A week in Lol Cats…

Inspired by Kezzie, I thought I’d let you in on my week – what did I do? Actually not much – her account is much more interesting!

On Monday I had my last group lesson with the Chambre de Metier – this group has been nice to work with, but a bit difficult because the levels weren’t equal – two of the four students were higher level than the others. Still, we managed! Because of the regulations related to Covid-19, everyone wore masks in the public areas of the language school, but in the classrooms we just sat a metre (or more) apart, and used hand sanitizer. We reviewed the “be + going to + verb” structure for talking about the future, had a quick whip through the first conditional, and reviewed the content of the course. We also ate homemade scones and redcurrant jelly at coffee break time – I’d said I would bring them in.

As I was fasting I didn’t have much lunch (I’m doing the 5:2 eating plan) – especially as I’d had a scone! Then I packed up and walked to the other Language school where I work for my other student. It was his last lesson too, so I reviewed the tenses we’d looked at with him, and talked about what he might do to continue improving. He knows the grammar rules, but just doesn’t ake much effort to apply them!

I drove home via B&M Home Bargains, where I bought some puppy training pads (for the Cats who Piss N’importe Où) and a few other bits and bobs. Dinner was a fairly unexciting vegetable-and-chicken stirfry. The evening brought about The Crown on Netflix.

Tuesday saw me driving to Clermont again – annoyingly just for one lesson, but it was with a new student, so I felt I couldn’t really cancel! She was really nice – a reasonable level, and willing to talk! I think I shall enjoy teaching her. I completed some admin work and then walked into the town centre to book an opthalmologist appointment – for next January! – and a podologist appointment – for next Tuesday! I moseyed around the shops, and then made for home.

I called in at another student’s home, as she was willing to help me sort out some paperwork and check I had all the papers required for a company I work for. Home by 17.00 so I squeezed in an episode of “Outlander” – I read the books in this series ages ago, and then found it on Netflix. I am enjoying it.

Little quiches, salad and potatoes for dinner and then we watched more of The Crown…

I had a lesson in Roanne today – just one, but also I do the shopping then, so it’s not a journey just for a 1.5 hour lesson. Before leaving I checked I had planned Yvalda’s lesson, and I also planned the week’s menu and wrote the shopping list. Then I noticed the time and had to hurry to get there on time!

After a quick picnic lunch in a nearby park, I went to Lidl and then to a smaller Carrefour (not a hypermarket). It was getting rather warm so I was glad to remove my mask when I got back to the car. I fully understand and support the wearing of masks, but in warm weather I find them stifling…It was about 30/35° today. When I got home I unloaded the car, unpacked the shopping and then collapsed on the sofa with a cold drink. And “Outlander”. I poached some apricots that were getting a bit old in a honey and vanilla syrup to have with yoghurt.

Chorizo sausages, Jamie Oliver spelt-and-other-grain mix and green beans for tea. And then guess what we watched! My MiL phoned too – she’s a bit depressed at the moment, having gone through confinement alone, she is now suffering from vertigo. It’s not much fun for her.

Thursday already!! In the morning I had adminny things to do – papers to finalise, scan and print, cheques to send, bills to complete, postcards to write and send. The morning went by quickly, with Friend Alison calling by for a cold drink in the courtyard at about 11.00.

I had a 2 hour lesson by computer – it usually goes by quickly as Audrey is happy to talk, and is a good level. We discussed whether companies should have a quota system for employing women. We also talked about her children and what they were doing now.

Then it was time to chase down Millie – she should have gone to the Vet ith Bib last week, but she’d seen the basket and gone into deep hiding. This time I had to get her…I did, after about 10 minutes stalking, which involved pulling out the bed, some rude words, some pitiful crying and finally mute despair. She was only going for her injections!! She “sang” all the way there, but gave me the frosty silent treatment on the way back.

Thursday is another fasting day so it was big chicken salad with the leftover spelt from yesterday. I think we tried watching something different tonight, and gave “Stranger Things” a go. It has potential I think…

It was “Yay, it’s Friday” day as I had already decided that I was not going to work today. It was ridiculously hot too. Mr FD said that in Roanne the car registered 43°C – up here I’m guessing it was high 30s and I Don’t Do Heat. So I watched “Outlander”, I did a bit of admin that I really couldn’t leave any longer, went to the chemist to pick up my prescription, watched “Outlander”; made a birthday card for our friend Louis, watched “Outlander” (Yes, I am enjoying it!!) and had a snooze read!!

Dinner was baked salmon with salsa verde, rice and green beans. And poached apricots. Then The Crown. Yes, I think I did watch a bit too much TV today, but it was really too hot to do very much at all.

On Saturday morning, Mr FD pruned (nearly decimated) the elder tree outside – revealing an intricately made sparrows’ nest in the process, which cleverly entwined plastic with natural items. It was empty, thankfully, as the babies had fledged. I cleaned the kitchen and living room. Then we went round to Louis’ to drop off the card. On the way back we noticed that the restaurant next door is having a tapas evening today (Sunday) with a free glass of sangria for anyone sporting red accessories. We checked to see if Friend Cathy wanted to come, and then booked.

The afternoon was rather lazy, finishing off the various tasks that we’d had to curtail to go to see Louis, and sitting in front of the fans exclaiming “Bof! It’s hot!” At about 17.30 Friend Cathy came down for aperos. Dinner was pork, chestnut and mushroom sausage rolls, with green bean salad and rice salad (using yesterday’s leftovers. I went to feed the Poor Cats before dinner – they were happy to see me. Evening entertainment included the end of the FA cup final and Pointless Celebrities.

This morning it was our Zoom service – I was hosting it, and Bib “helped” a little, making various things flash up on screen when not required, but it went reasonably well.

And now it’s Sunday afternoon and I feel in need of a zizz before we go all Spanish this evening at the Tapas event.

Family Quiz with a difference…

Like a lot of families, my side of the family has been meeting every week for a Fzamily Quiz – it gives us the chance to see each other, with the fun structure of a quiz, meaning there’s no awkward silences…

  • There’s my mum & sister in Liverpool
  • my brother, my niece, Rose, her husband David, & their two young sons in Manchester
  • my other niece, her husband David, & their two young children in Malaya
  • my nephew, and his girlfriend , aso in Manchester.
  • my other nephew, his wife & their two young children in Edinburgh
  • and us in France.

2.00 pm our time, 1.00 pm UK time and 8.00 pm Malaya time.

When it started the questions were fairly normal quiz questions…Rose started us off, then Judy & mum, then it was me & Mr FD. We shook it up a bit with an “Only Connect” type of round.

This started a trend then, with some slightly more off-the-wall rounds, which I offer to you as a change, if you’re looking for something a bit different!

Ruth, in Malaya offered us some slightly different rounds, telling us that her Year 7s managed them easily – her rounds included “Kanye or Shakespeare?” (were the quotes from a Kanye West song, or from Shakespeare?) and some of the 26 L in the A type questions.

Conor in Manchester then started the “Question Master’s hat” – wearung a very splendid Jester-y top hat – and asked some tricky questions, along the lines of “designed to be able to be kept in the fridge for a year, what is a Cosmic Crisp? (a type of apple) and what is a “Pink Fairy” a type of? (armadillo) He also had a round of “Which is longer/bigger/heavier…?” such as “Which is bigger: the height of Michael Phelps or a cell of DNA stretched out?” (Actually not a good example as there was some -ahem – “discussion” about this…)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(They look the same to me!!)

 

Today’s was the most diverse though, led by Kieran, a primary school teacher, in Edinburgh. His QMHat was a child’s fireman Sam hat!

Round 1 was “Lip reading” where his microphone was muted and he & Louisa said various items from different categories – including Takeaway food!

Round 2 was “Victorian novel or Farrow & Ball paint colour”? (Or “Is it a book…or is it a Look?” as Kieran kept asking!) This included “Dead Salmon”, “Villette” and “Nancy’s Blushes” (look, book, look)

Round 3 was Name this Flower, where he sent photos to the Family WhatsApp group to identify the flower.

Then Round 4 was the most riotous as it was First Back to the Screen with this Item… Conor, living in a small flat, was at an advantage here and was crowned the winner. The things we had to find included ” a mouthful of milk”, “a handful of dirt”, “something alive” (this would be the only week we hadn’t been joined by a cat!), “something that smells bad” (our cat litter tray was just pipped to the post by a recently changed nappy!!) and “a vegetable” Mr FD was my runner for this & he was relieved he could get everything without running upstairs, but even so, we only got 1 point!

It has been fun, and I have actually seen more of my family than I would do usually…I wonder if it will carry on after we have gone back to “normal” Probably not. It does get in the way of Mr FD’s cycling, as he likes to go out about 1.00/ 1.30 and I’m sure the Young Things will have other more exciting events (like football matches!) to go to, but for now it is a pleasant hour’s interlude, that has started to provide us with quite a few amusing incidents!

We’re thinking of having a round of song lyrics translated into a foreign language and then retranslated back…

  • We’ll meet again, well, I’ll know for a while.
  • Remember to call you a heart, and then you can start to make it better.
  • Admirable elegance, a good sound
  • Oh, oh, all faithful to you.

These were from English, to Latvian, to Mandarin & back again. Not great examples, but this has possibilities I think!

(Answers: We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when/ Remember to let her into your heart, then you can start to make it better/ Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound…/ Oh come all ye faithful…)

Alternatively, well known Shakespeare quotations might work:

  • Whether it’s home or not, it’s a problem.
  • Shred Sp. Pilksta
  • Not everything is a golden one.
  • And the winter i can’t get home
  • The light on the window will break.
  • I’m going to be okay, because I want to.
  • All the world stage, and all men and women have only balls:
  • Put the cambridge, I see it in front of me, take care of my hand
  • Of course, love never runs smoothly.
  • What about you, Brut?
  • If you pierce me, I’ll bleed?

 

I like some of these…can you guess what they are?

I’ll tell you tomorrow!

POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

Does anyone remember Robert Lindsay as Wolfie in “Citizen Smith”?

It was a TV series at the end of the 70s; Wolfie was the self-proclaimed leader of the revolutionary Tooting Popular Front (the TPF, merely a small bunch of his friends), the goals of which were “Power to the People” and “Freedom for Tooting”. He was, in fact, a bit of a loser, who did not very much to reach these goals!

I’ve been starting to bring my own “Power(points) to the people” as I’ve been putting together Power Point Presentations to go on t’internet before our Church services. A mixture of images, Bible verses, and quiet music, lasting about 7 or 8 minutes, we hope these will (a) tell people that they’ve logged onto the right place and (b) help people to settle into a more worshipful frame of mind. Otherwise there is slightly inane “chat” on the Chat function. It developed out of my Good Friday meditatative service – basically a PPP with music, readings, pictures and poems. It was well received; and gave me a bit of confidence. I’ve been exploring the “Design” settings, and the “add video” options, and I’ve had fun putting them together. I think I’ll be quite sorry (in a very small way) when we go back to “real” church, and I won’t get the opportunity to do them again!

But I wonder if, as we’re so spread out as a congregation, whether a mid-week Zoom meditative service – basically a PPP that someone has put together (me! me!) would be welcome. I’d enjoy doing that, I think. I shall suggest it, I think.

Our Zoom Church meetings have been going well – they’re not very technical or wizzy; you can’t see the speaker (so I may try to put together a PPP for when I’m giving the sermon next week, if I feel brave enough!!), but they are something that keeps us all worshipping together. And when we unmute, and switch on our cameras for “coffee time” afterwards, it’s chaotic but good to see everyone!

If you’d like to join us, let me know in the comments, and I can give you the link for Sunday.

Post Isolation Fantasies…

This is from Kezzie’s choices over here, but I’m afraid these are not terribly interesting!! I think it’s indicative of how unexciting my life is normally, that I haven’t been fantasising about getting back to “normal life” through the Confinement!!

But here you are:

1. Restaurant you would go out to: Probably the Hotel de la Poste round the corner. We have a voucher, which Friends Alison & Gerome gave us for our birthdays. It was supposed to be used within 6 months, but that came and went during March, when we were confined.

We have been doing quite well for food though, as the restaurant next door is doing takeaways to keep afloat. I had a delicious pizza yesterday.

2. Friend you would meet up with first: Probably Friend Alison, for a real apero, not a virtual one. We have been chatting from time to time, keeping 2m away from each other if I pass by her house and she’s outside. Also Louis and Odette, who are good friends too.

3. Place you would go:Back to work?! I’m not sure where I’ve missed…I suppose it’s the freedom to go anywhere that I’ve missed, rather than somewhere in particular. So possibly just for a walk that’s more than 1 km from the house!

4. Shop you would go to: Noz!! And Lidl…Our shopping has been expensive because we’re using the little Carrefour Extra in the village, which isn’t as cheap as Lidl, or the bigger supermarkets.

5. Food item you would buy/eat: We haven’t really missed anything too much. It’s been harder getting fresh fruit and vegetables, including my favourite Pink Lady apples, so that would be nice. We have missed a few ingredients that the little supermarket doesn’t stock, but nothing springs to mind!

6. Cake you would eat: Again, not missing cake, as we can buy stuff quite easily. And the restaurant next door does the odd “Dessert du Jour” which is very nice! Lemon tart yesterday!

7. Show you would go to see/Concert you will go watch: We hadn’t planned any concerts/ shows – there’s not many that come to our corner of France that we want to see. I think Mr FD is planning a Big Big Train concert, but I’m not sure where that is.

8. Relative you will hug first: Apart from Mr FD (and we’ve shared a good amount of hugs during confinement) it will be whichever of my relatives I see first!

9. Holiday you would go on: Possibly the one that we should have been going on at the end of May! We’ve deferred it till September, and we were supposed to be going with my MiL, my mum and my brother. We don’t know what restrictions will be still in place in September for elderly people in the UK, so we’re waiting-and-seeing. It was to a lovely looking place in the Cantal area.

10. Other activity? Going to Church. It will be lovely to see people face to face again! I actually think that being apart has brought us closer together as a congregation. It’s been lovely that people who have left and live elsewhere have been able to join us – that’s been an unexpected bonus of this lockdown – but I look forward enormously to taking communion again. And we will be much closer to finding out about a new Priest in Charge…the closing date for applications is coming up at the end of May, I think.

11. Thing you would do at work: While I have been enormously grateful for the fact I’ve been able to work from home, by phone or by computer, it’s not been the same! Face to face teaching is easier, and more rewarding. But, much as I’m looking forward to going back to work, I won’t be first out of the door on 11th May…I definitely want to wait at least another 2 weeks, in order to (hopefully) avoid a second wave of the virus.

12. Item you would buy: There’s nothing I really want now – before yesterday it would have been plants for the balcony, but the little local garden centre is now opening just in the morning, so I was able to buy a rather random selection of plants. The balcony is looking less bare now! So just the chance to have a browse around the shops…for nothing in particular!

 

Do let me & Kezzie know if you take part!

Poems VI

 

EASTER SATURDAY

Elizabeth Rooney

A curiously empty day,
As if the world’s life
Had gone underground.
The April sun
Warming dry grass
Makes pale spring promises
But nothing comes to pass.

Anger
Relaxes into despair
As we remember our helplessness,
Remember him hanging there.
We have purchased the spices
But they must wait for tomorrow.
We shall keep today
For emptiness
And sorrow.

Poems V

This one wasn’t one that was sent to me, but one I found when looking for resources for my Good Friday service…

Here it is, on Good Friday (with apologies that I cannot get the breaks in the right places.):

A QUIET ROAR

 

one

 

he lays his left hand along the beam

hand that moulded clay into fluttering birds

hand that cupped wild flowers to learn their peace
hand that stroked the bee’s soft back and touched death’s sting

two

 

he stretches his right hand across the grain
hand that blessed a dead corpse quick
hand that smeared blind spittle into sight
hand that burgeoned bread, smoothed down the rumpled sea
three

he stands laborious

 

sagging, split, homo erectus,
poor bare forked thing
hung on nails like a picture
he is not beautiful
blood sweats from him in rain
far off where we are lost, desert dry
thunder begins its quiet roar
the first drops startle us alive
the cloud no bigger
than a man’s hand
Veronica Zundel 


	

Poems IV

Here’s the other of the two that I have received so far: I don’t know if I’ll get any more. If I do, I’ll share them with you.

When I received this, I groaned inwardly, and thought “Couldn’t she have been more original…?” but actually, I don’t think I have ever read the poem all the way through, and when I did, I found myself taking back my thoughts, as it is extremely apt for these strange times when we are confined to our homes, and unable to travel more than 1 km away from our front door without very good reason. (I drove 16 km from my front door to get some pills for Pomme, as she’d run out. Even though I knew it was perfectly OK and I would see only the vet, I felt very guilty!!)

So, taking back all my critical thoughts, here it is:

DAFFODILS

by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company:

I gazed—and gazed—but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.

We’re doing OK

Everything is fine here – we are both working, and so our weeks are busy. Mr FD holes himself up in his study, I hole myself up in mine, and we meet briefly when one or the other makes a hot drink for us both, or over lunch. I’m busy because I’ve actually got a couple of new students, and also because working from distance means I need to write a follow up email to the students – which I wouldn’t do if we were meeting face to face.

On Monday morning I plan my lessons, and prepare the lesson summaries as much as I can; then from Monday afternoon onwards I’m teaching, or doing admin work. Although I’m finding it tiring I am very grateful to have work, as I know that so many self employed people are facing financial problems. We also are saving money as I’m not travelling to Clermont every day. In fact, Soozy (which we collected the Saturday before the lockdown) has hardly moved since she came home!!

Our treats involve going next door, to the restaurant-turned-takeaway to buy something. The people only opened the restaurant a couple of weeks before the lockdown meant restaurants had to close, so we’re supporting them as much as we can. We’ve had pizzas, burger-and-chips, and the most delicious chocolate/apricot gateau. That was so rich I had to eat my slice over two days! Today they’re cooking Cantonese rice and Spring rols, but we forgot to order, so we’ll probably just have a pizza.

As we’re out in the country confinement isn’t affecting us too much. We get out most days for a walk, but we have to remember to take our Attestation. You aresupposed to print out a new one every time you go out, but so far I’ve been tippexing out the date and writing today’s date. It seems remarkably wasteful of paper and ink to keep reprinting, and tippex shows that one is not trying to cheat in anyway. I’ve not been stopped any way, so I’ll plead ignorance if I have to.

Shopping is reasonable, with most things available. We are definitely using local businesses now, and trying to spread ourselves around.

But confinement has been extended to mid-April, with most people expecting it to continue to the beginning of May. One of my students, who is the director of a small company, has said the Government is warning businesses to prepare to be closed until the end of May, or even the end of June!

However, we know it’s the right thing to do – unlike many people in the UK, it seems! Our local GP, and the head of the school have both succumbed, with the GP being in hospital for several days. I’ve not heard how he’s doing. Tonight I’m meeting Friend Alison for a virtual apero – FriendCathy, in the UK at present, was invited but she thinks it’s possible she has the virus too.

The cats know what to do!!

Actually our cats love having us round, especially Jasper and Millie, who follow the sun around Mr FD’s study. I get Bib coming to meeow at some of my late afternoon students!

 

And we’re off! 40Acts :: 1

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.”
(Proverbs 3:27 NIV)

 

This is the verse to hold onto through this year’s 40 Acts.

I think for me the last part “when it is in your power to act” is important: I need to recognise that I can do more than I think I can (monetarily, as well as giving time or talents) I have a tendency to think “I can’t afford it” and to keep my hands in my pockets…but we probably CAN afford it.

This always makes me pause for thought:

It reinds me that while I don’t feel wealthy, I am indeed richer than 92% of the world. That is a sobering thought, when I tell myself I can’t afford to give to a charity, or help someone, or buy a trteat for a friend…

So, this verse will be with me through 40 Acts