Posts Tagged ‘pootling’

Bits and Bobs

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

I haven’t really got much to say, but I really wanted to pop in to say hello.


# I went to church this morning. I enjoyed it; in fact I’d been looking forward to it all week – which is a first for quite some time. usually I’m trying to find excuses! I thought I’d set my alarm for 8.00, giving me plenty of time. But Mr D woke me at 9.10 saying “are you going to church today then?” I was up, showered, dressed (including my lace up boots that take 5 minutes to do!), coffee glugged and out of the door by 9.28. I got to church in 50 minutes, so I think I did quite well. I don’t think I got flashed by any speed cameras!!

# We had lunch at Alison’s today. Mr D made a courgette soup to take (using up some of the three monster courgettes we still have left!) and we had raclette and plum crumble. Cathy was there too, so a long, leisurely lunch was enjoyed by us all. Unfortunately for her, Alison knew she had to work this evening. We knew we could just chill out and watch Strictly Come Dancing. We may also watch some Rhod Gilbert’s Work Experience, which we have discovered on You Tube. We loved the series that was recently on BBC1, but have since discovered there were other series before this.

# One of my students has given up. I’ve been teaching her for a year, but she has no confidence in her abilities. Because of this she doesn’t work, and will meet practically every question with an immediate “je n’s’pas” (= je ne sais pas = I don’t know) Finally, as I felt I was taking money under false pretences, I said to her mum that either J had to pull her finger out, or I might as well stop. After an embarrassing few minutes when mum and J argued in front of me, I left them to decide. Mum got in touch with me during the week to say that J had decided to stop.  Less money for me, but it means I now have a gap when I can perhaps take other students.


# Another of my students has given me a haunch of wild boar, which is neatly vacuum packed and sitting in the fridge waiting for me to sort out the freezer so there’s space for it in there. I’m thinking this might be our Christmas lunch. And a lot more besides, looking at the size of it! He’s a hunter and he told me that he and his mates killed 9 wild boar and a deer at the weekend. While I don’t like the thought of it, I hypocritically like the end results.

# I made my Christmas cakes yesterday. You can read about it over here.


# That’s about it. It’s due to be warm weather this week, which will be nice (after I’ve swopped my wardrobes over!!) so I don’t think we’ll be changing to the winter duvet yet. We are getting two (sometimes three) cats sleeping with us & the bed’s getting a bit full. I wonder how we’ll manage when all four decide to join us.

Enjoying a few days of leisure

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

I decided to give myself a short Easter holiday, so cancelled my lessons for yesterday and today. I was tempted to take the whole week, but have a student who is desperate to continue his lessons as he goes to the US in a few weeks and speaks very little English. So I’ve taken pity on Albert and I’m back to work tomorrow.

On Good Friday I was working, and took along Hot Cross Buns for students and staff to try. They were a little dry – but extraordinarily sticky too! – but generally met with approval.

but I was also leading the Good Friday meditative service at church in the evening. I used a resource recommended by someone on the Ship, which was great. We passed various symbols of the crucifixion among the congregation – a crown of thorns, nails, vinegar etc – to touch, smell, taste, and I used some well chosen (thanks Mr D!) music as well.

My friend Jean made the beautiful big cross, which I shall keep now and use every Good Friday service!

Over the weekend I didn’t do much as I was still full of cold. I went for a cycle ride by myself, managing 17 km. I’m way behind target again, thanks to this cold stopping me from doing very much, but I’m not too worried. A couple of weeks’ outings with the Club and I’ll have caught up! We watched and enjoyed Doctor Who, and look forward to the rest of the series (though I do find Amy Pond very annoying) and we chilled with friends.

On Monday Cathy and I did the Marche Aux Violettes at Cremaux. This is an organised walk – there are various distances from 5.5 km to 40 km – where you pay to take part, and refreshments are provided at the start, finish and various points in between. It was a beautiful day – rain was forecast but didn’t arrive. Here are some photos:






We decided to just do the 5.5 km walk, as my feet aren’t very happy at the moment. Had there been something between 5.5 and 10 we might have been tempted by that, but there wasn’t. Unfortunately, we didn’t see many violets, but there were loads of other wild flowers and we heard frogs being amourous! Half way round we stopped for a glass of rosé (though we could have had squash, water or lemon drink as well) and some brioche-and-chocolate (apples, cakes, and biscuits also on offer!) and had another glass when we got back…Ah! The joys of France!!!

We also paid a miserly 7,50€ for a delicious coq au vin, followed by a millefeuille cake (custard slice to you!) in the local café when we reached the finish. Then I had a coffee back at Cathy’s, sitting in the sun and relaxing.

Yesterday I spent time making loads of cards. I had a great time. Here is a gallery of my cards.

And now, having made tomato soup and Coronation Chicken for lunch, I really should go and do my ironing. 🙁

ETA: I’m not sure quite WHY photos are multiplying and posting themselves several times over. But they are. Never mind. They’re quite nice photos!

Pootling on a canal boat. Part 2.

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

Having posted pictures last week, I thought I might add a bit of information about what we did and so on…

We met my in-laws – Mr D’s mum, his sister+husband+two children, and his brother + wife+1 child – and picked up the two boats (Lowri and Nerys) just outside Ellesmere, in Shropshire. We had a larger boat, for MiL, sister + family + child, and one for Mr D, me, brother + wife. The beds were not terribly comfortable – but that’s only to be expected, I guess! – but generally everything else was fine. The only real problem was not having enough space for all of us to sit and eat together. We ended up balancing plates on knees, sitting outside/half inside/perched on steps etc…but we managed!

So we pootled up towards Llangollen, going through two locks and passing over the Chirk and the Pontcysslyte (now I’m sure that spelling is wrong but I’m too lazy to google it to find out the correct spelling!) aqueducts. Pictures are posted on the last post. We moored up about 30 minutes outside lllangollen and then sailed into the Marina the next morning, giving us a day to look around. Mr D, MiL and I went to Plas Newydd (that’s the black-and-white house in the photos)and here’s a few more photos of it.

Then Mr D & I went to a great pub for lunch – The Corn Mill – we pigged out on delicious things. (Tangent: isn’t it strange how one can beso full of dinner that you can’t finish it, but still have room for a slab of barabrith bread-and-butter-pudding with vanila ice cream and apricot sauce? I maintain I have two stomachs: a dinner stomach and a pudding stomach. I certainly look fat enough to have two stomachs!!! 🙁 ) Then we decided to walk to the Horseshoe Falls – the waterfall/weir at the point on the River Dee where water feeds the canal. It was further than expected and I’m afraid I didn’t quite make it, but Mr D did. We met some ducklings which were very keen on Mr D’s bootlaces!

Later on that evening, there was much hilarity as a dog from another boat leapt into the canal basin to try to catch one of the many ducks. Of course as he swam towards them the ducks swam to another part of the marina. For all the owner called its name (“Tetley! Tetley!”) the dog refused to come back. We started to get a bit concerned, as the dog was getting very tired but stubbornly refused to come to shore. Finally a random bloke leapt into the marina and fetched Tetley out. Later, we saw Tetley wrapped, shivering, in a blanket looking rather hang dog.

We left Llangollen and returned to Ellesmere. Judith (SiL) decided that she wanted an Indian meal to celebrate her birthday, so we found one in Ellesmere. It looked a bit dubious, and the waiter started off being very dragonian with us (“Right. Drinks. Lady One, what do you want? OK, next. You, sir, what do you want…?!”) But he loosened up by the time we’d got our mains, and complimented the children on their appetites and choices. Finally he gave them a lollipop each, saying “Here you are Babies (they are 9, 10 and 12 but with sweets on offer they weren’t complaining about the soubriquet!) You are our future. Have a lollipop!” (Is that a non-sequitur? I can’t help but think so!)

We then pootled on to Whitchurch (where I persuaded Mr D to eat in a thoroughly nasty pub. He left his sausages. That shows how unpleasant it was. Mr D seldom leaves food, if it can be helped.) (I finally redeemed myself by finding a good pub in Lancashire – where Mr D chose sausages once again, but this time ate them All Up) and then turned around and pootled back to Ellesmere. Later, Mr D was thinking we should have gone the Whitchurch direction first as there are more locks that way, and the kids would have got more involved. But we all liked Llangollen and the aqueducts, so I guess it’s swings and roundabouts. The children enjoyed themselves, reading, chatting and painting, so I think it wasn’t a bad decision, per se.

Here are two paintings:

Callum's Canal-and-sunset

Matthew's "Canal Art"

I’m not including any of my rather pedestrian efforts in this!

Then Mr D and I went on to Liverpool, where we dumped our bags at mum’s then hopped on a train to the city centre. Lunch at a lovely new tapas bar, Lunya, followed by an hour’s whiz round the shops (nowhere near long enough for me!). Then “Toy Story 3” in 3-D (grown men were snuffling all around me at the end!!!) . We had 15 minutes to rush to Pret A Manger for a drink-and-a-biscuit, then back to watch “Inception” on the I-Max screen. I enjoyed both films, but preferred Toy Story! (I didn’t have to think!!!) Back home in time for a sandwich before bed (bliss! Real beds! Lots of room!)

Then on Sunday we met an old school friend for a walk along the canal (you’d think we’d had enugh of canals!) and across the fields around Lydiate for a cup of tea and a cake.

Peacock at the Tea Shop!

The following day, we (mum, Mr D and I) met up with my sister, my brother, his wife and two of their children. At a canal (what again!?) – the longest, highest, deepest tunnel (or was that the highest, longest, deepest?!) in the UK. see HERE for details (Oops, sorry! I find out that we ventured into Yorkshire.) We went on a boat into the tunnel. Here is mum and Ailsa wearing their hard hats (as they sat outside the boat!)

Then we went to a pub and had a yummy meal (that’s where Mr D had his chicken and black pudding sausages. I had a fish-and-chip supper. But it was very high class fish-and-chip supper, with puréed peas (no mushy peas here!) and home made tartar sauce. And fab English bitter.) Then back to Liverpool…back to Canterbury (where MiL lives) then back to France. A good time was, I think, had by all.

Pootling on a canal boat

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

That’s what we’ve been up to. An enjoyable (though sometimes not very comfortable!) time was had by all. We went along the Llangollen canal. Here are some shots of our relaxing time away.

Just thought we’d have a change.

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

So I chose a new background theme.

I haven’t really got very much to say. (Stop heckling that person who shouted out “When do you ever?”) In fact I really ought to get off my a*se and go and do stuff. Which includes: going to the recycling bins to empty our recycling box, taking a bill for English lessons round to the students house, buying a couple of steaks for tonight’s dinner, tidying my desk – which currently has two tottering piles of unrelated papers and a heap of Christmas cards that require sorting into Use to make more Christmas cards/Use to make gift tags/Recycle – and maybe making some more cards. But instead I sit in front the computer and read other peoples’ blogs and do nothing constructive. Still…I enjoy doing it, so that can’t be all bad!

It’s not very warm up here in the study, even though we have the parafin heater going plus a fan heater. Or maybe it’s just the fact I’m sitting still.

Good Grief, this is tedious – I think I’ll shut up until I have something slightly more interesting to write about.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

Yes, together with the rest of Europe we have a lot of snow. More than we’ve seen outside of a ski resort. Yes, it’s cold. Luckily we aren’t being terribly inconvenienced by it. Living in a village we have well stocked shops, and the roads are regularly cleared – because, unlike in the UK, this is a regular event. Possibly not quite as much snow as this, but certainly it is expected to snow for three/four weeks throughout the winter, andso the councils are more prepared for it.

Collège was cancelled on Friday (YAY!HAPPY DANCE! – as my text to Mr D read when he texted me to let me know!) as the school buses were also cancelled. There was only one student from the troisième(that’s the year group I teach) who arrived for school. Which rather begs the question What happened to the (at least) other two pupils who I know live within 2 minutes walk of the school!?

Mr D is driving a friend to Lyon airport today. I’m not very happy about it, but am assured that the motorways will be cleared (we hope) and the airport is running. Whether Heathrow is open, which is where Miles is going, we don’t yet know.

Mr D’s also going ski-ing on Tuesday with some of our friends. I’m rather jealous. Not of the fact that they’re going ski-ing (Yeuch, nasty exercise!!!) but of the fact they can all just decide to go ski-ing, midweek. Mr D and J are self employed, G is unemployed and A works nights so it’s easy for them. Me, I’m buzzing up and down the motorway and going to collège. I don’t want to go ski-ing; I just want to be able to go ski-ing if I wanted to!!!!

News on the NYResolutions:

*I have managed the no alcohol rule easily. That will stay.

* The more fruit and veg is going well too. I am managing at least two portions with every meal and am conciously adding extra portions to the evening meal. Only one treat a day – usually a chocklit biskit, but sometimes a chocklit or a cereal bar.

* Exercise? Well… Bike on Thursday, tennis on Friday, nothing yesterday…Maybe a walk today to see how our poor chickens are getting on. Certinly, since the bike trainer on Thursday my back hasn’t been so happy. And I only did 15 minutes!!! I’m not a very fit person.

And my weight is too high to tell you without having to go and shoot myself afterwards. It’s still in double figures (just!!) – talking about kg here – but it’s way, way too high. So I shall just tell you what I’ve lost, when I remember to weigh myself.

Thank you for New Year’s Greetings. I recommend you go on over to Smudgie’s site ( and read the last paragraph of her Jan 1st entry. It sums up beautifully what I wish all my friends. Thanks Smudgie! (more…)

Bits ‘n’ Bobs

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

I’m starting a new ESL class tomorrow. In a bid to find some interesting ice breakers I searched t’internet and have found a couple I look forward to trying out. One of them might well be fun – put the students into pairs. Give one 2 minutes to communicate as much information about themselves as possible to their partner – without speaking. Then the partner must introduce the other to the class. I wonder what misconceptions we might end up with….

“This is Pierre. He eats cats.”                                                                                                                                          “Non, non, I said I like cats!”

The other I often play is “Truth or Lie”. I give them three facts about myself, two are lies and one is the truth. They have to ask me questions to guess which is the true fact. Then they do the same with the group (or a partner). I wonder if you can guess which is my truth from these three (I always use the same three. I’ve made quite a good little “back story” for my lies!)

  • I have met Johnny Depp.
  • I have ridden on an elephant.
  • I have paraglided from the top of Puy de Dome.


The weather here is grey and dull and November-y. Which is hardly surprising, it being November.


We had a feline visitor in church today. We were worshipping in the little Methodist chapel that we use once a month, in a village some 20 km from Thiers, where the main Temple is. As we arrived there was already much hilarity over the young cat who wanted to come in.The yoof were trying to chase it away. We started the service, and as latecomers arrived so too did the cat. It slunk in as the door opened, and then started trotting brazenly around. When it jumped on the communion table Matthias, our Pastor, took it by the scruff and ejected it, but within seconds its loud plaintive meeowing and scratching on the door forced him to allow it back in (with the proviso that if it jumped on the table again it would go out.) We gather it was hungry as its meeows became louder as it trotted around. I cuddled it for a while, but it wanted to explore. Finally the yoof were given the task of finding its owner, while I plotted how to smuggle it home if it was still around at the end of the service. Which it wasn’t, as the yoof had fulfilled their task. Dammit!


Honey and peanut chicken tonight. I wonder how that will turn out. I cooked an amazingly brilliant Spicy carrot soup. It was similar to my Spicy Coconut-and-Butternut-Squash soup, but (huzzah!) with ingredients that are more easily found in France than Butternut squash.

I’m using my Wagamama cookbook to cook for friends on Friday evening. Some of the ingredients are beyond finding, but I’ve got some reasonable substitutes in mind (e.g. Gewurtztraminer in place of sake). Others (Ramen noodles, lemongrass and Wasabi paste) are usually findable in the enormous Géant hypermarket or La Grande Fraise Marché (Does that translate as “The Enormous Strawberry”? Or maybe I’ve got its name wrong.)


And finally, some photos from the Cider making on 24th October. I look forward to trying the product at a later date.




Lost…and found.

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

We had a phone call (at 8.30 am, so that’s 7.30 UK time – she must have been happy!) from a very happy MiL: she’d found the bracelet at the bottom of her suitcase. Much rejoicing.

Just a note to say how much I enjoy reading other people’s Blogs. I don’t usually comment, as I don’t feel I’ve got much to say, but it’s good to read what folk are doing/thinking. I wish I was able to be as thoughtful and profound as many of you. I just pootle along, wittering on about inconsequential rubbish, while others amongst us are able to make thoughtful and thoughtprovoking posts. Maybe one day. But then and again, maybe (probably!) not. But thank you for making me think just a little bit more than I usually do.

And now, off to bed, I think, as I need to get up at 6.15 to drive 70-odd km for one-and-a-half hours teaching and then drive back again. It will almost cost me everything I earn in those one-and-a-half hours to teach them, as I have the motorway tolls, petrol and wear-and-tear on the Dormobile. This wasn’t the plan, but my French teacher/English student (she teaches me French, I teach her English!) is ill and can’t make the lessons we’d planned. It’s too late to cancel the lesson I have with the Boring Car Guy (all he ever wants to talk about is cars. Thankfully it’s his second-to-last lesson tomorrow) so I have to bite the bullet and go. Never mind, with my free afternoon, I will make Peach Brandy and Peach chutney with the enormous amount of peaches we’ve been given.

A quick P.S. – we’ve made our peach wine. We spent an afternoon with Michel picking peach leaves, and sampling various vintages of peach and grapefruit wine. They were both delicious, so we may be tempted to try making the Grapefruit wine (cue the Steely Dan song…) next.We were more than a little squiffy by the end of the afternoon, so I’m glad Michel was doing complicated calculations concerning the ratio of sugar to peach leaves to wine to 90% proof alcohol. Yes, we were using Ethanol in the wine – which is apparently also used in making disinfectant and in chemical engineering. Another 24 hours and we have to bottle it; then lay it down for a couple of months (at least) before sampling the wares.

More pootling

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Generally pleasant time spent with MiL and AC – although sadly MiL has lost a gold bracelet of great sentimental value. She has no idea when it might have come off, but the most likely time looks like at the market at Noirétable on Saturday when she was trying on fleeces. We phoned the Mairie – no luck, but phone back later in the week – and the Gendarmerie- closed on Monday! We’ll go back to the market next Saturday to ask the stallholder if he found it. But we don’t hold out an awful lot of hope. 🙁

We went up to our friends’ for Sunday lunch with a delicious Coq au Vin. India and Flynn, our co-Chicken owners’ children, wouldn’t eat the casserole to begin with, refusing to eat Speckled Jim. So Clare offered to fish around to find some “chicken” instead. Would they eat “chicken”? Yes, they would…! Speckled Jim made a delicious meal.

I am starting to feel the need for another cat. I have the phone number of someone advertising “Chattons à donner” (Kittens to give away) but there’s never any reply. Pomme probably won’t be too impressed, but she’s brought it on herself: if she’d share herself around a bit more I wouldn’t feel so cat-less. But she insists on sitting on Mr D, so I feel left out. She did sleep between my legs last night- I hope she was comfortable, as I certainly wasn’t!

Right. I’m not working todaty or tomorrow. Tomorrow morning is now peachwine making (deferred from Saturday), tomorrow afternoon has to be preparing for my lessons. So I really must stop procrastinating and go and do my ironing – I have practically run out of uncrumpled clothes to wear.

Can’t think of a title. Can you?

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

Isn’t it odd how one child can affect an entire class? In my class of 3eme there are 26 students; one of them, let’s call him L. , has psychological problems (I don’t quite know what these are, but I guess, in my old fashioned way, I’d call him EBD – emotionally/behaviourally disturbed) If he decides to be helpful and quiet, the class runs smoothly, as I truly believe most of the others are “on my side”. But if L. is in a strop, the others seem to take that as permission to kick off as well. Today he was quiet, and so the class went well: I don’t know if he learned anything, but at least it gave the others an opportunity to learn, without being interrupted by me constantly asking L. to stop talking/turn round/not throw things etc etc. And without others following his lead. But I don’t want to just sigh a sigh of relief because he was quiet. I want to be relieved that he learned something too. I really wish I knew how to deal with him – the other teachers just sigh “Oh, L. Yes, he’s a real problem.” and don’t give much help in how to deal with him. The Director says “Tell me if he misbehaves”, but…I’m not sure how helpful that is – and if I keep going to the Director with tales of low-level misbehaviour it makes me seem a complete wimp.

On another note, my Mother in Law arrived yesterday for a week’s stay, with Mr D’s Australian Cousin arriving on Thursday. It’s always nice to see them – I get on well with MiL and Australian Cousin. AC is actually working in London for a year (or maybe two) and so we’ll probably get to see her a couple of times. Which will be nice. They will be going out for walks, I think, while I (sigh) go out to earn the sous! Mind you, I’m not a great walker, so maybe I’d rather work. (No, on second thoughts, I don’t think that’s the case). I’m not working at the weekend though (huzzah!) so we’ll go out then – although Michel across the road has offered to show Mr D how to make vin de peche so we may go and do that. It involves rosé wine and peach leaves left to macerate.

I finally sweetened and decanted my nut wine – a month later than I should have done. Green walnuts collected around St Jean’s day (21st June, I think) were left to macerate in a mixture of red wine and eau de vie, with cinnamon sticks and lemon peel. After adding sugar and bottling them, we have to wait another couple of months before drinking. Last year, one of my students gave me a bottle of his father’s nut wine – which MiL drank most of!!! – so this is replicating his recipe. I hope it’s as nice. I will give MiL her own bottle!

We’ve been invited up to friends on Sunday – it’s coq-au-vin time. We’ll be eating Speckled Jim, which is sad in a way, but as Clare’s a good cook, she’s sure to have done him justice! Speckled Jim was one of our cockerels who went to live with Jean and Clare on their smallholding, as we falsely thought he was plucking the backs of the hens as he had his Wicked Way with them. We have since discovered that it’s Tikka (the Top Hen) who is keeping all the others in order by pecking their feathers out. She’s a rather unpleasant bossy chicken: I don’t give her the scraps when I go up to fed them. She terrorises the others into handing over their scraps instead. Having said that, she’s the only one who has produced any chicks (one of which we’ll be eating on Sunday. Speckled Jim, we salute you.) Photos of hens will follow, when I download them, but we have Raoul, the cockerel, Tikka and Masala, French and Saunders, Rosie and CouNou. They love bits of ham and were fighting over a scrap of paté en croute, but have got rather blasé about left over bread (of which there’ll be a lot today as I didn’t realise Mr D had bought a baguette, and I bought a flute. So we’ll be breaded out at lunch.)

Talking of lunch, I’d better go and make the guacamole. It’s a “Bit” lunch – carrot/sweet potato/pumpkin soup, guacamole, left over salmon and home made houmous. Bits of Stuff. And lots of bread!