Archive for the ‘Lovely Things!’ Category

Growing Up!

Friday, January 18th, 2013

So, hello to anybody who is calling in to see me as part of Vicki’s “Grow Your Blog” Party. It’s lovely that you’ve come to visit, and I hope you find something to enjoy here. I am posting this a bit early too – but it’s only because I’m working tomorrow (huzzah!).

This is quite a long post… but I needed to introduce everyone who lives here at La Maison des Etoiles. (Star House)

I am Dormouse, so called because I am more than a little fond of sleeping! It started when I used to visit Mr D’s family at the end of a working week. I would arrive at the house, fall asleep in front of the TV and wake only to eat. Then I’d fall asleep again! I’d be reasonably perky the next day, but the nickname “Dormouse” has been hard to shake.

The name of this blog, “View from the Teapot”, comes about for two reasons: firstly, the World Famous Dormouse in “Alice in Wonderland” enjoyed sleeping in a teapot.

(Though it doesn’t look very enjoyable being stuffed into a teapot like that!!)

The second reason is because I am now living my dream as an English Dormouse in France. The French all imagine that we spend our life drinking tea, so for a sideways look at my life in France it seemed  appropriate to be taking in the view from a teapot (regardless of the fact I actually drink very little tea!)

The situation of this English teapot is a village in the mountains of the Massif Central, halfway between St Etienne and Clermont Ferrand. I live here with Mr D, my husband of 27 years, and our four cats.

Mr D concentrates on steering the narow boat straight!

We started the Cat collection soon after we moved here, when I went to the Cat Refuge, and chose Pomme and Biscuit. Biscuit unfortunately had a virus and she died shortly after she came to live with us. I like to think that at least she had a few days of being loved as an individual, rather than being in a huge cage with lots of other cats. She was a sweet, older cat and I wish I’d had more time to get to know her. Pomme endeared herself to me by jumping on my shoulders when I went into the cage- a habit she has not grown out of. She was about 2 ½ then, and so she’s reaching middle age now.

Pomme loves helping me with crafting!

After Biscuit died, I went back to the refuge to get another cat. We chose Pumpkin who was the most individual cat you can imagine! She was definitely “my” cat and would follow me around. She would often bring toys so that I’d play fetch with her, or bring me presents of things that she found around the house. The most memorable of these was when we had friends for dinner – Pumpkin was heard miaowing in her “Look! Look! I have a beautiful gift for you!” fashion…and in she trotted with a pair of knickers that she’d fished out of the washing basket!!  Sadly, she had Feline leukaemia (probably passed on from her mother, as she was born in the refuge); the fact we had her regularly vaccinated meant that she had a good 4 years of life that she wouldn’t have had otherwise…but I still miss her!

Pumpkin & Pomme watch for pigeons through the velux

Following the sad demise of Pumpkin, a friend offered us a kitten when her cat was next pregnant. Minou was duly impregnated, and, on 23rd April 2011, gave birth to three lovely kittens. We chose the ginger boy, who was promptly named George, for the day he was born. Later, for long and complicated reasons, we also ended up with George’s tabby sister, who became known as Mildred (Millie for short). She was saved from The Bucket, which appears to be a favourite way of disposing of unwanted kittens in this area. George is now a huge bog boy of a cat, extremely placid and good natured, and a little bit put upon by the others!

George as a kitten

So our Feline Family was complete – until I rescued another abandoned kitten from a fairly certain death under the wheels of a truck at the Michelin R&D site in Clermont, where I was working. Bib entered the Dormousehold. She is fast becoming quite attached to me, and is as mad as a box of frogs. She has quite a lot of Pumpkinlike qualities – she too enjoys a game of Fetch, and although she thankfully hasn’t yet brought us gifts of dirty knickers, she does steal clean socks from the clothes airer and take them away! Maybe the gift of knickers is not too far away! Yes, four cats is probably one cat too many – but I wouldn’t be without Bib now!

Bib when she first arrived

We don’t have children (through choice, not necessity) and I am trying to earn a living here as an English teacher.  Mr D is working at the local supermarket, referred to as ShCarrefour – this is because it used to be Shopi, and then changed to Carrefour – we often forget, begin to call it Shopi and the segue into Carrefour. Hence, ShCarrefour. It’s not exactly his career choice, as he worked in London doing stuff with computers and reinsurance, but until he can find a computer related job (or until the contract runs out!) it brings in money!

At the moment, I’m trying to find work, as I was made redundant in October. I do have some private students, giving me about 11 hours work in a good week, and I have just been employed to give some telephone lessons. That’s another 3 hours a week! I’m feeling quite optimistic…

This is a random view of Clermont Ferrand, taken on one of my walks

The story of how and why we moved to France is detailed in the section entitled “So, throw off the bowlines” that you can see on my header. I won’t repeat it here, but I can say in all honesty that I don’t regret making the move. We may be earning a lot less money, we may not have the job security we had in the UK – but it is a good life here.

I am Christian – no denomination, really, having worked my way through Methodist, Baptist, Anglican and URC churches. I studied in the UK to be a Licensed Lay Minister, and so did a lot of preaching, but since moving to France I have been attending – rather sporadically – an Eglise Reformée. I did some preaching (in French! Eeek!) when we didn’t have a minister, but I don’t do it any longer. While my faith is still the bedrock to my life, I do have a tendency to cover it with lots of crap, and lose my way a little. But God is gracious, and is waiting to take my hand (yet again!) and lead me back to where I should be. And I don’t think he heaves too many exasperated sighs!

Blogging is something I really enjoy, although I only manage to post once, or –if you’re lucky! – twice a week. I love the sense that there are people out in the ether who come back to enjoy what I have written, who are beginning to know me and who, if I met them, would be able to say “How’s the work/ the back/ the… whatever” I love taking part in gift exchanges, and have enjoyed both receiving (well, of course!) and seeking out gifts that are just right. I have favourite blogs that I return to, time and time again, but there are others that I find serendipitously by following random links from other peoples’ blogs. Quite often, I don’t return to these – usually because I’ve forgotten to bookmark them! – but it’s like meeting someone in a café, chatting and enjoying the conversation, and then never seeing them again. It’s a moment in time, enjoyed and then passed on. But, having said that, it’s great when I do find I have new people commenting on this blog. As you will have noticed, there isn’t the facility to “follow” this blog, but if you like what you read, well…please comment, bookmark it and come back and see me another time!

An example of one of my hand made cards.

I have another blog too, which you may have already visited. That started when I was trying to lose weight, and I wanted to be accountable to people, so it was named Fat Dormouse Getting Thinner. There is such an animal as the Fat Dormouse, so it seemed like an appropriate name! Two types of Dormouse:

You choose which you prefer (or maybe you like them both!!)

To celebrate lovely Vicki’s blog party, I am offering a Giveaway to someone who comments on this post. If you read other posts, you’ll see that I enjoy crafting and making cards. I also do some calligraphy. As a giveaway, I’m offering 3 handmade cards – for particular occasions, should you wish – and a bookmark/parchment with a short quotation of your choosing.

Thank you for visiting, and I hope you enjoyed finding out about me…I look forward to meeting you as I visit (slowly, over the course of a few weeks, I think!) your blogs too. Please come again! I’d love to offer you a cup of tea!

Growing

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

I’m joining in with Vicki to “Grow My Blog” – I know blogging isn’t all about “Followers” and how many people read your blog…but equally, it is nice to know somebody reads your ramblings, and I always, always get a thrill when I read a comment on my blog! I know I should comment more on others’ blogs too, as I’m a bit of a “lurker” – I’d resolved to do just that, but somehow didn’t completely manage it. But now, I’m trying to answer comments that people make on my blogs.

Anyway, Vicki has a blog over at 2 Bags Full where she details some of the truly gorgeous things that she makes with yarn. And she has decided to host a blog event called:

She says:

My “Grow Your Blog” event is designed to bring more readers and FOLLOWERS to your blogs.  The premise is simple — visit as many blogs as you can and follow those that interest you.  In turn, those folks will be doing the same thing — and hopefully everyone will grow a bigger blog!

There are one or two guidelines, so if you’re interested, pop over to 2 Bags Full to find out more. I think it’s a lovely idea, as we will be able to find other blogs to follow/lurk at and spend more timeenjoying, so there isn’t enough time to do the dusting! On which note, I’d like to share a poem from someone else’s blog, which I think is great:

Dust if you must, but wouldn’t it be betterto paint a picture, or write a letter, bake a cake, or plant a seed.
Ponder the difference between want & need.
Dust if you must, but there is not much time,with rivers to swim and mountains to climb!
Music to hear, and books to read, friends to cherish & life to lead.
Dust if you must, but the world’s out there with the sun in your eyes, the wind in your hair, a flutter of snow, a shower of rain,
this day will not come round again.
Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
old age will come & it’s not kind.
And when you go,
and go you must,
you, yourself, will
make more dust!
Anon

It’s beginning to feel a bit like Christmas!

Monday, October 8th, 2012

St Gwladys over on the Ship of Fools has us signing up for this year’s Secret Santa, and now Faith Hope and Charity Shopping has started the signup for her Christmas swop

I’m not clever enough to make this into a link, but go over to Lakota’s blog at Faith,Hope & Charity Shopping to find out more.

I had a lovely time with the Jubilee swop that Lakota organised – I “met” the lovely Pauleen at Tropical Territory and exchanged gifts. As you can read here and here. It is always lovely to get gifts, and to try to choose things that fit into the theme.

With this swop the rules are:

  • As usual, you should send your swap partner a minimum of three items, a maximum of five.
  • At least one item – though more if you can – should be second hand, and  sourced from a charity shop, car boot sale, jumble, estate sale, eBay or similar.
  • At least one item should be handmade. If you are not crafty yourself, it’s fine to provide a handmade item that someone else has toiled over instead.
  • And this time, one item MUST relate to a Christmas carol or song. How you interpret this is up to you!

This will be fun. I shall be putting my Christmas Elf Thinking Cap on!

I know for some people it is far too early to be thinking about Christmas, but I’ve already bought half my gifts and am thinking hard about the others. I haven’t made a Christmas cake yet – we’re actually away for Christmas, so probably won’t make one for ourselves –  but I am thinking about making small ones for friends. I just need to get a square baking tin – a round cake isn’t very easy to divide up into smaller versions! If I’m going to do it, I really should get going!!

 

 

Celebrity Crushes

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

Katrin, over at the Land of Candy Canes asked about people’s first celebrity crushes…It got me thinking about my first crush on somebody (that I can remember!) and it was Ben Murphy from “Alias Smith and Jones” a TV programme that I loved, when I was about 14 or 15.

This could be the very same image that I had sellotaped to the inside of my desk lid when I was in the Upper Fourth for…or maybe it was this one:

My friend preferred the rugged good looks of Pete Duel, who sadly shot himself, through depression, at the age of 31, but I was thrilled by the boyishness of Ben Murphy.

I then moved on to crushing over David McCallum, who played Flight-Lieutenant Simon Carter in Colditz.

That stiff upper lip! Swoon! Swoon! Be still, my beating heart!

My friend preferred Anthony Valentine, who played the cold nasty Nazi prison guard, but not me. No, I was in love with the RAF hero, who (according to the biog ) had been  “Married only for a short while to his wife Cathy, he misses her desperately and tries many times to escape so that he can be reunited with her.” (No, that’s all wrong! He missed the young Miss Dormouse, and wanted to get home to her!!)

Now, how could anyone prefer him?!

And now, I have other celebrity crushes to share…

Lovely, lovely Doctor Brian Cox

Wonderful melted -chocolate-voiced Alan Rickman

Rather predictably, there’s Johnny Depp (I often play on this when teaching..The second conditional is a favourite: If I met Johnny Depp I would kiss him…It always raises a smile!)

and a new one the silver fox, Spencer Kelly, from BBC “Click”

I don’t do computers, but he makes the programme (which Mr D loves) bearable!!

So what about you, do you have any (past or present) celebrity crushes to admit to?

Joining In

Friday, September 7th, 2012

WARNING: this is a cut-and-paste job from Fat Dormouse Getting Thinner. If you’ve read it there, you may not want to read it again!

Thanks to Vicki over at 2 Bags Full I’m joining in with this event :

A “Grow-Your-Blog” event – a kind of blog hop, for those of us with only a few followers…Now, I know here at the Wibsite we don’t count “Followers”, and that’s fine. It’s kind of liberating in a way,  but it’s still lovely to have lots of comments and feel that people are engaging with your blog.

When I have the time to visit other people’s blogs, I do try to leave a comment (however banal!) just to show that there is somebody interested – and I am! I love reading people’s views on the world, the little personal stories, (I’m still grining about Auntie Doris’s news however many months after we first heard!) their experiences of God, their photographs. I have laughed, wept, pondered and perused with people from all over the world. I have been lucky enough to win giveaways – a delicious smelling soy candle, some beautiful beads – to be able to share gifts (thank you Pauleen for my lovely Australian goodies!) and give people some of my crafts. I have discovered new music (Oh, Mags, how I love Rend Collective Experiment. Thank you SO much for posting about them!) and rediscovered old. I’ve had the encouragement to think about my faith, through Floss’s “Pause in Lent/Advent…” and to think about how I am part of an amazing electronic community. It was through a new friend at Thistle Cove Farm (found via PomPom) that I read about this event, so thank you to Pompom and to Sandra for the links.

So I’m going to join in with Vicki, and lots of other people in January to take part in this – both here and over at Fat Dormouse Getting Thinner. Maybe you’d like to join in too!

 

Last Weekend Was Fun

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

Last weekend it was the Voyage with the Cyclo Club of St Just.  The last two times I’ve been there’s been Cathy and Steve with us – two more speaking English – and last year, Clare came along too, to keep an eye on her sons. But one year on, and sadly, Cathy and Steve have split up, and, while Cathy thought she might come, she was over in the UK, sorting out divorce agreements. Clare’s boys are one year older, and don’t want mum watching them! So it was just me and Andrew speaking English. Thankfully, Gilles and his girlfriend Sylvie are fast becoming good friends, and although Sylvie wanted to chat to her other friends in rapid French, she did speak to me too!

So we set off on Saturday morning (6.00 am start) on the coach, snoozing on the way. There was a pause for breakfast at a rest area – out came coffee, wine (at 8.00 am!?), bread, saucisson, cheese, chocolate, brioche…Serve yourself! Enjoy!

We reached the holiday complex at 10.30, surprising the manager, who expected us an hour later. The cyclists unloaded the bikes, checked them over etc, while the “Hangers On” wandered around, inspected the swimming pool (small but nice) and sat chatting in the sunshine.  When we got our room keys, after lunch, the cyclists quickly changed, ready for their outing, while the Hangers On were more leisurely.

This was the view from our balcony. The weather was beautiful (but, I later discovered, a bit too hot for cycling.) The cyclists gathered for a group photo, and I was a bit too late to join in with the mass picture-taking…

They’re all starting to move off as I run up with the camera!

The Hangers On set off for a visit to a pottery, where the guy gives a demonstration and explains how he makes his stuff.This site is all about the Poterie Guibert, and has many more photos. Here’s one I took of the potter’s hands:

and here’s one of the photos from the site, showing some of his work

We then went on to the Musée de la Boissellerie which tells about the history of making boxes. Hmm…sounds rivetting, but in fact the guide was quite jolly and amusing, and did his best to make it enjoyable. While I didn’t understand all of what he said, he was animated enough for it not to matter. We arrived back at the hotel by 6.30 but it was another hour or so before Group 1 cyclists got back – they’d done over 100 km!!!!! Mr D was completely wiped out!

We had dinner and we were in bed by 9.30 – I was catching up from lost sleep during the week, and Mr D because he was knackered!

The next day, he decided not to cycle, as he was still quite tired and there was a minor bike problem. My sciatica/back problems were bad (a lot of sitting/standing still the day before hadn’t helped) so we went for a slow walk/hobble together through the woods.

The flowers were glorious – there were orchids, buttercups, and lots more that I have no idea of.

We passed this house:

which is very pleasant, but nothing special. Until you read the plaque fastened to the wall:

“This house sheltered, between 1942 and 1943, the PC (not sure what this is ) of the Group Margaine, one of the first Maquis of France”

The Maquis is another name for the French Resistance, named after the mountain scrubland which was, so often, where they made their hiding place. I looked online to see if I could find more information about this groyup, but there wasn’t anything. However, the photo on this site shows a young teenage Maquisard, and the landscape behind him seems very similar to that in the area of the Jura.

While the rest of the house seems to be modern and renovated, this doorway on the side could be from the era when this house sheltered those fighting for the liberation of their country

Mr D left me after a while, as I was ready to head back. He followed a pathway, and I hobbled back for a relaxing swim. By the end of the morning, my back and leg were back to normal. Mr D somehow got lost and ended up struggling back through the woods, just in time for lunch, hot, sweaty and a bit ticked off!

We then all piled on the bus and headed into Switzerland!

This is a view of Lac Leman, as we headed down to Nyon, a town on the shore. There was a chateau that everyone had planned to visit, but when we reached the car park, and saw the Lake sparkling in the sunshine, and heard some bands playing al fresco for La Fete de la Musique we were tempted away from culture and instead towards indolence…Gilles, Mr D, Sylvie and I sat in a café and whiled away the afternoon with ice creams.

At 5.00 we gathered and got on the bus for the return trip. There was a pause at another rest stop for a picnic tea: out came bread, ham, sausage, cheese, crisps, roast pork, melon, cherries, cake, chocolate, wine, soft drinks… It was amazing! Very simple, but very enjoyable. After that there was much singing of songs: Fernand, one of the older guys, sang several old fashioned songs, including Piaf’s “Non, je ne regrette rien”, which everybody joined in with. A couple of older ladies told some funny stories, which I understood – very gentle humour about “Mamie” (grandma) – and some of the younger lads sang a few songs too. I was pressganged into singing “An Austrian Went Yodelling” (which I always introduce as “An Ostrich went Yodelling” , the French for Austrian (Autrichien) being similar to the French for ostrich (autruche)…Well, it all adds to the fun!) I also sang “Doh a deer”…(Is that how you spell “doh”, as in music? It looks too much like Homer Simpson’s “D’oh!”) but that didn’t go down so well.

We finally got home at about 10.45, to be met with Bib, complaining VERY loudly that she’d been left on her own for TWO WHOLE DAYS!!! (Not true: we had friends coming in to feed her, and the other cats, and to give them some cuddles. But that obviously wasn’t enough for Bib!)

A very enjoyable weekend.

Sadly I heard on Monday evening that Mum had fallen and broken her wrist quite badly. My brother is with her now, and she was due to have a steel plate put in today. She’s 83, so this will have been a shock and a shake-up for her. Apparently, the surgeon told Mike and mum that he wouldn’t normally do this procedure on 83 year olds, but as she’s so fit and healthy, he was happy to do it. (Subtext: you’re not going to die in the next couple of years so it’s worth the effort!) If you are of a praying frame of mind, please can your hold Mum in your prayers. She’ll be going back to recuperate at Mike’s. Though I know logically that there’s nothing I could do, I still feel I should be there – I’m going over in two weeks to start the job, but it will be another 6 weeks before I see her…I feel very mean not rushing over to the UK NOW…but there’s no point. And I have work commitments here. Am I just making excuses?!

 

 

Jubilee Swap Results

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Yesterday I got home and found a parcel from the distant shores of Australia waiting for me – my Jubilee Swap Parcel had arrived! This was organised by Faith, Hope & Charity Shopping and came from Pauleen, over in the North of Australia. Her blog hangs out at Tropical Territory and she has some beautiful photography on there.

I’d not had a brilliant day so wasn’t in the mood to open presents as soon as I got home. However, later on that evening I found a quiet time and gave myself a treat. What a bundle of goodies I received:

Here are all the little packages, wrapped up in white tissue paper (which Bib loves playing with) and beautiful red and blue sparkly ribbons and sequins. I will be able to use them for card making later on. There’s a post card of a splendidly patriotic Rosella parrot, all red and blue, a vinyl cut print by an emerging Australian artist, Tess Barker. If you scroll down on this site you can see some of her work…it is very striking.

So I opened my packages, one by one. First there was this brooch

This was made by somebody who had opened her garden to the public, and Pauleen had taken some beautiful photographs of this “open garden in the bush”. I think the brooch will go well on my Ghanaian hat which Rose, my globetrotting niece,  gave me after her trip to Ghana with Operation Raleigh.

Next I opened another flat package, which contained this sweet little embroidery of a Koala, peering over an Australian flag and clutching what I presume is a wattle:

This is the wattle, The emblem of our land; You can stick it in a bottle. Or hold it on your hand.

(See the Monty Python “Bruce” sketch here if you would like to see where that came from…it’s not particularly offensive…but it does take the p*ss out of Australians a little…so don’t watch it if you’re easily offended! And I hope I don’t offend anyone by linking to it – it’s only for the poem – honest!)

I’ve just found out that wattle is another name for Mimosa – which is abundant in the south of France too.

Paullen embroidered this dinky little picture herself:

Then came a floppy little package which contained a beautiful silk scarf, with the most colourful and cheerful cats on it. The colour combinations are so vibrant they evoke what I imagine to be the tropical colours that Pauleen sees every day. Look! Isn’t it gorgeous:

Then, I was intruiged by a rather knobbly parcel. When I opened it there was a crocodile cookie cutter! Apparently, crocodiles are one of the reasons people can’t swim in the sea off Darwin…I didn’t imagine that crocs would be a danger in the ocean as well as in the rivers. Tourists apparently love the crocs, but I guess the residents aren’t so enamoured! Here is a picture of a salt water crocodile – he looks a distinctly fearsome beast!

My cookie cutter crocodile looks much jollier!

And then, finally, there was a handy bag for carrying stuff. This had a distinct Jubilee theme, with a picture of Her Maj when she visited Papua New Guinea in 1974 – but not any photo. No, this was one Pauleen had taken herself!

The text translates from Pidgin as ” the Queen came to Goroko, Papua New Guinea, February 1974. She saw many warriors” ( “Misis Quinn” being the name given to Her Maj – Mrs Queen!)

There was also a very smart pen slipped in the envelope, with Pauleen’s blogsite address (there’s posh!) on it, and a beautiful card with one of her photographs.  I have been very lucky to receive such a brilliant parcel from a generous lady. Thank you so much, Pauleen!  Thank you to F,H&CS too, for organising the swap. I hope other people had as lovely a time as I did.

I took photos of what I sent to Pauleen, but I won’t post them yet – I don’t want to spoil the surprise…though I can’t help feeling I did better out of the deal than she did!