Monthly Archives: October 2015

Dreaming til the sun goes down

It may well be that summer is long since gone, but The Stone Roses first album never fails to bring me memories of summer, so here’s Elephant Stone to bring a little John Squires’ loveliness to your day.

Nobody can fail to have a mood improvement with a bit of Manchester’s jangliest of guitars. One of those bands that were good for an album, that provided a soundtrack to the end of the 80, but never came to anything after that. I watched a documentary recently about the rise and fall of the Stone Roses. Didn’t realise what a prize piece of work their manager was, or that he ran the International and the International II. We saw some brilliant bands there in the tail-end of the 80s. I’m pretty sure that’s where I first saw the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but I’d have to get the ticket out to tell you which club it was. Though it was kind of enjoyable to watch the documentary, as Mani (the bassist) and Shaun Ryder were on good form, it’s sad to know that such an amazing band never really got the chance they deserved. My favourite Mani quote, by the way, is “you can’t ride two bikes with one arse.” The man is a Mancunian Wordsmith of the highest calibre. He reminds me of many of the guys I grew up with.

It did get me wondering though, watching that documentary, whatever happened to my bucket hat? I had one. I was wearing it on a photo in Brazil in 2003. I had it in Cuba in 2004. After that, it went missing. It’s in my archives of ‘Hats I have loved and lost’.


I don’t know where this hat went to. I miss it as well.

The other is my pink kangol hat. I know what happened to that. Heston happened to that.


It is of course hat season, which is making me miss these all the more.

I feel like I might stay in a Stone Roses kind of space all day today.

Finally… finally! I’ve got a bit of a quieter week. Many of my students in France are on holiday and I can begin to sort out the work carnage and backlog. I daren’t even show you what my to do list looks like. I wanted to spend yesterday on another craft project, but I needed to get a big project out of the way – the refuge calendar. It’s finally, bar edits and amendments, been put to bed. I have to say I absolutely loved taking all the photographs. I got to visit lots of our adopted woofers and see them in their new homes – and nothing makes me happier than knowing there are happy endings. One of our refuge long-termers, Darius, was adopted at the weekend as well. He reminds me so much of Heston. One of the volunteers, Brigitte, and I were talking about the dogs that circle excitedly in their enclosures. Darius is one of those.

“I’m sure they’ll be calmer out of the refuge,” she said. Yeah, right. Heston has at least one walk a day and he always circles at the gate like a crazy madman.

I did go on my crochet holiday (three hours of a crochet lesson – the best holiday I’ve got going on this year) and it was most marvellous. I’m not sure as I can go as far as saying that I can now crochet, but I’ve done a granny square. Photos to follow. Needless to say, the lady running the course had her work cut out with me, being such a determined knitter with so few coordination skills to speak of, but she managed to get me from ‘tight worm’ to granny square. I’m now officially in love with crochet. Anything where casting off is more ‘Allez, hup’ than Kitchener stitch is good with me. I sense a Christmas of crochet.

Last week also saw the (swift!) adoption of all seven kittens I’ve been harbouring for the last week. I confess, I’ve become a bit of a kitten-fostering fiend. My last two go to their new home this afternoon, but I’m very glad that I will see one of them more regularly – my little Billy No Mates, who had no home of his own, has now found a family with my friend Sylv. She said she’d fallen for my “if you can, you should” line of thought. Obviously, even though she has met all my dogs, she doesn’t quite realise what kind of trouble that line can get you in to.


He’s a bit special and a bit boss-eyed, but he’s my favourite. He was the only one I could tell apart out of the seven. They were all practically identical.

Anyway, not sure if I’ll be picking more up this afternoon or waiting until the next arrivals, but I shall miss having seven identical little faces looking at me.

This week I shall be mostly trying to blast through my to-do list of stuff I said I’d do for people. Clocks have gone back, winter is coming and I’ve got hats to knit. I wonder if I can crochet myself a Reni hat? I bet I can. Just not in corduroy.

Have a lovely Monday and enjoy the rest of your week. May it be as upbeat as the Stone Roses.

The chill that autumn brings

Ah, the very lovely sound of Elvis Costello with She. 

Another of those musicians who’ve aged rather well, thank you. Oliver’s Army is always a perennial favourite. You just don’t get political music anymore do you? I think that’s why I like Bruce so much.

I would hardly credit it, what with it being the first week of the school holidays here, but this week has ended up being incredibly busy. Not sure what’s up with that. I shall be very glad when it is Sunday and I can relax a bit. Next week seems like it will be a bit quieter again, which I am very thankful of.

The weekend has seen the Hope Association book fair, which was bitterly cold on Friday and Saturday. Friday was the second day we’d had frost and it was still -1°C when I got there at nine. I don’t even think it warmed up much. I got straight into bed when I had walked the dogs on Friday night. Saturday felt even colder. Worse is having a house that relies on wood fires – I get in and there’s no point lighting a fire, so I don’t bother, and then the only warm place is my bed.

Today we’ve got a planning meeting for a Christmas fair. People have usually so little idea what goes on behind the scenes. I’ve started using RescueTime again on the laptops because I’m interested to know how long I’m spending doing what, and it’s not a pretty picture. So much of that time is mundane administration, replying to emails, sending out acknowledgements. No wonder I’ve grown to hate my email box. I’ve even had to schedule time to spend on emails in various accounts.

What’s most annoying are the time thieves out there. Last week I spent a good three hours sending emails and answering calls relating to some woman who’s got nothing better to do than cause storms in the teacups of associations here in France. I don’t get it. I simply don’t get why someone would steal an hour of my time telling the most outrageous lies and mistruths that I then have to pull apart and dismantle, when really I should have just told her to take a hike in the first place. As per usual, it makes it ten times worse when that person purports to be in animal welfare. There are many days where I don’t want to answer my phone in case it’s someone who just wants to make drama. I stand by the fact that nobody ever calls you up to offer assistance or help you out, just to give you more stuff that they think you should do for them.

Luckily, the weekend reset all the negative ions in my universe, because I got to spend it with all those people who are just quietly getting on with their animally business, when it’s all put back into perspective again and I get to sound off about all the irritating individuals who’ve pissed on my parade that week, and we all have a collective grumble. I don’t know whether it’s infuriating or reassuring when you hear the same names mentioned time and time again in relation to time thievery and con artists. Honestly, I think I’d lose the will to keep going if I thought it was just me that attracted all the freaks. As per usual, I do seem to bring out extreme oddities in people much earlier than other people manage to spot it. Some would say that’s kind of a gift, but I think I have a very good radar for rubbish. I’m like a threshold freak-outer. I get the first wave of odd behaviour, and other people won’t believe that such-and-such or so-and-so is a card-carrying member of the fruitloop brigade, only for them to realise that I was just a primer for weirdness when those people go on to try it on with them too. Contrary to popular belief, I’m quite good at being diplomatic with crazies. That’s what infuriates them so much. I’m very reasonable. I should be. I used to train teachers. Anyone who has to tell a teacher, thirty years under their belt, that they might want to review their practice, has to have both an elephant skin and a very good ability to outmanoeuvre excuses and get through the bullshit.

By yesterday, my spleen was appropriately vented and my tolerance for humanity had been reset by spending it with decent, hard-working, lovely types who shared their cake and stories with me. I picked up my winter reading materials (at a euro a book, it’d be rude not to!) and I feel fully prepared for the autumn onslaught. Still, I will be much happier once this week is out of the way and I can get back to tidying the garden, trampling on molehills, finishing off socks and sorting out the refuge Christmas calendar.

The calendar, by the way, is looking marvellous. I’m super-impressed. A steep Photoshop learning curve (yes, I finally splashed out) was made steeper by not being able to download it successfully in English and having to work out what stuff was in the kind of French where I have no idea what the English is made it a little more challenging. Very luckily, back in 2007 or so, I spent a lot of time playing with Fireworks (that sounds more dangerous than messing around with photos on a computer) and so it’s all coming back to me. Hopefully, I’ll have broken the back of it by this time next week. I’m undecided as to whether to include Tobby or not. It feels a bit like favouritism, but he is such a handsome boy. He came with me to the booksale and crashed out in the car on the way home. It’s the only time I’ve ever seen him exhausted.

Anyway, enjoy your Monday. I’ll be kitten-wrangling and stall-sorting, form-filling and calendar-making til at least this time next week, I’m sure!

The Dance Is Through

Another Monday, another hair metal tune from my youth. Here’s the fabulous Vixen with Edge Of A Broken Heart

I’d laugh, but if you didn’t look like this in 1989 – boy or girl – then you probably weren’t my friend. I very much like the disembodied hand coming across the screen from time to time. We didn’t have MTV in my house when I was a teenager, so although there were videos to many of the epic tunes of my growing-up years, I’ve often only discovered them as an adult, way after the time they were cool. Still, if this doesn’t show you that girls can wear stilettos and play the drums like Madame Roxy Petrucci, nothing does. The women in Vixen were my style icons, along with Strawberry Switchblade and Lita Ford. If you didn’t look like you’d gone ten rounds with some rick-rack and sequins, a pair of scissors and some lace embellishments in a haberdashery, you just weren’t cool.  Not only were the Vixen ladies uber-cool in a girl-crush kind of way, they also had cooler names than me. Roxy Petrucci and Pia Maiocco were a long way from Vera Duckworth and Gayle Platt. Pia Maiocco is still married to Steve Vai. When I was a youngster, that was like my Kanye/Kim celebrity marriage of choice. Happy Days.

I’m a bit late with the old Monday inspiration today – been a busy weekend. I got so many photographs this weekend that it took me an hour to delete all the ones I didn’t want. I got 32GB of photos yesterday alone and went through two batteries. That’s some heavy duty photography. Still, it was well worth it for the lovely photos. Not only have I got plenty for the calendar, but I have some sweet ‘didn’t quite make it’ shots for the website.


How cute is the little Austin?

There was quite a bit of cat photobombing over the weekend though

cat photobomb

Nobody said it would be easy.

This week is a brief hiatus (and A LOT of post-processing) before the Hope booksale at the weekend. The new banner arrived for the refuge publicity and I’m made up with it. It looks fabulous. I can’t wait to show you the photos of that as well.

I’ve put the montage together for the calendar, so it should just be a matter of dragging and dropping in the images and changing a few details here and there. She says. Nothing is ever that easy is it?

The Open Doors weekend was really successful. Several dogs went on adoption contracts, as well as some cats and kittens. My lovely Pongo was adopted this weekend, along with lots of the littlies and some of the older dogs. I love seeing young people adopting the older dogs – it really does remind you that there is a lot of good in the world. Of course, it doesn’t make up for the sad fact that many of the dogs who have arrived here have come as a result of misfortune or cruelty or death, but it does put a stop to the sadness. Next weekend is even more full-on. I’m preparing my throat for all the chatting. At least I can take a step back into autumn – I spent so long doing Christmas adverts last week that I’d practically forgotten what season it was. Between the Hawaiian garlands, the beach scenes and the snow scenes on the photos, I’m quite out of sorts.

The cold weather is setting in and I don’t think it’ll be long before the fire is lit. Been 5°C a couple of mornings last week when I was taking the dogs out. Tobby took himself off for a wander on Saturday afternoon. Not sure where he squeezed out but for a dog with arthritis, he can sure get in some small spaces. It’s been exactly six months since he arrived here and what a darling he is.

Right… I better get the dogs out and get on with a bit of work!

Have a fabulous Monday!

You can’t start a fire without a spark

Kind of apt, since it’s wood-time round here. Winter is definitely coming.

If you’re needing a musical boost this morning, here’s the Boss with Dancing In The Dark

I love Bruce with a love that is quite unequalled. Sometimes, a band will come along and will stick their hands into your stomach and give it a twist when they play, but those bands are few and far between, and most of them don’t stick around. Can you believe that this track is thirty years old? I still love it as much as I ever did, and every album of Bruce Springsteen’s is as good as the last. I just wish his dancing was a little less like Carlton’s on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Or that Carlton’s was a little less ‘Bruce’. Still, you’ve got to hand it to the guy. Ten years after Born To Run, he gave us Born in the USA and ten years after that, he gave us Human Touch. Another fifteen years on and he gave us Magic. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Stones and I love The Who, but they’re not still making great albums thirty-five or forty years after their peak. He is the definitive workhorse of rock.

Love the Brooooce. I love his Dad’s Army of the E-Street Band as well, who always looked like the oddest assortment of Dads-What-Still-Does-Rock. Nobody looks more like a group of dads who still get together on Tuesdays for band practice.

I could listen to Bruce all day.

I would, but there are garden jobs to be done. It’s that point in the year where it’s a mad dash to get everything sorted before the winter sets in. Seeing as it’s Tobby’s only exercise, I’ve been spending a bit more time outdoors enjoying it with him. Walks are beyond him (although you wouldn’t think so if you saw him galloping about as if he didn’t have arthritis at all… silly fool) I figure a bit of time in the garden does him no harm at all and he really enjoys it.

Though the mornings have been cold – it’s been five degrees here a couple of mornings – the days are still nice enough to enjoy being outside.

autumn collage

Everything is kind of over now. The dahlias are doing their last firework displays. The apples and grapes are all but over. A lot of my flowers have got a second wind and the achillea and rudbeckia have come back into flower. Today it’s another attempt to hack back the giant border bushes around the property. Four hundred metres of border to hack at, mostly involving hidden brambles, which is always fun.

This week, I’m trying to get the refuge calendar sorted out. The kitties have been fairly willing so far, but I’ve got another eleven months to sort out. It’s the refuge open weekend later this week and I’ll be praying for good weather so I can get the rest done. We had thunder and downpours instead of a photo session on Saturday.


Getting kitties to sit still for a shoot is always fun. Either that or they fall asleep on the job. This little lot will hopefully be having vaccinations and chips in the next couple of weeks so that we can start finding homes for them. I was very glad my little Dodger found a home – there’s always one you fall for, and he was it. This lot are cute but they didn’t need bottle feeding, so you don’t get that same bond with them. They’re just like noisy lodgers.

Yesterday, I did my last crafty Sunday for a while. I was actually putting the finishing touches to a project I started a couple of years ago. IMG_0195

I’ve had this fabric for two years! I’d embroidered some stuff on but the denim was really thick and I didn’t think it would work well with double denim. I’ve sewn some other fabric on the back, but it kind of made the denim a bit redundant. Hey ho. You live and learn. Still, I sewed the backs on, poked them all right side through and then stuffed them. I got as far as stitching them up as well!

Next week’s crafty Sunday will be taken up by the refuge open weekend, and then the week after it’s the Hope Booksale, so the sewing machine is away for the next few weeks. Hopefully I’ll find my mojo again rather than forgetting about stuff for a couple of years again.

Anyway, time I got a move on. Enjoy Bruce and enjoy your Monday.