Don’t say the C-word!!

Oh my golly gosh!

I’ve done my Christmas shopping!!

We’re going to the UK soon, and we’ll be seeing both sides of the family…so I have bought some nice things on the Eden Project site, and on Namaste Fair Trade and we’ll have them delivered to my MiL’s house. I can wrap them up, and then deliver them directly (or leave them with MiL)!! That will save on postage costs and awkwardness of wrapping things up to post.

All the nephews and nieces are getting Christmas decorations – I’d usually buy these at the Christmas markets, but Jane & I aren’t going this year (for various reasons) Some books for the great nephews and great nieces (save those in Malaysia…) to be purchased in the UK and we’re done!

I think my Christmas present will be money for a new laptop – I need one for work, and mine died back in February-ish. I’ve been using my phone for downloading audio and videos but it’s not very good, really.

How organised am I?!

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When good intentions go wrong!!

I had such good intentions…

 

I had just set off to work, and was driving quite slowly. As I looked in my side mirror I saw a beautiful white moth clinging on for dear life. Thinking it would get squished by a car if it fell off I stopped, and tried to encourage it to move off the mirror. Using an old parking ticket I flicked it off the mirror.

It fluttered briefly, and lmanded in the middle of the road.

“No-o-o! You’ll get squished!” I said, and hastily scooped it up again (it was early. There were no other cars coming)

It fluttered again, and caught a slight breeze, so fluttered over to a trellis fence where it landed. I could see it clearly against the dark fence.

“Phew,” I thought, “It’s safe now…”

…and watched in horror as a bird flew down and ate it!!!!

 

Hey ho.

Sorry, no. The bird has already eaten it!!

How cute is cute?!

A friend on the Ship of Fools site, who is also a reader of my blog, saw that I wasn’t feeling in the best of mental health – just a bit down after the holidays, and after an increase in joint pain – so she sent me some pictures of cute kittens and cats.

It’s certainly true that, if you’re a cat person, pictures and videos of kittens and cats can go quite a long way towards putting a smile on your face.

Of course, if you’re a dog person, you need something else…

Complaining about plastic…

I didn’t hear back from M&S, after their anodyne answer (and my response to it!) Can anyone in the UK tell me if they know whether this promotion from M&S has been stopped/ has been successful? I would be interested to know.

On the subject of useless plastic, I bought a jar of instant coffee recently.

I took it off the shelf not really looking at it very closely. Until I got home: note the way the label goes right up to the top of the jar: it’s a plastic covering, which encases the entire jar in plastic. Encouraged by Kezzie, who is trying to persuade us all to think about our plastic use,  and taking on board her encouragement to think about the eight Rs for the environnment (one of her additions was: Research:  Not happy with something to do with waste?  Research a way to solve it! )

Well, I wrote to Carte Noir with the following:

Je m’excuse mon français, mais j’ai une question: en ces jours où nous essayons de réduire l’utilisation inutile de plastique POURQUOI Carte Noir Bio est-elle enveloppée dans une seule couche de plastique, qui ne peut pas être recyclée et est immédiatement jetée? C’est ironique que c’est bio café – essayer de consommer des choses qui sont bonnes pour notre santé tout en ajoutant à la montagne de plastique. Je suis desolé, mais je vais arreter d’acheter Carte Noir, jusqu’au vous arrêtez d’envelopper vos pots de café dans cet emballage en plastique inutile.

TR: I apologize for my French, but I have a question: in these days when we are trying to reduce the unnecessary use of plastic WHY is Carte Noir Bio  wrapped in a single layer of plastic, which cannot be recycled and is immediately discarded? It’s ironic that it’s organic coffee – trying to consume things that are good for our health while adding to the plastic mountain. I’m sorry, but I’m going to stop buying Carte Noir, until you stop wrapping your coffee pots in this useless plastic packaging.

I quickly received the stock answer:
C’est avec attention que nous prenons connaissance de votre message et nous vous remercions de votre intérêt pour la marque Carte Noire.
Nous prenons compte de votre insatisfaction et la  faisons  remontée auprès des services concernés.

TR: We have carefully read your message and we thank you for your interest in the Carte Noire brand. We will take your complaint to the relevant department.

Who knows what will happen. But at least I made a noise about it.

Is Carte Noir coffee in the UK wrapped in this single use plastic too? If so, could you write to the Customer Services dept to complain? It certainly doesn’t need to be wrapped up like this – it’s still got its foil seal at the top of the jar, so it isn’t to keep the coffee fresh!

Avoiding la Fete Patronale (as much as possible!)

Last weekend it was the Fete Patronale of our village. This is when the whole village has a fun time, with a travelling fair, and fireworks, and fun events for the Kiddies. It starts on Friday night, when the fairground opens, with flashing lights, and loud music, and goes on through to Monday evening, when the fair has its last hurrah. There are fireworks on Saturday night, and the fair shuts down about midnight that evening; on Sunday the loudspeaker bellows out its announcements and running commentary. The main street with its parking is taken over by the stands selling candy floss, and hook-a-duck and shooting stalls…

Did I say “the whole village”? Hmm, maybe not. We overlook the square where the fair sets up. We are therefore subject to all the noise and inconvenience from Thursday onwards. We get mightily pissed off by it. (as you can tell by the fact I’ve written a post complaining about it practically every year I’ve been writing this blog!!!) But, it’s part of village life so we can do no more than try to live with it. And, thanks to a friend and Mr FD, this year was the most bearable it’s been.

Friday evening wasn’t too bad – we closed all the shutters and had the TV a bit louder than usual. When we went to bed, the music was still going – the bass in particular was reverberating through the air – but I was so tired that I managed to fall asleep, despite the noise. Mr FD put on his noise cancelling headphones and listened to the radio until the fair closed down.

On Saturday, the noise didn’t really start until about 3 o’clock, when Mr FD suggested we took ourselves off somewhere. We couldn’t decide where, but finally we took our books, music and a bottle of water up to the local chateau, where there was a bench beneath the shade of a plane tree. We spent a (almost) peaceful afternoon there: we could still hear the music, and especially the rhythmic thump of the bass, but it was dulled enough to be able to ignore it. We were joined for much of the time, by this charming little cat

We went home at 6.15, feeling thoroughly refreshed and at peace. We then went up to Friend Richard’s – he lives about 5 km outside the village, and had kindly offered to let us sleep at his place that night. We had a meal with himù and Friend Cathy, and then drove down to the village to feed the cats and to make sure they were OK during the fireworks. Then we drove back to Richard’s. We settled into bed – but even there we could still hear the bass beat and the faint sound of music floating on the night air! We were grateful not to be in the midst of it!

On Sunday afternoon, we decided to do the same thing, so we took our books etc., plus a couple of flasks of hot water and tea bags, and scones (for afternoon tea!)  back to “our” bench. We read and listened to podcasts until about 6.30. Then we spent the evening with all shutters tightly closed watching TV. We couldn’t work out how Pomme could sleep quite happily out on the balcony, with the flashing lights, wailing sirens from the dodgem cars, and thumping bass. But she was happily sleeping away the evening! Although I wasn’t as tired as on Friday, I told myself that, as I am perfectly capable of falling asleep in front of the TV, I was able to drift off to sleep with the thump of music as a background noise. And I did!

Today is the last day for the Fete – I think they have even started to dismantle some of the stands. So we can breathe a sigh of relief that it’s all over for another year…and we weathered this year better than most!

 

Thank you Kezzie…Part III

Kezzie  has provided the inspiration for the last two posts, and finally for this one too! Answering 60 questions about oneself. Here’s the last 20

41. Cooking or baking? Hard to choose as I enjoy both (although the everyday cooking gets a bit boring!) (Hence the reason for my answer 40) If I had to choose, I suppose it would be cooking, as one cannot live on cakes alone.Baking is more pleasurable however; I don’t “do” yeast though. It rather disturbs me.

42. Favourite Baked goods? Oh, how to choose?! I think flapjacks – so easy to make but so delicious!! Note that is UK Flapjacks not US flapjacks (which are pancakes. What’s that about?) Recipe here, should you wish to try it! If you can’t get golden syrup, then honey or Agave syrup can be substituted, but the quantities & cooking time may need adjusting.

43. What is something you wish you could be good at? Gosh, there are so many! A not-particularly-useful thing is singing. I’ve got a loud and serviceable singing voice, but I wish it was better. A more-useful thing would be being organised, or as Kezzie said, not worrying about stuff. There’s an envelope saying “Important Information Included” waiting to be opened. I worry about what’s inside it, so I don’t open it. Stupidstupidstupid.

44.  Skiing or surfing? Like Kezzie, neither. I never took to skiing, and surfing seems just as difficult with the added “bonus” of getting seawater up every orifice. I have wobbly ankles and no balance.

45. First celebrity crush? As far as I can remember it was Ben Murphy, from “Alias Smith & Jones” I had photos of him stuck onto the lid of my desk at school.

 

Then…and now (I actually prefer the “now”!)

46. Most recent celebrity crush? Alan Rickman, always Alan Rickman. But actually Ben Murphy has just surprised me!!

47. What colour was your prom dress? Proms didn’t exist when I left school. We had a Leavers’ Meal and Disco, somewhere in Liverpool city centre – very grown up! I have no idea what I wore!! I do remember that for my 21st birthday party, held at college (university equivalent) – which I shared with friends Diane and Lynne – I wore a cream knee-length dress.

48. How do you manage stress? I don’t! As a result of my hormonetherapy, I get stupidly over anxious.

49. What do you do to relax? Blog, read blogs, art “journalling”, zentangling, reading.

50. Shoes or bags? If the question is asking what do you have more of, then I guess it’s shoes. I’m always on a quest to find comfortable shoes, that are also elegant. I haven’t found them yet. Especially as I can’t walk in heels of any height. I like bags, but don’t buy a lot of them (handbags, that is. I have myriad tote bags, but I’ve not bought many of them. They’re mostly gifts) I am very frugal buying handbags though – the ones I like are usually far too expensive to buy!

51. How do you know if you’re in love? Crikey! How to answer? I like Kezzie’s answer (more borrowing!) Worrying about that person, wanting to make things better for them, still loving them even when they are mean to you or drive you mad.  Not sure really.

52. Who do you turn to when you’re sad? Usually I turn in on myself. I’m not very good at sharing sadness. Mr FD only wants to try to “fix” it, or rationalise it, and that doesn’t really help.

53. What are you most enchanted by? The night sky.

54. What is your biggest strength? No idea. If we ask what am I good at – teaching, preaching, Some have said I’m a good listener, and am empathetic. I don’t know if that’s so. I like to think I’m usually kind, but I can also be very ungenerous.

55. What is your biggest weakness? I’m very lazy. And disorganised. And a worrier/panicker. Mr FD says I panic first and ask questions later, and that’s becoming more and more my default position. I don’t think I’d be very good in a crisis.

56. What are 3 words to describe living in your city? I live in a small town/big village. Quiet…humdrum…pleasant…

57. Cutest thing on planet Earth? Probably something with baby animals, especially kittens

58. Favourite colour? I honestly don’t have one! It rather depends on my mood.

59. Favourite time of day? The moment of silence when I turn off the car ignition outside my house after a long day’s work. Especially if I know Mr FD has cooked dinner!

60. Favourite band? I don’t have one – but here are a few that I really like: Elbow, Rend Collective, Big,big Train, The Divine Comedy.

Stealing from Kezzie: Part 2

Here’s the second part of the series of questions that I’ve borrowed/stolen/copied from Kezzie

21. How do you start your day? It depends on whether it’s a work day or not, but it usually involves some cat wrangling! I prefer to be showered and dressed before I have breakfast.

22. Would you ever live anywhere beside where you do now? Yes, quite happily. Now we have lived in France – which had always been a dream – I would be prepared to move back to the UK….though I think we’d be looking at Scotland, rather than England. Depending on what happens with Brexshit we may have to move back, but probably not.

23.  What is your favourite dessert? I don’t really have one. Although I love chocolate, I wouldn’t usually choose a chocolate dessert; I prefer fruity ones.

24.  Is there a dessert you don’t like? See above: anything too chocolatey-and-cream-laden.

25.  It’s a brunch! What do you eat? Full English breakfast, please, followed by toast-and-marmalade. And lots of good coffee.

26.  Where was the best vacation you’ve ever taken? Ach, there’s too many lovely holidays to remember, all of them special for different reasons. I couldn’t choose!

27.   Favourite Disney animal? Don’t really have one. Maybe Puss in Boots from Shrek. Is that Disney?

28. What is a book you are planning on reading? “Iris & Ruby” by Rosie Thomas. “The Last Runaway” by Tracy Chevalier – I came across both of these as I was clearing my bookshelf and thought I needed to re-read them.

29.  What did you read most recently? I read “The Virgin Blue” by Tracy Chevalier while on holiday, as it was partly set in the region where we were staying. And also “Skelly’s Square” by Stephen Black as it’s by someone whose blog I read. Both were very good.

30. Favourite solo artist? I don’t have a favourite, but among those I like are…Hafdis Huld, Sting, Paul Carrack, Richard Hawley….

31. What is something you’re tired of? Brexshit. ‘Nuff said. And joint pain.

32.  What is a city you want to visit? I’d like to revisit Amsterdam. I’d like to vist Copenhagen, Rekyavik, maybe New York, Prague…

33.  Heels or flats. It has to be flats. I can’t walk in heels of any height.

34.  Where does one go on a perfect toad trip? Anywhere that appeals! The French countryside is hard to beat!

35. What do you do on a rainy day? It depends on my mood, but often it’s blogging or art work of some description.

36.  What is your favourite exercise? I’m afraid that’s an oxymoron to me!

37.  What was your worst subject at school? I was no good at maths – Up to the last year in Primary school I loved maths, but then we were taught Binary numbers, which I couldn’t understand. It put me off for the rest of my life (except for a brief spark of interest with some kind of graph) When I found out I’d passed maths “O”level, I told my maths teacher, who responded with “Well, Alison, life is full of little surprises!”

38.  Which animal do you identify with most? Cat – I love sleeping and eating.

39.  What do you usually eat for breakfast? On a work day I have a big glass of orange-juice-and-water, egg on toast, and coffee. I’ve just started having a pro-biotic yoghurt too. On a non-work-day, it’s the juice combo, toast and jam, and coffee.

40.  What do you usually eat for dinner? I don’t “usually” have anything. In fact Mr FD sometimes complains that I’ll cook something nioce and then we never have it again! I’ve got loads of home-created recipe books with different recipes in. If we have the same thing twice in a month it’s unusual! I’m trying to have fish once a week, vegetarian twice a week, and less meat on the other days…but it doesn’t always work out like that.