The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

The ongoing saga of brrrrrrrr!

Following seamlessly on from my previous post, my fuel supplier managed to make it out to my house on Monday to deliver 2,000 litres of heating fuel (despite one of their trucks being out of action and despite it not being possible to go through town because the bridge is out - so kudos to the fuel company for that). When I got home Monday night, I ran downstairs to turn the furnace on and luxuriated briefly in the hot air coming off the radiators before I had to run out to go to sewing club. Got home at 10.30 p.m. and there was no bloody heat!!!! Whaaaaaatttttt???? I ran back downstairs and restarted the furnace and went to bed - and woke up the next morning freeeeezzzing again! What the *!*!*!*!*!!?  So again I got on the phone to my maintenance company who promised to come out the same day. They called later and left a message to say that the fuel guy must have flipped an inlet valve on the fuel tank to the "off" position as no fuel was getting through to the furnace!! Bloody hell. So now I am going to get billed for two call-outs by the maintenance company since neither call-out was for an "emergency" or break down. One bill will be for them to point out that I had no fuel in the tank, and the second because the supply valve had been turned off! Oh well, I honestly don't care at this point as I am just so glad to be warm again (did I mention that it was minus 9°C this morning?)!

Yesterday morning I was talking to my boss. He hasn't been feeling well lately but with two young children at home (five and one), it is never a good time to get sick. He was telling me that he had been ill all weekend and thought his oldest was coming down with the same flu-like symptoms! His kids seem to have been continually sick for the past year, which I guess is probably down to the oldest starting school and the youngest starting day-care, as mom has just gone back to work. Well yesterday he called me from home to say that he had to take off in the afternoon as he had a funeral to go to. I reminded him that he had a meeting scheduled at 15h with visitors from Australia! Oh sh*t! So he had to scramble around to get a colleague to stand in for him at the last minute. Then he gets a call from his wife to say that her car has broken down. She was able to get it to a garage and get herself home but they still needed to work out how to pick the kids up later. So immediately after the funeral he had to dash to the garage to get a car seat out of it. Problem was he was on his scooter. He said it was almost lethal trying to get home on a scooter with a car seat strapped to the back in a howling wind!

And just to keep the brrrrr saga going, the weather here has been below freezing for about a week now. We have a wind that sometimes blows in Geneva called "la bise" - it really howls and makes the wind chill factor pretty unbearable, I have to say. On the positive side, it blows all the clouds away and leaves the lake looking absolutely stunning.

Lake Geneva during the bise
This was taken in front of my office building

Would you like ice with that?
My journey to work involves driving to the border and parking in the P&R, and then hopping on the number 25 bus, which takes me door-to-door. Last night I hopped on the bus but the traffic was awful, (as it was in the morning) because when the bise is blowing the ferry boats across the lake don't run. So commuters who would normally park on the south side of the lake and hop a ferry (usually over to Lausanne), have to take their cars and trudge through town, hence the dreadful traffic.


Again it was blowing a hooley so I was so glad to get on the bus and get a seat. About 30 minutes into the journey a voice comes over the tannoy saying "due to traffic delays, this vehicle will not be going to the P&R but will end it's journey at bus stop "Weber"! Frickin hell! Anyway, I dutifully hopped off the bus a little earlier in order to be able to get either bus number 5 or the next number 25 that came along. I stood with two men and we were all stomping our feet trying to keep the cold out. The one gent had an enormous package and a carrier bag so for him getting on and off rush hour buses was no mean feet. After a couple of minutes the number 5 came along, so the two of us and "Mr Big Parcel" managed to insinuate ourselves onto the crowded bus. Not two minutes later we hear over the tannoy "due to traffic delays, this vehicle will not be going to the P&R but will end its journey at bus stop "Rieu"!  One bloody stop further. You can't make this stuff up. I suppose the only saving grace is that this always seems to happen when it is raining and I will take the bise over freezing rain any day. So the three of us, including Mr Big Parcel, trudged off that bus and stood waiting for the next one, stomping our feet to try to keep warm. At this point you either laugh or cry - thankfully the three of us ended up laughing about it. To be fair the next bus came along in less than 10 minutes and we eventually made it to the park and ride. But have you ever had that feeling where you think "if just one more thing goes wrong ......"


Friday, 13 January 2017

It's Friday 13th - ho bloody ho!

I'm not at all superstitious but I have to say the start to the new year is surpassing itself so far!  My friend, Steve, left on 1st January and when I ran down to the basement just before he left I found that my water heater had started peeing water all over the place and flooding that section of the basement. Bloody hell! I had to take Steve to the airport but before leaving I sent a text message to my son (the plumber - yay me) telling him what had happened. When I got back from the airport Jordan had been over and taken a look at it. It seemed to be a valve problem but since the shops were closed and there was nothing we could do about it until the next day, I had to make do with buckets and frequent trips up and down stairs. Anyway the next day Jordan was able to change the valve and while it still drips (it always did - apparently it is normal for that older kind of boiler), it is now much more manageable. It used to take about a week to fill a bucket with the drips and now I guess it would take about five days so at least it is livable. He was saying though that since I am on my own now, if I want to go ahead and change the heater, I don't need a 300 litre tank, but could get away with a 150 litre tank, so I think I will go with that and have him install it for me later when the weather improves.

Then I get home last night - bearing in mind it has been -6 degrees here and they are forecasting -12 - and I have no heat!!!!  Again bl*****dy hell. I checked to make sure the fuel lines were open and turned it on and off a few times but there was nothing doing. One time a cat must have gotten down in my basement and somehow managed to sit on the fuel tank and flip the fuel supply line to "off", but that wasn't the case this time.

I have a maintenance contract with a very professional local company so I called them immediately and left a message. They called me back at 7 a.m. this morning and the first thing he asked me was if I had fuel in the tanks! Well, of course I do, you moron, I always start the winter season with 2000 litres and when it gets down to about 1000 I order more. Anyway, the guy came out this morning and they called me at work to say that I had indeed run out of fuel (so who's the moron now?)! Well talk about feeling like a bloody idiot. You know the old joke about the woman who goes to the garage complaining about a clunking noise in her car and it turns out there is a golf ball in the trunk! I couldn't understand it as by my reckoning I should still have about 400 litres in the tank (you can't actually see how much is left in the tank). Then I remembered that I had had a leak in the summer and I guess I lost quite a bit more fuel than I thought so the tank was indeed empty. I put in an emergency order this morning but I don't think they will be able to deliver until Tuesday as one of their trucks has had an accident. Thankfully I have a few electric heaters and a paraffin heater so I was ok last night, although I will admit to having what must be the quickest shower in living memory this morning.  Still, what with the heaters and an extremely fetching pair of long johns, I think I will survive until I can get this whole fuel tank/water heater system replaced!


Wednesday, 11 January 2017

The trials and tribulations of being a woman!

Yesterday I had lunch with a group of friends/former colleagues. We have all worked together over the years and as time goes by we, as a group, are passing from "active" to retired colleagues.  I started working with Janet in 1980 when I first came to Geneva and she retired about three years ago, so we go way back. I have to admit we had an awful lot of fun in those days. In fact, we all worked hard but were able to have some great times along the way too. It has always been a very friendly place to work but as time went by and the number of employees more than doubled it has become difficult to maintain that kind of friendly, family atmosphere. Don't get me wrong, it is still a great place to work, though just not as "familial" as it used to be.

Anyway, the girls were asking about my preparations for my son's wedding in July so I was telling them about how I had seen a beautiful dress, how I was definitely going to lose 16 kg (yeah right) and that I was thinking of getting a spray-on tan for the event. I had had one many years ago - oh, about 20 I would guess - and it turned out lovely. It was one of those shower-type salons where you go in there starkers except for your shower hat and then get sprayed on all sides for about 20 seconds. The tan was very subtle as I am not dark skinned and I looked really "healthy" as opposed to tanned. Trouble is, it was quite expensive and only lasted about five days so I didn't bother going back.

I am fair skinned and tend to go from lily white/blue to bright red with freckles then back to whitish/blue. In fact the only time I ever had a decent tan was when I back-packed round Australia for six months so my tan had six months to build up. I tell ya, when I landed back in London on December 14th 1983 (see how I remember the date) in my shorts and t-shirt (freezing my buns off because all my clothes had got soaked in Jakarta), very briefly I was probably the most tanned person at Heathrow Airport! That feeling of smug satisfaction lasted all of about 10 minutes until I got outside in the freezing snow and cold and had to try to fish out something not totally sodden to wear on the journey back to mom and dad's!

Anyway, fast forward to about seven years ago and they opened a new beauty salon directly over the road from work, I decided to give it another shot.  Of course, I was expecting something like the last set-up so I got the shock of my life when she handed me something that looked like a condom, told me to take all my clothes off and "put that on" (the condom - turned out it was a two-inch square of plastic to "cover my modesty"), and "would you mind if Françoise comes along to watch as she is a trainee?"  What!!! Who was going to be watching me looking like a beached whale wearing a condom?  But of course, being a wimp, I said yes. They actually sprayed/sponged me all over with the fake tan, the crowning humiliation of which was when they asked me to lift my boobs (off my knees) so that they could get under there! Oh the shame. I have to admit though that yet again it looked good, but, again, it only lasted about five days.

So when I told the "ladies that lunch" about my plans one of them reminded me of her experience at the same salon. They sprayed her with the fake tan and when she woke up the next morning, instead of a beautiful allover tan she looked like a leopard. Apparently some of the holes in the spray nozzle had been blocked and she ending up covered in polka-dots. I mean, seriously! Of course it's hysterical now but at the time she didn't find it very funny. Another friend was telling us about the time she tried it before going out that same evening (she's a redhead so doesn't tan) and somehow she managed to get covered in what can only be described as "dripping paint". She spent the afternoon locked in her (absent) boss's office trying to scrub herself down to get rid of the drip stains. She said she ended up bright red all over and scratched to hell!

Oh my goodness, that has given me food for thought. I think I might just try one of those gentle sprays you can buy over the counter, just for the bits that you can see. After all, I don't want to end up looking like Ross in that episode of Friends!


Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Finally!

In a bid to become more involved in the local French community, I decided to join two evening sewing clubs. Unfortunately they both meet on a Monday night so I have to alternate between them. One is a club where you can just make anything you want and the ladies will help you out - or like some do, just bring your mending along and have a good natter. I think that's a great idea, it's social, cheap (€40 a year just for the room rental) and who knows, you could actually end up learning something. The other club is much more "serious" and more patchwork oriented, which is something I am really keen to learn. Again in this club, one of the older ladies rarely actually sews anything but just comes along for the natter. I was at the patchwork club last night and while we had snow predicted I was really hoping it wouldn't fall until later as some of the ladies won't go out in the snow. Anyway, I made it and have now almost finished the "pochon" that I am making (kinda fabric bag thingy). I had wanted to finish several of these to put Christmas gifts in for my sons' girlfriends but they never got finished in time. There's always next year I suppose.

This isn't mine - but it is something similar
When we finished up at 10 pm I was just arriving at my village when I thought I noticed something move. We are out in the sticks and there are no lights in the run-up to the village so I slowed right down, and for the first time in nearly 28 years I spotted a deer.


Yes I know everyone knows what a deer looks like but I couldn't resist! And then about 30 seconds later another deer. Luckily there was no-one behind me so I was able to slow right down and admire them. I know to many this might not seem like a biggy, but as I said, I have been in the house almost 28 years, we are in open countryside and have forests all round and I have never spotted a deer. Foxes and even wild boar but never deer (ha, I initially spelled that "bore" and not "boar" - that conjures up a Gary Larson cartoon in my twisted little mind)!

"Wild bore" - image by emfrey
My friend used to get them wandering up to her back garden but us, never. I saw boar coming back from a restaurant one time (I was coming back from the restaurant, not the boar) and my son once saw one running through our back garden but we have never had deer. It was a lovely sight I can tell you.

My ex in-laws lived not far from Pittsburgh airport, and although it was near the airport it was actually quite rural. If we took a particular favourite backroad up to their place we could almost guarantee coming across deer.  Every year we went back after that it seemed like they had stripped more and more of the woodland to build shopping malls and it was not uncommon then to see deer running along the highways dodging traffic. Very sad I thought, as their natural habitat was being destroyed with each year that passed. I suppose it also begs the question how the heck could all these shopping malls make money. I mean, when I lived there I used to drive about 30 minutes to a shopping mall, and in the space of what seemed like 15 years there were new shopping malls springing up every mile or so. Not sure how they could compete to be honest.

Anyway, that was just a by-the-way. Tonight I have my once-a-month patchwork lesson down in a place called Cluses. I have to go straight there from work as it is quite a trek and of course we got snow today so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the roads will be ok. We are in the process of making a patchwork quilt and I am hoping to be able to incorporate into mine three photos taken of my son and his fiancée for their engagement. Apparently you can photocopy a photo onto special fabric and incorporate it into the quilt. Now being a bit of a novice I am going to need help from Lydie, my teacher, but my aim is to get this quilt finished, personalized with their initials and give it to them as a wedding present. Wish me luck, because my sewing output is stupendously low.

On another note, in a bid to lose some weight I have been really good about exercising since the New Year and have exercised every day except one so far but have I lost any weight? Have I heck. I haven't moved an ounce and it is so discouraging. The only positive I suppose is that I have realized how much I actually enjoy exercising. Well, to put it more accurately, I enjoy the way I feel after I have exercised. A bit like banging your head against a brick wall I suppose - it feels great when you stop! As the weather has been great - cold but sunny - I have tried to get outside and walk for an hour at lunchtimes. I have never minded the cold, although the other day it was -6 and with the wind blowing I hate to think what the wind chill factor was. Nevertheless, I conjured up my stiff upper lip, donned four layers of clothing and trudged out at lunchtime.  Trouble is, the cold always makes my nose run. It isn't really the done thing to stop and ask someone to blow your nose for you because you can't bend your elbows is it! Gotta work on Plan B I think.


Thursday, 5 January 2017

And the rest of Christmas

Christmas 2015 was a lovely break. The weather was mild and I got an awful lot done but you know how sometimes when you don't actually do anything fun it seems to feel like less of a break than if you actually let your hair down a bit!  Well this Christmas was definitely different. I had a lovely Christmas Day lunch with my family and a friend. I made rack of lamb and gratin, which turned out pretty well, followed by fruit salad because I find the food over the holidays way, way too heavy. My oldest mentioned that the Irish comedian Dara O'Briain was appearing in Geneva at the end of January so seven of us have booked tickets for that. Dara is hilarious and it will be so nice to go out with my kids so I am really looking forward to it.

Then, as I mentioned yesterday, Steve came out from England for the new year. As he arrived early in the morning we went straight from the airport to Annecy (trying to pack in as much as possible of course). The Christmas market was still on so we had a lovely time, eating tartiflette and wandering round the market and the old town.

(I couldn't get a decent picture of the stands so I have just included a shot of what was the old prison "in the day" as the market takes place all around that area). While it was busy it wasn't heaving so that proved a nice start to his stay.


The next day we headed up to my favourite ski resort of La Clusaz (about 40 minutes from home). Again beautiful weather but no snow. La Clusaz is a medium-sized report and they just don't have the capability to manufacture snow on such a large scale so I hate to think how much money they would be losing. The daily ski lift was €37 and someone mentioned that they could expect 20,000 visitors (per day? per Christmas week?  - I'm not sure) but in any case it must be fairly catastrophic for the lift operators, the seasonal workers, the restaurants etc., not to mention how disappointing it would be to people who had reserved accommodation for the Christmas week. There were a few small groups of ski classes but only for the toddlers as there just wasn't the snow (although the kids looked great all decked out in their ski gear). We decided to take the cable car up to the Plateau de Beauregard which should have been covered in snow but there was none! We had a lovely lunch outside on the terrace and while admittedly our restaurant was packed ... oh my goodness, how much money must they have been losing over the Christmas break!



At the Plateau de Beauregard
I posted yesterday about the lovely time we had on New Year's Eve at Lavey and Evian so on New Year's Day, as we had stayed up till 5 a.m., we decided to spend the day at home slobbing around and putting the world to rights. Since we can both yack for England that wasn't a problem!

For his return flight I had told Steve to book as late a flight as possible just in case we got hammered by snow/traffic. That gave us time to have a wander around Yvoire (a medieval village on the lake) and then a quick lunch in Geneva's old town before I took him off to the airport.

Photo by Matt Rees
There was hardly anything open at Yvoire, of course, but we were still able to have a walk around and a coffee.  Very few shops were open but while everything was pretty, all Christmasy and so on, this lady mannequin caught my eye!


It was kinda scary thinking that if I don't do anything about my weight before my son's wedding I might end up looking like that so now it's time to get serious (to be fair, I have been good so far since returning to work, exercising, walking, gym etc. - so just another 180 days to go then!).

Place du Bourg du Four, old town, Geneva
(not my picture, sorry I can't remember the name of the photographer)

It's Steve's birthday next week and as I was taking down the Christmas cards I had a wonderful idea! Steve and I are both divorced and while we have had relationships both of us are pretty adamant that we will never get married again, nor will we ever live with someone again (I know you can never say "never", but I'm pretty sure "never" means "never")! We both own our own homes and neither of us are of an age to start again or feel inclined to say to another "significant other" during a second divorce "here, take 50% of the home I bought with my own money"! He refers to himself as a king in his own little castle, so I guess that makes me a queen. So after cutting, sticking and pasting (all with my tongue sticking out), I just sent him this birthday card (I had to black out his last name for obvious reasons).  Happy birthday Steve!

The first page of his birthday card!

The inside - hope he likes it!






Wednesday, 4 January 2017

What a magical New Year's Eve!

Do you know how some day's are just diamonds, how some days just seem to work out! Well New Year's Eve was just one of them. It was obviously a good visitor's combination trip because I followed the same route some years ago with my family and we all agreed it was such a great way to celebrate the New Year.

As I mentioned previously, I had a friend over from England for four nights. We met in Peru four years ago and had remained in touch.Steve had even been out to visit me once previously when he was on business in Zurich. Turns out he is still just as much fun as I remember and we had a wonderful time. On top of that, the weather cooperated 100% - though not for the skiers of course, but for we lesser mortals it was just fantastic.

On the morning of 31st we headed out to Lavey-les-Bains which is a hot springs about two hours from here. We took the "scenic route" (although to be honest around here all routes are "scenic", following Lake Geneva on the north side in order to arrive high up above Vevey, Montreux and the Château de Chillon. Again we lucked out as it started out foggy but as we got to the highest point on the motorway the fog started to lift!

Château de Chillon - image by Incotrade
Another 45 minutes and we were at Lavey. It was freezing cold out but the springs, of course, were steaming and sooooooo relaxing. It wasn't too packed considering and at one point I was standing under one of the pressure jets having my back pummelled when I looked at the man next to me and recognized a work colleague with his young son (don't usually see 'em with their clothes off do ya!). We had a chat and he told me that his wife - who is also a colleague - had gone off to Strasbourg with their daughter. Steve and I had been talking about just how you should never assume you won't be caught out if you are having an affair because I mean, what were the chances of me bumping into a colleague (fair, I suppose) but again what were the chances of my standing next to him in the steaming mist of Lavey?  Of course he was there with his son and not his mistress but crikey it's a small world isn't it!

After about three hours we headed off back home via Evian, which is on the south side of Lake Geneva. I knew the "Festival des Flottins" was on but didn't really know much about it, although I knew that Steve would like Evian anyway. Well what a lovely surprise "Les Flottins" was! And here, for your greater delight is their story!

* * *
"Listen, listen! And you will hear.  And if you want to believe, you will believe! Wherever you are... sprinkle a little pixie dust around you and tune in to the sound of fairy bells!

Since the beginning of time, fairy-folk of all kinds from throughout the Alps, including elves, sirens, nymphs, witches, fairies, pixies and hobgoblins, have been washed up on the beach in Evian. From snowfalls to avalanches, from trickling springs to streams to rivers, from small rivers to the majestic Rhone, they are carried along on their driftwood rafts according to the whims of Mother Nature, until they finally reach the banks of Lake Geneva, a magical place where they find rest. These tiny creatures are known as Flottins…”

Every winter, Flottins flock to their village, built entirely from pieces of driftwood washed up by the river. In their bright, cheerful world, these joyful travellers lead a peaceful existence. But one November evening, as Santa Claus set out on a practice flight over Lake Geneva, a squabble between the leading reindeer forced the sleigh into an emergency landing on the water. Panic stations! The inhabitants of the village immediately swam out into the lake to save them and, that very night, they set about building a magnificent cabin from driftwood for their marooned visitors. Since then, Santa Claus pays a visit to his Flottin friends once a year before setting out on his big trip...


* * *

These magical creatures were all over Evian and kids were allowed to climb and play anywhere they wanted.








The whole town was filled with these things and the nearer you got to the casino (which of course was beautifully lit up) the more there were. It was just stunning and I can't even say it was that crowded. After a couple of hours and a few hot drinks in Evian we headed off home to spend New Year's Eve in front of the TV watching comedy shows, eating smoked salmon blinis with a bottle of champagne. As I say, some days are just diamonds!

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Are you a tortoise or a hare?

Things at work have started to calm down now that my meeting is done and dusted. I am now working on another report that has to go to translation in January but at this point we are actually well ahead of the game. Work and traffic is quiet as schools are out and many people have extended their Christmas holidays, so I am actually quite enjoying getting ahead. Christmas is prepared, presents wrapped and I know what I am making on Christmas Day (not turkey for a change, I hate having to make a specific dish for a specific day so I have decided instead to cook rack of lamb plus potato gratin, plus a few other sides). After Christmas I have my friend coming over from England for a few days, so hence the reference to the "tortoise and the hare".

My house has been getting me down as it is pretty cluttered since I seem to be the repository for everyone else's junk, and while I keep it clean it honestly could do with a good scrub. Logic seems to suggest it is better to get rid of stuff and then clean, of course, so I am trying to do a little bit at a time. However, with a 40-hour working week and a minimum daily commute of three hours, as you can imagine I'm not exactly chomping at the bit to start cleaning when I get home from work.  My ex was the kind to throw everything out of a cupboard/room, charge into it and keep going (and yelling at all and sundry) until it was done. The problem with that, of course, was that apart from the fact that the urge to clean didn't come over him too often, being an ex-Marine he used to bark orders at everyone since he seemed to think everyone should pitch in and be "available" and at his command. My feelings are that if I feel like doing something I just get on and do it, that way it is not really a chore for me. Plus I stop when I choose to and just do a bit more another day. I am out on a Monday night so on Tuesdays and Wednesday I have been spending up to an hour each night scrubbing/pitching stuff in the kitchen. UUUUUGGGGHHH you wouldn't believe the state of the extractor fan - you know, on top the bit you can't see unless you are 6ft 8! Yuck! I climbed up a ladder to change a light bulb and could see just how grimy it was, so I spent one hour one night cleaning the top and one hour the next doing the underneath. Then another night would be a specific cupboard and so on, and if I felt like quitting in the middle of it I just did - no-one was there to yell about it. I have the Marie Kondo book on decluttering and while I think she is madder than a bag of rats I have to say I respect some of her methods - it's just that they are not for me. (In any case, someone who has made so much money - presumably - telling people how to declutter can't exactly be that mad can she). So bit by bit I am getting stuff done and in reality it doesn't take that long to see progress.


Other than that, there hasn't been much new here. I went to my son's school the other week to see him pick up his plumbing diploma (so if anyone needs a fully-qualified plumber give me a shout). Glad I made it actually even though it was very low key. What did strike me though was how respectful the young lads (and a few girls) were towards their teachers - it was so nice to see. Jordan will be doing another two years apprenticeship to qualify in heating/air con installation so then we will really be talking (and hopefully making a bit more money, but I am pleased for him all the same).

In other news, the Russian National Ballet are giving a tribute performance of Ravel's Bolero in February here in Geneva so I bought tickets for that. I also enrolled for a one-time evening class on how to put together a vegan buffet, also taking place in February. It's funny really, because as I would like to lose some weight before the wedding in July I have been looking at the Dukan diet and that seems to be strongly based around eating lots of protein/meat - and here am I going on a vegan cookery course! Oh the irony! Here at work quite a few people lost a fair amount of weight on that diet but to be honest most put it back on too. Not sure I can stomach it but I will see how I feel in the new year. I'm also not sure I would be that drawn to a vegan diet either to be honest, but vegetarianism is something that has always interested me. Indeed, I actually gave it a shot a couple of times many years ago, and I have to say I felt wonderful on it - and then went off to England to visit family and screwed up with the "full English breakfast" trap! I might give it some more thought though depending on how motivating I find this course.

Last weekend I got up on Saturday and thought "hey, I don't actually need any shopping, I don't feel like doing anything" so I decided to do bugger all and just lounged about on the sofa all day and read - and you know what, it was great! It is something I have never really allowed myself to do - take a day "just for myself", but in the end who do I have to answer to anyway? Actually slobbing around for a day is fine very occasionally for me, but not something I could do very often as I tend to get ants in my pants. That being said, it was a rare treat - I must remember to do more of it!

So on that note, if I don't post again before Christmas I wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2017.  I had wanted to mention the atrocities in Berlin yesterday but what can anyone say anymore about such barbarity - or about Aleppo (those poor, innocent civilians), or about ...... wherever these monsters work their evil. In fact, I have a colleague/friend who retired to Nice a couple of years ago and she was actually in a beach front restaurant when they killed all those people on Bastille Day. In order to get back to her apartment she had to walk past all the dead and injured - of course the horror is still with her and will most likely remain so forever!

So stay safe and my best wishes to everyone for the new year.