Any Questions…

The writer of the blog A New Life in Lillewhich I enjoy reading, was offered one of those awards that come wioth questions to answer, which he passed on to his readers. As I am devoid of inspiration, but have time to write a blog post, I thought I’d answer them. I think I’ll do it in two halves though (giving me another blog post from it!!)

Why did you start your blog? At the time, a lot of people from Ship of Fools (a website I enjoy) were blogging, using a site set up (I think) by one of the moderators. I enjoy writing, and I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon. You can read some of the posts if you go to the section “Some dregs from the other Teapot” up above. My first blog post was on August 24th 2009, and I managed to make a mess up of that first one what with usernames and so forth.

And so it has continued – sometimes with more inspiration than other times, but I enjoy blogging. I see it almost as my “scrapbooks” for the internet age. When I was at University I kept physical scrapbooks, with things stuck in, and the odd journal type entry. This is the updated version of that, I suppose, although this one rarely (if ever!) has my innermost secrets in.

What do you enjoy most about blogging? It has to be the interaction with other bloggers! I love getting comments, and if a new person comments I’ll go to their blog, if I can, to read what they’re up to. If it’s “my kind of blog” then I’ll add them to my bookmarked blogs. I try to comment too, but I’m less good at doing that . I especially appreciated the support from other bloggers, and readers, through my cancer treatment.

Getting “likes” doesn’t mean much, as that’s too easy to do & therefore doesn’t mean much, and I feel that it’s mostly done to get “likes” back. I was horrified when I followed one “like” back to its source and found a conspiracy theory site with disinformation about Covid-19 on it. If I could have taken down the “like”, I would have!

But the writing itself is also a pleasure. I like writing, I love words, and so it’s not a chore to blog. It might be a chore to read my blog however!!

Which is your favourite blog post you’ve written? I really don’t know!! I enjoy reading back over posts, but I don’t really have a favourite one.

Maybe this one written after a trip to the UK is special, because it reminds me of what a joyful weekend I had, even in the midst of cancer

What do you hope the world will learn from the coronavirus? To be more kind, to be more thoughtful and to slow down. The most important things are not to do with money.

Also that the Tory government shafts the ordinary people every step of the way.

(Sorry, is that a bit political?!)

If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why? Again, really difficult to answer. We are happy here in St Just, and will probably stay here…but, for the sake of argument, somewhere a little further south, on one level, traditional exterior but modernised interior, with an infinity pool overlooking mountains & trees…but not far from a village with all amenities. Not much garden (or garden, with a gardener) but room for a donkey and a few goats. And cats too.

Yes, that’ll do!

 

Pause.

Today is a fast day (we’re back on the 5:2 regime, after I was told my cholesterol was getting a bit too high) so I’ve only had orange juice, coffee and tea up till now. It’s 12.30 and my poached egg on toast is calling me.

 

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!

 

Daily Lockdown Life

I feel I’ve been cheating, posting poems, but to be honest there’s not much else to say!

Like most of us in France (there are those, as everywhere, who don’t take notice) we are in lockdown, which basically means that you can’t go out more than once a day, for no more than an hour. And only for shopping, essential working, exercise or essential care work. We’ve not struggled too much with this, because we have had our work and a big house to spread out in, but we do feel for others who have found it much more difficult. But, even so, I don’t think that the fact it is a challenge is any excuse to endanger other people!

It really ticks me off to see people thinking that rules don’t apply to them (although I do have to admit that, on occassions, I have been out twice a day – once to buy bread, and once to feed the Poor Cats. But I didn’t meet anyone second time round.) and getting together for parties, or going out for picnics, or sunning themselves on the beach. There was even a group of people flying out to France in a private jet, to stay on the Cote d’Azur!

We’ve been supporting the restaurant next door – our Easter dinner was a delicious asparagus-and-morilles-in-a-wine-sauce with risotto – and otherwise eating reasonably healthily, until it all goes to pot with chocklit in the evening!

I was starting to get a bit “stir crazy” by the end of last week, but one of my students made a comment that made me realise that I’d spent 12 straight days mostly working in front of a computer. Yes, I’d popped out for my early evening walk most days, but with preparing a Power Point meditative Good Friday service, and a Power Point to start our Easter Sunday service as well as lessons by video conferencing, I hadn’t had a proper break from computer screens. So on Saturday morning, I tackled the balcony – emptied the disgusting litter tray, cleaned it up, emptied pots of dead plants, brushed up soil, litter and who-knows-what, and generally made it a pleasant place to sit again. There is a cat basket in the shade which Pomme and Jasper both like, and a “second class” box in the shade, which the loser sits in! Sadly, there’s no plants (except the parsley and chives that survived the winter) as we can’t justify driving to one of the bigger garden centres (they’ve been given permission to open) to buy plants, and our small garden centre isn’t open. But I’ve put out a few artificial plants, and tried to make it look nice. If anyone would like to knit or crochet me some plants, then feel free!!

We really need to tackle the courtyard next – that really IS a mess, but neither of us feel that inclined! It was so lovely to get out and just breathe! In fact, I sat outside on the balcony reading for most of the afternoon! On Sunday we had our Zoom church meeting and then in the afternoon I just relaxed and read…and created another PPP for the beginning of next week’s church! I actually really enjoy putting them together, so it was relaxing.

My MiL’s friend, who has been in a nursing home for a couple of years, with dementia has succumbed to this bastard virus. He’s my only personal link to someone who has died,  but I fear there may be more before the end of this time. My mum is at home with my sister, and my brother is doing shopping and delivering it, so neither of my sister or my mum need to go out to more risky situations. With mum at 91, we really don’t want her exposed to risk.

Stay safe, dear Friends, stay safe.

Live Car?

If you remember, a few posts back I told you that our little Fiat 500 died on us

We had to decide what to do, so having looked at a few cars, we’ve decided that we’re going to have to bite the bullet and buy a new car.And so the next thing was which one we’re going to buy. We test drove one on Wednesday night, and it seems a good medium sized car, with enough “poke” for motorway driving.

Dear Mr FD was going to try to organise the finance and hopefullyeverything will work out.

I don’t believe God is a “God of Parking Spaces” (that is, miraculously providing parking spaces when prayed for) but I do believe he takes an interest in the minutiae of our lives. So I prayed that we’d find the right car for us, as it’s necessary for us both to have one; as soon as I saw this one, it felt like I would be very happy driving this car.

Let’s hope things fall into place…

Does it come with an Itty Bitty Kitty too?!

ETA: there has been a problem with this car, afterall. Mr FD has unearthed the fact that it hasn’t had regular oil changes, which could have caused long term damage to the engine. So, the search continues…we’ll find The Right Car at some stage.

A blast from the Past

I’m cheating & sharing an old post, from my previous blog…I used to volunteer to walk dogs at the SPA near work. However, they insisted you “adopted” a dog first, and then you walked that dog. I started with Benji, but he was adopted quickly…It seemed that every time I turned up, my “god dog” had been adopted!!

And then I met Gavroche, who put an end to my dog walking…

Read on, dear one…

 

I think you are all a bit behind me on the God-dog front. When I got back from holidays, WMD had been adopted. So I chose a new dog called Youpi (who was a Bison Frisée (or is that a large cow-like creature with a curly lettuce?!) ) But as there were people looking to adopt a dog, and were interested in Youpi, I took out another cheeky chap, with the unlikely name of Tooraloora – or something equally bizarre. Anyway, yesterday I went to take out Youpi, and found that s/he (I never got to find out!) had been adopted! Never mind, I hadn’t exactly bonded with him/her, so I chose to take out a young labrador cross, called Gavroche.

Getting him out of his cage was tricky enough, as his companion was also determined to come with us. At one point, Gavroche was outside the cage, on his lead, while I was inside, with the door closed, hanging onto the lead, and trying to fend off companion, who was howling mournfully, while pawing at my legs, desperate to join Gavroche. I eventually managed to escape and Gavroche and I trotted off for our walk. He was splendidly well behaved – but a little strong – and was very good when I gave him a treat, sitting and waiting until I handed it to him.

So, as I say, he was well behaved, but obviously wanted to explore the river that we were walking beside. But there was a 4m drop down and no safe way of letting him go. He kept darting off, sniffing and trying to find a way down, and I kept hauling him back. Eventually we discovered a slope down to the river and Gavroche washopeful. I started to gingerly make my way down the rather slippy slope. At one point I went on my bottom, making a spectacular mud slide down my jeans. I struggled to my feet and was just thinking that maybe this wasn’t such a good idea, when Gavroche couldn’t hold back his excitement and made a plunge for the river. As I was already a little unsteady on my feet, and the slope was slippery, I couldn’t haul him back and he took me off my feet, pulling me face first into the river. I ended up sitting in the river, waist deep in sandy water, having bashed my face and knees on rocks, and twisted my ankle in the process. I later discovered that I’d hit a rock so hard with the corner of my glasses, that the arm of them was driven into behind my ear, leaving me with quite a nasty gash there, and a red line across the bridge of my nose. I sat, shocked for a second or two and then I just howled for a couple of minutes, while the dog (after his first joyous splashing about) sat and looked at me. After a bit, I remembered my mobile and my watch – both in my pocket. Luckily both were okay. But here I was hurt, shocked and quite some way from the SPA centre.

So what did I do? Phone them? No – I couldn’t explain where I was so I couldn’t. Retrace my steps? No – though why, I’m not sure…maybe my scrambled brain thought I’d gone too far – though as I was on a new walk I didn’t actually know the route back to the centre… I decided to carry on with the walk…So hobbling on my ankle, bawling like a two year old and hiccupping I started to walk.

Poor old Gavroche was trying to have a good walk and kept trying to pull me towards interesting smells; I could hardly walk by now and couldn’t keep up with him. So the poor thing kept getting jerked back on his lead as I sobbed and pleaded “No, Gavroche, no – come back”.Jerk. “I can’t do this”. Pull.

I struggled past a house where someone watched my faltering progress as his dog barked for France. He worked out something was wrong and came over to me. I tried to be very sensible and spoke in my best French. He offered to drive me to the centre, but I’m too wary of getting in cars with strange men -although having seen the state I was in when I finally got back, I can’t imagine he had any designs on me – mud/tear/blood streaked face, filthy dripping jeans & T-shirt… I was also concerned (for some reason) that he had bare feet. So, refusing him, I hobbled on, taking an hour to walk the 1.5 or so km back to the centre – all the while hoping that he’d drive up behind me and get me in the car – because by then I’d’ve accepted a lift. Or that he would’ve phoned the centre and they’d come for me. But no. I finally got back, whereupon several volunteers appeareded, clucking over me, taking Gavroche and guiding me to sit down . And I collapsed into a weeping pile of uselessness.

Somebody ( possibly a vetinary nurse!) strapped me up and washed me down a bit, and decided that I could well have torn some ligaments in my ankle. And said could I get someone to collect me? Er, no – we live 70 km away. I’m afraid I’m on my own here! Luckily we’ve got cruise control on the car, so driving the motorway wasn’t too difficult. My braking was occasionally a bit hard as I couldn’t press gently, but on the whole it was

fine. Our friend, the nurse, has checked me over, and while I’m still sore, I’m generally not too bad today (much less stiff than I expected, to be honest) Sleeping was a bit uncomfortable, as I woke everytime I moved positions, but thankfully it was not worse than it could have been…

Next time I’m taking out a chihauhau.

*** FIN  ***

 

Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite fine, and have struggled with a swollen knee ever since (it was 5 years ago!) Hey ho. Cats are much less trouble!!

 

(Most of) the year in pictures.

On the last day of the year (decade!) I thought I’d show you one photo for each month…However, with a new computer, I find that I don’t get a display of the photos, but just a IMG number for each one. So for each month I’ve just literally picked a random photo, from its number, and posted that.

JANUARY:

I have no idea where this lake is! I suspect it was the fishing lake/bird reserve lake in Roanne, where I sometimes go for a walk, but I can’t be certain!

FEBRUARY:

I know this one! It was on a walk not too far from here. This was when I was still keen on getting my 600 km walked before my 60th birthday. That didn’t last much longer!! I think I was ill, and lost momentum, and then couldn’t be arsed!!

MARCH:

Fairy cakes made for the family next door as part of 40 Acts. The family have now moved on, not having had much success in the hotel, but there’s a new family moved in. We await developments…

APRIL:

Not the best photo I have of me with Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, but it was the one that I picked at random! This was at the weekend for the consecration of Mark Edington as our Bishop. A wonderful weekend!

MAY:

The card I made for my mum’s 90th birthday – before deciding it wasn’t “special” enough, and making another!

JUNE:

We visted the caves at Lascaux with the Cycle Club, on our weekend away. Happily, this was one of my favourites of the wall paitings. I love the “fat ponies”!

JULY:

The “infinity” card I made for Flynn, the son of Friend Alison. I never got round to giving it to him though!

AUGUST:

On holiday with Mr FD, we visited the town of St Guilhem le Désert. It was rather too crowded for our tastes, being labelled as one of France’s most beautiful villages. A victim of its own success, one can’t help feeling….

SEPTEMBER:

The inside of a card made for Friend Huw, after the untimely death of his wife. I actually made, and sent, a different one, but with the same sentiment inside.

OCTOBER

NOVEMBER

DECEMBER

I think that as a result of my depression I wasn’t in the mood for much photo taking. I certainly failed to download any onto the computer! Hopefully that will change now.

Here’s to the start of a new year, and a new decade. We don’t know what’s ahead, so let’s just trust that it will all be alright in the end. And if it’s not alright, it’s not the end!

Hello!

I’m here! I’m fine! But just uninspired about what to post about!

But I’m fine.

Here’s a recipe I’m going to try this weekend – Mr FD is trying to lose weight but is missing biscuits and sweet treats a bit. This sounded like a reasonable substitute…

INGREDIENTS:

 

  • 175g dried apricots, chopped
  • 100g light muscovado sugar 
  • 420g tin apricot halves in juice, puréed in a blender
  • 30g low-fat spread
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 125g wholemeal flour
  • 125g self-raising flour

METHOD:

  1. Heat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin with baking paper.
  2. Put the apricots, sugar, apricot purée and low-fat spread in a medium pan and bring to the boil. Set aside to cool.
  3. Add all the dry ingredients to the cooled apricot mixture, spoon into the tin and bake for 40–50 min until a skewer pushed into the middle comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 min, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

PICTURE:

We will see. I also have to re-boil (and maybe add pectin to) my Tomato and Chilli jam. It’s more like tomato and chilli gloopy liquid at the moment.

And if you are of the praying nature, please remember a “virtual” friend of mine, who goes by the moniker Piglet. Her husband suffered a stroke after surgery for bowel cancer, and has died. Another person who a fortnight before was reasonably fit and healthy, but who succumbed quickly to cancer and its related evils. May D rest in peace and rise in glory, and may God hold Piglet in the palm of his hand.