The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Monday, 21 August 2017

More this and that

Not at lot has been going on round here lately. The traffic is starting to pick up as families are heading back home after their holidays and preparing for the new school year. Oh how I used to hate it in England when school would finish towards the end of July and before you knew it the bloody shops would start pushing their "back-to-school" supplies. It seems like we had only just gotten out of school and here we were heading back already! Of course compared to the 10-12 weeks summer break the kids have round here (as compared to - what - 6-7 in England) - we really were almost heading straight back! Later, as a working parent, I came to appreciate how difficult it is to keep the kids occupied during those long school breaks, but at the time it sure didn't seem fair to me!

So what's new? Oh yes I got a call from my youngest son's gf the other night asking if I wanted to come over on Saturday night for dinner to celebrate my oldest son's 30th birthday (you know, the one who just got married). Actually his birthday is on 30 August but both couples seem to be pretty booked up at the weekends so this was one of the few times we were all available. It was a lovely, simple evening and I thoroughly enjoyed it. After we ate, Jen got out a board game called "Cranium" - a new one to me - but actually quite fun. Because three of us (my sons and I) had grown up with a more anglophone culture, we skipped over some of the more difficult French-based questions, but found plenty to keep us going. For instance, I had to get my team mates to say "Mr. Bean" by miming him (got it in one!!!) and another time I had to mime "work interview". I didn't mind this stuff at all, but, for example, the "tooth fairy" in English becomes the "little mouse" in French so we had a few crossed wires mixed in with the giggles. There was also one card where I was blind-folded and I had to get them to say "Mont Blanc" by drawing it. Guess what, I managed it! I drew round my finger on the paper so I knew where I had drawn Lake Geneva (in order to put the Mont Blanc further south) but when I took my blindfold off I have to admit Lake Geneva looked more like a penis (but luckily no-one came up with that one)!

I think I mentioned previously that a few of us are going to host a monthly board game evening and with that in mind I had already bought a few fun games. I bought a new game called "Pie Face" where basically the loser gets "tarted" with whipped cream! I had to nag my sons into playing and I so wish I could figure out how to put the video on here as the video of the two of them playing and roaring laughing when the eldest got hit in the face with the cream was great. Something else to figure out I suppose. But it was great fun - oh and I got "tarted" too, by the way!

André knows already that Jordan is too good for him!
André's response to getting "tarted" - hey, I like this game (slurp, slurp)!

On the Sunday, I had spotted a vide-grenier taking place at a place called Thorens-Glières. It had been ages since I had been up there so a friend and I took a trip out there. For once I didn't buy anything (except a huge hamburger) but she did quite well with a lovely bag, bracelet and tiny, leather slippers for her great nephew. Very pretty.
 
Thorens
During the second World War, there was a huge battle between the occupying Germans and the French resistance on top of the Plâteau de Glières, so I think I might take a run up there next weekend to re-visit the museum, time and weather permitting, of course.

On the way back, my friend asked if I would stop at the little church called La Benite Fontaine (the Blessed Fountain) so she could fill up a couple of water bottles of spring water/holy water. I don't know that it is really holy water, but it is certainly untreated mountain spring water and she, very touchingly, wanted to get some water for her beloved labrador who, we suspect, is on his last legs. She knows the time is coming but thought a little "help from God" wouldn't do him any harm either would it.

A little shrine at La Benite

One elderly lady was there filling up about 10 bottles with the water and I asked her if it was good - she said "well it's natural spring water and I'm not doing so badly on it am I" as she trudged back up the hillside with her two carrier bags full of bottled water.

"Thank you" plaques addressed to the Virgin Mary

At the spring
It's actually a lovely spot to picnic too!
Church of La Benite Fontaine
France is a Catholic country and I'm not Catholic - but you can't beat a beautiful church in my opinion!


Wednesday, 16 August 2017

I was in a really good mood until .....

The temperature here dropped quite a bit last week, much to my relief. I really don't "do" heat - I mean, if it is cold you can always get warmer by moving, can't you, but getting out of the heat can sometimes be difficult, to say the least. So any puny exercise regime I might kid myself I am following soon falls by the wayside once the summer hits. In the spring I had gotten into a fairly regular routine of walking either to work or at lunchtime and going to the gym, but once the temperature gets up into the 30s and above (around June) I just can't cope with it. I failed miserably in my attempt to lose weight in time for my son's wedding in July. Oh, I absolutely did lose about 10 lbs but probably put 8 back on so not much cheer there. Anyway, with last week being a bit cooler I did manage to exercise five times in all, and I know I've said this before, but I always feel so good when I do this. Beats me why I ever quit of course, but if anyone knows where you can buy bottled motivation or willpower please let me know.

For today, at least, I am on track though, as I got off the bus and walked 30 minutes this morning and plodded my way round a pitifully hot Botanical Gardens at lunch time, so I will be well over my 10,000 steps today. And it is such a lovely walk - well I have three lunchtime routes in fact. The first is to the Mont Blanc bridge and back (all on the flat). The second is three times round the Botanical Gardens (which includes a slight uphill part), and the third is up to the US mission, which is perched on top of a hill and which, though I huff and puff all the way to the top, I am actually beginning to find easier with every attempt I make.

As it was so hot I decided to take my time today and take photos (well that's my excuse). I made it three times round the circuit nevertheless, but crikey - was I sweating!

Kiddies' carousel in the Gardens
UN Beach
I had lunch at the UN beach restaurant that you can see in the distance with a friend last week - it's been ages since I have eaten there and it really feels like you are on holiday when you eat there.


I loved this tree (being chased by a pterodactyl?) but couldn't get the whole tree in - the trunk was beautiful.


Young goats play fighting - very cute!


This walk takes me about 45 minutes, which gives me 15 minutes to get back to work and into the shower. But .... and here's the bit that pissed me off, I had gone up to one of the shower rooms away from the main exercise rooms since they get quite crowded at lunchtime. I was the first in and left my clothes on one of the 10 clothes pegs in that room - a room which has only one shower. When I got back from my walk though, I saw that my clothes had been moved out of the shower room and into the general toilet area - frankly that is a no-no to me since there were nine other places to hang your clothes up other than mine. The shower was already running when I got there so I waited .... and waited .... and waited .... and - you get the idea. In the end, I timed it and the person in the shower actually had the water running for 20 minutes after I had got there. Bloody hell! I don't take 30 minute showers at home and can be in and out in five minutes, so what she was doing for well over 20 minutes is beyond me - assuming she doesn't work down a coal mine - which she doesn't. Well eventually the shower stopped and I thought "oh goody, I can get in there in a minute"! But no, another 15 minutes to huff and puff and get herself dry and whatever else she was doing. For me this is just not on when there is only one shower and we have 60 minutes for lunch. So after 30 minutes she finally came out and when she saw me said "oh I moved your stuff outside in case you wanted to go to another shower room". I pointed out that no, I really wanted to use this one since this is where I left my stuff so please don't move it in future (I may also have muttered something about "keeping the bloody shower short and sweet in future too", but I can't be sure!!!) Hell I was ticked off but you know what, in the end, I figured hey there are more important things to get mad about and having to wait 30 minutes for a shower is really just a first world problem isn't it. So all's well, I'm back "in the zone", but jeepers you should see my frizzy hair!

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Creativity!

I'm not in the slightest bit artistic or creative. That's not false modesty - it's just the truth. I can and do enjoy learning crafts but as a "self-starter" - well that's just not me. You know when people are creative because it's just there from an early age and for me that wasn't the case. Oh don't get me wrong, as I am getting more and more free time to myself, I am thoroughly enjoying taking patchwork lessons, cookery lessons and so on, but it doesn't come naturally or easily. I take that back - I actually can cook and enjoy it - the lessons are more about discovering different cuisines and ingredients.

I recently discovered a small haberdashery store not too far from home where they offer patchwork lessons pretty much any time, including Saturday mornings. They also offer knitting lessons and I would love to do that later, when I am retired. I have this thing about making myself a beautiful pair of woolen socks some day. Who knows, that may well happen. In fact my mom was a beautiful knitter - she could and would knit anything up until she was almost 80 years of age, when her eyesight started to fail her. Of course, with that generation it was often of necessity. I remember her unraveling old sweaters and knitting them back up as "new" (oh my aching arms - having to hold them both out so that she could wrap the wool around them). In fact, about five years ago my childhood friend, Ian, decided he had had enough of England and just upped sticks and went off to Bulgaria to live with no fall back plan (note, he's still there and loving it)! When my ex left me in 2010 Ian invited me out to Bulgaria to meet up. Now his father had died at the age of 40 leaving his mom a widow with five young children to support so money was tight! We laughed so much on that holiday about "the old times", but one of the funniest things I remember him saying was that you always knew what you would be getting for Christmas because your mom would be knitting away and all of a sudden she would say "stand up and put your arms out"! And he was right¨

Anyway, where was I going with this ramble? Oh yes, creativity. I think I mentioned in a blog post about my son's wedding that one of his closest friends showed up in a bright orange suit - I mean, really garish - and his brother showed up in a matching canary yellow suit because "they said not to wear black or white"! I have a pretty wacky sense of humour so I loved it.


See if you can pick them out!
My youngest son tells me all the women love S because he is like a great, big, red-haired teddy bear - and he's right. He is a lovely person and a very talented wrought-iron worker - now working for himself.  Well my external balcony has been badly in need of some TLC for quite some time - in fact, the mason started dismantling the balcony and working on the cement part of it just yesterday. Quite by coincidence, S called me and said could he come over last night with his ideas for my balcony and the side gate I want to put in.  We had already talked about what I want and he came over with his initial sketches - which I loved!

This will be what my wrought-iron balcony will look like (he is going to give me a white cow with black spots on the left (sorry, I'm not good with "breeds") and the one on the right will have brown spots - the one chewing the grass). And when I asked him "where are my rats?", he is now going to add a couple of rats running along the handrail! I should explain my home backs on to a dairy farm so this for me was just so spot on (yeah, I know I'm nuts!)

For the side gate he came up with this:

I'm not too sure about the cat on the right (he's green) so I am thinking of having him take a look at the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland (oh, and he's going to add in a couple of hedgehogs too). I can't wait!

Cheshire Cat - from Alice in Wonderland
I love it! I love bright colours and I love "wacky". I know it might not appeal to everyone but hey .... one of the great joys of paying all your own bills is that you get to choose everything right?

On an only somewhat similar note, I watched a lovely documentary the other night celebrating comedian Billy Connolly's birthday where they had invited three different artists to create pictures of Billy, which would eventually be displayed in the art museum but also on buildings around Glasgow, to celebrate one of Glasgow's favourite lads! The young lady who created the really wacky (as you can see, I love that word) portrait of him took her inspiration from his various - often "potty humour" - jokes and I think she really managed to capture the very spirit of him.  All three were wonderful (as is Billy), but wow, what talent!




And finally, I also saw Grayson Perry on TV the other night. He is a (happily married) artist who just happens to be a transvestite. "Odd" I guess is the way he might be described, or more likely "outrageous" but what came over so strongly in this programme was what an intensely funny and interesting man he is. I'm not sure that his art appeals to me, but his unconventional side certainly does!

Grayson Perry (left) and his wife!




Monday, 31 July 2017

Memories of a lovely day!

My son and his wife are back from their honeymoon and started back at work today (berrrrkkkkk!!! is how he put it). But they had a wonderful honeymoon in Croatia (in the Split region), which makes me think a long weekend in Croatia could be in my stars too.

Back to the wedding, I really can't believe how perfectly everything went. Even the weather, which threatened rain off and on, remained perfect all day (if a little too hot and humid, but I'm not complaining).  The setting for the ceremony was a lovely place called La Médicée, a kind of old mansion house which had been renovated but had retained its oldy-worldy charm. I have rummaged around for photos but can't actually find any that do it justice. I think what I really loved about the place was that it was "rustic" rather than pristine, with wild flowers blooming everywhere, in addition to the pots and pots of cultivated plants.

My sons are both in the same band and although there is a four-year age difference, they have many friends in common. The "mates" were just starting to show up as we got there and I had to laugh when I saw Sylvain, the rather gorgeous young red-head who is going to be re-doing my balcony soon. He is a "mate" and had decided to wear a bright, bright orange suit with matching hat - I mean it literally hurt your eyes to look at him in the sunlight - and a young man (who turned out to be Sylvain's brother - I should have known), was in a matching outfit but in canary yellow! What a sight those two were! I went up to say hallo and complimented them on their "discreet little outfits" - to which they both just grinned and said "well they said no black or white"! And you know what, I loved it - just my kind of humour. The young people all looked very handsome though all dressed up - which is not something I often see with that lot.

On to the wedding, I have to say the ceremony was just fabulous, even though I was having to try to give a running commentary to my family as the main part of the ceremony was in French - although where possible people took it in turns to speak in either English or French. The basic gist of the ceremony was that "while people seemed to think that André and Lily met in 2006, they were wrong. They actually met around 400 years B.C.! You see, in those days there were "men", "women" and "androids" - beings made up of a male and a female half joined together at the back, but having two heads, four arms, four legs and two bodies. Sadly, over time it seemed that these androids became vain and started thinking they were more important than God, so Zeus became angry, took his sword and split them down the middle, forever to wander the earth looking for their other half. Now Aristotle had this theory - that somewhere in the future it would be possible for these androids to find their other halves - so taking the time machine (that he very handily happened to have available to him), and plugging in the GPS, he time-warped himself to Geneva in 2006, to the Academie de Langues et de Commerce, where he passed himself off as both a janitor and a professor of Greek history at the same time! Well one day he was busy painting the walls (in his janitor capacity) when André happened to glance over and spot Lily, at which point Aristotle shouted "eureka (side note: I know that was Archimedes but it was a commonly used expression in ancient Greece) and he realized that André and Lily had indeed found their other halves". So he had managed to prove his theory you see!

I tell you, the lady celebrant made this such a fun story that everyone was giggling. She then went on to re-enact André getting down on one knee to propose last September and the completely unaware Lily thinking he was stopping to tie his laces! As I said, the ceremony was lovely. I think I may have mentioned before that Lily's mom is originally from Korea but came to Switzerland at the age of eight. There were a couple of sweet "nods" to mom's Korean culture during the ceremony, but one that moved us all was that they had tied cards to the nearest tree with the names of loved ones who were no longer with us physically but who were there in spirit! At the end of the ceremony they bowed to each other, bowed to their guests and then bowed to the lost loved ones!


Both dads were blubbing their eyes out but somehow Lily's mom and I just looked at each other and rolled our eyes!



After an initial apéritif, which allowed the photographer to work his magic (the photos above are just ipad photos) we went in to the beautiful hall, wonderfully decorated, and were served a really good five-course meal. I think the caterers might have been recommended by la Médicée but in any case they were excellent. After that there were a few games and the dancing started at around midnight. At this point we old foggies were getting tired so we left around 1 a.m. I understand they partied on until 5 a.m. so there were a few bleary eyes the next morning but hey - as long as no-one was driving who cares.

The next day André and Lily had organized a light brunch for anyone who had stayed overnight in hotels in the local area (I drove my family home but we came back again the next day).  It was again scorching hot and difficult to get out of the sun, but it was nice to see the mates all turn up again on so little sleep.


My family and I ended up sitting on the same table as my ex and his new gf but actually it was all right. Everyone was polite and chatted so I am so glad it went well. He had phoned me on the Monday night to see if "we" wanted to go out for a drink with them but I just said I would rather not, but that I would see him at the wedding. Phew, thank God that bit went without a hitch!

The photographer was a young Englishman (now a friend) who the kids had flown out from England and who they put up at their apartment. He is going to make them a website (I can't wait) but as it isn't ready I thought I would post a couple of his lovely photos. Oh, and it had been one of his dreams to do a photoshoot in the Swiss alps (although with the French alps right there I wonder why not do it there - maybe he hadn't heard as much about the French alps). Anyway, on the Saturday the three of them drove up to Zermatt, caught the little train up to the village, then the rack railway up to Riffelsee and hiked round to the most beautiful vantage point for taking pictures of the Matterhorn. They caught Lily unawares as she was changing back into her wedding dress though - ha! Another one for the album!



Photo by Ap-Art Photography

Photo by Ap-Art Photography



Thursday, 27 July 2017

La suite!

After the hectic weekend, I had a day to myself on the Monday before my family arrived from the UK for the wedding. I had looked into getting a spray on tan just for the event but in the end was too lazy / cheap / tired and decided to "do-it-myself"! Well what a mistake that was. I should know from previous attempts that it takes time and skill to get it looking half-way decent and I have to admit even I was shocked when I realized how "streaky" I ended up looking. It was only my legs in any case as I didn't care about the rest but .... good Lord what a mess! So much so, that I actually went to the dermatologist yesterday lunch time on another matter and he took one look at my legs and just laughed! Oh well, as I was already telling myself about my lack of weight loss, "nobody is looking at you anyway"! But darn it!

Which brings to mind another "roaring success of mine". My family arrived on the Tuesday and as I was showing my sister and her husband up to the attic bedroom they both turned to me and said "what is that smell? It smells like sh""t"! And yes, you've guess it, it was indeed me! You see, I had been getting bitten to pieces by mozzies (as I always do) and couldn't find my usual insect repellent so I smothered on some other mozzie stuff (at least it had a picture of a mozzie on the bottle) that I found in the bathroom drawer. I have to admit I thought it was a bit "different" and definitely very pongy but hey ho, needs must. Well when we trudged back downstairs I picked up the bottle and having taken the time to actually read the instructions this time, I found out it was some kind of "liquid moth ball", i.e. you put a small cap full of it in your washing to repel moths. I had smothered the bloody stuff all over me and reeked of camphor! Even more embarrassingly, I had done the same thing on Sunday when I had been invited over to my neighbours for lunch - I wondered why no one wanted to sit next to me! Lordy, lordy, as they say, "you can take the girl out the country but ......."!

Anyway, getting back to the subject, on our first full day "pre-wedding" I took my family up to a lovely little village called Les Lindarets. Now the locals here are obviously very smart because they took what is basically just your small, ordinary alpine village - and allow their goats to run free, and then sell goat feed to the tourists who drive up there in their droves - all to see the goats!!! Smart eh! So my sister and I went into a gift shop (which actually had an older goat and a kid wandering round inside it) and bought three bags of goat treats. I then handed them to my brother-in-law outside the shop (knowing full well what would happen) and we sat back and watched!


The goats were actually OK as long as you didn't get the whole herd crowding round you, but they really were funny.  After that we went back down the usual "touristy" route, past a lovely lake called le Lac de Montriond and on to the waterfall and horse-shoe gorge which form the basis of my usual visitor pit stops.

Lac de Montriond

Cascade de Rouget
On the day of the wedding we had time in the morning for a wander round the local market. It is much bigger than my usual Saturday morning market and I really regret not being able to make it there throughout the year - oh well, retirement will come soon enough I suppose.


And then we were off to the wedding. I knew my way all the way to the motorway exit but got lost after that (so much for GPS eh). Thankfully, we bumped into the local postie who was able to direct us right to the front door. Thank God!!! I couldn't even imagine what it would be like to be late for my own son's wedding!  (Note, the photographer is currently putting together his beautiful photos into a website so I will share more on that next time - but of course the photos are beautiful)!

On the Friday we had a simple brunch with any of the stragglers that were left behind from the wedding (many had either partied all night or had booked hotels nearby). There is a lovely bridge about 10 minutes from the wedding venue that I knew would be a nice spot for my family to see so we tootled up there after lunch. It is called Pont de l'Abîme (bridge over the abyss) and it really is quite spectacular, but of course it was hard to capture the height when looking down so I took one of the billboard photos to give you an idea.

Pont de l'Abîme
Then on the evening my neighbours invited us all round for an aperitif. These were the neighbours who had kept my second son after he was born and I went back to work and they are like second parents to him. I had taken their daughter home to England with me when I was on maternity leave and - get this - both couples (the neighbours and my sister and her husband) had got married on exactly the same day over 40 years ago! The weird thing is, I know these two couples would probably end up being really good friends if they (a) lived in the same country, and (b) spoke each other's language! As it was, I was interpreter-in-chief but it was still a lovely way to end our day.

Their last free day before returning home was the Saturday so we did our usual "Lac des Confins, La Clusaz, Annecy" run but you know what - I never tire of it and neither do my family. I posted a picture of Lac des Confins when my brother was over in May, but this time we were lucky in that the cable cars were running so we were able to zoom up to the Plâteau de Beauregard for lunch, then back down to La Clusaz, and back through Annecy before heading home.
La Clusaz
We had planned to go down to a local village fête to round off our day but the heavens decided not to cooperate and we knocked that on the head. Instead, we decided to go up to my friend, Stan's, little bar for a pizza and a natter, and yet again my family were delighted by what a congenial little place it is. Oh, and get this, I mentioned before that Stan's youngest (my son's growing-up buddy) is a professional rugby player. Well guess who got to take a selfie with Ronaldo last week - yep - that's Daniel in the middle with his medal!


Daniel's a talented rugby player but, more importantly, a lovely young man (as are all Stan's children - he must be doing something right)!

And finally, on a slightly sour note, on the Sunday night after my family had left, I was watching TV when I thought I heard yelling. When I muted the TV I realized that there was major yelling going on outside, so I went out to look.  A young man was up at one of my neighbour's living room windows yelling and screaming vile names, presumably at the daughter of the house. He then started throwing his skateboard at the window and yelling at her to come out. The daughter is around 28, I would say, and lives with her boyfriend. I assumed this was the bf and that they had split up, but in fact it turned out that he was a long-ago boyfriend against whom she had a restraining order and this was the second time he had violated it. By the time I got out there, three other neighbours had showed up, as well as her father and the police arrived several minutes later, by which time the young man had disappeared. It was very unsettling for me though, as it triggered awful memories of lying in bed waiting for my ex to stumble home drunk and not knowing what kind of mood he would be in, or indeed if the temper tantrums and throwing stuff around fits would erupt. I'm glad for this young girl that she is away from him and hope that the police take it further. I'm also soooooo glad that I don't have to live that kind of life any more. But what a dreadful trigger!!!


Wednesday, 26 July 2017

What a week that was!





My goodness, I was expecting to be busy last week but I think even I underestimated just how busy! That being said, I have to say it was just the perfect week. It's so lovely when everything goes even better than planned isn't it.

On the first Saturday I was off I went down to Chambéry, which is about 80 km from here, for the wedding of a dear friend. Marilyn and Philippe already lived in our little neighbourhood when we moved in - in fact Marilyn was heavily pregnant with Maddie as we moved in - and with both Marilyn and my ex being American we instantly hit it off - it was nice to speak English sometimes. In fact, our kids pretty much grew up together and many a happy day was spent skiing and then enjoying the après-ski!


I think my youngest was just a baby when I took this picture, hence he isn't in it!

Well time marches on, Marilyn and Philippe moved down to Chambéry and then on to the States. The kids grew up, we grew old and sadly Philippe became ill and died suddenly last year. So it was a somewhat bitter-sweet day when his daughter, Madeleine, got married here in France, although Marilyn made sure Philippe's presence was felt everywhere.


Madeleine and Yousaf got married earlier this year in a civil ceremony in Gibraltar and then had another celebration in the lovely Château de Candie just outside Chambéry. And how beautiful they were. This really was a "United Nations" wedding though as Yousaf's father is Pakistani, his mom is Colombian and they live in Dubai! Madeleine's dad was French and her mother is American - so I would say we had many bases covered there wouldn't you! And it really was a lovely mixture of people - all very friendly and welcoming.

Oh, and one of the things that tickled me was as part of the favours there was a bar of yack's milk, a fridge magnet from Colombia, and this lovely little tuk-tuk from Pakistan - isn't it sweet! It was so good to see them all again, and see what lovely kids they turned out to be - but more especially to re-connect with Marilyn again after all these years!




I stayed till 1 a.m. (lasting on just one glass of wine as I had to drive) and got home around 2.30 a.m. on the Sunday morning.

Then the next day my neighbour had invited a group of us over to lunch, as a kind of semi-annual get together of old friends and former neighbours. Thankfully I had had the forethought to make something to take round beforehand as I was pretty tired that morning, I have to say. I knew there was the little granddaughter from next door going also so I made sure to take a couple of games I had just bought to keep her (and the adults as it turned out) occupied. Ker-plunk was a big hit!  In fact, a group of us have decided to get together once a month for a board game evening, so I have been buying games which I have fond memories of from my childhood, as well as new games that have recently come out (Pie Face anyone) and of course new sets of playing cards. I have wonderful memories of playing Tarot and Belote (sp?) as a singleton, as well as Uno, so I'm hoping these evenings really take off!

More to follow - it really was a heck of a week!

Lunch with the neighbours
Ker-plunking!
Hunting for grasshoppers!




Monday, 24 July 2017

Perfect!!!

Everything went absolutely perfectly for the wedding! I still can't believe it.  More to follow!

In front of the Matterhorn - photo by Ap-Art Photography
On cloud nine! Photo by Ap-Art Photography



Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Phew!

I got it finished. By "it", I mean the quilt I decided to make for my son's wedding in a fit of insanity (wedding is next week). By "insanity" I mean, if you have never made a quilt before why would you suddenly decide to make one for your son's wedding? Which implies (a) a deadline, and (b) it can't just be "n'importe quoi" - I mean, it should be reasonably well done right? I must be nuts.

Anyway, I had already given them money as a wedding present since they have everything they need as they have lived together for nine years already. But, I thought I would like to give them something a bit more personal and decided to make a quilt. I had just learned how to transfer photos onto fabric so decided to incorporate some into the central panel. I also knew I wanted a photo of each of them as toddlers so while I already have photos of my son when he was little, obviously, I had to go on to Facebook and steal one of Lily (the one and only toddler photo of her) from her FB page. That bloody quilt took me ages, all the more so since I was unsure what I was doing and was kinda learning as I went along. But, despite chewing my nails down to the quick and making quite a few blunders (I won't point them out to you), I finally got it finished this weekend, which is just as well as I will be fully occupied from here on up to the wedding.



There are loads of cock-ups but I have to say I am rather proud of it - I just hope they like it!

And moving swiftly on, in other news, I mentioned recently that my Uncle Frank - my dad's last surviving sibling - had died recently. The funeral was in England and I couldn't go but sent my condolences to his son, Simon. So yesterday I received a memorial card back from Simon in memory of his dad, which kinda triggered a memory of something my brother said at my mom's funeral last year.


I was very fond of my Uncle Frank and, compared to some of the other brothers, I always considered him rather more "restrained" - quieter, if you like. But my brother Phil told a story of Frankie in his younger days when he might have been slightly less "restrained". Dad and Frankie both played football, and apparently Frankie was quite gifted. Moreover, he was a "left footer" - something which was quite prized because (apparently) most players are "right footed". So one day, local talent scouts arranged to be at a match to check Frankie out. Well seemingly Uncle Frank had been "out on the razzle" the night before, played about 10 minutes then walked over to the side of the pitch and threw up. And that, as they say, was when he saw a glorious future filed firmly behind him!


Uncle Frank is in the front row, seated second from the left. And, parenthetically, my dad is in the back row, standing, first player on the left - you know, the one wearing the odd socks!

And talking of pictures (we were, weren't we?), now that the quilt is finished my next job on the "to do" list is to start sorting/purging old pictures. I have an idea for my boys for Christmas where I want to sort out a few photos of them when they were younger and make them into photo albums using Snapfish. I experimented with Snapfish for the first time recently with the few photos I have of my trip to Cuba. The quality wasn't great because my photos weren't great but at least I got to play around with the formatting (it isn't easy) and was able to send off for my album. My boys love the old photos so I hope they will like what I put together.

And again on the subject of photos, my neighbour was in my house the other day and asked me why I still had my wedding photo up since I have been divorced nearly six years. To be honest, I barely notice that photo since it is tucked away on a corner wall, but I thought "she's right", I don't need to have photos of my ex on my wall since there is no love lost between us.  At the weekend I told my sister that I was dreading seeing him again next week at the wedding and was praying to God he wouldn't just show up at the house "because we're all great friends you see" - err, not! She said not to worry as she would answer the door for the week!!! Yay, for sisters. I have already re-programmed my doorbell to play the theme music from "the Good, the Bad and the Ugly" for the week just in case. On top of that, until I get a photo from my son's wedding to replace my old wedding photo, I used my Photoshop skills - to great effect, I think. I hope you will agree!





Thursday, 6 July 2017

Neighbours are a wonderful thing - well in my case at least!

I think I mentioned that last year I decided to employ someone to cut my grass. I was sick of doing it myself because while I don't have much land, trying to cut grass on the side of a mountain in searing heat just wasn't my thing, so I called the guy who cuts my hedges and he jumped at the chance. He is pretty reasonably priced and it seems to be working out with him cutting the grass about twice a month - depending on the weather. What a relief that is!

Well the grass was getting a bit long as we had had quite a bit of rain recently so while we were having our neighbourhood clean-up on Sunday I hesitated to cut in front of my house but then thought no, that is what I pay him for. And yay, when I got home Tuesday evening it had been done. It is a lovely garden with a beautiful view so when the grass is cut it is quite stunning. And as an added bonus for my gardener, my neighbours also decided to employ him - I guess things kinda snowball like that don't they.

Anyway, at the top of my garden I have a few raised beds where I have planted what is laughingly called "my veggie plot". I could plant a lot more as I have the room but I honestly don't have the time to take care of any more - maybe when I retire. And next to the raised beds I planted a peach tree, which amazed me by actually producing a few (very small) peaches last year - I had assumed it was too cold, and some red currant, raspberry and gooseberry bushes. Trouble is, between all those bushes the weeds were growing at a rate of knots so I had decided that this Sunday I would get out there and tackle that. Buuuuut, when I got home last night I saw that the weeds had all gone. It was weird because I don't remember my gardener doing it and he normally doesn't but .... As I was stood there pondering, my neighbour tootled over and asked if I would mind if he cut the hazelnut tree back, then the mirabelle plum tree, and how about the honeysuckle and the lilac????? Only he wanted it to be "nice for the wedding" in two weeks!!! Wow, I told him it wasn't necessary but he insisted. The way he put it is, he spends 10 minutes chopping away and the next 30 watching the Tour de France so it is no big deal! I tell you, I have great neighbours (all of them in fact) but I think I am particularly lucky with both sets of immediate neighbours. Of course over the years we have always helped each other out - I was dropping his wife off at the hospital once a month on my way to work for a while - but hearing what some people have to put up with (One Family, One Income I am talking to you), I really appreciate having such nice people around, all the more so as I live on my own now.

Oh, and off on a totally different tangent, this morning I thought I should start getting my backside into gear and get back to walking more, even if it is otherwise too hot to exercise. So I caught the express bus which dropped me at the train station in 20 minutes and hopped off to walk the last 30 minutes to work. The hotels around the train station are particularly popular with Japanese tourists for obvious reasons and traffic being heavy around there, when you want to cross the roads you really can't nip over between traffic - you have to wait for the "little green man". So a whole bunch of people were standing waiting for the lights to change when I spotted two (Japanese?) women standing partially on the road waiting to cross but totally absorbed in their phones. After a couple of minutes the "little green man" appeared and everyone scooted over to the other side. While I was crossing I watched the women tapping away on their phones and continuing to do so for the minute or so that we had to cross. By the time they had looked up the lights had changed back to red and they were stuck there again. A younger woman just looked at me and laughed saying "now that was surreal", and yes indeed it was!

Monday, 3 July 2017

This and that!


It's been a while since I last posted but that's because the days just seem to be flying by. I have been really busy at work ahead of our 24th July meeting but most of the gruntwork is done so my feet have time to touch the floor now! The bloody traffic has been dreadful of late and I really don't know why but hopefully with the schools breaking up soon it should be a bit calmer. And the weather!!!!! A week ago last Friday as I was driving home the external temperature sensor on my car showed 37 degrees C (98 F). Then last Friday it flashed up at 14 degrees C (57 F)! A drop of over 20 degrees in one week! Crikey. Not that I minded too much because 37 is just way too hot for me, particularly since my office is in a beautiful old (protected) building (so read "no AC"). Yuck that was miserable. And of course, over here unlike places that routinely get much hotter, homes don't have AC either (or none that I know of anyway) so you really are trying to make the most of any little thru-breeze you can get. It's back to about 25 at the moment and so much more bearable!

We had some sad news on the home front too. My dad's last remaining sibling, Uncle Frank, started to suffer from Alzheimer's a few years ago. His wife had had a severe stroke a couple of years ago and needs full-time care so their only child, S, made arrangements for her to be moved into a home in the south of England near him. For Uncle Frank he had changes made to his own home so that dad could move in with him and his family. Three weeks ago they decided to give Frankie a break and take him away with them on holiday to Wales. Frankie got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, got confused about how to get back to his room and fell down the stairs, breaking his back and dying within 24 hours. So very sad. I know Alzheimer's is no fun (dad had it) but it just seems such a sad way for him to go when things were finally starting to "look up for him a bit"!

Then the weekend before last, on the Friday evening, one of my two sewing clubs held our end-of-year dinner in a lovely restaurant near me. Quite by coincidence, the other Monday-night sewing club chose to have their end-of-year lunch at the same restaurant the following day, in addition to springing a surprise farewell lunch on a lovely German lady who was leaving our region to move to Brittany to be nearer her sons. She and I got along well as the two "foreigners" and she was quite tearful when she realized what they had organized. And this being a patchwork club the ladies had had an all-day "sew-in" and made her a beautiful quilt as a souvenir. It really was stunning. I, of course, couldn't take part in the "sew-in" because I was at work so I bought her a beautiful book of post card images of Haute Savoie (the region I live in) as a reminder! She was moved to tears. Then she started threatening not to move to Brittany at all .......

But the sad thing that put a real damper on her leaving do was that one of the other ladies' husbands had been killed in a freak accident just two days earlier. He was only 64 and had been towing a 1,000 litre water butt out to the field when it moved, fell off the trailer and crushed him! Absolutely tragic and of course the shock of something like that must be unbelievable. While I'm sure losing someone you love to illness is appalling at least there is some knowledge of what might happen, but to lose your husband like that just doesn't bear thinking about! So very sad.

Getting back to my rotten commute, last Friday the traffic in Geneva seemed to be easier than normal at leaving time, but once I got through the border and pulled off the motorway to head home I got stuck in nose-to-tail traffic for another hour. The roads were completely blocked and we all got told to turn around and take little back roads!!!! Aaaarrrrkkkkkkk! It turns out it was a demonstration by local farmers using their tractors to block the roads. Much as I love France I have to say the French are very good at going on strike (I'll never fly Air France - they always end up going on strike at Easter, the school holidays, Christmas you name it). I suppose the other side of that coin is that they are not afraid to fight for what they want. BUUUUT on Friday night I wasn't impressed I can tell you. Turns out though, that they were protesting because they wanted something done about the "travellers" (gypsies by any other name) who would just park up on their land and seemingly would only move when they were good and ready. I guess that changes my opinions of the farmers' actions now! While we get a couple of groups of travellers round by us who do leave the fields clean, some are just disgusting pigs. There is a more or less permanent site near Annecy's small airport and they are filthy tips. I saw an article one time about how a group of travellers parked up on a hospital car park in England and it took ages to get them moved so I can understand the farmers' frustration.

Well, the good news is that a group of travellers cut through one of the farmer's chains protecting his field and installed themselves there. So what did the farmer do? He called up a few like-minded friends and they went down to the field and sprayed liquid manure all over them!!! You gotta love that one haven't you - and they moved off pretty sharpish by all accounts! I do so love a good ending.

And finally, on Sunday we had our annual neighbourhood clean up - a little later than usual but it seemed the last available date before people disappeared on their summer hols. It honestly doesn't take long to have our little place looking spic and span - and then we all pitch in and eat together on our little island. There was waaaayyyy too much food but hey, we all had a really pleasant day, we met two new sets of neighbours and the kids (and one dad!!!) had a blast!

He was definitely outnumbered!



Princessing is hard work!