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!

mardi 16 décembre 2014

The Roscoff Tank


   To reassure  readers of my previous blog, Kim did arrive on the amended schedule on Saturday and we were able to cover the 540 k to our French home without incident, so we have resumed our life from the Sunday. I have been reflecting on the large number of times we have covered this route over the years.....
    Do other readers have our habit of mentally ticking off the various high points of the voyage? We have a mental list of sights which punctuate the trip. The first is just after leaving the ferry port, an ancient and dilapidated Second World War tank, abandoned by the side or the road as you leave Roscoff to start the drive south. There are many others, for example, shortly after the tank, a roundabout harbours a red double-decker London bus! Further down-road, the sight is what we call the spewing dolphin, a stone dolphin fountain, the water spouting from his mouth, a weird effect which has always amused us. Later, at Lamballe, it is the flying saucer, a futuristic wooden building always impressive. Much later, crossing the Loire, the final and most impressive checkpoint is the ' JC' bridge, an enormously high suspension bridge, our name for which derives from the blasphemous exclamation called up when we first saw it!
      But back to the tank. It stands beside the road, a Sherman tank, casualty of General Patton's campaign to reconquer northern France. I don't believe it was damaged locally, but was brought in from elsewhere to advertise the Second World War museum that was situated behind it at the time. When we first passed it around 1990, it stood proudly , it's sandy paint pristine, and in good condition with its tracks complete. Now it is a sad sight, paint flaking and stripped of its tracks by some petty scrap metal you can see by my header shot. A shame that Roscoff town can't afford some minor refurbishments or at least a coat of paint to restore an item which has always spelt out Roscoff as we passed!
  Bye for now, going to enjoy the feeling of being home again.

jeudi 11 décembre 2014

Marooned at Morlaix!

   Well, here I am once again at the B and B Hotel in Morlaix, Finisterre  ready to spring out of bed tomorrow morning and rush down to Roscoff ferry port to pick up my Best Beloved at eight o'clock. There's just one snag--she won't be there! Due to bad weather in the channel, Britanny Ferries have had to cancel the sailing, and she now won't be arriving until Saturday morning, 24 hours late.
  To do them justice, they did let me know before I was due to drive up, and I could have postponed the stay at Morlaix a day accordingly. There was, however a snag...there always is! If you book the hotel on line and pay at the time you get a substantial discount..BUT the booking cannot be amended or cancelled, so I would have lost 50Eur including an uneaten breakfast. Bearing this in mind, we decided that I might as well stick to the plan and arrive a day early. On reflexion, the scheme did have some advantages-- it allowed for any sudden delay, like the accursed Bonnets Rouges who delayed my arrival at Roscoff on a previous occasion, and it gives me a day to recuperate from the 500k drive up before undertaking the drive back, admittedly with the benefit of a co-driver. Roscoff is one of my favourite towns and a day spent wandering round is far from a penance.

   So, here I am, footloose and fancy free, but feeling, I must admit, a bit tired. The very helpful girl on the desk advised me to book the extra day on line to get the advantage of the discount, so after logging on the I-Pad, that's what I did, so I can enjoy a sort of Bretagne mini-break. I have never had the advantage of Internet access in a hotel until I was given the Pad, what luxury!

  Bye for now, going to have a shower to use as much of my outlay as possible!