine (eggplant) dish that had tons of garlic in it, as well as cumin and chilies. Lovely! So I guess it's a good thing I live on my own as the amount of garlic in that recipe definitely kept the vampires away!

Oh and guess what? Ya can't guess? Well I suppose I'll have to tell you then! When I weighed myself this morning I had actually lost 14 lbs (one stone) from my highest weight, although probably about 10 lbs since I retired and all that without trying! Now I'm quite aware that I can go up and down 3-4 lbs overnight anyway, but this is the first time I have got anywhere near that figure. I weigh myself in stones/lbs (14lbs in a stone) because it means more to me and, as I told my friend, the numbers go down quicker in lbs than kg! To which she replied that they also go up quicker in lbs!! Damn, I wish I hadn't told her now! I have tried various online weight loss programmes over the years but I honestly can't be bothered to stick with them (read "I don't like being told what to do"). I also loathe all these 0% items - particularly 0% yoghurt as I feel I can just taste the chemicals in them. So I recently decided "sod it" and went back to buying full fat Greek yoghurt (with honey - yumm) and just going with whatever I fancied and the bloody weight is coming off (albeit slowly). I know, losing a pound a month isn't exactly gonna get me on "The Biggest Loser" is it, but I'm happy with that. Oddly enough, I have never been a big eater but put on 16 kg (35 lbs) with the menopause. I know this because I weighed 66 kg when my dad died and within a few years had raced up to over 80! I think it was the speed at which it went on that shocked me more than anything - but, sadly ladies, I'm not alone am I! So why does it seem to be coming off now when I'm nowhere near as active as I was when I was working? The only thing I can think is that when I was at work I ate breakfast because "I had to eat breakfast", and then lunch "because it was 1 p.m." and then dinner because I "had to eat when I got home". Now, not so much! I don't eat by the clock any more because I have more time - well that's the only thing I can put it down to - but long may it last!

And going off on a totally different tangent, yesterday I decided to stop and take pictures of remodeling work being done by one of my new neighbours and thought my old neighbour who used to live in that house (15? 20?) years ago might like to see what they have done to it. (Hi Marilyn!). I must have looked like some weird pervert in a flasher mac jumping out from behind the bushes taking pictures of this house but … Anyway, the divorced dad that lives there now has taken out the garage and a lot of the garden to make an independent studio for his disabled son. The son is very seriously physically disabled (he has a huge mobility scooter) but not, apparently, mentally disabled. I believe he also has a job. But dad has been working on this studio for quite some time now so I decided to send pictures to Marilyn!

Which then got me chatting away to Marilyn on What'sApp for about 40 minutes. It's always lovely to have a good old chinwag! Marilyn is American (and also now French) and after losing her lovely husband three years ago she left the US to be with her son who is working in Cork, Ireland. Turns out Mathieu just got engaged so they are busy looking for a wedding venue in the Czech  Republic - exciting times huh! I have no idea how we got on the subject (do women ever know how they jump from one subject to another?!) but she said something about Ireland being a dump! Say what? Well that wasn't what she meant. What she meant was that Ireland actually seems to be the dumping ground for all the crap make-up the Kardashians can't sell in the US (you know, like the dollar bin at Walmart), and so many young Irish girls are buying this cheap, marked-down make-up and slapping it all over their faces and it looks horrible! Their beautiful, pale, freckle-faced Irish skin was not made to be smothered with Kardashian-colouring make-up. So it would seem that the Kardashian brand is maybe not quite as successful as they would have you believe! Who wudda thunk!

And going off on yet another tangent, I bumped into an old (divorced from my friend) neighbour yesterday who I hadn't seen for about a year - and I got the shock of my life! He has cirrhosis and he didn't recognize me after living next door to me for 30 years! When I explained that I used to live next door to him and that we would take each others kids on holiday he still didn't recognize me! So I said, "you know my ex, P, the American" and it either clicked or he pretended it had! My goodness, he was in a state. Now while I have compassion for him for his current health problems (and there is a very sad back story too) I never actually liked him - his ex-wife yes, but not him! He was born and bred around here (in Haute Savoie) and used to say things like "I'm a real Savoyard and the rest of you are just a bunch of pigs"! Nice eh! I think in reality he was very jealous of people working in Switzerland and earning good money - but if that was the case why didn't he look for work in Switzerland. My ex's skank that he ran off with also made comments about how "lucky" we (my ex, me and my son) were to be working in Switzerland so ex told her to start looking - which she did, and she got a job. But, you know, sometimes it's easier to just sit around and complain about how everyone "has it better" rather than try getting off your backside occasionally. Heck, that's how I got my job in Switzerland - I started applying - as I knew I didn't want to stay in the UK. Anyway, when he realized that I was now divorced he asked me to stop in and see him for a coffee "sometime" - I may or may not do so because, as I say, I never did like him and don't need to be cosying up to a man who has never been anything but a loud-mouthed trouble-maker but … who knows! It sure was a shock though when he didn't even recognize me after 30 years as his neighbour! Sad really!

And I see that WTO chief, Roberto Azevêdo, has put Boris straight on a few of his claims on "trade matters"! Apparently Boris has been spouting that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the UK could use an old clause called GATT 24 to continue to enjoy tariff-free trade with the EU. Err, or not, as it would seem. As Mr. Azevêdo pointed out, GATT 24 is not applicable in this case. Seems Boris just spouts out whatever springs to mind and sees what sticks. Now who does that remind you of? Just like the £350 million a week that was going to get pumped into the NHS eh Boris?

And finally, (yes finally - I don't half rattle on), I guess we all know where we were when they put a man on the moon don't we. I was 10 years old and in junior school and the teacher dragged a big old TV into the classroom so we could watch the moon landing. Even as young as I was I knew what a momentous and magical event that was! Wow! And wadda ya know! Fifty years ago today they put a man on the moon - and just a couple of days ago I managed to upload my own video onto my blog. So now the sky would really seem to be the limit wouldn't it - to infinity and beyond!

Wednesday 17 July 2019

Plâteau d'Agy - please tell me this works!

Again, it's driving me nuts. If this doesn't work I give up. I've just spent the last hour trying to clean out my iCloud drive, put this video on YouTube so I can upload it and remember my Apple ID. Don't think I'm cut out for this stuff!

Tuesday 16 July 2019

Think I've finally got it figured!

That is, how to put my own videos on my blog! Only took four years but then I guess I'm slow! It was driving me nuts that I could put other videos on my blog but not my own - I couldn't even take them off Facebook, but it looks like this is working! Hallelujah!

Anyway, back to the plot. The day after my family arrived for the wedding I dropped my sister, brother and brother-in-law in town and picked up my nephew and his partner to take them out to pick up their rental car. While I could get everyone a bed of sorts in my home I couldn't get everyone in my car to go sight-seeing so D and L rented a small car. Trouble is when they say "small" in Europe they mean small - so they ended up getting a dinky little Fiat 500 - which I reckon has a slightly less powerful motor than my sewing machine, but hey, they weren't complaining! I did wonder how they would follow me up some of those mountain passes but believe it or not they made it, even if they had to take it very slowly!

Since we effectively only had the afternoon that day to do touristy stuff I thought I would take them up to the Plâteau d'Agy, which is only about 30 minutes from here and an easy climb for the Fiat! This is the place I had been with my friend and forgot my hiking boots so ended up looking like a right dillon trecking up there in my flip-flops! Had to give up in the end when my flip-flops broke!

When we got to the plateau we decided to have lunch in the lovely little restaurant there which turned out to be really good! After that we set off for a short walk part-way up the mountain to check out how far it was to the top. Turns out it would be around two hours all the way up so we decided to give it a miss as it was getting late, but again, what a pretty spot it is; I don't think I will ever get tired of the sound of cowbells! In fact, my friend mentioned today that we should give it a shot this weekend and go back up there for a hike. As long as the weather isn't too hot I'm up for it!

Since we were part way there we decided to stop for a coffee at the horseshoe gorge ("Fer à Cheval" in French). I had already taken my family there in the past but, again, it's a place that never gets old!

After that it was back home for dinner (which luckily made it through the power outage debacle) and a relatively early night for my family ahead of the wedding the next day - not me though, I never go to bed much before midnight/one o'clock and this was no different - I won't go to sleep anyway so there doesn't seem much point in going earlier. I still made it out of bed by seven though!

On a totally different note, I have slowly been putting together my paperwork to request French citizenship. When I look online it would seem that I have to go through the Préfecture (local authority) in Grenoble, but there was also a note on their website which said that I had to go through Annecy! So I contacted both and asked which was it. Turns out I have to go to Annecy first so that they can make sure my paperwork is in order and then Grenoble will give me an appointment "at some point". But get this, the waiting time just for an appointment in Annecy is minimum 12 months! Holy cr*p! Thank God I have a sense of humour eh!

Saturday 13 July 2019

Being lazy!

Since all my visitors have left I have got the house straightened out, done the shopping and washed and dried 11 sets of bed linen thanks to the wonderful weather we are having. It's a nice feeling to get everything done and I think I am finally learning that it is ok to just sit and do nothing - or sit and read in my case. I got all my running around done today and still had hours to sit and read in my back garden. Total bliss!

Up at the Plateau d'Agy last week
Tomorrow (14th) is Bastille Day here in France so, for the most part, the fireworks are starting off tonight so that everyone can sleep in tomorrow. In fact, they've just started now. My youngest (the newly-wed) just sent me a video of a group of about 12 friends. They had gone up the "Petit Môle" mountain to watch the fireworks. Ah how wonderful it is to be young and enthusiastic!

And Bastille Day is also my friend's birthday so I will see if he is free for a few hours so I can take a birthday present over to him. Life at the moment is very sweet!

Friday 12 July 2019

The storm that nearly ruined everything!

I already had a few ideas for meals while my family were here staying with me but knew I wanted to get myself really organized food-wise so that I would have one less thing to think about during the week. So the weekend before the wedding I wrote down what I planned to cook every day (or most days), plus an idea of what site-seeing we could do. Then on the Monday before everyone arrived I took my detailed shopping list and bought everything I needed, storing it in the fridge and two freezers in my basement. A storm had been predicted for that evening and while I love storms I (and, as it turns out, everyone in the village) got the shock my life when an absolute doozy hit around 9.30 p.m. It was absolutely awful! At one point I thought I should try and close the shutters on my bathroom window "just in case" and the wind nearly ripped my arm off! Seriously, if I hadn't managed to get my hand out of the way it would have been touch and go for my arm! I live at the end of a valley and the storms usually bang around overhead for a while and then rumble on back up the valley, but not this time. I have lived in France for 30 years and I have never seen anything like it. It howled and banged for a good 90 minutes, at which point the electricity went off. Not that that is unusual though, so taking my flashlight and kindle I decided to go to bed and "wait it out".

In the morning I had a look round and most things chez moi were where they were supposed to be buuut trees had been bought down in the village, apparently a few rooves had been blown off and a large tree had bought down an electric pylon (hence the power outage). My neighbour is on the village council and he had been told that the electricity should be back on "around 10 a.m.". Then it was pushed back to "maybe noon" and then ….. who knew! After a few hours I was starting to worry about all the food I had in my freezers and a couple of things I had left in the fridge to prep for Tuesday, so I decided to at least pre-cook the stuff I had in the fridge and pack it into the cooler. But just as I got the gas going under the frying pan the bloody gas ran out!!!! We don't have mains gas in the village so use gas bottles which, in my case, last easily over a year - and the bottle chose this moment to run out!!!! Luckily I always keep a spare bottle in the garage so I ran round to change it but couldn't find the spanner that allows me to loosen the nut and change the bottle. The bloody garage is so full of junk brought about by my "decluttering phase" that I couldn't find anything!

So I ran round to my neighbour's and she came back with me, wrench in hand, to help change the bottle. After much cussing and sweating we got it changed, at which point I picked up the cooler I intended to use to keep the cooked food cold - and the bloody handle broke off, meaning I couldn't get the lid to close properly. Now at this point you either laugh or cry - luckily my neighbour and I just sat down and laughed. It was hot, I was tired and stressed and we just collapsed into fits of giggles! The obvious solution was to run into town and buy a new cooler, along with a few kilos of ice. I guess at least one thing got accomplished that day, although the idea of making a cake for my soon-to-arrive visitors went straight out the window, what with having an electric oven and all and still no electricity! Thankfully my neighbour has a generator and was able to hook up both my and my other neighbour's freezers to his generator so at least the contents were saved thank goodness!

At 4 p.m. I had to drive in to Geneva to pick up my nephew and his partner from the airport and I got stuck in traffic!!! Again, now I know why I gave up work. I bought them back to town, dropped them off and then dashed back to Geneva a couple of hours later to pick up my sister, brother and brother-in-law. Trouble was, their flight was delayed and they had no way of contacting me because my mobile phone charge had run out and I had no way to re-charge it!!  Bloody hell! There was another storm advisory posted on the motorway so I was pretty nervous driving back with black, black clouds hanging over the mountains but we made it back just in time for the next big storm which, thankfully, was nowhere near as bad as the previous one. The electricity finally came back on around 9 p.m. (after a 23-hour power cut) so I was able to get everyone settled in without having to resort to flashlights and candles! But methinks it's finally time to go shopping for that generator I keep putting off, since that storm was surely not a one off! I'm just glad it happened a couple of days ahead of the wedding to enable us all to get back on our feet again! You have to be thankful for small mercies I guess!

Thursday 11 July 2019

Another perfect wedding ...

… although it very nearly wasn't. MASSIVE storm rolled in the day before, taking rooves off houses, downing trees and electric pylons and complete power outage for 23 hours. But more on that later.

Photo by App Art Photography