The cards you never want to make…

Last week we heard on Tuesday that the wife of one of Mr FD’s oldest friends had been diagnosed with aggressive liver cancer. On Thursday evening we heard that she had died. What can one say or do in a situation like that?

We had only re-made contact with H – the friend – a few years back, and so had only met T a handful of times, but she was lovely: down to earth, fun, and kind hearted. We had loked forward to getting to know her better, but it was not to be.

On Saturday I made two condolence cards (as always, click on the photos to get a better view). This was my first effort:

I quite like this one – although the gel glue I used wasn’t my usual brand, and it didn’t stick as well, leaving some bumps and marks. The flowered paper was from the front of a free magazine (which I snaffled purely for the front cover!) and the butterfly was die-cut from some shiny blue wrapping paper. But I wasn’t happy with it. Partly because of the glue, but partly because it seemed a bit “meh”. And T wasn’t “meh”.

So I tried again

I chose daffodils, as both T and H are Welsh. I much preferred this one – using paper from a co-ordinated paper pad (from Noz) and yellow ribbon (Noz) The stick-on gold is also from either Noz or another discount store! I also used my usual glue, so there was no glue-related complaints!

As you can see, I used the same sentiment in both – I found it on t’internet and thought it was eminently suitable.

Although Mr FD iniatially chose the first card, when I pointed out the daffodils (he’s not always that observant about fine details) he changed his mind!

While I wonder if the second is a bit too brightly coloured, I still prefer it. What do you think?

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Woop-woop!

My friend arrives today! We’ve been friends since primary school, but she’s not been out here to see us before now. She’s coming to stay for a few days!

Jane is the friend that I’ve been to the Christmas Markets with the past couple of years. Let’s hope that we have a good time together!!

Jane enjoying some mulled wine at the Strasbourg Christmas market last year.

Here she is in the indoor market in Budapest

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!

 

Stay calmer…

…when you want to harm a llama

call a llama farmer!

I certainly didn’t want to harm a llama, but I had said that I wanted to visit a llama farmer. Which, having written that post, I decided to do something about!

So on Tuesday, Friend Cathy and I went to visit a llama farm!

We drove out towards the village where the llama farm was situated, and where I had sourced what looked like a lovely restaurant. Sadly, it was closed on Monday and Tuesday, so we ended up going to another restaurant we saw signposted from the main road. On arriving we both recognised it as a restaurant we’d previously visited on a Cyclo Lunch. It was very nice!

I had a flambéed langoustine salad (with a plate of chips) and Friend Cathy chose a “Fitness salad” (I had a bit of food envy!) and a plate of chips! We then were persuaded into dessert – I chose a frozen raspberry soufflé thing (basically a kind of raspberry ice cream) which was refreshing.

We duly turned up at the llama farm (visits only on Tuesdays) fully expecting to be the only people there, but it was heaving! A coachload of children, plus various family groups. I was really surprised. We paid our entrance fee – which, at 8,50€ per adult, I felt was a bit steep for what we got, but never mind…The tour began.

Into the llama/alpaca field to meet the animals and learn a little about them:

Most of us just wanted to pet them, but we tried to listen dutifully, while llamas and alpacas wandered over to show themselves off and eat hay. And pose knowingly for photos.

Yes, I know I am a handsome llama. This is my best side…

You like my ruff? I’m not sure it sets my ears to their best advantage…

Kinky boots? They’re passé. I have furry boots! They’re all the rage!

Furry boots? No, my dear, furry thigh-high stockings are what you want!

Ringo Starr is my inspiration for this haircut!

Yes, I have to be kept separate from the girls because I’m just SO irresistable with my shaggy coat. Just don’t get close enough to see all the grass and twigs that have been caught up in it!

We found out interesting llama facts…

Here are some:

  • gestation period of 1 year
  • only have one baby at a time
  • closely related to camels
  • “cria” is the name for a baby llama
  • Can cost between 1,500-2,000€
  • They are always “on heat”

…and next, the children were given the opportunity to feed the llamas and alpacas. I wanted to elbow them out of the way, shouting “Me! Me! Give me some llama food! This is *my* special outing!” But I restrained myself.

Then we went to feel some llama wool and watch a demonstration of spinning – both on a wheel and a drop spindle. I didn’t take any photos of this. There was a little shop, but not a great choice of goods. I wasn’t tempted by anything really. If they’d had llama or alpaca wool socks or a pullover I might have gone mad (though I imagine a pullover would have ben in the “I’m not payiong THAT for a pullover!” price range!)

And that was it.

So – One out of ten before I’m sixty crossed out!

 

Questions asked…

Someone at church who occasionally reads my blog asked me recently “Why is Andrew known as Mr FD?”

Others of you may be wondering.

So here is an explanation.

In my second year of teaching, I was living and working in North London, while Mr FD was working in the city, and commuting by coach to his parents’ home in Maidstone (which is where we’d met, during my first year of teaching) Every Friday, I would travel into the city, meet Mr FD and take the coach with him back to his parents’. We would arrive there about 6.30 pm, and after our evening meal, I would fall asleep on the sofa, rousing myself briefly to go up to bed, and finally surfacing at about 11.00 am the following day! I was absolutely exhausted at the end of each week! Because of my somnolent habit I became known as The Dormouse.

This is a hazel dormouse. These are an endangered species in the UK.

This is the kind of dormouse that most people think of, but there is also another kind, Latin name Glis glis, which is the edible, or fat, dormouse

These were a favourite delicacy at many a Roman feast. These are known as loirs in French, and can cause no end of damage if they get into your roof space.

I first started my blog way back when, using a “wiblog” account, and used the moniker “Dormouse”; it was also called The View from the Teapot. The wiblogs no longer exist, but some of my “rescued” posts are available on the links above “Some dregs from the other teapot”. Then, when I started getting more-than-a-little overweight, I decided to start another blog to document my food-and-dieting adventures, which I named Fat Dormouse Getting ThinnerHere’s a link to my very first post on the blog in January 2011

So, from that, the person formerly known as MrD, became Mr FD.

Here is Mr FD

Any other questions…?

Bastille Day

Yesterday, 14th July, was a public holiday in France – or at least, it would have been, had it not been a Sunday. I do think the British bank holiday system is better: fixed days, usually on a Monday. And if it’s a moveable feast (for example, Christmas Day & Boxing Day) and it falls on a weekend, days get added after the weekend. Splendid! Here in France if the bank holiday falls on the weekend, well, tant pis!, you lose it!

Anyway, there were celebrations going on all over France, to commemorate the storming of the Bastille in 1789. which is recognised as the beginning of the French Revolution. Wikipedia gives you more information about this, should you be interested.

We did no storming of anything however. Our friends who own a restaurant in the next village were having a Mechoui (a spit roast). I had a photo of their poster to put here, but the picture of a spit-roast pig was a bit graphic, and I’m aware that there are some vegetarians who read this, and may not appreciate such photos. Here, however, is a cropped picture of people tucking into the meat

We met up with someone we’ve not seen for ages, and caught up with news on her and her daughters – they came to France 12 years ago, speaking no French at all, and now one of the girls is working in a help-centre for UK customers in France, after 3 years doing languages at University, and the other (who struggled at school) is working as a chef in a hotel kitchen – both loving it! It’s always good to hear about young people doing well.

We had our meal – which was enjoyable, and quite filling – while chatting to a Dutch couple. They had cycled over from St Just, having seen the graphic poster for the meal. They were having a rest day on their epic ride from Holland to Spain! The woman had left her job, and the guy was self employed so had stopped working; they had taken 4 months out to ride to Barcelona (I think) from their home in the Netherlands. It was interesting talking to them & finding out more about their trip.

Then,  Jean-Luc (the owner-chef) and his band played into the afternoon…

…the music was good, but the lyrics (all in English) were mangled. If you didn’t know what they were supposed to be singing you wouldn’t know what they were singing! If you see what I mean.

!

We sat in the sunshine, drinking our Perrier and enjoying the sounds of the 70s and 80s!

Take it away, Jean-Luc! Guitar solo time! (J-L is on the right)

Dire Straits, Beatles, Status Quo, Rolling Stones…all the oldies were there!!

We left about 5.00, but I’m sure folk were there well into the evening, but Mr FD wanted to get home to watch the end of the cricket world cup final, which England won after what I was assured was a nail-bitingly exciting ending.

An enjoyable, relaxed day.

We had had to choose, unfortunately, between this event and the Fete des Voisins meal, which was happening on the same day. We went to this event last year, and it was good fun, but this year we chose to go to Jean-Luc and Traudel’s event. And next year, who knows…

 

Away with the Cyclos – Day 3

Actually, today was a day  away but NOT with the Cyclos… It was forecast to be hotter than yesterday, so, although the plan was that those who wished to could visit a market in the morning, lunch at the holiday village, then a visit to a gardens and a boat ride on the river, before setting off for home, Mr FD wanted to visit the gardens in the morning – cooler – and then head for home. Although I’d like to have visited the market I could see his logic, so we decided to cut loose and go to the gardens by ourselves. I’m glad we did. It was cooler, but also, as the visit was only by guided tour, and we were on the first tour at 10.00, with only two other people, our visit was much calmer, and cooler, than it would have been with twenty nine other people at 3.00 in the afternoon!…

The gardens were called Les Jardins de l’Imaginaire (the Gardens of the Imagination) and they were really lovely. Our guide was informative, but not intrusive, allowing us to ask questions and to discover the gardens ourselves.

 

It was lovely and there were lots of different areas to see. The rose garden was a little past its best, because of the heat, but the fountain garden was a delight to walk through in the sunshine.

and there were banks of flowers to pose against

As we left the garden, the 11.30 tour was starting – about twenty people, with children and pushchairs, all chattering, laughing and making a lot of noise: we were glad we’d taken the early tour, which gave us the silence to enjoy the sound of the water (as you can see there was lots of it) and the birdsong.

We left Terrasson to head in the direction of home, thinking we’d easily find a restaurant for lunch. Hah! No such luck! We did finally (at 1.30) find a roadside auberge, which looked rather unprepossessing. More in hope than expectation, we asked if they could serve us, and without batting an eyelid, the waitress led us to a table. There I chose a local paté (which was a bit too “agricultural” for my taste, but was edible with lots of chutney!) followed by a lovely piece of beef with bearnaise sauce. I chose cheese as dessert, as I still had wine to finish up, and Mr FD had ice cream (I think) allowing me a spoonful in return for the blue cheese on my plate.

We then took the road for home – I fell asleep to the dulcet tones of Mark Kermode & Simon Mayo’s film reveiw programme, which Mr FD had downloaded, and woke up as we left the motorway 10 minutes from home! That wine had a lot to answer for!!

We got back by 17.00 – which was probably when the rest of the group would have been just thinking about starting off. With work the next day, we were glad that we’d taken the choice we had. The cats were happy to see us too.