autumn ish


these are possibly called petit marrons or potimorons. They are like small pumpkins but, I believe, totally different in taste and texture. Don’t know what we’ll be doing with them tho’

So there you have it, I am back to the blog after a lovely summer – sometime in Provence, sometime near the Med at Valras Plage along with the mosquitoes that finally drove us back to Provence – a little too much eating and drinking, and lots of relaxing and sitting in the shade knitting! oh yes and some swimming in the campsite pool – not bad eh?IMG_0379

Now the grass is cut, the washing and ironing done and life will get back to its simple and usual rhythm. I will make lists of things to do and then feel cross when I don’t do anything on them – so I will add what I have done on to the bottom and then cross them off!

I will sit here in the loft and pretend I am a writer – writing long rambling emails to friends and I will potter about thinking about sewing something… or knitting cashmere dog coats for the french and their bijou dogs and selling them online…

I will waste time reading old poems I wrote way back when… and the time will pass pleasantly enough – oh yes – bring on the autumn and winter – but not too quickly!

And at the end of October we shall go back to the UK and re aquaint ourselves with our family – the daughters we abandoned to become expats.. and the gorgeous grandchildren.

And in between…well watch this space – who knows?

IMG_2424 IMG_0383

I just love eating outside…and well, there’s always the sea. This is the beach at Givrand near St Gilles Croix de Vie on the vendee. There’s miles and miles of it!


wild life

What is it about us and critters this year?

First there were the campagnoles, hungry little french voles that ate their way happily through the onions; then dorifores – colorado beetle in our first language, that himself had to pick off one by one and squash by hand;  then a sangliar – wild boar, that is, that took a fancy to snorting and snuffling through the strawberry patch and turfing all the black plastic and a few plants upside down… and now to cap it all we have had mice in the camper van! YUK and double yuk. So instead of packing and getting it ready to leave tomorrow we have been cleaning and disinfecting.

I don’t mind mice as mice at all – providing they stay in the barn where the van lives and don’t invade the van, its the thought of them peeing and pooing all over it, that I don’t like at all.

Oh yes and for the first time I have had a tick bite!

attack of the voles


Little furry critters with big teeth have invaded our vegetables. They are called campagnoles in france and voles to the rest of us.

There seems to be no way of getting rid of them – maybe a few cats down there or an owl or two? If we had cats they’d be on the sofa or stretched out in the sun, rather like our dog – I can’t see them parading down in the vegetable plot. One web site suggested fox urine….

Campagnoles have five litters a year so don’t think I am exaggerating too much when I say they have eaten an awful lot – including our onions!

Himself has put down two humane traps – but the wily creatures are just by – passing them. They are probably too fat and well fed to fit in them now and far too clever!


See that hedge at the bottom well that’s probably where vole city is.


it could have been us…

I know I haven’t put anything on here for ages…and why I hear you ask – you are retired – your time is your own and how can you pretend to be practicing your craft if you don’t write anything!

C’est la vie – that’s me  – one time small, dainty and thin would be writer, now rather lazy and on the large side hasn’t written a word for months sort of person!

But here is something to tell you…it started as one of my,  with hindsight, less than good ideas; a four day coach trip to go on the famous trains in the Alps – the Glacier Express and the Bernina Express. And this would have been the story of the coach trip from hell… then two days ago, the very same train we were on just two weeks ago,  was derailed by a landslide and some coaches thrown down a ravine – people were badly injured and airlifted off by helicopter and the tourists who could walk, tramped away from the horrific scene back down the line. So how could I moan about the low cloud, rain and not seeing the wonderful views?

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And my quote for this week has absolutely nothing to do with the Alps or swiss trains -

“the mill will never grind again with water that is past.”

This comes from The Water Mill by Sarah Doudney 1843 – 1926

and many thanks to my  friend in the Lakes for introducing me to this poem. If you need a change of reading matter I would recommend you sit somewhere with a cuppa and read it gently outloud – the words like ‘languidly’ and ‘garnered’ and phrases like ‘but never glideth back again’ just serve to remind us how beautiful our English language is.  And the rhythm and flow and the way the poem rhymes – sounds so easy to do – but oh so difficult to do – especially to do so that it does not sound false and contrived.

And from Emily Dickenson..

“If I can stop one heart from breaking I shall not live in vain, if I can ease one life the aching or cool one pain, or help one fainting robin into his nest again, I shall not live in vain.”


and to finish – I just couldn’t resist putting his statue in my blog! No prizes for guessing who or where it is, but I wonder why?



We have two ears and one mouth…

so we should listen more than we say.” ― Zeno of Citium
I don’t know who he was but he is certainly right! How many of you have been in this situation – which one are you?

It was like some sort of talking competition. Three women sitting at a table in a small, out of the way bar, drinking coffee.

The oldest one who sat in the middle, overweight and badly wrinkled from years of smoking maybe, or years of retirement in the spanish sun, was dressed in the wrong colours for her sallow complexion and weight and nearing seventy at a guess. She became red in the face with the effort of exaggerating her stories to make the other two, younger women laugh. And they did laugh a little and so the wilder her hands gesticulated and the more dramatic her facial expressions became.

Two had children, that much was obvious as they prattled on, each anxious to let the other know whose grandchildren were the worst behaved, or the cleverest, whose children had given them the most problems during adolescence, whose marriages were the most messy, whose divorces were the most acrimonious.

Each husband’s faults were described in detail – how similar they were – was this a coincidence – after all they hardly knew each other, and health issues, they soon came into the conversation – one had had her fair share of serious problems but did she have to regale them all with such great detail?
On and on the oldest one prattled, and when she paused for breath – the second of the two took the opportunity to jump in,  and the younger woman with no children became quieter by the minute.

She was perhaps in her late fifties – lithe and well dressed – her make up was subtle and she soon stopped listening over the second coffee and let her eyes glaze over as she looked around the bar. ‘Would they never stop’ she thought – ‘the express train had certainly built up steam that morning…’

OK so maybe I’ve missed the boat for being a writer in this lifetime! Hola! But I’m still out of the coffin!


and now for something completely different…the passion flower has flowered! The winter here was the mildest for years and this is the first time it has flowered after the first and only time it did about 5 years ago. My neighbours haven’t seen anything like it! Its a good talking point – so from my friend’s garden near York to the depths of rural France, how good is that?


and we have had the internal doors stripped! Yes ten years ago we would have done them ourselves – as we did with the stairs – ye gods what a job that was – himself watching Le Tour in Yorkshire still remarks on it occasionally! More than likely they are the original doors – what stories could they tell if they could speak.

And now a poem for the letterbook for my sister:

Why tears?

Today I spent a long

time in the cupboard 

in the loft,

head banging,

head hanging low


of my life.

I read some poems,

yours mostly 

and some of mine

and the tears 

are not yet dry.

Tears not for me,

nor you

but lost

forgotten, vanished time

Tears because my

memories are fading

tears because all my

dreams are done.

variety, a bit of this and that…

We have had some friends staying, some for only a night and some for a week, and it is so pleasurable to have had ‘real’ conversations!

Apart from good English beer and the theatre, a proper conversation – one that includes humour and laughter is the thing I probably miss the most – except of course my daughters and grandchildren, but missing them goes without saying.

I can get by in French – well sort of, and its ok for the moment – but thanks to our friends from Huddersfield we had an excellent week – of talking and laughter – pity about the weather!

But oh dear so much eating and drinking is good for the soul but not the waistline – healthy eating starts tomorrow!



this is what Granny has just finished knitting.

And this is a strange wildflower in the hedgerow

IMG_0065As I said, a bit of this and that – and maybe the will to write more another time!


AIR: Part One


inspirational indeed.

Originally posted on Jess Dewes: Photography & words:

On January 30th, 2014, a woman walked into my photography studio carrying a tote bag full of oxygen tanks and jewelry. She smiled at me from under the hose that disappeared into her nostrils and I fell for her instantly.

On film, first meeting, 1/30/14.

A few months prior to the day Julie VonderHaar came to my studio for a portrait, I was invited to be part of a group photography show at a gallery called SOHA in South St. Louis, MO.  I was informed that the theme of the exhibit was simply AIR. Each photographer (8 total) was to interpret the theme however they liked and create something for the show. As a businessperson, exhibiting in shows like this is rarely lucrative, but the artist in me couldn’t resist the opportunity to stretch a bit beyond my work portfolio of baby portraits, corporate head shots, and wedding documentation.

I knew…

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