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!