Thursday, 2 December 2010

Thought for the Day

I have a body, but I am not my body;

I have desires, but I am not my desires;

I have thoughts, but I am not my thoughts;

I have ideas, but I am not my ideas;

I have feelings, but I am not my feelings;

I have fears, but I am not my fears;

I have hopes, but I am not my hopes;

I have understanding, but I am not my understanding;

I have knowledge, but I am not my knowledge;

I have wisdom, but I am not my wisdom;

I am not these things, I am only she who perceives these things.

Consciousness is all there is, I am not the do-er.

(Copyright The Natural Magician by Vivianne Crowley)

(Except the last line, which came from "Onions to Pearls by Satyam Nadeen)

Buy the first book here. and the second book here!

Gone all mystical on you today! This is what I recite to myself when I'm trying to fall asleep. I never get much further than line four!!

The photo was taken on one of my favourite Woody walks - enjoy!!

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Wet Tee Shirt Competition!

Weeeeeeee! This is FUN!!!!!

This photograph was taken on my brother in law's boat, Boyz Toyz 2 on our recent holiday to Los Nietos. The whole experience was like having several buckets of very salty water thrown all over me! Nevertheless, apart from the stinging eyes, we had a lovely day out on a small island in the Mar Menor.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Washday blues

The weather here in the Charente Maritime is improving steadily, and not before time! This morning, we had such beautiful drying weather that I felt under pressure to get 5 beds stripped and made up again for Mr & Mrs Dickinson (names changed to protect the innocent). They arrive in the Farmhouse this weekend. Off I went then, after the school run, to strip the beds right down to the mattresses and wash the waterproof protectors that we are obliged to put on them to protect them against stuff you would, frankly, be surprised to hear about (say no more). We have a couple of washing machines in the laundry room, so I divided them up between them and my own machine, put the washing powder in and pressed the button. Guess what, the water had been turned off at the mains and I haven't a clue how to turn it back on again. DH was snoring gently in bed - another wasted opportunity. How do I stay so cheerful?

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Bank Holidays in France and spudless weekends

The merry month of May in France is punctuated by Bank Holidays. First off, we have Labour Day which falls on the 1st May. The week after (today) we have Victory in Europe Day, after that we have Ascension (13th May) followed by Pentecost (24th May). That's a lot of bank holidays to keep track of. If they fall on a Sunday, they don't really matter, since they don't take the Monday off in lieu, but if they fall on any other working day, everything stops. Also worth noting is the fact that if they fall on a Thursday many places "fait le pont" and stay shut until the following Monday. There's no point opening on the Friday after all, is there? Nor the Saturday!

What does this mean to me, then. I'll tell you what it means, it means no spuds, that's what it means!!!!Where did I get the idea from that the supermarkets would open until midday, being as the bank hol fell on a Saturday? Have I learned NOTHING in 14 years? We drove round (DH came too - he doesn't like to be separated from me at the moment - sweet!!!) 3 supermarkets later, we came home spudless. For us to be spudless all weekend is a very serious business! Thanks to some left over mash in the fridge that I fried up, and a big bag of very old pasta we survived. Of course it helped that the two main eaters, Dear Son (15) and Dear Son (16) were out of the house all weekend at various parties and girlfriend-orientated activities (don't go there), so we survived it.

All this happened last weekend. Not to be caught out again, I went to the supermarket late last night and bought 10 kg of spuds! Wish I'd remembered to buy some onions, but you can't have everything!

Have a nice bank holiday, I'm going to!!!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Bone numbingly tired

It's back again! Already, only two and a half weeks after my fortnight's holiday, that TATT syndrome has returned! Tired All The Time sums me up at the moment, but today is much worse than usual. I woke up all bright as a button, trouble was, it was only 4.30 am so I beat myself about the head (figuratively speaking) and told myself to go back to sleep straight away, or big trouble! Back to sleep I obligingly went, only to be in the middle of a weird dream about the next door neighbour being a prostitute when the alarm went off at 6.15 am. I hit the snooze button, the dream was just getting to the good bit, but you can never go back to the same dream, can you? At least, I can't!! Anyway, back to sleep I went, and I was still there when the ten minute snooze button was activated. Ever since, I've been walking around as if I'm in a dreamworld of my own making. Nothing seems real. I've walked the dog in the bitter cold wind (gone back to winter this week) , I've had several strong cups of tea, but here I am, still so wan that I'm almost two.

How do I shake this off? Answers on a postcard please.... (or an email will do). I'm off for a lie down!

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

I must, I must improve my blog (ging habits!)

(Just in case you missed the tiara piccie on my Facebook page!)

It's a miracle I'm here! ... and I'm not referring to my puncture on the dual carriageway last Wednesday going along at 110 kph with a lorry up my bum, I'm on about the fact that it's been so long since I wrote anything at all on my darling blog that I couldn't remember the password! I'm now declaring an end to writers' blog I mean block and you will be seeing much more of me and my ramblings from now on. Step this way ..... you have been warned! Ha ha ha ha !!! (laughs spookily!!!)

Friday, 12 March 2010

Replaced by an 11 year old girl

There must come a time in every parent's life then they suddenly realise that their children have overtaken them on every level. Not only is Dear Daughter (11) capable of cooking a lovely meal and washing up, but she actually does it better than me! I never would have thought of putting honey on goat's cheese.

As for the computer, she's clicked whilst I'm still working out where to click!

Her French was always going to be better than mine, but I'm now realising mine is like a 5 year old by comparison.

At least she still needs me to pay for her new hand bag and taxi her to her friend's houses, but for how much longer?

Dear Son (16) has had a lovely (French) girlfriend for over a year now. This summer, they're both planning to work during the school holidays in the local supermarket. The interviews are this week. He plans on going to university in Bordeaux in September (Heaven help me!!!)

Luckily, Dear Son (15) still needs me for most things (at least he has the sense to make me think so!!). He promised when he was six years old that he would never leave me (don't worry, son, I'm not going to hold you to it!!!)

It's true you have to enjoy them while you have them, it all goes TOO FAST!!!

I bought these roses at the supermarket yesterday (€6!!! eek!!) and they looked so lovely this morning that I took this photo, since I know that they won't last very long. I thought it would cheer you up.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Cock a doodle doo!

I heard an interview on the radio this morning publicising a bird show (the feathered kind, sorry!) being held this weekend not far from here. Throughout the interview, there was a cockerel crowing at the top of it's lungs. It was so loud and irritating that you could hardly hear what the woman was saying. If anybody having heard this interview goes out and buys a cockerel, they can't say they weren't warned! According to the interviewee, they crow like that when they want to make babies. I can now see why the cockerel is the national emblem of France!

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Why I love living in France, Part Two

.... Say no more!

I love a good read!

You can tell a lot about people from the books they read. Not a half a mile away from us is Emmaus which is a second hand outlet set in an old Victorian railway station. The customers, and especially the people who work there could be characters in a book, but that's for another post!

In my efforts to de-clutter, I finally put the bin bag full of outgrown winter coats in the van and took them to Emmaus. As a young schoolgirl, I had a brief career working part-time in the Oxfam shop. The smell in Emmaus takes me back more years than I care to remember. Funny how second hand clothes and rejected household objects smell the same wherever you are in the world. Anyway, I digress - in those far back days, the manageress of the Oxfam shop was always less irritable if instead of just off-loading their junk, people took the time to buy something, so I always have a look round at the clothes in Emmaus and have had some real bargains in the past. They sell clothes BY WEIGHT, if you please, making it the cheapest place on the planet for kids' tee-shirts and even my denim skirt (the last thing I bought from there, only cost €1.20! I wear it a lot in the summer, more flattering than shorts at my age.

Anyway, this trip was a bit disappointing on the clothes front - they must have offloaded some stock to Haiti, since there was very litttle in the clothes section so I meandered over to the book area which is enormous. In the past, the English book section consisted of only three books including a Stanley Gibbons stamp directory from 1963 so I was very pleasantly surprised to find no fewer than three shelves devoted to English books.

Here is what I bought:

Your Talking Cat by Jack Richter
Men are from Mars ... by John Gray
End the Struggle and Dance with Life by Susan Jeffers
Websters New World Medical Dictionary (brand new, complete with CD!)
English Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy (also brand new)
Bizzarre and Eccentric People by Nigel Blundell
Analyse your Dreams (also brand new)

Pineau's not remotely impressed by my bargain books!

For the princely sum of €3.75, these books have kept me happily entertained throughout the two weeks half term school holidays whilst the kids have commandeered the TV for the Wii and Dear Daughter (11) the computer. Note to self, must remind DD who the computer actually belongs to ... when I've finished this chapter!

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Reasons why I love living in France (Part 1)

It was brought home to me again yesterday how honest and straightforward the French are. A little old lady dropped a €20 note out of her pension book without noticing in the post office in town, and three people leapt to her aid and fell over themselves to give her the note back.

It reminded me of what could have been a very unpleasant incident a couple of weeks ago. I always walk the dog around the lake in Saujon on a Saturday afternoon whilst Dear Daughter (11) is in her art class at Royan. It's a very popular beauty spot for courting couples, fishermen and dog walkers, as well as the local boules club. When I returned from my walk after around an hour, I realised to my total horror that the car door was wide open on the passenger side and my handbag was on the passenger seat. I truly believed that the car had been broken into. To my absolute amazement, it was me that had left the door open, and the handbag was right where I left it, in full view of all the passers by.

Last summer, one of our holidaymakers left a new camera and his wallet on the beach - it had dropped out of their beachbag. They went to the police station at Royan to report it missing for their eventual insurance claim, and couldn't believe their luck that both had been handed in. This was in August, when the beaches round here are all absolutely packed.

When things get me down, like now, for instance, it does no harm to notice these things, where else in the world would such incidents occur?

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Problems with Paypal in France

My first client in the US, when I started my VA business, wanted to pay me via PayPal. This suited me, especially since the account was already set up from buying off EBay. PayPal came in handy again when one of our summer visitors, who at that time was moving from the USA to France and had no French bank account, used it to pay for his holidays. That was a big mistake! The relatively large sum of money he transferred showed on PayPal's radar and, back in July 2009, they blocked the account. Unfortunately for me, they allowed me to have funds paid into the account for some bits of writing I did, but they refused to allow me to withdraw funds until I could prove my identity.

Times are hard for us in the winter season here at Chez Belliveau, especially with the arrival of the Christmas credit card bills, so every bean has to be counted. Besides, it's not the principle, it's the money!

I have now sent PayPal no fewer than 15 separate pieces of paper saying who I am, but STILL they refuse to unblock the account. They will only accept certain documents in my name only and for one reason or another (joint bank account, utility bills in DH's name) I can't provide them. "Well, Janet, ring them up and explain", I hear you say!

I was hoping you'd suggest that – the saga continues!! PayPal have a computer which answers their phone and after you've keyed in the phone number you are ringing from (why?) and your file reference, you listen to that irritating Musak –whose invention was that? They should be shot at dawn. Bizarrely, they have a recording of somebody shuffling paper (I'm not kidding!) presumably to give the impression of the presence of a human being, then you are told by the computer that you have at least a ten minute wait before you can speak to anybody. Undeterred, I have sat through this procedure more than a couple of times now, only to finally speak to a "real live person", who had no authority nor discretion to bend the rules and could only repeat word for word what I have written on my own computer screen. No joy there then!

My latest attempts to unblock my PayPal account are a statement signed by the Mayor in our commune that I am who I say I am and I'm now waiting for a statement from the Social Security saying the same, which I shall then send onto them. Finger's crossed!

Once I finally get my hands on this paltry sum (I need it to pay the kids' canteen bills!) I shall close the account and join this website – I only wish I'd found this first!