Posts Tagged ‘happy things’

Santa found his lost packages!

Saturday, 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

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…!!)


Friday, November 1st, 2013

Why do I blog? Somebody asked me this question a while back, and I’ve been thinking about it for a while. To be honest, I’m not really sure: I started, thinking it would be a way for our friends and relatives to find out what we’re doing over here in France – but I’m not really sure how many Real Life friends or relatives read my blog. They rarely comment if they do read it!

It is a rather narcissistic pasttime, blogging: you imagine that people “out there” who you have never met, might be interested in what you have to say.  You get excitedwhen someone comments – especially if it’s a supportive comment, that shows that they have read your words and understood what you’re trying to say. I suppose part of the reason I blog is because I love writing – and a blog is easier than a novel. It’s more immediate, it’s possibly less effort, although I do know that some people spend a long time crafting the “perfect” blog post. I certainly don’t (“You can tell!” they all chorus in disapproval!) – I type as I think, and possibly read it once before pressing “Publish” but other than that, my blog posts stand (or fall) as I write them.


I must admit to being slightly envious of those blogs where the writers are sent various things to review – one blogger I read was given a free cruise on the cruise ship Ventura,  for heaven’s sake!


How lucky is that?! Others receive vouchers for clothes sites, food to try, etc etc. I’m not saying I’m blogging for what I can get out of it, but it would be lovely to have freebies like that! But this isn’t a high profile blog, with Facebook/ Pinterest/ Twitter links on it – mainly because I have no idea how to put links on a blog! – but rather a homely little blog on a wide ranging number of themes.  However, if anyone does wish to  bribe me, I’m open to offers!


Naturally, we all want to be loved, and the comments that people leave are always a delight to read. Those of you who read and comment: thank you. I often remonstrate with myself when I visit other people’s blogs and don’t comment. Knowing how pleased I am to receive an alert saying that there is a new comment, I really should make more effort to leave messages on other people’s posts. There is always the feeling of “I’ve got nothing to add to this post/discussion” but, if other bloggers are like myself, just the fact that someone has taken the time to comment is very pleasing. So don’t hesitate to leave a message!


This is all a rather roundabout way of introducing the Grow Your Blog event that blogger Vicki is organising for January 2014. She did this last January, and it was lovely to visit lots of other blogs that I might not have found otherwise. I “followed” some, and bookmarked others. Some I still visit on a regular basis, others were a glimpse of someone else’s world which I haven’t repeated – rather like when you pass an uncurtained, lit up wndow in winter. You catch a snapshot of another life, which you don’t ever see again, but which leaves an impression, fleeting or otherwise.


Vicki is an incredibly generous and talented blogger, who gives away fantastic gifts -I was lucky enough to receive one if these beautiful bags in her giveaway in spring –


and this year she has been collecting pink scarves from people all over the world to give to breast cancer sufferers and survivors in her home area. The amount of work she has put into this project is amazing, and the photos she has taken of these scarves are beautiful. She creates bespoke fabric “nests”, which are not my cup of tea, but which I can appreciate for the skill, work and love that goes into each one.


The idea is that people visit and “follow” your blog, if they think it is the kind of blog they would like – I guess it is a type of networking! Here on the wibsite there isn’t the possibility of Followers, but I hope that people do bookmark the page if they like what they see, and pop back from time to time. If you are a blogger and would like to join in, why not pop over to Vicki and sign up.



Why do I blog? I’m not sure – but I have received some great benefits.

I have, through blogging, met some interesting people – recently  I stayed with Floss and her family, and last November we had the privilege of welcoming a young cyclist to stay thanks to Mags linking to his blog as he cycled from Istanbul to Belfast (as you do!)  –

I HAVE recieved lovely gifts (so actually, yes, I do get freebies!) as I’ve taken part in swops, giveaways and Secret Santa exchanges

I have found some interesting blogs showing me glimpses of different lives: single parenthood, frugal living, ministry in the USA, fashion and cooking – I have favourite blogs I go back to day after day, loving the stories of PON puppies growing up in the SW of France, marvelling at the skill and patience of a special needs teacher in the US,  loving the joyousness of PomPom’s posts about simple family values and the wisdom of Angela’s posts about her life. I love the challenge and optimism of Ange’s blog as well Now I’ve started I want to link to so many more blogs that I read…! I hope that you will click on one or two of the links yourselves and discover new glimpses of lives that you didn’t know existed…

Blogging is fun. And I think I would really miss it if I didn’t do it.

Happy Birthday to Me!

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Yesterday I turned another page in the Book of Ages and became 54. Inside I’m not that old, although sometimes my body (mostly my knee!) feels about 10 years older!

My main gift was my wonderful weekend away – and we have our first get together on Sunday afternoon. I’ll be joining the others via Skype – and the money I’ve received from my Mum and MiL will go into the bank account to pay for this. Mr D and the cats also treated me to a bottle of champagne and a box of chocolates. From my SiL & family I received an amazing box FULL of crafting goodies – peel offs, glittery bits, flowers, doilies, card stock, tags and paper galore!

My dear friend sent me a block of pretty papers to use in crafting,

and Danièle gave me a box of hand made paper note-cards, which I will probaby use in card making too. Cathy gave me a box of chocolates as well. So I was very lucky.


We are probably going out for a meal tomorrow as well with our friends Louis and Odette. Not sure where, but I hope it will be somewhere nice!!!


So, even though I was working I had a lovely birthday. Now, if I can get inspired, I’m going to try to make some use of these lovely crafting supplies!

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!


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.



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


and lots of delicious food too.



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!


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





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:




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


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“)

A Walk in the Pilat

Monday, August 26th, 2013

Often when we have visitors we take them on a “Pilat Day”. The Pilat mountains are about 80km away from us, beyond St Etienne, and we have refined our day out to be very enjoyable.


We went there on Friday with MiL. My bad back was getting better, thanks to pain killers, and to the fact that I have been doing some walking (very slow but it has definitely helped) so I thought I’d be able to manage the day.

First we drive to Rochetaillée, a small village above St Etienne, and from there to “Le Gouffre d’Enfer” (“The Chasm of Hell”) which is actually a really lovely gorge, which leads to a barrage.

Mr D and MiL were walking faster than I, so they went on ahead while I walked slowly. I thought it would take me longer to reach the bottom of the dam, but I was there in 10 minutes. Feeling okay I decided to climb the steps up the side of this edifice. It was built in 1862 and the resevoir still provides water for St Etienne. It took me about 10 minutes to wend my way to the top, but I was pleased when I got there. It was another 20 minutes or so back to the car, where I sat and read my book, waiting for the others who had walked around the resevoir itself. As I returned to the car I kicked myself (mentally) as I had forgotten to take any photos.


After this, we return to Rochetaillée and go to the Auberge de Rochetaillée, for their lovely rapées (a type of rosti) with a chive-and-yoghurt sauce and a glass of chilled beer. We love this place for its 1950s style décor (although looking at pictures, it seems to have been done up a bit) and the amazing view from its windows

Unfortunately it was closed for holidays, so we went to a pizzeria instead. Mr D and I both chose the Pizza du Saison – which had girolle mushrooms, artichoke hearts, parma ham and shavings of parmesan – lush!


The next part of our “Pilat Day” takes us to the high ground above Le Bessat, from whence one can often see for miles. Again Mr D and MiL went ahead while I walked at a slower pace, but this time I did remember my camera.


Mr D & MiL get to the Table d’orientation before me


I wish I could recreate the scents and sounds – the sun was warm, and the bees were busy in the clover and heather that covered the tops. The constant buzz was overlain by the  sawing noise of the crickets which stopped abruptly as I stepped near one. Every now and then one would leap high out of the grass, or off the path, a rapid movement which just caught the corner of my eye. The scent of warm heather and scrubland herbs wafted in the breeze – it was delicious!


There had been a sign warning us of Troupeaux en Estival (Herds on sumer pastures) and here I met some of those Troupeaux taking advantage of the shade.

I met up with Mr D and MiL and we went to complete our “Pilat Day” by taking tea and Tarte aux Myrtilles at a restaurant at the Col de la Croix de Chaubouret

Here there is an amazing selection of tea – I chose a black tea, flavoured with red fruits such as myrtille and blackberries, while MiL had a green tea with cherry and raspberry leaves infused in it. The Tarte aux myrtilles came with a myrtille sorbet as well. Delicious!

That brings us to the end of our “Pilat Day” – quite a lot of walking, interspersed with delicious food and drink! This time it was a little different, as the auberge was closed, but we had a lovely time nonetheless!

And as the walking obviously did my back no harm at all, I have to ruefully admit that I need to do more exercise. So I will stop what I’m doing and go out for a 30 minute stroll around the village.


Happy, happy dance!

Monday, May 6th, 2013

I just want to show off my lovely earrings that I received as a gift from Rachel over at Blue Finch Jewelry after the Grow Your Blog event. She designed and made earrings for everyone who commented on her blog post. How generous is that?!



they came attached to a sweet little finch shaped card…IMG_1438


and beautifully presented in a silver box, which I am keeping safe to use again! Thank you so much, Rachel!


You can go over to Fat Dormouse to find out about how else I’vebeen really lucky recently. I really am one happy, happy Dormouse.

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…

Goodness me!

Friday, March 8th, 2013

I’ve got MORE work! The company I had an interview with a few weeks back phoned last week and asked if I was interested in telephone lessons. Yes please! So I’ve got 3 hours a week with them, and that, I’m guessing, might rise if they’re happy with what I do. They’re paying me 6€ an hour more than the other company too, so I hope I get more work with them!

I’ve also got another 30 minutes a week with the first company, taking me up to 22 hours a week WHEN everyone is having lessons, although there’s one guy who does a lot of travelling, and so isn’t around very often. But when he is he has 2 hours a week. I’ve also got a couple of 7-hour days booked with ILS, my old company, for whom I’m already doing 3 hours a week. So generally, we’re doing OK.

MrD has applied for a few jobs too, and is waiting to hear from them. Fingers crossed we may be a fully employed family again soon.

It does mean I need to be very disciplined in keeping my lesson preparation up-to-date (although it’s easier to blag a phone lesson for half an hour than a 2-hour face-to-face lesson!) and I am going to have to timetable in some exercise on the days I’m at home, even if it’s a quick 30 minute walk around the village.  Otherwise I could find myself glued to my chair all day. I’ve been sitting on my fat a*se without doing anything for too long – although, to be fair, the last couple of weeks were because I couldn’t do anything with my back problems.

Oh, I haven’t told you how these nigh-on-miraculously disappeared! Last Monday I was in a great deal of pain; I managed to drive to Clermont for my lesson, I managed to teach and to be taught (French lesson), but by hometime, I could hardly lift my feet to walk, so was almost shuffling. I reached home and was practically weeping with pain, as I’d run out of major painkillers and was existing on paracetemol and ibuprofen. I went to bed fairly early, and went to sleep, waking from time to time to shift position. On Tuesday morning I woke up, got carefully out of bed and realised I was painfree. Absolutely pain free. A little stiff, but no pain.  I still can’t quite believe it, how comprehensively I was healed, but I was. So (no excuses) I really do need to keep this back moving.

That’s not me. I don’t think I could jump that high!