Monthly Archives: May 2016

Robbing people with a six gun

A bit of Ade Edmondson and the Bad Shepherds for you this wet Monday morning.

It’s been storms here all week and not much by way of sunshine – apparently this week doesn’t look much better either. So much for spring, that’s all I can say. It’s been a good year for grass.

I’ve finally caught up on a backlog of (most) tasks and I’m hoping a productive Monday will help me break the back of them. Can’t believe it’s only two weeks until exam marking starts – unbelieveable. The year is practically evaporating!

Last week it was nice to catch up with so many people. I wish I had time to stop more for coffee with people. Catching up with Sue, a lady I used to work with, is always good.  I think it says something that a lot of the people who retired out here are as hard to get hold of as I am.

The biggest deal of last week was petrol. Petrol, cars and kittens. I didn’t have any problems getting petrol myself, but I know a lot of people who did, and I think my only success was due to timing. I often go at lunch-time. Out here in the sticks, lunchtime is still sacrosanct and the pumps are usually quiet. The only people in the supermarket are English speakers who don’t realise it isn’t “done” to shop in lunchtimes. A peculiar idiosyncracy of France.

This week it’s full steam ahead. The GCSE Literature exams might be done, but the English Language students are preparing for exams, meaning extra lessons wherever I can squash them. It’s that time of year where we all just get our heads down and plough on, knowing there are five weeks left until the end of term and we can make it through – you never lose that mentality I don’t think when you’re a teacher. Those last weeks are a grind and nothing eases up. In 30 school days’ time, I don’t even want to think about how many papers I’ll have marked!

Anyway, enjoy a bit of folk punk, hope the weather is brighter where you are. Feels all a bit Mancunian here!


Just one thing I couldn’t do

Given the most foul weather here, it definitely feels more like early spring. Here’s a bit of the Jesus and Mary Chain to advance the seasons a little.

Last week was just insane. The weather doesn’t help. Saturday brought temperatures of 35°C and storms. Friday was mild and Sunday heaved down with rain. It’s great grass-growing weather and terrible gardening weather. This week, I’m losing my phone and my internet just to get a bit of peace and quiet!

Heston had his vet visit for the new Leishmaniosis vaccination. Another side effect of climate change. The wet, warm weather is bringing sandflies further up north and we’re getting more and more infections. The vet warned me repeatedly about ticks – not happy with only the Seresto collar. I’ve added Advantix as well for Heston as he’s always getting ticks. The second visit was for the kitties I’ve had here. They were having their microchip and vaccinations. Sadly, the reservation for Mocha fell through. Well, at least I think it did. I do love it when people don’t bother answering their phones or emails. I’d prefer a “thanks, but we’ve changed our minds” or a “sorry, but this has turned out to be a really bad time for us” – instead I’m left with a little girl who’s looking for a home. I’m sure she will though. She’s a beauty!


She is currently listening to the screaming of the EIGHT kittens who arrived in a box on Saturday evening and who are now home with me. They’re tiny tots. Four are still being bottle-fed, but four are weaned. I’m hoping to spread the burden a little this week!

As for the rest of everything, most of it was only loosely connected to me, but it did seem like a globally crappy week. This week is not looking much better – which is why I plan on throwing my phone away!

I did have a very lovely Sunday afternoon Game of Thrones catch up. Oh My God. That’s all I can say. I can’t get enough of this series. I’m afraid for everything else, I managed to re-read about the same five pages of Jean Donaldson’s book Culture Clash. 

I definitely need a bit of love this Monday morning…

So what’s on my favourites? A bit of 80s Stone Roses. A bit more Jean Donaldson, oh she of the infinite wisdom about dogs. A bit of TLC from Sarah. A lot of love for those people who step up and pick up the slack when I can’t. Electric blankets which stop me from the February-like temperatures when I’m JUST NOT lighting a fire as it’s nearly June. Lovely, lovely kitty adoptants who restore all of my faith in kindness. Foxgloves finally flowering. How green everything is.

How long is it until the exams are over and schools are finished?! Right… a jiggle on is needed. Second feed of the day!

Mind like a landmine

Gosh that got late quickly!

Here’s a Monday track for you, even if Monday is only 6 hours from being over.

Bit of a Them Crooked Vultures vibe at the moment. This is one of my favourite tracks of theirs.

Been a busy weekend of course, but a very good one. Well good overall. It was the Hope booksale, so Friday, Saturday and Sunday evaporated in a sea of books and chat. It was a bit of a miserable wet one on Friday – I got into bed about 8pm and didn’t get back out again. It takes it out of you getting up early. I’m always trying to make sure the dogs have had plenty of exercise before I go out – but the morning fields are full of creatures, and it sometimes gets a bit torturous trying to walk past pheasants and rabbits, hare and deer. It’s a bit of a trek up to Sauzé Vaussais, though I’ve got the route in my head. Amigo came with me on Friday and Saturday – he was absolutely exhausted. Tobby came with me yesterday to represent the refuge. He had his thirteen-month anniversary here last week and he was as excited as ever to be at the booksale. Forget being fourteen and having rotten teeth and arthritic legs. In his head, he’s still a pup. Still, even he slept all the way home.

Saturday night was also Eurovision. Not quite sure how I drove home at 1am and didn’t end up asleep at the side of the road. I was representing Israel – you have no idea how often I wear my white wig and frilly petticoat, let me tell you. Perennial fancy dress favourites.

Needless to say, last night I was in bed by 9pm. I spent a lot of the evening trying to gather information about some nutbags that have bred their dogs and didn’t bother to do it properly. In usual circumstances, it doesn’t even matter, but these dogs need to be pedigree otherwise the police or town hall can insist they are removed and they can fine the owners. Removal often means euthanasia as well. Whether or not you believe in breed-specific regulatory legislation, the fact is that it exists, and to breed dogs on purpose when you know that you are running foul of the law makes you utterly irresponsible in my eyes. Worst is that it’s me that comes off looking like a villain. Trouble is that with a number of dogs like this at the refuge, unable to be advertised, given away or adopted in France, it leaves us with very limited options. What makes me most mad is that dogs who are restricted for legal reasons have more of a need to be extremely well socialised since they have yearly behavioural evaluations, and these puppies at 15 weeks have entirely missed the socialisation window.

I had long chats with other associations at the weekend – we all have very high standards for adoption. I know you might think we’d all be happy to adopt any dog to any person, but we aren’t. Old people wanting puppies and kittens are a particular sticking point. Hunters wanting cheap stock is another. We all wish people would think of rescue dogs as RESCUE dogs rather than CHEAP pets.

As for this week… it’s a usual busy one. Last week’s rain means this week’s gardening tasks are not only on a backlog but also much less fun. Good lord, does stuff grow round here. It doesn’t even much look like it’s warming up this week. Mild and hazy seems to be the general forecast. None of the forecasts look dry. I find myself hopping from one to another, vainly hoping that I’ll find one that is less bad than the others, and I can have a little faith in it. I don’t know why I care. My week is virtually a write-off right the way through to next Monday. Best get busy!

Cherry Ice Cream Smile

Men with highlights, cream suits and ties on a yacht? It can only be Duran Duran.

I don’t think you get more 80s than Duran Duran. Well, except for Wham! I think we all need a bit of Duran Duran to get the summer started. It feels wrong to start without them. Mind you, despite last Thursday’s lush 26°C, yesterday ended with some fair cold winds.

Yesterday was the refuge bric-a-brac, and it was a really busy day, which is good. It’s all so weather-dependent. The year before last, or last year, I can’t remember which, started with rain round 10am and everyone packed up and went home. It was busy enough yesterday for us to run out of sausages by mid-lunchtime. It was also nice to get to chat to people rather than being constantly busy. I’d loosely agreed to take a little old poodle home as well – another one whose owner had gone into hospital – you know the story. Luckily, she went on a trial adoption, otherwise people would really start to question my reputation. You know I’m going to end up one of those old ladies who smells of talcum powder and has a little old poodle.

Next weekend is the Hope booksale in Clussais La Pommeraie, and I’ve spent a lot of time clearing the decks to make sure I’ve got a three-day run clear. I can’t believe how everything just ramps up to super-speed until the summer holidays kick in. It’s only a month until I go back to the UK for the weekend for GCSE marker training, and then that ends up being a four-week block of intense marking. I’m beginning to get those piles of paper on my dinner table, little lists of things I need to remember to do and sort out. I’m hoping I can clear them all by the end of the week too.

Other than that, not much changes. I’ve been trying to clear out various outbuildings – you can’t believe that in six years, you can accumulate quite so much stuff. I could open a scrapyard with all the chainsaw parts I found. I’m pretty sure my hangar is where old chainsaws and strimmers come to die. Either that or they’ve been reproducing. I don’t think much of their offspring – they’re mostly in need of putting out of their misery.

Kitties are all growing up and at the terrorist point in running around attacking legs and stuff. I think vaccinations will be next week, meaning these babies have been with me much longer than most. The season always starts like this. They are still very young at this point in the year. Later on, they come in aged 7 or 8 weeks and just have to wait out the quarantine. Plus, they’re not quite so in need of cleaning and treatments. It tends to speed up as the year goes on. I miss cats though. I’m going to miss mum a great deal. Dogs just aren’t petting sponges like cats are. There is something so therapeutic about spending half an hour with a cat on your lap, even if you’re a virtual prisoner. Dogs are very needy in comparison.

Anyway, busy day ahead… dog walk, lessons, lessons, lessons. Mum cat is going back to the refuge to be spayed in the morning. She’s been a great mum, but it’s no life having babies when you’re a baby yourself. Have a very lovely week – I’m looking forward to next Monday which is a bank holiday in France. Although I’m stacked up with lessons, it still feels more relaxed; I don’t know why that is.

I wish it was me

Bit of light pop for you this Monday morning with Scouting for Girls and Elvis Ain’t Dead

I think there’s some Mondays that you just need a bit of enthusiasm!

Last week was bitterly cold and it doesn’t feel like summer is ever going to get here – there’s a North wind sitting up there just making everything arctic. The north of France even had snow! Still, I’m at that point in the year where I am just not making a fire. It’s May! That’s not to say I’m happy tolerating it though. Despite the mild winter, everything is a long way behind where it normally is – except for the crops, which are happily tolerating all the rain and the blue skies. I don’t think they care that it was only 2°C on Friday morning.

We’re in a 9-week build-up to the end of term, and it feels like such a lot has to happen before that block is finished. Next week is the refuge bric-a-brac, which I can only hope is as productive as the one I went to yesterday with Sarah. The first thing I saw was a kitchen sink. You can literally buy everything AND the kitchen sink at a French bric-a-brac. Well, not everything. The second thing I saw was a boy sporting a rat-tail hair cut. If I could have bought scissors I might have chopped that offensive lock off and sent it back to the 1980s. You can’t buy sharp scissors at a bric-a-brac, and that’s for sure. I picked up two rather kitsch F. Lolylle paintings (you know, the big-eyed 1970s waify-looking kids… I can’t be bothered to post a photo) for 2 euros and you can’t sniff at that. I’m looking for a kitschy theme for my kitschy cabin and I just thought I needed to stop messing about choosing… Sad-eyed kids is kind of weird for a teacher, but hey, it’s all for art’s sake. Anyway, next week I’ll be rooting through the goods on display at the refuge.

It’s also that time of year when parents and students decide that now is a really good time to book last minute revision, and last week I ended up with more requests for lessons than I can handle. It’s going to be a long nine weeks, let me tell you. I can’t believe there’s booksales and GCSE marking and gardening and decorating all to come in those 63 days.

For that reason, stuff is no doubt bound to be short and sweet these next few weeks, though I promise you I am beavering away as per. I think I’ll stack up on the coffee and get my head down as best I can! A bit hard when I’m in three cardigans and a hat, but worse things have happened. Anyway, enjoy your week and hopefully it will be warmer than mine!