A long time…

It has been ages since I wrote anything on here and I still haven’t anything of interest to share, but have a look at this chappie who came to sit with me the other afternoon

Probably an Assassin bug from the family Heteropteran – I think they might be quite common here in France but it’s the first time I’ve seen one.


The beautiful ‘morning glory’ climbing on the old house wall and mixing it with the Virginia creeper.

Anybody like old black and white war movies? Then you might have seen The Cockleshell Heroes, from 1955, starring Trevor Howard and Antony Newley…

This is a memorial to the men who were the heroes, at Royan on the coast north of Bordeaux.

I thought it quite stunning

And where is this person who was going to be a writer when she retired? Ho Ho.


..and oh, be a sun to me

…and not a weary, insistent personality.

I don’t know who said that, but I do remember it being written on my friend’s kitchen wall, way back when, in the sixties.

How little I knew then, and I wonder, do I know any more now?

I think of the children I taught and I wonder if any of them think of me as being ‘a sun to them’ and I do so doubt it. Too busy moving pieces of paper around, too wrapped up in the preparation, the worry and the anxiety, too many checklists and tick boxes and charts and tests and unimportant paraphernalia…

And even before that, working in the health service, I have a feeling that being a ‘sun’ to the patients was something maybe I tried to do, but nowhere near hard enough – age and experience tell me that.

Now when I see an old person suffering I recognise myself in years to come, I see the artist, the mother, the son, the mathematician, the train driver, the scientist, the nurse and a real person behind the wrinkles and I remember my mother and father; whereas back then I saw only something old, with no past and certainly no future.

Oh yes, age is a cruel teacher – we learn too late, if we learn at all.

And now some photos to warm your heart, and mine of course…

This is the scene of my daily walk with the doglet – an ordinary life indeed – but who couldn’t be thankful for this sort of peace and tranquillity.

And here’s the doglet herself – she seems to have found a comfy spec – in the gravel chippings.

And on this wet Saturday in rural France let’s be a sun for everyone…

Easy to say, difficult to do…

when suddenly I am old and start to wear purple


That’s the last line from Jenny Jones’s wonderful 1961 poem ‘When I am an old woman I shall wear purple.’

And these are my fat knees in my purple jeans… 

If you’ve read my previous ramblings you’ll know I woke up one day and realised my knees had got rather fat and they do give me food for thought now and then…

Somehow its been a moaning, ranting sort of week and really that’s not good, not for the morale, nor for any of my friends and family who may have time to read this…

SO its on with the purple jeans and lots of egg and chips for lunch, the Memphis Jug band CD playing and back to the ordinary life. The rant is over for a day or two…

I just thought ‘wouldn’t it be wonderful to think there was someone out there thinking to themselves – oh what a pity she hasn’t written more!’


Frustration and a bit of a rant…

oh yes I’m frustrated because I’m the wrong side of seventy, but I’m lucky to have got here… I’m fedup because I’ve got lots of wrinkles and if these ones by my mouth get

any deeper my chin will drop off,CE9CDAB1-1B39-4040-87AF-A4E2BACB398F

and I have  fat knees and they’re getting fatter… and I’m frustrated because I can’t make a playlist on my iPhone and I don’t know if it’s me being particularly thick or if the steam driven MacBook is just denying me… but mostly I am ranting on because the style of the writing on the last blog post changed half way through to something virtually unreadable and there is nothing I can do about it! And oh boy do I hate that. It has made me cross.

What a lovely word that is -‘cross’ – I used to say that to the children in my class – ‘oh don’t make me cross, please’

Angry sounds all red and horrid whereas ‘cross’ – well it’s more a bit of a pinky colour and  just a bit milder somehow!

But for the real pain in the neck it’s the fact that on this lovely Xmas present iPad, every time I write the word ‘colour’ I have to change it from the American ‘color’. They shouldn’t have been allowed to tamper with the beautiful English language and it’s spelling. It’s a crime.

Don’t get me on to spelling, because then I think about the apostrophe and feel like screaming out ‘which letter have you missed out then?

What a rant this has turned out to be – and why should that be, I wonder?

Could be that it’s february and cold outside, or it could be that taking beta blockers for tachycardia makes me put on weight…and that after having my gall bladder out I am eating less but putting on even more weight…and putting on weight is not synonymous with enjoying a nice meal and a bottle of wine…and what else should I do in winter in the depths of rural France?

And it could be that in the winter, more often than not, I am sometimes to be found thinking along these lines: if the average lifespan for British women is 82years what should I be doing with these next, and possibly my last 11 years? And that’s if I’m lucky enough to get that many.

And therein lies the rub… it’s something to do with not wanting to waste too much time…

…Back to the UK and volunteer to help the homeless or any other charity or read stories to elderly people in care homes, or take them for a walk, anything useful that would help me to put something back for the wonderful life I’ve had? It’s an idea… and think how much more I would see of my daughters and grandchildren…

Hmm,  I don’t really want to think about the ‘going back to the uk’ scenario – maybe later when something AWFUL and probably inevitable, happens…but for now after 12 years in this little cottage could I change again?

Volunteer for something over here, now there’s a thought. Hmm again, after I tried reading the info on a French website and didn’t get very far, I was very much put off and disappointed with my language skills…

So back to knitting blankets for cats then.

IMG_0041  IMG_0110

Sometimes you just have to get a grip, and just because it’s a dismal cold February day it’s no excuse for moaning.

Hey, but isn’t a good rant OK now and then?

and this is my favourite quotation for today. I think the author is unknown

”There  is always a lot to be thankful for, if you take time to look. For example, I’m sitting here thinking how nice it is that wrinkles don’t hurt.”



my favourite day

‘What day is it?”
It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
My favourite day,” said Pooh.”
― A.A. Milne

Says it all, doesn’t it?

And here’s some of my recent favourite days –  at the end of January looking down on the sea from Menton old Town

and the harbour at Sanery sur Mer, when we went south in search of some sunshine.

And now its February – chilly and snowy

And definitely favourite days for being in front of the fire…

I wonder if putting some photos in counts as blogging? Probably more like phlogging and me and blogging is definitely akin to flogging a dead horse.

But when life is continuing along gently and quietly – there doesn’t seem a lot to say – and I’m not complaining at all – thank you – but I don’t want an adventure – in my case, at my age, that must always lead to a crisis.

Maybe it’s a pity I didn’t start this when renovation work on the house began..when the roof came off and the rain came down and the tarpaulin had some holes in… when the cows ran down the lane and onto our garden opposite, which because of the nature of the slope is at least a metre high, and one poor cow fell off the wall on to the road and the crack of her skull resounded everywhere…

Or maybe I should have started this when I took up jogging and how even the late and totally ungreat Jimmy Saville was even in front of me running in Roundhay Park in Leeds…and once in York I was so slow they sent out two race marshalls to look for me and once after a 10 km race somewhere in Yorkshire I had such a headache I had to see a doctor…

Or maybe when I was teaching I could have written some good blogs …for example after a child who fell in the PE lesson could still move her fingers I thought ‘oh that’s ok then’…only to find the next day she came in with a plaster cast on her broken arm.

Or the time I had a severe a bowel occlusion that needed serious surgery and three times A and E sent me home saying it was trapped wind…

or the time my lung had collapsed and the GP gave me an inhaler because I had probably developed asthma…

So now I count myself very lucky that all my days are favourite ones! Long may they last.

And this is something taken from something by Charlotte Erikkson – what a lot she has to blog about – but she has youth on her side – that’s my excuse! such a lovely way with words…

‘I am not the weight I lost or the miles I ran…I am the way a life unfolds and blooms and seasons come and go, and I am the way the spring always finds a way to turn even the coldest winter into a field of green and flowers and new life.’

And on this snowy, bitterly cold February day I’ll drink to that.

from bush crickets to roses, a plastic duck, common green frogs, fountain pens and many things between..

..and can it be October already? Our ordinary life continues on its own sweet way. Couldn’t be more thankful..

As for blogging, well,  now here’s a thought – I don’t think I’ll make the grade…September came and went – sunny and warm, the camper van came out of the barn and I was going to write about cycling round Cap d’Agde and seeing the sea, feeling the sunshine and the sea breeze on my skin, enjoying the moment and watching Himself cooking his own fish on a hot stone in a restaurant under blue mediterranean skies…

I wasn’t going to write much about getting lost in surburbia and the sand that blew everywhere and the fact that I never got to go in the sea this year…and it wasn’t sheer bloody mindedness either – more like it was a long way to bike and there didn’t seem to be any one else swimming and it was VERY windy!

IMG_1431 roses for blog

Now our cottage is teeming with roses – this is a photo of part of them. It was our 40th wedding anniversary yesterday and 40 were in a bucket when I arrived downstairs  in the morning. We have two rooms in the cottage – a kitchen and a living room, window ledges are not often used because like a lot of french houses the windows open inwards so it is replete with roses…

It teems with rain, I think, not roses. Awash with them? Sparkling with them? A real writer would know how to describe the joy at the sight of them.

And here’s the rest.

…and these two creatures are possibly bush crickets – may even be saddleback bush crickets. Cute eh? The brown one is the larger, although doesn’t look it on the photo, and was seen on a campsite high up on  the Massif Central. The green chappie was spotted just up the lane by my eagle eyed friend, while we were walking the doglet yesterday afternoon.

We have a friend in the valley who put a plastic duck on his pond to try and attract wild ducks to venture in and eat the duckweed. He has even put a central island with a nesting box on but so far not a single duck has flown past to have a look. But the frogs love to come out and sunbathe on the duck’s back.


There is a plateau a few minutes drive from here – it is 1010 metres high and  occasionally you can see Mont Blanc from it looking East, and Le Puy de Dome, the extinct volcano, looking West. I went up one afternoon last week to walk with the dog and could see neither, but the air was clean and fresh, the open skies huge and wide.

I could see our local town below and the Beaujolais or Bourgogne hills ( I really must look it up and find out once and for all, I am always forgetting) and the wind turbines.


Can’t resist putting this in – our tiny back garden glistening in the early morning September sunshine. It warms my heart.

Those of you who know me will know that my sister in Ireland and I write in letter books – we are on number 5 now – and when it comes through the post, maybe only once or twice a year – I am quite thrilled.

Of course there’s all the reading of it, her life by  Lough Corrib, the laugh out loud poems she writes, the photos, her recounting of things people have said, its just a great pleasure to hear of her life, which is quite different to mine. And then there’s the next best bit – the thought  of which fountain pen to choose. Which one will get the yearly warm water wash and be refilled? And then to look through the poems I’ve written – are any worth sending? Which photos would she like? So for the next few months I have something creative to do. Well – sort of!


Here’s my desk before I chose which pen! Oh, I love ’em all.

And because it is now October and getting chilly in the evenings ye olde wood burner is often lit…  the living room warms up nicely – we don’t need a thermometer to tell us how warm – once the doglet is upside down and hanging out of her bed  – it means its cosy and toasty warm!


of beating panics and anxiety…

or one woman’s account of recognising what a panic attack is…

Recently I cycled 9 km in the lashing rain out on my own, on my electric bike. Now that, for a lot of you good folk out there, is nothing to write home about – or even write on a blog…but for me it is truly wonderful. ‘Out’ and ‘on my own’ – simple words indeed.

If I had broken my leg and it was mended then that would be great too, but this was an invisible break and boy was I broken.

There will be some of you  who don’t leave the house unless they are with someone, some people don’t leave the house at all. There are some who only go to the supermarket when there will not be much of a queue, and there will be some whose toxic and catastrophic thoughts take over their lives.

And it is for those people that this is written.

This is written for you, to give you hope, to say that panic attacks, and anxiety feelings can be beaten and you can conquer that overwhelming fear…but you have to recognise what they are. And don’t ask me fear of what? Sometimes it is fear of something dreadful going to happen and sometimes it’s fear of the fear itself…

It took me ten years to conquer mine.

Why? Why didn’t I go to the GP and explain, get help or take pills?

All I can say is that when you think you are surely going mad and have strange symptoms like something in your body vibrating , like eyes not seeming to be focussing correctly, like feeling you are going to collapse any minute, that something awful is going to happen but you have no idea what – you don’t tell a soul – you daren’t – you don’t want to be told you are a mad woman. I was under the impression that panic attacks gave you sweaty palms and palpitations and I never had those symptoms so I thought I was just going mad…

Help is out there. Go and explain how you feel. Don’t bottle it up like I did.

You can be in control of your thoughts. Once I knew what the enemy was it became more easy to start winning the battle.

Believe me, panic attacks don’t want to be helped – the adrenaline fuelled mess that your brain turns into likes being that way – more adrenaline is produced and more fear generated…

For any one who is suffering now – think on – it will pass – you will get back to the person you were and life will be good again. But you can’t do it on your own, and panic attacks, trouble with your ‘nerves,’ anxiety feelings – call them what you will, are nothing to be ashamed of at all and you are not going mad.

It makes me feel good to know I have eventually beaten the feelings that caused me to give up my job, and that  spoilt so many days, weekends and holidays over the past decade.

Those of you going through the battle now – don’t do it on your own, get help, time is precious.

Good luck.