The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

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!