Thursday, July 19, 2018

It was Christmas eve in a war zone

I just about managed to rise this morning but shining is still a long way off. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I had my usual stress dream last night. The one where it's 4.30 pm on Christmas eve and I've just realised I don't have a turkey. And all the family is coming for dinner. 

It was worse this time because I needed vegetables as well. Plus we were living in a war zone. Plus it was snowing. 

I don't think I'm stressed..

Admittedly my post-holiday resolution to stop saying 'yes' - you know, when someone says, 'can you ...?' 'will you ...?' - has already fallen at the wayside. Someone phoned me on Tuesday and asked if I would be willing to speak to a group of women. Anticipating the question my head was already thinking yes before she'd finished speaking. I probably should have asked her what she wanted me to talk about.

But that's not until some time in the next year and, anyway, when I'm actually doing it I quite enjoy speaking to groups if it's something about which I'm enthusiastic, so that's not stressing me.

So I've cleaned the lounge and now I'm sitting here with a big bag of cherries, courtesy of a friend of Woody's in Zac's. They are so delicious! But it is a very large bagful so I must resist the temptation to just keep going. But you know what it's like with cherries; one leads to another  and to another ...

Oh, I remember. When I was on holiday I was trying to recall the television programme that was on when I was a child. It was about life under the sea and it featured a man and wife who were divers. I think. A-googling I must go.

Hm, Hans and Lotte Hass. Not a children's programme but it must have been them. Unless it wasn't about underwater.

Much later
It suddenly came back to me: Michaela and Amand Denis. And it was a wildlife programme not undersea.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Good news

We took George to the vet this afternoon. He had a strange little lump under his right arm.

The vet was very thorough and decided to take samples to look at under the microscope. 'I'll be about ten minutes,' she said, 'if you want to wait while I look.'
We did.

But it was a very long ten, twenty minutes. And the longer she was away the higher my stress levels rose.

But all is well. They - for it turns out he has two - are fatty lumps that very rarely become malignant.

Now breathe ...

Not at all holiday related

Did that 'I know where I'm going so I don't need to check' thing this morning. Turned out I did know where I was going but I was two hours early. Hey ho.

I blame my pinging head. Woke up with a ping shooting up my head. My first thought was, 'I don't want to die today.' I blame that reaction on the fact I'm writing a book about a man who at one time had a near-fatal stroke. Admittedly his began with a 'really really really bad headache' not a ping.

I've since decided that I have earache as it hurts when I eat.

* * * * * *
All three children are currently in the process of buying or selling houses. It all seems awfully complicated. I am glad I have Husband to sort out this sort of thing for me. Also glad, when someone phones regarding anything that is in any way finance connected, I can do 'little woman' routine and say, 'My husband deals with all that sort of thing.' 

I'm sure I could do it - I'm almost sure  - if needed but dog and barking come to mind. 

* * * * * *
Good to be back at Zac's last night. 'Did you miss me?'
'Have you been away?'

One man whom I've seen in and outside prison told us of his decision to give up drinking after fourteen years and start to live again. He's been dry since January 11th. It's early days - he has the rest of his life to go - but it's a beginning to be applauded. 

* * * * * *
GrandSon4, who is currently in Italy visiting his Nonno and Nonna, loves Granddad's tomatoes and drags us off to the greenhouse to pick them. As they're only just beginning to ripen I bought a carton of Sainsburys Vittoria toms to keep us going. (If you've never had them they're little and very nice.) Nuora offered him one. He put it in his mouth then spat it out. He has high standards for his tomatoes.

* * * * * *
When George and I were out yesterday we met a man who lives in the road behind us. He reminded me of the time, in George's escapee days, when he turned up at this man's house early in the morning. Thinking he looked hungry the man gave him a bowl of food. Then another two. And he'd already had breakfast at home.

He doesn't escape any more but he still loves his food.
A little bit of wire wasn't going to stop George escaping.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

holiday reading

The Scandal
by Fredrik Backman
I think I've already mentioned this book by the author of the My grandmother sends her regards and apologises. It's about a tiny town whose entire continued existence seems to depend on the result of an ice hockey game. And then something terrible happens and the town is split. 

It's a wonderful story even if, like me, you know absolutely nothing about ice hockey. *****
(You might find it under the title of Bear Town.) (It's not a crime or mystery novel by the way.)

Escape from Sunset Grove
by Minna Lindgren
Described on the cover as the Finnish Miss Marple, this is the story of some elderly people who have to move out of their residential home during renovations. There is suspicion of dirty dealings but no real case or investigation or any other than a pleasant telling of everyday life for elderly women. 
It's quite enjoyable and easy to read and the characters are nice but it's nothing more than that.
** or *** (I must redefine my star rating I think.)

Where there's a will
by Matt Beaumont
I started reading this and nearly gave up but I persevered and it was okay in the end. The hero is a too-good-to-be-true character whose life falls apart when he tries to help others. The resolution is very unrealistic but you're glad for him because you want someone good to be rewarded - for a change these days.
A very easy read.

The Miniaturist
by Jessie Burton
I'm a bit late coming to this best-seller about a young woman married to an older merchant in Amsterdam. He gives her a cabinet-sized replica of their home and when she starts to order pieces for it from a miniaturist it appears that they foretell what will happen in the life of their household.
it's never really explained but it's well-written and an excellent story.

The Little Teashop of Lost and Found
by Tricia Ashley
I read this in one day on the return ferry journey. Easy to read, likeable characters and a happy ending. Predictable but it passes the time.

Also began but didn't continue with No wonder I take a drink by Laura Marney and The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas.

Lost the pound but not the pounds

Now this is interesting. No, really it is is. Well, I think so.

While I've been on holiday my keyboard has taken it upon itself to move some of its keys. Where the " used to be there is now @ and vice versa. Oh, and I've just discovered that hashtag  has become \ but I don't know where hashtag has gone as \ is also \.

_)(*&^%$#@! Oh, the pound sign key is now #. So where's the pound sign?

Little twiddly line has also become |  while | remains the same.

~ is on the top left button next to 1. It's the key with straight line with the little vertical at the right end. I've never used that anyway so that's no great loss. Losing the pound sign is more worrying.

}]{[:;?/>.<, all okay. 

Perhaps it's a message that I shouldn't worry about my weight?

And finally ...

Our resort in the Ardeche is used to catering for cyclists so all the restaurants give big portions. First La Muzelle.
Raw beef, parmesan, capers and basil oil starter.

Tartiflette is a traditional mountain dish of bacon, potatoes, cheese - in this case Reblochon - and cream.

Afternoon tea in a tea shop.

A good find for our last meal in Bourg: Cote Terrase. it's actually a camp site restaurant and you don't expect those to be brilliant but this was really good. I thought I'd taken more photos but there you are. I expect you're glad I haven't. I think I had very nicely cooked duck.
More moules.

We stayed in St. Malo the night before catching the ferry home and we visited a superb restaurant, Bouche en Folie, just inside the town walls.
My starter of mackerel fillet on a glazed tomato tart.

Husband's crab balls.

Husband's duck.

My beef cheek. Delicieux.

Husband's cherry creme brulee.

My no-coffee tiramisu.
I think the award for best second honeymoon food must go Les Chames with Bouche en Folie a close second.

More food

Does anyone else find it difficult to post photos on blogger? Not to post them exactly but to make them stay where you want them?

So, more food from Frejus, this time from Le Basilic in the old town.
Husband's mussels.

My courgette flowers.
Husband's ravioli.

My cheese and bacon ravioli, which was so rich - even by my butter-cheese-cream-liking standards - that I had to leave some!

And my personal award-winning lamb shanks
We tried to get into the most-popular-on-TripAdvisor restaurant but it was unsurprisingly full. Autres Rayson had spaces.
This was my prawn and avocado cup (I think)

The reason being ...

too much good food.

Husband's panna cotta
2. Having discovered that Monday nights are a non-opening night for many restaurants in the old town in Frejus we went to a trattoria near the beach. We both unintentionally had salad for main course: we'd tried to order them as starters but the waiter said they were too big and before I had time to change my mind he'd brought us salads as main. So I had to have dessert to make up for it.

1. I forgot to take my camera when we went for the best - and poshest - meal of our holiday at Restaurant de Chames but the next day we ate in the nearby roadside cafe, La Resto du Village. I'd never eat in a place that looked like this in this country - but the food was lovely: a smoked fish starter and then lamb slow-cooked in the traditional Ardeche method.
La Resto du Village Ardeche


Husband has lost weight on holiday while I have put on far too many pounds. Not a happy bunny.

But I enjoyed it all.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Then and Now

Husband had the 'brilliant' idea of trying to recreate photos from our honeymoon. Only problem was that we forgot to take the original photos with us so we had to guess roughly what they were. I'd looked at them recently for an article I wrote so they were in my head.

Then it was camping in our little tent; forty years later it was the luxury of caravanning.

Back then Husband had more hair and less belly; I had naturally dark hair and less belly.

We were trying to be subtle in these photos. Back then, in 1978, topless bathing was unheard of in the UK so we wanted to get a shot of some bare boobs just to show how decadent France was. Yes, you have to look very closely to spot them.

Amazingly my boobs actually seem to have got bigger with the years. I thought they were big enough back then.

Me pretending to be a page 3 model. As you can see the waves weren't quite so obliging the second time around. I felt a proper charlie pretending to leap and splash in non-existent surf.

I think I've mentioned before that we had a leaky radiator that needed regular refilling - and meant that we had to have the car's internal heating on at full blast all the time. This time no repairs needed just a quick wash of the windscreen to remove dead flies and bird poo.

Husband thinks this was taken on the journey down but my remembrance of it is being on the homeward lap and I don't think you can tell from the photo but I am tired, cross, hot and generally fed-up with this marriage lark. Actually I look much too happy; perhaps it was on the way down.

Holiday photo log

I suggest starting at log 1 then it makes more sense. Or ignoring them all because there is nothing worse than being forced to view another's holiday photos. 

It's largely for my benefit to keep a record so when I'm old (65 isn't old) and grey (while I continue to dye it I'm not grey) and my memory has gone I can look back and be reminded of when I was young and foolish.

Holiday photo log 5

On the journey home we stopped at Domaine de Vizille, a chateau that is now home to the museum of the French revolution. Both park and museum are free to enter.
Swans on the lake.

View of the chateau from the end of the lake.

This painting of a centenarian really grabbed my attention. So much life in that face. 

Sailing out of the walled town of St. Malo on our homeward journey.

Holiday photo log 4

From there it was up into the French Alps, near Bourg d'Oisans, where we climbed a mountain to see a lake, took a cable car to see a glacier and strolled through alpine pastures.

Some of the waterfalls were spectacular - impossible to capture in a photo. 
Lac Lauvitel, the largest high altitude lake in the area.

One of the glaciers overlooking the village of La Grave..

Another of the amazing ice sculptures in the ice cave.

I'm on top of the world.

'High on a hill stood a lonely goatherd ...'

Again a photo doesn't do justice to the beauty of the scene. Or the peace. All that could be hear was the jangling of cow bells.

Holiday photo log 3

After the river it was off to the sea on the French Riviera, between Frejus and St. Aygulf.

The new marina at Frejus.
The lake in the conservation area.

One of the rocky coves where we snorkelled.