The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

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!