The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Sunday 22 May 2022

Vegans and snails!

About 18 months ago I was introduced to a new-to-me vegan restaurant just up the road from here. I've always been interested in vegetarianism/veganism so was delighted to find that their food was actually very, very good! Then of course the pandemic intervened and this restaurant chose to no longer do in-house dining because they refused to ask for people's vaccine passports - so it was take-out only! Anyway, everything opened back up for us a couple of months ago and I saw on their website that they were offering cookery courses, so I signed up and went to my first one yesterday and it was wonderful! I'd been to a vegan class in Geneva a couple of years ago and it was a real disappointment, but this one was everything I'd hoped it would be and more! The lady lives and breathes veganism/organic food/holistic medicine and is such an interesting woman. For the first 30 minutes we talked about why we were interested in it. She said that right from a very young age she felt such empathy with animals that she couldn't force herself to eat meat so vegetarianism came naturally, followed by veganism as she got older! It's a lovely place where they give yoga classes, and reiki and massage therapy, in addition to the restaurant side of things. There were four other ladies, all very interesting too. One lady "talks to animals, plants, trees, etc." and was very into all that stuff, and while she's obviously free to believe what she wants I just wished she'd talked a little less! That being said we were all different but all very accepting of those differences too. In fact, the lady I liked the most has a small farm in the mountains where she and her husband raise animals for meat and the "tree hugger lady" didn't bat an eyelid at it!

On the menu were chilled courgette and cucumber soup, carrot and olive cake and the most delicious uncooked lemon tart (made using avocado as the "mousse")! Everything was really good and our teacher told us how and why she used the different flours and vegetable milks/creams, etc. 

Chilled courgette and cucumber soup!

Olive and carrot cake!

No cook lemon tart!
(The photos aren't very good because
I'd already put it all in containers
to take home when I thought to take photos)!

It was such a good time that I was disappointed to learn that they were selling up and moving to Vendée in September!!! When I asked her what they were going to do in Vendée she said she had no idea but as somewhat of a nomad, every few years she felt the need to move on and she knew something would turn up for her when she got there! Apparently her grandmother had been a true gypsy so I guess that is where she got her wanderlust from! Since I'm anything but a gypsy I kind of admire her, but will be very sorry to see her and her little restaurant go! I don't know if you've seen the film Chocolat but she reminds me very much of the main protagonist in that film. That being said, the book is so much better than the film (of course), all the more so because in the film it's the local Mayor that falls under the spell of the travelling gypsy woman, whereas in the book it's the local priest, which makes it that much more "juicy"!

Thankfully there are a few very good health food stores round here but when I asked her where she preferred to shop she mentioned a new Ecoquartier which had been built up the road in Bonneville, on the site of the old hospital. Now I'd never heard of this place so this morning I took a trip out there to check it out. The store was, indeed, lovely and afterwards I stopped in the little coffee shop next door for a drink (and yeah, a meringue cake too), but it did strike me that for an ecoquartier there was an awful lot of concrete! As I was only 10 minutes away from Jordan and Jen's I bought a couple of pastries and stopped over there as I wanted to discuss something with Jen. Since Charlie is only in daycare Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Jen's mom and I take care of him the other two days, with me doing Friday as I want to continue my Monday morning yoga classes. When we were sorting out our schedules though, Jen's mom had a whole list of Mondays where she couldn't take Charlie (she has a boyfriend who lives 90 minutes away and goes to his place, and then they are going on holiday soon for two weeks). Fair enough, I worked my schedule to suit her and cancelled a few yoga classes - except this morning she sent me a message to say she was coming home early from the boyfriend's and could now take Charlie tomorrow instead. While I don't mind accommodating her, I don't want to be forever on the receiving end of moving plans around after they've been agreed, so I wanted to ask Jen what suited her best. I'd planned to miss yoga and have Charlie at my house tomorrow and have set up his little swimming pool, but now that's been changed and we're back to our normal schedule. I don't know, maybe I'm being unreasonable but I don't like making plans and then having them switched at the last minute, especially if I've made my own plans! 

Anyway, it got sorted, and then Jen asked me if I wanted to go to visit a snail farm with her and Charlie as they had an open day and it was only 10 minutes away? A snail farm, ehhhh, no thank you, I'm not shoving those things in my mouth! Well in the end we all went and it was a fun way to spend a few hours (not that Charlie cared that much but he was very interested in everyone around him). Oh, and there was no snail eating either. It was just the owner showing how he "cultivated" 200,000 snails a year for the local market. He was good fun and put on a 50 minute show for the kids all about snails. "How do you wake up a snail"? "You shout at him"! Nope, they're deaf, they're also pretty much blind (unless you get to within a couple mm of them), and so the best way to wake them up is to water them (and of course the kids got a good watering too). Then he asked what snails eat and cracked up when one little boy shouted "ketchup"! The really interesting part was when he showed the kids how strong snails are, capable of moving 100 times their own weight - which he proved by attaching a toy car to a snail's shell and they watched it pull the car up the slope. As I say, it was a good show, and afterwards we had a wander round the other stands set up in his field (selling honey, wine, jewellery, etc.), had a quick beer and then headed back home!

See the toy car "tow truck"!

On the way home I stopped to fill my car up. While I was there a young lad on a scooter asked if I could change a €20 note for two tens as he wanted to put €10 in his scooter. I knew I hadn't got any change so told him I'd fill his scooter up for him. Crikey, you'd think I'd given him the world, he was so grateful!

When I got home I went round the salad plants I've got potted up on my garden wall, picking off slugs and snails before they could do too much damage. Oddly enough it seems that the best deterrent has been the smashed up egg shells I've got scattered round a couple of pots, so I'll be keeping any and all egg shells in future - or at least until this growing season ends. I had to laugh when I went to throw some stuff in my compost bin though, because some time ago I'd dumped a whole bunch of potato peelings in there - and now it looks like I've got a compost bin full of spuds! I'll have to wait till I dig them up but from what I'm seeing right now I needn't have wasted my time planting potato seedlings in my raised beds if all it was going to take was to drop the peel in the compost bin!

Just as I was starting to think about dinner there was a knock at my door and my neighbour walked in with about 10 bottles. Here's me thinking we were in for a good time tonight, so I was disappointed when she asked if she could fill them up with water as their water heater had blown and they were having to empty the tank to fix it! It ended up with her very embarrassed daughter coming over to my place for a shower, although when I offered to give them my spare key they said they'd be ok as they were hoping to fix it by tomorrow. While I wish I'd already gotten my bloody bathrooms done, I was so glad I'd made the effort to clean all the upstairs rooms thoroughly this week. I guess it's just like your mom used to say - always wear clean underpants because you just never know!

And finally, I don't know if I'd mentioned before but I decided to start using my lovely sunny balcony as a place to put my other home grown veg hopefuls since I never use it. So far I've got 11 rather nice looking plants out there (tomatoes, courgettes, hot peppers) and you know what, there's not a single slug/snail on them. So it would seem, that planting them on a first floor balcony is an even better slug deterrent than scattering crushed egg shells round your plants. Beat that ya buggers!

Friday 20 May 2022


Jen asked me if I could look after Charlie pretty much all day today as she was having to do a split shift to cover for absences. No problem, of course, but getting up at 5.30 a.m. to get there for 7 a.m. was a bit of a shock to the system. Still he was as good as gold and when I sensed he was getting a bit tired, but still too early for a nap (in my opinion), we walked up to the farmers' market in their little town and then stopped off at the park for about 30 minutes afterwards. He loved it as there were loads of kids there today and he got to crawl over (not quite walking yet) to so many of his new best friends and "chat"! After that it was back home for his nap and it was only then that I got to check out what was going on on FB! Crikey, there was a massive explosion right next to Geneva airport today! First I heard was that it was the UPS terminal at the airport, but it was later confirmed to be a building that was being built for asylum seekers right near the airport. No-one was hurt, thankfully, but I have to admit that my first thought was "hmmm, a building for asylum seekers", and then the next thought was simply "I'm glad I won't be sitting in that traffic"! Still, it wouldn't be the first time a building being either built or renovated has gone up in smoke in Geneva! It made me laugh though when I read in the Geneva news that "traffic was only slightly affected"! You've gotta hand it to the Swiss!

Tomorrow I have a cookery class at the excellent vegan restaurant near here. Their food really is very good and I'm intrigued to see what we will be cooking. Will let you know in my next post!

And, you wouldn't believe it but something that must have been the size of a flying cow has just left me a "gift" on my brand new velux in the TV room. There's just no respect sometimes is there!

Thursday 19 May 2022


I took a trip out to our large, local charity shop last week to drop of some stuff (not enough - I need to do better) and have a look around. As I was almost there a cyclist came belting round a bend, down a hill and on the wrong side of the road! He wasn't a lycra fettishist, just an old fart on a bike, but thank God I spotted him before he got to me. The guy behind me wasn't quite so lucky though as he had to swerve like crazy to miss the idiot! Damn, do some people have a death wish or what? This charity store isn't much cop, to be honest, but they don't do too badly for baby items and I was able to pick up a lightweight, collapsible stroller to keep at my house for just €10 - whereas they run anywhere from €80-€100! So score there then!

On the way home I stopped back off at the garden centre to pick up a couple more of the 7' wooden stakes and a couple of tomato plants. The old guy behind me at the check-out made me laugh though when he said "hon, you've got some high hopes for those tomato plants, haven't you"? Although actually no I don't. My "build my own greenhouse" idea is a roaring flop so that will all have to be taken down, I guess. In all honesty, given the amount I've spent on my "organic gardening" idea so far, I'd probably just be better off buying it all from the health food shop and to hell with it! Still, every spring I get this madcap idea how "this year it's going to be better" and then it mostly goes tits up (if you'll forgive the expression)!

Jen had an interview today for the director position at another local crèche (she was upfront with her current employers about it). I don't know how she did as yet, but if she was lucky enough to get it it would basically just mean a transfer from her nursing job at the psychiatric hospital (where she worked before she had Charlie), on the same pay grade and with all her time in grade respected, so fingers crossed!

Then last week I got a reminder email from the people who prepare my French taxes asking where my paperwork was. I told them I'd been waiting for them to send me the link to the Legal Pilot that we used last time but nope, this time they were using Swisstransfer - and what a wonderful system it is. I'd already prepared my paperwork anyway, but using Swisstransfer it literally took me two minutes to upload everything, type in their email and they'd received it. The difference is that once the document is sent, other than my own copy the email/file then disappears permanently. Clever huh! I would guess these people handle some pretty big tax declarations and can't take the risk of having people's personal tax information possibly being hacked!

On another positive note I recently received my latest water bill so I yet again sent André a message saying "thank you for moving out", because my water bill is now only about a third of what it used to be! And then, I got a phone call on my mobile from "Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes" - which is this region - and while I don't normally pick up on numbers I don't recognize, this time I did and it was my bank/insurance company wanting to review my various insurances. My first thought, of course, was "here we go", but nope he suggested that as my car is now 11 years old I probably didn't need fully comp (I had no idea it was still on fully comp), the insurance amount for renewal of home contents was waayyyy overvalued so all in all I've knocked about €60 off my monthly bill for that, in addition to the €40 a month that I was being charged by my telephone provider for a wifi box I no longer owned. The one place I wouldn't go was my accident/sickness insurance because I have excellent worldwide coverage through my former employer, but all in all I did pretty well from that phone call!  Add to that the euro is dropping like crazy at the moment so that gives my Swiss franc denominated pension more bang for my buck, so I'm well pleased!

And finally, the windows guys showed up today to install the three velux windows I'd ordered a couple of months back and man did they work hard. It was scorching hot and they were up and down my stairs and had those babies installed in just five hours. The only thing missing is the blackout screen for the large velux in my TV room, which is on back order, but I'm so pleased with the rest as those rotting windows were starting to get on my nerves. Now if I can just get my bathrooms started .....! But I think I'm going to have to go with someone other than Jordan as he is working all hours God sends at the moment so he's fine with my looking for someone else - although goodness knows I won't be looking forward to the mess when they start that! I think it's time to do some serious decluttering before even thinking about all that!

Wednesday 11 May 2022


Just a quick post to say that Tammy (Cheapchick)'s husband has posted a beautiful tribute to his lovely wife and the post is open for comments if anyone would like to stop by!

Sorry Dave, I guess I should have added the link.

Living Rich On The Cheap

Monday 2 May 2022

It's been a while!

I've been offline completely for a few days again as I felt I needed to take a break for a little while - I find it does me a lot of good. In fact I've actually just realized that I unplugged the TV about three months ago when the guy came to look at replacing my windows and I haven't plugged it back in since, so I guess I might not need that either!

I did watch a brief Youtube video recently though where a Canadian immigrant (from Tanzania, I think) filmed around his local area pointing out how no-one was outside and saying that in his country everyone was always outside chatting and so on. Of course a huge part of that is if you live in a cold country you're hardly gonna be sitting on your doorstep chatting are you, but I got the point he was trying to make. When I was very young, before the council demolished our homes and moved us into new homes, I vaguely remember the women sitting outside chatting while the kids played "in the square". That happened also to a certain extent in our new home too, but much of that seems to have gone now, and I think it's a darn shame because you lose that sense of community! Oh I get it that nowadays most families have both parents working outside the home so who has the time to sit outside and chat, right? But it was brought home to me today when I bumped into a neighbour at the mailbox (she lives a little way away from me) and we had quite a bit of catching up to do. She asked if I thought we'd be having our neighbourhood clean-up/shindig this year and I told her I'd already spoken to the Chairman of our Homeowners' Association and yep, we'd be doing it. Of course winter and covid put the knackers on so much so I think we're all looking forward to meeting up again and having a chat and a drink on the little island in front of our homes. She also told me that the people at number five had moved out and I was quite shocked as I hadn't known. Now to be fair they had always been a very discreet couple but over the years the wife had gotten sicker and sicker (diabetes, I think, but at the time I had thought it was dementia) and so many years ago refused to leave her home at all, which meant that the husband had to do everything, including taking care of her. I barely knew him but had heard a little of what he was going through and my respect for him was enormous. So to hear the wife has now been moved into a care home in a village not far from here and he has found a small apartment nearby makes me so happy for him, as it can't have been easy these past few years, even if their two children visited regularly!

In other news, I decided to take a run out today as I wanted to drop off my recycling and get a baguette from our little local bakery, but I got quite a shock when I pulled into the next village to find that the bakery has gone out of business!!! They've been there the 30+ years that I've lived here and the place was absolutely picture-perfect. In fact I remember when Steve visited a few years ago he commented that it looked absolutely how he had pictured it in his mind! It saddens me to think of the two local corner stores that have also gone out of business recently due to the arrival of a much larger chain store a couple of years ago, but it is a conundrum because I guess we all like the efficiency and pricing of places like Amazon (and Walmart, I'm led to believe) and yet we know that they are putting small mom and pop stores out of business and, from what I hear, don't treat their staff particularly well either! How can the little people ever hope to compete?

Charlie looks to be as fit as a fiddle again now, after his bout with conjunctivis/an ear infection/roseola and chickenpox! But when the roseola didn't seem to be going away a couple of weeks ago they ended up at the emergency room on the Sunday night and it turns out the poor little thing is actually allergic to the antibiotics the doctor had given him for the ear infection!!! Still, I suppose you have to find out one way or another and it's good to know, right!

My sister headed off to their house in Spain 10 days ago and after she'd arrived safely I found out they'd actually had an accident on the way to the port in England. Apparently a motorbike had come belting up the line of traffic crawling it's way to the port, spotted an oncoming vehicle and screeched back into his lane taking half the backside of my sister's car with it. My sister and the man in the car behind started directing traffic, while my BIL tended to the motorcyclist. The ambulance arrived pretty quickly and as he was apparently not badly injured they were able to continue their journey in their smashed up car and made it in time to catch the ferry. Thankfully the car behind them had a dashcam so it will all be taken care of by the motorcyclist's insurance, but since then I've been thinking it might be a good idea to get front and back dashcams too, because if you're ever unfortunate enough to have a need for them they must be a godsend!

I had yoga Monday morning and while we were waiting for a few more people to arrive our teacher was saying that after two months with her Ukranian guests, she really was looking forward to having them leave while they could still part on good terms! One couple had found jobs and gotten an apartment and the other three were moving into a large house that had been provided by the local commune. Frankly I think our teacher is a saint but she said it was even enough to try her patience as they got up late, started cooking lunch around 4 p.m., were noisy and went to bed very late. She also said that nobody took any notice of the fact that a household that size could only run if everyone pitched in and helped with the housework, so, as I say, she will be very glad when they move out! One man fell off his bike last week and was going to have his shoulder operated on the following day so she was already thanking her lucky stars that she had gotten his medical coverage sorted out immediately upon arrival! I have another friend who had taken in three Ukranians and when I asked him how it was going he just said "tricky", so I left it at that. Two of the ladies at our sewing club said the same thing, so while I think it was very altruistic to have done what they did, it hasn't been the roaring success that so many imagined, going by what people are saying!

The other Sunday Jen and I took Charlie up to a vide-grenier in a local town, although I think calling it a town is a bit of a misnomer because it's more like just one street! Still, it was warm and sunny and we had a nice few hours out. At one point Jen stopped to buy churros but when she spotted that they were €6 for 10 she walked away. Apparently they used to be around €2/€2.5 so I guess the price of the frying oil has really gone through the roof! They had a few fair-type things for the kids and an oompa loompa band which fascinated Charlie, so it turned out to be a nice way to get out of the house for a few hours!

And finally, I got this hairbrained idea into my head that I was going to build my own makeshift greenhouse! I know, mad right! So I went out to the garden centre and bought myself two pointed stakes about 4' long and two more about 7' long (I looked like I was going pole vaulting when I carried them to the car). So here's me thinking I can just "tap" them into my rock solid garden with a lump hammer! Well of course that didn't work, so I got the sack of cement out that I just happened to have handy and gently dabbed a little cement around the base of each stake. After leaving it to set for a few hours I went back out to check on them and the bloody things had fallen over (I guess one of the neighbours sneezed) because I'd cemented them to the grass!!! So there was nothing to do for it but to start digging four holes, load them back up with cement and pray. It's not ideal but it's definitely an improvement. Then I placed cardboard down inside the confines and have started fixing ("fixing" being another loose term for what it actually looks like) chicken wire around the outside. I've yet to finish it but the whole thing looks so saggy even I have to laugh. In my mind's eye I knew exactly what I wanted but apparently my mind's eye might need new glasses! If I ever get it finished I'll take a photo of it - I'm pretty sure it'll give you a good laugh!