Sunday, 27 March 2011


Two very excited girls with our new (to us) scooter

Libby reading the "how to" scooter book. Note she has already added a few girly features like the hoody rest and box of tissues back box!

Me I've been experimenting with more stylish pimping! Mmmm Nice!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Breaking New Ground

Well its that time of year again; digging the potager. The bit we did last year was easy whereas this years extension into new ground was (is) hard, very hard. I recon its going to take about two days to properly dig an area 20 meters square. The first six inches is ok, then you hit compacted rock and clay (or concrete as the Romans called it) and from then on its all up hill. In fact if I can draw an analogy (and I think I can) its a bit like French bureaucracy; The first time you speak to them to try and get anything done its like digging new ground (hard). After repeated attempts it gets easier but really its a war of attrition!

There are always consolations of course, and despite the hard work and bureaucracy its still a lovely place to live!

And you have to love a school system that gives kids Wednesdays off so they can wander round fields generally enjoying themselves; well you wouldn't want to work too hard now would you!

Bon chance!

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Japanese tsunami

I am deeply saddened by the loss of life following the earthquake in Japan. It is not without reason that the word for tsunami comes from the Japanese. The earth is and always has been a living and constantly changing place and no mater how technologically advanced we become we will always be subject to her whims and at her mercy! As we have seen this week there is no greater "superpower" than the power of nature. My the souls of the dead rest in peace. 

P.S. Please note that I have not used the word victim, because the word implies malice and the planet is neither malicious or benevolent it just is. We on the other hand are simply passengers.


For my part I have just been on a small vacation to good old blighty. A few matters to attend to including taking the Fiat to Gray's of Warwick to have a look at the Doblo. Fiat in Milan will then decide if they wish to "help" with the cost of the replacement ECU. I'm hoping after 3 new Fiats and a lifetime of Fiat ownership they will. Don't get me wrong I do understand cars go wrong and would normally cough up without a fight. This time however a big lump of bosch electronics should last longer than 3years and 3 months. If they do i'll be happy as Larry, if not? That said despite the outcome Grays have been great; helpful and supportive, even though I now live in France. If you really fancy that Fiat 500 in white with the Italian flag up the side you could do a lot worse than give them a visit; top guys! Thanks!

We didn't really have much time, other than to visit my and Julia's parents and then go to the jewellery quarter in Birmingham for supplies. This of course was not helped by the fact that we were travelling back on a Friday; Each time I visit I am astounded  by the volume of traffic on British roads and to my mind something radical has to happen: I reckon if you looked at the time cost and fuel cost not to mention stress etc caused by the overcrowding on British roads it would not make pretty reading.

The other sad thing I noticed was that after decades of trying the government have finally managed to kill off the English country pub. In the last year 7 out of the 9 pubs closest to my mums house have closed! These are pubs that are upwards of 100 years old now all but closed. To be fair they probably did well to last as long as they did; Cheap supermarket alcohol, drink driving legislation, the smoking ban, petrol prices have all played there part, but killed them they have. When I was young we used to take an evening drive out and meet up with a few friends for a drink and social (someone used to volunteer to not drink). Now kids to day stock-up at Tesco's with enough beer to sink a ship and go round to someone's house to "hang". It's cheaper and they can chat and talk crap on Facebook at the same time. That's progress I guess and I'm sure it has its pros and cons. The thing I think is a shame is that country (not town) pubs were really the heart of the community, they were the place where people gathered to be a community. In France it was never like that, pubs have never really existed, but the village hall has and to this day that is where the heart of the community resides alive and well. People meet, socialise, sing, dance and get a bit pissed from children (no they don't drink even in France) to pensioners all together, and I think for a community that's healthy. By contrast I don't know where the heart of the English country community is and I'm pretty sure that's not healthy. I do know there is the country fete (a French word) once a year and these are probably the closest, but that's ONCE a year. Is that enough to give people a sense of community? I did however note that my mum now receives a "Staffordshire Magazine" full of articles about fine upstanding people all over Staffordshire designed to make her feel like she is part of a community, pity she will never meet any of them! Go on bring back into use the village hall!!!!!

Well were back in France and working on the next stage of our plan for world domination. I'll let you know how it pans out!

Sunday, 6 March 2011


Today I was contemplating the nature of freedom. On the one hand we feel it is the ability to do what we want because we are able. On the other hand I would suggest that true freedom is the courage to do what we want despite any physical restraints.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Moving Pictures

Well its been 14 months and Libby decided she would like to spend her Christmas money on a TV. Now to begin with I'm really glad the Girls have had a year without the telly, they have read more books than you can imagine for a start! Also they have played like proper children, like I used to and my parents used to. Space to play and be proper children, without us worrying if they are safe or not. But life goes on and since its French television it will help them with their French. So Yes I've relented and last week Libby when out and bought herself a nice little 15" flat screen job.  All the other stuff to set the telly up you get when you take out an internet and phone subscription with orange (whether you like it or not). So last week me and MrG spent a quiet morning setting up the satellite disk on the side of the shed. There were a few small glitches like the dish had no bracket but this was soon remedied with a little impromptu fabrication using some bits of metal I had lying around. Other than that it all went very smoothly, it helped of course having MrSat1995-2011 on board and guiding the installation. Now not only do we have "the nicest shed in Basse-Normandy" but we also have "the only shed in Basse-Normandy with its own satellite downlink!" Check it out!

 Check out the super strong bracketry. Billet aluminium and galvanised steel no less....Nice
So there we are dragged kicking back into the 20th century, but only in the shed. The house on the other hand is still very much unspoiled 18th century retro chic, as it should be.

Ps. The first time Libby watched her new telly all she could do was sit transfixed with her mouth wide open, occasionally muttering the odd "Oooh" or " Arrrrr"....Bless.

PPs. A but like she did when she saw a flushing toilet for the first time in 8 months!