Sunday, November 20, 2005

No computer!

Mmmm! I really appreciate how important my PC has become in my life since it has had to go to the menders! (I am writing this by courtesy of my friend Françoise who kindly lets me use her computer when the withdrawl symptoms get too much.)

I had a moment of sudden panic when I realised how much of my like is now bound to the Net...And to think how scathing I used to be about "those" people who depend on technology, blah, blah, blah! Life has a way of making you eat humble pie, don't you think?

Anyway, it isn't even as if I had a lot to say to-day...although brilliant ideas for Blog posts have come and gone -you will have to take my word for it!- since I have been laptop-less...Oh the sorry state of affairs: all these ideas, and nowhere to go!

My friends will think me snooty for not responding to their bank will think me casual, brain will go numb without the daily dose of information it seeks on the Net...But overall, I will do more knitting and sewing, more reading, and more talking to friends for real..-although here, SKYPE is being sorely missed too! Probably the main thing I miss is access to ANY kind of music I might fancy (and that includes Paul and Dave's amazing radio show on UK-nova...booooo hoooo I can't hear it at the moment!!!)

You know what? It sounds to me like I am complaining! Sorry about that! Let's just hope the PC comes back soon, and in one fully-functionning piece...

Meanwhile, may all your computers work well, and may you be happy, also!

See you soon,


Saturday, November 05, 2005

Blogger and a half? Half a blogger, more like!

Yep! That's what I am!Thanks to DIBO in Columbia (Sorry Dibo! You are in Venezuela...Please forgive this old biddy the strange lapse in memory!...Thank you in advance!!!!)for reminding me through Françoise that I exist also in this dimension!(Hi Dibo if you do read this...but I wouldn't blame you for losing interest!). I am not particularly unwell...just busy...In fact yesterday, I wrote a very witty post, -and long at that! and promptly lost it when I had a call on SKYPE which lead me to get out of Blogger too fast, without doing the necessary to save my writing... Pity 'cause it was good! Did try to recover, to no avail...

Still, let me try and recap... Mark you, a piece of writing is never quite the same thing the second time around, as I'm sure all of you know.

Anyway! I am back from Paris, more exactly from a "Gîte" in the countryside just outside Chantilly. It was idyllic: at the edge of a wood where the deer could be heard lowing (?) and the wild boars boaring (?). On the other side was a field of thyme (I know! That's weird!). The weather was so good that the night sky was exactly as it is meant to be: you could see all the stars, the moon, very large on the horizon, and lots of planes and sputniks flying around.

I often wish that I knew all about the constellations up above...But then, I never bother learning them because, if you think in 3D none of the dot-to-dot must make sense: you have just flattened infinite space and reduced it to a 2D interpretation...Is that right? The other resaon I am still reluctant to learn about the night sky is that when we lived in Zimbabwe, it was all very different... and that really freaked me out...almost as much as water swirling round the plug holes in the opposite direction! In Harare, some nights we used to lie down on some huge stone boulders which were still warm from the sun, and it was as if we could touch the sky , so clear and unpolluted was the air...Mike and I had some of our most serious discussions there, under the stars ( he was not a romantic...)

Which reminds me: my mate Charles, the pilot, aprrenticed aerobatisist (!), who also plays the piano in our three piece jazz band (hmm, hmm, a bit pretentious calling Voice+ Saxophone + Piano a band...but there you go!), anyway, Charles thought that he and I had had a "blazing" row...Now, that did surprise me, because I just don't do rows, any more...-I have enough row T-shirt to fill all the Ikea wardrobes in the world!...- I do recall making what I thought was a joky comment about his commitment to aerobatics theory over band practice (weird sentence, for sure).That must have gone pretty wrong, really. Talking about it with Paul to-day, he said that I don't do sarcasm properly...That's not surprising, because I'm not a sarcastic type, see? On the rare occasions when I venture that way, he reckons I am "deadly"...Phfooo! I don't mean to be! I'll just have to watch what I say and how I say it. No more teacherish and forceful for me, no Siree! I'll keep you posted of my progress...

Whatever the constellations above your head may be, I send you greetings of Peace, and of absolutely-no-sarcasm-whatsoever: may your nights be starlit, and your days free of rows,



Tuesday, September 13, 2005

On a gagné!

Well, what I mean is "we" won! See, I'm as English as the next French woman when it comes to supporting our cricket team.

Told you something good was going on, didn't I?

Anyway, it was heart warming to see London celebrating, for obvious reasons.

As I was going through to-day, there was something I wanted to share with you...but strangely, at this late hour, it has gone clean out of my mind. I'll replace it with one of the best pieces of advice I have ever read: "Never complain!". Ok, That doesn't mean " don't inform the waiter that there is a hair in your soup"...or "don't inform the bank that they have made a mistake"...
It means just that: do not complain.

I was talking to my friend about this, and commenting that I had never heard him complaining (which is not an exageration in this case, although I do admit to being prone to an emphatic view of reality on the odd occasion), so, yes, I had never heard him complaining, and why was that? and he had this very simple 2 part answer:
1) complaining doesn't solve problems or improve situations
2) He does like people who moan (who does?)
Simple, really...I shall leave myself open to my friend's jokes, but I don't mind, I have announced that from now on, I will not be complaining either.

(Oh, My goodness, that's hard! OOOPPPS!

Hoping you have very little not to complain about, and sending you strength and good wishes to cope with whatever it may be,


Thursday, September 08, 2005

Glorious cricket!

I shall be eternally grateful to all those good and true English men who took the trouble to guide my decidely French woman's mind through the maze of delight of the rules of cricket. I has taken a long time: from 1969's timid beginnings with Peter Ansorge expert tuition, to the 2005 finishing touches which are as we speak, being put to my knowledge of the noble game, by his son and heir, the very erudite Paul Ansorge.

There is something majestic about the pace of cricket, and something incredibly delightful about the language of commentary: "There was something convincing about Hunting's performance"..."The bat hits the ground, that's noise one, and then it hits the ball, that's noise two"...Wonderful stuff! The dialogue of the commentators has its own star quality!

What prompted me to write to-day was in fact, a piece of commentary which cheered me up no end! To wit:

" Very few players of McGrath's age are free of the odd niggle, a little niggle here or there"...

Being, as I am, one with many "niggles" on the old body...I felt reassured that a young fit australian bowler - I can only hope I've that right!?)- is also suffering little "niggles". So: I am in good company, no?

I'm off now, with more of a spring to my step, to visit another one of my friends who suffers from little niggles because of her /our age! Champion!

I am only sorry that I will miss the rest of this afternoon's play...Still I'll be listening on Radio 4 on the way there, and may be highlights in the evening?

Have a good Fifth Test, if you are at all that way enclined!


Monday, August 29, 2005


I did say I would tell you another story from the Welsh mountains... Well, not so much from the Welsh Mountains themselves, more something else which happened when we were on holidays there.

But first, here is the tale of my first night on UK soil...

It happened sometimes around the beginning of September 1969. I was 21 years old, and although brave enough to leave my country to take a post as a French assistant in England, I was still pretty naive and inexperienced in the ways of a traveller. (I have since made up for this in a big way!)

I arrived by ferryboat, then train to London. My destination was Biggleswade ( a wondeful name, you will agree!). Biggleswade is a small, very small town between Bedford and Cambridge. I was supposed to catch the train at 9pm or so, but missed the connection in London.

I felt like little Red Ridin Hood, Snow White and Cinderella turned into one: afraid of the Big Bad Wolf in London, terrified of the Trees in the forest and left behind by everyone else who had gone to the Ball on the Biggleswade train. I wandered around the panickey streets with traffic coming at me the wrong way...didn't know what to do.

Saw some Policemen: ask them what to do, I thought! So I told them my story: how I had no money, just a train ticket to Biggleswade, and how I had missed my train...They suggested I should repair to the Salvation Army hostel. Can you imagine the shock! There I was, a nice girl from a small provincial French town, and I was going to have to go to the Salvation Army! No way Siree! Another way must be found! and this is how I ended up as the only passenger on the "mail train"-also known in those days as the"snail train" due no doubt to its slow progress as it stopped at every single station to deliver its booty of letters, parcels and newspapers. A strange journey that was. Eerie, drizzly, cold and unfamiliar, full of the dread of missing my stop...

The train reached Biggleswade at about three in the morning. I carried a small suitcase, and an address neatly printed on a piece of paper which I held nervously in my hand all the way there. The address was :C/O MRS DOBSON, THE SPAR SHOP, NUMBER 24(or something like that) MAIN STREET, BIGGLESWADE. I asked the postal worker receiving the mail sacks where it was, and I made my uncertain way to no 24, Main Street, comforted by some lights behind curtains still shining along the way: the milkman's? Local Insomniacs? In any case I thank them all to this day for having made the place less of a ghost town!

Arriving at the Spar shop, I knocked on the shop front door...No reply...Dark and deserted...Decided I would have to sleep rough! But where? I had passed a phone box on my way, so that would do as temporary accommodation. It was well lit, away from the drizzle which was threatening to chill me to the bone and public enough that I would see danger coming... Ok! Sitting on my little suitcase, I lean against the glass panes of the phonebox. I think I might be able to doze off here, tired as I am from my 24 hour trip...Ah! But what is that noise? My phone box and I, we are under attack! Thud, thud, thud, I can't see what is making the noise...Thud, thud, Twack...Panic! In case of emergency dial 999! Ok Dial 999...Police please!

- How can I help?
- Help! I am in a phone box!
- Where are you?
- I am in ze phone box ...(remember, my English was still in its infancy!)
- Yes, but where?
- In Biggleswade.
- What are you doing in the phone box in Biggleswade?
- I am trying to sleep..
- Why are you trying to sleep in a phone box in Biggleswade?...

Etc. Hilarious now, but quite dodgy at the time, I assure you!

- Stay put, we'll come and get you...

This is how, I ended up being escorted by two lovely policemen to the alley way between the shop and the house. Mrs Dobson was drawn from her slumber by the shining of a powerful torch light onto her window (impressive!), and welcomed me in her curlers and fluffy dressing gown, with a bowl of hot soup and much comforting...

So this is how I landed in the UK.

And what of the Welsh story I hear you ask...Well, it's not much really. Mrs Ainsworth, the owner of our Welsh holiday flat, was telling us that she originally came from Huntingdon...So I explained that I had lived in Biggleswade when I first came to England (Huntingdon being a neighbouring town -I'm pretty sure the night train had in fact stopped there on that first night...).. Yes, I lived in Biggleswade, in "digs" at Mrs Dobson's Spar shop. Mister Ainsworth was called to share this amazing piece of information...There is no way to let you down gently...the punch line will be a dispappointment, I know, but it wasn't to me: the Ainsworths had bought the Spar shop in Biggleswade after Mrs Dobson -may her spirit be content- left her mortal coil..

We thus exchanged fond memories of the old place, and reflected once more, that this IS a small world indeed.

May your coincidences please and amaze you, and may the links which unite us all bring good cheer to your heart,


Ps : The "thuds" and the "twacks" were caused by giant moths attracte by the light and smashing into the phone box -in case you were wondering...

Sunday, August 21, 2005


Paul has put a link to this blog, so I've got to write... Well, you know, it's been a fair few eventful and enjoyable weeks for me.

Do you think that
making more money
than you thought you would
on some investment
is a good enough excuse for going on a Welsh holiday?
I do!

(I vetoed the Med, and all who sail in her, because of heat, crowds, and heat and crowds, see?)

But Wales, hey? It's just wonderful. It's quite close for us to drive to, and there's nobody there...well, you know, not litterally...but yes, you can walk for a long time without encountering another soul. And then, when you do, they turn out to live round the corner form you, or as good as...(That's true: we met two people from Erdington in a ruined castle on top of a tall hill, and it gave me a warm feeling of belonging...)

Feelings is what going away is about, for me: I love feeling at home wherever I go; I love feeling grateful for the beauty of the sky, the smell of the air, the kindness of hosts, the cotton of the sheets (not polycotton stuff this time, bit of luck there). I feel gratitude for the generosity of spirit of my son, who cooked for us all; gratitude for the acceptance which these three people from the next generation (Paul, Dave and Bob-who-is-a-girl-Bob) bestowed upon me (couldn't think of the verb which might go with "acceptance"..don't matter, no-one reads this: ok prove me wrong and please make a thesauric suggestion...thanks!); gratitude for the music: Dave's a Genius, Paul and Dave know one million two thousand and eighty eight songs by heart, words, chords and harmonies!!!!); gratitude for the quiet, funny, intelligent and steady presence which Bob exudes- and she can sing too!...

I think I may have won one of the poker games?...but I'm not sure. I got bitten by a tick and I had a fever, so had to stay in a few times when the young'ens went out and about, oh, and England didn't win at cricket against Australia, but I did not care! You know why? It's because at one stage when the news were on, and there was an item about "terrorism" -albeit of the kind exercised by the police in pursuance of their "duty"...-, I realised that my brain was having a rest! (Well I was quite sorry that Mo died: I was a great admirer of her great intelligence and her humour... not to mention her political colours!)

I will leave the descriptions and the photos to Paul ( I hope he puts one of me on his blog! -hint, hint), and when my neck stops hurting I will tell you another small story of something which happened on this holiday.

Wherever you are, I hope your heart is as light as mine, and in any case, lighter that when you started reading this little biddy tale.



Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Bird table manners, or how some birds are more equal than others.

At least that's the rule in my garden. I have a bird table, which I delight in. I keep it well stocked at all times with birdy titbits (US: tidbits...)which I purchase at great expense every time I go to a certain shop. (Great expense being a huge exaggeration, but still,even bird food costs money...)

Well, you will understand, then, why I don't particularly want to feed the Big Birds round these parts: pigeons.

Pigeons of every sort used to come to eat at my table. They would inevitably leave the table bare, for pigeons have no sense of measure, or of fair play, fair share, or anything fair, I expect. They are the fat cats of the bird kingdom, and even the beautiful wood pigeons, and even the wonderful turtle doves are way over the top when it comes to table manners. They frighten the little birds and -let's not mince words- they are frankly gluttonous!

Well I had enough of that, and I wanted to watch the little birds from my kitchen window, or from my bedroom window. So I devised a cunning plan...I knitted a sort of fine netting barrier all around my bird table, out of fine green plastic covered metal wire (- the kind I used to make scoubidous, when that was all the rage...I still enjoy making them, and it is something to do with your hands when you give up smoking by the way...) Close bracket...

And then I started to have wicked fun: in order to get "into" the table, the big birds used to first land on its roof and then do a perillous sommersault onto the platform immediately below. So, true to their good old habit, they kept coming, one by one, landing on the roof, leaping overboard, and....then....hitting the wire netting, and...falling! My word, it WAS funny, even thought you may think me cruel for laughing at another creature's really was funny. With the tinyest bit of anthropomorphologism, you could plainly see the vain fellows strutting as if nothing had happened, while all the while thinking "what the hell was that?". When the second pigeon took a tumble, there were two of them on the ground, shaking their head as if all was fine...The scenario repeated time after time, until the whole pigeon population of my neck of the woods had taken a fall! Then they noticed that if they landed hard enough, they could still shake a bit of grain onto the lawn, and that, I will allow, as it does leave enough fodder for the others.

Some still land atop, and look, and look, and look...cocking their neck, trying to find an angle, no doubt. I know they are cross with me, the proud inventor of this fiendish Tantalesque punishment...but, frankly, my dears, I don't give a d...

Since then, I have counted up to ten small feathery things on the table. They flutter, they feed their young, they preen themselves, they relish most of the grains on offer. Theydo turn their nose up at the slightly out of date- a bit rancid-but not too disgusting-sesame seeds that I had added to the mixture, I notice.

The bird book and the binoculars have once more come into their own, and I am fast becoming an expert in not quite recognising species, and their young...but having fun in the process. It is a good life when you have time to watch the birds!

However, my triomph has been somewhat short lived, and back to the drawing board I must go , for this morning, horror of horrors: not one, but two turtle doves, head to tail were pecking at the little ones' fare...I did chase them. They were a bit slow in flying away, what with all the wiring they had to negotiate, but still, I think I must improve my design. Oh that I knew how to post photographs onto this site!!!!You would laugh at the design of my new contraption, discreet though it may be...

Is there a moral to this story? I can't really think of one, but if you do, please, do let me know!

With much love from this selective bird watcher,


PS Did anyone notice that I wrote this in pigeon English?