The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Monday 25 May 2020

This and that!

Things are fairly quiet here at the moment but then I suppose it is still only Monday right. With all but one of my classes now being formally cancelled until September at least, I've now only got just the one weekly yoga class until the end of June, but that's fine too I guess. I'm not much good for anything when the heat really picks up so the thought of sweating it out in an exercise class over the summer to make up for the missed classes doesn't really do it for me!

I had yoga again this morning and we were lucky enough to be able to do it outdoors. There was quite a breeze first thing so I thought it actually might be a bit cold but it ended up being a very pleasant temperature, even though I had to keep moving about trying to stay in the shade. How the others can practice yoga in bright sunshine beats me but then it may be that I'm the weird one and not them. That being said, my sister can just sit out in the sun for ages so I guess we're all different. And I remember when I met up with Steve in Rhodes, he and I used to hop from one shady spot to the next while out and about, while his brother and sister-in-law's idea of a good time was lazing on sunbeds by the pool all day, and then meeting up with us later in the evening. I'm not knocking them for that, I just couldn't understand how they could do it!

Anyway today she was going to have us do "exercises for the abdomen", and I remember thinking I haven't seen my abs since I was about 25, but made a valiant effort anyway. Even though it wasn't one of my favourite classes, I again came out of there feeling good. I then headed off back to Thyez for another hour's walk and ended up getting over 13,000 steps in today so I'm well pleased, even if the Thyez walk is probably now getting to be a little too easy. Time to find something more challenging I guess, although round here that shouldn't be a problem, as you can imagine. As I was walking along the river I noticed loads and loads of stinging nettles, so I'm now trying to think of a cunning plan to bag myself a few to make liquid nettle fertilizer for my garden. It's supposed to be wonderful, particularly for tomatoes, but I understand it stinks to high heaven too! I guess taking a huge trash bag, garden clippers and wearing full skiing gear on my next walk might look a bit weird though, don't you think!

I finally managed to get my hair cut on Saturday (after three months?) - or at least after two home hair cuts. I don't know if she was being polite or she has just given up on me but she said the top and sides weren't too bad, although the back was a sight to behold (obviously) and needed sorting out - but then I don't really care what impression I make on people as I'm leaving anyway! I then stopped in at the supermarket and finally found the dual cartridge ink packs I have been looking for for my printer but crikey, they've gone from €34 per duo pack to €40!!!!! Not only that, but everything seems to have shot up in price. I guess much of our produce was coming in from Spain and Italy and now we're "stuck" with the more expensive French produce. Seriously, the cost of my weekly grocery shop has just sky-rocketed, and while this may not be such a big deal for me, I hate to think the effect it might be having on families! In fact, I was finally able to take my donations down to the food bank on Tuesday night for the first time in three months and they were telling me that demand has just gone through the roof!

In other news I've also got an appointment to take quite a bit of stuff to the tip tomorrow afternoon (it's by appointment only at the moment) but wouldn't you know the fuel people called tonight and they want to deliver tomorrow afternoon also. It all happens at once doesn't it! I also got that bloody wasgij (jigsaw) puzzle finished finally and while it's "satisfying" to have finished it I'm not sure I'd buy another one - I might not have any hair left to worry about by the time I finished a second one!

The picture on the box
The finished puzzle!
I was chatting with my friend last night and he mentioned that his daughter had just received her $1,200 stimulus cheque from the US! I had no idea she was American, even though I know she had lived and worked in New York for a few years, and I hadn't actually given it any thought that they might be mailing out cheques to American citizens overseas. I guess I don't see why not - I just hadn't paid any attention to it. So with that in mind I set to and prepared Jordan's US tax return and while he earns a pittance and it isn't that complicated to do, every time I got the forms completed and printed, when I went to save them all the data was erased!!! I did it three bloody times with the same result. I remember that happening last year too so I guess the IRS will just have to make do with the printed copy because I'm not doing it again! Maybe with any luck my kids will now also receive the stimulus cheque - who knows. It'll be a nice surprise for them if they do but then again, don't count your chickens right!

And finally, when I got home tonight I saw an email from my neighbour who is on the town council, letting us all know of his decision to stand down but also informing us that as from today they are introducing a hosepipe ban due to "drought conditions"! So no car washing, no swimming pools to be filled up - you get the idea. I'm just so glad I got my "swimming pool" (oversized paddling pool, truth be told) filled up a couple of days ago or could you imagine me getting stuck with that thing on my terrace and ending up filling it with tomato plants instead?

So anyway, a joke for you. Bill's walking down the road one day when he bumps into Jack and they get chatting about how they're coping during the pandemic. So Bill says "oh I lost my job due to lock down but decided to set myself up in a little business working for myself, being my own boss, kinda thing. I was doing pretty well to begin with - I had a great little number going on performing colonic irrigations - and then they introduced the bloody hosepipe ban"!

Thursday 21 May 2020

I'm so glad I made the effort!

I gave myself a real talking to yesterday. My ideal future always involved being done with work and having plenty of time to "go hiking in the mountains". So now I'm retired and do indeed have plenty of time to go hiking in the mountains - except I'm still not fit. When I was at school I loved sports, all of it, played basketball for my county for two years and was up for anything. I guess many of us were the same, right? But then four years at college and having no time (long commute - the story of my life it seems, working weekend jobs and so on) and the sport that I loved so much went out the window. Then came my job in Switzerland and while I skied that was about it. And you know how the rest of it goes don't you. Work, commute, marriage, family and I just became totally unfit and hated it, but obviously not enough to do anything about it. But now what's my excuse? I don't have one right, and I know it. Anyway, my neighbours were telling me on Monday that they had just come back from a short hike at the Plâteau de Cenise so I thought "that's it, that's where I'm going on Wednesday". Jordan and his mates used to hike up there when they were younger and just camp out up on the plâteau. Jordan even used to strap a wooden garden chair to his back and lug that up there with him. I told him we had plenty of fold-up camping chairs but nope, he wanted that chair, so lug it up there he did. He must have looked like King Canute sitting up there in the middle of the mountains on his chair but what can I say, a kid's gotta do what a kid's gotta do. Cenise is also the spot where my friend, Valérie, scattered her son, Hugo's, ashes after he was killed in a horrific car crash nine years ago and when the kids used to go up there to camp they always took flowers to leave for Hugo!

Anyway, back to the plot. There is a road to get up there that I absolutely hate. It's more or less a bloody goat track and basically a one lane road with a few passing points. You get hairpin bends and cars coming to within a few millimetres of each other. Another coat of paint and you'd take the side of your car off. So I wasn't going to go up that road but headed out looking for the other, easier, road, but guess who screwed up. Yep, I ended up back on the road from hell, called the Gorges du Bronze, but with my heart in my mouth and on a wing and a prayer I actually made it up to the parking lot. Let's face it, there was no reversing back down or doing a u-turn anyway was there!

The road through the Gorges du Bronze - not too bad at this point but it got steadily worse!

The "goat track" - this is where I just closed my eyes and hoped for the best!
When I got further up into the meadow land I saw the most amazing alpine flowers ever. Not at the very top, but about two-thirds of the way up, they were just stunning. I couldn't stop to take a picture (for obvious reasons) so had to use a stock picture but those wild flowers were just so beautiful. Actually I've scattered a couple of packets of wildflower seeds in my garden and will be well pleased if they turn out anything like this.

Eventually I made it up as far as I could go by car, slathered on a smidgeon of sun cream and set off. And here's where I get annoyed at myself. You see, it wasn't even particularly hard walking but I was puffing away like a blue whale for the first 15 minutes until I got into my stride, and that's just ridiculous at my age. Okay, losing 40 lbs would probably make it a lot easier but still!!! There were much older couples on that walk - probably nearer 80 than 70 - and they just plodded on at a steady pace with no apparent difficulty. I know they've probably been doing it all their lives but still, you can see why I get annoyed with myself can't you. Anyway, I made it up to what was my initial destination of the cross, but then realized it was only another 20 minutes to the plâteau itself so just kept on going, for a total walk of about an hour, I guess.

The highest point is at over 1,700 metres and to be honest I should have known better with the "sunscreen business" because I didn't use it often enough!!!! It is deceptively cooler at altitude but the sun's rays are that much harsher so I managed to burn the back of my neck a bit and also have a rather fetching "V shape" on the front of my chest the colour of a turkey cock's arse (as my dad used to say). Still, I guess it wasn't as bad as it could have been. Many years ago, before I was married, my then boyfriend and I went skiing for the day at over 2,000 metres. I had put a "dab" of sunscreen on in the morning and then forgot all about it. The end result was that I got sunstroke and my face swelled up to the size of a basketball. Then my boyfriend fell over in the parking lot on the way back and broke his wrist. To say we should have stayed home that day is probably an understatement!


A couple of days after our ski trip!

When I got to the top, the elderly couple behind me branched out to continue on so I asked them where they were headed. They said the Rochers de Leschaux, which was about another couple of hours' walk and quite tricky in parts, but the lady called it "sublime", said it was a nature reserve and you could see mountain goats, marmots and all kinds of wild animals. So that'll be another one to add to the list, once my fitness levels are up to it (if ever).

As you can see, there are still scattered patches of snow

All in all I probably only bumped into 10 people in total all afternoon, although I did spot one lady about 300 metres further down from me wearing a face mask???? She's in the middle of the alps with no-one around and still feels the need to wear a face mask? Oh well, each to his own I guess!

Wednesday 20 May 2020

For Mrs Moon

I tried to post this on your blog as it seemed so relevant to your post but it didn't work. So I've had to humiliate myself and post it here for you. The things we have to do during lockdown!

Tuesday 19 May 2020

The new normal?

Well not really I suppose as things are anything but normal right now, but at least it's more "normal" than it has been this past couple of months. And while I said all along that lock down hadn't bothered me too much, I realize just how lucky we were to have had seven weeks of fabulous weather out of the eight we were obliged to stay home. It would probably have been quite another matter if it had rained non-stop wouldn't it. But anyway, now that I'm freer than I was, I had my first Monday morning yoga lesson in two months this morning and thoroughly enjoyed it, as it really felt like it was time to get back to the exercise I had happily (and surprisingly) totally ignored for the past two months! Because the weather was so lovely our class was held outside in the garden - just three students and Tiphaine, the teacher. It was quite a different experience to an indoor class though, all the more so since her neighbour keeps hens and we had a very noisy cockerel join us for part of the lesson. And again - and I know I say this every time - while I often have the impression that the exercises we did were "nothing much", I always come out of her class absolutely ache-free and just buzzing!

And talking about yoga, my neighbour was telling me that she bumped into Annie (the treasurer of the Tuesday afternoon yoga association) at the market and she was telling her that they are not going to renew the contract of Sylvie, the Tuesday teacher, this autumn after her last freak-out that I wrote about previously and we will now be getting Tiphaine instead. I reckon we will all be very pleased about that! Annie told my neighbour she was annoyed at herself for not speaking up when Sylvie wasted most of our lesson ranting about anything and everything, and I just assumed she meant she wished she had calmed her down and then asked her to get back to the class, but no - she said she wished she had finally spoken up and said enough is enough, this just isn't working out. I did comment to my neighbour that losing this contract might be the straw that breaks the camel's back but her response was just "pfft". So I guess I'm either a big softie or the French are a helluva lot tougher than I will ever be. Either way, while I feel sorry for this teacher, I'm glad that I'll now be getting in two lessons a week with Tiphaine come September!

After my lesson I thought why not take myself off walking like I used to do "BL" (before lock down), and I'm so pleased I did as it was glorious. I headed back off out to Thyez for a walk and while it is always a beautiful spot, the fact that people are still not allowed to picnic or use the play areas for the time being, and also with people now being back at work anyway, the parking lot was virtually empty and I almost had the place to myself. So on top of 90 minutes of yoga I got in a 12 km walk too and am feeling pretty chipper I must say!


People are still not allowed to use the little beach as yet!

When I got home I dragged my inflatable swimming pool up from the basement because this year I'm determined to have somewhere cold I can throw myself into when the temperatures start hitting 30°C (86°F) and upwards (and even in the 40s°C (104°F) on occasion). So I pottered about spreading it out, assembling the ladder and figuring out how to work the water filter and I realized that thing is going to take up half my back terrace. But so what, it's the only part of my land that's actually flat so if that's where it has to be, then so be it. Maybe at least this way I will be able to laze in my "pool" while grabbing myself a cool drink out the fridge at the same time! So with that in mind I took my little temporary greenhouses back down into the basement and I reckon moving the BBQ and the table and chairs just a little I should still be ok. My neighbour came over with his electric air pump to get it started but it's a bit of a dud so I think I'll go out tomorrow and buy a new one - well that and maybe an inflatable armchair (with drink stand) and some Elton John-style sunglasses to go with it! You've gotta look the part after all. It's either that or I'm off up to a place called the Plâteau de Cenise tomorrow so we'll see which one wins.

I have a bit more planting out to do but other than that I just pottered in the garden when I got back from my walk, putting another couple of bags of grass clippings onto my compost heap and would you believe it, when I turned that stuff over the underside bit was actually steaming, so I guess something's working/composting. My neighbour is dead impressed with my "ingenuity" so he said and is now setting up another compost heap in his garden and we're going to see who can grow the biggest pumpkins in it!

Then on Saturday we had our latest "pandemic" board game evening. It had been set up before the world went to hell in a hand basket, so this time we decided to do it "virtually", with me going round to my neighbours and my son and his wife getting together with their two friends and we all "zoomed" in to play. I took over chicken in white wine and a German hot potato salad (which went over very well) and while the games were a bit hit and miss because of the hook ups, there was plenty of food and drink and we actually had a good time, playing until about 1 a.m. Next time is at my place where all being well we will get together on my back terrace (although some might have to play sitting in the pool now, come to think of it). Oh well, we'll just have to cross that bridge when we get to it!

Virtual board game evening

I've been limiting my news watching lately because while I want to know what's going on with the pandemic I don't want it playing in my head 24/7 on a constant loop. I think we need to be informed but we don't need to be scared out of our minds. I'm all the more determined to limit my TV watching though since I saw on the news the other night that "militants" had attacked a maternity hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, killing many mothers and newborns!!!! Have we always been this sick or is this just a new level of depravity? What in the hell is the world coming to, 'cos if you know I sure don't!

Anyway, I did put TV on the other night while I was trying to advance the wasgij I should never have bloody well started! There was nothing much on so I ended up watching Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in Sherlock Holmes, and while I like RD Jr. and thought he and JL sparred off each other pretty well, I did get sick of all the fight scenes and noisy brawls. Somehow, my impression of Sherlock Holmes is that he would never have been caught in anything as vulgar as a fight, he was just too much of a gentleman!

Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes

Peter Cushing as Sherlock Holmes - now that's more like it!

So basically there's bugger all to watch on TV. I ended up subscribing to Amazon Prime videos a while back because I wanted to watch The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel and since I've watched all three series I wasn't sure what else (if anything) I wanted to watch. A year or so ago a friend lent me the entire Downton Abbey series which I enjoyed, and then another friend lent me Desperate Housewives. I made it to series three of DH but then kinda got bored with it. I think what did it for me was "Susan" (Teri Hatcher) playing the perpetually dumb female making googoo eyes over "Mike" (James Denton) - you know, the actor who, while absolutely gorgeous, would seem to have just one facial expression and most likely just one act - a bit like Hugh Grant. I don't know, it was cute to begin with but I gave up in the end. Soooooo don't laugh but I decided I would start watching The Sopranos, going right back to the first series which was actually filmed in 1999 can you believe???? I know, I know, I'm anything but up-to-date. But either way I'm enjoying what I've seen so far. When I start watching this stuff I always end up looking up the actors, so I was shocked to see that the late James Gandolfini was only 37 when he made the first series. Gosh, with his balding head and dad bod I had him pegged to be in his 50s. I like him anyway, and it was really tragic to hear that he actually died at the age of 51 from a heart attack, but I must be totally off whack with my "sizing people up" skills, because I was way out on that one.

James Gandolfini

So I guess I'm only 21 years late watching the first series that everyone was raving about at the time, but better late than never I guess. Next they'll be telling me Princess Diana has died - ha, as if!

Monday 11 May 2020

My babies!

A belated happy Mother's Day to all you ladies out there who celebrated Mother's Day this weekend. It's difficult for me to know when to celebrate because in the UK Mother's Day is in March, in Switzerland it was this past Sunday and in France it's the last Sunday in May, so my lovely second son was actually born on Mother's Day on 31 May 1992!

In gardening news, while I have a hard time believing it, given what a cobbler's job I did, the potatoes I planted recently have started to grow. As I said before, I think I took about 20 minutes to throw down some cardboard, poke a one inch hole into the earth underneath it (because the ground was so solid I couldn't go any further) and then bung in a couple of old sprouted spuds and top with grass clippings - but wadda ya know - those babies have started growing. It's almost as exciting as giving birth, but without the pain and no Johnny Bench sitting there looking at your fanny!

20 minutes work - and about 10 days' growth!

And is it just me or does anyone else love the smell of tomato plants? I've always loved the smell of wet grass but when it comes to snipping off the middle shoot of a tomato plant I just love that smell. (As you can tell, I'm getting old and obviously easily pleased!) I saw another YouTube video the other day and redesigned by plant-watering system using old plastic bottles. That now involves holding four inch nails in the flame of my gas cooker (holding the nails with a set of pliers of course) and then poking them through the bottle tops in order to drip-feed my plants - and it seems to be working. Man, I feel like some kind of nuclear scientist!

And going off on a totally different tangent, today I saw on FB a story by someone in my local region who had requested an appointment with Grenoble to hand in his naturalisation dossier in 2018 - and had got his appointment 15 months later! Now I requested an appointment to hand in my paperwork 10 months ago and there is still no response, so going by this person's timeline - 15 months to hand in your paperwork for citizenship (to see if it is ok) and then his citizenship appointment is scheduled for 2023!!!! So five years from initial request to even getting to put your case to request French citizenship!!!! Oh well, I will keep trudging along. I don't need to be French to stay here as my right to residence is guaranteed, but I want to do this. I'm just sad that it will take so many years to actually do it! Bloody Brexit!

In other news, I received a message from my Monday morning yoga teacher to say that they have been authorized to start teaching again and did I want to return to class? And yep, I do. I need the exercise anyway but I also want to start supporting local businesses, so sign me up. We will hopefully be outside and can maintain social distancing, but otherwise she has now built a separate yoga room in her garden so I'm happy to go ahead. Which makes me wonder what our Tuesday afternoon yoga class will look like. I'm the youngest (by far) and suspect many of those ladies will back out even if they announce the commune will authorize them to start up again. I will go though if they open up and then we can see what happens!

And funnily enough, I remember seeing a meme about people "desperate" to exercise in the UK after lock down. My friend was asking what I wanted to do after lock down was lifted and I said I wanted to go out walking but "they'd forecast colder weather next week". So he just laughed and pointed out how I had happily gone out walking in minus zero weather so what was my problem now? And you know, I don't have a problem, and I can go out when I want right? It did make me wonder though what will happen when all those people who were "denied their right to go out exercising" now have that right restored to them. Will they now go back to being the tech-ridden couch potatoes so many of them were as they were before? Who knows!

Today being the first day of "freedom", I decided to celebrate and head off to the garden centre as I've wanted a hummingbird feeder for a while. It's weird because while the parking lot was fairly full the shop was ok, not too full at all. For the first time I wore my mask (and was thoroughly miserable as I don't feel like I can breath) but hey, that's what we do right. But as I was about to set off to the garden centre my neighbour walked over and handed me a "red, white and blue" face mask which, apparently, all the local communes are now issuing to each household. So I got a washable face mask with elasticated string with the French flag on it. Fine by me, at least they are being proactive.

So I decided to head off to my local garden centre for tomato plants and picked up a few bits and bobs from the organic food store on the way out, including a bottle of organic white wine. Lovely! I haven't been buying booze during lock down - just because - but now I have a very organic hangover, sad to say. Serves me right I suppose, but I guess it's all in the name of freedom! Glad to oblige!

Friday 8 May 2020

We're green!!!!

I couldn't sleep last night. Or more correctly, I just didn't feel tired yesterday evening so ended up staying up till 2 a.m. when I thought I'd better go to bed because it was getting ridiculous. And then this morning I realized it had been a "flower moon" last night so maybe that had something to do with it. Either way I'd already made up my mind I was going to do bugger all today and very nice it was too. And then I saw in the media pictures that people had taken of the flower moon at different locations - and boy were they stunning. The one I really zoned in on was taken over the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Oh lordy did that bring back wonderful memories of one of the most amazing experiences of my life. In 2003 a Turkish friend of my husband's organized a luxury long weekend in Istanbul for us and it was just fabulous, all the more so since Mehmet was actually from Istanbul so knew all the places to take us. His mother invited us up to her apartment for tea on the last night and as her place was high up in the hills overlooking the city we had the most glorious view of the Blue Mosque as the sun was going down and the call to prayer began. As I say, it is one of the most enduring memories of my life, it was so fabulous. Well that and I remember walking down to the beach in Bali to watch the sun set and it looked like there was this enormous golden globe hanging there over the ocean - and then someone just "cut the string" and it was gone!

The Blue Mosque, Istanbul
So today was, by choice, a quiet day where I really didn't do much except the basics and then sat outside in the garden reading for ages since the weather was so perfect. Yesterday I had gone grocery shopping and again it was pretty quiet. Even though the shelves are not as full as they should be you can pretty much get everything you need. As I was going in to the health food store to buy my kombucha I noticed the crazy guy who had hassled me outside sewing club just before Christmas. This guy had tons of hair and a full beard when he was bugging me so you can imagine what he looks like now in lock down with an even fuller head of hair and a mad man's beard! But there's something that doesn't sit right with me about him and I can't put my finger on it. I wasn't going to stick around to find out if he remembered me but I hope I don't bump into him too often - he's just too weird for my comfort. Anyway, when I went into the store I bumped into a guy who worked in our cafeteria at work. He was telling me that he was now in his third month of being furloughed and while he was receiving 60% of his salary it was tough. I actually felt he was getting a bit too close to me when he was talking so kept backing off until he got the message. But he asked me if I had heard the rumour about three deaths at work because of Covid and I said I hadn't and I didn't think it could be right because we would have been informed. Well it turns out that there are currently eight cases of infection at work but I don't know who they are nor how serious they are. I just hope they all pull through.

I was chatting to my gardener when he came the other day and I commented that he must be pretty busy right now, what with the good weather followed by bursts of rain and so on and he said not so much. People had actually been asking him not to come as they didn't want him getting too close to them! I guess people really are scared because that didn't make sense to me, what with him being out in the garden and me being on my terrace. But then I was asking the roof guys how it was going and they said that they had had people cancelling, with me thinking it was for financial reasons but they said no, again, people didn't want to be around them. And again, that didn't make sense to me because they were on my roof and nowhere near me. Still, I guess everyone has their tolerance level for what they find acceptable don't they!

Then this afternoon I wandered over to my neighbours to pick up some cut branches from their hazelnut tree to make more wigwams for my tomato plants. They probably are a bit of a joke because my wigwams are so flimsy looking that if anyone sneezes within a 10 metre radius I'm pretty sure they'll collapse, but it amuses me to keep making them. Anyway, my neighbour came over for a coffee and was in a pretty bad way, telling me she was sick to death of her patronising bastard of a husband (her words) and the way he talked to her like she was an idiot who needed to be "tolerated"! They have an issue with underground piping which channels the mountain springs away from our homes getting backed up and resulting in their basement taking in water on occasion. Now as far as we can tell the blockage is on the village road at the bottom of their garden and if that is the case it is up to the commune to get it fixed. But her husband set off to see a company to have them come out and sort it out, while she feels that the first step is to get in touch with the Mairie and have them send someone to look at it. It's not a question of who's right or who's wrong (although she's actually right) but it's the way he speaks to her. I know she's telling the truth because I've heard him and I can only say that if my ex ever tried that on I would (and did) give him such an ear bashing he wouldn't have been quick to do it again. Trouble is, I always stood up to my ex and didn't allow him to speak to me in such a disrespectful way but she never did - and it's probably too late to start now isn't it. But again, damn, I'm glad I'm single!

Then tonight I got another scam email from "Dr. Abdul Mohammed from Burkina Faso who was desirous of putting $13.5 million in my bank account dearest" and I was to write back to him ASAP so that we could get the ball rolling. They're coming thick and fast at the moment and I was probably a bit riled up from listening to my neighbour so I wrote back and said "f... off you twat" and a couple of minutes later he wrote back and said "wow, that was a bit aggressive wasn't it" and I just burst out laughing. So I said "oh I'm sorry, was I supposed to send you my bank details?" and just blocked and deleted. These idiots can barely write English and then to address someone as "my beloved" or "my dearest"??? Well really, how dumb do they think I am?

So after reading for a while I decided to plant out a few more tomato plants and then three cucumber plants with a home-made, plastic bottle irrigation system I had seen on Youtube last night. It's pretty much the same system you see everywhere - you poke a few holes in a plastic bottle, fill it with water and bury it nose-down in the ground so it self-irrigates. Well even though I only used a nail to make the holes I must have been a bit over zealous because far from the desired drip, drip, drip of water slowly feeding the cucs, I got a roaring whoosh and the bloody things were swimming for their lives in about two seconds flat. I think I'll have to take another look at my prototype!

And it looks like our lock down will be eased as from Tuesday, according to what the French Prime Minister said the other night. They are deconfining according to zones and I was a bit worried that we might be a red zone because we're only one hour from northern Italy and if you take in the région (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes), which includes the hotspot of Lyon, I reckon we would still be red. But they seem to have taken the département (Haute Savoie) and we have come up green, so as from Tuesday things should be eased for us. No more attestations necessary to go out, we can travel freely up to a distance of 100 km from home, we're free to meet up in small groups and go into the mountains, although the lakes remain out of bounds for the time being, and many businesses are being allowed to open back up. Of course it all depends on people being sensible, but I believe they will be. I for one won't be dashing out to go to any parties any time soon, but just to have that freedom to go up into the mountains again feels absolutely delicious!

And finally, I just wanted to send huge hugs through the ether to Anne in Alabama who has just lost her lovely mom. Thinking of you at this difficult time Anne!

Tuesday 5 May 2020

It's raining men!

Crikey, one minute I'm lazing around doing nothing much at all and the next everyone and his uncle decides they'd better come over to my place! To be fair I was expecting the roof guys this morning as they had called me last week, so I crashed out of bed at what is now an ungodly hour for me and jumped into the shower and waited, and waited and …. And then I got a call to say that they would be another couple of hours because they had to take the generator back to the depot at Albertville as it was playing up! Oh well, what can I say. So four of them turned up around 11.30 a.m. and got started covering everything up and then up on the roof to start some sort of treatment, to be followed by pressure spraying, and then more treatment. I'm not exactly sure which order they work in but because they were late arriving they said they would only do one side of my roof today and if it was all right by me they would come back tomorrow to do the other side. It's not a problem for me as I'm hardly going anywhere with lock down am I! My friend sent me a "good morning" message and I told him I was up to my eyeballs in men so he said "enjoy", to which I replied that I would but that we were careful and using protection!!!

To be fair, I thought they did a really good job covering stuff up - and not just the driveway, but the plants and grass also. When I explained to them that my one neighbour's car was broken down and they couldn't move it they just said no problem and covered that up too!

Round the side of the house leading to the back garden - it was pretty bleak weather as you can see!
Since I knew I was going to be stuck here for the morning I set about and planted up a few broccoli, courgettes and kale at the top of the garden, then decided to bake a cake "just in case" and then realized that my kitchen door was looking pretty drab now so set to and got that painted. Nothing too strenuous in and of itself but enough to keep me busy - and not think about how much I needed to pee! You see, the previous owners of this house removed one of the downstairs walls and repositioned the front door, which gives a much better flow to the house but it meant taking out the downstairs toilet! Big mistake! While the plumbing is still there obviously, if I were to put that toilet back I could actually open the front door while sitting on the loo - not a good look even if it might scare the Jehovah's witnesses away! There are two bathrooms/toilets upstairs but they are both under the roof with skylights so I didn't fancy nipping up there for a pee with a chap wandering over my roof with a pressure spray (again, not a good look). Thankfully after they'd got all the plastic sheeting laid down they took off for half and hour to get something to eat so all was not lost and the relief was palpable!

Then out of the blue my gardener showed up, so another white van on the driveway. He comes and goes as and when and I pay him at the end of the year so it wasn't any trouble and the garden looks a lot better now of course. In this kind of weather, though, you could probably cut the grass twice a week, though I'll resist temptation to interfere. I got him to dump all the grass cuttings onto a large sheet of cardboard I'd laid out under my hazelnut tree so I now have the makings of my very own compost heap!

And then the fuel guy called and asked if he could make a delivery as he was in the area! I'd just ordered 1,100 litres of fuel since they're practically giving it away right now but crikey, the neighbours must have been wondering what was going on chez moi. Which brings to mind a story from back in the 1970s. My sister was dating her now-husband who was a police motorcyclist. One day he and a few mates were in the area and decided to stop in at mom and dad's for a cup of tea. One of the sons from the very large family next door was in the army and he must have had the same idea as my brother-in-law so he and his mates showed up in a huge army truck and parked behind the police motorcycles. Again, the neighbours must have wondered what the hell was going on when they saw that lot parked out front!

But now everyone has gone home, I've cleaned up the kitchen and moved some of my more fragile plants into shelter as there is a thunderstorm on the horizon. I love a thunderstorm but my plants not so much! So all in all I'm knackered. I've again done over 10,000 steps today without leaving my property so I reckon, given my obvious new-found fitness, it might be fun to sign up for the below as a starting point for my new fitness regime!

My son offered to meet me at the half-way point with water - cheeky bugger!

Sunday 3 May 2020

Freedom - or almost!

Well not quite yet but all being well France will begin easing some of the lock down restrictions as from next Monday, so fingers crossed. They have said, however, that how the restrictions are eased will depend on which département (state/county) we're in and where it stands as far as Covid19 is concerned. From what I can tell so far, Haute Savoie (which is where I live) should be one area where the restrictions can be eased more fully, although I'm still not sure we can cross the borders, either into Italy or Switzerland just yet. I said to my friend, the first thing I'm going to do is climb up Cou, which is the mountain behind my house that you can see in my header picture. After that, a trip to the local tip and to drop stuff off at the charity store and I'll be a happy bunny (oh, and a trip to the hairdresser's to get this mushroom cloud on top of my head whipped into shape). Other than that I don't see me mixing too much with anyone, although it will be good to see my kids. Just a few walks to get back into the swing of things and I'll be happy!

Just to rub it in though my friend sent me these pictures of Keukenhof (Holland), where we were supposed to be last week. Oh well, there's always next year I suppose. I'm still very much of a mind to travel when all this is over but I don't see it happening for a long time sadly!

All pictures by Albert Dros

Jordan sent me a message last night asking if I knew what blood type he is. I don't as it turns out, but I guess Jen was looking at his vaccination card and trying to make sure he is up-to-date. Apparently he needs a polio update and I told him to check his tetanus too. The good news is that he's going back to work tomorrow after a month of being furloughed. It'll be good for him to get out the house, I suspect it'll be good for Jen not to be the only one working, and it'll certainly be good for their finances!

I'm more or less finished painting the kitchen and I have to say I'm quite pleased with it now. I think the deciding factor was when I painted over a corner wall that had a kind of coppery covering on it and now everything looks pretty clean - well everything, that is, except the kitchen door - which now looks grubby, wouldn't you know! I've left the paint out as I'm sure I'll spot parts that I missed tomorrow in the daylight so maybe I'll just use the same paint and do the inside of the door too. I'm not sure about the other side of that door as it goes into the living room so I'll have to have a think about that. Now that everything is cleaned up and put away it looks pretty good, even if I say so myself. With the weather predicted to pick back up again next week it'll hopefully motivate me to get back out in the garden and pot up/plant out my seedlings, before they start to resemble triffids in their little greenhouses!

When I came in tonight I caught the tail end of Ben Fogle's New Life In The Wild and thoroughly enjoyed it. Now Ben is very easy on the eye anyway but I like him too. Tonight's episode was shot in Croatia with a former elite athletic coach who had a "spiritual awakening" and just got sick of the cut-throat atmosphere in elite athletics so gave everything away and set up home deep in the forest in Croatia. He built his own home and was living in splendid isolation until he met his girlfriend, who was a teacher in the local town. Ben does these programmes on people who just chuck it all in and opt out of society for the most part, and I really enjoy them. It's not a life I would want, but I have sometimes wondered if I actually could chuck it all in and live a simpler life on very little somewhere else. I don't know, but I would never rule anything out. Heck I never thought I would move to Switzerland at 21. Then I never thought I would resign and go off to Bali and Australia on my own for six months, so I guess the answer is "never say never" huh!

Ben Fogle
And finally, I've been seeing this advert on TV lately and I wanted to post it simply because it makes me laugh. I have a very Gary Larson-esque sense of humour so I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!