Reflections on the year gone by…

Okay, so most of my tick list things from 2011 are still on the list… though I know a lot more of them will get done this year. I think there were a few things that weren’t on there that maybe should have been and a few things have been accomplished that I wasn’t expecting. I’m not going to beat myself up about the to-do list because that’s just all a bit pointless.

Tick list 2011 read:


Home has to be my big one, since it’s been the focus of 2010 to get a new one!

  1. Finish painting all the ceilings in the downstairs rooms – kind of. We kind of have finished one. Mostly. 
  2. Paint the front room cream, hang pictures, get new flooring, make curtains and nets, paint window frames, put new doors on the door frames to the wash room and upstairs, make and paint new shutters, make cushions and a curtain for across the doorway, put up shoe shelves in the entrance and paper and decorate.
  3. Add work surfaces in kitchen, paint walls peach, make blue polka dot curtains, add shelves and cupboards for my panatry (sic – a word used by Danielle for a pantry, which I like so much more than pantry, so I’ve adopted it)
  4. Decorate dining room, strip floor, xenophene it, wax and polish it, make curtains, new shutters and paint window frames.
  5. Decorate my bedroom, white walls, strip and xenophene floors, put lambris up for the ceiling, make curtains and put up voile panels.
  6. Decorate Jake’s bedroom, paint walls, strip and xenophene floorboards, make curtains, new shutters and paint window frames.
  7. Secure the annex (that sounds like a Nazi war manoeuvre!) and make new shutters, sort out window frames, secure roof, xenophene floorboards and replace where needed, wallpaper, curtains (God, I’m going into about 2017 now!!)

I hasten to point out that many of these to-dos are for Steve :)

It’s been a combination of lack of funding for titivation and a distaste for French paint and lack of time due to work/garden. Oh well. It’ll get done this year, I know it. 

He’s going to be a VERY busy boy in 2011!

In all seriousness, I hope I do as much myself. I like seeing the fruits of my labour.


Less important, but we’re Englishers in France – it’s vital we live up to expectations and do up the house so that it sticks out like a sore thumb and everyone knows we’re English. If you have a nice-looking house from the outside, you are English, or you bought from an Englisher. It’s the law for Frenchers not to bother with the outside of their house unless they live in a new pavilion or they are renting it out.

  1. Check roof
  2. Put new gutters in and water butts
  3. Paint exterior walls on road side
  4. Paint the lean to windows
  5. Finish painting gate. Alright, I started it in August and this might be why I’m known as ‘Arfur’ – ‘Arfur Job’ – can’t believe I still haven’t done this one!! 
  6. Render the rest of the lean-to
  7. Paint inside walls in both lean-tos
  8. Put up shelves in lean to
  9. Sort out new polytunnel fabric.
  10. Sort out middle grass field
  11. Dig over vegetable patches – this has taken up most of the year!! 


  1. Plant peas, beans, carrots, potatoes, leeks, cabbages, melons, strawberries, herbs, onions, garlic, chillis, spinach, chard, cauliflowers, lettuces, tomatoes, gherkins, sweetcorn and so on – this was my big success. I’ve managed to get everything growing and had a very, very productive and green year, back-breaking though it has been. 
  2. Keep a garden journal of weather and temperatures and harvests and plantings – kind of. I got waylaid around May and forgot about it until September, next year, I promise to add 10% to my garden journalling!

Other stuff

  1. Get to know a whole load more about birds and nature – I don’t want a bird coming in my garden that can’t be recognised! Bird identification books are already set out by the window! the hoopoe was the highlight of the year, but I can now spot a chaffinch from a great tit, a swallow from a housemartin and a goldfinch among the blue tits! 
  2. Improve my French, bien sûr! Read 10 books in French by the end of the year (now this is sounding like The Great Gatsby and Gatsby’s list always makes me sad!) – I am no longer terrified of the telephone, can have a conversation about internet connections and have read a good few… Steve Berry, Robert Crais, Agatha Christie, Michael Connolly, Patricia Cornwall – I probably guess it might be 10?? 
  3. Go on at least three long walks a week with the dogs – not when I have men to sort out, crops to plant and harvest and so on, but in the winter seasons, when I’ve got time on my hands, the dogs have been walked a plenty… and I still get lost! 
  4. Get a couple of goats or sheep! – that’s on hold for a little til things are settled down. 
  5. Go to the Alps or to the Aquitaine coast for walks and bicycling in the summer – not yet, but maybe…
  6. Bring a little order to my chaotic life!
  7. By next November, have a freezer-full of stuff to get us through the winter – yay, I am most happy about this one! 
  8. I feel I have to have 10
  9. But I can’t think of another 3
  10. So I’m just going to have 10 numbers.
On top of that, I have built up my client list, written for a local newspaper, become a delivery girl, written three e-books, made my first euro online, worked for a translation agency, realised I didn’t want to be a journalist and eaten my first entirely home-grown meal. I’ve made jellies and jams, sorbets and ice-creams, been to Galway and knitted a-plenty! I finished my first scarf in January, my first cardigan in September, ponchos in November and now I’m on to another cardigan. I can now rib, increase, decrease and do shoulder shaping. 
Some very crappy stuff has happened, like Basil and Saffy and the Chicken Ladies dying, but on the whole, there’s been lots more good than bad. And I know next year will get even better.
Would you believe that from 2005-2008, I couldn’t even be hopeful about the future? That in itself is a big accomplishment. I have not and will never ‘beat’ bipolar disorder, but we live together fairly harmoniously. I steer away from sad stuff and listening to music that makes me ache, and this Bipolar Disorder brings me lots of creativity. I think that’s about as much as I could ask for! When a solemn man asks you what you have to live for and you can’t think of anything, that’s the worst feeling in the world. Knowing I’ve got stuff I want to do again – more than a lifetime’s worth! – that’s my biggest achievement this year. There are some people responsible for that. Their name is FAMILY and they are legion!

3 thoughts on “Reflections on the year gone by…

  1. It’s a good achievement list and I’m impressed. The other stuff list is the best. Feel free to email me photos of any wildlife you want ID’d. Re the outside – our friend Christophe clearly doesn’t believe that we’ve renovated the house – according to him ‘nothing changes on the outside’ – which is true, but presumably as anglophones that’s what we should be preoccupied with. Bon continuation.

  2. Since this comes with belated Birthday- and Christmas wishes I add early New Year’s wishes to make up for the other ones! As the French so rightly say: “plus ça change, plus ça reste la même chose!”. May you keep (feel free to increase, if possible) your enthusiasm for teaching and (the correct use of) language throughout this coming year and may you enjoy everything you do. With thanks for your invigorating blog.

  3. Thanks you two… it’s always nice to have a bit of a cheerleading squad from time to time!

    Susan, if you ever drive past a house that sticks out like a shiny false tooth in a village full of rotten ones – that’s Les Anglaises! Often with the nasty PVC shutters and doors and all kinds of other inappropriate things. But I do think we Anglophones are generally more concerned with appearances – maybe because we often live in plain view, where the French often live behind big hedges!

    Michele, you are so right about things staying the same!

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