Friday, November 27, 2015

Paris Memorial

Holy God, give strength to those who mourn,
healing to those wounded,
light and peace to those who have died;
and grant us justice in the face of wickedness.

Two weeks ago on Sunday, The Man and I and others with a personal connection to France were invited by our vicar to participate in a short memorial ceremony at the beginning of the morning service. We each lit one of the candles seen in the photograph and then the vicar read the words which are below the photograph of Paris. For me the words were absolutely right and I greatly appreciate the thought and care he took writing them. It seems appropriate to share them today, when Paris is holding a moving ceremony to honour the victims of such evil in our world.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Halloween, Thanksgiving and !!!

Each year as Halloween approaches and November 1st looms, I bemoan the fact that the Festive Season in "thrust" upon us. Part of this is the American in me that wants to get Thanksgiving Day properly celebrated and out of the way before getting on with the traditional blitz that entails the month of December. And perhaps part of it is my Swiss/German heritage that waits for the coming of Advent before all hell breaks loose.

So imagine my surprise at myself when a few days before Halloween, I came upon the 'Christmas Shop' in Marks and Spencer and felt a sudden uplifting of my spirits at the sight of all the sparkling ornaments and jolly old St. Nicks! I suddenly felt the lost sense of excitement that Christmas used to bring to me but hasn't for many years now.

The past few months have been for me one of frustration and sadness at the state of the world, of Europe and of attitudes so many of us have towards those less fortunate than ourselves in the West. The Global State of Mind is pretty depressing right now. Yesterday's meeting in Malta proved once again that Europe is impossible to run. Millions of people are desperately trying to leave deathly dangers and we look at them and wring our hands and can barely bear to see. The idea of ever closer union among European nations seems to me to be a sick joke. One of the reasons for fighting wars in the Middle East was to keep the battles 'over there' not 'here'! Well guess what -- there is no escaping the consequences of that stupidity and the sooner we figure that out the better. And 'not in my back yard' is not the right answer...

So while I am feeling all uplifted and happy at the onslaught of the celebrations to come, it will behoove me to remember the message on the Christmas card that reads "Peace on Earth and Good Will to All Men"!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Let the Projects Begin

Two weeks ago today, after what seemed like an interminable drive, we arrived back to our UK home. I have almost, but not quite finished unpacking. This is easily done when the final bit is in the guest room and easily ignored -- but I will get on with it and finish the job before the week is done -- at least that's my plan!!

I have, however, begun my first project -- a new kitchen. And I am a bit  nervous about it . So many decisions and so many limitations, too. My son does a great deal of work with the family firm that is going to do it. The fact that he has had such good experience with them is instrumental in getting on with the project in the first place. I would have no idea how to choose.

So in they came with their tape measures and listened to what we knew we wanted and what we didn't want and discussed various possibilities. I liked hearing that the cost was going to be a lot less that what I probably thought it would be. Let's hope that is true, but then I have no idea how much these endeavours cost! Anyway, a few days later my son delivered the initial plan and we were able to put some ideas together.

The room is not what you would call small. But it does have limitations -- one being a wonderful tiled Victorian fireplace that gives a special charm to the room, but takes up valuable space. And the second being  the door into the room takes away the one remaining corner, which limits where the main section of the kitchen fittings can be located. We are, however, opting for built in features, which will help give the room a less cluttered and more spacious look. For the design of the cabinets, we really like the 'Shaker' look, which also will not clash with the Victorian house, nor overwhelm the room.

One thing about limitations though is that they limit indecision -- needs must, etc. My son and I discussed our options and quickly agreed the necessary changes and went to see the designer. She and her husband, who also own the business, are now away on holiday for two weeks. But she was very helpful and likeable and we are looking forward to seeing what she comes up with upon her return. 

And where is The Man in all this? He has been banned from the planning. Actually, he banned himself! When the time comes he and I will be off to Portugal for three weeks and my youngest son will be in charge of seeing the work done! At least that is the plan at the moment ...

Thursday, October 01, 2015

All Is Revealed

Molly came the closest. While coffee or tea can be served, the table is actually made to hold a wine bottle as well as stemware... very handy for the back gardens of Britain and France!

Monday, September 28, 2015

A Belated Birthday Present

The Man is holding a very special gift that was presented to me from some very good friends here in France. And very appropriate  it is for me, too. But do any of you have any idea what it is?

I will show you all tomorrow...

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The History of Humankind

Throughout our time on earth, ours has been the stories of mass migrations and social upheaval. By now it should have taught us that not only is migration inevitable, it is necessary for our ultimate survival.

Building fences or walls, sending armed marshalls or guards only foments hatred, dissent and fear among all the peoples affected and separates us from each other in ways that can take centuries to overcome. And all to no avail because one way or another migratory change is going to happen.

So why then are we all not taking positive steps to help incorporate new societies into the fabric of our own and stop wasting time and resources in preventing what is impossible to prevent.

Of course there are moral issues. We are watching scenes of  devastating  poignancy daily on our television screens and we are being threatened with dire consequences if we don't stem the tide of the masses that will overwhelm us. And so we convince our inner souls that it is right and necessary  to turn our backs on those who so desperately seek our help.

What is very disturbing to me is the dissention and, indeed, vitriol within our own society, within families and among friends -- nevermind Internet colleagues -- that is now rife. Personally, i come from a nation of immigrants and cannot forget that heritage. We are in fact all products of ages of immigration and migration and it is at our peril to forget that.

Friday, August 21, 2015

and All Is as It Should Be -- More or Less

So when I last wrote we were about to be beseiged by guests, had no television and the Internet had failed. Oh and we were in the midst of filling the new pool that was replacing the one the  mice had eaten...

For two days we filled the pool with  the garden  hose. The Man  was taking a well-deserved nap and I had come to the terrace with a cup of.  tea and a slice of cake. "Oh my" I  thought to myself, " that pool seems to be bulging out a bit. I will call Him when I  finish  my  tea?" Suddenly mid-bite I heard the sound of a wave breaking a few yards away from my back!

I screamed loudly for the Man that the wall of the pool had collapsed. Indeed, I thought the thing would be empty by the time He arrived. It wasn't but had lost more than half the water! Using brooms and logs as wedging/support devices we have been able to secure the wall enough to fill the pool with about 20 inches of water -- far short of the 4 feet it is  supposed to hold, but enough to entertain the three girls when they were here and to cool off ourselves on some very hot days.
This all because The Man did not adequately level off the ground when setting up to fill. We know for next year, provided something doesn't eat it!

Our guests arrived and brought with them a new satellite  box. And I  am happy  to  report that we are now able to receive our daily injections of British television. The problem seems to have been that our television is not HD and so the signal came through all mangled looking and pixelated. The new box has two selections for each channel -- one HD and the other not. So that problem was gratefully and rather easily solved!

The Internet, is more or less working. I contacted 03 and explained that their roaming card did not work on my mobile router. After many hours on the phone they said they would continue to  have their  engineers working on it and would be back in touch with me. It had been necessary for them to make a few changes to the settings on my account, which I thought had been made before I left the UK. The problem I now have is with the connection in this part of rural France not being totally dependable except for  the  wee hours of the morning and now and then the rest of  the  time. So for example I will be able to publish this fairly easily as long as I don't try to publish pictures. (Thank goodness for friends with a splendid Internet  connection!)

My last annoyance came shortly after our guests arrived on the 19th of July. I was seated in the blue chair above. It is very low on the ground and when I  tried to get up I felt  an excruciating pain along the outside of my thigh. It is now the 21st of  August and this week for the first time all symptoms of pain and discomfort have gone! I can now climb up and down stairs, get out of bed, get out of chairs, in and out of the car and even up off the ground -- and it is painless!

And now I have real problems to think about -- such as family in South Korea with that thug in the North threatening war. And I really do worry about the thousands of refugees trying so hard to escape murder and mayhem with their families and nowhere to find a safe harbour. If only my little worries and annoyances were all anyone had to cope with...

Sunday, August 02, 2015

France Profond and All Is as It Should Be -- finally!

It is a very long drive from Southport to the Lot. We left on July 8th and arrived here on the 10th. The house was in its usual state -- lots of dust and spiders. Nothing unusual -- that is until there was a 'bang' of sorts and the electricity went off. After a short investigation The Man got us re connected and we are still nome the wiser as to what happened..

The result of this scare, however were frayed tempers resulting in The Broad storming out in 38C heat to walk to the village shop to by tomatoes-- which I had forgotten to by earlier.

The next day all was much calmer and necessary apologies were made or I would have stayed on my high horse and time was not to be wasted ...

Alors ... time could not be wasted because we had a family of five coming to stay for 4 days in less than a weeks time. Fortunately, the grass had been  cut  and the terrace had been successfully treated to stay clean so all The Man had to do was get the swimming pool up and filled with water.

Ha! We arrived on Friday. The Man had set aside Sunday to set up the pool. Sunday came and with great anticipation he began the task. From the terrace I heard a sudden anguished "OH, NO"!!!  Upon opening out the pool he discovered to his absolute horror that mice had ingested much of the bottom with giant Swiss cheese effect...

Ho, hum... the discovery on Sunday in La France Profond meant that  a replacement pool woul have to wait until the next day. Fortunately, we found another pool the next day. It was even bigger that the one the mice ate. 18 feet across instead of 15 and 4 feet deep instead of 3.5.but of course that presented us with problems we hadn't anticipated...

In the meantime I was fighting  my yearly battle to get some kind of
Internet connection. Before we left England for France I  learned that I mcould get a pay-as-you-go connection with Three -- 10 gigabytes for £15 per month and that I would pay the same amount while in France. I have a little mobile router that enables me to do this,  but when I got here I could not get connected! Needless to say I was not very happy about that.

Then we tried to get the TV up and running. A good friend was coming to watch the Wimbleton Final. The reception kept breaking up. In fact it was just impossible to watch. Then we discovered that we could not receive any of the BBC channels! We know that we are on the edge of the 'foot print' but last year we were fine.

Anyway we were not fine now and The Man had two theories. The first being that the decoding box was old and had been playing up for some time. To that end he had our son get us a new satellite box and give it to the family coming to stay with us in a few days time. His second theory was that we needed to invest in a larger satellite dish...

In the meantime back at the pool, which was hour after hour after even more hours filling with water. This pool took a lot more than the mouse-ingested pool! And we were about to discover that having the groung absolutely level is very very important. .

Thursday, June 18, 2015


At breakfast our 1st morning
My birthday  surprise was revealed  to  be  two weeks in Kyrenia in Northern  Cyprus!  The man had spent 3 very happy years ar RAF Aquatieri 50 years ago! Except for a 2 week sojourn in 1974 he has not been back. You could say a lot has happened in the interim.

Cyprus is a very popular  destination for many British people and over my years in England  i have heard a lot about it, but this is my first trip. For the past few  years  we have heard from many that the Greek south of Cyprus has been spoiled by over commercialization and beaches that have been  ruined by tall buildings and sprawling hotels. We were advised
That to experience the 'old Cyprus' we should go to the Turk.ish north. And infeed here we are in a beautiful little hotel in Kyrenia right by the  sea.

we arrived late on the night of the 10th of June. Our travel rep had sent a car to meet us in Larnaca in the south of the island so we had to cross the line dividing the country and show passports to gain admittance. It wasn't until a few days later when we were driving around that we saw the irrefutable evidence of Turkish presence. Time and as we drive from one place to another we come upon wire fences with signs warning all not to take pictures and saying that it is a military zone. Several times The Man has been thwarted  when attempting to find some place that he had known long ago only to find the way blocked.

The Cypriots that we have spoken to have all said that they are hoping  that  their small country will be reunited in the next couple of years. But I see many signs that this may be wishful thinking. Everywhere are Turkish monuments to their presence. These monuments are to be seen in the towns and atop cliffs and embellished in grand public work schemes -- as if to announce tonthe world that "Here we are and here we mean to stay".

Sunday, May 31, 2015

"In My Day"

I suppose it's because there is a big birthday coming up in just under three weeks that has me thinking about being one of the elderly -- a 'senior' -- an old fart -- etc. ad nauseum. Some friends of mine tell me that being around the grandchildren makes them feel young -- not me -- it wears me out and brings on serious bouts of impatience and grumpiness.

More and more I am using expressions that I remember my grandparents and aunties using, like 'in my day' or 'when I was a girl' or even 'back in the 60's' or worse, 'back in the 60's when I was young...'
When I was a young woman, it wasn't a problem finding a job -- there were always loads in the paper ...
In my day, I had no trouble getting an apartment that I could afford on my own ...
It was all so Happy Days and comedy sit-com-land! Can you tell I come from white middle class America? Indeed!

I used to love comedy programs -- now I can't appreciate the comedians my children find hilarious. Most movies do not interest me at all and when I go The Man doesn't want to go with me because the sound is so loud it hurts his ears. We are both old codgers and there is no going back...

We are going away for two weeks for my birthday to a warm Mediterranean location. I have not been told exactly where -- which is fine with me as I do like surprises. And old codger that I am I do still enjoy travelling -- although the long haul trips do take their toll on me when I get back home. And my back aches a lot -- well everything aches first thing in the morning.

The weatherman said this morning that for the next couple of days it will feel more like the end of October and early November than the 1st of June. Needless to say, he got that right. I am off now for my slippers and very cozy dressing gown  before settling down with a hot drink and  the next installment of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell...