Wednesday, 31 October 2012


Yesterday the farmer who works the fields behind Le Pré Vert (I’m ashamed to say that I don’t know his name) spent the day muck spreading. We had friends coming for dinner so were a bit worried that the whole house would stink of the muck!

In the early evening he started to plough, working until well after midnight! Sorry no pics.
He was back again at first light to continue ploughing the perimeter of the field.

I’ll let you know what he does next, but my guess is that he will be sowing …  

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

First snows...

When we had our apartment in the Haute Savoie we were used to snow falls at October half term and even in early June. I don't ever remember there being snow on the journey through northern France at those times.
As we were travelling south to Le Pre Vert very early on Saturday morning it was raining heavily. Suddenly, around Rouen, the driving rain turned first to sleet and then to snow.This continued for around 80 km.

Then, as weather conditions have a habit of doing, the weather changed to a bright, sunny although nippy day.

Of course, it's all relative, and nothing in comparison with the pounding the east coast of the USA, and before this the Caribbean has been subjected to by hurricane, now superstorm Sandy.

Looks like there'll be a lot clearing up to do. We've been watching CNN as a number of Tim's colleagues live and work in this area. Let's hope that as the storm moves on and day breaks the devastation and loss of life is less than first feared.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Good advice ...

Earlier this year Colin and Elizabeth came for lunch. .
As they are much more knowledgeable and experienced gardeners than we are we picked their brains about our pampas grass. You can read the original post here.
We followed the advice (apart from the bit about setting it on fire!) and six months on you can the result…

Good advice...

Sunday, 28 October 2012

The black cat effect ...

Image from Microsoft clipart.

On Friday morning a black cat climbed in through my classroom window and had a walk around the room. The cat was in no hurry to leave and because of the desk positions I couldn’t get close enough to grab it. Whenever I got to a position where I thought the cat would come to me a squeal from somewhere else in the class caused it to change direction. Of course, it caused mayhem with my Y5 RE class before it decided to leave of its own accord!

This is obviously a drawback of having windows in the classroom! For the past ten years, ever since a new lab was built where my windows used to be, my lab has been windowless!

For the first time in 33 years my timetable includes a subject other than science, and it came about because I had an hour to fill. I’m really enjoying this lesson but the preparation for this one hour of RE takes as long as three hours of science! I know a thing or two about the bible - difficult not to coming from the Welsh Valleys, where the pubs were outnumbered by the chapels! Today's RE is much more multicultural and self-reflective. 
We decided that the black cat meant that we were all going to get lucky. I'm unsure where this kind of superstition fits in to the bigger picture of the RE curriculum as I'm taking it a week at a time! It certainly doesn't fit with the Five Pillars of Islam...

This afternoon we were walking around Le Petit-Pressigny, marking our territory, when we bumped into the three beautiful black cats of our neighbour. Sorry no photographs!
Looks like we're in line for a great holiday and some serious good luck. Fingers crossed ...

Sunday, 21 October 2012


 Lake Geneva, 2006.

Le Petit-Pressigny, 2011.

Biddulph Grange, Staffordshire, 2012.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Missed it..... again, but not the sunset!

Today is the annual L’Art et Lard festival in Le Petit-Pressigny. The festival is always held on the second weekend in October, but due to work commitments in the UK we’ve never been able to attend.

Our friends Susan and Simon, of Days on the Claise fame, have reported on the event which you can read  here and here.

I’ll be looking at their blog to check out this years event. Rumour has it that Colin and Elizabeth might be there as well - if Colin has managed to get down off his roof!

The weather forecast isn’t good, so let's hope rain doesn’t spoil the event.

Just to show you that life here in Staffordshire can also be pretty good, here are a couple of sunsets Tim took on Cannock Chase.

 In our little corner of Staffordshire it's a beautiful autumn morning, with a cloudless sky and sunshine. The weather box on the side bar shows almost exactly the view from my back garden - our view is more undulating. I sent Tim out to take a photograph. He came back with this...  

Maisie and Lucy soaking up the sun!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Women wot walk ...

Yesterday was my 56th birthday and apart from having to work it was a lovely day.

Today is my ‘day off’ work and I’ll be meeting some friends to go for a long walk and lunch on Cannock Chase.

Sue H, Judy, Sue G, Chris, Barbara and Sue M (Jane was busy!)
Susan certainly was a popular name in the mid 1950's!

The canal near Ingestre.
Apparently the Lord of the Manor didn't like canals so had this stretch widened so that it looked more like a lake. Barb is a canal expert!

We are a group of

Women wot walk,
Teachers wot talk and
Ladies wot lunch!

Take your pick!

You may notice that my friends look very relaxed. Could it be that they are all fully retired ...

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

A Tale of Two Cities ...

September 1968 and my first term at high school. Mr Ashcroft, our almost retired English teacher, decided that we should read ‘A Tale of two Cities’ by Charles Dickens. I didn’t have a problem reading the words, but there was an enormous problem for the class to understand the meaning of the story. Prior to this I had been an avid reader - of anything Enid Blyton wrote, so I’m sure you can imagine my dilemma. I can’t remember (well it is a long time ago!) either discussing or writing anything about the book. All we did was ‘read it round the class’ a paragraph at a time. How not to do it!

Mr Ashcroft was, I’m sure, asleep in the corner. His very presence in the room was enough to maintain perfect order. That, and the ‘slipper’ he kept on his desk. Just in case…

I didn’t understand the book then, and I haven’t been tempted to read it since!

Anyway, I digress. The subject of my post should more accurately be ‘A Tale of Two Rooms’.  Over the past week my nest has been rearranged.

Rhiannon is back living at home, albeit in a different bedroom, while she looks round for a suitable house to buy.  Her room is smaller than her old room but does have the benefit of an adjacent shower room! Yesterday she started her new job,  much closer to home, so won’t have the best part of two hours travelling each day.

Tom is back at Lancaster University for his final year and is awaiting the arrival of some interesting house mates.  He can’t wait to be busy, especially after the excitement of his time in Colorado and Japan.

We are hoping that the coming year will be happy and successful for them both. Perhaps I can quote selectively from Charles Dickens with the opening lines of 'A Tale of Two Cities' …

It was the best of times,
 it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief,
it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light,
 it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope,
it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us…