Monday, 28 January 2013

I know, ‘cos I was there….

… to coin a phrase.

Recently it was the 40th anniversary of what is regarded as one the greatest (if not the greatest) ever try in Rugby Union history. Scored by Gareth Edwards for the Barbarians against the All Blacks at Cardiff Arms Park.

Commentary here by the late, great Cliff Morgan.

I was seventeen years old and in the old South Stand, somewhere near the half-way line. It was a truly memorable occasion, but not memorable enough for me to remember who was with me. I think it was probably David Whiting (a former boyfriend). I last saw him 34 years ago when I was interviewed for a job at the school where he taught Geography, which luckily I didn’t get! I know I went with him to Twickenham to see England beat Wales around that time.

This is really ‘bugging me’. So if you happen to be Dave and ‘googling’ your own name you come across this post, please put me out of my misery!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

What a difference a day makes…

I don’t think I ever remember snow coming and going quite so quickly. I’m sure it has done but my memory isn’t what it was!

These were taken on Saturday morning…





These at first light on Sunday… 



The snow which came on Friday evening had been forecast, but we were still surprised by both how quickly the snow fell and just what a covering would be left behind. We were having dinner with our friends Chris and Sally. It was snowing when we arrived but then the snow was forgotten about as we ate a delicious meal washed down by some pink bubbles from La Renaudie and caught up on everything that had happened since we last saw them.

When we came to leave at around 11pm the snow was about 15cm deep. Another friend, Frank was having trouble even getting his car off the drive. It wasn’t really a problem for our Freelander, but we had decided to follow Marion and Frank back through the lanes to their house and then on to ours.

Unfortunately Frank’s automatic car really failed to negotiate the hills. We stopped tried to push him out, then put some grit down from the road box, then cleared two channels through the snow for the wheels. At this stage Tim decided to put our snow chains and tow Frank’s car. By this time Sally had arrived running up the road in her PJs with a large snow shovel (which quickly broke!) and a blanket. With the blanket down Frank was able to get some grip and take a run at the hill. We ran behind to give him that last push that was needed to see him over the brow. I just wish I’d remembered to take my camera!

The journey home which normally takes about 20 minutes took close on 90, but at least everyone was home safely.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Snow day …



Le Pre Vert in the snow.

Eagle eyed and ‘in the know’ readers will quickly spot that this photograph was taken last winter, by our friend, Denise. Two reasons, sun and a much more alive palm tree! See this link from last spring here.


Today is a ‘snow day’. Based on the predicted, and it must be said, accurate forecast, Friday should definitely have been. No sooner had staff and the majority of pupils got to school than arrangements were being made to send everyone home. As the ages of our pupils range from 9-13 we can’t just close the school. Parents, or their representatives, are required to collect their children or give their permission for us to release them to walk home. A nightmare of organisation for school leaders who need to make this decision, and for staff who live a distance away from school especially if they have arrangements to make for their own children. This process takes time and can lead to restlessness amongst those pupils who fail to understand why others are going home and they aren’t!

Needless to say, this really is a rare occurance. The M6 runs alongside and routes are well gritted. Often it is the un-gritted roads through housing estates and along country lanes which provide our parents with the greatest problems. Today, the conditions along the lane outside our house are treacherous but I don’t know what the main roads are like. My journey home on Friday was five times longer than usual and Dan (you know who you are!) took nearly four hours to travel the fifteen miles from Tamworth to Rugeley, when his school was closed.

I shall be spending the day doing school work BUT from the comfort of my kitchen table.

I sympathise with those parents who are searching around trying to make childcare arrangements for their children. I’ve been there myself and it isn’t easy, especially at short notice and if you don’t have family living close. I’m sure there will be criticism from some quarters, but leaders have a responsibility to take into account the safety of everyone concerned and sometimes have to make these decisions with the aid of nothing more than a crystal ball! Today the weather forecasts certainly support the need for caution.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The law of diminishing returns ….


Three points on my driving licence with a £60 fine, or a four hour speed awareness course costing £82. Not really a choice, so I went for the speed awareness course.


The only convenient course I could fit in happened to be at a centre close to my ‘offence site’ at Wolseley Bridge. Poetic justice?


I need not have worried about my other participants. The average age must have been 50 and I reckon at least half were retired. So much for the boy racers! Actually this myth was quickly dispelled as either they are not offered the option of the course or their insurance premiums are so prohibitive that they are far more cautious about their driving speed.

I don’t really have a view about the fairness of speed cameras. Speed limits are there for very good reasons and I was caught out doing something I shouldn’t have been doing – driving too fast. It seems we all want speed limits outside our own houses enforced, but are prepared to speed outside the homes of other people.

When asked the question “what would life be like if people chose to obey only those laws they agreed with”, one wag replied France!

None of us were in flash, sporty cars. There were a few Mercedes and BMW drivers, but these were in family saloon type cars.

The course was actually very interesting. The presenters certainly knew their stuff, although the presentation style of one of them was a bit bombastic. Every sentence ended with “yes?”, “am I not right?” or “do you agree?’. To which we either nodded, muttered “yes” or chanted “you are”! We were lectured at - in an interactive way - and every now and then he would target one of us with a question but not give any thinking time. Strange when confronting a bunch of oldies! Sometimes a fellow participant would give the wrong answer and you could almost see them slide down in their chair in shame.

None of us knew that a STOP sign was octagonal.

However, the course was very worthwhile, and, in parts almost enjoyable. It was perhaps half an hour too long. Even with a couple of short breaks it was difficult to concentrate for four hours, and I feel that the same end would have been achieved with a slightly shorter course.

I think the ‘law of diminishing returns’ is a good parallel to draw.


Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Google Chrome with a winter walk…

The problems I’ve been having uploading photographs seem to have two solutions. Jean suggested Windows Live Writer which works well and Kathy suggested using Google Chrome as my browser. Initial forays suggest that this works so I’ve decided to try this post with Chrome. I used Word to write the post which was then copied and pasted into Blogger. For some reason Blogger won't paste the text in my chosen font (comic sans) through Chrome but it will through IE. I'm going to publish anyway...

It won’t be a long post today as I start work at 11.15, which is a bit of a pain. Not work, as such, but starting at 11.15! My preference would always be to start early and finish early.

Over the weekend my Tuesday walking group decided to organise a Sunday walk, followed by lunch, and to invite our spouses along to pick up the bills! Although the rain held off it was VERY muddy in places. Everyone finished the walk up to their ankles in mud and some of us up to our knees. Except Tim, who, apart from some mud on his boots, finished the walk in almost pristine condition!

Tim liked this sign.

We walked through the Sandon Estate which is used to over-winter sheep from the hills of Staffordshire and Derbyshire. The sheep-proof fences and stiles made life very difficult for Phoebe!

Two states of bird – I wonder what happened? 

Final thoughts:

The pics are easier to move around in Chrome but I wonder why this bit of the text has pasted in the correct font but the earlier text wouldn't? I've tried re-pasting. I've even tried re-pasting this higher up but the font changes. Any ideas?

Overall I think Windows Live Writer is easier and I can get the font I want. 

I wonder what it will be like if I use WLW with Chrome?

Watch this space ...

Monday, 7 January 2013

Photograph upload problems...

Kathy at Femmes Francophiles has heard that the problem could be with those bloggers using Internet Explorer as their browser. She suggests using Google Chrome or Firefox.

 I haven’t tried this yet but will do tonight…

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Along the quay at Montreux…

For the past twenty years there has been an exhibition of sculpture, along the shores of Lac Leman, at Montreux.
It changes each year, and this year when we visited, some of the sculptures from previous years had been brought back to display. They provided a lively background to the Christmas market.



Saturday, 5 January 2013

Sculpture 3…

Following Jean's advice I’m trying this blog post using Windows Live Writer in a bid to get blogger to upload my photographs. We’ll see how it turns out…


This was a sculpture of the human kind. The man was real, all dressed and made up in gold. He gave me a real fright when he moved as I wasn't expecting it!

Well it seems to have worked, but I've had to play about with font size etc and can't remember exactly how I did it. Still I think it may just be a case of getting used to doing things differently. I was looking to update my template as it will soon be my two year blogaversary, but I won't push my luck and stick to one change at a time! How old do I sound!!
Success! Thanks, Jean.

Sculpture 2...

I still can’t upload pics. It seems that Janice and Martine have the same problem, but Susan doesn’t. I can see me getting to SCULPTURE 27 and beyond!

Anyway we are off to Lancaster with Tom today. He has a few days work at the International Student office as an airport ‘meeter and greeter’.

Paid, he hopes…


Friday, 4 January 2013


.... of the human kind.

Wot no picture?

Does anyone know why Blogger isn't giving me the 'browse' box to enable me to upload a pic?

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

TW 3 with a silver lining..

That was the week that was, BUT it wasn’t the week I was hoping for. To cut what could be a very long self-pity ridden story short I’ll limit myself to the

Good points:

A speedy, almost traffic free journey, to the Shuttle terminal on what was predicted to be the busiest travelling day of the holiday.

The journey, through France, to Thollon-les-Memises - nearly five hours quicker than our friends who were travelling three hours later.

The wonderful scenery as we approached the Alps which never fails to take my breath away.

Our apartment, enormous, stylish and comfortable with fantastic views of the Memises and the church.

The Christmas market at Montreux.

Freddie Mercury joining in the fun...

Sharing Christmas Eve (and a very French apéritif dînatoire) with Graham and Tracy and their friends and neighbours.

A delicious Christmas dinner, cooked by ‘chief cook’ Rhiannon, and cleared by ‘bottle washers’ Tim and Tom. We still have't managed to find room for the Christmas pudding!

Santa remembered our 'change of address'. 

Our first 'family' holiday for ten years. You can read about the last one here.

Bad points:

FLU – I began feeling a bit ‘iffy’ at the Christmas market but assumed the cause was the mulled wine - no, it definitely wasn't absinthe.

Ski time (for me) 0 minutes, although Tim and the kids fitted in quite a few.

Still... we're home,  I'm feeling much better and looking forward to 2013. I'm also about half a stone lighter than I would usually be following Christmas and a ski holiday. So it shows that every black cloud really does have a silver lining - if, you are prepared to look hard enough ...

And finally....

These photographs were taken on our New Year walk at Shugborough-by-Sea. Of course Shugborough is about as far from the sea as it is possible to get in the UK, but the flooded fields could make you believe differently!