November 12, 2018

O’Connor.  That’s his name.  I was going to call him Oslo, but I am not unhappy with the name he was registered with, so decided not to change it.

O’Conner is a good Irish name for a half Irish owner of a German Sausage Dog.

He is a nine week old, short haired Dachshund.  Sort of Black, Brown and Grey.  Really pretty.

He wants to play with Charlotte, the blind, demented Pug.  Charlotte isn’t overly keen but she is a tolerant little soul.  The Cat left home, briefly, but came back for Dinner.

The soft toy I gave him is not looking good.  Nor is the door mat or the sofa blanket, and that’s just in twelve hours.  But he is just a baby.

All of the puppies were still there, he was the only unclaimed one.  But I would have chosen him anyway, so there’s a funny thing.

The Breeder, a very nice lady, was upset in the parting of, but I know that one only too well, which is why I eventually stopped breeding Shar Pei Puppies, and kept Romulus.  You can never be sure of what will happen to them.  You can only hope.  And the money isn’t as good as it sounds when you consider how much it costs to raise a litter of puppies.  By Law they have to be Chipped and Vaccinated if you are selling them.  Not everyone does this, of course.  But if they are found wandering and haven’t been chipped then they will be Sterilised by The SPA.  For which you will be overcharged if you want the dog back.  And The Breeder will be Fined.

For those who don’t know, It is the year of The “O” again in France.  All Dog Names start with “O”this year.

I suspect that he will be called Connor.  I shall save O’Connor for when he is being naughty, which could be quite often from all I’ve heard.  But he is very sweet.

Mais, En Y Var.



November 11, 2018

Tekel is French for Dachshund and I am getting The Puppy today.  I hope.  Or do I.

The owner is selling him to me for a slightly reduced price because he is the last one.  But he has been vaccinated and micro chipped, which doesn’t come cheap.

Anyway, I was awake at 4am this morning for some odd reason, so I did a bit more Googling.  I might wish I hadn’t.

Tekels are definitely Diggers.  Shit.  Although the thought had vaguely crossed my mind, so we have already rearmoured the gate.  I shall have to do a bit more underground work on that one.  A Trench with big boulders is one option.  And perhaps a couple of land mines.  Whoops, No, that won’t do, unless I want to turn him into a very expensive sausage.  Sausage Dog?  No, you are right.  Not funny.  So leave it at the boulders.

The Good News is that if they can’t escape then they only dig up the garden.

They love 10 kilometre hikes.  No chance of that.  I have trouble walking one kilometre these days.

They are prone to obesity, basically because they are greedy pigs, but I’ve already got that one cracked with Charlotte.  And if I feed then at the same time they will both be too busy to nick each other’s food.  Although I would back Charlotte on winning this race.

Difficult to house train because they don’t like getting wet.  Ditto Charlotte.  Fortunately I have a tiled floor and no carpets.  I moved the mats years ago.  So not much chance of a disaster there.  And no point in getting upset about nothing.

They bark a lot and sound like Rottweilers.  This could be a good thing, except for the fact that no one breaks into anywhere around here.  But you never know.

They are mind bogglingly sweet with great soulful eyes that look on you with adoration.  This could be a first.  And who knows, he might just behave.  All of the others always did.  We shall have to wait and see.

My Father.

November 5, 2018

My Dad, or Daddy, as I later resorted to calling him.  Probably from some inherent snobbery, although I don’t know where that came from.  There was nothing even remotely upper class about my family.  Perhaps I was just taking the piss.

I didn’t see much of him during the first seven years of my life.  He was a Chindit who blindly followed Orde Wingate into Burma, into the heart land of The Japs.  Not a frightfully good idea as it turned out.  In fact a bit of a disaster.  They had to cut the throats of the Mules to eat.  They couldn’t shoot them because The Japs would have heard.  I never found out if my father was an animal lover.  Probably not.  He was The Camp Cook.

But it does have to be said that Orde Wingate always led from up front.  Mad, and brave as well.  They all loved him to bits.  Or so they say.

But then they had to get out across The Irrawaddy in Flood, and Daddy couldn’t swim.  Christ knows how he managed that.  Only one third of these men actually survived.  Self preservation, no doubt.

Daddy never told me any of this.  I had to read the books.  He never talked about The War.

But he did tell me one interesting thing.  Having been sent to India after the debacle, he was once sent to arrest Ghandi.  God knows where in India.  It was a big place in those days.  But they did have Dhobi Wallers.  That is almost certainly on Google, so look it up.

Daddy said, “Get in the truck, Mate.”  To which Ghandi replied, “Allah be with you, my son.”  Daddy said,  “Allah be with you too, Mate, get in the truck.”  All verbatim, I swear.  I was riveted and got Daddy to repeat this endlessly.  I ever was a Ghandi fan.  Although I don’t think Daddy was.

A strange man, was my father.  He looked the spiting image of a Ghurka.  Something to do with the Irish Romany mayhap.

It took me so long to spot the major flaw in his story.  Which most of you have already spotted, probably.

Ghandi was a Hindu.

So ends a lovely tale of what little I know of my Father and The War, and even that is almost certainly not true.

But he was a Chindit.

The Wood Burner.

November 1, 2018

Fired up The Wood Burner this morning. It’s getting a bit chilly here. So for the first time in twenty five years I shall be warm this Winter. God knows why people think that Brittany is warm. In Winter it isn’t. My Lavatory Cistern has a nasty habit of freezing, but it is a bit close to the back door. And it is something to be done with the washing up water when the flush fails.

It wasn’t a great problem because I have always been a More Clothes sort of person, especially if money is bit tight, which on my Pension it always is. It’s a way of life to me. Albeit ever a good one.

This second hand Wood Burner was acquired by my dear boy late last Winter, due entirely to his efforts working in someone’s garden, along with the rather large amount of wood he also acquired. Brits don’t actually understand Fire Wood. I do because I have watched The Bretons for many years. Acquire it as cheap as possible. Stack it and let it get wet. Then cover it. And then get it into the Wood Shed. It takes about two years for it to be fit to burn.

Many years ago, and on a whim, I bought some rather expensive cast iron cooking pots, which I so rarely used. I didn’t really need them you see.
Well, now they have just come into their own. There is Pie Meat cooking on the stove.

Recently, I allowed myself the odd ridiculous splurge which occasionally overcomes me, and spent 76 Euros on a cast iron Tea Kettle. Such a pretty thing. But my son won’t use the water to make tea because it’s got rust in it. I tend to see this as a daily dose of Iron for free, but Dom’s not having it.

I made a mistake you see. I removed the little basket that is meant for Tea Bags, or Leaf Tea, it doesn’t matter which. If I had left it in then Dom wouldn’t have known there was rust in in it because it would have been brown anyway. However, the hot water comes in handy for washing up, and the odd hot water bottle. So he and I agree to differ now and again.
In fact it’s a miracle that we get on so well. I wouldn’t want to live with me.

Le Repast Pour Les Ages.

October 29, 2018

Lunch for the old people of this Commune. And I have to say that a couple of them looked a bit more battered around the edges than I do. This was a small comfort. A touch of schadenfreude, I fear. You do this sort of thing when you get to my age.

But the really remarkable thing is that in what is a small Commune there are so many of us. It must be something to do with the fresh and clean Breton air, and or the vast quantities of cow shit that is used as fertiliser, rather than that other stuff that is killing everyone.
They do know how to farm around here.

I sat next to a charming, old Breton widower, who was more than delighted to practice his excellent English on me. This happens all of the time these days, so not much chance to practice my appalling French, yet again.

The lunch was excellent, albeit long and protracted, as ever, and coupled with large quantities of alcohol.
And interspersed with Breton Dancing. There’s life in the old dogs yet. Breton Dancing ain’t funny if you are feeling tired and emotional. It’s jolly hard graft. They say that it was invented to stamp down your latest new dirt floor. Hence the Cheese and Wine Parties.

This was followed by bursts of song from all and sundry, although not by me personally because I can’t sing. But then nor could a few who did. Mostly Breton Folk Songs. They had to wrest the microphone from one delightful old boy who was on Song Four.
Thankfully, none of The Brits were tempted to sing, “There’s an Old Mill by The Stream, Nellie Dean.” I would have felt compelled to join in if they had, and was half dreading it and half hoping for it. Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner. You haven’t lived if you’ve never heard a Cockney sing that. It’s a cross between a wail and a moan, if you get it right.

Sadly, no one sang La Marsellaise. I actually know that one, well, nearly.

The Mayor was there and charming to everyone. A jolly good time was had by all. Britons and Bretons alike.
I will almost certainly go next year. If I am still breathing.

Many thanks to the young people who put in so much effort in serving the near 200 people who were there.

And thanks to John for his rendition of “If I was a Rich Man.” He deserves a mention.

Over 70 Years Old.

October 24, 2018

And it’s that time again.  The Commune Dinner for us old folks.  How kind they are.

I am always invited but I never go.  I think I will, and then I don’t.  I don’t really know why.  Perhaps something to do with being a prat.  I am not good with people.  The French language no longer bothers me all that much.  I get by these days.  Mayhap it’s the Expats that scare me witless.  They will all be there, gossiping, as ever.

But this year I am not getting away with welshing out.  The husband of my French neighbour is 70 this year, and he’s going, and he’s taking me with him, whether I like it or not.  He will arrive on my door step and I will get in the car.  Okay.  Although he probably won’t be driving.  And his wife will undoubtedly pick him up to take him home before he gets rat arsed.  She isn’t 70 yet, so she isn’t invited, but she knows him and his penchants.  Such a thoroughly nice man he is, drunk or sober.  But she’s alright as well.

Shit, what am I going to wear that goes with The Pearls?  The only half decent jewellery I own these days, and I’m not going naked, as it were.  Must find the old Zircon Ring.  It isn’t Diamonds, but it looks as though It might be.  I sold The Diamond many years ago, although I sometimes wish I hadn’t.  It was a beautiful thing.

Does anyone think that a three string necklace of Pearls might be a bit too much for Rural Brittany at an Old Folks Dinner?  And should I care anyway?

I’ll let you all know what happens, if I remember.  It is bound to be hilarious.

Two For The Price Of One.

October 21, 2018

Guess who got a Speeding Fine in the post this morning?  Yep, Me.  But I wasn’t even there, Your Honour, or whatever they call The Judge here.

It took me two hours to work out what it even was.  I thought they horrible Septic Tank persons were having another go at me since they failed so miserably the last time, after Charlotte fell in the shit tank, and I nearly died laughing.  But only after Charlotte got hoiked out, I hasten to add.

It wasn’t me, okay.  But the car is registered in my name, so to cut the crap, pay up, or else.  They did send me a Form to say it wasn’t me, but then what?  If I even knew how to fill it in.  It is cheaper to just give in.  As my son pointed out to me.  And he is the one who will pay.

And as it happens I could quite likely have been driving much more fast as I still have no real conception of Speed Limits in France.  What Speed Limits?  And I am still getting used to a car that actually goes.  Let alone The Breaks.  I still haven’t cracked The Breaks.

My Silver Lining kicked in, as ever.  Dom was driving somedebody to the nearest Airport, so they paid for the misdemeanour, and Dom just sat in a car for several hours for nothing.  Good one.  Never under estimate Silver Linings. This is the stuff of  never being really pissed off about anything.

And then to No Name Cat.  I got up at o’crack sparrow cheep to get her into the box before she bogged off for the day, and  to get her to The Vet.  He’s Hot, oh my.  But that is by the by.   My son rolled his eyes in horror when I said that.  But Stitches removed.  And she won’t get up the duff again in a hurry.  Poor little soul.  But she still trusts us.  Actually, there is nothing even remotely remarkable about her.  But I doubt that she was ever part of this Stray Explosion round here.  She is too domesticated, so perhaps she was just dumped by someone who couldn’t cope with the cost of getting her seen to.  I can understand that.  The price wasn’t funny.  But swings and roundabouts.  You gain some and you lose some.  You just need to be able to spot what is worth what it is.

She isn’t my reincarnation of my Singapore  Cat, much as I would so like her to be.  But I doubt that I will ever give her a name.

Not Much Fun.

October 14, 2018

Still smarting from the 105 Euro Bill, I swore to have no truck with anymore stray cats. Only to arrive home to yet another strange stray sitting on my draining board and not looking very well.  So I opened a tin of Tuna, as you do when trying to discourage strays.  He ate a very small amount and then disappeared, still not looking very well.  So I worried about that.

Woke this morning to find the Siamese dead on the lawn.  I am gutted.  I nearly cried.  He was such a beautiful thing and was becoming just a teensy bit less afraid.  We might even have got there in the end.

It is looking as though someone has taken the cat problem around here seriously and put down poison.  No, I don’t blame them.  It was already out of hand.  But just not my lovely Siamese, Silly Billy, I was feeding him and he was beginning to look good.

Now I am freaking out about the neutered Tabby, and watching her like a hawk.  Fortunately she couldn’t get out of the garden for a couple of days because she couldn’t jump over the gate after the operation, so hopefully didn’t ingest any of whatever it was.  She will be at The Vet before she knows what hit her if she shows the slightest sign of being ill.  I don’t care how much it costs.

Thank You, God, in advance.

What a Day.

October 9, 2018

Got up at the crack of dawn to catch the female cat before she bogged off out.  Banged her up in a cat box.  She cried a lot.

Took her to The Vet to get done.  I don’t care if they mostly don’t mate in Autumn or Winter.  I am not chancing it.  And I can’t kick her out because she likes it here and wouldn’t leave anyway.

No, she doesn’t have a name.  No, I don’t know how old she is.  No, I don’t know if she has got anything wrong with her.  Okay, come back at 5 o’clock.

5.30pm and back at The Ranch.  She crept out of the box and fell over a couple of times.  I had to feed her on the floor because she couldn’t get up to get to her food.  Had to beat off the dog because the dog will eat anything at ground level.

Keep her indoors for five days, oh really.  No chance.  There is a bloody great hole in the back door for the dog.  She found that one all by herself, which is how she got indoors in the first place.

Combien, s’il vous plait?  C’est normal, Madame. 105 Euros, merci beaucoup.  Normal?  Bloomin hell.  That’s nearly my entire week’s pension money gone. The rest of it went on worm pills and flea pills.  The cat food was extra.  But the alternative didn’t bear thinking of.

However, she is a forgiving little soul.  Back on my bed tonight and purring away.  No loss of trust at all.

Please God keep her safe from that awful road.  She has grown on me.

Letter To My Only Sister

September 24, 2018

Hi Darling,

Just a quick letter as I have been somewhat preoccupied of late. Nothing serious, just life in general.

The Food Bank on Tuesdays comes around with alarming regularity although the food is always excellent. And everything grows at twice the rate around here, so keeping the garden under control can be a bit of a nightmare.

I seem to have acquired a couple of stray cats, which wasn’t difficult as the whole village is currently inundated with strays who breed endlessly, and no one does anything about it. So more likely the cats acquired me.

Marion, my neighbour, has had four of them sterilised, and one of mine appears to be female, so she is for the chop as soon as I can get her to the Vet. I can just about afford having her seen to. And I am not having her dropping kittens on my bed, which seems to be her favourite place of rest. I threatened to drown them if this happens, and don’t think I couldn’t. The alternative doesn’t bear thinking of. But Dom balked at the thought and has decided to take a day off to drive me to the Vet’s surgery.

I have managed to get worm and flea pills down their throats. But that cost an arm and a leg as well. I swear I spend more on animals than anything else these days. Karma, I suspect. I have had so many good ones who were never ill, so I guess this is pay back time.

It’s a bit of a bugger not having regular access to a car, but Dom does have to work, which incidentally is all going rather well. Quite a lot of people need Gardeners around here, thank God, as well I know, having mowed many a lawn when I needed to earn money. And at least he inherited my very expensive tools which were far from past it.

This Summer has been really good, and still the Sun shines. It has reminded me of one of the reasons for why I came here. Although I could toss you for whether Brittany or South Wales is the wettest in Winter. All Celts, Love, so we both probably finished up where we most belong.

I hope as ever, that all is well with you, and that Ian and Lee are okay.

Have a lovely birthday.

Loads of love.

Maureen. xxxx