back to the buzzards…

…and walking the dog on the well worn paths and empty lanes, being serenaded by crickets and enjoying the peace and tranquility of rural France.

And back from what? I hear you ask? Did you ask?

Obviously not the people who were with me – they shared it all…but for the occasional reader who might be interested…

Back from the best 70th birthday celebrations anyone could wish for. IMG_1137

Such a splendiferous cake!

It wasn’t all eating and drinking and partying and playing with grandchildren – seeing friends from far and wide and having quality time with my daughters and a full body and head massage and staying in a suite of rooms with an outdoor heated swimming pool and a hot tub – oh no that’s not the half of it…

In the olden days when we lived in Yorkshire we often visited Bempton Cliffs RSPB reserve  – and we went back there on this holiday. We stood on the cliff top while the gannets plucked at the grass for their nests, nests that are precariously balanced on the cliff edge.

With the pungent odour of guano and the cries of hundreds of seabirds rising and falling on the wind it was just like being a part of their world. The gannets were at head height – what a spectacle!

As birthdays go – it couldn’t be bettered.

I am one really lucky lady – lucky to have reached seventy and lucky to have been able to celebrate this milestone  with people I care about.

It is, after all, only a number…

 

 

going to hell in a handcart…

I’m not sure what that means but it seems to fit the bill at the moment. Once upon a time I could believe what I saw and heard – now I wouldn’t trust any photograph at all unless I’d taken it, because they can be doctored so easily these days with the miracle that is modern technology.

I certainly wouldn’t trust a word that was published by the press, gutter or otherwise, or on social media …and what’s with this ‘Fake News?’ Lies, Lies and more lies. Who invented that? And what’s more, why?

I don’t want to write any more because I know I shall prattle on about issues that I don’t like but can’t do anything about…

Instead, here is a photo of a Ragondin – probably a french Coypu – we sometimes see them on our evening walk. They are shy and have been seen grazing near the pond.

This one was in the river at St Pouçain on a recent wine buying foray into the Allier.

They are herbivores and I love ’em – they look a bit like an otter don’t you think?

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Morning mist on a carp lake down the valley.

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At nearly seventy food is one of the minor pleasures in life…OK OK so is waking up every morning and able to make my own decisions…

So for the last, but by no means the least photo, one of last summer’s salads.

For the moment I have decided it had better be photos on my blog and not ramblings.

The world as I say, seems to be going to hell in a handcart, and I don’t know what to do about it.

 

of spanish snow…

…and spanish rain and spanish floods. Oh yes, a holiday to remember. A rented car that sat unused on the campsite for five days while under the groundsheet a lake formed.

The view down to the coast changed dramatically after a night of snow.

The words ‘stir crazy’ came to mind because after only one day of snow came 5 days of solid rain. The campsite normally so tidy, became very muddy, the toilet block always so clean and carefully looked after, became flooded and small rivers appeared everywhere where the rushing water washed away the gravel.

And then came the sun, so, not as warm as other years, but still a change of scenery and meeting up with friends is always a good time.

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On the walk up to Fleix – these flowers appear like giant triffids…

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Benidorm in the winter sunshine – OK so maybe I wouldn’t want to stay there – but for a day out it is such a great place – and for people watching and having a beer or a glass of wine in the sunshine  – I just love it!

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Sometime later when Spring is just around the corner I might be inspired to write something interesting…but for the moment its just holiday snaps…

and

Thanks to whichever God or Fate  put me on this earth, and gave me this good life…  if sometimes I seem a bit ungrateful and moan now and then, I don’t mean it – I just need a little prod now and then to remember to love it enough.

 

last friday of 2016…

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This was taken earlier in December when we walked in the late afternoon up to the woods – that’s the moon…

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Until this cold snap, December had been a pleasant month and we have been able to have a walk every afternoon.

This is a popular ramble for us – barrage de la Tache.

Here on the plateau above our village – maybe 1100 metres or so high, the trees often have peculiar shapes due, perhaps, to wind damage.

And coming home a little later than usual one night in december the skies were worthy of a fiery poem – pity we don’t know a poet, isn’t it?

I doubt it’ll be a walk this afternoon for this granny, since it is rather chilly at -5.5°C.

It is spectacularly pretty though, the white hoar frost like icing on a cake, twinkling in the sunshine.

It seems it should be a day for writing, a cosy loft, too cold to go out…oh if only I had a modicum of talent, inspiration, motivation. Ah well, no one is perfect,so the female Alan Bennett (we can all dream, can’t we?) will be put on the back burner for yet another day.

I wonder who decided that we’d use that phrase ‘on the back burner?’ I mean, was someone standing at the stove boiling potatoes and thought ‘I’ll put these on the back burner while I stir the gravy’ and then suddenly it became an idiom and everyone was using it to mean – well putting things off temporarily, I suppose.

There’s a challenge – how do idioms come about?

More from the ordinary life…

The weekend before Christmas we went to Avignon for two nights

There was no christmas market as we had thought there might be, but there was a procession…

We spent the saturday on the Camargue – beautiful sunshine, blue skies and 20°C.

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‘Nowt special’ as we say oop north, but I am so glad to be able to do it, and having someone to do it with is, of course, paramount.

And, for the end of the year, a popular quote from Edith Lovejoy Pierce – poet and pacifist:

‘We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and it’s first chapter is New Year’s Day.’ 

I wish you a healthy and contented 2017.

 

…of deer, December and doing things

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We see deer often on our walks in the late afternoon and early evening. Himself snapped this one a couple of days ago. We live in France and so of course it has probably been shot by now.

I know hunting is part of the french life style and culture and we might be overrun with deer as they have no natural enemy here, but for the life of me I will never understand how some people really enjoy, get their kicks, whatever you want to call it – out of killing another living creature.

It’s december and sometimes it’s almost been too cold to walk our usual route, -3.5°C. That’s a minus…Brrr!

But I’m glad to say most days I get a walk however short, and the views are lovely – whatever the weather. Reflections and the mist rising make we want to be a real photographer.

and as for the doing things? Hmm…I have joined a knitting group – hardly a group since we are just three, but I have to speak french and of course, knit. So I have made a shawl for my English speaking french friend who puts up with my stilted conversation and who gave me the confidence to contact the group…

…and a case to keep my needles in.

And so the ordinary life just keeps on keeping on – and isn’t that wonderful?

I often wonder why I write this – I try and believe I am ‘practising my craft’ so that  one day before I croak, I will have this idea for a fantastic story…

and as the American playwright and journalist, Elaine Liner said:

‘if writers stopped writing about what happened to them, there would be a lot of empty pages.’

 

‘don’t let your dreams die, while you are still alive’

…that quote is by some philosopher or other called DJ Kyos. I don’t know who he is and really the quote has nothing to do with the rubbish I am about to write – but I do like it. So here goes, more wafflings from an ordinary life.

What with all the hoohaa about Brexit and no one knowing what’s going on, or what may or may not happen to Britain in the future, and the instability in the £, and whether or not I should become a french citizen, and whether or not it will stop raining before dark so I can take the dog for a walk….then really its only dreams that seem real and so he’s right, they shouldn’t be allowed to die..

And yes it is raining and so look what I achieved this morning…img_0699

A vey neat and tidy drawer.

Oh what a sad person I can hear you all shouting at my tidily placed and colour coded underwear.

My excuse is – apart from the fact that I felt like doing it and it is very therapeutic, well sort of…my excuse is – it was raining – and I haven’t got a single idea in my head for a poem or a story…I am so good at excuses – maybe I could write a book on ‘the excuses I have used for NOT writing.’

What a wonderful holiday we have just had in the UK seeing the family and friends.

Tarn Hows –  where we went to The Drunken Duck pub for lunch with a cousin, and the beach at Bridlington in the late afternoon sun, where we went for a walk with the dog.

We went to the theatre – being an expat, immigrant – call it what you will – has lots to commend it – but oh it is so wonderful to enjoy an evening of live performance. This was an excellent production of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Man who would be King.’It was good to catch up with our friends too – although we could have so easily not got there in time due to us country bumpkins not being used to the big city traffic; something called ‘The Loop,’ the left hand drive car on British roads, and just generally always being in the wrong lane.

Well worth it though, and thanks m’dear, for organising it.

And I went with one daughter to see Louden Wainwright  – so a night of live music too.

What a great time – not to mention lunch with some old work colleagues, being with  the daughters and grandchildren, and some friends I hadn’t seen for years…and oh yes, a little bit of retail therapy…

Back to the calm tranquility of the cottage, speaking french, the odd tractor passing now and then, home made parsnip soup and…

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…crocheting leaves.

Why?

Because a daughter asked for some. I can crochet granny squares, only granny squares, like my mother before me – I’ve been a knitter all my life – leaves –  this is a whole new ballgame. Always up for a challenge, that’s me…if you believe that…

Its always nice to feel you might be still useful in old age – himself will be wood turning Harry Potter type wands for the very same reason – and yes we do enjoy it.

And now its Autumn

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There’s plenty of bracken around here

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…and does this mean its going to be a harsh winter?

My quote for this week is from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe born in 1749 – another one you all probably know – but yet again, another one I like…

One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture,and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.’

I’m off to read a poem – ‘The Water Mill’ by Sarah Doudney – as good a place to start as any.

I have a mind to learn it off by heart so if I ever wasn’t able to see the words I could say it to myself in my dotage.

Onwards, readers of my rubbish – there’s a poem to be read out there.

 

 

 

 

still happy…

well this old granny is still in the land of living and has survived another surgical intervention!

Out came the old, and judging by the size of the stones, defunct gallbladder!

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I am a bit bruised and still a bit sore but thinking back to the other surgeries I’ve had before the invention of keyhole – this is a piece of cake!

Things are not quite so straightforward in french – my second language skills are not nearly as good as I would want them to be, but we managed.

The september weather is truly glorious, a cosy fire at night but warm enough for lunch on the terrace. The prospect of getting fit again to walk the dog down the country lanes, and to enjoy food again and leisurely lunches with friends.

What could be better?

Certainly here is one contented old lady.

 

 

 

 

Expat knitting granny living in France