Posts Tagged ‘Cycling’

A bit of this and a bit of that…

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Hello Peeps!

Today is St George’s Day – perhaps we should have hung out English Cross of St George flag out of the window! Mr FD sometimes wears a red rose on St George’s Day, but this year he’s not left the house, so had no cause to do so.

But today is also the Very Bad Kittens’ birthday! Happy Birthday, George and Millie! Happy (nominal) Birthday Pomme and Bib! We don’t know when Pomme & Bib were born, but round about now would be a good guess for Bib, and Pomme – well, we have no idea! Perhaps we should have a Happy Adoption Day for Bib – she joined the Dormousehold on 1st June 2013, aged about 5-6 weeks.

We bought cakes to celebrate:

and I’ll go to ShCarrefour later on and buy some yummy cat food for the Cats. I have to buy the ingredients for my cheesecake tomorrow, so I’ll indulge the cats a little as well! Here are pictures (already seen, I know!) of our dear kitties:



I am happy too because I have won a Giveaway. Yay! Ellie over at Silver Scrapper’s Craft Space picked me out of the hat to win a book about crafting ATCs. As I’m trying to create one ATC a month (I’ve made – but not shown – March’s, and still have April’s to do! Maybe tomorrow!) this will give me some inspiration (I hope!)

ATCs 1

The weather has been completely mad recently. Last week was gorgeous, with the thermometer hitting about 26° down in Roanne, then this weekend it was snowing again! Poor Mr D went out with the combined forces of St Just and St Germain Laval Cycle Clubs to do a day’s ride in the Lyonnaise mountains. They didn’t actually do any riding! They holed up for the morning in a Mairie in a small village where our friend Louis’ father was a BigWig, so Louis has some sway in the area. Mr D said he spent the morning failing to understand the rules of Belote. Cathy & I met them (together with other non-cycling members of the club) at a restaurant at the Col de Pavillon

for a set menu meal of salad, chicken in pepper sauce, with pasta & ratatouille, and then chocolate-and-raspberry-mousse-cake. It didn’t stop raining all day, and at some moments, the rain was horizontal, such was the force of the wind. And there was definitely some sleet mixed in!

Despite that, Mr D was (in his words) “vaguely tempted” to ride. But he didn’t!

Not too many lessons today – two cancellations, due to holidays & strikes – and none tomorrow. A bit of a break. Huzzah (not working)! Boo (not earning)! Film night tomorrow up at Cathy’s – I’m taking cheesecake (of the white chocolate and ginger variety) so I’d better trot on down to ShCarrefour to buy the ingredients. And the Sheba!

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?!



Wrist duly slapped.

Monday, October 31st, 2011

I have had my wrist slapped by Mr. D.

“I keep looking at your blog to find out what we’ve been doing,” he said. “But you’ve not written anything.”

Yes, well, partly because we’ve not really done very much!

As I said in my last post, I think, life pootles on and not much happens. My sister and her husband stayed with us for a couple of days on their way to Italy. And then again on their way back. We ate out rather too much.  I felt very full for several days after they’d left! Michel across the road gave us a big box of peches de vigne so Judy and I spent one morning making peach jam (which has gone very stiff), peach chutney and peaches preserved in peach brandy. Then on their return, they brought a box of tomatoes from the farm where they were staying, so I’ve made tomato sauce, and used the tomatoes in my cooking. There are still one or two left (they’re beginning to look a bit wrinkled and worse-for-wear, so I need to do something with them. I’m thinking a tomato soup might be in order for tomorrow’s lunch, perhaps…)

We helped at our friends’ cider making again – this is an annual event which is fun. They have an ancient cider press, and Mr D enjoys showing his brute force turning the handle. We turned down the offer of some of the apple juice in the hope of getting some of it at a later date when it’s fermented! This year has been a great year for apples so hopefully it will be good cider when it’s made. The juice was certainly good.

I have made loads – and loads – of Christmas cards. I plan on having a stall at the St Germain Laval early Christmas Market. Last year I was placed next to a stall selling cards at a lot less than mine were selling for – and selling a lot more cards. So this year I’ve made a lot of much simpler designs, and I’m not bothering to encase them in plastic wrap. Using a lot of things I bought cheaply, mostly from Noz (card/envelope sets, ribbons, sparkly bits, stick-ons etc) or from Casa (shiny beads and ribbons), and also using old Christmas cards from last year, plus the card that I snatched out of the bin at Michelin some time back, I have been able to make cards that have turned out to cost me not much more than 30 or 40 cents to make. I think the best buy were packets of gift tags at 30 cents for 8 – these are lovely and shiny. Stuck onto card, with a few sequinny snowflakes or stars and some calligraphy, they make a very cheap but attractive card. If I can sell them, as I’m thinking of doing,  for 1,50€ each or three for 4€  I should make a tidy profit. I’ve also done more  “Bonnes Fetes de Fin d’Année” cards , which seems to be the tradition here in France, rather than Joyeux Noel . I’ve got some stock left over from last year too which I’m going to try to sell.

this one uses a gift tag. I made 8 of these for about 20cents each

This is another one using a gift tag plus some Indian craft paper

I’ve also decorated and plastificated (is that a proper word, I wonder?) some notebooks and address books:

What else? I’ve done a little cycling – a long ride with the club, of 43 km, which nearly killed me (slight exaggeration, but you get the idea!) plus another quite hard ride by myself. That was shorter, but there was a tough uphill in it. Doing it by myself meant I could do 500m at a time then stop for a rest, which is my way of getting up hills. Mr D thinks this is not a good way, and that one should find one’s rhythm and just keep lugging away. I can do that now on shallow climbs, but not this one. It’s too steep: my lungs and legs won’t let me just keep plugging away. I should do more cycling, but I am definitely a reluctant cyclist.

My sister and her husband gave me 50€ towards the Challenge, so I am so very nearly there now! As another friend has promised to make up the sum to 1,000€ I think we can safely say that not only did I cycle my 1,000 km but I raised my 1,000€ too!  The news on Richard’s trial is a bit – well, I’m not too sure what!  He has said that he hopes that the election of a new President, who has announced a zero tolerance attitude towards corruption, might work in his favour. I can’t really say much more,  but do ask for your continuing prayers for Richard’s situation.

So there you are. Not much going on, but I’ve caught up with you. Apologies if you’ve been returning & re-returning with the hope of a new blog post to read (that seems unlikely, but you never know…). Please don’t give up on me! I am already planning a post for Toussaint, which is tomorrow.



1,000€ for 1,000 km Challenge. FINISHED!

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

HUZZAH for me! I’ve finished! I’ve completed my Cycling 1,000 km in 6 months Challenge – with 4 days to go!!! And, rather fittingly, on the day that we hear Richard has been found “Not Guilty” of the drugs charges in Zambia. Unfortunately, he is still charged with stealing his own property (don’t ask…) and stands trial for this in October, but we are still Very Pleased that the first hurdle is passed.

Here are three photos.

Here’s the odometer reading 1,000.

Here’s a happy me. I won’t say how many times I took an “at arms’ length” photo until I was satisfied that you couldn’t see my double chin!!!

and here is where I was when the odometer ticked over from 999 to 1000 (though I should admit that I had pootled about a bit to make sure it happened here! But it did seem properly fitting.) You can see the Trusty Bike propped up.

I don’t think I’ve made the 1,000€ I was hoping for, although various people have promised vague amounts of money “when you’ve finished” so I may manage to collect a bit more, but I think I’ve probably collected about 600-700€. Which is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. I’m sure the Chisomo Community SCHOOL will be very happy to use the money to the benefit of the PUPILS.

Now. Will I ever get on the bike again, do you think…? Place your bets, Ladies and Gentlemen, place your bets!

Happy, dancing Dormouse

Monday, August 15th, 2011

I am a happy Dormouse on two counts today. Number 1 is that last week I received a little package from the workshop of Susan Faye at 365catladies I won her “Giveaway” of some stickers to go on the back of leters (D’oh! I’ve just realised I sent a letter to mum today and forgot to put a sticker on the back!) I love Susan’s work – so whimsical and cat-based. I’d love to have one of her custom pieces, with George, Milly and Pomme – and maybe a little “angelic” Pumpkin as well. Maybe when we feel a little bit richer! So a big thank you to Susan for my gift. I love it!

The second reason I’m feeling happy is due to the generosity of the Cyclo Club. They collected money for my cycle challenge, and came up with the princely sum of 208€ for me. That is so fantastic! I will really have to bake more cakes in gratitude. I’ve not done a count up recently, but certainly with this donation, I’m coming close to 600€, and maybe even more. I really must do a proper calculation sometime soon, but for now a huge big dancing Thank YOU! goes to Les Cyclos de St Just En Chevalet.

Having shown you some of my creations yesterday I thought I’d show you the mess in which they were created.

(Don’t forget you can click on the photos to get the full glory of the mess that is my study. These just show you half of the chaos!)

Every time I say “I’ll put things away between each card” and I never do! The piles on the desk get bigger and I spend time searching for pens/knives/glue etc under the piles of paper etc! Still, somehow I manage to keep creating – although I hate tidying away after myself.

Four-fifths completed

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Despite not wanting to, I forced my lazy butt out on the bike – and while it was hard, I enjoyed it (mosrly) and I’m glad I went.

I did 20 km which took me up to 800 km completed. I feel confident I should reach the 1,000 km easily by the end of August. The question is, will Richard be here to receive the money in person? I pray so.

I don’t want to!

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

It’s 3.32 pm, it’s grey, my back hurts, my student’s coming in two hours, I don’t WANT to!

5 reasons why I don’t want to go out cycling.

Haven’t been for almost two weeks. It’ll be hard. I don’t WANT to!

3 more reasons.

…and next week I’m not working, so I’ll go out every other day. And I have less than 250 km to go, and a month to do it in. I don’t WANT to.

3 more.

See you after the ride, then…Sigh.


Sunday, July 17th, 2011

I’ve been making quite a lot of cards as I’m planning on having a stall at the Huge Brocante and Vide Grenier next weekend. And then we have the Artisanat Expo d’été, with the theme of Noah’s Ark. I’ve made quite a few animal/bird themed cards for that, and some “vintage/shabby chic” type for next weekend.

But today I’ve made a one-off card for next weekend. It’s the wedding of two of our Cyclo Club members. We’ve been invited to form a guard of honour after the Mass, so we’ll turn up, hot and sweaty after our ride, to hold our pumps aloft (or whatever). I will need to buy a club shirt by then or else I’ll look very out of place. So I’ve made a card for Liliane and his bride (who’s name, I’m embarrassed to admit, I’ve forgotten)

I’m not sure how well you can see it, so here’s a slightly closer-up:

The unpleasant green/yellow/red mix on the maillots is not my choice – it’s our Club colours. Icky, but noticeable when you’re out on the road! And a translation of the roadsign: “Happiness”.


Bastille Day + 1

Friday, July 15th, 2011

I’m having a lovely, lovely long weekend – the only thing spoiling it is the concern over the car. It’s been in the garage since last Friday, and the Garagiste seems rather vague about what the problem is. He thought (or the diagnostic computery reader machine told him) that it was the injector (? Don’t ask me) was the problem. But today I learn that having replaced that, there’s still a problem. Ho,hum, it’s sounding more & more expensive. Then we face the decision of whether, having spent however-much-it’s-going-to-cost we then live with it for longer, or we buy a new car. This one is starting to go wrong more times than we really like – it’s been in the garage for fairly major things twice in the past year, and now requires 4 new tyres, and the cruise control is becoming less reliable. It has done a lot of kilometres, and trolls up and down the motorway most days. Maybe it’s time to think of another one…

Anyway – yesterday was Bank Holiday here in France, and today is le Pont (the Bridge) So a lot of places are closed today, including the Language school where I work. Yesterday I went out on the bike (fairly reluctantly, I must say!) and added another 28 km to the total. I’m now within 7 km of reaching three quarters of the 1,000 kilometre target. News about Chisomo below. We then went up to Alison & Gèrôme’s for a barbecue. I’d not seen Alison for ages so it was good to have a natter and to catch up. The food was yummy and the atmosphere relaxed. We went out for a walk with Marvin-the-Puppy and the kids and had a lovely time. I was knackered when we got home and spent a good hour and a half dozing, before watching the first episode of “Torchwood”. Which, I think on reflection, I enjoyed. I’d eaten so much at lunchtime that my tea consisted of a couple of handfuls of peanuts!

News from Chisomo, the Community School, is not good. Or rather, news about Richard, our friend and link to the school, isn’t good. I can’t – both because I don’t know details and because I’m not sure how wise it is to do so – go into detail but Richard has been arrested, falsely accused and is standing trial for, amongst other things, drug dealing and money laundering.

On consideration, I’ve edited this post a little. Maybe it’s best not to be quite so open with details about an ongoing trial.

Suffice to say, Richard needs your prayers, so if you are of a praying frame of mind, please pray for a swift and just outcome to the trial.

Apparently, when he was being questioned, the police said “You’re the kind of foreigner we don’t want here.”

“What?” Richard replied. “The kind who spend their own money helping the poorest members of the community?”

One of the saddest things for me is that there are church leaders who appear to be opposing Richard in his work, and who may well be implicated in his false arrest.

Anyway, let’s hope that when I finish my ride at the end of August I’ll be able to celebrate not just raising money, but being able to give it to Richard in person. It will be a terrible thing if he is found guilty.

Off With the Cyclo Club. Part 2.

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

I think I left you on Saturday night. And so we come to Sunday morning…which is when I said I would ride. Mr D had planned a route, which, he said, followed the Voie Vert (a cycle track following the old railway tracks.) Flat, he said. And, to be fair, that part was flat. The other parts weren’t quite so flat.

Dark words were muttered by all members of the group as we turned a corner and saw an ascent that must have been 1:10. (Well, I say that, but in reality I have no idea what  a 1:10 slope looks like. But it sounds steep. And this was steep.) It was so steep that four of us wobbled to an immediate halt as we tried desperately to change down to the granniest of granny gears without managing it. Roger had a little more success, and got about 50 metres up the road before he came to a wibbly stop, failed to get his feet out of his toe-clips and fell off his bike. Luckily the banks at the side of the road were also steep and grassy, so he didn’t actually fall very far, and ended up leaning at an angle against the grassy verge! The four of us pushed our bikes up the hill for about 500 metres, as it was too steep to get back on the bikes. Only Scary Daniel had managed to keep going, through fierce determination, and he was patiently wating for us at the top of the hill. Then we continued down hill, along road, round the roundabout then heading for home… back to the Voie Vert and only the 2km hill back to the holiday village.

Or So I Thought.

But no, Mr D had kindly popped a small mountain into the route. I was cursing  as I whooped for breath cycling up it.  Even in Total Granny Gear I had to stop for a breather, and a swig of lemon squash…but I managed it! Huzzah For Me! There were choruses of “Merci Monsieur D!” when I reached the top, breathlessly threatening to mercilessly slaughter my husband of 26 years. But by the time I got back I was really so elated that I’d completed the route, that my ritual beating of Mr D with my water bidon was quite half hearted.

Many people had decided not to cycle on Sunday morning, opting for the 8 km hike (poor Mr D had no choice as his bike was dead) or a stroll to the nearest village. The weather was so much beter than yesterday’s – blue sky and sunshine. I’m glad I opted to cycle today!

We got showered, rather hastily, in the one chalet that we’d not yet cleared out of, and then congregated ready for lunch. More of the traditional apero was consumed together with chestnut-and-apple salad, unidentified meat in sauce and vegetables, cheese, tart-and-yoghurt and coffee. We sat out in the sunshine and chatted. Gilles (our friend who had managed the Col de Pas de Peyrol yesterday) was really pleased with himself and saying he deserved a medal. So we decided to make him one and to present it to him next Friday (well, actually, as I’m writing this, it’s now last Friday, but it was next Friday then. IF you see what I mean!)

Then on the coach to head for home, via Salers. Salers is a lovely Medieval town. And is the centre of a proud cheese making industry. So first, we went to visit a Buron which is an old cheese making place.: it’s a shepherd’s hut, now converted into a museum. Actually first we went for a rather roundabout trip in the Cantal countryside as our bus driver got lost. He carried out a spectacular several-point-turn in a narrow country lane. I was very impressed. Anyway, when we reached the Buron we were able to taste Salers cheese (very nice) and various liquers too. I was pleased that I (on thewhole) managed to follow the guide’s rapid fire commentary too.

Here are some of us, having enjoyed our liqueur tasting. We bought some crème de framboise but none of the gentian based Salers liqueur. Claire went a bit mad and bought tons of cheese (we bought a modest 300g or so, but she was buying for her family of three hungry teenagers!) and a couple of bottles of stuff.

And here is the view of the valley where it was situated. Very beautiful.

It was up in those mountains (and along this valley) that the Guys had cycled in mist/rain/hail/ cold the day before. I think they preferred today’s mode of transport!

We then went to Salers – a very lovely town. Mr D wanted to look at the buildings, but I’m afraid Cathy, Claire & I (and Steve to a certain degree) got very excited about shops! Claire was definitely in spending mood. I bought myself a very nice bracelet and was tempted by some copper engraved earrings, but resisted temptation. I gave Mr D the camera, but the battery died, so he didn’t have much luck. Still,

here is a picture to give you an idea of what it’s like. We had our picnic just outside the village – all provided by the Cyclo club, it was delicious. The younger members of the party amused themselves by having a cherry-stone-spitting competition. I joined in, and they were most impressed until they turned round to look at me in mid “spit” and discovered I was only making a ptoui! noise and throwing the stones! Curses! Foiled again!

Then we were on the road home. We got back to St Just at about 11.15 – I was very aware that I had to be up again at 5.15 the next morning, but it was, all-in-all, a very enjoyable weekend away.

Here is my picture of the Chateau we went to on Saturday:

and here are a couple of pictures from some walks I’ve done in the past few weeks. The puppy is Marvin, and belongs to Alison & Gerome. He is a dear little thing.

This is a view of the old railway viaduct at Juré. It was a lovely walk – just about my distance, with a pause for a cup of tea with friends!

The lamb crossing the bridge rather tickled me!

So there you are. I really need to go and work now, as I’ve got a new student tomorrow, and I have no idea what I’m doing with him.

Footnote: we presented Gilles with his medal on Friday night, up at Steve & Cathy’s. He was very pleased and didn’t take it off all evening. I meant to take the camera up, but forgot. Tant pis.