Monthly Archives: January 2012

I don’t like Mondays*

* when they aren’t full of Much Love. And some Mondays, it might only be 70 minutes into a Monday, but unless you find the love, then that Monday might as well be spent in bed til at least Wednesday.


♥ Bob Geldof. Who wouldn’t? He might have had crazy-named children with a crazy woman, but I still ♥  him

♥  The new chicken ladies: Vera, Mavis, Rita and Betty. I ♥  that they’re so timid and I ♥  the sounds that they make. I ♥  it when chickens cluck and I ♥  their tiny eggs. I hope I can keep the foxes at bay.

♥  Mimosa in springtime

♥  Those friends you’ve just met that feel like they’ve been your friends forever

♥  The shortening nights and lengthening days

♥  Friends who care and who look after each other

♥  Knowing that there are 10 people in the world that you could call up and say ‘My World Is Falling To Pieces’ and they will come round with the glue or turn it into a fancy mosaic

♥  Seeing pictures of cute dogs

♥  the fact that most homes I visit in France have at least one dog. I love doggie homes. Plus, nobody minds if your home smells of dog, because theirs does too

♥  Seeing four cute little deer in a field today munching away on the grass.

♥  Seeing troupes of little wild boar crossing the road and knowing sometimes the big ones watch over the little ones. I like pack animals. They look after each other, even the very needy ones. And when a lone lion or fox or wolf closes in, they scare him off. But it’s sad that even predators need to eat. I wish we had a harmonious world with no natural selection and meat-eating. We could all live like rabbits or bonobos and eat berries and be happy.

♥ Having a warm living room and being warm when I go to sleep

♥  The fact that my Saturday client thought ‘How much is?’ sounds like ‘Ham and Cheese’. It does a bit.

♥  my clients where I take some dice, a board game, some verbs, some vocab and a fancy dress costume of an air hostess and that’s a lesson. How fab are those lessons?

♥ clients who welcome you into their life like a family member

♥  The sweetness of the Tilly Popper when she makes cute little noises when you pet her

♥  The lovely warm lump that is the Moll

♥  Mr Fox returning after another long 36 hour absence. The Tildapop and I missed him very much

♥  Getting emails from my mum

♥  Feeling like you’re doing a good job

♥  hot chocolate

♥  how French PMU bars have all kinds of weirdnesses in them, including ladies with drippy noses and Johnny Halliday shiny jackets

♥  Bruce Springsteen – nothing gets into my guts (except maybe Keith Caputo or a Followhill…) like him singing ‘rips the bones from your back… it’s a death trap… a suicide rap… you’ve got to get out while you’re young… ‘ – he gets inside my chest and starts playing around with my internal organs when he sings. It’s like he’s right in there squeezing my lungs a bit.

♥ 

 Love this song. Dignity – it’s about the only thing I have left, I think! I’m surprised. It’s usually the first thing I lose!

♥ that this song ^^ reminds me of my penpal Paul, who I wrote to from an old Sky magazine. He was my teen-year confidante. I hope he’s a novelist now. He was a wonderful penpal. I miss having penpals. I’ve still got boxes of his letters. My favourite is the one where he drew a townie, the precursor to the chav. And my second favourite was where he drew his thumb. We chatted about everything and nothing without the slightest hint of sexual tension. It’s always good for a girl to be able to see a boy’s mind as it is – uncomplicated by love. He liked Georgio Armani and Argyle socks. He sent me a piece of his bedroom carpet in his very first letter. I miss random friends like that.

♥ Those people you can just trust with anything – who never let you down, who have always got your back. I’m lucky I have a lot of these people in my life. Kisses to all of you and know that you can trust me as I trust you.

♥ Knowing that sanity is never far away… the most I’ve learned about moods is that they come and go.

♥ People who look after you and would never, ever do anything to hurt you because they just love the arse off you.

♥ Finding a perfect quote that just so says how you feel…

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley

Leonard Cohen’s new album. He’s almost 80 for crying out loud. He’s my ultimate favourite vocalist ever. In fact, where Bruce gets inside your ribcage and jiggles with your bits, Mr Cohen gets inside my brain and strokes it with soft silk. Then he gives me a lovely glass of Bailey’s and tells me songs of loves lost

♥ when you teach a little girl to knit

♥ when in spite of the hailstones, you can find a sunbeam. Even if it’s only a little one. It whispers that its little brothers and sisters are on their way

♥ when you see connections you never saw before – where music, art and literature are all doing the same things all over the world and you realise the whole world felt the same right at that moment in time. Where Dosteovsky and Dickens and Hugo seem like interconnected fingers rather than separate novelists from separate times

♥ cauliflower cheese with a crust

♥ home-made brandy and onion gravy

♥ never being too old to stop cuddling a teddy if you feel like it even if the combined age of you and that teddy is 80. Yikes.

And finally… my Much Love project for the week…

My new love: Craft Sew Create blog

And on that note, I am going to try and get some sleep. Dexter is perhaps not the most sleep-inducing of books, but what the hell.

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Kind of Silent Sunday*

* Okay, not so silent, but with some photos.

Strange, huge orange sun through fog

It’s done little but rain these last few weeks – no real warmth, few bright days. Last year, the weekend of the Bande Dessinée festival in Angouleme, it was bitterly cold. I’d wrapped up fairly warmly, but the wind just cut right through us. I don’t imagine it was much different today down there. I stayed inside, by the fire, most of the day. Our front room is delightfully toasty.

The reason for our balmy warmth

I feel like I should start this with a style over-taught by certain English teachers who think it will get their D or E grade pupils a C. It doesn’t. But I feel like I need to do it anyway…

“Do YOU have a wheelbarrow of wood in YOUR front room?

I do.”

To get the full effect of this, you have to say it in the style of a BBC Children’s presenter from the 1960s.

The source of my busy-ness

But on Friday, despite my busy-ness, I finally got to go to Rouillac market for … new chicken ladies!

Rabbit Auschwitz

The ladies arrived from the market and very timid they are too. They are very quiet, very timid and very nervous. I don’t remember the Simpson Ladies being so shy. Mostly, they need ushering out of re-purposed Rabbit Auschwitz and haven’t gone very far from the door.

With the added security of the full door, no holes in and out, in the courtyard a good ten metres nearer to the house and the dogs, I’m hoping no hungry fox takes a liking to my little ladies. They all seem so small compared to the Simpsons and there doesn’t seem to be a boss lady. Possibly they were all a bit hen-pecked. Poor girls. We’ve had three tiny eggs so far – so small! Definitely double portions for cakes and omelettes.

I’ve decided on Coronation Street as their naming inspiration, so welcome Vera, Mavis, Rita and Betty. I’d thought about Bet (after Mlle. Lynch) but they’re not at all flamboyant enough.

Escape to Victory

My artless soul…

I admit to having been genuinely surprised by the comments from ‘real’ artists (I’m impressed by anyone who can make a living out of art!) about my Christmas cards and I have been wondering why my pen has been used for writing rather than drawing these last 20-odd years.

I know why I love writing. I love reading. When you love reading, sometimes it inspires you to want to do your own. Stick me behind a book and I’ll be quiet until you take the book off me. For someone who talks a lot, this is a good way to ensure my silence. I’m quite convinced I get books as presents just so I sit quietly for an hour. Books have always taken me to other places, whether they are the inspiration behind going to Brazil (Journey to the River Sea) or Japan (Across the Nightingale Floor) and ever since I can remember, I’ve just loved books and words. I’ve still got every single book bought for me as a present, from my Children’s Bible (from my Nana and Gramps) to my Hans Christian Andersen (my Gran)

But I wasn’t a good writer. Or reader. At least, I was until I met my nemesis. Mrs Skinner, my first year English teacher at secondary school. She was everything I was not, and have not grown up to be. Glamorous, confident, well-dressed, coiffed, skiing holidays and ski suits, clothes from Jaegar and Dash. I’ve never been that adult, and I wasn’t that child.

My first mark in English was 7.5 out of 20. We were reading The Odyssey (because that’s SUCH a great book to give to a child!) and Liz next to me got 20 out of 20. I will never, ever forget that mark or her comment. “Did you even read the passage at all?”

I had. And I’d tried really hard.

I spent the next 3 years in the shadow of brighter, cleverer girls, girls who went to Oxford and Cambridge, worshipped by Mrs Skinner.

I wasn’t that girl.

Then I had the luck to have Mrs Trethewey for English GCSE. She is and always has been my inspiration, although we have very different styles. She was quiet and supportive and demonstrative. She gave me a book of John Clare poems and copied out a Spike Milligan poem by hand in her green Berol pen. These were the days before photocopiers, but that one gesture has stuck by me forever. I used Berol pens myself for a long time. I don’t think I ever saw her mark in red. Mrs Skinner used to cross through my work in red. Whole pages. Page after page.

When I chose my A levels, I chose the subjects I’d either done well in, or subjects where I had loved the teacher. I had not done well in English Literature (I got a B… it’s okay… Bs are the story of my life. Tries Hard but Doesn’t Really Get It.) but I took it anyway. I took RE because Linda Kerr was up there alongside Mrs Trethewey as World’s Best Teacher. And I took French. I’d been quite good at it.

I dropped Art because I thought to myself that unless I wanted to do Art at University, it was a bit of a pointless escapist kind of a subject. And despite how easy Art had always been compared to English (I never got 7.5/20 or my work crossed through) it seemed like I’d come to the end of the study road with it.

Of course, I had the misfortune to get Mrs Skinner for A level. She never gave me higher than a C for any piece of work. Again with the red lines and ‘Avoid Sweeping Generalisations’ (story of my life!) and huge circles around my errors. Because she wouldn’t aim higher than a D on my predicted grades, I was left unable to sign up for an English degree at any of the universities I wanted to go to, and even the bigger polytechnics wouldn’t accept my C grade. I wanted to do English so much, but with her predicted D, I wasn’t even in the running.

I got a B.

I always think I got that grade despite her.

I guess I could have reapplied the next year. I know I messed around with Clearing for a bit, trying to find another place to read English, but it wasn’t happening. I went to Sheffield to do an English and Psychology degree and actually, it was the kindest, most wonderful experience.

I got a 2.1 and although I wasn’t writing, books were finally making sense. Everything that I’d always thought was going on was going on. Where I though Shakespeare was being smutty, he was! Where I thought Owen’s War Poetry was immensely tragic and appealed right to the teenage heart of me, Mrs Skinner had dismissed him as an effete homosexual who couldn’t hold a candle to Keats. Where I had loved Jane Austen’s sharp bitchiness, I still will always associate her with Mrs Skinner who worshipped her sharp tone and disparaging comments.

My degree taught me that I pretty much liked most of what was out there, and it was little surprise I ended up taking more and more English. In fact, I took an extra unit, just because nobody seemed to care if I sat in on the lectures and went to seminars. I signed up and that was that. None of this fee-paying malarky as there is now. I liked the psychology too, and for a long time I battled with whether I’d become a psychologist or a teacher in that final year.

When I came into English teaching, it was pretty crappy. It seemed like lots of schools were still doing books from the sixties and seventies. Luckily, I ended up with Charlotte and Karen and Eileen at Chaucer where The Bridge to Terebithia was standard teaching and ‘new’ books were the way forward and nobody, but nobody taught the same thing to each class, year in, year out.

As I got responsibility, I got money. I could now buy the books for my department. If I wanted a set of Private Peaceful, I could buy it. The same with The Outsiders and Chanda’s Secrets, Wolf Brother and The Conch Bearer. It was incredibly liberating.

And so as I taught, I read more and more. Longman Pearson paid me to read books, write reviews and then teaching materials. I got paid to select some of the best children’s books on the market. Books were my thing.

And then I stopped teaching.

I still love books. I still love children’s books and teenage fiction, but having (a little) extra time brought out the artist in me.

This artist has always been with me, from the doodles on the margins of my A level work to the scraps of watercolours I did, to the night school A level course and then the photography. She’s always been there. She’s just been diplomatic enough to sit back and wait whilst I worked out my frustrations about books. Now I’m at that point where I know this literature subject soooo well that my inner artist wonders how she can live up to that level of achievement. I guess these next years coming, I’ll find out!

Just another Manic Monday…

so it’s time for my Much Love of the week.

I’m having a work Much Love… I never thought I would say this again, but I’ve got a lot to do. Not too much, but sufficient that I’m waking up early thinking about work and I’ve had a few days where I’ve started before seven in the morning. You might think being a crazy workaholic is not cause for Much Love, but it is.

I l♥ve my work.

I l♥ve writing content. At the moment, I’m working on a pretty big website and I learn so much new stuff. Plus, I’ve found lots of great cycle routes in the Charente and I just can’t wait for a bit of time and nice weather in order to try them out.

I l♥ve the variety that writing different content brings. Writing about honey one day, bikes the next, language the next, Curley’s wife another day, breathalysers and all sorts on other days… Never get a boring day!

I l♥ve writing because I need to read to be able to do it. I love researching and it always gets me excited to try new stuff and fills me with new ideas.

I l♥ve teaching because it’s the same variety… teaching reading in English one day, reading in French another, GCSE, A level, English as a foreign language, French as a foreign language, French grammar, the origins of the English Language, Creative Writing and then American English another day. I go from The True Story of the Three Little Pigs to Les Chevaliers d’Emeraude to Of Mice and Men to poetry to discussions about what the Daily Mail thinks give you cancer to discussions about why the French don’t stick their tongue out like the Spanish do to formulating the futur anterieur tense and discussing why the English use the simple past in speech and the French don’t to re-reading Carl Sandburg’s beautiful poem about fog in San Francisco to filling in American Customs documents the next. With a little detour around why we have three words for some stuff in English, describing the beauty of snow, pondering why little sisters are often naughty, making stuff out of fimo as a way to teach the interrogative and imperative in English and thinking about Valentine poems. Whew. Plus, just so you know, the US custom form is REALLY difficult to understand. What the hell are ‘monetary instruments’?! (stocks and shares, coins, notes, cheques, banker’s cheques, traveler’s cheques… I looked it up)

I l♥ve Steve’s ‘muse bouches. He’s not a bad cook. Four years of living with me will do that to a person. Not because I’m a crap cook and he has to fill in, but because I set a high standard and I make it look easy. Except for the sweat and the swearing. I taught him to love the bruschetta and the crostini, the Port Salut and the goats’ cheese. Sadly, I didn’t teach him to love Roquefort. Personally, I don’t Much Love it either. Poor Roquefort.

I l♥ve sleeping dogs. You should definitely let them lie.

I have l♥ved watching Life on Mars. Never saw it first time round. Is it wrong I have a crush on Gene Hunt? I like rude, chauvinistic older men obviously. Working in teaching will do that to a girl. It explains my crush on Sean Bean too.

I l♥ve my sister as I explained yesterday and  I l♥ve that I can make her smile.

I l♥ve that my mum sometimes sends me risqué emails and I I l♥ve that she’s being my secretary during the marking period.

I l♥ve the new GCSE paper. I don’t know if I’m good at marking it yet (won’t find out until they grade us in March!!) but I passed the script test of 12 papers with flying colours. I’m not loving the things they say about Curley’s Wife. Seriously. She’s a slag??! Really??! And from an Anglo-Saxon girls’ school, most of the comments they make sound as if they strongly disapprove of any married woman talking to any man who is not their husband and make-up means you’re a slag and if you wear nice clothes, you’re a slag. Or a ‘floozie’ as one girl put it. It sounds almost like living in Saudi Arabia. The slut walk girls would be ashamed. The amount of girls writing ‘she got what she deserved’ (she is strangled by a simpleton) is outrageous. In this day and age??! Next they’ll want girls stoned for looking at a man. Ladies, listen to Unpretty by TLC and tell me Curley’s Wife doesn’t feel that way too… she might be mean to Crooks and Candy and Lennie, but life ain’t exactly peachy for her.

I l♥ve tea at the moment, from my Head Gardeners mug, bought for me as a gift by the lovely Joanne. Steve says it sounds like I garden heads. Maybe I will.

I l♥ve that my peas and aubergines have put up little leaves. More planting needed next week. Apparently, I should have planted my peppers and chilis this week. Oh well.

I l♥ve that the days are getting longer. The weather might not be very nice, but that’s fine. It’s work weather. The nice stuff can wait til I’m finished.

I l♥ve the E. L’Eclerc sale. I got a jumper for 6€ and new underwear. This is exciting to me. If you know France, you’ll know nice woolly jumpers for 6€ are almost unheard of. I also bought Steve a little box. It was 2.50€ and had a lizard on it. He is the lizard king.

I l♥ve this lady, Belinda Fireman. Not only does she have totally cool glasses and THE BEST NAME EVER but she does the most inspiring pictures. I’ve done a tribute which I will photograph and post.

I l♥ve that my sister has received her gifts and I can now post photos of the crafty stuff I was doing over Christmas.

I made these little bird boxes by hand and then I decorated them! Super Kawaii!
I believe these are the wrong way round!

This song was one of the songs my sister had at her wedding. I think it’s cute. I did a little series, what with that and the one I did for my dad and step-mum. It then became this:

Ten Storey Love Song... I built this love for you...

That’s just reminded me, I haven’t put the pictures on of the ones I did for Steve and Jake. I like the one I did for Steve’s birthday.

Just as an artistic aside, Jake won first prize in the La Rochette Association of Culture and Lecture (reading, not being lectured!) for designing their new logo and emblem. I’ll be sure to post it when I have something to scan. Of course, the design is with them.

That’s just reminded me… I can now post all the pictures I drew on my Christmas cards… but that’s a post for another day. This one is long. Work is buzzing through my veins like Red Bull and Haribo Sours. Ironic I should have entitled this post Just Another Manic Monday. Maybe I should have gone for Rainy days and Mondays. Mondays feature in only three songs I can think of – and none of them are good.

Never such devoted sisters…

I ♥ my sister more than anything in the whole world, except for the rest of my family. I can’t say to you how I love her more than anyone else in my complicated family tree because it wouldn’t be fair, but it’s her 35th birthday today and I think I’m allowed to make her my favourite today.

Here are my 35 reasons why I love her very much

1. She always has a fridge full of toffee crisps and when she sent me an English food parcel, it had three packs of toffee crisps in it.

2. She knows about the flannel shoes and blowing bubbles through a flannel to make a bubble beard

Handmade dresses

3. She appreciates the patent leather shoe. Or at least she did when she was five.

4. She is a born nurse. She whinges, whines, makes a big deal out of everything and slags everything off all the time is very, very good at looking after people and nothing makes her squeamish except sputum

5. She knows about weasels

6. She has the loveliest hair of anyone I know. I have calf-licks and crazy hair and thin hair, and she has beautiful, thick, luscious hair

7. She takes me to see Take That because she knows I really love them and I don’t care for your opinion of my musical tastes. In fact, she came with me to see Busted at the Smash Hits poll winners party and I’m not ashamed. Much.

We had matching jumpers and Avon necklaces

8. She talked me out of wearing a pair of zip up Kylie-style trousers because she said I looked like a prostitute. She was right.

9. She always worries about her grades and she shouldn’t because she’s my sister and brains are just part of the territory.

My three favourite people in the world. My mum. My sister. My nana

10. She always likes my presents even if they’re hand-made and a bit crap, including my first knitted product of my adult life. Her house has got lots of my home-made stuff in and she never throws it away. Unlike my Nana who threw away a clay model I’d made of my sister’s head when I was 13. I know your secrets, Nana.

11. She makes roast potatoes, gravy and carrots and potato salad that are of the same quality as my Nana’s, and that’s a pretty high quality. I’ve never eaten better.

12. She is just good at cooking. She just is.

13. She’s good at shopping.

14. She’s good to share a room with. I can’t speak for myself, but I’ve had some crappy room-mates in my time. She’s never one of them. In fact, she’s the best.

15. She looks good even when she’s rough.

16. She has very good skin.

We had easter eggs in these cups

17. She always knows how to get me out of a ‘poor me’ one-woman pity party. Mostly this involves asking me if I’d like her to bring over the bleach for a swig.

18. She has excellent taste in boots and clothes and handbags and whilst she might have suffered from my hand-me-downs (okay, from my cousin Sarah…) I am very happy when she sends me her clothes she doesn’t wear any more.

19. She drives just like me. Combination of perfectionist and nutcase.

20. She has good make-up. Not as good as me, but…

21. She is the kind of girl who values her girlfriends. I think it’s important that girls have a lot of girlfriends. If girls don’t, they must be a right set of bitches.

22. She always gets me a take-away when I go to her house

The day we liberated Caen

23. I’ve just about forgiven her for colouring on my Lundy doll’s house when I was six. Bitch. Okay. I’ve not forgiven her.

24. I can go for weeks or months without talking to her and when I do talk to her it’s like that time has never been between us.

25. She understands what I mean when I remind her of the restaurant in Kos where I ate Owl and she had potatoes with cheese

26. She knows what movies I like – and we watch some that make us laugh until we cry and our sides hurt.

27. She always buys the best presents. I don’t know how. She just does.

28. She always has vimto to drink. That’s important in a sister.

29. She does the best face when she gets a present that she thinks is a bit crap. I like that she’s judgmental. I know she might do that at something I buy her, but she will always pretend that she loves it.

This is the 'Oh My God... What the hell kind of present is this? Face'

30. She and I shared bunk beds for a while. I always had the top bunk. I don’t know why. I don’t know if it made us closer, because from me being about 14 and her being about 10, we hated each other. Mainly because she was pretty and good and popular and I was weird and opinionated and bossy. And also because she liked shell suits and I didn’t.

Prep school girl... for a term or so!

31. Honestly, I’m still jealous of her a bit now. Not in a bad way though. In a way that says ‘I wish I was like that’.

32. She’s tall. See. Jealous. I wish I was like that.

33. She has very good posture. You might not think that is important in a sister, but it is. I couldn’t tolerate a sister who stooped.

34. If ever I need a hand decorating, she always helps out.

35. She never reminds me of mistakes I’ve made. I like that, especially when they involve snogging TOTALLY inappropriate people in pubs.

36. She never judges me to my face, even if I do a crap thing. If I said I was running off with my ex-dwarf, she’d let me even though she’d think I was mental and then she’d still pick up the pieces afterwards and never say she told me so.

Oh Monday… wherefore art thou Monday?

Another Much Love Monday.

I need Much Love because I am a little tired. I have been working like a dog (huh? My dogs sleep all day long on the couch, get up to eat, to go out or go for a walk and generally live a very lazy life… dogs either have very good imaginations or spend a lot of their time bored. It’s not like dogs have hobbies to keep them entertained in their luxury) dog slave before the pyramids in order to clear my virtual desk prior to the arrival of the GCSE English Literature papers. Between fact-finding about truffles and finding out what a potence is in French and then having to find out what it actually is in English because ‘stems’ mean nothing to me when it comes to bikes, and if you want to talk to me about the étriers, now, I’m perfectly capable en deux langues. I’ve also got lots of clients this week, as I did last, and I’m trying to make sure my lessons meet the same exacting standards.

So what am I mostly loving?

  • snuggling up on the sofa with my sleeping bag and duvet
  • Chuck which I’d not watched before and I am now L-O-V-I-N-G mostly because the guys in the Nerd Herd remind me so very much of all the people Andy knew. He was a computer tech guy at Dabs when I met him and his friends take geek-chic to a whole new level
  • being two weeks away from new chickens
  • my new little client Elizabeth whose parents probably didn’t want me to know how often they fart and who told me at the beginning of the class “I’ve taught myself to read, you know.” And so she had. A fellow smartie-pants.
  • The road to St Claud from Pont d’Agris. Almost 2 years I’ve been here and I’ve never driven this track. It’s like the forest tracks, but less crowded. Nice to look at, not so good to break down on.
  • The fact that I can still drive through a French village and still find it utterly charming after two years. I love cottages, be they English or French.
  • Bosses who take the time out to chat to you about random stuff even though they’ve been working all day. This is why I love AQA. They always employ such amazing principal examiners
  • My kindle book sales which are through the roof. Over 200 of each sold. That’s not best-seller material, I know. And sure, it’s netted me £65.00 for forty hours worth of work, but it gets me smiling
  • When actual real-life poets who I’ve written about on your teacher blog write that my comments are exactly what they wanted people to think. Get in! (Still doesn’t beat meeting Seamus Heaney in the bar in the Swan in Stratford during the interval at Julius Caesar. He wasn’t surrounded by giddy teenage girls but I did manage to make his Irish eyes twinkle when I told him I was a groupie. He liked that. Poets, even very very famous ones, probably don’t get groupies very often. He bought me a whisky.)
  • Knowing exactly what I’m doing. Sometimes.
  • Lovely, lovely people who I get to meet when I’m working. Nothing like clients who become friends.
  • This face :/
  • I often feel like this :/ face
  • How emoticons take me back to my letters from Laura when we were at uni and how we peppered them with smiley and sad faces. Before our time, I tell you. She once sent me a letter with stickers of Bert and Ernie on them. I wish I knew where Laura was 😦
  • Writing letters. I loved writing letters. I’ve seen some cool ideas of things to do to make a feature out of old letters. I’ve got hundreds, all preserved. Opening them and reading them is like going into a portal to my old me and finding friendships at their ripest. They’re treasured keys to memories I forgot that I owned.
  • Beautiful Japanese stationery. I hope one day I’m rich enough to travel to Japan again.
  • The fact that the girl behind the Much Love Monday blog is in Japan and I get to see a little of it again through her eyes
  • Chinese food and the anticipation thereof
  • Friends who like Chinese food
  • French lunches. 11€ for 3 courses and coffee. Only twice as expensive as a McDonald’s meal and fifty times nicer
  • Tilly getting under the duvet for cuddles
  • Teaching lessons wearing my cherry apron… I love teaching languages and having whole French families who want to do an American-style diner role play. Too cool!
  • Risotto a la LJ. I make good risotto.
  • The fact that I have two hours of lessons and then I can relax… feel like I’ve been working forever this Monday!

Ah, the diversity of me!

Today, I am going to give you an insight into what I have been doing. Just in a list. The French don’t like versatility. They’d prefer you knew everything about something, not something about everything. But I don’t care. I’ve never been able to decide on any one thing I like to do more than any other thing. So here’s been my day:

  • a wander and a look at the garden, note the weather and the temperature and check on Rustica for what jobs I need to do in the garden (= junior botanist, amateur farmer and lunatic. Literally)
  • preparing a lesson with a fabulous card sort using one of my textbooks (=writer and teacher)
  • playing Snakes and Ladders to learn the verb vouloir with a French family going on a road trip to America. Come on… who doesn’t use Snakes and Ladders to learn verbs?! (=overgrown kid and girlie swot/crazy linguist)
  • looking at a menu I filched from Dublin (=casual thief of linguistic props)
  • pretending to be a waitress in an American-style diner (=frustrated actress)
  • trying to explain what the hell corned beef is without making it sound evil (=inadequate linguist)
  • a promoter of the wonders of piccalilli (=advertising and marketing)
  • professional examiner and teacher (=new client, trying to impress)
  • writer (Social Media for Idiots)
  • oyster researcher and content writer (=jack of all trades writer)
  • recipe writer (=frustrated Masterchef final 100 contender)
  • translator of words I don’t even know in English about bikes (=bike know-it-all)
  • finding books to read with a seven-year-old French speaking English girl (book seller/librarian)
  • blogging (=my home from home comfort zone)
  • blogging about other people’s vehicular incidents and accents (=social commentator/person who doesn’t have a life of her own)
  • working through sample papers online (‘Professional’ examiner, contrary to the DT’s smear campaign)

And tonight, Matthew, I shall mostly be knitting, eating tea and watching a bit of Life on Mars. Now don’t tell me life is boring!

Much Love Monday

It’s sometimes a stretch to find things that I love on a Monday. That’s why I like to do this. It’s always good to have things to feel lovely about.

I am mostly loving:

  • Watercolours. Found some cheap board, dug out my watercolours and my stretching tape and remembered why pen and watercolour are my favourite media.
  • Black ink pens. I’ve never been a blue girl.
  • Being able to get stuff planted.
  • Stripy scarves.
  • Mince pies.
  • Listening to children reading – could do it all day!
  • Little Blue Boo. Creative and spiritual inspiration. I ♥ Ashley. If you read no other blog, read hers. Choose Joy.
  • Candy skulls and all things Dia de los Muertos.
  • All my new clients, whether English, Scottish, French or Spanish.
  • Being thought of by a particular friend/colleague – she’s my inspiration and that she thinks enough of me to ask me to write for her, well, that’s just the bee’s knees.
  • Cherries in chocolate.
  • Getting kids who are excited to learn and parents who see how fabulous their children are.
  • My girlfriends. They bring me smiles, they bring me happiness. They make me laugh. They bring me solace and they bring me comfort. They are my treasures.
  • Having finished the first of the front sides of my knitting pattern – the one with all the complicated ‘k1, yfwd, yrn, p2tog’ nonsense. I blasted through that there pattern.
  • My new orange painted lean-to. Thank you to Mr Stephen for painting it. Just for those concerned parties, he doesn’t have a list and I’m not working his fingers to their bones!
  • Teaching a lesson using fimo modelling clay. I love teaching English! I’m obviously a frustrated primary school teacher!
  • Getting referrals from other tutors out over here. When your peers respect you, there’s no better feeling.
  • The excitement of a busy work time ahead. I’m missing my garden, but my fingers are keeping me busy!!
  • Finding stuff to laugh about in the midst of something not very funny
  • Losing my glasses and not being able to find them because I’ve not got them on my head then having to hunt them out with my hands like the witches in Clash of the Titans orthe funny odd scary creature in Pan’s Labyrinth.
  • Getting taken out by the girls. And I don’t mean in a hit man kind of a way. I ♥ lunchtime with ladies. Here’s to many more!
  • Blue skies
  • Chatty ladies in the post office
  • The beautiful nativity scene in the church at La Rochefoucauld, even though it’s full of old people (the creche, not the church) and I especially love the twinkly stars and the bakery. I’m not sure there was a French-style bakery in Bethlehem, but who cares?
  • Being the only person in the post office and not having to queue
  • Looking forward to seeing my little students who I haven’t seen since before Christmas