The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Tuesday 16 July 2024

It's been a while!

Crikey, I see it's been almost a month since I last posted - but then to be honest how much can anyone muster up to say about our near-eternal wet weather!

While I generally don't mind the rain it's been a bit "over the top" to say the least. Add to that our temperatures are only hitting around 75°F here when they are usually in the mid-90s, so it's a very strange old time - not that I'm complaining about the lower temperatures of course! I have managed to get a few walks in (that toe splint that the podiatrist recommended for me is a miracle - no more pain) and I even managed to get in a two-hour walk on what has probably been the hottest day to-date, but otherwise, it's all a bit blah at the moment. Even Bastille Day (14 July) was pretty low key from what I saw, but since you had to pre-register to be able to get into Paris to watch the parade I understand why Macron was basically driving up and down the street on his own! That's because the Olympics are about to start shortly and there has basically been a ring-fence posted around Paris with QR codes being an absolute pre-requisite in order to get anywhere near the city. Of course the QR codes will "only be for the duration of the games" but we'll see. These things have a way of becoming permanent, a bit like emergency measures! I believe there have been threats made against the games and I wouldn't want to be anywhere near them for both the above reasons! How sad is that!

The Olympic flame is making its way to Paris and passed through this region (the Plâteau de Glières) towards the end of June, I believe. One of the bearers is apparently going to be a drag queen in full drag so I'm supposing he will not have been carrying it round here!

Plâteau de Glières!

Anyhoo, I took a break for a while because I am quite politically minded and what with the General Election in the UK, the Legislatives in France and the upcoming elections in the US I felt like my brain was being frazzled!

Unsurprisingly the Labour Party won in the UK, but I feel this was maybe not so much a vote for Labour but against the Conservatives. Either way I think both parties stink right now so, as the French say, let's see which "sauce they're gonna eat us with this time" (not good I think - I can't stand Starmer anymore than Wishywashy Rishi)! What beats me though, is that Reform UK got 14% of the votes and only five seats, while the Lib Dems got 12% of the votes and 72 seats. Make that make sense in a democratic election please someone! Mind you it was again interesting to see how main stream media and it's client journalism works yet again!

Then in France, Marine Le Pen's party won a resounding win in the first round of the elections - and the far left (sorry, I forgot - the word "far" only applies to the right) and the left rioted in Paris. The following week, after Macron's party strategically pulled over 200 of their candidates in unwinable seats, the left wing coalition took the majority - and again the far left rioted (celebrated?) in Paris! Make that make sense! As of tonight Macron has accepted the resignation of his government and France is now basically ungovernable because while the left were in agreement to form a coalition in order to keep Le Pen out, they all hate each other and won't work with Macron anyway - and all this just a couple of days away from the opening of the Olympics (insert gallic shrug here)!

And then of course this weekend there was the appalling attempt on Donald Trump's life! I don't care what your politics are that was either gross incompetence on behalf of the Secret Service (it was) or an exceptional 20 year old man who (almost) managed to kill a huge political figure. Still, at least now they have upped his security - and I would hope be offering the same to JFK Jr (who has been denied so far - edited to add - that should be RFK, Jr., thanks Ms Moon). If your only solution is to kill a political opponent there's something very wrong with this world (there is)! Hell a few months ago the Slovak PM was shot but fortunately also survived. He is anti-globalist and anti-war so I sure hope Hungary's strong man, Victor Orbán, is watching carefully!

In other non-news, I still have no word on my French citizenship request but I wasn't really expecting any this quickly. I suppose I'll just get a surprise one day et voilà I'm in! In better news I received a letter from the UK pensions department as I'll be eligible to receive my (very small) state pension as from my 66th birthday in September. I was to either fill out a form as long as a toilet roll or I could give them a call so that's what I did. I ended up getting through to an extremely helpful man in Northern Ireland and within about 15 minutes it was all done. Mind you, every contact I've ever had with the pension people they've been extremely helpful so well done to them!

So I've been spending much of this wet summer sorting and getting rid of stuff and sitting down to read actual books since I have so many to get through - and what a great pleasure and a change that's been! I've ploughed through so many books and have been delighted to find that most of them so far have been really good. In other news I'm still keeping up with my Italian lessons, although I was getting a bit sloppy recently and mixing up pretty simple words - pomeriggio (afternoon) with pommodoro (tomato). Could be intersting huh! My ex-husband's French was poor and he was forever mixing up words like "cheveux" (hair) with "chevaux" (horses) so he often went out to get his horses cut!  Tee hee!

Mind you, there was a moment the other day that I wished I'd either kept my mouth shut or actually thought before I spoke. Brigitte Macron is pretty much as unpopular as her husband but they are pushing her "fashion sense", her "figure" etc. and the other day they were talking about how much she spent per month to "get her look". Someone in the comments section asked if she polished her own "chibre" or paid to have it done and since I'd never heard that word before I asked my neighbour - who promptly burst out laughing because the commenter was asking if she "polished her own d*ck/knob"! Another word - and another lesson learned I would say!

And finally, if anyone follows Sam over at Sam Squared, I was in touch with her recently after her "Very Tired" post. She's okay, but as the post would suggest she's just so very tired with everything that is going on in her life lately. I'm sure she'll be back with us all when she feels up to it, but until then, take all the time you need Sam!

Friday 21 June 2024

This and that!

There's not much going on round here at the moment - that is if you discount a snap election being called in the UK, the recent European elections and Macron's dissolution of the National Assembly as a result!! I didn't get to vote in the Europeans as I haven't received French citizeship yet, but if I had I would definitely have voted for a small party called The Patriots. I like their leader as he goes up to bat on most issues (manning the barricades, so to speak) but they are still so small they haven't yet made much of a score. At the moment both the left and right are trying to form coalitions so who knows what will happen when the French get to vote again at the end of the month. One thing I have seen talked about recently, though, is the potential for Macron to invoke Article 16 of the Constitution which would basically give him dictatorial powers without the need to consult on anything (Article 16 "provides the President of France with 'exceptional powers' in times of acute crisis")! I'm not sure if this would ever happen but it has been mentioned - watch out for the fireworks if it does!

A couple of days ago I finally received my postal vote for the upcoming UK General Election and finally, after almost 30 years of not having the right to vote, I mailed it back in good time for the July 4th ballot! To paraphrase whoever - "if allowing the plebs to vote changed anything they wouldn't allow them to vote", but I feel very strongly about doing so, and indeed had to go out of my way to get my vote back, so once again, thank you to British in Europe! I can't vote in local elections - which makes sense - but if I could I would vote for the Heritage Party as I really like their leader, David Kurten. They weren't on the national ballot so I guess we'll have to wait and see how things pan out after July 4th!

Other than that, there's not much going on here. The weather is still pretty crap with almost constant rain and while I don't mind the rain, I am chomping at the bit to get out walking in the mountains again without being swept away in a mudslide. For about 18 months though I've been having problems with my left foot - sharp shooting pains which feel like an electric shock - so with that in mind I made an appointment to see the handsome young podiatrist I used to go to in Geneva. He sorted out some kind of gizmo which would block nerve endings in a couple of toes and so far it seems to be working so I can't wait to get back out walking to give it a trial run. His office is in a part of Geneva known as the prostitute area. I don't know if prostitution is legal or just tolerated in Switzerland, but the women were sitting out on the café terraces plying their wares in the bright sunshine. I hope they are doing this of their own free will, but seriously, who would want to submit to that as a way of making a living. Maybe they don't see another alternative!

In hopes that it will one day stop raining and with my foot feeling better, I was recently looking into geocaching as a way to maybe get out and get some walking in. If you don't know what geocaching is, it's basically an outdoor treasure hunt where you are given gps coordinates for hidden treasure and your job is to find it and sign the "autograph book". Now I'm crap at gps coordinates so I'll wait until my friend gets back from Spain, but I see that there is a hidden treasure just up the road from here so I'm hoping to give that a go, if someone can explain to me how it works!

We had our latest board game evening the other Saturday night and since I had noticed that Charlie was pretending to take photos (through the windows of his bus) when we were at The Medieval Times, I found the cutest little camera online and bought it for him. He was delighted with it, has got the David Bailey pose down to a T, and now has maybe 50 photos on his camera already - all of people's noses, his own toes or someone's knees! I think it'll need some fine-tuning, but it was definitely a good buy!

Only €28 from Amazon!

Since it's been stay at home weather, I've been trying to catch up on a few Netflix series but I'm really struggling. I'm finding so many of their series are very "formulaic" (is that even a word?), in that they all seem to follow the same script. Brooding characters, dark sets and dramatic music. I was on my third series of Netflix adaptations of Harlan Coben books and they actually had the same actor in all three series, although playing a different character each time. Don't get me wrong, he was very good, but when I noticed the same piñata-style llama in two of the series I reckoned the props department must have been on a very strict budget! So nah, I'm finding it all quite boring, to be honest and will probably cancel my subscription!

On the other hand, I decided that I wanted to set to and get some of the hundreds of books littering my house either read or passed on and I've actually had a pretty good run so far. The first four books I read were very good, in particular a new-to-me author, Faith Addis, who I'm guessing must be nearly 90 now (if she's still alive). After that though, I ended up with what I call "Sex and the City" copycat drivel and only made it through two chapters before getting rid of it. You know, where the impossibly beautiful red-head (who is obviously Irish because her second cousin three times removed visited Dublin once) is working a lowly job in New York and really can't get along with the good looking guy who has just started working there. Turns out he's the boss's son and loaded and eventually they learn to like each, fall in love, and live happily ever after! Eh no, thanks, I'll pass!

In other news, I learned yesterday that a former colleague and friend died on Tuesday at just 56 years of age. She wasn't a close friend but we were friendly enough to go out to lunch or dinner on occasion. She'd been retired on disability for over 10 years and while she suffered through a devastating illness, she was always laughing and joking and never let on how bad things were, although I'm sure a few of her closer friends had a better idea!

And then on Monday at sewing club we were planning our last meet up before the summer break and organizing who would bring what in for an end-of-year dinner. One of the ladies, Viviane, must be retired almost one year now and while I'm not sure of her age, I doubt that she's actually hit 60 yet. She's a "nature freak" in that she's always out hiking (on her own) and just last week cycled all the way round Lake Annecy (just the thought of it makes me break out in a sweat). And then yesterday she sent us a picture of her first tandem jump off one of the mountains above Annecy!

Way to go Viviane!

Who knows, maybe she'll talk me into it! I'm so happy for her that she is loving her retirement and so sorry that Sue's health prevented her from living her retirement to the fullest. RIP Sue!

Thursday 6 June 2024


I took a few days' break from social media again as I found all the "election excitement" was starting to do my head in. We have European Parliament elections going on right now, a General Election in the UK in July (I'm still waiting for my newly-acquired postal vote - after almost 30 years of being exempted from voting) and then of course the US elections gearing up, and while I am generally interested in politics I thought it was time to give it a break for a while. From social media in general actually as I feel I'm still wasting too much time online! Mind you, the weather could have something to do with it as it's been abysmal for the longest time. It's thundering right now actually, so I might have a look on Amazon to see if they've got any second-hand arks for sale! I feel sorry for the tourist resorts actually because "summer" is when they need to make their money and this one ain't been great so far!

I've been feeling a bit tired too lately but then I know I need to learn to just do bugger all sometimes and not think I have to be on the go all the time! That notwithstanding, I had a bunch of people over for Jordan's birthday on Friday (to give Jen a break from hosting it) and we have another board game evening on Saturday so I'm going to have to learn to pace myself!

That being said, Jen asked some time ago if we wanted to go to a Mediaeval Times show on 19 May at a park I've been to before, but never seen the show. As luck would have it it was one of the few days we had good weather (too hot in fact) and it really was spectacular, so I'm glad I said yes. When I went before I probably spent maybe six hours there. Well this time Jen had it all planned out which shows we should see and we ended up spending 13 hours in the park!!! No wonder I'm tired - I don't have the stamina I used to have (and with Jen being around 26 weeks pregnant I'm surprised she did either)!

I guess most of this post will be picture-heavy, from here on. Sorry about that!

So many people were dressed up
and the volunteers were very helpful!

The first and longest event we went to see was a mediaeval joust, which of course the good guy won and then rightly was able to ask for the princess' hand in marriage! Phew, thank goodness! That being said, Charlie was more fascinated when the evil guy's horse (who was standing by us) decided to take a dump - fascinating stuff!

I thought this man (and his dog) did
amazing controlling those geese!

The flame throwers were wonderful!

Flag throwers from Italy!

After the parade came the joust (circus acrobats I suspect) and when the show had finished we walked round to where they were cooling the horses off. The "good guy" was really nice with Charlie and waved and spoke to him, but the "bad guy" stayed in character throughout!

The bad guy!

The good guy!

We stopped for a while to eat and to be honest the food wasn't very good so we'd definitely be wanting to take a picnic if we go again (the wine and beer were fine though)!

Next we got to see a birds of prey event, which I'd seen before, but they were so quick I wasn't able to get any decent photos!

We did see a random wolf
(with a handbag) at the cafeteria though!

We wanted to stay to the end because the last event was a pyrotechnic show and when I heard the music I figured I was in for a real ear-bashing! The fireworks and flame throwers (again) were really good though, but the best event was an Egyptian man "dancing" the tanoura! A tanoura is a skirt in Arabic and this is a traditional spinning dance that they do. I couldn't film him but as he started spinning they lit the edge of his skirt and he had to keep spinning in order to stop the flames from spreading. He must have spun for around 20 minutes I guess, but the presenter told us that this gent held the world record for spinning for over three hours! It was really impressive!

The flame throwers!

I had to Youtube this video, and of course they weren't dealing with fire!

As we left the heavens opened and we got soaked. So I drove home cold and soaking wet and when I pulled into the village I realized the road was barricaded off because of the village fête, so I had to go half way up the mountain, in the dark and the pouring rain feeling pretty sorry for myself after a lovely day. And of course, to make matters worse, I still had no hot water at that point! Still, while I probably wouldn't go again (not to the Mediaevel Times at least), I was a great day, and I'm glad I went all the same as it was a great experience!

Tuesday 28 May 2024

Wrapping up Corsica!

On our penultimate day in Corsica we headed for Bonifacio - which I think was probably my most favourite of all the towns we visited. Expensive too, by all accounts, but since I wasn't looking to move there it didn't really matter. My friend and I wandered round the citadelle and then back down to the port where we stopped in at a shop selling goods made of cork. I love that stuff so gave in to temptation and bought myself a lovely wallet for just €30, which is much lighter than the one I was using. Interestingly, when we had our visitor over from the States and took him to Yvoire, we stopped in at a gift shop there and the identical wallet to mine was selling for €59 - so I'm so glad I bought it in Corsica rather than Yvoire!

Bonifacio (a google picture)!

After that we headed out to a place called la Casa di Roccalpina which was a museum set in the house of the former cantonnier. There doesn't seem to be an easy translation for that, but it would appear to be the man responsible for maintaining the roads! Nowadays I'm sure it's all centralized but back then it must have been a very important job as when the locals brought their animals down from the mountains for the winter, if the roads weren't passable it meant taking the much longer route through dire terrain! Most of Corsica is covered in scrubland called maquis and interestingly (or not - depends on your point of view) "Maquisard" was the name given to resistance fighters during WWII, since I guess they knew their way through the maquis and were able to hide out and/or disappear relatively easily!

While waiting for the museum to open we got to take in the amazing rock formations along the coast opposite and I loved it. You know how you can sometimes make out images in clouds, well these rock formations were something else!

A 25 minute walk down to that little beach
would definitely be worth it. The climb back up?
Nah, not so much!

A man with a big nose?

The elephant!

A giant with a big chin lying on
his back!

Cooking facilities at the
shepherd's hut!

The shepherd's hut from the outside!

The lion?

I believe it was our last day when we stopped to eat at a wonderfully rustic restaurant in a place called Tizzano! The name of this place jogged my friend's memory and she said she was sure that was where her former colleague, M, lived. She was originally from Corsica and when my friend looked on the map, it was indeed the same village. Wouldn't it have been a hoot if she had walked in while we were having lunch!!!! It wasn't about to happen though as she apparently spends more time "on the continent" (as the Corsicans say). Referring to it as "the continent" didn't shock me at all because when I was still living in England we also talked about "travelling to the continent" (as though Britain wasn't part of the continent of Europe eh)!

Santu Pultru equestrian centre and

After that it was on to Ajaccio for a wander round before catching our ferry back home. And that was when it decided to pour down. Not that we minded too much as we were about to board the ferry, so we really were very lucky with the weather all round!

Ajaccio (another google picture)!

In fact, it turns out there was a massive storm brewing on the Med so we were delayed - and delayed - and delayed again, but I suppose better to be delayed than to be thrown around somewhere in the middle of the sea! We were supposed to leave at 8 p.m. and ended up departing Ajaccio at 6 a.m. but since we were able to have dinner in the onboard restaurant and then settle down in our cabins, it wasn't nearly as bad as it sounds (thank you Kindle and Audible, all the same). This was where two kind teams of two ladies each ran a relay looking after Mimi so that mom could rest in her cabin. It had been a long week!

It poured with rain all the way back home, with us arriving back at the depot around midnight. Since I've been back I've tried out two Corsican recipes (a chestnut mousse and a lemon and ricotta dessert) and while they both tasted good, presentation left a lot to be desired (and then I wonder why I'm fat)! Oh, and to top it all, as of yesterday morning I finally got hot water back. Seems my heating system needed a new electronic thingy (although I'm sure that's not the technical name), so I can now get up in the morning and throw myself into a scorching hot shower after two weeks of doing without. Sometimes life is just a peachy, isn't it!

Sunday 26 May 2024


So where was I? Oh I know, heading off to Corte the following day, although I'm not overly sure what the highlights of Corte were since my friend and I chose to wander off on our own again. It was quite high up so we took the little tourist train up there, but after that we just wandered!

I'd love an olive tree in my
garden, but although they sell them
here I'm not convinced they would
stand up to our weather!

Town centre - Corte!

After lunch we headed up to a small church where a two-man group called Fiuminale sang to us in the Corsican language (which sounds more like Italian than French to me). They specifically asked us not to film inside the church but rather to be present in the moment. The church was lovely and their voices amazing, so definitely a detour worth making!

After that we headed to Porto Vecchio where we had a wander round the town again, followed by another boat trip, before heading out to our final hotel of the trip!

Porto Vecchio!

My hotel room!

So that was about it for the next day. The weather was starting to turn slightly but it still more or less held out for the remainder of the trip. I'll probably try to write the rest up tomorrow but right now I'm delighted to be settling down to watch more episodes of season three of Clarkson's Farm! If it's anywhere near as good as the first two seasons I'll be well pleased. Jeremy Clarkson may be the "star" of the programme, but he's made stars out of some of the most unlikely locals too!

Tuesday 21 May 2024

Les Gorges de Piana!

The following day we headed out to what turned out to be the worst "goat track" of the whole trip. I remember in Mallorca our guide describing the mountainous road we'd just been over as the "Ay Maria" gorge because it was so bad - well frankly that had nothing on this! I'd guess we ended up covering about 50 km over fairly narrow roads over the Col de Vergjhu, through the Forest of Valdu'Niella and finally the Gorges de Spelunca - all very pretty and a bit hair-raising but definitely worth the trip. We eventually ended up at Porto, from where an even worse goat track was to take us up to the little mountain village of Piana - and this one was really nasty! The road was so narrow as to be unbelievable! In fact I couldn't see why they would ever allow tourist buses up there, but our guide explained that in high season they had people stationed at both ends of the pass alternating traffic. Trouble was, it wasn't yet high season, so we crawled up that thing at snail's pace - and even had to pass another bus coming the other way but which was thankfully able to pull over into a passing point!

These are not my photos, but I picked out this
google photo to show what it was like!

Our driver was wonderful but when I asked him if the guide had told him what he was in for he said she had explained it would be "interesting" (the understatement of the year)! We had lunch in the village of Piana, which was pretty enough, but no more so than many of the villages round here. I guess what made it "interesting" was the drive up there!

The village of Piana!

At lunch we sat with Mrs. "Saint Sixt" and her husband, Robert (who was great fun). They must have been mid-70s and had been travelling with this particular company for almost 20 years, with Robert himself organizing trips for their local old fogies association on many occasions (although I'm sure the proper name was probably something like "senior citizens association). Anyway, Mrs. Saint Sixt was exclaiming how she "only had to look at a slice of bread and she gained 2 kg" - and then went on to finish her husband's lunch, ate his cheese platter and finished his dessert! As I say they were pretty nice and I got a real kick out of both of them!

Unfortunately for us the only way out of Piana was to go back down the way we came up, so after another 45 minutes (where I had to desperately clutch the armrests to stay awake in case the driver needed me!), we made it back down to the town of Porto, where we were booked on short-ish boat trip to visit the Unesco heritage site of the Calanques de Piana!

Les Calanques de Piana

Also on the trip were a mother and daughter duo with mom being, I guess, in her 60s and the daughter, Mimi, being maybe around 35. Mimi wasn't her name - that's just an affectionate name for a young woman - but Mimi, sadly, was severely mentally handicapped and poor mom had one helluva time trying to cope with her throughout the whole trip. She was given to temper tantrums and in the hotel the staff had to follow her round in the dining room because she kept picking up food from the buffet, sniffing or licking it and putting it back!!! They also sat at the front of the bus and when it was time to get off, Mimi would make a big show of putting on her jacket, taking ages to do so, and holding up the entire bus! Mom said she did it deliberately and while mom was very, very good with her, you could see that she was very hard work! The husband had apparently done a runner shortly after Mimi was born leaving mom to raise their daughter. By this point Mimi lived in full-time residential care, with mom taking her out as and when she could, but even so it was quite obviously exhausting! People on the trip were very good with her though and even on the return ferry journey (where mom was seasick) two groups of two women took turns looking after Mimi so mom could rest. I sat with her for a while looking at pictures of jigsaw puzzles and in that short space of time I could only begin to appreciate just how challenging it must be for mom! 

As we were getting back to port, our driver asked us all to use the bathrooms in the port rather than the toilet on the bus if possible. So everybody did as asked except Mimi, who ran ahead, jumped into the bathroom locking herself in, and stayed in there for about 15 minutes. Without going into too graphic detail, she totally blocked the toilet, and then for good measure put an entire toilet roll down there as well! By this point people were getting very tired of Mimi (and somewhat vocal) and I get it to a certain extent. Everyone was very patient but then as they said, we're actually paying for this vacation too. I wonder if maybe mom will rethink next time! Still, if you've never walked in someone else's shoes ...! The net result of the blocked toilet was that our driver later pulled off the road at a scenic spot so that those that needed to could dash into the bushes for a widdle. Thankfully I managed to hang on, but given that much of Corsica's livestock is not fenced in, we were slowed down even more so on our route back as the driver had to keep stopping to avoid whichever animals were casually wandering along the roads!

Potty stop central!

As for the lady whose husband was in hospital, well she and her friend sat in front of us, so my friend and I got a play-by-play account of what was going on. I know you can't judge someone's outside against what might be going on inside but she seemed surprisingly un-hysterical about her husband (who ended up staying in hospital for a week and then being life-lighted back to Lyon)! Even as much as my husband and I were at each other's throats at the end, I would not have left him in hospital on his own "abroad". Hell I might have unplugged his life support to charge my phone (just kiddin') but I would not have left him there alone no matter what. As I said before, there's nowt so queer as folk, is there!