The Gallery is Open

Kezzie had the idea of a virtual “art gallery” where people shared some of the art in their homes – “art” being interpreted however one felt it appropriate.

Unfortunately, despite having several days notice I left it until the morning of the Opening to do anything about it…and I have to go to work soon(ish) so my pictures – taken on my phone, because my camera is being temperamental – are not very well staged or taken. I do apologise. This will seem like a very amateurish art gallery! THe pictures are small too, being taken on the phone, but I hope that if you click on them you can biggify to see more details.

I have a lot of pictures and bits ‘n’ bobs in the house. Here is a photo of the wall behind my computer

As you can see it’s an eclectic mix of photos, cards, and other bits and bobs. It rather sums up my home!

So, due to my lack of preparation, I rushed around, randomly snapping what has turned out to be very blurry photos of various pieces of art around the house…

The reflections made this hard to photograph, but it was painted by the father of a friend of mine. His name was Eric Kilner, and Alison has been my friend since our University days. I admired the pictures she had in her home, painted by her father, so he gave me this one. It’s an abstract piece that makes me think of water weeds and ponds. I really like it. It hangs on our first floor landing.

Another reflection tricky picture is this one:

We bought this limited edition print of the Great Orme, Llandudno, in Frome, with Alison (friend mentioned above) & her OH, Kit. Unfortunately I can’t read the artist’s signature as I love this and would like to get more by the artist. We were wandering around Frome arts market and saw his stand. Mr FD & I decided there and then we wanted one of the pictures, and chose this one for its moodiness and for the fact we were in the area of Llandudno for our honeymoon. This was a wedding anniversary purchase, so it seemed appropriate.

This is in our living room.

Also with a connection to my friend Alison, we come to this picture, which hangs in our dining room:

She sent us this print for Christmas, a few years ago, and when we had adopted our big ginger boy from the street, we were searching for the right name…I looked at him sleeping, in this pose, looked at the picture and knew we had his name!

This is a corner in our living room – again, showing the eclectic mix of “stuff” (is it art?)

There is yet another link to Alison and Kit – now he’s retired, Kit makes Shaker style boxesand other lovely stuff. Please go and look at his items (and maybe even buy something!!) – they really are art! You can see the little box at the front, which was a gift. The wooden vase was made by another friend, and the thistly flowers within were given to us by Michel, a friend who died a year or so ago. The embroidery        “Home is where the cat is” was made by yet another talented friend.The cat in the photo is Manda, our first cat that we owned together – she lived until she was nearly 20, with her last five years as a diabetic. We adopted her when I won a competition, with 354 tins of Kit E Kat as part of the prize – and we didn’t have a cat!

The collection of tin and pottery stars was inspired by (yes, you’ve guessed it!) Alison & Kit…They have so many beautiful things around their home, and I always liked their collection of bells, hanging up the stairs. When we moved out here, to our home on Boulevard de l’Astrée (“Starry Boulevard” – or so we thought) I named our house Maison des Etoiles. Then I started to collect little stars. These are a few. We found out that in fact the street is named after the novel “L’Astrée” by a local author, but never mind…

Here’s an appropriate song by one of my favourite groups…

Moving into our guest bedroom we have some more pictures:

again, appallingly photographed!

The “sampler” I made in 1989 for Mr FD’s granny’s 90th birthday, and as her initialsare the same as mine, I was happy to take it as a gift after she died. The black polar bear I adore – he is Hornsea pottery, and was a gift after my grandmother died. Here he is in a complete state…

 

Unfortunately mine is broken and mended, after being knocked over by a cat. Probably Pomme who was remarkably clumsy in her youth.

The tiny picture is a Kate Greenaway print

(again, apologies for the photo!) This was a present from my sister on my 16th birthday – I remember I was thrilled to be given something “grown up” as a present! It has followed me round to every home since!

And the piece of calligraphy reads:”Every act of kindness and nurturing I show to myself impacts those around me: something “just for me” is in fact a gift to my whole inner circle who benefits in turn” This is by Angela, who ran a workshop I went to. This is another piece of her work

and this is the piece I created at her workshop

This hangs in my study. It reminds me sometimes to dare a bit more….

Just popping back to the living room, there is this picture

a print of a Heaton Cooper. This blog post tells you more about it.

And here is another blog post about this picture which hangs in my study

https://fatdormouse.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/img_0172.jpg

 

and finally another blogpost about this picture:

https://fatdormouse.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/img_0069.jpg

which is a sketch of a scene in “Nicolas Nickleby”

I do a lot of art myself – zentangles particularly, but I dabble in other things too – here is a link to the “artwork” part of my blog should you be interested.

A Rockhopper penguin zentangle, by Yours Truly

If you visit Bev’s “gallery”,  open today, you’ll see a couple of other zentangles that I’ve done. If you go to this page you’ll find the links to all participating galleries

Also, anyone who is on the list of participating “galleries” and would like me to do a zentangle for them, leave me a message in the comments saying who you are, your site and what you’d like a zentangle of. I can’t promise when it will arrive, but I hope it might be before Christmas 2021!!

And if you are just visiting, as they say in Monopoly, thank you for coming! I hope you’ve enjoyed my blurry photos, and please leave a comment! As Kezzie says:

Art galleries like to keep a track of visitors so it would be lovely if you could comment on the posts of those you visit- even if it was a ‘Thanks for sharing’, let’s make the effort to show our appreciations, even if the art was not to our taste. Of course, more detailed appreciative comments are also welcome!
Also, I don’t need to say this as everyone who accesses this blog is kind (except for stupid people who share their random spam links- you can get lost!), but even if you don’t consider something to be ‘art’, perhaps don’t say so!

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!

Rescue Mission!!

A couple of weeks ago, a colleague posted an urgent message on our Language school WhatsApp group, asking if anyone knew of anyone who wanted to adopt a kitten – due to be drowned by its heartless owner that day.

Mobilisation: Operation Kitten Rescue .

Immediately a flurry of messages – Simona had a friend who wanted a kitten. She’d contact her immediately. I put a message on our Church WhatsApp group – someone thought their friend might be interested. Others sympathised and said how terrible that the kitten might be killed. I then posted on FaceBook too.

A friend in Roanne (which is where the kitten was living what could have been its last day) messaged me – did I have photos? So I went back to WhatsApp to ask if there were any… The only one available was a rather unclear one of the little black mite, with his already adopted (by my colleague’s sister-in-law) sister.

Meanwhile my phone was pinging with messages from Simona, saying that her friend had already adopted one, from my colleague keeping us updated on other lines of enquiry, from Church people saying it was terrible… Then my friend asked if she could contact the person with the kitten. We didn’t have the number, but here was the number of the sister in law.

The next thing I knew I had a FaceBook message

  • ça y est;
  • on garde
  • on adopte
  • merci
  • thank you very much

YAY! The kitten is saved!!

Beyhan, my friend, keeps an “English Bakery” called Shakespeare’s in the centre of Roanne. A few days later she posted this photo,

with the comment :

Notre futur bébé d’amour Othello avec sa maman et sa petite sœur 😻😻😻 Hâte de lui visiter la semaine prochaine ❤❤❤ (Our future love baby Othello with his mom and little sister. Can’t wait to visit him next week)

I love the name Othello for this little all black sweetheart!

Iremembered that I wanted to write a post about this when I was outside the vets today. We were waiting in a queue to go in: one rather hefty, macho man waiting for his wife who was inside with a Polish sheepdog (like Sophie )and there was another big bloke there with his 20 year old cat, and me. The two mean were talking about how they knew someone who had drowned the 4 puppies of his female dog, in front of her eyes. I felt quite disgusted, but rather assumed that these guys would have taken it as normal – which, unfortunately, is often the case here in France – but no. One of them said something along the lines of “That makes me sick”, and the other said “When people do that it makes me want to – (rude gesture) them! You don’t have pets to do that to them!”

These two tough guys were as loving to their animals as I am. I felt suitably chastened about my preconceptions – but still terribly sad for the mother dog.

   ***However we can be happy that the little black kitten, Othello, has been saved, and will be going to a loving home in July, when he is big ebough to leave his mama.

 

Chaos! But fun

We’ve just had a chaotic but enjoyable Family Quiz via a Zoom-type app. With us in France, my niece & family in Malaysia, mum & my sister in Liverpool, a nephew in Manchester, and my brother and his daughter and her family in another bit of Manchester, it seemed 2 pm our time was the most suitable time. The chaos side came when you add a 3 year old “helping” the question setter, and demanding oranges and crisps, plus a baby plus another young one elsewhere, and then a screen that froze and meant that Mum & Judy couldn’t speak!! With five screens all speaking at once, plus Judy & Mum typing into the “chat” function,  you can imagine the confusion…!!

But it was fun, and my brother won by 1.5 points. Mr FD’s pride was wounded by that, so he aims to win next time!!

Actually next time may well be more chaotic as we add another nephew and his family to the mix. They’re in Edinburgh, but couldn’t join in as they had to tale Rosa (the oldest) to the doctor’s. Apparently, if there are any questions on “Pokemon or being grumpy” Rosa will be a great asset to the team!!

We’re doing a “show and tell” with Mr FD’s family tomorrow – show something from a holiday or a special place and talk about it! I still haven’t decided what I’m showing, but I think it might be a little pot that I painted at a Medieval fair in 1992. We stayed in a village called Montferrat, from 15-29th August (I only know that because it’s painted on the pot!) but I think the fete was at a place called Brignoles.

That’s how we’re spending the weekend!

 

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.

Catching Up

As I said, 40 Acts has been a disaster for me. I started off less enthusiastically than in other years, and quickly lost motivation, as the news of the pandemic became more serious and I started feeling anxious.

So, what did I do, if anything…You can click on the title of each section if you want to read the meditation from 40 Acts

ACT 7: You first

After you.’ It’s not something you hear very often in our preoccupied, me-first society. Yet, how easy it is to offer a higher place in the queue, your seat on the bus, the chance to go through a road junction first. And what a blessing to receive it!

Green: Everywhere you go today, hold the door open for anyone who’s following you.

Amber: Allow another shopper to go ahead of you at the checkout or let another driver out of a junction.

Red: Continue into the week, looking for opportunities to practice ‘preferring others’. Determine to make this a constant habit.

I do try to be considerate, to hold doors open, to let lesser loaded shoppers go first and so on…So today I continued to do this. I also tried very hard not to make sarcastic comments (only to myself) about drivers who I considered to be driving slower than they should be! Nothing world shattering, I’m afraid!

It did make me smile though, as I remebered last year…One 40 Acts day I was feeling right mardy, as I wandered the aisles of Lidl with my trolley filling up. I felt a prompt from somewhere, pointing out my less than charitable efforts.

“Oh alright then,” I grumped, “I’ll let anyone with a basket go first.” SIGH

I got to the checkout. Shortly after, a guy holding a couple of baguettes arrived behind me.

Allez-y” I said, and he thanked me, and went next. As I prepared to unload my shopping onto the conveyor belt someone else arrived with a basket. Hah, God, I thought. Very funny.

Allez-y” I said, and as she slipped by me (yes, you’ve guessed it) two more people with baskets arrived. By now God and I were in on the joke, so I was happy to let them past too…but it did make me wonder about God’s sense of humour!!

ACT 8: UNDER THE WEATHER

Coughs, sneezes or assigned to bed… if you live alone, it can be difficult to manage cooking or even making a drink; and if others depend on you, there’s the pressure to carry on, regardless of how ill you feel. Someone you know is going through a hard time with their health, so put aside time to help them in a practical way.

Green: Text or call someone you know who is unwell to see how they are doing.

Amber: Create a care package or ask someone if they’d like you to prepare a meal for them.

Red: Set aside some time for a hospital or care home visit, or relieve someone who cares for a relative full-time for a couple of hours.

This seemed a bit ironic, as the pandemic crept closer to us… But Mr FD wasn’t feeling 100% as he was nursing a cold. I felt that looking after him, and keeping my patience (he’s not the best of patients!) was a good effort.

I did also text a friend who wasn’t feeling well, with some Get Well Soon thoughts.

ACT 9 PREPAID

Imagine turning up to buy something, only to find you haven’t brought enough money. You apologise and start to move away, but the assistant says you can take it because someone else has already paid. The stuff of fantasy? Not if you become part of a growing momentum of pre-paying on behalf of the needy.

Green: Leave coins taped to a car-park ticket machine.

Amber: Check out websites like www.suspendedcoffee.com or search on Facebook for ‘suspended coffee’ to find an outlet near you where you can buy drinks for the homeless to collect later.

Red: Contact a Christian holiday centre and ask if they have a bursary scheme whereby you can offer to pay towards a guest’s stay.

I intended to do the green act, but never quite got round to it. The best I could do was leave a spare plastic jeton in the supermarket shopping trolley. Not even a 1€ coin, but a plastic jeton!! Still, I guess it would still be useful if you didn’t have your coins with you.

ACT 10 LITTERBUG

Every cigarette butt casually discarded, every sweet wrapper or takeaway container soon adds up to a big problem on our streets. Let’s care for the planet God gave us. Find a bin. It’s a win-win.

Green: Pick up five pieces of litter today.

Amber: Keep a pair of protective gloves in your pocket or bag, ready to remove debris wherever you go. You could even separate out the litter to recycle at home.

Red: Plan a community clean-up day. Advertise it as widely as you can and gather a team to systematically work through specific areas. Spread the word on social media with the hashtag #40acts.

Sorry. Did nothing…

ACT 11: FRIEND INDEED

We’re thinking of friendship in its thick-and-thin sense, today. Among our circle will be friends who are going through tough times and need someone near them. Sometimes, fear of saying the wrong thing makes us stay away, but so often all that’s needed is some company and a listening ear.

Green: Call a friend who you know is struggling and ask them how they are.

Amber: Give a small thing like a card or their favourite food to let a friend who is sad know that you are thinking of them.

Red: When you speak to someone, listen carefully to what they tell you and, if anything rings alarm bells, ask them if they’d like you to go with them to get extra support elsewhere.

We have friends in Rome – as the pandemic in Italy gets worse, and the restrictions more severe, I sent them a message assuring them of love and prayers. They joined in our Zoom church service today – it was lovely to see them!

Also, later on, after France was put under lockdown (allowed out only for a few reasons) I posted some Ninja notes into people’s post boxes – hopefully to cheer them up.

ACT 12: CHOCOLATE TUESDAY

It’s a rare person who doesn’t like chocolate, so this one is for lots of people around you. Wherever you go today, spread the love, chocolate style! You’re obviously going to need to work within your budget, but push the boat out and buy Fairtrade if you can.

Green: Buy a box or tub and leave it by the coffee machine at work, or at the school reception. Add a cheerful ‘help yourself’ note, with the hashtag #40acts (and your name if you want to encourage a response).

Amber: Arm yourself with chocolate and hand it out to those you meet as you go through the day.

Red: Keep an eye out and an ear open for God to prompt you about who to approach. As you offer them the chocolate, add an explanation about 40acts and see what conversations open up about Jesus.

I knew this was coming, as Chocolate Tuesday is a recurring Act, so I was already prepared! Chocolate bars for the students I was teaching, a box of chocolate for the staff at the Language Centre, and another left out for the students. A card and a 40 Acts sticker. While my students were surprised, they were happy to accept. And one bar left over for Mr FD!

I’m pausing in the mammoth catch up now, as I’m going to have a Mothering Sunday Skype (or equivalent) call to my mum.

More at a later date!!

Cats on the Underground

What a splendid idea!

An inspirational group of cat lovers have replaced every advertising hoarding in Clapham (Cat-ham?!) Common tube station with cat pictures! d The Citizens Advertising Takeover Service (CATS, if you didn’t get that) started a crowdfunding campaign to raise enough money to replace the standard adverts  with pictures of, well, cats, with more than 60 adverts displaying cute kittens and cats from every angle.

At first, the plan was just to put up pretty pictures of cats. But after thinking things through, CATS decided to display photos of animals in need of loving homes – so many of the pictures  are cats from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home or Cats Protection, the UK’s largest feline welfare charity.

CATS said that their reasons for doing this were…
  • It would be amazing
  • It’s exhausting being asked to buy stuff all the time. “Wouldn’t it be great not to worry about the holiday we can’t afford, the car we don’t need, or the body we don’t have? Imagine a world where public spaces made you feel good.”
This blog post gives more information….
I have since read the article more carefully, and found that this happened in 2016 – still…it’s still a lot of fun!!

 

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 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 5: Moods and Misadventures

The first mood was the weather – we had planned to drive to the top of Mount Aigouil, which is the highest point in the area, but the weather wasn’t playing ball. It was grey and rather murky, and as we drove towards the mountain it became clear that we’d see nothing from the top: it was covered in cloud!

We drove a bit aimlessly, trying to decide what to do, but finally settling on visiting Nimes-les-Vieux. This isn’t, as you might imagine, a town, but rather what is sometimes known as a “chaos”; an area where the outcrops of limestone rock have been worn into fantastical shapes by wind and water. The Yorkshire Dales has Malham pavement and Malham Cove; we had the chaos of Nimes-les-Vieux.

On the way we stopped in a small town for lunch. Which is where Misadventure 1 took place: I was walking along the edge of the road, in the gutter, as a pavement café was taking up the pavement, when I took a sidestep to avoid an advancing waiter; my foot found a hole. Twisting and turning, trying to avoid falling onto my knees, I staggered forward, clutching at a planter full of bamboo, and finally plonked myself down on a convenient bench. Unfortunately, as I was wearing my arm brace that day as my arthritis in my wrist was bad, I couldn’t manipulate my hand very well, and so my thumb took the force of my hand grabbing at the bench. I half-ripped my nail off. Concerned people from the café came over and gave me a plaster, as my nail was bleeding quite copiously. I had twisted my foot too, which was beginning to throb.

We quickly found a place to have lunch – I had a slightly disappointing salad, while Mr FD had a delicious pizza – and we discussed what to do. We knew there was a place where you could view vultures nearby, and thought that would be better if I was still in pain. The GPS was programmed and off we went. The GPS told us which way to go and Mr FD ignored it, because “it was wrong.” Of course, it wasn’t wrong, but by the time he admitted this we had gone too far to turn back.

So we reverted to the original plan of Nimes-les-Vieux.

But I wasn’t really in a Very Good Place. Grumpy, ticked off because I’d had a disappointing lunch, in a bit of pain from my foot and sciatica, and unimpressed by the weather, I stumped off along the pathway (4.5 km around the site.) After about 5 minutes Mr FD said “You’re not enjoying this are you?”

“No.”

“Well, go back to the car and wait for me.”

Hmmm. Not much sympathy there then! I didn’t want to just sit in the car for an hour, so I continued. Grumpily. Mr FD strode on ahead. Grumpily.

After another 5 minutes or so, I thought I had to take myself in hand, so I paused, and gave myself a good talking to. And I prayed a bit too. Thinking about the beauty of the place I was in, my health (OK, so I’m not in the best of condition, but I can walk – albeit slowly ), the fact I was with my Dear One…

And then we continued, with my mood a brighter one.

Here are some photos I took – Kezzie sometimes takes photos of clouds and asks her readers to say what they think they look like. So here are two of the rock formations; what do you think they look like?

  

As we walked round the trail, we went through several different landscapes, from rocky, like this

to more grassland, with flowers. We passed lots of these, most with their resident bee/butterfly/both!

At about the 3.5 km mark I was getting tired, and thinking that I wished we’d brought more water with us…when much to my surprise we saw a sign pointing to a Buvette (snack bar) We followed it, and there in a farmyard was a little room selling drinks and local produce! The drinks we had were very welcome!

Soon after we set off again came Misadventure 2. As you’ll have gathered some of the path involved clambering over rocks and finding footholds in places. Well, as I was traversing a fairly narrow gap between two huge boulders, my foot slipped and I got my leg stuck between two rocks. I couldn’t move! With my arm brace on as well, I couldn’t use one arm very successfully either, so for a couple of seconds there was panic and weeping (from me) and exasperated sighs and eye rolling (from Mr FD) With his direction, and help, I finally managed to get out and get to my feet, but not before a French family had come upon us, and had to be persuaded not to call the Pompiers! I was fine – a bit shaken, and only slightly bruised – but felt a bit stupid. Mr FD claims it was through lack of fitness that I couldn’t extricate myself, but it was more arm braces, and back pain through sciatica (and, although exercise could improve the latter, I don’t think the former is anything to do with fitrness levels!)

During our walk we’d experienced all kinds of weather – bright sunshine, driving rain, grey skies and wind. By the time we got back to the car it was fairly clear, with blue skies and sunshine, so we decided to go to the top of Mount Aigouil after all. When we got there (you can drive!) it was blowing a hoolie, and I was feeling tired, so I stayed in the car. Mr FD braved the gales and took some photos of the view

  

We got back to Chez Nous at about 5.00 so had time for a cuppa and a snooze before we went out to dinner. The nearest village, Saint Martial, was tiny: no shops, a church, a blink-and-you’d-miss-it kind of place. But it also has a good restaurant, recommended by several people. So we went there for dinner…It was a delight!

It wasn’t cheap – we had the 30€ menu, with a half bottle of wine – but not too extravagant, we felt, for what we got.

Starter: Tartare de thon, et sablé nois, glace saumon fumé (Tuna tartare, with a hazelnut biscuit and smoked salmon ice cream) Which sounds weird – but it was delicious! There was more to it – with a wasabi cream and wasabi peanuts, plus something else crispy that I don’t know what it was, and little preserved peppers which were sweet…We kept making “yummy noises” as we were eating it!

Main: Coeur de rumsteck, croute d’olives noirs, polenta crémeuse. (heart of a rump steak with a black olive crust, served with creamy polenta) If you don’t like your meat rare then don’t order this! We weren’t asked how we wanted the steak: it came as the Chef thought it should be! Happily for us, rare is not a problem, and it was lovely!

Dessert: This wasn’t written down, so I can’t tell you it in French, but it was basically white chocolate with a frozen cheesecake-y filling and a centre of apricot purée, served on a crunchy biscuit crumb with plum compote. Gorgeous!!!!!

We went to bed feeling very replete!!