27th December 2009

Bruno, our mad 'chasseur' gundog, was lonely. I asked Him indoors whether we should think the unthinkable and get him a little friend to play with. 'Are you mad?' he said. 'We can't control Bruno as it is. How are we gonna look after two? And think of the vet's fees if they get ill?' Practical as always. But, being a woman, I persisted and so, when a nearby friend suggested we accompany her on one of her regular visits to nearby Figeac rescue centre, I dragged the reluctant Him indoors and a panting Bruno (or was it the other way round?) to the most heartbreaking place you could imagine. There are hundreds of abandoned dogs there and because it's not funded by the SPA (French RSPCA), they struggle to house and feed them. One of the dogs that my friend regularly exercises was a cute Springer spaniel, a gundog like Bruno, but black with brown freckles on the nose. The good thing here was that the dog itself had no specific 'issues' - she was there simply because the owner was an alcoholic and could no longer look after her. She was so so placid, unlike Bruno (and Him indoors) and I thought maybe she would act as a calming influence. How could I resist?
We're now back home and I'm looking out at the front garden. Him indoors is busy raking the leaves and Bruno and her new pal Tina are racing around, stirring them all up again.
I 'ordered' our new doggie Tina on the same day as my new children's book 'Tina and the Colosseum of Rome' (2nd in the Rainbow series, after 'Rose') became available on Amazon.
A happy ending after all!

20th December 2009

There's snow all around and 'tis the season for goodwill, so we decided to go to the annual festivities put on by the old-age group in the village here. I know! It'd be all right if all those old people weren't there. But, him indoors was in the right spirit -or rather he'd had a tot of the right spirit before we left - so we tottered along. And you know what? It was really rather good. The catering was the usual French fare: 500 courses, so if you didn't like anything, you just waited around and, like the buses back home, another one was sure to turn up. Whilst eating the salad, I asked the toothless French lady what was in the salad. She kept saying something that sounded like 'mashmash'. I thought it was her lack of teeth, but asked someone else. It was 'mache' - lamb's lettuce. So now we know.
Of course, him indoors not wanting to waste a comedy moment whilst the accordionist was playing, regaled all the English with his usual patter. 'A man went into a '60's/70's music shop and asked the proprietor if he had anything by the Doors. The moronic man replied Yes sir: a fire bucket and fire extinguisher'. And during the dessert course: 'What d'ya call a blindfolded horse? Mascapone!' And, whilst talking of sport: 'A jockey, whilst winning the race, was hit by an apple seed. He was pipped at the post.' Can't leave out football. 'The Sheffield football manager was fired for only working 5 days a week - he couldn't manage Wednesday!'
Hope all that has cheered one and all. Season's Greetings from Olga - your favourite blogger in France!

13th December 2009

There was a survey that showed that 45 million people worldwide would like to move permanently to France and start a new life here. Apparently France came joint second, above the US. Imagine! There are probably many reasons why people are fed-up with their lives at present, wherever they live. But for me, my favoured place must contain the following ideals:
A community that shows respect for each other, for people in authority and for those older than themselves. A place where families, rather than the State, take on the responsibility for looking after their own families, especially the older members. In this ideal scenario, there would be many knock-on effects. Taxes would be less, because the State would no longer be expected to pick up the tab on just about everything. There would be fewer hooligans on the streets because the families and society would take on the old idea of teaching their young respect for others. The police would therefore be able to target their resources on major crimes. Our hospitals and care homes would be freed-up to cater for those in real need, rather than those for whom no-one in the family was prepared to help out at times of crisis. Schools could go back to the old idea of teaching Eng, Maths, Biol, History and Geog, rather than crowd-control.
I have a dream, brothers and sisters...
But in the meantime, France rural life will do for me.

6th December 2009

For my birthday I bought myself one of those super-dooper laptops. In my old life (i.e. in the UK), this would have been the height of extravagance but things change. Possessions I used to have back then that were so important are now no longer so. Living in a remote part of France, new items that previously would have been considered a luxury now become an absolute necessity.
A large part of my life here is spent writing and dealing with administration/banking/shopping - all dealt with remotely. As such, being a worrying sort of a person, I began to think what if this 'fixed' PC breaks down? What if that elusive publisher suddenly decides to offer me a 7-book contract and wants my manuscripts pronto and the PC doesn't work?
So, I bought a portable laptop. However, nothing comes easy. It's a Dell Inspiron - naturally bought on-line. I managed to get it customised: i.e. bought in France so it complies with French modem requirements(?), but with English qwerty keyboard (clavier) and English Microsoft 7 set-up etc. Thought I'd done everything, but it's now arrived and - help - I can't connect it to the internet!! Unfortunately the instructions are all in French. Suddenly everyone's talking tech. jargon to me: have you got a wireless router?? How many gigabytes? If I need to connect it somehow to the PC, what's the point of it being portable?
Why when you buy something do you have to be an expert on stuff beyond your understanding? Why can't things be simple like they used to be years ago? When I think back to those glorious years of learning to type on an Imperial typewriter, when did it all change?
I'm getting too old for all this.