Sunflowers, Spying and a Couple of Santas

We finally got Ruadhri back to school today after a week off with some awful virus or another. He still looks peaky but he was keen to go. So at last Chris and I could  get back on the bikes again and go for a good blast. We’ve been going on walks with Rors while he was under the weather. Both Chris and I had mothers who insisted on wrapping us up and bundling us out of the house whenever we were poorly  to get some fresh air. That’s rubbed off on us so we took our youngest on a gentle frogmarch every day to get some colour back in his cheeks!

Anyway, the first reward of our ride was the sight of sunflower blooming on the first of December. Normally they’re under several feet of snow by now!

Can you spot it?

We decided to do some industrial espionage. Well, that’s what it felt like as we did a tour of the nearest wind turbine sites and I took photos. I’m becoming slightly obsessed with our eoliennes I know, but let’s face it, they’re the most exciting thing to happen around Boussac for a long time! And there’s lot of activity at the moment. The nacelle has arrived for eolienne 8.

We thought that was an impressive sight, but changed our minds when we turned off a side road and happened across eoliennes 6 and 7. We hadn’t realised exactly where they were until now. We got a great view of eoliennes 4 and 5 too.

Eoliennes 4 and 5 - and cows

Here is eolienne 6. You’ll remember I’ve mentioned the useful looking piles of straw bales at each wind turbine site before. Well, here they are in use, supporting the rotors.

And you may also remember the photo of Rors standing by the nose cone. Actually, I’ll put it in here again to remind you. That will give the scale for the size of the nacelles.

A close up of the straw bales hard at work!

Finally we passed eolienne 7 which is partially erected. A passing motorist waggled his finger at me as I took this photo. I don’t know whether that meant I shouldn’t be taking photos or I shouldn’t be interested in the wind turbines or he didn’t approve of women being let out of the house or what, but I just smiled cheerily back at him!

So, that’s how Creuse’s latest eoliennes are currently shaping up.

Now for something Christmassy. I’ve just finished reading a book called The Santa Shop by Tim Greaton so here’s a review of it. Definitely one to read, and it’s currently free at Smashwords here.

There’s a tendency for Christmas novels to dwell on its joyful, glittery aspect, but here is one with a difference. It deals with the darker side of Christmas – the side experienced by lonely, deprived and ill people, the homeless and the bereaved, who find this time of good cheer and happiness hard to bear.

Our hero is Skip who lost his family in a Christmas Eve fire. He was at a boring office party and so escaped the same fate. However, he’s consumed by guilt and falls apart, ending up on the streets. He makes up his mind to commit suicide on the anniversary of the deaths of Tabitha his wife and Derek his son, but bumps into an assortment of warm-hearted, selfless people who start to test his resolve. It takes a visit to The Santa Shop in Gray, Vermont, to point Skip towards making the right decision.

This is a sad book but it’s also joyful. You see the depths of human despair and people at their worst, but also people at their caring, generous best. Skip’s journey is tough physically and mentally but it’s as enlightening for the reader as it is for him.

A really amazing, thought-provoking book. You have to read it. 

And you can get my Oh Santa! for free today too from Smashwords here if you use this coupon code: HD66G. Only valid on 1st December though, so hurry!



Best of Blog in France … Download It For Free!

Best of Blog in France is here! In fact, here at Smashwords to be precise. It’s my selection of the best posts and photos from the first two years of Blog in France. Yes, I’ve been blogging since July 2009, although only very intermittently to start with. Signing up for the WordPress Post a Day challenge in February this year made me into a dedicated daily (or nearly) blogger.

I’ve arranged the entries January to December, mixing the two years together, after playing around using various themes first. I like the calendar year organisation since it really gives a feel of what it’s like to live in rural France, going from the depths of bleak midwinter, to a usually late but gorgeous spring when everything springs to life again, through the heavy heat of summer, then into refreshing, colourful autumn before disappearing under snow come December.  Even in the twenty-first century, rural life is closely attuned to the seasons, and so are its residents.

So grab yourself a copy in your preferred ereader format. I think you’ll enjoy it. And so spread the word please!

This is my first non-fiction book, and also my first non-children’s book. It’s also something of a trial run for Heads Above Water. I wanted to experiment with how photos would come out and to see what sort of reaction there would be to a ‘living in France’ memoir.

It will be going up on Kindle shortly too. Smashwords distributes to Kindle but only extremely slowly so it’s more efficient to do it myself. Now, the book will have to start out at 99 cents at Amazon. However, once enough people bring to Amazon’s attention the fact that the same book is free elsewhere, they’ll make it free too, if only for a while. I’m hoping that will give ‘sales’ a big boost.

So, it’s an exciting time. I feel I’m finally becoming a serious indie author now. Still haven’t made any money from it yet though … !

A Silver Day

It’s our silver wedding anniversary today. Here we are on our big day 25 years ago, 9th August 1986 at St Mary Magdalene Church in Westerfield, Suffolk. The Church celebrated its 900th anniversary that same year.

I can’t believe a quarter of a century has gone by. We’ve done a lot of things in that time – lived in three countries (and Chris has worked in a fourth), moved seven times, had three children, held an impressive variety of jobs, had ups and downs and triumphs and disasters – but most of all, been happy!

Here’s to our next 25 years.

Autobiographical ABC

This is doing the rounds of blogs at the moment, so I thought I’d join in as it’s rather fun and present my own ABC. (There are another 7 ‘bet you never knew’ facts about me on my 100th blogiversary post!)


Age: 48

Bed Size: king

Chore You Hate: cleaning the oven

Nessie guarding the guinea pigs in our unique pig transporation system

Dog: Nessie (short for Nestlé Moschops, our Border collie/Alsatian cross)

Essential Start of Your Day: muesli and a few sips of coffee

Favourite Colour: turquoise

Gold or silver: either! I’m not fussy …

Height: 152cm

Instruments You Play(ed): recorder, violin

Job Title: chef d’entrerprise (I run a gîte with fishing lakes and a llama farm ably assisted by Chris!)

Kids: 3 – 19, 17 and 9

Live: Nouzerines

Mum and Dad on their wedding day 20.6.53

Mum’s name: Eileen

Nicknames: Tink when I was little (short for Tinkerbell, aah!)

Overnight Hospital Stays: baby deliveries, wisdom teeth removal, other minor surgery

Pet peeve: ignorant people

Quote From a Movie: I feel the need, the need for speed (Top Gun)

Right- or Left-Handed: right

Siblings: older brother and older sister

Time You Wake Up: 5.50am on Mondays ugh, 6.30am ish Tues-Fri, 7.30am ish weekends

Underwear: has to be comfy and colourful

Veggie You Dislike: haven’t come across one yet

What Makes You Run Late: kids or animals, usually both

X-Rays You Have Had: dental, foot, skull

Yummy Food You Make: flapjacks, custard and quiche

Zoo Animal You Like Best: all of them except monkeys!


Daily snippets for April 18th

Today’s saint: St Parfait, a priest who was martyred around 850 AD in Andalusia.

Famous French person born on this day: Paul Émile (François) Lecoq de Boisbaudran (18 April 1838 – 28 May 1912). I have to mention him as he was a chemist (like Chris). He discovered the element gallium.

Famous French person who died on this day: Gustave Moreau (6 April 1826 – 18 April 1898), French symbolist painter

Today’s French word: broyeur – crusher, grinder. Why did I choose this word? Chris is busy trying to fix the grass-cutting broyeur on the back of our tractor today, but it’s not going too well!