Christmas Eve in Beaulieu

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

apart from those buggers with tippex on their tail
to show that Pat in his mouse clearing was doomed to fail

Those who had come back after being dumped in the nearby (too near it turns out) field. Actually it’s been quiet of late mouse-wise (cue biblical plague in the basement, thinks Pat magically), just the occasional whisker twitching visitor.

It’s just growing dark here, the Christmas icicle lights are on and our Christmas tree illuminating the front window glows merrily with its gaily wrapped presents underneath. Our super efficient Pere Noël has already been and filled our Christmas stockings. We two sit festively in the kitchen with cups of tea, Delia on her Nintendo and me on my laptop!

This morning we had taken part in the local ex-pat tradition of a mass dog walk. About 20 by my count, Siena had a great time! A lovely social event around a lake and finished off with mulled wine and mince pies. Delia is revelling in her second day of genuine holiday, so much so that we slept in this morning and nearly missed getting out in time for the dog walk.  The afternoon was spent filling in the gaps in our Christmas card list with e-Cards.

Last Sunday I went to the Marché de Noël in Chassenon. After a foggy start for the morning dog walk, it had cleared to the extent that I needed sunglasses on the start of the drive. At the market however, the fog stuck all morning and it sucked all the warmth out of me. We had a “photo assignment” of “All that glitters” but the cold made many of the stall holders grumpily complain about us snapping their wares, as if we were going to scamper off and maliciously reproduce their artisan creations in competition at the next market (at which mostly the same people attend – behind and in front of the stalls). I still managed a few shiny shots.

New Year’s resolutions?
More of the same I guess:
-Continue to slowly build Bell-Computing business,
-Keep improving my French,
-Make more of the social stuff started off this year
-More specifics ie plans rather than hopes
-Redo the bathroom (lino, paint, new sink base, tidy up around the shower)
-Redo the living room (paint, floor, wall bookcase…)
-Finish the repointing!
So on that note, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Ryanair and a roadtrip

A delayed blog but this time of year is busy. I spent some wonderful days with Lily, my new granddaughter and Dexter, my (nearly 2 year old) grandson. 

As well as visiting Wales I also managed friends in Nottingham and Leicester, my brother and sister-in-law in Princes Risborough and especially my daughter and partner in Tooting. With an extra gift of time to visit with another friend and his wife and baby whom I hadn’t seen for some time. A total of 800 or so miles driven in that grand tour.

Delia is still in the UK recovering from her work’s Xmas dinner and, a ghost walk in York. I got back on Thursday night whilst she flew on Thursday afternoon. A difficult crossover but I still managed to get home (without the unlocked car being stolen!). Why didn’t we plan better? Well, we did, my flight back was Tuesday. The gate had been announced and as we were all sitting waiting to board, “Go to Gate” changed to cancelled. Fog. So all duty free had to be returned and we all got on a bus to go back through immigration. Then the entire plane-ful of passengers queued up at the Ryanair desk. The initial announcement was  “go to the Ryanair website” which I did and managed to book the next flight two days later. There were only 3 left and there were some in the queue who were having to wait until Saturday. Some were being bussed to Birmingham for the flight to Poitiers but that too filled up quickly. I was sitting with some poor bloke who had left the army after 18 years to move to France for a quieter life and all this was just too much for him. Talking to me seemed to help him. I went to the Ryanair desk saying about this man having a panic attack and was told by the others in the queue that he should come up here and sort it out himself. It was chaotic and people were being dealt with one by one, so very difficult for him! Anyway I had to leave him after some hours but RyanAir said they’d go over to him. I had managed to arrange for a pick up by friends back in Leicester and they had some unexpected quality Pat-time for another two days. Fortunately working mostly on-line meant I could get some work done.

Anyway, I got back to Chez moi at  about 10.30, enough time to make a quick cake (I had a bring and share dinner the next day – Friday – and I had promised a Sacher torte!). Next morning I picked up a happy bouncy Siena from friends. Siena’s first act was to rush out the door to the car looking for Delia, eventually she decided to bounce all over me though so I didn’t feel too deprived J

Sacher Torte in hand I went to the Rendezvous Franco-Brittanique  repas de Noel. I had only seen 12 at most at each of the previous 3 meetings  I had been to (monthly, so since September), turned out there were about 25, speaking mostly French but some English when talking to other ex-pats when things got complicated. Good fun, wish Delia could have been there.

Winter here, especially on days like this Saturday can be good, when the leaves drop the views open out and you can see further. The whole landscape changes. It was a lovely day and a long walk with Siena was an experience.