Banque Alimentaire

February 28, 2018

I went to The Food Bank again today.  I say that I went, but in fact I was taken.  The bloody car wouldn’t start, probably because it was bloody freezing.  And I mean really, really freezing.  But who can afford to miss The Food Bank?

However, a lady who lives just up the road from me,. purely by chance, also happens to go.  So I went begging for a lift with my totally inadequate French.  I din’t even get out half a sentence, that I had spent half an hour preparing.  She knew what was wrong the minute I knocked on her door

She picked me up after she collected two other people.  Fabienne can’t afford new tyres, and Correlais doesn’t have a car at all, at all.  So we all swanned along together.  What a laugh..

One of the ladies who dolls out the food, knew almost before I did, just how I had gotten there.  Although how she found out that my crap heap of a van wouldn’t start is still a bit of a mystery.  But her grandson probably owns the local garage.   He’s been hovering  for a minute or ten because he knows that my van has nearly had it.  He sold me this one in the first place, although no complaints on that score.  It’s been a really good, old van.  Old being the operative word.  So I will go to him on the next occasion.

“Occasion” means Second Hand in French.  Roll on the next Occasion.  I am being a bit silly at the moment, hoping that it will carry on for a bit yet, which it might, or might not.  But as long as I have got a lift to The Food Bank, who cares.

However, Number Three Son needs a car to work, so we are negotiating at the moment.  Although this is a negotiation that I can’t win.  He needs to work.  Forget that one.  I need him to work.  And he can’t afford to buy a car, while I can.  Courtesy of what I have save by going to The Food Bank.  Swings and Roundabouts, you see.

Anyway, we all picked up our not ungenerous hand outs, and then stopped off at Carrefour on the way home.  We all bought Dog Food, Cat Food and Bird Seed, and that was it.  The Food Bank doesn’t give you these things.  Occasionally they dish out some really crappy fish, which you probably wouldn’t feed to your dog, `but Charlotte loves it. None of that crap today, so I had to buy Dog Food.  As did everyone else.

All in all, another nice day.  These people are so kind to me.  I cannot even begin to tell you all about that.  I doubt that I will ever forget.


Le Soir de Noel

December 24, 2017

And here we are again.

The Duck is definitely fucked,  Sorry sorry.  Definitely stuffed.

I quite by accident bought a duck that is or was the product of  that liver thing that the French do.  And No, I don’t want to talk about that.  I doubt that they suffer.  Okay.

Anyway, this Duck is awfully big, presumably after they extracted the vey large liver, and overfed the whole thing.

I stuffed the cavity with my own recipe that I will never be able to reproduce because I was a bit pissed by the time I got round to it, and can’t actually remember anyway.  But I did put in a large dollop of Quince Jam.  Don’t ask.  I made that myself.  And anyone who has the time and patience to make Quince Jam needs to get a life

My Number Three Son is now laid out on the floor, absolutely comatosed.  They don’t have the same stamina these days, do they?  They all fall over after a couple of glasses of wine.  God help me of the number of times that I produced a half decent Christmas Dinner when I was  bit plonked..

But all is well.  Tis Christmas, and of some joy to me.

Happy Birthday.


Christ Mass.

December 22, 2017

I wonder if this has anything to do with anything anymore.

I have briefly lost track of who I am, and of who I thought I was.  And just before Christmas.

My youngest son who is now 51 years old, and technically a bastard, has now decided to give me a hard time, despite being well loved for all of his life by me.

Sadly for him there is nothing that I can do.  I loved his father, but his father didn’t have quite the same commitment to me, for him.

I behaved very badly 51 years ago, so the fault will always be mine.  But I can’t say that I am having a really bad time about this, because he is mine, and would not even exist if I hadn’t.

His father was my Coup de Foudre, the loss of which will live with me forever.

I hope to believe that Mary might have been so fortunate.

Another Cat.

November 1, 2017

I seem to have acquired a Cat.  I only realised this initially when human food started to disappear from my kitchen work top, although I did briefly assume that I was having a few senior moments.

I knew it couldn’t be the dog because she is much too little.  What a relief that was.  All of my other dogs would steal anything.  So I got out of the habit of never leaving anything lying around.

And then I caught him slinking off after pulling two ghastly  French type sausages onto the floor.  Him and the dog were both tucking in.  I call him a He, probably because I can’t face the prospect of a bunch of abandoned kittens.  And it has been three months now.

I gave in eventually and bought Cat Food.  I ever was a sucker for a starving cat.  But he is a teensy bit fussy.  He much prefers those little packets of meat in jelly, and not overly keen on the dried stuff.  This suggest a level of intelligence because dried food isn’t vey good for any animal.  Wet food is also better for hiding Worm Pills, although he sometimes spits these out.  This means that I have to dose him two days on the trot.  Not all that funny with the price of Worm Pills these days.

Nowadays he sneaks in when he thinks the house is empty, or I have gone to bed.  I find him sleeping on my desk chair cushion, which I have incidentally covered with Flea Powder.  But he is instantly awake when I get up in the morning, and he then slides off.

I have a Dog Flap, so no chance of keeping him out, even if I wanted to.

I think he has inherited the Siamese strain which lurks in all of the stray cats around here.  Far too many of them, as it happens.  He is white with very pale grey ears and tail, and with a permanent anxious look about him.  I don’t know what colour his eyes are as I have never gotten that close.

I suppose that he might settle one day, but it doesn’t really matter if he doesn’t.  He knows where his food is, and with Winter coming he isn’t forced to sleep outside.

But what I find most strange is that he isn’t even remotely bothered about the dog, and shares his ill gotten gains with her.  And she doesn’t care because she has now got a partner in crime.

Must go now as it is time to feed the two stray kittens at my neighbour’s house across the road. Their mother seems to be missing some of the time, so probably off somewhere getting up the duff again.  Won’t that be fun.  My neighbours are in England at the moment, and I get paid for my efforts while they are away in English Tea Bags.  Win win all round.


October 13, 2017

I have been thinking of doing a Blogg about Colloquial French. This has always been a problem for me because I only ever learned Proper French, and consequentially never learned what on earth they were on about colloquially.

I go to this Banque Alimentaire once a week, because I am poor. This means Food Bank in English. And we all sit around for at least an hour while we wait for the hand outs. Everyone has a lovely time, and they all chat away about local scandals and traumas. Unfortunately, I mostly don’t understand a word of it. It is all much too fast for me. Although I did catch “Chez Angele” last week. I knew Angele while some of them were still in nappies, but I couldn’t join in because I know nothing about colloquial French.

Angele ran this really grotty little bar, and a brocante. Well, she sold a lot of dubious second hand furniture. Her useless husband who never appeared to do much at all, had his leg cut off for diabetes, and then died. Why would he not have done, I asked myself. But they did toll the bell at the church of Saint Rivalain for him. The last of his kind.

He was a groper. He groped me once or twice, but you don’t pay much attention to that sort of thing in Brittany. They all do it, and no real harm meant. I’ve got this theory that none of them are getting enough, poor souls. Probably Brittany’s answer to Catholic Birth Control. And it is only ever a grope.

But this brings me to Colloquial English. And whatever it was I was going to say, I have now lost it. I can no longer remember most of the ghastly language that was my heritage. From the East End of London. I was one of the last Cockneys to be born before the war.

I don’t know if I am sad about that. Maybe just a little. And I can still do a mean, “Gor Blimey Mate”, if circumstances allow. And the occasional, “See you Jimmy”. Not to forget the few odd, lurid Cornish expressions which I won’t repeat here because they are a bit, er, too lurid.

My Yorkshire father in law did call me, “Thee”, which I thought was lovely. He was a nice old man who never made me feel like a London Tart, which sadly, a lot of Yorkshire people did.

This knowledge all being due to having lived all over Britain at some time in my life.

But my favourite remains, “Come orn, Get arf”. This is Glaswegian for, “Come on, get off”, when I was a bus conductress in Glasgow and the passengers were getting a bit out of hand after a football match at Ibrox. I was never very good at this one because it made me laugh. But then these hardened, very drunk Glaswegians were never anything other than nice to me, even if they couldn’t understand a word I was saying most of the time.

In France you see, everyone learns proper French in school, they just don’t use it, and I am not brave enough to inflict this upon them when they are having a chat to pass the time. My loss, obviously.

But in the end it is bad grammar that most offends me about English. Do they actually still teach this in British schools?

Harvest Time Again.

September 20, 2017

Okay, Harvest Time again. I do so love this time of year, mainly because it feeds my Cave Woman desire to stack the store cupboard for lean times ahead. Not to forget some Nuclear Disaster that might or might not happen. You never can tell.

But Ten Massive Great Marrows? Even I have a problem with that. After all, there is a limit to how many Marrows you can stuff. And of course, I couldn’t say “No Thank You” as that would have offended. So what to do with them?

I can’t dump them in the Communal Bin because everyone uses that. And I can’t give them away because everybody else has already got too many anyway.
Any ideas beyond Stuffing and Jam will be gratefully received. We don’t actually eat Jam.

However, there is also a very big box of Cherry Tomatoes. I am working on what to do with those. And a bag full of little Mustard Packets. They will be okay because they will keep. Three very big Beetroots are also welcome as I like Beetroot, preferably uncontaminated by Vinegar. Also about a dozen eggs, left over from the recent Pardon, but I quite like those pickled.

The good news is that I managed to pass on a couple of jars of Apple Pickle from the vast store that I simply had to make last Autumn. I’m not sure if The French actually do Pickle. But I don’t really care. Sorry about that.

As it is there is a dearth of Apples this year, and Thank God for that. God obviously knows that I don’t need Apples at the moment. Can someone tell Him that I don’t need any more Marrows either?

The Chestnuts are looking good, so I am going to bottle a few of those, I hope. For a country that grows Chestnuts by the barrow load, they are very expensive to buy.

A quick tip. Cut a small slice in the outer casing and bring to the boil. They won’t be cooked, but the shell comes off much more easily, thereby avoiding bleeding thumb nails. Cook them later, and you can freeze them uncooked.

The rest of the nuts aren’t doing well at all.  Maybe next year. Oh, and forget the Apples and Marrows.

The Fosse Septique.

September 4, 2017

I have one such.  It is a Septic Tank.  And France, by the directives from Brussels do have to look into my Septic Tank.  Good one.  Not a real problem for me.  They did exactly that today.  They took the covers off.

And then my blind, demented and very old Pug fell into The Shit Tank because I wasn’t watching her.

I freaked and shrieked, very loudly.  And then I shrieked  some more.  Oh my God, oh my God.  My neighbour came round to help me because she heard me shrieking.

This poor little man  with his elbows in shit eventually managed to hoik her out before she actually drowned.  He won’t forget my house in a hurry.

Meanwhile, I was doubled over, and he told me to calm down.  He missed the point that I was nigh on hysterical with laughter by then.  Although I could quite easily have had a heart attack if I wasn’t as tough as I am.

Charlotte is okay.  Or I hope she is.  I doubt that she will remember.

All of Melrand now knows that my dog fell into the shit tank.  Such is life around here.

But I do have to say that this is the funniest thing that ever happened to me.



The End.

August 25, 2017

My one and only favourite daughter in law died yesterday.  My grandson just happens to be here at the moment.

She was however an ex daughter in law.  Shit happens.  But she never ceased to be one of my most favourite people.  Probably the only one if truth is known.

So this is an eulogy to her.  She never told any of us that she was dying from Cancer.  No sob stories from her.  She didn’t want us to know.

She was not the easiest of people.  Actually she was raving crackers.  But guess what?  She liked me.  And made me feel as though she really did like me.  So it all comes down to me in the end.  I have just lost one of those rare women who don’t see their mothers in law as a threat.

She was tall and leggy and very pretty.  She could wear shoes that most of us wouldn’t dare to even think of wearing.  And oh my God, she didn’t half work, although a teensy bit too New Age for me.  But I did love her.

I am devastated.

Her name was Fiona.  Ma Belle Fille.

If there should be some sort of life hereafter, which I personally doubt, then ma belle fille will be there.

Sleep in peace sweet thing.


August 12, 2017

I own hundreds of books. I have bookcases all over the place, and books up the stairs because I have run out of space for any more book cases.
Am I a book hoarder, you might ask yourselves?

When I moved here twenty-five years ago I came with about fifty books, some of which I had already read, but I had by then discovered the fact that some books are very much worth re reading.

But since I can go through five books in a week when the mood takes me, they didn’t last very long. This was utter catastrophe. English books were impossible to buy in France in those days, so I read them over and over again. I can now quote the opening sentence to far too many books, and not just Rebecca.
And the last sentence of  The Sun Also Rises. “Isn’t it pretty to think so.”

I didn’t have a computer, so no chance of Amazon, which I didn’t know even existed.

In truth, I went to England to visit my children with the only intention of buying books, but they don’t know that. And at three hundred pounds a throw for ferry fares, these were very expensive second hand paper backs, although I did inadvertently pick up a couple of First Edition Hard Backs, which I will never part with.

Intermarche in Pontivy eventually got around to displaying about six up to date titles which I would gaze at longingly, but at the equivalent of ten pounds a throw I couldn’t afford more than one of those. Oh the agony of deciding which one.

It was a long time ago, and things have changed. Other expats gave me books, and I went to Amazon for the real goodies.
I now have every book ever written by Nevil Shute. Every book written by Elizabeth George. And every book written by Diana Gabaldon in The Outlander series. Plus a few more. Too many to mention now. But all worth rereading. I will never again be without a book to read.

But I will never forget the agony and the fear of never having a new book to read.

I sometimes think of The Pioneers who went out into the Western Hinterland with nothing much more than a Bible. No wonder they knew their Scriptures.

Actually, I know a few quotes from The Bible, Old and New, but that is more to do with my Grandmother and a desire to soak up words.
That is what it is really all about. The passion for words. Even if they are the words of other people.


July 26, 2017

I briefly rescued this horrible kitten.  Flea ridden, worm ridden and starving.  It spent five days shitting absolutely everywhere, despite trying really hard not to do this.  She actually sat in the dirt tray for quite some time each day.

My really horrible Pug took a shine to her, and for a minute I thought it might work.

Charlotte, the horrible, blind and demented Pug found her own good thing to do, and she was brilliant.  She tried so hard to look after this appalling scrap of inhumanity.

Charlotte was lying beside the kitten when it died..  I will forever now see Charlotte in an entirely different way.  I thought that Charlotte had lost the plot.  But she hasn’t.  She actually has more time and patience than I have.

Tien?  It is just a name.