Tuesday, 30 September 2008
Monday, 29 September 2008
Sunday, 28 September 2008
This weekend has been busy. When I bought my house I couldn't fail to notice that the rendering was painted green. Although it did look a little odd I didn't really hate it at first and it came in quite handy when directing people here,"you can't miss it. It's the green one". I soon discovered that all the neighbours also referred to it as the green house, although they didn't all appreciate its eccentricity! Over the last few years it has also become more and more faded and the time had come to re-paint it. Fortunately it was a great weekend and so I chose a more neutral 'almond white' colour and we started Saturday and finished today. You can see the before and after pictures below! The paint is guaranteed for 15 years and Ian worked out that he will be 61 before it should need repainting again!
PS: we used a scaffold tower, bits of a ladder, no harnesses and after the children climbed up the tower as if it were a climbing frame! No health and safety man to be seen anywhere!
Thursday, 25 September 2008
Wednesday, 24 September 2008
Monday, 22 September 2008
Sunday, 21 September 2008
Thursday, 18 September 2008
Wednesday, 17 September 2008
"They were turquoise Lovely. They would have gone quite well with your trousers!"
I thought carefully as I had actually made a special effort that day to put on some matching knickers but I did still have them on! I had also worn matching knickers the previous day but I had cycled home and gone to my French class that night in the knickers and put a clean pair on this morning. Still, the description of these knickers was beginning to sound quite familiar so I thought I'd better go and check and sure enough, they were mine! But how the hell did they get to be on the floor outside my colleagues office?! The only explanation I can come up with is that when I picked up my cycle clothes off the floor this morning (as I cycled to work) somehow they got stuck to a bit of Velcro and were attached to me on the way in, falling off finally as I walked down the corridor. Now as if this wasn't embarrassing enough this morning I had driven my car to the garage, booked it in, chatted to the mechanic, got out my bike, cycled to work..all with a pair of turquoise knickers hanging off some part of my body!
Well...it made us all laugh but I don't know how I will cope when I have to go and pick up my car (which incidentally failed its MOT and is going to cost £600 to put right!)
PS: I wonder how many sad bastards will find this post when searching google for lovely knickers!
Monday, 15 September 2008
"one day you will just know that your heart has changed and you know where you want to be and then it will be more difficult to stay than to go"
I think I am beginning to understand what she meant. Getting back to work this time has been excruciating. Even tales of health and safety man can not lighten my mood enough or enable me to take my current job back into my heart in the way it deserves. I know that this will change to some degree as I get more into it but each time I go away and more aspects of the life in France become a reality my life back here seems more and more difficult. So I think Hazel is right and in the end I will just have to go physically so that my physical body can be in the same place as my spiritual one!
Sunday, 14 September 2008
Mandi on the other had has a new game called 'pat the window blind'. He jumps up onto the window sill and pats at the venetian blind so that it makes a noise. This and the 'tap the lever on the office chair' game keeps him occupied for hours.
Saturday, 13 September 2008
Wednesday, 10 September 2008
"UK border agency..at least that's what we are this week..I think.. can I ask you what you have in your van"
I had sympathy. When I worked in the Health Service I did the same job, in the same place for 10 years but the headings on our notepaper changed six times!
Tuesday, 9 September 2008
"you don't need a great big orchestra and a recording studio to make music now, its all done on a computer"
With that in mind his plan was to build a small studio room in his house and continue his recording work in France. Well, the state of the housing market in the UK put paid to that and has put their extension on hold, so Peter decided to erect a temporary studio where the garden shed was. When we arrived building was at a frantic pace as some musicians were expected the following week and the 'studio' (still looking very like a garden shed) had no roof or soundproofing. Still, where there is a will there is a way and over the next few days the 'studio' was soundproofed with an old mattress and some polystyrene trays from Herman's herbs, the electrics were connected and we arrived while Peter was trying it out with another neighbour we call 'the commander'. The commander runs some nearby gites and in his previous life held a very important and responsible position in the transport industry (something that you are made aware of early on in your acquaintance). The commander also likes singing and I must admit I had imagined him doing some light classical songs, so I was a little taken aback to hear his renditions of John Denver and the like emanating from the 'studio'. (The trouble with a studio is that although the singer hears the backing track those outside don't, so what you hear is the bare vocal with all its imperfections!) Anyway, it seemed to work, apart from the fact that the studio had no air conditioning (and it was 36 degrees at this point) and still no roof, and you couldn't run the pump for the swimming pool at the same time as the recording equipment (so as it was like a sauna you could not stand more than 5 minutes in there at a time). After his 'session' the commander had a beer and lamented about the fact that his 16 year old son couldn't communicate with him any more.
The following day we were planting our trees on the land when Peter and the commander turned up in their cars, each containing some young lads, who were obviously musicians by their indie and underfed look. (In fact, they looked just like most of the students on the arts courses at work!) The lads were pleasant and polite, and looked a little bemused (but then they had spent an evening with the commander after driving 10 hours from Calais). I imagine they were struggling to cope with the reality of the situation! They were promised a recording studio in France, with its own pool and what they got was a shed with no air conditioning, and the company of a John Denver impersonator. I bet it was never like that for Sting!
Monday, 8 September 2008
Why is it then that after being home a week, back at work for 4 days where I spend the majority of time seated at a desk that the joints of my feet, ankles, fingers and wrists are so sore that I struggle to get out of my nice comfortable bed in the morning and I can hardly pick up my tea cup? There is a message there somewhere and it isn't too difficult to work out!
Wednesday, 3 September 2008
I relayed my story a few days later to Herman, who claims he is a Buddhist.
'Yes, there is a community nearby..but they aren't proper Buddhists. They're a bunch from Vietnam. I've been there once.'
I left it at that but on return looked them up and found that there are from a community called the plum village and are pretty much our neighbours, owning several plots of land nearby. I mentioned this to a colleague at work who is a Buddhist and teacher of mindfulness meditation. Far from being a bunch of improper Buddhists it seems that they are a pretty influential and important group!
I like the quote on their home page:
If your cup is small, a little bit of salt will make the water salty. If your heart is small, then a little bit of pain can make you suffer. Your heart must be large.
Thay Nhat Hanh
Tuesday, 2 September 2008
Each time we went to land we passed a field with this machine in it. It looked like an abandoned piece of junk from a distance but every time we passed the field I swear it had moved from one side to the other and yet we never saw anyone near it. I decided that rather than a piece of agricultural equipment it was really a ghost machine and once it got dark it moved itself up and down the field in the moonlight. I later decided that it was probably a space probe and moved around to get better communication with the mother ship.
Ian had a much more practical explanation and said it was a thresher cutting strips of hay for animal feed. I like my explanation better!
Ian is quite keen on agricultural equipment and we could not go past a tractor shop without a stop while he had a 30 minute conversation with the owner about the price of tractors and toppers. I used it as an excuse to sit in the van and sleep! I did notice however that he was not the only man looking lustfully at large pieces of equipment!
Monday, 1 September 2008
The following day was warm so we set off on the bikes in the morning and got to the vineyard at about 2.00pm. Things were just beginning to take off.. We started with a long conversation with the man selling tickets. He had been a keen cyclist and had organised bike races and events in his home town in Lancashire for most of his life. He had also driven the press car for the Tour de France and had once picked up some cyclists from the airport only to realise he had 5 Tour de France winners in the back of his car! After a pleasurable conversation we parted with our 4 Euros and went in. The farmyard was set out with various stalls with arts and crafts, second hand products, books, paintings, tombola, 'fish the grapes out of the bucket' game, and a food and drinks stall selling quiches, salads, ice cream etc. We got a plate of salad and sat at the tables set out in between the vines to eat (and overheard the resident English contingent discussing how busy they were what with the line dancing classes and art class there was just no time for them to go to their French lessons!). After eating we wandered round the stalls. There was a young English chap there who had set up one of the first free-range pig farms in the Dordogne, raising English pigs and selling English sausages made to a recipe he got from the Heston Blumenthal book (Two shelias take note!). He had a whole pig roasting on the spit for an evening hog roast and was selling sausages and home made pork pies and had already been written about in the French Press, as the English farmer showing the French how to develop the free-range market! Unfortunately as we had our bikes with us we couldn't really try the wine but were offered a proper tour on another day. We cycled off with thoughts of strawberries and cream and Morris dancers floating around our heads!
The following day it was raining and I wanted to buy some wine so we decided to take up the offer of a tour and drove over in the van! I expected a half hour tour and a quick tasting, but no.. we got the full 2 hour tour and explanation of the history of the vineyard (bought by an enthusiastic English IT consultant who invested in setting up his own wine making shop and was now forced to work back in the UK to pay for the investment). The vineyard was going organic and the enthusiasm and commitment from everyone was apparent in every detail. The cuves were spotlessly clean and our guide (the owners father, a former chemist) knew exactly what was in each barrel and at what stage it was at. We then got to taste all the wines. I am no expert but I have to say that they really were well worth what they were selling them for. They are not filtered, use no chemicals in the processing and are made with love and enthusiasm from an Englishman the in the wine growing centre of Duras! I bought quite a bit and I must say I can recommend them as they are available via their online store at not much more than we paid for them in France.
You can find out about them here!
She was probably around 70 years old; dressed unlike any of the the local women in a Hermes shirt, denim skirt, Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses and a pair of dainty stiletto sandals (left by the door). Like all the French neighbours she spent a few minutes on the social niceties before launching into the local gossip. Her topic of the day was Herman, or more pertinently his sheep, which once again had escaped and munched their way through her herb garden. She was vitriolic in her attack, referring to him only by his last name, calling him a cretin, saying that he was more stupid than his sheep and calling him a con which Ian explained as the French equivalent to d*ckhead! I was struggling to keep up with the French at this point as the speed of her attack was increasing and becoming more and more frenzied. I didn't get every word but her next sentence went something like
"well if he thinks he can f*ck with me he's got another thing coming!" (Ian described her of a good example of a French woman who thinks that she is classy enough to swear!)
We left on pleasant terms and made a mental note to make sure that the llama fencing is extra-secure!
We heard from Herman the following day. He had received a visit from the ministry of agriculture asking him to prove that his sheep were tagged and vaccinated and also one from the Gendarme, checking out a complaint that he was working on the black. He suspected that the complainant was Madame Delgrano! Turns out she was also a little cross with him for standing against her in the local election.
This is not a very clear photo but when we were there last I was so fascinated by Madame Delgrano's washing line and the neat row of black thermal vests and long johns that I tried to take a photo!