Stay calmer…

…when you want to harm a llama

call a llama farmer!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ringo Starr is my inspiration for this haircut!

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

We found out interesting llama facts…

Here are some:

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

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

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

And that was it.

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


Zero before 60…

Regular readers may remember that back in January I gave myself a list of 10 things to do before my 60th birthday in October.

Picture me looking shame faced…

Here is the list and my progress so far:

  1. To “purposefully” walk 60 km a month
  2. Organise some kind of art show
  3.  Invite French friends for an English afternoon tea
  4. Visit a Llama farm
  5. Read my French novel
  6. Treat myself to a massage
  7. Spend one night in a Shepherd’s hut/ yurt/ tree house
  8. Go to an open air concert
  9. Write a will
  10. Take my two best friends here in France out for a cocktail or two


  1.  This came to a juddering halt somewhere mid-February. I have just started trying to do a Leslie Sansome mile-a-day but I’m not sure how long it will continue.
  2. The logistics of this defeat me. No idea what to do about it.
  3. One of my French friends has holed herself up after her husband’s death and isn’t going out. I’ve not got that many French friends, now I think about it… I WILL try to get this sorted, maybe for Odette and her daughter Céline..
  4. I’ve just begun to explore this again. I’ll ask Friend Cathy if she’s up for it.
  5. Yeah, right…
  6. This one isn’t actually too hard! I have picked up a card for a place not too far away. I just need to make some effort to book myself in…
  7. There’s a place not far away, which we’re thinking we might book for the Saturday night of the village fete (always a nightmare)
  8. I should have got my act together better – nuits de Fourvieres is nearly over. AND there were bands I’d’ve liked to have seen. Sigh. Not sure if I’ll manage this one…but I am going to a concert (indoors) just after my birthday!
  9. I know I should get on and do it…no excuses (or rather WE should get on and do it!)
  10. This keeps being put off. I can’t think why, it’s not that we’re not up for it!



I’d better go and do my ironing…


Walking “progress”

Hey ho. I started March all full of enthusiasm, and completed a couple of 3.2 km days, courtesy of Lesley

Then on Wednesday my back decided to play a few mean tricks on me, and I ended up being able to hobble from one place to another.

Never mind…I  am becoming less hopeful of completing 600 km by the end of October, but I will continue to increase my walking. I won’t say that I won’t complete it, but I’m doubtful that I will!

Back-wise, it’s still painful, but the strong painkillers help to make it bearable. The pain now is mostly focussed in one place, rather than the dull ache of before, and this is something that I’m used to. I’ve got the TENS machine going which helps as well.

Now…back to that sermon!

Walking Update.

Out for a walk – wearing too many clothes!!

It’s a little less embarrassing than last week, as I have managed to get out a bit! So far this month I’ve done 18 km. Not the 30 I was hoping for, but there’s still a few days to go, and I’m going out this afternoon at least. I’m also not working on Tuesday – cancelled lessons – so I shall try to get another longish walk in then too. So hopefully by the end of February I won’t be disastrously behind target!

Sat 16 5.2
Sun 17 0
Mon 18 0
Tues 19 3.5
Wed 20 1.5
Thur 21 0
Fri 22 4.5

My walk last Saturday was lovely – it was the furthest I’ve walked for a long time, and although I was slow – especially on the uneven ground of the forest track – I still did the distance in about an hour and a half.



Tuesday’s 3.5 kilometres was around the streets of Clermont as I was learn-lining (as I used to call it back in the days when I did a lot of it!) When I have lines to learn for something I find walking helps…somehow. I used to tramp the streets of Milton Keynes when I did am-dram. Well, I’m “starring” in some short English teaching videos for Bonjour World, so I have lines to learn, so I’m back to walking to help. I’ve got three of the scenes learned. I’ve got two to go before next Saturday. I’ll be out again later this afternoon, I think!

Wednesday was a quick walk along the banks of the Loire again – it’s a really pleasant little walk, which I can usually fit in before my 10.15 lesson.

And Friday was a walk with Marvin the dog – Friend Alison and her family were going out ski-ing for the day, and staying with friends overnight, so they asked us to look in on Marvin. I thought it would be nice to take him out, so at 4.30 when I’d finished my preparation for next week, I bundled him into the car (he thought he was going to the vet, so was a bit reluctant) and drove out to a walk that I like, about 10 minutes from here. There was quite a lot of snow, which surprised me, and I wasn’t very well shod, so we kept to the main forest track.


The woodcutters had been out: doesn’t that sound delightfully Hansel-and-Gretel-ish? Not at all, with their diggers and chain saws there were quite some scenes of “desolation” – but then, lumber is a main industry round here, and the woods are working areas. Anyway, there were woodpiles for Marvin to climb on:


and smells to explore

So, all in all, we had a splendid time!


This month in walking… and a history lesson.

I didn’t quite make my walking goal, but I was close enough – as you can see below. February hasn’t started too well, as I did something to my back yesterday morning, and have been in too much pain to do much moving, never mind purposeful walking! So, with February being a short month, I may not make the monthly 60 km. However, if I keep going, I can still make 600 km by the end of October. When the weather is nicer, and the evenings longer, then I will be more inclined to find time and places to walk.

However I have enjoyed my last two Wednesday walks – sadly not as long as I’d planned, as somehow it took me longer than expected to get out of the house. I’ve been having mild panic attacks, and getting extremely anxious about self-imposed tasks or targets. Stupid, I know, as they’re self imposed, but logic doesn’t come into it! Anyway, the first of the enjoyable Wednesday walk was by the Port in Roanne:

As you can see, it was a snowy day, so it had taken me longer to drive down, and I only had about 15 minutes to walk, before the first lesson I was teaching. Still, I had a brisk walk up one side of the marina. As you can see, there are barges and other boats tied up here, as many people come and over-winter here in their houseboats. We know a few of them through Friend Richard, and I met one on line through a FB group too.

The following week, I had planned to do another walk round the Port, but decided instead to walk along the “levée” at the side of the river Loire.

The river has a large flood plain now, since the hydro-electric barrages were bilt further upstream, and is quite shallow. In the past, it was a deep river, and Roanne  was an important trading post ,exporting local products— wines, including casks of Beaujolais that had been shipped overland, ceramics, textiles—and after 1785, coal from St Etienne (an important mining town) which had formerly been onloaded upstream since river improvements at the beginning of the century. Sturdy goods were rafted downriver on sapinières that were dismantled after use.

This postcard shows a Sapinière on the Allier river – closeish to Roanne, but in the Auvergne. The Allier river plain is the next one along to the Loire valley.

Half the population of seventeenth and eighteenth-century Roanne depended in some way on this transportation economy: merchants and factors, carriers, carpenters and coopers, master-boatmen and their journeymen and oarsmen, and waterfront labourers. The other half were probably involved in the textile trade for which Roanne was famous, and later in the armaments industry. Like London, Roanne has a neighbourhood known as Arsenal.

Here’s an old picture of the Port (which is now where the houseboats moor) showing how busy it was.

My walk took me upstream, along the ancient levée, built as a wharf for loading and unloading. I’ve taken this picture from the upper part of the old wharf, looking down at what would have been at river level.

I can’t imagine that the Loire was tidal here – much too far inland! – but you can see the two flights of steps. One from what is now the flood plain, but would have been (I assume) under the river, up to the lower wharf. Then a further flight to the upper part

And here’s the river now.


My walk took me on a path between the river, and allotments, mostly beautifully kept, with some very smart sheds, with verandahs, patio heaters and barbecues. There were some less reputable ones too, cobbled together with various materials, but all well kept. I look forward to doing this walk again, in the springtime, but going further than I had time to on this day. I only had time to do 10 minutes one way and 10 minutes back.

I have, however, found that when I walk my knees are quite painful, and my hips also don’t feel “quite right”. I’ve generally felt more out of alignment since I’ve been doing more moving, and having seen the podiatrist, he explained that (because I haven’t changed my insoles since 2016) my walking position is all wrong. My feet are not positioned correctly, thus forcing my knees to point in different directions which twists my hips and my back. I’ve also had neck & shoulder pain, which may be connected to this. I am collecting my new orthopaedic in-soles on Monday, and I’m hoping they will help. I look forward to a miraculous improvement!!

Here’s my walking record to the end of the month:

DAY                                                                    DATE                                  DISTANCE

Sun 20 3
Mon 21 2
Tues 22 3
Wed 23 0.6
Thur 24 0
Fri 25 1.6
Sat 26 3.8
Sun 27 0
Mon 28 2.4
Tues 29 3.2
Wed 30 1.5
Thur 31 0
TOTAL: 58.6

A total of 58.6 km isn’t bad. Some of the distances have been guesstimated a bit – a couple of the Lesley videos stop halfway through and go into something else, so I’m not sure quite how far I’ve walked, but still…I think 58.6 is about right.

Walking progress.

Just popping in – I haven’t anything very interesting to say, but as I haven’t got any work this morning, I thought I’d let you know that I’m still alive!

My Beginner’s walking plan is going fine – since 1st January I have walked for 15 minutes every day. Today it was upped to 20 minutes. That’s fine, but in 15 minutes I haven’t been able to do the 2 km a day necessary to complete my 60-km-a-month target. Never mind – I will try to do a bit more at the weekend. I have resorted to  Lesley Sansome’s “Walking at Home” videos a couple of times, because the weather has been unappealing. Today it’s raining and I really don’t feel inclined to go out, so I did 20 minutes with Lesley – a mile (1.6 km) in 15 minutes and then a 5 minute cool-down. I estimated that as 1.8 km. A table showing my progress so far is at the end of the post. It’s not here, because I can’t work out how to eacape from the table to type underneath it! Lo, the Techno-idiot!! So I’ve done 11.88 km so far. The Thursday where I did nothing was a “rest day” on the programme, but I think I’ll have to stop having the prescribed 2 rest days, as otherwise I’ll never keep up with the 2 km a day target! Sunday was the other rest day, but I did a Lesley-mile that day.

Tues 1 1.2
Wed 2 1.25
Thur 3 0
Fri 4 1.5
Sat 5 3.13
Sun 6 1.6
Mon 7 1.4
Tues 8 1.8

10 before 60

So, I’ve got 10 months to go before I’m 60, so I thought I would try to find 10 things to do, possibly a challenge, possibly more for pleasure, before I reach that milestone. This year sees a family wedding in July, in Edinburgh, plus my mum’s 90th birthday celebrations too, so there is lots to celebrate.

So here, I present to you my 10 before 60

  1. To “purposefully” walk 60 km a month. I’m sure I probably walk at least 1 km a day, just pootling around from car park to the office etc., but this isn’t going to be included. I mean here, the walks that I do that I count. I’ve started a beginners’ walking programme – 15 minutes a day for the first week, then increasing to 20 minutes etc. So it’s this walking that I’m going to count. So far I’ve done just under 4 km of “purposeful” walking.
  2. Organise some kind of art show Now I write this down I find it a bit scary. Still, I said I’d try it… I need to consider the logistics of this one!

3. Invite French friends for an English afternoon tea – I think this one should be quite easy and enjoyable.

4. Visit a Llama farm – or some other slightly-off-the-wall animal. There’s a Bison Farm not far from here, but here’s a Llama farm I could visit – maybe I’ll wait until it’s summer for that one. I could see if Friend Cathy wanted to come.

5. Read my French novel – the Cycle Club gave me a French novel to read when I was diagnosed with cancer. I never progressed through Chapter 1, even though I found it quite interesting. So here’s a challenge for me!

6. Treat myself to a massage – I know some people hate massages, but I really like having them. Even when I go to the kiné for “re-education” of my lower back and it’s not a “relaxing” massage, I still enjoy it. I used to have one regularly in the UK, but I haven’t had a relaxing massage since we came to France. So I think this is my opportunity to treat myself!

7. Spend one night in a Shepherd’s hut/ yurt/ tree house – somewhere a little bit crazy. It doesn’t need to be too far from here, it doesn’t need to be too expensive (and with Mr FD having a job, we will have a teeny bit more disposable income) but it does need to be somewhere a bit off-the-wall.

Possibly a difficult situation if you need the loo in the night!

8. Go to an open air concert – probably at Les Nuits de Fourvieres, but maybe somewhere else…

9. Write a will – which isn’t a very exciting thing, but maybe putting it on the list will get me to do it! We had a will in the UK, but living here in France means it’s not really applicable any longer. We need to go to the Notaire and het this sorted. I know it’s a really important thing to do, but somehow it just gets put off, and put off…

10. Take my two best friends here in France out for a cocktail or two  Friend Cathy and I had a cocktail in a rather nice open air place in Lyon a couple of years back – I felt very “cosmopolitan” (sad, isn’t it?!) So it would be good to get dressed up, go out for the evening and have a cocktail or two…It rather depends on Friend Alison’s working pattern, but I think I’ll try and do this in the Spring/Summer when Cathy is back in France.