Saturday, 25 June 2011


Max died today.
My lovely fun loving bouncy dog died.
He was on the drive when a van went past and he ran to it and the van killed him. The driver slowed down but did not even stop.
He died straight away.
I carried him half way down the drive home, then left him and ran screaming for Andy.  Naomi, our neighbour had heard me screaming and had come to see what had happened and was really upset as well.
Andy came with Max's basket and wrapped him in his blanket to take him back to the house.
We will bury him tomorrow.
I cannot stop crying. it is my fault this lovely puppy died

Monday, 30 May 2011

May 30th

Here in France today is not a holiday, we have ours on Thursday when we 'faire le pont' (make the bridge) and have Friday off as well.
I am really sorry for all you folks over in the UK your weather sounds horrible.
Here it is lovely. I think this weekend has been one of the warmest so far. So for all those people who choose to come to France, they should be lucky with the weather.
However our potager is looking very sad. We have water restrictions here. Luckily we have a well that is on our land so we use that to water the veg but the grass is yellow. It looks like it normally does at the end of August and it is only the end of May!!! What's it going to be like in a couple of months?
Sorry I have not posted for ages. I do have loads to tell you and will start again tomorrow

Friday, 6 May 2011

Miss - RIP

Her favourite sunbathing position

This morning at 9 o'clock my beautiful, loyal and wonderful dog died.
She has been with us since we moved into this house - nearly 12 years. We got her from the SPA  ( French RSPCA) and they think she was about 18months old.
Both the boys grew up with her and she has always been there, following me around, checking where I was and looking for cuddles and love.
She had not been 100% for a while, but the vet said it was just old age. Then 5 weeks ago she was bitten by a snake on her nose. Amazingly she got through this, but I was warned the poison may do lasting damage.
I don't know what she died from, but I was with her and that was very important to me. I hope she knew I was there.
We will bury her in the garden tonight.
The house will not be the same

Sunday, 1 May 2011

What's in our back garden this year?

We have been in our house for nearly 12 years and every spring we look out of our back door and try and work out what will be in our back garden this year
Our back garden is not really our garden, but one of the many fields that surround us.

We have had a variety of crops over the years, wheat, peas, colza (rape), oats, potatoes ( we were able to help ourselves to any that were left in the field when they had been picked  - by eastern European women, but that's another story). Last year we had sunflowers.
This year we have watched the tractors planting and the wheat start to grow, but right behind our house we have had an empty space for a few weeks now and we could not work out what it was going to be, we thought maybe sunflowers or mais ( corn). 

This is the view out of my bathroom window
You can see our garden at the front, then the wheat, then the empty field, then the wheat again.
Yesterday MOH and I were enjoying the sunshine  in the back when the farmer walked across the field towards us.

This was the first time we had met him. He rents the fields from our neighbour, who stopped farming about 14 years ago. 
Naturally we asked him what was going in the empty space.

Apparently it is going to be 2 metre squares of different variations of mais which will be castrated in July to produce the best grains.
This is something that is very popular with the farmers around here. Mais is grown quite a lot in our area and most of the big farmers do this. It is very labour intensive, they always use young people between 16 & 18 year olds for a couple of weeks in the summer to castrate the mais. Both my boys have done this, D will do it again this year for his second year. They are paid the SMIC, the basic wage.
The farmer told us yesterday that if the results are good they can make a good profit.
This is a picture from last year. It grows really high, then it is trimmed back to make it easier to walk through.
Because the weather has been so warm recently they needed to water in the seeds they had just sown.
This was taken yesterday evening with the water going over the ground
My final photo shows part of our back garden

Can you see the line across the grass? 

This is just one of the dog paths. Miss has created these paths all round the garden and Max is following them too.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Lightening Strike

On Sunday evening we had a small storm, lots of wind, dark sky and rumbles of thunder. We saw just one flash of lightening in the distance. It all lasted about 30 minutes.
Look at what happened with the one lightening flash.....

This is the hundred year old sequoia in the Jardin Botanique in Loches
It took the full force of the lightening strike
The area looked just like a bomb had gone off ..

It's a good job that it was raining heavily at the time, so there were not many people in the park!!!!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Evening Walk

Yesterday evening MOH and I dropped our youngest son - nearly 17, off in the middle of nowhere for a party.
He was meeting up with some friends whohad organised a party in a 'field'. Well that was what he told us. We dropped at the place where he was told to go, then he walked to where he thought they were. When I called him 10 minutes later he had not found them, then said he had just seen them in the distance. I called him again later and he had found them - I could hear them all talking so I know he was OK!!

So, MOH and I decided to go for a wander around Loches, our nearest town. 
The weather was beautiful and really warm.

This is the entrance to the medieval part of the town where the chateau is.

This is one of the views from the top of the city. You can just see a large white marquee in the distance. this is for the Foire de Paques  ( Easter Fair) next weekend.

The next two pictures are of a lovely new shop that sells all nic nacs and expensive ones too!

Then to finish off our walk, MOH decided he wanted a kebab. there is only one kebab shop in Loches and it has a good reputation.

Here is our ekbab and chips. It cost 4.50€ and was very nice. We sat and ate it on a bench enjoying the sunshine.

This is just on our way to the car, so it is a bit darker than the others and this of one of the towers around Loches, with the river by the side.

Hope you enjoyed our evening walk.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Lazing by the pool

This is a picture of Max, lazing by the pool at the weekend.

His nose was almost touching the water and when he was thirsty he just reached down for a drink.
He was also very interested by the swallows that swoop down to the pool to get a drink. He did not move but just sat there watching them.
 They are like airplanes, they chose the best way to approach, maybe take a couple of tries, then swoop down into the water for a drink. The young birds sometimes end up actually in the water and have to work really hard to fly out again.
It is lovely to watch them every year.
He was also studying some turtle doves that decided to be very brave and come for a drink. They tried to sit on the edge and lean in but it was too far, so they left without a drink.The only birds I have seen who can do that are the chickens. I have got a picture somewhere but I can't find it at the moment.

While I was lying in the sun reading, I heard this almighty splashing and guess what - he had fallen in the pool.

He was trying to swim but was not at all happy, so I scooped him up by his collar and dumped him on the side.

MOH asked why I had not stopped to take a picture, I said I thought it was more important to get him out!!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Weekly shop

I thoughtI would show you my shopping from last weekend.
I am interested to compare the prices you pay around the world, so I hope you are too.
I do most of my shopping in LIDL but I always look for reductions on meat in the large supermarkets. I often buy shin beef at 30% or 50% off, great in the slow cooker, and in LIDL they also reduce their meat by 30% as it comes to the sell by date.

I looked at the exchange rates today so you can do the calculations
€ to the £ = 0.8775 
€ to the US$ =  1.4275
€to the NZ$ =   1.813  
€ to the Aus€ =   1.3575 

Here is some of what I bought 
Dove Cream soap - 2 bars 1.39€
Fabric softener - 1.29€
Plain Flour - 0.35€
Eggs 12 - 0.95€
Single cream x 3 20ml - 1.29€
Butter 500g - 2.39€
Cooking chocolate - 0.65€
Vine tomatoes large - 1.79€ kg
Bananas - 1.25€kg
Tuna in oil - 0.99€
Cucumber - 0.49€
Chicken escalopes 400g - 3.19€

I would be interested to hear how your prices compare to these.

Thank You

I have just found out that I have won 2 awards.

The same award from two different people

Thank you both very much. 

My blogging has been very sparse lately, I can't believe it has been nearly three weeks since my last post, so Thank You again.

I have to award this blog to a few of my favourite blogs with less than 300 members
so here you are:

Hope you all have a nice day.
It looks like it will be a hot one again here

I have to pass this a

Sunday, 27 March 2011

I made soap .......

Finally I plucked up the courage to have a go.

I have been reading all the posts about people making their own soap and I read The Soap Teacher's blog, but I have been afraid of having a go, until this week.......

I shopped around for the caustic soda - I finally found some Caustic soda pearls for 4€ in Auchan and I bought a litre of Olive Oil, so I was ready to go.

When I told MOH what I was planning to do, I got all the shock horror stories - be careful, it's dangerous, you do not want to touch that sort of thing etc. I explained that I had read lots of blogs where people had done it very successfully and if you followed the safety precautions it was not dangerous.

When I talked to my youngest son, he was really interested and talked about experiments he had been doing in physics.

Yesterday afternoon I decided it was time. I prepared my kitchen, got everything ready, weighed out all the ingredients and washed my molds.
My son D said he wanted to do it, in fact he was insistent that he wanted to do it all, so who am I to argue!
 We kitted him out in the required Safety Equipment.

We could not find the proper googles so we used the face screen that came with the strimmer. 

We went outside to mix the caustic soda with the water, just to be on the safe side, then back into the house to add it to the oil.
Max was hanging about just in case there may be some food that fell in the floor.

Then the stick whisk to get it to the right consistency.
In the middle of all this we had a major incident with a snake and the dogs, but that is for another post.

I used a ladle to get the custard like mixure into the molds.

I think I should have leveled them, but maybe I can do that when they are hard.

I took the tray upstairs and wrapped it up to keep it warm.
When I checked it this morning all the soap was hard, so I turned it out of the molds and it is now sitting somewhere cool and airy to harden for 4 weeks.

I will let you know how it gets on.

A typical French celebration

Last evening we were at a 20th birthday party.

It was F, one of my eldest son's friends. They started as a group of 3 friends, from the age of 14 when they all went to Spain on a school trip, then as time went on that group grew. There were always girls in the group but now there is just one left. She organises them all and always buys the birthday presents - sound familiar?

my son is the last on the right and the birthday boy is second from the left.
Here it seems as though the 21st birthday is not the big one but the 20th. I cannot find out why but E's friends are all celebrating this year.
The party was held in a local Salle des Fêtes, like a church hall. The invitees were mainly family with friends of F and some of their parents. 
When the 'kids' all became friends so did the parents, so we have been getting together for over 5 years now.
We arrived just after 8 o'clock and had apperitifs, local sparkling wine with either cassis (kir)or just the wine.
Then there loads of nibbles, tiny quiches and pizzas along with crisps and savouries.
We worked our way around saying hello to everyone, - 2 or 4 bisous ( kisses on the cheek) Depending on which part of the country you live in or are from you will either give 2 kisses, one on each cheek, or 4, 2 on each cheek. In our region we are 2, but this does take a while getting round everyone. 
Then when you meet someone you have to remember to either use vous or tu (YOU). Vous is the more formal and respectful use of you and tu is used for friends and people who know each other. Complicated?? not really you just have to remember which to use. Check it out on internet - you will find much better explanations than mine.
About 9 o'clock we sat down, there must have been about 40 of us all together, the wine was put on the tables and the food was brought out.
Here is a picture after everybody had eaten - sorry I forgot to take one before the plates were emptied.

There was a rice salad, a potato salad and tabouleh, this is a salad traditionally made of bulgur, finely chopped parsley and mint and usually some finely chopped peppers. There was also dried cured ham, rillons (these are large 2 " cubes of pork belly normally with bone in, that have been cooked very slowly in their own fat and left to go cold.)  and paté. Also, as on any good french table - cornichons (small gerkins), mustard and mayonaise and lots of bread
MOH and I went back for seconds and sat waiting for the dessert, forgetting that we were in France!
The wine for the evening was all from a local vineyard. First there was a white sauvignon and a rosé. 

Over an hour later the serving table was cleared and the main course was brought out!


There was a large platter of very rare roast beef and a platter of pork, with bowls of ready salted crisps.
The wine was a local red.

By now it was midnight and we were getting a bit tired. 
The serving table was cleared and out came the cheese- a local goats cheese, a brie, a camembert and hard cheese - comté. At the same time as the cheese there were large bowls of salad - lettuce with a strong vinigrette.
A different red wine was put on the tables.

Then F got up to thank everyone for coming to his party and started to open his presents. 
His mates had bought him a set of juggling balls that you set fire to, and a pair of gloves! Luckily they had not given him the stuff needed to set fire to the balls because he had had a fair bit to drink by this time, but he could still juggle.

At one thirty the cake came out. A beautiful chocolate and praline cake, that was carefully cut into the right amount of pieces and handed out.

F and his Dad went round the tables, one on each side and poured the sparkling wine at the same time for everyone.
 Not long after, the people next to us went to get their coats, so we were able to follow suit.

We got home at 3 o'clock, after a lovely evening.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Trip back to the UK

This time last week I was in Chester at my Father In Law's funeral. 
My Mother in Law died almost a year ago and FIL had not been very settled on his own. The best thing I can say is that he died at home and that it was quick. He had refused point blank to go into a home, so he had people coming in throughout the day to help.
He was always very private about all things personal, but now the family are having to discover what's what.
I won't say any more about that now.

Our trip to the UK passed very quickly  but was also enjoyable. Son n°2 came with us and he saw some of the family he had not seen for a few years.  My Mum, who had not seen him for over two years was amazed at the change in him. He is now taller than his Dad and holds himself with an assurance of someone much older. 
It was lovely to hear him talk about himself and his future plans and to question people who had done similar things. It was not nice for someone to make snidey comments about his spots at the dinner table in front of everyone - he's nearly 17 for God's sake.
People told him that he spoke with a French accent. He was 3 when we moved here so French is really his first language, even though we always speak English at home. Him and his brother speak French when they are together despite years of telling them to speak English with each other, when they were younger.

I was amazed at the colours of everything in the shops, particularly BHS.

Anyway that is for another post

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Daily Newspapers

Hello everyone. I am sorry I have been away for so long. I have been reading all your blogs and keeping up with your news.

I have a question for all you Frugalites out there - what do you do with all your old newspapers?
My eldest son has found a job that he enjoys and is making some good money. He is working for a company that sells subscriptions for our local/regional daily newspaper. He goes door to door round different towns every week and everyone he sees he gives them a free newspaper, as an incentive to take the subscription. This means that at the end of the day, depending on how successful he has been, he brings home what he has left, I could have up to 8 or 10 newspapers.
They sit around the lounge, kitchen and hall until I clear them away. Now I have 2 large shopping bags full. I know that I can put them to be recycled, or I can use some to start the fire in the winter, but I just wondered if anyone else has any bright ideas.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Morning Nature Watch

Every morning we leave the house at 7 o'clock to take son n° 2 to catch the school bus, then MOH and I go onto work. This means we miss all the traffic by going in so early.

Each morning we see a variety of wildlife, mostly rabbits or hares running accross the road into the fields, I have even had a fox run across the road right in front of me, but this morning was the best ever.

We had been driving for a couple of minutes and we were just passing a copse of pine trees when 4 deer ran right in front of us to cross the road. They were all females and were no more than a metre in front of the car.
The last one was a bit slow and we nearly caught it with the car, but it managed to get out of the way in time.

What a lovely way to start the day

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Looking for some ideas..................

Sorry I have not been around for a few days, I have lots to tell you about but first I am looking for some ideas please.
At the weekend I received an email from one of my school friends. 
During secondary school we were a group of seven girls who all went around together, some of us had been friends in primary school, then we added to our group to make the seven who were all together up to O levels. After that we separated. One went into the merchant navy, I went to work in Mothercare,  and the rest went on to take A levels. Over the years we have kept in touch, we were all there for the weddings and kept in touch, some more than others. 10 years ago we all got together again for our 40th's for a weekend and a party.
Now we are nearly all 50 and my friend sent me a mail to say that they want to organise something a bit special.
The plan is that we will all put forward one or more idea for a special something along with the cost then we all vote and go with the majority.
Now you know why I need some ideas.
Has anyone got any suggestions, not too expensive, for something seven 50 year old women could do for a weekend?????
I look forward to hearing from you all

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Planning for the Future

Since my birthday in November, I have been thinking a lot about our future, both short and long term.
 Our long term future is mainly thinking about where will we live when we retire, what will we do etc.

When we moved to France our original plan was that we would try and retire when MOH was 60 - that's in 5 years, then as time has gone on,and it has got closer and guess what we are no nearer to deciding what and how we will do that or if it is possible.

We live in a beautiful big old house with 5 acres of land, surrounded by fields. That all sounds lovely and it is, but as we get older and the boys leave home it's a lot of house and land to look after on our own. 
So that's been the big discussion this last month. What do we do.....

Do we sell and move to something smaller?
Do we buy some land and build our own house, exactly as we want it (my SIL did this and they have everything they want in their house)
Where - France or the UK?

MOH is not keen to move but does see that in the future it will be more difficult for us, also the nearest shops are a 10 minute drive away.
Last week we decided it was time to make some lists 
we started with the house - what jobs need to be done if/when we sell the house (thanks once again Frugal Queen for pushing me into doing this)
we listed all the jobs, little ones that won't take much time or money but need to be done and much larger ones that will be expensive - new carpet and underlay on the landing - (think hotel corridor and you have an idea of the size) and a complete refurbishment of the kitchen.
We also have to take into account our attached buildings that are starting to lean a bit with large cracks appearing. In one of the rooms there is a large crack that you can see through.
I should also explain, that when I say 'crack' that means that the layers of stones, that make up the wall are begining to fall out.
Our house is not made with bricks, but with stones that have been put together with some sort of cement to build the walls. I think the house was originaillay built in the 1700s. We have no foundations as such and no damp proofing. But all that is normal for our type of house.

So the list is made and we now have to start putting these jobs into action.
That will probably be the most difficult.

And we haven't started to make a list for the jobs that need doing outside - like fencing off the garden, we need to get permission to do this and because we live less that 500m away from an Historic Building we have to have special permission - ie shutters have to be a certain colour, fencing has to a certain type and colour.
When we put in the swimming pool, which is behind the house, not seen by anyone - we could not put in a blue liner it had to be sable - sand coloured. In the end we are very happy with this choice as it looks lovely but it just shows you some of the rules.

The building in question is an old monastry that is across the road from us. I have posted pictures of it in the past. It is split into two dwellings but they are very basic, only electricity, one has running water but no sanitary facilities.

Sorry I digressed.
So to get back to the point, we are going to do as many of the jobs this year as we can with the time and money we have available, so that we can review our planning at the end of the year.

I will let you know how we get on.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Average Salary

I have just seen a very interesting web site that allows you to key in your town and post code and it will show you all the following information:

The population for the town or village
The net revenue per household and how many inhabitants
Average Monthly Salary for the richest 10% in the town
Average Nett salary per person, including full time and part time
Where the town comes in the list of 36 717 towns and villages
How your town compares to the surrounding towns
How the household is made up - single, couples with children etc
How the population is made up - by profession
Average salary of a working household
Average pension of a retired household.

This is available for over 36 thousand towns and villages in France, but if you are interested it gives you an idea of average salaries etc in France.

Here is the site - it is in French, but easy to follow:

On one of the forums I read, someone made a comment that maybe it is possible to live more cheaply in France if you are retired.

At the moment I don't think there is much difference between the two countries in term of living expenses. It is all getting expensive. 

I did think about doing a shop in the Uk next week and having it delivered here, but after reading Frugal's blog yesterday about the price of flour, I don't think I'll bother. I checked this morning in Lidl, and a kilo of good quality fine plain flour is 39centimes, Frugal said it was over 70p in the UK.

However I am going to start planning to do some stockpiling this month.

This was taken from their website. You can copy it into Googlre Translate and it will give you an idea of what it is all about and why the site was set up.

Ouvert au début de l'année 2009, Le site souhaite développer plus de transparence sur les niveaux de revenus en France et aider les ménages qui souhaitent déménager à mieux comprendre leur environnement futur. Sur notre site, vous pouvez ainsi accéder aux niveaux de salaire moyen des Français, de retraite et d'impôt sur le revenu dans chacune des 36 700 villes de France. Pour les villes de taille suffisante, il est même possible de connaître la répartition par tranche de revenus. Les données publiées sont issues de statistiques retravaillées de l'INSEE (2007) et du Ministère des Finances (2008).

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Mum, I've got some girls staying tonight.................

This was my eldest son's comment to us yesterday afternoon.
My response was 'Thanks for telling me', MOH's was 'Have you got one for me'
Let me put that into context for you......

For the last few years, my son; who is nearly 20, has taken over one  of the rooms in our outbuildings, that he uses to 'entertain' his mates. He has 3 sofas, a dining table and several mattresses, all of which he has recuperated from people who were throwing them out. On New Years Eve there were about 15 of them in there, and there is always at least two or three of them staying overnight. This means no-one has to drink and drive and I know they are all safe. Most of the time it is just the lads, but sometimes their girlfriends or friends who are girls are invited too.

My house is not tidy all the time, well, it's very rarely tidy. I like to know if someone is coming so that I can tidy round and at least clean the toilet. Living with 3 men, the toilet needs cleaning more often than I do it.
So when my son has his mates round - the lads- it's not a problem as they nip outside to relieve themselves (this is totally common place here. Everyday on the way to work, I can guarantee I will see at least one car stopped at the side of the road with a man standing there having a wee. Sometimes they try to be discrete but most times they just stand proud! I want to toot everytime I go past but I don't think that would go down too well - they may have an aiming problem!) but if the girls come round they have to come into the house to use the toilet. Which is fine if I am forewarned and can do a quick clean round.

So yesterday when he gave me 4 hours warning it was great - my house was clean and tidy before everyone arrived. His mates came in to say hello - they always kiss me and shake hands with MOH.

When I got up this morning there were 4 cars parked outside. They all went home about one o'clock this afternoon, but guess what - not one of the girls came in to use the loo!!

Never mind I do have a clean and tidy house now.

Internet Scabble

Until I joined the world of blogging last year, I used to be an fanatic internet scabbler.
For those of you that are not familiar with this phenomenon, you join a 'club' which allows you to play with people from all over the world and you can choose the language you want to play in. The rules are the same as board scrabble but you set your own parametres - how long do you want your game to be, do you want the computer to check your spelling for you or not etc.
Each time you win a game your points rating increases and each time you lose a game your points reduce.
Over the last week I have started to play again and started to win. It takes a while to get back into the swing 
of it, but I am now hooked again.
If anyone is interested in knowing more or playing a game, just contact me

Thursday, 27 January 2011

50 and medical tests

As you know last year I hit the youthful age of 50 and this week I received two letter from the French health service.

The first was inviting me for a mammographie and the second for a test for colon cancer.

I have already had a few mammographies here in France and they are very easy to book and well carried out - I hope. We get the results straight away and go home with the x-ray, which we have to take with us to future tests. The doctor dictates their findings immediately after the examination, this is typed up straight away with a copy for me and one sent to my doctor.

I will let you know how I get on.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

A cold morning

I just had to show you this picture.
Last year I bought MOH this heat and massage slipper for a joke present.
We are working from home today and it's very cold.
Guess what he found!!
He wouldn't let me show you the rest of the picture - he has a fleecy hat on and the scarf goes right up to his ears!
The slipper is very effective - it warms your toes and gently massages your feet.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011


As promised in my last post, here are some of the latest pictures of Max.

He is definitely more cocker than westie you can see that by the way he stands.