I have said for a few weeks that I thought we were going to have an early spring. Despite it being only January my clematis have buds on them (they are being cut back tomorrow) and the narcissi and daffodils were standing tall. In fact the winter had not really been that harsh so the crocus were few and far between but that may change now!
We have been working in the garden, clearing the logs from the trees that were cut down last year; cutting back the brambles,and generally making some final headway for our plans for the future in our garden.
At times the sun has been really warm, and I said to Rich that I thought we were going to get an early spring, and I still do, despite this happening this week..
There is nothing like a Welshie in the snow to make you smile..
Harley, ever the poser. Wiglet, ever the Wiglet!
But there is still a battle going on, today the temperature had risen from -2 to 8 degrees; the snow has melted here but not in other areas, but tonight we are due to go back to -2.
I don’t care what they are, as I sit in our new seating area, with a Welshie asleep beside me, and the fire burning I am counting my blessings: not least the amazing supportive friends and family I have, including the cyber community that I interact with.
So tomorrow we are back in the garden, it’s all part of the big plan now, we’re not going anywhere. As a dear reader said to me people would give their eye teeth to live where we do, problems an all. She was right, and I am thankful.
So, enjoy our winter garden, and the beautiful sunrise I caught this week; and look forward to seeing the spring photos soon.
Have a good weekend folks.
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My faithful followers of this blog may have noticed a distinct lack of blogging recently. There have been a number of reasons:
That I have been disenchanted with life (mainly people in it); that I have come to realise that I will have to lower my integrity towards people to survive, because I know that some people will take joy (sadly yes) if they read what I am going to write; and I have had to consider whether I was going to give them that joy; and mainly because I know that people love my positivity and I have felt very negative due to experiences since living here, that have now come to a head in the last couple of months.
I have come to realise that I have always tried to look at the positives to such a degree that I have not considered the negatives; and perhaps now I need to.
For the first time in a long time I wrote in my journal, and I reflected on our life here and realised that whilst I always try to look at the positive was I ignoring what life was showing me, by not acknowledging the negative as well? Our well ran dry, our water heater was not working properly, resulting in a huuuuuge bill, our roof blew off, our truck engine seized (despite being only 6 years old), work had been difficult and my! Have we had some humdinger employers! And many other things, not least Tinky Tiny Tilly never coming home. (But if you look at the balance Wiglet the PIglet came to live with us instead.)
On the Monday before my birthday I asked Rich if he wanted to stay here in France and he answered honestly that he didn’t know. So I set to writing my journal, and asked myself some honest questions. I know that people read this blog for its positivity but I always said I would say it warts and all.
As I lay there in bed with Rich snoring and asked myself if at that precise moment in time if I had won the lottery would I stay: The answer was no; but I have to emphasise it was at that precise moment in time.
So I started to consider other options in my head: moving to Spain, where it would be warmer and (my understanding is) the cost of living is cheaper. I considered moving back to England! The main problem with that was that we would want to live somewhere remote, and would never be able to afford to buy unless it was a shit hole! But I considered it, expressly Wales, where there is more countryside and less people. Then I considered Ireland; my dad was Irish, I have relatives there, the countryside is similar to France, and the properties are cheap. But most of all the benefit of Ireland was that they speak English.
I knew that to be realistic we really needed to sit down with a pen and a piece of paper because all of the things to consider would get lost in our heads.
But as always, even though I had lost my belief a little bit because it has been so hard, I believed that life would show me the way.
So on my birthday when I mentioned to a dear friend, who is there in the background, that I was considering our options they messaged me and immediately asked what’s up! They then pointed out to me how lucky we were and that they would move here in a heartbeat. They don’t know how much that simple comment meant.
As part of the numerous birthday wishes on FB a number of people said how I was living the dream; another friend excitedly posted that she was on the move, and when I responded she said that she was following my lead. My dear friend Mary has already ventured on a big adventure and all of these people have been inspired by us; I felt a responsibility to them. And being a girl who always believes that life shows you the way I then started to wonder if this was life trying to make me think. Add to that our impromptu invite to the lovely neighbours, Rich’s FB site that I have set up for work resulting in him getting some work from it, I started to think that perhaps it was.
On Sunday we went for a windy walk down our lane and visited a farm where Marc’s uncle lived and loved until he died last year. It was sad, with the doors blowing in the wind no longer loved; but when I looked at how that man had lived it reminded me that I had come out here for the simple life, and this was it. What did I want?
On the walk Rich and I stopped and looked over the rolling hills and Rich looked at me and said ‘I can’t go back to England Mois, I cannot be surrounded by people.’ And I agreed, we had at least made a decision on something.
As the week has worn on we have come up with some other ideas to make some money that I am now busy working on (let alone my blogs, and my book) and I am looking forward to what they may bring.
As I have always said life will show us the way.
We have both decided that we are not beaten yet; I mean, bloody hell, if you look at all of the obstacles that we have overcome to get to here we can do anything if we put our mind to it!
I have been honest in describing what happened to me re my mental health in England and in all honesty I think that I was still ill when I came over here. So I then became overwhelmed with the volumnious amount of paperwork that need to be completed; got sucked in by people who I thought were going to help me when in fact it was the opposite and I lost my mojo – which is that I take no crap from anyone.. But now I am back, I have lowered my level with regards to integrity and compassion, you get to piss me off three times and then your out! I can look after myself and others who are kind to me and I will not be beaten.
But part of this consideration is also that I have acknowledged that we are on an adventure – it was never set in stone – and if part of the adventure is to move to pastures new then life will show me that, and I need to not be afraid of it and stop beating myself up that I have to make it work here: to stop thinking that there are no other options. There are always options and right now I choose this one. Who wouldn’t?!
Then on Monday a darling friend (I have written of him before and the wonderful music he sends me) sent me this for my birthday; with a beautifully written card with it.
He also said to me on Messenger:
‘Remember Moi, we are the good ones, we too are the sensitive ones! We are on the bus, if the wheels fall off we just have to put them back on again!’
He is right, I am on the bus, my wheels on firmly back in place and let’s see where this baby takes us.
Watch this space folks let’s see what happens, and whatever it is I will Face Everything and Rise.
I have just used this quote in my other blog, but I love it so much and it sums up this post!
I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s cloud’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all
Both sides now – Joni Mitchell
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I have been neglectful of this blog recently because my other blog https;//makingthisbetter.com has taken off again and I am now on target to achieve over twenty thousand views by the end of this week!
In addition the blog has helped me tighten my book and I am editing like a fury into the evening every evening.It will be published this year; even if I self publish.
But both of my blogs are important to me. I think that the other blog has taken off, and taken over, because sadly January is a month when most people find that their problems are compounded: perhaps it is because it is the new year and they can see no change in sight; perhaps it is because Christmas,and all the hype that goes with it, often makes people feel as if they should be happy; that they should put their problems to one side for a week or so (delude themselves that everything is happy) but inevitably reality kicks back in to bite them on the arse again in January, or even Christmas evening! Or perhaps it is because people feel that at this time of year they should consider change, should reflect, that they find that they have no option but to do just that; and they are afraid of what they may see. Hence the visits to a blog that may help them.
But this blog too can help them, it is real, it is reflective, and I noticed how some are also finding their way here from makingthisbetter, and I am glad, and they are welcome.
So on to why I thought that I would share with you this rose on this blog, my first blog, the blog that got me to where I am today with regard to my writing: This rose currently sits on my windowsill in my living room, and it overlooks the front of my garden and the wonderful view. I bought this rose on the second but last weekend in November last year! I kid you not! Seven weeks ago!
We had no money, every penny counts (still does), but as I was leaving the supermarket a lady was there who represented a society for people with arthritis. They were asking for you to either buy a brioche (a form of sweet bread) from them, or a rose bud, and the money would be used to help people with arthritis who could not work and were on a low income. I could not afford it, but something made me buy this rose for two euro. I looked at Rich and said ‘I have arthritis, and I know we have nothing but surely we should all try and help other people.’ (Correction there we do have loads: each other to start, a house over our head, water, hot shower all of our blessings: you may want to read my ten consecutive posts around counting our blessings here is the first one Counting my blessings: Day one ) and I bought the rose.
And here is the rose: still alive, bloomed and still looking out over the view seven weeks after I bought it! I think that it is saying that it just loves it’s life looking out over the French countryside and it will stay as long as it can, it will keep going.
I did not realise the symbolism of a white rose, of which there are many, but two of them are hope, and new beginnings.
Every time I look at this rose I smile, because I know that it is a message being sent to me to tell me not to give up. For me it symbolises a number of things:
Hope – because it is still alive today, and it proves that anything is possible.
To enjoy the moment, enjoy life, whatever it holds; if you look at life there must be something positive in it. Only recently Rich and I have talked about the human brain being pre-disposed to see the negative and how every day when I wake, before I get up I say thank you:For Rich, for Tom, for my family, for my beautiful dogs, my cats, the roof over my head, running water, having a hot shower – back to the counting my blessings posts……!
But more than anything at what is a difficult time (there is always good and bad) this rose tells me to keep going.
And trust me, I will!
There will be more posts this week folks. I promise.
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I have recently started to follow a new blog and it inspired me because every year the lady who writes it picks a word to live that year by. I have included a link to her blog below, it is inspiring.
After all of my pictures recently, and things I have learnt over the last year I have decided to pick ‘Dawn’. Because every dawn, every sunrise offers new opportunities, offers you the chance to leave things in the past and move into the new.
And living here every dawn, as I stand with my beloved cup of tea, makes me smile.
I have written many times about winter in rural France. I have said how people dread it, how it can be very grey (although that is one of my favourite colours!), and how work can be scarce to the point of non existence; add that to what can be one of the most expensive times of the year with fuel to find, and it can be hard.
So this year we are approaching winter with a different approach, in fact this year we are approaching a lot of things differently, but more of that to come over the year!
Firstly we have wood, in our garden, our own wood. So we spend at least one afternoon a week chopping the wood (don’t get me started on the log splitter!). I enjoy it, I enjoy working with my husband, with the puppies running around us, and I find it rewarding.
Secondly we have decided to focus on what we can do, instead of what we can’t do. I believe if you keep going what you need will come, so since the new year we have done the following:
We went for our New Year day walk around the medieval city of forgeres
I said we are going to enjoy the winter in my previous posts, and I hope by doing this I will inspire others to just embrace each and every day.
Rich has decided to use his time, and has painted our toilet, and hung the radiator on the wall. We have decided that this is the year that we will take control and this is one way to do it. To decorate the house, with the paint we already have, and to do it well and how we want it. This house will be unrecognisable.
He has also re-arranged our living room, so that we take more advantage of the log burner with a ‘snug area by the tv and fire. I love it, it has gone from this……
To this..(dog leg not included!)
He has opened up the seating area at the other side of the room, and we have decided not to have a table. We never use it! So it’s going up for sale and we now have a huge amount of space. From this….
We have a long list of jobs that we want to achieve this winter, pulling all the logs from the overgrown dead grass around them, decorate the hall, paint our living room and kitchen ceiling white (the leaking roof has been fixed, properly this time without any odious little people in sight!) and decorate both rooms. I am sure in-between all this work will come Rich’s way.
And last, but never least I will continue to cherish the scenes around me, because they keep me here. So here are some winter sunrises and sunsets from 2019.
Sunrise Ambrières-les-Vallées January 2019
Let’s be positive, and honest with ourselves this year.
Sunset Ambrières-les-Vallées January 8th 2019
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My most favourite poems is ‘The Listeners’ by Walter de la Mare. I have loved it since I was very young, one of its themes being opportunity lost.
‘Tell them I came, and no-one answered
That I kept my word, he said…”
How often are we rushing so much that it is only when we lose what we treasure so much, that we realise we had not treasured it at all?
One of the other poems that has always inspired me, that I hear myself quote quite often, is the poem ‘Leisure’ by W H Davies.
‘What is this life, if full of care
We have no time to stand and stare?’
(If you would like to read it then I have added it to the bottom of this post.)
I also read a post today about social media, and how people take it literally, making them feel anxious and inadequate. In it the writer reflected on how years ago people had time for quiet contemplation, time to think without the bombardment of the world attacking them all the time. In fact years ago (many) when I was at school, we had a library session every week to just sit and read in silence. At the time I hated it, now I would embrace it!
All of this got me thinking and I realised that when I started to ‘plan’ in my diary/planner for this year I had not given myself any time to ‘stop and stare’. No time out, to just play with my puppies, even though I cherish every day because I know their lives are too short, and I should treasure every moment.
I also know that when I was ill that was all I was ‘allowed’ to do was stop and relax, because my brain had become totally overloaded, and I had lost the ability to stop thinking!
The wonderful Deepak Chopra tells us to set aside a little time each day to experience silence, and contemplation at the very beginning of ‘The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success’.
So I have crossed out my day chocked full of things to do, and I have written in between my jobs and aspirations, ‘play with dogs’, take dogs for a walk, sit in silence, and I have given myself ‘space’ each day.
WH Davies – Leisure
WHAT is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?— No time to stand beneath the boughs, And stare as long as sheep and cows:
No time to see, when woods we pass, Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass: No time to see, in broad daylight, Streams full of stars, like skies at night: No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance: No time to wait till her mouth can
So here I am on my final post of the ten day series Counting My Blessings and I am going to cheat, I am counting three in this post, and will put it under the heading ‘My Family’.
First let’s talk about my son Tom. I chose this picture carefully because he is on top of a peak in the Lake District in England, with the sun behind him, and for me it symbolises how he can do anything he wants, he is young, and his life is in front of him with every opportunity available should he wish to take it.
I am proud of him: how he has coped with mum and dad moving to France, has pursued his dream of working in the gaming industry and has never given that up. I don’t think he realises just how much strength you need to pursue your dream, and exactly how much strength he actually has.
He is full of fun, empathetic and learnt his lesson to walk in others shoes and is loved by so many people. I am proud of him.
Now my second blessing, my sister. She will kill me for putting this photo on, but she has to be in this, not least for the support she has given Tom over the past four years. The second photo is of Tom and I, with Tom getting ready to walk her down the aisle.
We have had our ups and downs, as sisters do! She thinks she’s always right ( and annoyingly more often than not she is!) But she is always there, she cares, and Tom would not have his dream job without her tenacity and love.
Now last but never least:
My husband Richard.
If any of you have read my serialisation of my soon to be published book (it will happen this year whatever) https://makingthisbetter.com you will know how Rich I and sailed The Ocean of Despair for a long time, to get to where we are today.
This man fought tooth and nail to keep me; he evolved because he wanted to, not because I asked him to; because I never did! After what happened he had to keep up with me, I wasn’t going to wait for him!
And every minute of every hour of every day he did.
I once had someone say to me that they ‘had never had a man look at them in the way Rich looks at me’ and that was true, I know I am truly blessed to have that in my life.
He is a kind and gentle giant, who enabled me to trust him enough to come on this adventure. He makes me laugh every day, literally every day, with his dry sense of humour, and silliness.
Everyone he meets loves him, because he just sees the funny side of life. Look at him in this picture, he is so naughty he has led them all astray.
I am blessed to have this man in my life, he is sensitive and loving; strong when I need him. I could not be on this adventure without him. We are blessed to be as strong as we are now, and we both count that blessing every day, and NEVER take it for granted.
I know he will cry when he reads this; and that just makes me love him even more.
So my final blessing, my family, but more than that: the pride I have for my son, the hope I have for him too.
The understanding I have of my sister, and the respect too. My book wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for her!
The respect I have for my husband, the love I have for them all. I am truly blessed.
I hope you have enjoyed this series; And I hope it has made people think about the small things, because, trust me, they are the things that keep you going in life. So in this New Year, please take time to stop, and see the small stuff.
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Enter a This picture is of one of the first sunsets that we were inspired by when we first came to live here in 2015. ……caption
As I have been writing this series of posts under the theme of ;Counting My Blessings; I have realised that when looking at the really simple things I have way more than ten things to write about! Isn’t that in itself a blessing?
So on this first day of the new year I have decided to keep it really simple, and let nature lead the way: My blessing today is my surroundings, but especially the sunrises and sunsets that we experience living here in the vast French rural countryside.
What better way to bring in the new year, a time that symbolises endings and beginnings, than by sharing with you the endings and beginnings that nature shows us every day, something that we take for granted:Every day! Always expecting the next day to come, and perhaps thinking that we will ‘Stop and Stare’ then!
This adventure has vividly taught me how nothing can be taken for granted; not people, not work, not income; it has reminded me constantly what the Tao reminds me of: that the only moment is now, don’t live your life for what you think is coming, only to find that it does not come.
We live our lives looking forward: To our holidays, to Christmas, to our anniversary, to our birthdays, to when we will have more money, always, always looking forward, and never taking time to just enjoy the here and now.
I have heard a lot of people (especially since moving over here when French winters can be grey and harsh, and everyone just knuckles down and hibernates) say how they hate the winter. I have written often before about enjoying the here and now (see link below) I have said how I would commit to going out in all weathers, and then not done it. But this time I am going to.
Over the past few months I have been reminded of how things come and go; evolve and change; and although I have always felt a sadness when people leave to go home, or the summer comes to an end, or the old year passes, I realise now that the sadness was because deep down I knew that those things can never be captured again. They are but a moment and then they are gone.
This picture is from three years ago, whilst looking after a friends house. I now no longer see them and they have sold the house, highlighting how this moment was never going to be repeated!
Sadly I know of people who have died recently; were here one moment, gone the next, some tragically and unexpectedly; one day they saw their last sunrise, and last sunset and probably never even noticed them; how often do we ever notice the blessing of the sky, as it floats by?
As I have said in my mini bus of life theory, friendships change, and sometimes we let people back into our lives, but sometimes we have to let them go, and realise that the memories are enough.
I have come to realise recently that in some cases we have to consider whether we should leave them at their stop because it is us that have changed. You can read more on the link below..
So this year I am going to go out more and see France in the winter, starting with today: We are off, to a medieval city to see it in winter time, it will show us a new perspective on something old, and we could all do with that at times.
Sadly I am also going to let some of my integrity go, and get my empathy under control (I must make a little mantra to remind myselfm because it is not something that comes natuarally to me!)
I am going to enjoy what life shows me, and go back to letting her show me the way, because actually she knows best.
I urge you all to go out today and watch the sunset, wherever you are, treasure that moment, you will never get it back again, you are given a small blessing every day, no matter where you are, or your circumstances, just take what is given you.
Please share if this series has inspired you and let’s inspire others to count their blessings.
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This is Wiglet, my curly blessing; and I count her as a blessing for many reasons:
Wiglet came into our life three years ago, when she was two years old. She had been bought to show and breed; and she came from high ranking French hunting stock. But the problem was her tail would not behave; it was just too curly, like a piglet’s tail.
Due to this she would not win shows; so in the first year of her life she was operated on twice to straighten her tail! As you can see Wiglet is just a curl, from the top of her head to the tip of her tail, and that wilful little tail would not be straightened!
Wiglet didn’t help herself when she then killed one of her owners chickens, and she was kept in a pound with other bigger dogs who then attacked her (she has issues now around food, so it was at feeding time we believe). In the end she was attacked so badly that she had to have a new home and was shipped off to a chateau just outside Paris, with another male Welshie.
But the aristocratic who had Wiglet did not like her. We believe he wanted to hunt with her and she is afraid of gunshots; add to that the fact that she was now a vulnerable little Welsh Terrier who needed love and she ran away, in the middle of Paris!
So Wiglet was sent back to her previous owner, back to the other dogs who attacked her, and she had to be shut away from the dogs in a small room. This was now home number four for her, because she had been with so many people.
But serendipity stepped in, as she always does, and a friend of ours (the lady who bred Harley) suggested us to her owner, we knew Welshies, and we knew their naughty and extremely loving ways; poor Rich, when I heard of her plight I just called the owner and didn’t even ask him. ‘We can’t afford another dog!’ He said. Wiglet came to live with us two days later.
Do you think she is a daddy’s girl?
She is our blessing because she is so grateful to live with us. She loves her adopted brother Harley, and she is grateful for the love we give her, with her sweet vulnerable little face looking up at us each day.
She gives us so much love, and when she smiles her wonky little smile it makes my heart break for the suffering she had. When I bought her a new bed, her own bed that no other dog had had before her, she got in it and that was that, it was her place; and she lays beside me every night in that bed, snoring.
Every morning she wakes me with a tap of her paw and a smile, waiting for a head rub.
She was sent to us, as much as we were sent to her, and she is a blessing.
Let’s share this series, lets get people counting their small blessings, they help to put things in perspective you know!
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This is Molly, my beautiful girl. Nineteen years ago, just after Rich and I got married I found a little ginger female kitten behind our shed; even to this day Rich does not believe me, and thinks I actually went and collected her from somewhere! Sadly Pussy Willow, as she became known, died when she was just two years old, but not before she had kittens, who were born in our cupboard; and we kept two of them. One, Milly Kitten, was a reclusive cat, who liked to be outside most of her life. She died at the ripe age of thirteen, after spending a year sleeping indoors every night. We loved her dearly, and Molly missed her
Molly was a different story, she loves the sunshine, but hates the cold, rain or snow. She is now very old, eighteen and a half years, but all the time she eats, and sleeps (pretty much all the time now) we know she is okay. She has had her moments over the past year but she still loves life and she is a blessing that we count every day.
She was the cat who lay beside me, with Snowy our Westie when war had devastated our lives (see my other blog http://makingthisbetter.com) they literally made a sandwich either side with me as the filling and she loves me still.
Molly kitten is my blessing.
Over the years other kittens have been brought into the house starting with this pretty little thing: Diddyman dod. She is part of our story because we gave her a home a year after ‘The War’; she was our band aid baby and only Five weeks old when we got her. Molly adopted her and taught her all she knows; we can’t believe she is ten years old, time has just flown.
Then we got Daisy, we brought her home with the shopping, as you do! Tom had gone to university and she was our ’empty nest’ baby. She is a huge, but incredibly gentle cat, just happy with life, and a bowl of milk and cream.
Sadly our last baby: Tinky Tiny Tilly, or Tillybet, was a naughty one, who gave Daisy so much confidence, they were the Black Hand Gang. But Tilly went out one day in March this year and never came home, and my eyes still fill with tears for my baby. You can read all about her in my post Tinky Tiny Tilly.
All of these cats, including sofa loaf, (A story of hardship, serendipity, and love -Sophie The Sofa Loaf) are our blessings, they make us laugh, and I know they will make us cry, just as Tilly has; and Molly will. But if you don’t open your heart to love, even knowing it will cause you pain; then you have not lived. It is all a blessing.
More and more are starting to share their blessings, spread the word let’s take people into the new year on a positive. Please share.