Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Chugging tractor

I've been up since 5 am. I've been listening to a chugging tractor on and off, all night (aka DH's latest snore). Trouble is, the new kitten loves my earplugs and has chewed my last pair. The only other ones I've got are too small to be effective, so I must buy more.

I'm not that bothered, I actually quite like being up early and I can catch up on writing my diary, that is if I can remember what's happened since I last wrote it.

Bit of a mix up about tonight (New Year's Eve). Our neighbour, Suzanne, came up here Boxing Day Night a little bit the worse for wear, and invited us to her's tonight for boeuf bourginon. Sounds good, except we haven't been able to contact her since, so we don't know if it's on or not! Typical of her, she wanted to buy the gites three years ago, told us the bank was coming round (they didn't) and that was the last we heard from her for a year! How I love unreliable people. Don't care, I the alternative, ham, egg and chips will go down a treat!

If I don't get back on here again today: HAPPY NEW YEAR, ONE AND ALL!!XXXX

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

It's foggy, man!

I just thought I'd share the appalling weather we're having here today. This was taken an hour or so ago, that's Christine the cleaner's car in the shot.

The Dutchman has been to see us on his way to spending New Year in Rotterdam. He's put yet another offer forward, which involves him taking over in September, rather than May. It's under discussion at the moment. He obviously realises that with the pound against the euro, he's in a very strong position, and is making the most of it. Do we want to get rid of it that much? Watch this space.

In an unexpected turn of events, DH has managed to get Sky turned back on again. Hope it was worth the trouble it's caused! We may even have managed to trace the Digibox; perhaps everything will turn out for the best after all!

Happy New Year. God bless. Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, 29 December 2008

New template

I thought I'd celebrate my new template (didn't like the old one, too "officey") by sending up another post! What better way?

Unbelievably, we have heard from the pillock we ordered the Digibox from (probably because I sent him an invoice via Paypal). He's given me a tracking number from DHL, so fingers crossed for at last sorting this out. I'm not exaggerating when I say that this situation has almost cost my marriage. Ponder on that a while.

More good news, the Dutchman who's put an offer in for the gites and then gone quiet has phoned and wants to come and see us tomorrow.

As if all that wasn't enough, I took DS's MP4 from Santa back to the shop this afternoon as it was broken. Taking stuff back here in France is not good for the blood pressure. They always give the impression they think you're lying, insist that you show them exactly what is wrong then send it back to the manufacturer so you have to wait "2 weeks" which always becomes 6 and NOBODY telephones you to let you know what's happening, so you have to keep going back to find out. Not today. He went through the first bit (treating me like a liar), then he answered the phone three times, seemed to lose his thread and replaced it with another one without a word. Me and DD legged it before he changed his mind.

I had a new suede jacket for Christmas with a fur collar which makes me feel like a film star. I wore it to do battle with my new red scarf my mum sent me, we're now calling it my lucky coat!

Had to buy DD some new jim jams, all her other ones had holes in very rude places. She's happy as larry now.

Some festive photos

OK. I uploaded this by mistake, I know you've seen it. Blogger won't let me delete it!
One of the many pressies DD received. She put the nappy on.

DH getting into the Christmas spirit.
He came!
These are the pot plants we had from our guests at the Belliveau Boxing Day Bash. I mean, what else do you give somebody when you go to their house?
I spotted this baby sheep in the field opposite the house this morning. Aaahh!

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Where have the last five days gone?

Me again! Happy belated Christmas one and all and Lesley!

Worked ALL DAY on Christmas Eve typing a two hour conference for somebody in Texas. I way underestimated how long this was going to take, which I shall never do again, but I got there in the end. Added to that, I've definitely got slower. Old age I'm afraid.

Had a bit of kip, then the kids got up at 6.30 am Christmas Day and all the presents were opened by 6.35 am. They're definitely getting quicker. That was it then, they played on their new Guitar Hero game - I know what you mean about the endless tapping now. We had the usual capon for lunch, but it felt a bit like a Sunday dinner for some reason. Another sign of old age?

Boxing Day it was our turn to play host. We invited all the English people we know (23) to come and have a buffet lunch at our place. The average age was around 70 and they're all feeling the pinch, trying to live on ever reducing pensions. Added to that the weather was absolutely freezing and they all wanted to get off before it got dark, so it was all over by 5pm. I was just taking the dog for a walk when I met Suzanne, the English neighbour on her way over to ours, a little the worse for wear, waving a bottle of Champagne. I walked her back to the house, much to Woody's disgust, as we'd really only just set off! She sat there till 11 pm and we drank her champagne, together with a few more bottles which went down, I have to say, like Mother's milk. DH had to walk her back.

Still no Sky TV, so we've had to watch all the old films on ITV. I quite enjoyed them actually. The Wilce family DVD this year was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull which was so loud and irritating and l-o-n-g that we girls couldn't wait for it to finish. The two kids enjoyed it though, DH and Nick!

By Saturday, I was starting to go down with the dreaded lurgy. I've almost got over it but I had to stay indoors and drink a lot of herbal teas and gargle a lot of salted water. I'm really hoping that this is as bad as it gets, as I dread being ill and there seems to be so much sickness about this year.

Today, we're all back to normal, apart from eating leftovers instead of cooked foods. Only the New Year to survive now and that really will be it for this year. Suzanne invited us down to hers for a beef casserole New Years Eve, let's hope she remembered when she sobered up!

I'll post you some piccies later, I really have to take Woody out now before he gases me!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

New display unit

I thought you might like to see the new display unit. The crockery on display is very old, DH's dad used to collect them, it's by Mason's. We used to use it every day, and even put it in the dishwasher, so it's obviously very tough - it needs to be. Poor Woody is very confused, as we've had to move his bed to make space. I'm sure he'll get used to it. Otherwise, I've had a very boring day waiting for an American (Texas this time) to send me an audio file to transcribe. It's about to come, so I'm probably working late tonight. The things you have to do. Thanks for visiting.

another French dance

Another thing that strikes me as odd when the French are enjoying themselves is that they wave napkins in the air!

We're off now to buy a newly reduced dresser for the kitchen which we've had our eye on for months. Hope it's still there! More later

Monday, 22 December 2008

Yet more Christmas "do's"

Knackered! All day I've been yawning, bad tempered, and suffering a low grade headache just over my right temple. Having too much of a good time is the reason! These French don't half know how to let their hair down. It's been years since I've seen "Oops upside your head" danced to! The photo's the proof! I know it looks like they've all fallen over, so you'll just have to imagine the ear splitting music. I hope you don't recognise anybody, they might invoke the privacy laws, which are quite strict here!

This was taken at the rugby club Christmas bash on Saturday night. DD had to babysit her two brothers whilst DH and I hit the high life.

Here is a piccie of the place setting, you can't read it very well, but I love the way the French spell Janet - Jeanette, they always give me a couple of extra 'E's' and 'T's' which makes me feel extra important. The rose was a present from the rugby club president - he gave all the ladies one, and the men had a miniature bottle of Pineau. An excellent time was had by all.

Instead of having a nice relaxing day to sober up yesterday (Sunday), we went to our friends Alison and Tony's house for a pre-Christmas nosh up. Somehow, we managed to eat and drink even more than on the Saturday night. Better not to think about what all this is doing to my normally almost teetotal liver.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

What a jolly time we're having

Bunged DD in the canteen yesterday whilst we went to do the as yet unstarted Christmas shopping. The shops here are so quiet this time of the year, we had it all finished in an hour, so off we went to get a bit to eat at our local haunt, Le Gare, at Saujon (opposite the station, of all places). What a jolly time we had in there, we met the digger driver who's done a lot of work for us over the years, with his workmates and sat down to a slap up lunch with: quiche for starters, roast veal, chips, butter beans, creme brulée, coffee and three bottles of wine (Beaujolais Nouveau and vin de pays rosé) all for the grand total of .... €8 per head! Makes you remember why you put up with this place!

I was only fit for sleeping on the settee after all that. Luckily I woke up in time to get DD from school.

The kitten has at last discovered the Christmas tree, which is now lying in the hallway in bits (I had to drag it out there, it looked such a sight collapsed in three bits all connected with lights and tinsel and in a heap in the living room). Perhaps we'll buy a 'real' one today - I've always loved a real Christmas tree.

Digibox still not received (I don't think it was ever sent) so we're resigned to crap telly over Christmas. Can't say I've missed it (as long as I can get Corrie I'm fine), but DH loves his sport and films. The sale of the gites is now with the solicitors, so doubt we'll hear anything till the New Year now.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Hassle, endless hassle!

This knock came to the door around 10 pm Sunday night - the French/Swiss who were staying in the gite were locked out - malheureusement they lost the key to the gite, somewhere in La Rochelle. Luckily for them, we had a spare (this is by no means normal, but they didn't seem to appreciate that!) This has only ever happened once before, and that was another French person. I'm going to have to get some of those key rings that weigh a ton, like they do in hotels.

Unbelievably, the Digibox I ordered from Ebay on the 15TH NOVEMBER has still not arrived. I'm being ignored again by "Steve", so I've started something called Litigation which apparently will get me my money back in 20 days if I don't resolve the issue direct. Not likely to have it for Christmas then. The sad thing is that the kids (and DH) started off extremely excited but now have stopped even asking if it's arrived yet. At this rate we'll have to cancel our Sky subscription, which at least will save us £47 a month - perhaps "Steve" has done us a favour!

On top of all that, the Dutch who were interested in buying the gites keep moving the goalposts. At this rate, we'll be paying them! I guess they realise that they're in a strong position. In fact we had a phone call from Ireland yesterday from somebody wanting to rent them off us to see if the "lifestyle suited them". Worst case scenario or what? Anyway, maybe there's still hope for the Dutch, we're off to see the Notaire this afternoon, so more later. We've just heard from the bank that it takes at least three weeks to get the title deeds out of their archives. How can that possibly be? It's only in Paris!

Oh, by the way, the envelopes from Viking (see earlier post) never turned up. Apparently they came from Holland (must be something about the Dutch) and they're waiting for the courriers to report back on where they were delivered. They'll be waiting for their money too, since I've no intention of paying them till I get my envelopes! No more Mr Nice Guy!

Trouble is, time is limited for sorting out all the cock-ups in this GFC (God Forsaken Country).

Monday, 15 December 2008

Busy weekend

Why is it that in the run up to Christmas, we have more social outings than in the other 50-odd weeks all put together? At least it takes your mind off all that constant darkness and cold weather. Today, it's thick freezing fog. Poor Woody will have to wait for his morning walk.

Saturday night, we had cottage pie at the neighbours. Went down deliciously well at a time of the year when you have too much rich food. Sunday night was couscous at the rugby club. They'd just won an important match, so to put it mildly, it was loud! I now desperately need a quiet week to get over that one weekend. I remember the time I used to go to work after three hours sleep and not even feel it. Those days are now a distant memory. I'm old!

Saturday, 13 December 2008

I'm H-A-P-P-Y!!!

In spite of the dreadful weather (gale force winds and heavy rain), I'm on a roll! Not only have "the Dutch" accepted our counter-negotiations without a murmur (what's the catch?), but the man I've been doing internet research for in Philadelphia sent me an email saying the work was "fantastic", without even adding a "but...."

There aren't many days like this, so you've got to made the most of them.

How did Santa go last night? I can still hear the screaming of 250 over excited kids ringing in my ears! Also, why did the children's entertainer keep fiddling with his groin? Was he over-excited too, or was it just a demanding itch?

The French/Swiss had a couple of croissants, tea and jam for breakfast (good) and went away happy (in spite of the weather). They're here till Monday and seem very nice - they can stay.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Emotional roller coaster

Unbelieveably, the Dutch people who came to see Chez Belliveau last Saturday (and in fact came back again on Wednesday) have made us an offer. Not a bad offer really, but they want to pay some of the money over three years. All the advice we've had is Non, Non et Non!!! We now have to go back to them and re-negotiate. All this is making my palms sweat. I'm not the negotiating type, I'm afraid! Leave it to DH, best idea. I'll let you know what happens (if anything!)

Other news, DD (10) is having a big night out tonight. It's the Christmas Bash complete with Pere Noel. This will be her last one at this school as she starts secondary school next September. She wad only two and a half years old (I can see her now!) when she started at this school, in the nursery section. Tonight, she's in the shower already and wants her hair plaited then dried, then unplaited so it'll be all wavy. They grow up too fast. She'll be buying her own lippy next (instead of borrowing mine!)

As if to add to the general chaos, there are some French people (in fact from Switzerland - now that's a long drive!) due to arrive in the gites for the weekend, any second now. They're only on bed and breakfast - let's only hope they don't want the English version. I'm fast reaching the end of my coping limit.

I was just reading that the (full) moon is closer to the earth than it's been for 15 years. I must say that it looks absolutely gorgeous. Just lately, we've had clear skies and it's very cold, but looking at that moon almost makes it worthwhile.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

A House full of Sickness

I took this photo early this morning as the light was beautiful.

Poor Nick got sent home from school on Monday (his 14th birthday). He hasn't been properly well since we came back from Spain - the latest is a bad headcold, with accompanying cough - honestly, you'd think he smoked 60 a day (let's hope not!). Anyway the poor chap spent the afternoon on the settee and we had to cancel the proposed trip to the bowling at Saintes, followed by a meal out which was a bit of a blow, as I'd banked on not having to cook anything.

Following this, all the rest of the family (except me - for now!) went down like flies with bad colds, sore throats, coughs, headaches. I've been running round like the proverbial dishing out cough medicine, honey, painkillers. Just call me Nurse Nightingale! We ran out of tissues then kitchen roll and then toilet paper (more serious), but had no time to go shopping. Anyway, hopefully, they're all recovering now (at least Nick's back at school) and the tissues have been stocked up for next time. My family don't believe in using the same tissue more than once (oh Mum, that's gross!!) When I were a lass, etc, etc. They don't believe there ever was a time without mobile phones and with only three channels on the telly. Vaseline for chapped lips? Pah! I could go on, but that's for another post entitled the youth of today! Coming soon to a blog near you.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Ghost Tree

I've got one too!

Typical - no posts for ages, then three come at once

Me again. Unbelievably, we had somebody to see the gites yesterday (they've been up for sale for three years, but no takers). They sent an email which I received at 9 am (bit bleary eyed after the night at the Casino) saying they were in the area looking at gite complexes and would like to see ours that very day. I thought it was a practical joke, but no, they turned up, all the way from the Dordogne where they had made a mistake in buying something that was too far off the beaten track, so they'd decided to move nearer to the coast (I could have told them that!) They were Dutch, liked it, but haven't got the money so they're now "finding a solution" - Good luck! We'll probably never hear another word, shame really, I quite liked them.

Hectic weekend

We had our Christmas bash on Friday night! We went to the Casino at Pontaillac for a dinner dance with the English/French Association. This consists of about 37 over 60-year olds and me together with around 5 or 6 French people, who apparently interested in learning English. The phenomena of becoming more and more fluent in each other's languages the more you drink is definitely noticeable!

We went to the roulette tables, DH's passion and converted €150 to €650 so a good time was had by all. Pity about the loud music though!

My DS turns 14 tomorrow, bring on the teenage hormones, I'm well used to them now thanks to DS 15, it's just that I'm nowhere near old enough to have children that age!

Has it really been that long?

I really must be more disciplined about adding to my blog. I often think of things I want to write about, but never seem to get round to it. I really enjoy the blogs I'm following though, so I must try to do better.

Part of the trouble is that I'm now a working girl. I'm doing some market research for an American. It's only very short term and I've almost finished, so I should start to do better from now. It's working well, as he's in Philadelphia, which is six hours behind me so I can get cracking whilst they're still asleep and hit them with emails as soon as they arrive at the office! Makes me feel dead efficient at least. Downside is that they email me at 11pm sometimes. Still, it's nice to be in the human race at last. Just hope I get paid.

Monday, 24 November 2008

I'm being ignored (again!)

Two weeks ago, I ordered a book from Amazon for DS(15) which he needs for school. It still hasn't arrived. I contacted them by email - no reply. They've been paid, of course, so where's the incentive?

I've tried very very hard to open a Paypal account - 11 days later, it still hasn't happened. I defy anybody to make sense of their "help pages". Frustration doesn't even enter into it. It even had a message on there, in English, saying that English wasn't one of their "help" languages, so could I please visit my profile page and change the "help" language into English! I ended up viewing it in French - still no help. Can't find any way of contacting them, so I guess I'll just have to die wondering. I've tried asking at the bank. They don't open here in France on Mondays, so everything stops from Saturday morning at 11am until Tuesday morning at 9am, including computer banking, for which we have to pay €9 per month for the "convenience". Incidentally, they close Thursday afternoon's as well. No wonder there's no financial crisis here (yet), the banks are shut for half the time.

Not to mention the packet of envelopes I ordered from Viking. No sign of them after three days (they were on 24 hour delivery). I just checked their website - they think they've been delivered. I shall be the incredible bald woman at this rate.

One bit of good news, DS(13 will be 14 in two weeks) managed to sell a Pokemon game on e-bay - he was tickled pink! Unfortunately, the buyer can't pay us because of the above Paypal account fiasco.

How do I stay so cheerful?

Friday, 21 November 2008

Wedding Anniversary

Today was our wedding anniversary. 14 years, and it don't seem a day too long! We went off to Bordeaux for the day. Spent an hour in Ikea (it takes that long to get in and out!). Here is what we bought:

Here is the link of where we ate our lunch, the Cheminée Royale:,%2BBordeaux%26hl%3Den%26rlz%3D1B3RNFA_enFR250FR251&usg=ALkJrhhj67QCbNI6yIxkoMlqG95dnK7DOg

It should be in English. This was our first visit to the Royal Chimney (!) and it was remarkable because it had an enormous grill installed into a chimney in the middle of the restaurant! We didn't know that at the time, we just wandered into the place to get out of the rain. We had an excellent meal, chose from the €22 menu, but we could have had the all you can eat buffet for €11 or we could have had a three course meal for 15€ instead of the four courses we ended up with. They were very busy, but the service was quick, efficient and friendly. We had a sweet white wine on arrival, goat's cheese and camembert on enormous pieces of toasted bread with salad (that was enough to fill me up before I started). DH had the foie gras on toast to start.

For the mains, I had grilled salmon (cooked before my very eyes, as all the meat and fish was), DH had his usual steak. For puds I had the creme brulée, which was enormous and exceptional. I would definitely recommend this restaurant. In the past, we have had some very disappointing meals in Bordeaux, but this one's a keeper!

The weather was pretty grim, and worsened whilst we were there, so we came home having squelched our way around the shops.

Now DH has cleared off to a rugby match (the real love of his life) and left me to watch Corrie and get an early night. Oh, the romance!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Seemed like a good idea at the time

Talking of making rash invitations then panicking, my DH invited two of his (big) French mates, with their wives, to a "proper English breakfast", at our house at 9am this morning!

Comfort zone not even in it! The menu was as follows:

We started with champagne and orange juice, then the nosh came out. Bacon (of course), English sausages, Spanish black pudding, baked beans, mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, scrambled eggs, sauté potatoes, toast, baguette and all the trimmings. We were going to do kidneys as well, but you have to draw a line! To finish, we had English tea (yum), toast with marmalade and marmite. Every single scrap got eaten. Pity we couldn't get crumpets.

The French are generally under the illusion that we eat like that every day. I had to explain that it was more of a Sunday morning treat.

Perhaps we should start charging for it. The language barrier came into it's own when I tried to explain what marmite was. One of the wives thought it was English chocolate spread - the French love that - so she plastered it on her toast. I had to admire her as she managed to eat it, though I guess it wasn't quite what she thought.

It all went extremely well, but I didn't half give a sigh of relief when the last pot had been washed!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Paid (I hope) employment - at last!

Well, theoretically, I do get paid by the business we run here in France. Unfortunately, I've yet to see the colour of the money as it all gets ploughed back into the business and everyday living expenses. It's been 15 long years since I last had a proper payslip backed up by money in the bank. All that however is set to end. This morning, I got offered a job!

And not just any old job, either - how does hem hem "Bi-lingual Executive Assistant - EU" sound? Too good to be true - I thought so too. Long story short, I registered with a website on which you bid for jobs (bit like E-bay). Things like designing websites, secretarial stuff, transcription etc etc. This firm in Philadelphia contacted me and after much discussion by email I've been offered the job. Downside is that it's only $8 an hour but I don't care - at least it's in the right direction!

Another job that came out of this website was "Despatching Packages - France". I get $4 per package, plus postage reimbursed for sending on Amazon books to addresses in France - I got my first one yesterday, but I can't tell you much more than that as I've signed a Non Disclosure Agreement - so I'd have to kill you!

Oh Hap-Hap-Happy Day! 'Course, I haven't seen ANY money yet! These things take time -thank God for Paypal! (Ever the optimist).

Monday, 17 November 2008

Busy, busy!!

Me again!

After 13 years, I've finally enrolled for some French lessons! Apparently, there's a new scheme just started where the French government will pay for the teacher, provided the ex-pats will help the school children with their English on "one or two" occasions per year. Sounds good to me!

In fact, I did go to the local language college - on four occasions to suffer "Intensive French". This was where you spoke only French for 6 hours a day. Talk about baptism by fire! It certainly stretched the comfort zone, but the only problem was that it was VERY expensive - I'm talking £400 plus per week, and that was 5-6 years ago.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Welcome to my New Blog

Well, I've had a bit of a to-do with my Blog the last few days. Long story short, I've had to start a new one, so here we go. I may find it in my heart to forgive you, Blogger, but I don't reckon much to your "help" pages!

Anyway, what's a new blog between friends. It's not as if anybody actually reads it, do they?