Thursday, 27 May 2010

In search of a symbol

We have bought a web domain name for La Ferme and one of the jobs I said I would do is start up a web page and get some marketing material together. I actually think I would have been quite good at marketing had I done that as a career so, as it is something that I quite enjoy it is my job to sort this out. However, whilst I can be creative I am a bit cr*p on the actual skills side! We need a logo for La Ferme. The brief is that it needs to look ok in black and white or colour and fit on the top of the page. I had a few ideas using the outline of the land and the trees but could do no more with it. Enter my neighbour Jon. I have hardly ever spoken to him until recently but it turns out he is a semi-retired graphic artist who specialises in the kind of detailed pen and ink maps that you see in the front of those fantasy fiction books. He has agreed to do the logo for a few sample bottles of the local vino! I have no idea what we will get but whatever it is it will be right!


One of our neighbours in France said to me a while ago that when the time is right to come to France you will know it in your heart and you will have to follow your heart. My heart has been clear that I am going to live in France for several months but it has not been totally sure about when exactly and so although I have been telling everyone that I am leaving soon I have not given my notice in at work in a formal sense. Today my heart became clear. A couple of mildly irritating things happened at work but nothing out of the ordinary. However, this prompted me to think and this time the answer appeared as if a final switch somewhere in the back of my mind had suddenly been turned on. It happened sometime this evening and when I spoke to Ian tonight I told him that I am going to hand in my notice when we get back from France. His heart had also been telling him the same. The only thing I don't know yet is whether I will go at the end of September or October and to decide this we need to have some serious logistical thinking when we are away but the final commitment in my head has been made and I will not go back on it. I am sure I will have plenty of doubts and second thoughts and worries but my heart has decided.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Norma update

I have decided to discontinue Norma's treatment, or at least some of it as I don't think it was making a significiant contribution to her quality of life. She actually seems a bit better and more like her old self although I know now this is likely to just be temporary.

Mad dogs and Englishmen

This weekend I made the most of  being on my own and decided to visit my mother in Windsor. What is it about the sunny weather that turns everyone in this country into short tempered maniacs bordering on the edge of madness? Maybe the sun over stimulates testosterone production and as British men are not accustomed to this surge, rather than spending it drooling over anything in a frock, they seem to feel the need to go into battle mode. Why do engines need to be revved so loudly, wheels made to skid round corners, anyone doing less than 20mph over the speed limit need to be over taken and why oh why do white, flabby winter washed chests need to be bared to the world, only to turn pink in a matter of seconds?

My trip meant I spent a total of 6 hours driving and witnessed plenty of dreadful road use, culminating in a really frightening event on the way home. I was driving along the M25 approaching the Wisely junction, where traffic enters the motorway, when I saw a car parked on the hard shoulder. I was in the second lane and as I got nearer a young bare chested man got out the car and walked to the middle of the inside lane, arms open wide and staring straight into an oncoming lorry. He was shouting at the lorry (not that I could tell what he was saying but I got the distinct feeling that this was the culmunation of a road rage incident). At this point I drove past and could only see the outcome out of my rear view mirror. I don't know whether the man jumped out of the way or the lorry managed to avoid him, but I saw the man clip his shoulder on the lorry but otherwise walk away. This was some relief as I fully expected to see a squashed body on the road and a major pile up behind as the traffic was heavy. I was then stuck with what to do. I couldn't call 999 from my mobile as I don't have a handsfree set. so I drove onto the next turn off, which turned out to be a good 10-15 minutes away. I then couldn't really see anywhere to stop so drove on to the Services. By the time I got there it was too late to do a 999 call and all the Traffic Police were otherwise engaged in directing traffic somewhere so I ended up driving home and reporting it to Kent Police later. No one else had reported the incident and no one had died but it concerned me that someone should get so upset and stressed about something that not only would they endanger themselves but threaten the lives of so many more.

(My mother was pleased to see me by the way!)

Friday, 21 May 2010

A boys' day out

Ian and the digger made it to his friend's house in The Somme in one piece. He breezed through security with just a brief glance at his paperwork and then he was straight onto the shuttle. He decided that he was too tired to drive to the Dordogne today and spent it with his friend. I think really they both needed a day to talk boy talk and admire the digger. I spoke to him tonight..

Me: So what did you do today?
Ian: We were really busy.. We got up and went to Bricomarche (like Wickes) and then we came back and Jean-Paul came over so we went out for lunch...and then we looked at the digger..and then we planned the electrics for Kevin's flats, and then we went over to Jean-Paul's and had some champagne..and now we're back and having something to eat.
Me: Are you p*ssed then?
Ian: Maybe?

I guess this is the boy equivalent of a day out with the girls!

Interestingly the only time we have ever had any problems with security when crossing The Channel was the one time we admitted to having three cans of fire-rated expanding foam filler in the van. It is quite clear that health and safety man is more important than the anti-terrorist squad.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Misty blue

Today it was sunny and I felt the need to see the sea. As our email system at work has been dysfunctional for the past few days I decided to take some marking and go and have some lunch at the Hollywell cafe. At this time of year the sea is still cold and the result of warm air and cool sea is a light rolling mist that sits on the beach and stops 100 metres inland. When I walked down to luch the sea was covered in sparkley diamonds but by the time I had finished my lunch and marked my work it looked like this.

Boys' toys

Ian is now the proud owner of an orange 1.7 ton Kubota digger. We have a lot of ground work to do in France and the quotes we had from the local 'artisans' came to more than we had spent on the walls and roof! Ian searched Ebay and decided that buying a digger would be cheaper, and , as prices seem to be higher in France, we may even make a little profit once we have done with it.

So, today Ian drove the van and trailer up to somewhere near Mansfield and looked at the digger. He liked what he saw and so after a trip to the bank the digger was purchased and loaded onto the trailer. He is now at his sisters in Bedfordshire and tomorrow the digger starts its journey to the Dordogne!

This is a picture of it.

Monday, 17 May 2010

The morning after

Despite Norma's expensive medication (which meant she perked up for a week or two) there is no getting away from the fact that she is a frail, elderly cat at the end of her life. She is still thin, doesn't really seem to know where she is most of the time, can't always recognise things such as her very important food bowl and mostly spends her life asleep. However, the sun appeared on Saturday and she decided to join us in the garden. She walked up to shed, sat in the sun for an hour, followed us around a bit and then settled down for a rest in the evening. By the following day her exertions had taken its toll and she could hardly move from the cat basket. She seemed in pain and yet again I found myself thinking that I was keeping her alive more for my benefit than hers. When I think like that she usually improves for a day or two!

My brother knows all about feeling bad after the previous day's activities. He took part in the Eton
Triathlon with my sister and brother-in-law. This has become an annual competition for them as it is near to home, and close to their respective birthdays. It is the alternative to getting p*ssed on your birthday called wrecking your body in a vain attempt to try and kid yourself that you are still as fit as you were at 25.  My brother ended up getting smashed! He was in an altrication with another bike rider (a friend of the brother-in-law as it happened) and was thrown over the handlebars, breaking his collar bone and doing some nasty soft tissue damage to his hip that meant when he finally left Accident and Emergency at Wexham Park Hospital he was in a wheelchair. Today, with the aid of a concoction of pain killers he can take a few gentle steps and was optomistically hoping that he would be recovered in time for his annual golfing trip to Scotland in June. (I suspect that he won't be, as, being the wrong side of 40, his injuries will take more than a few weeks to heal. I did tell him that if he had been in the Tour de France he would have just had to keep on going!) So, the Birthday supper they had planned was spent in all the luxury that the NHS has to offer. My brother was taken to hospital by ambulance and I assume that they were paramedics provided by the events organiser since they got lost in the way and it took them over an hour to go 5 miles. They went from Eton, to Slough via Reading which as anyone will tell you who knows the area is a 'bloody long way round'. They blamed in on their Sat Nav.. but I am not so sure....!

Finally, I read somewhere that Black and White cats are the least popular and more difficult to find homes for that any other colour. I told this to Mandi as he sat and thought about the meaning of life.

Getting on with things

Another week has gone by and I realise that I have not written anything since last week. Thoughts and ideas for blogging have come and gone, but mostly gone; whisked up in the rush of getting on with things. It is easy how quickly day to day life takes over and you get caught up in the pressure of 'must be getting on with important things' to the extent that I am actually feeeling guilty about spending some time thinking about things and blogging! I must get over it!

It has been a cold May. I still have my heating on and have done for much of the month. The cold winter and late spring has meant that the blossoms and young bulbs have been particularly colourful and have stayed on the trees longer than ususal. As the weather warms up however, they are now falling quickly. The street was strewn with pink blossom on Saturday and the children were scooping it up to play 'brides'. I took my camera into the garden to get a picture of everything before it all goes. I am trying out some new software from Microsoft, called auto-collage. I have been pretty unimpressed with it but I did manage to get it to create this mix of spring flowers.

We spent most of the weekend trying to repair my workshop/shed/ summerhouse thing in the garden, which turned out to be a pig of a job as it seems to have been built with curved walls and probably constructed with the aid of several cans of Special Brew! I also made a lemon pudding, which turned out to be particularly yummy and put paid to my attempts to diet!

Monday, 10 May 2010


I can just about remember the last time that we had a hung parliament.  According to the records it was 36 years ago so at that point I was not old enough to vote, although still had an interest in politics.  I can remember that although there was a lot of discussion not much happened and life carried on. My parents thought that a hung parliament taught the politicians a lesson but in the end was not a good thing as nothing much happened. They did not like the instability and after experiencing a hung parliament and then a Labour government with a small majority I think most people decided that proportional representation was not the way forward. In 1979 Mrs Thatcher and the Conservative party were elected and stayed in power for almost two decades. I remember hating the fact that for 20 years of my adult life I had never lived under a government that I had voted for.

I am now about the age my parents were in 1974. I think the government and parties got what they deserved but I have no illusions that having a hung or 'balanced' parliament (depending on your view) will make any difference what so ever to the state of things. Minority issues will remain just that in the face of the economic crisis. Promises will be put on hold for the future and then never materialise and we will not have proportional representation as if it was put to a referendum in the end the majority would not vote for it. Lets see if I'm right!

An 'arty' weekend

The weekend was fairly routine although it is quite hard to know what a routine weekend is when we are trying to finish off two houses and move to a third in another country. Saturday was spent shopping with a little bit of kitchen fitting in the afternoon but on Sunday we had a day 'off' and went to the Dulwich artists open house event, which is part of the Dulwich festival. The 'open house' in question belongs to a former colleague of Ian's whose wife makes the most wonderful glass beads. Also there was Ian's friend Madeline, who was showing her photographs taken in Nepal. The house was packed, there were demonstrations of bead making and a string quartet playing. I have to say that this is really not Ian's 'cup of tea' at all but he enjoyed talking houses with the owner (who was looking more and more nervous as total strangers wandered around looking at his possessions). I enjoyed being around such creative people and decided, on impulse,  to order a specially commissioned bead necklace. When I have it I will post a picture but in the meantime this is an example of Francesca's work. (Although the one I have ordered consists of a cluster of crimson beads that look like an exploding flame.)

As all exhibitors work for a European agency the afternoon was conducted in a mixture of English, French and Italian.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Duty done

I have already voted. At the last local election I got a postal vote organised and decided to keep it on as more often than not voting on the day is difficult. I made up my mind over the weekend, filled in my ballot paper and eventually worked out what had to go in what envelope. Ian also has a postal vote and so last night he walked down to the post box ans posted them. My duty has been done and I don't feel any guilt now about not taking any interest in the last few frenzied days of the election campaign.

At the weekend I bought a new kitchen for my house as B&Q were doing a 75% discount on the cupboard doors. The flat pack kitchen is now stacked in the spare bedroom awaiting installation!