Coffee and Croissant – 22 April 2017

Morning everyone, it is very early here and at the moment, I’m waiting for the Red Cross to arrive to take my blood. They were meant to be here at 7:30 but it is now 7:50 and still no-one, it is unusual and I’m just hoping that Pat got the message correct and that they are coming here and that I wasn’t meant to go down to them! Hope they will be here soon, especially as this blood test has to be taken before eating or drinking.

Home made Hot Cross Buns made for Easter – and yes they were yummy

The finish – yah

So you ask why a blood test, well my week has been odd. Last weekend (Easter) was lovely I had recovered to full health after my rather nasty cold, Pat and I finished re-pointing the back wall of the house (yah), which we were so happy about. I got into the garden cleared weeds, checked on my dahlia’s (not doing well, lost 2 of the 3 tubers over winter). Planted out some new plants that I have bought, and basically got things going in the lovely sunshine we have been having. The rest of the week started fine everything seemed to be ok, but Tuesday night I started to get a sore throat, Wednesday I very obviously had a swollen gland on the side of my neck so rang the doctors, Thursday evening off to the doctors we went – he checked my throat and my ears, blood pressure etc – nothing abnormal but of course you can see that my neck is swollen on one side and he very gently checked my neck. He asked when it came up and I said overnight on Tuesday. Apparently it is my thyroid, but he seemed concerned enough that he rang the local hospital first thing Friday morning to get me in for a ultrasound on my neck and he asked that I get a blood test ASAP. So currently I’m waiting for the blood test. Pat has just rung to ask where they are as it is unusual for them to be late, but we didn’t get a very satisfactory answer. I do love the fact that they will come to your house, but it does mean waiting around.

I have been for the ultra sound, very quick and efficient, can’t read what is on the report due to it being quite complicated technical French. The person doing the ultra sound did try to explain it to me but my French isn’t up to that level. But the word operation was used! It was very difficult to go for a hospital appointment and not understand what was being said to me, but I survived. But now I wait for my blood to be taken – while wanting a coffee and a croissant. I just answered the phone, it was the red cross, she is just running late, but she did ask where I live in my hamlet, now this is difficult to explain in English let alone in French, but the red cross do visit our neighbour regularly, so I asked if she knew my neighbour – yes she did so that was nice and easy. So I will be able to have my coffee and croissant soonish.

This weekend will again be busy, I’m meeting a friend for coffee this morning (yes I drink a lot of coffee) and then more work on the garden and the living room. The living room more to prepare it for clearing out as next weekend is the start of the demolition!

Enjoy your week and the lovely sunshine, and remember Pat’s blog next week –
PS. My blood has been taken (we were given the wrong time apparently), the croissants are warming in the oven and the coffee is made – time for breakfast I think

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Spring Colds – 8th April 2017

I’m currently sitting in bed with a big box of tissues beside me, not feeling the best. I have a cold and it is a nasty one. At the beginning of the week I just thought that my hay fever was really starting up, but apparently not. On Wednesday night the cold really hit and I was not happy. Partly because this week and weekend have been glorious spring weather, a time for me to be able to get out into the garden, sunshine with not too much heat. My seedlings are starting to erupt from the soil and I need to finish clearing my veggie patch and start on wedding the flower beds and patio. So today while I should be out helping Pat with the re-pointing, I won’t be I will be keeping myself warm and sedate with the hope of a quick recovery.

Part of my annoyance is that we have had to cancel a few things, currently there are free arts programmes happening – so free theatre, music and art exhibitions. We had planned to head out to a few of the free music – especially as they were close by, but no. We were planning another quiz this Saturday but cancelled that. I should be well enough for the things planned for next week, but we shall see.

Of course this was also the week that I had two new clients start, I had a call with one on Tuesday so that was ok, but the other I was speaking with her for the first time on Thursday. I sounded dreadful, and of course I needed to get work done so it’s all been a bit hectic. I finally got to sit down yesterday afternoon (no art class) and just rest. It was lovely.

One thing I have been happy about has been my bulbs – I planted out some daffodils and tulip bulbs at the end of the year last year, in pots, with the intention of having them out the front of the house. They have been very successful and my neighbours have told me how lovely they look, so I’ve been very happy with the result, I’ll be doing this again. The tulips in the back yard are just starting to open so I’ve got lots of spring colour that is really lovely.

For those of you who read Pat’s blog you will know that we now have the big job of ripping up our living room floor. We were going to start this weekend, but I convinced Pat that perhaps we better find out when we could get the replacement beams in before we had a huge hole in our house. So this week (after someone had mentioned a very good wood yard / mill) Pat went off to speak with them about the wood. He came back very happy, with a good price on wood that would be the size we need, it is oak and it will have been dried (dried wood is very unattractive to wood worm). However delivery won’t be until mid-May. So currently we still have our living room – most of the stuff has been emptied out of it. Over the next few weeks I will check all the wooden legs of our furniture, sand them back, treat and repaint them all. We also need to check our lovely wooden side tables for any potential damage. The upside of this is we have decided not to go with a new wooden floor in the living room, a shame but there is a lot of wood in this house and the weak spot is the cave (basement) so we would rather not run the risk of having to remove the floor again.

So on that note, I and my cold, shall sign off, enjoy your weekend and hopefully some sunshine.

Enjoy your week and remember Pat’s blog next week –

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1 month later – 25th March 2017

A few of you may have noticed that there have been some missing blogs! Unfortunately this happened due to the French Air Traffic Controllers being on strike and Pat and I getting stuck in the UK for an extra 5 days. We did have a great time in the UK catching up with a lot of people we haven’t seen for a while; however it is nice to be back home in France. (The Christmas tree decoration bought while we were on holiday as a memento of the trip is a wooden heart painted with the phrase – “home is where the heart is” I think it will be a good reminder of our trip and our inability to get home). I’ve put a few of my photos from the trip at the end of the blog as Pat very much covered our trip in his blog.

So now that I’ve been back home for 2 weeks, what have we been up to? Well we attended a quiz last Saturday night – which was fun, we did better than expected but didn’t win. I also spent a lot of time in the garden; now that spring has sprung, I’m having to play catch-up in the garden. I’ve got my seedlings started – they were mostly all put in last weekend. I’ve also turned over one of my veggie plots, just need to finish off the other – I’m thinking that is a job for tomorrow.

Today I’m going to enjoy a day of no commitments. I’m thinking I might clean the house – which isn’t very exciting I know, but it hasn’t been done since we have been home. I’m also thinking that a nice long walk this afternoon with Siena will be fun. Pat is clearing out the “cave” as this sit’s below the living room floor and we need to do some work to the wooden beams supporting the living room floor before we replace the floor. Our plan is to hopefully have the living room finished this July, there is a lot of work to get through but we are hopeful that it can be done! I am having fun going through lots and lots of images on the internet of various living rooms. We have been considering changing our light fitting to something a bit bigger and there are definitely some unusual ones out there! But for me, so much of this is about trying to make the house feel like it’s mine (ok well ours but Pat doesn’t get that much input into the decorative process he just gets to do the work). So we plan and budget and we shall see what we end up with.

I am however still trying to decide what we will do with the ceiling, the options being:

• All white – which is easy and a little conventional.

the final image – with the ceiling painted grey

• Beams white and the bits in between grey (which is what I did in the entrance hall)
• Beams grey and the bits in between white (which I have seen and like).

So while I clean today I think I will be pondering what I want my living room to look like.

Enjoy your week and remember Pat’s blog next week –

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The Bathroom is Finished – well sort of! – 25th February 2017

A lot of this week is about the evolution of our bathroom so this blog will be photo heavy.

Firstly, photos of the bathroom as it was when we bought the house.

Before – note the bidet

the before sink that just had to go

So not many photos for the house before, but hopefully they give you a feel.

Now my first requirement when we moved in was the fact that the bathroom had to have a bath! So out with the bidet and the odd little draw unit, but also out with the sink as it just stuck out into the space too much. So we then had this… well without the blue, I painted the blue last year, but it gives you a good idea of what the bathroom was looking like after we changed the sink and put in the bath.

First try

Now we move on to the new(ish) bathroom.  We started by removing the lino, the electric heater (which was never used) redoing a lot of the panelling, removing the sink unit to revamp it.  Then we had the lights bought on sale to go above the mirror and while I love them, the light they cast, gave us horrible yellow marks everywhere (very odd), so they went back.




2nd try

We now have these which I love even more and they were cheaper – I consider that a result.





So why isn’t the bathroom finished? Well I still need to do some touch-up painting and I think I’m going to be doing some re-grouting as that isn’t as good as it could be in a couple of places. But ultimately the whole of the blue wall needs to be relined and re-painted, which I will do once we have the new vanity (I’ve still not found one that fits the space, that I like and is at an acceptable price) and when we take the radiator off the wall. I don’t know if that will be this year or next but we will find out.

So below are some photos of how everything is looking now.

From the doorway

and the other way

You will notice that we have cut down the vanity to give the feel of more room (it works well). We’ve changed the floor (it’s still lino, but much better lino). I revamped a mirror that we already owned, and I love the tiles, I’ve used them here and there is a single row on the small shelf beside the bath.  Basically the bathroom is feeling much more us and much more finished that it has for a while.

These are a couple of the new items in the bathroom, just to add some fun (along with my star fish on the mirror).

And the last photo – this we found when we took out the current vanity so that I could tile – I love the progression over the time – oldest wall paper is the purple flowers, followed by the textured blue paper; then the apricot (which I have painted blue). This is one of the joys (and pains) of an old house.

Taste through the years…

Enjoy Pat’s blog which will be a little late as we have plans for next weekend 🙂

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How to make a house a home? 11th February 2017

I’ve been asking myself this question a lot lately, what makes a house a home and while I have lived in many a house (29 at last count) I’ve not lived in many places that I would call home. So along with all the decorating that we have been doing I’ve been wondering how do I make this house a home and what does home mean to me. It is a difficult question for me to answer, others find it very easy. I asked Pat what is home to you, his reply “home is where the dog is”. While this is one of Pat’s usual flippant responses made to make me smile, when we drilled it down, home to Pat is where his loved ones are. To me it isn’t so simple. Not that I don’t like being where my loved ones are. That is important. But for me I think home is more than the house. I’ve had some fabulous houses but not in the best location and the reverse, small or not great houses but in a great location. So I think I’ve figured for me feeling connected to the greater location around me is necessary. I think this is where Pat and I differ for him the house is much more important than the location.

I think partly I’m struggling with this idea of home as I don’t feel connected to France yet, I don’t feel that I belong. I’ve discovered that when you can’t speak to the vast majority of the people around you, it is isolating and it has been an unexpected aspect of living in France for me. I did think my French language would progress much faster than it has. I also think trying to find people of a similar age and who have a similar way of thinking as me has been difficult. However I am trying to address this, with doing things like Zumba and trying to get myself out to various lunches and coffees. We have also been looking at joining a walking group which will be good.

As to the bathroom update, well, that is still on-going, hopefully to be finished soon as I really want a bath! Especially as I have some very sore muscles after Thursday night’s Zumba class

Enjoy Pat’s blog next week at

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I’ve been shopping – 28 January 2017

Yep shopping – spending money :-), yesterday after my French class Pat and I headed up to Limoges to get to a Troc (2nd hand store) before it closed for lunch; we made it in time, but unfortunately didn’t find what we were looking for (though I did get some more picture frames which I’m always on the hunt for). Then off to “family village” which is a purpose built shopping area with the big DIY store, furniture stores etc. After a bit more looking around the furniture stores (and having already done lots and lots of internet browsing), we came to the conclusion that the item I wanted was just not available at the price I wanted it. So what is this item? A new bathroom vanity, however due to the narrowness of the space in the bathroom we had come to conclude that we were going to need to look at a side board or chest of drawers, however life just isn’t that simple so we have now decided that we will just have to make do with what we have but with a few modifications.

However in our journey around the different stores we came across an armchair that was on sale, we both looked at it, I asked the question “do you think it would go into the spare room?” Pat looked at me, we sat down and tried them out and went “yep”. So while we had discussed putting an armchair in the spare room and hadn’t been planning on buying one before next year – there are just some things that you don’t walk past and an armchair for €60 is one of those things!

Our lovely new chair.

So what else was on our shopping list yesterday? Well some tiles – for the bathroom. We were struggling to find exactly what I wanted and we were looking and looking, Pat asked one of the staff (in lovely French) and she thought for a moment and then said “come with me” (in English)! She took us a few aisles down and voila I was in tile heaven, an hour later (yes 1 whole hour) we had decided what we needed and how much. So here is peek at the tiles, but you won’t see how they are to be used until we finish the bathroom.

yep they are tiles…

So on that note our other joy for the week was lunch out (twice for Pat, 3 times for me). Friday a week ago I had a lovely lunch with a group of women from a facebook group that I belong to (then I headed off to art class). Monday Pat and I both hauled ourselves away from our computers to go to a lunch with a new social group that we belong to. I ran into two ladies that I used to do art with, plus a few others that we knew, so while our break away from out computers was brief it was very enjoyable. And yesterday while we were out and about, we enjoyed a lunch at a little restaurant attached to one of the furniture stores. Now you would think that something like a furniture store restaurant wouldn’t have very good food, here in France that is not the case. We discovered that restaurants in stores and in shopping centres have very, good food, which is a joy as far as we are concerned.

So apart from our bathroom, work and the occasional lunch, we haven’t been up to too much.

Enjoy Pat’s blog next week at

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Lucky Friday the 13th – 14 January 2017

For those of you who read Pat’s blog last week you will know we didn’t get to see the sunrise on New Year’s day, we tried but the fog defeated us. This week we have had snow forecast but we have yet to see any. It has felt cold enough for snow but mostly we have had either rain or sunshine. Can’t really complain about the sunshine.

Now as to the title of my blog, well yesterday in my one on one French class we went through French expressions for good and bad luck. A lot of similar (if not identical) ones in English, however while the number 13 is considered unlucky here, Friday the 13th is considered lucky. There is even a spike in lottery tickets being bought (yesterday’s euro millions was €13 million). And while I do realise that the date and day makes no difference to anything, I do like that little quirk of the day being lucky as apposed to unlucky.

So here are a few more:

Échelle à 13 barreaux – a 13 bar ladder is good luck

Voir une coccinelle – to see a lady bird is good luck

Voir un chat noir à la sortie d’un village – To see a black cat leave a village is bad luck

And my favourite and very French mettre le pain à l’evers – which means to put the bread upside down and of course that is bad luck.

So what else has been happening in my world, not a lot, however we do start the bathroom this weekend. Now the bathroom is sort of done, but it has been rather haphazard over the time we have been here, bath in straight away, shower in when the last one sprung a leak, painting the walls when I just couldn’t’ live with the apricot colour any longer. This time we are pulling everything out and actually putting things in with a little bit more finishing. Painting everything, however we are still in the process of looking for a vanity unit that will replace the existing one. I’ve almost given up!

So here are a couple of before shots and hopefully if a few weeks (we can only work on the weekend) we will have a finished shot! There won’t be that much difference but hopefully enough to make it feel more finished.

From the door looking into the bathroom

From the other end looking towards the door

Current vanity unit

Enjoy Pat’s blog next week at

Happy 60th R 🙂

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“Anything can be solved by wine, chocolate or cheese”? – 31 December 2016

These are the type of statements that come about while playing cards with friends and I’m losing spectacularly (and I have a lot of chocolate sitting in front of me). However, if I only had one item that I had to choose from the above list, mine would be cheese. It is most definitely my comfort food (grilled cheese on toast, macaroni and cheese, cheese and biscuits) and living in a country with superb cheeses, well what else could it be?

So today is New Years eve, no real plans for tonight, Pat is cooking a wonderful slow-cooked lamb recipe for us and our friends and we are just planning on a quiet night in with cards (can I redeem myself) and most likely a game of Carcassonne. If any of us last to midnight we will welcome the new year in and most likely be in bed 5 minutes later…. However the plan is to get out of bed on New Years day and go to nearest high hill (which thankfully is the highest for substantial distance) and “witness the dawn” – thankfully sunrise here at the moment is at 8:30am (dawn starting just after 8am) so it’s not too early a start. Hopefully we can get some great photos and it isn’t as foggy as it was yesterday – where we couldn’t see a thing all day!

This idea came about from one of my Christmas presents, a book called “You only live once” which is divided into sections of things you can do to improve your life if you have an extra hour, day, week, month and year. One suggestion (under the hour) was to witness the dawn – now the books suggestion of places to do this were all a little far (New Zealand, Egypt – it is a lonely planet book) but the idea tickled my fancy and I thought it would be a great way to start the New Year. So tomorrow morning you will find me on a mountain with my coffee in a thermal mug awaiting the dawn (I thought it was going to be champagne? ed).

For those of you who know me well, I still do New Years resolutions and I look back to see what I have achieved from those resolutions. I do ok with my resolutions, I decided to look back over the past couple of years and see what I haven’t done and would still like to do. So my resolutions for 2017:

• 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).

So on that note, I shall get myself out of bed and into the shower to start my day and I wish you all a wonderful, interesting and prosperous New Year.

Enjoy Pat’s blog next week (hopefully with sunrise photos)

My most recent Christmas tree decoration - from York

My most recent Christmas tree decoration – from York

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8 sleeps till Christmas – 17 December 2016

Well we are now both back from our trips to the UK. For those of you who read Pat’s blog you will know his flight back was cancelled and he got back after I departed. Thankfully we had a friend on hand to look after Siena. On Thursday last week I flew to Manchester and then got the train to York, I had a lovely evening with one of my work colleagues and then on Friday went for a dog walk with her, and then off to meet one of my clients. J is a lovely client who I’ve had for 2 years but never had the opportunity to meet face to face. So this year we finally got to meet, she is lovely and fully of energy. We had lunch and then headed off on our separate ways – me to go check-in to the Youth Hostel and J off to get home in time for a skype meeting.

After checking in, finding my room (a twin bunk room with an en-suite – youth hostels have changed) I headed back into town to meet with all my work colleagues from Kaleidoscope Services for our Christmas do. We went for a lovely afternoon tea at Betty’s (a York institution). We were upstairs and had a piano being played in the background along with a lovely afternoon tea and Rosé champagne; which was lovely. It was great to catch up with everyone from my work as we all work remotely and hadn’t been all together since March 2015! When I last did a trip to York. I’m currently thinking it may be good to try and get a couple more short trips back to the UK for work next year. We shall see.

On Saturday (after I had met up with my friend T who travelled from Leicester to come and visit) we had a fabulous cooked breakfast and then off into York. We went to the Cathedral first and climb 275 stairs to reach the top of the tower. I think it nearly killed both T and I, however the views were fantastic. We explored the cathedral and then headed off to find a cup of tea (consumed along with a cup cake).

Proof I made it to the top

Proof I made it to the top

A view from the Cathedral tower

A view from the Cathedral tower

After our tea break we decided to head to the Christmas markets, we had been informed about an ice sculpture trail around the town that day so we made sure that on our journey around the town that we kept an eye out. We didn’t get a map of the trail just took photo’s as and when we stumbled across the sculptures. Found some very impressive ones. We also found a tiny little church (Holy Trinity) tucked away near the minster which was open a very interesting place. The markets however were full to overflowing and made for difficult shopping, however T did very well. I thought about a couple of items but decided that they wouldn’t survive the flight back.

A special raindeer

A special raindeer

Skating anyone

Skating anyone?


I liked this one

I liked this one


One we found on the way home after the Ghost Walk

One we found on the way home after the Ghost Walk

Saturday night we headed off on a Ghost walk of the town. This was fun but not all that historic. I did however love the black cats that are on houses throughout York. Most are sculptures a few are painted but the cats are believed to have been on houses throughout York since medieval times. Though no one is really sure how the tradition started. However I don’t have any photos of these as it was night. After our slightly damp ghost walk we headed back to the hostel for a cup of tea and then off to bed.

Sunday was an early start, me to get the train back to the airport, T to get her bus back to Leicester. But we did it in plenty of time (we did book a taxi). I got back to the airport on Sunday afternoon to be greeted by my wonderful husband (10 days apart and we realised the longest we have been apart since we started living together) and Siena, who was very excited to see me and having her pack all back together.

The rest of the week has just been busy and it continues into the weekend. We have a lunch to go to with friends today and tomorrow we are off to a Christmas market!

Have a wonderful week and enjoy Pat’s blog next week

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A surprise blog for Christmas – 03 December 2016

Hello, yep this is a surprise blog. Why? Because I thought it would be fun to talk about some of my Christmas decorations. Now this isn’t as strange as it sounds, as a few years back, Pat and I decided that when we were travelling that we would by something for the Christmas tree as a memento. Now one thing we have discovered that if the object isn’t specific to the location it was bought, it can be very hard to remember where it was bought. So a couple of the items, while I think I know where we got them I’m not 100% sure.

This star which sits on the top of the tree. While this was not bought as a memento, it was bought because we needed something for the top of the tree – however it has now become a memento as we bought this when we were living in Lindfield at a Christmas market / fete that was on the high street one year. star
These two items were the first things we bought as mementos. They were bought on our first trip to Lübeck / Hamburg – unfortunately I can’t remember if I bought these in Lübeck or Hamburg – I’m fairly certain it was Hamburg but…. bell1shootstar
robin This lovely little robin is currently sitting on my Noel sign in the front window of our house. He was bought in a little gift shop in Staithes (one of my favourite places in the UK and for my Australian readers Capitan Cook lived here before going to sea).
bell2 Now this little bell, I adore – it even rings, however while I remember buying this bell with Pat – neither of us can remember where we bought it – we do know that we were in France and that it was only bought in the past few years.
This was when we started getting a little more creative with our tree decorations – this is a key ring – but for the €4 it cost us we thought it would be a great memento of our trip early this year to Bordeaux. bordeaux
This wonderful bauble was bought on our second visit to Monet’s garden, but bought to remind me of both visits to the wonderful place that is Giverney.  giverney
 rome For the religious amongst you I apologies for any offence – but this item is a catholic rosary – bought at the Vatican in Rome as a memento of our trip to Rome last year (I need to go back – after 2 visits still haven’t seen it all).
 limoges Lastly – this is a wonderful Limoges Porcelain bauble deliberately bought as a memento of our time here in France. Not that we are going anywhere soon.

Now that gives you a little idea of what is on my tree this year. As we are not planning on travelling next year there won’t be anything new. However maybe I can allocate the lovely little white ornament on the tree which I have no idea where it came from!

Have a wonderful week and enjoy Pat’s blog next week

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