A soggy weekend in central France

It started off promisingly warm! Mr FD worked really hard on Friday in the courtyard and on the balcony, clearing pots, and sorting out the rubbish. That was A Good Thing, as I’m terrible at throwing stuff out. That old, cracked pot? It was a present from “some child at school” (but I can’t remember which child) That broken strawberry planter? It has a “rustic charm” (really?!) Those plastic pots? I could use them to plant seeds. (But I never plant seeds!!) Mr FD just took them down to the tip.

In the afternoon, I got involved in the planting  – though even that small amount of effort wore me out. I’m not sure if the fatigue is a side effect of the treatment, or due to the fact I’ve done even less exercise than usual (which is quite difficult!) and am therefore very unfit! Most probably, it’s a mixture of the two. Anyway, the balcony is now a much more pleasant place to sit. We’ve put a trellis at one end to stop Jasper eating/ scratching up/ using as a litter tray the tomato and pepper plants, and it all looks quite lovely. I’d take a photo to show you, but it’s piddling down and it wouldn’t look very attractive.

This is a picture of the balcony from a couple of years back, looking a mess!

and here it is looking slightly less-of-a-mess (again, from a different year). Note the pigeon spikes to discourage Cats from digging!!

and the courtyard.

Saturday dawned sunnily too. Which boded well for the barbecue in Clermont. Our church has been hosting Juniors Across Europe, This is an annual event for 10-13 year olds from the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, giving these young people an opportunity to meet anglophone children their own age from other churches and other countries. It is described as “A youth weekend which includes adventures, activities, thought provoking discussions, food, and so much more.” The aim being to develop relationships between churches and to be encouraged in faith and learn more about Christ… with lots of fun thrown in.

Here’s a map showing all the Episcopal churches/missions in Europe

The barbecue was to be the last hurrah of the event, and I’d persuaded Friend Cathy and Mr FD to come. I’d promised to make a dessert and a salad, so I baked my sponge, and prepped the salad on Saturday morning. The sponge was Delia’s all-in-one sponge cake, which always works for me, although this time it sank in the middle as I opened the oven at a critical moment. No matter, layered with jam, the dip filled with chopped strawberries, and served with squirty cream, no-one seemed to mind. During the day, the sky clouded over, and Mr FD started declaring doom and disaster (well, quite a lot of rain). Finally, he cried off, but Cathy & I went.

The location was the retreat centre where the kids had been staying – there was a huge covered verandah with magnificent views over Clermont Ferrand, which were very dramatic this evening, with iron-grey clouds, and a mist of rain that was swirling around, but not actually falling on us. We were able to cook and eat in relative comfort, under the shelter of the verandah, but it grew colder and colder. Finally, at about 8.30, the rain reached us, the temperature plummeted and we decided to go home. But it had been good to support the event. Although the food tasted of nothing, I did still quite enjoy it, as I chose things with texture to compliment each other.

On Sunday we awoke to rain. Steady, very wet rain. I’d committed myself to exhibiting at the little art show taking place at the Artisanat. I think the plan was to be outside under gazebos, but there was no way I could do that. Most of the artists who were working were painting actual views, so they were outside, but as I was just zentangling I installed myself at the back of the small craft shop and drew.

These photos were taken on Saturday by the secretary of the Artisanat:

Here is one of the paintings

This is the view that someone else painted of the ancient Chateau gateway…

..and here he is, painting it. The girl in the sundress and hat would have been extremely chilly, had she actually existed!

I was there all day, but didn’t do very much – a bit of chatting, giving some advice to a lady who was visiting London in a few weeks, but that’s all. However, I was accosted by a woman who obviously knew me, and whose face I recognised, but I had NO IDEA who she was. She talked, and talked and I understood the gist, finally working out that she was from the Eglise Reformée that I used to attend. At the end she asked to be remembered to a mutual friend – but I can’t do that, as I still have no idea of her name!! I sold one picture and a couple of cards, for the grand total of 13€ – I won’t be going on a world tour with that, but that wasn’t the point really. Rather like going to the barbecue, I was there to show my face, and to support the event. Which I did.

After that I had to go out to feed the Poor Cats – oh, it was wet!! The poor things were shivering and trying to hide in different, vaguely dry places. I put as many plates of food under shelter as I could, but I knew that within minutes some of the bowls would be swimming in water. At least I was able to give them some good solid nourishment, as I’d brought home a bagfull of over cooked beef burgers and some leftover chicken legs from the barbecue. Mixed with three tins of cat food, lots of cat-biscuits, and some slightly-out-of-date creme fraiche I felt they had a good meal. But it was so sad to see these poor, wet kitties, looking so miserable. I hope they all went into the shed afterwards and curled up in the duvets and blankets that are in there. We don’t really know how popular the shed is with the Poor Cats – we know Red and Bonnie used to curl up together in there, snuffling together, before they died, as we’d open up the shed and find therm there. We also know Binkie goes in, as does Cloud,  as when we open up, there’s a streak of panicked pussycat fleeing the scene, but other than those, we’re not sure. Still, cats aren’t stupid: they should be able to find a dry-ish nook or cranny to hide in – and we’ve provided the shed, a kennel and three little cat houses filled with straw. If they choose not to use them, there’s not much we can do.

I got home to Mr FD’s pulled pork, sweet potato chips and asparagus. It was, I’m sure, very nice…

Today is another rainy day. Quite chilly too. I will continue with a zentangle commission and also (maybe) make a “Just Because” card for a friend. I need to go to the pharmacy to stock up on the drugs for this round of chemo, but after Thursday it will be five down, one to go.

On 7th June it will be my last chemo! HUZZAH!!! And (hopefully) about three or four weeks after that, I may start getting some tastebuds coming back…and hair…and eyelashes!!! Believe me, you don’t realise how important eyelashes are until you don’t have them!

That may be so – but I couldn’t taste it!

(Not that I’d be licking a cat to find out…even in revenge for Bib, who comes inthe middle of the night, and licks my bald head. I can promise you, a cat’s tongue on a sensitive scalp is Not At All Comfortable!)

 

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Back home again…

Hello dear readers – I’m sorry I didn’t blog more while I was away, but a mixture of being busy, being tired, and slow wifi meant I couldn’t be bothered. Sorry! That sounds rude, but isn’t meant to be.

We had a lovely time, and I did quite a lot of things, but I have found that this time I’ve been more tired than expected.

So, I left you on Sunday evening…we’d been to the Provençal market in the morning:

a flower stall

a cheese stall

There were lots of fruit stands, selling the most delicious looking strawberries, of which we meant to buy some later in the stay, but sadly we forgot! Never mind… In the afternoon, Mr FD rode, and I stayed in the holiday village. I spent a happy hour painting this little picture of the view across to the sea:

Dinner was perfectly acceptable – it’s not haute cuisine, by any means, but there’s certainly plenty of food, which suited the cyclist and walking groups who were there this week. There was watercress soup, which was nice, and then I chose chicken in a cream sauce, with pasta and veggies. A bit of cheese, and a small portion of gateau. You can help yourself to as much as you wish, so you can imagine that the hungry cyclists certainly went back for seconds! After a short group meting and a tisane, we went back to our room to watch an episode of The Bridge.

On Monday, I decided to spend the whole day at the Botanical Gardens in Rayol, about 40 minutes drive from La Londe. I wanted to go by myself, so I could take my time, pause when I wanted to, and not have to worry about other people. I hada lovely day!

I arrived at about 10.30, and paid my 11€ entry fee. The view from the first terrace was a delight!

I sat there for a few minutes, basking inthe warm sunshine (despite being well covered!) and then wandered off through the gardens. There weren’t a huge number of flowers out, but there were lots of greenery. It’s a large area, divided into different gardens, with plants from different  areas of the world with arid/ dry/ Mediterranean climates. So there’s a South American garden, an Australian garden, a Canary Islands garden…etc

I walked up to the Pergola, and then sat for about 30 minutes, finishing off a zentangle that I’d started a while back. I left it on the seat, weighted down by a pebble, with a note saying “If you’d like this drawing, then please take it…” I don’t know if anyone did.

The view across the sea from where I was sitting was lovely too, so I spent a while just looking, and admiring. Then the wander continued, past flower beds

.

and wood anenomes

Down a shady path to discover a charmingly rustic building beside a waterfall

and then down towards the sea…

This was the view from the little terrace where I sat to read and to eat my lunch. There were seats, and a little house, which had originally been a fishing shack. With the waves lapping on the tiny beach, and the warmth of the sun, I felt quite soporific. The picnic had been provided by the holiday village – I’d already left the tub of lentil salad back in our room, as I hadn’t fancied that, but the rest was OK : a roll, some dried ham, a piece of camembert (which had become very runny in the heat), a bag of crisps, a banana, a cereal bar and a couple of biscuits. After about an hour and a half I set off again to wend my way back upwards… pausng again and again to take in the views

                          

At the top of the climb is this rather impressive house from the 1930s, due for renovation

and along to the North American garden with its impressive cacti

I sat just below this garden to paint another little picture of the view, which gave me another opportunity to rest

Time to head for home, so I slowly meandered back along the paths, taking a photo of this slightly odd plant:

I had a really enjoyable, relaxing day, and would recommend these beautiful gardens to anyone. It was particularly enjoyable because, early inthe season, there weren’t that many people. I can imagine that in the height of summer with crowds of visitors, it might be less pleasant, but no less beautiful!

I got home, and, as the cyclists hadn’t arrived, I went down to the bar for a gin-and-tonic. Then when Mr FD arrived, with some of the others I had a very nice Grimbergen “Printemps” beer.

Dinner was less impressive – it was “Italian” night (although I’m not sure any Italians would have agreed!) – vegetable soup (not even minestrone!), followed by a very mediocre Spaghetti Bolognaise, or cheese tortellini, or a seafood sauce to go with pasta. I didn’t really enjoy anything that I had, sadly. The desserts were either a Tiramisu gateau, or a strawberry gateau – which actually tasted like trifle-as-a-cake! That was nice!

Another meeting, a tisane, and then back to the room to watch another episode of The Bridge, before bed. I was tired, but content, having done just under 3.5 km of walking around the gardens.

I think I’ll tell you about Tuesday another time!

Koala Zentangle

Floating Gold asked if I could do a Koala-Panda zentangle. I plumped for the koala side of the combination and came up with this. (Click on it to see it larger)

I’m quite fond of him, I have to say! Floating Gold also said she liked him. (I think FG is a she. If not, I apologise.)

As (almost) always, the initial picture isn’t mine – I think this was taken from a photo – but the zentangling part is.

 

The Fox and the Penguin

No, this is not a new Aesop’s Fable that has been discovered, but rather the two most recent pieces of zentangling that have reached their destinations.

The Rockhopper Penguin fairly flew to his new home – I posted it “economy class” (or, 2nd class post, as I believe it’s more commonly known) on Wednesday, and it arrived Chez Chomeuse the next day. As she is better than I am at taking photos, I direct you to her site to admire the Rockhopper Penguin, or Gorfou Sauteur as it is known in French. I was really quite pleased with how he turned out – and he was quite quick to complete, as penguins have a lovely white front.

Here is a photo of a Rockhopper:

The Fox found his way to Switzerland. He must have trotted fairly quickly, as he arrived the day after Rocky had found his home.

Again, as Bev is better at photos, I direct you to her post, Foxy,Foxy where you can see him in all his glory. I haveto admit that I borrowed his pose from a drawing on t’internet – I’m not actually very talented at drawing, you see – but the zentangling is all my own.

Kezzie, if you’re reading this, you need to let me know your new address. I tried emailing you via your profile page, but I don’t know if that was successful. A copy of Mr Foxy is waiting for you.

I have two zentangles on my list to do, but if you’d like one, please let me know. My list is more organised, and is now written down, so if you’ve previously requested, but not received, a zentangle then ask me again. I have forgotten about it. The speed of production may slow down once chemotherapy starts, as I have no idea how it will affect me, but it might well be good to have something non-energetic but creative to concentrate on.

And here’s a totally unrelated Lol Cat Dog:

Surprise Christmas present!

Well, not quite a surprise, as Mr FD kept telling me it was on its way, but a surprise because I had no idea what it was.

It arrived today (not a Pusheen cat!) and I am delighted!

As the blurb says “365 Days of Art is an inspiring daily journal designed to help you nurture your creativity and develop a love of art” It gives 365 prompts to various art projects to complete:

Day 282: What is in the jars? Pickles?Fruit? Insects? What would you store in these jars?

Day 330: Add flowers to the stalks

It is something else to add to the things to do during my days at home: I do my 15 minute mile, using a Leslie Sansome YouTube video, and then I enter competitions…Really, by the law of averages, I have to win something! My poor friend Cathy is the “Scape Tagger” when it’s a FB competition, when I have to tag someone. She’s been tagged several times today! (Mind you, this pays her back for all of those “Like-and-share” pictures I get from her!!) I try to blog too – you might have noticed an upsurge in blog posts recently! Then I might do some zentangling too, although competition entry took over an hour today: there were lots to enter! It’s practically lunch time (scrambled egg today)

In the afternoon I will maybe continue zentangling, but I will add my 365 Days… to this now. I listen to Pray As You Go, and read another poem from “The Splash of Words”

Mark Oakley spoke to us at the  Vocation Discernment weekend in Budapest during November. He is an inspirational speaker and the book is really interesting. The blurb on Amazon reads: For those who know they enjoy poetry, and those for whom it is just a memory from schooldays, here is a rich feast that enables us to rediscover poetrys power to startle, challenge and reframe our vision. Like throwing a pebble into water, a poem causes a splash of words whose ripples can transform the way we see the world, ourselves and God. The Splash of Words argues that belief in poetry is vital for understanding that God is in the world as poetry is in a poem. It includes 40 poems from contemporary poets, as well as poems from earlier generations. Each is accompanied by a reflection, based on a deep understanding of poets and their art, which explores why poetry is vital to faith and how scripture, liturgy and theology are all poetry in motion.

I would argue that if you think you don’t like poetry this is an excellent book to help you, not understand poetry, but to experience it, to feel it, to grasp the very edges of what the poet is saying.

And usually too, I will read some of my French novel, although I have rather neglected this recently.

As the weather gets better I will try to get outside too for some sunshine (should the sun ever return!!)

So…lunch time now!

PS – We finished watching Line of Duty Series 1 last night! We decided we couldn’t wait. We now have to try not to watch Series 2 till next week. Otherwise, we’ll binge watch and it will all be finished!

Creativity – again!!

As I’m not working at the moment – and probably won’t be for the next few months – I’ve been finding ways to fill up my time…Mostly reading blogs, reading, reading my French novel (slowly), and doing art work.

I’m not like Angry Cat though – I’m relaxed and laid back. As I said, I’ve been finding the concentration necessary for creating Celtic knotwork very good. Here is the latest piece:

 (This is bizarre: I can see the picture on my dashboard, but when I view it as a blog post it’s not there. I’ll try again later. Very odd…)

ETA: A few days later I have added the picture wiuth no problems at all. Hmmm. The ways of computers are strange!!

Circle me, Lord. Keep protection near and danger afar.

Circle me, Lord Keep hope within. Keep doubt without.

Circle me, Lord. Keep light near And darkness afar.

Circle me, Lord. Keep peace within. Keep evil out.

The prayer is by David Adams. I was quite pleased with the design – this is the Meigal Spiral Interlace – although I will admit that my “ribbon” went a bit wobbly, and isn’t the same width throughout. Still, it’s not a bad first attempt! I gave this to Rob and Caireen, my Rector & his wife, for a Burns Night gift; Caireen is Scottish, and Rob is Canadian of Scottish descent, so it seemed appropriate.

The other piece of art work is for a friend’s birthday. He’s a jazz musician, and plays the saxophone:

I never realised how complicated saxophones were!! Because I’d “zentangled” inside the sax, I decided to colour it, using pastels, to make it stand out a little:

I’m reasonably pleased with it. (Though not with my photography! As usual it’s all a bit blurred. I really will have to try to improve!) I’m just wondering whether the bass clef needs to be blackened in to make it stand out more.

It’s a similar design to a zentangle I did for Kezzie way back, and for someone at church too. It’s quite a pleasing design for a musician, with the instruments being changed depending on those  played by the recipient.

The other thing I’ve started doing is “Walk a Mile in 15 Minutes” videos on YouTube – I’m not convinced that I am actually walking the equivalent of a mile, but it’s reasonably engaging, and it gets me moving.

Yesterday I got a bit carried away by the over enthusiastic instructor lady, and thrust my arms skyward, in time to the music, forgetting I still have scars that aren’t healed…My breast was a bit painful last night – particularly where I have a haemotoma formed – so today I didn’t really “pump” my arms as instructed. However I did everything else and in 15 minutes I got a bit breathless, so I assume it’s doing me good.

Celtic Knotwork

A couple of days back, I promised you a “reveal” of what I’ve been spending possibly too much time doing. I’ve been enjoying the creative side of this, but also the mental processes required – measuring, calculating etc.

And so…

the first I tried was this:

That one took me about two hours to do.

Then I went for this design:

I like this, but the circles are too thin. Despite following the instructions on the YouTube video, the design shown on the video was more compact, and the “ribbon” is definitely much thicker on the demonstration piece. I might try this again but with different dimensions. I filled each circle with a different zentangle pattern. Here’s a close-up:

(but of course, with my dodgy photographic skills, it doesn’t show much detail. Try clicking on it; I think it would make it clearer. But then and again, maybe not!)

Finally, yesterday, I worked on this Triskalé pattern:

They’ve all got mistakes in them, but unless you know where to look, I don’t think they are too obvious. All of them are on A4 paper.

Now I’ve created them, I don’t know what to do with them – for me, the pleasure is in the creating, not the keeping. If anyone who is reading this would like one of them I’d be happy to send them to you. Just say in the comments which one you’d like, and if there’s 2 (or more) who would like the same one I’ll either do a draw, or draw another one. I’ll give you a week or two to comment.