mercredi 18 février 2015

A surprising Destination

   We are both very fond of our GPS, or Satnav as it's known in Britain. When we had our initial one, a Navman , we derived much amusement in setting it to take the shortest route to a destination, rather than the quickest, and we learned of many pretty out-of-the-way places, quite close but unsuspected and some short cuts which have since proved useful. To my mind, the Navman was the best machine of the three we have had, and it is still in the car, although now semi-retired, as it is no longer supported with up-dates.
  Our latest machine is a basic Tom-tom, which we are still learning to 'drive' and it was this which has led to the blog you are reading. We were at Sauzé Vaussais on Monday for Kim's Zumba session and I set the GPS to come home. You can set it by an alternative method of expanding the small scale map displayed initially until it shows the 'Home' symbol previously set and clicking on this, and to show off, this is what I did. The machine then directed us in the general direction of Mort Limouzin but instead of following our usual route, veered off towards Saveille. Aha, we said, it knows a short-cut. It then followed increasingly narrow and dilapidated lanes, eventually taking one which was no better than a cart track. I was remarking to Kim that I did not feel that I would be using this shot-cut in future, when it said 'You have now reached your destination' ! It seemed to think we lived in a field...
   Well! We had to turn round with some difficulty, the track being very muddy and slippery and, having set Home more carefully by the old method, we successfully extracted ourselves from our suggested abode and returned to our real house, keeping a close eye on the suggested route. A strange  but amusing experience and a lesson about trusting too blindly to technology....

   Bye for now, going to wash a load of mud off the car!

mercredi 4 février 2015

Winter starts to bite

After a relatively mild autumn and early winter, February has shown its teeth, with heavy rainfall earlier and now the first snowfall of the year this morning, admittedly only a sprinkling on the ground. I hope it's not the fore-runner of heavier falls.
  The heavy rain ten days ago has raised the river levels locally, the Charente in particular has filled it's banks though we haven't seen any actual flooding. This was brought home to us on Sunday afternoon, when we decided on a little outing. We chose to visit Moutonneau, where a little footbridge spans the river, leading to a pleasant walk through the fields. However, the bridge was barely above water, with a swirling and angry torrent rushing underneath. As the narrow bridge lacks any handrails ( we seem to remember it used to have one) we chickened out from crossing it, instead driving on to Aunac, where a safer, but rather muddy footpath let us walk beside the Charente in a safer manner. Luckily, the weather has now dried up, so rivers will eventually fall to more normal levels, we hope!

  Bye for now, breakfast calls...

samedi 31 janvier 2015

The Village of Wooden People?

    On recent visits to Cognac, the GPS has taken us through the village of Bréville, whose chief peculiarity  is a large number of wooden statues lining the streets. The last time we passed, I took the opportunity to stop and photograph some of them and to try to find out why the streets are largely populated by crowds of wooden beings, human, animal and mythical.
I found that the images were by various different sculptors and had to revert to the Net, once I had returned home to find out the reason behind this plethora of wooden statues. It appears that it has specialised in woodcarving, having several different workshops and training schemes and an annual fete with woodcarving as a theme. Obviously, the town has decided to display some of the best figures in its streets to an impressive degree. it certainly makes the town memorable!

  Bye for now, lunch calls

vendredi 23 janvier 2015

Are you a Sitztpinkler?

 I read a fascinating article on the side of the BBC news today which not only added to my knowledge, but showed me the German race in an entirely new light. A German man was being sued for 1900Eur for damage to a marble bathroom floor by a slight mis-direction when using the toilet, what the French refer to as ' pisser a coté ' The learned judge ruled that a man was not obliged to sit when using the apparatus, and that the standing position was still considered normal for men. WELL, I was not aware that the matter was in any sort of question, but as background it appears that a debate is taking place in the Fatherland as to whether the seated position should be considered the norm. Indeed, it appears there are traffic light-like signs appearing, forbidding the standing position at the adjacent toilet bowl. An opposing faction refers derisively to seated pee-ers as Sitzpinklers, implying that their masculinity is in doubt.
  As I said, the whole question is quite new to me, and the traffic light would not have conveyed any meaning. I have in the past been taken to task by Kim for a few misdirected drops, but I assure persons inviting me into their homes, that my aim is usually good, and, if the worst arrives, I would, of course, rectify any spillage with toilet paper. In the circumstances, I intend to continue proudly erect, ein Stehenpinkler whatever the traffic lights may instruct. The German male has, however, fallen slightly in my eyes.....

   Bye for now, just going to strain the greens, see a man about a dog, take a leak in fact, standing, of course!

lundi 12 janvier 2015

Is There a Kitten in the House?

  I promised you at the end of my last blog to let you have news of an event after we returned from Lille. The sad death of Charlotte had left an empty space in our household, even though Mu-Mu or Mounette, as her official name is, had tried to comfort us with extra cuddles. Then Kim, surfing on the site of Annabel Hinchcliffe, who re-homes loads of kittens, had an appeal for a tri-colour kitten,  who had the name of  Lottie! We felt this was an omen, and after discussion agreed to take her on.
She was said to be extremely shy and really needed special care to win her trust with humans.
Annabel`s house is in the Dordogne, a couple of hours from here, but we are not fazed by distance and set out to fetch the kitten. Unfortunately, it was a day of mist and drizzle, as seems common lately, but we arrived ok, after a rather idiosyncratic route provided by the GPS, and found the house with not too much difficulty. Annabel was sorry to see the kitten go, she is a lovely lady and has the same attitude to cats as we do.... After coming back by a more direct
route suggested by the other GPS, we installed the new kitten in our isolation room, otherwise known as the salon. This has a wire door so the new arrival can see the other animals but there is no further interaction.

At first, the kitten hid, each time in a new hiding place, so each time we wished to cuddle her, it was a game of hide and seek. She even spat and clawed the first time we pulled her from her refuge. The strange thing was, once placed on a knee, she was quite tame and affectionate and seemed to relax under caresses, even to purr. Yet once released, it was the same game again, we even re-named her Cache-cache, the French for hide and seek, with a more formal name of  Cacharelle. Still, there are only so many hideaways, even in so cluttered a room as our lounge, so we unearthed her each time, and now she has gained confidence she can usually be found sitting in `her` armchair. We also have
been taking her on our laps in the kitchen, when we are looking at the TV in the evenings. Gradually
we are winning her confidence and in a few weeks we will risk letting her out of quarantine!

  Bye for now, going to play with Cache-cache. Kim is unfortunately suffering from a painful kidney stone and has gone back to bed with a hot-water-bottle.

vendredi 9 janvier 2015

Christmas at Lille

As we do each year, we drove the 600 plus kilometers to stay with Patrick and Cecile at Wattignies, near Lille. The Berlingo covered the journey without any drama and is comfortable to drive but even sharing the driving we were pretty tired when we arrived at seven on Christmas Eve. One point did disappoint us slightly, we had missed the evening service at their local church and they did not have a late Mass this year, we will perhaps go a day earlier next year. We did share a reveillon meal together.
  We were as usual, very hospitably received and had the use of the guest bedroom. it`s most luxurious to us to have central heating, but a bit of a shock to get used to the cooler temperatures in our house afterwards...
  As you can see, Father Christmas did arrive but a couple of days late, in fact  he came twice, to each of the meals arranged for the two families united by the marriage of our two hosts. We had our first meal on the twenty-seventh at the communal room associated with the block of flats where Cristel, Patrick`s sister lives, this can be hired for private dinners. The next day, the feast was at home and we helped to set up the table although several of the family contributed dishes for the meal. Foie gras two days running is hard to digest....
  After this orgy of eating, we sadly took our leave of our friends on the 29th. I had been afraid we would have a difficult journey back, as temperatures had dropped and snow was announced for eastern France. However, it did not affect our route and conditions, although cold, were ideal for the return trip. We found all in order at La Mort Limouzin, our animal sitters had done a great job in our absence. We were glad to get back to rural peace and a low diet....

Bye for now, going to nurse the kitten, which I shall tell you about in my next.

mardi 6 janvier 2015

Sad News, death of Charlotte

I haven`t felt much like blogging about it, still a bit choked up when I think of it. A couple of weeks before Christmas, our poor, trusting Charlotte, who had never received anything but kindness from us or our dogs, decided to climb the wall into our French neighbours` garden. They have two dogs, which are never walked, a Jack Russell type and a Setter, and the two of them must have set about Charlotte. I was alerted some time later by their barking, and found the kitten prone in the grass, soaking wet with the dogs barking at her. The owners were out but I rescued the kitten who was conscious but quite limp. We dried her out and comforted her, but she was obviously badly hurt and we took her at once to the vet. Despite his treatment, she died three hours later of crush injuries. We were both very sad, really not in the mood to celebrate Christmas this year.  RIP Charlotte.

  However, time moves on, and we did go  away to Lille on our usual Christmas visit to Cecile and Patrick and I think the change did us both good. I will tell in my next blog of our doings over Christmas and the start of the New Year.

 Bye for now, time for lunch!