…not blogging then?

It’s strange, but for months now, I’ve not thought about the blog, practicing the craft, boring the pants of folk, cathartic writing, call it what you like, but I haven’t done it…

…and then out of the blue – three folk in the space of a couple of days asked ‘not blogging any more then?’

Well if that’s not a sign, then I don’t know what is. I’ll have to change the title – ain’t never going to see a hoopoe, happy or not in Yorkshire… and now I’m an EX expat, still a granny, just the same, old and crumbly, more often than not invisible, full of jabs, two for Covid and a booster soon, one for flu and one for pneumonia – so nothing to write about then…

But of course still glad to be alive, escaped the dreaded covid so far…and still putting my own shoes on – thank heavens for Velcro – invented for the young and very old!

And now I realise October half term in a couple of weeks heralds the 19th anniversary of us collecting the keys of the cottage. Oh such excitement, such anticipation and such youth! OK so 55 isn’t that young, but compared to now – oh yes youth was on our side! It needed to be…

The view of our hamlet – soon to be our home…

With a mattress on the car roof, a sense of adventure in our souls and knowing we only had a week, we drove through the night and had a lovely Autumn week, discovering the lanes and by ways, attempting to converse with new neighbours and walking to the village shop to collect our bread.

The kitchen
…the weird and wonderful oil boiler in the living room

Next month we will have been back here in Yorkshire for one whole year. Emails from French friends seem to becoming less frequent, the whole experience seems to have taken on a dreamlike quality.

Did we really do it?

Can a granny be a poet?

Why can’t a granny be a poet?
I asked myself that question after seeing a programme on TV where four poets got a train and wrote about the journey from London to Glasgow. They had all had poems published and were quite renowned, but I was disappointed in their poetry.. I know, I can hear you saying…she’s one of those folk who think…

”There is the view that poetry should improve your life. I think people confuse it with the Salvation Army. “~ John Ashbery

I’m beginning to think like policemen and doctors, poets are getting younger every day. Poor old woman that I am. So, this week I shall be mostly trying to write a poem…watch this space…

“…and in the dew of little things

….the heart finds its morning, and is refreshed.”

So said Kahil Gibran in his book ‘The Prophet.

And here’s two things that refreshed my heart and reminded me how fortunate I am:

The last few of my dozen red Valentine’s Day roses, lucky lady that I am to still be receiving flowers at 73, and even luckier that they have brightened the kitchen for nearly 4 weeks.

And these pretty ones

Tiny, bright and joyful. The garden needs a lot of attention later on this year when the weather improves…but these peeped through in a dreary corner.

Having nearly fallen into the Slough of Despond at the weekend, it was good to be reminded that positive thoughts are state of mind and should be cultivated, and they need feeding every so often.

Ted says don’t let lockdownitis win, best let the week continue in a ‘counting blessings sort of way’

…bit of a rant

Dogs don’t think about getting old, do they?

Jesse on a bed near Galway, Ted on a bed in North Yorkshire, Laika at Lough Corrib and Joey relaxing.

Any one who can convince me that growing old (gracefully or otherwise…) is a wonderful time of life deserves a prize…ok…ok – Saturday was just one of those days…

and I am quite sure there are a good few grannies out there that have felt the same…

So – yes we all know it – the alternative is the dark side of nothingness… and oh yes and growing old is a privilege… was it Groucho Marx who said “growing old is what you do if you’re lucky”

But, and there is a little but…

It is undoubtedly quite hard being positive all the time – I know with certainty that’s the only way to be…for after all, on any other route lies the road to madness, any other direction leads to depression and being unhappy in one’s skin…it leads to no one wanting to be with you because they can do nothing about your negativity and don’t want to hear about it…it’s a bit like other people’s holiday photos – after the first moan, after the first few snaps you just want to go and get another drink…

The phrase ‘geez why doesn’t she get a grip and go and do something helpful, worthwhile, giving…? Try and be a sun to me and not a weary insistent personality…’ comes to mind.

It’s good to be strong and have a positive outlook on all aspects of life – someone who deals with whatever comes their way with fortitude… don’t know what that is anyway, and may never have had much in the first place, but I am very sure, like everything else, it will diminish with advancing years.

It must be wonderful to be that cheering soul who brings light into a darkened room, someone who can warm the heart of even a total stranger…we probably all are lucky enough to know or have known someone like that; but sometimes, just sometimes, I wonder if it’s ok to look in the mirror at one’s face resembling a crumpled paper bag, be forced to acknowledge the ravages of time and see impending old age and decrepitude and then wallow in self pity for a day or two? (Make that an hour or two…)

I always thought my go to place for serenity and peace and calming of the soul would be the coast. I now realise that if I ever did get to a beach – I wouldn’t be able to sit on the sand without a chair, because how on earth could I get up again? I know I should be concentrating on the fact that at least I can still (post covid) drive to a beach…

Himself reminded me this morning it was 7 years ago this weekend we went to see Joe Bonamassa – a blues singer – in Lyon… I would have said three or four at the most. I thought – we could easily not be here in another 7 years…I certainly wouldn’t be going to any blues concerts. Would I? Who knows, aren’t all things possible and shouldn’t we dwell on possibilities?

It made me wonder… funny how enjoyment has a different meaning as I get older. I’ve always known the more you put into life the more you get out of it – but now I km worried to find I don’t seem to have quite as much energy to put that much in. Hasn’t it been wearying trying to stay positive through the awful times of the Covid pandemic? Can’t just be me, can it?

My quote for this week resonates for me somehow, and, like my photos, it gives me a lift.

Read it and rejoice, I say – if I can still write and my readers still read, then we should all be thankful!

“O murmuring heart, thy pleasures may decay,

Thy faith grow cold, thy golden dreams take wing;

Still in the realm of faded youth and joy,

Heaven kindly leaves some bird of hope to sing.”

~Albert Laighton (1829 – 1887) ‘In the woods’ c 1859

PS I’m not sure about the ‘murmuring heart’ bit – sounds as though my pills for tachycardia aren’t working

and Happy 70th birthday to my sister x

still sane in lockdown?

It’s three months now since we became ex expats. Here we are back in the Vale of York and settling in. It wasn’t like upping sticks and moving lock stock and barrel to rural France to live the good life – more like just coming home for for the last few years…

There’s plenty to think about – although because it’s Covid it’s a bit of a waiting game…waiting to be safe from Covid…will that ever happen? Waiting to get used to driving my little VW Up with the steering wheel on the right… it has only moved to go into town for the first part of the vaccination…but there’s the light at the end of the tunnel…Waiting for the builder to fit the steel so the kitchen can be refurbished, and waiting for the bathroom to be free from its dripping taps and to have a shower we can fit into and toilets that flush, waiting for everywhere to be decorated so we can put our favourite pictures and photos on the walls…waiting to hug our daughters, and waiting to see when it will be safe to go on holiday, see the coast again, and walk somewhere different for a change.

But we get to see the family – ok – so it’s at the end of the drive, we get our groceries delivered and we get to say good morning to the neighbours from a distance, and, when I walk round the village with Ted strutting his stuff in the harness he hates,

I can understand what people say quite easily- and more importantly- there are people about. It’s a lively village and a big change from the depths of rural France. Oh, but I am so glad we went all those years ago and made it happen, it was exciting and we had such energy! When I think of what we achieved – and look back it all makes me happy, and cheers away the feeling of doom that impending old age can sometimes give me.
I am also glad to be back here, but I wouldn’t have changed the experiences of the last 18 years for anything. Well… maybe I’d have missed out on the catheter ablation in the Cardiac Unit of l’Hôpital du Nord in St. Etienne, but not much else!

Winter walks down the lane and across the nearby fields.. and some awesome sunsets

Here’s Ted on the bed


And thinking about bed – this weeks quote is from Julia Roberts, I think,

“The older you get, the more fragile you understand life to be. I think that’s good motivation for getting out of bed joyfully each day.”

Good eh?

Stranger in a foreign land

Did Moses say that? I’m not sure.
I’m tired of being asked what I’m looking forward to the most about going back to Yorkshire.. Yorkshire during a pandemic is no better or worse than anywhere else in these dreadful times… but the answer is
I am looking forward to NOT being a stranger in a foreign land – I am looking forward to going ‘home’.
Ok so I have no roots anywhere in Britain, I could live anywhere – but I will be able to communicate. And, as anyone who knows me would tell you I do love to talk!

Here’s our village in the evening with  the church lit up. Watch  this space in November  for a change of scenery…

The novelty of the challenge of living the dream in France has sort of  worn off and it’s time for new adventures… actually in my case adventures usually means a crisis of some sort or other so I don’t really want adventures – neither do I think the time is right to settle into old age and decrepitude – even tho my energy levels are dropping off year on year.
Ted is still the escape artist he always was, and so remains tied up when he’s outside…

So now it’s time to do something new, before it’s too late and the sands of time run out completely.

And that means living near the sea – ok so it’s not that  near – but it’s a damn sight nearer than we are here.


One of the views down to the valley.

We will miss the walks in the country here, the friends we have made over the years, but we will find our family again and become a part of it – hopefully not a burden but maybe we can include them a little more in our life and times? ( before we get too old)
I will miss the loft with all my bits of stuff around me, but I didn’t really do much up there except potter about and pretend to be a writer. I will miss the midget and the drives through the country lanes.

 

On the whole I am so glad to be moving back – it’s run it’s course – that’s all I can say – the dream never dies – it just came to an end, perhaps speeded along its way by covid…and now a new life beckons – old age and decrepitude, if we’re lucky- will come into being, but in the country we belong to.


I became a bit fed up of being on the fringes of everything here and not really knowing what’s going on. I’m not French and never will be – but I have made every effort to become part of the community – that’s all I can say – I worked in the school and enjoyed every minute, and going to Spain in the camper van in the winter – what high spots they were! And going back to the UK for holidays and shopping – oh yes the last ten years have been lovely. Covid has spoilt our last year in France – because we couldn’t have holidays – but it’s been the safest place to live and we have felt  secure – if a little lonely at times. But it hasn’t spoilt it all compared to some poor folk who have lost loved ones or been incarcerated without seeing their family for months at a time.

For us god bless FaceTime I say.

I think adjusting to life on a housing estate and so much traffic might take a bit of getting used to – it won’t be easy at first – Covid won’t help, but needing a new kitchen, a conservatory and bookcases by the dozen will be something to think about…and stop us overthinking about impending old age…

But after Covid…

– will there ever be a time after Covid for us?
 After Covid….?


 

August

Everywhere here is parched and dry, our lovely green English lawn that was turfed specially for the 70th birthday and family visit is just like walking through a prickly stubble field…
It’s too hot to do anything much at all – we have boxed up most of our books and bubble wrapped my knicknacks but I miss my daily stroll -this weather doesn’t suit me at all. A week or so is enough – but this has seemed a long time.

The cottage sold very quickly. A woman from Montbrison who wants to move back to the area came and said it was just what she wanted and the compromis de vente is signed. We could be moving back to the UK in November.

If it hadn’t been for covid we’d have had this year as normal and missed all this heat by being in Yorkshire for July and August, in a field in the camper van. And a trip to Scotland was on the cards as we had booked a trip on the Mallaig Steam train. And the campsite in Calpe is booked for January / February next year…these things were obviously not meant to be…

It all came as a bit of a shock. Between that, this canicule, Covid 19 and trying to sell a camper van, a Peugeot 3008 and a 1971 MG Midget we are in a bit of a turmoil. At least he got 50 euros for the electric concrete mixer! That was the simplest sale…

His birthday being in July we risked the virus and went to the Auberge in le Mayet for a meal with English friends who were over in their holiday house. It was wonderful! And so exciting to be out for the first time. Everyone wore their masks moving about and outside in the restaurant garden we felt quite safe. First and last time that we will go for a while I expect. We are both expecting a huge spike in the virus after the August holidays – I hope we are wrong.

That seems to be our news at this moment…this is the only thing to do now – sit in the bedroom with the portable but horrendously noisy air con unit on and catching up on the blog and emails – the heat is totally zapping…

It’s even too hot for Ted to write anything either.

We are boxed in – Great grandmas 1915 tea set is safely packed once again, and my myriad of photos – quite a lot of moments of our lives captured forever – at our age we seem to be made up of memories – who said ‘they are ticking inside me like a second heart’? Do y’know, –  I think they are my heart.

Sold? Or is it?

 


See all those teddies? Well I’m not allowed to chew them, I am allowed to sit on the window ledge and watch while they pack up. Some of those Teddies have been around for a long time – much longer than me, so I’ve been told, worth loads more,  well travelled and sometimes loved more than me. How can that be I wonder – there’s really no accounting for some folks taste.

I could watch things going into boxes, and help by eating a few soft toys…but it’s more important to watch out for those pesky cats…



I’ve heard some muttering going on.. like,’ Hmm – the buyer of our house has had her 10 days ‘cooling off’ period and we haven’t heard anything, not from her nor the notaire… so now we aren’t sure what to think – is it sold or is it not? Should we give notice to the people renting our house? It won’t be nice for them having to move out so near Christmas and we are not too keen on moving during the bad weather. Moving during a global pandemic isn’t the best thing.’

Some things have cooled off – hallelujah – the outside temperature has dropped. Nobody could take me for a long run round the forest tracks when it was still 36°C in the evening – and to be honest it was a bit hot for me too. But of course I will run round until I drop with exhaustion!

From she – who – must –  be – obeyed – and – isn’t…The Happy Hoopoe blog has been taken over by Ted – I can’t seem to stop writing as if I was Little Ted…

Ted’s own blog has gone by the board – I can hardly find time to write rubbish for one blog, so two is out of the question.

Who said dogs shouldn’t be allowed on beds? Well I don’t get to go on it that often…

 

 

 

 

 

Sold!

no, not the dog, silly, the cottage!

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…somethings afoot here, strange folk wandering over my house, lots of discussions and talking about Yorkshire – I’m wondering about that, and what it means for me?

On this photo just look at my black shiny wet nose – that was before I ate an awful lot of cherries from under the trees, including their stones. Now not only the weather is hot and dry, but so is my nose and I’ve been sick two nights on the trot…
But I have almost been a good boy at school. I nearly come back when I’m called…I hear them saying ‘it won’t matter soon because he’ll never be allowed off the lead, there’s nowhere for him to run free like the woods here…
It was my birthday at the beginning of the month – no they didn’t make mea doggy cake, hmm…and so now I’m one year old – still very cute, don’t you agree? She who must be obeyed and isn’t says don’t just buy a pup because it’s cute. I can’t understand why ever not?

She came in a bright red dress, fell in love with everything about it and decided to buy it, there and then! Now that seems very speedy for France but that is exactly what we did when we saw it in 2002.

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Now she’s coming back on Saturday with someone to see about refurbishing the old cottage into a gîte – we therefore think she’s serious.

So for us our  French project and the challenge is just about over – we have followed our dream and lived every second to the full. ‘By heck, it’s been wonderful’ as they might say in Yorkshire and now it’s back to “from Hell, Hull and Halifax, good lord deliver us”… But it’s Gods own county and family are there, and some old friends…

It’s too difficult to explain the myriad of reasons for giving up this life. Something to do with advancing years, not wanting to leave it too late, being different people than we were in 2002…endless reasons, but at least we are both in agreement that the time is now right.
Our next challenge is to grow old as best we can over there, and convince ourselves that we haven’t just gone back to die.  We must get used to noise and the bustle of the main road, a bus stop and a children’s playground opposite… we must learn to face the crowds, the traffic jams and Britain in the grip of Covid 19 instead of France.   Ok so we may not have this climate, these lovely walks, spain in the camper van in the winter and apéros… but we will understand what people are saying and they, hopefully, will understand us.

This is what we’ve always called the bing bong tree – we have two – one with yellow flowers at the front and one with red at the back. This is the first year they have had such a wealth of blooms – they obviously know we are leaving! (Bignone de Chine is it’s proper name)

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Cheerio for now – 26°C and nearly 10pm…

 

 

 

 

What they don’t tell you…

about getting older…

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While this virus, this dreadful pandemic,  has us by the short and curlies I have been thinking about holidays. Oh yes,  and thinking about writing a book, collecting together all my old poems, cleaning out the cupboard under the stairs and it’s cousin under the sink, and sorting through years of accumulated ‘stuff’ but mostly I’ve been looking at photos and thinking about holidays.

Holidays when I was younger were a time for excitement, adventure, late nights sleeping in barns and sheds, and rain leaking in through the tent when we had one…Thumb out  and hitching around Europe – long before a European Parliament had been invented, and living on bread and cheese.
And later when our children were young, the tent was larger and  sun and sea, sand in the picnic and wine featured high on the list.

As the years advance holidays seem to have become a time for reflection, for sitting, listening and people watching, for almost being almost envious of the young families, their energy and for remembering the good times long past.

Once travelling was such an adventure, wonderful in its pleasure and anticipation. Where would you end up? Who would you meet? Talk to? What scenery would you see?  New mountains to conquer, different lanes to stroll down – the list is endless, the memories are fading…

Now it’s too much traffic to drive in, is there enough parking, don’t forget to bring enough medication, are the toilets clean,  will there be internet access and worst of all ‘Is it worth the hassle?’

Now courtesy of the dreadful Covid 19 many won’t have holidays again as this death toll rises…and for some folk they’ll never be the same again without a loved one there.

We won’t be having  holidays for a long time, so isn’t it a good job we had them and have some photos to bring back the memories?

I wanted to find a quote that might sum up how age changes attitude to things – holidays was a good example…but I’m afraid the pandemic and lockdown and the underlying fear and sense of foreboding that goes with it seemed to take over.

I don’t know who said this or where I read it…

“This is the new normal, but know this…we will have a better tomorrow at the end of this…a new tomorrow…so stay safe and have hope.”