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Awards season Part 2 ….. Second Time Around

Yesterday I just snuck in before the Oscar ceremony with my acceptance of and nominations for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award.  Hot on the heels of that award last year, I was also nominated a second time for a Liebster Award.  Now I don’t consider myself a greedy girl but I do like to engage with these awards because I believe I can help others in so doing.  So I graciously accepted it and three months later here I go with my little ceremony.  Less glitz than Beverly Hills but nonetheless a huge tantarra, and a huge boost for a newcomer to the heady world of blogging.  At this point, I would like Julie Andrews to step onto the stage and sing the song I used to threaten my daughters with when they were dragging their heels on the walk to school.  ‘The Hills Are Alive’ sung slightly too high and certainly too loud more in the style of Gracie Fields than Maria had them trotting along begging for mercy EVERY time – but absent Ms A’s beauteous presence you will just have to make do with me and I promise, no song.


Just the place to sing The Hills Are Alive – plateau de l’Artense in the Belledonne above Grenoble

The Liebster is an award for newcomers.  There is a  criteria for followers but to be frank I ignore it partly because of my innate maverick tendencies and partly because on many sites the blogger doesn’t display a counter for number of followers.  So I am going my own sweet way and nominating blogs that I like irrespective of their pulling power.  Gill who writes Blog sur Aude nominated me and I do urge you to take a look at her blog.  It follows the trials, tribulations, triumphs and frustrations of renovating a village house in Southern France.  Fortunately, though not a professional, she is passionate and clearly talented with interiors.  This, though,  does not render her immune from the inevitable difficulties attached to working in a different country, much of the time remotely.  I’m a sucker for pretty things and I enjoy reading about her journey probably more than she enjoys being at the effect of the deep desire to just get her place finished!  So thank you Gill – I am very touched that you thought me good enough.

Here are the rules of engagement:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog to your post
  • Answer 11 questions they have asked you
  • Nominate 11 bloggers who have 200 followers or fewer for the award
  • Ask 11 questions of those bloggers
  • Let your nominees know you nominated them
  • Add the Liebster Award logo to your blog

And here is the pretty award which this time I will add to my blog along with the other award … I shall have to ask for help from Two Brains though because it’s all a bit beyond me when they start talking about code and widgets!



Gill asked me these questions and I have genuinely enjoyed thinking about my answers (for 3 months …)

1. What is the best thing about blogging, for you?

It’s slowly slowly ever so slowly increasing my self-confidence.  This in turn has made my husband happy … he is my biggest advocate and support and is quite determined that I am smart and talented.  I may not be either of those things but I do now understand that out there are some people who I please with my words.

2. Do you ever read your old posts and cringe? (no, that’s just me then..)

Not really – sorry but to be fair I very seldom re-read any of them

3. If money was no object, where would you live and why?

Right here.  In my coin perdu.  Because it is beautiful, because the people have just accepted the oversized English woman with the French of a Spanish Cow into their fold with no questions asked but mostly because for the first time since I left the house I grew up in, I am home and I can put down roots

4. What book can you read over and over again and still love it?

Apart from any one of my far too large collection of cookery books (my children cruelly took 9 boxes full to a charity shop 5 years ago leaving me with less than 100 but I am slowly replacing every one of my lost boys ….) there are so many – I love poetry and often read it out loud to anyone prepared to listen or just to myself … Yeats, Neruda – far too many to mention.  I love to read Shakespeare and then there are lists and lists and lists of books I have read and re-read.  The Master and Margarita stuns me every time.  Oh, and Winnie The Pooh …. which I still think is one of the greatest masterpieces of 20th Century literature.

5. What was the best piece of advice anyone ever gave you? and

Just do it … my boss and mentor when I was a wet-behind-the-ears trainee in the industry that brings us the Oscars, whenever I was looking for affirmation would simply say ‘Just do it’  A few years later, Nike stole his strapline …

6. Did you follow it?

Yes – and I fell on my face and I got bruises and lesions but I have never regretted a single time that I followed those words

7. What was your favourite lesson at school

I loved learning and of course I preferred the things that came easily – which was most things except Maths.  I was good at that too until they brought letters into the game … algebra and I were not friends and have continued to ignore one another quite happily ever since

8. Who is your best friend?

My husband – he of the Two Brains.  And The Bean.

9. What is the best gift you ever received?

Self confidence.  It’s a work in progress.

10. Coast or Country?

The country so long as I am close to water

11. Now or later?

Now – preferably sooner which may seem odd given that it has taken me 3 months to address this … but I can honestly say when things are not done they niggle me to the core

Now for the best bit … 11 nominations – passing the love to:

1.  The Worlds Biggest Fridge Magnet – Cameron is in his own words ‘a fatty’ and he is about to have surgery which will change his life.  Funny, touching, informative, sometimes uncomfortable but hugely readable personal take on what is one of the biggest epidemics in the western world – obesity

2.  Storing Hope – Wilson Agaba believes that love is the answer.  His blog is full of lovely stories that prove his point

3.  It’s a Wonderful World – Can’t argue with that!  Shikha has a fabulous blog about her travels and hopes for more travels illustrated with some really stunning pictures

4.  Santosh Namby is a civil servant in India and loves photography … I have linked to his Gravatar rather than pick one of his blogsites – there are three and I leave it to you to explore and enjoy the beautiful images and the wisdom with which he accompanies them

5.  Travels with Choppy – written by Sarah Ferguson and following her life and travels with the dog she brought home from a pound as a 12 week old puppy some 6 years ago

6.   Yelling Rosa – is a Finnish Poet, has more than one volume under his belt and is interesting as a writer of poetry and songs from a culture I know virtually nothing about, but want to.  That’s me in a nutshell really – I want to know all about everything.  Life’s too bluddy short!

7.  Le Drake Noir – takes stunning photographs and has a slightly lateral take on the world … spending part of the year on Merseyside and part in Alsace is immediately appealing to me given my family links to both.

8.  Another Cup of Coffee – Margaret came to the US from Cuba where a childhood in the 60s as a Catholic with a conscience was maybe less than straightforward.  She is a sensitive and beautiful photographer and has a lovely self-deprecating style when she writes

9.  Minding my Ps with Q – the Q is for Quirkiness and I suppose most would think it quirky for a grown human to believe that toys play when we are not looking and fairies live at the bottom of the garden … but I believe both those things and I could fly as a child, so I should know

10.  Anita is another where I am linking you to a Gravatar rather than a website … she has three and they are all rather gorgeous – one for her stunning photographs, another for her lovely beads and jewellery and my favourite of all the one devoted to all things yarn

11.  Dunelight when questioned as to why she had settled in Michigan said ‘it’s the light’ and she is all about light … beautiful often stunning photos and well chosen words to accompany.  Besides, she defended The Bean when photographed sitting so patiently outside the door in the snow recently so she has to be on my list!

Now, I appreciate that some will see this as a double edged sword, I understand that most of my list do not need my help in raising their profile but I was thought of and I can think of less offensive things to do than say I think someone is worthy of recognition outside of their normal circle of trust so here are the questions I would like answered by those that choose to do so:


1.  Where in the world would you like to go that you have not been so far?

2.  Dog, cat or something else entirely?

3.  Last supper – food and guests?

4. What would you do differently if you knew no-one would judge you?

5.  The one inanimate thing you would save from your burning home?

6. What do you think is your greatest strength?

7.  And conversely what would you say is your greatest weakness?

8.  What is the best compliment you have ever received?

9.  Which character in literature could be you?

10. In the film of your life, who would play you?

11. And what would the title of the film be?

Off you go if you will and I will not be offended if you won’t.  The fact is that all the blogs listed give me great pleasure and I hope mine gives a little too.  Now I’m off to try and pin these awards on the left lapel of my blog.

PS:  Rather fittingly the title is a Lady GaGa song … she who wore an entirely normal ensemble to belt out a medley of Sound of Music songs at last night’s Oscars to mark the 50th anniversary of the film that I must have seen at least that many times ….

Awards season part 1 – Slow but Sure

DSCF7490It’s awards season … we’ve had the Golden Globes, we’ve had the BAFTA’s and just around the corner are the Oscars.  And across Hollywoodland beautiful people will be rehearsing their acceptance speeches. Just in case.

Here is my acceptance speech which I meant to deliver in December but I drove 1100 km to England for Christmas and spent a month watching ‘Downton Abbey’ and ‘Midsomer Murders’ repeats with my mother.  Then I drove 1100 km back here and went on a restrictive regime and lost some weight and yet still I…  Oh for goodness sake! There are no excuses. Just my own base inefficiency so best I draw a veil and simply say:

Finally and formally and full of enthusiastically I need to say thank you for being given a Very Inspiring Blogger Award.  My thanks for this  award go entirely to the utterly fabulous Mel of ‘France Says’ – a genuinely inspiring blogger whose work I have read and adored for over a year.  If you have any sense at all (and I am confident that you do) you will follow my lead and seek out and follow her blog.  Her tales of a love-hate relationship with her adopted country (the clue’s in the title) are always piquant and funny and sometimes poignant.   Long may you ride, Mel!

Here are the rules for this award:

  • Thank and link to the person who nominated you
  • List the rules and display the award
  • Share seven facts about yourself
  • Nominate 15 other blogs you enjoy, then comment on their posts to let them know that you have nominated them

Here is the award (I rather love it and it will be displayed with pride on my shelf … aka the side-bar)


Next I need to tell you seven things about me … this is actually quite difficult for me since I am not really very keen on talking about me at all (no honestly, I actually don’t).  But in the spirit of the award I give you:

1.  I am English and live in Southern France in one of the least populated places in Europe

2.  I brought up my four daughters on my own – they appear to have survived the experience

3.  Osyth is my pen-name but is also my real name

4. I once played Sinbad the Sailor in an appalling play written by a friend of Roger McGough

5. I have been known to make home-made custard creams which taste exactly the same as shop bought ones and cost twice as much to make … but it’s therapeutic

6.  When I was a child I could fly.  No-one believes me but I actually could

7.  I was once told that I have an affinity with pigs.  I am happy with this.


And finally, the most important and frankly most exciting bit …. my own nominations for Very Inspiring Blogger in no particular order (as they always say on those awful shows that showcase ‘talent’ for the voting masses):

1.    Melanies Playground – She lives in France, travels the world and produces the most beautiful world of her own based on love and happiness.  Extremely well read, her ethos is simple – you will die so you might as well enjoy life and why waste it on unpleasantness.  Adorable!

2.    The Venomous Bead – Witty, informed, extremely bright and a very very good writer, Helen lives in Costa Rica and engages on whatever she feels like engaging on whenever she feels like engaging

3.   A Life Moment – Alice lives in England and writes wonderfully enticing recipes and throws in life and beauty tips along the way.  Quite honestly a yummy blog!

4.   Reads By Red River Banks –  Jenny is a mum, mum-to-be and talented writer living as an expat and loving all things under-water

5.    Pursuit of Happiness – JF is the youngest ‘old guy’ I have ever encountered.  His energy and undoubted intellect not to mention his joy in trying out new things whilst simultaneously taking joy in all around him AND throwing out the wisdom of ages long before him is intoxicating

6.   Carter Vail  – Carter is an artist in the truest sense – poet, writer, photographer, observer, sufferer and delighted survivor

7.   Blog sur Aude – The trials, tribulations and traumas of making a beautiful home in the south of France as lived and documented by a very talented interior decorator – feel the pain and glory!

8.   Albert the Dog – Albert writes with wit and style which eclipse the talents of most humans.

9.  Cotswold Views – Sue is a commercial copy-writer and has begun her blogging journey using the tools prescribed by Blogging 101 …

10.  2Far2Shout – eclectic, funny, visual and according to the writer outstanding in his own field … I’d say he has a point

11.  La Petite Maison Bijoux – living in Haute Loire making beautiful jewellery inspired by the nature all around her, this blog has been a favourite of mine from the start of my own blogging journey.

12. Life on La Lune – Vanessa Couchman is a writer living in South West France these past nearly two decades.  She writes of her place and particularly of its history with great style and engagement.  Unsurprisingly she published a wonderful historic novel, ‘The House at Zaronza’ set in Corsica last year which I read with as much delight as I read her blog

13. Susie Kelly – is a hugely successful author and hardly needs any awards but I have to include her here because I so love her blog … life in France, dogs, places – beautifully written as you would expect from a bestselling writer

14.  Aileen Hunt – is an Irish writer.  I love Ireland as it happens but more than that I rather love her writing

15.  Oh to Go a Wandering  – Oxford Graduate who writes and dreams of travelling and owning a sky blue aga in a cottage with roses round the door (who doesn’t)  and has fun in the kitchen and with a camera


 PS:  My tardiness is even more impressive than I thought …. ‘France Says’ actually nominated me in November 2014 but I’m confident that this was terribly worth waiting for!

Going to the chapel of love ….

DSCF8702I didn’t celebrate le fete de St Valentin this year.  Actually, I don’t ever celebrate it.  I always understood it was for wannabe lovers to declare their interest (anonymously) by the sending of a card or a gift to the object of their desire.  At school, a post box was positioned in the foyer and we could pay 5p to post a card which would then be delivered on the big day to the classroom of your crush.  You could send as many as you wanted, so some (admitedly including ever-hopeful me) would hedge their bets, all unsigned, the handwriting disguised and finished with a flourishing and mysterious X.  On the day, the cards would be delivered by a crack team of first years and I would affect nonchalance when year after year there was no card in the pile for me.

Clock forward all these decades and Two Brains is my Valentine every day.  Last summer we walked a glorious walk in the Cezallier to a little Chapel, originally built in the 13th century high high on a rocky outcrop looking over the Vallée de la Santoire and the Plateau du Limon.  Battered by the elements it was in a sorry state when in the 19th Century it was entirely rebuilt but houses a bell dating from the mid 1600s and a confessional of similar age and a truly resilient Madonna dating with the original chapel.   And the name of this lovely place – La Chappelle de St Valentine, naturally.

This piece is written in response to The Daily Press challenge to publish a photo demonstrating the Rule of Thirds.  You will find all the other entries here

PS:  The Victorians started another tradition which remained popular until the mid-20th Century.  The Vinegar Card was basically a chance to wittily, waspishly, waggishly and entirely socially acceptably slanderously rebuff, dismiss and humiliate the recipient.  I’m not ashamed to admit that in the past I could have sent one or two ….

He was forced to acknowledge her figure to be light and pleasing

When asked to produce something that says ‘symmetry’ I instantly struggle because, like Michael York who once remarked that his fortune was made when he broke his nose as an adolescent, his face otherwise having been too perfect to be handsome, I rather shy away from the precision implied by symmetry.  But the Fountain of Eve (she’s standing calmly at it’s centre looking a little manly to be frank) in the Peterhof Palace Gardens in St Petersburg, has a glorious symmetry to it and the light catching the slender sprays of water makes me think of a glistening crown for Neptune.  And the quote?  Mr Darcy contemplating Elizabeth Bennett whom he has mentally picked to pieces and found in her every fault imaginable is forced to admit to self that despite the lack of symmetry to her form she is pretty damn gorgeous.  I rest my case.


PS:  All the other interpretations of Symmetry for the Daily Press Photo Challenge are here


Time and Patience


Cold it is and she takes so long.  But if I sit here long enough the door will open and in the meantime, I look small but perfectly formed in the whispering of snow and worthy of this year’s Christmas Card.  I am also very smart and have lifted my title from Leo Tolstoy’s masterpiece ‘War and Peace’ … ‘The strongest of all warriors are these two – time and patience’.  My mum loves Russian literature – this has surely earned me a treat.

The Daily Press Weekly Photo challenge titled Scale brings forth some wonderful entries which you can see here

Wordless Wednesday – Dogs never bite me, only humans




Don’t be sad – he loves his job which is hunting

PS:  The title is a quote from Marilyn Monroe

Still waters run deep

We have lots of volcanic lakes here (and ponds and bogs too which the brown signs declare with particular promise though to be frank they probably aren’t exactly dramatically arresting to the untrained eye – which includes mine.)  Lac de la Cregut is a favourite spot for a walk for The Bean, HB2 and I or just The Bean and I when we are sans les cerveaux (without The Brains).  This weekend Bean and I visited with daughter number one and the snow was deep – around knee on me and The Bean had to body surf in the deep tracks made by our cumbersome steps.  The lake is frozen – still, iced, mysterious in her winter slumber.  Still waters with secrets beneath.

This post is in response to The Daily Press weekly photo challenge titled Depth – you can see the collective creative brilliance of other bloggers here