Tuesday, 30 December 2008
I bought a pair of shoes, Ian bought a tee-shirt and that was about it!
Monday, 29 December 2008
The mountain air is challenging. It bites into your lungs, sears your skin, turns your hair and nails dry and brittle but if you can survive it you feel the benefits to your system over time, so despite the fact that I have ached, fallen over, bruised myself and generally felt exhausted I feel calmer, less stressed and now, after a week, much fitter. Interestingly my normal joint pains have almost disappeared.
We drove down the mountain in the dawn and by 11.30 we were passed Dijon and heading up towards Calais and England. We got back to London at 9.30 pm UK time and I felt a strange sense of unreality. How could we be in the Alps in the morning and then back in the city a few hours later? I felt quite unsettled! I have had this experience before when travelling and was telling a colleague who said it is when your spiritual self and your physical self have not quite caught up with each other.
Meanwhile, our physical selves were subjected to a dreadful lunch in a French motorway service station. As we were not in a hurry we decided to join the French in their exodus off the motorway in search of lunch. If I was ever under the illusion that the French were fussy about food and that all French food was better than English food it was well and truly put to rest yesterday. The queues were long, the food cold and oily and I ended up taking it back. The second attempt was not much better! We vowed never to do this again no matter how hungry we were!
To replenish our spiritual selves on the journey Ian tried to find an open D.I.Y. shop. However, as it was a Sunday they were all closed, so we stopped off in Reims and visited the Cathedral!
Friday, 26 December 2008
Wednesday, 24 December 2008
We all met for a late lunch and I returned back to chalet after while the others went off more skiing.
This is the view from the balcony this evening....
Tuesday, 23 December 2008
Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, which is more of a celebration in France than the 25th. We hope to watch the 'decente en flambeau' tomorrow evening, when all the ski instructors ski down from the top of the mountain with lighted torches.
My nephew is doing an ice sculpture outside for his art project and we are awaiting dinner!
The sun is shining, my legs ache, I have a lesson booked at 2.30 and the slopes beckon so I will be brief!
Sunday, 21 December 2008
I am currently sitting in your departure lounge because an earlier crossing has been cancelled. While I understand you have operational issues at the moment, this has happened the last two times I have travelled with you.
It would have been helpful to have reflected the delay on your website in the latest travel information section. I was also surprised that your staff in the terminal building did not have vouchers available for a complementary hot drink.
Dear Customer, Thank you for contacting the Customer Relations team at Eurotunnel. We are always keen to receive the views of our customers, and the feedback we receive is important to help us improve our service to you. All emails are responded to individually by a member of our team and you will receive a full response within twenty-one working days. For your reference, emails sent to this address are managed between 09.00 and 17.30, Monday to Friday (except Bank Holidays). Kind regards Eurotunnel Customer Relations .
Not much help to us then in getting a cup of tea!
(PS. Titan's sister is called Alexandra)
(PPS. I don't know what is worse, James Blunt or Christmas Carols)
1. The fire was bigger than the previous one several years ago and did more damage and yet it was relatively under reported. All we have seen of the repairs is a very edited programme on the BBC.
2. The burnt -out trucks are still property of the French police and under strict guard.
3. Normally after such a fire there would be interviews with truck drivers and passengers that were involved but there has been nothing so far; not least we have heard nothing from the lucky driver of the vehicle that started the fire who apparently escaped unhurt.
4. After I published my last conspiracy theory blog my site was 'visited' by Eurotunnel.
5. A free cup of coffee will stop me from writing more!
(To add insult to injury we have just been joined by a noisy family who's eldest child is called Titan! The sounds of 'Titan come here!" are echoing around the terminal.)
Saturday, 20 December 2008
Friday, 19 December 2008
"You wouldn't be the man with my turkeys would you?"
"Well, only if your name is Lovely"
"Well, it is as it happens; lucky I caught you"
"Well, when you said have you got my turkeys I thought you were joking! I didn't know that's what was in the box! Have a good Christmas!"
and with that he handed me the box and left!
The turkeys spent the night in the industrial fridge at work and now they are unpacked and in my fridge and waiting to be moved down to London for the next stage of the journey.
Tomorrow we have another Christmas dinner with Ian's mum, sister and niece and then our family duties are over and on Sunday we hit the road with the turkeys!
Wednesday, 17 December 2008
I have never supported the notion of troops in Iraq anyway so any reason for them to leave is fine by me, but the cynic in me says that the withdrawal at this point is more to do with the cost than ideals. At least if the country is really poor they won't be able to afford to invade Iran or Pakistan or other such nonsense.
Tomorrow two turkey crowns are being delivered to my workplace. I must find a way to keep them fresh on their various journeys from work to home, home to Ian's and then in the car all the way under the Channel, down through France until they finally arrive at their Alpine destination three days before Christmas Day. If we all get food poisoning I will know why!
Monday, 15 December 2008
Sunday, 14 December 2008
However, times are changing and together with the Nintendo Wii-fit you can exercise from your laptop. You can check her out her on-line lessons here!
Although we laughed it is a sad fact that there are many people who commission IT services (in places such as the NHS) who also have about as much knowledge! On a more basic level, one of the IT support staff at work got called to assist someone who was doing a PowerPoint presentation and couldn't get their memory stick to work. When he arrived they were trying to insert it into the Ethernet point! (Ian has also been asked where the any key is).
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
The other thing that occurred to me is that if you are rich you get choices and if not then you don't. The whole procedure was not cheap and I also imagine that the cost of this man's care before his death was not cheap either. A portable respirator, expensive wheelchair etc would all be above the reach of the typical uninsured American as would the flight and accommodation in Switzerland. So if you are poor then you don't get to choose to die when you want but you die much sooner because you can't afford the treatment to prolong your life.
After my gentle warning from high about the blog yesterday I call it Karma!
Tuesday, 9 December 2008
I wish to announce however, that a new and totally uncensored blog will be created dedicated entirely to the topic of health and safety man and other antics at work. However, this will be a secret blog and access will be by invitation only! Do leave a message if you would like to be on the list!
Monday, 8 December 2008
This message contains information which may be confidential. It is intended for the addressee(s) only. Unless you are a named addressee (or authorised by an addressee who received this message), access to this e-mail, or any disclosure or copying of its contents, or any action taken (or not taken) in reliance on it is unauthorised and may be unlawful. If you have received this e-mail in error, please inform the sender immediately.
Sunday, 7 December 2008
I also iced my Christmas cake. I mentioned before that I am cultivating the art of mad and eccentric cakes and this counts as one of them!
Wednesday, 3 December 2008
As you can see this one was made of mirrors! Lunch was beckoning and I had a yearning to try one of those nice looking tarts and so settled on a little coffee shop. It was full of older women sitting at tables by themselves having coffee and cake. My French has come on enough to understand the conversation between an older lady and a couple at another table. She struck up the conversation and after a talk about the weather she told them that her husband was now dead and she lives on her own but tries to make the effort to come out every day to talk to people. After lunch I wandered some more and took a photo of this cyclist! Just nearby a meals on wheels van was delivering its' fare .
After lunch I did more wandering...and began to get a bit tired. I longed for somewhere to just sit! As it was Monday all the museums were closed so I wandered up to the Cathedral. It was warm and inviting, with nativity scenes around the chapel representing all the ethnic communities in Brussels. I sat down and found myself drifting off to sleep for a while until the priest interrupted with a short prayer for all those who had lost their homes! I was surprised to see how many people ran out of the Cathedral at this as it is after all what the building is about and it was pretty inoffensive. Perhaps the priest thought I was one of the homeless as I was beginning to feel that way with 3 more hours to wait and nowhere else to go! My next walk took me past the main railway station where I looked at a few shops and then 'rested' again in the waiting area! I really did begin to feel like a down and out as the street dwellers came in to finish their cans of beer in peace and the man who looked like he was suffering from the side effects of his anti-psychotic medication came to beg food!
A final stop in another cake shop passed a bit more time and then I headed towards Le Grand Place where I was meeting Ian later. It was dark and the 'Electrabel nights' show had started with coloured lights projected over the grand buildings in time to electronic music from steel speakers in the square.
Monday, 1 December 2008
After lunch we walked briefly around the town centre and then we decided to walk out to the hotel ('not much further than we have already walked' according to Ian). The route out of town took us through the Arab quarter of town with little shops selling all sorts of exotic vegetables and lots of 'cafes' that were men only places involving mint tea and backgammon (and a space away from the family). We witnessed Brussels driving first hand when we saw a Passat collide into the back of another car and then hit a parked van (he had seemingly failed to notice the wet roads and the slow traffic in front of him). The road was definately quite long and mostly up hill! My feet were aching and we were in need of a drink and with some relief we reached the hotel; basic but clean and with internet access in all the rooms but other than that not much going for it!
We reflected that all big cities, no matter how glossy on the surface, have their run down ends where a lot of the imigrant populations tend to live and in many ways we could have been anywhere, in London, Paris, Zurich etc.
Sunday, 30 November 2008
After he parted company from my sister 14 years ago Jon traveled quite widely throughout Asia and hence when his company saw an opportunity for developing a new market in China I think his name was top of the list. As the year has progressed what started as a romantic dream has moved towards reality and slowly the potential problems have been weighed up and now he is seriously contemplating taking a two year job in Shanghai. The implications for my sister are that she either goes with him or faces the end of the relationship and as they both seem quite happy at the moment the latter has not been an option for either of them. So, as it stands Jon will most probably go out to Shanghai in January followed by my sister a little while afterwards, once they have sorted out their respective affairs here. For my sister it means giving up her job, her way of life, her friends and her contact with her family and starting anew in a new country, where her role will be primarily that of supporting her partner until she can find a niche for herself there. During trips home she will no doubt be involved with collecting and caring for Jon's children as well as trying to look after their respective UK homes and somehow try to fit in her family commitments; especially to my mother, who has become quite dependent on her since she moved. Whilst I can see that this could be a great experience for her to see a different culture and to travel I think that it is quite a lot to ask of someone who has never lived outside of Middlesex and still has the same group of friends that she went to school with. When talking about it, she gives it an up-beat and positive spin but I know her well enough to see that underneath she is quite worried.
So when she announced to all of us that she and Jon were getting married next year as well, we did not automatically respond with messages of congratulations and great joy, our concerns at the trade off that she has had to make between being with someone that she loves and giving up everything else that she knows perhaps being paramount in our minds.
Saturday, 29 November 2008
Tuesday, 25 November 2008
I find it quite weird to have a illness that no one really understands. In fact, the mysteries of the immune system are slowly being unravelled only to uncover more things that they don't understand; a bit like exploring deep space and coming across a black hole. No one can really explain why one day, out of the blue, my body decided to take up arms against itself and begin to attack my healthy cells. Treatments are being developed all the time and in a notorious case when healthy volunteers were injected with a new medication being trialed for rheumatoid arthritis they developed a severe and life threatening auto-immune response in a matter on minutes suggesting that the balance between an ordered and disordered immune system is incredibly delicate. Also of interest is that the more aggressive flu viruses that are likely to cause pandemics such as avian flu, are thought to over stimulate the immune system and produce a severe auto-immune response in healthy people. Strangely, if there were an outbreak I might fare better than someone with a better immune system!
For this reason I have been particularly interested in watching the TV series 'Survivors' on the BBC. In the story a worldwide flu pandemic kills 90% of the population and the story is of the 10% that survived. I remember watching the original in the 1970s and being particularly taken with the story and disappointed that it was never shown again. However I enjoyed the first episode of the remake and look forward to episode 2 tonight.
Sunday, 23 November 2008
One good thing about writing a blog is that the annual Christmas letter is much easier as I don't have to rely entirely on memory to go through the year's activities! Last year has not involved any major decisions or life changes but has been more about trying to implement the ones that we have already made and move towards a life in France (this being a little difficult as although we did have a builder at the end of last year he had not really commenced any building!) So, we have had several trips over to France to get things moving. Our first visit however, was in March, at Easter when we went skiing. Easter was early and the snow was great and I was really delighted that I could manage a few days skiing without any serious consequences. We stayed at my brother's Chalet in Le Grand Bornand with the family and had a really nice time.
Next year will see some changes in my family as my sister is planning to get married and although not confirmed it is quite likely that she will go and live in Shanghai for 2 years. This will be a big change for her and maybe I will get a chance to visit! We will also have to give some thought to how to support my mother as she has been providing a lot of care for her over the past year.
1. Go on a bike ride (but probably a bit too cold to make it bearable)
2. Make a cake (requires walking up the hill to buy some eggs)
3. Do my French homework.
4. Do some work work such as marking (but this will just make me feel more depressed.)
5. Write my Christmas blog entry.
6. Do Ian's ironing (see 4.)
Only number 1 will significantly affect my exposure to daylight!
Thursday, 20 November 2008
Here is a sample of the emails that have been going back and forth!
Head office need a quote from an electrician for wiring the house and a quote from the workman who will be putting in the windows… and hopefully then I will just have to push the print key and send the « demande de financement » direct to the address you gave me in France…
I will be in my office until about 3 o’clock your time and I will try to call you again tomorrow morning if we can’t get in touch before then.
Banque des Fermiers
Financial adviser/Conseiller particulier anglophone
De : firstname.lastname@example.org Envoyé : jeudi 16 octobre 2008 15:28À : Cp-en-ligne (CR824)Objet : RE: TR: RE: Home loan information: Quotes/Contracts
I tried to ring you, but you were away from your desk.I have no quote for the electricity since I envisaged my friend would be doing it with my help and then we would have it inspected by the Consuel.The windows will be installed by Batiman (I thought this was in the quote?)I hope this is sufficient.
For the electricity I need an “attestation sur l’honneur” basically a letter saying that you are going to do the work, to make things easier here it is:
Je soussigné M Ian BARTON né le 09/07/1960 au Royaume Uni certifie que pour la future construction de ma résidence principale à SAINT EULALIE D’EYMET je ferais les travaux d’électricité moi-même.
Je m’engage à ensuite faire inspecter la maison par le consuel.
Sign and date the paper and then mail to me.
For the windows I need a quote for the main d’oeuvre from Batiman (the quote I have is just the material).
Please find attached the attestation
When I looked at the Batiman quote I can see for each item the line “Pose et fournitures diverses” which I think mean installation?
Dossier back from head office, we need the following things:
The devis must all be less than six months old, the only one that is is for the menuiseries exterieurs.
The permis de construire is dated 2004 which means it is no longer valid, we need a new “recipissé de depot de permis”
We need to know where house plans came from, if they were done by you we need an attestation confirming that you did them
And while we are here, I am going to ask you for an original attestation for the electricity (same as the one you scanned and e-mailed me) just in case they decide they want one of them later (precaution)… Please send to me at 25-27 rue St Catherine, 24100 BERGERAC.
This is starting to get rather silly, it has been a month since the last round of questions. How much longer are they going to take? I said previously that it was important to have this moving since the builder will need paying shortly. If the process takes much longer I will not need a loan since I would have already paid him.I am not going to get quotes less than 6 month old since I already engaged the builder back in October 2007.The permis is valid because the work started in November 2007 prior to its expiry (declaration d'ouverture de travaux sent to the Mairie).The original house plans were signed off by the architect and formed part of the dossier for the permis de construire - I wouldn't have got the permis otherwise. I will send you the original of the declaration since your head office seems to be incredibly difficult at the moment.
Kind regards Ian
The tension is beginning to show!
Wednesday, 19 November 2008
100g ready to eat dried figs (chopped)
150g each sultanas, raisins and currants
50g dried cranberries
1 large apple, peeled, cored and coarsely grated
Finely grated zest of one lemon
50 ml of brandy (I added a little more!)
150g self-raising flour
2 tsp ground mixed spice
175g unsalted butter, melted
200g panettone, torn up
3 large free-range eggs, beaten
100g soft light brown sugar
100g plain chocolate, chopped
1. Mix dried fruits, apple, lemon zest and brandy in a large bowl. In another bowl, sift together the flour, spice and a pinch of salt. Pour the butter over the dried fruit mix. Stir in the panettone, eggs, sugar, chocolate and spiced flour.
2. Spoon into greased pudding bowls (I used two 1 pint bowls and had enough over for a small one). Steam.. for 3 hours; only I am trying it in the slow cooker.. will await outcome eagerly!
Tuesday, 18 November 2008
Monday, 17 November 2008
"Oh, I'm sorry if I have been staring but you do look just like Prince Harry"
"Well I am actually", came the reply.
"Oh, I'm really sorry. I was actually just looking for some candle holders"
"That's all right, they're just round the corner on the right"
Now I don't know whether I believe all of this story or not but my mother made it sound convincing!
Sunday, 16 November 2008
After this Ian dropped a note into the doors of all the neighbours telling them what had happened and asking them to check that nothing was missing, resulting in a flurry of activity around the garages. Many of Ian's neighbours are elderly and a bit upset so within seconds some one's son arrived and another lady came over wearing her nightdress, giving the whole thing the air of a pyjama party. They had rummaged through one lady's garage and gone through her personal possessions but she couldn't tell if anything had been taken.
As we were leaving to go shopping for a lock and a security light the 'scene of crime' officer arrived; a woman in her 30s. Predictably there was nothing for her to examine. She told us that what she really needs is blood so that she can get a DNA sample and that although we weren't to say that she told us, the best way to protect the garage door and make her job easier was to put a strip of carpet gripper along the bottom edge!
In the evening the doorbell rang and the two police community support officers were there to introduce themselves and tell us all about their job! It was my introduction to modern policing in the Met!
Tuesday, 11 November 2008
Post script: Ever since writing this post I have been looking everywhere for some pictures that I took a couple of years ago. On our way back from France Ian and I stopped off to visit the war graves of the Somme..well just a couple; the whole tour would take the best part of a week. I eventually found them last night.
Monday, 10 November 2008
The town was grey and the hostel was spartan but the town put on a special treat for us and treated us like royalty with a full Japanese banquet, gifts, games and a presentations! We left the following morning but were hampered a little in our journey as the road had disappeared during the storm two days before we arrived!
Thursday, 6 November 2008
Wednesday, 5 November 2008
Tuesday, 4 November 2008
Saturday, 1 November 2008
Jonathon Ross and Russell Brand phoned up Andrew Sachs (the actor who played Manuel in Fawlty Towers) and when he wasn't in they left a string of messages on his answerphone that by all accounts were a little childish and offensive and were subsequently broadcast on the radio show. I didn't listen to the programme and when it was broadcast it received 2 complaints. However Andrew Sachs complained to the BBC about the nature of the messages, this news seemed to get out and then the wonder of the Internet and You Tube meant that everyone who hadn't heard the show the first time could listen to it to see what all the fuss was about. This led to a total of 30,000 complaints, which personally I would discount since if they thought it was going to be offensive they didn't need to choose to listen to it! (I thought I should also listen to it to see what all the fuss was about and after 2 minutes decided it was rather boring and silly and so stopped). It seems that Andrew Sach's granddaughter (who sings in a band called the Satanic Sluts) was particularly put out by the fact that Russell Brand had said that he had had 'intimate relations' with her! Now as this turned out to be true I think that she only has herself to blame here for having the bad taste and bad judgement to sleep with him in the first place as he is not known for his discretion nor for his chastity. Andrew Sachs was offended by various comments made, perhaps rightly, but then this is the man who was made famous by using all sorts of racist stereotypes to portray a dumb Spanish waiter so if he was offended then that's too bad but in the end it isn't that important in the context of 'shit things that can happen to you in life'.
The consequence is that two people resigned and one person is suspended but for Russell Brand and Jonathon Ross it isn't going to make too much difference to their career prospects and Andrew Sach's granddaughter has had some good publicity for her band and the BBC executive will probably get a job for Sky. I am just amazed that with an American election next week, a bloodbath in the Congo and the economy in collapse that this minor story got so much time! Perhaps it is a conspiracy!
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
Stephane and Stephanie are the sort of people that enjoy and appreciate every moment of their lives! They are always smiling and always welcoming and make such an effort to understand my poor French. They both have that special spark of passion for life inside them and you can see it in their eyes.
Monday, 27 October 2008
Ian, Mike and Bill (another neighbour and owner of the gite where we stayed), managed to finish the mobile field shelter in the time available although it was close and they were working up to dusk on the last day. There are one or two finishing touches to add but basically the construction was a success, although we had several discussions as to whether the llamas would actually appreciate it! Here is a picture of the finished item!
Below is a close up of the towing mechanism which was custom designed and hand welded by the man down the road. Its capacity to withstand towing has not yet been tested!
Sunday, 26 October 2008
Having decided to forgo the joys of Eurotunnel for our return trip, due to the fact that the only available crossing was at 6.00 a.m. on Monday, we booked onto the last crossing with Speed Ferries expecting to depart at 9.45p.m. Well, here we are sitting in a line, in the van, in the rain at Boulogne with a one and a half hour delay. Ian has just said that he now remembers why we don't travel this way normally! All the white vans are in one line next to the line with all the Range Rovers! Not a good choice. Mr Range Rover driver has just slammed his door open into Ian's van almost causing a violent incident!On a more positive note, we took Mike out for lunch to thank him for his hard word this week. He suggested a restaurant in a nearby village called La Taverne Du Cochon Sale (the salted pig). We had to book and the restaurant was full. The food was definitely not for vegetarians but really excellent local recipes, well cooked and beautifully presented. I had scallops (cooked beautifully) to start followed by a stuffed quail, a selection of local cheeses and a desert called the Paris-Brest (maybe after the famous bike race!). It consisted of choux pastry, praline, chocolate sauce and a sort of local bread pudding. We arrived a 12.30 and left at 3.45! A proper French lunch at under 90 euros for three! I can recommend it if you ever find yourself in the Somme.
Saturday, 25 October 2008
We have brought Ian's friend Mike with us to assist with the arduous jobs, such as sawing, cutting and lugging wood and to assist with the technical aspects of the design, thus giving Ian someone to talk with and leave me free to be a 'domestique'; fetching the refreshments! Mike lives in Albert. Albert is in the middle of the Somme a few kilometres from the front line and after the first world war all but one building remained and a handful of people, living in cellars. Mike bought a house on the main road opposite the aerospace factory, in an area that was once a casualty clearing station for the French. The house was formerly a hotel and at one time a brothel and a bar. It was in pretty poor condition and Mike is painstakingly restoring and renovating it; turning it into flats and bed-sitters.
The history of the area is fascinating and depressing. Mike has found human bones when digging but unless they can be linked to a person by other artifacts no one is interested as there are so many to be found. On the first day of the battle of the Somme 60,000 young men were killed or fatally injured. That is more than 20 times the number killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.Here in the Dordogne the history is not quite so tragic although during the second world war the border dividing occupied France from free France was a only a few kilometres away. Apparently the area where the land is was occupied and the older locals remember stories of villagers being taken to the woods and shot. There is still some animosity towards the Germans (although at the same time a gay German couple lived happily in the village for many years).
Yesterday we had an early start as we were putting in or les bourns cadastral or boundary stones. This is not just a case of bashing in a few rocks but involves the local geometre, (official surveyor) an array of complicated and highly technical measuring equipment and the presence of all concerned parties. Thus a strange bunch of people assembled at 9.00 am at the land. We were there together with Herman (the herb farmer at the bottom of the field), Madame Delgrano's brother, who owns a neighbouring field, and Madame Fleurre, a smart and sprightly seventy something lady who owns another of the fields.
The French contingent were in good spirits; it was sunny and they were enjoying the outdoors! They told stories of their youth. Madame Delgrano's brother started life picking grapes for Madame Fleurre's father and then should have been a baker, in the family tradition. However he rejected that plan as he felt that all he would do was to make things that disappeared with nothing to show for it. He decided to be builder; something he found much more enjoyable as his buildings were there to stay and he could still look at them. Madame Fleurre and her friend went off to look for mushrooms in the wood but the dry autumn meant there were none.
All seemed to proceed amicably. The plans for the fields were originally drawn up in Napoleonic times and hence there was some discrepancy about the exact dimensions which did not stand up to the robust measuring tools of today. However, all was agreed and all seemed happy except for Herman (who had been convinced that he owned all of the wooded area around the boundary - we suspect because he has let much of his land get very overgrown and if he cannot freely access the edge of the woods he will have a lot of clearing to do to make it possible for him to access all of his land!) Herman stormed off at one point (to the amusement of the French) and although he parted in a seemingly good humour in the afternoon we saw him marching back and forth around the boundaries of his land. No doubt we will hear more from him! The boundaries were officially marked with all due ceremony! The man in the photo placed the original stones 40 years ago. He is retiring next year!
Saturday, 18 October 2008
Thursday, 16 October 2008
Conversely I am not that interested in the American election, even though the staged debates do have the air of a Judge Judy court room about them. When I first heard that Sarah Palin's 17 year old daughter was pregnant I didn't immediately make the connection but when I read that she was accused of abusing her power by trying to have her former brother-in-law fired as a state trooper because he was going through a bitter divorce and custody battle with her sister I began to see that Judge Judy really does represent all walks of life.
Wednesday, 15 October 2008
Monday, 13 October 2008
This is the kind of shelter Ian wants to build when we are in France. I have persuaded him to make the doorway bigger and we are going to put in 2 windows to allow the air to pass through in the summer and to give the llamas something to look at! Who knows whether they will like it or not! We are picking up the wood on Saturday morning from Kent and driving it down to the Dordogne. I will post pictures of the work in progress. (The picture is from here.)
Thursday, 9 October 2008
Wednesday, 8 October 2008
Tuesday, 7 October 2008
Ian and I talked about it on the phone tonight, (the closest we get to an intimate relationship on weekdays). We both agreed that having been in the position when one day we thought we had it all and then seemingly a day or so later realising that we probably had nothing, that all this about the economy was relatively minor.
Interestingly I can remember discussing with my brother how the trading floor worked a few years ago. It seemed to be run mainly on suspicion and something akin to witchcraft. Most market crashes happen in Autumn because that's when everything happens in the city and every autumn they get jittery (Halloween also happens about then). When my brother was a trader he would only open his book at a time with a number 7 in it (IE. 8:07, 7.57) as he liked the number 7. He was not alone in having these various superstitions and beliefs. Most people that are traders are basically gamblers and if they weren't employed gambling with the banks' money would be down the betting shop. We all know the downside of addiction!
NB: My brother seems to have come out the other side and is now the most cautious person I know when it comes to money"!
Sunday, 5 October 2008
Talking of llamas, Matthew Parris (a part time llama farmer himself) wrote a funny piece in the Spectator about the economy and the bottom dropping out of the Llama market. Good news for us as by the time they are at rock bottom we may be ready to buy!
Saturday, 4 October 2008
Wednesday, 1 October 2008
Roasted Butternut, aubergine, tomato and feta couscous.
I small butternut squash (I used a large one)
1 small aubergine (I used a medium)
2 tablespoons of olive oil (I didn't measure)
10 cherry tomatoes (thereabouts)
2 tablespoons of pine nuts (used what I had left in the packet)
150 gm couscous (I used 204gm..what was left in box)
250ml boiling water (I used about 320ml)
150 gm feta cheese (I used a packet of low fat feta)
a handful of mint leaves (didn't have so didn't use)
2 red chillies (I used one hot one)
(I also used a small green pepper and ground mixed pepper)
Preheat oven to 180 (fan) 200 electric or gas 6.
Peel de-seed and chop squash into chunks (assisted by colleague). Chop aubergine into chunks. Toss in oil and roast on baking tray for 20 minutes. Scatter tomatoes and chopped pepper among the vegetables and roast for a further 10 minutes. Tip pine nuts into a small tin and roast in oven at the same time. Place couscous in bowl and pour on boiling water. Cover and leave to stand for 10 minutes.
De-seed and finely chop chili. Chop mint. Mix chili, vegetables, salt, pepper, pine nuts and crumbled feta cheese into the couscous.
Serve with salad and garlic bread.
We talked about a lot of things including health and safety man's latest escapades which will be the subject of a future post!