Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Selling Stuff

It couldn't be described as <fun> or <not fun>.
It could be described as <something which had to be done>.
Now that I have done it all alone
I have neither <enjoyed it>
nor <not enjoyed it>.
I can see what I could do / would do to improve the experience.
This must be the business woman in me, for why would one wish to do it alone?

It was tough to load the car & trailer two days before - an hour is not long to bring pre-organisedboxes down from the attic.  100 steps <aller-retour / there and back> including 20 French stair steps -  about 20 times.
[Good exercise for someone with a pinched nerve affecting arm and legs: what might be called crualgie.  After several months of intermittent, inexplicable, 'difficult to describe to a French, non speaking English  doctor,'  this now feels nearer a 'correct diagnosis' from a French friend.]
Another hour to load a heavy pine trestle table, lightweight plastic table, garden parasol and chairs, stationery items, clothing according to weather.  There was food to think about on the morrow as often these places have food I don't eat.

Between 2012 and 2018 there were three other days of selling stuff at vide-greniers in this village.  Often I skipped opportunity when the Easter Brocante was too cold or wet.  September,  I was usually in UK for mother's birthday.  Two were on the designated village site - one I did with a friend for guidance, another I did alone to develop bravery. The third, in my courtyard was successful at ridding of stuff, where DIY & household stuff of his and her stuff sold early for reasonable prices, a depressing lull mid day and for silly prices late afternoon. We just wanted it gone.   I considered 60 or 70 euros was a good day for unwanted items,  but this time a hundred seemed ok until someone last night scoffed.  It does beg the question that income is not paying for the effort but I would rather TRY to have some money than nothing for it.   A PROJECT I could do without! Basically, my current theory has been to to generate good money for old forgotten collected things, many of which were too good for the déchetterie but too poor for charity shops!

Toy cars with no tyres had a new home by lunchtime to a man who had lots of replacements. YAY!!!  A 'rescue cat' lady was first for the blue cat basket.  She knocked me down from 5e to 3e. I acquiesced because I didn't want to take the large item home. When she returned, my generosity had further increased when I gifted two cat leads to her sanctuary! From Big Feet.

(Two sisters, Little Feet and Big Feet, are now where cat souls (soles) end their nine lives.   I will always vividly remember each burial and date of their departure from my life. I was lucky. Each cat crawled home. (Another story or two here.)  I miss them both but the polydactylic one was very special.  I mourn & digress.)

The last item to sell also had its own story to tell, but I shall not bore the reader.  Let's say it was an item symbolic of love for France and a reminder of days where lovers once lived, where it stood for 10 years in an upper niche by the fireplace.  First she was aghast by my stated price and knocked me down from 8e eventually to 5e stating it was not worth  more than 3e.  She very nearly didn't have it as I'd packed it away by the third time she had appeared for it!   She was quite distraught after bargaining. In part, I did not wish it to go!!!!!!  Reluctantly, (heat, weariness, irritation for, oh,  "of all the things to debate about!" ), I made an effort to look,  and there by letting go was there pleasure in personal healing.  She was over the moon. It was her story now and not mine and this I told her.

Income was theoretically minus the cost of waterproof coverings - a very thick tarpaulin (bache in France) to cover the trailer and two smaller ones for covering the tables if rain descended unexpectedly.   Nevertheless, nice notes were transferred to holiday savings!

It's not exactly a working income.  If truth be known, probably less than 10 cts per hour, never mind angst, worry, fear, effort, energy working towards this day.   All those hours with patient, tolerant workaway ladies, gently encouraging me to 'let it go'.  Ladies who were wonderful making lists of music (need a specialist place to sell), opening boxes not opened for 15 or 22 years, or some which had been opened and muddled. All had taken over the space in my attic.  Labelled boxes in categories, eventually brought a plan to fruition. An ongoing process of decluttering has developed into a rational and obvious procedure.
I do not want or need some things from a previous life or lives.
I come to this stage later than others but 'coming to' is the most important thing!
Many, many times when I thought, "I don't want to do this".
Many, many times when I thought, "I have to take responsibility for unburdening my life from his stuff, mine, ours".
Many, many times when it was too hot or too cold to be in the attic, when procrastination was a middle name. I could avoid the task, do something else equally deranging.
Those times passed me by until the last three mature women helped me on my final way.

I need to take responsibility.
"My children don't need to take on mother's rubbish... there will be enough decisions to make when I pop off, even if I do fulfill my intention of getting rid of what has now been sorted for disposal."
I consider how much doggy archive and antique stuff my deceased mother collected & hoarded and which she gifted kindly in her WILL but  NOT to me! Phwew! 
I think of stuff my middle aged children had and have in homes that are small space housing; one a boat and one a rental.

includes stuff in another building and stuff in the garden, which isn't all mine.  There is a pile of old tools which must go to a metal scrap yard. Boxes of less old usable tools. Ladders. Cement mixer.  2nd hand double glazed units ideal for cold frames. All have stories to tell.

In clearing the attic, some things were assigned for the charity shop or to the  bin or déchetterie. Some were labelled for internet sales.  Some things were kept because I like them or would use them. Some were thought of as gifts for others. It has been a huge process and I have really only skirted the surface, as I hate waste and I cannot yet, am not ready yet, to pay someone to take the LOT!
 I've learned how to better categorize, box, store items with labels of contents.  Of course, I knew how to do that when moving house but it seemed more necessary as I try to think about minimizing effort and space when taking things to a car boot sale in a small vehicle with a small trailer. Boxes were lablled with V.G. (vide-grenier) and contents.  But it became a muddle on the table as things emerged from box to table. 
I had tried to visualise a table where categories of glass or kitchen ware, children's items,  clothes,  textiles, vases, jugs, bits and bobs, things for free or petit prix would be arranged like a shop and be more welcoming to those who were just looking.  The plan is / was to display for example ONLY DIY stuff.   I have a theory that people look for  certain stuff. So to have one table of only household items or only garden paraphernalia or only tools.  In my attic,  one section was for general household stuff, another for DIY, another for larger items.
There are boxes of specialist music sorted to keep or not keep but not to yet give away.  There are boxes of personal writings, and other things to sort.  BOOKS have been categorised and bundled for the BOOK FAIR again.  I am not going to transport them to vide-grenier villages.  In the last 8 years, I have sold quite a few and many went back to UK charity shops from whence they came. Many were not my books in the first place.  AND there are boxes of books I thought I would keep but unless I have a book case what is the point!

So who is reading "this excruciatingly detailed account of  LIFE"?
I allude to what a workaway lady said to me after 5 days, when she did hardly talked ... and I did!
I couldn't seem to elicit conversation.  However, I'm hugely indebted to her as she had the patience and tolerance of a saint to categorise unsorted photos from the last forty years. She kept me on task for two weeks in a cold February. She showed me HOW to clear 15kg of hard copy photos and negatives.  At last they have been divvied up for my two children and others to sort!!

The first day of July began with a storm at 6h ... would I go ?  The meteo forecast had altered.  At 7h15 I drove gingerly with the load.  On arrival everything was ordered & organised.  First a pink ticket with my name and stall number from a booklet like one used to get when cloakrooms existed in the heyday of dance events,  exchanged for a blue receipt on payment at the second, move to the third to collect a coffee voucher and newspaper.  Then someone smiling in the rain tells me where to go. Once I had negotiated parking she returned to return my cheque from last year. (Only in France!) Last year I paid in advance but dipped out because of poor weather in the morning, so, you see, I couldn't allow myself to do the same again!

There were almost two hours whilst I leaned on the back of me car waiting for thunder and lightning to move away from the river.  I didn't dare to reveal cardboard boxes to water.  THEN, unpacking was slow due to rising humidity. At about 10h, clouds gave way to a clear blue heaven with a golden globe behind me.  BUT, I was not under the trees.  I would be exposed all day without a canopy.  I began to slow further in the heat of 37C with little shade.  The pink umbrella re-emerged; this time to be a parasol. I was happy. It was a lovely day.  And so glad to be near the cloakroom, grateful for 'antiques' neighbours, and passing English acquaintances who covered my frequent, fleeting escapes, on which visits I espied an Italian ice-cream machine on the 'barbe a papa' (yuk:candyfloss) stall.  I waited as long as I could for my TREAT.  Vanilla heaven in a cone, followed by the last of the flask of Jasmine tea with frequent moppings of a sweated brow and a building allergy to incredible HEAT.

I did it.
Would I do it again?
It is the inconvenience of not having someone to cover the convenience visits that prevents me from going to unknown territory as well as towing a trailer a distance.
But I will gain confidence NOW that I know how to do it.
Sadly, for my lovely workaway friend I was not ready in May.

Waiting for  rain to cease I had at least prepared tables.

Packing up... ah ... I suddenly remembered I had to have photos to prove I've been here!
Empty boxes to take home. Trailer and car each half full. Badly packed as I'm exhausted by Heat!
Heart pounding, sweating with running nose of allergy to heat, I returned home, glad to have some level of achievement and a glass of wine. Someone even offered me 300 euros for the trailer after I'd hooked it up to my dear old Clio!
How old am I? Madness!

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Now and Next

13 February 2018

The Will is still ongoing:
I am waiting for mother's  tax declarations to be investigated as they do not match. The first was from her husband. a man 31 years younger, and he declared as he evidently has for 4 to 5 years that she had property rental income but as he had already transferred her 50% of the property to him this was clearly an untruth.  The second from me ( it took me 8m months to acquire her N.I. number as he ignore my request for it.  Almost five months later I am still waiting to make sure I owe nothing on behalf of her and if she is due a rebate, it goes to the sole beneficiary, my brother, who insists I am a liar and deceitful and not following my mother's wishes. These are not HIS original thoughts but the thoughts of someone else.
AMENDMENT : June 2018: I now have the proof in writing.

Stress and Fatigue:
After almost 15 months I have almost totally relapsed into complete fatigue with whatever title they wish to call my condition: Fibromyalgie,  Myalgic Encephamolitis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, Chronic Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome or all of it|!
The symptoms for each day are never the same... new pains in the muscles, lymphs or nervous system appear.. sometimes I realise "oh that pain has gone!" ... another time .. "I've never had this pain before!"   Fortunately, I am able to get moving but it takes hours.
Worse than all the pain has been 'emotional lability" - a pain in itself.

New idea before Moving house if I  ever do:
Moving on: 
As I am about to embark on another concerted effort re-organising personal possessions which I do not need, I thought perhaps as a form of motivation, I could document the rubbish going out.

My cat died    
how did I not write about this tragedy!

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Lentil vegetable fish risotto

Saute in olive oil  finely sliced red onion, smashed chopped garlic and a quarter of a red pepper chopped small ... then add about 60g risotto rice per person. When glistening start to add stock little by little.  Today I used fish stock made from a trout head having eaten the filleted trout several days ago and which my cat enjoyed when it was cold.  Throw in sliced mushrooms during the process of adding stock, letting the rice absorb it but trying not to stir too much.  Meanwhile season with salt, pepper, herbs, spices of your choice. Throw in a goodly quantity of washed fresh spinach  as it does reduce to not very much... Add the previously cooked brown lentils or from a  can.  Leave to simmer softly.  I also steamed some raw hake (cuttings from hake steaks also from a few days  ago!) above the risotto. 

It was quite filling...  a goodly pile of risotto on a white plate with the fish meat placed on top and sprinkled with as much grated parmesan cheese as you like.

I hadn't thought of making a lentil risotto before but it worked exceptionally well.
There are leftovers ... I didn't take a photo... I enjoyed drinking Jasmine tea  to accompany it instead of white wine!

Bon appetit!

Friday, 15 September 2017

A Visit from Little Jenny Wren

On a Sunday in July, I was working at the computer. THE WRETCHED  WILL of mother aged 90+ and all that she left me to do as Executrix, isn't much, but I decided I would serach for Truth even if it changed nothing.   I was so annoyed by what her husband * has done. It made the wishes of my mother's will a conundrum.  His actions in 2012 created a situation where the will has been superseded.   
Would it have made any difference if they told me in 2012. Well, at least I would have been able to discuss with my mother.... maybe not, just wishful thinking, as she never talked about anything to me .. especially in the last five years.. I always thought it was to do with me but now, I think she knew she had sold herself and given away her son's inheritance and was careful not to tell me.  
PLUS the unpleasantness of my aunt for I say I know not why but, WELL,  I DO !!! She, as second Executor was being manipulated by him * ....

Just as well perhaps as it would have been unmanageable by me and one other aged 83 to have managed the property for my brother with a disability and the husband to live in.  Mother knew we lived in N.Ireland and France. 
The solicitor knew that too as the will was written in 2009! 
Now they own it between them and to me and my sister zilch! 
I don't really care about the money. I care about honour and respect. For over forty years we had visited each other as family... does that not count for anything!!    


Troglodytes troglodytes came and stayed a while.  Four hours!  What was it doing not near a wood, orchard, hedgerow, heathland, farmland, sea cliff, mountain, but yes near gardens.  
 Image result for jenny wren photo to copy

For some time I kept thinking there was something with me in my large living room but couldn't identify what it was.  Only the kitchen door was open with its door to the courtyard open, where slept my cat and open was the door to the makeshift tumbledown built with recycled  materials atelier extension (now to do with me!) at the rear of the house which also has a door and with gaps in the walls to the garden.   
Then I saw a fluttering out of the corner of my eye and heard a small fluttering ( I believe I am slightly deaf! ) 

I guess it crept in from outside and did not fly in.   

I wondered why this little bird had come into MY house, which is now named Le Petit Oiseau.

I decided the bird was my reincarnated mother. So I talked to her!!!!!! Told her how I felt!!!!!

On the day she died,  I'd suggested to her that she could grow wings and fly away

I gave her permission after her 12 days in a coma from an ISCHAEMIC ATTACK ruining 80% of her brain. She was tenacious without food and drink, unable to speak or eat, unable to move.   Soon in a coma.  I suggested that her son who had lived with her for 69 years would be ok!   It's quite odd what one can say to a mother dying!  A mother who never spoke to me about anything, about adolescence, being an adult, life or relationships!  I stroked her and touched her as never had I done before. I sang to her.

The European Wren measures 9 to 10 cm long and weighs about 10 grams, the same as an old £1 coin!  It is described as an inconspicuous, secretive bird.

It eats spiders, insects and beetle larvae, which explains why the moist bread I put to tempt it to the open door was not considered and it kept pecking on the ground and under furniture. A few webs there and at one point I was horrified to see a web caught on it's wing.

I used to read about Celts and Native American Indians and symbolism from nature. Much has been forgotten.  I returned to ask the WWW about the symbolism of wrens.

Birds raise their young with care from both parents.  Some articles on the internet suggest that the wren is a symbol for sharing tasks in the home.  As I haven't got anyone to share with, maybe it was saying it is TIME to find someone!   The article I read suggested that the wren is a reminder to not get stuck in gender roles but to approach traditional roles with a modern innovative approach!  

The busy wren symbolises activity, agility, vibrancy, alertness, fastidiousness, efficiency, determination, quick-wittedness, creativity. It is sociable and friendly, so we must keep a happy heart, be kind to others, be a free spirit, make progress each day to bring light heartedness to living!   

It is said that the delightful song of the wren inspired bards & poets and is a symbol of musical poetry, art and song.  Like many songbirds, the wren migrates.  It is content to flit from place to place .. it has shallow roots - hence  "home is where the heart is"  as it moves abode!   In this respect, the wren reminds us it is not the material items we gain, but the quality of relationships made along the way that enrich our lives. 

The wren's light flight is a message to branch out, to expand a circle of contacts, to step out of habitual patterns in life.   

The wren may be small but with  a powerful symbolic message.   

Maybe she came to encourage me to believe I am in a  realm of the "known" but with access to an adventure that awaits me! 
Indeed H'm!!!!!!

Mother, I have much to think about and indeed I had promised much of the promise of the little wren myself before you died BUT a whole year has been spent visiting England for your birthday September 15th.. and since then November when a cousin died and though frightened I came to see you unexpectedly and was in horror ... I should have stayed!!!!! ...I thought it might be the last time ... then two weeks later.. tragedy!   I am sorry I abandoned you!  I am sorry you are not here anymore.   I am.  I really am. I am sorry to abandon your son in the light of the fact that I live in France and he lives in England with your widowed husband 31 years  younger than you and 9 years younger than me!  Bloody hell!!!!!! MADNESS!

Saturday, 2 September 2017

What a mess in the kitchen!

TODAY it was FUN of sorts!!!

Three batches of 2kg of harvested from the garden over many days. Red tomatoes were blanched in boiling hot water to remove the skins. Added to three large cloves of decent French garlic sautéed in olive oil.  PLUS into the redness lots of fresh basil leaves from the courtyard, from the previous house matured  ( ! ) red wine vinegar, Ile de Ré sea salt, ground black pepper, a spoonful of brown sugar,  heated high then simmered together...reduced until thick and a different colour.   Jar or freeze.

Each time it took about an hour!

2 kg of medium sized cougettes before they were too large to seed, peeled with the best vegetable peeler in the world from IKEA, ends chopped off, sliced into finger sized lengths, placed on a baking paper on the large trays of my Neff oven, the one where the door folds down and disappears  (Porte escamotable "Slide and Hide"),  drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper and baked slowly.. When cooked and cold packed into a container for the freezer.

4kg large courgettes bordering on marrows. peeled, and inner seed pulp removed reduced to 2kg weight. Added 1.5kg sugar, juice from 4 Valencia juice oranges.  The skins and fruit of the oranges were cooked in a saucepan for at least an hour to soften.. All left over night.
Next day, simmer the marrow and sugar, with added sliced thinly cooked orange rind for as long as it takes to change colour and reduce liquids, then rapidly boil.  Stir often. Towards the end add some sliced crystallized ginger, or suspend in the pan at the beginning some fresh grated ginger.  Taste and see. 

About a week ago I was gifted plums so I made yum plum jam!

In  between i picked more courgettes and more tomatoes... and worried like HELL about my daughter and grand daughter and LIFE and  LOVE discovered and LOVE LOST and men and women and relationships  and how suddenly some days women or men start being unkind to the very person they were in love with.........Why does that happen?

In  between I look at the UK and world news and someone's TWITTER page and wonder why so many people detest and hate each other and why do people wind each other up about faith, religion, politics, etc etc etc etc etc etc and it brings me down to my knees sobbing my heart out!

I swept the courtyard and rearranged the garden pots.. Must weed the white stones tomorrow and then there is more cleaning of the cuisine and the arrière cuisine and vaccing and paperwork to organise yet again.

It all got muddled at the TAX OFFICE when the man who was angry with me for complaining insisted it was my fault !!!  I was wrong - they were right. Eventually, he thought there was an error on their part. He produces=d a new blue form, filled in my pensions in certain  boxes. Bring it back on Monday filled in!!!!!!!!  Gosh, I am grateful!   With any luck I might get  income tax reduced... They wanted 600 plus euros this year and I am not the only English person with a huge demand!!!!! Others have had huge increases!   Last year they repaid me almost 100 euros!  WHY?   The year before that 370e and the year before that 335e and the year before that 51 euros... it does not make sense!!!!!!!! 
This year they changed the forms and the boxes we have to fill... NO - state pension is not a private pens=sion. The French insist it is.. I had this several years ago when I was first privileged to receive my State Pension.
This year the man who started to be hostile was asked by me not to be angry with me.. He then was polite and at the end we were both empathetic as he heard a little of my story.  He two lived alone and said it was preferable to living with someone where there was pain and unkindness!!!!!!  He was so kind, gentle and warm at the end that I wished almost to hug him!!!!!!!

After the struggle to be in the kitchen when there is so much else to do I had a happy day. My hands are stripped of the oils by the marrow ... quite I am happy at the close of day.

 Tomorrow is another day!

Friday, 1 September 2017

Saturday, 15 July 2017


Chains do not hold a marriage together. 
It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years.
Simone Signoret

Friday, 7 July 2017

11 months later

I come to my blog to see if it is still here... Ah, yes! 
For some reason last year my list of blogs I follow all disappeared.  I lost heart to get them back!
Battling with an ailing, failing computer
P. L. U. S. exhausted after the making of my kitchen I just gave up!
I am Emptied!
I gave up  because I felt I was being followed which felt uncomfortable knowing that I was being read to see where I was, what I was doing, saying, thinking.  Yes I know,  in former days it was nice to know people are looking at my blog out of interest... It's what a blog is for!

Those who know me know that I have been quite public with my emotions in this blog. It was started in 2010 to record the renovation of my French property bought in a moment of desperation and madness it seems if I turn the clock back ... the need to for a base, security, safety.. a bolthole!
Crabby me needs her Cancerian hermit shell!

I also gave up because in September I headed off to UK for my mother's 90th birthday.. and did not like what I met...buried head in the sand - IN DENIAL! Shocked!
It is always a visit of three weeks with couch surfing from place to place. I am always aghast at the price of things and realisation of how 'out of touch'  I have become with LIFE whilst Restless in France.   After encircling the south of England and enjoying driving to cousins, friends, son and daughter I drove homewards the long drive to my cat!
Within a few weeks my daughter and grand daughter came and we had a wonderful time but then the news arrived that my cousin's husband had died.  In November another three weeks of round the south of UK,  this time with family for three days at John's funeral.  Such a loss of a dedicated father and amazing architect, artist, Aston Martin lover and mechanic - a personable kind, soft, warm hearted, intelligent, loving, family man  for whom I had enormous admiration and respect.

Then unannounced I visited my mother and 'quel horreur' but all ok ... or was it????   I was rather alarmed that my brother, two years older than me with a lifetime disability of cerebral palsy having never lived anywhere else but under the wing of my mother did not know what the plans were should she die or he die!   I did not pose enough questions.  It felt intrusive . I also told my brother that I did not wish the stepfather to know I had been asking questions. RED ALERT!  LIFE is Hard alone and with the presence of a stepfather whom I now see that his presence on every visit I have made for the last x years was probably intended to ensure I was never given information!!!!!!!!!  After 21 years I know him not except who would like someone who has been in prison for GBH!
Try to make allowances. Can leopards change their spots? Can pussycats stop scratching?

Back home, after the long haul drive I came across my house,  cat sitter and wondered what is going on!!! We got on with more WORK as I had agreed his stay until the new year... to help him out... to help me out... give and take as friends are supposed to do!  It was winter!
Just as I was catching up on admin STUFF, cleaning and gardening tasks,  the phone rang in the building where I had not been sleeping but to which I had moved that morning at about THE TIME IT HAPPENED.  I'd felt for the first time for some time distressed in the early hours at about one pm... I'd gathered up my duvet and swaddled myself  along the full length of my L shaped house to the room with the unmade bed - my bed, as after Airbnb guests had left I had not lit the woodburner in that part of the house hence did not go there to sleep.
At 9h French time the phone rang... No she is not dead but has had a massive stroke.. At that time I did not know what it meant... but said I would be there...  After a lot of faffing around trying to inform people, book how to travel, not knowing how long I would be there for......incredibly calm prepared for the worst,  I drove again, solo, the long journey, though this time through the tunnel and wow what a price that was! ...and non stop apart from two pee breaks of no more than 15 minutes max... until I arrived at the hospital to surprise unintentionally the stepfather who expected me in another 12 hours! 
Like the wind... I kept telling her to hang on until I got there.
On the drive I asked her to hang on like the wind!

I am still in bereavement I guess..

Tears fall like tears of a child who has lost her mother but I lost my mother years ago when I was never hugged or told that I was loved and when a dog was treated with a bone better than I .. hence why perhaps many people say i am like a dog with a bone over issues and problems!!!!!
Canine anecdotes have abounded.

To cut STORY short, 12 days in a hospital institution was like being in 'a no man's land.'
So kind they gave me a key to a room where I could stay each night with the proviso that they never knew if someone else would need it.
My admiration for the positivity of nurses and doctors was off the end of the scale... one could neverv thank them enough for being who they are and doing what they do.
Angels with wings to fly to those needing physical, mental or emotional help.
I was not a patient ... nor was the stepfather but they treated us as if we were whilst they cared unstintingly giving enormous respect to my dear mother, dead but alive on the bed...

It is OK to grieve  for the loss of a mother... for the loss of never knowing what she really thought about me.. although she once said I was clever... NO I am not!... and the last real interaction was when she said in November 2015 that I have everything I need?   Have I?? Even if I asked her she would not have said... ... COUPLED with the statement was a long hard STARE!!!!!!!

In the last few years I have never been able to sit for long because of fibromyalgia (but recently that phenomena has changed ) whereas the stepfather could sit all say and night by her bed and not move!   My brother came and went from his home every day .. there was a dog to look after ... thankfully only the one after all the years of breeding, showing and the rest!

It was almost Christmas day with nowhere really to stay when I learned I was Executor.. but not a beneficiary and the implications ... when there was no money to pay for solicitor fees. 
I was naive to say YES. It would have fallen to my brother to do if I had not said YES.

Distraught with what I learned about circumstances I drove the long distance home again ( for it is HOME despite my current feelings ...  to be in my own home with my own bedcovers and my own lifestyle but oh my the unexpected return met chaos in every room!!!!!! I spent two weeks sorting it, doing christmas with a small c for one day, then back to UK, where I stayed for the funeral and the aftermath couch surfing with THINGS TO DO and the LAW to UPHOLD when I could see that all seemed incorrect!!!!!!
What proof have I?  There are rightful entitlements on some levels and no rights at all on others.. such is UK LAW!
There is a clause in the will which cannot be fulfilled.
That clause has been superceded by the sale of the property for one pound .
The will does not mention the shop and the flat on the same plot of land so how does all that work?
I have not yet asked the two men who live in that house. FEAR of the man who has been in prison for GBH! 
I spent January and February with every hour awake and asleep going over and over injustice and my fear was compounded with verbal abuse! 
At the end of the shortest month a new pile of poo developed and the outcome of the request for Grant of Probate arrived about June 7th...
Since February I have had a lot of work in the garden and trying to continue the questions of almost every day for six months I am no nearer proving the truth.. ..which I can see!!!!!!!!!! which eats me...

It is JULY.. I must make more effort to avoid the paralysis I find myself in, the depression, the total collapse of energy in the last week when I feel I can no longer carry on but I must. I have no choice. The mind has to be reprogrammed. It is very difficult alone. 

I do not always assume that I am the only one to grieve and be in bereavement.
Most people have struggles.
I an sure I have tried to turn negativity into positivity in France. 
It fails and I try again.

I don't actually know what would make a difference.
I suppose a sense of purpose in life.
I suppose a sense of being valued.
I suppose a change is as good as a rest but I increasingly hear the words
"I can't carry on doing what I am doing"
I would like to find happiness somewhere for more than a few nano seconds or hours having fun in the village or with others...

it has to start within me... and facing the task of clearing out is not easy alone!

We would all like a life half full ... at least half full... 
I WILL END THIS ................... for now... 

Wednesday, 31 August 2016


This photo is from the BBC: an article about an 88 year old Indian company making and selling saris.  I have worn a sari more than once; they are beautiful garments to wear when wrapped correctly. I wore them when I used to go to concert halls in London and to musicians' houses at a time when my former husband was learning to play the sitar. He still has the sitar which is quite remarkable as the gourds do not always last. I would imagine his sitar is worth quite a sum of money now. The strings are like cheese wire and he developed callouses after many hours of playing. I admired him for what he learned and what he played.  I thank him for the introduction to the culture but in those days when new cultures were welcomed to my land by me it was in place of the opportunity to travel which then I could not afford.  Nor now, BUT YES, I still wish to travel to India yet will never be able to afford these silk beauties - the saris!  I love the juxtaposition of such beautiful colours.  This photo could be a painting of a moment in time.
Models wearing Nalli saris

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

The Kitchen of the Past just one more time....

If anyone really wants to delve back into MY BLOG, MY PAST, then just type KITCHEN into the search box and there appears to be ten pages of references to previous posts .. including  this one, that is

posted in September 2015.....

I'll give it a rest now and try to post on some other things I have done or seen during this year when I did not have time or inclination to post!

Writing and finding photos takes so much time ... but it is done!
THE END of Renovation
Tomorrow the end of August 2016!
Is it time to wind up many ends and start a new beginning?
WE shall see what we shall see!
Time will tell.
See the proverb on my heading.
Doors and windows may be closed .. and then opened.. and closed and opened! 

Monday, 29 August 2016

The Kitchen 4 of 4

Oh MY ..  I had truly forgotten the despair that was in this room when I chose to purchase this house in 2010!  The first two photos are of the kitchen built in 1985 before I moved in.  Interesting they had a window bench! The next photos are of the chaos of renovation happening in the first four weeks. I was instructed to remove all wallpaper in the house as my first task!

I now know that the then extraction unit used the trap door access to the attic. Probably it was a ladder to a very rough living space in the attic!

Sunday, 28 August 2016

The Kitchen 3 of 4

WELL... what happened to this sequence of postings I had prepared earlier in 'good Blue Peter style', WAS THAT I decided I didn't want pics I had previously uploaded because they still showed cardboard on the floor.  Lazy posting and not showing attention to detail, I thought!  Hence, I took this posting OFF published ... well... time has is one of the offending pics.. but note the turquoise.. See below.

The climate got hot hot hot with highs of 38C in my courtyard and 26C in my darkened house even with opening and closing doors and shutters and letting the warm breeze blow in... and I did not wish to be glued to my computer!  There ARE other tasks to do!
(here,  as I type, I come to wax lyrical, expressing my repetitive daydream ..
all I need for the dream to become true are: white lace curtains wafting in a slight breeze against French windows and white walls, a white baby grand placed before and to one side with me playing something delicately, classically peaceful, whilst summer stills the air with aromas of roses, lemons, rosemary, all against the backdrop of mountains - then I shall be in heaven!)
Wake up woman .. it's the KITCHEN of MY LIFETIME we are supposed to be presenting!

So to end the saga of 15 months in the planning and renovating:

I like to sit on the new window seat with or without the windows open! So does BigFeet the cat! It also appears to be a fly, moth, butterfly graveyard -aways has been. I suppose because of the light!
It's an outdoor garden table and chairs... with my heavy cotton 1970's Liberty fabric, Bauhaus design by Sarah Campbell and Susan Collier used as a tablecloth.
I have come to like the floating curve of the extraction unit against straight lines;  the silver against the white and black.  My friend eventually found the correct height to position it! He did growl at screw holding devices for plasterboard!
I use one of my Sri Lankan fabric prints of frangipane flowers as a cover for the black glass induction hob to remind me not to put anything on it - to protect it!

The oven is superb... the oven door is so welcoming and a joy to use but as aforesaid cakes have been crumbly and roastie casseroles are done to perfection. I tried a tart one time but the pastry wasn't quite cooked.  More trials are necessary!

I like the fact that the horizontal shelf works on the level chosen. It was well thought out and measured and glided along from the level of the top of the oven and suits my short height.  I like the black, white, grey with pops of colour, as in the vases of replica Sweetpeas and Suffolk poppies.   Now, some of my beautiful jugs are along the shelf; influenced by a postcard my daughter sent me but in my attic I have several more jugs!

I have been trying the colour turquoise as a splashback!  Scroll up to look at the first photo.
After much deliberation my mind has altered as it does!  I thought about the multi-coloured tile I found in the style of Mondrian, this one made as a coaster by a young English woman near Limoges..... BUT... it could be too overwhelming...?   The jury is still out!  If they were larger squares and I had some control over the colours and positioning of shapes etc then perhaps... My friend I suggested I learn how to do it. I would but "the attic stuff" requests me to sort and rationalise what to keep and what to lose!
so then... prevarication being my middle name .. started to move back to something neutral, discerning, tasteful, yet artistic which must protect the painted plasterboard!

I had the idea of putting the leftover floor tiles as one row... but not necessarily repeating behind the sink and induction hob with perhaps a sheet of transparent tempered glass above the row of tiles.  No, not that!
So.. until I find something that I feel confident about then the tiles propped up serve as some protection for the wall.   I am looking forward to one day browsing in a FIRED EARTH shop!
The nine tile repeat pattern for the floor ... fun to lay eh? as each tile was orientated exactly and in relation to the others in the rows upon the floor!  Each tile had small 'taches' / stains in the making which helped the process!  Very good meditation now they are laid!
Small digression here: 
A bedspread featuring camels is on the door window as it is long enough to drape both sides of the window for privacy for the next living room, used as a bedroom.  The second of the two same doorways links the middle living room to the end bedroom or study - 'The small room', as I call it, I am led to understand it was the original kitchen.
I don't know how to put a more permanent curtain on these door windows for privacy as the window has a curved top which is what I would like to see! Maybe small decorative panels painted in each of the six windows but how to place them? Any ideas or seamstresses most welcome!
Perhaps next year, the fridge will be replaced with a French larder fridge above a small freezer  and then where does one put the micro-four combi (temporary here).  It was a gift and works perfectly well if not BIG! I like it!  I have come to enjoy using it for some cooking and also it does defrost. However, I DO LIKE a real oven! 
At the moment I have not yet emptied the two IKEA trolleys of cutlery and mugs.. into the drawers. One trolley is to be furbished with breakfast things for when I do B&B!  The other was to have fruit and veg but in this weather fruit and veg are kept in 'le buanderie derriere la cuisine' or in the fridge, if not in a bowl or basket in the house!
In the 'awkward corner' are two stone pots: one for wooden spoons and the other for metal/plastic utensils plus the wood container for SHARP knives. 
My friend made the wine rack with the 15cm space that IKEA and SCHMIDT planning tools would not allow.  Both kept saying that I could not have what I wanted!!!!!! My friend is a true artisan!

        I ABSOLUTELY LOVE:          
Thank you to one who has been a special friend!

Monday, 22 August 2016

The Kitchen 2 of 4

Ah the kitchen ... the cuisine!  A summing up!

What a mammoth task, taking about 15 months and more out of my life.
Taking out the good parts of a fited kitchen and upcycling the cupboards for laundry / larder room setting took 2+ months.  Continuing that room and preparing four walls, a beamed ceiling and a floor took 2+ months. Some months to recover from exhaustion. Some months to fathom out the measured plan, as opposed to what the kitchen fitting sales shops want you to have! Some months visiting shops and seraching internet to find 'the look' when a number of looks appeal. Some months angsting about the budget. Some months finding the electricians and plumbers to arrive to give estimates and then to do the work when I NEED them to do it - this is also affected by French Holidays.  Some months whilst my helper went to warmer climes for the winter.  Maybe that covers it!

I can't believe how much energy I wasted in the last 15 months without a kitchen at all. At first with only the exterior building sink and cold water whilst hot water was carried there in buckets.  In desperation after three months or so, the dishwasher saved HOURS!  Later the 35 year old oven died the day before my friend left. Down to the dechetterie it did go!  Without an oven and a proper hob, I made do with fierce gas burners on a two-ringed camp stove, a cheap slow cooker,  an electric steamer ( sold for 5e each at the Spring Brocante!). It was a road to burned meals as I dashed 'twixt the cold atelier subject with outdoor wind, le grand salon and the laundry/ larder room.  I survived!  

The existence of a proper kitchen has lifted years from my shoulders.  Freedom seems to have arrived but the honeymoon is almost over as I gradually get used to it.   Every morning I thank the fitter!
The kitchen isn't completely finished.
Ideas to do:
'Coffrage' - a cupboard around the electricity meter would be good. Planned was a shelf above the door and window to mask the pipes but I can't see the point! Just another thing to clean!
The major thing that I cannot decide upon is the backsplash or do I mean splashback - 'un credence' in French.
Bright or neutral?
Tiles or glass or something else? I went off the idea of glass as too ultra modern! It would be easy to keep clean. The snag would be measuring exactly for the plugs PLUS tempered glass is expensive in France!
I explored a few hand made tiles from Provence and Brittany but have not found what I was seeking.. as if I really know? FIRED EARTH have some Parisian themed tiles at amazing expense I cannot afford! Would love to see them in REALITY though!
Next year I hope to buy a French larder fridge freezer if I am still here!  Meanwhile my 14 year Bosch larder fridge soldiers on, even though two of the trays have had to be repaired.  The French freezer is good but oh so noisy even though A+.
Maybe a mirror on the wall above the radiator .. and / or a shelf for cookbooks.
Maybe one or two selected photos on the bare walls towards the laundry room.
H'm.. will have to plan carefully as when the plasterboard receives the screw holders if, in the wrong place they are a nuisance to make good. 

REALLY the positive is that:
I LOVE the white, black and grey.
I love the new floor -exceptionally nice and inexpensive.   This is in keeping with the age of the village farmhouse.  So glad to have steered clear of wood, lookslikewood and other ideas! 
I love the drawer concept.
My friend modified the IKEA drawers to fit. We took back their rubbish plinthes twice.. first white, then black but they were slubby brown! My friend made his own in wood, having to modify the awful IKEA legs of the furniture!
IKEA is not bad, in fact LOVE IT and HATE IT.  The fitting of it though does require careful attention but one done means the next are easier!  We had to watch a few videos to get ideas on e.g. how to release the drawers once fitted!!!
I wish I'd known how many IKEA videos there are once one starts to enter key words!  These would have been helpful in the planning stage but might have taken longer. 
I detest the amount of cardboard, paper instructions, leaflets and surplus parts accrued.  At one time I started to weigh each material but eventually got bored. Some cardboard and packaging board was usefully recycled.  Some packaging materials were saved for the Arts Group.  Anyone for IKEA parts (???), which I might recycle back to IKEA as a protest!

IKEA were excellent on delivery and true to their word on exchange and replacement. Never accept 'un avoir' unless you wish to purchase further products. I forgot to use 160e one day such is the experience that the feeling of "phwew let me out of here" at the cash desk lulls one into forgetfulness! I discovered this when I got home!   In order to get a refund I had to return, but that was six weeks later (one has a year to use an avoir), buy something using the AVOIR, and take it immediately back to the desk for a refund to my bank account.  They did not tell me that.  I had to work it out when the nice man and the nice supervisor manager said NO to a refund and NO towards the monthly payments.  At least I think there were ten visits of a three hour return journey each time in the deliberating, planning, buying, returning stages. Hwoopee all done!

It has been a saga that I am very glad to see the back of and to be able to sit in my kitchen and view the world of my courtyard! Maybe little birds will return to "Le Petit Oiseau".  

The oven seems to do a fine roast or braise in a closed casserole but two cakes were crumbly and dry. So I must TEST a recipe that has been successful in the past to determine how this new FANDANGO Neff oven works. I highly recommend the 'escamotable' door which opens and glides into the oven so one does not have to reach around the door.

The hob is a dream to clean but salt or sugar would scratch the surface, so I am careful!  It's like cooking by numbers!  I already miss fierce wokking of onions, garlic, veg for a stir fry!

So pics .. of the MAGAZINE look and some as the kitchen is in ACTION... tomorrow!
Such a tease this is! 

Sunday, 21 August 2016

The Kitchen 1 of 4

Ah...the kitchen.. la cuisine.  I keep you in waiting!

Before I comment, I would like to publicly thank my erstwhile and yet existing friend for all his skills, talents, labour, patience, fortitude, irritation, frustration, anger, guilt, commitment, display of concern or love or friendship or whatever one wants to call the inter relationship between two people who try to understand each other...
and honour him with Knighthood!
For rescuing me so many times!
For hanging about for six years
even though he had decided that we were not to be a couple anymore (MY DISBELIEF EVEN THOUGH I KNEW!). 
In those six years, appearing from time to time, and for months on end to work with me, and for me, to get the renovation finished, he persevered on the house that I had bought in 2010.
a) as a project we could do together to save our relationship
b) knowing yet not even daring to think or acknowledge that by having my son involved at the beginning it would not work
c) not acknowledging my repeated fears and intuition between 2003 and 2006.
d) as a bolt hole to have somewhere to stay that was mine and yet still be a couple!
How I was blinkered and naive!
LOVE is blind!

I would also like to apologise for all my mental and emotional breakdowns which have caused me to write poetry and prose on this blog and to pour my heart out in anguish!
Also to friends and family who have supported me, protected me, done their best to advise me, endured me and my complications of heart and mind! 

Fans, friends and family have waited to see the kitchen photos.  Some had private pics some time ago! When those who do not live in France will ever come is not of consequence any more!

Saturday, 20 August 2016

A Tower and a Castle

To unscramble my head I headed out to Monthoiron where there were guided visits in French.  For years I have been fascinated by this tower, which a few years ago started to show signs of undergrowth being removed from it. VOILA it is being revealed in its ruined state and next year it may be possible to go inside.
I was particularly interested to go this weekend as medieval cannons were to be fired. A big bang! HOWEVER, nothing like the demonstration in Haut-Koenigsberg, Alsace in 2006 or 7 when my daughter lived there for a week in true re-enactment medieval style, in an attic, at an early Easter, with snow on the ground. She was ill before she went and ill when she went home! A straw bed in an attic aint much fun!  The Burgundians were fighting!

I digress as usual!

Today was a pleasant afternoon, extremely informative if one can understand French.  I get some!  For three euros it was good value.  I received a French leaflet and an English one with different text content! Bizarre!
After twelve years of being mystified, it was very interesting to see it up close,  to know about the "buttresses", to see the private chateau (exterior) and other buildings around it as well as to understand some of its history.  ALSO that it is one of Leonardo da Vinci's designs.  Interestingly has been cut by earthquakes. One visitor announced he used to scramble through the crack when he was a boy. 
A peaceful afternoon to unscramble my head which returned when I got home.. so I am writing this!
The drive in the vehicle was hot (no windows open in my car!) despite the wonderful wind. Thank goodness they sold Magnums.  I needed one as my freezer is empty of such delights! Wonderful architectural history.
Here are my photos:
This part was once built similar to the next building

The private Chateau of Monthoiron

All that is left of the buttresses

Sunday, 14 August 2016

My village

Today I discovered from two friends, one Italian who saw the announcement in the Press yesterday, that the Maire and four associates have resigned.
I am not surprised. They have had a battle.
I THINK it is to do with the fact that the Management of the Chateau and the Centre d'Interpretation de Roc aux Sorciers has been taken over by a company from Dordogne and something about insufficient care about PATRIMOINE! This is only what I ahve been informed!
All this organised by higher authorities.
Ok, ticket prices are inexpensive for one but I think expensive for a family, and the guided visits are only open until the end of August. I must go next week!
I met people oit and about before July who were seriously upset that they had come to this plus beaux village only to find they could not acces the inside of either monument! 
The grue ( crane)  has been in place since about March...( what is THAT costing!?).  I have only ever seen it work the once which was amazing but as I don't live in the Chateau I don't always know what goes on down there or even in the High Town.   I must go and see what they have done inside. I am told they have made pathways and therefore ruined the natural grass of what was left on the ground floor plan!
MAYBE we need the ENGLISH to breach La Tranchée d'Anglais encore and give the French something to think about!  JOKE!

I am sad because I think the new Maire and his team were doing their very best with the higher authorities where they have had no control of expenditure etc.

This is a tourist village and in the winter there are not enough people and in the summer it is heaving.

How can a village survive with such demands unless it is given support?

The Tourist Office has survived this year but next year there may be no money to employ anyone! 

I have just been translating and reproducing the leaflets in English for tourists. Would you believe the Tourist Office did not have any?

SERIOUSLY, this village is too split with factions, organizations and associations and the different groups need to work together. We can't even get Credit Agricole to install 'un distributeur' (cash withdrawal machine and I witnessed over 20 inquiries, only for visitors at Book festivals and ordinary days to be told they have to go to the next town(s).

Arid August

 A field of sunflowers short lived where they turn heads ...

 Lavender flowers lock aroma and flavour into fragrant seeds...
Oange angel trumpets sing above pungent yellow achillea yarrow
Golden light, heat, drought of France create an arid soil ...
which made it easy to lift not a good crop of potatoes.
Tomatoes, kale, carrots, clematis suffered!
Hopeless!  I'm glad that Spring wet weather made planting seeds too tricky!