Last week’s struggles (!)

So what did I get up to?

On MONDAY evening, I went with Friend Cathy to a Nordic walking group – sadly there were only the two of us, plus the leader, so she doesn’t think she’ll carry the group on. It’s a shame, as it was at a good time: between 6.30 & 7.30, so not too late to have dinner afterwards. There is a group on Monday mornings, which I might try to get to when I’m not working.

I did find there was more to it than “walking with poles” and Laure, the leader, was less than complimentary about my “body conciousness”. However with arthritis in both  knees, a wobbly right ankle and foot, plus a crumbling disc or two, it doesn’t matter how concious I am of my body, I know that it hurts from time to time! She suggested I went to her exercise class on Monday evening, but I can’t see me keeping it up TBH. So I won’t.

So, on Monday I did 1 hours Nordic walking.

WEDNESDAY: 2 km round the Port in Roanne. From this aerial shot, you can see my route

Start at the car park in the top left hand side of the picture, down the right of the basin, over the footbridge (1 km) then down the other side, between the canal and the river. A little bit extra at the end to make it up to 2 km. There! Done at a pace of 11.55 mins/km. Not too shabby. But not too quick, either.

I know I should have gone for a walk on either Thursday or Friday, as both days I was only working half day, but somehow I just couldn’t be arsed.

On Saturday it was lovely weather outside – inside the house it was cold. The house, which is old & stone, has taken on its winter chill, and the warm sun outside wasn’t making much impact, so I thought I should ghet out into the sun. I borrowed Mr FD’s walking poles, (a little too tall for me, and jammed into their height. I couldn’t twist the mechanism to change the height.) and headed out.

I completed 4.35 km, and although my pace is down on Map My Walk as 12.58 minutes/km, I reckon I can take about 1 minute off that, for pauses made when taking off my jumper (hot!!), getting tangled in my poles, stopping for a breath and forgetting to press “Pause Workout” and so on. Even so, 11.58 isn’t great, but with the poles I felt I’d had more of a workout than without them. They do also mean I seem to walk faster – though that may not be the case!

The only problem is that, due to being shaky on my balance, I do have to watch the ground constantly, when I’m walking off road, which means I don’t get to look at the countryside. Which is a bit sad.

I thought about going out on Sunday too, but got very involved in drawing Celtic knots – fascinating work! – so didn’t.

Piddling with rain today, so I’m not going out in that, and working all tomorrow. However, a cancelled lesson on Wednesday means that I have time for a longer walk. That will be the one I did the Wednesday before last, round the Gravel pits

You can’t quite see it all on this photo, as the route goes round the lower lake (bottom right hand corner) then up between the river & the lake, to where you see the first tree lined path splitting the lakes. Past the horses in the fields, and the house/visitor centre (R-H side of pic) and back to the car. 3.28 km, which I did last time at 11.53 min/km. Let’s see if I can shave a couple of seconds off that, shall we?!

A little bit of Christmas crafting

Over on ConfuzzledomBev wrote about making Christmas cards, and apologised for the fact that she mentioned Christmas in September. But as anyone who makes their own Christmas cards knows, the sooner you start, the better.

As I wrote in a comment: I too am producing Christmas cards – and Thanksgiving cards – at the moment because I try to sell them at the annual church Convention (end of October) to raise money for the charity Phone Credit for Refugees. I’ve made about 20 so far, but am going to work on lots more, as I’ve done a piece of ZIA that I’ve photocopied 40 times to put onto cards. What I must remember is that if the Bishop’s secretary asks me if I can handmake 200 cards for the Bishop to send out my answer this year must be “Sorry, no”. I said Yes last year and then spent every weekend, in November – and several evenings – churning out Christmas cards. It rather sucked the joy out of the creative process – although there were two good things that came out of it: 300€ for the charity, and a lot of rejects that I used for my own Christmas cards that year!!

I really MUST remember to say “No” if Sophie asks me – however flattered I am!

But I have made quite a lot of cards using a new piece of ZIA

Having reduced it a little, I then took 40 colour photocopies, and have started to make cards like these:

As you can see they are all fairly simple, and I can put together about 8 of these in an hour. If I can sell them at 2,50€ each, or 10 for 11€ then hopefully I should make a fair few bob for the charity.

I have made some others too – these were using a fold that I saw in one of the many card making magazines that I have bought over the years when I’m in the UK.


Sorry if the photo isn’t very clear – I’m not very good at photographing my cards anyway, and these are in plastic wrapping too, which doesn’t help.

For these I used various papers, embellishments & tags, all purchased at Noz over the years. Cheapskate. I also had to experiment quite a lot to get the square in the right place  – and having finally succeeded I forgot where I wrote the measurements. But I used the ones that weren’t quite right anyway, as you can see:

…and the gold card used on this one came from a chocolate box!

Some others were fairly quick makes, using a Make-Your-Own-Christmas-Cards set (again from Noz – I love that shop!!!) but with a few extra embellishments:

The “vintage” look tag that I used on this one was from a pack of 10 for 50cents! Yes, Noz again!

And for others I just used recycled Christmas cards that we had received:

Those I don’t sell at Convention I can try to sell at Church, and those I don’t sell at Church I can use for my own Christmas cards. Or keep for next year – I still have some of the rejects from the Bishop’s cards to sell (slightly wobbly cutting, or paper which I decided wasn’t appropriate after all!) this year. Why not?

Exercise (or lack of it!)

Oh dear…My 10 minutes every day hasn’t done too well!

Although I have managed a few walks this week:

Tuesday: 1.5 km at an average pace of 11.47 minutes per km

Wednesday: 3.28 km at an average of 11.53 minutes per km

Saturday: 2.15 km at an average of 12.07 minutes per km.

I had been planning to do a walk on Friday too, but somehow, when it got to Friday lunchtime I couldn’t be arsed and I preferred to sit in the sunshine with my book and a delicious Vegetarien Gourmand sandwich – creamy cheese, carrot, marinaded courgette, edema beans, and a delicious dressing, in crusty, seedy baguette.

None of the walks were done at any great pace, as they are nowhere near the 12 kph that is apparently brisk walking. Mind you, I had a virtual conversation with the lovely Mrs M who is slim and fit and does lots of walking/running which went like this:

I had blogged about having a bit of a tumble, which had put a stop to my walking

  • MRS M: Oh no I was at first reading thinking yes this is great but then ouch! I hope you aren’t too badly bruised and can get back into a routine again soon!
  •  FAT DORMOUSE: I’ve managed a couple of walks since then…but I have thought again about the recommended 12 kph an hour. That seems impossible! My maths was wrong (twice!) and I’ve worked out that I am doing 1.6 km in about 21 minutes. So that’s nowhere near 12 kph. It’s more like 4.8 km/h Which is ridiculously slow compared to what I’m supposed to be doing. But 12 kph requires you to do 1 km in 5 minutes. Is that possible, without running? I was fairly knackered after my miserable effort! I think I shall not bother about trying to reach 12 kph at the moment, but just get on with walking in a way that makes me breathless. Sorry. This isn’t a “reply”, it’s another blogpost!! 🙂
  • MRS M: There is no way you can walk 1km in 5 minutes! I walked 4k in 17 minutes the other day and I wasn’t out of breath but felt like it was far enough! I think as long as you keep going at a pace you can manage you are doing some good. You will be able to walk further and quicker in time, try not to over think it 😊


1 km in 5 minutes does seem a bit scary. Especially as I’m doing my kilometres in more than double that. Still, I suppose if I could get it down to 1 km in 10 minutes that would be good.

And no walk today. It’s piddling down. Maybe next week!!

Crafting and Umbrellas

Not “crafting umbrellas” – I wasn’t making umbrellas, you understand!

While the English on this Lolcats annoys me – the cat left his umbrella at home, he didn’t forget his umbrella at home – it is such a perfect illustration that I felt I had to use it.

On Thursday morning the sky was an ominous grey when I left the house, so I grabbed my waterproof. Which doesn’t have a hood. By the time I left the company where I had been working all morning, ready to drive to ILS (the language school where I work), it was pouring down. Torrential. The car park for ILS is about a 3 minute walk from the offices, so I knew I was going to get soaked, even with my waterproof.

And I didn’t have my umbrella with me.

I had forgotten it.

I had left it at home.

So I decided to nip into Gifi and buy a cheap one. Which I did.

When I arrived at ILS, the rain had reduced itself to a drizzle. By the time I parked the car (it was a tight fit, and the car is big!) and taken a phone call, the rain was spitting and spotting. By the time I reached ILS, the sun had come out and it was blue skies for the rest of the day. AND I found that I had my umbrella at the bottom of my capacious handbag after all.

I hadn’t forgotten it.

I hadn’t left it at home.

But finally, no umbrella was necessary anyway. Sigh.

On a cheerier note, it was the birthday of Friend Alison’s daughter. She is reaching pre teenager-hood. So I gave her a voucher for H&M, two sparkly nail varnishes, and a pair of delightful cat socks, which someonehad given me, but which (sadly) were too small. Like these:

And, of course, I made her a card. I took inspiration from one of the many card making magazines that I buy in the UK. I usually buy them for the free gifts, as a lot of the cards that they demonstrate use cutting dies, or heat guns, or embossing glitter, or this…or that…which I don’t have.This time, I decided to find a card I liked, then try to replicate it with the materials I had.

The instructions that were given were for using fabrics, and sewing machines, and other stuff. I “translated” it into using paper and glue…and I made this:

this picture taken without a flash

this taken with a flash

I used papers from my stash, most of which I’ve been given, plus lots of ephemera/ commercial embellishments that I have bought in Noz. The little bronze embellishment was given to me by Monique across the road – she gave me a bundle of little brass charms from her antique shop, which I have been slowly using on cards. This one shows the Eiffel Tower.

There is a pocket on the card, into which I popped some motivational messages:

  • You are braver than you believe, stronger than you appear and more talented than you ever dreamed possible
  • You are a strong girl – never forget that.
  • Nothing is impossible
  • You are pear-fect

I think she liked it all. I was certainly rather pleased with the card – even though it was a tyad too front-heavy so you had to prop it open quite carefully!


First of the Autumn

Hot water bottle, that is.

Not at night, but just tucked behind my back while I’m at my desk, to give a little extra warmth. It’s not cold enough for the heating, but the warmth of a hottie bottle is very comforting on a miserable Sunday afternoon.

Though it’s only miserable because of the weather – we had an adult christening/baptism at church, which was lovely, and I sang loudly to Rend Collective both there and back again. We have a pork-and-apple casserole to look forward to tonight, with roast potatoes & roast butternut squash. So I’m not mibsy myself. At the moment I’m in a reasonably good place, which is nice.

Birds on the Wire

We were at Friend Richard’s for apèros on Tuesday – which was lovely. He provided so many delicious nibbly things that we didn’t need dinner when we got home! We sat outside until gone nine, watching the light fade over the hills, and the bats come out. He lives at the end of a road up in the hills – beyond him is a forest track, and a lot of trees – so the views are lovely.We could see the lights of the village twinkling in the valley, as the stars started to appear above us. All this, good friends and good wine. What more could you ask for?

One topic of conversation was the signs that autumn is on the way, and Friend Alison mentioned how she has noticed the swallows are now starting to gather on the telephone wires, and twitter about whether it’s time to set off for the South.

Whenever I see this sight, I always say (or, at least think) “The birds are writing music again”!

Someone else thinks this too…Or,at least, thought about how birds can make music. Not quite as delicate as sitting on wires, there is a Liverpool artist, who left  large pieces of paper, marked with music staves, on the ground in various parks around the city ,and then waited to collect pigeons to  contribute to her music. From the position of their, um, “droppings” she collaborated with a musician to convert this into a piece of music.

If you link to this article you can hear the music that was finally created.

Hey, listen! They’re playing our tune!

Another piece of music created from birds is one I think I have linked to before. In fact, I much prefer this one to the pigeon poo music. It is made from the positions of the birds on the wire:


One morning while reading a newspaper, Jarbas Agnelli saw a photograph of birds on an electric wire. He cut out the photo and was inspired to make a song using the exact location of the birds as musical notes. He was curious to hear what melody the birds created. He sent the music to the photographer, Paulo Pinto, who told his editor, who told a reporter and the story ended up as an interview in the newspaper. It ended up Winner of the YouTube Play Guggenheim Biennial Festival.

I’m not at all musical, but here’s a challenge to my musical readers: can you make music with the birds?

Spring cleaning in autumn!

Well! Goodness me! What a busy time I’ve had of it!

I have been thinking about getting a filing cabinet for ages, to try to get me to be better at filing important papers. At the moment they’re just stuffed in a box, because I am too lazy to find the right folder for them, and it’s a bit of a bind sorting through all the folders to find the right one. So on Thursday Friend Cathy and I went to Clermont Ferrand.

I wanted really to buy one here:

which is “Nouvelle Vie” (New Life) a depot that takes old office furniture, restores it, giving handicapped people work, and then resells it. Excellent idea, but they didn’t have what I wanted, so in the end I went to Ikea. I bought a white, three drawer cabinet, & after lunch, some other shopping, and a quick visit to ILS (where I work) to do some photocopying I brought it home.

Then, on Friday morning, Mr FD made it up as it was a flat pack, and I decided to fill two of the drawers with my teaching resources…and so I had to move files, and then I pulled out a few drawers…and before you know it, my study looked like this:

and thisand this

It was a nightmare! I couldn’t move without treading on something I’d randomly tossed onto the floor. And when Jasper came exploring the teetering piles on the desk, you can guess what happened!

But after Friday afternoon, Saturday afternoon, and most of Sunday working on it, I can say that my study is re-arranged and generally looking much better organised.

(Yes, I decided to move the filing cabinet, as it was blocking some light. Of course, I decided to do that after I’d filled it!)

I know that for some people it probably still looks incredibly cluttered – and actually, I would agree – but I do love having my “stuff” around me. And this is not only where I work & prepare lessons, (all the stuff I need for that is on the filing cabinet/folders side of the desk) but also where I do my crafting (that’s the stuff kept on the shelves in the behind-the-door area on the first photo) so there are a lot of things to get into a relatively small space.

The amount of papers that had been duplicated, or copied just-in-case, or actually weren’t very good resources was amazing! It took three trips to the recycling bins to take all the paper/card that was being thrown out. At least it can be recycled. I would feel horribly guilty if it was just being thrown away!

I do have to admit that there are still drawers (including one of the filing cabinet drawers) that still need purging and tidying, but that will have to wait until next weekend – this week I’m properly back at work, so won’t have much time for anything other than preparing lessons.

Today is Mr FD’s birthday. I played him this when he came downstairs for breakfast

I’m not sure he appreciated it. The cats had instructed me to buy him a box of chocolates from Jeff de Bruges, and I gave him a book

He had already treated himself to a brand new phone, and a flash for his camera, so I wasn’t going to go mad buying him other things!!

Tonight’s dinner is pulled pork, with jacket potatoes and HM coleslaw, and a cake from the patisserie. We were out for lunch yesterday with the Cycle Club – to be fair, they earned their lunch by cycling 100 km in hilly countryside. I just drove there with Friend Cathy and Odette.

There were bottles of red and rosé wine, plus decanters of kir as an aperetif already on the table when we arrived. As I was driving I only had a mouthful of each.We started with salad:

of sausage, with beetroot, asparagus, palm hearts, carrot, sweetcorn, lettuce.


beef in wine sauce and mashed potato. The beef had been cooking for ages – it fell apart! Which was quite lucky, as there wasn’t much room, and I could only use one hand. The meat was so tender I could “cut” it with a fork. Very delicious.

I went round with a bag afterwards, collecting the leftovers for the Poor Cats – who loved it!

Then we had cheese, or fromage blanc. I chose Fromage blanc for a change – but I had some fromage sec as Mr FD didn’t want his goaty cheese! I forgot to take a photo, but here’s Friend Cathy eating hers:

And finally Pear cake and custard.

It looks a bit stodgey, but the sponge was very light. I was quite full by now, so I picked out the fruit and ate that, and had a tiny bit of the cake part.

So, he doesn’t have a very special birthday tea, as we had lunch out yesterday!

Thank you for your comments – I know lots of people read but don’t comment, but it’s lovely when people do say something!