The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Monday 27 March 2023

This and that!

I had another good week last week - the weather was good, I got a lot done and a whole pile of junk taken down to the tip. I have loads of tubs of paint and other miscellaneous gooey stuff down in the basement which I reckon has been there since we had the whole house painted around 20 years ago. Bit by bit I've lugged it upstairs and taken it to the tip to be disposed of however they dispose of that kind of thing. I've also made a start on dismantling a barbecue that I've had sitting on the back terrace for years and which, even though it has been covered up, has rusted pretty badly. Thinking about the barbecue brings to mind the story of when my ex had moved out and was living with his skank down in town. Every couple of weeks they'd have a playground spat, throw handbags at each other and he'd move back in because "it's still my house" - only to move out again about three days later! Well he was back at the house when I was trying to get the barbecue cleaned up and spending about an hour a day after work (I obviously have a thing about spending an hour a day working, don't I) scrubbing that thing to within an inch of its life, all while he sat on his backside and watched me! After about a week it looked pretty good - which was when he turned to me and asked if he could have it for his place! I'd been getting progressively more annoyed at having him sit there watching me work so I flipped on him and yelled that now he wanted it, after he'd watched me scrub it for a week????? Needless to say he didn't get it and I told him to tell his girlfriend to buy her own! Anyhoo, I no longer use it but it has been too heavy for me to move so I've spent the past week bashing away with hammer and screwdriver and gotten it dismantled enough to take to the tip - and very satisfying it is too!

I also got word this week that the fittings for my bathrooms have finally shown up so now that I've paid the balance I'm expecting everything to be delivered soon and I can get the plumbers and tiler in. I'm not looking forward to the mess at all, but I'm guessing it'll be worth it in the end! But that reminded me that I needed to get the radiators painted before they showed up, so I set to and slopped around a bunch of paint the other night thinking I'd done a half way decent job - untilllllll I got up the next morning and in the bright light of day saw what it looked like. Oh my word, I reckon Stevie Wonder would have done a better job, I missed so many spots. Still, after a couple of coats on each radiator I'm thinking (hoping) that I've knocked that job off the to do list!

Things are still very volatile here in France and not just in Paris. I've got to hand it to Macron, he really does seem to have pissed the entire country off this time. There's another general strike called for tomorrow and he has supposedly been meeting with his cabinet this week so I'll be curious to see what, if anything transpires. On the subject of pensions though, a French news channel had the bright idea of asking semi-celebrities to reveal the amounts of their pensions, although why anyone thought this would be a good idea is beyond me. What I'm seeing is some fairly average (to my eyes) pensions, but of course in the comments people are getting riled up about the injustice of the current reform. I don't know how this helps anyone, or maybe it's just another tactic to wind people up and foster animosity! I'll be damned if I can figure it out!

On a more positive note I finally finished the Kaffe Fassett mystery quilt I started about four years ago!!!! It was a mystery quilt in that once a month we would receive a set of fabrics and instructions and after six months (if I remember correctly) information on how to assemble the final quilt. Well I made such a cock-up cutting the fabric that I ended up going rogue and the quilt became so big and cumbersome that I just gave up. Well that is until I started back at sewing in September. So after much blood, sweat and curse words I got the damn thing finished. I reckon it took slightly longer to finish than it did to build the pyramids, but now, at least, I can finally forget about the bloody thing and move on to something more appealing!

This is what it was supposed to look like,
although the colours may vary!

And this is what I ended up with!

We had our latest board game evening on Saturday night at Jordan and Jen's place and it was a lot of fun. Then on Sunday they asked if I would look after Charlie for them to spend the day at a spa on Lake Geneva as a wedding anniversary treat. I loved spending the day with him, of course, but man was I beat by the time they got home! And I can hardly believe it but the Munchkin will be two tomorrow! I honestly don't know where the time went as it feels like he has always been a part of the family - and a very much loved part at that!

Talking of babies, Max (who was Jordan's previous boss and has been the kids' long term friend and band mate) announced on Saturday that he and his girlfriend were expecting a baby. It kinda surprised me, to be honest, because I didn't see him as the baby type, but more to the point, his girlfriend is the young woman I've mentioned previously who has been wheelchair bound for about 10 years since being in a car accident involving a wild boar! Her legs no longer function and she has what I can only describe as "crippled" hands, but there you go, she is pregnant and I'm delighted for them. I'm sure it isn't going to be the easiest of pregnancies and taking care of a baby has got to have its challenges given her circumstances, but she is such a go-getter and positive young woman that I'm sure they will make wonderful parents! 

Max also mentioned to André at band practice this weekend that he wished he could take Jordan back as an employee, to which Jordan replied that he didn't leave because of the money (although he was paid a pittance) but because of the toxic work atmosphere created by Max's brother and, to a lesser extent, by Max himself. And talking of work, Jordan had an interview with the director where he is working at the moment and they are drawing up a contract this week to take him on as a new employee, rather than employing him through the temp agency. His supervisor told Jordan that he actually went to see the company owner and asked him to take Jordan on as a site foreman because not only was he capable of it but he was a great help as they are working mainly with Polish and Romanian plumbers who generally speak better English than French! Jordan doesn't know what the job offer will look like but either way it has given him a boost to know he is appreciated!

At the moment I've got the itchy fingers of someone wanting to pot up seeds when spring is knocking on the door, so my living room is yet again starting to look like a bit of a jungle. Last autumn I planted out leeks, onions and garlic to see if they would survive the winter and so far the leeks look to be doing well. I'd read somewhere about putting the inner tube of a toilet roll around the leeks when they start to grow because it encourages more of a white part to the leek rather than just leaves. So as of right now quite a few of my young leek plants are suitably attired in the latest spring toilet roll fashion and to be honest, while they may look a bit daft, they can't be any worse than some of the stuff at London Fashion Week!

And finally, I've discovered a new-to-me Youtube gardener who I'm quite taken with. He lives in London and has the tiny back yard of so many London homes, but by gosh does he get a lot of produce out of it. He's covered in tattoos, which is not something I'm very keen on, but once I took the time to listen to him it turns out he's very funny and informative - and actually quite cute if you watch him "live", thus yet again hammering home the ponit that it's never a good idea to judge a book (or a gardener) by its cover!

Spicy Moustache Gardener!

Friday 17 March 2023


I've had a very productive few days - which thrills me no end! If only I could get it through my brain that it's completely normal not to be uber-productive every day I might not feel so guilty on the lazy days. But hey ho, whaddaya gonna do! I had a vague notion of trying to get to bed by midnight every night but that's been a total fail so far (2 a.m. last night!!)! I guess I may as well knock that one on the head because I don't see it happening, and in any case I'm usually up by 8 a.m. so there seems not much point trying to fight how Mother Nature intended things to run in this house!

I managed to get a couple of walks in this week, probably because as I was just talking myself out of going for a walk an email popped into my inbox from Country Walking Magazine - which I subscribed to a couple of years ago yet never read! Oh it's a lovely magazine but it's UK based so while the articles are indeed interesting it's not very relevant to me! I got a walk in down at the lake at Passy and then the next day I did the easy local circuit - the one we used to do during lockdown when we could only leave home for a maximum of an hour a day. Well that is everyone except politicians had to stick to the one hour limit. Rules never have and never will apply to them you see! Anyway I went past the local allotments and stopped for a nose at two men working there but speaking a language I couldn't make out. On the way back I passed a garden where a young lad was playing a competitive game of football all by himself and rattling away non-stop. It tickled me no end! I wonder who won!

When I got back I noticed that the celery base that I had stuck in a bowl of water a week ago had started to root, so I planted it and am now pathetically delighted to have a new head of celery growing in my living room! I guess that could be a handy side gig - selling celery at the local market (as long as no-one needed more than one head of celery every three months)! I also got round to dismanteling a little greenhouse that I bought, intending to use it on the balcony (high winds permitting) because every time I tried to move it it fell apart! So then I had the bright idea of glueing the parts together, except I had it on it's side to squirt the glue into the holes when I realized I might well have ended up glueing it to the balcony on its side!!!! Luckily I got it upright and now have it at the end of my balcony, up against my bedroom wall and hopefully secure enough to withstand high winds through the good graces of a couple of bungy straps! I also spent a couple of hours in my (very small) veggie plot today cleaning it up - it feels so good to be working outside again!

In other news, I've mentioned before a very large website that I began following (still do occasionally) when my husband left. It talks about dealing with infidelity and in many cases with narcissistic personalities. I'm not on there so much any more as I feel it was there when I needed it and it's time to move on, but I was asked last week if I'd become one of the moderators on their FB group! I told her I'd give it some thought but in the end I had to be honest with her and say that I often snoozed the group for a while as I don't want to get dragged into thinking about "that time" any more. She was very nice about it, but I'm glad I made the decision that I did! I don't need the extra responsibility (or aggravation)!

I had a lovely surprise message from a close colleague of mine last week where she told me that she'd resigned (she must be early 40s - if that) as she has been offered a very good job at the Asian Central Bank in the Philippines! I knew she'd been frustrated for quite some time. Frankly she was probably too intelligent for our HR department so during her time with me she learned our HR rules and regs pretty much inside out and studied HR law in her spare time - although there can't have been much spare time as a married mom of two young kids. So hats off to her - I'm delighted for her! On a slightly less spectacular but equally happy-making note, Jen told me that her boss had mentioned to her the other week that they might (just might) be able to take her on permanently in September. She always knew the job was just temporary but she likes them very much, says they are very human and it's so darn convenient time and distance-wise. Fingers crossed there then! And then just today Jordan called her to say that the company he is working for through the temporary agency would like to take him on too! He's going in Monday to talk to them and is in a pretty good negotiating position because (a) the temping agency obviously costs them a lot of money and (b) you can't get plumbers here for love nor money - hence he's working with 20 Romanian plumbers! Again, fingers crossed! Jordan and Jen were married four years yesterday so as of today he can apply for French citizenship and it is more or less automatic - he just has to submit his paperwork! I'm going over there tomorrow to go shopping with Jen and since I now have two beautifully sorted freezers (plus a complete list of contents) I decided on the spur of the moment to make a batch of hummus and flat breads to take over, plus a chicken and mushroom pie. I tell ya, I'm so pleased with my nice clean freezers I feel like putting a sofa down in the basement (it's unfinished) and next time someone comes over just casually opening and shutting the doors to see if they notice! I know, little things please little minds, right!

Annnndddd the ongoing uproar over Macron's proposed pension reform bill has, I think, reached its pinnacle! I watched a programme on it last night and it is much more complicated than just raising the pension age - which is something he would prefer to do rather than, say, increase taxes on big earners/companies! Anyway, the bill went through the National Assembly and on to the Senate - which voted for it but with some amendments, one of which was the abolition of most of the 42 special pension regimes, although oddly enough not the special regime which allows Senators themselves to maintain the current more favourable conditions! Macron's party do not have an absolute majority and would therefore most likely lose the vote when this reform goes back to the National Assembly, so they have yet again (for the eleventh time????) invoked Article 49.3 - which allows the government to pass a reform/bill/amendment without a vote! Eleven times since Elisabeth Borne was nominated Prime Minister in May last year, that is! So the country is in uproar and a vote of no confidence has been put forward today - which will be voted on on Monday - and if passed the pension reform bill will be dropped and I believe the Government has to resign! I don't know what will happen (what deals will be made behind closed doors), but this is to my mind one of the most contentious situations I have seen in France in over 30 years of living here - and there've been a few!

And finally, WAY TO GO THE DUTCH FARMERS! The Rutte Government has been pushing "net zero" policies for some time now, one of which was to drastically reduce the use of nitrogen fertilizers in Dutch farming (Netherlands is the world's second biggest exporter of food apparently). So 3,000 Dutch farmers were going to be offered XXX amount for their land, and if they refused their farms would be expropriated! So a land grab on the pretext of "saving the world from death by cow farts"! Well the Dutch farmers have been protesting for months now and in yesterday's provincial elections, the BBB Party (the farmers' party) won a landslide victory and are now the Netherlands' biggest party! Of course, as I said above, deals are often made by minority parties behind closed doors, but this news is fantastic. Well done the Dutch farmers, and well done the Dutch people who supported them!

The Dutch farmers' protest!

Edited to add: after I published this I just saw Neil McCoy-Ward's video and he talks about the situations in France and the Netherlands for the first ten minutes, if you're interested (here)!

Friday 3 March 2023

Better late than never!

I had an ok week this week - not exactly over-productive but not bad either. I did manage a walk from Thyez to Cluses with my friend, stopping in Cluses for lunch - so that probably negated any calorie burn-off but it was nice just to be out in the sunshine. One thing that surprised me yet again, though, is that at the restaurant we had to pull up the menu via the QR code on the table!!!!! That's the second time in two weeks that that has happened. I don't know if this is the norm now or maybe it's just that I don't get out so much. I guess in a way it's a saving for the restaurant, but at least they did have physical menus too. Still, I'm finding all this new-fangled stuff very strange! I also made it to yoga and the gym (which is still very namby-pamby) so hopefully I will start getting into more of a rhythm soon!

I still haven't finished painting my bathrooms - I can't be arsed to be honest - but there's not much left to do so I'm aiming to get the walls and the radiators finished this week. Still no word on when the bathroom fittings will arrive, although hopefully it won't be too much longer (not that I'm looking forward to the mess though)! 

I mentioned in a previous post that I'd gone out and bought quite a bit of stuff from the freezer place, only to have to face up to what a hideous state my two upright freezers in the basement were in. So over a period of about five hours with scraper and hairdryer I've managed to get both freezers defrosted and - I'm ashamed to say - threw out five 30 litre trash bags of very old stuff! It's shameful actually because (a) I should never have let them get into that state and (b) throwing away food is just bad, but at least they're done now! Still, I'm finally getting to use up all those old, tatty clothes that I always kept for "someday when I'm going to be doing some serious painting/sorting"!

Last Thursday I drove into Geneva to have dinner with a former colleague, and while it's always lovely to see him, gosh I really don't miss that commute, even if going on former experience, traffic was just "normal"!

Jordan and Jen took a few days off and drove with Jen's mom up to see grandma and grandpap in Lorraine (northern France). They were thrilled to see Charlie, of course, but Jen said he's started with the terrible twos (he'll be two on 28 March) and his favourite answer seems to be "non" at the moment! When they got back we had our latest board game evening at Jen's mom's and while we weren't very many, we played a couple of games that I really enjoyed (not too French oriented) and I actually won one (yay me)!

André is off to Thailand for work on Sunday and, as I mentioned before, he's flying business class with Emirates (jammy bugger). Or, as he puts it, "free champagne and a full length bed"! He seems to be looking at about a six hour flight to Abu Dhabi, a few hours layover, then around another six hour flight to Bangkok, so I'm betting he'll sleep most of the way. Both my kids (and Charlie) could sleep for Britain so I'm sure it'll be no hardship. He's going to take a few extra days after the conference to explore Bangkok and sit by the swimming pool, so maybe if he gets to start travelling for work a little he might feel more settled and less inclined to "chuck it all in and live on a sail boat" which - never having sailed before in his life (although he's planning to learn this summer) - doesn't sound like the best thought out plan to me, but who am I to say! Just thinking about Thailand though is giving me itchy feet to travel somewhere more long haul next spring! Time to give that some thought, I think!

And finally, last night five of us got to use the Christmas present I bought for everyone - a ticket to the theatre in Geneva to see The Lion King! It was a bit hit and miss at the beginning because Jordan and Jen were coming straight from work and I think Jordan got a shock at just how bad rush hour traffic in Geneva is. My friend and I drove to the border and caught the bus and André, being André, went to work, stopped in at the pub after work and then had to run down to the theatre to get here before the performance started but only after I'd called him telling him he'd better not be late! Before the performance started I thought I'd better go to the loo so put my ticket in my coat pocket, came out of the ladies' - and couldn't find my bloody ticket! As I dashed back into the ladies' room a young girl asked me if I was looking for my ticket because she'd picked it up in the corrider! Phew - and here's me telling André not to make us late! Then when I saw the stage I realized that it wasn't - as I had thought - the Broadway stage performance, but rather the Elton John/Hans Zimmer musical performance. I was disappointed, and a little worried that the others would be too, but what could I do? And then the artists walked on stage and started singing in German and I thought "oh sh*t, this is going to be a disaster"! But it turns out they only sang a few tidbits in German and then the rest was either in English or whatever African language the rest of the songs were in - and they were brilliant! There was a huge animated screen behind the orchestra, the music was loud and full of energy, Jen was bopping around, the boys were mesmerized by the orchestra (the drummer in particular - Jordan's a drummer) and my friend and I were singing along like a pair of right old Derby and Joans! The conductor was Stephen Ellery and he was bouncing all over the stage, obviously enjoying himself tremendously, and after picking up a sax played along to Can You Feel The Love Tonight!

Stephen Ellery

We all thoroughly enjoyed it, and, having watched a little of the Broadway show, I think I actually preferred this version. It always amazes me how many talented people there are out there! As we left I reminded Jordan of the time when as a young kid he'd looked at me and said how lucky I was to have such beautiful hair. Huh??? And then he said "yeah, you look just like Simba in The Lion King! Hey, I'll take compliments where I can get them! And then André and Jen got into arguing about when the film was originally released (1994 if you're wondering) and André got it right because he remembers when I picked him up from school one day and held out a video (or DVD - who knows) of the film and he ran over and hugged me, he was so happy. I don't remember that at all, but it's good to know isn't it!

Anyhow, with the years my hair seems to be getting darker oddly enough so I no longer look like Simba, but those aforementioned itchy feet of mine have got me thinking about maybe Thailand, or Mexico - or how about Botswana in the spring? A wimba wap, a wimba wap, in the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight ....!

Elton John/Hans Zimmer's The Lion King!