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Making me think

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Next week Danny (aka Rich) and I will be celebrating our 20th Wedding Anniversary. As many of you know we have been through many tough times to get here, but they have all made us stronger. The old adage ‘what don’t kill you makes you stronger’ is true.

So why the picture of the toilet? This is our old loo, the one we have had in situ for four years (yes we have lived here four years last Friday). The cracks that are in it were there when we moved in and the ‘thrifty’ or tight, depending on how you want to look at it, French farmer who sold us the house had sealed the cracks with mastic! I kid you not, mastic!

As you know if you follow this blog, money has been tight and other jobs have taken priority, but because we planned to celebrate by inviting the Frenchies and some other friends over for a BBQ on Saturday, we knew that we needed to get the loo replaced.

We had bought the new all singing, all dancing toilet come spaceship from a really lovely couple Danny had worked for many months ago; they were kind and they sold it to us very very cheap. But we struggled to pull the money together to get it fitted and something else always got in the way. Then along came Bob.

Rich has been working on a lovely ladies house (and doing an excellent job) and life showed us the way because Bob said he could fit our loo. He came over, made us laugh and told us that we had been lucky to have not crashed into the cellar below because of the state the toilet had been in. Life, as always, had shown us the way, and it had to be done before the shindig…or so we thought

Danny had put in a holiday request form, and I had booked him (and me) out for an eleven day holiday. Living in a rural environment there is something to do twenty-four hours a day, and I was aware of how we never seemed to have a day when we ‘did nothing’. But because of the shindig on our first day ‘off’ we found ourselves washing curtains, bringing the garden chairs round from the barn, putting shelves on the wall, hoovering and mopping and on and on and on. As always we had a very late lunch which seemed to knock me out, even though it was only a small sandwich; but being me (with her ‘doer’s attitude’ as the counsellor told me years ago) I got up and told myself onwards and upwards’ and went to hoover and mop my stairs. But then life took over, I began to sweat and felt really ill, but still I carried on, when I had finished I said to Danny ‘I need to sit down, I don’t feel well’. Within minutes I was in the smallest room in the house putting the new loo to use, and that has been the pattern ever since.

I am one of those people who has to get out of bed even when they are ill, because staying in bed makes me feel worse. But if on the rare occasion I do stay in bed then that is a sign that I feel really ill. On Friday I could not get out of bed. We were due to go to a fish and chip supper with some friends, but I sent Danny on his own and I can honestly say that if I had healthcare cover at that moment in time I would have gone to the hospital. And there lies the crux: we have winged it, Danny has seventy five per cent cover because he is in the system, I am still waiting for my cover to come through, and I actually found myself thinking ‘I can’t go to hospital I don’t have the money’. Then a voice in my head said ‘what is the point of having this house if you are dead!’

We lose perspective don’t we.

This was another of life’s lessons, as Bob said to Danny ‘good job I put the new toilet in!’ But the toilet was not put in for the shindig, everything that happened was to make me think about our priorities: we need to get healthcare cover sorted, maybe at the cost of something else; we are both in our mid fifties and we have to wake up to reality that we need to cover our health, wherever we live.

For the last two days Wiglet would not leave my side, in fact I knew I was in a bad place when she growled at Harley because she knew I was weak and took to guarding and protecting me. I made it to the chair yesterday morning, she ousted Danny and sat in the chair opposite me, just like a Welshie version of ‘Nanny’ from Peter Pan. When she finally left me to go into the garden, I took that as a positive sign.

Of course I googled my symptoms and scared the shit out of myself (literally) but I also realised, from what I read, that we have to make some lifestyle changes, even though my husband is resistant;and change them we will. Watch this space.

Needless to say the shindig had to be cancelled; and everyone was so understanding. My lovely French friends brought me a gift (by this time I had made it down to the sofa, but couldn’t get off it.) others messaged me, and ginger biscuits saved my life.

I am still not out of the water (or toilet) yet, but I do feel seventy per cent better than I did.

Life shows you the way, and I am listening, we will have healthcare by the end of the year, even if I have to sell my car.

But right now I am recuperating by sitting in the garden, with tea (it finally tastes okay) and toast made by Danny, the weather is fine, with intermittent sun, and a light breeze, and just sitting with nature is making me feel better.

Rosie

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Galavanting: I learned a lesson from a beautiful place

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Life never seems to stop showing me the way! In June Danny (R) saw an ad for a large scaffold tower, on one of the local Facebook pages; after liaising with the owner we agreed to buy it and went off to collect it one bright Sunday lunchtime.

As we drove in past golden fields of wheat, dotted here and there with a smattering of red from the poppies, I commented on how pretty it was. The house was just outside the medieval town of Lassay Les Chateaux, surrounded by rolling hills and countryside.

On arrival we were met by the mad little Jack Russell, Milly, happy to meet people new, and the lovely Sue and Kevin. They invited us to have some coffee and as I sat on their covered patio I was blown away by my beautiful surroundings. It was just rolling hills, and a huge fishing lake that Kev had dug out himself.

Sitting there I realised that if I had been there on holiday I would be so happy in those surroundings: with the swimming pool, and your own gite; and even though we don’t fish I would have been in my element and just a little bit envious of my hosts.

But I also realised something else: if I had been holidaying there I would have been so envious of their lifestyle: with the rolling hills and beautiful surroundings, but I would not have seen the reality behind the beautiful grounds and house, which is a lot of bloody hard work! And that is how we have changed: we now live here, and living in the countryside is hard work. As I sat on their patio, blown away by the surroundings, I found myself thinking ‘oh my God! All that work, everyday!’

I said as much to our hosts when they told us that they have twenty six acres, so much that Kev cannot mow it all! In fact they lost two oaks last year that are laying where they fell because there us no time to chop them up!

It made me realise how much we all ‘think’ we want something, because so often we only see what we want to see. I watch programmes where people view houses and are so happy when they are told there is twenty acres, or even an acre (as we have) and I just smile now and ‘say good luck maintaining it!’

It is another lesson we have learned: see the bigger picture!

We have visited Kev and Sue a number of times now, new friends, nice, warm and lovely people. We didn’t pick the scaffold up for three weeks, because every time we went we just ended up chatting to them!

As we drove out of their house last time, I looked across the fields of corn and said to Rich ‘I would come here on holiday, and I live here!’

Rosie

If you would like somewhere gorgeous to stay, then you can visit Remieu using This link. Not shameful promotion just a beautiful retreat in which to stay.

Rosie

Catching up

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Where do I start? The book is at the publishers after another edit, the blog is just about to hit 75,000 views, and hubby is doing such wonderful work in his business.

Here is his current project: barn doors he has been working on, they had to be prepped and the metalwork needed detailed paintwork; I am so proud of him because I know what he is capable of. To see the project from the beginning you can visit our website it is under the section ‘a renovation story.’ The client is so pleased she has asked him to extend his time with her.

It is a joy to see him enjoying his work (we had some awful people recently) and being appreciated for the dedication that he puts into it.

The business also keeps me busy updating the website, and Facebook page and promoting it. Sadly it is a fact of life that we have learnt to accept that you will always get someone with a snide remark, but it does not deter me now; like I said I am back, and I simply answer them. People don’t understand that in the world today social media is here and now, there is no going back, just going forward. Pretty much like life really!

So going forward we are now in the process of changing our house. When we first moved here we bought with us such beautiful things from our old home. But I have come to realise that I was trying to make this house into our old house; when in fact we should make it something new. As a result we have moved the furniture in our living room so that the sofa’s are against one wall, making a ‘snug’ area in which to watch the TV. If you look at the first photo the top picture is before and the second one after.

The top photo is before, the bottom after

We have blocked off the door that originally led to the stairs and re-opened the old one; we will leave the closed door or we won’t be able to get furniture in & out from upstairs! But that won’t be a problem because I have a huge mirror that will cover it – another thing on the list to paint!

Doing this has given us an enormous amount of space, and given me the opportunity to have my wingback chairs in our large window.

I have always wanted this layout, to be able to sit here in the morning and look out across the garden, and valley.

In fact we sit here in the evening now when Danny (aka Rich) gets home from work. It is proving popular with all the animals, we sit in the chairs and Diddies goes to sleep in the window box.

Our living room was originally two rooms, and where before we had the wingback chairs over the other side we now have enough room to bring in a very large French Antique Buffet, and a round table.

If you look at the photo above you can see the top of the buffet, which is currently on the floor because the bottom is in my kitchen. But not after tomorrow it won’t be, because I am emptying it to move it, and tomorrow it will have it’s first coat of white paint.

As you can tell we are busy, and we are also selling some of our beautiful stuff. To move forward you have to let go: the Grandmother clock you can see in the pictures is being collected tomorrow by its new owner. My pretty antique Singer sewing machine is up for sale, along with many other pieces.

Both our kitchen and living room are going to be painted white, including all of the beams. Furniture we are keeping is in line for painting white and blue and I don’t have enough hours in the day.

I also want to develop my role now with regard to the book. Does anyone know an agent?!

I have to go now folks, but before I do, although I still don’t know where life will take me, I appreciate what I have. Who couldn’t when I wake up to this view in the morning?

I promise I will blog again at the weekend, I have so much to tell you .

Rosie

We are melting

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Europe is in the middle of a heatwave, with France, Italy, and Germany in the thick of it.

I am currently sitting in my bedroom with the blind down, both fans whirring away, and Harley pup desperately trying to get some respite.

I can do all I can for the dogs (Wiglet is currently laying in the tiled bathroom floor) and we can dunk them in the pool later, but I am worried for my cats, especially Molly Kitten who is over 19 years old.

In my bedroom it is this temperature, in the kitchen it is three degrees higher and in the garden the thermometer is reading forty – two degrees. As they say in the song it’s too darned hot!

Smaller Shops have shut, hubby has cancelled work for today and even the farmers are not out working!

After a quick trip to the supermarket and the air conditioned bank ( where we may linger) it is in the pool for us.

The temperature is due to drop to twenty-one degrees tomorrow, positively freezing!

Stay cool folks, and here is a cool tune …

Rosie

As I sit here

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It is just after nine on a Monday morning. Rich aka Danny (I will need to unlink this blog!) has gone off to work, and I am left contemplating.

I just had one of those moments that you get in life, where the sunlight coming through the window, and the silence, and the clocks ticking, the birds singing, and my beautiful Welshie boy asleep on the chair, made me stop and commit this moment to memory.

It is one of those moments where you are reminded that the simple things are the most precious.

Rich and I are back to ‘do we stay, or do we go’. We sat yesterday evening in the garden and we talked about what we want, or that we don’t know what we want, but we do know some of the things we don’t want, and it got me thinking:

I have said many times that we need to write down some of the things we discuss, because being a journal keeper I know that writing something down gives you clarity; and also reminds you how quickly what you thought you wanted can change.

I have been absent quite awhile because I have been concentrating on my book (under the pseudonym of Rosie Joseph) and the blog linked to it has just hit over 72,100 views with over 11,000 visitors. Every day I wake up a voice in my head says ‘you need to get that book out there before you can make any decisions.’ Every day when someone messages me to say how my blog helps them: the lady yesterday who told me she was going to buy a journal, because my blog inspired her; the lady who told me that after reading one of my posts she knew that going back in time was not going to help her; the people who say you have put into words how I feel, at a time I cannot understand, they all inspire me to get that book out there; because I know it will change lives, including ours.

So is now a time to be making decisions? Not yet. I finally got there, the book is going to the publishers today.

Lets see what life shows us.

Rosie (aka Moisy)

Au revoir

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This is Sophie the Sofa Loaf asleep on my shoulder last winter.

When we got up this morning it was a beautiful summers day, our routine was the same: I fed the cats, and prepared Sophie’s dish, but sadly it is still on the counter untouched, because Sophie died in the night last night.

Because it is summer I did not worry when she didn’t come for breakfast; we had our tea in bed and started to get ready to take the Welshies for their haircut. As Rich looked out of the window he saw Sophie lying in the road, just outside our house. He called her, and she didn’t move, and we knew, we knew that our little Nitty Nutty Nora had left us.

I ran out and there she was, with a little bright red blood coming from her nose onto the road. Her tongue was hanging out of the side of her mouth, as it often did when she was happy, but her eyes were open, and sightless. Rich came out and lifted her up so gently, my big gentle husband had tears in his eyes, he loved the pretty little cat who had such a difficult life.

I wrote about Sophie last year when she nearly got run over, and then lost in a derelict house in her panic, you can read about it Here

As I have written before Sophie was a French feral cat, and someone before us had adopted her, prevented kittens and loved her. But somehow Sophie ended up alone, someone found her, and they handed her over to Rich when we moved here.

We believe that she may have been loved by an elderly French person and when they died she was just put out into the wilds to fend for herself.

At first she was a difficult cat, but over the years she knew we would not hurt her, she loved being warm, and she loved us.

One of my favourite things to say to her was ‘are you happy Loaf?’ When she stretched out like this, without a care in the world.

More than anyone she loved her Dad, she would ride around the garden on his shoulders, she would run to greet his van when he come home, and she would hug him, tightly.

Sophie had always had a cough, we asked the vet when she first came to live with us and they did not know what was causing it. We knew it could be anything so we decided to make her comfortable and give her a good life and love. We didn’t know what had happened to her in her life, and we didn’t know how long she would live so we gave her lots of love; and what a difference that love made: She went from a cat who would claw you, to a cat that would let you stroke her and rub her belly; I said to her only the other day ‘what a difference love makes Sophie, look at you now’. And now she has gone, and we are heartbroken.

No more Sophie climbing into bed with us at every opportunity in the winter, no more Sophie meowing as she runs down the kitchen, and tonight she won’t be lying on the garden table with us trying to knock our wine over.

No more Sophie eating my chicken sandwiches, as she did last Thursday! Or taking on the Welshies (she was fearless).

No more shoulder cuddles.

This little cat, who serendipity sent our way, made a bigger impact on our lives than we ever thought, Rich is bereft. I have cried all morning, even in the shops! Being me I have looked up the circumstances of her death (there were no signs of trauma and it happened in the night, we live in a dead end road and no cars have been here in that time), and taking into account her cough, the small amount of blood and that she didn’t eat last night (not like Loafy) I believe she died from a heart attack.

We have buried her in the garden, near to where we sit, and planted a rambling rose on top of her. It seemed fitting that Sophie will make the flowers grow, and they will ramble freely just as she has.

I have found myself singing this to her, because she is no longer in pain, and she will make the flowers grow.

Don’t you fret, M’sieur Marius
I don’t feel any pain
A little fall of rain
Can hardly hurt me now
You’re here, that’s all I need to know
And you will keep me safe
And you will keep me close
And rain will make the flowers grow.

‘A little drop of rain’. From Les Mis

I like to think that the person who had before, was waiting to greet her and take her home. We were just her guardians for a short time.

There will be more tears, for the little French rescue cat; poor Rich, it’s his birthday on Monday.

Farewell my nutty little cat, I am glad you had four years of happiness and love. We will miss you so. But I know if you could you would tell us this.

We will miss you just the same.

❤️

Mummy and daddy.

My favourite time of year

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This time of year has always been my favourite time of year, with warm weather and Wimbledon, for me it has always epitomised summer because of the fond memories that it brings back.

I don’t remember when I really got into tennnis, but I do know that Bjorn Borg was a major factor in converting me, and I became an avid tennis fan when I was fourteen. I can especially remember the summer of ’77, when the weather had been hot (something to be treasured in England) and the championships had been thrilling: with Borg constantly taking us through five set matches whilst we sat on the edge of our seats.

One particular evening my mum and dad had gone ‘up the club’ as we used to say, to have an evening out, leaving my eighteen year old sister and I indoors watching the tennis. It was a hot evening and Borg was playing Vitas Gerulaitis, I lay on the sofa periodically jumping up whenever Borg scored a point. The match was a thrilling five set match that played late into the balmy evening.

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My dear Dad had left us with some money because the ‘Ice Cream Man’ normally came to our lane on a Thursday evening, and as we watched the match we could hear his chimes as he came up our lane. I can remember my sister pulling rank on me and insisting that I went out and queued for the ice creams whilst she watched the match.

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Running out as fast as I could I beat all the young kids and getting to the front to the queue so that I could get back to the match,  and decadently buying us both an Oyster Ice Cream each , considered the queen of ice creams back in the 70’s.

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I just remember that time to be such a happy time: my mum and dad were getting on and not arguing, my school life was going well and I had started to gain the confidence that I would take with me for the rest of my life; the weather was good and the tennis was better. Borg went on to win that year.

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It’s funny how particular things resonate with you; I watchWimbledon every year but if you ask me to think of a match it will always take me back to that balmy Thursday evening in Essex when life was innocent and good.

I never thought at that time that one day I would be watching the tennis in my house in France. I suppose it goes to show that if you believe, and face your fears,  life really can be an adventure; and your memories go with you wherever you are.

Have a good day.

PS: A song to make you smile

 

Rosie

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Hot weather, Welsh Terriers, and contentment

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France has been on high alert this week, for extreme temperatures, and they weren’t kidding! On Tuesday the temperature started to rise and by Friday it was thirty six degrees, with humidity of over forty percent. I kid you not I felt as if I was melting as I unloaded the shopping, our patio was recording temperatures of over fifty degrees.

Our poor Welshies have been our main concern, they are due another cut in 2 weeks so in the meantime I have stripped the excess fur out if them, after chasing them around the garden!

And much splashing has been had by the pool, even Wiglet (who hates water) joined in.

But yesterday when the temperatures hit thirty nine, with fifty seven humidity we had to dunk her fat little bum in the pool! She was so hot she didn’t complain and merely waddled off, finally cool for a short respite of time.

Over this week I have thanked God for our shutters! When I used to holiday in France (I can’t afford to holiday now, but then I am on an adventure instead) I would think that nobody was in when the shutters were down; now I know that is not the case, the shutters are down to keep the heat out! So I have had the dogs laying on our bed in a darkened room with the fans working overtime.

The humidity at night has been unbearable but last night, finally the temperatures started to drop and a cool (twenty four degrees) a breeze started to blow; and this is what I woke up to this morning

Bless him, he is smiling, and I am blessed.

As we lay in the pool on Friday evening, after Rich had git home from work, I was reminded that I live here, and whilst I am here I will cherish every moment, good or bad.

I looked at Rich (also known as Danny) and said ‘beats living in Herne Bay’ and it does.

Counting my blessings.

Rosie

Thunderbolts and lightening

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Image result for pictures of lightningIt has been warm here in France, but not as hot as last year (yet!) It appears that we have a red alert for hot weather for the rest of the week with temparatures in the high thirties. Me-thinks my shutters will be down and the fan will be on in our bedroom for the Welshies. They are not due another cut until next month.

I digress – this is my impromptu story:

Last night we had one humdinger of a thunderstorm. It had been warm and cloudy all day, but not particularly humid. Thunderstorms are often predicted for this region, it is so open and vast; so we have come to take the warning with a pinch of salt! But last night just as we sat down for our tea (I come from Essex you have tea not dinner!) ensconced in front of the TV with all our favourite soaps to watch,  good old Eastenders started to pixelate. You could see an eye and a hand, or a leg and and a window and they were all speaking like daleks! We  looked out of our huge window and whilst it was cloudy the clouds were not ominous; but on closer inspection the monsoon rains that were tipping water into our garden were!

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So we resigned ourselves to eating our tea without TV, but watched in amusement as the satellite battled on trying to provide a service. Then we heard the thunder…

Now since living here in amongst all of the other things that have happened to us including the roof and the tornado  ,we also got hit by lightening which took out our internet and phone over two years ago.

It was a lesson learnt and when a storm hits we know to unplug the internet. But the storm last night was probably the biggest storm that we had seen to date. After the satellite struggled it was put out of it’s misery by the electric tripping out and we sat in darkness (even though it was only 9.30pm and should have been sunny). As all of the lights burst back into life we decided that we needed to batten down the hatches (literally!)

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We ran around the house closing all of our shutters and unplugging all of our appliances except for the fridges. We know that if lightening were to hit it could literally blow all appliances that were plugged in. As I went to close the shutters I was mesemerised by the lightening: it was quite literally all around us. Not just one bolt, but four or five at a time, hitting the fields outside. But as four simultaneously hit our garden just feet away from the house I realised that I needed to close those shutters fast as I was in a precarious position.

I have never seen anything llke it before, not from the position of a solitary house on top of a hill.  I moved down to the kitchen and stood at our double glass doors mesmerised by the show in front of me: it was as if a wizard battle was going on above us, and I half expected Dumbledore to land in my garden!!

The rain was torrential as if the angels had hoses above our house and were trying to wash it away. But bless her – she stood firm as she always does.  Danny(remember the name changes read here told me to move away from the doors as the lightening was so close; and we decided to call it a night and go to bed.

As I lay in bed, with the Welshie’s snoring beside me and the fan buzzing away I could hear the thunder making it’s way back to us for a second onslaught. I heard the fan go off as the electric disconnected, and then I heard it buzz back into life as the storm finally moved on.

But as I sit here this morning the sun is shining, the swimming pool has overflowed in the night and the birds are singing again. Danny (formerly known as Rich) has checked the house and garden and there are not visible signs of damage – the house on the hill stood firm again.

But I have learnt living here that nature will never be beaten, and when she gives me sunsets like this I hope that she isn’t- she always knows best.

Rosie

Other stories you may want to read

Other stories you may want to read

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So much to say, so little time, so much change

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I cannot believe that I have not blogged for over seventeen days, so much has happened but time has truly run away with me.

At the end of May I signed up to self-publish my book. There have been so many people asking where they can buy it, the blog is just about to have it’s ten thousandth visitor and has just hit fifty nine thousand views. I couldn’t wait anymore, I am confident of it’s success and life will show me the way where a publisher is concerned. But….

Due to the nature of the book I have had to use a pseudonym I didn’t want to, but after a weekend prevaricating I came to realise that it is the right thing to do You can read about my decision here and as a result Rosie Joseph was born. It is an homage to my mum and dad, using their second names, hopefully I will immortalise them forever, as a big thank you to my dad, who taught me to read. So now when you look on this blog it will be RJ who is posting but I have kept the title the same.

Due to all of this I now have to re-edit my book, but now I have a deadline of the end of July! In addition I have nearly 100 blog posts on the blog of the same name to edit, so that it can be linked with the book, but sadly I will have to unlink the blogs. To say that I am busy is an understatement! Add to that new social media accounts, rebuilding followers, and continuing promotion, including Danny’s business (yep another name change my husband is called Danny now!), and doing admin for the business and I am now having to remind myself to switch off!

The French bureaucracy is driving me nuts! (Another story that must be told) and some additional galavanting and I have lots to tell.

So tomorrow I will be sitting in the sunshine of my beautiful garden, surrounded by the ever changing fields of gold, editing, editing, editing. We will also be pulling together some lists for some life changing decisions we may make in the future.

Please bear with me as I change my name, my adventures will be the same, but perhaps in Spain!

Rosie ❤️