The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Wednesday 30 December 2020

Natural good looks!

I've spent a few days offline over Christmas so I'm only just now starting to catch up on all my favourite blogs. While it's been a strange and unpleasant year for most people I hope that everyone got to enjoy at least some parts of Christmas with family and friends. The kids came to me on Christmas day and it was really nice, except I managed to massacre the Yorkshire pudding again. Think I'll have to give up on that one, which is a shame because my kids love them. Jen and Jordan have been looking into the local day-care for the baby and she was telling me that they might be stuck for the month of July as the day-care can't take the baby before September. They are going to take August off anyway and that works out well because the day-care closes for the whole month, so Jen asked if I would be willing to step in for July (would I????). They know I'm not ready to do full-time baby-sitting because I feel having worked for over 40 years this is my time now. But of course I'll help them out whenever they need me, if the baby is not well or whatever. So the plan looks to be Jen will drop down to 80% work and take Mondays off and I will take care of the baby on Fridays so that will mean only three days a week of day-care. Sounds good to me. When I was going through stuff in my basement the other day I came across a bag of baby things that I had hung on to. I found the sweetest baby jackets that my mom had knitted for me when I was pregnant with André, so I washed them and showed them to Jen and she has taken a couple. Now to be honest, they're incredibly old fashioned - heck they were old fashioned 33 years ago, but I kept them and put them on both babies when they were new born for a while. Obviously you can't put them in them for too long but it would be quite sentimental to me to see the baby in one of them at least once!

In other news I've signed back up for the "Walk 1,000 Miles in 2021" challenge. I want to give it another go with (hopefully) this pandemic being kinder to all of us. Who knows, maybe I will aim for 1,500. That might be pushing it a bit but I'm pretty motivated (but then aren't we all on New Year's Eve)!

It's cold and pretty bleak here at the moment so I haven't exactly been knocking all those things off my "to do" list lately. But the other night I actually sat and watched a programme called something like "Christmas at the Castle" and they were filming at Highclere castle, which was the location for the fictitious Downton Abbey. They have a staff of about 35 and were showing how they organized everything getting it ready for the Christmas tourist season (covid willing - it was, luckily for them). While I have mixed feelings about so much wealth being in the hands of so few people, I have to say everyone worked really hard - including the owners - the Earl of Carnarvon and his wife - and they all seemed to be such a nice, cheerful group. It certainly brings home to you though just how hard they really do have to work to generate the income to keep these places running!

Highclere Castle - "Downton Abbey"

Next week, apparently, they're showing the filming at Warwick castle, which I really would like to watch having grown up just down the road from it. It was funny really because when my husband's family came over from the States for our wedding we took them to see it, and my dad was saying he had spent the last 60+ years living right next door and had never visited it. But then, isn't that always the way!

Warwick Castle

And finally, just when I thought I had done all my Christmas shopping I spotted these masks and just had to get them as stocking fillers. The boys and I decided to model them - I'd say natural good looks run in the family wouldn't you!

Friday 18 December 2020

Well at least one of 'em's useful!

I just happened to stumble upon a programme called Wartime Farm Christmas the other night and it made really good viewing. Obviously in Britain during the war food and resources were in very short supply so the programme had them recreating the ways people coped. Rabbit - which the "posh" people had turned their noses up at previously - became a staple, combined with 1,001 uses for potatoes and carrots, because there wasn't much else available in the way of vegetables. They showed them making beer out of potatoes (smelly but good, apparently), using matchboxes to make furniture for a doll's house as a Christmas present and making Christmas decorations out of old newspapers.To show them eating their "Christmas dinner" they filmed inside Chiselhurst Caves near London, which provided sanctuary for around 15,000 people per night during the bombings. I found it so fascinating I might buy the book - but then again, since I have goodness knows how many books to read already maybe I should just put it on my wish list (edit to add, it's not a book it's a dvd)!

Inside Chiselhurst Caves

"Christmas decorations"

Homemade beer

One of the books I'm reading at the moment (I usually have a couple on the go at once) is called Round Ireland With a Fridge, by Tony Hawks, and it's just as daft as it sounds. On a drunken night out with a mate in England Tony accepted a bet from his mate, Seamus, that he couldn't hitchhike around Ireland with a fridge. Drunk as he was, he accepted. I mean he must have been really drunk because the bet was for £100 and the fridge alone cost him £130!!!! I haven't gotten very far into it but it's well written and very silly. I don't know when it was written but there were obviously still "tensions" between north and south and at one point he needs to take the road to Donegal which, apparently:

"... dipped in and out of Northern Ireland, and I was anxious not to find myself hitching in that part of the world. Apart from the fact that I'd been told that drivers rarely stop for hitchers there, I was conscious of the interest a small white container might hold for the security forces. Of all the romantic and heroic ways to leave this world, being part of a controlled explosion with a large kitchen appliance rated very poorly." (taken from Tony Hawks' Around Ireland With A Fridge).

It's very daft, but I have to admit I'm enjoying it immensely.

I saw in the news the other day that for the first time ever UNICEF has donated money to the UK to help feed children. It's not a tremendous amount in the grand scheme of things (£25,000) but I guess it shows just how bad things are (for whatever reason) in certain parts of the UK. Whether or not you believe feeding poor children is the responsibility of the government (it is if the parents can't do so), either way that money was very welcome apparently. But then you get dickhead politician Jacob Rees Mogg making some snide comment about how UNICEF was using that donation to score political points and it wasn't appropriate. Yeah, this from an AH who is apparently worth over £100 million and likes to lie down when he's "working" in Parliament. And these are the people who are "running" the country? God give me strength!

And yes, he is just as much of a dick as he looks!

My new oven was delivered the other day but since my old oven was attached to the electrical wiring by a domino and my new oven came with a plug the delivery guys wouldn't touch it so they just put the oven on the floor of the kitchen and left! So that left me faffing around trying to get a plug onto the old wiring and then trying a small mixer to see if I'd got it working. I hadn't, and I was starting to panic a bit about how I was going to make Christmas dinner with an unplugged oven in the middle of the kitchen floor (ham sandwiches anyone)? So as Jordan is off for a few days he came over and soon figured out where I'd gone wrong and together we lifted it into its spot and voilà, I'm the proud owner of a brand new oven, which seems pretty easy to use, having tried it out for the first time tonight. So then I asked him if he could take a look at a couple of electrical sockets which were starting to pull out of the wall. I've an idea they were the original sockets from when we moved in and I guess over time they'd started to come loose. So in a couple of hours he went all over the house and tightened up and secured every single socket in the house. It was such a relief and I realize it's things like this that have been getting me down lately - the kinds of jobs I can't do myself and you can never get anyone to come and do for you. When I told Jordan I'd been thinking of trying to hire a DIY guy for the entire day he said he didn't think I'd get one even for a full eight hours because what they actually want to do is sell you the parts - that's where they make the money - not on the labour itself! Damn, I'm so glad I've got him to help me out. Now compare that to André. He's been complaining for a couple of days that there's a loose nail sticking up at the top of the stairs and he keeps catching his foot on it. So as he was going upstairs I handed him a hammer and told him to just hammer it back down. Bang, bang, bang and it was fixed. Then when I asked where he was going he said "to lie down because I'm exhausted"! Ha, I knew he was joking but I tell ya, sometimes I think he's neither use nor ornament that one!

Tuesday 15 December 2020

Misheard lyrics!

I was in a bit of a funk last week. Well a lot of a funk actually. Didn't even go grocery shopping (if you can believe it), so yeah it was bad!!! I know it's normal and I realized the state of the house was getting me down big time. André has been very good while he's here but he seems to have these ruddy great boots that just drag muck through the house every time he breaths out, and as for cutting a baguette, well he seems to religiously miss the board or the bin and all the crumbs get strategically scattered all over the floor every time. I shouldn't knock him because he really has been no problem at all - and I knew it was just a normal funk. What I did eventually have to acknowledge, of course, is that I still want to get rid of so much crap in this house and I really don't think it was fair that I got all my ex's crap dumped on me with five days' notice to "get rid of as you will"! Yeah, thanks for that!

Still, I just received a Christmas card/letter from my former boss and I think he wrote very well about the current situation (he always had a way with words). They are both British and when he retired they moved back to the UK - to a beautiful place in Edinburgh. I'm pretty sure he didn't want to move back though - I think it was more his wife's idea, but they seem to be making the best of it - enjoying it actually, after so many years living away. It helps that they have more than decent pensions and can come out here pretty much as and when they want (I mean, who else can afford to get "trapped" by the pandemic for five weeks in Zermatt in spring without too much hassle (it's beautiful but very expensive)?


He made the very valid point of just how beautiful Edinburgh was without the crowds, the traffic and the noise, and how nature started assuming it's (rightful?) place again, with birds expecting you to step around them! They found plenty to occupy themselves and seem to be doing okay during this bloody pandemic. Then of course there's Brexit coming up (will there, won't there be a deal)? They were both very much against Brexit and he wrote about how they were trying to deal with the aftermath of a decision they were against and in which they, like me, had no vote. So now, while they are disappointed, they're dealing with it - have to don't they/we! They're even talking of food shortages in the UK, but I suspect there's an awful lot of brinkmanship going on on both sides! I just hope Boris is up to it - it remains to be seen!

In other news, the French lifted the strict lockdown today. No more permission slips needed to leave home, we can cross into other départements and so on so it feels, yet again, like we've regained a little freedom. However, we are still going to be subject to a curfew between 20h and 6h, the only exception being 24 December (since that's when the French really celebrate Christmas). That kinda leaves me in the doodah because everyone is coming to my place on Christmas Day and it looks like it'll be an awfully short-lived celebration then, with everyone having to be off the roads by 20h! They're not even giving anyone a break for New Year's so I think my kids will be going to a friend's house and staying overnight. Cinemas, restaurants and gyms will hopefully get to escape from purgatory on 7 January, as well the ski lifts/slopes. It's hard on them getting to miss out on the Christmas/New Year trade but people are being very strongly encouraged to go snow-shoeing/cross country skiing in the resorts. They just don't want the crowds around the ski lifts!

Then tonight I received a note from the administration of this région (Auvergne-Rhone Alpes) to say that as from tomorrow there will be free covid testing for anyone that wants it and giving the address of the locale in my town! Very efficient I thought. I'm just hoping I never have to use it!

I did get my tree up last week, despite being an "ungracious shrew" at the time, so at least that's done. I also got some cleaning done and put away a shedload of things on the bathroom vanity. It looks better already. I think my problem is I want everything done now, so I charge in like a bull in a china shop, wear myself out and then just give up! I think André could see I was in a funk so I told him, "just look at all these bloody CDs I got landed with from your dad and now it's my problem to get rid of them"! There must be over 200 left being very un-feng shui around my house and they are driving me nuts because I just don't listen to them. Plus an awful lot of them are country music and I honestly don't know any French people who are interested in hearing someone sing about the farm, the truck, the train or mamma! Luckily André stepped in and said to give them to him because while country isn't really his taste either he said he would have fun going through them when he gets his own place (he should sign on Thursday). I'm so glad because I don't think anyone wants CDs nowadays and I felt bad about throwing them away!

I don't quite know how we got on the subject but I was telling him about one time my ex was singing along to a John Denver song - "and so he talked to the fish in the creek" - and I burst out laughing because I'd always wondered what the fish were doing in the trees in John Denverland!!! Then I told him about my ex-BIL who used to sing "home, home on the range, where the deer and the cantaloupe roam". So then he told me couldn't sleep last night (I know, I heard him roaring laughing and I knew he was listening to Peter Kay). Peter Kay is a very funny comedian from the north of England and an astute social observer (i.e. he can take the piss - albeit kindly - out of anyone)! So, André had me watch this sketch about misheard lyrics and it's hysterical. He might not be that easy to understand to anyone outside the UK but just look at the crowd's reactions. He's a gem!

Tuesday 8 December 2020

This and that!

There's not much going on here of course as we're still in lockdown. Hopefully that will be eased a little on 15 December but who knows. If not, it'll just be me and André for Christmas dinner I guess. I already told him it'll be baked beans on toast (and he's fine with that)! Actually that's a real treat as we were never "allowed" to eat that because my ex thought anything "beans" was disgusting. My answer was "just don't eat it then" but nope, it had to be banned! When I was walking with my neighbours last week we got onto the subject of "beans on toast" and they were horrified at the thought of it - and this from a nation that eats frogs' legs and snails. Each to his own I guess. André and I are invited to Jen's mom's for Christmas eve and I seriously hope snails and frogs legs are not on the menu. What the heck do you do? I don't even particularly like seafood so I sure as heck am not going to eat snails! 

My new oven was delivered yesterday but they didn't actually install it because it needed a "female" plug rather than just the wire-in domino that I had. So I ran down to the DIY store and asked what kind of plug I needed and the guy sold me a rather sturdy plug, suitable for an oven. Trouble is, he sold me a male plug, so I had to run back down there and get a female one. But now I can't open the bloody thing to get it hooked up so I'm hoping someone (Dave, I'm looking at you) can enlighten me. I took the screw out of it but I'll be damned if I can get the thing open in order to hook it up! I guess I'm looking at another trip to the DIY store tomorrow! At least the bloody thing is delivered, but it does bring home to me how little I actually need an oven, except maybe for cooking the Christmas turkey! When I got home André told me that my gardener had stopped by as I had told him I had an envelope for him (over €500) so I guess that's a nice sum for him to pick up before Christmas. I'm not sure how much is declared but that's not my problem I guess. He used to come by about twice a month when I was working so I never actually saw him and just paid him when I caught up with him and we seem to have continued that tradition. But good for him, it's a tough job and I'm glad I found someone willing to do it!

Then today I got news that a former colleague had died aged 72. I worked with JM when I first came to Geneva in 1980 and he was a nice guy. We had our "moments" later on when I worked in HR and asked him to fill out paperwork that we needed (he was definitely onto a scam) but all in all he was a nice guy, and I was so sorry to hear of his death. And then today I read that former England rugby player, Steve Thomson, has been diagnosed with dementia at the young age of 42!!! Damn, it makes you wonder what all that trauma to the head does doesn't it! I'm a big rugby fan and those guys wear very little protection so it makes me think is it worth it? What with that and "Nobby" Stiles (England footballer) being just the latest sportsman to have died while suffering from dementia!

Just now I received a text message from my friend to say that he had passed 1,500 miles. I told him it would be hard for me to make up another 400 miles between now and new year but after that we could plan on walking together out my way when this damn lockdown is lifted (he lives in another département/state/county) and he said he would look forward to that. Damn, I haven't seen him for how many months now!

And finally, I see that tonight's euromillion lottery is worth over €200 million. I've played, but damn, I wouldn't want all that money. I reckon it would be better to have 200 winners but then I'm not making the decisions am I. We always used to joke about winning the lottery with my family, and I actually dreamt the numbers (believe it or not) when the UK lottery started up. I had got all six numbers and saw the last number as 42 or 49 so it would have been no problem to play either, but then I just poo-poooed it. Never again I tell you. But it's nice dreaming about what you'd do with that money isn't it. My brother, Phil, who died two years ago, told me once, after I had got into it with him, that he was knocking another "0" (zero) off the amount he would give me if he won so I was now down to £10!! Ha ha, it's a fun dream isn't it. If I ever did win a large amount of money I would sort out my family first but not so much that my kids could ever give up work. I believe you need to work to appreciate what you have - which is why, I believe, so many who are born into wealth are unhappy. I have about seven UK-based charities who would be first in line for my "Secret Santa" donations - RNLI (life boat), air ambulance, Red Cross, Sally Army, The Anthony Nolan Trust, Help for Heroes, The Battered Women Refuges, but I would need to find more charities in France. The local food bank is an obvious choice but other than that, I'd need to find more. Actually, I don't need to win any money because I have everything I need and most of what I want, but I sure would enjoy giving it away!

Saturday 5 December 2020

A language lesson for the neighbour!

My neighbour knocked on my door earlier this evening to ask if I had any star anise and cinnamon sticks as he wanted to have a go at making mulled wine. I had both (I've got most things as I'm a spice-a-holic) but it brought back memories of this time last year when we went to the Christmas market in Alsace and got to drink mulled wine while walking round. Making it even better was that you could actually buy hot white wine, and since that is my absolute favourite it was just heavenly - all the more so because of the wonderful aroma. Not that any of that has happened this year of course, but it's nice to look back over my blog and see what we were up to. And talking of white wine, I'm up to almost three weeks without touching a drop and believe it or not I haven't given it a second thought. Just proves, I guess, that opening a bottle was simply a habit that needed knocking on the head a little!

When I wandered over to my neighbour's to take the spices she invited me in for coffee and while I was there the house phone went. She made the mistake of picking it up just a bit too quickly because next thing I heard her giving some poor bloke on the end of the line a piece of her mind, saying she "thought that with lockdown we could at least be spared, just for a few weeks, from having your bloody religion pushed down our throats"! Jehovah's Witnesses then! Actually I hadn't realized that one of the few positives of lockdown was that we would not have them ringing the doorbell for a while! And yet, when I got back home, my own phone went and since the number was withheld I just let it go to answering machine and lo and behold I get a message urging me to check out this wonderful website (, if you're interested) to "cure my depression in these difficult times". Hey buddy, I'm not depressed, but I may well end up that way if you lot don't bugger off and leave me alone!

Then I got a message from Jen sending me a picture of the latest baby scan, with a full-face "can you see me looking at the camera" image which was just lovely. I didn't say anything but I seem to have also counted six arms but that may just be my eyesight! Still, it was lovely! She then told me that her mom wanted to know if we wanted to go up to a local ski resort called Les Gets on 19 December (assuming lockdown is again eased on 15 December) to see the Christmas lights, so all being well we won't totally miss out on a little Christmas cheer this year, even if it's not exactly a long weekend in Alsace!

Les Gets
Picture by Peakretreats
I'll have to check though to see if we need snow chains. I have winter tyres on my car but if we also need chains I'll have to run out and buy some as I'm pretty sure the ones I have downstairs don't fit my tyres!

On a side note, just a quick shout out to T'Pol to say that so far I've gotten rid of 30 items of clothing. I still have a way to go (and it's getting harder) but three bags of clothes have already gone to the charity shop. When I look at some of the things I put in the bags my only thought is "what on earth was I thinking"!

And finally, it started snowing quite heavily last night so the snow plough made it's first run out in the village and we had a decent covering this morning. Decent enough to need shifting with a snow shovel anyway. I spent two hours out there clearing my driveway (and starting to clear the communal bits) before my young neighbour came out to give me a hand, followed by his dad a bit later. And I was knackered! We were just about done and starting to put our shovels and salt buckets away when there was an almighty "crack" and all the snow on one section of my roof gave way and slithered down onto my driveway. Which was when I let out a loud "oh sh*t, damn and blast", and that was when dad said "and that, my son, is how you say 'dearie, dearie me in English - or words to that effect"! Time for a little hygge I think!

Monday 30 November 2020

Keeping busy!

There's not a lot going on around here, for obvious reasons. Even though lockdown has eased a little since Saturday, we still can't mix with other people, although we are now free to go out shopping, as non-essential shops are slowly opening up. Bars, restaurants and gyms will remain closed until 20 January at least (ouch) and my various classes are still off limits until then, although the yoga teacher has sent round classes for us to do and I can log on to do a pilates "zoom" class if I want to. Trouble is, I don't really want to - zoom just doesn't seem to do it for me! From what I understand they are hoping to get our Italian classes going again shortly via remote - there's not really much else they can do is there but at least they're trying! So since we're still in semi-lockdown I thought I should get my act into gear and tackle some of the UFOs (unfinished objects) that have been hanging around here since forever!

So with that I pulled a card table up to one of the sofas in the TV room and finally opened up the "wasgij" puzzle I bought about six months ago. If you remember, a wasgij is "jigsaw" backwards, which means the picture you see on the front of the box only slightly resembles the finished puzzle. It's a bit painful to start with but it gets more interesting as you get more pieces in. Actually, André and I were having lunch yesterday and I saw him sidling over to the wasgij and try to find a few "obvious" pieces, so I'm thinking I might buy him one for Christmas, although who knows if he will ever give it a shot. I doubt it somehow!

Knitting bag - finally finished!

Quilt - unfinished - a recurring nightmare!

Jen would like me to make this bag for her - 
not even started!

Darn it, I have so many things I could be doing (should be doing, really) that if I don't do it now, during lockdown and with winter on the horizon, when will I do it? A friend and I also bought a couple of cross-stitch projects about three years ago, so I pulled one of them out to finally get started on it. What a nightmare. You start in the middle of the fabric with cross-stitch so I stitched in the letters "O", "P" and "Q", but now I've started on the teddy bear in the car it's starting to look like a big ball of knotted thread plonked on top of a car. It's much trickier than it looks!

Sorting the thread!

There are three sheets like this. Already
the teddy driving the car looks more like a cow pat!

I've just finished reading a book called One Man and His Bog, which was written in 1986 and describes the author's hike along the Pennine Way in England. It's extremely well written and very funny, but to be honest there's only so much you can say about trudging through 250 miles of bog isn't there!

So now it's on to Michelle Obama's book Becoming (I've had it for a year already)! I've only just started it but I very much like the fact that she came from a poor background and made her way in life through intelligence and sheer grit. Of course marrying Barack didn't exactly hold her back either but I sense that she is a woman who was always going to be a success even without Barack in her life!

In other news, the oven that I bought just over two years ago started playing up (I bought it 30 months ago to be exact, so no longer under guarantee), so I dashed out today and ordered a new one, which should be delivered on Monday. The old one was a Whirlpool and I have to say I wasn't at all impressed with it from the very beginning, so the fact that it's just conked out after such a short time just confirms to me that I won't ever be buying Whirlpool anything ever again!

Other than that, there's not an awful lot new here. We've been keeping the walking up every day, if not all four of us then at least me and one other person, so that's a plus. Then today I saw John's post over at Going Gently reminiscing about Christmases past and what were your best/funniest memories of Christmas? We first moved to D.C. in 1985 after we got married and the Marine Corps shipped my furniture but it took over four months to get there so my then-husband and I spent four months with no furniture. I remember on Christmas Eve we went to the cinema to see White Nights with Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines, and featuring Lionel Ritchie singing Say You, Say Me. It was a great movie and when we came out it had started to snow - something that didn't happen that often in D.C. It was a truly magical evening. For Christmas lunch we had spag bol on paper plates sitting on the floor. We had nothing and yet we were happy! Funny how that works isn't it. Another Christmas, when I was just a little kid in junior school, unbeknownst to me my parents had bought me an upright piano and hidden it in the garage at the back of the houses. Now these were council houses (subsidized rental for poor families) and the garages were not attached to the house but round the back and down a sloping road. After I had gone to bed that night they tried pushing my piano up from the garages but it had started to snow. My sister's description of my dad and my brothers trying to push that bloody piano uphill in the snow was like something out of The Keystone Cops but it's a sweet memory nonetheless!

And finally, about 10 minutes ago I got a call from my ex to tell me that his cousin, Danny, died yesterday from covid after a four week stint in ICU!!! Bloody hell! The expression "only the good die young" certainly applies here as he was one of the kindest, gentlest men you could ever wish to meet. The sad thing is that his wife and family hadn't been able to sit with him all the while he was in hospital and like so many others he died alone! His daughter just posted that when they were clearing out his papers at the hospital they found a note to them saying "Peace and love, see you in heaven"! RIP Danny!

Wednesday 25 November 2020

A right pea souper!

I'm so glad my neighbour set up our little Whasapp group for a few of us to meet up to go walking. I've been out every day this week and am loving it as I love walking in the cold weather. Today we ended up plodding through the woods for around 90 minutes. Don't tell Mr. Macron as it's supposed to be for an hour or less, but as my neighbour couldn't keep up we ended up taking longer than we thought! It's been cold and sunny, if a little foggy early in the day but that soon picks up and it's just perfect to my mind. And would you believe it, on 19th November I actually passed my 1,000 miles in 2020! I'm dead pleased because it hasn't been easy with all the restrictions. Since I knew I'd make it I sent off for my medal and certificate a while ago - and I'm going to hang the darn thing on the wall right next to the cycling proficiency certificate I got when I was seven!

I wore my medal to go out walking with my neighbours today and they cracked up laughing!

It's just a bit of fun really but I'm definitely signing up again next year and maybe aiming for 1,500 miles (2,000 would be wonderful, so who knows)! As I was about to head out I mentioned to André that it's around this period that the firemen stop by to sell their calendars for next year and if they did happen to come by while I was out I always leave cash in a bowl by the front door just in case. It's always one of the local lads that knocks on my door and he's an old friend of my kids. So I told him if "Zoreille" ("Ears") knocks, to take that cash and buy one off him! I think he's kind of hoping Zoreille does stop by because they haven't seen each other for years!

There isn't much on TV that interests me at the moment (or ever really) but last night I was watching Saving Lives at Sea, which features rescues carried out by the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Association). They are my favourite UK charity, are self-funding (because they want to organize themselves as they see fit) and manned by volunteers. Well last night they featured an incident where an idiot had gone out surfing during Storm Ciara and got into difficulty. The Hastings' lifeboat was launched and after over an hour searching in horrendous conditions they got word that the surfer had somehow washed ashore some six miles down the coast. All well and good for him, but then the lifeboat had to try to get back ashore during a storm and avoiding an approach to the beach that was known as "the washing machine"! It was stomach churning to watch their attempts to get back to land, and at one point a massive wave knocked the boat onto its side - and all this while the men were wearing bodycams and we could see what they were experiencing! Thankfully the boat righted itself and they ended up making it safely to the lifeboat station in Eastbourne. They made me laugh though because at the end they said the reason they were desperate to get back into Hastings was because they knew they'd have a cup of tea waiting for them!

Hastings lifeboat!

The idiot who nearly cost the lifeboat crew their lives!

I mentioned recently that I've finally signed up to Netflix and have started watching The Crown. In the episode I was watching last night the story developed around the 1952 "pea souper" smog that hung over London for three days killing thousands of people. Using Churchill's inability (or unwillingness) to deal with this crisis (remind you of anyone?) they tried to introduce a vote of no-confidence to oust him. Britain is often foggy (I'd say that's an understatement) but a convergence of unusual weather conditions and the fact that most people heated their homes using coal meant that the acid smog was basically trapped over the city and many thousands of people died. They refer to these fogs as "pea soupers" and at best they are depressing. At worst, as they saw, they can be deadly! Mind you, as André said after having been to Delhi, we in the west have nothing to complain about compared to some parts of the world where you can actually taste the sulphur in the air!

A "pea souper" in London!

The 1956 Clean Air Act was passed as a result of this incident, but even so when I was growing up these were pretty normal. I will never forget one time, though, when I must have been about 13, we had the densest pea souper I had ever experienced and to top it off all the street lights were out. I remember having to walk the couple of miles from the school bus back up to home by feeling my way along hedges and railings in the dark, dark fog. I knew that route inside out, of course, but it was so scary nonetheless! Not that you would have guessed it by my mom's reaction, which was more or less "oh there you are, what took you so long?" but then, as Bill Cosby used to say, "our parents walked five miles to school each day, uphill, both ways", but I do remember being so frightened! We were asked to write a story about it in school shortly after that. What I wrote was crap but my friend wrote a beautiful short story which ended with "and a blind man walked me home"! She went on to become a teacher, as you might imagine!

In other news President Macron went on television last night and since the rate of infection is heading in the right direction he will cautiously allow all shops to open as from this Saturday, although attestations will continue to be required and masks, of course, remain mandatory. The big difference as far as I'm concerned is that we can now travel up to 20 km from home to exercise and can take up to three hours to do so. It's pretty selfish that that's what I'm concerned about but .... Then, on 15 December, if things are still going in the right direction, cinemas and so on will be allowed to open up, although gyms, restaurants and bars will remain closed at least until 20 January!!!! I guess it's a start and much as I hate it I do feel he's right to be more cautious this time round, however much the French call him an idiot who doesn't know what he's doing! Frankly would any of you want to be responsible for making that call? I know I wouldn't! He also stated categorically that although the vaccine should be available shortly there will be no mandatory vaccination. Thought as much, although how any (democratic) government could force over 60 million people to be vaccinated is beyond me anyway. Just scaremongering I guess!

Like everyone else's I'll be glad when (if?) we can get back to a more normal life and am really looking forward to next spring. That being said, I took some stuff up the garden to my composter and when I came back to the house I caught sight of myself in the window. Damn! The legs of my sweat pants had ridden up over my socks and I looked a dead ringer for Eminem! Ha, I always thought his name was "M&M" so I did wonder who "Einaman" (as I called him) was that I read so much about in the papers! I put André's baseball cap on sideways and fished out my 1,000 miles medal and André burst out laughing. I think it's time I got out of these four walls before I go completely insane!

Sunday 22 November 2020


My bloody computer seemed to have screwed up my "favourites" file today, it was just such a mess to find anything. At one point it seemed to indicate that I had 563 "favourites" - no way! So after lunch I started messing around trying to get everything back into some sort of order and managed to get them back in an alphabetical format so I thought I'd just start deleting those I hadn't looked at in ... well, forever I guess. I reckon I deleted about 100 files and now I'm much happier with how things look. Then just as I was finishing up a neighbour sent me a Whatsapp request. She's decided to set up a "lockdown walking group" and so three of us ended up going out for an hour's walk together this afternoon. The weather is glorious, if cold, and it was so lovely to just get out there and breath some fresh air!

Like most people I have certain blogs and FB groups that I follow. One of the FB groups I got into after my husband left me so you can imagine the kinds of stories that are on there. Today, however, one of the male members of the group sent round a post basically saying "ok, so you got dumped after how many years of marriage, but what is it you are soooooo thankful that you never have to put up with again?" OMG!!!! By the time I'd finished scrolling through over 350 comments only about five of them were from "dumped husbands" as far as I could see. Some of the comments were so gross I wouldn't write them here but .... The guys tended to write "she would make a cup of tea and just dump the teabag on the kitchen cabinet", or "she always moaned at me about the state of the house, all the while sitting on her backside messaging her affair partner"! But the comments from the women!!!! "My ex only used to brush his teeth once a week. When I commented one time that it wasn't fair to his employees he just said he was going to drink coffee before he got to work so they wouldn't notice". Then the guy that only took a shower once a month, having to wipe snot rockets off the shower wall, the toenail clippings on the kitchen counter (if she was lucky and if he hadn't already eaten them). Another lady's husband was a lay preacher and as soon as they opened the front door he dropped to his knees and said "thank you God" and other prayers, but he had to say each one 10 times and each one lasted about a minute. Never mind that she was struggling to carry in the baby or the groceries and that the older children would have to step over his splayed legs to bring their school stuff in. Given that this guy was also screwing around I guess it gives a whole new meaning to the words "lay preacher" doesn't it! Oh they were so gross - but the ones I've posted here are tame compared to the worst. Makes you wonder doesn't it. And oddly enough it would seem one of the main reasons that your spouse just had to cheat on you was because you stack the dishwasher all wrong. I was guilty of this apparently so it's no wonder I'm still single isn't it!

Anyway, all this to say, I was on zoom with some old friends this afternoon and we were chatting about scam phone calls/emails and so on, and I mentioned the "die boomer, die" troll doing the rounds in blogland at the moment. Well it turns out my friends didn't know I had a blog (why would they?) and asked to read it. So under strict confidentiality conditions I'm going to send them the link. Say hi to Janet, Patters and Maureen if you get a chance!

Saturday 21 November 2020

Not sure how I feel about that!

I had a call from my old friend yesterday for a catch up - not that there's much to catch up with at the moment is there. I mean, if you're not going out and not seeing people! G was the girl I met at the hotel my first night in Geneva when our employer flew us both out on temporary contracts. She stayed with our employer for a couple of years and then moved to the World Health Organisation, from where she retired a few years ago. She had gone ahead and requested French citizenship way before me and had her final interview about 18 months ago so I asked if she had had any news. She said not (not that that's surprising at the moment as everything is delayed), but said "she was slightly concerned about the proposal to make the new covid vaccine mandatory and how it might affect future administrative decisions"! Say what? I hadn't heard that, but then again I don't have French TV so ... again, no surprise there. When she asked how I felt about that I said I wouldn't like it at all. Heck I never got the annual flu vaccine which was offered free at work because it's just not my thing. Thankfully I've only ever had the real flu once in my life so maybe that's why. So I looked it up, and apparently a French politician has proposed making it mandatory and has received support from several others. When I started reading about it, for me personally, I think the French will have another revolution if they try to make it mandatory and I honestly don't see it going too far. I mean, Liberté, égalité, fraternité starts with "liberté" doesn't it!  So I asked G why she felt the same way. She said that when she retired she had been working in one of the "vaccine units" of WHO and knew that it took two to three years for the side effects of such vaccines to be known! And I'm with her on that one. So I mentioned it to André (who had already heard) and he said "yeah, that's why the CEO of Pfizer sold off over 60% of his stock when the vaccine was heralded a success"! Make of that what you want - and I'm not saying anything negative about it - it's just that I feel it's too much of a new vaccine for me to want to rush to the front of the queue to get it as yet, even if it means continuing to live the way I live for a while longer!

From today's Sky News

Yet again last night André forgot to lock the door when he came in from outside so yet again I told him we could have been "murrrderred" in our beds. At that he did his impression of Private Fraser from Dad's Army. I can't win with this kid!

There's a big hoo-har in France right now about whether we wait until 1 December to ease the restrictions, because businesses are pushing back, saying that they would at least like to be given the chance to make some money from Black Friday if they can - although I never thought Black Friday had caught on much over here. Well it certainly hadn't when I was in Italy this time last year. Aaahhh Italy - seems like a dream to me now! I know what I want to get for the kids for Christmas so I'm looking forward to being able to go out and get that sorted, plus I want to get myself a chainsaw at the local DIY place before my 10% discount offer runs out. But more than that, what I really want to go out and buy is new socks. Mine have pretty much had it. The thin ones aren't suitable for walking and the thicker ones are all starting to look like this (the legs too)! Never thought I would get so excited about the prospect of buying socks!

Picture courtesy of

I made garlic mushrooms yesterday and as there are some left I'm going to use them up to make stuffed baked potatoes for lunch. After that off for my walk and I'll try to do a bit of sewing, although I really have lost my mojo there. There's bugger all on TV that interests me so I might sign up for Netflix in order to watch The Crown, and other than that I'm back to reading and trying out new recipes. Even Words with Friends on Facebook is getting a bit boring for me now as all I seem to get is a load of vowels. E-I-E-I-O! Pity that isn't really how you spell "farm" isn't it!

Thursday 19 November 2020

Feeling better already!

So in a bid to start as I mean to go on, tonight I decided to give myself a manicure and a pedicure (it's been a while). While I was in the middle of the pedicure André came in and asked what I was doing, so I told him I was shaving my feet. His response - "what are you a hobbit?" Damn I'd forgotten how quick he can be. When he's on form - which is most of the time actually - he can be so much fun! Since he's planning on going in to work tomorrow I asked what time he planned on getting up, to which he replied that if he couldn't get out of bed in the morning he would work from home in the morning and go in in the afternoon. "And that's one of the disadvantages of working from home, you get out of a routine and you end up working from bed". So I suggested that if that was how he preferred working the only alternative occupation I could think of for him was prostitution, but he might need to have a shave occasionally! Said he'd give that a miss - well he definitely will in my place anyway!

He's been binge-watching The Crown lately (I must start watching that as I've heard such good things about it) and said that if he watched much more he'd have to start speaking with a British accent. And oddly enough I'd just come across this clip on Youtube not five minutes before. Sandi Toksvig is actually Danish (but lives in England) and did this brilliant clip of how Donald Trump is possibly just misunderstood - in the literal sense of the word!

Time to get back in that saddle!

We're into week four of this lockdown and while the government said it would be "reviewed" on 1 December they're not giving any indication that much will change then, even though they've managed to bring the R number down dramatically to less than one. Trouble is, I guess, we can't keep going into a severe lockdown then lifting it and having people start taking silly risks and we get hammered again. Maybe there's a chance we might be able to start going to DIY places or garden centres - who knows, because at the moment all of those are off limits. And everyone seems to agree that it's much harder this time round, maybe because we're heading into winter rather than spring, maybe it's because ... who the hell knows anymore! We're just so tired of it!

I was doing ok with the walking but just like the last lockdown I resent the hell out of having to carry a "permission slip" on me every time I leave the house, being limited to how long I can go out and how far, so the walking just started dying a death here - which was silly because I know how much good it does me, however cold the weather. So tomorrow I'm going to get back at it and start trying to get a few things achieved round here too. Heck, I looked tonight and I've only got four miles to do to achieve my 1,000 mile goal, so if I give up now I might as well give up 100 metres from the finishing line right! I've also been pretty lax about cooking, not making much effort (although we eat of course) and housework too, although again we don't live in a pigsty. So tomorrow, as André is going in to Geneva to the office I'll try to get the house sorted and make something more interesting for dinner!

Then today I received an email from the André Rieu group to inform me that the concert that had been postponed from October to January (for obvious reasons) was now being postponed again, but this time until January 2022. So knowing that the friend who was going with me has serious health issues I decided to just write them back and ask for a reimbursement. I don't know what will happen, if they're allowed to hang on to the money for 18 months like here in France or what. We'll see. So I wrote to T and told him that I had asked for a reimbursement ($200). He responded saying he was having a hard time in this lockdown too, had been in a bad car accident (although uninjured thankfully) and was missing his new grandson. And then he sent me another email and said "you know what, if we get reimbursed why don't we just give the money to a charity of your choice"! Isn't he great! So I replied and said that was a wonderful idea and that I donated to the local food bank every week and had given them money before so would he agree to that? It'd be a nice gesture (and frankly pretty typical of him)!

Then, in an effort to get more forward motion going, I went online and bought the pattern for a bag that Jen had told me she liked ages ago. I seem to have lost my sewing mojo and when I hear about what others are achieving I could kick myself. I know you can't be "up" all the time but you've got to start somewhere haven't you!

And finally, I saw that our FB walking group has a subgroup aimed at walking to lose weight so I joined up. Again there are no rules and you can go as fast or as slow as you want, but people are getting impressive results. Heck even half a pound a week would give you 26 pounds wouldn't it. Apparently you send in your weight loss (hopefully) to the lady that runs the group (and only she sees it) and she keeps a tally, so I'm going to start logging that in January along with my walking miles again, as I obviously ain't capable of doing it on my own. So with a view to hopefully getting off to a good start I've decided to see if I can go "wine free" until Christmas. Admittedly the wine has been flowing rather ... ehhmmm freely these last few days, so here's hoping!

Sunday 15 November 2020

I think they may have got it right!

We've just completed our second week of a four-week lockdown and I see in the news that France's R number is below one - which means the virus is in recession. From what I've heard we're still going to be obliged to stick with the lockdown for another two weeks but if that's all it takes, I'm on board. Oh I'm under no illusion that this damn virus won't come back roaring once we're all allowed out again, and I definitely get the pushback from smaller businesses that have been obliged to close. To my mind though, that is where the government steps in and helps them out. As for the rest, wear a damn mask. It's not much to ask to kill this damn thing off!

Wednesday 11 November 2020

Do they ever just go gently into the night?

So André and I have almost completed two weeks of lockdown together and it really has been ok. He has to work anyway so I just do my own thing and he does his. Yesterday he was complaining that his feet were cold while he was working so I mentioned that I had bought a pair of slippers that you can heat up in the microwave and did he want to give them a try? Ha ha, with his baggy sweat pants and steam coming from his slippers he looked a real sight! I don't know if I mentioned it before but he actually works for the World Health Organization (in one of the units dealing with covid, no less) and when I commented on the difference between what he looked like and what he was working on he just said "WHO, here to help"! Actually I was able to help him a couple of times because he has been trying to put together large documents for publication and since that was what I was doing before I retired I've been able to help him figure things out on occasion - or at least stop him from pulling his hair out! This morning I told him to bring his washing down as I was throwing a load in, and when he emptied the pockets of an old jacket wouldn't you know he pulled out an envelope containing $700! He reckons he hadn't used that jacket since he and Lily were in Korea and hadn't realized he still had that cash hanging around. I swear if he fell in a barrel of sh*t he'd come up smelling of roses that one!

Then yesterday Max sent me a message to say he was coming over to take another look at my water heater. Found out later that André had bought him some tobacco in Switzerland (apparently it's cheaper there) so now I know how to get Max to come over a bit quicker! He switched my water heater back from the old electric system to the fuel system and when he came back into the house he showed me a tiny rubber washer, about the size of a ring, that had a cut in it and he thought that was where the leak was coming from. All that damage from such a little washer! Anyway, he's coming back over in a couple of days to check it out and put everything back together so (hopefully) that has now been sorted! Then yesterday my nephew sent me a message to ask if he and his girlfriend could come out next April (covid-willling) because flights to Geneva are currently going pretty cheap (the prices will soon go up again if lockdown is lifted and the ski season starts). I told him to go ahead and book because I can always work around them if and when, and you know, it actually lifted my spirits a bit making plans for the not-so-distant future! Fingers crossed!

I've been pretty good about going out on my (limited) walking escapades and as my yoga teacher sent round a link to a 90 minute routine I also gave that a shot yesterday, although it's not as good as doing it in person. As I was coming home from my walk today my neighbour's daft old dog came down to the mailbox to greet me, and then started to follow me home. I turned round and very sternly told him to bugger off because he wasn't coming with me - but as you can see he took no notice and just rolled over in the middle of the road waiting to have his belly scratched! I have to say I'm a sucker for that old dog!

Playing dead!

In other news, about 18 months ago I discovered a US blogger that I quite liked. Her blog was called something like "adventures with D" or "retirement with D", but the more I read I reckon it should be called "rollercoaster ride with D". She's pretty abrasive but I quite like her all the same, and she talks sense for the most part. She had a previous blog which she took down for some reason but I see she's back again now. This is a lady whose father came to the US from Europe as an impoverished immigrant, made good on the American dream and she inherited around a million dollars when he died. With that she was able to buy a place in a wealthy part of the US and start her own business which, unfortunately, went bust in 2008. Her house saved her because she was able to sell up and buy something cheaper. Then along came another business, then another bankruptcy - and she's a real rollercoaster to follow. Last week I thought she'd closed her latest blog down but now I see it's back up again and on Saturday she was going to divorce her husband because "just look at how messy he leaves the kitchen"!!! Now (or at least yesterday) she was going to apply for a European passport and move permanently to that country because "America's a shithole and people are awful and now that Biden's been elected we're all going to have our property taken off us, and if we do have gardens we're gonna be told what we'll be allowed to grow, and the state and big business are gonna be listening in on every aspect of our lives"! Wow, but you know what D, they're already doing that. Just the other week John over at Going Gently wrote that "alexa" (Amazon) wished him "good night John" one night and he swore he'd never mentioned his name when setting it up. And André and I were looking at beds on the IKEA website the other day and now that same bed keeps popping up every time I open FB or a news site! So ya see, we're already being spied on and I'm not sure how keeping the orange buffoon in power in the US would change any of that - you know the guy who looks like he's becoming more of a national security threat himself as each day passes!

And what is it with these wealthy/powerful/important men who can never let go? A couple of years ago I remember seeing a retired former, very highly placed colleague in my local supermarket pushing round a shopping cart with at squeaky wheel. Now this guy was an internationally-known person and would have been featured in the newspapers, although not particularly prominently, and here he was pushing his cart around just like every other unimportant person. Just like Rudy Giuliani! How did he go from being "America's mayor" to the caricature that he is today, having an unintentional staring role in the new Borat movie and then ending up giving a press conference outside a garden centre located between a crematorium and a sex shop (although they would appear to be fitting book ends for Giuliani)!

When is enough enough for these people? I know money is a big factor, but when you're a multi-millionaire (or at least pretend to be), don't you have enough? How much more do you need? But I think it's about more than just money for them. It's about power for sure, but I wonder how much of it is about "staying relevant". They don't seem capable of just going gently into the night and enjoying what's left of their lives while they still can. Or maybe the thought of walking round a supermarket pushing a cart with a squeaky wheel is truly more than they can bear!

Sunday 8 November 2020


It's seemed a very long week here this week. So much sameness and yet different because we've been staying up half the night watching the elections. At least tonight (or maybe tomorrow) I'll go to bed a bit earlier (it's already 1.30 a.m. here)! 

I bought some lovely meringues the other day thinking André and I would enjoy them, but so far it's only been me!!! "Luckily" for me, as I was putting the groceries away I managed to put a knife into a small carton of cream so thinking "waste not, want not" I had a rather lovely dessert of meringues and cream tonight - and now guess who's feeling a bit sick!

I mentioned to André this morning that my yoga teacher would be sending me links to ongoing classes that I could do at home and would he like to join me? Nah, didn't think he would! Trouble is, the best place for me to practice is in my living room and I think that's where he'll be setting up office as of next week when he's back to work. I'm not sure he'll be wanting to see me attempting to do the "downward facing dog" though so I'm going to have to figure something else out!

Illustration by Mark Armstrong

Today again I was restless and chomping at the bit to get out so I told André I would run into town to pick up a few groceries. He said that he would like to take his car out for a run too so believe it or not I ran into town and got a bunch of celery and an avocado and he went afterwards and picked up some goat's cheese. If you add in the price of the petrol I guess that makes for pretty expensive groceries doesn't it! Dave mentioned on his blog how nice it was not to have to do a health check because he was off work, and I feel the same - I'm starting to get a pissy attitude about having to take a whole two minutes to download an attestation in order to leave home. It's silly really but I think it's the lack of control which gets to me, although I understand the reasoning behind it. I mean, it's designed to prevent people from going out and mixing as much as possible, so I guess I'll just have to put up and shut up! I did go for another walk today which did me good, although always walking in and around the village gets old. After my "strenuous" 45 minute stroll around the village and feeling the "need to rehydrate" when I got home, André just handed me a beer. I guess he's got my number huh!

In other news, the other week my friend came over with a thank you gift for looking after her house while she was in Spain. It was all closed up initially but has now started to flower and it is just beautiful!

It's a beautiful amaryllis - I just have to
figure out how not to kill it!

Then after dinner tonight the film Outbreak was on TV. I enjoyed the film the first time I saw it but wondered if the timing of putting it on now was coincidental or not. It's very pertinent to today's situation don't you think. Scary stuff, and just getting worse, sadly!

From the film Outbreak!

And finally, the obvious closing thought has to be just the sheer relief that the elections seem to have been finally decided. Of course they're not final as yet but certainly looking like it. It was lovely to see people celebrating in the streets today, although I guess there were many that weren't! When I bash on Trump it's not because he's a Republican. I'm more liberal-leaning and would most likely have voted Democrat had I ever got US citizenship. No, I bash Trump because he's an odious human being, his latest statement issued today being just as ungracious as you would expect! So while I doubt that Joe Biden was the best person the US could have gotten for the job, and God alone knows what a horrendous mess he has to try to get a handle on (starting with the pandemic) I, like so many, am just relieved to think Trump and his toxic family will shortly no longer be front and centre stage. It's encouraging that Biden will apparently be naming his covid team on Monday, as that has got to be the most pressing issue, well that and a million others. I can only wish him good luck!