Meeting the Candidates.

What an interesting time I had in Paris on Thursday & Friday!

I went up on the train, and arrived at Paris-Bercy at two o’clock; making my way to the Metro station Alma Marceau I remembered the giggles that Nick and I had when we were in Paris for the Convention a few years back. There is an announcer for all the metro stations for those who have sight problems, and on Line 9 (I think) he has an outrrrrrrrrrrrrrrageous French accent – which one would expect in France, but it is more so! – Nick and I found the pronunciation of the stations on this line incredibly funny, especially when he announced the station “Miromesnil”. The other thing that made us laugh (very childish) was that as we arrived one or t’other of us would say “If I ever have a llama I’m going to call it Marceau”**

When I arrived at the American cathedral, the Junior Guild ladies were setting up for the reception before the “Town Hall” – Q&A session – at 6 pm. So I helped them layout cakes and biscuits, teacups and saucers, until it was time, and people started arriving. I’m not very good in situations like this, but I managed to “work the room” and to give each candidate the card I’d made or them. Last week I had written a verse on each one, that I somehow thought had been “given” specially for each candidate. I might be imagining this, and it was completely random, but I believe God led me to each specific verse for each particular candidate. During this time, each candidate made a personal video – we decided to do it this way, rather than asking them to bring one along, to give a level playing field: each one having someone to film it, each person being in the same room, etc so that the techno-whizzy candidates wouldn’t hold an advantage over those who are less computer savvy. You can view them here if you wish to.

Then there was the Q&A session, which was videoed so that anyone from the parishes who couldn’t make it to the live sessions (or anyone else for that matter!) can view them. This was interesting too, as we saw how each candidate answered each question – they had had the questions in advance and so had been able to prepare an answer, maybe giving the opportunity to get across their “buzz points”. But the “questions from the floor” was even more revealing – these were questions that the candidates had no warning of, and not every one got asked the same question. Here I felt certain people fared better than others, with one candidate giving what I felt was a poor answer to a question about child abuse – although it’s important to take into account this was at the end of a long and exhausting day, with the question being answered on the hoof. After further consideration perhaps a fuller, more rounded answer would have been given. If you go to this link you can see a further link to the videos taken of the sessions.

After 2 hours of questions, there was then the reception in the Deanery of the cathedral. Here it was voting delegates, transition committee, priests of the convocation – and, for the poor candidates, more close up questioning! There was, however, wine and really delicious snacks to help (or hinder!) . I got the chance to speak to the spouses a bit more, although I didn’t speak to all the candidates again.

Then I left to stay at someone’s apartment overnight. The candidates were being whisked off to Munich on Friday, for their Q&A session on Saturday, then on to Rome for Q&A on Sunday! What a whirlwind tour! With each city comes a visit to other work being done in the Convocation, such as the work being done with refugees at the Joel Narfuma Refugee Centre in Rome.

I think that for me, there is one candidate that is standing out, but my “second place” candadate has definitely changed in the light of the walkabout in Paris. I look forward to listening to the videos from Munich and Rome to see if my opinions change, or are reinforced. It’s hard not to be too biased when listening: it’s easy to think “Oh I don’t think he’s right” – so I don’t listen to his answers properly. The elections in October are going to be really interesting…

** I have several of these “If I ever have a …I’m going to call it…” jokes. For example, If I ever have a lizard I’m going to call it Eddie, If I ever have a seagull I’m going to call it George, If I ever have a donkey I’m going to call it Hotie.

EXPLANATION: Eddie Izard is a British comedian, George Segal is an American actor, and Don Quixote is, well, Don Quixote!!

Advertisements

A couple of cards

I haven’t made many cards for a while, but here’s two I have made.

The first is for a family of friends who lost their father/father-in-law/grandfather not long ago:

I didn’t want to make it too sombre, so I chose a cream/grey/yellow colour combination on a darker grey card. I hope it didn’t look too “feminine”. It’s always rather hard to know quite what colours to use in a Condolence card – I usually use purples and greys, but I was led by the background paper here.

The second is a cheerier card, made for a friend who is currently going in a clinic, for depression and alcohol related problems. She recently took an overdose – whether on purpose or not, I don’t know – and this led to her going to the clinic. Her OH has told us that she is responding well, and we hope she’ll be home in a couple of weeks. I hope this will remind her that we are all rooting for her to conquer her demons.

I often look at people’s blogs where they show their workspace – I envy those crafters who can work neatly and in an organised manner…when I’m making a card, my desk looks as though a bomb has hit it. I put things down, and can’t find them again, my glasses (which I take off for close work) get buried under drifts of paper, I have boxes of this and that balanced on top of boxes of other thises and thats…It all becomes a bit of a nightmare. And it’s a real chore to tidy up again afterwards!

I’m sure other people must be so much more organised than me!

Ooh-er, missus, that’s a big one!

Goodness – how do people who have big vegetable plots process everything that they grow?! We only get gifted stuff and I get bored, or uninspired, by what we have! Which, I realise, makes me sound like an extremely ungrateful so-and-so, but what I mean is, I haven’t exactly chosen to grow this produce, but it seems mean to turn it away.

As many people know, we’re coming to the end of the courgette/zucchini season: we were given a monster courgette by our neighbour yesterday. It’s sitting on the worktop, glaring at me balefully. It knows that I know that its skin will be tough and the flesh watery, so it won’t exactly be very nice when cooked. It knows that I know that all the recipes I can think of that use marrow/courgette (courgette cake, muffins, bread…) are not very Slimming World friendly.

 

But what it doesn’t know is that, having also been gifted an enormous bag of apples (already cooked some up to have with yoghurt for breakfast), I have found a recipe for marrow-and-apple chutney and I have lots of clean jam jars.

It will be used tomorrow…and although chutney isn’t exactly SW friendly, it certainly stretches out the “syns” so it isn’t so bad as a muffin! We’ve also run out of chutney too.

Mind you, I have got very bored of peeling apples already!

The fun is finally over.

Judy had two wishes: to see St Roch and to do a wine tasting – so that’s what we did!

On Saturday morning we went to Cervieres, which is a local Medieval village, where we went first to the church to see the stained glass window of our feted Saint

Here is St Roch, showing off his blue knickers, and Spot, the dog, with the Jammie Dodger

After a short walk around the village we headed off to Notre Dame l’Hermitage where there’s another St Roch, which I’ve shown before.

We climbed up to the viewpoint, and looked across to our village and beyond

before heading back home for a lunch of cheese (still lots left to eat ) and salad (and still eating the lettuces from my anti-wastage box too!).

Friend Alison had recommended a Wine maker to visit – they had been with friends earlier in the summer – so on Saturday afternoon, we headed over to la Domaine Vial.

We were greeted by a very barky dog, who, having alerted his master to our presence, followedus into the Cave and then promptly fell asleep. Monsieur Vial was charming – he took time to explain all the wines that they make, to help us taste them, describing what flavours we could expect, and generally chatting away. I was very gratified to actually understand everything he said, and to be able to translate where necessary. Here is M. Vial with the 9 wines we tried – two whites, two rosé, and four red, plus a sparkling wine, which was a tad too sweet for my tastes.

We each bought some wine – Mr FD and I have been entrusted with Judy & mum’s, and have to deliver it next time we go to the UK. It was a really pleasant afternoon.

A blurry photo of the barky dog.

We drove home by a different route to usual, just to give them a different view of the area, and there was time for a snooze, before going to Louis and Odette’s for an apero. Sparkling wine and delicious snacks were followed by a meal at the Hotel de la Poste, just round the corner. Another good meal – rabbit-and-prune terrine, steak (for me. Mum had duck again!), and then the splendid cheese trolley and dessert trolley. I find that after a meal I’m too full to really appreciate either, and they really are so good one could just go to the restaurant just for them!

               

It was a very pleasant meal, made even better by the fact that we didn’t have to pay for Mr FD & my meals, due to the bartering system where Mr FD’s infomatique help and advice is paid for in food!!

On Sunday it was time for mum & Judy to leave, so we decided to go over to Lyon and visit another Medieval village, this one called Perouges. It’s about 30 minutes from the airport, so it’s quite a good place to visit if you have a bit of time to kill.

We didn’t have quite as much time to kill as we could have done, so really only had time for lunch in a very pleasant restaurant courtyard, under the spreading not-sure-but-possibly-a-lime tree.

After our meal, we took Judy and mum to the airport, and dropped them off.

It was lovely to see them both, and to spend time with them. Mind you, after a week in Italy, where I walked quite some distance, and this week, when I walked another 30-odd kilometres I’ve been glad of a somewhat more restful week this week!

The Fun Continues – visiting Villages of Character

On Thursday it is the village market, so the three of us had a wander around, just seeing what there was on offer. (Nothing special – just the usual!) and then we had a coffee back at home, before having lunch.

After lunch Judy went for a walk – getting lost and being befriended by an apparently stray dog – while mum and I stayed home, as Friend Alison was calling round. After that we went for a short walk, which was interrupted by Judy phoning to say that the dog was following her, did I have any suggestions? She decided to retrace her steps, encouraging the dog to go back to where it “picked her up” so to speak, & I guessed where she was and where the dog might belong so went to meet her. My guess was correct, and by the time I met her, she had discovered that the dog belonged to a farm, and that it was, apparently, an inveterate wanderer. The bloke at the farm said that she was very kind to have bothered to bring it back!

This isn’t the correct breed of dog, but I liked the picture!

That evening, we had some apero snacks and acouple of gin and tonics, followed by Spanish pork for dinner, but I can’t remember what we did in the evening…

However I do know that on Friday we went out exploring the local “villages of character” – having first gone to Roanne to explore Noz. I bought a nice top for 3,50€ and a lot of cat food. The last time I bought some of this, the cats wolfed it down. So when I saw it in Noz again, I bought four boxes of 12pouches each. Of course, (and I should have known this would happen!) they are now refusing to eat it! We bought a sandwich in a boulangerie, and took it to the forest of l’Espinasse to eat it.

Then we went to Le Crozet, a medieval village that I have never explored before. We went to the restaurant there with friends a few weeks back, but the village was new to me. It was a delight.

We followed the Discovery Trail around ther village, and admired the beautifully restored buildings. It really was like a film set – with very few alterations, it could have been used immediately! We could imagine the Three Musketeers would come striding round a corner, buckling their swash (or does one swash one’s buckle?!) and demanding a wench to bring them goblets of wine at any moment.

As we left to move on to Ambierle we nodded a Good Day to a Dutch couple in their car.

Ambierle has an ancient priory, with a polychrome roof, typical of the region – although most examples are found further north in Burgundy, in places like Beaune. We had a look around the church, as Judy wanted to see an image of St Roch, after I had told her the story of the Saint. There were many saints depicted in the windows, but not St Roch. However, to some surprise, we did come across the same Dutch couple as we’d met in Le Crozet; slightly embarrassed we nodded at each other, and then the three of us giggled a little at the coincidence.

We had a look around the gift shop and admired the fountain in the courtyard…

… before setting out for St Haon le Chatel, another Medieval village (this time with a tea shop)

We were sitting outside the tea shop, sipping our rather disappointing teas, and nibbling our very disappointing biscuits when Judy hissed “It’s them again!” Slightly unbelievably, it was the Dutch couple again, who were arriving for tea as well. It seemed really bizarre that they were visiting the same villages as us – especially as there are other pretty villages in the area! – but we laughed awkwardly when they arrived, and had a short conversation about the biscuits. We wazlked around the village, but we were all getting a bit tired by then…No Saint Roch in the church again though…

After this we headed home, as we were going out for a meal in the evening. We went to our favourite restaurant, and had a lovely meal. There’s really only one menu – if you have a request, you need to mention when booking (which we did, as Richard, who came with us, is vegetarian) – and so we had a goats cheese and tomato terrine with salad (a late request from Mr FD, who doesn’t eat goiats cheese, meant he had air dried ham with his salad), followed by duck (specially requested for mum)

Richard had a velouté of wild mushrooms, which he said was delicious. Cheese and then a very nice dessert (which I can’t remember, but which was fruity, I think)

 

Family time

So we get back from our lovely holiday in Italy on Sunday, round about lunchtime. We had all good intentions to do cleaning and tidying, but actually felt too tired to do anything other than flop during the afternoon. So Monday morning was a whirl of cleaning again (despite our efforts the week before we left on holiday!) and at 1.15 I was ready to leave to pick mum and Judy up at Lyon airport. But Mr FD just checked the site to see if the flight was on time – annd we discovered that there had been an “incident” at the airport. A person with mental health issues, rather than terrorist tendencies, had driven a stolen car through some plate glass windows, and then onto the runway – all flights were being delayed; many were being cancelled. Happily, theirs was only delayed, by 3.5 hours, so instead of arriving at 15h they finally got through at 18h30.

We drove them home, to a wild boar casserole that I’d prepared earlier, and a good bottle of red wine.

On Tuesday we had to go shopping, as otherwise there’d be nothing to eat, so we went to Les Halles Diderot, the market hall in Roanne, where we wandered around, admiring the fresh fruit, fish, meat and charcuterie, before stopping at Mons cheese stall:

Here we went rather b-zongo (a technical term meaning “mad and reckless”) and bought vast quantities of cheese: so much that we are still eating it almost  two weeks after it was bought! I’ve taken the last few crusty bits today and made a leek-potato-and-cheese soup for lunch. We then went to Lidl, and Carrefour, but mum was feeling tired, so she & Judy had a coffee while I did a quick zip round Carrefour for the last few things.

During the afternoon Judy and I did quite a lot of cooking. You see, I have heard tell of Boites Contre la Gaspillage (Boxes against Wastage) at Lidl – boxes full of out of date/ almost out of date food, usually fruit & veg, but not always – but had never actually been at a shop at the right time. Tuesday morning was the right time! For 1€ I bought a box containing:

  • 2 boxes of raspberries, only slightly mushy, which we made raspberry coulis with.
  • 2x500g boxes of grapes – when picked over, we got about 500g of good fruit from them.
  • 2x500g of carrots – these were mouldy, but when Judy peeled them they were fine. I cooked them up and froze them.
  • a wrinkly aubergine – I used it to make ratatouille, with
  • several large, slightly squashy tomatoes.
  • 6 Pink Lady apples – which are fine.
  • 6 Little Gem lettuces – slightly black round the tips of the leaves, but just needing a good trim
  • Half a cucumber

Not bad for 1€!! I was very impressed. That afternoon Mr FD had an interview, which actually turned out not to be an interview but an offer of some short term work. He needs to decide whether to take it on. The problem is that it might preclude him from taking on another job, should he find one…So he’s thinking about it at the moment.

Tuesday evening was Music Night! Cathy had organised another music night up at her place, so we gathered for drinks and food – I made a smoked salmon and broccoli pizza, and a salami and tomato tart to take – and singing and playing into the evening. Judy had brought her penny whistle with her, so she played some folk songs, and we sang to Beatles and Johnny Cash. A great time was had by all!

On Wednesday we went to the Pilat mountains, about an hour’s drive from us. Here we have a lovely walk that we like doing, which is called Le Gouffre d’Enfer – the Jaws of Hell. Which sounds way more difficult and scary than it is!

Mum, Judy & Mr FD ready to enter the Jaws of Hell – dum,dum, DAH!!!!!

It’s actually a gentle meander through a dry river valley, which then reaches a huge wall – which is the barrage, built in the reign of Napolean III, behind which is a large lake.

At the side is a winding flight of steps – no idea how many, but this is the view from the top of the barrage:

 

My 89 year old mum climbed these steps quicker than I did!

A view of the resevoir behind the barrage.

Then we followed the path back down to the car park, pausing to take in the view of the village of Rochetaillé

and to pose for photos

We had lunch in a pizza restaurant in the village – we usually go to the traditional Auberge, but neglected to check if it was open. Not on Wednesday. Never mind – we all enjoyed our meals, and I introduced Judy to the wonder that is a Café Gourmand – basically, coffee with mini tasters of desserts.

After this we drove up to the Cret de Perdrix, a summit with a good view. There’s about a kilometre walk up to it, and mum managed very well. The descent was a bit less easy, being very rocky, and mum being less confident of her balance, but with Mr FD’s hand and guidance she succeeded in getting down without too much difficulty. This photo shows the uneven ground underfoot

A further kilometre or so and we were back at the car…time for a drink! Mr FD also thought it was time for dessert, as he hadn’t indulged in a Café Gourmand at lunchtime. So he had a banana split. I hope he likes chantilly cream!!!

     

The rest of us had a variety of cold drinks and relaxed on the comfortable chairs in the sunshine, or the shade, depending on our preference. Finally we decided it was time to go, and we made our way home, with only a small diversion, as Mr FD took the wrong road.

We had a bottle of Asti, bought in Italy, which was very nice, and then for dinner we had  a chicken-and-vegetable tray bake. Cheese followed – we had a lot of cheese left to eat! But, TBH, we were all still quite full from lunch! Then we watched a DVD of “Brooklyn” which I very much enjoyed.