Monthly Archives: May 2014

52 Mondays #22


Where have two weeks gone? Two full weeks!

So what have I done in two weeks? I can barely remember.

  • Took an old doglet to the home for old dogs and saw him settle in with his new friend Harold. Spent the day with lovely, lovely people and cried lots of tears into dogs’ fur. IMG_0857
  • Helped set up some books at the most epic Hope booksale in Clussais La Pommerie. You have no idea how many people came to support the Hope Association at the weekend, but suffice to say the three days’ setting up before make it run more smoothly. I wouldn’t be surprised if half a million books were for sale. (I’m at the bottom on this photo, with another famous local blogger… We were out in force at the booksale, with Chris from Wildlife in France and Mrs French Village Diaries herself. All the best people are at the Hope booksale!)hope
  • Had a problem with my brakes and spent far too much time sitting in the garage looking at tyres. I don’t have a photo of that.
  • Taught several dozen extra lessons in preparation for GCSE exams and IGCSE. And A level and Baccalaureat. I don’t have a photo of that either.
  • Managed to squash in some of my own dog walks alongside those of the refuge.
  • Led a training session for Les Dames de FER on social media at a very fabulous 1930s-style B&B, complete with very wonderful guests. la belle epoque
  • Hauled arse back up to the booksale to help sort books out on the Sunday, then hauled arse back down the motorway to go and teach.
  • Managed to get some great (well, heart-breaking!) photos of dogs in at the refuge to help publicise them and find them homes. chance3
  • Started delivering some of my bi-monthly magazines.
  • Eaten a lot of Cadbury’s Creme Eggs.
  • Eaten a fair bit of tiffin.
  • Drank a lot of tea.
  • Thought of at least 15 ways to support local charities – campaigns to come soon!
  • Planned a woodland walk and picnic in aid of the dog refuge.
  • Tired myself out completely.

And finally, suffered on my first proper day off with a cold, and I am very disappointed by that.

The weather here has not done much by way of brightening up. It’s not much different from last year in terms of temperatures. It has rained so much over the last couple of days that the river is now full again and almost at the point of breaking its banks. I am very tired of this. It’s nearly June and it’s still low 20s. Looks like it will be another short summer.


Funny to be walking the dogs in temperatures which are not markedly different than January’s!

52 Mondays #20


A wet and yuck and cool and squally walk. Météo said no rain. They lied.

This week is perhaps the busiest of my year so far. Lots of exams coming up. Lots of other things on as well. Today, I get to take Sirius, a dog at the refuge, to his retirement home. Tomorrow, helping to set up books for the huge Hope Association book sale. Usual crazy classes Wednesday and Thursday, and then I’m running a training course on Friday.

Obviously not enough else to do!!

So I’m hoping the weather picks up and I don’t have to get my coat and hat out for some really early morning walks this week. Give me five weeks til midway through the year and I will be on a downward run – those kind of crazy free-for-all runs where you are all out of control. Dare I plan a week off in early July? I don’t know what I’d even do with myself!

Hopefully your week will be a little less hectic than mine. I’m not complaining though. I love it busy.


Doglets’ happy endings

Those of you who are regular readers will know that I have the most massive space in my heart for children and animals. You know that if I could find someone who would finance it, I would happily take on as many dogs as I could manage and do nothing but walk them and pet them and play with them all day long. I know you know too how hard it is for me to walk away from the refuge and not take a couple of dogs with me in my pocket. The only thing that stops me is the thought of “why stop at two? Why not twenty? And which twenty? If you’re going to take twenty, how do you leave the other hundred and eighty behind? Take them all!!”

Simply being unable to choose one makes it a little easier. Plus, they are clean, dry, fed, watered and cared for, which is a lot more than many dogs, shamefully, can say.

And you also know I have the most massive space in my heart for Twilight, the home for dogs in the Dordogne, which takes on dogs in the refuges and gives them a nice place to live in freedom for whatever is the remainder of their life.

So imagine my joy when my favouritest of doglets finds a place at Twilight?

You cannot.

It looks a bit like this:


Anyway, this is what I was doing.

And if Sirius knew, this is what he’d be doing as well.


You can read more about Sirius here 

And you can read more about Twilight here 

I just have my fingers crossed that everything goes okay and that he has a happy, happy retirement. To end up at a refuge as a pensioner is a sad, sad thing.

And more good news, because it’s not just about the fact that Twilight themselves take old woofers, but I am meeting a lady today who has been inspired by Twilight and wants an old woofer of her own. Keep your fingers crossed for that one! Having spent a part of my day yesterday in the company of the delightfully joyous Calîne, a spritely 14 year old something-or-other who chases a ball and races around like a 4 year-old, it’s safe to say there’s life in the old dogs yet.


Bit late… big day! Here’s a Wednesday whoo for you. Hard-Fi with Hard to Beat – a little bit of summer 2005 for you.

This was the summer of my brand new baby Honda Civic S, which is now an old dude of nine… I think this was the first summer I was properly grown up with few overheads and a sensible income. It was another summer of being locked in dark rooms marking SATs papers and GCSEs. Did I even have a break that summer? I doubt it.

I spent a lot of time down in London that year for conferences and meetings, including meetings in well-dressed government buildings behind the Houses of Parliament. One of the companies I was writing for had an apartment in Green Park that we were welcome to use when we were down in London. It feels like another world now. It was a very small world really – a world of names I already knew well and I was kind of starstruck to be spending time in such illustrious company. When I was on the same billing as Professor David Crystal on a conference at some huge venue in London, it was akin to being on the same bill as the Rolling Stones or AC/DC. Not that those names mean much to most people not interested in languages and grammar. I’m such a linguist geek. There’s nothing I don’t love about words and sentences, from their bare bones to their history, to the letters that make them to the sense they’ve carved out. When a new student’s mum told me today that her daughter had said ‘I LOVE verbs!’ on the way home in the car after school, I felt my heart leap just a little that someone might feel the same as me.

Here’s to the word nerds, the lovers of linguistics, the puntastics, the poets, the playwrights, the authors, the punctilious punctuators, the amateur etymologists

52 Mondays #19


Brighter this week. Last week was a rainy, squally week that got better as it went on, but started over the weekend with foul rain showers – hard and heavy. This week seems to be picking up, though it still feels cool to me for May. No frosts, no cold nights, just low 20°Cs.

I’m back to full time work this week – and things pick up the closer we get to exams as everyone tries to cram in a little extra revision. Thursday is a bank holiday and I have absolutely promised myself a rummage at a vide grenier – there is a huge one on at St Mary, a village just near me. I missed the big one in the forest yesterday, but I had a ton of errands to do and household stuff. If you don’t know France, or even if you do, you have probably very little concept of the vide grenier – this car boot sale with a kick. You load up all the stuff you have been hoarding from the 60s-90s, you put it in your car, you drive to some field somewhere, you display your wares, you charge more for your treasures than they are worth, people come round and gawk at your stuff, you pack up, you go home. That’s the essence of it.

I’ve bypassed the stuff that is on sale, because it is a bit unbelievable. I try to get photos and fall short because I feel it might be offensive to take photos, so I try to do it on the sly. After all, you don’t want to have to feign interest in some old toilet seat or chamber pot or Nana Mouskouri albums when really you just want to have a right old laugh and advise people – in the name of all things holy – to take their junk to the junk yard instead of spending their Sundays and bank holidays trying to offload it.

Today is the day for a little pruning. My usually neat forsythia has shot up. My vegetable garden – well – it’s a field at the moment – a field of thigh-high grass. Rain and rain and heat and rain have taken over. Luckily, it is sunny and it is dry. Long may that continue.

My philadelphus and viburnum are in lovely bloom – everything is huge, fat white blossom at the moment.

philadelphus IMG_0813

I surely cannot be the only one to love the big, fluffy pompoms of the viburnum?

Anyway, time for action. Have a lovely Monday and enjoy the sun if you have some.