Au Revoir, Wibsite!

February 18th, 2014

I have, rather reluctantly, decided to end my relationship with the Wibsite… I’ve got fed up with not being able to post photos, and so on.

I’m now blogging at The View from the Teapot (same name!) so I hope that you will join me over there.

Same village; slightly different view!

Winner! Winner! Winner!

February 17th, 2014

Randomly chosen from all the comments was Number 22, who is Diane @OK Camp.

You have won some handmade cards and a few other bits ‘n’ bobs.

I’ll need your deails so I can send ‘em to you.

Answering Questions.

February 15th, 2014

Kezzie, over at KezzieAG answered questions from different bloggers and then asked some of her own. I thought it might be quite fun to answer them nere.

1.What is the meaning of life? There’s an easy one to start with! I believe Douglas Adams told us it was 42, but I’m not sure how helpful that is…I don’t even know what it means: “the meaning of life” ! Does it mean “why are we here”? Does it mean “How should we behave”? In answer to the second question, I believe that the prophet Micah has the answer: “O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

2. Favourite sweetie? Chocklit.
3.  Princess Jasmine or Belle? Why? I don’t understand this question, I’m afraid?! I guess it’s referring to a film/ story book, but it’s passed me by!
4.  What do you like most about blogging? Reading people’s comments and finding out that they’ve enjoyed what I’ve written,or found it helpful/interesting/ humorous. Also I love finding new blogs to read – whether it’s just once, or whether I become a Follower.
5.  And what do you like least? Writing a post and getting no response! Though I have to say I’m guilty of reading other people’s blogs and not commenting, so I shouldn’t complain if people don’t comment on my blog!
Actually, the other thing I don’t like about blogging is the fact that the Wibsite won’t let me publish photos and is getting tiresome to use. I’m getting more and more frustrated with it. I’m planning on changing my blog provider – watch this space for details!
6.  Who was your favourite childhood stuffed/cuddly toy and why? Do you still have them? I had myriad bears (“bears” being the generic term for stuffed toys): Jeremy, Barrington, Monty and Marty the mice, Angus the dog, Pooh Bear, Fluffy…and those are the ones I can remember! I still have Pooh Bear, who became a monk during my slightly “High Church” phase at college. He was given new velveteen paws and new eyes by a dear friend, but he no longer wears his habit. I now have a new generation of bears, including Woburn, Disley-the-Rabbit, Cadbury-the-Camel and Kitten.
7.  Favourite board game? Don’t really play board games, but I quite like “Who’s in the Bag” – a type of fast paced charades. It appeals to the actor in me.
8.  Would you rather be a sheep or a cow? Why? A sheep. It’s the woolly coats that appeal.
9.  What word do you have issues with spelling? Diarrhoea. Occasion (until someone told me that “on occasion I wear a shirt with two collars and one sleeve” – two cs and one s).
10.  What pet would you love if you could have something? A dog. Specifically a rescue dog. Something not too big but not too small. Kind of woolly. But Mr D doesn’t want a dog, and I suspect nor do the cats. I love cats – and if I had to choose, it would be cats all the way, but hey, the question isn’t about choosing one OR the other, is it?!
I think these are pictures of pure breed dogs, but something like this:
or this…

 

11.  What question would you like to answer that you’ve never been asked? Here’s a million pounds for you to do with as you wish: what would you like to do with it?
Answer: keep some, but give a lot of it away. I’d just love to be able to say “Here you are, Amnesty International/ Diannah School of English/ Action Aid/ Spanish Stray Cats / several other charities – here’s a subsantial amount of money for you”.

Every Day Life

February 9th, 2014

I wanted to post something here on The Teapot, but didn’t really know what to write about. Browsing various blogs I came across The Adventures of Fi, where she had written under various headings, just chatting about her every day life; so I have stolen her idea, adding a few headings of my own, and I hope you’ll find it interesting.

READING: I’ve just started reading “Heresy” by S.J.Parris. After a couple of “meh” novels that were screamingly predictable and not-at-all gripping, it’s good to get back to reading something with a bit more meat to it.

I’m not far into it, but it certainly has potential to draw me in. The blurb on Amazon reads:

When fugitive Italian monk Giordano Bruno—philosopher, magician, and heretical scientist—arrives in London, he’s only one step ahead of the Inquisition. An undercover mission for Queen Elizabeth I and her spymaster provides added protection. Officially, Bruno is to take part in a debate on the Copernican theory of the universe at Oxford University; unofficially, he is to find out whatever he can about a Catholic plot to overthrow the queen. But when his mission is dramatically thrown off course by a series of grisly deaths and the charms of a mysterious but beautiful young woman, he realizes that somewhere within Oxford’s private chambers lurks a brutal killer. . .

Before the two nondescript novels, I read “Moses in Chains” by Nikki Fine

This was an interesting book, not just for the subject matter, but because it was written by an ex-colleague of mine! Good writing, with an interesting story, I found it a tad too long, but enjoyable nontheless.

What would it be like to work for a genius? A grumpy, elderly genius who is writing his memoirs? Antonio Francese is a servant to the ageing Michelangelo, who has decided to write about the painting of the Sistine Chapel ceiling. But does his master always tell the truth? And can Antonio have a life of his own at the same time?

WATCHING: We’re not watching much of note at the moment, but Mr D recorded the new Belgian thriller “Salamander” on BBC 4 yesterday. I’m hoping this might plug the gap left by the all-too-short series of “Sherlock”. We certainly haven’t found that “The Musketeers” has cut it, despite the presence of a leather clad Peter Capaldi, and several dashing young bloods.

EATING: For details on that, you can go over to Fat Dormouse, but suffice to say, I’m really looking forward to wild boar in Cèpes sauce tonight!

NOT ENJOYING: a low level headache, slight dizziness, cold feet, and a slightly wierd general-feeling-of-malaise.

LOVING: Actually, just-finished-loving a Terry’s Chocolate Orange. One of my colleagues brought it back from the UK, and Mr D & I have been rationed to one segment each an evening (and none at all on fast days)

It’s something else to add to the list of things to bring back from the UK when we go!

LISTENING TO: Nothing at the moment, as I don’t generally listen to music while at my desk. Yesterday though I was working on a Zentangle card for a friend’s birthday, and listened to a Clifford T Ward album. Wonderful, gentle music, which often makes me cry. Here is a link to a YouTube video of his lovely “Home Thoughts from Abroad”

SPENDING MONEY ON: Food. That’s about it. And the car – petrol, motorway tolls, and it needs a service. I am buying a bit of wool too, but only reduced, to continue to knit blankets for the Spanish Stray Cats.

MISSING: My friend Cathy, who is over in the UK. She has a house here (that’s she trying to sell. Anyone interested?!) and is often over for 6 months of the year – because she’s on holiday (or at least, not working) it means we see each other for aperos, walks and chats most days. It’s harder catching up with other friends who have jobs and families, and wierd working hours. Because she’s due to become a granny in June she may not come out this year…

STRESSING OUT ABOUT: Nothing. Generally I don’t stress about big things – though Mr D might beg to differ!! I get stressy if I think I’m going to be late, or I can’t park the car, but not other stuff.

WEARING: Matalan olive green jumper, (bought a couple of winters ago), spotty shirt (from Carrefour, last year), denim skirt (Lands End, bought at least 10 years ago) and my Doctor Who scarf, knitted by my MiL for my Christmas present

Due to the aforementioned cold feet, I’m also wearing bright pink fluffy socks and my sheepskin slippers, and cuddling a hot water bottle!

LOOKING FORWARD TO: Tomorrow’s teaching, a chat with Cathy on Tuesday, wild boar tonight, and Life in General. We’re going to the UK in April to an Elbow concert at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, and I’m back teaching at Downe House in the summer…it’s not been officially confirmed, but it has been a-bit-more-than-casually mentioned to me! I’m a contented bunny.

 

 

Santa found his lost packages!

February 1st, 2014

Before Christmas I signed up with Char at t*rexes and tiaras for her Secret Santa swap. I love Secret Santas, and swaps and Giveaways – and hope to take part in a few more this year. So, if anyone knows of any going on, please give me a headsup – so I was happy to take part in this one.

But Christmas came…and went…and there was no sign of my parcel. I resigned myself to the fact that it had been lost (or perhaps purloined, as was a birthday card with money in, that my mum sent me.) Until last week I got home from teaching and found a delightfully exoticparcel all the way from South Africa…

In it were lots of delightful goodies – none of which I can show you because of this b *%à!§à# site not loading my photos

But there was:

  • a gorgeous scarf, in greens and browns and yellows, with my favourite sunflowers on it. I have already worn it loads and loads.
  • 4 brilliant cat badges…One is being worn by Mr D (it says “The Cat’s Whiskers” on it!), one by me, one is on my everyday winter hat, and the other is waiting for a home.
  • Six cunning little cat clips
  • A beautiful corsage made from reclaimed fabric.
  • Lemony scented soap
  • Soft and cuddly wool, which has already started being knitted into blankets for Spanish Stray Cats
  • A jolly cat Christmas card

All of these came from Chane at OddOneOut. I love my Secret Santa gift – and I love it all the more because I didn’t think it was going to ever arrive!

 

I’m going to re-blog this post over at Fat Dormouse, so you can see the pictures.

 

Grow Your Blog 2014 – plus a giveaway

January 25th, 2014

Well, hello, bonjour, bienvenue and welcome!

If you have come over to see me through the lovely Vicki’s Grow Your Blog event I am very happy to see you, and I hope that you find something here to catch your eye and make you smile. This site doesn’t have the wherewithal to become a Follower, but it would be lovely if you were interested enough to “bookmark” this page and come back to see me from time to time.

I’m often asked Why did you move to France? Well, the answer to that is in the section entitled “Throw Off the Bowlines” which comes from a quotation by Mark Twain

We managed to throw off the bowlines, we were persuaded to explore and dream and discover…So do please read that section if you want to know more about why we ended up here, in our small village in France.

 

I am an English teacher, and I am lucky to love my work – although getting up at 6.15 to face an hour’s drive to my lessons in Clermont Ferrand does sometimes dampen my enthusiasm! I teach a mixture of business people, adults learning for their holidays, children and young adults preparing for their Bac; I teach a mixture of one-to-one, small groups and over the phone. It is varied, interesting and fun. It’s not the greatest pay packet at the end of the month, but it’s enough and I’m happy – that’s worth quite a lot, in my book!

When not working I love blogging…I have two blogs, this one, and Fat Dormouse Getting Thinner. I hope you might trot over there as there will be a giveaway there too. On that blog I write about my efforts to get thinner, my menus for the week and I also post recipes that have been successfully received in the Dormousehold.

We don’t have children, there’s just me, Mr D and four Very Bad Cats (They used to be known as Very Bad Kittens, but, like us all, they’re getting older!)

This is where I would love to show you photos, but, for the millionth time, (or so it seems!) the site is refusing to upload photos from my collection. It is really frustrating! I will put some on my other site, so now you’ll have to go over there!! Anyway, Feline-wise, there is Pomme (the Senior Officer, at about 10 years old), George & Millie (Middle Management, born in 2010) and there is Bib (otherwise known as the Office Junior, born and rescued from the Michelin R&D site in 2012)

 

I also make cards. Again, no luck uploading photos, and when I try to link to previous posts with photos of my work, hey presto! Look! All the photos have disappeared. I am SO sorry about this. I hope it won’t make you lovely Grow-Your-Blog people turn away in disgust and despair! I feel I’ve let you down and I am really sorry!!

As I’m a Lolcats fan, this will have to do as a picture…

So… If you would like to win my Grow-Your-Blog Giveaway, which is 5 handmade cards, then please do leave a comment. I can provide cards for special occassions, or just five general ones. I will also throw in a handmade bookmark, which – dammit! – I can’t show you. Plusalso a card with a short quotation (chosen by you, bien sur!), calligraphed by me (Do you know, I don’t think that there is such a verb!) It will have to be short, as my hands are becoming artritic and I find it difficult calligraphing for too long!!

Once again, apologies that the Wibsite has not let me upload my photos. But please, do come back and see me another time. It will be more fun then, I promise!! Until then, don’t forget: you can visit Fat Dormouse and see photos! (Fingers crossed…!!)

Waxing eloquent N°4

January 18th, 2014

I’m continuing looking at Ruby Wax’s tips for a “really Happy New Year”, and thinking about how these might tie in with the work we’ve been doing at our Opening Doors follow up “meetings” (meetings in inverted commas for me, as I’m only there via Skype.)

Be Less Busy

We worship busy-ness but brain research shows that rather than it being a great accomplishment to be able to juggle, it may actually scramble your brain. Rather than being in “doing” mode all the time, have a go at being in “being” mode. I experience it when I’m scuba diving, but everyone feels this at some point: looking at a sunset, stroking a cat, a moment where time stops and you’re experiencing something directly without the running commentary. In this mode the mind isn’t flipping between the past and the future, it has nowhere to go, so it can start to settle

I talked about this a little last time I commented on Ruby’s tips…and the time before that…which kind of makes me think that a lot of what Ms Wax is saying is quite repetitive in its goals. Still – less of this cynicism please!

Though I have to admit that I do need to practise this art of being not doing. I seldom pause meaningfully during my day, and this is something Ange is encouraging us to do. My last post refers to the 5:2:1 way of life that Ange is trying to encourage us to follow – unsuccessfully in my case! I keep saying “I’ll start tomorrow…I just need to buy a nice book to record my feelings in…I haven’t got time today but I really will start tomorrow…”

Part of my problem is allowing myself to let go, and not getting worked up if it doesn’t go “right”. this is why I haven’t been very successful at my “SMASH” journalling, or my art/prayer journalling, or even my card making sometimes, because I feel these have to look “perfect” – or at least, I have to be satisfied and I rarely am very happy. My zentangle cat was an exception to that rule though. Here he is again (because I like to show off!) – except the wibsite aint playing ball with photos at the moment! Grr.

Why I can’t accept that I’m just “having a go” I don’t know: “good enough” is my mantra in many parts of my life, so why it isn’t in others seems very strange. And anyway, how do you “do” pausing for a few seconds to ground oneself in a way that is considered as properly (or improperly for that matter!) I just need to do it (that’s a rather ironic statement, if you look back at what I’m talking about!) Perhaps I should say I just have to be it!!

 

 

 

 

Waxing Eloquent N°2 & 3

January 12th, 2014

I’ve just had my “Opening Doors” get-together. Sadly I’m only there courtesy of Skype, so I missed out on the very delicious looking cake (probably a good thing for the healthy eating) and on seeing everyone properly, but it is still good to catch up. I think I need to make more of an effort to try to do the exercises/ thought-visualisations etc that we did at the weekend, as I’m starting to forget the “good things” I learned. But it takes effort – and I’ve never been one for effort!

Anyway, here is the second of Ruby Wax’s helpful tips for “How to have a really Happy New Year”, which I’m looking at over a period of a few weeks. You can find the first one here, and here’s the next:

Stave off the darkness:

Only eat what tastes good and fill your life with things you like (that would be cake, chocolate and wine then, Ms Wax?!) Surround yourself with true friends but if you find entertaining stressful, don’t invite them for dinner all the time. How can you talk to your friends properly if you’re busy panicking that you’re not a good enough cook? Go to a restaurant instead. And don’t force yourself to go to other people’s houses, it takes energy to adjust yourself to their way of living.

 

Quite frankly, this sounds like a load of bollocks. Sorry, Rubes, but it doesn’t really make much sense – if you’re seeing friends you don’t need to eat with them! Cups of tea, a packet of biscuits, a glass of wine, whatever…going to  restaurants isn’t the only viable alternative to cooking a meal. And what about the “it takes energy to adjust to their way of living”? You’re visiting, not moving in with them! My friend is a maniacal cleaner, her house is spotless and I couldn’t live llike that – but it doesn’t worry me when I go to see her. Or, for that matter, it doesn’t worry me if my house is less-than-spotless when she comes here. I assume she comes to see me, rather than to inspect the amount of dusting I do!!

 

I like the idea of “only eat what tastes good” – but I fear that includes the aforementioned cake, chocolate and wine, as well as steak, bacon sandwiches and Brillat Saverin cheese. Not necessarily what the Doctor ordered!!

 

The phrase that does resonate is “surround yourself with true friends” – friendship does take effort and it’s no use cultivating and nurturing a friendship with someone who uses and abuses your trust, time and energy. So “good friends” is the phrase I take from this tip. But, honestly, I think the rest of it is fairly nonsensical.

 

 

So I’ll move onto Tip 3, which is:

 

Find your happy place:

People used to find peace in gardening or in church but no-one has time for them anymore ( Speak for yourself, Ruby. I’d be much more involved in Church if I lived closer.It’s the expense, not the time for me!) You need to find a place or activity that makes you feel relaxed, be it a café or a park, dancing or cycling. But don’t mistake happiness for that tingly buzz you get when you’ve hooked or booked something. This kind of hit only lasts as long as a cigarette.

 

Okay, The first part of this hint again resonates with our Opening Doors, especially the “exercise” that Ange gave us after our first get-together. This is the 5:2:1 exercise  (Nothing to do with the 5:2 diet, I hasten to add. You can read about my effort with that beastie over at Fat Dormouse) 

This is about 5 times a day repeating a word/ action/phrase that inspires or motivates, or reminds you of who you are, and what you aspire to. It’s about making 2 appointments with yourself each day – one to do something towards you dream, or to use your gift, and the other for oneself,  to do something you enjoy – meditation, savouring a cup of tea, gardening (if you have time, eh,Ms Wax!) whatever makes you feel good! These need only be 5 minutes, or 30 minutes or whatever, but they are proper appointments and should be treated seriously. It’s about taking 1 time a day a time to “be”, to focus on the here and now – whatever you’re doing at that time. Be mindful of what you are doing.

 

These are all about relaxing, giving permission to yourself to “be”. Finding a place, an activity, that makes you happy. I don’t need to find time to do stuff – I’m often able to zone out, especially now I’ve discovered Zentangling, but I need to not feel bad about “not doing anything worthwhile with my time”

 

I’m not sure I quite grasp what Ruby Wax is talking about in the latter part of Tip N°3 – what does the term “hooked or booked” mean? I’m assuming that she is talking about trying to find a sense of contentment that spills over into the rest of your life rather than something which is a sudden burst of “ecstacy” which fades quickly and leaves you craving more.  The 5:2:1 moments would be the thing that leads to the deep seated contentment, as you learn to be satisfied with who you are  (though not in a here-I-am-and-here-I’m-staying kind of way, but rather in an acceptance that this-is-where-I’m-starting-from kind of way).

 

I think I need to work on that.

Zentangle cat

January 11th, 2014

Here is a cat that I drew

IMG_1812I have to say, I am rather proud of him! I’m thinking of getting some cards printed and selling them in aid of Spanish Stray Cats, a charity that I have fallen into supporting…I send them badly knitted blankets to keep the kitties warm. Would any of my readers here be interested? Please comment if you would like to buy some – probably 2,50€ each, but that’s not fixed yet.

Waxing eloquent N°1

January 9th, 2014

To wax eloquent…to wax lyrical…to wax poetic… Strange expressions, and I wondered why “to wax” has come to mean “to speak” in these expressions. We don’t use it in any other way (to wax angry? “Come here!” I waxed loud…) nor do we use an adverb, as we should – eloquently, poetically, lyrically…

 

 

With a tad more research (isn’t the internet wonderful?!) I find that “to wax” doesn’t, as I assumed, mean “to speak” in these expressions. As in the expression “to wax and wane”, when talking about the moon, it means “to grow”. Thus, “Waxing poetic” has nothing to do with bees, candles, or polishing cars. The verb ‘to wax’ is ‘to grow’; the opposite of ‘to wane’, which is ‘to decrease’. So when one waxes poetic one becomes increasingly more poetic etc.

Source: Govteen.com

I suppose the question might be why am I waxing lyrical about “waxing lyrical”? Well, a friend of ours, who had been to England, left a bundle of English newspapers for us, and in the Telegraph “Weekend” section there was an article by Ruby Wax, the comedien-turned-qualified-therapist, entitled “How to have a Really Happy New Year”. In the article Ms Wax gives various pointers to ways in which we should keep ourselves grounded, recognising that a busy, busy, hectic lifestyle is not good for us.

As she says: “The modern take on Descartes “I’m busy, therefore I am” is…crushing our ability to be happy, and overloading us with stress and anxiety

Now, to be honest, I’m not sure that Ms Wax is saying anything new – there are countless blogs, and self help forums, etc, that say the same. Many people are trying to get back to a simpler life. The word “frugal” is bandied about a lot, with different people considering it to mean different things: saving money, living more simply, cutting things out from one’s life…I think what Ruby Wax is talking about is part of this too. Being frugal, I think, involves slowing down – because we rush about trying to do so many things, we lose a connection with ourselves, and with our family and friends.

Some of what Ms Wax talked about resonates with me, because it reminds me of my wonderful “Opening Doors” workshop last September. We are still having monthly get togethers, but sadly I can only join in via Skype. It works, and I do feel part of the group, but it is like taking part whilst one is banished to another room. You can hear what’s going on, you can join in the conversations, but there isn’t the physical interaction…I can’t hug these lovely ladies, or really see the smiles in their eyes. Sigh. It’s a long way between here and Toulouse! Still, it’s better than nothing.

Ange gives us “homework” – something to think about, to consider – but I have to admit I’m not very good at “soul searching”. I get a bit squirmy when I have to look “inside myself”, because it all seems a little bit self indulgent…and I’m never quite sure that there will be benefits. A couple of posts ago I wrote about “Unravelling 2014″, an exercise looking into the year ahead, identifying goals, thinking of a word/phrase for the year – I couldn’t bring myself to do it! Everytime I thought about it I felt uncomfortable, and managed to find something else to do.

However, I thought I could, over several blog posts, look at – and think about – Ruby Wax’s “tips for  happy, calmer, more self-assured and focussed you in 2014″ Whether I will take any of them on board is another matter of course! Here’s the first; others will follow (though not necessarily at regular intervals):

1. Find your braking system

This is what mindfulness is all about. When you’re in high anxiety mode, feeling stressed out, your mind racing and your heart pounding, focus on something in the present: a sound, taste or smell. By becoming aware of what’s around you, you will calm down and can focus more. You’ll have to experiment to find what works for you: I send my attention to my feet and their contact with the floor. As soon as my focus goes from thoughts to sensation, the red mist drains from my brain and I can think again. You might need to do this 100 times: it’s how to tame your mind.

I don’t tend to get stressed very often, as my life isn’t very high powered and busy-busy, but I do note that when I do find myself panicking (if I have lost something important for example) I do start losing focus. I have to tell myself to breathe, to focus on one activity (sorting through papers methodically, for example) and to take time! When we were at the workshop, and were talking about things that became too upsetting or emotional, Ange reminded us to focus on our feet on the ground, to feel grounded and steady. So when we find ourselves becoming too frantic, a pause to focus can be very helpful.

For those, like me, living a less frenetic life, Ange suggested that pausing every now and then during the day, and focussing on a few breaths, can still be beneficial. It is a reminder that I am not what I do,  I am what I am.  I like the little saying: “God made us to be human beings, not huiman doings” What we are is vital, not what we do. Yes, actions are important – we cannot drift through life, never interacting, never doing things – but who we are affects how we behave, how we interact, how we treat other people. And if we don’t focus on ourselves from time to time, remind ourselves that we are more than just what we do, then our interactions and our relationships with other people will become overwhelmed by “I must do this…and that…and the other…”

So, perhaps, like my blog friend Mags, my word for 2014 should simply be: Breathe