Thursday, 24 September 2009

Oh this old thing

We have been invited to a drinks party tonight given by a lovely American lady who lives in the town. Champagne et amuses gueules (whatever they are). We have decided they are like amuses buches but hopefully bigger.

I have spent the last hour delving around in my 'not worn since we got here' clothes (or actually not worn since we downsized 9 years ago) trying to find something suitable to wear. Encouragingly most of it still fits - except the ones I bought when I did actually lose the half stone/stone I have been fighting all my adult life and they have hardly been worn!

If I'm the only one that knows that one potential outfit is about 20 years old and another one even older, does it matter? Maybe everyone else practices the philosophy of 'if you haven't worn it for six months throw it out'. I practice 'if it fits keep it' it will come in.

I was a tall child and by the time I was a teenager I was six feet tall. My family are all tall too so at home it didn't seem odd and it wasn't until secondary school when I was at an all girls school and my twin brother was at the boys' school that I was the tallest. In the 70s this made clothes impossible. There just weren't any to buy that were long enough and shoes were a nightmare.

Him outdoors has none of these problems. Clothes for him have to be 'friendly'. A new thing has to be virtually (or completely) identical to the one it is replacing. He'll come in from the garden at the last moment, throw on the same pair of chinos, hope his favourite shirt is ironed but if it isn't second favourite will do, and off we'll go.

Friday, 18 September 2009


Oops we're in trouble again.

In the summer we got a letter addressed personally to me from the recycling people to tell us off in very official terms for putting glass in the yellow recycling bags.

How did they know it was us? and We haven't, have we?

We are very good about putting our glass in the bottle bank. Aren't we?

The penny dropped. It was our house sitters. Apparently in the US you put glass in with the other recycling. Oh OK let you off then. But how did they know??

Eventually, after pondering about why the letter was addressed to me when all official things go to Him Outdoors, I remembered that you had to sign for numbered recycling bags. They don't just throw them at the door like in England and wait for you to fall over them - and the pile of telephone directories - you sign for each roll at the Mairie.

Today we have had another equally official letter telling us that you must not put anything in the recycling bin that isn't in a yellow bag. No good just dumping empty cardboard boxes into the yellow bin, all must be in a bag.

Have no idea what I have dumped into the yellow bin with my name on, I think I'll just hope that everyone has got a letter. Don't think I'll worry about the waste of recycling bags either.

Incidentally the view from the nearest bins is the finest for miles. Always a pleasure to dump rubbish.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Bats in the bathroom

Being more organised than usual, I had shut the big door before getting into the bath. Had a vague idea that I might read in the bath and would need the light on and then all the bugs would make a bee line for me.

But just for now it was just light enough to see but not light enough to see the wobbly bits in the bath! As dusk fell there were a couple of bats flying outside the window, highlighted against the sky and I was smugly thinking that they were safe outside. Vaguely wondering how they were managing to make the shadows across the ceiling with the light falling as it was. With my usual speedy thought process...... oh my God it's in here.

Him Outdoors fortunately was within screech shot and opened the doors to let the poor thing escape - not the others in!

Now does the bat spend the day in the barn and had got shut in, or had I shut it in after it had come investigating at dusk?? Surely if it lived in the barn you would see some crap or something, but then it must have some clever mechanism for crapping whilst hanging upside down or it would crap on its head. David Attenborough has to climb over mountains of crap to get to a bat cave, so how do they do that?

Saturday, 12 September 2009

An interesting day

Lovely start to the day viewing the deer in the bottom of the field. There seem to be two that come first thing. They may well come at other times but we can see them from our bed and they certainly go by about 8 am.

Later in the day we discovered from the paper that the chasse starts tomorrow and there will be about 140,000 hunters registered in Aquitaine out to slaughter anything they can find. This afternoon we have been to the local DIY shed to buy a CHASSE INTERDITE sign which the mayor had said was all that you needed to stop the hunters coming. Him Outdoors has now put it up so we have done the best we can. Look out Bambi................ and Arthur come to think of it.

We went to the market this morning which was lovely. At about 9.30 there were no tourists at all, just french people marketing and not many of them. We met American Carol and had a coffee in the sunshine and then went to the Tourist Office to collect a Blue Disc. You pay 1.50 € and you have a blue parking disc that you can use anywhere in France forever. None of this it only costs 5 pounds for a year that was Lymington and then next year it costs 8. The Blue Disc only gets you into about 4 places outside the bread shop but you never know when you might need one!

Then on to La Journee Forestiere which turned out to be a testosterone laden exhibition of huge machines for cutting up trees. Every version of turning some poor unsuspecting oak tree into logs for the fire. There were men up an oak tree cutting bits off and huge machines chewing up the branches and spitting them out; a slightly out of place hippy woman carving delicately on a plank; examples of sheds and pigeoniers being built out of the raw materials; stalls selling baskets and stuff. Nearly local men, very few tourists. By the time we left there was a huge table laid for lunch under the trees they hadn't cut down. I think we were glad we weren 't there in the afternoon when all the men controlling these huge machines were well oiled!

One of the stalls was a local man who writes local history books. Why here??? He was talking to a local man whose grandmother was spanish and from what I could gather this local man was writing about the history of the spanish in the south west of france and was interested that this other man had a map with the family home in spain on it but had never been. The spaniard thought he had cousins still there and there was someone in Toulouse with the same name.

He was then talking to us - or rather talking at me. He was one of those that I mostly understand and then lose and when asked to speak more slowly he just looks at you but speaks in exactly the same way. I did learn that he knew our house and was yet another person who had known the hollandaise who had lived here and died in a car accident quite close. Everyone knows them and seems to have liked them. Anyway I decided I needed a book (20€!) of his stories of the area at the time of the french resistance. The bit that I have so far deciphered is a series of short tales of his life up to his time in the resistance when he was in his late teens. Lovely pictures of him at about 8 looking exactly the same as he does now at nearer 80!

Time for supper.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Where are all the vegetables?

We went out for dinner last night. (It was good food but there was some 'cock up on the catering front' and it was very very slow.)

The food was lovely and the people watching interesting. As always, there was a selection of duck and its lesser known parts. The usual range of deserts - a tart, creme brulee, chocolate something and icecream.

But never a vegetable in site.

The markets are full of wonderful fresh produce. At this time of year there are about ten different types of tomato of all shapes and sizes, lots of lovely squashes. But you never get them on the menu in a restaurant.

You always get lettuce/salad as an accompaniment or as a course on its own if it is very french but the only vegetable that appears is an overcooked (probably tinned) french bean. Although this being france it's not called a french bean!

What do they do with them all?

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Him Outdoors' Eye

Went to Perigueux to have the wart on Him Outdoors' Eye burnt off. Very quick, professional and easy. Just a wart and all clear.


The season of mellow fruitfulness.

I don't like the beginning of September. I didn't like my secondary school years and the back to school feeling is not one I like.

It's funny how it is those years that stay with you. I loved primary school. Have very happy memories of that. I loved it when my own children went back to school. And now, in France, I love the cooler weather. Beautiful days that start just about warm enough without a sweater then become lovely sunny days. The leaves are just beginning to turn, the tomatoes are just finishing, there are still some courgettes/raspberries and the weeds aren't growing much.

Secondary school was ok, nothing particularly traumatic. It was an all girls grammar school. I now realise that we had a lot of very clever girls. A lot of academics daughters, most of the upper sixth went to Oxbridge and certainly all but a very few went on to university or teacher training college. I decided that I had had enough of exams and would get some money and leave home as soon as possible. The quickest way was a post A level secretarial course and I was out of home and earning within 9 months of leaving school.

Nothing dramatic, just always bottom of the class. We had exams twice a year, once in January and again in June. I remember sitting in the class waiting for the teacher to read out the results. It didn't matter whether she read from the top to the bottom or the bottom to the top, it would still be me in one of the bottom few places. Except in maths where I came top or nearly top. But then that was division 3B so somehow that didn't count!

When I got to tech and started the shorthand/typing I was top! It was so lovely, magical to be top, able to do it easily when the other more academic girls were struggling. And then I met a gorgeous man and life was soooooo changed.

On one day in my whole tech life I wore a very, very, very short pale blue brushed denim skirt, a tight black polo necked jumper and knee high 'ox blood' (rust) suede boots with a heel. And that is the day that this gorgeous leg man saw me. I never wore the outfit again but that was enough to catch the man that I have been married to for 35 years on Monday. Bless him.