Friday, 24 October 2008

Almost random

Well I fancied blogging but to be honest I am the least inspired person in the world right now so thank goodness for Moonroot tagging me.

The rules are:
Link to the person or persons who tagged you.
Post the rules on your blog.
Write six random things about yourself.
Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog
Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

So stuff whats been on my mind but not worth blogging about

1) I don't have a mobile phone
I used to have one but I was never very good at it despite having worked for a mobile network and a mobile service provider at various points in my illustrious career. I think I have told you already but I am so bad at texting that I had to turn off the beeps due to the extreme hilarity and piss taking caused by the slowness of my thumbs. Plus I just couldn't get interested in having the latest model or the best deal For one astonished telesales person who wanted to send me their latest model absolutely free and with no obligation this just didn't compute, "But what do you do when you want to talk to someone?" he stammered.

Now this is not to say that I don't get enjoyment out of mobile phones I absolutely love eavesdropping on other people's conversations on the bus. My only bug bear is the Eastern European lady who can fill a whole thirty minute journey with a non-stop monologue into her mobile. I need a translator.

2) I am not on a diet
This is one of my biggest pet peeves. Yes it's a good idea to eat a healthy balanced diet I would like it in an abstract kind of way if there was a bit less of me to go round but PLEASE when I hear people defining themselves as good or bad depending on if they had a cream bun or worse still one yes ONE chocolate I can feel myself reaching for the soap box. Get a grip people you are good if you do things that make the world a better place. Don't even get me started on those stupid magazines that alternate articles on "My Eating Disorder Hell" with photos of celebrity cellulite.

3) I am having pet withdrawal symptoms
This means that I steal cuddles from other people's pets as I go about my daily business. There are a perfect pair of labradors on my way to the bus stop a golden one and a black one both chubby and waggy and they both hang their heads over the gate to get their ears scratched. Then there is the ginger cat on my way home and the little black cat with the cut off tail. Give it another 10 years and I know I'll be mad cat woman or something.

4) I love Strictly Come Dancing
What's not to love?

5) I have not won the lottery yet
But I live in hope or is that in a dream world? Honestly I would be the perfect lottery winner it would change my life and I would live happily ever after. So if you have any influence . . .

6) I've got to go now cos Dancing with the Stars is on

So I've run out of time to nominate some people but I would like to read any and all of your six random things

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Bells and whistles

I went shopping yesterday for a birthday present for my great nephew (how old does that make me sound?). For his first birthday. Ah bless!

I ran round to the Early Learning Centre in my lunch hour and I had so much fun pressing buttons and having toys sing me nursery rhymes or flash lights or do funny sound effects. Obviously if I had any shame I would have been embarrassed.

Now before I set out I had it in mind to find something sort of sturdy and traditional you know a painted wood kind of thing. Tasteful. So what did I get?

A plastic book that sings nursery rhymes and giggles. It is pink but the giggles more than make up for that. To counteract the girlyness of the book a toy work bench with a drill that makes drill noises and has flashing red lights, a circular saw that makes circular saw noises and hammers and nails that make boing noises.

Fortunately he is not old enough yet to be totally underwhelmed by gifts from aged aunt and uncle so there is non of the usual buying for children anxiety I suppose I'd better make the most of it.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Black black

I am at the Uni again which is handy transport wise but it does mean being surrounded by 18 to 20 somethings all of whom seem to be 7 stone wet through. That is quite depressing. All of a sudden I feel old and frumpy instead of just feeling like me.

It may be my old frumpyness but I would like a long sleeved black T shirt with a V neck, not a round or a square neck or a neck with an imitation bit of blouse attached. Plain black no sparkly bits, no writing, no pattern, not ribbed not down to my knees or up round my armpits. Three quarter length sleeves would be acceptable. Can I find one? Can I buggery. Maybe I'll have to buy Peoples Friend or some other old people's magazine and send off for one mail order.

Other than my total lack of a black long sleeved T s.hirt things are just steady away

The first job I got was data input. Very boring but on the plus side they provided breakfast of toast, fruit and real coffee every day. Very civilised I thought, it almost made up for the RSI and brain death and subsidised the cost of lunch no end.

The latest is a little more varied and a little more money but I have to bring my own coffee. Also it is dangerously close to one of the student coffee bars and an abundance of danish pastries. Not good for the wallet or any hopes of ever being 7 stone wet through.

Anyway three weeks to go then I'm off home for a fortnight courtesy of a cheapie flight from Ryanair hopefully to take in some of the glorious Limousin autumn colour.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Extreme lazyness

I've been a bit quiet of late mainly because I am once again in the UK getting a bit of extra dosh and I felt a bit sulky about it to be honest but I've got over myself now. It's lucky that I can do it and that I have a brother who will pick me up at the airport and put me up in his spare room for the price of a couple of bars of French chocolate with raspberry bits in.

TS is at home looking after the gang, working and doing DIY on our house in my absence. I'm in two minds on this one. Half glad that I don't have to do it and half wanting to stick my oar in because I just can't bear not to be in charge. Actually I'm at least seven eighths glad that I don't have to do it and I can offer reams of advice and guidance by e-mail anyway.

To make sure I can play my part properly on my return I have been studying Extreme Makeover. Honestly that's the only reason. I don't really want to spend hours vegging out in front of the telly eating Martin's ice cream and crying buckets over all those tales of hardship while TS does all the work. I just want to do my bit. So whatever the house looks like I will jump up and down, scream and cry and shout Oh My God.

Come to think of it that will be fine either way won't it?

Just need to look up the French for bus driver move that bus and I'm sorted

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Pumpkins and stuff

The first of the pumpkin harvest and a busy cooking day.
Cornish pasties (nothing to do with pumpkins but anyway a batch of 14 for the freezer)
Butternut squash soup was the next on the list to be followed by an attempt at pumpkin pie.
The large orange pumpkins were from a volunteer plant. I didn't have a big enough, sharp enough knife to slice through one but TS came to the rescue with his wood splitting axe and split one in four for me.
We were so busy chopping up this pumpkin and turning it into puree that I accidently invented a new recipe, butternut squash and ginger mash. This involves a couple of cloves of garlic, an onion, a carrot, a potato, a teaspoon of ginger, lovage and coriander leaves, two butternut squashes and a litre of vegetable stock. Combine as if for soup ie sweating veg first in butter then adding stock then forget about it while you wrestle with an oversized pumpkin so that the stock is absorbed by the veg and the excess boils away and the vegetables will mash with a fork. But catch it just before it starts catching on the pan. Delicious! I might try making it on purpose next time.
Just waiting for the pumpkin pie to cool now. If we like it I've got another 5lbs of pumpkin puree on standby.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

A lazy excuse for a post


What's a cat to do?

A spot of fishing

or just sitting on a pole

take a nap in the back seat of the car with the dog

or just have a lie in

Monday, 18 August 2008

It's all gone quiet over here

I've not been feeling right chatty of late or internetty really. I've had a stash of novels non of which were stunning but I felt like burying myself in them anyway.

So whats been going on?

Well we've finally got the floor varnished downstairs in our house, the main job that we moved out to do. A little moment of sadness there as we discovered paw prints made by Mimo behind the kitchen shelves the time she got covered in green Hammerite. I've varnished over them so they will always be there now.

I've half painted the shutters, a rather nice shade of lavender I feel. Just as well. A stage of the Tour de Limousin will starting more or less outside our house next week. It wouldn't do to have scruffy shutters now would it and be lowering the tone.

It's been raining lots so a whole bucket of tomatoes have gone on the compost due to being blighted. But my carrots are huge and sweet and carroty and the pumpkins are looking prrrretty damn good (that's them hexed now).

Next big job is putting in the stairs leading up to the attic. We need some big strong men for that as we've been given a solid oak staircase and it weighs a ton. So if you're passing . . .

Petula Gordino is roosting with the rest of the Dinnerladies rather than going off on her own and is finally part of the gang. Now that they can roam at will with no neighbours to annoy they have turned their attention to the one place we don't want them which is in the house. We seem to be constantly shooing them away from the kitchen door. Perhaps they just want to be with us. It seems that wherever we go to up here we have 5 chickens, a cockerel, two kittens and the dog following along behind

It's like a budget production odf the Pied Piper.

Anyway me, the Dinnerladies, Stan, Eddie, Ernie and Sissy are off to get the washing in now

Monday, 4 August 2008

Sturdy sheep smell spooky

I thought I would have a pic of them before they went. They are all coming over for their heads scratching

Petula Gordino

I just realised you don't know what she looks like. She's a bit of a blur I'm afraid

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

My family and other people's animals

The Breezy Household has upped sticks and moved a couple of kilometres up the road to house sit for a friend who is currently somewhere between here and Scotland with five horses, four cats and two dogs. I racked my brains for something she had three of but couldn’t come up with anything. Sorry.

She has got three sheep but they are still here waiting for their new owner to pick them up. We don’t really have a clue about sheep but we are armed with a telephone number of someone who does. Anyway they don’t look too fragile. In fact they are the sturdiest sheep I’ve ever seen. They seem happy enough with a bit of fresh bedding and water and are just getting on with doing sheep stuff round the back.

We seem to have inherited Stan the cockerel and Mrs Stan who in keeping with the Dinnerladies theme is now Petula Gordino. She is keeping her distance from the Dinnerladies and roosts in one of the barns. Stan obviously has an eye for quantity over quality and roosts with our girls but goes running off every morning as soon as we let him out to search for his free spirited wife. I was entertaining thoughts of Warren x Maran chicks running around the place but judging by Stan’s behaviour I think not. He’s very good at the virile poses and the cock-a-doodle-doing but that’s as far as it goes. His love for the Dinnerladies and Petula is a pure courtly kind of love. He’ll defend them from the kittens to the death but there won’t be any of the other kind of nonsense thank you very much.

Eddie and Ernie are having the time of their lives stalking the Dinnerladies and being chased by Stan, playing at jungle warfare in the valerian, climbing trees and exploring the dark depths of the yew hedge. We no longer hear the thunder of tiny kitten feet while we are trying to get to sleep at night just have two exhausted little bundles curled up on the bed.

Now that Sissy is convinced that the two dogs, four cats, five horses are no longer about she has stopped going to sit in the car and is happily ambling around the place. The sheep are a bit scary though so she never ventures round the back of the house unaccompanied.

TS is off somewhere with a bill hook hacking through brambles exploring and looking for evidence of the fish farm that was once supposed to be here.
I’m missing my garden, especially since my replacement fork from Spear and Jackson was delivered yesterday. Still it’s only down the road. Failing that there is fifty acres to go at here.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Just pottering

I'm having a slow start today. With no need to charge off and do anything in particular I'm having a quick wander round everyone's blogs seeing what they've all been up to. Moonroot has been talking about creativity and how the Summer brings it out in her and also about the battery hens she has rescued. Read their stories I guarantee it will bring a tear to your eye.

Last year I so wanted to get everything just right and do everything that I had read about or seen on tv about self sufficiency. I spent lots of time running round in circles and I used up loads of energy worrying about how to do things instead of just getting on with it. This year I've calmed down a bit I'm the new chilled out me. I stay chilled out for oh hours at a time. With only slight episodes of veg plot envy and wishing for a finished house.

And low and behold

We have a wider range of potential food in the garden.

I'm using the food because it gets picked and I get on and make something with it.

I'm using up all the groceries I buy because I just get on and do something with them.

I have made

Redcurrant jelly - and used it with duck and in desserts

Apricot jam - with just enough apricots to make three jars instead of a boat load that put me under pressure to use them all.

Roast Aubergine and Tomato Quiche and Roast Aubergine and Tomato Soup I didn't think I liked aubergines

Beetroot Soup - a delicious surprise, who would of thought that would taste great?

oh and many curries and cornish pasties to fill up the freezer and make quick meals for working days and lots of other stuff.

Today I'm going to work in the garden till lunchtime when it gets too hot. Then cook up yesterday's shopping and whatever I get out of the garden this morning.

So sorry but I just have to get on now because next door has far more stuff growing than me.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Spear and Jackson You are great

My favourite gardening thing is my Spear and Jackson border fork. It was my treat, a really good fork stainless steel with a wooden handle all traditional looking. It made me feel like a proper gardener. At least it did till TS managed to break the handle.

I have looked in vain for a replacement handle and of course every English person I mention it to says "Ah fork handles! The Two Ronnies!". So this morning I decided to look at their web site. I e-mailed them to ask if they had a stockist near Limoges or someone who could supply one mail order to France, mentioning to TS that they were in Sheffield so were bound to be nice folks.

Well they were. I had an e mail back today to say if I supplied them with my address and an image of the fork they would send me a replacement fork under guarantee. I am amazed and delighted

For those of you who don't immediately think of the Two Ronnies whenever fork handles are mentioned

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Stan Stan he's our man

Those wonderfully well travelled chickens of ours the Dinnerladies are on holiday again.

Like all the best holidays there is deluxe accommodation, great scenery and a little bit of holiday romance.

Meet Stan. Quite dashing isn't he? He lives at our friend's house and only has one wife a very glamourous looking copper marran. He escorts her around the place pointing out to her the choicest titbits of food. They make a lovely couple. Except now she's gone broody and left him to his own devices. He was finding it all a bit depressing really.

So enter the Dinnerladies. What they lack in glamour they make up for in quantity. Stan certainly thought so, when he spotted them across the lawn in the chicken run. He couldn't get over there fast enough. It was like he'd been starving and we'd offered him bread or erm something along those lines.

We worried how they might react to each other as we opened the gate to let him in. Would there be trouble and pecking orders to be established? No need. Once in the run he struck virile poses while the Dinnerladies gathered round to admire him. You could almost hear Dolly saying "ooower he's a bit of alright isn't he Jean?"

An hour or so later our girls were back to scratching around and exploring their new run while Stan proudly stood guard.

Although I don't know how Mrs Stan is going to react when she decides to emerge from her nest in the barn.

We will be joining the Dinnerladies on vacation in a couple of weeks as our friend is moving back to the UK and we are going to stay at her house so we can empty ours out and varnish the floors. But we felt so sorry for Stan we just had to send them on ahead

Tuesday, 8 July 2008


Yesterday. It was raining. Our septic tank appeared to be full.

We were depressed.

TS bravely tackled the grease trap but no noticeable improvement and a great deal more smellyness were the only results.

I emailed some friends to ask them who had emptied their tank and how much it cost. They came back with a depressing figure of £225 euros 4 years ago. We were more depressed. So we shut the window on the stinky side of the house, opened the window on the lavender side and had some lunch.

Then the aforementioned friends called by "Had we sorted it out?" No we were depressed so we were watching an episode of Lexx and hoping it would all go away.

Diagrams were drawn and septic tank systems discussed and inevitably the discussion moved to the garden where we all stood and looked at the hatch of the offending and offensive fosse. Trying to breathe through our mouths.

The looking turned into poking about with a spade and the suggestion that the outflow could be blocked and the pipe should be followed to it's conclusion. Some hours and several deep holes later the pipe was traced to the hedge at the bottom of the garden but we just couldn't find it on the other side. Although we did find quite a lot of a Citroen (roof, windscreen, bonnet).

The next stage was to drill a hole in the pipe so that rods could be stuck in to clear any blockage and hopefully show where the exit was. After a volcanic eruption of whatever all over the tomatoes (pizza anyone?). The end was in sight. It was then simply a matter of clearing a channel for the liquid to flow on into the woods.

Friends. They get you out of the shit.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

I will say this only once

I know it's another kitten photo but this one of Eddie was just so good I can't resist.
I have a confession to make. the French lessons have fallen by the wayside due to TS having work that pays money. It's a shame but given the choice of eating and paying bills or sitting ecoutez-ing and répétez -ing it's no contest. However, all is not lost because we are plowing on with the Michel Thomas CDs. He has cleared up a lot of mysteries for me and I might finally be finding a French voice.
Than again.
Yesterday the phone rang I said "Hello". Like you do, you are perhaps thinking. But no it's not just a random choice of word it's for two reasons.
One it's probably someone English ringing and
Two if it's not then it's easier all round if the person on the other side of the phone doesn't start off with any great expectations about having a conversation.
It was a French lady so I did my usual "I'm sorry I only speak a little French but if you speak slowly then perhaps I will understand"
She asked if we had a freezer I proudly confirmed we did, Because we have. A bargain buy the other week for the princely sum of twenty euros that is so old and noisy it has to live in the barn but it makes stuff cold, really cold.
Anyway she was from a frozen food company and would we like to buy some with free delivery. Thinking of the portion of curry and brown sliced loaf that are the sole beneficieries of all the freeezy coldness going on in the barn I expressed guarded interest.
Well the upshot of the shooting my mouth off in French is that they are turning up on a Friday between 9 and 10 and may or may not be making a delivery of some stuff that may include salmon, scallops, ice cream and cauliflower. Or that could of been an example of an order. Oh and I'm not altogether sure which Friday either.
But I will be receiving a free recipe book.
I think.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Are You My Mummy?

Eddie has finally achieved his ambition of snuggling up with Sissy.

Ever since he arrived he has been trying to get close to her a prospect that has until now filled her with horror.

He jumps on the sofa, so she goes to lie on he floor, he follows her down to the floor so she gets on a chair, he jumps on the chair so she goes upstairs.

Everywhere she tries to get a bit of rest he appears.

Dr Who fans will recognise the title. For those of you not familiar well thank goodness for You Tube

Ernie in the mean time has got his own issues with the water dish.

He sticks his paw in the water and the bloody stuff makes him wet, so he hits it, so it makes him wetter, hits it harder and faster and gets wetter still. He's tried approaching it from every angle with the same result. It's always alert for sneak attacks and always gets him back.

Monday, 23 June 2008

One volunteer is worth ten pressed men

Here's our volunteer pumpkin. It could only be from the compost I dug into the garden last winter. Huge in comparrison to the ones I have coddled and nutured it's elbowing the cauliflowers out of it's way ready to go rampaging across the garden with a volunteer potato hot on it's heels.
If pumpkin pictures are just too exciting for you I do have a picture of a tomato. Sad I know but after last year's complete wash out I am thrilled to have nine (yes nine I counted them) little tomatoes appearing on one of the tomato plants. The others have some too but I haven't counted how many I have a short attention span.
We very nearly have peas too! We have leeks that are developing a distinct leekness, onions that might actually come out of the ground bigger than when we put them in, and climbing beans climbing. Also putting in an appearance are salsify, swiss chard, beetroot, carrots, cucumbers and broad beans.
In fact if it wasn't 30 degrees in the shade I would be out there weeding and coddling and praising all the little veggies and telling them just what a bang up job they are doing. But with my eyes screwed up against the sun I can choose not to see the weeds.

Monday, 16 June 2008

If you go down to the woods today

I dare you to look at the full size image!

Have we been watching too much Sci Fi ? Is that why we got the feeling that if we leant in too close it would reach up and grab us? Or maybe it did and now we are being controlled and seeking to infect others.

We think it's an Octopus Stinkhorn, a kind of fungus. It was there in all it's gory glory this morning and already by the time this picture was taken something had eaten a bit of this one and the other one a few yards away was gone entirely.

They are supposed to be edible if disagreeable. I think I'll stick to button mushrooms in a plastic punnet thank you.

Friday, 6 June 2008

More kitten stuff

Sorry but you have to hear more about Eddie and Ernie.

They are completely different in looks and personality.

Ernie (ginger) looks at least a week bigger than Eddie and is bold and easy going. He purrs all the time and jumps up and down on Eddie a lot (well what else are smaller siblings for?)

Eddie squeals over the slightest thing, Ernie jumping up and down on him, being picked up when he wants to be on the floor, being on the floor when he wants to be picked up.

You would think his big brother was bullying him but come dinner time it's Eddie who drives Ernie off the food. No surprise then that Eddie was the first kitten to manage to climb onto the dining table.

Mostly though they are either testing everything they can get their paws on to destruction or snuggled up together asleep.

TS finds them particularly helpful when he is getting ready for work.

Friday, 30 May 2008

Eric & Ernie ....and Eddie

We used to have a ginger and white cat called Eric. He was a one off was Eric. He took everything in his stride. A car journey? He would sit on your knee looking out of the window. A trip to the vets? within seconds of being taken out of his basket he would be rolling on his back for his tummy tickling. A strange dog barking at him? No no back arching and spitting just a cool stare and then a good talking to. Oh he never shut up he gave everyone a running commentry on his life and as he got older he would even wander round muttering to himself. Age didn't slow him down and when we tried to keep him in at night worried about his deafness and less than cat like sense of balance he pulled the cat flap clean off the door.

So all our resolutions of no more kittens went out of the window when we saw his double.

We sat last night trying to come up with a name there could never be another Eric but we wanted something connected. Then TS came up with Ernie. Perfect! A name forever linked with Eric at least for anyone British of our age and older. And his little stripey brother? Well he's Eddie just because he is.

Sissy is highly alarmed by the new additions and is staying out of reach on the sofa. She is such a wimp! But she likes cats and when they get past the "are they small or just far away?" spooky stage she'll enjoy their company.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

The Kindness of Strangers

My troubles are over thanks to a nice Mr Chaney Boswell. Don't tell anyone though it's confidential!

From. Mr. Chaney Boswell.Abidjan, Ivoiry Coast West Africa. Confidentiel message. Attn: I am writing this mail to you from my residence because of how confidential it is and this letter contains some confidential materials and should be deleted from your mail box if you are unable to help me out concerning the proposal. I am the director of international remittance in a bank here in Abidjan Cote D扞voire as an accountant foreign operation department. In the discharge of my duty, Stumbled on this domiciliary account that has remained dormant for three years now with Fifteen Million Dollars ($15M) in it. I contacted my director and we sent out staff for enquiries and discovered that the account holder died in Auto-crash without leaving any next of kin to the fund deposit. I am writing you so that we can work with you to remit the fund into your account as the next of kin. It is simple process which will take a short while to process. outside this, the bank management will confiscate the money if there is no one that comes for the fund as you will be acting as the appointed beneficiary to the fund of which the depositor deposited the fund in the suspense account and a Foreign Partner is his next of kin which he did not indicated. If I hear from you, I will tell you all you need to know about the fund deposit for us to proceed with the transaction. I want you to know that this business involves I and one top officer in our bank and must not be taken as a joke, I advice you to think very well before responding because we need a very strong hand in this transaction. Your percentage and other important details will be discussed once I confirm your kind willingness in helping to the transfer.
Thanks, Mr. Chaney Boswell.


The train station at Limoges.

Rather nice eh? Debs at Us in France tells me it looks pretty good on the inside too. Maybe we'll go somewhere one day and find out.

I didn't even know it was the train station till we somehow got diverted round the one way system and came at it from a different angle.

This photo was taken the last time there was a hint of blue in the sky. Which feels like months ago but was probably last week.

The rain has meant constant slug patrols to guard the newly emerging carrots and newly planted out pumpkins and cucumbers. This entails me walking round the garden with my "slug tin" and a stick for maneuvering slugs into the tin. When the tin is full, or a slug looks like escaping I take it down to the woods and empty it. Well more accurately I fling the slugs as far into the woods as I can. TS takes a more direct approach and picks them up and flings them individually (urghhh).

Snails and little slugs get fed to the chickens (harsh but fair they eat our food so get eaten by the chooks who provide us with eggs so we still get our food, indirectly). I've mentioned before, I think, that our chickens won't eat the big really slimey slugs which is why the big slugs get flung instead. I don't know why I can't bring myself to directly kill them but it just doesn't seem right somehow.

No feeding to the chickens or flinging it's so much more humane.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Not so Fast

Tootling around in Frogmella as is our want. What do we see but sheep spilling out into the road. Oh no! look out!

No gentle reader do not panic these are not sheep but sleeping policemen of the French variety.

"Oh those heartless Frenchies" I hear you cry. But fear not for no sheep were harmed in the calming of this traffic. These are the concrete sheep of Mézières-sur-Issoire.
Convincing aren't they? Well they are when you are tootling along through the town. Close up they do look just a little naff. With strange pointy mousey faces.

They are strategically placed on the major roads through the town to slow the traffic. At least we think that's what they are for. Maybe someone on the council just likes sheep

Friday, 16 May 2008

I Am An Internaut

Following our run in with the law we thought we'd better get on to sorting out registering our ownership of Frogmella and whilst in the mood for venturing into Limoges and looking officialdom in the eye, why not get TS registered as self employed to increase our employment options?

The saga started Tuesday when our very good friend Elizabeth from Limousin Property Shop . (very very very good friend. What else can you call someone who will drive for an hour to do you a favour and then be surprised and delighted when you offer to pay for the coffees, bless her she is one in a million).

Anyway it started Tuesday. First job was to go to our local Mairie to get the right form for the car. We thought at this point (naive!) that we were going to the Marie to actually sort this out. No we were given the right form and instructions on where to go in Limoges to sort it out and what to take with us.

In the mean time Elizabeth had rung to check what we needed to do for TS to register and where to go. So the printer was red hot photocopying our life's archives passports, birth certificates, marriage certificate, driving licences, utility bills, bank statements, school report from the fourth year (kidding! or am I?). And we thought "Great! we can get all this done in an afternoon with the aid of our French speaking friend"

There will now be a pause while we and everyone else who lives in France laughs hysterically.

To be fair we did loose an hour by getting lost in the one way system and not being able to park.

Then we went to where we thought we should go only to find out we should actually be somewhere else at the other side of the city centre. So we hopped into Elizabeth's car to go where we ought to. There we (well Elizabeth) spoke to a very nice lady who couldn't actually help us but promised to pass TS's dossier on to the person who could the very next day. This person would ring Elizabeth if they had any questions.

And she did the very next day. We were impressed!

In the mean time the very next day we went back to Limoges to sort out the car registration as by the time we had finished at the right place where they couldn't actually help us at that moment in time the Prefecture was closed.

We went in a took a ticket. Good system I thought. It was. The only problem was the 33 people in front of me in the queue. Anyway to cut a long wait short I presented all the right documents got a slip of paper in return then queued at the paying for the car registration desk and YAY ! got the new Carte Grise (car registration document).

Do you know I have lost the will to live just recounting this so I will race to the finish and tell you that another two trips into Limoges later TS is registered as self employed in the business of Computer and Internet Services and Gardening. His title? Chef D'Enterprise.

I am consumed with envy at this important title as I am now classed as his dependent (then again I always did want to be a kept woman), but my time as 34th in the queue was not wasted oh no for I learnt a new French word whilst watching the information screen going round and round. I am an internaut ! So much more dashing don't you think than internet surfer.

ps the park is the Jardin Moulin Pinard which we found when we were lost at some point over the last week.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Will it won't it Shall I shan't I

Don't know how long I can hang around tonight the thunder is thundering in the distance which means the internet thingy will soon have to be unplugged or risk being fried.

It's been lovely and sunny today and once more the rain on the weather forecast seems to have moved back a day. May is a time of bank holidays and thunder storms and of me dithering about if I should water the garden or not. The sky looks awfully promising there could be lots of rain or it could just pass us by.

My seeds could be sad little dried up things or they could be floating away down the road. Decisions decisions.

I have also learned why lots of people round here have what look like little bus shelters over their tomatoes. For thunder storms can bring hail stones as well as rain. After running round the other day trying to cover mine up with bits of plastic while getting pelted with hail I shall have a bus shelter for mine next year. You live and learn.

Oh I almost forgot, we got stopped by the police yesterday whilst tootling about in Frogmella. It was most embarrassing as TS suddenly couldn't find first gear, or any other for that matter, to move to the designated being pulled up by the police spot. When we eventually got there and they asked for our documents we just shoved everything barring Sissy's pet passport at them.

The policeman tried and failed to speak English to us and we tried and failed to speak French to them so I guess we were quits. At least TS didn't break into Greek which he has been known to do under pressure a new twist on "it's all Greek to me". Incidently the equivalent Greek saying is it's Chinese. You really needed to know that didn't you.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Verte-ually a car

At the first sign of work involving driving about naturally our car went to pieces.
This meant an SOS for a cheap car that didn't use much fuel, that was cheap and drivable and most of all cheap. So here is Frogmella who fits the bill admirably.
A 21 year old Citroen AX with a somewhat younger engine who had been languishing unloved and unwanted in a friend's neighbour's barn.
Unbelievably she passed her CT (kind of like an MOT but lasts for two years) first time. Should she have any problems also included in the deal was a huge sack of spare parts that would almost make another car. Not that we would know what to do with them of course, well TS might. Luckily our French car insurance includes breakdown cover.
We will now blend in with the locals and as long as we keep our mouths shut, could be mistaken for French. That is as soon as we get up the nerve to tailgate other cars on long straight bits of road then overtake on blind corners or the brow of a hill.
Did I mention she was really cheap? To you guv 300 euros and 2 hooligan pumpkin seedlings

Monday, 5 May 2008

Good moaning

Finally today we got to our first proper French lesson.

The ones we enquired about oh last Octoberish.

I've really tried, honest I have, to buck the system and get things moving even to the point of trying to get someone round to give lessons while we were in Leeds but to no avail. I was beginning to think I was cursed to spend the rest of my life having the poor lady in the bread shop explain the difference between saying "I'd like two croissants AND two pain au raisins" and "I'd like two croissants OR two pain au raisins"

So today we have done days of the week, months of the year, bonjours and aurevoirs, thank yous and excuse mes. All of which I know but I am trying to get a proper grip of things to fill in the gaps and I thought going back to the beginning was the best way to learn all those pesky little making sentences words that get you beyond talking like a two year old and asking for socks of apples when you mean apple turnovers. On the down side it will probably make life very dull for the local shop keepers.

I always have a mental picture of myself as the policeman in Allo Allo (though he is probably better than me) as I wander round The Limousin generating gallic shrugs in my wake

Other than that we have mostly been doing the garden and I'm pleased to report that Bristish hooligans will soon be rampaging all over the place. Hooligan pumpkins of course.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Bring me my gin

A hot sunny day yippee!
The Dinnerladies needed the use of the parasol for a bit of shade. I think they were waiting for drinks to be served too but they had to make do with nibbles.
The dry weather gave us the chance to plant out some peas, beans and chard and more flower seeds and generally do what we like best and spend the whole day in our garden.
TS took over the job of weeding the Bermuda Triangle which is the flower bed at the side of the house (well a triangular shaped bit of land) into which hours and hours of weeding and planting go without it actually looking any less like a bomb site. I think after about ten wheelbarrows full of weeds, broken bricks, bits of plastic and broken glass it now almosts looks like part of a garden if a bit bald. I softened it up for him last week though!

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

I was busy doing stuff

Hi remember me?

We've been home for two weeks now and I just don't know where they have gone. Obviously I have been doing stuff but what was it?

Well out of the last six days five have been spent gardening. Unfortunately only two of those on our garden. We got three days work gardening for someone else on the cheque d'emploi system. This is a way of legally doing casual work in France. The people employing you get a special cheque book to pay you with and the powers that be automatically add social security payments into the amount they pay. If you are interested there is more about the system here.

Well, when I say gardening job it was more akin to slash and burn as it involved clearing copious amounts of brambles, broom (which really is a weed here) and hawthorn from a plot that is going to be a brilliant orchard. It has a long south facing wall and it's own spring fed irrigation system. I was a trifle envious (read dark dark green) both of the plot and the fruit trees waiting in the wings. In fact I think I may be turning into a true gardener as I coveted that plot far more than the rather posh house it belonged to. The trouble was as the weather got hotter the slight slope somehow turned into a cliff face without it actually drying out all the brambles and broom and hawthornes enough to make a really good bonfire and complete the burn side of the whole operation leaving the garden clearance slightly less clear than one would hope. Just where is that Ray Mears when you need him?

Anyway back to our rather more humble Chateau La Pants where we have spent the last two days hauling horse poo, weeding and planting stuff. Oh but not enough stuff by a long chalk. We have leeks, cauliflowers, onions, tomatoes and salad leaves in the ground, peas, beans, pumpkins and squashes in our mini greenhouse thing hopefully sprouting and raspberries and currants newly planted in the orchard. On the decorative front (for we are determined to have a beautiful AND productive garden this year) we have a summer flowering jasmin, geraniums, gladioli, dahlias and crocosmia planted out with sweet peas and nastursiums in the greenhousy thing. That only leaves umpteen other things to sow in the ground or in pots and about half the garden still to clear of weeds. But we look like we have had our bit of sunshine for the week and the ground is still waterlogged.

So all in all this accounting of my time is a bit like trying to balance my cheque book. I can justify less than half of my expenditure. It's not surprising I never have any money or get through half the stuff I want to do. All I can say on both counts is, if I didn't spend it well at least I was mostly having fun probably.

Like so many of my school reports it's "must ty harder" and "could achieve so much more if only she would apply herself" and look now it's half one in the morning and I only just got round to the post I was going to do a week ago and I still have to get a good night's sleep then plant more stuff and go to the bank and do the laundry and get more potting compost and clean out the chickens and pay the house insurance, buy chicken food . . .

Oh and I'm still rubbish at French and then there's the paperwork to sort and I need to check out what all of you are up to.

Frazzled moi?

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Everything in the garden is luverley

Except for the plank with the nail in it that I trod on this morning.

But I hobbled on heroic and undaunted and have got the leeks and cauliflowers in and made a promising start on the weeding.

We picked up three sacks and a dustbin full of really well rotted fumier cheval (horse poo) from our friend up the road this morning and we will be going back for more of this black gold throughout the next week or so until we run out of space to dig it into the soil or she gets sick of seeing us. I'm hoping this is going to ensure a bumper harvest.

The Dinnerladies came home yesterday from their holidays and escaped from their run the minute we left the garden. "Oh they don't bother trying to get out under the gaps" Debra had said. Well obviously not at Chez Us in France where there were constant deliveries of treats and tit bits. I just knew they'd be legging it off down the road for the finer things in life the moment they got the chance. Ah but they blessed us with four eggs this morning so I forgive them their fickle little ways.

Oh and the sun has been shining all day. Fab

Monday, 14 April 2008

On a High

I feel good

Dooby doobidy doo

I knew that I would now

I feel good

Dooby doobidy doo

(yes I know you thought James Brown was in the room with you for a moment there)

Anyway I do feel . . .

Good so good

Yesterday was another story altogether I was happy to be home but the journey left me the most travel sick I have been since I don't know when. We had to make a sharp exit from Debra's place as it hit me hard as soon as we sat round her kitchen table. Then when I went to bed the room was spinning. Oh but today I'm completely and utterly with it and enjoying being back to the full.

Already there have been purchases of leeks for the garden and potting compost.

You would of had a picture of the violets we spotted in the woods this morning but we forgot to put the card in the camera so in lieu this is Mortemart. There's a plant fair there this weekend and I shall be rushing around it clutching my hard earned euros tightly in my fist. Who knows I might even prise it open and buy something.
Tomorrow we'll be going to buy the basic groceries like butter and bread that completely slipped our minds today in all the giddy excitement of leeks and compost (oh we know how to live we do). That's after we reclaim the Dinnerladies from Deb's place where they have been right royally looked after.
Then I need to dig over the garden and plant the leeks, peas, broad beans, carrots, onions, cauliflowers and all the flower seeds oh and the dahlias and gladioli.
Don't know what we'll be doing after lunch.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Going going ......

Can't hang around lots to do today

Cheddar cheese and tins of spaghetti to buy. Last minute washing to do. Car to fill up.

Thank you Martin for providing the lodgings and the rather fab pestle and mortar

See you on the other side

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Change it's as good as a rest

I've nothing much to say so I thought I'd add an award and change my background colour in the hopes of making you all think there was something happening here.

I could do Wooly's meme I suppose. Should I do you think? These are the rules

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

So . . . 7 facts

1 My evening viewing is currently dominated by Scrubs and Monkey Business neither of which I watched till I've been staying with my brother (who I really should thank for the free lodgings without him our imminent return home would not be possible). Which leads to two questions

a)How will I cope without knowing what is happening to JD and all those primates even though it all happened years ago?
b)Is anyone actually making NEW telly programmes?

2 I got a bronze medal for disco dancing in the dim and distant eighties I was even wearing leg warmers at the time. Come to think of it you probably only had to turn up in the leg warmers to get the medal

3 I am really jealous of the students at the Geography Dept where I am working at the moment when I see the titles of their dissertations (god how nerdy is that?). So I have learnt that geography is in fact not just ox bow lakes. Although I still maintain that it is that ox bow lake nonsense that is taking up the brain cells that would otherwise enable me to learn French.

4 I'm scared of geese and they know it

5 Leading on from 4 I have a very strong instinct for self preservation and will always ensure that TS is between me and any geese. In the same way as I will also check that I could trample anyone between me and the emergency exit on the plane and quite unconsciously stepped just out of reach when TS was about to grab me for support when he was slipping in mud. It's not pretty but there you are I can't be relied on to sacrifice myself in a crisis.

6 I have a craving for liquorice tea and I absolutely have to buy some before we go back to France. I'll then have one or two cups and leave it to moulder in the back of a cupboard.

7 I'm not really material or into gadgets (except for those little magazines with the big slippers in) but I long for one of those Mac Air Books. You know the advert where they are slipping it out of the A4 envelope. It is just so so perfect.

That's my 7 then and you have no idea how long it took me to come up with them. TS suggested I included my special trying on clothes face but I don't think you need to know about that surely the leg warmers are bad enough.

Feel free to come up with your seven or even one or two. I nominate everyone on my side bar.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Nearly there

Just over two weeks to go now so of course time has slowed to a snail's pace.

Today though was broken up nicely. I am finishing my latest assignment tomorrow and they took me out for lunch to thank me for my hard work. How good is that? Not the sort of treatment us temps are used to but I could become accustomed to it. I wouldn't recommend it from a productivity point of view, I'm sitting here still stuffed to the gills with Italian food and I really didn't like to ring anyone this afternoon as I was just a little bit giddy from the wine and we won't mention the garlic breath. We don't need to TS and my brother haven't stopped telling me I stink since I got home, perhaps I should of had a nibble on the parsley garnish.

My next assignment, should I choose to accept it, which of course I will, is for two weeks at another department in the Uni so that's me fully employed till I go home.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Well what did you think?

Of course we went to the garden centre!

Added to my collection now is

salsify - because I have never tasted it but the name reminds me of the Beverley Hill Billies so of course we had to have it even if it does look suspiciously like parsnips

coriander - well with all these curries

hooligan pumpkins - these are mini pumpkins which grow to about 3 inches in diameter - perfect for stuffing and baking or microwaving apparently - they look so cute on the packet and even if they are yuk they will make great Halloween decorations (does that smack of over justification?)

lemongrass - curries

lots of salad leaves - because obviously this year we are going to have a long hot Summer and they will be absolutely essential

borage - essential for long cool drinks throughout the above mentioned long hot summer

Oh and cornflowers and helichrysums.

I think we may have enough stuff to be going on with now but with the tunnel is booked for the 14th so all too many shopping days to fill before then I'm afraid. Maybe we'll get snowed in and I'll be saved from myself

Holiday holiday holiday time

Ah the Easter break.

So why did I still wake up at 6.30? At first I felt deprived but do you know I could get to like this getting up before the rest of the house. Especially on a bright sunny morning when I don't have to dash about doing anything.

It's a long bank holiday for me I'm not working till Wednesday now. I feel the call of the garden centre already. The question is should I do the shopping, cleaning, washing chores today or rush off and buy seeds.

It's a giddy exciting whirl of a life folks no wonder I couldn't sleep.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Get me

I can do beef madras now.

Just thought I'd share that with you as I'm rather proud.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Gardening by shopping

The collection of plants that we were not going to buy and take back with us is steadily growing. That is the size of the collection not the plants. Although I'm having to hang on tightly to my common sense here and not buy pots and compost to start some off.

We now have
Chilli pepper seeds which I absolutely positively was not going to bother with

Onion sets at least I didn't fall for the seeds again

A mixture of aubergine seeds which is a bit strange as neither of us like them over much but they are special ones and look pretty (they are so)

Some multi coloured chard which is actually a really sensible buy (honest) as I wanted some last year and couldn't find the seeds in France

Carrots and dwarf peas - they were a bargain couldn't pass them up

Mushroom seeds (or whatever it is that mushrooms have) well TS has always wanted some

Dahlias which I would normally say I don't like but I saw lots last year in big informal blousy patches as opposed to rows for competitions and cut flowers. So I'm changing my mind.

Gladioli - move over Dame Edna.

So far the investment has been modest and easy to rationalise. We could stop buying seeds just like that. It's not like we're addicted or anything.

Four weeks and counting

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Normal Service?

I've just noticed how rubbish my spelling is and those tippy tappy typing mistakes are creeping in all over.

It's the rush of city life folks it's taking me over and my poor little fingers just can't keep up. They want to be gardening fingers weeding and planting seeds and such or chicken wrangling fingers collecting eggs and giving out treats.

NOrmal service will soon be resumed I just thought I'd tell you since I somehow managed to get to work half an hour early and I don't have to impress anyone by actually looking like I'm going to start work before nine.

Temping - the pay is crap but you can be too

Sunday, 2 March 2008

The Measure of a Meal

For some reason I have been glued to the last two episodes of Masterchef. I haven't watched this in ages and it's a far cry from Lloyd Grossman I can tell you. But then again you probably know this.

Instead of making their best three courses chosen by themselves the poor contestents are now given a series of very scary challenges like cooking for Michelin starred chefs and weddings and stuff. It's edge of the seat stuff I can tell you.

Inspired I decided to up the stakes in my cooking this week. Emboldened by the switch from Khaki Flosam & Jetsam Vegetable Soup to soup with named ingredients and real colours I thought I know I'll do a curry from scratch, then when we finally get back to our little corner of paradise TS will only be missing real ale.

Off I went to the co-op since TS was unavailable for shopping expeditions seeing as he was back on his favourite job. I bought the garum masala, cumin, tumeric, coriander, chilli etc etc. Called in the butchers for some diced lamb. Went back to the co-op for yoghourt and ginger. Went home checked out recipes. Went back to the co-op for onions and naan bread.

In the end I got sick of going to the co-op and settled on Lamb Rogan Josh accompanied by Saag Aloo and Naan Bread. No more hotline to Ali's Curry House I thought as I chopped the onions and laid all the spices out on a little dish like they do on the telly programs. Then I made my very first curry from scratch.

TS was duly appreciative of the spicy scents wafting round the house when he got in from the first part of his 14 hours counting taxis. I filled up his plate and he made all the right noises.

Then today he admitted yes it seemed to have all the right ingredients but it didn't quite come together. "But I ate it all" he said "that's the true measure of a meal". Which would of been comforting except it came from someone who eats tins of beans with sausages in them.

Better not throw that takeaway number away just yet I guess.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

I wanted this title in text speak but I don't know any

Did I say nothing ever happens here?

Proof positive last night that it's just me. We had an earthquake. 5 point whatever. The bed shook and everything. I somehow managed to incorporate it a third into a dream, a third into the wind gusting outside and a third into the dog scratching.

I can vaguely remember wondering what was going on, getting up and going to the loo then going back to sleep. Just what would have to happen for me to take notice. I have visions of the world ending one day while I'm stood at the bus stop wondering where everyone else got to.

The funniest thing I heard about the earthquake was from a work colleague who said her daughter sent her a text to ask what was happening. I'm still chuckling in disbelief. The daughter was just in the next bedroom by the way.

I still haven't got the hang of this texting thing. I'm so bad at it that I turned the beeping off on my phone so no one could hear how slow I was. The whole office used to take the p*** . Now I just don't use one at all.

Which is why when you lot are all texting each other about the apocolypse I'll be stood at the bus stop.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Sunday Blogger

Do you think it's a bit like a Sunday driver? Whatever I've no time to dawdle about on the leafy less travelled bits there's a queue forming behind me.

One PC and internet connection between three adults does lead to the tiniest bit of tension. My brother is looking at something to do with Leeds United or cheap holidays, TS is looking out for a bargain on e bay, I want to flit about and see what my imaginary friends in the blog world are up to. We all think the others are rubbish drivers hogging the middle lane of the information superhighway.

Anyway enough of the driving analogy already. It's not like I even like driving. It's just all padding because I can't think of anything to blog about. The times I can I'm at work, or walking the dog, or shopping or at the back of the PC queue.

I quite like getting the bus though especially if I can get a seat next to the window. Then I sit and day dream or notice that everyone outside is wearing black or everyone is looking miserable and walking really fast. Actually I notice quite a lot of other things about people but I don't want you to know what I bitch I really am.

But I will say

Boys - baggy jeans showing your undies - not a good look when you have a fat bum, even less so if you (or was it your Mum?) have tucked your vest in your undies

Just don't get me started on the girls

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Happy Blogaversary To Me

Yes I have been blogging for a whole year today.

Strangely enough a year later and I'm in almost the same place but different.

I am staying at my brother's again (same brother, well only brother, different house) waiting to go off to France to fill our garden with food, do the house up etc. etc.

But another year older is another year wiser so I have been looking on e-bay at bits and bobs to take back with us like kitchen units that are strangely expensive in our bit of France where people don't chuck everything out and go for a new look kitchen, living room etc every few years.

I won't be taking umpteen packets of veg seeds, except I have already bought six on a whim yesterday but they were only 29p each so maybe I will. But I won't make the mistake of putting them in too early or trying to give plants a good start in crap compost. And I will plant some stuff that will produce food into the winter like chard. I'll also be planting squashes because I've discovered that I do like them to eat as well as to look at. I will not however, be trying to grow onions or leeks from seed. I'll buy a punnet of 50 little leeks for 5 euros and a bag or two of onion sets instead. I'll also buy pepper plants and chilli plants and probably tomato plants because we have nowhere warm and light enough to start them off.

I'll also be working on making the garden pretty as well as productive so that we can enjoy sitting out there even more. Whilst still feeling guilty that we're not doing up the house or something else useful.

All in all I'm just as excited as I was this time last year but I know a little bit more. Maybe I'll direct my energies better and finish some jobs. More likely I'll just find a whole new lot not to finish. At least we'll be starting off with heating, washing and cooking facilities even if we are still on the blow up bed. That has to count for something. Right?

Sunday, 10 February 2008

My cuppa soup runneth over

The useless B's at the paper shop have sold me a defective lottery ticket yet again. This means that instead of winning 96 million on Friday and buying a rather nice chateau on Saturday I am faced with another working week.

So Saturday I moved to item 2 on my shopping list and bought some veg, soup for the making of. I have moved on from Khaki Flotsom & Jetsom (this is what TS calls my normal veg soup)and created Butternut Squash Soup in a very nice shade of orange and Pea Soup in a fairly alarming shade of green. The Tomato and Red Pepper has somehow morphed into a rice salad but hey ho it all looks very nice sitting in the fridge ready for next week.

Moonroot tagged me the other day. Thank goodness. Now instead of trying to find something interesting to post about I can rest on my laurels a bit

Archive Meme Instructions: Go back through your archives and post the links to your five favorite blog posts that you’ve written. … but there is a catch:

Link 1 must be about family.
Link 2 must be about friends.
Link 3 must be about yourself, who you are… what you’re all about.
Link 4 must be about something you love.
Link 5 can be anything you choose.

I think this is a great way to circulate some of the great older posts everyone had written, return to a few great places in our memories and also learn a little something about ourselves and each other that we may not know. Post your five links and then tag five other people. At least TWO of the people you tag must be *newer acquaintances so that you get to know each other better….and don’t forget to read the archive posts and leave comments

So here goes
Family - actually I don't exactly post anything about my family as such. It feels like talking about them behind their backs. However my brother does get mentioned in passing here
Friends - Mmm same as the above (how rubbish am I at this meme?)
Myself - Oh it's all about me me me really but here's where I discovered painting the house white
Something I love - Well it has to be TS doesn't it? The God of Chickens with a mongoose obsession
Anything I choose - It's Chicken Run I love these photos of Mimo, Sissy and the Dinnerladies even though it still makes me feel sad that Mimo isn't with us any more

So which lucky people shall I pass this on to?

Aims - because we are discovering such hidden depths with her

Travelling But Not in Love - cos he's a fairly new aquaintance

Monday, 4 February 2008

Still here

but nothing much is happening I'm afraid.

This week I am still at the Uni but in a different department. Working 10 while 3.30 which is very nice as far as the whole sleeping till you wake up thing goes but not much good to someone who just wants to grab all the cash she can and go home.

Some things I'm appreciating that I didn't know I had missed are

being called love by all and sundry (a Leeds/Northern habit even the men call each other love)

evesdropping on the bus

living in a "finished" house and work being finished when you finish work

and having the use of a broadband connection that really is broad. In fact I bet Us In France's connection is so fast, now we're not there, that she's in danger of being sucked in.

Some things I'm missing are

The Dinnerladies - no silly chicken antics (though I have heard a rooster) and no eggs - I had one bite of a supermarket free range egg and had to throw it away it had a really strange harsh metallic taste

birdsong - nothing much to be seen round here but magpies and while they have a good sense of humour they just can't be described as tuneful

stars - that last little walk with Sissy before we go to bed looking up at the stars and next door's Christmas lights (I wonder if he's taken them down yet).

All in all though it's not as bad as I feared just kind of dull.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Got up, went to work . . .

We've been here a week now.

I've had four goes at the getting up, going to work, coming home, going to bed thing. The current assignment (I quite like that word makes it all sound much more like something) is for a week and a day in the cash office of the Uni taking tuition fee payments etc.

As jobs go it's not bad. I'm getting to be a dab hand with the cards and the chip and pin machine. I am a bit rubbish with the real money though. I've never had a job before that required cash handling skills. In fact I've never had a life that required them. So while my expert colleague performs like a stage magician with a deck of cards, I'm the comedy juggler. The money gets dropped on the floor, I loose track of where I was in the counting or most embarrassing of all start going 10, 20, 30 and so on when I am in fact counting £20 notes and should be going 20, 40 , 60. Thank goodness someone invented money weighing machines or I'd still be counting last week's takings.

I might get the hang of money by Friday.

Wonder what I'll be doing next week

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Ode to Joy

We're here then after a pretty uneventful journey for us.

Not only did we make it in time for our Channel Tunnel crossing we got there ahead of schedule and went through half an hour early. Though I suppose that does keep the record of never actually getting on the crossing we've booked unbroken.

We set off about 11am and got to Leeds about midnight as we saw the city spread out before us what was on the radio? Beethoven's Ode to Joy.

Good omen or The Universe having a laugh?

Friday, 18 January 2008

And the Winner Is . . .

Time is winging it's way on and we are making some very half hearted preparations for going back to the UK.

I have typed up my CV and sent it to half a dozen temp agencies. This has had me thinking about my career history. History as someone famous who's name I can't remember said is "one damn thing after another". My CV is just one damn job after another. So here's some of my career highlights that I couldn't fit in.

Most boring job - This is a huge field but I think I sank to an all time low as a receptionist on a reception that no one ever came into. I was so bored that I sat seeing how much I could move before the movement detector on the alarm system detected me and not just the once either.

Most Difficult Job - I don't mean to sound big headed when I say that I haven't really found many jobs difficult. Sure there have been difficult moments like telling a woman to stop e-mailing the young man she was paying to have sex with her and do some work and other such disciplinary stuff. Generally though I set the bar on my ambitions low and skipped over it. So it came as something as a surprise when I couldn't manage it at it's lowest. I had a temp job making sandwiches. The kind of sandwiches that come in plastic wedges. But hey at least I got to wear a white coat (and a hair net and wellies and rubber gloves) My role in this critical operation was to put slices of cucumber on as they whizzed past on the production line. I was crap. I just didn't have it when it came to cucumbering sandwiches and either missed them completely or had to chase them down the factory. To my eternal shame I got moved to a less demanding role.

Most Embarrassing Moment - You can decide
Walking out of a meeting room and into cupboard while everyone else was still sitting round the table.
Getting the giggles (serious ones with tears and everything)and not being able to stop while everyone else is having a really serious conversation about installing an automatic disabled toilet being a "really big job".
Having your mobile play the Laurel & Hardy tune while the CEO is talking about the company's goals for the coming year

Most Exciting Job - I live in hope

Monday, 14 January 2008

Neck Yer Chickens Missus

It's been a busy few days. For me at least. TS has been idling on the sofa since Saturday while I have been digging the garden, chopping wood, moving the chickens about, cooking, cleaning, virtual assisting.

Alright I knew you wouldn't believe that of him! Actually he's had a bad back due to the little comedy of errors described here . I think he may of given up on his ambition to be "The Finest Woodsman in the Whole of France" (it only works if you do the Inspector Clueso accent). He certainly can't do the hand on hip manly chest thrown out pose that goes with that claim at the moment.

So today I was poking about in the barn looking for easy bits of scrap wood to cut up when a white van pulled up and a swarthy looking chap got out. We did the obligatory bonjour handshake stuff, then he said could he take the scrap metal next to the barn. The aforementioned scrap is actually some sort of cutting thing that goes on a tractor which TS had decided a few months ago might be worth something so it has been lying there ever since. I'm sick of the sight of it and sick of telling various scrap metal people that no they can't take it but they can buy it if they like. Taking advantage of the fact that TS was incapacitated I said yes take it.

That's a good thing about here actually you can't hire skips to take rubbish away (at least not cheaply and easily) but leave just about anything in the way or scrap metal or knackered furniture, fridges, cookers at the side of the road and someone will pull up within a couple of days and ask if they can take it. If that fails the commune will send someone out to pick it up if you phone them but we've never had to yet.

The conversation then moved on to anything else we might want to get rid of but we already had a bunch of people round last week who got all the remotely saleable things out of the barn that we didn't want. The next talking point was how long we had had the house and was there a lot of work to do on it at which point the guy produced a flyer advertising his painting and decorating company and said he also did tiling.

Finally, spotting the Dinnerladies in their swanky new run he said something about chickens which I didn't get. I used my favourite phrase "je ne comprend pas" he then mimed wringing a chicken's neck.

It's tough making a living in the Limousin you clearly have to turn your hand to anything.

I told him they were for eggs only and no we wouldn't be killing them when they stopped laying as they were pets, or I might of said they were my familiars, either way he got the message. It's weird actually all the French people you speak to about your chickens want to know if you are going to eat them. Maybe it's because they know us English won't so it's a joke or maybe it's just the French obsession with eating.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Sunny Days and Rainy Days

Yesterday was completely unremarkable yet quite perfect.

It was sunny and mild so we spent most of the day pottering about in the garden.

First of all a funeral pyre for the old chicken house, then digging over the ground where the chickens have been, turning and building up the compost pile, clearing bits of wood and stones, pruning the raspberries generally tidying up.

All the while we were making plans about what we were going to try growing this year and where we were going to put it, watching the antics of the chickens, admiring the robin who was flitting about checking out the newly turned soil and compost heap.

Nothing major going on then just a feeling of quiet contentment.

Today, well it's been raining and I've booked Sissy into the vets on the 21st for her pre return to the UK tick and tapeworm treatment and the three of us on to the channel Tunnel for the 22nd.

Thank goodness the vet receptionist speaks some English between us on the phone we managed to establish what I wanted and when I wanted it (I hope). The phone has to be the most difficult way to communicate in a foreign language but at least I can cheat a bit and have babelfish open for when I really get really stuck. I am getting better though. I have taken to keeping telesales people on the phone until I get the gist of what they are trying to sell me or they get frustrated and hang up. They must think they've hit the jackpot when they first get through poor things only to find out they are really giving me free French lessons.

So 22nd Jan UK here we come. Assuming of course that I've booked the right thing at the vets, Sissy's microchip hasn't gone missing, the car doesn't break down, we don't win the lottery . . .

. . . good job I only have just over a week to think about it

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Chateau Les Chooks New Improved Version

Inspired by Sydney Opera House, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and an air raid shelter the new actually movable, by TS and a complete stranger who was just passing by taking down the village Christmas lights, chicken house was unveiled early this afternoon.

Based on a pallet and an old tea chest and faced with PVC tongue and groove there are perches in the front for roosting and a nice big four chicken sized nest box at the back since that's where our girls seem to prefer to sleep anyway.

The chooks were wildly excited. Not so much by their new quarters but by the fact that they are actually back on grass instead of the big pile of hay that I kept adding to in the movable sized run that was not moving anywhere and was rapidly turning into a swamp. In fact they are so excited that even though it is dark and raining they have still not gone to bed.

News Flash - they have gone now and are making sleepy happy chicken bed time noises.

The only drawback with this design (which TS wants me to point out was constructed under extremely difficult circumstances in the barn with inadequate tools, bits of wood and almost no light) is that it is not raised up to provide shade and/or shelter from the rain. This is easily sorted by a piece of tarp over half the run.

As soon as each bit of ground gets weeded, debugged and manured we'll move them on to the next bit.

Voila! as us French folk say

Friday, 4 January 2008

No more Mrs Mardy Pants

I've been having a wander round various blogs reading about what people have achieved over the last year and what their plans are for this year. Quite inspirational really. So I thought instead of being Mrs Yah Boo I've Got To Go Back To The UK Mardy Pants I would have a look back over what we've done this year that we never did before and maybe make some New Year resolutions that I can kick myself later for not achieving (oops Mardy Pants keeps raising her head bear with me while I give her a quick slap)

1) I have achieved my long held dream of sleeping till I wake up for nine whole months. This means not getting up at 6am in the dark and dragging the poor dog off for a walk in pissy cold wet rain before joining in the wacky races on the M62 to get to a job that sucks my soul away and saps my will to live (Ok it might not of been that bad but you know what I mean).

2) You might not of noticed. I know I hardly ever mention them but we have chickens. How did we ever manage without them? No more wondering if the eggs I'm buying are really free range and what sort of conditions the chickens were kept in. Plus they are a joy to watch. Unless you are watching them digging up someone else's garden that is and they talk to you and hum and make happy chicken noises. The eggs are almost a bonus. Lovely fresh eggs to make as much custard as you can eat with some to spare to give to friends and neighbours (eggs that is not custard).

3) Kind of leads me on to I made custard! Real custard not from a packet and jam and chutney and soup. Whole meals even from stuff I had to hand. From scratch.

4) And of course we grew food like potatoes and beans and peas and sweetcorn and salad and carrots and onions and cucumbers. I got past wondering if everything might have a maggot in it and not really be up to the standard of something grown by professionals and discovered that vegetables taste really really good when they are really really fresh and you've nurtured them and anticipated eating them for weeks and weeks. So much so that cooking them is fun and satisfying and rewarding. I've felt the soil in the garden warm up as Spring moved into Summer and I've actually been affected by what the weather is doing rather than just inconvenienced.

5) We've built internal walls in the house ( that very nearly reach the ceiling and will do if we ever finish them), plumbed pipes, fitted sinks and a toilet and a shower. We've discovered that a perfect looking house is not nearly as important when you're not compensating for not having control over other areas of your life. Although a scruffy shack can still be quite embarrassing especially when it looks the same as it did when someone called in months ago.

6) We've lived in a foreign country

Six of the best is enough to give you the flavour I think. So looking forward I will:-

1) Stop sulking because I am luckier than lots of folks

2) Learn more French

3) Grow more food

4) Cook and eat it with the respect it deserves.

5) Repay some of the hospitality and favours of the wonderful people we have gotten to know this year

6) Oh I don't know. I'm sure the list will be up to 60 by the end of the week

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

So this is 2008

So eight courses and a bottle of wine later it's 2008

That was six hours spent on a meal folks. It's almost a full working day!

There was prawns, lobster, scallops, sea bass, foie gras, truffle soup, ravioli, sorbet, beef, smelly sock cheese (alright I passed on that one), chocolate mousse, mango mousse, more sorbet, tropical fruits, little chocolates coffee. I may never eat again.

I am now off to sleep the sleep of the over indulged if I can find somewhere to put my stomach

Happy New Year everyone