One of the Broken…

One of the Broken by Prefab Sprout

I was listening to this song recently, and thought the words were so meaningful.

Hi, this is God, here.
Talking to me used to be a simple affair.
Moses only had to see a burning bush,
And he’d pull up a chair.
Well it’s been a long time since we talked in that way,
If you’re wondering what to say
Sing me no deep hymn of devotion.
Sing me no slow, sweet, melody.
Sing it to one, one of the broken,
And brother, you’re singing, singing to me.
I remember King David,
With his harp and his beautiful, beautiful songs.
I answered his prayers,
And showed him a place where his music belongs.
It’s not too far from here, come get up off your knees.
If you’re looking for ways to please,
Sing me no psalm, you’re not King David.
Sing me no high, hushed, Glory Be.
Sing it to one, one of the broken,
And brother, you’re singing, singing to me.
Sing me no deep hymn of devotion.
Sing me no slow, sweet, melody.
Sing it to one, one of the broken,
And brother, you’re singing, singing to me.
God is calling us to serve him not through “hushed Glory Be”s but rather through service to the hurt and broken of this world. That’s the kind of music that God wants us to create – but it’s a lot harder than standing up in church and singing words that actually don’t mean very much.

Avoiding la Fete Patronale (as much as possible!)

Last weekend it was the Fete Patronale of our village. This is when the whole village has a fun time, with a travelling fair, and fireworks, and fun events for the Kiddies. It starts on Friday night, when the fairground opens, with flashing lights, and loud music, and goes on through to Monday evening, when the fair has its last hurrah. There are fireworks on Saturday night, and the fair shuts down about midnight that evening; on Sunday the loudspeaker bellows out its announcements and running commentary. The main street with its parking is taken over by the stands selling candy floss, and hook-a-duck and shooting stalls…

Did I say “the whole village”? Hmm, maybe not. We overlook the square where the fair sets up. We are therefore subject to all the noise and inconvenience from Thursday onwards. We get mightily pissed off by it. (as you can tell by the fact I’ve written a post complaining about it practically every year I’ve been writing this blog!!!) But, it’s part of village life so we can do no more than try to live with it. And, thanks to a friend and Mr FD, this year was the most bearable it’s been.

Friday evening wasn’t too bad – we closed all the shutters and had the TV a bit louder than usual. When we went to bed, the music was still going – the bass in particular was reverberating through the air – but I was so tired that I managed to fall asleep, despite the noise. Mr FD put on his noise cancelling headphones and listened to the radio until the fair closed down.

On Saturday, the noise didn’t really start until about 3 o’clock, when Mr FD suggested we took ourselves off somewhere. We couldn’t decide where, but finally we took our books, music and a bottle of water up to the local chateau, where there was a bench beneath the shade of a plane tree. We spent a (almost) peaceful afternoon there: we could still hear the music, and especially the rhythmic thump of the bass, but it was dulled enough to be able to ignore it. We were joined for much of the time, by this charming little cat

We went home at 6.15, feeling thoroughly refreshed and at peace. We then went up to Friend Richard’s – he lives about 5 km outside the village, and had kindly offered to let us sleep at his place that night. We had a meal with himù and Friend Cathy, and then drove down to the village to feed the cats and to make sure they were OK during the fireworks. Then we drove back to Richard’s. We settled into bed – but even there we could still hear the bass beat and the faint sound of music floating on the night air! We were grateful not to be in the midst of it!

On Sunday afternoon, we decided to do the same thing, so we took our books etc., plus a couple of flasks of hot water and tea bags, and scones (for afternoon tea!)  back to “our” bench. We read and listened to podcasts until about 6.30. Then we spent the evening with all shutters tightly closed watching TV. We couldn’t work out how Pomme could sleep quite happily out on the balcony, with the flashing lights, wailing sirens from the dodgem cars, and thumping bass. But she was happily sleeping away the evening! Although I wasn’t as tired as on Friday, I told myself that, as I am perfectly capable of falling asleep in front of the TV, I was able to drift off to sleep with the thump of music as a background noise. And I did!

Today is the last day for the Fete – I think they have even started to dismantle some of the stands. So we can breathe a sigh of relief that it’s all over for another year…and we weathered this year better than most!

 

Thank you Kezzie…Part III

Kezzie  has provided the inspiration for the last two posts, and finally for this one too! Answering 60 questions about oneself. Here’s the last 20

41. Cooking or baking? Hard to choose as I enjoy both (although the everyday cooking gets a bit boring!) (Hence the reason for my answer 40) If I had to choose, I suppose it would be cooking, as one cannot live on cakes alone.Baking is more pleasurable however; I don’t “do” yeast though. It rather disturbs me.

42. Favourite Baked goods? Oh, how to choose?! I think flapjacks – so easy to make but so delicious!! Note that is UK Flapjacks not US flapjacks (which are pancakes. What’s that about?) Recipe here, should you wish to try it! If you can’t get golden syrup, then honey or Agave syrup can be substituted, but the quantities & cooking time may need adjusting.

43. What is something you wish you could be good at? Gosh, there are so many! A not-particularly-useful thing is singing. I’ve got a loud and serviceable singing voice, but I wish it was better. A more-useful thing would be being organised, or as Kezzie said, not worrying about stuff. There’s an envelope saying “Important Information Included” waiting to be opened. I worry about what’s inside it, so I don’t open it. Stupidstupidstupid.

44.  Skiing or surfing? Like Kezzie, neither. I never took to skiing, and surfing seems just as difficult with the added “bonus” of getting seawater up every orifice. I have wobbly ankles and no balance.

45. First celebrity crush? As far as I can remember it was Ben Murphy, from “Alias Smith & Jones” I had photos of him stuck onto the lid of my desk at school.

 

Then…and now (I actually prefer the “now”!)

46. Most recent celebrity crush? Alan Rickman, always Alan Rickman. But actually Ben Murphy has just surprised me!!

47. What colour was your prom dress? Proms didn’t exist when I left school. We had a Leavers’ Meal and Disco, somewhere in Liverpool city centre – very grown up! I have no idea what I wore!! I do remember that for my 21st birthday party, held at college (university equivalent) – which I shared with friends Diane and Lynne – I wore a cream knee-length dress.

48. How do you manage stress? I don’t! As a result of my hormonetherapy, I get stupidly over anxious.

49. What do you do to relax? Blog, read blogs, art “journalling”, zentangling, reading.

50. Shoes or bags? If the question is asking what do you have more of, then I guess it’s shoes. I’m always on a quest to find comfortable shoes, that are also elegant. I haven’t found them yet. Especially as I can’t walk in heels of any height. I like bags, but don’t buy a lot of them (handbags, that is. I have myriad tote bags, but I’ve not bought many of them. They’re mostly gifts) I am very frugal buying handbags though – the ones I like are usually far too expensive to buy!

51. How do you know if you’re in love? Crikey! How to answer? I like Kezzie’s answer (more borrowing!) Worrying about that person, wanting to make things better for them, still loving them even when they are mean to you or drive you mad.  Not sure really.

52. Who do you turn to when you’re sad? Usually I turn in on myself. I’m not very good at sharing sadness. Mr FD only wants to try to “fix” it, or rationalise it, and that doesn’t really help.

53. What are you most enchanted by? The night sky.

54. What is your biggest strength? No idea. If we ask what am I good at – teaching, preaching, Some have said I’m a good listener, and am empathetic. I don’t know if that’s so. I like to think I’m usually kind, but I can also be very ungenerous.

55. What is your biggest weakness? I’m very lazy. And disorganised. And a worrier/panicker. Mr FD says I panic first and ask questions later, and that’s becoming more and more my default position. I don’t think I’d be very good in a crisis.

56. What are 3 words to describe living in your city? I live in a small town/big village. Quiet…humdrum…pleasant…

57. Cutest thing on planet Earth? Probably something with baby animals, especially kittens

58. Favourite colour? I honestly don’t have one! It rather depends on my mood.

59. Favourite time of day? The moment of silence when I turn off the car ignition outside my house after a long day’s work. Especially if I know Mr FD has cooked dinner!

60. Favourite band? I don’t have one – but here are a few that I really like: Elbow, Rend Collective, Big,big Train, The Divine Comedy.

Stealing from Kezzie: Part 2

Here’s the second part of the series of questions that I’ve borrowed/stolen/copied from Kezzie

21. How do you start your day? It depends on whether it’s a work day or not, but it usually involves some cat wrangling! I prefer to be showered and dressed before I have breakfast.

22. Would you ever live anywhere beside where you do now? Yes, quite happily. Now we have lived in France – which had always been a dream – I would be prepared to move back to the UK….though I think we’d be looking at Scotland, rather than England. Depending on what happens with Brexshit we may have to move back, but probably not.

23.  What is your favourite dessert? I don’t really have one. Although I love chocolate, I wouldn’t usually choose a chocolate dessert; I prefer fruity ones.

24.  Is there a dessert you don’t like? See above: anything too chocolatey-and-cream-laden.

25.  It’s a brunch! What do you eat? Full English breakfast, please, followed by toast-and-marmalade. And lots of good coffee.

26.  Where was the best vacation you’ve ever taken? Ach, there’s too many lovely holidays to remember, all of them special for different reasons. I couldn’t choose!

27.   Favourite Disney animal? Don’t really have one. Maybe Puss in Boots from Shrek. Is that Disney?

28. What is a book you are planning on reading? “Iris & Ruby” by Rosie Thomas. “The Last Runaway” by Tracy Chevalier – I came across both of these as I was clearing my bookshelf and thought I needed to re-read them.

29.  What did you read most recently? I read “The Virgin Blue” by Tracy Chevalier while on holiday, as it was partly set in the region where we were staying. And also “Skelly’s Square” by Stephen Black as it’s by someone whose blog I read. Both were very good.

30. Favourite solo artist? I don’t have a favourite, but among those I like are…Hafdis Huld, Sting, Paul Carrack, Richard Hawley….

31. What is something you’re tired of? Brexshit. ‘Nuff said. And joint pain.

32.  What is a city you want to visit? I’d like to revisit Amsterdam. I’d like to vist Copenhagen, Rekyavik, maybe New York, Prague…

33.  Heels or flats. It has to be flats. I can’t walk in heels of any height.

34.  Where does one go on a perfect toad trip? Anywhere that appeals! The French countryside is hard to beat!

35. What do you do on a rainy day? It depends on my mood, but often it’s blogging or art work of some description.

36.  What is your favourite exercise? I’m afraid that’s an oxymoron to me!

37.  What was your worst subject at school? I was no good at maths – Up to the last year in Primary school I loved maths, but then we were taught Binary numbers, which I couldn’t understand. It put me off for the rest of my life (except for a brief spark of interest with some kind of graph) When I found out I’d passed maths “O”level, I told my maths teacher, who responded with “Well, Alison, life is full of little surprises!”

38.  Which animal do you identify with most? Cat – I love sleeping and eating.

39.  What do you usually eat for breakfast? On a work day I have a big glass of orange-juice-and-water, egg on toast, and coffee. I’ve just started having a pro-biotic yoghurt too. On a non-work-day, it’s the juice combo, toast and jam, and coffee.

40.  What do you usually eat for dinner? I don’t “usually” have anything. In fact Mr FD sometimes complains that I’ll cook something nioce and then we never have it again! I’ve got loads of home-created recipe books with different recipes in. If we have the same thing twice in a month it’s unusual! I’m trying to have fish once a week, vegetarian twice a week, and less meat on the other days…but it doesn’t always work out like that.

 

 

 

Stealing from Kezzie…

…or maybe, being inspired by Kezzie!

Not sure what to blog about (now I’ve finished the epic My Holidays posts) I thought I’d borrow/steal Kezzie‘s recent posts, which she borrowed/stole from Bev, which she borrowed/stole from… and so on!!

So here we go: 60 questions Part 1

1. What’s the best thing that happened to you this month? This has to be my holiday, I think. Though a friend offering to pay for a cleaner to come in to clean the house comes a close second!! (And, yes, I’m taking her up on the offer!)

2. What’s your favourite game? I don’t play many games, to be honest. I like Cribbage – we took the crib board away with us, but didn’t play – and I’m currently playing a lot of Simon’s Cat “Pop Time” on the phone, but I’m not much of a game-player.

3.  When are you most inspired? Not often….I suppose nature quite often “does it” for me, or sometimes a few words from a Bible verse or poem.

4.  If you could teach one subject at school, what would it be? I wouldn’t want to teach any one subject, as that implies we’re teaching in secondary school, which I certainly don’t want to do!! If I was teaching motivated, well behaved people then maybe it would be back to Religious Studies, which is what I specialised in at University. Or drama…but I don’t think I’m good enough to teach it.

5.  Favourite beverage: red wine. Or maybe single malt whisky. No, I think red wine.

6. What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received? I honestly don’t know. The one I remember (though not word for word) was one from a parent at the end of a difficult school year with her son. He had been extremely tricky to work with, but we’d persevered, and for the first time ever he’d received his green certificate (they went green-blue-gold) for merit points. She wrote me a poem to say Thank You.

7. What is your favourite birthday cake? Any birthday cake I’ve not had to make for myself!

8. What is one thing you still have from childhood? I still have Pooh Bear – he wasn’t actually my bear, but I rather took him over. And I still have the blanket my grandmother crocheted for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the blanket, and Pooh Bear. If you’re wondering about the strange blue hat, this was my (failed) attempt at crochet! Instead of being flat and square, it came out round and hat shaped. So Pooh and Shaun are modelling it. And Shaun is sitting on the blanket crocheted by Nana.

9. What is your favourite film? Either “The Princess Bride” or “Truly, Madly, Deeply” Both fabulous in their different ways.

10. What is something you can’t do? Crochet (as demonstrated above) Or roll my tongue.

11.  Window or aisle seat? It depends if there’s anyone sitting next to me. But usually aisle, as I need to stretch my legs out after a bit, as my knees start hurting if they’re bent for too long.

12.  What is something that makes you laugh no matter what? Not sure, really. There must be something, but I can’t think what.

13.  What are your favourite lyrics of all time? As Kezzie said: Not a clue!! There are lots of lovely lyrics by talented writers. I couldn’t pick just one.

14.What is your favourite holiday? Presumably this means “public holiday”…both Easter and Christmas, for their religious significance. Christmas for the rest of the “trappings”. I like presents!

15. What’s heavily played on your music play list right now? I don’t have a “playlist” as such, but I’ve recently listened to a lot of Big,Big Train and Hafdis Hult.

16. If you could raid one woman’s closet, who would it be? Aargh. No idea! If I was the right shape, maybe it would be Hazel, over at World of Joy who always looks so well put together. But she and I are different shapes!!

17. Must have purse item? Keys…purse…phone…painkillers. If I’ve got them with me I feel OK.

18. What did you want to be when you grew up when you were 12? An archaeologist. This was my dream until I was told I couldn’t be one as I’d not learned Latin at school. Which is a load of rubbish, but as it was the Careers Officer at school who told mer this, I believed her.

19. What is something you will not be doing in ten years? Working? I’ll be 69 by then, but who knows what the pension age will be! Maybe I’ll have to work!

20. What is an important life lesson for someone to learn? I think I agree with Kezzie who said: That you do not have to follow what everyone else is doing? You can do something you feel very strongly is morally right, even if it makes you unpopular. If you do it, others will start to get it eventually. But, to try and be kind when doing it. Also to trust in what you believe.

I think this is important. But, put simply, maybe those words from Micah are a good lesson to learn…that one should Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our Lord.

 

Day 7: The Last Goodbye

We’d come to the last day of our holiday: Mr FD had wanted to hire an electric bike, but events had conspired against us, in that the local bike hire shop had hired all their bikes to a group, and the other one was slapbang in the middle of a town which was going to have market day today, making it too difficult to manouvre through narrow streets and park the car. As it was, he wasn’t feeling 100% again, so we thought it best to have a quiet day.

We called in at Ganges to buy a couple of bottles of wine as gifts for friends, and then had a simple lunch of quiche and salad back at the room. In the afternoon we read and I painted a bit. It’s a picture that needs more work doing on it sometime when I feel inspired.

I’d seen a sign for an Artisan of cashmere very close by, so I decided to call in – maybe buy a Christmas present for one of the mums, I thought. So I drove up, and parked at the foot of the drive. When I went in the shop, there was the Artisan plus two customers. They all stopped and looked at me. In silence.

“I’m – um – just here to – er – look” I said

“I have a rendezvous, madame”, said the man.

“Can’t I just – um – look?”

“No madame. Au revoir madame.” Silence.

“Oh. Er – au revoir.”

And that was it.

So I went back home!

We’d already booked to go back to the restaurant at Saint Martial, Lou Regalouand thankfully Mr FD was feeling better so having packed ready for the morning (it took all of about 10 minutes) we set off for the restaurant.

This time we had the 27€ menu:

Starter: Aubergines en caviar, soupe glacée de tomates et panisses ( caviar of aubergines – basically a type of aubergine paté – with iced tomato soup and panisses. Which are untranslatable. We didn’t know what they were, (although they were yummy!) but I have subsequently discovered that panisses are a type of giant-chip-shaped chickpea purée, breadcrumbed and fried) I’ve always avoided cold soup, thinking that “cold” and “soup” are two words that shouldsn’t go together. This was much more enjoyable than I imagined.

Main course: Brochettes d’agneu de pays façon kofta, salade de pois chiches ( local lamb skewers, kofta style, with a chickpea salad) I forgot to take a photo! It was very good. Possibly not as good as the steak from Thursday, but still very enjoyable.

Dessert looked almost exactly the same as Thursday’s, differing only in that the centre was raspberry purée, and it was served with a raspberry coulis. This one was not as frozen as the one on Thursday, and I think suffered a little from that, but again, it was very good.

And home we rolled, for our last night in the room.

Here are a couple of views from the area around where we were staying:

This shows the main house. We were just down the path and turn left

Typical Cervenolles countryside

We set off the next day, bright and early, for home – it was a 4 hour drive – stopping only for a coffee at an Aire (rest stop) near this viaduct.

Can you guess who designed it?

We were home in time for a late lunch!

It was a truly delightful holiday. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about it!

Day 6: A Happy Accident

We were coming to the end of our holiday – it was now Friday – but we had had a great time so far (mostly, give or take a few grumps!) Today we were going to see the Cirque du Navacelles. The what?! you may ask.

Well, remember in geography you learned about ox-bow-lakes? (Having discussed this with an English couple we met, we decided that ox-bow-lakes and the water cycle were the two things everybody remembers from their geography lessons! At least, everybody in the UK) The Cirque du Navacelles is like an Ox bow lake on steroids (without the lake.)

We parked the car near the Visitors’ Centre and strode off to the viewpoint. There were a few people there when we arrived, and they appeared to be having a guided tour, as one woman was explaining the geology of the area.

So we started listening, and when the group moved over to the model of the area, and the guide asked more questions, we joined in! We learned about the rock, and identified different varieties: chalk, limestone, granite, “others”. It was really interesting and fun.

Then, as the group set off we asked if we could join in. The guide said Yes, but it was 6.5 km of walking, and our feet might get a bit wet. Did we have other shoes? Oh, it’s OK, I said. And so we joined in! We paused, so the guide (whose name I didn’t get. Let’s call her Mireille) could point out a cave, somewhere on the cliff face to the left

This cave was used by Protestant worshippers, during the Religious Wars in France – they had to lower themselves on a rope, or follow a dangerous, tortuous path, to reach the place where they could worship in secret. It made me fleetingly wonder if I’d be willing to do that, if I had to…

We then all piled into cars to drive to where the walk “proper” began. This was a descent down to a group of mills, which had been in place for over 900 years. They were built at the point where the river burst out from its underground flow, so these mills harnessed the power behind the water.

It was a real clamber down, and I was grateful for the help of Fiona and Charles, a British couple from Yorkshire (Mr FD was behind us as he and a couple of others had been parking the cars) who helped me down the steepest parts. We paused beside the river to have lunch and then we continued. It was a fairly brisk pace, and I did struggle to keep up at times, but Mireille stopped regularly, to instruct us on different trees and leaf forms, so I had time for a breather.

Then we came to the edge of the river and everyone started changing their shoes.

“Do you not have other shoes?” Mireille demanded.

“No…” I then realised that I had probably misunderstood when she said our feet “might” get wet…!! Finally I waded through the river in my trainers, without socks, and Mr FD started off barefoot. As it was very pebbly, he gave in halfway across, and rather wobbly, he put on his trainers. Mireille was concerned we’d get blisters, if we continued the walk in wet trainers, but actually it was fine.

When we arrived back at the cars, Mr FD, Fiona and Charles and I decided to pause for a beer and an ice cream in a delightfully eccentric little bar. It was good to sit and rehydrate – but I felt inordinately proud of myself! I hadn’t fallen/slipped/given up! Huzzah for me!

We dropped Fiona and Charles at their car and then we paused briefly to pick up something for our dinner. We had salad, a ready meal of Parmentier de Canard, and a lemon cheesecake. Again, sitting outside, enjoying the peace and quiet of our little place!