Posts Tagged ‘Village Life’

I’m very excited!

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

…and maybe just a bit “sad”!I am typing this from my dear little Tabby. Now I’ll be able to blog wherever I am. What a thrill for you all! I am at home,in front of the fire, nursing a rather stinky cold, while Mr D watches the football and tries to whistle with his fingers in his mouth (as you do on a murky Sunday afternoon!) My good intentions to go to church on the second Sunday of the month came to nought as I finally surfaced, snuffling and coughing, at 9.00. Probably a good thing -I wouldn’t wvant to be responsible for giving this to the congregation via the kiss of peace. I am having a few problems moving the cursor, which makes deleting difficult. Please excuse the random letters at the end of the post! e.

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We’re getting a new car

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

As I mentioned a while back, our Citroen C4 died on me, rather inconveniently, on my way to a lesson, down in Clermont Ferrand. I had to call out a tow truck (thankfully on the insurance) but after a few days (weeks) the Garagiste told us that the car was dead: it needed a new engine, some other garage (and we think we know which, but have no way of proving it) did a botched job on a repair, and this finally meant that the engine was kaput.

Our good friend Jean came with his trusty 4×4 and a trailer borrowed from the local garage (who, bless them, wouldn’t take any money) and drove our car back to St Just, where it sits, going nowhere for the moment, up at L’Allée (the hamlet where Jean lives and where Steve & Cathy have their second home). Mr D plans to put it on E-Bay where hopefully someone who has a C4 engine but no C4 will see it and want to buy it.

We decided to buy a second hand car in the UK, as cars there are about half the price of second hand cars here. There’ll be the minor inconvenienceof it being right hand drive, but as most of the driving it does is motorway driving, I doubt it will make much difference. Car parking where you have to take a ticket won’t be easy when there’s only the driver, but for the Péage on the motorway we have a box which is read as you go through. Steve (who is a Garagiste in the UK) has been enormously helpful, and Mr D has waded through listings of many, many cars. Yesterday we heard that he’d got us a Honda Civic. Mr D had already booked his flights to go over to collect it, so he was quite relieved that there’s a car to collect! I took him to the airport today, and I’ve just received a text from him reading: “Here safely on time. Been for a curry. The car is great.” (You should know that one of the things we really miss here is a good restaurant curry. Every time we go to the UK it is imperative that we go out for at least one curry!)

So, while Mr D is scoffing curry and driving our new car round the country (and going to Tesco to buy all the things on my shopping list, which included Tunnocks caramel wafers, baked beans and naan bread) I’m home alone with the cats.

Driving back from the airport was enjoyable. Instead of hacking down the motorway as I usually do after work, I took the Route Nationale It was a sunny day, and I was on a road I didn’t know, going at a leisurely pace (in the car we’ve borrowed you don’t really have much choice BUT to go at a leisurely pace!) I really felt like I was on holiday! I really enjoyed myself. I called in at Carrefour on the way back and I’ve bought a couple of books to use with my students next year. One, which I thought was a straight story book, seems to be more complicated than that, with instructions to go to different chapters/pages depending on whether your grammar is correct! I may need to study it carefully!

And yesterday I did a 40 km ride. It was, at the beginning, a total nightmare. For the first 25 km I had nothing in my legs. I wobbled up a hill at 6 kph – a hill I’ve done before at double the speed (still not fast, but hey! it’s not too bad!) – and at times I was almost in tears. But when, at 10 km from home, Odette turned left instead of right I swore quite vehemently, as I knew that meant more Up and at least an extra 5 km. But I finally found a bit of something in my legs, and I really enjoyed the final 15 km or so. I’ve only got 63 km to go. I’m wondering about doing 999 km and waiting till we know Richard is safe before doing the final 1 km, but that won’t really be practical, as I’m planning on carrying on cycling (I think) after I’ve completed the 1,000 km – at least until the Gentleman (a race) in September ( see here for my post about last year’s Gentlemen)

Anyway. It’s getting late. I’m off to bed.

No…it’s still other peoples’ tat.

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

Today it’s our annual Vide Grenier/Brocante/Bourse aux timbres et cartes postales (that is Attic Sale/bric-a-brac/ Stamp & PostCard Sale). As I read several blogs where the authors find charming things in such places, I decided to try to look around with Floss’ eyes. I did see some pretty china, but generally, I’m afraid that most of it was still other peoples’ tat to me.

We have a lot of Stuff in the house so if I bought more it would just be more stuff to dust (tho’ to be fair, there’s not a lot of that going on in our house, and what there is is done by Mr D!) We haven’t a huge amount of storage space either. And I’ve not got the “eye” to imagine where it might be displayed.

However, I did force myself to poke about a bit and I ended up with a few things which I can use on cards. But I discovered I’m rubbish at haggling! I bought a job-lot for 2€ including a pin with about 10 tiny religious medals, a watch face and a wedding ring. I wonder whose it was…

I bought two old books, one with pictures in, and one printed on lovely thick paper. While I don’t like the idea of destroying books, these too could be used for my “vintage-shabby chic” range of cards. These cost me the grand sum of 60 cents for both. I bought four post cards too – one is a reproduction, with cute kittens clambering over tins. One is a publicité card for a shop, one is a reproduction of a 1935 postcard of Paris, and the last is a card with a drawing of owls. Le Grand-Duc de Virginie otherwise known as the Great Horned Owl. This is for my mum…because she doesn’t collect owls. (A bit of a family joke) The four cards cost me 1€ And a book for 1€ about dolphins. This is in really good condition, and is a gift for Alison & Gérôme’s son, Flynn, who is 8 today. I’ve already bought him a T-shirt and a bundle of lollipops, so I think that should do. I’ve not got round to making his card though.

But generally, I’m afraid it’s still just Other Peoples’ Tat. Sorry Floss!

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.

How shall I keep from singing..

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

The Chorales of Les Vallées de l’Aix et Isable and Le Pays d’Urfé – I sing in the second, but we are partners with the first – went to sing at a concert in a little village the other side of Montbrison last night.

There were two other choirs, the host choir and a group from St Etienne. A pleasant (mostly) evening was passed – I say “mostly” as the St Etienne chorale was a little low on numbers and tried some songs which perhaps demanded more technique than they were capable of. We sang a number of songs of various genres – some of which are far too fast for my English tongue and I still find myself tripping up over the words!

After the singing was done, there was, as usual, a get together with food (delicious home made pizza, quiche and saucisson, followed by cherry cake and tarte aux pommes) and drink. Which included something which was called (I think) The Bowl of Friendship. This was an enormous preserving pan of eau de vie which they had set light to  (yes, you heard correctly set light to it) during the interval and by the end it was  warming to the cockles of the heart.

But the nicest thing – and this is why I love the Chorale group – is that,while people were mingling and chatting at the end, two of our members produced their accordians (as you do…) and started singing. They just love to sing…! Of course, people joined in until there was a large group all singing along with traditional songs (and some not so traditional) We had the French version of “There’s A Hole in my Bucket”, and the rather tedious song from La Boheme which includes the words  “Faria, Faria, Ho!rather too many times, as well as other songs that I don’t know. Then came the sadly now inevitable chants of “Al-i-son! Al-i-son!”  (that’s me) and I had to lead them all in a chorus of “An Austrian went Yodelling” (You can google this if you wish to know more) This is now my Party Piece which is performed with great hilarity at every gathering.

Then, on the way home on the coach there was more singing – including “There Was A farmer Had a Dog”  and “In A Forest In A Wood” (any Infant teachers out there should know these songs!) When I recounted this to Mr D he did enquire as to how much of the Bowl of Friendship had been imbibed by our two Chorale groups…But I think that, while quantities of strong drink may have added to the conviviality, it is simply that the group loves to sing. It’s great.

I’m thinking of trying to teach them “On Ilkley Moor baht’at” next…! 🙂

St Just En Chevalet twinned with Appleby (?)

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

Not really, but I believe that Appleby-in-Cumbria has a famous horse fair, and today was the Foire Aux Cheveaux (I had to check that my French was correct and I hadn’t just told you that St Just was having a Hair Fair (hair = cheveux) It’s not my favourite day as I get a little upset for the Poor Patient Ponies who stand out all day – and I fear that many may be heading for the abbatoir as well. Particularly the sweet donkeys (though I do have to admit to having eaten a delicious donkey sausage…but I did feel quite bad about it afterwards)…I am a Mass of Contradictions with my meat eating, so we won’t go there!

I took my English student around the fair this morning, as he was being distracted by all the horses outside the window. He wasn’t very chatty, but I did tell him the legend of the cross on the donkey’s back.  Friends were displaying their race horse this afternoon, but I arrived too late to see him. There are only a few horses left in the square now, but at about 9.00 this morning this was the view from our house:

and more arrived as the morning continued. Bizarrely there was also a llama:

who I think must have been very hot as he had extremely fluffy fur on his back.  He was very dinky, and I would have happily bought him – except I’m not sure he’d have got on with the cats…though they might have found his back made a very comfortable bed!

There were also miniature goats for sale, and mini rabbits too. I had a conversation with a little girl, where we divvied out the rabbits. She was going to have all the white ones and I could have the ones left over. When I apologised for my French she gravely said “ce n’est pas grave. Je comprends” (TR: “It’s OK, I understand you”) and then wittered away in rapid fire French. I think she was divvying out the goats as well, and saying “I’ll fight you for the llama”, but I can’t be sure!

And, of course, as at any French event there were other stalls.

This one, right outside the house, was selling fruit – I bought some delicious looking strawberries for tea – but there were also craft stalls, a Peruvian knitwear stall, tacky jewellery, quilts and artisan soap makers. I bought some plants from the local primary school stall, which I promptly planted. A lavender and four other plants which I don’t know the names of but I think are pinks and marguerites of some sort. They’re in pots. We’ll see how they go.

I was planning on taking some more “arty” shots, but didn’t, so here’s one more view of the square this morning:

I do hope not too many went to make meat. 🙁

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!

Lucky Me! Part 2

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

I received my other OWOH “door prize” at the weekend… Lynne, over at this site, has sent me some beautiful beads. My photography isn’t good, so I shall direct you to my earlier post where you can see a photograph of the Star of the show. But that wasn’t all I received from Lynne. Oh no! I also received enough matching/coordinating beads to add to my necklace, plus a delightful fish bead. He is all googly eyes with a splendid tail. How talented Lynne is to make such gorgeous things. I am so grateful to Lisa who organised OWOH, as I met some interesting Bloggers and received two fab prizes. I still haven’t decided how to spend my vouchers yet…

I’m in the process of making two “Thank You” cards, for Lynne and Amanda, but my Sunday crafting was interrupted. I’d forgotten I’d agreed to go to the Loto afternoon at the local collège. There’s 4 hours of my life I won’t get back! Not exactly the most scinitillating of afternoons, although it was good to spend time with friends I’d not seen for a while – during the winter we do tend to hibernate a little, but with the coming of Spring, we’re beginning to emerge, a little crumpled and still sleepy…Things will liven up soon, I’m sure! Anyway, I’ll finish the cards next weekend (no time before then, I’m afraid. I just have this window of this morning to do my ironing, prepare for a meeting of the Artisans on Thursday, catch up on my blogging & emails, then off to work I go.  Otherwise this week’s a little bit full.)

What other news? None, really. Our friends, Cathy & Steve, will be out here soon for Easter – and a bit longer. That’ll be nice. We tend to be a bit more sociable when they’re here, simply because they’re sort-of on holiday. (Only sort-of, as they’re renovating their house and have to work on it. But they’re a little less pressured than us what live ‘ere all the time…and this rubs off on us a bit too. ) Richard has left for the UK and Zambia. He is also renovating a house near St Just, but is the link between us and Chisomo – the school I’m supporting with my 1K km 4 1K€ challenge . So friends are coming and going. ..and helpfully bring us goodies from the UK when they come back! We don’t really miss, or need, many of the things they bring, but it is nice to have little tastes of home. For me, it includes Tunnock’s Caramel wafers

and Branston Baked Beans, plus a couple of English glossies – Good Housekeeping, She, Olive, Good Food…that sort of thing. I like some good curry sauces & naan breads too: not quite as good as a takeaway, but almost. For Mr D it’s Assam tea, English beer (damn, I forgot to ask Cathy for that! Must remember to ask Richard instead!), and maybe a Saturday Guardian. For Gerome, who is French but lived in the UK for many years, it’s definitely Custard Creams!

Pomme is happy, sitting on the Z-Bed in the sunshine – somewhere where George is unlikely to mither her – while Millie is snoozing on the back of the sofa downstairs. George, typical adolescent, is mooching around, looking for trouble.

And I am not really looking forward to work. I’m teaching a Module at the moment – 1.5 hours every day, same time, same place, same students. I’m not really enjoying it, but I don’t know why: maybe it’s the regularity, or the method I’m using, or maybe the fact that with one student way better than the other two, and obviously a bit bored, I don’t feel I’m doing the best for him. The other two are OK, because the method is about the right level for them, reviewing & revising stuff they need to practice, but for the 3rd student it’s stuff he’s very confident with, and so he’s a bit grumpy and not engaged in the lessons. But there’s not much I can do: I’ve been instructed to teach to the level of the weaker students, so C. has to lump it, really. I console myself with the fact he’s learning vocabulary, as he busily writes down the idiomatic phrases and business language that they’re learning. But I still feel he’s in the wrong group – but it’s up to him to speak to the Language Centre and change groups, not me.

So that’s where we are. Sunshiney and bright today as well. Spring is On It’s Way!

Because I can!

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Thanks to the hard working peeps at Wibsite I can now insert photos again (Thanks guys!) So here’s a photo of the lovely blue bead that I have won as part of One World One Heart.

And here (as promised) is Mr D (Cub Reporter)’s first article from the paper. Woo-hoo!

Should’ve gone yesterday

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Yesterday was a lovely day – blue skies, sunshine…but cold. I stayed in, watched the Coronation Street omnibus, read my book(which I finished today, having started it yesterday! I really enjoyed it.), watched a recording of “The Other Boleyn Girl” and went on the bike trainer. I thought about going for a walk, but decided to go today instead.

And today is grey, miserable…and even colder! I feel most disinclined to go out. But I really ought to, if only to gather extra calories for My Fitness Pal! Then I can have that glass of wine with my beef casserole, mashed potatoes, roast butternut squash and oven baked cabbage.  Also I’ve got a box full of cooked vegetable peelings for the chickens.

I have started another book.

You can tell I've just learned how to do these links?!

I really like Mark Radcliffe’s show (with Stuart Maconie) on Radio 2 – see link to the side. I’d recommend anyone who likes slightly quirky humour, and good modern music to listen. I’m not totally convinced by the writing style: it’s a little too conversational for me, but we shall see. I’m not that far into it yet.

The Dan Waddell was great: a crime thriller (which I enjoy) linked with genealogy (which I find interesting). There wasn’t exactly a “twist” but I got to the important link a few pages before the protagonists did. If you like crime thrillers I’d say it was worth giving it a go. It doesn’t require a lot of concentration (as opposed to, say, Rebus) but is a good read. There’s another one in the series, so I’ll add that to my Books I Want to Buy List. (currently standing at 16)