So, so tired, 13th January 2018

Firstly, yes this is still on my old blog site, unfortunately there are problems with the new one, and Pat has been so busy with work that he hasn’t had time to sort. We will get there, we promise.

Secondly, why so tired, well I’ve been busy. With paid work but also doing things, such as painting wardrobes, and the downstairs toilet (well the room not the actual toilet). Yep, the toilet painting happened over two nights this week – before I sat down to watch TV – but after I had finished my paid work. Part of what I mentioned in my last blog – the idea of getting a few more things done in the house. It also enabled us to use a paint that we had bought cheaply thinking it was one colour and discovering it wasn’t. It was a lighter version of the colour we wanted, but it has worked and it does mean that all it took was time and no extra money.

The wardrobe, well that has been on my To Do list, pretty much since we moved into the house. I actually like the wardrobes we have, we purchased them as part of the house purchase when we bought it nearly 4 years ago. I even like the colour of the wood, but there is sooooooo much wood in this house and very little of it matching that something had to be done.

Last weekend I sanded, painted and waxed my wardrobe. I really like the way it has turned out. Today I started on Pat’s wardrobe, realising that it would take me a bit more work as he has drawers in his wardrobe, but not quite realising how much more work. But at the end of today, I have sanded it all and got the first coat of paint on, tomorrow the final paint and the wax. Why the wax, basically because I started out using what paint we had, and that paint was matt and I didn’t like the feel of it and I had a big pot of wax from when I had used some chalk paint on a furniture item and the with the wax on it just feels so much nicer. I did have to add a bit of bling with the silver handles on the doors.
My apologies about the before photo didn’t get one before I started and had to dig one out from when we had a look at the house back in 2013!

Before

After

Needless to say at the end of today, I’m looking forward to a glass of wine and my dinner, I have very sore shoulders and I feel somewhat shattered. I think tonight might be spent in front of the TV.

Until next week, a bientot.

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Decision Making and the Use of Time – 30th December 2017

The New Year is nearly here. I spend my time between Christmas and New Year thinking about what I would like my coming year to be about and like. There is a little bit of fanciful thinking (ie. if I won lotto what would I do) but generally it is a bit deeper than that. I looked at last year’s resolutions and laughed because I can recycle them this year as due to 2017 being one of those years, where life just didn’t go to plan. This is what I had listed for 2017 (which was also a list made up of previous resolutions):

Join a walking group – this was from 2015 and we haven’t done it yet, but it came up again recently in a discussion with Pat as a way of improving our French and getting out a bit more.
• To spend less than we bring in this was from 2016 – which may be obvious but this year we overspent, which of course means dipping into the retirement savings – not something we want to do.
• My biggy for this year – this was from 2009 – only watching tv on weekends – this is to help me get a few more things done to the house (like making the couch cover that I’ve been thinking about for 8 months and had the material for, for 4 months).

My resolution to watch less tv, is an interesting one and one I think I will slightly modify this coming year – to something along the lines of – make considered choices with my time. So what do I mean by this is actually thinking about the decisions I make – if I want to watch tv – that’s fine, but to understand in making that choice I am choosing not to do other things – such as painting. So hopefully I will choose to do what is important to me at that point in time, whether it be making a sofa cover (still not done), my French homework, walking the dog, or watching an hour of one of my Japanese anime. I can make the decision that I consider the best at that time. It will be an interesting experiment. Though in a book I’ve been reading, they state the best thing is to schedule your time, so you know what you are doing when and you are less likely to make the easy choice (such as watching TV). Maybe I should do both?

Pat and I had a quiet Christmas and enjoyed our beef wellington rather than turkey. We also liked our presents to one another and Siena definitely loves her new toy and Wallis his new bed (he is now off the end of the bed – yah). However I’ve been thinking that next year it might be fun to do something different. Not sure what, but would love any ideas/suggestions that you have (travelling for a long time not an option).

We have enjoyed our week off between Christmas and New Year though the weather has not been great – mostly wet and windy and today very windy and lots of rain. We did however get to go into Limoges to see Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi. I enjoyed it, a lot; it’s not the most intellectual of films, but a lot of fun.

Look out for our new blog next Saturday. We will do a link to it from our current blogs.

Thanks for reading.

Happy Birthday to my cousin C – hope you have had a fabulous day 🙂

Finally – just as a “wow doesn’t it look so much better” a photo of my thyroid op scar – it’s now been 6 months and while my voice hasn’t healed 100% (still no upper range and can’t project/yell) I’m happy with the scar.

the day the dressing came off (2 weeks after op)

6 months later

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Lunch Anyone? – 16th December 2017

We’ve been back in France for just over a week and have had two lovely lunches since we have been back. One last Saturday and one yesterday; last Saturday’s was with a group who normally have mid-week lunches and we were very happy that the Christmas one was on a Saturday. For once we weren’t the first to leave as we didn’t have to rush back to work. However, 4pm did feel a little late to finish, since we still had to go and do the food shopping before we went home and as it’s winter here, it was getting dark. Our other lunch was with Pat’s Wednesday French class; we headed off to the local training college and had a wonderful meal for not very much money. It was a set menu – starting with Cauliflower soup, then Limousine beef, cheese, profiteroles and coffee. All very nice, and the steak was superb, one of the best we have had, cooked to perfection. I did feel for our waiter, as he obviously had been taking English classes and his supervisor wanted him to talk to us in English, he was struggling. I think he was very thankful when we answered in French.

I haven’t done too much else this week except work, we have had a lot of rain, though today is thankfully dry. I have enjoyed sitting in the living room at night and either reading or watching tv, very pleased with the space.

I have received my first set of results back from art course, and my tutor thinks I have talent. I was very, very pleased to hear that, she has said that I do need to practice more to get the feel for colour pencils but overall she really liked what I had put forward. So, since I was out yesterday and didn’t get a chance to do my art, tomorrow (as more rain is forecast) will be spent doing some art work.

This morning I’m off to visit a friend for coffee, and this afternoon I have to trim the hedge surrounding the gas tank as we have had notification from the gas company that the hedge is too close, and since we are heating the house at the moment, we are going through the gas and will need a refill soon, so the hedge must comply! Hopefully I will not disturb our hedgehog as it has now appears to have gone into hibernation.

For now à bientôt and remember Pat’s blog next week – http://patblog.patbell.co.uk

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A Christmas Feeling – 3rd December 2017

Hello all my readers (all 10 of you) :-), I do apologise for my blog being late, however I am currently in the UK. I’m here as I have a couple of Christmas Do’s to attend. Yep the Christmas feeling is starting to take hold, the Christmas songs are starting to be heard and the drinking and eating has commenced. Last night was my “agency’s” do, in York. Fantastic night was had by all, we started the day by doing a Great Escape (http://www.gr8escapeyork.co.uk/) – we did the New York room, it’s a huge amount of fun. Basically you are in a puzzle room (ours was based around an apartment) and we needed to find the puzzles, solve them and eventually find the Manhattan Diamond. You have an hour in which to do this. It was a great, we just made it with around 2 seconds to spare.

We then went on for a drink and to dinner which was lovely. Though my table were a little perplexed when one of the girls went to the bar after our meal and I asked for a peppermint tea rather than something containing alcohol. Which is part of the reason I’m up this morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed, as I didn’t drink too much, but had a great time. Only problem, where we were for dinner was loud and I really struggled to raise my voice above the noise – not because the noise was too loud – just because I’m still having issues with my voice from my operation.

So what else have I been doing in wonderful York, I’ve met one of my clients, the most amazing woman. I did some clothes shopping, however that did have to be limited as I only have a small suitcase to take back to France. But mostly it has been good fun. Today I head south as I have another Christmas party to go to. It’s one of my clients, and since one of the people I work with closely is leaving, I really want to attend to see everyone (and it has been a couple of years) and to say good bye to my colleague.

I must admit, as I was waiting for the plane to leave at Limoges and watching the snow fall (the first snow for the winter) I did wonder if I was going to get to the UK! It has also snowed here in York, but thankfully by yesterday it was all gone.

I do have to apologise for the lack of extra living room photos, I thought I had taken some before I left France, but I must have done so on Pat’s camera. He does have a good set on his blog from last week. But here is a photo of the River Ouse in York yesterday, where there was a rowing completion happening.

For now à bientôt and remember Pat’s blog next week – http://patblog.patbell.co.uk

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It’s almost finished – 19th November 2017

Yes the living room is almost done, we were finishing off all the small jobs yesterday, furniture is back in place and I’ve been touching up the paint etc. Today, Pat will be completing his desk, so next week Pat’s blog will be photos of the living room, start to finish. I’ve put a couple of photos in as teasers (it’s a slide show & I love my new lights). I’m also in the process of sorting the 1 remaining book case upstairs. Unfortunately we didn’t get rid of all of them but we did get rid of 2 big and one half book case so that is a step forward and it makes my work space feel more spacious.

So, what else has been happening? Well one of my high schools (I attended 3) had its 30 year reunion last weekend. I’m loving the photos on-line and seeing how everyone has changed. It was interesting to speak with my friend S the day after, and how long it has been since our group of friends have seen one another. We did keep in touch for the first couple of years after leaving school, but that slowly petered out and eventually the only person I kept in contact with was S. It seems everyone just went their separate ways. So it got me thinking as to why people who are so close end up not speaking or seeing one another for almost 30 years. I think it is the need to find our own identity, find out who and what we are as individuals. However, I think that took me until my late 30’s to find out who I am, and I think it’s still progressing!

So it is another gloriously sunny, but freezing cold day in France. My jobs for today, planting out my bulbs into pots so I have a display in Spring. Cleaning the house, now that the construction has stopped, all the workbenches, tools and now unused items (e.g. bookcases) can be moved down into the workshop/garage. I will admit, I hate house cleaning, but today really looking forward to it as it means that we will have our house back, and we have decided no big jobs for the next year (though I’m planning out the garden for next year – that is something to take time over). We do both however have a list of lots of little jobs that need to be completed – but they are things that will only take a small amount of time.

For now à bientôt and remember Pat’s blog next week – http://patblog.patbell.co.uk

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Sea, Sand and Hedgehogs! – 3rd November 2017

For those of you who have read Pat’s blog, you will know that we spent a weekend at the beach – something I miss incredibly. There is something about the smell of the ocean that just gets into your psyche and for me being near the sea really invigorates me and makes me happy. We had a great time and it was wonderful to take Siena.

Of course we have been back home now for two weeks and the feeling was starting to wear off, however during the week we discovered that we have hedgehogs in our garden (well at least one). It is so nice to find a live hedgehog. Siena was barking one evening at something on grass and out I went and there it was, so Siena is now not allowed out at night without being on lead, which is good as the other night Pat heard something at the cat flap, assumed it was the cat – opened the door and the hedgehog tried to come in! Obviously the house is warm and outside not so, but we are putting food out for it and hopefully it will find somewhere nice and safe to hibernate over winter. If we get a photo of it before it disappears, I’ll post it on my blog.

So what else has been happening, well I’ve taken up a drawing class as an external student from London College of Art. I’ve just submitted my first set of work, after painting for a couple of years and not doing much drawing, it has been difficult to get back into it. But I am enjoying it. The class is more about using colour pencils than graphite (I feel so much more comfortable with graphite) so it is a challenge. It does mean that I’m no longer doing my watercolour class, but the time is well spent on Friday afternoon’s drawing instead.

The living room is slowly progressing. It does feel like it is taking so long – with work during the week and DIY only at weekends – but hopefully it will be complete soon. I’ve been painting the doors (which Pat has made) for the cupboards, and tomorrow he is making the barn door which will hide the TV. It’s all a lot of work and a lot of paint!

And we know autumn is most definitely here, as the cranes (which can be a herd or dance of cranes) have been migrating south. We had a huge dance over the house during the week.

So for now à bientôt and remember Pat’s blog next week – http://patblog.patbell.co.uk

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Non, Je ne regrette rien – 21st October 2017

At the beginning of the year (I think) I was introduced to the “Barefoot Investor” book by an Australian friend of mine. I read the book at the time and got some good information from it (like the hospital only insurance cover which enabled me to have a private room when I had my operation earlier this year). Recently I revisited the book (and have instigated a few more things). I’ve also been online and had a good read through his old blog posts. In trawling through the blog posts I came across one about regrets of the dying.
It’s here if you want to read it
https://barefootinvestor.com/life-meaning-lessons-happiness-whats-important/
It was an interesting read, and a thought provoking one, partly because reading through the list I was ok with where I sat on 4 of the 5 points (well I’m still working through a couple of the 1-4) but the one that resonated with me was point 5.

5. “I wish I had let myself be happier”

Umm, what… let myself? And I guess to some extent it is correct (and it is partially correct if you look into the science). Given that over the past few years I’ve not been at my best in the happiness stakes (partly to be blamed on thyroid problems and perhaps even pre-menopause – anxiety, night sweats…) but now that I’ve had my thyroid operation and I’m feeling much better in myself, I’ve realised that happiness is a choice. As humans we have the ability to – to a certain extent – choose how we react to things. So for the moment my choice is to try and feel happy with things in my life, especially those that I can’t control (please note this does not include feeling happy about Pat falling off a ladder and splitting his eyebrow open – but I’m happy that he is recovering and didn’t do anything too serious and that he didn’t get any blood on the newly painted white bookcase in the living room)!

So as we in the Northern Hemisphere head into autumn with grey skies and less sunshine, I wish you a happy weekend and a happy two weeks – à bientôt and remember Pat’s blog next week – http://patblog.patbell.co.uk

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Random piano playing – 07th October 2017

One of the joys of living where we live is the lack of noise, however just as I sat down to start typing this blog, I got the joy of hearing my neighbour playing one of his piano’s. It is a lovely thing to hear. Unfortunately now our weekends are very much to the sound of gunfire as hunting season has started, and dog walks on the weekend have got a bit more interesting – ie. We have to go somewhere safe. Pat does occasionally meet hunters on his morning walks but generally things are ok. During the week, we are more likely to come across people hunting for mushrooms rather than the deer or boar, but on the weekend!

Our living room is progressing and we finally have the central bookcase up and the tv in place (and working). I’ve been madly painting the rest of the bookcases so that they can be also be put in place and attached to the wall. All in all, I’m very happy with the way things are progressing. We have had another cool but gloriously sunny day today and it does feel a bit of a shame to be stuck inside doing the painting, but these things need to be done. I really am at the stage that I would like this to be finished so that we can get back to normal living.

Sometimes it is easy to get stuck in a rut, so Pat and I decided that starting this October we are trying to do a different mid-day walk every day with the dog. We did forget for the first few days, but we did at least do different walks for most of the past 7 days, now we have to start thinking about new walks and we don’t want to travel to far from home so it will make us look at the area nearby in a new way (but avoiding the hunters).

For now I wish you all à bientôt and remember Pat’s blog next week – http://patblog.patbell.co.uk

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Nine years and still going strong – 23rd September

Hello from sunny but slightly cool France; as always an interesting couple of weeks. The weather has turned very autumnal with our heating kicking in every evening now (and occasionally during the day). But the past couple of days have been bright and sunny which means I’ve been able to get some painting done – mainly the skirting boards for the living room. Which has caused us a problem, as I ran out of paint yesterday just short of finishing (always the way) but when Pat went to buy some more this morning we discovered that it is a discontinued colour!!! Not what one wants to hear, however this caused both of us to jump on the computer and for me to find a discount site which has end of line paint – and thankfully my colour was available and at less than half the price we would normally have paid for it. So all in all a result – except I do have to wait for it to be delivered which will hopefully be later this week.

This past week Pat and I went out for dinner on Wednesday night to celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary – yes 9 years ago we were in Wales celebrating our marriage in glorious sunny weather (yes for real it was beautiful). We decided to try a restaurant that we haven’t eaten at since we bought the house – I go regularly for coffee (and I was there last Friday and made a very good impression by falling off a stool). We had a lovely dinner – with our main being the local speciality which is for the lack of a better way to describe it a potato pie, but that doesn’t really do it justice. Anyway we had a lovely night out.

The sunflower & me


This photo is of a self-seeded sunflower in our backyard – it is fairly close to the bird feeder so at a guess the birds are responsible. However, it is huge – as you can see from this photo I am standing beside it and it is taller than me. It is also a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster with multiple heads – though not sure if some sunflower varieties do that?

keeping the bees happy – and yes it is a big black bee.

I do need to get out into the garden and get some work done to get the garden ready for the winter. But at the moment as things are still flowering – I’m going to enjoy what is left.

For now I wish you all à bientôt and remember Pat’s blog next week – http://patblog.patbell.co.uk
PS – a sneak peak at the living room

Door – lol

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Holidays and summer are over – 9th September

Well folks, dad has been and gone. He arrived home late after an unexpected delay, but is back to the cool of an Australian spring. He is also the end of our visitors for this year (well the ones we know of anyway). So this week I have been back at work on my computer and this weekend Pat and I are working on the living room. Which I am happy to say is progressing – the flooring is down, I’m in the process of sanding and painting the doors and the radiators are back on the walls (this has become a necessity as we think the cold is really going to hit soon). I’m really happy with how everything is looking. I will admit I will be very pleased to have the living room back in use.

Last weekend as you saw from Pat’s blog we had a great time in Bordeaux (which was very warm) and headed off to some fascinating gardens in the Dordogne. We also did some walks closer to home and got to see someone on the zip line going over the lake at Espace Hermeline, which started an interesting discussion (as I also mentioned that I would love to do a zip line that goes from Spain into Portugal – you do this by going across a river and obviously the border. So Pat and I have decided we need to start doing some exciting things – so perhaps my Dad’s idea of finding zip lines across the world that are interesting in some way. We have decided that we need to do the one at Espace-Hermeline as a starting point. Perhaps a way to celebrate the finishing of our living room?

Tuesday we headed into Limoges to held dad look for a new leather wallet – so into Galeries Lafayette we went. I spotted a wrap that looked lovely and decided that it was worth a closer look. It was lovely and then I looked at the price – at this point most things are put back on the hanger or shelf, I sigh and walk on wondering why I have such expensive taste, but not this time! The price was good so I went and put my French language skills into action and purchased it; a lovely item for the coming autumn. I then proceeded upstairs to the men’s section looking for my dad and Pat who were still looking through all the wallet’s but dad did eventually find one he liked.

I do think that part of tomorrow will be pulling out my winter clothes and looking through what I want to keep from my summer clothes. I’ve had a few items in my wardrobe which I just haven’t worn this summer and not because of the heat (or lack thereof) but just because I don’t think I like them all that much and since I did buy a few more t-shirts recently I really do need to remove a few items. One advantage of a small wardrobe – you really do keep only what is necessary, nice and works.

For now I wish you all à bientôt and remember Pat’s blog next week – http://patblog.patbell.co.uk

A couple of photos from the Chateau in the gardens, both of these windows are trompe l’oeil

Windows

Windows

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