Friday, 6 December 2013

Merde………and other “mot grossier”

Fed up, must keep weight off ankle, foot elevated, …..I feel a blog coming on !!!.
I start by asking, when I have clambered all over the French Countryside, over mud, gravel and rocks, the size of THIS, 

how you can you nearly break your ankle walking down a flat, hazard free road ?.  Well you can, and my first experience of nearly breaking something, in 53 years of life on this planet is that it is, 1)Bloody painful, and, 2) is really expensive if you have not already gained your Carte Vitale, which I haven’t.  Still, claiming on my E111, the process of seeing the Doctor, (23 Euros), having seven X-rays (Free !!!) and getting a prescription (212 Euros, gasp !!!!) was a remarkably quick and simple one, even if it left my Bank Manager gasping. I will be jogging down to my nearest Social Security Office to enrol and get my Carte Vitale, and the compulsory health insurance, as soon as I am able. But at the moment I am stranded on my settee. The dogs are not impressed, but I have already started planning the “moves” I can teach Boq, from a garden chair strategically placed outside, after all, I did WANT distance control, trouble is, my OH can already see me eyeing the door for escape, guess I will have to wait until he goes out shopping, or send him on some other ruse. Mwahhhhhh.

So my blog today is about one of my favourite subjects, and I make no apologies, as, having only just started to get excited about the prospects in the New Year, I now have had water tipped on my little parade, so, to cheer myself up,yes, I am talking about AGILITY . You see, I actually MADE it to a show before my little catastrophe, albeit not in a competitive capacity, but I did go and watch, so I could relay my findings.

Now you already know the problems I have encountered with my local fellow enthusiasts. ie:they appear to be in a handling timewarp from the early 90’s, but this apart, they are a jolly bunch and every bit as competitive as you and I, so I thought I would see what was what.

The Cani’zazes Club of Cognac’s November show (see what they have done with that – their logo is a little Ninja Dog in a Brandy Glass) was at an Equestrian Centre at Broussac, just outside Cognac, about an hour from my cottage. About 5 people I know were going, and much like our shows, the “kick off” was at 8.00am. I decided to trundle along at 10.30am (well I wasn’t running a dog) to get an idea of the setup. This was a National Competition, open to all, so I imagined the place would be heaving with people, so imagine my surprise when I rolled into the Car Park at 10.30 only to find that the vehicular “contents” of the Car Park looked like the line up at a local Community Centre, not a “dog wagon” in sight !!. In fact, upon a tour of the aforementioned Car Park , cunningly disguised as a walk with Boq, who I took, so I wouldn’t blow my cover….(I didn’t take Stitch, as he would have got too excited and couldn’t have run, so it wasn’t fair)  I found my own car was the only one with a crate, or dog guard, of any description. I chuckled to myself at the amount of really flash motors, BMWs and Mercs, with dogs lounging on their back seats. Upon further investigation I found that the Motorhomes, housing the folk from further field, were secreted around the back. This looked more like what I’m used to……….that’s if what I was used to seeing amounted to less than 10, hardly a huge turnout.!

Anyway,having replaced Boq in the car, I decided to go for a quick recce, and locate the toilets, (always an exciting prospect in France, as you never know if it’s Unisex, or a hole in the ground,… the ones on this occasion were separate and very modern) and also the Hot Food Facilities (let’s face it, a Bacon Butty is a MUST on a cold November Show day) The interior of the canteen, looked like a lot of the UKA events I have had the privilege(!) of attending, and was full of,awards ,Officials, and Laptops, being feverishly typed on. Heaven knows why everyone seemed so busy, I had seen the size of the entry on the blackboards outside the restaurant. Total entry: 70 and 7 Juniors  !!!  The food looked “good enough to eat” and reasonably priced, indeed you could “book” a repas ahead of time at twelve euros a head. I however had taken my usual agility lunch, Sandwiches, crisps, chocolate, biscuits, flask and a Red Bull for the drive home. Guess I am going to have to “continental” this up in the future……..

Now from what I gather, if you have Pedigree dog you get more runs, less with rejects like Stitch and to enter you have to 1) belong to a club 2) have your Carte de Base, obtainable by passing a test with your Club, checking your ability to compete, and also your dogs’ temperament. Having received your Carte de Base, you then receive an Annual Certificate issued by the French Governing body, the CNEAC.,then you are “good to go” …..for your Club and region, but as far as I can see,NOT as an individual. Will be checking on this as I go, don’t quote me on it, as I have yet to see the system in action. I have tried to find out at what level my grade seven,(with 65 wins to his name), will come in ?? but as of yet they seems undecided, so I will go where I’m told, it seems only polite, their country, their rules and all that !!!

So the show in action, what did I see.?? Well it wasn’t what I saw, but more like what I HEARD. Apparently “double handling” AKA outside assistance, has not yet been disallowed by our French contingent, heckling and giving folk a “head up” to a broken wait is common practice, indeed the Judge in our ring was kitted up like Madonna, and both hand signaled and commentated on the dog in his ring himself !. Unreal !!. 

The courses, as far as I could see,seemed the same sort of thing for all, heights, FOUR, although I wouldn’t have to worry about Stitch making Medium (B) here….it’s 47 cms not 43. The fourth height (D) is for HUGE dogs, Great Danes and the like. Lunchtime, 1 hour, and a complete standstill in both rings, bang on 12. A relief to me as I’d imagined they would take the same TWO hours they do in the shops everyday. I couldn't get over what a family affair it all seemed to be, most competitors brought their husband,or wife, children and Grandparents, all easily identified by their completely inappropriate attire. Each dog seemed to have a “team” behind them, more “grooms” than I have ever seen at any of our events.

At lunchtime, those that didn't go to the canteen, set up “Club” tables in the Car Park and drank wine and ate picnics, even though it was about -2 with the windchill that day !!! Nobody seemed to be on their own……..well, expect me…I was throwing a ball for Boq in the exercise area, being made very aware nobody else used it for the whole hour……..side note: sings ”All by myself” in a plaintiff voice, little “Guillaume no mates”
Once I finished lunch, I watched another hour of competition, and then made my way back to a warm fire, and a hearty stew, so what was my summary of Agility “the French way” ? 

I attach a copy of the Schedule, and a couple of photos (above) to complete the picture, so you can get the feel. also the results from the show are at:

For the really curious please take a look at the size of the classes and the overall performances. You need 3 “Excellents” by three different Judges to go up a degree(Grade)…so if they insist in putting Stitch in at 1 degree (that will make me popular !!) I guess I will find out how quickly this might happen. Watch this space bearing in mind this was a big show!!

If I apply the same two hour driving radius I used to apply in the UK, (in my early years….coz let’s face it I would go anywhere for a fix in the latter years, lol)and if my club allows me, (that just sounds weird) I could do twenty shows next year, not including our Clubs OWN show, which I have been told you are not allowed to compete in as you are expected to help. Aaaaaah !!!.  But enough to keep this old biddy happy I think you’ll agree, IF and that’s a BIG “if”, I enjoy it. As you may not be aware, I don’t actually like UKA shows(just my humble opinion guys), I much prefer Kennel Club, so if the French show’s are a more like UKA I might find it hard to really enjoy. We’ll see. I will still have my August Holiday in Grande-Bretagne to look forward to. I will have to compete for France at the KCI Festival, though, as my dogs live there one presumes….that’s ok, I fancy a bit of Outside Assistance, now and then. 

So on to news outside of Agility,..... who said that ??? 

Two of the things that typify Frenchness that have been lacking at Le Tardis are: a proper post box and a left hand drive car,these things have been rectified this last week.

When we were cutting up wood for the wood burner the other day,imagine our surprise when Mr "La Postes' " head appeared over the gate waving a rather crumpled packet. He explained in French(no surprise there) that he was somewhat struggling with our postbox. You see, as initially we had this cottage as a residence secondaire,(holiday home) we never bothered to put up a French Box and opted for a small letterbox,this allowed delivery of small letters(a rarity as all our bills went to England),and kept out "PUB" (leaflets and junk mail) Job done.

Now we live here its a different prospect,and French Boxes have a skeleton key,which the postman can use to open all the boxes, and leave small parcels. 

Voila our new box.....sad the things that excite you !!

And the car……. I’m sorry to have to part with my Doblo, I have had it since Lesley had her Transit, and therefore could fit all our dogs in it, allowing me for the first time since my discovery of the sport to have a normal car……with crates of course. Six years on it remains a brilliant workhorse,has sailed through every MOT and done lots of holiday runs up and down to Le Tardis. I love it….so why the change ??? Well the biggest problem, obviously, is having the steering next to the kerb. This can be easily managed with two in the car, as the person on the left can do the job of the driver(if you trust them) when overtaking but if you are in the car on your own and get behind a “Convoi exceptionnel” ie: a combine harvester, you try sticking your nose out far enough to actually SEE whats coming the other way….cannot be done, not safely. On my way to the show the other day I spent 7 kilometres behind one at 18 miles per hour. That was enough to have me looking on forecourts by the following weekend.

At first I was very very tempted to go back to a dog wagon, I saw a smashing 6 seater Citreon Jumpy(a tarted up Dispatch) which was the Modern Fiat Scudo shape, in my price range, good mileage, but could I get it in my gateway easily ???? When I had my Pick-up truck here back in the day, I could get it in, but it was a right pain in the derriere, I spent most of my time leaving it at the end of the road, so something held me back. The garage was closed on Sunday,you do get the impression out here sometimes that no one is actually trying to sell anything. What huge dealership do YOU know that closes from 12-2 daily and stays closed on a Sunday ??? Exactly !

So we did the tour of the other garages in Angouleme while they were closed, and found two Doblo’s that appealed to my other half  at the Fiat,Lancia,and Alfa Romeo garage. He also fell in love with a couple of red Alfa’s but you couldn’t have got any dogs in them.
With these to think about we went home to mull it over. I still wanted the Jumpy(old habits die hard) and my OH wanted the Doblo, so on Monday morning we went back down to test drive them both. Trouble was, the Jumpy had gone,sold not an hour hence, and as a big believer in fate I knew what this meant so……….. welcome our new Doblo. 


Picking it up on the 11th December,although now,ironically,I won't be driving it until after my ankle heals
It makes sense really as I have to admit I am very happy with the one I have,if it weren't for the fact the is was RHD I wouldn't be parting with it and I daresay I would have kept it til the bitter end but hey ho this one has a few "new" bits,rear sensors and cruise control, I will be bringing the other one back in February to find a new home,I will shed a few tears doubtlessly, so if you know anyone whose looking......... 

Well I'm off to watch some trashy daytime T.V. 

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Musings of an Ex-Pat !!!

Thank you Britain, the Tax Office informs me that “officially” I am an “Ex-Pat” 24 hours after leaving the country of my birth, just coz I haven’t a principal residence or something. Thanks for that, good job I “tried before I bought” or I’d be feeling pretty unloved by now. Shame you don’t have such a rigid stance on those you let IN !!!!  But I’m not getting involved in a debate, nah, you just keep taxing us on our pension and rental money…………

Anyway, how does it feel to be mortgage free, and living in Foreign climes ?? Less stressful……and that’s what it’s all about Britain, STRESS. I don’t think you can really appreciate how much modern living and the “Rat Race” gets to you, until you “step off the bus”. At first, over ten years ago, I put it down to holidaying here, I mean holidays are different to real life aren't they ?? But as time went on, and years went by, I realised it was less about the “break” and more about the surroundings. Having been brought up in the middle of the New Forest, in a house that faced seven miles of open heathland, I guess I was lucky enough, growing up, to consider myself a country girl, I was a tom boy, rode ponies, worked on a farm to pay for the privilege, drove tractors ,baled hay, all at aged 12+. As I grew older and went to work,(in a “proper job” as my parents called it,as a Bank Clerk ,when all I wanted to do was work with horses..) my travels then took me to Western Canada, Quarter horses, rodeos, dirt track roads,all very Dukes of Hazzard. It took a V.S.P, (very special person) to tear me away from this, but “settle down” I did, and I have NO regrets for doing so. I guess it’s ironic that in the end it was HIS wanderlust that finds me here, typing my blog this morning.

But during this time, if the truth be told, the writing was still on the wall, I was sneaking back to the Dark Side, I mean where did the agility come from ??? the NEED to be around like minded people,to remove myself from the humdrum lifestyle, mod cons, conformity (yes I said it) and to travel around the country like a nomad, caravan in tow, seven dogs, two children? Who let me do this ?, who paid for that ?, who stayed at home earning the money to keep a roof over our heads in the meantime ?…..the unsung hero that is Mr S. !! But then Mr “Slippers by the Fireside” caught the bug himself, not THE Bug,(Stitchy Bug),but the other bug, and he found himself,upon retirement, wanting to get out the Rat Race..
It started,for him, when I gave him a break in France for his 50th birthday, we committed to buying this cottage when it was renovated, and the rest, as they say, 12 years on, is history.

Being able, as I am now, to enjoy the country life, after 30 years of living on estates, I couldn't be happier. The serious deal breaker here will be my lovely, lovely, (and not just coz they will read this) children. A lot of focus, particularly from those that know me reasonably well, was about, how much I would miss them after being so close, and so happy throughout their rise to adulthood.Believe me when I say,if I could do it all again,I would, in a heartbeat. I unashamedly think I am the luckiest Mum in the World, they are fabulous people, two completely different individuals, but their ability to enrich my life, laugh both with me, and AT me,to smile,and enjoy a life as a Mum, that I could never,as a younger person, have ever imagined, is unquestionable.They have also allowed me to understand how my Mum felt about my brothers and I,for, losing her when I did,when the children were small,I never really "got" her tales of motherhood, although she told me countless times how she felt......but I get it now,I just wish we could share stories again with me being more enlightened,as I now feel I am.   


Despite any reservations they may, or do have, they proved what great children they are by backing me/us in this adventure. Will it all prove too much for me in the end as time goes by ?? I'm not to know that ! I don’t know what the future holds for any of us. No crystal ball, no forecasts, or predictions, but the freedom to find out for myself has been given to me by them, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

Well that was that out of my system….I try to keep my blog on my French experiences solely, but I also wanted to explain why I feel able to throw myself into life here. Needed saying, I needed to type it, get it out there…now back to Le Tardis.

As an Ex-Pat you will be glad to know that I am signing up for French lessons. Not locally with the night classes for Brits, but in Angouleme at the “immigrants” school. I have been reliably informed I will probably be the only English person there, and it will be tough, but, I have to commit to regular proper lessons if I am to become reasonably fluent. I don’t want to surround myself with other ex-Pats” as a lot of those out here do, I've had, as I've said before, enough trouble staying away from them in my own country, I certainly don’t want to actively seek them out here.

I have some French, but not enough to cover what I consider to be the most important things in life, health, ie: trips to the Doctors, Vets etc. and incidents, accidents…you know the sort of stuff. Situations where a timespan to “look things up” in a dictionary, or online, are NOT included.  
But I'm getting a little nervous about the prospect,of going back to school, but it's got to be done. I am such a chatterbox (for those that weren't aware) staying quiet at Agility Club is KILLING me. There a 50,000 things I want to be firing at/asking them. WTF is one of them but I think I will keep that to myself !!!!

On the subject of agility, how is that going ? Non-enthusiasts can skip down a bit….this is going to take a while. 

Stitch is being Stitch, he has a slight glitch that has arisen this year, has had an MRI on his neck and head, and will have another on his back in February. Really all the problem is tremor. He just can’t stop shaking, this doesn't seem to effect his agility, but he does have the odd moment of pain, almost as if he has a trapped nerve. He has racked up a 3k bill so far(thank god for insurance) and the specialists are none the wiser. They describe him as an enigma……that’s not quite how I describe him sometimes, but hey they are the specialists ;-)

Master Boq……now where do I start?? He is “absolutely FABULOUS dwarlings”. Granted, a bit “odd-looking”, in a drop dead handsome sort of way. Probably could sneak him into ABC’s as a hound of some description. But 100% in every way the sharpest pencil in the box. Tried to outrun a TGV (High speed train) one time, but thankfully lost, and had “losing chase drive” added to his Winter Training Plan as a result. He is such a spirited,playful,loving and worky little fella, six months old on Tuesday 12th Nov, and is just beginning some foundation work,which means me doing lots of inward and outward circles at a walk/run. Good lord, I’m getting dizzy…on my drugs not the best,but he’s taken to it like a canard(duck) to water…… I wonder if the French SAY that!! Added to my,” must find out” list. 

He is liking his wobble work and directionals, but his mainstay and raison d'être is belting about like a mad thing,trying to take your legs out in the process. We have a back garden on a slope,in fact our whole garden is on a slope,and every time I go to the garden shed he joins me,and then when I go to make the descent back to the house he hurtles past me like a juggernaut.But oh what fun he has with his toys out there on the slopes......up down.....up down. 

I am now taking him to French agility club, as their training facilities are on the flat and therefore less hazardous for both of us. They have a fully enclosed (10ft high chain link) perimeter and a (4ft high chain link) divider. The agility field is one side of the divider and the obedience area is the other, but nobody does obedience, so this area is 99.9% free during the classes. Result !!. During the length of the sessions, normally two hours, (but as I have mentioned before, with very little actual agility being produced, 3-4 runs total in that time) Boq and I spend half the session, circling, recalling, wrapping(round a single weave pole),and doing anything/everything else he knows in the vacant obedience area, to the cacophony of raised French voices, barking dogs, and the associated FRANTIC-NESS of all things I have come to recognise as French Agility not 50 feet away the other side of the fence. He should be bombproof by the New Year !!! The other half of the lesson I let the Bug loose on the agility………. He is the biggest spokesperson for our new methods,the ones that I hope, they will see me working towards with Boq. He is just awesome. Take that….antiquated, non-positive agility world. Clicker ????? c'est quoi ??

Unable as I was,(due to the van size),to get my contacts out here yet, Richard has made a usable pro-tem contact trainer, out of an old solid dining room table and a piece of rubber matting. Not brilliant, but will do,for when I decide to take it to the next level with my 2o2o, having seen how Voodoo,(Lesleys’ boy) and Jennines’ Ruby converted their skills from simple correct positions on a wobble cushion,(or Wi-fit board in Ruby’s case),to the real thing, I'm not panicking about getting started anytime soon.  I do have a couple of jumps and a set of stick in weaves, so that should be enough when the need arises. Will try and get more stuff back here in March, after Crufts.

So reviewing this, not a particularly informative blog, will try and do better next time. Just wanted to set the scene and draw a line under Le Tardis (Holiday Home) Blog and begin life at Le Tardis, My HOME, Blog.  
Winter is nearly upon us, the woodburner has now been lit for the first time and I have painfully discovered that even the severely thinned down contents of a four bedroom detached house, less rubbish and clutter,STILL does not fit into a three bedroom cottage, with no loft. My two greniers (my 2nd and 3rd bedrooms) are now full of boxes, Yes folks, I need a bigger house, and a BARN but that’s another adventure to be enjoyed when my French is more fluent, and I have my feet more firmly under “la table”.

Like I said...more Frenchness,more photos NEXT blog,stay warm and dry..... Gail xx

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Here I go again !

So that whole “England trip” took a whole lot longer than intended. I was due to go back for a month full of agility, and to pick up my pup, but what started out as a brief vacation turned into a long haul.  The reason for this, I am happy to say, is because our English house is now under offer. I do so hope it goes through, not only because affording the upkeep and running costs of two houses in two countries on one small pension is completely unfeasible, but because the couple who want to buy it, want to do so, as they want their young children (5 & 3) to go to Berrow Primary school.. How’s that for a whole hunk of Déjà vu ? Turn the clock back 23 years and you have little old me, when agility didn't exist ,and I didn't even have a furry one in my life, seems like I am referring to someone else completely.   

Anyway, I loved my time in England, my “Agility August” is going to be a regular trip,(and an Agility April if I can fit it in,and have my way), some great shows, and at some time in the future,a chance to see if I can “remotely” train a puppy off my own back, to hold his own in grade 3, when I visit Blighty, gulp,no pressure !. Like I said before, French agility is nothing like what I have left behind, but if I am to aspire to British Standards, I am going to have to do it all at home, test it out at the French club, and cross my fingers that I have done enough to hold my own,not go out to win, but just look like I’m NOT a complete numpty.

But this Blog is about France and not England, so I will leave the many tales of my travels and traumas, my highs, lows and my fun with the “young uns” untold. Most of you do Facebook so you can fill in the blanks.

It was with severe trepidation that I loaded up Stitch and Boq and headed for Poole to catch the ferry. I needn't have worried, the dogs travelled like old pro’s. Stitch has done it before, but it was a completely new experience for the little fella. Two hours to Poole, an hour dockside (but loaded), a four and a quarter hour sea trip, and a six hour (plus stops) road trip down.  It’s a good job I am used to travelling all over the country, I have driven back many a time from Ipswich(Dogs in Need) over the years ,knackered from a weeks’ competition, caravan on the back and two children fast asleep in the van by my side. To be honest the French trip is easier, but I don’t suppose others “looking in” would see it that way.

I was greeted with a lovely curry and a cuddle, if not with my other half, (who couldn't get anywhere near me, for the tails wagging and the tongues licking), but with Kif and Phee Wee who, from their re-action, really seemed to have given up hope of me ever returning, and had settled in, quite nicely thank you, with the hour long walks their dad was now giving them. He would be Soooooo grateful to hand that baton back, he may have lost nearly 5kg’s but his poor old  retired “Gas fitters knees” were killing him.

The pup fell off the Car Park area, on the upper tier of the garden,in the first ten minutes, but apart from that, there was the usual exploration and frenzied sniffing. Given that he was only used to flat grass, imagine the sheer joy of not one, or two, but THREE levels he could race about on, not to mention the fact that there are trees, shrubs, and flowers everywhere !!! Add to that the two rockeries, and the twin level patio area, the boy was in raptures, but it was getting dark, and it was soon going to be bedtime.

Ah, the joys of young puppies, needless to say, due to the rather weird day he had, and all the new meeting and greetings squeezed into a very short time before “lights out”, he HOWLED the place down. Here’s me trying to reason with my husband about the virtues(for me) of having a youngster in my life, and within 3 hours of meeting him, he is doing a pretty good rendition of White Fang !!!! Whoooooooooo.

Well I stuck it out, he gave up and a night’s sleep invariably followed, and we were all re-freshed in the morning…..yeah in the Movies maybe, I looked bleary eyed and hungover and my other half was just Grumpy (his nickname).

So what did Day One have back in store for me?  I had decided that I would cover a lot of Boq’s socialization separate to the other dogs. After all, I would be taking back “Dog walking” responsibilities from Richard, and to be honest the chances of a) Boq running himself ragged, and b) not actually “meeting” any other people, dogs or challenges (other than the odd rabbit) were highly likely, so solo trips were the way forward.  It was to this effect that Richard,Boq, and myself, found ourselves in Mansle High Street. Mansle, spelt Man-sel and actually pronounced MAUL (go figure) is our local Ville (Town) and boasts a couple of Supermarkets, several Cake shops, a fishing shop, whose proprietor doubles as the local photographer (only in France), plus the usual smattering of Hairdressers, clothes shops, a Hippodrome(for the trotting races) Restaurants, the Vet, Jack (yum yum girls !!), the Tourist Information Office, which in typically French style is NEVER open, and several “Tabacs” (coffee and tobacconists). 

It was at one of these Tabac’s that we sat ourselves, to watch the world go by, to take coffee, and reflect that at 11am on a Saturday morning in England on a High Street, say in Burnham-on-Sea, there would be more than the four people(all told) in sight, and one of those was serving us coffee !!! Boq settled under the table said “hi” to the Barkeep, rejoiced in seeing a couple of people come and go, and was thrilled when a gorgeous Red Setter appeared from up the road, nonchalantly sniffed his way around to us, then defiantly stuck his nose in the air when he heard his master calling from the town house up the road, from where he had obviously made his escape. I grabbed his collar and did the French equivalent of the “Walk of Shame” although I needn't have worried, I hadn't seen a car for 10 minutes. So ended Boq’s 1st French outing.

Day two I decided to turn up the heat a tad ,and take my youngster somewhere I could guarantee a crowd, one of the many local Bric a Brac, Vide Greniers, and Brocantes running at the weekends this time of year. I chose a Brocante at Les Pins, which we have been to before, and it’s huge. I don’t usually take my guys as it’s usually too hot, and too crowded, and because basically walking around them is a bit like pulling teeth to me, but my other half loves ferreting around, and like I say, it’s a wonderful opportunity to be in the thick of it, so, as it wasn't hot, off we went. Having this puppy is like having a toddler on your arm, he constantly wants to: get on the kiddie carts, pull plastic ducks out of the “duck pond” game, get “in” the old bathtub, get "on"the plastic kiddie buggy, I needn't have worried about shopping, it was a full time job, just to keep Boq in a straight line, at one point he grabbed the edge of a shawl displayed at ground level, it was a good job I caught him in the act, I’m not sure my French would yet cover the explanation of him dragging it around and possibly ripping it up. Anyway, I was very proud, of him, and of Richard, who, kept his spending down to four paperbacks for two Euros. Off to another one this week and with that in mind I’m off to find out which villages’ junk we will be rummaging through today.

I know I am a bit behind as we are now on day 14.....but lots to tell and getting more daily, so,have patience,and watch this space, this puppy gig is a tiring business but i will get round to it. A bientôt

Monday, 15 July 2013

Busy.........doing nothing

Aah the joys of being “retired” albeit not through choice, but more because of a knackered body, drugged up mind(due to knackered body), and a husband who got there first, and wanted me to keep him company,…..silly old sap, after 32 years of putting up with me, you would have thought he’d be trying to keep me at arm’s length.

Still on the subject of dear other half (who deserves a MEDAL for this one) He understands me, he doesn't always like what he sees, but he knows what ultimately makes me happy, often at his expense. After all, a bit like the “anonymous benefactor” in Great Expectations, a great deal of my acquaintances in agility over the last 22,(or so) years, don’t even know he exists, yet he has funded all of it, lived with SEVEN collies in my heyday, and puts up with me rabbiting on about my passion at any given moment,since the start of my involvement with the sport.  

So why, in a Blog about Le Tardis, do I feel the need to extol the virtues of my husband ?.  Because, he has in effect, done it again !!. It was never my intention to have a puppy in the foreseeable future, indeed the whole idea was, that I was “giving up” on that part of my life, my body can’t stand the pace, and the whole idea was to wind down gradually, and sink me teeth into this retirement lark.
Truth of the matter is, that although my body is “problematic” shall we say, my mind just can’t let it go. I am a dog trainer first and foremost, and a “mad collie lady” too, it sort of “defines me”. I have had more and more of an urge to “re-offend” and get a collie pup, a blank canvas, and despite his reservations, which I hasten to add, he has had for every single dog that has come into our house over the years, he has agreed. I am going to get one. !!!  His name is Boq, he is Voodoo’s cousin and he will be a “regular” in this blog no doubt.

So back to my French adventures.

What’s been occurring ?? Well, I have had a visit from my brother Mark, he of the recipe guru fame. He tasted my jam, and I made him take a pot home. He planned to come for a few days, but this was somewhat scuppered by him finding out his Passport was out of date. But true to his word, he came anyway, having taken two days and umpteen Ministry hours to get a new one, and although we only had one clear day to “get it done” what a time we had !! I gave him options of where he would like to go and bless him, he choose “La Vallee des Singes” near Poiters, my favourite day out, 16 Hectares with over 400 monkeys and apes, and not a cage in sight ! We stayed from around opening time (10.30) until tea-time. Having monkey’s all around you and in the trees over your head is quite an experience, we couldn’t leave until we had spotted every variety. Sitting on a bench and having two monkeys come up to chat is even stranger.

And as for the Lemurs.................. too darn cute.

Mark also was responsible for taking us out to “La Cheval Blanc”  a very local (five minutes walk) restaurant serving Cordon Bleu food (at a price), his treat. I was feeling very spoilt at that point. It was a shame the visit was short lived,but hopefully now his Passport is up to date,he can come back whenever he wants !!

One of our unexpected treats recently was the night of the local randonnée(hike), although we didn't know that at the time. We were in the garden looking over the wall, when we heard a commotion in the small Car Park that furnishes our local well ,it was our neighbours Rose-Marie and Jacky struggling with a bundle of twenty foot bamboo poles. We popped out to assist, and found out that they were erecting a Tee-pee. Along with another neighbour, Kevin, we managed to fashion a pretty acceptable facsimile, but like I said had no idea what it was for. After we had constructed said teepee, we were invited back for an aperitif at 8pm. So, we cleaned ourselves up, and went along, after all it would be rude not to. When we arrived we found out that we were a “stage” on a 9km night walk. We represented “aperitifs” and we were the 2nd stop on the route. The third fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh went: Entrees, Plat (Main Course) desserts, fromage and café. There were 160 people taking part in teams, and being typically French, each course was going to come with wine included. We didn't participate ,but I would have loved to have been there at the finish (if they made it!!) They had some super costumes, the Bee’s were a great bunch.(swarm)

The wildlife continues to surprise and amaze me. As our time here increases the birds in the garden are becoming increasingly happy to have us out in the garden with them when they feed. We have one fledgling sparrow that is convinced we (including the dogs) are his best friends, and he doesn't alight from the ground until you have practically stood on him. Let’s hope he doesn't have the same attitude with next doors cat.!! We have regular Spotted Woodpecker visitors but I have been scouring the trees over the last week trying to identify a bird that (to me)had a similar call to a toad croaking, colour me amazed that this bird finally showed itself, it was a Green Woodpecker, who has now taken to feeding off the ants on our lawn. I know they aren’t particularly rare but it’s another 1st for Le Tardis.

Yesterday on our morning walk (I have to get up earlier and earlier to avoid the heat) I saw five hares in the nearby meadow. I have seen two hares fighting before, but have never seen five in one place. They were, it seems, a family, parents and three offspring, as upon closer inspection, two were keeping watch, while the three youngsters played. Again I was amazed that even with 3 dogs in tow,(I was walking with a neighbour and her dog) they refused to be interrupted by us and didn't depart until we were virtually on top of them. Joyous sight. 

Summer is now truly here, the sunflowers are blooming, and there is a wall to wall array of Brocantes, Bric a Bracs and Vide-greniers at weekends, and this is where my husband loves to ferret about, he just loves his French junk. We try and make one each week, usually on a Sunday, and set off with a limited budget to have a good nosey. Although it’s not my favourite pastime,I have to say that I have had some good bargains, there are always local produce stalls, and if I fail on the Antiques Roadshow side of it, at a least I dabble in taste testing, cheese(goats) cured sausages(of many flavours) and of course honey and jams. No wonder I’m not losing weight !! On the junk side,I did manage to pick up a couple of rather nice iron “pots” the other day. I will be planting them up with something pretty in the fullness of time.

So........ in answer to all the folk who asked me “What are you going to do with your time?”  The answer at the moment seems to be, “and what time is that ???”  It’s funny how you always adjust to new circumstances. Just standing still to watch life going by, seems so time consuming, when there is so much to see.

And on that note, I’m off to re-fill my bird bath,it's bath time