Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Pat me on the back Mum, I did a good job

Best wishes to you all this festive season.

It is true to say that there are just not enough days between Christmas and the new year and in this retirement mode that Mike and I find ourselves in the hope that we have the days of the week firmly in our grasp is a deluded notion because we don’t, and one of our favourite sayings is …”is it Tuesday”….you really have to be there to appreciate the deep and meaningful reason for asking but basically we have no idea what the day of the week is, let alone the date. We started off our festive season with a trip to the UK with all the fun of the Ferry and the onset of panic attacks when we hit the M27 heading away from the port.

It was Mikes Mum’s 88th birthday and I was not going to miss her two fat ladies day so we kept it a surprise and I think she was truly struck by the unexpected. Hats off to Geoff for keeping the secret alive. We spent a whole day talking, it does not seem possible that we found so much to talk about but we did. Mike brought with him the information he needed to start creating a family tree and Mum was an incredible participant able to explain who was who and why. It has given Mike enough to get started, so we can get Mum to fill in a few gaps on our next trip over.

We spent a day with my Mum, she  has not been well but it was good to see her lively and enthusiastic about her festive agenda, and I was encouraged by her vigour. Thanks to sister Mim for putting us up, feed and water us , star quality.

Maxine had a birthday and as is our need in this family to congregate around a table we did, but   could not miss the opportunity to snap the moment for the sake of posterity. All the siblings on my side of the family have inherited, stuff, from our Belgian family and as this was my first visit to my brother Billies home I was wrapped in a warm coating of good souvenir  surrounded by little nick knacks and objects from my past. The two little choir singers behind my Mum have been in my life all my life and now I am delighted to see them safely reappointed  at my Brother’s home.                                         

 Back home in France and on the party roller coaster, Ann and Graham got us off the starting blocks on Christmas Eve with a fab lunch and a new bunch of people to talk to and get to know, and despite us having just fallen off the boat and collected HOSS from the Kennel we stayed all afternoon and into the evening and guess what, we chatted. 
Christmas evening had us settled in a very baronial dinning room with long views into the lounge with candles, tinsel and festive ambience beyond my capabilities. Ray and Marianne spoilt us with food and drink until we could no more, then tucked us up in bed in their blue room with strong decorational links to our old friend Napoleon, and only my siblings will know where I am coming from on that subject.

We did get around to cooking our Tesco turkey and prepared all the trimmings we just can’t find here in France.  I can boast that within two days the bones were boiled the curry was made and the stock is frozen.  Pat me on the back Mum, I did a good job xx

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Going to be there in the spring….we hope.

I went to my hairdressers on Tuesday and asked her to repeat what she did three months ago but leave it a bit longer at the back but I came out looking like a ITV weather girl wishing my French telepathy skills were more honed and readable. I ended up with the most up to the bar hair style on a frumpy gardeners body, what a disaster. There are some real cultural differences between our two countries and they manifest themselves in so many weird and varied dimensions of life. French people learn to drive never knowing how to approach a round about and have no understanding of the fundamental rules of over talking, Banks believe that your money is theirs and have no intention of  talking to you in human speak or cashing a cheque within fifteen days. Supermarket checkout girls are taught that the quickest customer chuck out routine wins prizes.  A married woman who has gone through all the palaver of changing her name to be with the one she loves then buys the house of their dreams in her maiden name. So back to the hairdresser who believes only she can transform me into a desirable, top fashion,  drop dead gorgeous woman by simply cutting every singe natural curl I own. Angry, not a bit of it  just totally mortified.
We all know that bad things come in threes. I lost one of my favourite leather gloves and Mike knowing how attached I was to them drove back the way we came and I kicked curbs and looked over fences and railings but to no avail and as I got back in the car I mumbled “well that’s the third thing”. Mike questioned my three bad things, and I replied,  bad hair, lost glove and you won’t let me put any Christmas decorations up this year. Mike thought long and hard about my run of Viv type misery and has turned his humbug head and agreed on Christmas decs as long as  I adopt a simple and minimalist approach to the normal tinsel and trash that usually descends on the house when the boxes of decs falls out the loft..

We have installed a temporary coal fire in the lounge for this winter. Mike has become mildly intolerant to wood dust and open fires and this little fire is proving the point that a small heat source is all we need and HOSS is most definitely in agreement. He cooks gently all night adjusting the angles to get an all over tan  and the talk of chickens and walkies does not move him from his basking position.

I had to abandon my last choir concert today when we got news that the chief du port in Dielette was wanting us to go before the storm tonight and check our lines. We dropped every thing and arrived to see snapped rope and very dodgy lashing up by the guy next door trying to keep Beema attached to the pontoon. Mike took some real tough stuff rope and remade all his springs and  mooring lines. She is now trussed up like a Turkey and is looking sad and uncared for but is actually the best trussed boat on our pontoon, and is still going to be there in the spring….we hope.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

a good season ahead.

This is the silly season when it comes to my hobby and fitting in all the concerts is a bit of a challenge. We had a short notice request from the mayor of Carentan to sing for the local children whilst they wait for Father Christmas to arrive. I can’t say we sang well as it was a Wednesday and those of us who work were not able to be there but we had no accompaniment and frankly we were bad but the wonderful thing about  children was that they only had one thing on their minds and choral critique was certainly not one of them so we got away with being weak and unprepared.

Mike’s project that started two weeks ago and should have taken only two days is finally finished, well nearly as there is a bit more concreting to do and we have not had the courage to go out and get another trailer of ballast, so that will be on the list next week. Mike has set himself up out here in the garage but I am not sure for what reason, so stay tuned as I am guessing there is an alterative motif and another hobby is on the cusp of realisation. I have stolen a drawer to put our wood carving tools in ! I sat out there with a cup of coffee and felt an urge to start carving, it is light and airy in the garage and there is a ton of wood to choose from so perhaps this is my place and Mike won’t get a look in.

You know you have mates when they role up one day and pull this load off their pick up. What a treat, I was so excited and I knew exactly where they will go before they off the truck.  We have put them in the poly to protect them from the frost and I will start to plant some stuff to go in them during the winter so they will be all flowered up for Easter….

The Poly is in winter mode now nurturing and protecting our seedlings and cuttings

We popped in to see Sarah and Peter to give them a hand getting their Christmas decs out and whilst there I took some geranium cuttings before Sarah prunes and stores them and now I have a very promising crop of babies. It is a bit late so I have made a poly tunnel in a poly tunnel to protect them and I will have to take great care to keep them strong and happy until the spring.  There is as much to do through the winter months as there is in summer but it is as important for the preparation of a good season ahead.