The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Tuesday 26 December 2023


Blink and you've missed it - but what a lovely stay we had at the safari park. We got there around mid-day and as our chalet wasn't ready yet we went for a wander round the park first. The weather was glorious and not at all cold - which obviously helped - so we got to see quite a few animals before it was time to head on up to our chalet. The chalet was lovely with two bunkbeds in one room and a double bed in the second room, but the best part was that our balcony overlooked the wolf enclosure! As soon as they heard rustling they came running over to the balcony, although we were under strict instructions not to feed them, of course!

If you can imagine a place designed and furnished by IKEA this would be it, and the design fit so well with the location!

One of the windows in the main bedroom!

My boys get along really well and both have a great sense of humour, so we were treated to their renditions of various songs from The Lion King as we made our way round the park. The funniest had to be at the lion enclosure though, when André raised Charlie above his head and yelled "he's alive" in his best gibbon voice!

At one point we were heading down a tunnel in order to get below the waterline at the seal enclosure when Jen turned her head and came face to face with a hyena. She yelped and they both beat a hasty retreat! I think the seal enclosure was probably Charlie's favourite spot in the whole park, and I must admit we all found it fascinating to watch as they kept swimming past us, "showing off" or probably just playing around!

Charlie really was a little trooper and the only time he whinged was when Jen tried to put him in a stroller. He wasn't having any of it and when my fitbit logged 15,000 steps at the end of the day we had to give it to him - he'd done so well!

The company prepared dinner for us, which they left in the fridge and all we had to do was heat it in the microwave. It was really good - foie gras for starters (not my thing though), roast capon, gratin and green beans for the main course, and tiramisu for dessert, with a chocolate yule log and a bottle of wine to top it all off. After that none of us particularly felt like trudging back into the park for the light show, but we were all so glad we did as they had all the fairytale characters lit up so it took us another hour or so get round it all yet again!

We were also first in to see Father Christmas,
although to be honest Charlie was none too sure!

André and Jordan stayed outside chatting until around 2 a.m. and said they could hear the lions in the background most of that time. I didn't hear that but oh my goodness, at least three times the wolves set off a complete howling cacophony during the night and it was wonderful!

As we were staying in the chalets onsite, the next day we were allowed access to the park one hour before it opened for the day, although even when it did open up it still wasn't busy so we had none of that Disney feel to it where you just get shuffled along with the crowd. This was when we did the car ride through the main park to see the elephants, rhinos (you wouldn't want to cross them, I can tell you), hippos, moose and so on and we were lucky enough to see what must have been a very confused bear lying around in the sunshine, probably wondering where all his mates had got to!

We got back home around 6 pm and were all so tired I don't think anyone really wanted to "celebrate" Christmas Eve. Next day everyone was coming to my place and we'd decided on raclette (basically melted cheese, potatoes, dried meat and salad) to make it easier all round. Presents were exchanged, we all enjoyed a really good meal - and then of course André spotted the whoopee cushions and false noses so off we all went. Jen's mom's partner, Fabrice, is pretty quiet but André had him doubled up laughing, particularly when he unleashed an app on his phone with (I think) 112 different fart sounds! I thought Fabrice was going to fall over, he was laughing so much. Oh, and I forgot to tell you, when I asked André what he was doing for New Year he told me he was off to Genoa in Italy! Huh??? Turns out on his trip to Thailand they met up with a couple who were travelling together with a young Italian designer and they sorta followed each other's circuits and kept meeting up. So now he's off to Genoa for New Year and having dinner with her parents (????) I just hope she's equally enthralled with his farting app, 'cos he's classy like that! If it goes well, she's coming up to France on 18th January to spend a few days with him - so things could be looking up for him. At least I hope so for his sake!

Oh and I also forgot to tell you another bit of news. When we were in the chalet Jen was getting Charlie ready for bed when he came out of the bathroom wearing his jammies and a t-shirt which read "sometimes you've got to be able to read between the lines". I never paid any attention to it because, well, a t-shirt, but Jen's mom read it out several times and said "are you trying to tell us something?" - and she was. It was maybe a little early to be spreading the news but --- Jen's pregnant again, and we're all thrilled. So right now I just can't see how things could get any more ...

Friday 22 December 2023

Like a kid in a sweetie shop!

We're off tomorrow morning to spend the night in "tree top cabins" in the safari park near Lyon that Jen organized. It's only an overnight stay but I'm really looking forward to it and hoping the weather plays along. I just checked it out and it's looking good so fingers crossed the weathermen got it right! I feel kinda guilty feeling so happy when things with my favourite neighbour are just horrible. The silence coming from that house is explosive, but on a positive note I understand the husband is slowly moving stuff into his daughter's apartment in the next village over as her tenant has just moved out. I had mentioned to the wife that I would be going back and forth to a fabric store in a place called Sallanches as I was dropping off and picking up our sewing club sewing machines for servicing, so I sent her a message to say I was going on Wednesday and did she want to come. The reply I got back was that it wouldn't be a good time right now so I'll mention it to her next time I go. Her husband had had to go all the way to Lyon for tests a couple of weeks ago since two of the local hospitals won't deal with him any more. At the first hospital he was in bed waiting for an operation to insert a stent in his leg and they told him the surgeon would be along at 3 p.m.. When 3 o'clock rolled around and the surgeon hadn't showed up yet (unavoidably detained in surgery) he got dressed and left the hospital in a fit of pique. At the second hospital they inserted yet another stent in his leg (must be about six by now) and wanted to keep him overnight. Well he wasn't having any of that and signed himself out against medical advice for the second time so I believe that hospital won't deal with him any more - hence having to go all the way to Lyon for tests on his heart and lungs. When he got back she asked how it went and he just said "fine" and walked out, only for her to find out when she answered the phone later that day that they were scheduling insertion of a stent, in his heart this time, for the following Wednesday. When she asked about it he told her he didn't feel like going (probably scared but seriously, can you keep messing medical personnel around like that?)! Ultimately he ended up going for the operation and was kept under observation for 24 hours. When she popped round for a coffee she said it was the best 24 hours she'd had in a long time! How sad is that - but I know how she felt! When my ex used to travel for work the tension levels in the house used to drop from 100 to zero only to shoot back through the roof when he got back!

So it looks like he'll be moved out sooner rather than later - which can only be a good thing for both of them. I was asking her what she was going to do about banking and she told me "she didn't like to snoop" but that she was also afraid he was going senile. Ha, any man that can visit a lawyer to effectively try to disinherit his wife of 51 years, locks her out of their joint bank account and who has a complete file labelled "divorce" isn't senile, he's trying to put one over on her! So I offered to help her with using my old laptop as he will be taking their one and only laptop with him. She's very resistant to "technology" but hey, she'll have no choice now, will she! His public persona is Joe Helpful but what goes on behind closed doors is quite another thing!

She was telling me that with age he has gotten more and more like his mother, who was apparently a nasty piece of work. He was the only son and had three sisters and I remember his mother telling me one time how lucky I was to have two sons rather than daughters! I was shocked and said I was just happy to have healthy children - the sex doesn't matter! So I guess having been treated like the Boy King all his life he has no respect for anyone! I remember a few years ago when her father died very suddenly, grandma came to stay with them for a few days after the funeral. When I walked in to give her a hug she slumped down on the sofa and the husband said "see, look at how she just slumps down on the sofa when anyone is around - it's all an act"! I basically balled him out and said that she'd buried her husband of 50+ years just a few days ago, I don't care if she's slumped down on the sofa! So yeah, I'm sure this separation can't come fast enough for either of them!

I think I mentioned in my last post that I'd bought myself a pair of earbuds/airpods in order to be able to get stuff done while I'm listening to books or podcasts. It was been nice to get into bed and have someone "read" to me, BUUUUUTTTTT I hate the fact that as soon as you tap one airpod it either tries to answer or make a phone call for you! The other night I was listening to a podcast in bed around 1 a.m. and when I turned my head my bloody phone tried to call my gynaecologist!!!!! I think I've managed to cancel this function because I don't want to be randomly calling people if I nod off in bed!

And joy of joys, our local bus company just sent out an advance copy of their 2024 catalogue and Corsica is back on the menu again next year. I called my friend and knowing that this trip will sell out quickly we drove down to their offices this morning to put a deposit on the Corsica trip and a trip later in the year (just an overnighter) to a place called Guédelon, which is a place I have long wanted to visit. It's a medieval castle that is being slowly and painstakingly restored and is just a couple of hours from here! 


Skimming through their catalogue I must have listed about 15 trips I would like to do (hence the kid in the sweetie shop reference) but realistically we'll only do a couple, plus a few day trips and save the rest for next year, I guess. After we'd reserved we stopped off and ate in a very good Indian restaurant in town and while the quantities weren't big, and in any case I didn't finish mine, I flaked out on the sofa for a good few hours when I got home. Then for some reason I decided that right now would be a good time to start going through my food storage cupboards and I'm ashamed to say it took me a good few hours to go through it and throw out some stuff that must have been bought when Guédelon was originally being built! Just like my freezers, shame on me for letting it get that bad, but at least it looks good now! After that I've just crashed on the sofa again tonight but oh, pro tip, if you want to waste a few hours going down the feel good rabbit hole, start watching Nate Eaton's (East Idaho News) Secret Santa videos. If that doesn't make you grateful for everything you have, nothing will - and god bless the wonderful Secret Santa in East Idaho for making such a huge difference to struggling people's lives!

So I'll be off tomorrow and get back late Sunday evening, and after that it'll be Christmas Day. I doubt I'll get to read any blogs for the next few days so I'll wish you all a Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays, and speak to you all again soon!

Tuesday 19 December 2023

God I'm glad I'm retired!!!

Come 31 December I will have been retired five years - and I'm still so, so glad! I mean, who wouldn't be? I don't actually know anyone who regrets retiring - or maybe one or two, which surprises the heck out of me! The other day it was peeing down rain when the Amazon delivery guy showed up, so when it's like that I usually offer to make them a coffee to go. He didn't accept because he had so much stuff to deliver, so while I like being able to find pretty much anything I want on Amazon, and I guess they're also keeping a lot of people in employment, man do those delivery guys work hard (and of course it's not just Amazon delivery guys). Then earlier this week another delivery man knocked on my door but when I looked at the address I told him that he'd got the wrong address - it was destined for next door. At this point my other neighbour came out as she'd been expecting to take in the stray parcel but when she tried the QR code it wouldn't work. So she called the intended recipients, who were in Annecy, and the husband did his nut because he'd been expecting it on Saturday!!! Try what they might, it just wasn't going through so when I offered this young man a coffee he gladly accepted. We ended up having quite a little tea party, with him saying he'd come back around 7 pm to try to catch them. So yes they work damn hard, which might also explain why they tend to drive like lunatics too!

The friend who I met on my first day in Geneva called me last week for a catch up. We only worked together for about a year as she moved on to another organization, but we have kept sporadically in touch over the years. I asked about her kids - one of whom was doing well in Switzerland and the other had sadly just lost her job in England. She mentioned that she would be having her ex-husband over for Christmas as he still lives in Geneva. Not my business of course, but I never particularly liked him. I found him arrogant, bragging about his "fancy job and fancy company car" - well that was until he lost the job and she later found out that he'd stopped paying the bills, including the mortgage. She'd just had a baby and had switched to part-time work and then he got made redundant in his mid-40s, and as far as I know never really found another decent job! They had bought at the height of the housing boom and ended up selling in a depressed market so basically they lost everything they had put into the house. She then moved into France and bought a small apartment for her and the kids and him - well he ended up living in a small studio in Switzerland on not very much money, I imagine. It's funny how life works out, isn't it. One day everything looks like it's hunky dory, and the next, well it just isn't any more! Sadly they're not the only couple I know where that happened either! 

I've been very tired lately so actually had to laugh when someone asked me if I would be going skiing over Christmas! I don't think I'd even be able to walk with those boots on any more, let alone ski! I also finally bit the bullet and signed up for audible as I found I was wasting so much time sitting on my bum reading or listening to podcasts on the computer when I could be quite happily doing something else while listening to them on my phone. It only took me how many years to figure that out?

I have been in the mood for trying out new recipes lately, so it's good when a new recipe piques my interest. I had to laugh though because there's a lady on a FB group that I follow occasionally who is posting some pretty nice recipes. It's a group for people who've been cheated on by their partners and since I'm so far out I only occasionally catch up with them. But what have recipes got to do with being cheated on, you might ask? Well this lady's husband (they're still in the process of divorcing) moved in with his girlfriend and apparently the gf can't cook. So he's been asking his wife (who's a pretty good cook by all accounts) for some of her recipes. When she told him to get lost he deleted her online recipe collection!!!! And if ya think that's weird, I was putting some of my clothes aside for Goodwill when my still husband asked if he could take them because he thought his gf would look good in them!!!! Anyhoo, this lady is slowly reconstituting her recipe collection so every so often she'll post one on FB, especially if it's one of his family favourites. This is a private group and she posts them knowing he'll never have access to them again. Yeah, I like that kinda petty!

Earlier this week I had a dermatologist's appointment in Geneva so I left really early in order to park at the border and catch the bus in. Problem was, when I got to my usual car park, it kept indicating one or two spaces available (there are usually loads) and about 10 of us kept driving round and round looking for them. But no luck - I then drove on to another car park and it was the same thing there. Turns out French transport workers were on strike so people who usually took public transport in to Geneva were taking their cars, hence no bloody parking spaces. I called the doctor's office to explain and they were very good and said they wouldn't charge me as they knew what had happened. Then today I had a different doctor's appointment (trying to get them all in before the end of the year) and the same bloody thing happened. No parking at the border, the car park near the hospital full (turns out there'd been a landslide on the railway line), but I eventually managed to get a spot in a car park in central Geneva, and then legged it up to my appointment. Good thing I left so early right? While I was waiting to get a blood test, I heard the receptionist very firmly telling someone on the phone that "no, if she didn't make it this afternoon she'd either have to go to her local clinic or come back in January" (apparently this lady frequently cancelled at the last minute). I commiserated with her about juggling appointments but she said this was a 53 year old lady who was pregnant through IVF???? Yikes, I would not want to be pregnant at 53, all the more so when she pointed out that this lady already had four daughters, but wanted a son. She probably shouldn't have told me this, but when she found out this latest baby was another girl her whole attitude totally changed! Again, yikes, I would not be going through that again at 53 no matter how many daughters I had! Which reminds me of my Uncle Phil who approached my dad when I was born and asked if they could adopt me because "you've already had six children" (even though they'd lost two). I guess it was sincere and they would have treated me well, but man oh man am I glad that my parents said no!

And finally, I had just got home when the doorbell went again. I was crabby because I thought it would be another wrong delivery (I'm not expecting anything) but when I opened the door there was a charming older gent from the Mairie delivering Christmas gifts to all the over-65s in the village! Which kinda surprised me because when they sent round the registration paper earlier in the year I didn't fill it in because I wasn't 65 yet. We'll open it on Christmas Day I, but I wonder what's in it - biscuits maybe or chocolates? That'll teach me to be such a crab!

Sunday 10 December 2023

A tale of two marriages!

Just like in my last post there's still not an awful lot happening here. I've kept Charlie for two Mondays as Jen's work are down from four staff to just two so she's doing a lot of overtime. Because of that I've missed yoga for two weeks so I'm really looking forward to getting back to it tomorrow. On the walking front, this year has been pretty much a washout. I reckon I'll only make it to 800 miles by year end so my "resolution" (in as much as I make one) is to get back out walking in 2024. Mind you, the weather remains pretty abysmal, with tons of rain and lots of localized flooding, so I'm hoping that'll improve sooner rather than later!

The other week I thought I'd treat myself to a mani/pedi since I have a voucher which will be expiring soon (I only hung onto it for almost a whole year!!!) so ended up in a new-to-me salon next to my hairdresser's. She was very professional and did a good job, so I think I'll try to get into the habit of doing some kind of treatment at least once a month just to treat myself. Mind you, about a month ago I picked up what I thought was a face mask that they had marked down, but turns out it was one of those "foot masks" - you know (or maybe you don't know) they're kinda like little plastic bootees that you wear for a couple of hours and it's supposed to do your feet the world of good. Well after a couple of hours I took them off and thought "what a load of rubbish" as nothing had happened. That is, nothing happened until about three days later when my feet started to peel like I had a bad case of sunburn! More alarmingly this went on for almost three weeks and my feet seriously looked like they'd been dipped in eggwash and then into a bowl of dessicated coconut!!!!! I hadn't intentionally bought these things and don't think I'll bother again but the pedicure lady said it was some kind of chemical exfoliation that was okay to use once in a while, but nah - no thanks. I looked like my feet had dandruff!

In other news, I thought I should knuckle down this weekend and get a few pending administrative tasks done as I'd been letting things slide, so I sat down and paid some bills, then got online and booked two tickets to an André Rieu concert now that he's finally coming back to Switzerland in 2024, and then I wanted to get a few Christmas cards sent off. I think I mentioned before that the French Post Office is pushing people more and more towards self-service (who isn't?) so now you get to buy your stamps online and print them yourself. Well last time I had a helluva time getting the stamps to print properly so bought some sheet labels from the Post Office online shop specifically designed for the purpose. Except, the formatting is just slightly off by a few millimetres so every bloody stamp straddles two labels. First world problems I know, but I swear open heart surgery has got to be easier than trying to peel two small labels off the backing sheet and getting them to match perfectly on the envelope so that the complete stamp is visible. Just when I thought I'd finally cracked it, I'd pull my hand away and the bottom half of the stamp would still be attached to my thumb! As I said, first world problems for sure, but it certainly generated a lot of cussing!

In other news, it looks like my lovely neighbours three doors away will be leaving after 40+ years. My favourite neighbour mentioned it a few weeks ago and I've seen their kids emptying out the garage and taking stuff from the house so I guess it's probably true. The wife is 90 years old and starting to lose it mentally (and is aware of it sadly), but still very glamorous and always beautifully dressed. The husband is a few years younger and an absolute ox of a man, and I know it will hit them very hard to leave after so many years. They know everybody, of course, and are a nice couple. He keeps his wood-working stuff in the garage so wherever they move to I hope they have enough room for his hobby and that it won't be too far so that they can keep in touch with all their friends here!

Then my favourite neighbour stopped in earlier this week, ostensibly just for a chat, but I sensed that she needed to get things off her chest. She asked me if I knew that they were getting divorced and I said that she'd mentioned before how unhappy they were and that she'd spoken to a lawyer. Well turns out they've both been to see lawyers and are hoping to set the divorce in motion. Frankly I don't see it happening though since France has these new "climate saving" laws in place whereby they will have to get quite a bit of work done to bring their home up to whatever code is acceptable now before they can sell it. On the face of it the stars could be aligning since the tenants that she has in her late parents' house on the west coast have given notice that they are leaving and the wife would very much like to move back there. Their daughter's tenant in the apartment she bought before marriage is also moving out, so the husband is talking about buying that. But, there again they would probably run into these new "climate change" regulations before any one of them could move. Basically what these new regs will do is take an awful lot of rental properties off the market, thus exacerbating an already tense rental situation in France because people won't be able to afford to get this work done. More importantly though, the husband's mask is now totally "off" and she found out that he had given their son a sealed envelope marked "to be opened in the event of my death". She knows what's in it though as she saw it on their computer, but basically he has said that in the event of his death he doesn't want his wife (of 51 years) to get a single penny - no widow's pension, no share of the house etc. since "she has refused to work all these years and that is her problem". Now she told me years ago how lucky I was to be able to continue to work (even if I didn't always see it that way) because she had wanted to return to work after her maternity leave and had everything set up to do so. With him claiming she refused to work, it would alter her financial situation with regards to alimony - but she has written proof that he refused to "allow" her to return to work in order for him to be able to move around with his job. Mind you, I'm pretty sure he can't prevent her from receiving what would be due to her in the event of his death since in France you can't disinherit legitimate family members. Years ago I asked the notary about that - for instance what if I wanted to leave everything to one son (who was an angel) and nothing to the other son (who was just evil) - just hypothetically, of course - and the notary said the only way to do that would be to move assets out of France, so no, I don't think he can screw her over financially. Still, what an evil thing to do on his part! They don't even speak any more and she says he checks "their" bank account twice a day now - but only he has access to it! So for many reasons I don't see the divorce actually happening but what a sad way to live!

And compare that to my sister and brother-in-law who, quite coincidentally, got married on exactly the same day in exactly the same year as my neighbours, so 51 years for them too yesterday. Their marriage hasn't always been a bed of rose petals, of course, but they are one couple who have grown to love each other more and more with every year. Probably because they're both as daft as a brush (runs in the family, it seems). My niece paid for them to have a long weekend in France this past weekend so they took just a few items of clothing from home to wear over on the ferry with them!

Happy anniversary!

Thursday 30 November 2023


I haven't posted much lately because, to be honest, not a lot's been happening! Oh it's been piddling down a treat and as we've definitely moved on to winter weather, I'm forever grateful that homes round here have shutters on all the windows! It keeps so much of the cold out and I remember when I was still working that in the winter months I would just leave all the shutters shut when I left for work because since I was leaving in the dark and coming home in the dark it didn't matter - houseplants be damned. I'll just buy more next year! That being said, the kleptomaniac fox must be feeling the cold as he's been at it again, stealing my neighbour's crocs and leaving them in my back garden. I must admit, it's beginning to tickle me now as I'm wondering when he will finally manage to steal a complete set of four!

In reality life's been just moving on as usual - which isn't a bad thing in and of itself is it. I'm keeping up with my Italian lessons and still finding it fairly easy as yet. Well that is, everything except my pronunciation of buon giorno! For some reason Duolingo has not been liking my pronunciation of that up until this week, when I finally cracked it! Damn, I hope I'll be receiving my medal soon!

Yoga the other week was pretty interesting in that she had us using what looked like very soft tennis balls. We placed them in various places along our back (but never on the spine) and then did very gentle rocking movements. My God it was wonderful, the massage I got from it was so good and the effects stayed with me for about four days. While I will have a go at most things, I'm pretty cynical with it and kept imagining one of the balls exploding and sounding like a giant whoopee cushion (more on that later)!

After that I went to the farmers' market and then popped into LIDL and for the first time ever I spotted that they had about 10 "too good to go" boxes. Seeing that one of them had leeks in it (which I had forgotten to buy), I asked the cashier how much they were and when he said €1 I bought one because at that price it didn't matter what else was in the box, did it. But the contents were great, so I split it with my two neighbours and managed to get the rest into the freezer, only losing the broccoli because it was already looking a bit sad when I bought it. Still, at €1 for this lot you can't complain can you. I haven't seen them since but it was definitely a good deal!

André came back from Thailand on Tuesday and is now officially freezing, and Jordan is working up at the ski resort of Megève and loving the fact that they can only get so far up into the resort and then have to be taken the rest of the way by snow plough!

Last Friday night Jen asked both us grandmas if we wanted to go up to the Château de Menthon St. Bernard (just above lake Annecy) as they have a month-long event gearing up to Christmas. The idea was great but so many other people obviously felt the same way, because when we got there all three car parks were full. We were then told that if we drove down to the tennis club we could park there and a free shuttle bus would pick us up. Problem was there were about 50 people in front of us and a 10-seater shuttle that seemed to run about every 20 minutes, so we gave it a miss and went out to dinner instead. Still, it's on for a month so I'm hoping we can make it before it finishes!

Google picture - and yes it really is that lovely!
Better luck next time eh!

Then the next night we had our latest board game evening at my place. I was kinda hoping my bathrooms wouldn't still be a building site by this time but .... hey ho, nobody was bothered. I sneaked out the whoopee cushions I bought the other week and while everyone else was in stitches (I wished I knew how to post my video), Charlie was definitely not impressed! What did impress him though was his doctor's kit, so I ended up being his patient while he listened to my heart (making the dadum, dadum sounds - mom being a nurse, of course) and then came at me with a syringe asking me where my bobo was - so I pointed at my foot. So then he says, "what, your socks have a bobo"? Man that just cracked me up. I'm having so much fun with that kid - even if he doesn't like my whoopee cushions!

Thursday 16 November 2023

So where did autumn go????

Crikey, one minute I'm bragging about the unseasonally glorious weather and next you know it hasn't stopped raining for two weeks!!! Well that's not strictly true because it did stop last Wednesday, but that was the only time! I know it was Wednesday because I'd dropped the car off to get my winter tyres put on and since the weather was nice I decided to walk back into town to pick it up. It took me an hour (which is pretty slow going), but in my defence I stopped next to the gendarmerie to read the plaques on the wall commemorating members of the French resistance who had either been shot by the Nazis or shipped off to concentration camps and died there. The oldest I saw was 41, but most were young men in their mid-twenties!!! RIP those brave young men!

On the way there I bumped into Stephan, who I used to see occasionally up at Stan's now defunct little bar. My heart sunk when I saw him because the last two times I'd seen him he asked me for money. Oh he has plenty of money and lives with his wealthy parents but suffers from mental illness and while very intelligent (I believe) he obviously blows through money at a rate of knots. Anyway I was relieved when he didn't ask (I was going to say no this time) as I really want to have as little to do with him as possible as he gives me bad vibes. He was also one of two men who asked if they could move in with me (as in rent a room) when they found out I was getting divorced, but seriously even if I ever wanted to live with someone ever again (I don't) those two would be the last people I would ever let move in - one an alcoholic and the other schizophrenic!!! I had mentioned to Thiery at Ford that I wanted to get rid of the nasty-looking wheel rims my winter tyres were mounted on as it was getting hard for me to keep loading wheels and rims into my car and then down to my basement, so when I got down to Ford I was pleased to find out that they had taken them to the tip for me! So that's one less thing to deal with!

Jen finally got me an original birth certificate for Charlie - which was the last paper I was waiting for in order to apply for French citizenship by ascendency (i.e. as the grandmother of a French child). So I thought I'd be really efficient and drop off a crate of stuff I had for the food bank, make a trip to the tip to get rid of some more stuff and then pop into the post office to mail off my citizenship application. Except on the way there I realized I'd forgotten to put in a copy of Charlie's French passport (that'll teach me to be smug), so I dashed back home to print off a copy and race back to get it mailed off before the post office closed. Except that was when my bloody printer decided to chew up a few pieces of paper, then my stapler ran out of staples (first world problems, I know), and then I nearly broke my neck dashing down the stairs to answer the doorbell - only to find a couple of rictus grinning Jehovah's Witnesses who told me they had "good news for me"! My first thought was that I'd like to give them a karate kick to the throat, but being short and stubby I knew I'd have to make do with a drop kick to the ankle if I decided to go that route! Luckily for them I'm British (and very polite!!!) so I simply told them I really wasn't interested thank you very much and that I was in a hurry! I made it just in time to get my paperwork sent off, so we'll see how long it takes to get a reaction from the French authorities - it's been about five years so far (and counting)!

The wind and rain have been appalling these past few days and two days ago the Préfêt de la Haute Savoie (kinda like the State Governor) sent out a message (I saw it on FB) asking people to stay off the roads unless it was absolutely necessary to go out. I recognized the spot he was standing on as being alongside the River Giffre, which is the road I usually take to get to Jordan and Jen's, and while the Giffre always runs high in winter, the combination of high rainfall and snow melting off the mountains was giving rise to severe flooding and very dangerous road conditions. Then tonight I saw that the road from Bonneville up the Côte d'Hyot (where André lives) has been closed in both directions due to landslides. Not that André cares though 'cos he's in Thailand and having a whale of a time!

At the elephant sanctuary!

He said the baby was only a month old and while mom was standing by protectively the baby kept coming over to play with them - or "piling on" as he put it, and he absolutely loved it! Jammy bugger!

Sunday 5 November 2023

Score again - or maybe not! Depends on your point of view!

The weather's been pretty yuck this week with non-stop rain and howling winds, but nowhere near as bad as in the north and west of France. Apparently winds hit over 200 km an hour (over 120 miles/hour) in Brittany, and while we got howlers it obviously wasn't that bad. A few downed trees and landslides but as far as I'm aware, no major damage round here! The net result of all the rain is that we've got snow on the mountains at the back of my house, so I'm guessing the snow line is at around 1,000 metres. I'm at 800 metres so I expect it won't be too long now! On the positive side I have an appointment to get my winter tyres put on on Wednesday so that's one thing crossed off my to-do list!

I follow a couple of hiking groups on FB of people who hike in this region and the pictures they are posting are just out of this world. They're also very helpful in that if anyone asks, say, where is a decent walk, not too long and suitable for children, someone will always chime in with a suggestion. I've seen some fabulous hikes on these groups, but of course I'm in no shape to be attempting any of them right now. What I have realized though is that I don't mind going out in the rain and since I know I have some waterproof trousers (somewhere), next on my list might be a gentle hike, come hail or high water - though hopefully without!

On the first of every month I have a short to-do list which includes, amongst other things, charging all the metallic lighting strips that I bought about a year ago. I have five in the house and one on the cellar stairs, so I'd charged them all by mid-day on 1st November and then wouldn't you know it we had a power cut a few hours later! So good timing all round. I felt pretty pleased with myself as I flicked all the power strips on and as I'd recently bought an independent power pack to charge my phone I knew I was going to be all right for a few hours. Of course the first thing to go when the power goes off is the heating, because although I heat with fuel, I need electricity to run it. And boy am I glad I had that wood burning insert installed. My neighbours use pellets but I decided to go with wood (and my trusty new chainsaw) so that I would at least have heating in the event of a power cut. So all in all it was ok, even though we never know how long they will last. In this case it only lasted a few hours, but we have had the electric down 24 hours previously, so I'd say we got off easy. Mind you, doing my monthly "charge everything that needs charging", I'm struck by how everything you buy today has its own charging cable. I've got a box of the bloody things and they're all different and while I'm used to it now it can get very confusing. Come to think of it, I have a drawer full of different cables that have been hanging around for years but in the end I reckon I'll just end up throwing the lot as I can't figure out what they're for!

The plumber stopped by on Friday and with the help of his young assistant managed to get my very large (and heavy) shower base up the stairs and installed in the larger bathroom. It was quite a relief to get that out of the garage because I was then able to move more stuff into the garage rather than having it all sitting outside (as it has been since last April) covered in two large tarps. On the off-chance I mentioned to him that I was going to take a trip out to the charity store when he left as I had two large electric leaf blowers that I wanted to get rid of and did he know anyone who might like them? And he instantly said that he would take them. So I pushed my luck and asked if he was interested in my battery assisted bike too (all for free, I might add) and he jumped at it. So I got rid of three more large items that were taking up space and now have a very happy plumber! I know some people say to sell this stuff on FB Marketplace or wherever, but I can't be bothered and while I know all about "sunk costs", in the end I'm just glad to get rid of it. So score for me and score for him!

While he was here I stayed out of his way downstairs and decided to get a bit of sewing done. In the same vein as T'Pol, I'm sick of having unfinished projects lying around the house so I've decided that this year at sewing club is going to be dedicated to finishing projects and using up some of the beautiful fabric that I have (before the moths get to it)! So I was quite proud of myself when I finished an advent calendar for Charlie that had been hanging around for a couple of weeks. I had seen a picture of an advent calendar "tree" so winged it and tried to make the same thing. It has small cars and chocolates in each pocket and is as wonky as hell (right brain, left brain again), but at least it's finished and it was made with only good intentions!

Ha ha, look at numbers 1 through 5!
Talk about wonky!

Since 1st November was a holiday here, Jen took a couple of days off to drive up north to visit her grandparents and so that they could get to spend some time with Charlie. She sent us some lovely pictures of Charlie helping great grandpa in the garden and while it was tiring, she's glad she made the effort! Thinking they were coming back today I made a batch of soup and bought bread, ham and cheese to leave at their place for when they returned, but when I got there I found out they'd arrived back yesterday evening so I'm so glad I rang the doorbell before charging in! Then I was supposed to drive up to André's to drop him off in Geneva tonight before his flight to Thailand tomorrow. Turns out he'd made other arrangements - but just forgot to tell me! He and a couple of mates have made their own bookings for a three-week trip and I'm sure they'll have a wonderful time as André, in particular, loves Thailand!

When I checked my bank account on pay day I saw that the powers that be had finally gotten round to crediting me back €2,000 which the French government had promised to everyone who put an open fireplace out of commission. It took a while but they got there in the end. Then today I was emptying another box in my cellar when I came across some pretty sad looking Christmas wrapping paper and the crumbling remains of a couple of whoopie cushions. That of course gave me an idea so guess who sent off for a couple of new ones to amuse Charlie with - ya know, 'cos I'm classy like that!

Saturday 28 October 2023

Score (x 2)!!

We're still having pretty decent weather here for the time of year. Oh we've had a couple of days of heavy rain (which is only to be expected), but other than that it's been glorious - sunny and not too cold - and I'm happy to say I'm still getting loads done. I'm keeping up with the Italian lessons which are still pretty easy as it's early days yet. Then the other day a recipe popped up on my feed from a site called Ptitchef and I'm finding quite a few recipes I'd like to try out. They send an email every day with a starter, main course and dessert and if I see anything that interests me I drop it into my online recipe folder. The only complaint I have about the site though is the advertising. Well obviously they have adverts but the one that seems to pop up most often is a diagram of an enlarged prostate and showing the recommended treatment!!! That one doesn't actually inspire me to dash off to the kitchen somehow!

I was chatting with my friend the other day saying how I'd like to get my old BBQ down to the tip but it was proving difficult since it wouldn't fit in my car. Then she said she wanted to get rid of her BBQ because she just never used it and was I interested? It's a good quality, gas bottle BBQ that has been covered and stored in her garage and while I was initially tempted I know I wouldn't use it so asked her if she would like me to mention it to my neighbours - who use theirs a lot. Well they weren't interested but as their daughter jumped at it I set up with my neighbour for us to go over to her place and pick it up. He told me that he'd tried taking my BBQ apart some more but I already knew that was impossible as it was so rusted, so in the end he said to just help him load it up into his car and we took it down to the tip. So score 1 - one less BBQ to deal with!

Then last Saturday the tiler showed up with his young son as he was on school break. He's a nice guy and very hard working as he works a full-time job and does tiling in the evenings and weekends. He originally came to France as a refugee after the war in Kosovo and I am dead impressed how well he speaks French and how hard working he is! More power to him! I mentioned that I'd be gone for about 30 minutes as I had to pop out to pick up an Amazon package from a delivery centre. It was the first time I'd used this gas station and I had to scan a QR code on my phone and out of one of the lockers popped my new mini chainsaw! After I got home I had it on the table while I was charging the battery and when he asked about it I told him that I was not comfortable using my big chainsaw to cut the wood downstairs but was hoping to be able to at least cut up the smaller logs. So at this point he says that next time he comes over he'll stay an extra hour and cut up the bigger logs for me!!! I wasn't expecting that at all, but since he volunteered and if he wants to make some money I'm absolutely thrilled - so score 2 for me!

Since then I've cut up a fair supply of smaller logs and this afternoon I cut back (massacred) the buddleia in my front garden as my gardener forgot to do it the other day. It took me all of 15 minutes and I am dead impressed, so much so that my neighbour asked me about it and has ordered one for herself. I tell ya, at the moment anything that's not on wheels I'm attacking with that saw! Which reminds me oddly enough of a story from years ago when my parents bought a new washing machine. My brother-in-law's parents were maybe 15 years older than my parents and as they were very rural she was still doing their laundry in the old washtub and wringer, so when my parents offered them their old "automatic" washer they jumped at it. BIL's dad said he thought he'd gotten lucky because every day when he came home from work his wife told him to "take his clothes off" but poor him, she only wanted to do another load of washing, she was so thrilled with her new machine! And I'm a bit like that with my chainsaw. I seriously love it, although I managed to lose my safety goggles the first day (probably threw them out with the hibiscus branches). But you know what, forget all the hoopla about the "find my iphone" app, I reckon if someone could invent a "find my glasses" app they'd make a fortune. Not from me though as I have reading glasses dotted all over the place so as long as I can still find my house I reckon I'm good!

I'm still seeing an awful lot of job vacancies advertised (does no-one want to work anymore???) so who knows, maybe I could get myself a little part-time job as a lumberjack. Now there's a thought!

Start 'em young I say!

Thursday 19 October 2023

At least I didn't burn the house down!

While it's definitely a lot cooler here - obviously, it's nearly November - it's still pretty mild for the time of year. We've had a couple of days where it rained but other than that it has been pretty nice (to my weird taste I suppose) and with that I've gotten my energy back and quite a lot done! On Monday Jen was caught short for baby-sitting again as the daycare has this weird (rip-off, in my opinion) thing where eight days of the year parents are expected to find alternative arrangements for their children or they will pay double for the day! Say what??? You've paid for it but eight days a year you have to make other arrangements??? Sounds like a money-spinning exercise to me! Anyway, after yoga in the morning I drove straight over there to keep Charlie for the afternoon while Jen went to work. He was much better after his rotten weekend the week before but the reverse side of that coin is that he was full of beans. Not that I'm complaining, but all of a sudden I was really feeling my age!! He kept playing his favourite songs and played Allez croco, allez croco, allez crocodile over and over again ad nauseum, all the while we had to jump around like crocodiles! After about the 20th time he said "nanny watch, I think I'm going to jump now" - and here's me thinking "mate, I was ready to jump half an hour ago"!!! Still he was good and I had him nicely wound up by the time Jordan and Jen got home around six!

After that it was off to Monday night sewing, so all-in-all a busy day for me. As I was driving there I spotted a young woman pushing one of those very high double strollers (for young babies) and saw that she also had another baby strapped to her chest, so triplets!!! Yikes! You've got to be young to do that, but I suppose if they're your children you do get into a routine, even if it's still hard work. When I was still working I remember seeing a young woman getting on the bus with triplet baby girls and watched them grow over the last few years before I retired. She had her act down pat but hats off to anyone that can pull that off!

I mentioned above that I'd been getting quite a lot done round here, but there have been a couple of things that've beaten me, all the same. Some time ago I bought a chainsaw with the intention of chopping up all the wood that has been downstairs in my cellar since goodness knows when. Well I got it assembled but obviously hadn't put the chain on tight enough (I had protective gear on), so after a couple of goes decided to give up on that and have ordered a much smaller saw which should allow me to get through some of the smaller pieces at least. I had an insert installed in my fireplace in June (open fireplaces are illegal here now) and because of the way my chimney is built, I had to have the smallest one they had available - hence the necessity of cutting the logs up. Last night I decided it was time to try it out after I'd been a bit hesitant about it as the interior looked like it was made out of cardboard. It obviously wasn't and I soon had a decent little fire going now I've got the hang of it which, while it wouldn't be enough to heat the whole house, would certainly be quite pleasant on the rare occasions I actually sit downstairs (I'm thinking of everyone opening their presents on Christmas day)! One thing that does have me beaten (for the time being) is my old BBQ. I emptied my entire car out the other day, laid the back seats down and lugged that bloody thing around to the boot - and turns out it's probably an inch short on both sides to get it into the car. Bugger, but I'm still not giving up! When I've got more stuff sorted I'll probably rent a small van and lug the whole lot down to the recycling centre - that is if I can't find anyone going that way beforehand!

I've also made quite a bit of headway on Christmas shopping, believe it or not, because as I think of something I drop into an online basket (not necessarily Amazon) and once I've made my mind up I just send off for it. In fact, I follow Very British Problems on FB and for the second time have ordered stuff from them as I like their sense of humour (last time I ordered their bestseller "Born to be Mild" and the kids and I got a good laugh out of it)! I know stereotypes exist for a reason but when I find myself laughing at some of the daft stuff they post I realize I am actually a stereotype myself. One of the most recent things they posted on FB was "if you've just learned that a meteor the size of Wales is heading for earth right this minute, what would be your first thought"? By the time I saw it there were over 500 comments, but one that really tickled me was "oof, thank god I got the bins put out in time"! I know, I'm a stereotype!

I don't know if anyone else has noticed but Windows update number whatever seems to have permanently uploaded Bing onto my computer, and even though I've gone through all the "how to disable/delete" advice, I can't get rid of the bloody thing. If I go anywhere near the top right-hand side of my computer, Bing jumps out and asks if I would like to chat with AI??? No, actually, I just wish you'd bugger off! Despite that I seem to be having a massive clean up session on my phone and computer, and last night deleted about 400 photos from iCloud, about another 100 off my computer and phone and believe it or not deleted around 650 subscriptions to Youtube channels! I mean how the hell did I ever get subscribed to over 700 Youtube channels, one of which was called something like "Canadian tax planning"???? I've never been to Canada, unless you count changing planes at Toronto airport one time. It took me ages to unsubscribe from so many but boy was it worth it!

And finally, I notice - in the British press at least - that they are singing the praises of the French Interior Minister who has promised on his honour and under his complete responsibility to immediately round up and deport all illegal immigrants on security watch in the wake of the recent stabbing of a high school teacher by a Chechen teenager who, like two of his brothers, was also on the security watch list. He swears "on his honour" that they and their ilk will be deported and the British media are singing the praises of this chest-thumping Tarzan. Trouble is, as is well known already, there is no way it will happen. Indeed they tried to deport this particular young man a few years ago and it was the then Interior Minister who blocked it. And even if it got that far he knows damn well the European Court of Human Rights will prevent it, so the minister (who is also under investigation for whatever, I believe) can stop posturing as he knows this particular young man is going nowhere! Wish there was a button to unsubscribe here as I can't bear him!

Sunday 15 October 2023

Took a few days off!

It's been a really busy 10 days or so for me lately so I decided to spend some time offline again and ended up doing pretty much bugger all for a few days! Jen asked me if I could keep Charlie the other Friday so that she and Jordan (and a few others) could go help her mom set up in the village hall she had rented to celebrate her 60th birthday. She told me in advance that Charlie was "a bit cranky", but I don't think either of us realized just how miserable he was. He would be fine for a while - which was when I took him out to the play area opposite - and then all of a sudden his temperature would soar and he would be miserable as hell. I spent my time trying to cool him down and then otherwise distract him but at one point he was so hot he threw up all over the living room, so I had to hose him down in the shower and then sit with him while he, I and Mickey Mouse looked at pictures and videos of himself on my phone, as that seemed to be the only thing that pacified him! He was still awake at 11.30 pm when Jordan and Jen got home (although I had cleaned up the living room by that time) and it had been hard work all round!

Next evening was the party, which also happened to be Jen's birthday, and I think everyone had a good time, although as Charlie was still cranky I and a few others spent a lot of time trying to distract him, yet again with Mickey Mouse in tow! He finally fell asleep around midnight and I left at 2 am after helping to clean up as much as possible. There were quite a few of us helping, to be fair, so it left very little for Jen's mom and her partner to do the next day! While I am a late bird by nature, I've realized that I can't pull these late night stints outside of my own home very often, but I guess that's what getting older does to most of us doesn't it!

My kids and Jen jammin'!

One thing I did realize that weekend though was one of the best ways to distract Charlie was to have Mickey Mouse "be terrified" all the time! At least it made him laugh and gave me the idea of buying glove puppets for him for Christmas. I think I'm going to buy him Punch and Judy puppets and no, I'm not worried about him turning into a thug even though in every Punch and Judy skit someone always gets bashed over the head with a rolling pin. Well I've never done that anyway, and I'm pretty sure rolling pins will probably be extinct by the time Charlie is older, so problem solved!

Punch and Judy!

Jen surprised her mom by booking a night's stay (23rd December) in one of the tree-top cabins at a safari park not too far from here. She's always wanted to stay somewhere overnight around Christmas so we all pitched in and we're all going (Jen, Jordan, Charlie, her mom and partner and André and me). It gives us entry into the park, dinner, an overnight stay and entry into the park again the next day, so I think she is looking forward to it. So am I actually because it's near a village called Peaugres, which is somewhere I've always wanted to visit and yet somehow never got around to it!


For Jen's birthday we went in together to buy her a Cookeo - which is something she had also really wanted - so I would say the evening was a great success!


I may or may not have picked something up off Charlie (although I doubt it), but that stupid cough I had about a month ago came back, and while it was nothing serious (I knew it hadn't gone down into my lungs), waking up every hour or so was probably the reason I was so lethargic for a few days. Well that is until I remembered my "miracle cure" of the last time (origano oil), took one drop of that in some hot water and about an hour later it was basically gone. Shame I didn't think of it sooner though! Mind you, I saw that they have opened a little Indian store in town right next to the Indian restaurant and when I spotted that they were selling palak paneer (a kind of spicy Indian spinach and tofu dish), I bought some to give to André as he loves it. I wanted to try it beforehand in case it was dreadful so I heated that up tonight and I reckon if the origano oil hadn't worked that would have because it nearly blew my nose off! In any case I reckon's that's André's Christmas present sorted then - a bowl of spinach (and cheap at half the price)!

And finally, when I turn on my computer Microsoft (I'm guessing) sets a new picture as my opening imagine and the other day I thought this one looked familiar. Turns out it was Llanrwst, a small village in North Wales. Many years ago my grandad left my grandma and bought a small cobbler's shop in Llanrwst. I don't know if they ever divorced to be honest, but there was no other woman involved - he just couldn't stand living with my grandma anymore. In fact he tried to commit suicide one time and it was my poor mom, as a young teenager, that found him and saved his life. He continued to send money to my grandma but couldn't live with her and my mom once told me that while she couldn't accept him leaving at the time, as she got older she absolutely understood why he did it. I guess saying my grandma "wasn't easy" would be an understatement! Anyway, it was in Llanrwst that my brother Phil and his new bride finally found him (finding a specific "Jones" in Wales wouldn't exactly be the easiest thing to do) and that was how he got to meet back up with my mom again (and all of us) after goodness knows how many years. Sadly it wasn't to last long as he died of cancer a few years later, but at least he got to be part of our family for what little time he had left!

(courtest of Trip Advisor and my computer screen)!

Talking of Llanrwst, many, many years ago, before I moved to Switzerland, my then boyfriend worked at a car factory in Birmingham, and the company sometimes offered to let employees take cars for the week-end so that they could provide feedback on how they handled. Well they must have liked Mark because he got a Lotus Eclat (????) so we headed off to North Wales for the week-end. While the car was a lovely ride it was really low, and I distinctly remember going over that bridge praying that there wouldn't be another car coming in the opposite direction because we would hit it before we saw it. Thankfully there wasn't, but it had to be one of the best week-ends of a young man's life getting to drive that thing for free!

Well it was the 1970s!

And finally, when I worked the 10 months in England before I got my job in Switzerland, the transport manager asked me if I would go to London with him to pick up the Managing Director's new company car which, as it turned out was - you guessed it - a yellow Lotus Eclat and he let me drive it back. I was 20 at the time but looked about 16, and as I was driving round Birmingham city centre in it, the loathing from the older men was palpable - spoilt rich bitch right? Tee hee, if only they knew! But that car was quite a distinctive car and a couple of months later as I was on the bus coming back from an interview in London I spotted it passing us on the motorway. And sure enough, there was our Managing Director and a rather young woman (he would have been in his 50s I'm guessing). So me being me I mentioned to him that I thought I'd seen him coming up the motorway the other day and the frozen look on his face when he asked me exactly what I'd seen told me pretty much all I needed to know. He was apparently quite the (married) player but I guess you can never be too careful when driving a car that distinctive, can you!

Sunday 8 October 2023

This and that!

The weather continues to be absolutely glorious here and I'm loving it. The high temperatures have disappeared and while it can be a bit nippy in the morning, by the afternoon it's just perfect! Definitely my kind of weather! With that in mind I realize I absolutely have to get out and start walking again before the snows come. I've let myself down pretty miserably this year on the walking front and have no real idea why - just lazy I guess. But the other day I started following a Haute Savoie hiking group on FB and the pictures they post are out of this world. I know I couldn't do most of these hikes because I'm just not fit enough, but the photos are pretty motivating - and to be honest, ain't none of us getting any younger are we, so if not now, then when?

Last Saturday we had our monthly (take "monthly" with a pinch of salt") board game evening at Jordan and Jen's and it was really fun. It was Jen's mom's 60th birthday that day and Jen had bought her a game - I forget the name of it - but it basically involved each of us drawing an image that would attempt to allow the same person to guess the word it represented, all while drawing against the clock. Jordan and I are absolutely useless at it as I try to go into too much detail and my pictures end up getting smaller and smaller and Jordan - well he's just crap! But we had such a great laugh, so if I can find the name of the game I'll have to get it for myself!

I was chatting with V and telling her about my ongoing slow-motion bathroom refit and how the plumber tends to come over after he's done some other small job in the area. I don't mind it going slow at all (unlike Dave) but I mentioned it was good to know a plumber who would take on smaller jobs. So many of them wouldn't be interested but as V pointed out, building work has slowed right down because of price increases and difficulty in obtaining parts (apparently) so maybe that's why the trades are willing to take on the smaller jobs. Good point! My neighbour Isabelle was the only one (out of her family of four) to make it that night. Her husband is a James Bond geek and was in Paris attending a James Bond "thingy" for the weekend (how great is that!), while both her children are studying abroad. Her daughter's in Canada for a year and her son's in New Zealand for six months, so guess who'll be having the holiday(s) of a lifetime shortly! 

Last time the plumber came he was taking a ciggie break, so out of curiosity I asked him how much a carton of cigarettes was now - and nearly fell over when he told me around €115 for 200! Geez, it was around €55 when I used to buy them for my ex (in the vain hope of preventing him from going into town to buy them and then ending up in the sleazy bar opposite), but in any case he used to get through around two cartons a week so the cost would be about the same. Not that he actually smoked them - no, more often than not he used to just light them up, take a couple of drags and leave them to burn in the ashtray, so it truly was a case of money going up in smoke! But could you imagine spending around €800 per month on cigarettes??? I'm pretty sure that'd be a mortgage payment (or at least a car payment) for some. Another reason I'm so glad I never started!

Our retirees' group organized a cocktail last Wednesday but for the first time I wasn't able to make it. I don't remember what I was doing but the photos were lovely and it's amazing how well everyone looks (if a little fatter, but then aren't we all). Retirement definitely seems to suit!

My friend invited me out last Friday for a late birthday lunch. We went to a restaurant not too far from here and it was lovely. Neither of us had been there for a while and I reckon they must be doing a roaring trade as they've done it all up both inside and out!

La Ferme à Elise restaurant

I don't know how we got on the subject but we were talking about how neither of us are particularly creative. Maybe it was me talking about how easy it has been putting together all the paperwork to request French citizenship and how "glad I was that I'm organized". So she pipes up that she's organized too and then we get onto the lack of creativity bit. I'm convinced it's to do with left brain/right brain and while yes, I am glad I'm organized, it's hardly very exciting is it. It's like when someone says to "follow your passion" and you realize you don't have one! My friend laughed and said that hers probably used to be reading or doing word puzzles (again, not very exciting), so I said we could mess with people's heads and engrave her gravestone in the form of a crossword puzzle (two down, begins with a "D") - yeah I know, we both have a dark sense of humour, but it gave the guys sitting next to us a good laugh!

Oh and as for the palaver last week with the Post Office website saying my village didn't exist, well thankfully that got resolved the next day so I guess someone somewhere was just having a bad day! But talking of websites, I heard someone mention the other day that her husband was trying to learn French online with Duolingo "as it was free", so out of curiosity I set up an account and have been "learning" Italian online for the last 10 days. So far I'm enjoying it and finding it pretty easy for the time being because I took a few lessons pre-covid, but I guess we'll see as we get further into it and move on from the basics!

And finally, when taking stuff out to my compost bin the other day I was surprised to find a blue and white croc in the garden.

One of these ...

... not one of these!

Intrigued I happened to mention it to Isabelle on Saturday night and she said she'd found one too, and thought it must be kids messing around at first. Turns out they belonged to our "neighbour-in-the-middle" and she said it was most likely a fox because they'd found another of their crocs chewed up at the bottom of the garden. Still, if anyone spots a rather stylish fox running around in matching blue and white footwear, please do me a favour and drop me a line in the comments!