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Posts from the ‘Awards’ Category

One day I will find the right words

My friend Terry at Spearfruit nominated me for a MakeItUltra™ Blogger Award.  Terry has become a real friend even though we have never met.  His blog is about his life which has seen some tremendous struggles.  Terry beats  himself up for not always being bright and sunny and grateful and positive.  Terry denies that he is an inspiration.  Terry lives in an RV in a trailer park in Florida – he was meant to be travelling the country with his husband and their dog Roxy.  But Terry has Cancer so instead they are static whilst he undergoes the rigours of Chemotherapy treatment still with the threat of the most major and invasive surgery hanging over his head.  I encourage you to visit his blog and I think you too will be inspired (even if he thinks you won’t, because I am always right)  by this engaging and sweet man who thinks that he isn’t good enough.  He’s good enough for me – and one day we will meet and we will talk nonsense and eat cupcakes and ice-cream and for this reason Terry has to get well.

The MakeItUltra™ Blogger Award is an award given to bloggers by bloggers for quality content, originality and presentation. The intention of this award is to encourage connectivity and support in the blogging community and to increase exposure for individual bloggers.

The Rules:

If you have been nominated for the MakeItUltra™ Blogger Award and choose to accept it, write a blog post about the MakeItUltra™ Blogger Award in which you:

– Thank the person who nominated you and post a link to their blog on your blog. Take a moment to positively promote the person who nominated you.

– Display the award on your blog by adding it to your post and/or displaying it using a widget on your page (Save the image to your computer and upload it to your blog post). Don’t forget to use the tag #MyUltraAward when you make your post!

– Answer the following MakeItUltra™ Blogger Award questions and then nominate 1-8 blogs that you feel deserve the award and provide links.

  1. What is your name:  The name I use for blogging is Osyth which is actually my middle name.  It is my mother’s middle name and that of my eldest daughter.  We pronounce it with a long O as in Oath rather than a short O as in Odd.  It is not my nom de plume though I have published one book in France under it.  I prefer people not to use my actual Christian name when commenting, even if they know what it is.  I’m intrinsically a very private person, despite appearances and I prefer not to reveal my all and ooh-la-la on the net.  You can just call me weird – I’ll answer!
  2. Where are you from:  I was born in England and was raised in the village that Kenneth Grahame of ‘The Wind in The Willows’ lived and I can report that Toad Hall really does exist though disappointingly, I have never managed to find Ratty at home nor out boatin’  when walking the riverbank there.  Most of my adult life was lived in and around Oxford with a few years in London and an 18 month stint in Rome before I had my family with whom I became a reluctant nomad moving almost every year and seldom by choice.  Three years ago I moved to Cantal a sparcely populated area of Southern France and it is the place I call home because it speaks to my heart and it feels like I think home is supposed to feel.  However, this year has mostly seen me in Massachusetts and if things go according to plan I will be returning to New England next year and making a nuisance of myself for a further year or two.
  3. What are you most proud of:   Of course I am proud of my daughters (four and all beautiful and hard-working which given the aforementioned unsettled gypsy life they led in childhood is remarkable) and my husband (with both his brains) and my dog (tiny, feisty and stupidly cute or cutely stupid depending on the mood of the writer) and all the usual things but mostly I think I am kind and decent which seems a simple enough thing, commonplace even, except that I rather think it is becoming a rarity in this modern world of ours and so I am perfectly satisfied to still be that unselfish person and I wouldn’t want to change even though it can leave me depressed and deflated by the actions of others.
  4. How long have you been blogging and why did you first start: I started the blog on a whim just after I moved to  France so about three years ago, and it has evolved in a wholely organic way and probably reflects me fairly well by which I don’t mean that I am a pesticide-free plant or a seaweed-fed sheep but that there is no particular form or discipline to it.  It’s not a cookery or an art or a photography blog and it’s not a diary nor a retrospective of my life, it is not designed to teach anything nor to sell a product or service, it is simply a place that I can share some of the stories that rattle round like marbles in my empty head.  I’m rather proud of the little following I have achieved  but am perpetually anxious that I let people down with my inability to blog to a pattern.
  5. What are your blogging goals:  I honestly don’t have any.  I didn’t expect anything from it and I still don’t.  Which means, with no expectation, everything about it remains a joy.
  6. How do you spend your free time:  I love being outside.  My joy is hiking and I do run (though crimson-faced struggle is a more accurate description) but I had an accident 3½ months ago which has left me unable to do either and extremely tough to live with.  I have a small house in France bought as a maison secondaire which we are doing up slowly, carefully and often frustratingly and I am also doing up our house in Massachusetts which is proving even more frustrating.  I read, of course – anything and all things.  I cook.  And I dream.  Mostly I dream ….

In terms of nominees for the MakeItUltra™ Blogger Award, I am going to follow Terry who in turn followed the lead of Chatty Kerry who nominated him (she’s pretty wonderful too, by the way) and I’m going to pick just one perfect fruit.  It’s difficult, I have so many that I love but today I’m picking Susan at Our French Oasis because her blog is beautiful, because she writes of  life in France in such a lovely, beguiling and evocative way and illustrates with beauteous photographs and mostly because  she has a heart that seems similar to mine and this is after all about me, me, ME!


PS:  Because there must always be a PS – the title I have chosen is a line from Jack Keroauc who was born in Massachusetts.  It comes from ‘The Dharma Bums’ and has always haunted me ‘one day I will find the right words and they will be simple’.  When I can achieve that, then I will deserve an award.

The Magnet Interviews – A Half Baked Idea…

Source: The Magnet Interviews – A Half Baked Idea…

The admirable and lovely Cameron more widely known as The World’s Biggest Fridge Magnet has paid me a flattering compliment by interviewing me for his new series The Magnet Interviews.  Here is the result … the questions are quite brilliant, the answers the best I can muster.  Do please visit The World’s Biggest Fridge Magnet if you never have – it started as the story of a man facing bariatric sleeve surgery, follows his journey both to the point of morbid obesity and to where he is now.  A strong advocate of educating the youngest to understand healthy choices, he appears regularly on radio and TV and is preparing to walk for the charity HENRY and to raise awareness of obesity issues and solutions.

Today we have a return to the questions so please allow me to bring you the Magnet Interview questions as answered by my dear darling friend Fiona of Osyth fame whilst being the creator of the wonderful Half Baked In Paradise. Fiona was one of the first people to follow me on my blog and has been a staunch supporter ever since. She is an inspiration and (if she will let me say this) my mentor. She always manages to take time to come up with ideas and is honest with her opinions so I though because of that, I thought would put her to the test with the Magnet Interviews and so here is what she had to say…..

The Magnet Interviews – Osyth

Are you usually late, early or right on time?

Early – even to my wedding. My naval officer father’s fault. But on that logic train how do you explain my mother’s latent lateness when she was the daughter of the admiral of the fleet ….

What are three positive things your friends would say about you?

I’m beautiful, talented and brilliant obviously 😉

If you were a shape, what shape would you be?

A CIRCLE – no hard edges, no complications. I wish.

If you were an animal, which one would best describe you?

A piglet. Preferably a truffle trained piglet.

Why did you want to become a blogger?

I thought it would force some discipline. I was epically wrong – I’m just as discursive as ever.

What are your top three personal interests?

Reading – reading anything. People – I love people watching (weird but true). Being in nature – walking, climbing, hiking, rowing, running – outside is better for me.

What do you do for a full time job?

I write drivel.

What type of car do you drive?

In France a funky yellow SEAT called Franck and in the US a chic cream and black Mini Cooper S that needs a name – suggestions?

Where did you go on your last holiday?

I’m permanently on holiday since quitting my corporate job but the last formal one was Russia.

When did you last go on holiday?

If it’s Russia it’s May 2014 if its really truthful the vacation started the day after my birthday in 2013.

What would you do if you were the one survivor in a plane crash

Panic. Loudly!

If you woke up and had 2,000 unread emails and could only answer 300 of them how would you choose which ones to answer?

Delete the lot – they’ll write back (That’s the theory and my brother actually does it). In my case it would be accompanied by vocal hysteria.

What’s your favorite film?

It’s a Wonderful Life.

What would your Desert Island Disc choices be?

1. Gorecki – Symphony No 3 ‘sorrowful songs’
2. Arvo Part – Für Alina
3. Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
4. She’s Electric – Oasis
5. Sit Down Next to Me – James
6. Suddenly I see _ K T Tunstall …

3-6 are the songs for my daughters to be played at my funeral
7. Suzanne – Leonard Cohen (or preferably everything on ‘Songs Of’) …
8. How can I tell you – Cat Stevens
9. It aint you babe – Bob Dylan
10. Elgar – ‘Nimrod’

But SO much more. This is a torture … And the inevitable addition is that my girls do demand ‘Don’t stop me now’ by Queen to be played at my funeral…

Batman or Spiderman


What did you have for breakfast?

Bob’s Red Mill Muesli and proper English Tea – thank the Lord for Ocean State who sell Typhoo and Bob’s Red Mill at less than frightening prices!

Describe the color yellow to somebody who’s blind.

Warm. Not hot. That warmth you feel stealing up on you from behind, the sudden and intense warmth on your face when you lift it to the sun. Happy.

If you were asked to unload a 747 full of Jelly Beans, what would you do?

I never shirk a task so I’d do it and bathe in the beans.

What’s your favorite animated film?

Anything Disney EVER did, but overall. The favourite EVER? Right now – Pocohontas because I see animals and birds that appeared in the film. It’ll change. I never stop loving Disney but my favoured one is ever fluid.

What was the inspiration for your blog/pen name?

I was originally just Osyth (it’s actually one of my given names and I hated it as a child, embrace it now) but I needed a change to reflect the altering slant of the blog. I’m half-baked so it is too. And Paradise? It’s there if you reach out wherever in the world you are.

What happens when you get scared half to death twice…?

You jump out of your skin twice.

Why aren’t blueberries blue?

They are if you mix them with anything liquid – they bleed blue into muffin mix for example. Or porridge.

Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia is the fear of long words, but why is that word it so long?

Because it’s showing off. Like Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-llantysiliogogogoch which is a place in Wales for those who aren’t in that particularly British mode . Egos the size of a small country if you ask me. Or an indecisiveness disorder.

What was the last lie you told?

I don’t lie. Not since the conviction 😉

What is the best compliment you have ever received?

‘ Just the right combination of Englishness and Chutzpah’ … my mentor over 30 years ago,  who also invented the strap line ‘Just Do It’ Which I do and frequently curse him for the advice but the times it is right are worth the fall every time.

Would you prefer to be ugly and live to be 100 or attractive and live for 30 years?

Ugly to 100 – Bugger off all shallow fools I’m in for the long haul. and if you don’t like what you see go swivel.

Do you have any relatives in jail?


What single piece of food could you never give up?

Cheese every time and if I have to be specific Vacherin de Mont d’Or but I could eulogise for hours on the relative merits of several hundred contenders.

Who do you most admire in life?

The mother-in-law I never knew. My husband’s mother was abused and lived as the slave of a working class man. My husband was over 3 months premature in 1952 the fifth of her children. His elder sister was only 9 months older than him, therefore. When he was two years old she ran away with all the children to Kent (North West to South East) where she hid for eighteen months before returning to their home town. She lived in a council house thereafter with her children – and as each one left home she fostered more. She never ever took benefits nor handouts. She never asked for anything. She must have wanted for much. That is inspirational. My husband once remarked that ‘She had nothing.  Asked for nothing.’  Take note modern world – we still have women like Ada, men like her too. Help them to help themselves. Because the chances are far higher that they want to than that they don’t.  It is easy to turn your back but far harder to understand that you yourself, whoever you are, are only ever 2 steps from the gutter. I admire those that are within a flake of skin of the gutter and help themselves. That is the size of it. My one regret is that I will never meet Ada but when I go to her city I always visit the crematorium and leave flowers for her.

Do you spread butter on before peanut butter?

It depends. If I have butter winking seductively at me I find it hard to resist with anything… but not jelly (that’s jello my U.S friends) or ice-cream.

Would you prefer to date someone older or younger than yourself?

Older as it turns out though I did go through a reverse spiral of young and younger some years ago …. I might need to write that one myself 😉


Now that I am a high profile celebrity I need to make sure I am suitably incognito when venturing outdoors

If it is not indigestion it must be gratitude

I think it was Voltaire who said ‘Appreciation is a wonderful thing.  It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well’.  Today I have Terry at Spearfruit to thank for nominating me for a Blogger Appreciation Award.  Terry writes every day and is gradually piecing together for us his past, his present and his future.  He has a very precise approach to telling his story.  He has planned out rigidly what to divulge and when and runs separate linear threads that are gradually knitting and fusing to reveal his tapestry.  It is the polar opposite of my own scattergun style and it is hugely engaging – I would encourage you to go and visit him … he’s a keeper.  Actually I also need to thank Terry for the recent revelation that his name is Terry.  Prior to this, when interacting I never quite knew whether it was etiquette to shorten him to Spear.  Or Fruit.  Or whether, out of politeness I needed to call him Mr Spearfruit.  In seriousness, he has battled multiple issues and continues to have rather radical bumps thrown into his path and he is genuinely inspiring.  He also shares the music that has patterned his life which I see as an extra perk (you will gather he has taste.  If he didn’t the perk would be a punishment).  And I appreciate him which means that his journey belongs to me in some way too.   I am enriched.


The rules of engagement for this award are very simple (which can only be a good thing).  You thank, you tell something positive about yourself and you suggest and notify as many bloggers as you wish to that you are passing the wand or cudgel depending on your personal style, to them.


Having thanked Terry, therefore, I need to write something positive about me:

Like many, I find it hard to write about me.  Even though I refer to myself as Little Miss Me, Me, Me I’m not really comfortable banging on about self – I find other’s stories much more compelling and I am a shameless Pinocchio nosing around for the anecdote sitting in the café, passing me on the street, simply living a life.

So instead I will share the wisdom of a friend many years ago ‘find the purpose in the way things are’ …. he said it to me at a particularly bleak time in my life when pushing water up a hill and sticking needles in my own eyes seemed infinitely preferable to the status quo.  And I wanted to thump him.  But being  non-violent, I chose instead to quietly niggle away at the statement and you know what?  There is always a flip side.  Always a positive to that negative.  As Oscar Wilde said in his poignant and tragic ‘The Portrait of Dorian Grey’ ‘behind every exquisite thing that existed is a tragedy’.  And that’s  another personal positive – people do genuinely ask if I keep a portrait in the attic (I’m 98 if you were wondering) but the fact is that I simply have lucky genes.  And I smile.  A smile is the best accessory because it makes you feel so much better as well as looking better or at the very least looking fatuous and providing some necessary comedy in the day for the smilee.

And my nominees … all of them terrific and each quite different from the others:

On the road cooking  – Pan makes delicious meals in the cab of her truck.  Which she shares with Stewie.  She’s a delight

Rose Bay Letters – nicknamed ‘the sidekick traveller’ by her son, Janet’s blog is such a pleasure.  Whether travelling or at home in New England, she treats us to beautiful pictures and insights.  We share a love of Oscar Wilde so the Dorian Grey is for her

Redo Sue – Sue writes, she says, because she has to.  I read her blog not because I have to but because what she writes is really very very good

Maison Travers – Nadia is a South African born cordon bleu cook who lived two decades in Los Angeles before settling in le Dordogne where she runs a Chambre d’Hotes and cookery school.  Delicious.

Sultana Bun – Lynda is a housewife and describes this as an admission of a dirty word.  There is nothing dirty about this delightful blog – just humour and pathos and life.  Its a joy.

So there you have it.  Feel free to  ignore me as the strange woman with the pokey nose who smiles inanely and continues to find the purpose in the way things are.

PS:  The title is Benjamin Disraeli – ‘I feel a very unusual sensation – if it’s not indigestion, it must be gratitude’.    I believe he said it to his arch enemy William Gladstone in some or other parliamentary debate.  In these days when politicians seem so hell bent on throwing rocks and never quite managing to move the obstruction in their throat that prevents them from being gracious to one another or, heaven forbid acknowledging that the other might have some credence, it would perhaps be an idea to cast minds backwards and concede that not all progress is good progress.  Manners maketh the man after all.  Even when the man (or woman) has designs on great office.

The photos in this post were all taken on a balmy hot day in the Belledonne mountains above Grenoble.  My father seemed so close as to be walking beside me that day over a decade since his death.  His love, his influence are woven so thoroughly into my own tapestry – I may not be able to see him but I never fail to feel him.


Saving the trouble of thinking for oneself

Today I give you three quotes.  I’m supposed to give you one each day for three days but I am far to discursive to stay on task for three whole consecutive days so I have invented my own rules for this lovely challenge set me by three lovely people:

Life With Molly – written by a young woman to her future children with quite extraordinary maturity and insight

White House Red Door –  A true teacher who shows us how to nurture with her beautiful achievable food matched by her lovely words

Worlds Biggest Fridge Magnet – Can do Cam suggested me  months ago so I hang my head in shame whilst urging you to take a look at his blog

These are my quotes.  Randomly trawled from the murky depths of my cobwebby mind, they’ve all kept me company for decades  which might imply they are the right ones to share.


“The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart”

‘The Little Prince’ Antoine de Saint Exupery


“Of all the words of mice and men the saddest are it might have been

‘Cats Cradle’ Kurt Vonnegurt

(I should note that Vonnegurt was paraphrasing a much earlier poem by Maud Muller which I read much later hence, perhaps,  my loyalty to his tenor.)


“Take bread away from me, if you wish take air away, but do not take away from me your laughter”

‘Your Laughter’ Pablo Neruda

All of these quotes stand beautifully on their own and are bookmarks in my mind for the most important things in my life – my heart;  laughter of those I love and  of strangers; and to sieze the moment, to make it happen and if whatever it is doesn’t transpire to move on with no regret. I rather hope that they might pique your interest  sufficiently to want to explore three consummate writers and their work.


And there is a bonus – the title is A A Milne who said “A quotation is a handy thing to have lying about, saving oneself the trouble of thinking for oneself – always a laborious business”  in his essay  ‘The Record Lie’ which I also highly recommend … it’s not ‘Winnie the Pooh’ though those that know me know that I have a particularly high regard for the Bear.

I now have the pleasant task of suggesting the following to take on this challenge.  As ever it’s a feel free to pass sort of challenge but I do love these bloggers and I do think they would do the challenge great justice.  Take a look at them and those that suggested me, they are all praiseworthy.

Poshbirdy in Quillan – Feisty and funny writing of the feast and famine of renovating a house in France

Not the Average Mama – certainly not average this is a wonderful blog written by a remarkable stepmother

Write on the Beach – a brilliant writer whose stories of England and France are truly compelling

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!