Posts Tagged ‘Friends’

Grow Your Blog 2014 – plus a giveaway

Saturday, 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…!!)

Behind the Photos

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

I’m lacking time & inspiration today, so here’s a random dip into my photographs.

These photos were taken at the end of March last year, when Cathy and I went down to near Clermont to do a walk. I think that I had a lesson in the morning, and then we met up for lunch and went to the Plateau of Gergovie for a rather blowy walk.

IMG_1183

IMG_1184

This is the view of Puy de Dome from the track.

The walk was probably only about 5 km long but it is a lovely place, high above Clermont, with beautiful views along the valley of the river Allier towards Issoire. I remember we had a drink in the café at the monument that you can see behind Cathy; she was askig me how to say words in French, and I was trying to answer…but my French isn’t that good and the people on the table next to us were killing themselves laughing! In the end, I appealed to them for help, and we ended up having a nice conversation.

The monument celebrates the heroic stand made by Vercingetorix (supposedly an inspiration for Asterix the Gaul) against the Romans.

Getting those doors wide open!

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

There is a reason for a picture of a piratical weasel (though maybe not for the fact he’s clutching a large piece of cheese) which you will discover later on.

 

I spent last weekend in the company of some pretty awesome women, at Ange’s “Opening Doors” workshop, over near Toulouse. This was my “bike” (MrD bought himself a super swish bike; I go away for a motivational weekend: both purchases do us good in different ways!) , using a tax rebte, birthday money (counting chickens there!) and some earnings from the summer. It was great.

 

I took the train to Toulouse – a lovely smooth journey, and was picked up by Ange at Toulouse station; I spent a relaxing afternoon basking in the sunshine, meeting her dogs, dozing (I had been up at 5.45 am for my train!), meeting her family from school and hanging out her washing! Then we set off for Lavaur and the lovely gite La Passerelle

 

Here we met properly: there were 6 participants and Ange, who is skilled in leading weekends such as this. Over several glasses of wine and a home cooked meal we bonded a little, discovering each others personalities and generally enjoying each others’ company. I won’t say much about people – respecting privacy and all that – but we were aged from 29 to 54, all Anglophones (thank goodness!),  British, French, Kiwi and Australian, with a mix of jobs including a yoga teacher and an English teacher , and we all brought different skills, insights and stories.

 

On Saturday morning we started by talking about an object that was precious to us, and why it said something about us. Then Ange spoke about how we all have “pirates” – those voices that have grown up with us, that we have taken on board, and allow to sit on our shoulders whispering words like can’t…shouldn’t…mustn’t…whoever told you that!…why do you think you can do that?…etc Without “blaming” people, we explored how these pirates came to be so strong, how our childhood and our life-experiences have affected how we think…and a little about how we might deal with them.

 

Now, while I like the “pirate” picture, I imagine these voices as rather snidey little weasels – probably from a performance of Wind in the Willows that Mr D and I saw in the theatre, where the Weasels frequently came on stage, looked shifty and made a sound I can’t really reproduce in type: a kind of “fffffffffffffffttt!” sound. I also think “weaselly” is a brilliant adjective. So I now imagine these voices as Piratical Weasels (or, possibly, Weaselly Pirates) Hence the picture at the top of the post.

 

These sessions were a little “deep” but we were well supplied with comfort, in the form of coffee, biscuits, chocolate and a superb lunch, cooked and delivered by a local lady. And a tiny tad of wine! In the evening we went into Lavaur to share a lovely meal in a very nice restaurant. I had some delicious duck: mmmmmmm.

 

The next morning was much easier, but no less searching than Saturday: we identified our “heart felt dreams” and visualised succeeding. We talked about how we would feel, and we did some bad ass Weasel Kicking!  Finally, having identified a quotation that really spoke to us, we created a piece of art work to hang at home to inspire us, to challenge us, to put the Piratical Weasels in their place. It was interesting that for me there were two quotations that spoke to me:

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you’ve imagined!

 

It’s not because things are difficult that we don’t dare to do them; it’s because we don’t dare that things are difficult.

 

One I felt was “easier” than the other, but it was the other that called me back again, and again. The word that called to me and made me feel both scared yet ready for “battle”, the word that I would not ever apply to my life.

 

So I did!

dare

This is my art work – there was some real daring going on with it too. There were certain aspects that I found difficult to do – yet, having dared to try them, I  found they are the parts that really worked. Thanks to Ange for her encouragement to “go for it”!

 

After the wonderful weekend, I then had the privilege of meeting Floss and her family, as they offered me a lovely family meal and a bed for the night, as my train didn’t leave until 13h on Monday. I actually ended up teaching (well, classroom assisting) with Floss as she taught at the Ecole Superieur during the morning. It was interesting seeing another teacher working and also to work with the students themselves. Thank you, Floss for the kind and generous welcome! (And Ben, and Sons 1 & 2.* Plus various animals)

 

And now, after a hectic week when I feel like I didn’t have time to breathe, I need to inwardly digest what I learned during the weekend, and to make a start on realising my Heartfelt Dream. My companions have offered to help me on the first steps, but I need to keep brushing those weasels from off my shoulder. One of the women there had a beautifully gallic “brush off” gesture, whenever she talked about her “pirates”: I have already adopted a similar gesture when I’m aware of those  weaselly pirates whispering in my ear

Don’t be too ambitious…perhaps you should just accept you can’t…it’s not THAT good, you know…

 

Get thee behind me, Weasel!

 

If you’re interested in finding out more yourself about Ange’s workshops you can go to her blog, Signed by Ange, and read more

* The boys do have names, but as Floss refers to them thus on her blog, I thought it best to do the same!

The name’s Catwoman. Dormouse Catwoman.*

Friday, August 30th, 2013

Last Saturday our friends Jean and Clare had a fancy dress party to celebrate the “opening” of their Games Room/Living room extension. They have been renovating a large house since we’ve known them, and had the main body of the building beautifully completed and ready to live in a few years back. Since then, besides running the Livery Stable business, Jean has been building/ renovting the extension, which now provides a lovely sitting room with beautiful views and a games room with a full-size snooker table.

 

L'ALLEE

Here’s the house, all decked out with lights. The window of the sitting room is to the right.

 

So to celebrate, they held a James Bond evening. Their children (14 and 16) were trained as croupiers, by our friend who actually IS a croupier, and there were games of Poker, roulette, black jack and “Battail” to play with pretend money. They had made an astonishing array of cocktails

IMG_1740

and lots of delicious food too.

 

IMG_1739

Here are Jean and Clare (Is that a genuine Vernin tartan? I suspect not!) and their children, posing in a very James Bond fashion next to the fridge!

 

Some people had really gone to town on their costumes,Cathy made her own dress – simply stunning!

Cathy

Others had made slightly less effort and had just popped on a cocktail frock or DJ (but that’s fine…) Here are some of our friends in their outfits  IMG_1741IMG_1742

 

 

 

Catwoman

This last photo shows me and Mr D – Mr D is suave in his suit (plus a plate of pizza). me, I look faintly ridiculous, with diamanté cat ears, a bow round my neck, a cat tail and cat make-up. I was wearing several cats slung around my neck. (and my walking stick, which didn’t really help with the slinky cat-like-ness I was hoping to convey, but never mind!) So, who was I?

 

Most of the French people there looked at me in confusion, thinking “Poor woman. She has confused James Bond with another superhero. She has come as Cat Woman”. all the English looked at me and said “Oh, of course – Pussy Galore!” The difficulties of translating jokes and double entendres…

 

 

Joe is the croupier at the Roulette wheel:

 

IMG_1743

 

while Alison (who does this for her day job – or rather, her night job, as she works nights!)is  dealing for Bataille:

IMG_1744

Part way through the evening – about 10.30 –  we all trooped out to the end of Jean & Clare’s land to watch the Village Fete fireworks. Now that sounds an easy thing to do, but when you’ve had one or two too many cocktails, and are hampered by a bad back and a stick (or very high heels, depending on who you are) getting to the end of the land, avoiding the deposits made by the horses and the rogue broom bushes, isn’t quite that easy!

 

Because L’Allée is higher than the village we were actually viewing the fireworks from above – which was a bit wierd, TBH. We couldn’t hear the stirring music, and I think we lost some of the “thrill”. But the natural fireworks of a thunderstorm going on over towards Lyon was very impressive!!

 

Mr D and I left at about 1.30 just as the dancing started – he, because he doesn’t dance, and me because, with my bad back, I was in no state to dance. We had a really great evening!

*(In case you missed the reference, it’s from the famous James Bond line “The name’s Bond. James Bond“)

Spending time with friends

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

I love how a simple evening can be so enjoyable. We were at Cathy’s last night – she has friends staying, and invited us to share a meal and to watch “Skyfall” on the Big Screen. I got home from teaching and we zipped up – taking a quiche I’d made (using half-a-jar of coconut curry sauce in the savoury custard, and a bag of flaked crab-sticks, plus various veggies – it was nicer than it sounds!) and a white-chocolate-and-ginger-cheesecake (which is rapidly becoming my go-to signature dessert, taking over from banoffi pie)

We started with a vegetable soup – very yummy – made by one of Cathy’s visitors, had the quiche with salad (and Cathy had made another veggie quiche as well) and then dessert. We sat with coffee and watched James Bond.

Nothing special, but made special all the same, with good food  and good company. We don’t do it enough…

Time for tea!

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Fraise Lachrymose has invited us all to tea, to celebrate the return of the Willows Three to PomPom. Tempting though it is to lay out the best china, and indulge myself, Friday is my Fast Day – so no cakes for me.

However, if I had the dress (and the figure!) I would be wearing this:

or maybe this

I would be drinking my tea from this tea service

and enjoying these delicacies

or these

or even (because I’m in France) these

But instead, I’m wearing jeans and a thick jumper, drinking 52 calorie a mug Cup-a-Soup and waiting formy next student to ring me for his phone lesson. Sigh.

I hope everyone has a lovely time, and I look forward to reading more about the Wind in the Willows book on PomPom’s blog.

Here are Mole and Ratty enjoying a picnic tea – perhaps we could gatecrash their teatime treats!

Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

Sunday, September 16th, 2012

Last week ended on a bit of a do. I’ve had really bad sciatica recently – so that I could hardly walk – and I finally heaved myself to the doctor after my kiné (physiotherapist) said he wanted me to have an MRI scan. She was a little mystified as to why I’d struggled around in huge amounts of pain, self medicating on paracetemol and codeine for a week. Put like that, I kind-of wondered myself. Anyway, she gave me two really strong painkillers (each one a slow release over 12 hours relief) and a prescription for a scan. I dutifully took my painkillers – hey! they worked! – and the next day drove into Clermont for a meeting about the work situation(for those who don’t know, I work in Clermont Ferrand, some 80 km from home). I had lunch and afterwards, started to feel really dopey – my head was full of cotton wool – and so I put my head on the desk and dozed for half an hour.

 

Then we went to the meeting, and I was feeling odder and odder – my head was whirling, I was getting waves of hot sweat, and I couldn’ t concentrate. Finally, it just seemed easier not to bother trying, and I let go – my head went bam onto the table in front of me and panic ensued. I could hear what was going on, apparently  from a great distance away, as everyone rushed round wondering what to do,  and I was vaguely feeling guilty about it all, but again, couldn’t be bothered lifting my head up. It all seemed like too much effort! The emergency doctor was called – he wanted to speak to me before he came out. Yeah, right, as though I was in any state to be talking French! – and he gave me an ECG and said that one of the painkillers was probably the cause, and yes, it affects many people this way. Poor Mr D had to rush round trying to find someone with a car to drive him down so he could pick up me and the car – even I admitted that I couldn’t really drive back in this state!

So on Friday evening I certainly didn’t feel like cooking. I had a slice of bread and went to bed. I slept for 12 hours, and yesterday still felt a bit out-of-it. I’m better today, but I can’t look at computer screens or TV for very long without feeling a bit wierd. (Though I managed the marathon 3 hour Coronation Street omnibus yesterday afternoon!

Yesterday evening we were invited to go to clients of Mr D for aperos. In this part of the world, we’re never quite sure whether aperos is just drinks or more. In fact, on thinking about it, Mr D agreed that possibly Alicia had said “aperos-diner” so we went prepared to eat – so I took my painkillers to have mid meal, as instructed (these are the “good painkillers” not the nasty evil make-you-fall-over painkillers, which I had taken back to the Pharmacy)(where they also said, “Yes, they affect a lot of people that way” – so why the heck are they still being prescribed?!)

I was also relieved that Mr D had brought a pack of creme de marrons back from Shopi-soon-to-be-Carrefour-Contact.

Why? Because I don’t like it…which meant I decided to make a cake to take with us, full of creme de marrons. And I discovered that everyone else who had been invited (another 5 couples) all brought something along -a savoury cake of ham and olives/sliced sausage/little madeleines/apero goats’ cheeses etc. I don’t think this is obligatory…but I was sure glad that I had something to offer as well! We had drinks, and nibbles and then a guided tour around the house that they are restoring to become a very upmarket Chambres d’Hotes. After, Cedric produced some little verrines with a mixture of smoked salmon, cucumber and creme fraiche, then sausages, andouillettes and pancakes full of vegetables. I’ve never been a fan of andouillettes but with a good spoonful of mustard, I managed to swallow them, much to the admiration of other French people who refused them!

Finally, there were two more little verrines, a chocolate mousse in one and a layered dessert of speculoos biscuit, apple and creme fraiche in the other. Very nice. Coffee, and marron cake, and peach-and-almond cake (that someone else brought) . And then out came the liquers …this is where I don’t do very well. I don’t like the strong eau-de-vie type liquers that are very popular after dinner drinks here – mostly homemade! So they were drinking some fairly noxious mix of eau de vie/banana/cinnamon/cumin and then the Poire Willem came out…

It was almost midnight and I was dropping. I could make the excuse of my medicine causing me to drop off – next time I won’t be so lucky! Around here, I’m afraid folk love a late night, chewing the fat over liquers until two, or even three in the morning. I remember a friend’s birthday party that went on until 6.00 am the next day (we’d left a good 5 hours before that, and had missed the cutting of the birthday cake which happened at about 2 am!) We plead the “we’re English light-weights” card, but I always feel it’s rude!

Today, I’m just relaxing and not doing much. We did a bit of cleaning between us (Mr D did the heavier stuff. I just dusted, weilded the vacuum cleaner and then sat down moaning that my leg hurts.

So that’s been my weekend. How’s yours been?


 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

It’s a piece of cake…

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Gilles is the owner/manager of the local mini-supermarket, Shopi. When I first met him, I was very wary of him, as he seemed a little “eccentric” to say the least! He always tried to speak English to me – very, VERY bad English! – and would corner me against the charcuterie, while attempting a conversation, of which I understood 5% at best! As we have got to know him, mostly through the Cycle Club, we have come to be good friends, and while he still tries to speak English to us, we now know that it is because he tries to speak English to everyone, regardless of whether they are French, English or Uzbekhistani! He will always greet them with a strangled “‘Ello! ‘Ow arrrrrre yoooooooo?”

He is funny, generous, and, yes, very eccentric!

It is his birthday on Saturday, and we have been invited to a restaurant with him and his girlfriend, Sylvie (who is remarkably chic and sane next to tall gangling Gilles). We wondered what to get him, and have come up with a mixed bag of goodies…a Union Jack lamp, very similar to this:

some B-D (bande dessiné) books about “Les Anglais”, and these plates, which I have decorated myself, with a Foodie/Learn-English-as-you-eat theme:

don’t spill the beans…that’s a different kettle of fish…you are as nutty as a fruitcake, and:

It’s a piece of cake…don’t cry over spilled milk…you are the best thing since sliced bread…

I’m really pleased with them! I’m thinking I may try to make some for us sometime. They were really easy to do, using a special pen, to write on porcelein, and they become dishwasher-proof after 3 days. I got the idea from this site, where Kelly wrote song lyrics on her plates. This is Kelly’s wonderful plate:

I decided to stick to a more simple layout than Kelly’s, so that it was clearer to read, but I’m certainly going to experiment with other layouts and designs. I’ve already drawn a sheep plate and will do some more to try to sell at a Craft fair next month.

What fun!