Posted by: kathandroger | November 10, 2018

November 5th to 11th.

Virtually unknown in France, Guy Fawkes’ night is an enduring favourite of us Brits. We have managed to educate some of the locals about the “Gunpowder Plot”, and they do understand bringing down governments! A few years ago we had a celebration of the day here, after clearing the use of fireworks with our bemused local Mayor. He did understand that the English like to burn people as they all remember Joan of Arc! This year our friends David and Jayne who live in a different region of France, but only across the river a few miles away, invited us over. Now Kath loves making a Guy, and has done so all her life she tells me. My anatomically correct frame, made of old garden sticks with wire joints, was rejected in favour of her old trusted method of stuffing my old clothes with paper which she had begged from her incredulous English students. Now times have changed remarkably since our last event, and the face of the Guy just had to be Boris Johnston.IMG_20181105_191021 The Guy is on the left! He went up in smoke much to the enjoyment of the assembled multitude.IMG_20181105_191623 (2) After a lovely meal, including the traditional Yorkshire Parkin cake, an unrehearsed musical evening was enjoyed by all. I tried to help the French contingent in a rendering of “Le temps de cerises”, but reckon I was more of a hinderance! Thanks for a great evening.
The weather is definitely looking autumnal now, and the beautiful Autumn colours are a joy to behold. Our weekly club bike ride was not possible with the rain and wind, but I did manage to get out yesterday afternoon for a couple of hours. Since taking the iphone with me for photos, rides have become much more of an artistic affair.IMG_0186 The French love their woodpiles, and this one must have been made using a laser guide! I thought it was a French thing, but noted the same precise piles in Germany a couple of months ago…but I guess one would expect that of the Germans!
The local wild Boar have been causing their usual havoc on the roadsides.IMG_0182 We don’t see them very often, but enjoy the family groups crossing the local roads at night. I read that they are becoming more and more common, and whereas the roadside damage is minor, in a field of crops they can wreak havoc. The local hunters do their best, but numbers are still rising. Perhaps I can do a bit more for reducing global warming by eating more wild boar.
And talking of animals, our sheep are due for the annual cull soon. I hate it happening, but meat eaters must take responsibility. I was working in the field last week putting in new fence posts to try and curtail the goats’ escapes, when I noticed Polly paying great attention to Rosemarys’ hind leg. On further inspection, she was licking an old wound that the ageing sheep has sustained some weeks ago.IMG_0178 None of the other sheep pay her any attention. Lovely. My only mistake was to discard my shirt, which Moins Dix, the goat, started eating, and the sheep came to see if it was tasty or not.IMG_0180 It wasn’t!
And so on to the 11TH, Armistice Day. I had been asked to attend a memorial march in another village, to dress up as a soldier, and carry an old rifle. I used to love being in the “Drill Squad” in the Combined Cadet Force at school; all that stamping around and shouting orders, but just feel so sad now about all the horrific loss of life, and declined. There are small parades in most of the local villages even now, and I agree it is important to remember. It will be interesting to see if it has any effect on the volume of hunting and shooting that we normally experience on a Sunday.

Posted by: kathandroger | November 4, 2018

Dogs.

As a kid in London, I was always scared of dogs. Great big things that barked and ran towards us when we were trying to play football on Tooting Bec Common. I had never been bitten, but those big teeth always frightened me. One uncle in Sussex had a lovely dog called Bess, and she was kind and friendly to me and I think it was her who helped give me confidence. Now I love dogs, and would not be without one. My children grew up with Boxers, a lovely, loving and comically stupid breed who would play with the family all day long, and then come with me on my rounds in the countryside. Each died young, and many tears were shed on each occasion.
So now in France we have Polly, our second Airedale after Boudie left us last year.IMG_0128 (1) She is like all dogs, often wonderful to be with and often a real pain in the arse. But this week we have looked after two more dogs belonging to some friends locally. Rollo is a designer dog, a mongrel Spaniel and Poodle, so fashionable nowadays and a nice friendly little chap.IMG_4083 Butter would not melt in his mouth, but last year he found something better that butter in a local dwelling and sired a litter with a local Labrador. One of the resulting pups is FloraIMG_4084, more Lab than anything, and the two have grown up together.
It has been a real pleasure to see all three romping around the countryside in a playful threesome. Different directions, different scents but all round doggy fun.IMG_0151 How I wish I still had the ability to run with them, but our guests are a delight to have on a walk as they come back when called and even respond to my whistle. Incidentally, my whistle is extremely loud since I paid a fortune for Dental Implants…they ought to list that talent as one of the attractions.
Anyway we have walked miles with the dogs, and the only drawback is the change in the weather which means they have sometimes needed mud washing off before they can come back into the house. And the burrs! Rollo may well be a designer dog, but the designer did not know anything about the seed heads in France, which are everywhere at the moment, and become irretrievably ensconced in the designer fur coat. We may have to shave him to get them out before the owners arrive today. Rollo the bald designer dog may not go down too well though. Flora is the most licky dog we have met, and we have both been covered in abundant dog saliva in any available body part. She is very friendly.
So what about dogs in general? I love them, some don’t. I thought they were good for our mental and physical health, but recent studies tend to refute that. Common sense would dictate that walking for miles every day must be good, but for us both the use of the animals as confidents and understanding friends is a great comfort. Dogs don’t spread false news, always listen intently and rarely get as upset as we do. Their constant enjoyment of the simple things in life such as food, and the great outdoors, is an inspiration. And they love to play and show the pleasure of being with us. The feeling is mutual doggies!

Posted by: kathandroger | October 28, 2018

Bye Bye Summer.

Our last guests of the year left yesterday. We don’t usually have visitors this late because of the inclement weather, but Angie and Co had a lovely week of sunshine and temperatures in the 20’s. We still haven’t had any rain and the surrounding fields are as dry as a bone. The local farmers have been scraping the topsoil and feverishly trying to get the winter corn sown before the rain comes. The dust seemed to be rising from fields all around us.IMG_0145
But signs that the summer is over are all around too. This time of year our club bike rides are marked by cycling into strands of cobwebs which float all over the countryside. It appears that spiders are very active at this time of year and that the webs break off to distribute the baby spiders by wind power. The process in called “ballooning”, but I have no idea why! Anyway the busy little beasts exhibit their labours all around, and it does look pretty in the early morning dew.IMG_0141
I don’t think we will be cycling in shorts and shirts anymore this year, but it was wonderful only a few days ago to be able to meander our lanes and admire the horses.IMG_0135 I was lucky enough to be able to ride racehorses in the UK, and that and the pubs are the only thing I miss in France. These youngsters are bred locally, and all looked wonderful in the full sunshine.
Because of the lack of rain, the mushroom season has so far been very poor, to the chagrin of the locals. Usually at this time of the year we have some rain with the warm weather and the woods and fields yield the usual supplement to the Frenchmans’ diet. We did pick some big and ugly fungi on our ramble on Monday, and I am assured that they would be good to eat, but I would not touch them with a barge pole! We did have some mushrooms appear in out field though, and although Kath is wary, I had some on toast, with our tomatoes and lettuce and they were delicious!IMG_4077
So the summer has gone and the heating is on. The clocks went back today and we would have had an extra hour in bed if we weren’t looking after a friends’ couple of dogs in addition to Polly. Dogs don’t do time changes, so first light meant placating the pack and letting them out for a pee. Still, we have lots of good wood for the fires, plenty of dry logs to cut up, and we will not be cold. The garden is still looking good, and we have managed to rotavate the rows which contained the tomatoes and beans, and it all looks unusually tidy for this time of the year. We are promised rain from this afternoon, and that will be a good excuse to get into the workshop for a play.
The clouds today have been magnificent. All of natures’ emotions were there; the pure calm blue sky to one side, the rumblings of an oncoming change to another. The nests of pure white cauliflower like cumulus contrasted with the angry looking dark storm clouds which despite the threat never did arrive. And the fading sun seemed to have accepted that the days of heat are over and dipped gently away. The metal giraffe at the end of the garden watched it all without moving a muscle.IMG_4081.JPG Maybe she was admiring herself in the newly installed traffic mirror at the crossroads.
Come on winter, I want to light the fire!

Posted by: kathandroger | October 21, 2018

Save the World!

There is rarely any good news in the world. It would be lovely to read a newspaper and not feel depressed, especially about our environment. I was pondering over the problems this morning on our walk with the dog in the wonderful autumn early morning.IMG_0133 Recently the ongoing debates about global warming and pollution have been everywhere, and enveloped by pessimism. It won’t be us who suffer, but our children and grandchildren, but action is needed now, and most of us seem to want to blame the mindless inaction of politicians worldwide. So what can you and I do? A complete change of lifestyle, with no polluting travel, and a vegan diet, would be the most effective contribution, but all but a very few could manage that. We need to feed the world, and with the increasing demand for meat, and increasing affluence to pay for it, meat production has become one of the most damaging elements in the overall production of greenhouse gasses. Beef is the main culprit, largely being the most ineffective way per unit of land for protein production, although there is a great difference between pasture fed cows and those from newly deforested land. And meat production also pollutes both water and air. Poultry is better, eggs not bad, and surprisingly to me, crustacean and farmed fish are among the greater polluters. But overall damage to soil fertility with some modern farming methods for plant production has also to be taken into account, and there is no doubt that managed grazing by animals can maintain soil fertility. Nitrogen fertilizers and insecticides have decimated insects in the never ending quest for increasing production.
OK, then, what am I going to do?IMG_4074 I have stopped drinking milk and am using soy milk on my morning cereals. I will not eat beef, except when given it (the day after my bold action, we were served a fillet of beef in our meal with the walking club, and there was no choice!), and will try to cut down on other red meats. I do feel slightly guilty in that dairy farming is not nearly as bad as beef farming, and I knew so many struggling dairy farmers in the UK. I have to say that the soy milk change has not been a problem, and I quite like the taste already, but I will miss that lovely rare steak!
But what about all that polluting travel? Our new petrol care is amazingly economical (50+ miles per gallon), but we live out in the sticks, and cutting down on trips will be difficult. The bike is used a lot, but only for pleasure rides, and in mid winter, carting our shopping back from the local town will be a bit of a drag. Air travel is hugely polluting, but cutting that out would mean not seeing family in Australia, and not taking advantage of the incredibly cheap flights that Mr Ryanair offers. It is a bit ironic that I want to see granddaughters on the other side of the world, but will be poisoning their future by doing so.
I must eat more nuts! We have so many hazelnuts and walnuts here at the moment, and still have boxes left over from the past two years. Nuts contain 2/3 good fats, and the other third is equally protein and carbohydrates. Great food which we stupidly ignore!IMG_4076 The wily Filbert Beetle knows all about the hazelnuts, and this little chap has grown fat on one of them. Luckily we have not had such a heavy infestation this year, and there are still loads of nuts to be picked up.
So in conclusion I am feeling a tiny bit better about my polluting the planet, but accept that Draconian measures are needed by governments worldwide to prevent the problems worsening. But hey, the sun is shining, it is still a beautiful world, and we must go on enjoying the pleasures we have.

Posted by: kathandroger | October 14, 2018

Pool pointing and Descartes Flowers.

There is always something to repair at La Belardiere. Most of the things I can do easily myself, but others are more complicated. Such is our swimming pool. The terrace was laid by a local mason, and at the time we had no idea that he was particularly useless. It is always difficult in a new home to pick the best local workers, and we made a mistake. The paving stones, perhaps not the best choice, but cheap and presentable concrete slabs, were laid in sometimes wavy lines, and were not the best feature on our project. Now, after nine years, it is a bit of a mess, with stained slabs and the pointing loose in several places. So what to do? The Boss engaged a local reputable builder to come and give us an estimate. 15.000 Euros to replace the slabs and re-do the pool margins. Bloody Hell, I thought, that is a lot of Euros. “But we can afford it” was the voice of reason from the feminine one. Now I don’t think I am really a miser, but hate spending cash to see someone else do something I can do myself, although the task is huge. And one daughter is struggling for cash at the moment and the thought of spending that sort of money on tarting up a pool did not feel appropriate. So plans for the task have been made and work in underway.
One reason the wife used for my non participation was the strain on my prosthetic knees. No problem, the Prior portable de-pointing trolley was made.IMG_4072 This is the wheeled base from a generator with an old mould box on top, which enables the worker to move freely up and down the rows whilst sitting in great comfort. The cushion has yet to be fitted. It works superbly, and after buying a good dust mask, donning the ear defenders and glasses, work was begun.IMG_1851 Care has to be taken with the diamond cutter, and dust is a bit of a problem.IMG_1849 I am made to undress outside after each session, and severely scolded for getting too much dust on the pool cover, but progress is being made. The slabs themselves are very stained, and after some research on the internet I bought the allegedly best product for cleaning them for 50 Euros. Cobblers! The stuff is OK, but no better that strong bleach costing a fifth as much. After power washing the slabs post chemicals they come up like new! So Rog has his task for the Autumn, and has put off the time when labour has to be done by someone else!

We had a lovely walk through some woods the other side of the river yesterday. The weather has been amazing, 27 degrees in full sun, and we were plotting a route for the rambling club walk tomorrow.IMG_1854 The dog, who had decided to have a limp the day before and did nothing all day, seemed to have had a miraculous recovery and ran around like a two year old. She will be two next month! We reckon she may be a “Tamalou”. This lovely French expression means “tu as mal ou?”, meaning “where are your medical problems today”, and is used for whingers who take days off for imaginary illnesses.
We had lunch in Descartes, sitting outside in the hot sunshine and admiring the autumn flowers around the Town Hall.IMG_1858 This year the displays in October are still wonderful.IMG_1857 I must try to get to know the Head Gardener for some advice!

Posted by: kathandroger | October 7, 2018

The Great Escape.

We have a lovely sometimes neighbour who spends several weeks every year in her holiday cottage adjacent to our house. She makes the long journey from her home in Northumberland with her little spaniel dog, and camps overnight half way in her tent. We are always pleased to see her and to learn of the meteorological difficulties in the North of England. She is welcome to use some of the vegetables from our garden, and the dogs frequently play together. Pam kindly offered to look after our house whilst we were away in Germany, and had a set of house keys. One of her duties was to check that the automatic cat feeder in the scullery (I haven’t used that word for many years-the wash house out the back), was working. Now this room adjoins the garage for my old car and the car trailer, and the door into it is large, heavy, and prone to shut on itself. Poor Pam was in the garage doing her checking, and the heavy door, which is self locking, closed behind her. Trapped. Floyd the dog was with her, but unable to offer advice. This was early evening, and the outside doors were locked securely.IMG_4071 After several minutes of pondering, and several screaming pleas for help to the non existent neighbours, the situation seemed helpless. Now Pam is a contentedly mature lady, very fit, but upon whom the ravages of time have wreaked the inevitable lowering of our centre of gravity. Her gymnastic abilities, like mine, have long been lost. What to do? Night was fast descending, the space above the beam over the door was small and seemingly unreachable, nobody could hear her screams, and the dog was of no help. My trailer had been thoroughly swept out before we left, and there were some old rugs on the floor, so that became the bed for the night. Sleep was interrupted by cold and discomfort, but it only served to engender the determination to escape. The cat coming into the scullery behind the locked door did not help. His pathetic mewing was only interpreted as a laugh of derision, and his eating his dispensed food only illuminated Pams’ lack of sustenance. She did have some onions and a tray of apples, but it was poor compensation.
Come the first rays of daylight, and a plan was made. An old rope was found in the trailer, and a rough ladder made with girl guide learnt knots from all those years ago. After several attempts it was slung over the beam above the doors, and secured. The ascent was apparently not graceful, and not immediately successful, but the will to overcome the incarceration was enough to heave a determined feminine form over the obstacle and there was then only a gentle drop to freedom. The dog was then released from within the house. Well done Pam, and thank you for looking after our house. I am not sure we will have the courage to ask again!

But back to the garden. The squash have been harvested, dried on the mobile drier (the bloody wheels fell off again!), and stored in the empty gite. They should see us through the winter.IMG_4067
And the tomatoes are still going strong. They seem to grow anywhere here, and a few weeks ago we spotted a pear shaped variety growing spontaneously into a large rambling rose on the front of the house. It has not been watered at all during this long dry spell, but seems to be thriving and is about three metres tall now!IMG_4068 What a wonder is nature.

Posted by: kathandroger | September 30, 2018

Constance, cows and Fairy Rings.

We have just got back from visiting son Tom and his lovely family in Germany. The trip only takes about eight hours on the motorways, including stops to let the dog pee and the passengers pee. He is lucky enough to live in the Black Forest in southern Germany, a beautiful part of the world and organised in typical efficient German manner. His home is in a holiday resort, with lots of cycling and hiking around the well signposted paths and skiing in winter. Poor lad. His wife Anke used to work at Lake Constance, another couple of hours away, so we spent a night there as well. Another lovely part of Germany on the third largest lake in Europe which looks like a sea. The thing that struck me most about Constance was the clarity of the water and the lack of litter that we have become used to. And the fact that everyone was on a bicycle! Big ones, small ones, and that is just the people. It seems that age is no barrier to cycling, just add a battery and off you go. We spent some time drinking coffee and watching the world go by and realising that there are lots of people older than me in the world! Constance is well worth a visit, for the fountains,IMG_1824 and the ambiance.IMG_1821

But back to the Black Forest. The walking trails are magnificent, and very well signposted. The only drawbacks being the steepness of the mountains and the fact that wolves have been reintroduced, presumably to hasten the progress of the hikers. We didn’t see any wolves, and anyway our fearless dog was with us, but we did see some lovely cows.IMG_1809 They seemed to appreciate how lucky they were in the sunny meadows, and were keen for a friendly chat, but their accent defeated me.
And after the one night of heavy rain, the fungi had raised their pretty heads. We came across this pretty fairy ring high in the mountains and had to wade across some boggy marsh to take the photos. IMG_1790 They looked a bit poisonous to me, so I picked a few for the wife, but she was not keen either.IMG_1797. A walk in the Black Forest really is magical, a huge natural land that seems to change from deepest pine woods, to Beech woods, to pasture.
Like all trips, the time seemed to pass too quickly, but it was a real pleasure to spend time with family and especially the rapidly growing potentially bilingual grandchildren.
We took a couple of days to wend our way back to France, and I had forgotten what a pleasure it is to drive on the almost empty roads of central France. With the autumnal sunshine illuminating the colour changes in the trees, it was a joy to drive. We visited the spectacular Abbey at Vezalay, and even managed to stop at the equally pretty town of Sancerre to look around and buy some wine. Great trip, and we must now prepare for winter!

Posted by: kathandroger | September 23, 2018

Yes we have no Bananas…and History.

Several years ago we rescued some Banana plants which we cleared out from the Ethni Cite site at our local St Remy sur Creuse village. The plants had become rampant on warm and sheltered gardens there, and needed to be thinned out. As we were looking to adorn our courtyard at the time, we planted three in pots. They have done well, being brought inside for the winter, and are an exotic addition to our garden. And this year one of them has decided to come into flower.IMG_4065 Funny old plants, the banana, the huge bud will grow and then bend over to show the developing fruits. Actually there is no chance of that as it is already mid September and they need up to 100 days to develop. But is was interesting to see the plant have a go and show us what it is capable of in warmer climes.

It is strange how our interests change with the passing of the years. At school I hated history, because it was all about dates and I could never remember them. And Jim Melican who sat near to me always knew them all! But now history fascinates me, although I still cannot remember dates. Our land at the back of the house contains the remains of what I am convinced is an old fortress, possibly from the time of Richard Lionheart, who build a fort just the other side of the hill in St Remy. Our stone walls can still be seen, and the stone is certainly not local. Anyway, it was the “Journee de Patrimoine” on Sunday, an annual event when all the local historical attractions are open at reduced rates. I visited our local little museum at Buxeuil, with the dog. She was not very interested, but to me it was fascinating, particularly the history of our surrounding area. The very helpful curator showed me an old map, the first known of the area, and I hoped I may see some sign of our fortress.IMG_4064 Our property is in the middle and called “Blardiere” and there are some strange symbols around it. I had hoped that they meant “ancient fortress”, but in fact they only mean “hamlet without a church”. These maps are from the first complete mappage of France, commissioned by Louis XV between 1756 and 1789, and were instituted by a chap called Cesar-Francois Cassini. What an interesting man. He followed his father into the trade, and was followed by his son, and began making a name for himself by measuring huge distances and correcting the errors of his predecessors. He was a chum of Isaac Newton, one of my heroes, and internationally lauded. He understood geodesic triangles, which I don’t, and spent his life measuring and charting. He died of smallpox aged 70, a few years before the Revolution, and missed all his measurements being changed into metres. I am only sorry that he missed our fortress in the wood, but I guess 600 years between its construction and his maps is a good enough excuse.

Posted by: kathandroger | September 16, 2018

The reluctant migrant.

Mid September and our swallows have all gone. The last pair proved to be a bit difficult, with one of them flying off into the distance as soon as it could, but the other seemed to want to stay with me in my workshop. Each morning I expected the last bird to have flown, but it was more than a bit reluctant.IMG_4059
I can only guess that he enjoyed watching me at play, cutting, welding and generally making lots of mess and noise. Or maybe he just liked the radio. Anyway even when mum arrived to give him his latest high energy food for his impending trip he preferred to stay in his comfy nest. Mum watched from her perch and tried to talk some sense into the reluctant migrant, but to no avail.IMG_4054 (2)
Eventually she seemed to have had enough of this prevarication and came to give him a real talking to.IMG_4060 I cant’t understand swallowese yet, but I reckoned the gist of the conversation was something like this..”now listen to me, young man, we have got to make a long journey to reach another land. You will have the pleasure of soaring over mountains and plains with loads of your new mates, and will see sights you have never even dreamed of. You will see Spain, with the thousands of Brits flocking to the coast, you will see the sea, you will see a great big beach called the Sahara, and we will then fly over a big place called Africa to arrive in a land full of lovely stuff to eat. And I promise you can come back next year and watch Roger playing in his workshop.” It seemed to do the trick. Reluctant swallow left yesterday. I was sad!
So what has been going on in the workshop? The spuds we had stored in bags had started to sweat and go rotten. My mistake for choosing old feed bags with a plastic liner. We needed to dry them again, and I realised we had an old bed in the barn which would be ideal for drying both spuds and onions. Never throw anything away! I have welded a couple of wheels to one end and we now have a mobile vegetable dryer!IMG_4053 Kath has bought some hessian sacks and the tates should be good for the winter now.
The garden itself is looking good.IMG_4061 The tomatoes are coming to an end, but the squash, which I grow in between to rows of toms are excellent. It is a bit of a pain to keep the squash leaves off the plants, but it does provide shade to the roots and we don’t need to water the plants much. The root row, beet, black radish, parsnips, carrots, spinach etc, will stay the winter, and the brassicas this year have so far been spared the dreaded caterpillars. The other rows will be ploughed in a few weeks. The leeks have been planted in deep furrows, which were then earthed up and we now have some ready to eat, with long white, hopefully delicious stems. We both love the root crops. bit it does mean that autumn has come. Never mind, it is full sun and 25 degrees today. Life is not too bad!

Posted by: kathandroger | September 9, 2018

The Toad, Hair and Fungus.

What a strange week. No guests until yesterday and the place feels empty and unfulfilled. But we still have the lovely sunny days of early September, with fresh mornings and the flocks of wheeling swallows getting ready to leave us. I took Polly the dog fishing in the canoe in the week. She caught nothing, but neither did I, and the bloody animal jumped on my favourite fly rod and broke it into several pieces. Never take a girl fishing. But to get the canoe out of the cellar we cane across Crappy the Toad. He is the oldest toad in the village, and is very much looking his age.IMG_4044 I was struck with despair at the deterioration in his condition, and had to go straight to the garden to dig some worms for him. After looking at his potential meal for some moments, one was devoured, but the big one made a run for it (can worms really run?) and was gone into a crack in the dirt floor before you could say “run for it worm”.IMG_4045 Crappy looked much better afterwards and seemed to want a glass of port and a fine cigar, but I had fishing to do.

With our recent rain and then the warm weather, the local mushrooms should be coming into season. I shall try some new ones this year, but probably not the puffballs that we have tried in the past. I knew that fungi produce lots of seed, but was astonished to find this old puffball in our field, which had hardened, split open beautifully, and was discharging literally millions of spores.IMG_4050 What a clever thing is nature.

Kath has been working hard in the gites, and I have been digging up the road outside the house. The gravel from our drive tends to spread all over the outside area, and I wanted to tidy it up. I am not sure that the road authorities would have approved of my using the heavy cutting disc to remove chunks of tarmac, but it does look much neater now.IMG_4049 Anyway, we were both feeling a bit exhausted, and looking forward to a good night’s sleep, when some weird noises prevented our slide into somnolence. I opened the window, but could hear nothing. Then the music started, obviously Mozart, and coming from our kitchen downstairs. Feeling very aware of my nudity and timidity I crept down to find the CD player on and the dog looking guilty. Either she adores the “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik”, or she accidentally pushed the start button whilst chasing an errant wasp. I guess the latter.

One of the pleasures of living here is that I have my hair cut by a friend who has a business visiting people at their homes and making them look more beautiful. It had been a long time since the last shearing, and Katia arrived on time as usual to trim my long locks. It is strange how we think (us men that is), that we still have load of hair. Katia does a very good job, and it is a pleasure to chat to her, but the clearing up afterwards is my task. I had thought that to clear all the fallen hair would be a bit like clearing the autumn leave and take ages. In fact, this was all there was after the operation.IMG_4046 (2) And to make matters much, much worse, she asked if I wanted my eyebrows trimmed, as they were apparently very long. It appears that the majority of the hair on the floor had come, not from my head, but from those ageing eyebrows! Life goes on.

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