My sister – I only have the one – has been to stay for three weeks.

What an excellent time we have had. Me, perhaps because of the company and the speaking English, for my husband a rest from me chunnering on at him all the time, and for her, perhaps the wall to wall sunshine – a change from the west coast of Ireland where she lives.

And for us both, a week of sun and sand and swimming in the sea down in the south of France.

And I am reminded of the quote by Christina Rossetti

‘for there is no friend like a sister, in calm or stormy weather;

to cheer one on the tedious way, to fetch one if one goes astray,

to lift one if one totters down, to strengthen whilst one stands’

Why bother?

Some thoughts on those two words

Message to self…

Those are the worst words in the English language, without a doubt.

They are followed by who cares? who knows? why try and snap out of it? They are the harbinger of self pity and shouldn’t be used…

Why try and be upbeat and why not just sit and fester and moan and let the black dog that’s yapping at your heels come and sit on your lap or next to you on the sofa or in bed. Why not?

I’ll tell you why not, that way self pity and madness lies. You have eyes and ears and feelings. You can do something for someone else for a change, make someone smile and feel good about themselves and stop moaning for a start…

OK, so life is not perfect, but how could it be, and why should it be?

OK so you are old and tired and crotchety, your knees won’t bend without hurting,  you seem invisible and everyone else is younger than you – but suck it up -just SUCK IT UP. This is as good as it gets.



As many of you know, and are bored by the fact, we had the bathroom refurbished recently.
IMG_0350and the point is?

Hmm… there is now a well lit mirror I can see into…before it was fine for himself but not for five foot two me. IMG_0579

‘It can’t be true,’ was my first thought. The face that stared out at me was all the things I never thought was happening yet!

It was so OLD looking. ‘I am really old,’ I thought, a real honest to goodness  old woman…

I find that thought a little dismal – I should be giving thanks that I managed to get here at all.

The next time I notice someone’s eyes glazing over when I am telling a tale of the ‘olden days’ and I realise I’ve said it all before, I will definitely keep quiet. Or maybe if they are younger than me I’ll bore the pants off them just for fun, and if they are older…well they won’t remember what I’ve said anyway.

Wrinkles – well I’ve always had those but the really deep lines – those little feckers just appeared overnight!

Not having wrinkles – a pome

Not having wrinkles

may enable you to look younger,

but your conversation

will give the game away

and your experiences will tell on you.


Not having wrinkles

will not help when you need

to see a doctor

and find your worst fears

have come true.


Not having wrinkles

may help you get

the younger person’s job

but your feet will ache

trying to keep dancing with the piper.


Not having wrinkles

may help your self esteem and confidence –

But what for?


Not having wrinkles

does not enable you


cheat the grim reaper.


And where did those knobbly feet come from?


At least they still keep me upright.

The thing is: no one expects a 69 year old to want to cycle miles, to walk all day or to tackle Ben Nevis or Striding edge, or to jog, or run upstairs without getting out of breath.

I write that and wonder if it’s true?

No point in giving in to old age – no point in wondering what will happen and when, no good wanting to be younger, healthier,  fitter…no good wanting to have more ahead than lies behind.

Very difficult to rationalise, isn’t it?

Unless you don’t think too much. (and maybe have the odd glass of wine and sit in the sunshine)

The black dog can so easily start growling and yapping menacingly at your heels.  The bottomless pit that is the  Slough of Despond beckons, if you are not careful.

Keep on keeping on – and think on – can you make an older person smile or be glad to be alive today?

I feel that this real world is often uncomfortable for an elderly person and unbelievably hard and possibly horrible for an old one.

My quote for this week – maybe its tongue in cheek and maybe not…

‘I tend to live in the past because most of my life is there.’ the late
Herb Caen –  a gossip journalist in San Francisco

IMG_0522And donkeys in the mist on our local dog walk…

IMG_0577…and a stormy sky.


I know what to say…

…next time someone asks me what I do all day. Next time I will not be at a loss for words oh no – I will not mumble something about knitting while quickly thinking how I can change the subject…

I shall say I am working really hard at being retired.

And that is so true. I am proud of it!

After a lifetime of working at a variety of jobs, including physiotherapy, lab technician, cinema usherette, shop worker and teacher, after bringing up children, trying to be a all things to all people…friend, mother, lover, daughter, sister and  and rushing hither and thither – retirement and the art of choosing when to do something, or not, as the case may be, takes practice. As everyone who is working knows – choice doesn’t come into day to day living…

Now with no aged parents left, children grown up and lives of their own, himself and me can enjoy this time in our life – not that all the previous 39 years were anything but lovely… these final years are different and are savoured in a different way.

This week the winter wood was deliveredIMG_0565

It’s about 28°C now and it seems strange to think we will need so much wood…The changing seasons are fantastic here and quite dramatic. Once in the winter, it was down to minus 10 during the day for over a week!

And also this week I made a cake for a french friend who is recovering from having a new knee and isn’t that mobile  yet


Home made apple and quince jam (last year’s) and buttercream went in the middle – so even though it looks a bit burnt on one side, lopsided  and not terribly professional – I think it will taste OK.

And the ordinary life continues with me finding an app to make sketches from my photos and to make them look like watercolours…


and for someone who can’t draw or paint – and believe me there are numerous teachers and night school folk who will confirm that – these apps are indeed a bonus.


And for my children’s story about a teddy


I haven’t quite got the hang of this app yet… and also this teddy is drinking gin and tonic and eating crisps…


Here he is baking a cake – maybe this is slightly more in keeping for a children’s story…

So you see, this is what I can choose to do while I’m practicing retirement – lovely ain’t it?

Ah well ‘On verra’ as the french say.



more tales from an ordinary life

This photo was taken in July when I went on a bike ride… for those of you purists – read no more – it has a battery and is something called ‘pedal assist’ which means the more you put in to it the longer the battery lasts! It doesn’t last long with me up these hills!


It was a cloudy day and I did get a little wet…but the scenery is always stunning. This is our sleepy village – about 400 metres above sea level.

And then we went to the UK to see the daughters and grandchildren – oh happy days, but I have written about that while we were there…on my phone from Peggy’s field…

While I was there someone asked me what I do all day… I found myself at a loss for words – you see I don’t really do anything…

I write emails, the odd poem, a long hand snail mail letter or two, dust a few cobwebs now and then, plan the next trip away, drink many cups of tea, crochet granny squares, knit jumpers that people don’t want or they don’t fit ’em, look at my photos and walk the dog. And do a bit of meal planning and cooking and trying to talk to the french neighbours and chew the ears off my English speaking friends around here.

None of that counts for anything. I can’t work in a charity shop or drive elderly folk around or to and from appointments, or read stories or talk to old folk in care homes or anything worthwhile because I don’t have the language skills. Id probably do more if I lived back in England. Or would I? Now there’s a thought…


The first campsite on the way to the UK was just near here. What a lovely place – lac d’Orient on the way up through France.

So,  this week I shall be thinking of what I can do here in France that will sound like something real, useful or worthwhile – when the next time someone asks me what I do all day…





Glad to come across this blog – lovely writing – emotion without the sludge

The Chatter Blog

Years ago I was married to his son.

He, intrigued me.  He was gruff.  Uneducated by the school systems.  But educated in life beyond what I will ever understand.   He had the massive forearms of Popeye on steroids.  And an Amish beard without the religious connections.  His hair was a perfect mix of salt and pepper crowning his head in an old fashioned but never out of style crew cut.  I loved to sit and listen to his stories.  His gravelly voice.  The smell of his cigar.  When we stopped in around lunch time to visit we ate cold lunch meat sandwiches with colby cheese and cottage cheese on the side.  I don’t know if I could ever eat that again and not be transported back years, and years.   So very often we sat in the bench seats at the formica topped table, in the breakfast nook, making…

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Happy in England…

Just trying to work the blog on my phone 

Because here I am under the big beautiful skies of the vale of york.

It’s a while since we have been here in the summer…

We are seeing the family, friends and eating fish and chips and great pub food. It’s great!

Ok ok – so I did panic when I thought I’d lost my credit card – but there it was nestled in another handbag… the little one I take out at night – too many bags as Himself has pointed out, not for the first time, but we all know you can’t have too many bags.

Two breakfasts (not on the same day, I hasten to add) at Betty’s in York may be a tad extravagant – especially while waiting for gall bladder removal- but…

It’s hard writing on this iPhone – two years to wait for an iPhone 6 and a big screen!

Oh don’t you just love holidays

Expat knitting granny living in France