28 February, 2009

Mates and Dates

I met a man for lunch on Thursday. It was in Toulouse, he’d just got off a long haul flight, and we met up and had a bite to eat. I had not had much sleep the night before, so I probably wasn’t at my scintillating best!

I had got up early to drop Isla off at school, and pick Moses up to go and get his car from the airport. I dropped him off at just after 10am, and went and parked the car in a supermarket car park, and listened to my book for a while until I was due to go to the restaurant. The Fiery Cross if you’re interested – the book that it, not the restaurant!

So, we met up, went inside and started eating and chatting, as you do, when who to my wondrous surprise should appear, but Moses my mate, didn’t you hear! Sorry, I won’t attempt crappy poetry again!

We were chatting away when I clocked him out of the corner of my eye, drinking soup, trying to look inconspicuous! If you know Moses you’ll know that this is no easy feat – he is never inconspicuous – in fact the more conspicuous the better as far as he is concerned! Anyway, he was most restrained, and eventually changed seats so he had his back to us. We finished our meal, and went across the road for a cigarette. I think I got away without him noticing that someone I knew had walked in!

As we were having a coffee I got a text from Moses apologising profusely – he had though we were in another restaurant, and thought he’d try this one out as we had raved about it! Anyway, the guy had to get going as he lived a couple of hours away and had to be home by 5pm, so I texted Moses back to see if he fancied meeting up as he was still in town. He did.

We decided against going into the centre of Toulouse, and decided to drive out into the country to a chateau that I have driven by loads of times,
Chateau Laréole, but never actually visited. It was a gorgeous day; in fact they are all gorgeous at the moment. We start off with mist, but the sun burns it away and leaves bright sunshine, blue sky and warm weather at about 18°C. Lovely!We had a lovely wander around the chateau, and a good laugh, and then he set his Tom-tom to take us home across all the tiny little back roads – we were travelling in convoy by this point!As we were driving back, I phoned S who was meant to be picking Isla up from school, just to tell her that I would be back in time, so not to worry. She said it was ok, as she was now picking Isla’s friend L up, and that we were all going to L’s mum’s house for a drink. Ok, fair enough.

I got home, and my mum and I took the dogs down the road for a little walk. When we got back, my dad said that S had just phoned in a massive panic. She had turned up at the school at 4.25 to pick the girls up at 4.30. She went to the gate to get them, and told the teacher who she was collecting. The teacher then informed her that both the girls had gone in the “car”. This totally panicked S, as she couldn’t work out whose “car” they would have gone in. “Car” actually means school bus, but S didn’t know this, and the damn teacher didn’t explain clearly enough to someone who doesn’t speak much French. You would think that, being faced with someone clearly in a panic about two children she had temporary responsibility of; she would have tried to explain calmly and simply, in easy words to understand. But no, as far as she was concerned, her explanation was sufficient. I have so many gripes with this teacher, it’s unbelievable, but that’s for another day.

As soon as my dad told us of S’s call, we jumped in the car and went straight up to our village, where the bus drops the children at the school there. Sure enough, Isla was there. We asked where L was, and she had got the second bus which took her almost to her home, where there would be no one to meet her. Isla wasn’t sure where the bus dropped her off, so we drove towards her house, went to the neighbour’s house (whose daughter is in the same class), found out where she got dropped off, and eventually found her – 20 minutes late! Luckily, the bus driver had waited with her until someone came to collect her, rather than just dumping her there and driving off.

It turned out that the teacher had let the children out early, the bus was there, and it left – before S had even got there. If it had been me collecting them, I would have missed them too. It wouldn’t have panicked me though, because I know what the “car” is, but that’s because I have a child of school age and know the right words. Anyway, all was well that ended well!

Then today we were out shopping, checked the time with a shop keeper, and discovered I had to be at the school NOW! I had completely forgotten! A quick zoom to the village and it was fine though – the after school woman let me off!! I felt like such a bad mother, forgetting about the end of school!

On a lighter note, I am going on a little break in a couple of months time. S is leaving France – in fact it is her house that I showed you a few months ago – September or October I think. So, if any of you want to buy a B&B in France, let me know! I’m driving back up with her, so she doesn’t have to do all the driving herself, and then helping her when all the furniture arrives a few days later. My best mate Joocey is coming down to join us, I hope, and between the moving in stuff, we should manage to have a good time. I’ve never been to that part of the UK, and I’m really quite looking forward to it, as it’s really pretty. I will take lots of photos!

Cheap At A Fifth Of The Price

I’ve been off the grid for the last three days or so – life got in the way of blogging – thank god, because I was running out of ideas – blogger’s block!

I’ve been having a slight problem with my laptop for a while now, and I thought I’d managed to get it fixed last month, before the guarantee ran out. The disc drive wasn’t working properly (it wasn’t burning discs), so I took it in, Sebastian the engineer bloke said he’d sorted it, and I was happy. He told me to check it out, so that if it still didn’t work, it could be sorted while it was still under the guarantee. It was fine, so I didn’t bother. Then, last week, the disc drive stopped working completely – it would not play any type of disc at all. I was pissed off, but not massively so. I wasn’t sure it could be fixed, wasn’t ready to change the laptop as it’s great otherwise, and was quite willing to have to buy an external drive. But I took it back to Sebastian anyway. He had a look, and told me that I would have to replace the drive – no big surprise. With his company it would cost me €241 to get it sorted. Then he told me to take it to his friend down the road who had a computer shop. He said that his company had to use a certain supplier, but that independent people can shop around and I might get it cheaper.

So, off we toddled to his mate’s shop. I explained the problem, he flipped the laptop over, undid a couple of screws, pulled out the disc drive (I didn’t know it did that!), checked the model number, and ordered one. €50, not €241 – almost a fifth of the price! And no labour charge as it takes 30 seconds to fit it. It’s a generic model rather than a branded one, but I don’t care, as long as it works. And it comes with a brand new 1yr guarantee on the drive.

So, when it comes in next week I will be a happy person. I love my laptop! Not sure if I love the laptop or iPod more – it’s a close one!

24 February, 2009

Top Links and Referrals

I thought it would be quite interesting to share with you the top reasons why people visit my blogs.

Most of my readers are referred to the blogs by
Entrecard – a lot of them probably just click and drop, but some of them actually read them too. This makes up the great majority of readership.

I get some referrals from other blogs who have linked to mine, which is brilliant. This means a lot more than Entrecard, as it means that someone has actually liked my blog enough to post a link, and someone else thinks it looks interesting enough to click on it! The top blogs that send readers to me are…


There are also some referrals from Blog Explosion, and loads of people who obviously use Google Reader to read their favourite blogs. A few people whose sites I have visited, check me out from their own SiteMeter accounts.

I also get quite a few visitors who have googled something mentioned in either of the blogs. Surprisingly (to me anyway) the top search is for the Italian Sausage And Bean Casserole, which, although yummy, I wouldn’t have thought would be that much of a draw! There are also several searches for “le rosbif” – obviously French and French Canadians want to know how to cook this English style! Another search is “what are your favourite foods”. Some people have googled me by my own name or my user name, and been brought to the blogs.

In the last few days I’ve had a few people who have googled “
three column blogs”, which is quite cool, as I’ve only just changed to that. Obviously, it’s something that a lot of people want to do. Maybe we should start a petition for Blogger to introduce a ready made three column layout!

I also get a lot of searches for the post titles on the
Memoirs Of A Mother blog. I’m assuming that people have been given one of these “From Me To You” books, and are looking for some inspiration.

The most common google searches are for recipes though, which is quite gratifying as the recipes are (or I would like them to be) quite a major part of the blog.

I’ve had visitors from loads of different countries too, the bulk of them coming from the USA.

Random Ramblings and Recipes
United States 323
Great Britain 90
France 67
Japan 46
Philippines 37
Canada 35
Bulgaria 34
Australia 33
Czech Republic 21
Germany 21
Indonesia 17
Singapore 16
Turkey 11
South Africa 7
Malaysia 6
Netherlands 6
Zimbabwe 5
Panama 5
(wonder if this was “the canoeist"!)

Kenya 4
India 3
Norway 3
Barbados 3
Pakistan 3
Russia 2
Belgium 2
Sri Lanka 2
Thailand 1
Lithuania 1
Slovakia 1
Kuwait 1
Austria 1
Luxembourg 1
China 1
New Zealand 1
Argentina 1
Sweden 1
Ireland 1
Saudi Arabia 1
Israel1

Memoirs of a Mother
USA 187
Great Britain 51
France 48
Canada 16
Malaysia 10
Australia 9
India 8
Philippines 4
Indonesia 4
Singapore 3
South Africa 2
Romania 1
Brazil 1
Turkey 1
Vietnam 1
Kuwait 1
Russia 1
China 1
New Zealand 1
Norway 1
Ireland 1
Sweden 1
Germany 1
DR Congo 1
Malawi 1
Netherlands 1
Tanzania 1


Now, I know some of the visitors from some of the countries, for example South Africa, some of the USA visitors, Vietnam and Japan - but most of the rest of them…I have no idea! The cross section of countries is fascinating - all these different people from literally four corners of the earth reading my little blogs! I’d love to know who some of you are though, and whether you are enjoying reading my blog!

Also, if there is anything you would like to know, just leave me a comment, and I will do my best to write about your ideas and questions!

22 February, 2009

Countries I've Visited

create your own visited country map
or check our Venice travel guide

Reading Matter

And not just any old reading matter - I'm talking bathroom reading matter! Is it a taboo subject to talk about what you do in the bathroom?

We always keep something to read in the bathroom, either for reading in the bath or other long stays - without going into too much detail!

The last thing we had in there was the Guinness Book of the 20th Century! All the top happenings of the century year by year. It was great for Isla as she has been learning about the World Wars at school.

We also keep a pile of old crosswords in there, that have been torn out of newspapers over the years. Only problem is, they're too hard!

My latest little acquisition is a new Nintendo game. We used to subscribe to Puzzler, so imagine my delight (yeah, I'm a saddo) when I saw that they had released a game for the DS! So I bought it. It's great, it has small crosswords, fitwords, wordsearches and sudoku which I love.

Now my reading material has been superceded by technology, and I love it!

Do you keep reading matter in the bathroom, and if so, what?

Swimming In The Sunshine

No, not me! It's February, in France, and I'm not that much of a dingbat! The water must be about 5°C!
No, it was a beautiful day, so I decided to take the dogs for a walk to a local lake at Castera-Verduzan. During the summer this lake is quite a tourist attraction. All across France there are man made lakes, comlplete with man made beaches. Most French people would probably not even cnsider driving hours and hours just to go to a tourist filled beach on the Med or the Atlantic, as the distances in France are massive. Well...they are when compared to UK anyway. I know I have quite a few readers from the US, and even Australia and the distances within those countries are incomparable to countries in Europe!

So anyway, these lakes are chock full of tourists and locals during the summer, and are to be avoided at ALL costs! The doctors always say they know when the lakes are open because they have a high percentage of ear infections to treat. Nice eh! Check out the website
here.

During the winter, no one goes to the lakes except dog walkers. You can walk all around the lake, which makes for a lovely walk as I hate going somewhere and coming back - I like circular walks. It's not very long, maybe about half an hour if you walk fast, but the dogs love it as they get to swim, and so get about 5 times the exercise that I do.

There's a river that runs alongside the lake, and must feed it too. It's weird because the lake itself isn't running water, but when it gets refilled they must divert the river into it somehow. It's been quite high and fast since the storms at the end of January. Funnily enough the dogs aren't interested in it at all, but then there's a great big lake to take their attention and if you've got a tennis ball they won't pay attention to anything else!!
We left Murphy at home, obviously, and my dad took him for a very little walk to get his leg moving. It's still healing well, but he's now turned from being a very sorry for himself dog to a recalcitrant patient! He's obviously getting better because he's being naughty! I think he's frustrated, and he chewed his bandage off this evening!
video
Isla brought her bike with her because, as well as all the water sports stuff, they also have a bit for rollerblading/skateboarding/biking with ramps. She's been desperate to try it out for months, but normally there's not enough space in the car with three dogs and three or four people. So, as it was only the two of us today we took the bike, and she had a great time! video

21 February, 2009

Murphy Update

Due to new evidence, I am even more angry than I was yesterday about Murphy’s accident. My dad was in the garden, but nowhere near the driveway. We don’t have gates, which ok, is pretty stupid, but have you got any idea how much gates cost?? They’re bloody expensive. So, my dad was by our wood pile, sorting out logs for the evening, and he heard a dog barking. He thought it was the dog from over the road. The next thing he heard was a loud thud, and then a dog screaming in pain. I know said it before, but it was the most awful sound. He ran out to see what the problem was, and if he could see the car that had done it, but in the time before he got to the gate the car had sped off. He saw that it was Murphy, and it scared the life out of him, especially when he saw the blood dripping from his leg, and him unable to stand on it.

Thank goodness he wasn’t seriously injured. It’s the loud thud bit that makes me more angry though. If my dad heard it, and he wasn’t even near to the car, then the driver HAD to have heard it. You cannot hit such a massive dog without knowing it. And the bastard drove off. I think it had to have been someone who wasn’t local – anyone who lives around here would have stopped. I just hope that his car is seriously damaged by the accident, and that he was racked with guilt all day.
Bastard.
On a lighter note, Murphy is so much better today – thank you so much for your messages! He has had so much love today, and cuddles and treats he must think it’s Christmas! He can put weight on his leg now, and the wounds are healing beautifully.

3 Column Blogger

You may have noticed that my blog layout has changed slightly! I am now a three column blogger, and feel really proud of myself for having done it, because I’m really pretty illiterate when it comes to html and all that complicated stuff!

I found out how to do it from one of my favourite blogs, Outlandish Observations. The lady who writes it chnged her blog to three columns about a month ago, and I thought it looked much better. It is only now that I have been brave enough to do it myself! She found out how to do it from this site. It's not as hard as it seems.

I like the layout, because it spreads out all of my links and widgets – the only thing I’m not 100% happy with is that it looks a little cramped, but maybe that’s because I’m not used to it. The link from Outlandish Observations did explain how to make it a little larger, but it was quite complicated! Also, apparently, it wouldn’t look right on a screen that isn’t wide screen, so I’ll leave it for now and see how I get used to it. Comments and opinions would be appreciated!

Also, if you have seen the cool new country widgets on my left sidebar they are designed by Ness at Drover’s Run - another of my favourite blogs. They are free to download from her site, and it she doesn’t have your country there, I am sure she would make your own widget.

19 February, 2009

All About Murphy

Well...it's been a hell of a day.

Murphy, our gorgeous Newfoundland was hit by a car. It was obviously no one we know, because they would have come straight in.

We heard him barking at something outside, and the next thing we heard was the most awful noise - I have never heard anything like it. He was crying and yelping. I was still in my nightie, and looked out of the sitting room window to see my dad bringing him in with blood dripping from his front leg. I ran outside, in nightie and bare feet - the driveway is gravel, but I didn't feel a thing. My mum and Isla were out there too, and all we could see was the blood on his leg. We brought him into the kitchen, and I sat down on the floor and just cuddled him while my mum raced around the house looking for Dettol, iodine, gauze and bandages. We managed to get him lying down, with his head in my lap, ready to be checked over, cleaned and bandages.

Luckily, the wound wasn't that bad. The car must have just dealt him a glancing blow, because he didn't have any other injuries, and the leg is fine apart from a couple of flesh wounds. Obviously no arteries had been severed, so we cleaned him up with Dettol, which is antiseptic. We then put vetinary iodine on the wounds, covered them in a sheet of something containing silver which promotes wound healing, gauze and bandages. Isla was brilliant - she helped to cuddle hm to calm him down, and she helds the pieces of gauze in place while my mum was doing the bandaging. She did admit to me afterwards that her legs were very wobbly because it had scared her, but she put that aside because at that point he was the important one, and got stuck in and helped. It wasn't until we'd finished that she let her own feelings take over. She's a brave girl - a chip off the old blocks - me and my mum! Give us a crisis and we can handle it calmly, and then give into feelings afterwards. My dad, on the other hand, goes all wobbly, and I swear his brain stops working! He can't handle it at all.

After all the nursing, Murphy was very shaky, so we gave him a brownie (one of those I made the other day) to boost his sugar level and some water.
Actually, when we went to the pharmacy to get some more bandages and gauze, the pharmacist told us that if he is in pain we can give him up to 1000mg of paracetamol. We haven't, because he seems to be ok, but it's good to know that. Pharmacists here have to all be qualified - they're not just glorified pill givers - so she knows what she's talking about.

He can't stand on his leg yet, possibly because we had to bandage over his paw pads as the second wound was very low on the leg. He is alright in himself - he has been eating and drinking fine, and the various bodily functions are good, if a little wobbly! He's feeling very sorry for himself, and every time we go to cuddle him he holds his paw out as it to say "Look at me - I have a poor sore paw - love me".
What I can't understand is how anyone can hit a 55kg/120lb dog and not feel it. Or did they not think it was necessary to come in to admit that they had hit just a dog? I am so angry that someone could be that unfeeling and uncaring. They MUST have known. Bastard - whoever it was.

I will leave you with the inscription on the tomb of Boatswain - Lord Byron's faithful Newfoundland. Byron adored animals, and famously had a Newfoundland called Boatswain. Boatswain got rabies, and Byron apprently nursed him himself, without any fear of being bitten and infected. Boatswain is buried at Newstead Abbey, and his gravestone is larger than Byron's. It has been said that Byron always wanted to be buried next to Boatswain. His inscription says more about the breed than any other description could.

"Near this spot
Are deposited the Remains of one
Who possessed Beauty without Vanity,
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferocity,
And all the Virtues of Man without his Vices.
This Praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery
If inscribed over human ashes,
Is but a just tribute to the Memory of
BOATSWAIN, a Dog,
Who was born at Newfoundland, May, 1803,
And died at Newstead Abbey, Nov. 18, 1808."

We are so lucky that Murphy escaped without hideous injury today - we just have to love him and care for him until his leg is healed. And after that obviously, but that goes without saying!

18 February, 2009

Samoussas


Yes, I know I've already posted these recipe, but I thought I'd explain it all a little more clearly for you. For a start, I don't make the pastry myself - we use Brick Pastry, which is sort of like filo pastry. If the filo pastry is too brittle, you need to dampen it before use.

There are a couple of things that can be substituted within the chicken samoussa recipe, such as the same amount of ground or fresh ginger instead of the ginger paste, fresh garlic in stead of the garlic paste, ground cumin instead of the cumin seeds, and if you can't find Garam Masala you can make it yourself with the following formula.

Ingredients For Garam Masala:

2 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons ground cardamom
2 tablespoons crushed black peppercorns
2 tablespoons ground cinammon
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon saffron (optional)

The folding is a little complicated, but I have made a video for you of my mum folding samoussas for you.

Hope it helps!

video
Enjoy!

16 February, 2009

Happy Birthday

I want to say Happy Birthday to my best friend Joocey. It is her 31st birthday today, and I hope it's a good one!

Easy Chocolate Brownies

I know I haven't given you any interesting recipes recently, so here's one I did earlier! Isla wanted to do some baking today, so it was a case of "let's see what we have in the cupboards"! We had enough of the right ingredients to make brownies, so we did! Isla did all the pouring, mixing and egg breaking, and I did the measuring, mainly because I have crappy old sclaes, and it's a delicate operation!Try it, it's really easy! You don't need the baking powder though if you make them with self raising flour, and obviously the walnuts are optional. Also, you don't need to use expensive cocoa or anything - hot chocolate powder or even Nesquick works beautifully!

They are yummy, and I'm eating one right now!

15 February, 2009

Have you got a light?

The weirdest thing happened this morning. The doorbell rang, so my dad went to answer it. Outside was a bloke, who was obviously just driving past in his white van.

The reason he had called in?

To ask for a light for his cigarette!

Bizarre.

14 February, 2009

Expat Interview

As you have probably noticed, I have signed up to Entrecard - a blog directory which lets you earn points for the amount of visitors who drop in on your site, earn points for advertising other peoples' sites and also lets you spend those points by advertising your own site on other peoples'. It seems to be a good system, and is a great way of discovering other blogs that you would not necessarily have found otherwise.

I had a message on there the other day asking me if I would complete an interview about being an expatriate in France. Naturally I was delighted! I completed the interview and have sent it back, and will be notified when the interview is posted. I will let you know when it is up.

For your interest though, click below to visit the site, and you can read other peoples'interviews about where they live. Enjoy!

Happy Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day started during the time of the Roman Empire, during the rule of Emperor Claudius II. Rome had been involved in many bloody and unpopular wars, and the Emperor was finding it difficult to attract young men to join the army. He thought that it was because the young men didn’t want to leave their loves and wives, not considering that it might be due to the fact that these young men didn’t want to join the army to die a pointless death! Therefore, Claudius cancelled all marriages and engagements in Rome.

However, in Rome there was a Christian priest called…yes, you guessed it – Valentine…who secretly carried out marriages, defending love and defying the Emperor’s orders. When Claudius found out, he had Valentine arrested and sent to prison, where he stayed until he died on February 14th, AD270.

Valentine’s Day did not start then though. In those days, Christianity was just beginning to take hold across Europe, and Christian festivals were replacing old, pagan ones. There was a pagan festival on February 15th called Lupercalia, which was in honour of the goddess Juno. It was a bit of a lottery – the names of young men and women were put into a box – when the names were drawn, the people matched together were considered partners for the rest of the year. The men often wore the names of the women they had been matched with on their sleeves – hence the expression “to wear your heart on your sleeve”.

Eventually, the Lupercalia became a saint's day honouring Saint Valentine, a day for all those looking for love, or already in love.

One 17th century tradition was that a young girl should eat a hard-boiled egg and pin five bay leaves to her pillow before going to sleep on Valentine's eve. This would apparently make her dream of her future husband. Later, people began to exchange Valentine cards instead of presents. The Duke of Orleans is believed to have made the first valentine card. Imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1415, he wrote love poems, or valentines, "to his wife in France”. Sweethearts exchanged handmade cards during the 17th and 18th centuries. The French trimmed huge paper hearts with yards of real lace. Valentine cards became popular in the United States during the Civil War. Elaborate cards trimmed with satin ribbons, mother-of-pearl ornaments, and spun glass were sold. Within a few years Valentine's Day received almost as much attention as Christmas.

And now it is a worldwide business that makes millions. You can buy all sorts of crap that just because it has a heart on it, is obviously a Valentine’s gift. Mugs, teddies, flannels, bath soap – just because someone has printed a heart on it, does not make it the perfect, romantic gift! And then there are the “funny” presents – fizzing willies for the bath, a super willy water gun, a vibrating boob hand massager. What happened to romance and love, and when did it all become so tacky?

I hope that you all have a lovely Valentine’s Day. If you are in a relationship already I hope that your loved one does something lovely and romantic. If you are not, I hope that you meet someone lovely, or get a card from someone you never knew liked you, but that you’ve always secretly fancied!

My Love Is Like A Red Red Rose

A Red, Red Rose
by Robert Burns

O my luve's like a red, red rose.
That's newly sprung in June;
O my luve's like a melodie
That's sweetly play'd in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will love thee still, my Dear,
Till a'the seas gang dry.

Till a' the seas gang dry, my Dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun:
I will luve thee still, my Dear,
While the sands o'life shall run.

And fare thee weel my only Luve!
And fare thee weel a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho' it were ten thousand mile!

13 February, 2009

Friday 13th.

Do you have Paraskevidekatriaphobia? If you do, then you need help, because it’s very silly to have an irrational fear of a particular day! That particular day is, of course, Friday 13th, the origins of which have been lost or confused in the mists of time!

The number 13 has long been considered unlucky. Twelve was always considered a lucky number – 12 apostles, 12 months, 12 signs of the zodiac, so 13 was just not quite right.

The unluckiness of the number 13 has roots in both Christianity and Norse legend.

Twelve gods were invited to a banquet at Valhalla. Loki, the Evil One, god of mischief, had been left off the guest list but crashed the party, bringing the total number of attendees to 13. True to character, Loki raised hell by inciting Hod, the blind god of winter, to attack Balder the Good, who was a favourite of the gods. Hod took a spear of mistletoe offered by Loki and obediently hurled it at Balder, killing him instantly. All Valhalla grieved. And although one might take the moral of this story to be "Beware of uninvited guests bearing mistletoe," the Norse themselves apparently concluded that 13 people at a dinner party is just plain bad luck.

As if to prove the point, the Bible tells us there were exactly 13 present at the Last Supper. One of the disciples betrayed Jesus Christ, setting the stage for the Crucifixion.

So the superstition is that if you have 13 guests, one of them is bound to die.

Did I mention the Crucifixion took place on a Friday?

Friday has also been considered to be unlucky. As I said, the crucifixion took place on a Friday. Apprently Eve tempted Adam on a Friday, the Great Flood began on a Friday, and the Temple of Solomon was destroyed on a Friday. And in pagan Rome, Friday was execution day.

In pre-Christian cultures, Friday was the Sabbath, so anyone caught doing anything on that day could not be guaranteed the blessings of the gods. Also, it was never considered to be a good idea to start projects or journeys on a Friday.

The Christian Church decided that obviously pagan Sabbath days must be quashed as they were just heathens, so Friday became known as the Witches Sabbath.

Another theory is that the Knights Templar were all rounded up and executed on Friday the 13th in 1307.

The strange thing is that the Friday 13th superstition does not appear to be any older than 19th century. Separately, there were already the superstitions about the number 13 and about the day Friday, but they don’t appear to have been put together until then. Some scholars are convinced that the Friday 13th superstition is an entirely 20th century invention.
Personally, I think it’s all a load of old cobblers! What about you? How was your Friday 13th? Lucky, or unlucky?


If you are an unlucky person then beware! - we have three Friday 13th's in 2009 in February, March and November.

11 February, 2009

Technology

For Christmas I got a nice, new 500gb hard drive. Which is great, as I have been a bit concerned as to what would happen to all my photographs if the hard drive I already had went kaput. I have my actual photographic library backed up in 3 locations, but I would have been upset to lose all the happy snappies as well, because they are what chronicle Isla’s life, not the portraits or architectural shots.

So, now I have all of these backed up too, and I feel much happier about them. I have also backed up my extensive music library which includes not only my music, but my mum’s and my dad’s too, as I’m the one that puts music and books on everyone’s’ iPods! My dad’s music is pretty bad – he likes really old jazz and things like that – I mean, who ever heard of Kid Creole and his Red Hot Peppers? I’ve heard of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, but never Kid Creole! Weird stuff! If he had them on CD, I’m sure his iPod would be full of the Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band! It seems to me, that is just defiling a fab piece of kit like an iPod!
So yes, back to the hard drive. The coolest thing about it is that it is also a multi media hard drive, which means that I can just plug it into the TV and watch movies on it! It is great for someone like me, who moves house a lot in the course of my dog sitting. Now, rather than lugging about great big bags of DVD’s, I just put this little black box into a bag. It has all I need on it! I have been spending loads of time transferring DVD’s into .avi format to keep on the hard drive – it’s a bit of a marathon doing MASH considering there are 11 series of generally 24 episodes! I’m putting all my favourite films and series on there and it’s just great!

I’ve been spending quite a lot of time doing that, in the absence of actually having a job at the moment! It’s cheap, I don’t have to leave home and use fuel, and I can’t even have a cigarette while I’m doing it as my throat still hurts. This is probably a good thing as I always smoke too much when I’m doing computer stuff! So there’s one upside to the sore throat!

As I said to someone on their blog today – every cloud has a silver lining. You may not believe it, but there is always some good to come out of every situation, no matter how bad it seems at the time!

10 February, 2009

I Got Another Award!

I have been given another blog award! I am so excited! Thank you so much to Tina at The Zoo Crew!

I have to nominate some people to receive it who have great attitude and/or great gratitude, so here goes...

Jo at Life's Perfect Pictures
Joocey at Joocey's Great Tea Search
Madame Very Lost In France at What French Dream
Reluctant Memsahib
Timorous Beastie
Marie at Angel Without Wings
Robert at My Wife Has Agoraphobia
Poppy at A Life Less Simple

07 February, 2009

Pie Charts

The below is a pie chart of all my visitors. I find it really interesting to see where all my visitors have come from, and I wonder why someone from Malaysia for example, would be interested in my little blog.

06 February, 2009

Upcoming Temporary Duty

After a couple of days of feeling ok, going out, working and being generally busy, I seem to have had a little flu relapse. Maybe I started doing things too soon. Also, it didn’t help that I didn’t go to bed last night until gone 3 am, because my friend and fellow fabby blogger, Joocey was online on Skype. So, we chatted for a while, as we haven’t really talked a lot since Christmas, apart from one little call during the Hurricane.

So, this evening I have felt crap – I have a bad cough still, and my temperature was up and I ache all over again. I’m feeling a little better now, but maybe that’s because I’m a night owl. Isla still isn’t back to school yet, and it’s now half term. There are a lot of parents who send their kids back to school far too early after being ill, and they just pick up more germs because their defences are low and propagate the original illness between all the kids. So, I wanted to make sure Isla was 100% better before going back. The teacher has sent home all the tests she was meant to be doing at school, which should actually work in her favour. In test situations at school she freezes, her brain shuts down, she panics and gets it all wrong. Together we have gone through some of the questions she has to answer, and she knows al the stuff she needs to know, and should get great marks in these tests – without my help I might add. She can do it perfectly well in her own time, not against the clock, and in a relaxed atmosphere. Put a clock in front of her though and all the information flies out of her brain. I’m not quite sure how to get around this problem.

We’re off to dog sit at the B&B again on Sunday. The person who owns the B&B is my friend who got mugged on holiday and lost the entire contents of her handbag, plus the bag too. All the police said to her was that she was lucky she didn’t get stabbed. That seems to be the extent of their helpfulness. Anyway, she got back here to discover that the people who had been dog sitting (not me as I won’t do it over Christmas and New Year) had totally wrecked the house, and she lost some tiles and trees due to the hurricane. So, a great welcome home for her! Anyway, I will only be at her house for a few days.

I’m going to have to go to bed now, so will update a little more in a couple of days. My bed and electric blanket are calling me!

The French Yellow Jacket Survey

A couple of months ago, I read a post on another blog written by Madame VLIF (Very Lost In France). It was all about the new French law of having to have a fluorescent yellow or orange jacket and a warning triangle in your car. The jacket has to be easily accessible, and if it isn’t, for example if it is in your boot, then the police can fine you.

So, the French, in their infinite wisdom and love for fashion, have taken to keeping their fluorescent jackets on their passenger seats. As though the seat is actually wearing the jacket. This trend has spread all over the country. VLiF’s blog inspired me to do my own little survey.

Photographic proof follows.

NB. Picture quality is not great as I used my phone to take the pictures.
It is now an epidemic in France. We only just bought yellow jackets for our cars yesterday. One of them is still in the garage - the 807 needed a new front and back windscreen in the storms, which I have since discovered was actually classed as a hurricane - Hurricane Klaus to be precise. Quite exciting really! Anyway, the garage ordered the windscreens - the back one was fine, but the front one arrived broken. They sent it back and ordered a new one, only to be told that there is a shortage of windscreens for Peugeot 807's and Citroen C8's (same model of car). So, we have to wait until god knows when to get our big car back. The new windscreen will arrive next week - normalement. So, keep your fingers crossed.

Back to the topic in hand - the following picture says "If you can't beat the buggers, join 'em!"

NB. Jacket only on passenger seat for photographic purposes! It got put away immediately after!

04 February, 2009

Honest Scrap

I have been tagged by Shakespeare’s Housekeeper to do this Honest Scrap thingy – basically it’s ten interesting things about myself.

Hmmm, ten things? I’ve done five things before – see here. That was difficult enough. Ten things will take some thinking.

1) The little toenail on my left foot sits at a right angle to the toe – weird I know!


2) I am obsessed with M*A*S*H, and have watched all seasons several times and have them all on DVD. Never liked the film though.

3) I cannot bear the sound of people eating – just the slightest noise of it turns my stomach.

4) I love dot-to-dots! Always have done. We used to subscribe to Puzzler magazine (always useful to keep in the bathroom!), and would always make sure I did the dot-to-dots before everyone else, including Isla!!

5) My favourite drink is Diet Coke – on a night out at the pub I would rather drink Diet Coke than get drunk with everyone else – I know, it sounds boring!

6) I relish time on my own. I stay up very late compared to most people because that is my “me” time. Just me – peace and quiet. It’s lovely.

7) The only hot drinks I like are hot Ribena when I’m not well, and hot chocolate when it is cold and snowy. I hate tea and coffee.

8) Every night when I go to bed I listen to my book on my iPod. I put the sleep timer on for 15 mins, and most of the time I don’t get to the end of the 15 mins before falling asleep.

9) I love school holidays. Most parents dread them, and count the days until their little darlings go back to school. Not me – I dread term time, and count the days until the holidays! Unlike a lot of other parents, I really enjoy the company of my daughter.

10) I was the only person from my school, ever, to leave with Highers in three modern languages! I got A’s for French, Spanish and Italian. And English?...I got a B!!

Well, that was difficult! Took me ages to come up with 10 things!

Right, I tag anyone else who fancies doing this! Just leave a comment and let me know you've done it!

01 February, 2009

Après-Flu


Well, the cold that I thought I had turned out to be none other than full blown flu – I have felt like death warmed up all week. I still have a nasty, sore cough and a very tight chest – quite asthma-y. I haven’t had a fag in over a week! And I spent half of last night with my head over a jug of boiling, steaming water with Vicks Eucalyptus in it.

I think last night was the climax of illness though, so I should be feeling better from now on. Fingers crossed!

Thank you for all your messages in the last week – I have not really kept up with any blogs or anything, but will make up for it!

In the last week, more and more stories have emerged about the storms across France. We have been out and about a bit – further than we did last weekend checking houses, and it looks as though herds of elephants have been stampeding all over the Gers. There are trees down everywhere, and most forests have been literally decimated. And I do mean decimated, in the true sense of the word. We have heard stories about how much people have lost, and in one case about a person who has been missing since the storms. We are very lucky – we have lost little, and we are all ok. That is plenty to be grateful for.

Many people have only just got their electricity back on. We’ve had ours since Monday, but for a lot of people it only came back on on Friday.

What it has done for us, is to make us realise how much we take for granted. We are so used to living with light at the flick of a switch, hot water at the turn of a tap that we cannot imagine life without these basic luxuries. And they are luxuries – millions of people across the world live without these luxuries that we consider necessities.

And I have learnt that it is possible to live without them. OK, we had an advantage in the fact that we have a bloody great pool outside, full of water. But, that’s the very reason why settlements grew up around rivers and lakes – a source of water. So let’s, for a second, imagine that it was a pond outside our back door. We lived by candlelight, boiled all the water we needed, and entertained ourselves.

Yes, I could live like that if I was pushed to it – but it would be the entertaining myself bit that I would find hard. I like TV, movies, music and the internet. And talking amongst yourselves loses its novelty after about half an hour!! Reading by candlelight is difficult, and not good for your eyes, so I think if I lived like that permanently I would just go to bed very early every night!

Wouldn’t be so much of a hardship if I had a bloke!! In fact, it may even be an advantage!