More crafting…

I mentioned in the last-post-but-one about Clare asking me for some Sorry-You’re-Dead cards.

Here they are:


The square at the top is a hole cut into the front of the card, with a strip of the same paper inside. The papers are from a swap or giveaway some time ago, but being sombre colours, with a bright splash, they are perfect for this type of card.

img_0024Another using the same batch of papers, and a black ribbon.

img_0026This one uses up some scraps in diagonal/ triangular formation.

I have been making LOTS of Thanksgiving and Christmas cards that I hope to sell at the Munich Convocation of the Episcopal Church in Europe – I’m there this weekend. I want to raise money for Phone Credits for Refugees so if I sell them all at 2,50€ (at least!) I should make about 100€.

This charity is a lifeline, especially for the unaccompanied minors living in the refugee camps:

For unaccompanied minors, the group (Phone Credit For Refugees…) is often the only safety net they have. During the demolition of half of Calais refugee camp in March, volunteers tried to make sure every child on their own had a topped-up phone, with numbers of people they could call. During the chaos, 129 children went missing and volunteers reported that people traffickers were hanging around the edges of the camp for a week afterwards, explains James. ‘It’s really frightening and phone credit is a massively inadequate response, but it is something’.

Ahmed, a 7-year-old boy from Afghanistan, is now famous for texting for help when the lorry he was in with 15 other people ran out of oxygen after it reached the UK. Lesser known is that this Facebook group bought credit for him the week before, enabling him to send his urgent message. ‘For him it was life or death’, says James. ‘I think it is for many actually’. “

Here are some of the cards:


These two use a copied piece of ZIA that I did, and then copied many times. I have used these to make cards, all of which are different, with different “bling” on them, but all featuring “Joy to the World”


These two (and others like them) use a decoupage set I bought in NOZ for about 1,50€. I blinged them up with some sticky gold borders.


Finally, I did a couple of quick bits of calligraphy using these words, to make some other simple cards. I’m pleased with them all. I hope people will buy them. It’s certainly hard to get hold of Thanksgiving cards here in France – and many of the people at Convocation will be American – and also Christmas cards, although becoming more popular, are still not very common,as it is more “Fetes de la Fin d’Année” than Christmas.

Posted in Crafting, zentangles | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Down in the Jungle…

My niece Rose, and her husband Dave, came to stay with us for 5 days. It was lovely to see them, even though they spent quite a long time catching up on their sleep, as they have spent their honeymoon in the Jungle at Calais. After 6 weeks there, they were having a week’s break, before heading back to help some more.

I was leading the service yesterday, and so invited them to church to talk about what they have been doing, and to maybe raise a little money through a collection. Their words touched the wonderful congregation at Christ Church, who responded with an amazing donation of 315€!!!

I wanted to share with you what they said, and maybe convince my readers to find out more about what they can do.

Refugees have been trying to get to the UK from Calais for many years. The Sangatte refugee camp opened in Calais in 1999 and was home to thousands of people fleeing war and persecution. Sangatte was later closed down but an unofficial camp, named the ‘Jungle’ by the residents, has since formed. According to the September census, the camp is now home to 10,188 people which is an increase of 12% from the previous month. Research suggests that the camp is made up of people fleeing corrupt governments and/or war with the majority of refugees from Afghanistan, Sudan and Eritrea. There are also people from Ethiopia, Iraq, Iran, and Syria, amongst others.

According to the census, there are 1,179 minors currently in the jungle; 1,022 of them are unaccompanied. On average 11 children arrive each day. The youngest unaccompanied minor is only eight years old. Most of them are desperate to get to the UK. You may have heard that in the early hours of the 16th September, a 14 year old boy from Afghanistan died falling out of a lorry. He had the legal right to be reunited with his family in the UK but had lost hope given the length of time the process was taking. He tried to get into a lorry to the UK, slipped, and was killed in a hit and run. This was a 14 year child.

We have been working with Auberge des Migrants since 20 August. We had originally intended to volunteer for two weeks before beginning our honeymoon but the situation is such that, to date, we have felt unable to leave. Auberge des Migrants has been operating since 2009. They assist refugees in Calais and Dunkirk with food, material support, legal advice, and language lessons. They also work in Boulogne and Marquise to help people seeking asylum in France. The charity has a big operation – the warehouse volunteers receive and sort donations and make food ready for the camp teams to take in and distribute. The total number of volunteers at any one time fluctuates but there is a core team of approximately 70 long-term volunteers.

We have been based in the Welcome Caravan in the Jungle. Originally it was formed as the initial point of contact for refugees arriving into camp, providing tents, bedding and hygiene products, and sign-posting people to vital services. It has now evolved to carry out shelter repairs, and identify vulnerable people.

One of the most difficult parts of our job is saying no to people because of the lack of resources. This was particularly difficult after heavy rain a few weeks ago. A large proportion of the camp was flooded, with some parts of the camp knee deep in water. Tents and belongings were submerged. People, who had so little before, had now lost everything. We did what we could to support those who had lost their tents – finding them space with their friends or in the camp’s makeshift mosques and churches – but it did not feel like enough. It rarely does.

It is difficult seeing the conditions that people are living in, even when the weather holds out. One of the many heartbreaking stories I can share with you is of Khalid. He was one of four unaccompanied  children occupying a two man tent, which was torn all over and the zips no longer functioned. Given their age, I was able to replace their tent with a new, larger tent. After pitching the tent, Khalid turned to me, almost in disbelief, as he said ‘now we can all sleep at the same time.’ It turned out that the kids had been forced to sleep in shifts. As he entered his tent for the first time, my heart melted as he said under his breath ‘Hello new home’.

The situation seems to be worsening. Our limited resources are under-strain as we prepare for the threatened eviction. Hollande has suggested that the camp will be dismantled by January 2017 but unofficial reports suggest that it will happen as early as the 17 October. Some refugees will go to the accommodation centres that the government has promised to provide. However experience suggests that many people will not. In the last eviction, 129 children went missing and you can imagine what might have happened to them. Auberge des Migrants is now working hard to ensure that the refugees are prepared for the next eviction, that they know their rights, and that the eviction happens in a safe manner with support for all vulnerable people.

We are returning to the camp this week to support in Auberge’s efforts. A collection will be taken during the final hymn if you would like to donate to Auberge des Migrants. We will ensure that this money is spent on the items that are most urgently needed as people prepare for the eviction such as rucksacks, sleeping bags and tents for those refugees who are being forced to leave their makeshift homes just as winter is approaching. Alternatively, you can donate material goods or volunteer your time – just google Auberge des Migrants. There is a facebook page where you can provide phone credit to refugees – it is important for refugees to be able to keep in contact with their families and it is essential for children to be able to contact service providers. You can also see what is happening in your local area. After the evictions, many refugees will be dispersed across France. Groups are forming now to help welcome them wherever they end up.

Auberge des Migrants  (website in French) has been supporting all migrants, but Rose & David have been particularly concerned with the unaccompanied minors – that is to say youngsters under 16 who are there with no member of their extended family. They may have latched onto someone else, but there is no-one from their family with them. The youngest of these is 8 years old. Can you imagine what that child must be going through?

If you feel you can do anything to help, please do.

Posted in Do Something, friends'n'family, God | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Techno Idiot

I do quite a lot of phone lessons – I phone the student (or vice versa), we chat a bit about the last week, we look at a text, discuss some grammar, and finish the call. I send them an email with details of what we talked about and something to read for next lesson. Job done.

However, I am taking over a student, who is used to using WebEx for his lessons. I tried to suggest that he used the phone (“I’m having some trouble setting up WebEx”) but he wasn’t having any of that!

I looked at WebEx. It looks complicated. I hid in the corner whimpering.

Then I got all grumpy and Mr FD calmly asked if it was something he could help with.

“Mmmph-y snotty mphfh WebEx poff technology mmmph not fair” I replied.

So patiently, Mr FD  set me up on WebEx  (well, he talked me through it) and then joined himself. Then we  had a “meeting” which was slightly bizarre as he was up in his study, and I could hear him speaking in Real Life before I heard him over the headphones! This was useful to help me find out about some of the features. (I do have to admit that it looks as though it might be kinda useful too. But it’s new and complicated!)

I will have to practise and play about to find out more…but I didn’t want to do that this weekend. I wanted to play with sequins and make cards to sell when I go to Convention in Munich. And watch Strictly Come Dancing on Catch-Up. Grumpy face.

Still, maybe by the time Monday morning and our first WebEx lesson comes round I will be the Techno Whizz-Kid.


Or maybe not…

Posted in computers, Work life | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Iona 1999


Woven through the cycle of the world

The endless circle of birth and death,

    of creation and destruction

    of beauty and ugliness

    of laughter and tears,

    of love and hate,

Surrounding it all remains God




Bringing perfect completeness as

at last

all is brought into infinite re-creation

of wholeness

and healing.

And we weep no more.

(For Anne & Murdoch)

Posted in Just a Thought, Memories | Tagged | Leave a comment


“Only Lyon” is the logo of the city of Lyon…it’s quite clever, but I know some people don’t like it because it’s not French. Which is true. And Lyon is a French city, in all its chicness, history and beauty; however it is innovative and modern too – which some people would argue are not French qualities at all. I couldn’t possibly comment, but I do know that I really like Lyon.

And I spent the day there on Thursday with Friend Cathy, and (for some of the time) with Mr FD. Mr FD had to go to the city to give a presentation of what he has been working on for the past few months. He’s been working for a Government organisation, which is to do with finding training for people in the AuRA area (Auvergne-Rhone Alpes); Mr FD has been doing something technologically clever in the pulling-data-together side of things, and developing a way forward. We are hoping that (and it’s looking fairly certain) he will be employed to develop this way forward for another 3 months. He apparently impressed with his presentation so fingers are crossed.

Friend Cathy and I went along for the (free) ride – as AuRA were paying Mr FD’s travelling costs, he drove and we went with him in the car. We all went to the Confluence together, as the place where Mr FD was to work that morning (final tweaks) before his afternoon presentation is just by the Confluence.

This area, where the two rivers of Lyon meet – the Saone and the Rhone – was the industrial port of Lyon. However as times changed so has the area. It is now becoming a new trendy place,with a shopping centre, bars and clubs along the waterfront, as well as new “industries” setting up there – radio stations and other media. The buildings have either been modernised,

like the old sugar warehouse which is now an arts centre, or completely rebuilt

Really not sure what this is!!

img_0013   img_0014

We left Mr FD to work, planning to meet him for lunch, while Cathy and I went for a coffee, and then a stroll along the waterfront to the very tip of the Presque-Isle, or peninsular.

img_0015Rivers to the left of me, rivers to the right…Stuck in the middle with you.. I think that it’s the Saone to the left & the Rhone to the right, but I may have that wrong.


Looking back towards Lyon

There are dinky little shuttle buses, which, when running properly, will be driverless, running on electricity and taking passengers from one end of the area to the other (about 1.5 km) Although we walked there, we decided to take a Navlys back

Sadly there were some teething problems, so we couldn’t take one. So we walked back.

Here are some of the apartment blocks near the shopping area and Marina, which were, I believe, designed as a look back to the days when containers would be stacked up on this quay.


Mr FD texted to say he was being taken out by his colleagues, so we just bought a sandwich and had that. Then we took the tram back to Part-Dieu, to visit Primark (didn’t buy anything) and to look around the other shops. And finally we went to the Other Cat Café in Lyon.

Mr FD, my sister and I had visited one Cat Café (Le Chamourai)  in June this year. It was quite nice, but a bit crowded and not very clean. To be fair, it was a rainy Saturday afternoon, but I felt that everyone had been crammed in, and there wasn’t much space to breathe. This Cat Café – Le Gentlecat – was much calmer, and very pleasantly laid out. (Though it was a sunny Thursday afternoon, so maybe that’s why!) The cats were just as aloof as in the other place, but we found a table to sit at


and we enjoyed a refreshing iced tea with lemon and lemon-balm.

This page tells you (in French) about the cats that live at Le Gentlecat. We met Guillemette (above) and also Louise:


Alberte and Nicole deigned (briefly) to pause and play with a cat toy, but I spent a lot of time sitting in the tiny courtyard, chatting and stroking Guillemette. We chatted to a group of 4 foreign language students who were studying at Lyon University for a term, and who had decided that this was where they were going to study, as they missed their own cats so much!

After a relaxing hour of cat stroking, we went back to the Confluence to meet Mr FD. There was time for a bit of shopping, and then Mr FD arrived to tell us that his presentation had been successful and well-accepted.

Friend Cathy and I had decided on the evening programme, so we took him off to a waterside bar, where we had a cocktail! Rather overpriced, it must be admitted, but we thought we wanted a treat! So I chose a Grey Goose Cosmopolitan (very nice it was too!)

img_0020Yes, it is empty!

Feeling a little tipsy, we dragged Mr FD off to the next part of the planned evening……

An Indian meal!!!!!!!!!

We were the first (and only!) people there, but the waiter/owner was charming. He spoke very good English and offered to “beef up” the spice level to “English” tastes. Mr FD’s chicken biriyani was delicious and my Lamb Saag was also very good. Cathy chose something else equally yummy. The onion bhajis were a tad disappointing, as they were more like onion rings, and there were no pappadoms-and-pickle-tray (sad face) but all-in-all we were very satisfied.

I’m surprised to read some fairly negative reports on the restaurant, with recommendations for other Indian restaurants in Lyon. So maybe we should try those as well. Certainly we were satisfied – the surfeit of yummy-noises that we were emitting paid homage to that!

Generally a very good day out. Mr FD drove us home while Cathy and I sat, dozed and nursed our full stomachs!

Posted in Dormouse Doings, food, friends'n'family, Lovely Things, Me:Dormouse, out and about, special times | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

It’s difficult to say…

…but while we are not giving up totally on George – we would, of course!, be delighted if he strolled back into our lives – we are agreeing that it is likely we have lost him. We still go onto the balcony and call his name, we still walk around the village around 7.30 in the evening calling him, we still watch out for him as we drive round. But we are not really expecting to see him any longer. I hope he has been taken in by someone who thought he was lost and abandoned, and who will love him. I will think that he has been. It is more pleasant than many alternatives…

So, let’s get on with the rest of life.

While I was in the UK, it was my niece’s wedding. I hadn’t met her intended, but he seems like a fun young man.

IMG_2724Here they are fooling round in the gym in the hotel where we had a family meal.


and on their wedding day.

It was a very quiet affair – just them, 4 guests and the registrar – but Rose’s side of the family all joined up for coffee afterwards.I think Dave’s family situation is a little complicated, so they didn’t attend, save for his mum and dad.

IMG_2739Other things I did while in Liverpool were…

  1. Go to Croxteth Country Park with mum


Here are some of the flowers in the walled garden.


And mum couldn’t resist doing a bit of weeding!

IMG_2751After which she needed to sit down…!



2)  Meet up with my friend David, from summer school last year.

We met in Southport, where we talked about books, popped into Primark, walked up Lord Street, ate fish-and-chips at The Swan chippy (lovely!)

IMG_2763walked along the prom, had an enormous ice-cream and took selfies


3) Go to a performance of “RIP Mr Shakespeare” in St. George’s Hall. It was billed as a comedic look at Shakespeare plays, “with a nod to Horrible Histories and The Reduced Shakespeare Compay” It was okay, but certainly not as good as either of the things it was supposedly nodding at… It felt remarkedly am-dram, with too much focus on funny accents and not enough on projection or audibility. Still, it passed an evening, and it was good to get out.

The setting was magnificent though, in The Concert Room at St George’s Hall…



I do love Liverpool. Here is a sculpture “The Spirit of Liverpool” just outside Central Station


Next time, I’ll tell you what we did when Mum came here…

Here’s a photo to show you what a bad food blogger I am.


This is where my fish-and-chips were before the waitress took my empty plate away and I said “Oh! I meant to take a photo of my meal!!!”

A big piece of haddock, chips, mushy peas and lashings of tartare sauce. With a bottle of locally brewed beer. It was delicious!

Here’s somebody on Trip Advisor who is better at remembering than me!

Posted in CatChat, Dormouse Doings, food, Lovely Things, out and about, special times, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Quelle histoire!

What a tale (and sadly not really ended). I left you with a bit of a teaser, which some people hoped was a precursor to a happy ending to the Story of George’s Escape. But no, I’m afraid not. This is a long story, I’m afraid, with no pictures, so you may want to make a cup of tea first!

On Thursday morning I did the rounds as usual, calling George cand rattling a bag of croquettes. I headed up to the HLM housing, as we still suspected the Man of having catnapped George. He had been acting suspiciously, and, as I listed in my last post, had been seen with a big ginger/white cat but denied having one….etc etc. I spoke to Mr B (whose family have been keeping an eye on the Man, and who is sure he has George) and as I was talking the Man came out of his appartment and went to his garage.

I decided to play the innocent, as I didn’t think he knew me, or that I knew who he was, so I approached him and asked if he had seen our cat. I acted my socks off – my husband can’t sleep, I cry all the day, I said; George is like our baby, we don’t have children…do you have a cat, m’sieur?  I think I made a connection, because we talked cats, and he said that his cat was a good friend, but he was worried it would get run over…and so on. He did ask a couple of bizarre questions:

  • “Maybe your cat is in a house with children, and they play with the cat…Is your cat good with children?”
  •   “Ah, m’sieur, we don’t have children; George is like our baby. “
  • “”But when children come to your house, is he good with children? Does he play?” he insisted.
  • “Bof…je ne sais pas exactement…” I replied, wondering what’s this with the children?

Anyway, I left shortly afterwards.

In the evening I was doing my rounds, and I met Aurélie, Mr B’s daughter. We were chatting, and we turned the corner so we could see the Man’s windows. There was a big ginger/white cat at the open window.

It’s George!” said Aurélie. I rattled the croquettes, I called his name… I wasn’t totally convinced it was George, but from outside the flats to the fourth floor it looked very like him. I called again, and Aurélie insisted the cat meowed and looked as though he wanted to jump. “It’s George! It’s George!” Then the cat was removed, and the window was closed.

I was convinced. By now the entire B family had arrived, plus Mr FD and Veronique and her partner who had initially alerted us to the fact this Man had been seen with a ginger and white cat. We phoned the local Gendarmes, but they said they were dealing with another important case  and couldn’t come out just for this. They would pass by in the morning.

But he will have taken the cat elsewhere! Oh! C’est incroyable!” everyone lamented. But the Gendarme politely wished us Good Evening and put the phone down.

Then Mr Veronique said to Mr FD “OK, let’s go up to his flat and demand to see the cat!” So someone let us in, and off we went, the three of us, with everyone else trailing behind. Mr Veronique and Mr FD hammered on the door, and rang the bell, shouting that the Gendarmes were on their way, but if he gave up the cat that would be the end of the matter. Finally the Man opened the door – and he looked terrified. He started shouting back at us, but I could see that he was really upset and frightened, and I started to have my doubts.

So, using the connection we had made that morning, I started to speak quietly to him, I took his hands, I started to cry (because I was really upset and adreneline filled by now too) and I explained that we’d seen the cat at the window – what colour was his cat? I asked. Brown and white, he replied. Could I just see it, for my own peace of mind? He knew we had lost our baby, I continued…he understood how I felt… we had talked about it…Could I just go in his flat, and meet his cat?

Every time one of the others started to speak, the Man got upset again, so I sent them all away, except for Mr FD who stayed by the door. The Man let me into his flat, which was full of boxes and other things – but in a very orderly way; it wasn’t a complete mess. Just full of boxes and bags.

We found the brown-and-white cat…which was, in fact, a ginger/white cat who was a big friendly boy, who could easily have been mistaken for George from a distance, or by someone who didn’t know George. This poor guy had been accused by everyone of taking our cat, while he had this one of his own, which he called brown, but which was a rich ginger colour. Being slightly “not all there” he possibly didn’t understand the subtlties of language. I admired the cat, and stroked him; I asked his name (Bee-bee) and said how lovely he was.

We talked about cats, he told me how he had been praying for us, because he was a Christian, and we needed peace. I told him I was a Christian too, and thanked him for his prayers. He then said that people were always watching him…always accusing him…he was upset by this…then he told me how he prayed for people all the time and how he wouldn’t lie as we all have to face God…

Then, very gently, I said, could I possibly look around the rest of the appartment? Not accusing him, but for my own peace of mind?

He let me walk round the appartment, open doors, rattle the bag of croquettes, call out George’s name…There was no sign of George, and quite honestly, I don’t think he would be a good enough actor to say everything he had, and to behave as he had, if George was in the appartment. And I could see nowhere where a cat could be hidden against its will: I swear I would have heard it meeowing. Finally, with apologies, handshakes, more apologies and thanks from Mr FD and I, we left. Without George.

Everyone was waiting below…Was it George? No, it wasn’t. Are you sure? Yes. Really sure? Yes. We know our cat.

But, said Aurélie, the cat meeowed. It was George! No, we don’t think it was George that we saw at the window. But he has two cats, she insisted. No, he said he has one cat. I know he has two! Did you see two? No. There you are! He has George hidden! No, we don’t think he has.

But, said Mr Veronique, we saw him with a ginger and white cat. Yes, we replied, that’s his cat. Are you sure it wasn’t George? Yes, we are sure.

Please stop accusing this man, we said. If he has taken George somewhere else (maybe somewhere with children, and hence the bizarre questions this morning), we believe that George is safe. We are satisfied that this man loves cats and wouldn’t harm George. If he wants to keep George, and wants to bring him back to the appartment then he will, finally, make a mistake and we will see George. But, while we are keeping a slightly open mind, we don’t think he has George.

But, but, but… everyone chorused, and it struck me that they actually want this Man to have done something wrong. They do care about the fact our cat is missing, but they were rather happy to blame this Man, and they are still sure he’s Up To No Good. I just think he is different, and fragile, and I hope we have not done him harm. When he said everyone was watching him, we said, it’s not on our behalf. We have asked them to stop. (We know they won’t, and they’ll let us know if they see anything suspicious – but we did ask them not to accuse the Man any more)

And so, and so…We continue to follow up leads (there was one hopeful view, but I found a ginger/white cat in the area which is probably the one that was seen) and to trail round the village, calling and rattling croquettes. People come and talk to us, and tell us hopeful (and not-so-hopeful) stories about cats that came back (or that fell down drains and couldn’t get out again),; one woman came out to tell me she’d sent her husband to check under the church because they found a kitten there once…I was out for an hour-and-a-half last night, and the same again this morning, but no luck. We are starting to think our beautiful soft boy is gone. We hope he has been taken in by someone who thought he was abandoned and who will love him dearly, as we do.

We will continue going out and calling, but I think we need to start drawing a curtain over George.


Posted in CatChat, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 24 Comments