60 before 60…?

I’m going to be 60 next birthday. Eeep, how did that happen?!

People often plan “35 before I’m 35” things to do…I don’t think I can manage to do , or even think of 60 things!

But – here’s a challenge – I’m going to ask each of those of you who really do read my posts instead of just clicking “like” without reading to suggest one thing that I could do. Preferably nothing that costs a lot of money…for example, I’d love to fly in a hot air balloon over the Chaine des Puys…but it’s way too expensive

But something that might be fun, or interesting, or slightly off-beat, or a challenge (but not too challenging!)

And I’ll try to do them! So get your thinking caps on, and put your suggestions in the Comments.

Mr FD has set in motion our joint 60th Birthday treat – he’s booked tickets to see Big Big Train in Newport, Wales on 1st November. We have friends in South Wales and the south of England, so we’ll try to get to see them. We’re going to set up a virement each month into Mr FD’s Livret A account (savings account) so that the money quietly transfers, and mounts up, without us noticing. Not too much, but enough to help spread the cost. Hopefully we’ll be able to stay with our friends, but it would be nice to maybe have one night in a posh hotel…

Here’s a Big Big Train song for you

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What I ate in Waterloo

Kezzie said she likes food posts so I thought I’d tell you what I ate in Waterloo. (ETA, it’s turned into What I did in Waterloo, rather than just food. But that’s OK)

Nick & Pippa met me in Ikea car park – I had had lunch with Friends Cathy & Richard, enjoying the infamous Ikea meatballs, followed by their Dime cake

 
Then we drove from Clermont Ferrand to Waterloo – thankfully, all I had to do was sit in the back of the car, as it was a long journey, taking us about 10 hours. We stopped briefly for a coffee, and then for a sandwich, but nothing terribly exciting, food-wise. We finally arrived at the hotel at about 11.15 pm and fell into bed.

It was a great selection at breakfast – different bread and cakes, fruit, fruit salad, hot things (sausages, scrambled egg, baked beans), boiled eggs, meat and cheese, belgian waffles to make, a selection of honey, jam and other spreads. I had an egg, some bread and cheese spread and a bowl of fruit salad. Plus juice and coffee of course!

Nick drove us to All Saints’ Church, where the convention was taking place, and we registered, collecting the goody bags (not terribly goody-filled, but we weren’t there for the booty!) and hung around aimlessly for a while. We also chose the restaurant we wanted to go to that evening – a choice between an Italian, a brasserie, an Indian and a Thai restaurant. Feeling a bit shy, I decided to stick with Nick & Pippa, who chose the Thai.

Then we headed across the road to the big Carrefour for a coffee and a cross between a pain au raisin and a Danish Pastry. Eating healthily, hey, Fat Dormouse? I bought a wrap and a cereal bar, as I wasn’t sure whether I’d get peckish mid afternoon, and we went back to the church.

Convention started with various matters of business. The chicken-and-bacon wrap was consumed at about 16h, during the coffee break. Eucharist followed, and then we went back to the hotel to get changed, and to meet up to go to the restaurant. It was about a 15 minute walk from the hotel.

I can’t remember the name of what I had, but it was very delicious, involving duck and red curry sauce. I was the only person who wrote down what they had ordered, so I got my meal with no confusion at all. Others were unsure what they’d ordered and so who knows if they received the correct meals?! “Was mine with minced chicken?” “I think mine was green curry?” etc etc.  Nick, Pippa & I left quite early as we were still very tired.

Friday was a big day, as this was the day we started the ballots for our new Bishop-in-Charge…I chose the same breakfast (plus a pain au chocolat) and Nick drove us up to the church. We’d decided to miss Morning Prayer, just to give ourselves plenty of recuperation time. Pippa, as a non voting spouse, took the option of going on the Battlefield tour (which she said was interesting but exhausting) but Nick & I were fully involved. The ballots were interspersed with other business, reports and so forth, so it was an interesting and informative morning. About 30 minutes after each vote had been cast, Felicity, one of the tellers (vote counters) from All Saints, would come silently into the room and hand a folded piece of paper to the Bishop, who would then wait for a break in the proceedings to announce the results. My preferred candidate, and another, dropped out after the first two ballots – I think it’s a shame, as I suspect Steven’s votes would have grown during the following “battle”, but there you go…

Lunch was provided by the Church catering team – delicious soups (choice of four – pumpkin, carrot and lentil, tomato with meatballs, tomato. I had the pumpkin and it was yummy.), with various quiches and salads – and deep, intense conversations were carried out as we compared our thoughts on the two remaining candidates. Interestingly, while the votes were close, it was clear that the majority of the clergy preferred one candidate and the majority of the laity preferred the other.

The afternoon session opened with prayer, and then further ballots, and other business. Still neither candidate was receiving a majority in both the clergy and laity vote, so there was some discussion regarding how this might be resolved…The Bishop finally said he would take advice overnight, but not to worry, as these things could go to more than 10 ballots and we had to simply pray,and to be open, and to trust that the Holy Spirit would guide us . The session closed, and we headed back to the hotel to rest, to opnder and to get changed for the Bishop’s Banquet.

This time of rest gave me an occasion to consider. With my preferred candidate out of the running, I’d actually been dithering between the two remaining: which should I choose? I’d heard people’s views, and had been flip-flopping between the two candadates, half thinking I shouldn’t keep changing my mind. But Paul Gordon could offer this….But Mark can help us do that….In my deliberations, one of them was winning on the “Taking the Convocation Forward” front, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that, despite seeming less exciting, one was more “right” than the other. Finally, as I thought about the two of them (both great candidates) I had a sense of peace about the one I’d voted for last. Don’t worry if he doesn’t seem quite “right”, the Spirit seemed to say, “Trust me.” So I did. I voted for this candidate in the rest of the ballots.

Feeling at peace, I had a short snooze and then got changed for the Bishop’s Banquet (Dress: elegant) It was in a rather nice function room/restaurant, about a 20 minutes coach ride away. We had some glasses of fizzies before the meal, and then several little amuses bouches– roast beef on horse radish cream, salmon on avocado, gazpacho etc. – while a talented acapella group sang various folk songs. After there was a choice of seafood, Thai or “Mediterranean” cooking. I’m always slightly dubious about shellfish and so on, and I’d had Thai food the night before,  so I went for the mediterranean – moussaka, and various cold vegetable dishes. Enjoyable, but nothing special.

The Bishop gave his speech, and gave out awards – always a bit emotional – to those who had done particularly good work through the year. Followed by dessert (several delicious cakes to choose from – I went for raspberry) and coffee, we headed home in the coaches at about 23h.

It seemed important to go to Morning Prayer on Saturday, so we had a quicker breakfast than the past couple of days, and headed to church. The service was led by Revd Katie Osweiler, the curate at the church. She had just had some terrible news that a friend and neighbour back in the US had been killed outside his house. She was trying to process the news as well as lead us in worship, so, as you can imagine, it was an emotional service.

The spouses went off for a day in Brussels, while we then headed into the next round of ballots, which was still a stalemate. So Bishop Pierre suggested we took a long coffee break and spoke to as many people as we could, outlining what we saw as the good points of both candidates. We were not trying to convince people of our view, but rather trying to discern which we felt was the right person; I was happy to stick with what I felt I was being led to do. So after coffee break we went in to the next ballot (N° 7) – result: another stale mate, with the laity majority for one, and the clergy majority for another, but with a significant movement in the clergy vote.

Time for lunch – again, prepared by the Church hospitality team, we had tacos and tortillas with all the trimmings. Over lunch much discussion ensued, but also time for some relaxation. Nick went outside “to watch the cars go past”, I hadn’t had much time to eat as I had to help Richard, the secretary, prepare a paper for the afternoon session.I would have liked to have gone back for more lunch, but didn’t have time!!

We had the next ballot, and Denis our Treasurer gave his report…I always find budgets very difficult to get my head round, but other people asked insightful questions and the time passed relatively quickly. When all the tellers trooped back into the room, instead of just Felicity, we knew that a result had been reached. Mark Edington had been elected. The press release read thus:

The Rev. Mark D.W. Edington of the Diocese of Massachusetts has been elected the next Bishop in Charge of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe. He was elected on the eighth ballot on October 20, 2018. The election took place during the annual Convention of the Convocation in All Saints Church in Waterloo Belgium. 

Our Profound Thanks

The Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe expresses its profound thanks to The Rev. Canon Paul-Gordon Chandler, The Rev. Steven Paulikas, and The Very Rev. Dr. Benjamin Shambaugh for offering themselves as nominees in this Bishop election process as we discerned the direction and future of the Convocation. We thank their families, and their parish and ministry families for their support and prayers during this process. We ask God’s richest blessings on their continuing work in the Lord’s vineyard.

It was rather difficult to concentrate after that, especially as the Bishop was the one who phoned Mark – and had him on speakerphone held next to the microphone so we could hear his reaction. Which was measured, and considered, and humble. A murmur of appreciation ran round the room on hearing it. One of the priests who had been voting for Paul Gordon, rather than Mark, gave a brief speech, emphasising that while he, and others who were disappointed, were 100% behind Mark they still needed time to deal with their feelings and please could people be sensitive to the fact that there were people in the room who were not in an ebullient mood. Which, I’d like to think, everyone was.

Business continued, while others more techie than I set up a Skype call with Mark (who, by this time, had been awake over in the US, for more than 36 hours, waiting for the results – as after every ballot the candidates had been phoned with the results) Here he is addressing the Convention

Finally, the end of a long day was reached. Although there was Evening Prayer planned, several of us felt too tired to attend, so we went back to the hotel. I dozed for a while, but then felt really rather hungry (having missed out on seconds at lunch time) So I took my drawing materials, went to the bar and had a beer and a packet of crisps and some complementary peanuts; I sat in a quiet corner for an hour zentangling and thinking and decontracting.

Nick drove us back to All Saints where a caterer and the Hospitality team, had prepared another excellent meal…I ended up sitting on a table with people I didn’t know very well, but by now it was OK. I felt much more at ease than at the beginning of the Convention. We started with “fish three ways” – a mackerel paté, a tomato stuffed with tiny shrimps, and a piece of salmon in sauce – which was lovely. Then there was a choice of pork in a Kriek beer sauce (cherry) or Chicken Waterzooi (a rich stew and soup of chicken or fish, vegetables, cream and eggs). I’m afraid I had a helping of both; I think I preferred the pork, but it was a close run thing. Vegetarian options were available. Dessert was a choice of more delicious cakes – again, I chose a raspberry/vanilla concoction.

Then we were led upstairs, where Felicity had set up a slide show of some of the creative arts that had taken place throughout the Convocation, and announced the creation of the  Whalon Fund for the Creative Arts – our “gift” to Pierre, our outgoing Bishop. Pierre was very touched.

Soon after, Nick, Pippa and I headed back to the hotel, although I believe dancing went on well into the night. I met Caireen, our rector’s wife, at the bar and we decided to have a quiet, relaxing nightcap…Sadly, because of an upset person (I can’t say more) it turned into a less-than-relaxing counselling session, but I hope that we were able to do some good. I got to bed at about half past midnight!

On Sunday it was the closing Eucharist, but before church I wanted to buy some flowers for the person who had been very upset the evening before. I’d already noticed a florists not too far from the hotel, on our travels up and down the road to the church, so I checked what time it opened and scooted out to get them. I was able to buy a sweet little bouquet which could be popped into a little carrier bag that I had, so as not to be obvious. I think the recipient was grateful.

The Eucharist was an emotional, triumphant, delightful affair which touched me a great deal. Lunch was again provided afterwards, and then we dispersed for our various destinations all over Europe.

My journey home was not, however, as relaxing as I had hoped. But, as this has already gone on far too long, I’ll tell you about that another time!

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.

 

 

Moving day…Holiday Day 6

Not a terribly successful day in some ways…

We decided to have a look around Miasino, the village just above the B&B, before we went and to visit the botanical garden there. After wandering around for a while, trying to find the botanical garden, we eventually discovered it was closed until the afternoon.

As we were heading for Turin, we thought it best not to wait, and set off for the big city. It only took a couple of hours to get there, so having sussed out where (we thought) the next B&B was, we headed into the suburb of Turin called Moncaliari above which the AirB&B was situated.

We found a nice little restaurant for lunch: I had home made pasta with a simple tomato sauce, and Mr FD had a meat-and-cheese platter. We arranged to meet the owner of the place at 15h, so we drove up to where we thought it was, and waited in the car. After a while a suspicious woman came out and asked what we were doing. With a mixture of French, Italian and English we worked out we were in the wrong place, despite the sat nav telling us we were in the right place. After a bit of faffing, we found the farm, and Nicola, our host. We put our stuff in the room and decided to go to Asti, the centre of sparkling wine making…

The trip wasn’t successful. Mr FD was tired and hot, and didn’t feel like looking round the city so was grumpy. After about 30 minutes we admitted defeat, called in at a supermarket to buy some wine and went back to Moncalieri. Dinner was in a sweet little restaurant with a tiny terrace, where I started with caremalised cheese

Not a good photo, but the cheese was delish!

Then we both had a sort of leek flan with a creamy sauce

and then a very enjoyable dessert, which I can’t remember, and forgot to take a photo of!

Then up the long and winding road to the farm. The family were having a birthday party, so it was a bit noisy, but we didn’t mind; it was an exceptional circumstance, so we wished Papa Buon compleanno which pleased him, and went to bed with ear plugs in!