Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy New Year….


However you choose to see in the new year, whether alone, in a small group or as part of a large gathering I wish you all health, peace and happiness for the coming year, 2014. We are going to a party at our next door neighbours, Gill and Rory. The trifle is setting, and the champagne chilling.

During 2014 there will be changes in my life which I am looking forward to, but with some trepidation. There will be challenges to face and adjustments to make, but all of them positive. I’ll be able to spend more time in France and also more time travelling. I want to enjoy the company of my friends and get to know them better. Of course there will also be people and places I’ll miss being a part of, but life moves on.

As usual, there will be the usual resolutions…

  • to eat less and exercise more.
  • to make every day count for something.
  • to not put off until tomorrow those things I really ought to do today.
  • to enjoy the company of family and friends.
  • to plan for tomorrow, but live for today.
  • to find new ways to ‘make a difference’.
  • to try out new recipes with a view to improving my baking skills. *Jean, you’d better get that club started!

Of course these resolutions aren’t all SMART (in target setting jargon) but SMART or not, they are mine! A SMART target would be to ‘try out one new baking recipe each week for the next year’, as it is SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ATTAINABLE, REALISTIC and TIMED.It would, however, probably negate the first resolution! 

My track record at even remembering, let alone sticking to resolutions isn’t great. Wish me luck…


Thursday, 26 December 2013

Snow at last, and other things…

Yesterday afternoon it started to sleet. By the time we were woken by the snow-plough at 7am this morning, about 10cm of snow had fallen,  and it is still snowing! However, for our holiday it might still be too little, too late.  There needs to be a build up of snow in order for the lifts to open. Yesterday we saw some brave (and fit) souls actually walking up the piste in order to ski back down. Unlike Tim, I am a fair weather skier and like perfect conditions and visibility. The upside is that we’ve saved about £100 a day as we haven’t needed lift passes!

We are in a residential area of Villars, high above the village,  with direct access to the ski piste.

IMG_2864_640x427 From the balcony towards the piste.

IMG_2878_640x427In front of the chalet.

I’m trying to persuade Tim to go for a walk in the snow in order to check out the conditions, and, more importantly, to walk off the indulgences of yesterday.

We enjoyed an ALDI Christmas dinner which I can thoroughly recommend for taste, quality and price.

IMG_0060 A ‘four bird roast’ ( turkey, chicken, duck and goose) with a cranberry and orange glaze…

IMG_0063 Followed by an orange topped Christmas pudding, laced with cider, rum, cognac and sherry. I’m not a big fan of Christmas pudding but this was wonderful…


IMG_0055Washed down by some Bah Humbug ale for Tim, and the delicious La Renaudie pink sparkles for me.

The Aldi mince pies came out best in a taste test, above ones from Fortnum and Mason costing five times more!

I hope you all enjoyed a delicious Christmas meal with family or friends.

Our day was made complete by a two hour conference call  with Rhiannon and Tom, via ‘Go Meeting’, where we opened our presents. Who’da thought it would be possible for a family to video link between the UK, Switzerland and the Japan?


Wednesday, 25 December 2013

It’s Christmas…

With our very
best wishes for a happy Christmas,
and a
healthy and peaceful 2014.

Our first ‘selfie’, even the snow!!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

An early Christmas present…

IMG_2670_640x427 2

This present means a great deal to me. These delicious cupcakes were made by O. O is one of my students who is unfortunately suffering from leukaemia. She is too ill during certain times in her treatment cycle to manage to get to school, but when she does she is invariably cheerful and always tries her very best.

IMG_2672_640x427 The cakes got slightly battered on their journey to the Alps, but they tasted superb.

I make sure that her book is up to date because she worries that she is falling behind. It pleases her that I stick in information sheets and fill in worksheets. I draw diagrams and get other pupils in the group to print off copies of their work for O.

Of course O has much bigger battles to fight but she found the time and the energy to make and wrap these wonderful cakes to thank me for teaching her. She wasn’t well enough to be in school on the last day, but Mum brought in the cakes. It is humbling that in the midst of the fight against this awful disease they are thinking of others.

Thank you O; I wish you and your family a very happy Christmas and a healthy 2014.

SNOW REPORT: No snow falls and a clear day, although with more cloud than yesterday. This afternoon the winds have picked up. The forecast is for some snow tomorrow…

Monday, 23 December 2013

Dreaming of a white Christmas…

We’ve arrived in Switzerland at the beautiful mountain village of Villars–sur-Ollon, to celebrate a white Christmas. The only things missing are our children, Rhiannon and Tom, and snow! Although much of the village is white, there isn’t enough of the cold, white stuff to open the many ski lifts and runs. However the compensation is that we have wonderful, blue skies and non-stop sunshine from dawn until dusk.

At the moment the lack of skiing isn’t bothering us too much as we are enjoying walking in the sunshine. On Christmas eve we plan a long walk up the mountain to make the most of the spectacular mountain views. As is the case in mountain villages every walk consists of walking uphill and then down, or if we go to the village from our apartment it’s a case of downhill and then up – we much prefer the former!!

We’ve had a very busy time with end of term activities, and preparing the Old School for Corsican friends of our neighbours to stay in over Christmas. This was a far bigger job than we’d imagined it would be. The best I can say is that we are well on the way to de-cluttering, but more about it in a future post.

Villars is a beautiful place. In fact five years ago we very nearly bought an apartment here.

Villars in the summer (2008)…




Villars in the winter…


IMG_2781 zoom

IMG_2782 zoom

Our apartment. We have two balconies facing south and to the mountains. On one you can just see some blue chair covers, and the other is down and to the right.


The apartment block even comes with it’s own nuclear bunker!


So, as we head towards Christmas eve the big question is…


Watch this space…

Sunday, 1 December 2013

A few days away...

We're having a few days away. Actually we've only travelled about four miles down the road to stay at Rhiannon's house to look after the dogs. Rhiannon and Stuart are renting a large house at South Stack, in sunny Anglesey, with their uni friends for their annual xmastravaganza. Take a look at what they are eating... The wonders of social media!

Needless to say our evening meal pales in comparison, although on Friday evening we met our friends John and Maureen for a meal at a local pub. The atmosphere, conversation, food and wine were very good. It does the heart good to catch up with friends of nearly 30 years. 

We've just come back from walking the dogs on Stafford Common. Bella, the delinquent beagle, has led Tim a merry chase. If you've not seen the YouTube video of Fenton and his owner just google 'Fenton, Richmond Park'. As you chuckle, think Tim and Bella, and you won't be far wrong!

The late afternoon sky was glorious. We didn't have a camera, but we took this photograph with Tim's phone.

Sunday  sees the start of Advent, which for me is early enough to start thinking about Christmas. We are meeting my brother and sister-in-law for a late lunch near Market Harborough, which is roughly half way between us and their home near Bury St Edmunds. We always meet to swap Christmas gifts and this was the only day when we were both free. 

As I type, Australia are 30-26 up against Wales which should make for an exciting last 10 minutes. My friend, Debbie, is at the Millennium Stadium soaking up the atmosphere. A Welsh win would complete her birthday celebrations, but alas, it wasn't to be.

Tom's Christmas parcels have arrived in Kagoshima. Besides gifts the parcel contained food treats, winter clothes and four pairs of shoes to fit his size 11 feet!

Ahead lies the last three weeks of term, with plenty of activities both work related and social to look forward to. Working part-time allows me the time to enjoy more of the good things in life. It also means that weekends are less frantic, although I'm still searching for all that time that working less was going to bring me! 

This post has taken nearly two days to put together so perhaps age + more time = less time...