Tuesday, 30 September 2008

I am so lucky

Just a short post today, but I just had to tell the world how very lucky I am to have such wonderful daughters. My eldest, Vicki, had blogged yesterday just saying due to family circumstances she couldn't get out to keep a hair appointment which she desperately needed. One of the girls was unwell and couldn't go to nursery and this was the only time she could get to the hairdressers. That was all, just stating a fact.

This morning she got a call from her sister, my youngest Clare, at 8am to say that she was on her way and that Vicki should get ready to go to have her hair done. To anyone not familiar with the roads in the UK, this is a trip on the M25, in rush hour when it is usually a car park, so I'm sure Clare would have had to leave her house probably before 7am, though I don't know that for sure. Vicki kept her appointment and Clare went straight back home to work. Sisterly love, there's nothing like it. Just thinking about what she did brings a lump to my throat.

Thank you girls for being who you are and just know that I love you both very much and I'm very proud of you.

Monday, 29 September 2008

A new family member

We have had a good weekend and today started really well until lunchtime. We went to the market this morning and then a bit of shopping and back to a snack lunch and Richard was cutting the cheese and managed somehow to nearly cut off the top of his finger. After quite a while of trying to stem the red stuff we decided a trip to the doctor was needed where he had 3 stitches!! The doctor, who could speak a little english, said that seeing he had been such a brave little soldier, he was going to present him with a poupee (little doll), our new family member for a while, which you can now see in the photo, good having a doctor with a sense of humour. Joking aside, it was very nasty and we are just hoping that he won't lose the feeling in the top of his finger. I've heard of different ways of getting out of the washing up, but this one takes the biscuit.

Well, tomorrow sees us going for another french lesson and we have been busy doing our homework this afternoon, sitting in the sunshine which was glorious. The sunshine, not the homework! We have been learning our verbs and it will be interesting to see if we are tested on them in the morning. Ho hum..... all in a good cause.

Progress on "the room" is moving along but to be honest, we sit up in it every night as it is so comfortable and there is a wonderful view of the sunset from one of the windows. We are wondering how we are going to warm it in the winter though as it is very chilly in there in the morning and late evening. We are also putting our thinking caps on as to what to call it. When people come to stay we can put a bed in there and there is an en-suite bathroom, but just for the two of us, it is just our "hanging out" room. What do you call a room like that? I am usually doing my sewing and Richard is working on his family tree and we have a radio going with various stories being told or of course the Archers. We don't have a television so it is just a lovely peaceful space.
Today I took a photo of this cute little tree frog and I am amazed how they change their colour at this time of year. I didn't know that. When I looked closely he still has the beautiful bright green on his underside and on the inside of his legs. Can anyone tell me, do they hibernate during the winter, I would assume so. I will miss all the noises they make. I keep promising myself that I will keep a notebook and jot down all the different birds, creatures and animals we see in the garden. Why don't I do that? We were looking in the pond today and there were quite a few footprints which we are taking to be deer. I suppose it could be wild boar, what prints do they make? Anyway, it certainly wasn't Smokey.
Talk again soon everyone, I hope you and yours are well.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Into the Lions Den

Just a short post today, but I thought I would give all my family and friends at home, also anyone else reading this who can relate to my tale, a really good chuckle. I even called my mum and dad and my poor dad nearly peed his pants he was laughing so much. I told them that I have now been accepted into the village because I had just come back from a tupperware party held at the mayor's mother's house!! Tupperware is really "the thing" over here in France at the moment, and when I was living in the UK, it was "the thing" in the 80's and I have a cupboard full and probably a couple of suitcases full as well. After running to the loo a few times in the afternoon, I finally plucked up courage and made the walk to Josette's. I couldn't even say the car broke down because she only lives next door; a little walk, perhaps 100 yards, but nevertheless it seemed miles to me that afternoon. I knew there was no-one there who could speak english so I learned how to introduce myself, say I was Josette's neighbour, pleased to meet them etc. After that I was stuck. I understood a fair bit but just couldn't get the sentances together to have a good old gossip and it is so annoying. Roll on the next french lesson.

It turned out to be a very pleasant couple of hours and they certainly had fun and laughed a lot, perhaps at me, I don't know, but they were desperate to include me in everything. When leaving I was told there was to be another type of party next month, so we'll see!! I had never heard of this one so perhaps I should just go along to check it out. Hopefully after that experience I may have earned a few brownie points just for walking into the lions den.

Talk again soon everyone, the Archers has finished, everything is shut up for the night so it must be time for my book.

Monday, 22 September 2008

A week gone by? Surely not

Here I am again and I can't believe that a week has passed since I last posted. I was telling you we were going for our first french lesson, and here we are, madly doing our homework, dreading another lesson tomorrow. Although to be fair, it was good to be finally at lessons, albeit letting us know just how little we have improved since we have been here. This was made very obvious yesterday when we were at a village lunch, at the invitation of the mayor and trying to understand just a little of what was being said around us. The day was glorious, very very hot and we were all seated (about 120 people) in the meadow behind the church next to the river and under the trees. Oh!! if only we could have joined in more of the fun and laughter that was going on, how very frustrating for us and for them when they were trying to talk to us. We will improve but my goodness it is going to take some time.

Richard and I sit up in "our room" in the evenings and I usually sew or prepare my blocks for quilting and I even tried out my sewing machine last night and managed a very respectable satin stitch, and Richard reads or, at the moment, he is going through a lot of his family's papers and documents. It's wonderful because we even have letters written by the family and they are dated 1765 and the way of writing is just glorious and the handwriting itself beautiful, although we can't decipher all of it. I think we may have a document or two for our son-in-law Kenny to scan and put into the family archives. We are so lucky to have him do this for us because they are then put onto discs for safe keeping and of course the rest of the family can have copies.

Today I made some Pear Chutney. Very strange........... Not sure I want to try it because it looks so odd, but I did as the recipe told me so we will see. Tomorrow I am trying Spicy Apple Chutney so perhaps that will look a bit better. The trouble is you have to keep it for a while before you can try it, to let the flavours come out (so it says). Oh yes, my leeks!!! they are all standing up like little soldiers to attention. If they have only been in a couple of weeks, when can I pick some, anyone tell me? You can tell we haven't done this before can't you?

Well it is now time for an early night because we have to be up at 6.30am ready to be picked up at 8am to go for our lesson. The trouble with an early night is, I get to reading my book and I can't put it down and last night it was very late when I turned the light out. When you have a good book and are tucked up in bed, it's the best thing isn't it? Goodnight and God bless to all my family and friends and anyone who is good enough to come by and read my blog. Thank you.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Nearly There

We have had a few really hectic days preparing, staining and waxing floors in the room, and finally picking up my sewing cupboard. It was like a jigsaw puzzle for Richard to put together, there is rather a lot of it, but we managed it in the end. Then was the problem of finding all the boxes that have been in store of all my craft "stuff". I call it "stuff" because I had forgotten just how much I had got. Where on earth was I going to put it all........still, first things first, to make a start. The pictures below are 1) of the cupboard closed with bookcases exposed. 2) doors open to reveal lots of drawers etc. but with the table still packed in and 3) with the table down ready to go. There are still a few more bits and pieces to it, another little table behind me, for ironing etc, and where the sewing machine is, there is a light box that fits into the hole there so it is flat with the table top.

The very sad thing is, I have forgotten how to use my sewing machine. I bought it just after I had left work, ready for my retirement and it has a few bells and whistles, but, not a clue what to do with it. I think it is going to take rather a lot of time to get used to it again.

Richard and I are going for our first official french lesson in the morning and we are rather anxious about it. We have got to do something, because although we muddle through, I would love to be able to "chat" with our neighbours. Wish us luck.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Leek and Potato Soup Anyone?

Gosh, can you believe I'm here again. Weeks of not posting and now I seem to have verbal diarrhoea. Still a woman has to do what a woman has to do. I'm very excited because we have got a coat of stain on the floor in "the room" and Richard has cut most of the skirting boards so a little further forward.

Today has seen me planting the leeks that we bought from the market yesterday. So far I have planted 70, I chose the ones that looked the healthiest and thickest and I must still have about 30 left. The question is, do I plant them or not? 70 leeks ........ Hmmmmmm. I hope I have put them far enough apart, 6-8" and I did as they said, popped them in the hole and just watered, that's why they look all floppy. Well, I THINK that's why they look all floppy!! The significance of the old football is the fact that this is the bed where we buried our lovely border collie Dizzy and I swear her spirit comes out at night sometimes because we find the ball all over the place :-) I had a word with her and she is going to look after the leeks for us, so fingers crossed. Another of life's challenges which we will overcome I'm sure. Anyone for leek and potato soup in a few month's time???? While I was out there Smokey came along to keep an eye on me but I think he got rather bored. He just follows us everywhere and even while Richard was staining the floor he was in there with him.
Because I have posted a few times in the last week there isn't an awful lot more for me to chat about so I had better go and catch up with everyone elses news. See you soon. Hello to all my family who are reading this. Miss you guys and love you lots. Jess, Smokey says hello.

Monday, 8 September 2008

A surprise for the sisters

We have just had Richard's 2 sisters here for lunch and the eldest of them lives in London and has only had a short stay over here, so it was really good to be able to show her what we have been doing to the house. We told them we had a surprise for them and they just didn't know what to expect. Well................. to say they were pleased was an understatement.

While we were back in the UK last time, we were going through some boxes that we still have in store at Clare and Kenny's house up in their attic. There are things like old family photographs etc. but there was also a very old tin which had an old cine tape in it. We brought it downstairs and Kenny and Richard looked at it but we couldn't tell what it was, so thought nothing more about it. When Richard was at my dad's birthday party (you know the one I couldn't go to!!) Richard was asked to go into another room as Kenny had something to show him. Would you believe that he had sent off this film, only about 40 seconds of it, and it was the marriage of Richard's parents!! I'm not sure you can imagine the reaction of Richard's sisters when they saw this, but Kenny, if you are reading this, they have looked at it over a dozen times so far and Sue recognized more people than we did. We can't thank you enough for doing this for us, especially as we had no idea it was being done. How lucky are we to have such a thoughtful son-in-law. I know it is his business, but to see what he can do with old photos, negatives and slides is just amazing. Let's face it, my sister and I wouldn't have had such a lovely gift to give to my dad if it hadn't been for his expertise. We also showed Sue and Judy a lot of old photographs which Kenny had put on a disc for us, so now Sue has taken her discs back to London with some wonderful memories of her parents.

It is very hot today and Richard is sanding the floor in "the room" reading for staining and polishing, then it is moving my sewing cupboard in there!! I will take some photos when it's in situ. I can't wait because now there are a lot of things I could make for the house, curtains, cushion covers etc and it means I can have my sewing maching available at all times. Actually, forget the curtains and cushion covers, I really, really, really want to get back to my quilting. If my friend Sharlene is reading this, she will completely understand.

On another subject completely, I bought some leek plants at the market today, so when it cools down a bit I am going to have a go at planting them. Never done this before and I have read that I make a hole with a dibber, place the plant in, water but don't fill in the hole ??? Strange but there you go, that was in my Country Living magazine which my lovely daughter buys for me as a Christmas gift. Is there anything nicer than having a monthly magazine plop through your letterbox for a whole year? Christmas for 12 months......... bliss. Must go, need to hoover "the room" of all the dust.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Catching up at last

At last we are catching up after being away. This week has found us doing various things in the garden, tying up tomatoes, chasing squash around the lawn where they have crawled like triffids!!! What is it with those things?? We have never grown them before and it is amazing just how big they grow. They get everywhere. We will certainly know for another time. We also didn't know what type they were and they turn out to be kuri squashes, I, of course, thought they were "curry" squashes!! I need to look up now what to do with them; they are the most wonderful deep orange/almost red colour so we assume they are ready. Has anyone grown these particular ones, if so, what do I do with them?

We also had to tackle the mar (pond) which is so overgrown with bullrushes again, even though our friends had taken a lot out before we went back to the UK. Richard put on his waders again and we had a good clear out of weed and rushes. Our neighbours had put 2 goldfish in there quite a while back and so far we have only seen one. Yes I know it could be a different one each time, but I'm sure we only have one now. We'll see. We now have the task of cutting up the weed and rushes and getting it ready to go onto the garden and compost, as it's been on the side of the pond long enough for all the little creatures to crawl out. It's hilarious watching Smokey while we are working because every time a frog jumps out, there he goes and if he catches it, they obviously taste foul and you should see his face. Bless him, he is an absolute joy. You will see from the photo that the pond is rather deep but luckily the water has dropped a lot and it slopes away. Richard is going to the deep end there. It starts ankle deep and then it goes up to the top of his legs and he is 6' 4".

Today we had a few things going on in the village, a vide grenier for one. Sorry if I have spelt this wrong). This is like a large car boot sale and the atmosphere was fantastic, there is music playing everywhere, and there was lunch being cooked which was €7 for 3 courses and wine, and everyone is laughing and joking and generally having a brilliant time. While the musicians were playing, a lot of people were dancing and it was incredible just watching them having such fun in the freedom of the lovely sunshine. I will put a picture up but I don't think it is going to do it justice. The french certainly know how to enjoy themselves and music is a great part of that enjoyment.
Tomorrow is market day and while we are there I am hoping to be able to buy some leeks to put in and just see what else there is I can have a go at. No idea what you can plant at this time of year so I will just have to learn as I go along. We have Richard's sisters coming for lunch tomorrow and I am chuffed that I will be able to pick some tomatoes to put on the table. I will have to pick some figs for pudding which will go with the shortbread I have made. Oh yes! I have made some fig and ginger jam and some apple, pear and apricot chutney. Perhaps I have told you this before, if so, I'm sorry. Must go now, hope to talk again soon

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Bless him

I thought I had better post something but to be honest it is very difficult because Smokey just wants to be cuddled. so this is going to be short and sweet. Firstly he isn't micro-chipped so we can call him ours. He is about 1 year old so just a little baby which we had guessed at anyway......................................... Ooops, he is trying to get on my lap again and doing a bit of typing at the same time. He was still very wobbly when we brought him home and we can't feed him till tomorrow. To be honest, I'm not used to little boys and he looks a bit of a mess in his back end, but I'm sure that's what it is supposed to be like? Don't want to get too personal but I thought his bits would have gone? Does that take a few days? All he wants is cuddles so guess who didn't cook the dinner?? I will write more later and perhaps have a photo or two. He seems OK though. Bless them, they soon become your family don't they?? I will keep you posted. Night night one and all, just going to cuddle my cat again.