Sunday, 26 December 2010


I know it's a bit too early to wish you all Happy New year


I did take some time this afternoon to put together our household budget for 2011.

Here are the main points:

1. With E now not in university for most of next year, I will be able to save the money we were paying for his rent - 330€
2. My Tax Habitation will be reduced this year - the difference will go into savings
3. My housekeeping will stay at 300€ per month. This was reasonably easy to manage for the last 4 months providing I menu plan properly each week and make lunch to take to work every day.
4. I only have 3 big bills that are not on DD, the house insurance and both cars insurance, so I will put money into a different account each month to pay for these when they arrive.

My objective is to save as much as possible this year

Have you done your budget for 2011 yet?

Friday, 24 December 2010


Just a quick post to wish everyone who reads my blog

A Very Merry Christmas

Thank you for all your kind words of support and encouragement over the last few months. I feel as though I have made a lot of new friends and it's lovely to read about all your adventures all over the world and to keep in touch with my neck of the woods in the UK - Llandudno and Chester.

Today has been all about cleaning and tidying.

I have a lasagne in the oven cooking for tea and the turkey is slowly defrosting ready for tomorrow.
The gammon leg is now sitting in a bath of water, after being in brine for the last 6 days. We will cook this tomorrow.

My menu will be

Roast potatoes
Roast parsnips
Stuffing - sage and onion, chestnut and cranberry and a meat stuffing with chestnuts
pigs in blankets

Christmas pud

then if we have any room later we will have sandwiches with pickled onions.

I hope you all enjoy your day, whether you are en famille or on your own

Speak to you all soon

Monday, 20 December 2010


This is a question for all ladies of a certain age.

Has anyone tried 5HTP?

My friend takes it to help with symptoms of the menopause and she says it works better then St Johns Wort.

Does anyone else have any experience of using it?

I have read all the information regarding the side effects etc, but would like some first hand experience.


Last minute Home Made present idea

Yesterday, before I went to the carol service, I made some of this

Carrot and Cardamom Jam

It was easy peasy to make, but the recipe said to use liquid glucose, which I didn't have, so I used 400gms of jam sugar and 600gms of ordinary sugar.

It has set like a solid jelly. It is still spreadable but thick

It is delicious, sweet, lemony with just the occasional hint of cardamom.

Here is the recipe. It says it makes 5kgs. I got just over a kilo.

Carrot and cardamom jam

By: Thane Prince From: Market Kitchen


* 500g young carrots, peeled and sliced into 2cm strips

* 3 lemons, finely grated zest of 2 lemons, juice of all 3

* 1 large orange, finely grated zest and juice

* 1 tbsp cardamom seeds, (split open the green pods of the cardamom to find the seeds)

* 1kg granulated sugar

* 125g liquid pectin

makes 5kg


1. Place 3 saucers in the freezer to chill - you'll need them later to test the setting point of the jam. Sterilise some jam jars by washing 3-4 jars in soapy water and rinsing them in clean warm water. Allow them to drip-dry, upside down, on a rack in the oven set to 140C/Gas 1. Leave them there for at least half an hour while you make the jam.

2. Cook the carrots in saucepan of boiling water for 10-15 minutes, or until tender. Drain and chop finely.

3. Put the carrots, citrus zest and juice, and cardamom seeds in a preserving pan. Add the sugar, and simmer over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.

4. Increase the heat and boil the mixture for 5 minutes.

5. Add the pectin, return the mixture to the boil, and cook for a further 2 minutes. To test if the jam is ready, dollop a teaspoonful of the mixture onto one of the saucers from the freezer and leave for a few seconds. Push the mixture with your finger and if it gives a little and has started to set, the jam is ready.

5. Once the jam has reached setting point, leave to cool for a further 10 minutes, then stir well. Pour into the hot sterilised jars, seal and label. The jam will keep for up to three months if stored in a cool, dry place and if the jar is sterilised correctly.

Let me know what you think if you make it

Sunday, 19 December 2010

English Carol Service

Tonight I went to my first English Carol Service for 13 years.

My neighbour, who is English invited me to the English Carol Service in a new church that has opened in Loches, our nearest town.

My background is Church of England, where I sang in the choir in my local church in Llandudno for a number of years when I was young.

So when I was invited to the Evangelist church in Loches I was not sure what to expect. I checked first with N about the dress code, whether there would be a collection etc. She told me that it would be much more relaxed than I was used to. She also warned me that some of the carols would be the American versions with different tunes.

I arrived just as it was about to start. It was in a former boulanger, that had been renovated for the church, and it was lovely.

One of our English teachers was playing the piano to accompany the singing, and not just any piano, but a beautiful grand piano. We sang all the traditional carols and one new one. A couple got me stumped with the different tunes, but I got there in the end.

It was really nice.

I met some very nice people who live in our area and are either British or American.

I got to sing my heart out for an hour, something I haven't done for a very long time.

I will definately be going again. The next English service is on January 2nd.

Here is a link to the newsletter, with the church mentioned on page 5, if you would like to see it.

It's all in English!!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Evening Walk

I want you to picture the scene

It's 18.00
pitch black - just a few stars for company
and I need to take the dogs for a walk.

I wrap warm with 3 fleecies, my thick walking coat, hat, gloves, scarf and head torch

Max's lead is light reflective and I have some of the same on the heels of my trainers, so off we went.

Luckily there is not too much traffic on our road but when a car did come, I did turn my face away from the car!!

The last car that came past was my neighbour. When she stopped, I bent down to say hello and I think she thought I was mad. I had a red hat pulled right down to my eyes, the torch was all lopsided and my scarf covered the bottom half of my face. We didn't talk for long as it was too cold.

Max was so cold he was wimpering and nipping my leg to tell me he wanted to go home.

We were out for about 30 minutes and I came back in feeling really good.

No pictures - forgot the camera, when I go for a walk tonight I will take it with me

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook

I have just read The wind and the wellies blog and once again decided to follow her example by writing The Simple Woman's Daybook. you can find her here -


Outside my window... I can see a grey sky, the tops of trees and pouring rain. I am at work on the second floor, so my view is not brilliant, but I do follow the seasons with the trees and sky.

I am thinking... that I must lose some weight. Have passed 50, it's got to be a now or never moment. I ordered a book from Amazon which I hope with give me some more motivation.

I am thankful for... my wonderful husband. I have just spent the morning with a client and we spent an hour putting the world to rights - in French and English - and she was telling me about the last year where she has split from her husband of 20 years. Note to self - stop taking him for granted so much!!

From the learning rooms... I suppose this might be applicable - MOH just told me about one of his students who is buying herself a new camera for christmas, when he asked her why, she said that the old one did not work very well, she had to keep putting it to her ear. For ear - read eye.
It made me laugh.

From the kitchen... This weekend I shall be making some more chocolates. I made some at the weekend, using a mold with different shapes. I made choccies mixed with chopped up almonds, sugered peanuts, cream infused with chilli but the best of the lot was chocolate mixed with Nutella. this made the most lovely smooth and soft choccies. This weekend I want to try coating the mold in chocolate and then filling it with different mixtures and then sealing it at the bottom with the chocolate.
Don't think any of that will help me get motiovated to lose weight!!!

I am wearing... As many layers as possible whilst still looking decent to go out and see clients. Yesterday my hands and feet were freezing all day. Today is a bit warmer but not much.
I have on a vest, long sleeved t-shirt, a wool cardi and then a thick long cardi and I'm still cold.

I am creating... rather - what I would like to create... a crocheted something. Yesterday I bought a larger hook, so I will try again. I am going to try to make a hat tonight. I have not had any success with the granny squares, mine are not at all square!

I am going... nowhere. I feel as though I am stagnating at the moment

I am reading... nothing - yet. I bought a selection of books last week, so I am saving most of them for the Christmas holidays. Then I will start reading again

I am hoping... that my son will have some luck in finding a job this week, however temporary it is, just something to give him some money over christmas

I am hearing... the roar of traffic and the sounds of sirens. The office is right on a very busy main road and just round the corner from the building is a company that sends out ambulances, so there is always the sound of sirens round here.

Around the house... it needs a good clean and tidy before I put up the deccies. Although this year should be interesting with Max, my new puppy!!

One of my favorite things... at the moment is watching Strictly Come Dancing. I missed it on Saturday, so I watched it on iplayer on Sunday and thoroughly enjoyed it.

A few plans for the rest of the week: go and do some food shopping - I did not have any money in my account until today, so we have been using up frozen food.
Take Max & Miss out for a short walk each night, even though it is pitch black (no street lights) when we get home, I have found the head torch, so that should be OK
Write and send my christmas cards to the UK

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

This was taken in my back garden looking out over the field in May.

the crop you can is is colza or rape.

I just love the colour of the sky

Sunday, 5 December 2010

10 hour round trip

On Saturday we woke up to sunshine and whiteness.
It felt quite a bit warmer, so we quickly got things organised for our 10 hour round trip.

I haven't told you about this yet, but my son E, who is in university in Toulouse has decided the course is not for him, so he wants to come home and earn some money until September next year, when he hopes to be able to find a course and an apprenticeship in sales. This means he has to find a company that will offer him an apprentice position. He is very positive about it and is happy to take any job that comes along between times to gain experience and earn some money.

So, on Saturday, at 10.30 we set off, MOH and me, a flask, some sandwiches and everything you can think of in case we got stuck in the snow. We had snow boots, a blanket, coats, calor gaz cooking stove and even a bucket of sand, in case we got stuck. How well prepared is that in just 30 minutes.

Yes, I know it was last minute, but that is how things seem to happen in our house!!

I checked the weather forecast in all the cities en route and thay all said the same, sunny but cold.

So off we went.

We didn't stop. Ate our sandwiches on the go. The tea was made and drunk in the car and a good juorney was had. We arrived at my son's studio in just under 5 hours.

The weather had been lovely all the way. There was a lot of snow everywhere but thankfully the roads were clear. The sun was shining and the sky was blue.

As soon as we hit Brive there was no snow anywhere and by the time we had reached Toulouse the temperature had doubled.

After giving him a big hug - I hadn't seen him since August - we quickly loaded up the car. It was a good job MOH had taken out all the seats except one in the Espace, because it was soon full to the roof with bags, bedding and a new settee that we had bought, etc.

I went to see the landlady and apologise for the change of circumstances. Understandably she was not very happy because she said she would not be able to rent the flat again this year. But she was very nice about everything.

It is likely we will lose most of the deposit because my son went to Paris last weekend to stay with his friend and left his house keys there. His friend put them in the post, but they have not arrived, so we will have to pay for the new locks!!

Then we set off home again. We arrived back home just after 21.00.

It is a difficult situation - E says he is most upset about all the money that has been wasted for the studio etc and says he will pay us back. When I asked him what he had learned from the whole adventure, he said that he should not have jumped into taking the course as it was not what he really wanted to do, but that they were the only ones who offered him a place and his girlfriend was going there - by the way - they have split up too. He says this is not the reason for him leaving but I think it probably did help him to confirm his decision.
He said he enjoyed living on his own and taking responsibility for himself. He didn't eat enough but I do know that he ate properly, even if it was only pasta carbonara or pasta with tomato sauce. He has a friend who is in university and does not have any money, so he hardly eats. E said his friend was really excited last week because Super U (supermarket) arrived at his door with food from his mum. Thankfully E had found a job straight away and did have enough money to eat.

So he is home.

Complaining about the cold. Our house is heated to between 14° - 16° (if we are lucky). he has been used to living in a small space and just wearing t-shirts because it was so warm!

Moaning about his desk being full of rubbish - it has been used as a dumping ground for the last few months.

But it is lovely to have him back. I did not realise just how much it changes the dynamics of the family when there is one missing.

He and D are getting on well. We'll see how long that lasts but last night was very nice.

He is going to visit Manpower and Adecco this morning to see if there are any temp jobs around that he can do. Last year he he was quite successful at finding jobs with them.

For me - I am happy to have him home again. I have the feeling this has been a good learning experience for him and I hope he will come out of it stronger and more sure of his decisions.

Who Knows?

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Cold and White

This is the second day this week that I am working from home.

Monday was snowy and MOH only had a couple of lessons at the office, then had to come back to the nearest town to where we live for a lesson in the afternoon, so I decided to work from home.
My son did not go to school as there were no school buses. Because they go round all the villages and country lanes, when there is ice on the roads they cancel the bus.

Yesterday MOH and I went to the office. This is a 30kms trip and takes us about 35 minutes, depending on what time we leave home. The weird thing was that when we had gone about 10kms there was not a scrap of snow. It seems as though it was just the south of the department that had snow at the weekend, Tours was clear.

Today MOH has lessons close to home so once again I am at home working. It's invoice time and I am trying to get them out before the 10th of the month, which is what has happened for the last few months.

I am sitting in the lounge - no heating on - and I am wearing 3 fleecies, a long sleeve t shirt and a vest to keep me warm. I am wrapped up in a lovely woollen scarf as well. This morning I have had Max on my knee while I am keying the invoices on my pc.

This morning when we woke up, it was 5.4° in our bedroom and we had ice on the inside of the windows. Brrrr....

I will make the fire soon, so that will keep us warm this afternoon.

We have snow forecast for tonight again, so we will see what tomorrow brings.

Keep warm and safe

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Puppy News

I though you might like an update on Max.

He is now 10,5 weeks old. I took him to the vet last week for his vaccinations and we came home with worming treatment and stuff to clean inside his ears, which are filthy.

Apart from that he was very good and well behaved but he did bark at the vet!!

It is just like having a young child in the house. He follows me everywhere - I did not realise how many times I go from the kitchen to the store-room every day, I do now because he is always with me and I have to pay attention!
I wouldn't have believed how much poo a tiny little dog can produce. It seems never ending, although I think I am getting the hang of when to take him outside.

He has learnt to sit but not stay yet and comes back when he is called - most of the time!

He lookings after me and protects me when our neighbour's dog comes round, (the one that killed the chickens). He stands in front of me and barks like mad at Nala, and if she goes round the back of me, he does too. She is huge compared to him but he stands up for himself.

He walks to heel - most of the time, and when he thinks he has walked far enough, and I am not paying attention, he nips my trouser leg to tell me to stop.


If this is all too boring please tell me to stop.

Last night for the second night, Miss allowed him in her basket to sleep. If he sits quietly and does not make a fuss she will let him stay.

He loves the fire.

He almost sits in it.

Here are a couple of pictures. Please ignore the dirty fireplace. I did not realise just how dirty it was until I saw these pictures. If anyone has any ideas how to clean the stone, I would be very grateful

This is his basket where he sleeps. He does have a proper wicker basket but it is too big for him and he keeps chewing the wicker. So this is where he goes to sleep.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Snowy Sunday

Well it finally arrived.

The snow had been threatening to fall all week and today we had some really huge flakes of snow

Unless it freezes tonight all the snow will have disappeared.

It is melting very fast at the moment.

My son is really hoping that get gets colder tonight then he won't be able to get to school, the bus won't run if it is icy, so he can't get to school.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Look who has come to live with us ...............

This is Max.

He is a 9 week old cross Westie and American cocker spaniel.
His mother is a Westie and his father the Cocker.
Both his parents are breeding dogs who decided to break the mold, so the breeder gave the puppies away, I just had to pay the vet's fees for the injections and puce.

I am not sure what he will look like when he is bigger. He has the cocker ears and wrinkled brow but I think he will be the size of the westie.

I went to see him on Friday afternoon with D, my son and we took him home with us.

He has been very good - so far. He sleeps in the kitchen in his basket.
He has been out for quite few walks and is learning to do his his business outside. He is already good at walking on the lead and doesn't pull too much.

My other dog, Miss, is quite tolerant of him as long as he doesn't annoy her. She won't let him in her basket - yet.

I have to go to work tomorrow, so he will be on his own for quite a while, so I hope he will be OK.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Thank you

I forgot to say in my last post,

Thank you to all the people who wished me Happy Birthday last week

I hope you like my new picture -- this is where I would like to be.

Well the birthday came and went, as birthday's do.

Mine was very quiet this year, just the three of us.

I had lots of cards but as the 11th is a bank holiday here, some were a bit late - not that that mattered one bit. So we were off work the from the Thursday to Monday, a lovely long weekend.

The weather was absolutely foul, so we had a fire going all day.

We had planned to go down to Toulouse to see our son who is in university there, but as my back had flared up, I could not sit in the car for 5 hours, so we cancelled the trip.

We each chose our main meal and MOH cooked them.

MOH had entrecote steak, 2nd son had fillet steak and I had smoked haddock.
I had made some Delia gooey chocolate puddings for dessert.

I also spent quite a long time watching You Tube videos to learn how to crochet. I started well but kept making mistakes, so much more practise needed!!

On Friday MOH had a dental appt in Tours, so we went out for the afternoon. Once again the weather wasn't very nice, but we had a nice walk around, looked in lots of shop windows, especially the boulangers. One caught my eye - they had large chocolate chip cookies about the size of a small coffee cup saucer, they were 1€60. I kept thinking 'they would make good Christmas prezzies' There were also lots of lovely shops with their christmas windows - some were white and silver, others multicoloured. I wish I had taken my camera with me to show you. I will do that before christmas and post them for you to see.

After that the weekend was just very quiet. We moved Mrs P, our large white sow, inside for a couple of months. MOH had planned the move very carefully, so we were ready for anything that she might do, but she went into the Porcherie straight away , inspected her new quarters and promptly started shouting for food. When I scratched her snout and ears, she was soon quiet. She is settling in well and seems OK inside. We need to contact the pig man this week to organise a date for him to kill a couple of the pigs. We have a male who was not castrated and he needs to be taken care of very soon. Apparently if you don't have the males castrated and you don't kill them before 6 months, the meat can taste more gamey.

I went to the doctor's on Monday and she gave me some anti inflammatory pills, and she said they should work within 24 hours. So hopefully that should all be Ok soon.

I think that's all for now but I will post next time about the changes we have made to our lifestyle since September.

Hope you all have a good day

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Lunch today

I was very lucky today to be given my lunch by one of our students

With the ladies, food is always a subject that is universal and it is really interesting to talk about cultural differences.

The student in question is French but of Tunisian origin, so lots of different mixes with the food. Last week she had been talking about her chicken Tagine and very kindly brought some in for S and me to try.

When she said Tagine I expected a casserole type dish cooked in a tagine. Show you what I know. That is the Moroccan version! The Tunisian version is much more like a Spanish Tortilla.

It tasted lovely and when it was warm I'm sure it would be even nicer.

here is her recipe if anyone wants to have a go

Besma's Tunisian Tagine

Cooked Chicken (chopped small)
Cooked potatoes (chopped small)
10 - 12 eggs
Black pepper & salt
saffron (a little)
harissa (optional)

1. Fry the potatoes and chicken.
2. Fry the parsley in a little oil and salt & pepper
3. Mix all the ingredients
4. Put in an ovenproof dish
5. Cook in a medium oven - 180° or gas mark 4
6. Pierce regularly until cooked through

Eat with salad, or cold

I hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Fudge Recipe

I would like to make some fudge for christmas this year.

Does anyone have a tried and tested recipe that they can share please.

Thank you

A Sunday of Contrasts

Today has been a really busy day.

Yesterday, for the first time, I made yoghurt in the slow cooker, so this morning I couldn't wait to see if it had worked and it had. It tastes much softer than shop bought yoghurt and as my son said -'it's silky'. I used 2 litres of milk, so I had 2 litres of yoghurt. This will last all week - I hope!
Here is the link to the website I followed

I also started my Christmas cake yesterday. I put all the dried fruit with whiskey (didn't have any brandy) to soak overnight.

This morning I made the cake. I use Delia's recipe as this is MOH's favourite.
Here is the recipe -

Then this morning and this afternoon I helped MOH cement some concrete fencing posts into place. We have decided to put a permanent fence around the potager to try and keep out the rabbits out, as well as making it easier to move the pigs around to do their digging work on the empty beds.
MOH had dug all the holes and put the posts in place, then we placed them, checked they were straight and put concrete into the holes.
I have discovered over the years that my ability to line things up and ensure things are straight is completely nil. This meant that I decided it was easier and safer (stopped me getting shouted at for moving the post) for me to wield the spade and put the concrete in the holes rather than check that the post was straight and level.
While we were working outside this morning we had a visit from one of the chasseurs. He came past with his dog and we had a chat. You know when you recognise someone but you are not sure where from - that was exactly what happened - then he told me that he was the butcher in our local supermarket. He has always been very friendly and helpful to me and I never knew that he lived in the next village!!

This afternoon it was very cold and started to rain - then we had hail!! Yes, hail stones and boy was that cold. We managed to finish the 8 posts we had planned to do today but we were soaked.

Back in for a cup of tea and a couple of hours work - invoices and hours worked for September.

For tea, I had taken a 'baby loin' out of the freezer from our last pig. I then made some stuffing, cooked bacon, onion and garlic mixed with breadcrumbs, rosemary and a good spoonful of the apple butter that I made last week. I used this to stuff the loin, scored the skin and cooked it for 1h30. We had lovely crackling and the stuffing was delicious.

Tomorrow we will have a shoulder from the baby pig which MOH has brined. I will cook it in the slow cooker with apple juice.

A busy day but very enjoyable.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Feeling Down

I normally don't talk about how I am feeling.

I grew up "just getting on with things" and all my married life has been like that.

These last two weeks I have felt very out of sorts, I could cry at the drop of a hat, in fact I had a complete wobbly last week and sobbed and sobbed.

I am letting everything get on top of me. Things that I would normally just work through - make my lists and get them done.

This week is difficult.

I am sat here, in the office, listening to music - that is helping, but I have tears in my eyes -- WHY???

I am healthy, I am happy, I have a husband who loves me, I have a good job and I DO love my life.

I would like to lose some weight but that's about it.

I am assuming that it must be my hormones - age - the big 50 next week.

Anyone got any pick up tricks to help me shake off this general grump?

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Cost of Food

I have just been talking with one of our teachers, N, about the cost of food both here in France and in the UK.
It seems as though the prices seem to be climbing higher and higher.

I do my weekly shop in Lidl and Leader Price with the odd thing being bought from one of the big supermarkets.
Last week I was looking for a cauliflower to make Jamie Olivier's Cauliflower Mac and Cheese.

The week before I had bought one in Lidl for 1€20. When I shopped around last week the cheapest I found was 1€50 and that was small. I even went to the market to check the price. I found a lovely one, asked the price and was told 2€80 !!!!!!!!!
In the end I bought a kilo of frozen cauliflower for 1€19.
I think the prices of things have gone up a lot lately, especially the fruit and veg. Another reason for planting more and earlier next year.

When I look at the adverts for the supermarkets in the UK the fruit and veg always looks cheap but maybe that's because of the special offers they have. We do not get any of the special offers on fruit and veg, sometimes there are bogoffs but not on many of the things you would use every week, more on treats.

Our cheapest plain flour is 27c, if you try and buy self raising it is way over a euro, so I use the raising agent with plain flour now when I need self raising flour.
The cheapest butter is over 2€for 500g.
Milk is about 57c a litre - that's not fresh milk, that is about double the price.
I am not moaning about the prices just asking if anyone else has noticed the increases.

I am also waiting to see what happens to the price of fuel. It is a lot higher than before the strikes and now there seems to be fuel in all the service stations, so it will be interesting to see if it goes back down in price or whether it stays at the higher rate??

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Lovely Sunday

Had a really lovely day today.
The morning was spent dealing with 4 kilos of apples given to me. Half were choppped and frozen for crumbles and the other half I made into apple and chilli jelly with the peel, cores etc cooking slowly to make apple butter.
Then I made a double flapjack - 500g of oats. I had hoped this would last all week but half of it has already been eaten - two hungry men!!
Today was roast chicken dinner with stuffing and all the trimmings.
Which we ate outside.
The weather was gorgeous this afternoon. We ate lunch in the sun - even had to use sun cream - MOH had half a bottle of wine. The three of us sat and talked, then MOH and my son - 16 - went for a drive round the garden, He is going to start taking proper lessons soon.
Then MOH and I sat in the sun with a cup of tea and had a little siesta.

I hope your day was as nice as mine.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Thank You

I would like to say Thank You to all the people that wished me well in my search for fuel so that we could get over to the UK.


Just a quick update.
We did not get to the UK this week. On Monday, when we were due to fly, I could not find any diesel in the morning, however by mid afternoon there seemed to be fuel in loads of stations. If we had been flying on the Tuesday there would not have been a problem!!
So my week has been a mixture of trying to catch up on work, cleaning the house, cooking etc.

I also have decided the change the format of my blog. I have set up 3 new tabs, one to post my menus each week, the second to record my daily doings - just in one or two sentences and the third one is to talk about things I have done that I think are 'frugal'.

In two weeks time, I will have to change it again as I will have reached the big 50, but I will try for the next couple of weeks and see how it works.

I look forward to any comments - good or bad

Friday, 22 October 2010

Fuel update

Still no diesel!!

This is exactly a week since we went to fill up and there was no diesel left in our nearest town.

For the last two days we have been working from home.

We have just a quarter of a tank left.

I have been checking the websites to see where the deliveries are, then calling the garages to see if there is any diesel left, but no luck so far. When I asked if they knew when the next delivery would be I was told that they ask for a delivery every day but do not know if there will be one!

Still don't know if we can get the plane on Monday. I think we will have to make a final decision on Sunday whether we can go or not.

I think we may have to deal with a very unhappy teenager next week and my mum will be very disappointed too.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Massacre at Piggies Heaven

On Monday evening we came home from work as usual, I started to get tea ready and MOH went to feed and water the pigs.

Then I heard a loud shout, ran out - thought MOH had hurt himself - but he was shouting at our neighbours dog. The next thing I see is one of our young black chickens scuttling into the porcherie at speed and MOH chasing the dog away.

As we walked around the garden I found piles of feathers scattered all around.

She had killed my 3 of my two year old hens, including the mother of the two black ones born this year, and also the young black coq. So altogether we have lost 3 hens and the young coq.

I was really upset. I rang our neighbours and explained what had happened then I put the phone down.

I spent the next two hours looking to see if any of the chickens had survived and to see if I could find the black one that had escaped.

Our neighbour called round and we talked about it and we are still friends.

I now have to try and find some new chickens and a coq. They will rembourse me.

Nahla, the dog in question is a golden labrador, who they have had for nearly 5 years since they moved here. She spends a lot of time round at our house and as we have no fencing she just walks across the field to get here, the same as our dog goes over there to say hello. She has taken our animals before, she has had geese and chickens over the years, but for the last year she has been very calm and not been interested in them at all.

I don't know what happened on Monday to make her do what she did.

What would you do in our situation??


It was cold this morning.

When I took my son to the bus at 7 o'clock it was -3°

This is the sunrise this morning

I think we can safely say that Winter is on it's way..

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Chilli Heaven

This weekend we had to pull up all the Chilli Plants - all 96 of them!

You can probably just about see on the left of the picture some invaders......

The geese have taken a liking to chillis, they eat them like sweets!!!

I am now making batches of chilli jam and looking for other recipes to use up the chillis

An Afternoon Walk

This afternoon was lovely and sunny, but cold.
MOH suggested that we go for a walk.
Here are some of the pictures

This is just a small strip of wild flowers left after the field had been ploughed

In the distance you can see the maize just starting to be cut today.

Hope you enjoyed the walk with us

Monday, 18 October 2010

Fuel Shortage

We are down to just half a tank of diesel between us!!

As you probably know France is on strike due to the reforms for the statutory retirement age going to 62 years old.

We went to 3 of our local garages on Friday afternoon and there was no diesel left anywhere. I have just looked on a forum and it appears that there is no diesel in our region and the petrol is running low too.

The government keep saying 'there is no panic', but there is also no fuel. However next week is the Toussaint holiday and the French do like to take their holidays, so who knows it may get sorted this week.

We are due to fly to the UK at the weekend but that is in doubt because we don't have any fuel to get to and from the airport.

We will have to work from home from Wednesday and offer telephone lessons instead of face to face lessons!!

Will keep you posted

Wednesday, 13 October 2010


Just a quick post today as I am leaving work soon to wait for the France Telecom man, who will hopefully repair my telephone line and internet

I would like to share with you some photos that my youngest son has taken. I hope you like them as much as we do.

This is Fluffy, our foster cat. He looks like a young kitten here but he is quite an old boy. He lives outside and keeps everywhere mouse free. Every morning he waits on the windowsill to be fed and have his milk and he always greets me with a headbutt.

I love this picture, it is the wallpaper on my pc. It was taken in our garden of our new blackberry plant.

here is a link to his site if you would like to see more of his photos


The France Telecom men have just gone. We have a phone line and internet restored but it was a good job MOH was with them. We have a hole in the garden where the phone cable is linked to the house and a couple of years ago some workman bodged the job and left us with a very tight join which comes apart regularly. We knew this was the problem but could not touch it. So MOH showed them the problem and the FT man decided it was too difficult (fiddly) for him, so he pushed the bit of wire back up the hole. Luckily MOH saw him and asked what he was doing, he said that he could not connect it and needed to order a digger to open up the ground. MOH said that was rubbish, disappeared and came back with a spade, dug a hole and said there you go you can do it now. Within a couple of minutes everything was working, but they sat in the hole for a good 30 minutes just talking. I think they were just trying to prove they had done a good job and it had lasted an hour!!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Saturday Night

We went to a party on Saturday night.
It is so long since we have done that I can't remember the last time!

The party was for our friends' 50th and 60th birthdays.
The party was in their house and the garden where they had a large marquee. The weather had been beautiful all day - mid 20s, so the evening was lovely and warm. In fact we were outside until gone 2 o'clock in the morning without coats.

The theme of the party was red, white and blue. Guess why?? Both J & J have lived in France for a long time and are bilingual so they have a mix of French and English speaking friends.
When we arrived we picked out a badge with our names on it, with either a picture of big ben or the eiffel tower and if your name was in red that meant you spoke both languages. Great ice breaker.

Some of the outfits were a bit wild and wonderful, JHusband was dressed in a toga type garment, made of the two flags, with that he wore one red and one blue sock and sandals. There was also a union jack mini skirt and lots of flags draped around people.
There was live music with guitars and singers as well as music to dance to later on.

JHusband had wanted to do a hog roast as the main meal but JWife preferred a paella. As the hog roast was fraught with all sorts of problems, they decided on the paella.
In our local markets at the weekend there is a man who makes a huge paella and roast chickens to sell. He was the one that came on Saturday to make the paella. He had a huge paella pan, it must have been a metre across, and he cooked it from scratch in the garden, while we were eating the apperitifs.
It was delicious. Except for MOH who hates seafood of any kind, but he did manage some of the rice and chicken.

After the paella came two huge cakes with pictures transfered onto the icing of J&J.

Then we started dancing.

I have not danced danced for a good few years but it's a bit like riding a bike - you don't forget!!

We must have danced for at least 2 hours solid, even MOH joined in and we had a wonderful time practising for Strictly come Dancing.

We got home and to bed about 3.30. Very late for two old timers.

Needless to say Sunday was a total non event. We couldn't find the energy to do anything.

I am really sorry but I forgot to take my new camera so no pics, but if I can get any I will post them later.