Monthly Archives: September 2015

Everything’s gonna be real fine

Another Monday, another bit of punk rock for you… Ramones, with Oh Oh I Love Her So

I did have a mini-Ramones obsession when I was about 18. Funny, actually, since yesterday I put on this old checked fleece I got when I was about that age from the Army Surplus Stores. It’s still in good shape. That’s how clothing should be. Dirt cheap and will last you a good twenty five years or more. None of this stuff that falls apart. I bought some new socks last week and one has already got a hole in it. What’s that even about??! A week!!

I got some really good stuff at that Army surplus store, including a canvas rucksack and a pair of combat boots that lasted me a good four or five years. The Army surplus stores are like a survivalists’ paradise but the younger me did love a bit of military surplus gear. Those combat boots were a quarter of the price of Doc Martens. I did a lot of walking when I was at university – I got a bus pass that lasted a month and then figured I could save myself the fiver it cost me by walking everywhere. I think it was usually a forty-minute walk to the campus. In the winter, I’d quite often wear that red check lumberjack fleece with a patchwork skirt and my combat boots. No sense of coordination at all, the teenage me. You can still buy those kit bags for a tenner. Even my North Face rucksack has wear and tear. Those canvas things last forever.

I still love walking everywhere. Yesterday, I took the dogs for an epic forest jaunt before the cold weather gets here and I try and spend as little time outside as I can. The forest was busy yesterday, as it gets. We saw a good few people out picking mushrooms, and loads of cyclists. Great to see how much progress Heston has made with other dogs – there were at least five or six dogs off lead whose owners should have known better than to let them off lead. They’d all come up for a sniff. We’ve been working on “sit” and “eyes” when other animals are near. It’s not easy when a Jack Russell is ferreting around, let me tell you. Not one bark though or over-reaction.

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Most of the forest is pretty flat – it’s not easy to get a sense of where you are if you are lost (it’s been years since I was lost here though, even though I used to worry about it all the time and draw scrappy paper maps to keep in my pocket!) But today I got a rare view from the top of one of the hills – we walked from the lightest blue bit. It’s a circuit of about 11km. I love this forest.

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Most of the time, you don’t see anyone here at all. There are many days when I don’t see a single soul. Better than the fields where I normally go, since there were about five million hunters out this morning with their various setters and spaniels.

After lunch, I did a bit of a crafty afternoon and put together a patchwork curtain for under the sink. I’ll show you the ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos and you’ll see why I have taken to decorating this foul little corner of my house. I was very slapdash in the actual patchwork bit; let’s just say the patchwork queens will be choking on their coffee, but it’s only to go under the sink so I don’t care much. It doesn’t even go with the blue spotty curtains I made for the kitchen window. Like I care about things like that!! As my lumberjack shirt, combat boots and patchwork skirt à la Kate Bush would go to show, I don’t care much for matching things up. I used to be so well-matched at work. It was not really the authentic me, I think.

Next Sunday will be the last day I have without other obligations for a while. The week after, it’s the refuge open day and it’s all hands on deck. I’m also trying to put together the refuge calendar as well. Cross your fingers that it doesn’t look bad! The week after that is the Hope booksale. That is sure to be a busy one. Then it’s half term, when I have to get my act together for my classes leading up to Christmas. So next Sunday, I’m back with my paintbrush and drill and I’m going to put up all the things that need putting up, and paint the things that need painting. I still can’t decide if the former owner painted them cream or if they started white. I suspect the latter.

Anyhow, now that my (almost) internet-free Sunday is over I better pick up the pieces!

Have a good week!

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Drug store lovin’

What better way to start a Monday than with a bit of Otis? I love this tune. It’s a complete feelgood track. Your Monday won’t get better than Otis.

It was a busy one last week, and busy this week too. Last week was nothing but vet visits. I’m sure people will start talking about me and the vet. Our local vet has been off work for a while and her replacement is a rather chatty type. Well, if I wasn’t having eyes checked out and kittens vaccinated, holding dogs in queues at the refuge and having Tobby’s back end checked out, I was bumping in to him in supermarkets. He’s about twelve, bless him. I know I’m getting old when vets look young. He seriously must think I have about five hundred dogs. Even the vet’s secretary looks at me now and says, “Do I bill the refuge or 30 Millions d’Amis?”

Still, sitting around in vets’ surgeries at least beat the weather. It feels more like the end of October at the moment rather than the middle of September (okay, middle and a bit). Yesterday was nicer, but it’s been very autumnal. I’m blaming that for my sudden interest in pensioner pastimes like making soup and getting my craft on. I don’t know why I say pensioner pastimes. The craft world is very much in vogue. Well, it always has been with me.

I’ve been trying to use up all the stuff I’ve got hanging around the house, paint and fabric-wise, as well as spending a little time doing stuff I like, rather than being at everyone else’s beck and call. I’ve been spending my Sunday afternoons doing stuff, if I’m free from other obligations. A couple of weeks ago, I used up some paint remnants and painted a console table a lively shade of green.

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I think it looks quite splendid. Nothing like a bit of colour to make you feel more vibrant. Plus, now it’s nice and pretty, it’ll stop me treating it as a dumping ground for things that have been in my handbag too long.

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Yesterday, my Sunday afternoon project was to make some tab-top curtains for the kitchen. I actually bought the fabric in 2010 before I moved to France. Not quite sure why I’ve been waiting so long, but I’ve long since used the lining fabric for other things, so they won’t be finished til next Sunday. Best laid plans and all that. Still, it beats spending the day online. I’ve been switching off the laptop from noon until evening and it’s amazing how productive I can be.

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I’m now also through the main bit of my sock. They’ve been epic, these socks. Knee-length, seven colours, complex patterns, but they are totally amazing. I shall be very glad when they are finished, and no mistake. No way on earth I’ll be able to go to the fabric shop to pick up lining fabric and not peruse the wool on sale for my next project, whatever that might be. I daren’t look on Ravelry yet; it’s a bit like cheating on your boyfriend to move on to your next project before you’ve properly finished the last.

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This week is a week of meetings, meetings and meetings. I really thought I might get a breather after the foire, but no. It is not to be. Maybe next week will be a little quieter. It did get to the point in the week where I was eating tinned stuff as I’d not had a minute to go to the supermarket. Amazing what you can make with an onion, a potato, a can of tomatoes, a can of chickpeas and some spices.

My little Coco was adopted last week. I’d taken Dodger with me because I kind of hoped I could find him a friend. I thought he might be a bit lonely in the laundry by himself. It’s no life for a kitten. I’m not sure I’d trust at least two of my dogs with a cat. Anyhow, I ended up leaving him at the refuge as someone brought in a box of seven tiny kittens. They’d been sealed in a cardboard box and thrown in the bin. A quarantine was needed so I took three. These ones are real hooligans. They’re the Shameless family of cats. I miss my little Dodger. In truth, I have been tormenting myself over him. I hope he is adopted soon otherwise I fear I’ll be trying to come to some solution about how to keep him in a foster until he can be adopted. He is just beautiful. He’s just your average-looking moggy, but he is so gentle and so loving. The new little lot just bomb around like maniacs and hang off my legs like insects.

Today is a meeting about a Christmas foire (ah yes, it’s that time already) and then hopefully back in the garden. I got in a good couple of hours yesterday, trying to tidy up the latest bramble patch and getting distracted by how beautiful everything is

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It’s apple season and grape season. Mostly that involves me picking stuff so that Wobbly, Greedy and Needy don’t eat them. There’s been some wind in this house, let me tell you.

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Apples I don’t mind so much but I do wish Tobby wouldn’t leave the stalks dotted around the house. It makes a change, him carrying fruit around instead of a toy. He had used it as an opportunity to secrete all his toys and bones in my bed on Saturday when I was out for the best part of the day. He obviously feels like nesting too!

Have a wonderful Monday. Hope you enjoyed Otis.

Sleepless Nights

I’m a bit late. I guess you’ll forgive me. I’ve had foires to organise, don’t you know?

Here’s your late-night Monday blast with Buzzcocks and What do I get? You’ve got to love a bit of Manc Punk when you’re feeling in need of a burst of energy. It’s a musical kick up the proverbial.

We Brits might have bad teeth but we do make good music. Maybe the two things are connected?

Last week was just a frantic burst of fair-ness. It’s amazing how many things you remember at the last minute even when you have lists that you thought were completely exhaustive. Luckily, I had the wonderful Ju and Su of JuSu wooden stuff to chivvy me along and help me with boggles and putting up marquees and decide where people have to go and who has to go next to whom. You wouldn’t believe the requests you get. Julie taught me a great phrase about “the moon on a stick” and that pretty much sums it up. Everybody who is anybody wanted to go next to Ruth of Crochez Moi. I don’t know why. We had four requests to go next to Ruth. Every time I saw her, she was crocheting stuff so I don’t know why she was just quite so popular, despite being very lovely indeed. Put me next to the cake lady. She’s also very nice indeed. Plus she has cakes and samples. All friends are good friends until they come with cake samples.

Although the heavens opened until 9am and everyone was wondering whether it’d be a complete wash-out, people-wise, it was just lovely to spend time with so many great people (and eat their cakes).

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I think you’ll agree, it’s a talented bunch of marketeers. Truthfully, I walked around a couple of markets recently, trying to encourage more market stalls to come, and I walked past so many thinking “I know some people who do better stuff than that”, or “that’s not very good quality”. I also got at least half of my Christmas presents sorted, and picked up some great value plants. I’ve fallen well-and-truly in love with gaura this year and so I’ve picked up a few to plant for next year.

Anyway, I have finally – finally! – booked myself onto a crochet course with Ruth. If anyone can turn my knitting fervour into crochet fervour, she is the woman. I like the versatility of crochet and you can do cute stuff. I like knitting, but crochet is just another thing I want to be able to do. Who’d have thought, a couple of years ago, that I’d be able to knit a Christmas bauble on 5 double-pointed needles with four colour changes and a Skandi pattern? Not Sylvie, that’s for sure, given how hard it was to even cast on that very first bauble. Doing 31 of the little bleeders last Christmas kind of took all the challenge out of it. As for my socks, I’ve finally finished sock number 1 and I’m on to sock number 2. They are just awesome. Seven different colours, lord knows how many changes and pattern combos. If you can knit a pair of Arne and Carlos Christmas socks, crochet should be no challenge at all – yet I find it strangely difficult. I managed to find one day where the schools are on holidays and I have a free afternoon, late in October. I am so giddy about it that I can barely speak.

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As for this week, I shall mostly be at the vet’s. Not my dogs, I hasten to add. I’ve got various holding-downs and eye-cleanings and vaccinations to attend, which will be lots of fun. Little Coco the grey kittie is hopefully off to her new home tomorrow afternoon. I knew she would find a home easily. What a shame so many people are kitten racists and colour matters. I’ve had tabbies and whites, gingers and black cats, and they’ve all been very cattish. Dodger has the misfortune of being tabby and white, which means he’s second-to-bottom in the colour attractiveness charts. I bet you never thought there was such a thing as a kitten-colour-attractiveness chart, but there is. Pedigree cats are at the top with their creams and Siamese point. Greys are up there as well. Gingers are popular too. Tortoiseshell, tabby and black bring up the rear. If you ask me, Dodger is a much lovelier kitten as he’s super-affectionate and very purry, but he’s just not quite pretty enough. Plus, he’s a boy. Poor Dodger. He might be all alone by tomorrow evening.

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Coco is pretty though. And she knows it.

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Nothing Dodger can do is as appealing. Poor boy. I love him.

I’m hoping that he’s gone before the next lot are old enough for vaccinations – my attic room is also serving as a cattery as well. Kittens have been coming out of my ears, quite literally. Still, it means that the kitties are clean and disease-free until their vaccinations, and they stand a better chance of living. Last year, so many kittens at the refuge spent their first few weeks being nursed through cat flu. Far too many didn’t make it. I’m glad these two are fat and healthy.

Apart from that, I’ll be braving the weather to try and make sure the garden is sufficiently under control before next spring; I’ve got a new ‘hot’ flower bed on the make, and I’m starting to prepare a huge new bed for next summer. I do love planting things – there is no therapy quite like it.

Have a fabulous week people and I hope you get a little green therapy if that floats your boat.

You taught me everything I know

Another busy week – I can’t tell you how much I’m waiting for next Monday! Here’s a lovely Monday Buzz from The Killers with Human

God I love this band. I’ve got a very special spot for Brendan Flower. I could quite easily have a full playlist only of the Killers and never get bored.

I’m back to full-time classes this week – the first week of school always starts slowly and some students were still off last week. Then it’s back to cake-making duties for the weekend as it’s Les Dames de FER foire at Condac. Fingers crossed for good weather and that everything runs smoothly. There’ve been some busy bodies behind the scenes, and Saturday will be a full-on day of putting up marquees and getting everything ready. All we can do then is hope for lots of clients! It’s been in all the magazines and publications, so I’m hoping for a few faces at least. There are some very lovely stalls coming – would not be hard to spend a bit of cash. I’ve got my eye on the plants.

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Sylvie does all our lovely graphics and I can’t tell you how much she does behind the scenes. She puts me to shame. Her tea-towel empire (yes, such a thing does exist!) has really taken off and she’s even in this month’s Devon Life magazine.

Expect a very tired version of me this time next week.

The refuge website went live last week and you can see the fruits of our labours here

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To move from a 1990s-style forum where you couldn’t really see any of the animals at all to this wonderful beast is quite a miracle. It’s still in the development stages, but the photos of the dogs are what I spend my Fridays doing. I’ve got plans for the 2016 calendar underway and today I need to get myself into gear to start planning that. It’s my next big project after the foire is out of the way. Then it’ll be the Hope October booksale! How time flies!

The main event of my week last week was putting my book on Kindle. I’m pleased to report good sales and nobody’s said how terrible it is.

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The best bit of the week was briefly being above Cesar Millan on the Amazon rankings. I can’t tell you how much that man hurts my sensibilities. He’s single-handedly responsible for all the nonsense jargon about dogs and why the word ‘dominant’ is so frequently bandied about these days. Needless to say, I’m no doubt dominated by my dogs all the time. They’re constantly trying to get the better of me and outsmart me. It’s just a matter of time before I’m answering their every whim, responding to their beck and call, moving chairs just so they can sleep on undisturbed, petting them every time they come near. Hang on… that sounds like living with cats. Why has nobody worked out that the real dominance problem is with those cats who won’t be happy until they’re our overlords?

Like cats are not in control of the universe anyway!

A study was out last week that said that cats don’t need us to survive. Like that’s news. By implication, then, cats just hang around us because they have got us under their thumb and even though they don’t need us, they have us whipped into servitude. I’d like to see Cesar Millan do his stuff with a cat. Has anyone ever alpha rolled a cat and lived to tell the tale? Most dogs know not to mess with cats.

Anyway, if you’d like to buy my book you can find it here for Amazon UK and here for Amazon.com. You can buy it at any Amazon store for a truly great price (and all proceeds are going to help me buy stuff to improve the refuge photographs even more) I’m even a few thousand words into the next one, which still needs a name. It’s kind of weepy writing about all the calendar dogs who found a home, and the two that haven’t yet: Gentil and Tulipe. If you’re in France, the UK or northern Europe and you know someone who hasn’t got other animals and wouldn’t mind being home to a pensioner doggie, let me know!

My own pensioner doggie Tobby is having a bit of a time. He had a couple of falls last week. He does so love to be excited and race about. I wish he’d understand how much better it’d be if he wouldn’t throw himself about. He is an amazing dog. He manages to haul himself up onto the couch next to me for cuddles of an evening (or, if you’re a Cesar Millan fan, in his bid to dominate me and have control over my couch) and he is just the biggest sweetheart. He is almost never without a toy, God love him. He doesn’t want you to play with him or to take it from him. He doesn’t want you to throw it or play fetch or tug of war. He just wants to carry it about. I wish I knew his story and where he’d come from. He’s an amazing dog.

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He and Heston had a scrap last week. Not sure what it was over. I was in the barn and something moved. Heston got excited and I’m not sure if Tobby was right behind him. I’m pretty sure Tobby started it and before I could blink, they were rolling around on the floor. Luckily, it was all noise and even though I couldn’t pull Heston off, there were no teeth involved. I went to turn the hose on and by the time I had, the fight was over. Tobby looked a bit sheepish and Heston looked like nothing had happened at all. They’re back to their usual behaviours, but I’m keeping an eye out. Tobby’s always loved Amigo and will happily lie next to him licking his ears, but though he’s tried to give Heston the same, Heston just grumbles in a general way of “yeah, none of your ear-licking for me, mate” whereas Amigo just looks at me in a way that says, “please make him stop!”

Needless to say, whilst Heston and Tobby were sorting out their differences, Amigo, Tilly and I stood around being useless and making a lot of noise. I do wonder always if they smell a change on each other. Heston was always very well-behaved around Ralf, right up until three weeks before Ralf died, when Heston tried twice to hump him. I’d never seen him do that before and if anything, Ralf was boss and had humped Heston on arrival. Boys! So temperamental.

I say this knowing full well that I have ONE princess in this house and she is more temperamental than the lot of them. She’s definitely the boss of all of them. One cocker to rule them all.

Anyway, have a lovely Monday. May your week be less stressful than mine! See you on the other side.