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Posts tagged ‘The Bean’

I’ll be your dog!

On a beautiful day nearly two years ago, The Brains, The Bean and I set off for a walk that starts in the wonderfully named St Poncy (if you are English this will make you smile – my American is not good enough to know if Ponce means the same in your vernacular). Along the way three became four and this is the piece I wrote at the time – I hope you will enjoy it.

Half Baked In Paradise

We walk.  The Bean and me and HB2, when he is here makes three.  There are 340 marked PR (petit randonnees) across le Cantal and I have set myself the ideal of walking all of them.  In keeping with the rest of France these are marked walks, mostly circular and varying in length and difficulty.  The simple colour coding system tells you if it is easy (blue), longer and more difficult (yellow) or very long and varying in difficulty (green).  One weekend recently we decided to drive to the far north east of the departement (a drive of about 1.5 hours) and do a nice long green walk.  The duration was estimated as 4.75 hours for the 14.5 km.  We packed a picnic of cheese and bread and tomatos and set off.  The day was glorious – sunny, hot and with a fair scattering of the fluffiest white clouds dancing…

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Two Lymes and a Lemon

In the words of Cyril Raymond to Celia Johnson at the end of ‘Brief Encounter’  ‘you’ve been a long, long way away’ – I won’t flatter myself with his next line ‘thank you for coming back to me’ but I have been a long way away and I’m very much afraid that I HAVE come back to you ….

It’s been a bit of a saga so here is a précis before I dive back into stories of house hunts and refurbishments and hikes (though one does figure here) and generally half-baked meanderings.

Here goes:

  1. June 17th The Two Brained one is diagnosed with Lyme Disease after breaking out in purple patches all over his normally unblemished body.
  2. June 19th He whisks me by circuitous route, lest I guess the ultimate destination, to France.  Grenoble to be precise.  You may remember I have a particular affection for Grenoble
  3. June 21st To the courthouse …. I’m not in the dock and neither is he but I do have another installment for my book ‘The Lying Cheating Lives of Others’ and there will be more of that in later blog posts – a road yet to be trodden but one that I think y’all might enjoy
  4. June 22nd – home to our little nest in Northern Cantal for our Wedding Anniversary.  There is nothing nicer than to be in the village we were married in three years ago drinking a toast ‘à la notre’ in jolly nice French champagne
  5. June 23rd – up early and on the road to Marcolès to find out what progress on the house.   There is progress but it would be wrong of me to spoil the surprise so I will leave you in suspenders til the next installment
  6. June 25th – back to Lyon to drop off car and take a flight.  HB² is confident that a) I love surprises so will not look at my ticket b) I can’t actually see it without my glasses and c) I’m so excited that I will miss the only announcement for our flight.  Therefore I board a plane not knowing where I am bound
  7. June 26th – I wake up in Edinburgh, a city I know quite well, where my grandmother was married in 1918 and where I hounded my elder brother when he was doing his PhD because I could and mainly because he had a ready supply of male friends for the 18 year old me to make cow-eyes at.
  8. June 27th – I pick up a call from my vet who is boarding The Bean.  The words ‘there is nothing to worry about, but ….’ instantly make me worried.  A lot worried.  Because it turns out that The Small But Feisty one has also got Lyme.  Be still my pounding heart.  At least she is in the right place and they say she is responding well to treatment.
  9. June 29th – We decide to walk up Arthur’s Seat.  This is an extinct volcano within the city.  My aforementioned and extremely long-suffering brother lived in a very pretty district at it’s foot and we walked up often.  Actually he used to run it.  At his wedding his best man’s speech began ‘I first suspected that my flatmate might be mad when he asked the way to Arthur’s Seat for a run on a bitterly cold, wet and windy day…. I showed him and some time later I realised it wasn’t a case of might be mad,  he clearly was mad as he set off down the lane in a storm with a rucksack full of boulders on his back’.  He is still that same animal.  In those days there were a few walkers some with dogs and that was about it.  Today it teems with tourists making their way up, taking selfies and mostly wearing entirely unsuitable footwear (flip flops, fashion sandals, even the odd pair of heels) for what is a moderate hike up hill-paths rather than pavements.  We took the road less travelled and benefited from stunning views unencumbered by the masses.  The German girls hogging the peak did move over when I utilised my famed loud and I don’t care who knows it, voice and we duly stood for a moment or two before setting off down again.  All was well and I was lost in thought (mostly quite bitchy thoughts about the unsuitable nature of other people’s footwear) until almost at the bottom, not on a remotely steep bit, I slipped on shail and heard an audible crack.  The crack was nothing to my blood-curdling bellows and the air took on a blue hue as I cursed my way thorugh the early moments of what is actually a severe high ankle sprain coupled with 90% tear to the anterior calf muscle.  I must thank the lovely man from Canada who stopped to help The Brains wrestle me to my feet, the equally lovely café who served delectable lime and coconut cake (I was in shock – I needed sugar) and the wonderful nurse in Minor Injuries at the Western General Hospital.  Later as I limped into a taxi my husband asked how I felt about the last bit of his surprise – did I think I could manage it.  Could I?  I would walk through the fires of a spewing live volcano to do what he had in mind.
  10. June 30th – Two trains to Liverpool for lunch with youngest daughter and two more to Oxford to stay two nights with my mother who had one last surprise – my younger brother flown in from Bahrain to spend an evening with his big sister.   In  life, the real luxuries are the little things.  The thoughtfulness of my husband, the opportunity to see some of my family.  Secrets and lies can be quite beautiful – four of the most precious people in my world kept them and there is no sin in that.
  11. July 2nd – we collect the delighted but subdued tiny dog from her Boarding Vet.  She has anti-biotics and is making some progress.  Lyme Disease is a nasty nasty thing – sometimes, it isn’t easy being Bean.

So there you have it Two Lymes and a Lemon.  Here are some nice pictures from the Scottish leg of my odyssey and afterwards I will treat you to a PS:

The promised and entirely necessary PS:  Yesterday, I visited my lovely Cambridge doctor for a formal verdict on my leg.  He sympathised with Two Brains having to live with with a caged and beligerent tigress with cabin fever and asked how he is doing (he is a specialist in infectious diseases so had been asked for his opinion when The Brains presented with what appeared to be Lyme).  He commented that it was remarkable that HB² had been running the morning of his diagnosis  with Lyme.  I explained that our daughters and others are convinced he is, in fact, one of The  Men in Black.  The doctor seemed spookily content to agree ….

And for those unfamiliar with the achingly heartrending last scene of ‘Brief Encounter’ – here it is:

A Frozen Bean

As I kiss au revoir to The Bean who is flying back to Boston with Two Brains whilst I fly to the UK to spend time with family and friends, it seemed only polite to re-post an early blog from her. Rest assured she is working hard on her transatlantic flying blog. After all when you are a jet-setting Bean it is your duty to share your wisdom with the masses ….

Half Baked In Paradise

I am a dog.  My needs are simple.  Food (not necessarily dog-specific food), a bed (actually three beds – one up, one down and one in the car) and exercise.  In return I give total devotion and protection from the evil cat next door.  Serious  … it might look harmless but it’s actually extremely dangerous which is why I must attack it.

Today I want to tell you about snow.  I did not ask to come to this place (which took what felt like my whole life to get to and, even though I am small, I was squishelled in the car so tightly that to move risked the whole thing bursting on the peage) but I really do like it here.  I get to run around loads, I have discovered that I don’t mind getting wet and I rather like the snow.

Snow is white and it is…

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Joie de vivre

Here is The Bean in a bag.  A Bean bag if you will.  She looks so full of life, so vibrant.  Which she is.  A positive ball of energy madly running around nose to the ground sucking up whatever scents are assaulting her snout with a joie de vivre that leaves us breathless much of the time.  This particular day was excessively hot so we popped her in a handbag to save her overheated, fatigued legs.  We are careful of this Bean.

Last September we made the trip from home in the Cantal to Paris (about five and a half hours by car).  I had an appointment with the US Embassy and in deference to my tense disposition at the thought of the impending Green Card interview, my husband booked us into our favourite Hotel des Dames du Pantheon.  We have stayed before and The Bean is treated like royalty and always referred to by name by the excellent and delightful fully multi-lingual staff.  As ever we were given a room with a ‘vue impenetrable’ of the Pantheon in all it’s beauteous glory.  I had an appointment with an Embassy endorsed physician (there are two of them in Paris) for my medical.  I was nervous.  I’m not very good at medical for me.  During my morning away being examined by this charming Irishman, having chest X-rays and blood tests and vaccinations for things I have never heard of and am sure I certainly don’t want to be acquainted with, The Bean reclined regally in our room.  She had taken the air of the Cinquieme Arrondissement before breakfast, enjoyed a little smackerel of brekkie stashed in a napkin and smuggled back to the room for her delectation and was entirely happy to be fully relaxed and generally recumbant.  In the afternoon we walked.  She doesn’t get to run much off the lead in Paris but people are largely very dog-friendly and she is always happy to take a petit café an apero or better still, a meal with us because folk have a habit of slipping her a pat and a morcel of something nice.

The following day we made our way by car (which had hitherto been parked in the underground carpark nearest the hotel) to the Place de la Concorde.  We were a little late out of the starting gate and had to be at the Embassy promptly at One to get through security.  These were our emphatic and clear instructions and we did not want to put a foot wrong.  We had about 49 minutes to park the car,sneak a quick lunch, return to the car to deposit dog and get in line for the main event.  Lunch would need to be somewhere around Fauberg St Honoré which runs along the back of the Embassy and about 5 minutes walk from the car.  We hot-footed it, taking lengthy and rapid strides towards our goal of a likely lunchery.  The street is fairly narrow and we were stuck behind a posse of rather bulky people walking excessively slowly.  So I put my  foot on the imaginary throttle and powered past, The Bean (the Athletic Bean as she perceives herself) gambolled along behind me.  It must be noted that I was at this point in my life uptight to boil-over point.  We had been waiting for two years for this moment, jumping through a seemingly endless series of hoops and I had absolutely no idea what questions I was going to be asked.  It is rather akin to being asked to interview for a job but with no job description to guide the prep.  As I passed the entourage a woman’s voice rang and twang in my ears ‘oh that poor little thing being dragged and choked near to death’.  I snapped.  The world slowed down as I span round like Wonderwoman and eyes flashing squared up to the offender.  ‘She is neither dragged nor choked so I suggest you SHUT UP!’ I spat – my clipped, polished and perfectly enunciated English worthy of Maggie Smith at her most pithy.   The woman was clearly appalled at this deranged firebrand addressing her.  I imagine she had assumed I was French.  Assume as my youngest daughter reminds us makes an ASS out of U and Me.  For my own part I have only just recovered my equilibrium, so livid was I at the unjustness of the flung accusation.  It was only as I glided on my way, sure in the knowledge that I had put that wench squarely in her place, that it occurred to me. She being American and in the street that runs down one side of the Embassy building that she might, might easily be the same person who would interview me for the fabled Green Card that very afternoon …. mercifully this was not to be an occasion to add to my overstuffed portfolio of ‘oh bugger’ moments.  If she is on the Embassy staff she at least wasn’t confronted by me twice that day.  But not for the first time, I wished I was that person who has the ability to just waft by situations.  Lunch did not slip down easily as the lump in my throat expanded.  The Bean, yet again was the winner …. she rather likes saumon fumé au fromage frais de chêvre though I believe she was less than enamoured of the salade.

Bean Bag!

Bean Bag!

PS:  I post this in response to the Daily Press Weekly Photo Challenge entitled Vibrant.  For me vibrancy is about a state of being not simply about vivid colour (though that is a reasonable interpretation of the word and many have quite brilliantly here) and The Cruelly Treated Bean is vibrancy incarnate.

Nature never did betray the heart that loved her

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I’ve been niggled by a think for a while and the think that I’ve been thinking is  that I really should share more of the humungous archive of photos that I have accumulated since I arrived in France.  It’s the first time in my life I have had a reasonably decent camera and, as importantly, the first time I have had the time and place to spend on taking pictures.  I remain resolute in my belief that I am a leading myopic point and shoot photographer and I am happy that the approach does produce some nice pictures amongst the disasters.  Having reached the conclusion that I might do something worthwhile with some of this vast catalogue, it’s a simple question of finding the right mechanism.  After much navel gazing and machination with self I’ve decided on my own personal TWTWTW or TW3, (‘That Was The Week That Was’, that legendary satirical show that aired in the UK from 1962-1963 and in the US from 1964-1965 and spawned some of the greatest ever including David Frost and John Cleese).  Except my TW3 is ‘Those Were The Walks That Were’ – hardly praiseworthy semantics but enough to amuse my frou-frou brain.

 

My Two Brained husband calculated recently that I have walked more than 3,000 km in the Cantal since arriving in the Autumn of 2013.  This means that The Bean on her much shorter but markedly springier legs has also walked the same distance.  She is heartily impressed with herself.  With 340 PRs which stands for petits randonees – the network of waymarked paths in varying degrees of difficulty that you find throughout France to choose from, I don’t need nor want to go off-piste.  Sticking to the laid paths is no hardship at all.  Some are very well marked and easy to follow, some less so, some frankly, barely at all.  Which adds a frisson of farce to keep complacency at bay.

One of the very first walks I did and one that has become my standby, my head-clearer, my go-to when I arrive back from England ravaged from the 1100 km drive on my own with unhelpful small dog or a 9 hour round trip to drop The Brains for a flight from Lyon or yet still an 11 hour round trip to pick up a visa in Paris, circumnavigates le Lac de la Cregut.

It’s a 15 minute drive from my village give or take a bovine hold up or two and about 350 metres (1150 feet in old money) higher.  It’s a glacial lake  and forms part of the hydro-electric system for the Massif Central as, in fairness does most water  in our area.  The marked walk (named ‘L’histoire de l’eau’) is 6km and designated blue which means it is easy.  It has a  déniveler of about 150 metres (that’s the difference between the lowest and highest point on the walk  …. it’s quite a crude indicator without an OS map to show you the contours since it could be a single trudge uphill or several undulations – in this case it’s a single stretch that accounts for the majority of the relatively light lift).  The path has a series of educational panels along the way.  They tell you about the fish in the lake, the birds in the woods, the animals and the way the lake was formed.  There are four devoted to the birds of prey found in the vicinity – you turn big cubes to find the information about each one.  It’s aimed at children but I’m not too proud to learn and of course it’s in French so it helps with bits of language that one might not learn otherwise.  Like lombric which is another word for a vers de terre or earthworm.  I might never have learnt that word.  And it took me a while to remember it.  In the end I drove home muttering over and over to myself ‘Herbert Lom likes Bric-a-brac’ …. it worked and now lombric is in my venacular along with the very useful tattou (armadillo).  You never know when you might need such words and in what combination.

 

I have walked here in all seasons and most weathers – in the heat of summer when a little altitude is a relief and the harsh frozen winter when it takes on a Narnia like appeal for a girl who loves snow.  I’ve walked it with my husband often, two of our four daughters and a friend or two.  I’ve strolled it, struggled it, marched it, rambled it depending on my state of health, wellness and fitness at any given time.  I’ve shocked the cobwebs out of my musty mind and I’ve slain the anxiety that sometimes sets in when you spend too much of your life on your own.

 

Along the way are trees, of course – its a mixed disiduous and coniferous forest which forms part of the landscape of the lightly populated but widespread commune of Tremouille.  It straddles Cantal and Puy de Dome the next departement north in the Auvergne.  The trees are blanketed in mosses and laced with lichens and many sport Conks of differing flavours.  Fungi are positively frenzied whenever the weather is warm and damp, flowers abound in spring and summer and for a while we are graced with the lovely lillies that float like lanterns on the water.  There are deer and boar and smaller animals too, of course, and bugs and beasties and birds.  I don’t necessarily, in fact rarely ever see any of them. I just know they are there and I get a sense of great harmony with my earthly companions.  There is a pit along the way which we believe to be a wolf-trap having seen one identified as such before.  I remember the old fellow who told me there are wolves but if I see one to please not tell for fear of man going into panic overdrive and destroying them all over again.  The ultimate maligned of creatures wolves are.  I find it to be the  most peaceful of interludes walking under the changing canopy passing rushing water hurling itself over rocks and lacing and tracing to the lake’s edge.

 

 

The very first time I walked it and several times after, I happened past a farm which I silently christened ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ and briskening my step, hoisted The Bean into my arms as we were pursued by a hunting dog, it’s deep bass hoot echoing behind us in that particular combination of folorn and forceful that is peculiar to these dogs.  On every mound and trailor and joining the hootathon with laudible vigour were other dogs.  A pack numbering a couple of score at a guess.  The farmer bellowed valiantly at his escapee to come back.  To no avail as it buttoned its ears soundly and carried decisively on.  It seemed an eternity before it eventually deigned to give up on us.  It was, therefore with deep joy that I discovered some months later that I had no need to pass Cold Comfort Farm at all – I had missed a mark and had been moaning  falsely about the length of time spent on the road since in truth you veer straight off the road almost as soon as you come on it, penetrating back into the woods above the farm.  The farm itself looks so much prettier viewed from aloft with its magnificent backdrop of les Monts du Cantal and les Monts du Cezallier beyond.  Turn 180 degrees, by the way,  and you get les Monts d’Or just in case two handsome ranges aren’t enough for your greedy self – I’m a self confessed glutton for mountains so the third is a welcome bonus.  After making this momentous discovery we had a couple unpeturbed walks before the darned dog spotted our game and hared across the road (it’s a very tiny one car a day kind of minor road so don’t panic on her behalf) to pursue us through the woods.  It’s a small price to pay.  We play the game whenever we do the walk.  She follows us, The Bean feigns alarm, I walk resolutely onwards ignoring her and when she gets to a particular tree she slings her undercarriage downwards, takes a long and purposeful pee and goes home.  The Bean nips back and over-pees the pee.  We are all happy.  It doesn’t take much.

 

 

PS:  For the avoidance of doubt and because the seeds of uncertaintly have been sewn in me by Two Brains when I read the ongoing to him – it’s the DOGS that pees at that particular tree.  Not me.  I save mine til I’m safely round the bend – which is my favoured default in life.

 The title is Wordsworth from ‘Tintern Abbey’.  I chose it for two reasons …. that Wordsworth was of the Lake District and this area resonates with us as strikingly similar to that beauteous region of England.  And the poem is written about a walk – with his sister at the magical ruins of Tintern.

Coup de Cœur – Part Four: Whistle While You Work

An occasional series chronicling the tale of the renovation of a former medieval watch-tower in southern France …..  Part One is here, Part Two is here and Part Three is here   The events in this episode took place a little under three years ago.  How time flies when you’re having fun, n’est-ce pas?

As often happens once you have overcome the initial excitement of something or other and reality cloaks you in its slightly constricting mantle like a heavy woollen duffle coat a couple of sizes too small, or a pair of pinchy stiff leather shoes, you need to knock on the door of fortitude and ask for her help.

This was the moment to be gracious to Lady Tenacity.  We were SO thrilled with the news that the house was empty and once back in France hightailed it pell-mell down the road to Marcolès from our present home further north.  In fact our rented flat is in the far north-western corner of le Cantal and Marcolès is in the far south-western corner.  It’s a two hour drive each way but it’s a really lovely two hours passing glorious views of the Monts du Cantal and diving into deep tree lined gorges and delving through glacial hills. It never fails to delight us.  In the back of the car, making life less than comfortable for The Disgruntled Bean were the various accoutrements of operation clean-up.  We picked up more en-route and The Bean became ever more peeved.

Thus began the most relentless and mostly thankless of enterprises.   HB² took up a floor-board in the attic which is planted in our collective imagination as being a wonderful tranquil master bedroom and serene relaxing place when the house is eventually finished.  He discovered that our predecessor had used sawdust for insulation.  It doesn’t work.  That was abundantly clear.  The house was, is bitterly cold.  Of course the fact that the same  happy fellow had ripped several of the radiators off the wall in his spiteful retribution against those that dared to buy the house that he wanted to sell doesn’t help the refridgeration factor but the ingenious insulation wasn’t productive either.  And in places it had provided a gleeful nesting place for some or other rodent.  One that had made it’s hideaway complete with a variety of different flavours of nut.  Mercifully it was not in residence as we set about getting rid of the wood filings.  We took out something near to 30 bags from the attic. The black full sized dustbin lining bags not, for clarity, little carrier bags for shopping.  It was back-breaking and necessitated wearing a mask and goggles and the white hooded clean suits that a friend had donated to the cause.  I felt like a Ghost Buster but without the joy of a Marshmallow Man to distract me.  About half way through the exercise, husband returned to the US leaving me to continue the clean-up, now with a looming deadline brought on by a discovery to be shared in a later post.  It was winter, it was still a four hour round trip and my romantic little project began to pall noisily.

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As a bit of light relief from the attic, the husband had braved the cellar.  Despite the valiant efforts of the town ouvriers there was still ample room for improvement.  Another 20 or so bags of rubble and wood and general stuff from centuries of life came out.  But what was revealed was magical.  So magical that it is worthy of a post all of it’s own … and for that you will have to wait.

Meanwhile, Madame Balai (Mrs Mop) as I was rapidly re-branding myself was cleaning the whole place through.  The dirt of ages dissolved under my unrelenting mop and bucket and  whirling micro-cloths which I brandished with all the skill of a champion cheerleader.  The rather horrible floor on the ground floor looked marginally less horrible and the stairs and wood floors on the first floor began to look quite majestic.  I cleaned the curious loo which sits at the top of it’s own staircase complete with red carpet which I’m afraid we consigned to a black bag all of it’s own for percieved and probably, let’s face it given the abhorrent provinence of the previous occupants, solidly sensible reasons. Bizarrely it has a window to the rest of the house which begs many questions which I have not yet had the pluck to ponder.  I bravely tackled and proudly conquered the bathroom.  The loo in there is not fixed to the floor which gives an added frisson of excitement to those brave enough to use it and the bath is the very same bath that was given it’s own fanfare by the previous owner as being big enough for three, something I care not to dwell on having met him.  And I cleaned the shower on the first floor.  This was genuinely a labour of love.  The shower is a particularly odd feature of the house being on a podium in what has been the master bedroom.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for the facilities-in-a-bedroom approach favoured by many chic boutique hotels and will indeed have a tub and a pretty sink in the master bedroom of the finished house but this is simply incongruous standing with all its plumbing displayed to the world like a brazen flasher and has no virtue except for a dollop of comedy value.  However, whilst we go through the process of renovating and restoring and generally swishing and swooshing the house back to the triumph it deserves to be, a working shower is helpful.  I donned protective gloves, mask and goggles for the job because when I lifted the slats and revealed the tray it had clearly and absolutely NEVER been cleaned.  I removed the sludge and hairy deposits of the antecedent thoroughly and zealously dredged the drainhole and can categorically state that I have seldom, if ever, been so fully disgusted.  And I have lived a little.  Indeed, I may still need some sort of therapy to truly achieve catharsis.

Now you will gather, I hope, that my husband loves me.  And to show his love that very day, he announced that a refreshing shower, after all my hard, and victorious toil in conquering the swamp pit, was just the thing he needed.

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I left him to it and took The Bean for a stroll round the village.  As I was walking back to the house I had a thought.  I ran it past The Brains on the way home a little later.  As casually as I could.  I just wondered.  Foolishly I was certain.  But I did wonder.  If he had remembered to close the shutters on the window whilst he was showering.  Since the shower is right in front of the window.  The relatively large and low window.  Of course he must have.  Mustn’t he?  No?  Well that was an eye-full for the town then and in particular the very elderly lady opposite  …. remember the house has absolutely no land to buffer it.  I’m frankly amazed that M. le Maire hasn’t had complaints.    Or maybe he is just too polite to mention it.  I cringe at the thought that maybe the town ladies might be anticipating regular matinee and evening performances.

I didn’t count the number of times I went down, with the increasingly testy Bean, to clean.  It was many severals.  And it was groundhoggishly tiresome in that everytime I got it looking spruce, I had to drag more bags of rubbish and rubble through the spick and spanness and my fragile effect was royally spoiled.  But all clouds are silver lined in world of me – you just have to keep those peepers peeled and embrace the good when it falls in your path as it invariably does.  One of the shiney pieces of silver in this story is the man at the déchetterie or waste disposal point if you will.  He has the most amazing view of the mountains from his little wooden hut and he takes his job very seriously.

Actually in my experience most of the people that work at such places, with or without breathtaking views are thoroughly nice – or at least they are in England and France.  I have always been treated kindly by them.  And this fella with his bella vista backdrop is no exception.  He helped us with bags and bags of wood dust and yet more of rubble and some of indescribable and unspeakable impurity and always (having asked where we were from on our first foray) said emphatically ‘vous êtes de Marcolès, non?‘ he being in St Mamet-la Salvatat, the next commune over.  It rather feels as though being from Marcolès in some way explains our undoubted lunacy.  I like him.  The Brains was less enthralled though when swinging a large and heavy bag of wood-dust into the vast metal skip, it split above his head and spewed shavings over him in a comedy moment of epic proportions.  Or at least my laughter was epic.  He remained stone-faced.   In fairness, I did not escape unscathed … as you can see from this fetching picture of me complete with dirty lines effecting comedy whiskers.

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When the walls were washed down, inevitably, given the age of the paint, much of it flaked off.  The Bean should be less cantankerous about the place if she takes the time to notice that one of the slivers that snowed down onto my lovingly tended (a thousand times so far) staircase is an exact silhouette of Her Beanship.

PS:  Of course the title is Snow White who righteously contended that if you whistle while you work the task will be easier, speedier and far more pleasant.  It may be relevant that I can’t actually whistle ….

I wish I had a million dollars … Hot Dog!

Given the title Half and Half for this week’s photo challenge I immediately thought of The Bean.  She’s half Jack Russell and half Chihuahua – a feisty combination particularly if you are a rat since both breeds are bred fundementally for snapping and trapping rodents.  I get asked all the time what she is.  I could answer ‘une croix’ which means a cross but the correct expression is la moitié x and la moitié y which means half x and half y.  I learned this from the delightful middle child of friends of ours.  He must have been 6 at the time and it was a relief not to have a poo-related conversation.  This particular evening he fired moitiers at us all and we had to act them out.  I thank him for the half fish-half hippo, half dragon-half horse, half raptor-half mouse etc etc because it really really helped my French.  With his growly childish slightly lisping voice it has taken a while to tune my lame ear in but he and his beautiful siblings are always forgiving of this apparition of a lady who speaks French like a two year old.  Middle child also happens to adore The Bean despite the fact that she once bit his nose.  She has no idea how lucky she is.  But I know how lucky I am to know, love and be loved by the three of them.

Here comes The Bean, running back from a shady ditch to jump in the car for the obligatory post walk drink, served from her bespoke bowl made from the bottom of a small mineral water bottle, and a treat from her personal supply kept replenished in the car at all times.  As you can see from her tongue she was a hot dog … a condition she has had to get used to these last few weeks as we boil and frizzle in France.  The picture is a little blurry – life here is a little blurry in the heat but it sort of seems to fit the challenge in that she is half the frame – give me some licence here, please!

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PS:  Do I wish I had a million dollars (or whatever inflation has done to the million since George Bailey exuberantly made his wish in 1946) … not really – give me the love of beautiful children, my tiny Hot Dog and HB²,  the place I adore, and I feel as I do – the richest poor girl in the whole wide wonderful world.

Gorgeosity and yumyumyum

February was all about the snow here.  It came thick and thicker and The Bean snow-snorkelled through the soft stuff and danced niftily on the icy crusts of the more exposed drifts.  For me, it was the ministry of silly walks as I picked my way over the compacted stuff only to sink thigh high and have to heave my seemingly hulking form onwards (note to self … get some rackets).  We still have snow on the mountains, of course but it’s mostly gone lower down.  For now.  It’s only March and it may return.  The snow poles will stay where they are for several weeks more.  This picture was taken walking at Lac de la Cregut in a break between blizzards the vivid orange of the sign, all of a sudden given beauty by the monochrome pallet created by the snow and the sky, a lighter shade of grey before the clouds begin to tinge with yellow against pure lead ready for the next dump ….    DSCF0843You can see lots of other responses to the title ‘Orange’ in the weekly photo challenge just here

 

PS:   The title?  Anthony Burgess,  ‘A Clockwork Orange’ – slightly more than tenuous but I like it.
       
      

Time and Patience

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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

Climb every mountain ….

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The Weekly Photo Challenge this week asks us for a picture that illustrates ‘Achievement’.  Here is The Bean being hoist high after successfully conquering the col de Croix de St Robert.  1451 metres (that’s 4760 feet) on short legs is not to be sniffed at and besides its an opportunity to use a line from The Sound of Music – something which must never be missed.

The peak is in the Mont Dore Mountains of the Auvergne in the Massif Central in France.