Deep thought

42? Well perhaps not, not that deep but thought at least. Delia’s 46 today and she’s been contemplating her life and career path. She’s good at what she does, which may be the problem since what she does isn’t necessarily what she wants. But I’ll let her explore that if she wants in her own blog.  It did make me wonder about my own path.

When I was a kid I wanted many random careers; an atomic scientist (nuclear power was big in the sixties) an Antarctic explorer (I read a lot about Scott and Shackleton), then, once I started French and German… air steward (though not realising I wasn’t pretty enough, this was before RyanAir and EasyJet lowered the standards J ). None of these came to much when, like many, perhaps most, I had no idea what to do when I left school. I ended up at the BBC Record library (yes pre-cd’s) then Video library (pre dvd and even pre computer). A degree hadn’t been common but after contemplating town planning and landscape architecture (did I mention random?) I decided to stop the bitty Open University route and do a full time degree in something I had come to love, Geology. I little planned that it would actually lead to a career and even a book (Rocks and Minerals, not Fly Fishing by J RR Hartley – you probably have to be English to get that reference).

The 1980’s oil price crash meant a rethink since I had somehow become a carbonate sedimentologist specialising in oil exploration. Computers had long been a tool, if not only to create legible reports but to analyse statistics too. Now this led to an MSc in Information Systems engineering and various jobs in computing as my employers changed direction and I stayed on the same one. That path led to Bell Computing, self-employed, freelance for a time, then several jobs back in employment.

So 5 years at the BBC, 10 years a geologist, 25 years in computers. So was there a direction? My middle son, Adam decided on his gap year to be a doctor and nearly 10 years later he is an intern in Brisbane. Focussed or what?  I never felt in that much control, perhaps positioning myself so that when a choice came it was always obvious which choice to make.

So the “choice” to move to France? It seemed to be the best choice at the time, at least it might stop Delia’s constant emails with French properties. As a career move? Perhaps not but now here in France, back doing what I probably most enjoy, creating stuff for clients.  It is easier to create beautiful web sites that do what you want rather than with the limitations of a decade or so ago.

I don’t think there’s much I can give Delia by way of example and, as ever, I am dealing with the now, rather than the future and heaven knows where Brexit might take that. But I plan to make the best of it!

Here’s a nice picture from our Bordeaux trip


Fête des Ânes – donkeys and junk

First frost of the autumn, chilly for the early morning dog walk but it warms up during the day. It’s been around 20° most of the past week. The colder nights does mean that the mice come in from the fields looking for warmer places for the night. We heard them in the walls, Delia is a bit grossed out (as she says) but it’s the country and we have an old house. The age of the house is significant because they were built with 50-100cm thick double walls with a gap that things seem to live in. Fewer I think as we move forward with the repointing of the bad wall, which is blocking holes here and there. Wallis the cat keeps them out of the main house (only passively, he keeps his hunting outside mostly). We do get the occasional gift left outside for us.

I finally went to the Fête des Ânes last week. The “festival of the donkeys” has been on every year but this is the first time we’ve been either here or remembered it. It was a photoclub trip so I have a quite a few pictures. It’s a kind of “Vide Greniers” gathering too (it means ‘empty lofts’ so it’s more like a boot sale), it was bigger than others I’d been to and as such it was the largest collection of useless junk I’ve seen. There are some very few bargains but mostly overpriced (and hence constantly reappearing at the next vide greniers) and/or “characterful”, such as vintage biscuit tins and the like for adding “charm” to holiday homes. I am surprised that even though many are English, few actually bargain. We’ve gone to a few vide greniers when looking for some specific items but, at least as far as I am concerned, they mostly have overpriced junk. There are the scattered “artisan” stalls, local produce and crafts that are often interesting though.

Anyway, I know you are dying to hear about the donkeys. Who’d have thought there were so many kinds, I mean, a donkey is a donkey, right? It would seem not, and after 3 or 4 hours watching and photographing hundreds of every size shade and hair length, I should know.
So as I type this, Delia is hammering away removing the old mortar from the stone wall, I’m feeling a bit guilty so I will get out now and mix up the cement before the traditional “ban” on noisy stuff during the 2 hours of lunchtime. She’ll be able to relax whilst I’m doing that… only room for one on the scaffold!

Giverny at Summer’s end.

It all happened so quickly, sandals and shorts to jackets and wellies. At least that’s how it seemed. Weeks of enjoying the baking sunshine and in a day, to be suddenly aware of the morning chill. The days are still warming up, into the mid-twenties for the most part. It’s the morning dogwalk that makes it feel so Autumnal though – out at just an hour after sunrise – 8 am but equivalent to 5 am only a few weeks back (I’ll leave you to look up actual sunrise times, I’ll leave this blog subjective). The chestnuts are just starting to fall, blackberries ready to gather for my morning porridge and hazelnuts at last left over after being squirrel-snaffled. The leaves just showing a hint of turning, especially where the dry summer is having an effect.

ivyDelia’s mum (Fran) arrived at Summer’s height and is now leaving just as it cools, back to the beginnings of the Australian spring. We all enjoyed a visit to Monet’s garden at Giverny. Being in the southern edges of Normandy this was farther enough north that the ivy is reddening well.

Delia and I had visited here last May and the differences made it well worth repeating. Though we had missed the wisteria that was in full bloom in our own garden last May and, during this visit, long gone, the water lilies were blooming in the pond. We still didn’t get to see the bridge as its immortalised with its swathes of wisteria blooms the gardens were still beautiful. Fewer people too, as well as being dry helped.


This visit I focused on close-ups, if you’ll allow the pun. Delia helped Fran with her new camera (since she has the same model) and between them they took some great shots. Below I’ve montaged the close-ups I’ve worked on so far. A journey home through lovely open countryside and into the Limousin woodland. 5 hours is a long drive!


After having previously burnt her chips, undercooked her steak and served cold green beans, I think I was able to salvage some of my culinary reputation with a Moroccan rice-stuffed shoulder of lamb as the parting meal with Fran. We skipped the opportunity for her to trounce us yet again at a game of sevens for an early night to prepare for the early start to get Fran to the station in time. It’s hard to remember how we used to get up at 6am every morning for our commute and 12 hours out of the house, as we were doing the last time Fran visited us. This time I feel we were much more able to make her a part of our much more enjoyable daily routine.