I was right!

Yesterday I told you that we were going to a birthday party, and wrote: “Of course, being French, it starts at 8 pm and is likely to go on until Lord-knows-when in the morning. It’s not considered a party in France if you’re not still awake when the cock crows! Thankfully, I have my illness as a perfect excuse to slip away at about 11.00 pm. “We would love to stay, but I’m afraid…” Mind you, the last big birthday party we went to they had only just served the main course at 11.00 pm, so we may not get the full meal!”

We arrived just after 8.00 and were one of the first there. We greeted our friends and then stood round like a couple of lemons – both Mr FD & I are introverts and useless at starting conversations. We drank either beer (Mr FD) or a wine-based cocktail (me). Lots of platters of pastry based snacks were being passed round, so we ate quite a lot of those, and we chatted together. Finally I was getting tired, so we sat at our table, until an English friend arrived and joined us. She knew another couple (Franco-Hungarian) and so we chatted to them too. Then Jean-Luc (the Birthday boy) and his band played a few numbers. Finally at about 10.00 the first course appeared – oysters! One of the few things I really don’t like (to me they are like eating snot in sea-water) and also raw shellfish really isn’t a good idea for someone with a dodgy immune system. I had a piece of bread and butter.

Then Jean-Luc and his band played a few more numbers…and the fish course arrived – marinaded salmon and green salad. It was really like raw fish, but cured in its marinade. I wasn’t totally sure about eating it, but I was getting a tad hungry. It was actually very nice, and I have suffered no ill effects. But I was getting really tired.

At 11.15, with no sign of the meat course, I had to throw in the towel. I was falling asleep in my seat. So, despite Mr FD urging me to see if I could stay for a while longer (I think he was still hungry too!) I had to insist we went home. If we were going by the rhythm of the rest of the evening, it would have been meat at 11.30 (at the earliest), cheese at midnight (or later!), dessert at about 00.45, champagne and cake at 01.30 and dancing until whenever.

Of course, when I was in bed, despite being so tired, I couldn’t get to sleep for ages, and Mr FD woke in the middle of the night with terrible acid indigestion from too much beer with not enough food!

It was lovely to be invited, it was great to catch up with our friend who we haven’t seen for ages, and to celebrate Jean-Luc & Traudel’s birthdays…However, I do wish French parties didn’t go on so long into the night!! I can’t manage them, even when I’m fit and healthy (although I might have held out until the end of the main course!)


Bits and bobs and 40 Acts (21 & 22)

Hello dear ones – thank you so much for your supportive and encouraging comments on my last post. They really helped me, and I appreciate the fact that you all took time to post a commernt. If you haven’t seen the comments from other people, I encourage you to go back & read them: they might help you too.


Yesterday I went for a short walk – a walk I’d probably do in 10 minutes took me about twice that time, and I felt quite breathless by the end of it. I will do the same today, straight after I’ve finished this post. I’m still sleeping more than normal – usually 10 – 11 hours a night, especially if I’ve taken an iboprofene. The “front door” is causing me some discomfort/pain when I lie on my side, I think because it’s getting squished up and pressed into the flesh, but that’s the side I feel most comfortable to sleep on. If I sleep on my back I get backache; if I sleep on my right side, my arthritic hip hurts! The iboprofene makes everything more comfortable, so I sleep better, but I don’t feel happy taking one every night!

Tonight we’re going to a birthday party – a 120th birthday party. But not for a very old person, but two 60 year olds! Of course, being French, it starts at 8 pm and is likely to go on until Lord-knows-when in the morning. It’s not considered a party in France if you’re not still awake when the cock crows! Thankfully, I have my illness as a perfect excuse to slip away at about 11.00 pm. “We would love to stay, but I’m afraid…” Mind you, the last big birthday party we went to they had only just served the main course at 11.00 pm, so we may not get the full meal!

Even though birthday cards aren’t really a French tradition, I have, of course, made one:


I hope they like it.

I don’t want to be too late to bed either, as I hope to make it to church tomorrow as well. A friend from church came over on Thursday, bringing me three hats she’d knitted for me – so, together with a lovely one that Michelle knitted, I am all set. Except my hair is showing no sign of falling out yet! I’ve got an appointment at a coiffeuse/wig shop on Tuesday too, but at the moment everything seems to be anchored to my scalp! Which might be a good thing aesthetically, but it makes me worry that the chemotherapy isn’t doing its job, as it should be killing off all the fast-growing cells, which include hair follicles and cancer cells. Oh well, I can always check up with the doctor on Thursday before my next session.

Onto 40 Acts:

ACT 21:: ACTION: Three weeks in – we’re halfway there! By now, generosity is probably sinking a little deeper into our lives. It’s a great time to put action behind our words. Think of moments when you’ve read or heard about something generous and thought, ‘That’s a nice idea,’ but never get around to doing it. Now’s the time. Only one act for today: What act have you put off over the last few weeks? What sounded like a good idea at the time, but you never got around to doing? Put it at the top of today’s to-do list.

Well, for me, the main act really is donating to Phone Credit for Refugees and Displaced Persons

This is a fantastic but tiny charity, started by one man, James. The website says: James came up with the idea while volunteering at the refugee camp in Calais known as The Jungle.  After talking regularly to people within the camp he realised that phone credit was a lifeline for many – and something he could help with from his home in Norfolk!

In the beginning, the process was very simple. James created a Facebook group, and added all his friends and some of the refugees he had met while volunteering. His goal was to have his close contacts provide phone credit to the handful of refugees he had come to know so well.

The group grew and grew, with his FB friends adding more friends, and they added more. Now over 64,000 members chip in when they can, donating £5, or more, to give credit to those who are desperate to contact their families left behind, or to contact aid agencies. This phone credit has saved the lives of vulnerable people, especially minors and women, so often targeted in camps.

Every Friday there is the Friday Conga, where everyone who can comments and donates (if possible), doing something important with FB algorithms that helps the group. I can’t always donate, I often forget to comment. But I’m going to make a concerted effort to start doing so. My Act 21 is to start saving 2€ coins, and when I have 10€ to make a donation. Can you afford to give a one-off donation to PC4R? This tells you how:


ACT 22: VALUED:: Today, a guaranteed way of making a difference. Talk up a service staff member. It’s such an easy chance to make a difference in someone’s day – but ask any service staff member, and you’ll hear how rarely it happens. Don’t let fear of insincerity put you off. A simple ‘You’re amazing, thank you for that!’ goes a long way when it’s well meant.  

I actually completed the Green task a couple of days ago, contacting the restaurant where we’d eaten on Saturday to compliment the waiter who had been very attentive to us. I certainly used to do this in the UK:  if I had received good service from a shop assistant I’d go to Customer Services, and say “I will complain if I receive bad service…” The face would fall “So equally I want to compliment good service…” The face would smile, and I would explain who had been helpful etc.

Sadly, France is not exactly the epitome of good customer service, with requests for help being met more often than not with a surly shrug. But I can still smile, and be polite and say Thank You to everyone who helps me, whether they do it with a smile or a shrug.

I hope everyone has a great weekend! Thank you for reading!!

New neighbours

Hello, Dear Ones! I hope all is well with you.

Yesterday I had a bit of a lazy day and a bit of a rushing about day.

I had two blood tests to have done: one at home, Friend Claire, who is our local nurse, came to do the first. We knew that she was arriving quite early, so I was up at 7.00. Then, almost as soon as she had done that, it was off to Roanne, to the hospital, for the second. I was going to go by myself, but as we’d had lots of snow, and the roads hadn’t been cleared (unusually), and I haven’t driven for over a month, Mr FD decided he would come with me and drive. I’m glad he did. The drive was okay, but he’s better than I in the snow.

We got back just before 11.00, and I got a phone call to say that my “front door” (as we’ve taken to calling the box for the Hickman line that’s going to feed the chemo into my body) won’t be fitted until 21st Feb. This is cutting it fine for having chemo before the Elbow concert (leaving here on 2nd March) – we shall see what appointment they give me for the first chemo session, but if it’s the week of the concert we may ask for it to be deferred.

This was the rushing about part of the day.

We then lazed around for an hour-and-a-half, until our friends arrived and we went next door to the Hotel de Londres

(that’s our house, to the left)

We haven’t been here for many a long year, as the previous owner was a bit of a plonker. (That’s the polite word) I won’t go into details, but suffice it to say none of the English in the surrounding area go there, and lots of the locals eschew the place too. He has sold it now, and yesterday was the opening “under new management”. The new management are a reasonably young couple who had been struggling in a restaurant some kilometres from here, where our friends used to go from time to time. As the couple had moved here, our friends wanted to come and support them, so we joined them. Any excuse to go out for a meal!

Gratifyingly, the restaurant was quite full of people, many locals (including the owner of the restaurant round the corner – sussing out the opposition, I imagine!), and the 13,50€ Menu du Jour was good value.

ENTREE: choice between a huge Salade Niçoise or 2 slices of paté en croute + salad

MAIN: choice between langue du boeuf ( beef tongue – shudders theatrically) or marinaded pork, plus pasta & sauce

CHEESE: fromage blanc, or fromage sec. The cheese course  (fromage sec) was three smallish pieces of cheese, but Mr FD said they were all nice. I had fromage blanc.

PUDDING: choice between pannacotta, tiramisu speculoos, chocolate pot, crème brulée.

The portions were enormous – perhaps they could cut down on the sizes a little – and I was able to take quite a few leftovers from our party for the Poor Cats.

After that meal, you can imagine that we spent the rest of the afternoon quietly dozing on the sofa. I was joined by a couple of cats, and I browsed some magazines Mij had brought me, and slept.

Today has been a bit (bit ) more energetic. A later get-up time, but then I did my 15 minute mile walking indoors. I then entered a few more competitions (all these holidays I’m going to win!!) and read a few blogs. A tad of admin left over from before Christmas…then help Mr FD unload the shopping. Thanks for doing it, Mr FD.

Then, I finally made myself get round to sorting out the top drawer of my filing cabinet – I’d done the bottom two with teaching resources, but the top one, for other paperwork, had just had stuff dumped in it. I needed to find some information, so I knew I had to tackle it…I’d been putting it off for weeks

So, I put 2 hours on my phone, & told myself I’d keep going until the timer went off…actually I finished (mostly) before the timer went off, which was very pleasing. I feel extremely virtuous now. I am going to try not to use my computer (except for inspiration/instruction) during the afternoon, but rather do craft/ reading etc. Says she, happily using her computer!! I will finish this, and then turn it off! Except I have to make a birthday card for my MiL, so it will be on for inspiration!!!

I’d better go and get on with it!

Sunday doings

Yesterday it was the Cycle Club AGM, so Mr FD, as treasurer, toddled off at 9.30 to help prepare the room. As I’m only a hanger-on I didn’t need to attend, so I had a lazy morning with a hot water bottle, a blanket, a cat and my Kindle – I’m reading another enjoyable book from NetGalley, which I’ll be reviewing soon – I also listened to the day’s meditation from Pray As You Go

which has been a great help through these past months.

Mr FD phoned me at about midday to say that the meeting had finished, and there was a Kir to be had, so off I went. Actually, although Mr FD had saved me a cup of kir, by the time I got there people were starting to drift away, so I had a few minutes to gulp it down and make a bit of small talk, before we all (including the hangers on) trooped over to the Hotel de la Poste for a meal.

The choice for starter was sausage salad, with beetroot, and potato salad, or gateau de foie de volaille. Although I’m not a great liver fan I chose this, almost immediately (but slightly too late!) regretting my choice! I can take chicken livers, whereas calves’ or lambs’ liver is beyond me, but I didn’t really fancy either choice.

It wasn’t too horrible: in fact the sauce was delicious!I managed to finish it all except what I thought was a mushroom perched on top, but is, in fact, a chicken liver. That got slid onto Mr FD’s plate!

Next, the choice was trout, or slow cooked pork. I chose the pork:

This came with some gratin dauphinoise, a few courgettes a couple of green beans and a smear of butternut squash purée. Delicious, but I could have done with a few more veggies!

Cheese was next:

From top to bottom: soft cows’ cheese with shallots, Brillat Saverin, and Cantal Vieux.

Finally the dessert trolley…we were sat in the middle of the “U” shaped table formation and were a little nervous, as here at La Poste one is encouraged to try 3, or even 4, desserts. We were concerned that they would run out, but it was OK, as at various times a waitresss would come out of the kitchen with another plate of something yummy in her hands.

I chose fresh fruit salad and Gateau Ste-Honoré, but from memory there was also: tarte aux abricots, tarte au chocolat, tarte tatin, tarte au praline, iles flottantes (soft meringues in custard with a caramel sauce),  pistachio-and-chocolate gateau, Black Forest gateau, a choice of ice cream/sorbet, raspberry bavarois, and tiramisu. We finished with coffee and petits fours.

There had been wine included in the price, which was 25,75€ per person (32$ / £22.50) Not cheap, but certainly not extortionate!

We walked home (all of two minutes!) and I prepared the Poor Cats’ food. Mr FD went for a walk while I went to feed the cats, and then as he watched the football results I fell asleep! I snoozed for about 2 hours – which put pay to my ideas of getting to sleep earlier (at the moment I’m lying awake until gone midnight, then waking up at about 8.15. It’s not ideal, really)

After a bit of bread-and-cheese, Mr FD asked what I wanted to watch on TV. Well, way before Christmas we had watched series 4 of “Line of Duty” – we’d not seen the previous series – and were seriously gripped by it! So Mr FD had ordered series 1,2 and 3 on DVD, but we never quite got round to watching them. They were just what I fancied, so we thought we’d watch the first episode of Series 1…and then we thought we’d just watch the second episode…and then, well, let’s watch the 3rd episode…!! If it hadn’t been 11.15 we might have watched the next one too! Series 1 is just as gripping as Series 4 was!

For those of you who enjoy police procedural series and haven’t seen this, I thoroughly recommend it. It’s on Netflix, aznd possibly also on the i-player.

We are now tantalisingly putting off watching the last two episodes until Wednesday evening (as tonight is catching up with Call the Midwife and Modern Life is Goodish, and Tuesday is Silent Witness night.)


I told you about the Poor Cats, and how Red had gone downhill…For a couple of days, he rallied. The Kind Vet gave him some antibiotics, but the cat spent most of the day curled up on the pillow that has become the cats’ preferred pissing place. We don’t know why he chose that place at all – it smells terrible!

He hadn’t washed at all, his four paws, his ears, his backside were all filthy, and he was hardly eating or drinking. He wasn’t a happy cat.

So yesterday, Marie-Odile and I took him to the Kind Vet, who gave him an injection to send him to sleep. Red fell asleep with me stroking him and telling him what a good boy he was. Then the Kind Vet gave him another injection to stop his heart.

It was a hard decision to make, but really, I don’t think he was going to make it for much longer, and it wasn’t, in the end, a bad way to die. Better to fall asleep, being stroked in a warm place, with kind voices, than alone and cold in a ditch, in pain and distress.

But it still hurts a little bit: he was so like lovely, lost George, and made me wonder anew what had happened to our big soft boy cat.

Some sad Poor Cat news.

Hello Dear Ones – I hope nobody finds this greeting offensive or patronising. I recently read about the closure of Frugal Queen’s blog, which I always enjoyed reading. Apparently she closed it because of too many trolls (of which I get none. I’m glad I’m not famous!) which is a great shame. Somebody remarked how they found FQ’s greeting of “Dear Readers” rather patronising. I rather liked it. It’s hard to know how to greet one’s readers sometimes, but I have “borrowed” the Bishop’s soubriquet for the readers of his general e-mails “dear ones” – because, actually, you are dear to me – your comments, your prayers and positive thoughts, your support has all been very important and I appreciate you all. Even those who rather randomly “like” a post that I honestly can’t believe you have read in the 5 seconds after it has been posted – I assume these people are hoping I’ll go to their blogs and follow, or “like”, one of their posts. Which I sometimes (but rarely) do; so often the blog isn’t to my liking, or my cup of tea, so I won’t reciprocate. Sorry if that makes me mean. But I appreciate your “likes” all the same.


To begin again…

Hello, Dear Ones

Things are improving daily. I can now raise my right arm to head height, I did some knitting yesterday, my scar continues to heal (thank you to Friend Claire, who is also District Nurse Claire who popped by yesterday to reassure me regarding the state of the scar), and, having done things, I am in a better frame of mind than on Sunday, when I felt mopey and grumpy for most of the day.

I am sad though. As you may remember, I am part of a tiny team that feeds the “Poor Cats” of the village

There have been two of the cats who have been really struggling this winter: One-Eye (variously known as Barney and Bonnie) and Red. They have been getting thinner and thinner, and coughing really badly. Marie-Odile, who knows more about them than I do, told me that both have leucose – basically cat HiV. They curl up together in the cabin, and come out to eat a little when we arrive. Red miaows terribly, wanting strokes and love, and when we leave it can be heart-rending.

One-Eye/Bonnie/Barney (tri colour cat at the front left) and Red (ginger and white) in happier times

We have been debating whether to have the two of them put down – but every time the weather gets a little warmer, they both rally round. Yesterday, however, Marie Odile found Bonnie dead in the little shelter you can see under the roof. There were two other cats with her, (not dead) so I like to think they were keeping watch with her as she passed.

Red was miaowing desperately when Marie Odile was there (I’m not going over yet, as I haven’t got the movement back to be feeding them) and she fears that he has worms and ear-mites to add to his woes. She is taking him to the vet today, but asked me my opinion as to whether we should have him put down too. It is so hard, but, finally, I said that maybe he should be.For him, it is only as though he is going to sleep, after all, and he is really rather ill. He may well rally for the summer, but that is a long way away. He has lost his snuggle-companion, and he hates being left after we have fed them.I remember one really difficult time, when he was more mobile, when he followed me down the road, then sat at ther junction, miaowling piteously as I left him. If only we could find someone to take him, look after him and keep him warm, then he could have a good-ish life, but neither Marie-Odile or I can take the risk of him infecting our cats with leucose. Also, neither of us think the resident cats would accept another cat, nor do we think the resident husbands would be too happy either!

She is taking Red to the vet today, to discuss his chances, but I suspect M. Roche will counsel the same. If Red is put down, at least it will be a more comfortable passing than Bonnie had.

It’s a sad time.

Christmas Doings

Hello, dear ones. Thank you for your good wishes, positive thoughts and prayers. They are truly appreciated. I had another scan yesterday – this time checking the organs for cancer, – but I won’t know the results until the day I go in for surgery. Everything is now ready, except for one last visit to the clinic when the sentinel node will be identified and highlighted (I wonder how?!) so it’s easy to find the following day during surgery. It will be the first thing to be removed, and then while the rest of the operation is continuing, it will be analysed. If it’s clear of cancer, then we will know that it hasn’t spread into the lymph nodes. If it is cancerous, then the rest of the nodes will be removed.  Whatever the outcome is, we will deal with it.

I had good news regarding my insurance too – as I’m self employed I had taken out a further insurance to pay out if I couldn’t work. I thought that I had to be off work for a month before it kicked in, but I have discovered that it starts immediately if I am hospitalised. Which I will be. Huzzah! This means I don’t need to worry about loss of earnings during the radiotherapy. That was a worry, but now I’m okay. I also discovered I’m entitled to 25 hours of femme de menage – a cleaning lady/man – which is a nice surprise. I’m not sure we’ll take it up though. As Mr FD said “I’d have to clean up before they came!”

Anyway – onto the real reason for the post:


I went to the Christmas Eve service at church, which was lovely – there were lots of people there, and it was good to share the anticipation of the coming of the Christ Child with them. I was also able to belt out “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” too. I was sitting next to Angel, our young (7 years old) acolyte, and I whispered to her “This carol often makes me cry” – she spent the entire time inspecting me for any sign of tears, which made me laugh so much, I couldn’t cry. I just sang the carol in my loudest, most joyful voice.

Hail! the heav’n born Prince of peace!
Hail! the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die:
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Arriving home at about 8.00 Mr FD had prepared a delicious soup that we had got the recipe for from Mons the cheese shop – La Soupe a la graisse de Noel

It is basically French Onion Soup, but with more bread and more cheese. It is yummy, and I think it may become a tradition on Christmas Eve.

We woke about 8.00 on Christmas Day.  We had our Christmas croissants, and then we sat and listened to the radio. Mr FD wanted to listen to a programme where Dr Brian Cox and Brian Eno were in conversation with the presenter. TBH, it was a bit too complicated for me, so I did some grown up colouring while the gentle voices burbled on in the background. I prefer zentangling, but my hands are feeling a bit too arthritic at the moment, so grown up colouring is an acceptable substitute.

We opened some of our presents:

  • “A Place Called Winter” by Patrick Gale
  • “Organic Family Hymnal” by Rend Collective (I had one, but gave it away, so it’s nice to have it replaced!)
  • A Harris Tweed pouch
  • The Brexit Cook Book
  • Flow “Book for Paper Lovers” – the blurb for this says:In the fifth edition of our renowned Book for Paper Lovers you’ll find no less than 300 pages of paper goodies, such as notepaper, stickers, wrapping paper, masking stickers, posters and much more. There’s even a pop-up art supplies store in there. Because we work together with illustrators from all over the world—from Taiwan to the UK, and from the US to Australia—we decided on a North East South West theme for this year’s issue. Feel free to rip it apart because that’s what it’s for: all those lovely paper goodies are there to be taken out and used.

It’s fabulous!

Then, because the weather was so lovely we went for a walk.

If you look very carefully between the pointy pine tree on its own, and the first lumpy bump you might just see Mont Blanc. We could see it quite clearly.



After that we went to our friends’ for champagne (bellinis) and lots of delicious nibbles. We WhatsApped a mutual friend, who is in the UK with her family, and spent a good 2 hours chatting and drinking and enjoying ourselves.

Then home again, for other presents:

  • a top
  • A beautiful Christmas decoration in glass
  • Some earrings
  • Chocolates

We listened to the radio again, and exchanged phone calls with various members of the family. Then Mr FD cooked our dinner – guinea fowl, and various trimmings – which was delicious, and then we relaxed with Doctor Who, and Maigret in Montmartre (recorded from just before Christmas)

Uneventful, quiet, but very enjoyable.

Then, the next day, a Boxing Day walk…But I’ll tell you about that another time!