Monday, 27 July 2009

A French wedding

We had a very quick trip to France at the weekend to attend the wedding of Ian's friends Jacques-Paul and Madeline. Ian had only ever been to one wedding before in France and I had never been so it was a new experience for us.

We arrived at our hotel after lunch and checked in. We settled down to watch the penultimate stage of the Tour de France from the bed, showering and changing in the ad breaks. It was probably the most crucial stage but the Mairie was calling us and we could not be late so reluctantly we left half an hour before the end to make our way to Jacques-Paul's village. We arrived at his house just in time to join them in their 100 metre walk to the Mairie.

There was only room for about 20 people in the room so most of us stood outside while the Maire conducted the official ceremony and then we all escorted the couple back to their house.
After the signing of the papers (very important in France) the children appeared with carrier bags full of confetti, which they proceeded to throw over everything, with great relish, leaving a carpet of coloured paper all over the pavement.
There then followed something called a 'vin d'honneur', where we had champagne, sangria, brioche and sort of sweet chou pastry buns. This went on for about 2 hours with no drying up of the bar and then in true French fashion those that were invited to the meal got in their cars and drove to the 'Salle de fetes' (village hall) 4 km away. Well they had to drive since most were too drunk to walk!

There was then more drink and a few snacks and then a bit of a hiatus in the proceedings due to the non-arrival of the caterer with all the food! We never did find out what happened but when he eventually arrived at 10.00pm we were all relieved. A 5 course meal commenced with each course interspersed by dancing. Most people danced themselves sober. Unfortunately we let the side down and had to give up and return to the hotel before the cheese course at 2.30 a.m! Desert and cake were still to come!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

There in spirit

I followed the stage of the Tour de France on television while my brother and sister-in--law watched it from the roadside. Although you get all the atmosphere and excitement when you watch it live you also have to stand still for ages, you see them go by in a few seconds and then its all over! So, my brother had to resort to text messages to find out the situation. Here is what we said to each other.

Last night
Lovely: Hope u r out there writing Bradley Wiggin's name on the road 4 when he comes by 2morrow as he is third overall.

Lovely's brother: Will write it just below Lovely, will be in Chinaillon village to see it.

This afternoon:
Lovely's brother: We are at the top of the Col (de la Columbiere).

Lovely: They are 40k away. Brad Wig still there but they will try and shake him off. P.S. Am watching live!

Lovely: Brad holding on

Lovely's brother: Who's ahead? We are on the right on a small slope 30ft from the peak.

Lovely: Changing all the time. They have dropped Wiggins.

Lovely: Contador. Sclecksx2 (they are brothers) and Kloden. Wigs trying 2 get back with Armstrong.

Lovely's brother: How far? Jude (sister in law) needs the loo!

Lovely: 30 mins

Lovely: Heading down 2wards the final climb. Wave!

Lovely: If Brad Wig is not too far behind at top he could make up time in time trial 2morrow.

Lovely's brother: Lot of support 4 him here

Lovely: Sarkosy was at the finish

Lovely's brother: He's a knob, who won and where was Wig?

Lovely: Schlek. Wig 3 minutes down. May pick up more time 2morrow. Armstrong did well.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009


Someone sent me this at work today which made me smile!

I don't know where it originates from so can't credit the maker I'm afraid!

Wish I was there

I have been watching the Tour de France every evening and have been delighted to see that Bradley Wiggins is doing so well; being in third place overall and with a pretty good chance of placing in the top three by Paris. I have also become a 'fan' of Lance Armstrong on facebook. Well, I have been a 'fan' for years as it was the story of his heroic recovery from testicular cancer that gave me hope that I would get some kind of life back when I was ill myself. OK, my illness has no 'cure' as such but is controlled. Tomorrow is the longest and hardest stage of the Tour this year goes from Bourg-Saint-Maurice to Le Grand-Bornand and, as you can see from the profile picture below, is a rather mountainous route!

However one thing that I am deeply disappointed about is that I could have been there at the end! The peleton pass by the front door of my brother's chalet on their way down from the Col de la Columbiere, the final climb. I cycled up it two years ago, a year after my illness. It was the first time I had really tested my body and although it hurt like hell and I had to stop a lot I am pleased to say that I got there in the end and have the picture to prove it! We went up the easy route however! The tour is going up the other side which is steeper and more twisty! Good luck Bradley!

Monday, 20 July 2009

All jammed out

I have rather neglected blogging over the past few days in favour of fruit picking and jam making. This year my blackcurrants and redcurrants were even more prolific than last year and I could leave the picking no longer. So.. last weekend I picked the blackcurrants and this weekend the redcurrants (3 hours to pick all the redcurrants!)

I have been trying to empty out my freezer so I can defrost it and I still had some of last years fruit in there. Not wishing to add more from this year I started on a bumper jam making extravaganza that ended up requiring 4 trips to Lakeland to buy more jars and lids, as many trips to the supermarket to buy sugar. The result so far is 42 jars of jam. I have jellies and jams of both flavours and now have to think of something to do with the stuff as it is beyond my needs! (I still have 2 kg of redcurrants to use up!)

This is just four of the 42!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

All in a days work

One of my colleagues has the flu. No one says it is swine flu but then in July it's the only kind of flu likely to be going around. She feels a bit ill but seems to be recovering fast and so should be able to enjoy the end of the week at home as she has been signed off work until next Monday!

Ian has been working hard in France; mostly nagging the builder and other people to give him quotes. He has however plumbed in a temporary shower and toilet so we will not have to resort to going to the neighbours for our daily wash!

I have been enjoying watching Mark Cavendish win his forth stage of the Tour de France!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Past catches up with me

I posted earlier about our family reunion. My second cousin and I are the same age (a complicated state of affairs!) and as children we used to play together. My cousin was about 15 years older than me so when we were about 5-6 he was around 20 and apparently liked to try to impress his girlfriends. Now I don't really remember this bit but he didn't deny it so I assume it was true! At our reunion he had some old photos from those times which thanks to the wonders of modern technology (a scanner) and clever people (his young employees) I can now publish for posterity


This is me (on the right), my second cousin and my cousin. What better way to get a woman than to show your caring side either by taking your dog for a walk in the park or taking your young cousins out for the day! Here we are at London Zoo. It obviously worked as there are not one but two lovely ladies!

Finally here is a picture of my second cousin and me looking delightful!

Sunday, 12 July 2009

A little bit of France in England

I'm a little fed up at the moment as Ian has gone to France and I don't have anymore holiday left so on this occasion I can't join him. Having a weekend to myself is always a bit of a double-edged sword these days as although I relish the time to get on with jobs and things in the house the lack of company means that I am less productive than I should be!

Anyway, yesterday I attempted to make jam from last years blackcurrants and redcurrants before picking this year's crop. The rain gave me a good excuse not go outside and the Tour de France gave me another excuse to relax in the afternoon! However, today the sun shone. One thing about living by the sea is that you hardely ever go there and as it was a nice day and I had heard there was a French market on the seafront, I decided to go. I thought that somehow going to a French market would make me feel almost like I was in France! When I got there I found there were more treats in store as it was the annual 999 rescue show! This, according to the website promised:
" a fantastic array of emergency service displays including the HM Coastguard, RNLI, Ambulance service, Fire and Rescue and the Police Service.."

Also there were representatives from the French Gendarme which made me feel a little closer to France!

Unfortunately the promised demonstration by the RNLI had to be postponed as they got called out to a real rescue! (Although it was quite sunny there was a strong wind and the sea was a little choppy!

The French market proved to be about as French as the cheese section at Tesco! This stall selling sausages (along with a couple of cheese sellers with dodgy French accents) was about the most French and they competed alongside a fudge stall, a pick and mix sweet stall, a stall selling African looking Kaftans and a man selling Greek pastries!

The town itself has tried hard to rid itself of its Costa Geriatrica image in recent times and there was some evidence to that effect. Note the advertising potential..

and row of Mediterranean looking sunbeds (but without the Mediterranean bodies on them I'm afraid!)

All in all it was a pleasant day and I enjoyed it more than I have on previous occasions. It's funny how the sun makes everything look good!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Doris Elmer

The family party at the weekend went well and it was good to see people after so many years. When you first see people after a long time you are instantly struck with how much older they look, but this lasts a matter of seconds and then you don't notice it anymore. It just goes to show how little of peoples' appearance is due to their physical features.

After a while we started talking about family parties of old. My aunt May (on this occasion I will use her actual name as she died some time ago) was a real party person. She would cook vol au vonts, cheese and pineapple on sticks, cucumber sandwiches and flans and keep the wine flowing for the adult guests. She would organise party games, sing songs and usually would dress up in fancy dress. (I have a photo somewhere which I will try and work out how to scan and post). She was always accompanied by her friend Doris.

Doris was a family friend. She married her husband Bill during the second world war. They had been married 3 months and he was killed in Normandy. She idolised his memory and never forgot him or remarried despite plenty of prompting from May. My cousin, who knew her better than me recalled that after the war she went to France and found Bills grave. She also found the farm where he died and made friends with the people that lived there. Every year she went over to visit Bills grave. She used to live in Camden Town and when I was working around that way I remember visiting her in her small council flat. Far from leading an isolated and lonely life, she was quite a key person in her community; representing the local senior citizens on various committees and attending many local clubs and groups.

After she died her friends asked my cousin what they should do with her ashes and he immediately suggested that they be scattered over Bill's grave in France. As far as I know getting official permission to do this was getting complicated so they just went over and did it anyway without permission!

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Summer is here

I know that summer is really here when the Tour de France starts. We have just watched Mark Cavendish win the second stage in a great sprint finish. For the next few weeks my evenings will be governed by the highlights on ITV 4 or Eurosport.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Reunion 2

My second weekend of reunions approaches quickly. My cousin emigrated to Australia 40 years ago. We are not a close extended family and I think the last time we were all together was at my father's funeral 25 years ago. My cousin came for a visit 5 years ago but I was too ill to come and meet everyone. However, this time I have no excuse so we are picking up my mother tomorrow lunchtime and heading off to meet with cousins and second cousins that I haven't seen for a very long time.