The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Thursday, 19 October 2017

The Psychopath Next Door .....

.... is the name of a book I read a couple of years ago following the appointment of a new head of HR in the large corporation where I work. I obviously can't go into specifics but to say that she was a ***+***++  ***+***++@@ would probably be an understatement! I am lucky I guess in that I rarely sense office "tensions" and "sensitivities" so they hardly ever bother me, but in this case - good God alive - even I couldn't miss it! The terms "sociopath" and "psychopath" are used interchangeably by many, but for me "psychopath" seems to be the more "depraved", for want of a better word. Of course not all sociopaths are evil nor are they criminal but ....... They say 4% of the population are sociopaths, or 1 in 25, so it seems to me that I must be a bit weird never to have realized I was dealing with one before this "gem" came along. As I read this book she lept off the page to me constantly - it was surreal, to put it mildly!

This woman was such an extreme case that even I couldn't fail to see it. Sociopaths are supposedly lacking in any empathy or remorse, which is why they often make good business managers - they are willing to do whatever it takes in the name of the almighty dollar, and to hell with anyone that gets hurt (as long as it's not them)! It also seems to me that they would make good surgeons and the like (for instance) because I guess no-one wants an "emotional" surgeon operating on them do they? Anyway, the She Devil was totally devoid of any talent or competence but with an opinion of herself that must almost have made her head explode. 10 of us filed a complaint against her whereupon she made our lives very, very difficult while scratching and clawing to save her empty soul. It wasn't just us of course - most people in this corporation hated her and we therefore had tremendous support behind the scenes pushing ahead with our complaint. But the price we paid in terms of our physical and mental health was appalling. It is significant that - as far as we know - she was fired from the last four jobs she held and is more than likely continuing in the same vein given that a leopard never changes its spots!

Since coming across so blatant a psychopath that even I couldn't gloss over, I have been absolutely fascinated by them, to the extent that I have just finished another book by M.E. Thomas (a pseudonym) who is apparently a diagnosed sociopath. If you are interested in this, it is quite an eye-opening read! (I suppose I must have looked like a bit of a nutter on the bus reading this too, come to think of it!)



The main characteristics (in a very small nutshell) are lack of empathy, lack of remorse, an opinion of themselves and their skills which rarely has any correlation to reality, an enormous sense of entitlement ... and the list goes on and on! Of course, just like autism, there is a spectrum and I suppose we are all on that scale to some degree or another, but if you ever have the misfortune to end up dealing with someone like we did, this book is an absolute revelation!

My dad used to call them "the wise boys", with their fancy qualifications who used to fly in to a company, throw everything into upheaval, destroy the staff's health and mental stability while wreaking havoc on the company itself, and then fly off leaving a trail of destruction behind them, all the while chalking up another notch on their CV. So if you ever see the mad witch on her broomstick flying over your house with her long blond hair trailing behind her - run for your lives. She is worse than something you would scrape off the bottom of your shoe and she just ain't worth it!

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Giggling schoolgirls!

There is a free newspaper available here in Geneva every day called "20 Minutes". You can always find a copy on the bus or pick one up at the bus stop. I usually don't bother reading it but this morning I didn't feel like reading my book so I grabbed a copy of the 20 Minutes to read. Ha! In yesterday's post I mentioned that we had visited the local exhibition centre on Sunday for the "Creative Hobbies" fair. Well yesterday, they had a practice drill at said exhibition centre to put police, firemen, first responders etc. through their paces in the event of a terrorist event. Apparently it involved over 700 people, and while I'm sure the "hostages" were all volunteers one chap said what a really weird feeling it was with people hiding wherever they could and some feeding information on the "terrorists" to emergency services on their phones. Uughh, it's the kind of place that wouldn't have many hiding places to be honest, but the thought of getting caught up in something like that makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. Having watched another episode last night of "Saving Lives at Sea" (the fabulous RNLI volunteers in the UK), I can only say how eternally grateful we should all be to our emergency personnel!

On another note, and still on the bus this morning, there were two sets of schoolgirls who giggled non-stop from the time they got on until they got off about 20 minutes later! I don't knock 'em because I was one of them many, many moons ago. Oh, how I remember sitting with my friend Vanessa at about age 15 and giggling all the way into town. We must have driven people mad but whadda ya wanna do? That's what schoolgirls do!

I remember one time I was going to compete in a swimming gala and Van was coming into town with me to watch. In those days you got a paper ticket before you got on the bus (if I remember right) and occasionally an inspector (we called them "conductors") would get on and check that everyone had a ticket. Well Van and I were giggling away and she would fold her ticket, then bite down on it with her teeth, then fold it again, giggle some more and so on. Eventually a conductor got on and asked for our tickets. I had mine of course, but she looked up at him all horrified and just said "I ate it!" And I confirmed to him that she had indeed done just that! He must have been so baffled he just let her get away with it and didn't charge her for another ticket!

Then another time, I was sitting with Van on the bus coming home from college. We were sitting on the side seats and I had my arm bent at the elbow hanging on to a support pole. Anyway, a man got on and accidentally stood on my foot.  As he leaned over to apologize to me a stream of drool came out of his mouth, went down my sleeve and pooled in the crook of my elbow. I didn't want to say anything in order not to embarrass him but trying not to giggle with her tittering away by my side almost gave me a coronary!

Another time we caught the late night bus from town back home around 11 pm on a Saturday night, I guess. Of course in the UK we have the double deckers and this particular route had a nasty left turn over quite a sharp bump which made the bus really keel over to the right (since we drive on the left in England). We always sat up top at the back on this particular route (being connaisseurs of that left turn) and this particular night a man who was a little bit the worse for wear sat in the seat immediately in front of us. Well he must have dozed off because when we went round that bend he fell right off his seat and landed on his backside in the middle of the aisle! On hearing our stifled guffaws behind him he turned round and glared at us and said "I suppose you think that was bleedin' funny don't you?" All we could do was say "Who me? No, not me, I didn't think that was funny at all, did you Van?" and then try to stifle our giggles for the rest of the way home.


And finally, one day as we were on the bus going to college, Van was sitting nearest the window and I was sitting in the aisle seat. It was fairly crowded but there were still some seats further up the bus. Eventually a man got on and stood right next to me, leaning up against my left side. I didn't say anything but Van tried to shuffle over nearer to the window, so I followed suit. She then tried to shuffle a bit more but obviously there is a limit to how much you can "shuffle over"! She was again trying to stifle her giggles but I had no idea why, until the man got off and she said "he does that all the time, stands right next to a young girl and rubs himself up and down on her arm!!!!!!!" He had already done it to her so she knew what I was feeling (frankly at this point I could almost tell what religion he was). After that we looked out for him and would break into fits of giggles every time he got on the bus. I only hope he knew why we were laughing, is all I can say. Oh happy days .......

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

This and that!

What a glorious weekend that was. Perfect autumn weather and temperatures with just the right mixture of relaxation and getting out and about thrown in.

I have mentioned before that my friends and I frequently go to the theatre to watch what is a very good and very large anglophone drama group. They put on some fabulous stuff and we get to watch plays and musicals that we probably wouldn't otherwise get to see. Simply Theatre is the kids group - ages 18 and under - so when I saw an ad for their latest show - The Magic Toy Shop - my friends and I booked for last Saturday. The show started at 17.30h so we figured it was going to be the younger kids performing, but in fact it turned out to be a simple two-man show, but which was excellent. The main protagonist, "Charlie", went to the magic toy shop as he wanted to be come a wizard's apprentice. The wizard - who conveniently enough was looking for an apprentice (how about that for a coincidence) - decided to set Charlie some tasks to see if he was worthy of becoming his apprentice! It took place on the small stage at the Academy itself and as people walked in Charlie and the Wizard greeted everyone and somehow managed to make a running list of the names of all the "important" people - i.e. the little kids - as they walked in. They called out to the kids by name asking for their help and put on what turned out to be such a great little show. We were the only ones without a little kid with us but it was so, so worth it. All the more so for me as I had a real little giggler sitting next to me and it was a joy to listen to her!


Then on Sunday, our local town held, for the first time, the Foire des Loisirs Créatifs (Creative Hobbies' Fair, I guess). This Fair was usually held in either Lyon or Grenoble but apparently having it in my local town was a roaring success, by all accounts.  Here's hoping it will be repeated. Not exactly a big Fair but good nonetheless. Rather foolishly I bought myself a couple of cross-stitch projects. Goodness knows when I will get time to do those but they were so pretty I just couldn't resist. And, being goody two-shoes, my friend and I decided to walk there and back so got in a 90-minute walk to boot.


In fact, the ladies from my patchwork group were exhibiting some of their work there also and it really was very impressive!

On a totally different subject, a colleague hopped on the same bus to work as me this morning and we got chatting, as you do. Her mom and dad are over from England for three weeks and she was telling me that the neighbours' kids (aged about 7 or 8 I think) asked if they could "borrow" dad to take him to school for show and tell! Dad went along very happily, said there were some "bright little buttons" in those classes and was delighted to be prize exhibit no. 1 as the "funny little foreign man". I told her she should have sent her mom in too as her mom is German, but they thought  "one funny little foreigner" was probably enough for one day. He was really tickled when the kids asked if we had wild animals in England - he should have said yes, lions and tigers and bears, oh my! But I thought it was great that he went along with it all so willingly.

Which got me to thinking ..... year ago, my husband's nephew mailed to us here in France a "flat Stanley" (only this guy was "flat Justin" - for obvious reasons). For those that don't know, flat Justin was a school project that the kids sent wherever they could to friends and family all over to see how far he could travel in the given length of time. In our case flat Justin was about 4 feet tall and folded up nicely into an envelope to make his travel plans easier. We took flat Justin down to our favourite local restaurant and got the owners and kitchen staff to pose, somewhat emabarrasingly, for a photo with flat Justin before he was sent back to his home in Pittsburgh. Aaah, the things you do for kids eh!

Flat Justin


Friday, 13 October 2017

Literally speaking

.... otherwise known as "say what you mean"!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I flew out to Greece to meet up with Steve, a friend I met in Peru almost five years ago. We have remained in touch (albeit sporadically) over the years with him coming out to Geneva to visit me for a weekend a couple of years ago, and then again over Christmas 2016. The weather cooperated on that last trip and we had a good laugh together, I guess because we have a similar, very silly sense of humour!

I remember one day as we were driving somewhere Steve mentioned that he would shortly be visiting a friend who had a lovely house called The Round House "because it's round"! Bearing in mind we really didn't know each other that well I suppose it just isn't done to look at someone and say "ya don't say" (meaning "you pillock"!). I just laughed and he realized what he had said. Then when we were in Greece last week, he got talking to a couple in the lovely restaurant I mentioned in my previous post. He was telling them about a place we had "discovered" (another restaurant I think), and it would be easy for them to find "because the walls are white"! Again, I'm thinking "you pillock". What I actually said was "we're in Greece, all the walls are white"! At which point the lady he was speaking to burst out laughing!

I suppose I could be accused of being a bit "literal" myself too though, because I remember giving  one of my recipes to a colleague and saying "first open the packet"!!!! (If you are interested, I mix raw potato cubes with oil and a packet of dried onion soup mix. In the oven for about 45 minutes and "bingo" you have lovely oniony-tasting potatoes). Anyway, I digress, but somehow I don't think it was necessary to tell her to "first open the packet"!

Listening to Steve and his brother talk in Greece I think I know where he gets his "literal" thinking from - it seems it's genetic! Their dad was Polish and had fought in the Free Polish Army during WW2.  After the war he was given the choice of going back to Poland, or emigrating to either Canada or Britain. He chose Britain, where he met his future wife and the rest, as they say, is history!

Anyway, they were both laughing at how dad used to make his sandwiches for his lunch - how he would carefully spread whatever he was having on them to all four corners of the perfectly aligned sliced bread leaving nary an inch of bread uncovered.  Well one day, having bought a pair of shoes which were marked "waterproof", dad decided to find out if that was really true.  So he took a washing up bowl, filled it with water, put his shoes in and carefully weighted each shoe down with a can of baked beans - and then left them there to see if they really were "waterproof"!  I thought this was hilarious and asked if I could put it on my blog - to which the response was "of course".  So, in tribute to Marian W - also known as Charlie the Weaver (I guess we Brits couldn't get our heads around the name "Marian" for a man), I give you the saga of the waterproof shoes!


Marian W ,,,

... otherwise known as Charlie the Weaver!




Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Now what have I let myself in for!!

I got back off holiday late on Sunday night. Monday was back to work and Monday night was the "annual general meeting" of our patchwork club. It's funny really because the other sewing club I go to on Monday nights (I alternate) is pretty much tea and a natter - oh and you can bring a bit of sewing along if you want. But this one is much more serious. The lady president takes her job very seriously and in fairness does an excellent job. Now I had had about five hours sleep in the last 48 hours and really did not want to go but ... I also don't think it's right to just not show up to these things. Anyway, Marie droned on and on (in my exhausted opinion) about the different projects they would tackle during the year, plans for the club's 20th anniversary, the date for the Christmas dinner and so on. Also (and this is where she is so dynamic) she was sounding out the ladies' opinions on which kinds of techniques to develop over the year and any courses they would like to invite guest presenters to give. I am very much a beginner and haven't heard of half of these techniques and since 95% of this stuff takes place during the day when I am at work, as you can imagine I was starting to nod off. Then, towards the end, Marie pulled a rabbit out of her hat and, holding up a leaflet, asked what the ladies thought about maybe attending the annual quilting exhibition at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham, England next year!

At that I stopped snoring and just gave a little laugh. When she asked why I laughed I told her that I grew up 20 minutes from the NEC and knew the place like the back of my hand. In fact, I had considered attending this exhibition this August but didn't get my act together in time to book flights. The NEC is a huge exhibition centre built right next to Birmingham airport and the quilting exhibition is apparently the biggest in Europe, hosting (I think) over 300 exhibitors and with 700 quilts being presented in competition last year!

So on a very preliminary show of hands around eight people said they might be interested, particularly now that "we have someone who speaks English going with us and who knows the area"! My mind immediately went into a mixture of panic and delirium, thinking "oh we could go to Stratford or Warwick Castle or to the Cotswolds" and so on and then I was hit with the thought of dragging 10 elderly French ladies round a massive conference centre and on an off the planes etc. ("Do we have to get pounds? How much is that in 'real' money? Ooooh isn't it scary driving on the left!" and so on). I tell you, I was so dog tired when I got home but still I couldn't sleep - I was having dreams of being chased round the NEC by elderly French ladies with zimmer frames.  Then of course I was dumb enough to mention that Birmingham had a massive "rag" market that was only 30 minutes away by train. Looking it up it has over 350 stalls (not all fabric stalls) but an absolute treasure trove of a market, so again my dreams switched to nightmares of losing an old biddy somewhere in central Birmingham!

My mind has calmed down a bit now, probably due to a decent night's sleep, but it could prove an interesting weekend if we manage to pin numbers/flights/hotel rooms down properly.  We'll see!

One of the many, many halls at the NEC


Birmingham rag market - in the Bullring
On a totally different subject, Tuesday night is the night our local food bank is open to its customers, so Tuesday is the night I take down my donations whenever I have a full crate of goods to donate. The door opens at 7 pm so I make sure to go around 8.30 pm in order not to embarrass any recipients (I have recognized a few people on occasion). When I got there last night the lady looked at me and said how great it was to see me because "take a look at our empty shelves"! I knew from last year that around this period their shelves really empty out as they are only allowed to collect donations outside supermarkets once a year at the end of October. There really was hardly anything left at all! The one older gent explained that they had collected less than expected last year and that there had been more and more demand so they were really hurting at this point to the point that the ladies had had to go out and spend some of the centre's financial donations in order to buy groceries. I was thinking maybe €500 or something like that but no, they spent €100 because they really had to try to eke out their finances!!!! Going down to the food bank always makes me eternally grateful to be in the financial situation that I am, but having just got back off holiday in Greece and to already be thinking about maybe going to Birmingham for what will be an expensive weekend at the NEC, really put into context exactly how lucky I and so many of us are! I make no apologies for my situation, but I sure am grateful for it!




Monday, 9 October 2017

And so it's back to work I go ......

Well that went quickly! Crikey! Still, even though time flew by it was a lovely, restful few days - well that is until I spent all those hours flying back! I mean, what kind of idiot flies west to the UK in order to fly back east to Greece? Me I guess. Problem is, in order to get into the same hotel as Steve I had to fly out of the UK so I ended up spending two nights in London before and after my trip. We'll have to re-think that next time, I think.

Still, it was lovely. I have always liked Greece but being able to go at the end of the summer season is wonderful. Nowhere near as hot as it can get in July and August and no crowds! What's not to like. The hotel was ok although had I been on my own I would not have chosen self-catering. But in the end, that was fine too and although I had no intention of "self-catering" anything, not having meals included in the deal meant that we avoided the breakfast, lunch and dinner crush in a buffet-style hotel.  Steve and I stayed on Pefkos Beach in one hotel and his brother and his wife a little further down the road. They were a lovely couple and while we didn't spend our days with them we went out with them a couple of times for dinner and/or drinks (and while both the men wanted to watch the rugby league final towards the end of our stay since I like rugby too that wasn't a problem). The other thing is his brother and wife were both sun birds and spent most days by the pool, while Steve and I dashed from cover to cover trying to stay out of the sun. I suppose in the end, we just did what they did all day except we did it in the shade.

We decided to avoid organized day trips because Rhodes really isn't very big and you can get around on the local buses anyway. I think the organized trip to Lindos was something like €40 and we paid €6 each on the local bus (a 15 minute trip). And oh how lovely Lindos was.


It's not very big at all but has streets like rabbit warrens full of lovely touristy shops. Add in some lovely spice smells and you could be in the souk in Marrakech! I bought a few table cloths/runners while I was there to brighten up my house. I'm sure Steve was thrilled being dragged round all the shops but being the good sport that he is he just kept nodding his head diligently and saying "that's nice". Aaah, love him!

We stumbled across a lovely little restaurant which really drew me because of all the greenery inside and it was a gem. There were only three couples in there (all Brits) and we quickly got chatting to the one couple. They were, I guess, in their 70s and I suspect the man was a widower as he had a ring on his wedding finger.  They explained that they were a couple - with him living in Edinburgh and her living in Brighton and they flew up and down the country regularly to meet up, and then shooting off to (usually) Greece or Spain when the fancy took them. The background music was lovely and at one point the man took her hand and waltzed her gently round the restaurant. It really was sweet to behold!



The owner spent much time chatting with all three couples and when we had finished our lovely main course, he came over with complementary cheese cake for us, followed by limoncello, followed by a shot of something else ..... Steve couldn't believe how friendly they were. In fact, we found everyone to be friendly and hard-working, but you certainly got an earful about "those b"""stards in government" if you had the inclination to listen (we did).

Our regular waiter at the hotel told us that 64% of the population had voted not to accept the bail out plan proposed by the European Union so "what did that jerk of a Prime Minister do? He double-crossed us! At least in the UK you had a vote on Brexit and went with it - that's what democracy is all about!" That was pretty much the sentiment we got from other Greeks too. Our waiter told us that out of season he worked on a small fishing boat with a licence to sell his catch in Lindos twice a week, but the cost of that licence had gone up from €700 last year to €1,800 this year with nothing in return. He worked extremely long days and said that while he was still a young man he could do it, but he was worried about what would happen later. Again, this sentiment was repeated by anyone we spoke to. There was also much resentment that the islands brought in tourist revenue which went straight back to Athens and none of it was reinvested on the islands!

Anyway, back to the plot. We spent a couple of days at the hotel reading (or yacking really - we could both yack for England) and then decided to catch another local bus to visit the old town of Rhodes. We spent a couple of very pleasant hours having lunch in the shade of a wonderful old tree before visiting the old town (more shopping for me, more bag-carrying for Steve).




Rhodes' old town
Then on my final night, dinner with Steve's family (the food was invariably good) and back to dear old Blighty for my flight back to Geneva next day.


Dinner on the last night
The weather in Geneva is glorious, but after the temperatures in Greece I feel like I need my long-johns on! And 6 a.m. sure comes early when you have to get up to go to work .....



Friday, 29 September 2017

When did England become so efficient?

I apologize in advance for any fat fingered typing on my iPad but I am ensconced in my room at London airport ahead of my flight tomorrow to Greece.

Everything went so smoothly getting to Geneva today for my flight except .... I planned to park at work for free then catch the bus to the airport. I had looked up the bus timetable and planned it with Swiss precision until I was almost at work when the pillock in front of me slammed his brakes on to get a parking place. Thank god I didn't hit him - but then he changed his mind, pulled out and turned up towards our underground staff parking lot. Pulled into the entrance and then obviously realized it was private parking and 10 cars had to reverse back up the ramp to let him out. I know it could happen to anyone but the net result was that I made it out of the parking lot just in time to see the exhaust smoke of my bus as it pulled out and left. I think I said something like "oh dear" (or words to that effect) and had to wait in the glaring sun for another 30 minutes for the next bus. I can't stay mad for long thankfully and tend to be so clinically early that it wasn't a problem really and I was at the airport in good time. I guess it has now become one of my holiday treats to have a wonderfully fresh shrimp and salmon salad while waiting for the flight to be called. Wonderfully tasty but by gosh you almost have to sell a kidney to pay for it. Still, like I said, just consider it part of the holiday I say.

While we were waiting to board a couple behind me asked their young son - who was, I would guess, about six - where his jacket was. Of course the answer was "errrr I don't know"! Long and short of it was the lad had lost two jackets in two days. Dad gave him a "stern talking to about taking responsibilty" but mom frankly went ballistic. I know it's frustrating but I had one of those kids and I think at that age you just have to watch 'em like a hawk. I understand her frustration but in the end what can you do except stop at the lost and found on the way back. As I say, I'm laid back but in the end they grow up and either deal with their own lack of responsibilty (it's called growing up) or ya marry em off to someone who'll take over where you left off! That's what I did (just kidding Lily)!

Getting through passport control to leave Geneva now takes longer because Schengen states are being more thorough but the flight was perfect and passport control in London just made me realize I was chez moi or "home" again. Crowds of people were flooding to the passport controls and there were people there to direct you if you had non-EU passports, non-electronic passports or e-passports. A couple of French people came through the passport lane with just their French ID cards and were very efficiently whisked off to another lane. Then there was the chap guiding people into the correct lanes but admonishing people to "stop smiling cos your holidays are over and it's back to work on Monday"! It was, as I say, very efficient and very good natured and I had forgotten how charming that could be when dealing with masses of people.  To top it all off my bag was first off the carousel so I would guess I was done and dusted in all of 10 minutes!

Just a 400 metre walk and I was at my hotel and I would say I was checked in in under five minutes. I've just had a rather good dinner and off to my room to read. But my original point was, I would say 80 per cent of the workers at the hotel are Eastern European and they hustle (as do the Brits here but they are in the minority)! So I just hope the powers that be negotiatiating Brexit realize this (they will) and how much the hotel and agriculture industry rely on them. Of course I'm not a disinterested party either being a Brit living in France - I don't think the egghead negotiators can afford to get this wrong! I pray I'm right.

Anyway I'm looking forward to what must be my idea of heaven that is a full English breakfast tomorrow and probably another exorbitant shrimp salad while waiting for my flight out of London! Oh my poor diet - looks like it just got shot to pieces!

Thursday, 28 September 2017

6 lbs down!

Of course, if I'd gone with yesterday's reading I would be 7 lbs down, but ..... oh well. Not that I'm complaining of course but I still feel I have a few more pounds to lose before I actually believe it, because of all the fluctuations my body seems to go through. I was so, so good last week and exercised like crazy (wasn't bad with the food either) and while I don't think exercise really makes you lose weight (unless you are really exercising, not just piddling about like I do), every time I exercise my stomach goes down as I just seem to lose the bloat immediately. Oddly enough I am looking forward to getting back to it - how weird is that!

Still, that will have to wait until I'm back off holiday on 9th October, 'cos guess which lucky beggar is off to Pefkos (Rhodes)? Yay me! I'll probably not be able to post much while I'm away (you know, fat fingers on a skinny iPad and all that) but I'm sure I'll have plenty of gossip when I get back.



Aaaaannnnd the weather is supposed to be good over there too, so what with that and all the lovely food I'm not exactly expecting to come back sylphlike! I have always loved travelling and while I certainly do travel I feel I don't do enough of it, particularly now that I am footloose and fancy free. For example, my (now retired) boss and his wife have invited me to stay with them in Edinburgh! They have a beautiful place and would happily show me around, so why haven't I done it yet? I think I'll take them up on it next spring if I can. I don't care about the weather (being used to the rain) so any good weather I might get would only be a plus.  We'll see.

Oh, and I just had to mention a lovely interview I saw with Mel Brooks yesterday. He is currently in London for the opening of his new production of the "Young Frankenstein".  It stars (amongst others) Ross Noble who bears an uncanny resemblance to Marty Feldmann and is a comedian I really enjoy. The stars of the show were bantering back and forth with Mel and it was a delight to watch, all the more so since he is 91 and still as funny as ever and sharp as a tack. I have always enjoyed his madcap humour so if the show takes off (which I think it will) maybe I will try to fit in a flying visit to London just to catch it.  Anyway, as I said, things will probably be quiet from me for a short while so until next time .....


Thursday, 21 September 2017

How to stay young

..... is the title of a BBC series I came across last week. The second episode was last night and I have to say it was pretty interesting. It had nothing to do with miracle creams and liposuction and so on, but was an interesting experiment aimed at the "hidden" dangers within our bodies and courses of action to do something about it.

Each programme follows the story of three volunteers, mostly in their 40s and 50s from what I can see, who agree to follow a 12-week programme devised to tackle problems that are causing them to have bodies which are biologically older than their actual age - which I guess could probably include most of us, unless we are ultra-fit and healthy. Well it definitely includes me! They start off putting the volunteers through a series of tests to assess their percentage body fat, their strength, their blood pressure, blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels and so on, and then based on statistics for others the same age, the "guinea pigs" were shown the difference between their actual birth ages and their body's biological age. As you can imagine, if they had agreed to participate in this experiment it was because all these people had "issues", but to be honest, not obviously so. One lady was 57 and very slim and so was shocked when her percentage body fat showed up as 48% (I think the maximum should be no higher than 25%). She admitted she was lazy - for instance she said she would drive to the nearest shop which was "minutes away", and indeed when the presenter asked her to walk with him to the shop and timed it it turned out it was 1 minute and 20 seconds away on foot!  According to the strength tests she was in the 3 percentile for muscle strength - that is to say, weaker than 97 other people her age out of a hundred - and her biological age indicator showed her to have the body of a 75 year old!

Another man was 51 and obviously overweight - although again, not excessively so. He was a chef but said that chefs often don't have the time to eat properly so he spent his time picking at fries, eating pies - and also admitted he loved his beer. His biological age worked out to 90 - again another shocker. So the three guinea pigs were put on a 12-week programme to address their various issues - one lady had depression, another had sleep problems - none of it was about losing weight for the sake of it. Many of the techniques used in the programme were of course similar - walking for an hour a day would probably never do anyone any harm would it! And at the end of the 12 weeks they revisted all the tests they had done and in every case, their baseline figures had improved. All that in 12 weeks! It was very motivating, I can tell you, and they all looked to have gotten some "ooomph" back. Of course most of them also lost weight but they never announced what their weight loss was because that was not what they were focusing on. If you think a 51 year old with a 90 year old body was shocking, apparently next week they will showcase "the worst age gap" they have had on the programme, so that should be interesting.

I hate to think where I would be on that scale - it would be interesting to find out though. On that note, I have done well so far this week with exercise (five times since Monday). My fitbit already confirmed that I am pretty sedentary, averaging only around 6,000-7,000 steps a day if I don't do any extra exercise. If I want to make it to the 10,000 recommended steps it means I have to add in at least an hour of walking per day - which in my case means lunchtimes, because I'm not getting up any earlier to fit in extra exercise (and in any case I am not a morning person) and lunchtime is the easiest time for me. Anyway, so far so good, and if nothing else I am already enjoying it.  I'm looking forward to next week's programme in any case.

On another note, I have been a busy little bee in the kitchen lately. I made pumpkin soup, ham and split pea soup and Dorset apple cake this weekend. On top of that, since Sunday's vide-grenier was a bit of a wash-out my neighbours brought round some of the rather nice looking sausages that were left over from the BBQ stall. So last night I threw together what I am laughingly calling my version of "cassoulet", using the sausages and a few odds and sods I had hanging around. Threw it all into the slow cooker this morning and we will see what it tastes like tonight, 12 hours later. I suspect the person who "invented" cassoulet will be spinning in his grave though!


Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The Giants are coming ....

..... and I'm gonna miss 'em! Bugger it! In all my time in Geneva I have never seen this display (although I think they did visit once before) and I will be away on vacation when they visit!  Darn and drat!  From what I can tell they are magical visitors who will shortly show up in Geneva "owing to an incredible alignment of stars and a shower of meteorites rushing to earth." Quite coincidentally the city's Mayor had been forewarned that the clock at the Museum of Watchmaking had stopped for a few seconds, as had all Swiss watches. Happily a few seconds later, all was back to normal .... except everyone had lost a few minutes.  Fortunately, the world’s greatest scientists, gathered at the Geneva research center and working on the acceleration of the particles of the Higgs Boson, discovered through ancient writings the possible existence of Giants living behind the Planck wall, before the Big Bang. After intense study of these writings, they have concluded that Geneva will be visited next week by Great Grandma Giant and Little Giant.  While Great Grandma Giant can speak, only her Lilliputian helpers can understand her, so they have to come along for the visit!






I believe Great Grandma is 8 metres tall and has been sighted in other cities around the world, but this is the first time she will make an appearance in Geneva. I am sooooo sorry to be missing this as it really is right up my alley - just like Les Flottins at New Years. Oh well, the thought of flying off to Rhodes assuages my angst somewhat but really, I would just love to have seen this. And as I have said before, I am so grateful that there are people around with the enthusiasm, ability and dedication to put these kinds of shows together!

In other news, I weighed myself again on Monday and again hadn't lost a single pound. I'm not totally surprised though as last week was hectic with meeting-related stuff and I got out of my routine. It's a good job I lost 3 lbs the first week I guess as that still makes it 3-for-3, but seriously, I have to get moving on this weight-loss business.

This weekend was quiet-ish with nothing planned (I love weekends like that). Even though the weather wasn't great I still got outside and hacked back bushes and trees to my heart's content - I told you, I love this cold weather!!! Then on Sunday my village held its annual vide-grenier (car boot, flea market??? - attic emptier in French), which, sadly, was a real disappointment. There were hardly any stalls there, but then they had forecast bad weather so you can't blame people for not wanting to set up stalls in the cold and rain can you. The sad thing is though, in the end the weather was fine and sunny, if cold, so it could have gone so much better, but hats off again to the volunteers who pull these things together.


Mairie
The view looking at the Mairie in my little village is absolutely spectacular and I had always wanted to try and capture it (you can see way into the alps at the back) but all I managed to get on Sunday was this shot with the clouds blocking out the mountains. Oh well, another time I guess.

Very poor turn out for the vide-grenier
After our short stint at the vide-grenier, I had seen a patchwork/embroidery exhibition in a local château which was on its last day so we decided to give it a shot - and we definitely weren't disappointed (to be honest, we never are)! It was held in what must have been, at one time, a barn belonging to the Château, but the barn was beautifully renovated and of course the needlework was oh so beautiful!
Château de Chilly - now a restaurant

The symbol of France



Les demoiselles



Birds of paradise
There were many more, larger and more traditional patchworks but with the lighting in the barn I wasn't able to do them justice, but I think you can probably get the general idea of just how much work goes into this.  Funnily enough, my patchwork club started up last Monday and my other sewing club started up again last night (I alternate Monday nights), and last night Thérèse, who has been the "Présidente" for quite a few years, asked for a volunteer to take over. Now I am one of the few ladies working full-time and I have the commute from hell, plus I have only been going - I think - three years, so I really don't think I would be the best person to take over. She said there's not much to do ..... and I'm not totally clear what all it involves - but nobody else would volunteer. I didn't volunteer either (for the above reasons) but I may have to re-think. She said there are two meetings you have to attend each year (they only last about an hour) and then ..... everyone has a drink afterwards - so guess who might be volunteering after all!!! Anything for a free drink! So from now I should like to be referred to as "Madame la Présidente". Yay, get me. How can they possibly turn down my request for French citizenship after this!!!!

And finally, I mentioned in a previous post how useless my brother is with technology. Well I had spoken to him on Sunday and he was a bit down (there are days like that I guess) but yesterday at work I got a Whatsapp message from him saying "had a great night's sleep, feeling better today, miss you and can't wait to see you again". Oh dear, he screwed up again (obviously thinking he was talking to his lady friend). I just wrote back and said "glad to hear it but you might want to get your glasses fixed". Still haven't heard back from him!



Thursday, 14 September 2017

No change!

I actually did do my Monday weigh-in on Monday but have been running around like crazy so haven't had time to post for a couple of days. No change in weight sadly - although I'm actually a little surprised it hasn't gone up because we had a four-day weekend last weekend (the last public holiday until Christmas) and I really didn't make much of an effort with the diet, to be honest. I had plans to do this or that and so on but in the end did pretty much bugger all. I had made an appointment to get my car in for a service on the Thursday since that way I wouldn't have to take a day off, so that pretty much put paid to any running around on Thursday. After that I just pottered really, which in and of itself isn't a bad thing but sometimes I do get annoyed with myself for not taking advantage of these days off to go somewhere or do something out of the ordinary. Oh well, I guess my body was trying to tell me something because frankly I could sleep for England at the moment.

A funny thing happened on the Wednesday evening though. As I was sitting down reading there was an incoming phone call from the Pittsburgh area - a number I didn't recognize - but I picked it up anyway just in case there were problems in the ex-in-law family. As I picked up my ex started speaking to me in French and prattling away. I tried several times to explain to him that it wasn't necessary to speak to me in French and that I wasn't Jen but ..... So that wrong number meant I got to speak to my ex for about 20 minutes.  And guess what, he's (I guess "they") coming back over in November for the Marine Corps Ball to meet up with an old friend!!! Yikes. Not that there is any reason I have to see him anyway, but ..... he must be haemorraghing (sp?) money at the moment. Anyway, we chatted a bit and he mentioned something about our youngest. I told him I helped him out financially since he earns less than the minimum wage, being an apprentice. Well he usually makes around the minimum wage as he does a lot of overtime, but he's not exactly rolling in money. I had told my son I would take care of his car as long as he was an apprentice so recently had to put new tyres on as they had worn, and then on Monday had to spend € 900 to replace what I think is called the cam shaft in English. I know it's expensive but apparently if that screws up you can kiss your car goodbye - and round where we live you really can't get by without a car. On top of that I'm also paying for his schooling and other stuff so ex asked me why he (the ex) wasn't sending money - so I said, I don't know, why aren't you helping your kid out? Sorry, I just couldn't help myself. I know what he makes as a pension and he makes as much as I do in salary so why he can't throw a couple hundred dollars his kid's way is beyond me, all the more so because I am on my own with the same kinds of bills but he and gf both have incomes. We'll see I suppose, but I won't hold my breath!

I stayed up as late as I dared on Sunday night watching Hurricane Irma. Gosh, what a frightening thing Mother Nature can be. I have a dear friend in Havana and haven't heard from her but I have no reason to believe she is other than OK. She is Irish and married to a Cuban and they usually go to Ireland for the summer as Cuba is just too hot. Trouble is, they have an elderly dog and the past couple of years she has not wanted to leave the dog, so unless the dog has since died I suspect she will have been in Havana. Those poor people on the islands though, some of whom lost everything. Then I have friends in Fort Myers (which is the reason I stayed up so late Sunday as the hurricane was working its way up from Naples). Mark was posting regular updates on FB and had retained his sense of humour because while they were expecting flooding, being at "the nose-bleed-inducing height of 21 feet above sea level" ...... they figured they would be ok! That's funny because they used to live over here in the alps and I, personally, live at over 2,400 feet! Still, I haven't heard word from him/them since so while I'm assuming they are ok I don't know how much damage they might have suffered (if any). Luckily my friend in central Florida reported back about 36 hours later to say they were fine, although there was quite a bit of damage and debris around. But, she had nothing but praise for the front-line workers who restored electricity in about 30 hours and were already removing debris. So while I am on that subject, Nathalie, shout out to you - I hope you and yours are ok!

On another depressing note, yesterday was the first day of one of my meetings. The "big" meetings for me are July and December but these meetings are also important. I guess the team spends about 18 months preparing the meeting and then a delegation flies in from capital and the meeting takes place. Anyway, I left home at 6.30 a.m. in order to be well in time for any last minute things that might pop up before the meeting. Got stuck about 1 km from the border and then crawled into Switzerland, which was made all the more weird by the fact that traffic on Wednesdays is usually lighter. But not at bit of it yesterday. Eventually I managed to make it to the car park but then found out that the road up ahead was completely blocked by a horrendous accident and even the buses were being re-routed back into France!!! Crikey, so here's me thinking you work for 18 months to get the meeting ready and then show up late!!! But in the end, what can you do about it? It turns out there had been a fatal crash up ahead and I'm not quite sure how a single crash (at 6 a.m. no less) can close such a wide road but ..... Sadly, a young motorcyclist died in a head on collision with a car at exactly the same spot as the young female cyclist died in January. Absolutely tragic. In fact, there were two fatal motorcycle collisions in Geneva at around the same time here in Geneva which tends to put life and "things" in perspective, I can tell you. No-one is going to put on your gravestone "was always on time for meetings" are they? So in the end I just thought, to hell with it, every possible thing that could be done in advance I had already done so my colleagues would just have to pick up my files and trot on down to the conference centre. Quite by chance, I actually made it there only 10 minutes late (but three-and-a-half hours after I had left home), but again, the world wouldn't have stopped rotating if I hadn't would it. My colleague was telling me this morning that the young man killed was a colleague of her husband's, although he didn't know him very well as he was a relatively new recruit. Only 30 years old and there was talk that the driver of the car was drunk!!! At 6 a.m.!!! I guess we won't know the truth of that for some time!

But not wanting to end on such a gloomy note, Sam was recounting her "prat fall" in her latest blog post - you know, that time when you went "arse over tit" (as my dad would say) in front of everyone. We've all done it I suppose so I was trying to think which one of my prat falls I would consider my most public, though not necessarily the most spectacular. And I came up with a time I was down in Annecy looking for a kind of small deckchair thingy for my garden. As I was wandering round I spotted exactly the thing so decided to try it out. When I sat down I went straight through the fabric of the chair and ended up getting wedged in the wooden frame! I had to call out to someone to help me up (it must have looked pretty funny to him though). But, I actually didn't break the chair - I reckon someone had either broken it and wrapped the fabric back over the wooden support or, more likely, had deliberately cut it through as the cut was very clean. Either way, I wasn't at my most elegant with my backside stuck in this deckchair I can tell you. Which brings to mind another incident which actually made the TV in the UK a few years ago. There was a rather large lady on a beach in the south of England (Brighton I think but can't be sure). Anyway, it was a pebbly beach and with her weight her chair started sinking further and further into the sand, all the while she was stuck in the chair. Unfortunately the tide started coming in so they had to call the emergency services to get her and/or the chair out of there. Now on the face of it, it was your typical fat lady funny with plenty of spectators, but while it indeed had the makings of comedy gold, I can't help feeling how dreadfully humiliated that poor lady must have felt. Urggghhh, life/people can be cruel sometimes can't it!



Monday, 4 September 2017

3 lbs down!!

Yipee, I'm down three pounds since my weigh-in last Monday. Although to be honest, I kinda wished I had taken yesterday's figures because I was down 6 lbs then!! Can you believe it! Well I guess it's probably just as well I didn't go with yesterday's reading because that would probably only mean I would be way back up again anyway, but it just goes to show (for me anyway) exactly how "hormonal" I am! I was feeling really bloated the other week when I hit my new "high" and last week I already felt so much better. I don't know if it was laying off the fruit, more exercise or a combination of the two, but either way I'll take it. I still don't think I'll feel like I'm actually "losing weightt" though until I get another 2 lbs or so off - what I would consider "real weight" as opposed to hormones. Still, I'll take 3 lbs.

What's kinda stupid really, though, is the fact that I just signed up for a cake decorating course in October! I must be nuts, but to be fair, I have always wanted to know how to decorate cakes properly using fondant icing and I finally ferreted out a one-day course right down the road here in Geneva. In any case, I can always bring it in to work and it will go in about 10 minutes flat. Years ago, my dear old mom used to make her Christmas cake well in advance of Christmas and "feed" it regularly with whiskey. Then she would try to make a smooth icing topping but always cocked it up, at which point she roughed it all over with a fork and it became a "snow scene"! Ha! Not that we cared of course because it tasted good anyway, and it all tastes the same on the way down doesn't it.

In a previous post I had talked about how my friend and I got all kitted out to "go hiking" when we went down to the Cascade de Seythened and the grotto, only to find that it was a 30-minute stumble through the grotto all told! Oh well, we didn't know did we, but I suspect we were a bit overdressed! My oldest son was four when his brother was born, and I remember when the baby was 11 days old we took a drive down to Sixt, Fer à Cheval. The oldest, André, decided that since he was the big boy now he wanted to go hiking with his dad, while mom stayed at the café with the baby. So we got him all dressed up with his boots and waterproof and his little backpack, and off went the Dynamic Duo - only to return again about 10 minutes later! I had only just had time to change the baby's nappy and get him re-dressed when they were back. Come to think of it, that just about sums up André's attitude to exercise even today I think, although I hear he was swimming every day before the wedding in an effort to lose some weight! The youngest and his girlfriend regularly go off hiking but not so much the oldest. Although it did used to tickle me when the kids would hike up to spend the night on the Plateau de Cenise. They would drive up as far as they could and then hike the last bit in order to camp out in their sleeping bags on top of the Plateau but - get this - Jordan would actually take a heavy wooden garden chair strapped to his back! When I told him at the very least to take a lightweight fold up fishing chair he said no as he preferred the wooden one! Oh to be young again. They go up there at least once a year though to sleep out (they don't even take a tent) but what is nice is that they always take flowers to scatter where the ashes of their friend Hugo were scattered seven years ago after he, and another friend, were killed in a car crash. It's so lovely that they still keep Hugo and Kevin in their hearts!

Plateau de Cenise



Friday, 1 September 2017

Throwing down the gauntlet!




In my previous post I was talking about my latest gung ho decision to get into some kind of shape and lose weight. I have been thinking for some time that apart from the weight gain that seems to blight most women at menopause, I am pretty sure my love of fruit (and all things fructose-related) might have something to do with my weight gain. I know fruit is good for you but apparently the fructose can really play havoc with "insulin response" (I couldn't explain that all technically if I tried). I had been debating leaving the fruit alone to give it a try and this week I have done just that. It was difficult the first couple of day, what with all those beautiful peaches and nectarines at the market, but after seven days I am not craving it quite so much. I then decided to re-watch the Fixing Dad documentary (I have mentioned it before) and on the strength of that documentary I bought the book and re-read it last week. It's a very easy read and combining that information with the very-easy-to use "Myfitnesspal.com" it was quite an eye-opener for me to see just how much sugar I was getting through, even when, apparently, the calories were quite low. MFP recommends keeping to under 45g of sugar a day and I was going waaaay over that. So I have had to have a total re-think on that one. My first weigh-in will be on Monday so we'll see how that goes.

I had also mentioned previously that I wanted to start getting out and exploring again, so when we had the post-wedding brunch in a small hotel about an hour from home I picked up some of their touristy info available in the reception. I had seen a leaflet on a waterfall called Cascade de Seythenex not too far from here which was located right next to a grotto. So a friend and I set off not really knowing what to expect but all equipped to "hike a little" and explore.

Thankfully I wasn't expecting too much (and so I wasn't disappointed) but the waterfall was quite small and the grotto -  had we not been held back by the guide having to give explanations in both English and French - we could have done the whole thing in 15 minutes!  Oh well, at least we made the effort. That being said, it was a very pretty little spot and a glorious day so we didn't actually "lose out".



I couldn't quite catch the zip-liner in the background!

Pretty little "dolls house" (about 6 feet high) at the restaurant



Inside the grotto - we had to hunch down all the way
Since I have a somewhat Gary Larsonesque sense of humour I thought the photos inside the grotto came out looking much like what an ear, nose and throat specialist much see every day! Well, actually, I have a pretty dirty sense of humour so that wasn't my first thought - but I'm trying to keep it classy here (fat chance)!  So while the waterfall and the grotto weren't exactly that exciting, coming back along Lake Annecy we took the lake road rather than the highway and I had my first, ever view of Talloires, which is at the opposite end of the lake from Annecy itself, and it was beautifuil! It is just a small town, as opposed to the tourist magnet which is Annecy, and I just loved it.



When my brother came out in May and we took the dinner/dance boat trip on the lake, it must have been Talloires that they was all lit up at the far end - and very lovely it is too. I have to get my backside into gear one weekend before the weather turns and get back down there - I mean, it's only about 90 minutes away!

And finally, an old friend from my first days here in Geneva called to let me know that she had bought tickets to the "Simply Youthful Theatre" (the under-18s anglophone theatre group here in Geneva) and did I want to go (she still supports them because her daughter used to be involved with them)?  You can tell we're getting old because we actually went to the three o'clock matinée!!! but that was intentional as (a) it wouldn't be so crowded (this particular theatre gets extremely hot) and (b) we had time to go out to dinner afterwards and have a good old chinwag.

They were performing "Legally Blond". I had never seen the movie because it just wasn't the kind of thing that appealed to me but while it wasn't the best performance I have seen this group put on (that accolade is still unbeaten by their performance of The Addams Family), they were still very, very good, with the young Reese-Witherspoon lookalike hamming it up for all she was worth. Well done indeed kids.



Turn that frown upside down!

I suspect I might be a bit weird but I always feel rather glad when the summer months of July and August start drawing to an end. It's most likely because I don't like the heat, and although it's still in the 80s and 90s here at least in the mornings it is cooler. I guess I'm just not made for the tropics!!!

Anyway, the last couple of days I have hopped off the bus on the bridge and walked the last 30 minutes to work - still a bit sweaty but nothing like it has been. Yesterday morning I was stopped by a man who asked me for some money "for something to eat". I hate it because I genuinely don't know what to do in these cases. He looked perfectly fine, not skinny or dirty and didn't seem to be a Roma but still I didn't know what to do so I just said "no". I never give to the Roma since the time I saw a woman sitting on the floor outside the supermarket with a sleeping baby in her arms (drugged up I suppose) and the next day I saw a different woman but with the same baby! So that's me done with them! A few years ago, when I was still driving all the way in to work, I would often see a Roma man panhandling at the traffic lights, a pitiful look on his face and pleading eyes. One day I was stopped at the red light where he was panhandling when a police car pulled up behind me. The pitiful look disappeared, the cap went back on his head and he trotted off down a side street, completely forgetting his limp! We do see quite a few obviously very disabled beggars here - but it makes me wonder if these countries are sending all their disabled beggars here or if there is just a disproportionate number of these people born disabled. I can't figure it out!

On the other side of that story, a few years ago I was in a supermarket parking lot with my friend when a very skinny young lad came running up to us and asked for money. I said "no" and got in the car, but my friend said "we both have sons his age and he looks like he hasn't eaten for weeks, what do you think?" My response was "what about drugs" and she just said "well let's give him the benefit of the doubt", so we handed him five Swiss francs. I hope he got something to eat, and in the end I agreed with her. Then two Saturdays ago I was coming out of the tobacconists and saw a man, probably in his 40s, sitting on the floor begging. I don't know why but I just gave him one euro. Then last Saturday, coming out of the same tobacconist's I heard the emergency services pull up and they were ferrying the same man away on a stretcher - and that's when I noticed the empty booze bottle sitting beside him. I figured it was booze anyway with him and I honestly have no rhyme or reason as to when or to whom I give as I still haven't quite figured it out. I think I mentioned before that I pick up stuff every week when shopping and when I have a crateful I take it down to the local food bank. Well this week, as I went in to drop off my donation, the older chappie there gave me a big smile and said "oh thank goodness, we are getting to that time of the year again, and the ladies have just been out shopping". I noticed last year, towards November, they were starting to run short of supplies before their legally-allowed canvassing in front of the supermarket in October (they are allowed to do this two days a year). I will always continue to give to them (run by the splendid Red Cross volunteers), but as for individual beggars I just don't know.

On another note, I sent off an email to the French authorities at the end of July asking what formalities I would have to complete to request French citizenship. I was starting to get the impression that France must be full up because four weeks later I still hadn't had a reply, but this week I finally got one. The in-joke is that if you want to invade France you do it between 12 and 2 pm because everyone will be at lunch (true) or during August because they are all on holiday - also seemingly true.  We'll see. I started reading up some of the stuff they request and yikes - just yikes. Of course I can get it all done but I just thank God I am "administratively minded" because that is one helluva lot of paperwork to ferret out, and even then, I am looking at about two years before it would go through (just in time for Brexit or thereabouts).

And finally, now that the kids are starting back to school, the bloody traffic is already hell. It took me two hours to get home again the other night!! Anyway, as I mentioned above, I have been starting to try to get in some walking now that the weather is cooler, but last night it started to rain and of course the traffic as I was about to leave was already gridlocked. I work on the north side of Lake Geneva and the train station is also on this side, so my bus gets to snake its way up to the train station and then loop back round to come across the bridge to the south side. Just getting to the train station can sometimes take an hour (it only takes 25 minutes to walk it!!!) but you don't know what it's going to be like until you are already stuck on the bus. Anyway, last night I thought I might once again hop on the ferry boat to take me over the lake, but I missed it by about three minutes. So, I decided to just keep on walking and in 40 minutes I was past the train station, past the end of the lake and over the bridge!!! Not bad eh! I actually don't mind walking but realize it might be time to get some waterproof shoes if I'm going to keep this up! The farting noises coming from my wet shoes was quite embarrassing!

Still, what with my son just turning 30 I realize I will be 59 at the end of this month!!! Which means ..... drum roll please .... bloody hell - 60 next year! And at the end of last week I was feeling really bloated (hormonal/water retention/just plain fat after pigging out?) and made the mistake of stepping on the scales. YIIIIIIKES! I had actually hit the exact weight I was when I was nine months pregnant with my second son 25 years ago and I had put on 23 kg with that pregnancy!!!!! Shame on me! So calculating my 59th birthday on 24 September 2017, ergo my 60th birthday on 24 September 2018(!!!) that would pretty well give me 52 weeks to lose a pound a week before my 60th right? (Actually, I don't need to lose 50 lbs as I was quite tiny up until about my 46th birthday (I know I weighed 66 kg then), but 40 lbs off wouldn't go amiss. I know people seem to want to get "fit at 50" but obviously that ship sailed aaaaages ago, but oh well, here goes. Let's see how I get on!


Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Happy birthday André!

Although we got together as a family the other Saturday night, today is my oldest son's actual 30th birthday. Wow, talk about weird - having such an old guy for a son!!! When did that happen?

Anyway, he went from this:

Ah, how cute!
To this:

And even cuter!
Much love to them both and I hope the next 30 years bring you health, wealth and happiness!

Old dogs and new tricks!

What a joke that is! I'm talking about my brother and teaching an old dog new tricks but, on an only slightly different level, I guess I could be talking about myself too. I can't say I am particularly interested in technology, don't have to have the latest gadgets and only learn how to use something when I either have to or it interests me. I learned how to use my new sewing machine because it interests me - my iphone - nah, not so much. In fact, the only reason I have an iphone is because the Blackberry I had kept dying on me so I thought I had better "upgrade". As to all the functionalities, I'm not that interested, although I have to admit it can be a bit embarrassing when I am out with friends and we try to set up another date - they all check on their phones and I have to think really hard to remember because my appointments are all written down in my diary! Of course I use a computer extensively for my work and am forever grateful that I know how to use it, but in and of itself, I'm embarrassingly disinterested.

That being said, I positively look like Bill Gates compared to my brother (or both of them, in fact). When his wife died suddenly last year, in addition to being absolutely devastated P was also in the unfortunate situation of "being the one who didn't know where anything was". In fact he told me that one of the hardest things was figuring out such things as where she ordered the heating fuel from and so on, as he had no idea.  I do remember trying to get my ex involved in this kind of stuff but he too just wasn't interested. Every so often he would do his nut about how "someone was obviously draining the bank account" (I guess he meant me) because we had no money, but during our divorce I was able to demonstrate extensively just where all the money was going - and it sure as hell had nothing to do with me! Don't laugh but I also always did our accounts basically on the back of an envelope because I knew how much was going into the bank and I was supposed to know how much was going out. This didn't quite work out when I was married because he was constantly spending and I had no idea what on. Since I am on my own, however, I am pretty much spot on. (On a side note, my friend Steve, who came over from England over Christmas, laughed when I told him I do my accounts on the back of an envelope and have envelopes in a tin under my armchair with all the money divied up for various bills.  He was incredulous that "you have a Swiss bank account and do your accounting on the back of an envelope"!)  Note: it's not that kind of Swiss bank account but yep, that's about the truth of it!

Anyway, back to my brother. When his wife died he didn't have a credit card, barely knew where the cheque book was, didn't have a mobile phone and couldn't use the internet or email.  He was supposed to go to Greece with me the first year after her death but wouldn't book it himself through the English travel agent because "I don't have a credit card and I can't use email"! So I booked it from over here using my credit card and then he wanted to send me a cheque in pounds!!! I told him they haven't used cheques in Switzerland since 2003 (true) and a cheque in sterling was no good to me. Talk about hard work - sometimes he's like pulling teeth!

I used to phone him every week to see how he was getting on and after the first year, when all the "first" anniversaries were over he began to do a little better. He told me that he desperately missed female company and while he has made friends at his widows and widowers club, he misses being able to chat to a woman over dinner and so on. Not that anyone would or could ever replace his wife, but he just wanted some companionship - as do we all I suppose!

Well finally he seems to have met someone who makes him laugh again. She is his age and also a widow. It is in the very early stages and they won't be seeing each other an awful lot since she lives 150 miles away, but so far they seem to be making each other happy.  His new lady friend, M, is also trying to drag him at least into the 20th century technology-wise (she can forget the 21st century I think), so he has now got a phone, can reply to an email as long as you write to him first, and got his first look at Facebook the other day and was stunned to see pictures of his recent trip out to France to visit me. He loved it. And most recently, M has got him turned on to Whatsapp so that the hours they spend on the phone every night are no longer costing them a fortune!

So all seemed to be going along swimmingly - until last night, that is! I had just got into bed to read at 11 p.m. when I get a Whatsapp message from my brother.

P - "that thing I was saying about the shoes, why did you take them, now I have nothing" (or something along these lines).

Me - "Say what?"

P - "I only bought those shoes because I thought they were smart.  Blah, blah, blah"

Me - "Come again? Hey, who do you think you have been chatting with for the last five minutes?"

P - "You, M, of course!"

Me - "Ha, bloody ha. You have been divulging your deepest secrets to your sister since, oh, about 11.05 pm!"

P - "Oh, shit, please please forget we had this conversation. I'm going to take myself off and give myself a good talking to"!

Me - "No worries, it's forgotten already. Night!"

Except I didn't forget it - I just wrote it down here so that I would never forget that conversation!  Tee hee! Actually there was nothing raunchy or super-secretive about the conversation at all (much to my disappointment) but he sure as hell wasn't making any sense to me, until I figured out what was going on when he sent a photo of what looked like an older lady and two younger females (turns out it was his lady friend and her granddaughters).  But - and I'm sure we've all done it - it just goes to show you have to be really careful before you let that trigger finger loose!

Old dog and new tricks!