27 September 2008

happy birthday, Lucy !

Happy Birthday, Lucy. I was reading Esther’s blog and so happy to hear she is back on Earth and writing about her new life and adventures. She mentioned that she had a strong feeling that it is your birthday today and then later on your Loose and Leafy blog that your brother was holding a pot (with the new bamboo?).

I went to some friends for dinner last night and there were two cakes that I was going to take a picture of to post as a birthday cake for you, but they got sliced up and divided before I had chance. So I took a picture of the portions (oh yes, I had a piece of each) on my plate, they were a sponge with chestnut purée and cream and the other was a prune tart with a filo pastry topping. Unfortunately the photographs made it look a mess – but they tasted wonderful. Everyone at dinner sends their best wishes – they sat for nearly ten minutes whilst I (bored) enthralled them with the tales of my blog and my loyal follower and other sweet people such as Barbee, who have left kind comments on my posts.

So, I’m posting a picture of a giant birthday cake and some sunflowers and hope you have a lovely day in delightful Dorchester.

Happy Birthday, Lucy. I hope you sort out your annoying feed problems with Pictures Just Pictures and wish you a wonderful year to come.

25 September 2008

love thursday : mugs

I love my tea mugs.

I drink a lot of tea – builders’ tea (strong with milk), chai (spiced black tea with milk), early grey, green tea, ‘sleepy tea’ last thing at night (a caffeine-free herbal tea usually with chamomile and other calming blends) and I have a bag full of boxes of different flavoured herbal teas and infusions.

I use different mugs and cups for different teas.

My favourite builders’ tea mug has had a crack and a broken handle for months and it is difficult to move around when hot, because it burns your fingers. I found a new one to replace it in a shopping trip to Tesco when I was back in the UK. If you imagine a mirror image of the handle, it would make a perfect heart shape, so this is my first picture for ‘Love Thursday’ which I found on the Shutter Sisters blog – a love-themed photograph every Thursday.

19 September 2008

anyone for tea in the garden ?

I’ve just got back from my week’s visit to the UK. It was damp and green unlike here, which is dry and baked brown. However, last night the heavens opened and it rained consistently for many hours leaving the earth soft and claggy. Now it’s raining again. I hope it isn’t going to have a bad effect on the grape harvest vendanges which appears to be underway. As I drove home from the airport yesterday afternoon, I passed several tractors with their little trailers bumping along behind – I’m sure our local wine co-operative is getting really busy.

Whilst I sort myself out and make some retrospective posts, I just wanted to put up these two photos I shot in Whittards of Chelsea.

The garden sets are : mugs in the shape of a terracotta flower pot with a coaster on top, presumably to keep your tea hot whilst you are gardening (I like what’s written – ‘I don’t go to the gym ... I garden’ & ‘You’ve got to propagate to accumulate ...’); tall mugs like long toms; sugar and creamer set of small pot with a spade-shaped spoon and watering can milk jug; and I believe the tea set has a watering can for a teapot.

I love Whittards and think these are so cute. Perhaps they are rather twee, but they made me smile even though I resisted the urge to purchase anything other than some teas.

02 September 2008

don’t play again, Sam ... or quelles mauvaises herbes !

We went for our morning walk joined, as usual, by Sam the Golden Retriever. Sam’s owners let him wander around all day whilst they are at work. He’s often waiting for us because, quite understandably, he loves to go for walks with people. I feel so sad for him – I think he’s a young dog and obviously needs lots of exercise which is why, no doubt, they let him out in the morning to spend the day following people up and down the canal.

The problem is : I’ve often found him in our chemin – so he has crossed the main road, which can be very busy at times. Also, he’s a large dog and the the track along the canal is somewhat narrow. On Thursday, last week, right at the start of our walk, he knocked me down. He’d just met up with us, was full of beans and so happy to see L B. They started running up and down using me a ‘home’ and Sam ran into the back of me, causing me to twist my left ankle, come thumping down on my right buttock ending up flat on the path. What a great game this is, thought Sam and came and threw himself down between my splayed legs and rolled onto his back, muddy paws in the air. L B, being the intelligent dog he is, realised with my cry as I went down and the moaning as I lay motionless that something was definitely not right and promptly jumped on my stomach, growling at Sam.

There the three of us stayed for some moments until I felt able to move the two dogs away from me and work out whether I could get to my feet and if so, would I then be able to walk ? Luckily I was able to do both and was glad that there had been no-one around to see how inelegantly I scrambled upright, clutching to the chain-link fence for support. I gingerly placed one foot in front of the other and hobbled slowly along with one hand against the fence. They started again ! Racing up and down the path and spinning round at the point I stood. “Get away, dégagez, you blasted animals !”

I walked for a little, but progress was slow and they carried on their game of tag until I decided I could take no more and headed for home feeling somewhat sorry for myself.

The ankle swelled, the buttock and pelvis felt slightly bruised and everything ached and creaked, so no more walks for L B and I until yesterday morning.

Sam appeared and was somewhat calmer, but they always go mad when we get down to a grassy track away from the canal as we’ve turned for home. The tag started again and I spotted a short, thickish stick which I picked up with a thought of using it in some way to keep Sam at bay ... too late – he’s a Retriever, after all – he grabbed the stick from my hand and started galloping up and down with the stick protruding from either side of his mouth at knee level ! Not a good idea. Luckily his attention span was short and he dropped it a little further along, to investigate an interesting smell. A little further along, he came rushing out of the undergrowth, with L B in pursuit, carrying half a dried baguette. He ran L B followed and I wondered how far L B would go before he realised that Sam wasn’t going to stop this time and was taking his prize home. Not very long and we enjoyed our Sam-less walk all the more until we got to his place to see him swallowing the last mouthful. L B sniffed at the crumbs, but Tibetan Terriers aren’t too fussed about scavenging for food.

Back to this morning : Sam’s obviously been in the water already and seems relatively calm, but continues jumping in and out of the canal, shaking furiously, jumping straight back in. Even L B stands back and I’ve already got wet shoes, splashes on my trousers and a couple of wet, faintly muddy patches on my calves where he has pushed past me. When we get to the open area where the potager is right next to the canal I stop momentarily to take photos of the new growth on the courgette plants as a follow-up to my earlier post. The two of them are playing along the verge and in and out of the vegetables – oh yikes, please don’t let them have done any damage. L B starts rubbing himself along the ground and I realise that I can’t see his white eye ... It is totally closed by some innocent-looking grass which acts like irreversible velcro and hermetically seals whatever is underneath. Then I see he is absolutely covered in the stuff around the right side of his head, the short hair on his legs and around the paws. I sit on the bank and try in vain to part the fur over his eye. A local dogwalker with his tiny Yorkshire Terrier – who yaps frantically at these two when ever we meet him – offers to go to his nearby house for scissors, which I decline (I hope, graciously) as I don’t have my glasses with me.

I put L B on the lead and walk as fast as my fragile ankle will allow, to try and stop him from rubbing his face. By the time we’re nearing the end of the canal he has managed to put his head in the dirt a couple of times and jump in and out of the canal as if he were able to gain some relief from this horrible stuff. Another dog walker holds her dog and stands out of the way. She asks if Sam is my dog and says he often follows her. I tell her he is not, but not to worry as he will probably follow us and not her. During this time she has looked down at L B and the expression on her face as she says “Je croîs qu’il y a un petit problème ... I think there’s a small problem... ” makes me glance at him to see that all of the right side of his snout has grass sticking out of it and where his eye once was is now covered in grey dust. I mutter about the mauvaises herbes and getting back to sort him out and she says it will probably be necessary to take him to the vet. Not again, I’m thinking, we must have bought shares in the veterinary practice by now – how I wish I’d taken out what seems now to be a most reasonably priced pet insurance and wonder if Sam’s owners are covered for any accidents he may cause ...

I see Sam’s garden gate is open and bundle him through, pulling it to until the bell clangs and I rush on. By the time we cross over the road and get to our chemin all L B wants to do is put his face down and not move. So I pick him up and carry all 8kg of him up the hill and the rest of the way home. In the house, he stays in the kitchen were I put him down, whilst I search for the seam unpicker – some tip I’d read about on a pet-grooming site.

It took 35 minutes to free his eye, some of the fur round is nose and the stuff that had got into the (already short) hair between his pads. His eye, which looked extremely red, now looks fine and I’ll spend the rest of the afternoon carefully freeing the fur on his legs. If I thought he looked a bit wonky after his dog grooming with Amandine, you should see him now !
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