Sunday, February 28, 2010

Just the two of us

So..., it was a week ago today (Sunday) we drove back from Lincoln. Had originally planned to fly back to France the next day, but Georgie suggested she take the Monday and Tuesday off work so we could spend a rare couple of days together. Seemed an excellent idea, despite the expense of extra kenneling.

Took things easy on the Monday. Just lazed around and nattered. Had a vague plan to take non-functioning Hoover and bedroom telly to the tip (Georgie and Don hate throwing stuff out so it's a job that never gets done) but laziness and dismal weather dictated otherwise. Also thought about re-arranging Georgie's room but decided it'd take at least a week. Eventually swung into action around mid-afternoon by leaping in the car and heading for one of the big electrical goods shops down the A3 to look at small tellys. Hit a huge A3 traffic jam near the Norbiton turning. Turned off and headed to Raynes Park. Traffic was jammed solid. Spent about an hour travelling a solitary mile. Turned right at Raynes Park to New Malden, hit the A3 again and headed back to Putney. Clear road going into town but still jammed going out. Living in the back of beyond for five years I'd forgotten just how bad UK traffic can get. Especially in rush hour. There must be roadworks or something. Can't possibly be this bad every day. Or can it?

Stopped off at the Asda supermarket at the bottom of Putney Hill. Used to be the site of a KLG spark plug factory in the good old days. Ambled around there for about an hour, chucking stuff in a trolley. Great fun. Georgie said it was way cheaper than the Putney Sainsbury's and Waitrose (e.g. Asda digestive bics only 35p). Trouble is, being a non-driver, she can only get there when someone else drives. And, of course, being little, there's a limit to the amount of stuff she can carry. Needless to say, we had a splendid nosh-up in front of the telly that night. Er, can't remember what it was but I do remember pudding was ginger sponge with custard. Yum.

Having lazed around for most of Monday we decided to have a proper day out on Tuesday. The world was our lobster. Trouble was, rubbish weather again. Amazing how meteorological inclemency dampens enthusiasm for doing anything. Well, it does with me anyway. Despite leanings towards inertia, we ambled off into the drizzling grey and headed for Putney station. Bought a train ticket for tomorrow's trip to Southampton airport (26 bleedin' quid!) and a couple of travelcards. Jumped on a train to Waterloo, hopped off at Vauxhall, caught a tube to Green Park, legged it up to the Royal Academy and joined the queue for the van Gogh letters exhibition.

Queued for an hour. Well worth it. Place was packed. Whizzed through most of his early stuff but really got stuck into his 1887-8 masterpieces. I love 'em. An absolute joy to get right up close and inspect every little brushstroke, knowing each one had been put there by his very own hand. And the colours! Brilliant! But how did he get to these places? I guess he must have walked. With all his kit. In the blazing sun. Then walked back again. Had a bit of a kip then set off again the next day. Seventy paintings in just seventy days, towards the end. Incredible. And how come none of them are smudged? From bitter experience I know it's virtually impossible to carry a bagful of kit, an easel and a wet painting without smudging the damned thing. And many's the time one of my paintings has fallen from the easel ending up face down in dry grass. And what if he was back here now? Right now. Looking at all these people ogling his work, regarding him as a genius? And what if someone were to tell him his 'Irises' just sold for 50-odd million smackeroonies? He'd probably have a fit. Rightfully miffed at the injustice of living as a pauper. Leaving someone else to profit from his sweat and torment.

Beautiful stuff. Proper art. And most of it done in just one or two short years. Then he goes and fires a bullet in his chest when out painting in a field.

How do you follow a van Gogh exhibition? The answer is, you can't. The logical thing is to head for home clutching a newly-purchased van Gogh book (I have an epic tome already but I fancied another). Intended to drop off into the HMV record store (or whatever such places are called nowadays) at Piccadilly Circus to buy the latest Camera Obscura cd. But the store's no longer there. Headed for the tube at Leicester Square. Funnily enough, we passed the newly located HMV shop on the way. Dropped in. Found the cd. Fifteen bloody quid! No way. I'll get it for a fiver or so off eBay. Then passed one of the big cinemas in Leicester Square. Noticed 'Avatar' was showing. And just about to start. Decided to watch it. First time we've been to the pictures in decades. Sat down with a huge bucket of popcorn wearing 3-D specs. Spent the next couple of hours totally gobsmacked by the wonder of the modern cinema. Absolutely terrific stuff. Mind boggling. Not much of a story and a bit like looking at a 'Yes' album cover in places but who cares. If you get a chance, go for it.

Next stop Waterloo, then Putney. Feet up, watch telly, early night then up at sparrow's fart and head for Southampton airport and France. All seems a long time ago now, but it's less than a week. Wonder what van Gogh would have made of 'Avatar'? Now there's a thought. Bizarre. Funny stuff, life.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Wedding day

Must have been exactly a week ago we drove up there. Last Friday. From Putney. To Lincoln. For the wedding. My niece's. Set off at about 3ish. Arrived about 9ish. Hit a snowstorm around Grantham. It blew over but for a moment I thought we might have to spend the night in a local hotel. Or get snowed in on the A1. Anyway, we eventually made it and checked in at the Berni Inn (or whatever it was) at the edge of town. Felt quite ill with the maroony/purple and cream colour scheme (who styles these places?!) but perked up after a couple of scotches in the bar. Clear night so nearly froze to death outside having a fag or two. Hit the sack just before midnight with Georgie and Don still trying to decide what to wear for the wedding the following day. Apparently they retired at about 2ish.

Saturday dawned sunny and frosty. Had a good old slap-up breakfast then headed for Kaye and Charlies' (the happy couple) at around mid-day. Couldn't find their street. Did a couple of laps of the village and eventually gave up. Phoned in for directions. Arrived about 1ish. Charlie was there with Rod (my bro-in-law). Had a quick run-down about feeding the cat and dogs (we'd be house-sitting Saturday night) then they both left for the hotel to get ready. Wedding scheduled for 3pm so it was all a bit rushed. Georgie and Don then set about getting ready while I watched a bit of the Everton/Man U match (Charlie and Kaye have Sky - whoopee!). At about 2ish, I dragged my crumpled white(ish) shirt from the depths of my rucksack and set off in search of an iron. Found one but no ironing board (discovered later that it was hiding behind the fridge). Ironed out most of the creases on the kitchen table and ironed in some catfood. Damn - no tie. Nicked one of Charlie's. Donned kilt, sporran, jacket etc. and was ready to go on the dot of 2.30. Went outside for a fag while Georgie and Don fine-tuned their warpaint. Left at about quarter to. Drove round the corner to the church. Arrived at ten to. Church bells clanging. Had another fag. Sister emerged from church to check if we'd arrived yet (everyone else was already inside). Poor thing hasn't seen me in a kilt since primary school. Got top marks for making the effort and pleasing Mum (she'd be looking down from above). Took up positions in the church pews. Lovely little church. Bride Kaye arrived bang on time, escorted by Rod. Sun shining through colourful leaded windows. A good do. Kaye's 18-month-old bairn Penny particularly enjoyed it, yelping with delight at all the hullaballoo. Not sure she really understood what mummy and daddy were up to. Still, she will one day.

Service over, the happy couple and various relatives posed for photos outside. Suddenly got a bit chillier so everyone was quite relieved to jump into cars and head off for the reception at the local hotel. Another cracking do. Excellent nosh-up (despite Kaye's insistence on a vegetarian menu), followed by speeches (surprise announcement that Kaye was expecting her second in September - Rod had hinted this a couple of weeks ago which stopped me spluttering a gobful of cabbagey stuff across the table), followed by a fag break and welcome bar attack. The evening could then have slowly fizzled out but the organising committee had an ace up their sleeve: an in-house casino soiree. This consisted of a pon-toon (dunno how it's spelt) table and a roulette table with everyone being given 75 quids' worth of chips (not real money of course). The person with the most winnings at 9.30pm would win a bottle of whatever tickles their fancy from the cellar. Splendid stuff. I was immediately tempted to put the lot on red, lose, then go outside for a few fags. But I took things easy. Captain Sensible. Nevertheless, within about ten minutes flat, I was down to my last chip. And we still had a couple of hours to go. When that went, I bummed a chip or ten off Georgie (so what's new?!) and switched to pon-toon.

Amazingly, at 9.29 I was still in possession of chips. Thousands of the buggers. I had piles of black ones, blue ones, red ones, all sorts. The winner would be between me and Charlie's dad (actually his mum - his dad had lost out ages ago but had taken over his wife's stash!). It all depended on the final hand. All in. He, or should I say she, won. Rats. So near and yet so far. But by now we'd all got to know each other (first time I'd met Charlie's gang) and a splendid time was had by all. Champagne all round. Outside for another quick fag then all back to the bar.

I don't know what time Georgie, Donnie and I left (I'm guessing about 11ish), but I do know it was a chilly mile walk back to the house (everyone else stayed at the hotel). Gave the dogs (a couple of bug-eyed, but perfectly behaved - compared to my/our mutts - King Charles spaniels) a run in the garden, then fed 'em, and the cat, had a coffee or two and went to bed. Knackered.

Woke up on Sunday to about six inches of snow. And it was still snowing. Thought it might mean we couldn't drive back. Luckily the snow stopped when sis, Rod, Charlie, Kaye and Penny arrived at about mid-day. Said our farewells at about 1.30 and headed south. Arrived Putney about six hours later, having stopped off for a mega Little Chef all-day breakfast on the way. Great to get home (well, second home) to a nice cup of tea (actually I went straight for the scotch). Shoes off. Mission accomplished.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Terrorist? Moi?

Assumed vertical at 5.20am yesterday (Wednesday). That's 4.20 in UK. Dark, cold and still snowy. Hit the road with the two mutts at 6.30 and headed off for Limoges airport via the kennels at Lauriere. Road seemed a bit wet. But it wasn't. Black ice. Had a couple of hairy slides on the way downhill. Lucky not to slide down the forested slopes, ending upside down and bereft of life in the river valley just a couple of minutes from home. Slowed down. Took things easy. Eventually arrived at Lauriere around 8.40. Dropped dogs off. Hate it when they look at you knowing they won't be seeing you for quite some time. Took off from Limoges at around 11 after usual probs with numerous metallic objects associated with kilt in that damned metal detector door thingy. I mean, if you're a terrorist would you wear a kilt?! Anyway, landed Stansted, bussed to Victoria, trained to Putney, legged it to flat, had kip and teas. Georgie and Donnie turned up at around 7.30ish after work. Georgie with baaaad chesty cough/cold. Could be the one Christian gave me a couple of weeks ago. And I passed on to Georgie on the way back from Scotland last week. Oh dear.

Awoke early ce matin. Convinced Georgie she was too ill to go to work. So she stayed in bed all day. Nipped out and stocked up on cough stuff, orange juice, bread and fruit. Put myself in charge of doing supper. Georgie suggested ready meals from the local Sainsbury's. Looked at the prices and decided agin it. Being a bohemian hermit recluse from the mist-shrouded hills of the Limousin backwoods, I've long lost the habit of convenience food. So, decided to knock up one of my spag Bols, followed by fresh fruit and accompanied by a cheeky little Cotes du Rhone. Bol now done. Spag awaiting arrival of Donnie after a hard day's slog.

Tomorrow morning, all being well, the three of us will be heading north in Don's wee Peugeot for Lincolnshire. Aiming to attend niece's wedding on Saturday. Should be a good 'do'.

Ooh, Don's just arrived. Better get that spag done.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Going there

Time flies. It's a week ago already that I assumed the vertical at 5.20am, picked up neighbour Christian, dropped the dogs off at kennels and arrived at Limoges airport for the flights to Edinburgh via Stansted for Sunday's Scotland v France wugger match. It's a week that's been all go. And even though we returned to France a couple of days ago, I'm still on the go now due to having a plumber in the house (more of that later).

Took off from Limoges at around 11am last Friday. Christian's first-ever flight and first-ever trip abroad. Very excited. Grinning like a Cheshire cat all the way. Landed Stansted. Three or four hour wait for Edinburgh flight. Linked up with bunch of Frogs who were on our flight from Limoges.

Boarded plane around sixish. Bunch of English stag-do prats (not wugger buggers) on board who felt it necessary to burst into foul-mouthed song deriding the French. Luckily for them Christian doesn't understand English or they'd be seeing stars. Steward appeared minutes before take-off saying that the flight Captain would have them ejected if they didn't button it. What is it about English morons that makes them act this way? Beats moi. Inferiority complexes maybe?

Arrived Edinburgh around 8.30ish. Raining. Checked into hotel. Then headed for the city centre. Had a quick pasta in an Italian restaurant. With Italian wine which Christian hated. The French don't drink Italian. Moved on. Christian was plainly gobsmacked with..., well, everything: cars driving on left, amount of traffic and people, taxis, buses, bright lights, pubs. He especially liked the pubs. And the beer. Took him to the Grand Hotel oyster bar (for beers not oysters) and a couple of boozers down Rose Street. By this time it was about ten or elevenish and I was jet-lagged and knackered. Convinced Christian we should head back to the hotel and get some kip.

Saturday. Woke up at six. Banged on Christian's door at seven. Jumped on a bus and headed for the Leith docks area in search of a proper Scottish greasy spoon breakfast. Found the ideal caff at around 8am. Still pitch black. Christian still half-asleep. He didn't really know what was going on. Had to explain that a Scottish greasy spoon brekkie is one of world's greatest dishes. Didn't seem convinced. An hour later, he'd been converted. Said it was brilliant.

Headed back into town up front on a double decker. Christian like a big kid. All smiles. Edinburgh dull and misty. Shops hadn't really opened yet. Quite a few French wandering around. Had a coffee or six and slowly headed out towards Murrayfield to collect the match tickets. This was our only task for the day. Then had a couple of hours wandering along Princes Street, looking in shop windows. Followed by a tour round Jenners where Mum used to work when a wee lassie. Then headed up the Royal Mile to the swirling mists of The Castle. View? What view? Eleven quid to enter. Decided agin it. That's three pints saved.

Headed back down Rose Street to watch the afternoon's wugger on telly. The place was packed with French. Christian felt quite at home. Eventually headed back to the hotel for a welcome break. Caught the footy results and would have happily had an evening in but Christian banged on my door at around 7.30pm. Here we go again. Rose Street hostelries. Fancied a bite at the seafood restaurant but hadn't made a reservation so we were politely turned away. Eventually settled for haggis, neeps and tatties in one of the bar/dining rooms. Amazingly, Christian liked it. Then more beers. Then back to the hotel for a relatively early night (11ish), stopping off for a final drink on the way. Entered bar and I ordered two large gin and tonics (fed up with beer). Christian downed his in one then rushed for the door beneath a toilet sign, unfortunately without noticing a little arrow pointing to the right. He flung the door open and it slammed shut behind him. People seemed quite shocked. About a minute later he appeared through the front door. Apparently he'd gone out the fire exit and found himself outside at the top of some backstreet stairs. Needless to say, some of the bar staff were having difficulty in keeping straight faces when Christian was eventually pointed in the right direction. Christian blamed his detour entirely on the gin. Won't be touching that stuff again in a hurry.

(Music by Albannach - top bunch of chaps)

Sunday. Match day. Up at nine. Bought Sunday papers at corner shop. Breakfast at hotel. Wandered around city centre at elevenish. Bars open but no alcohol 'til 12.30. Pah! Slowly wandered off in the direction of Murrayfield. Arrived at a hotel with beer tents by Murrayfield's North Gate entrance on the stroke of 12.30. Ordered beers. Place was packed. French band started playing. Jolly time had by all. Moved into Murrayfield at around 2.15. Saw match.

Sauntered back to Edinburgh. Sulking. Hate losing. Had more beers. Wanted to go back to hotel but Christian wouldn't allow it. Latched onto various French gangs. Strange..., I'd been in Edinburgh for a couple of days and had hardly spoken a word of English. Interesting..., there's always a slightly different atmosphere before and after a big game. Sat in a bar on Sunday night and it felt completely different to Saturday night.

Monday. Late afternoon flight to Stansted. Killed time by wandering around Edinburgh. Royal Mile again. And Princes Street. And a few other haunts. Started snowing at around 2.30. Hopped on airport bus. Killed a bit more time wandering around the airport shops and restaurants. Tedious beyond belief. Eventually landed at Stansted early evening. Coach ride to Victoria. Snow in London. Train to Putney via Clapham Junction. Walked the mile to Georgie and Don's. Arrived nineish. Noshed brilliant supper then crashed out.

Tuesday. Tourist day. Today we have to show Christian a few sights of London for very little money and in very little time. Kicked off with Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. Then a walk through Green Park (lovely ducks, swans, other birds and squirrels) to Westminster Abbey and Houses of Parliament. Fourteen quid to enter Abbey!! Stuff that!! Then up Haymarket, saw Downing Street, then Trafalgar Square and a quick bite to eat in the National Gallery caff after drooling over a few van Goghs and Monets. Then over the bridge to Waterloo, quick look at 'The Wheel' and train back to Putney. Four of us then squeezed into Donnie's little Peugeot 107 for a trip into Richmond Park to spot a few deer. This especially impressed Christian 'cos he's a big deer hunter (and big wild boar hunter, and big everything else hunter too). Early night.

Wednesday. Up at 3.30am. Cab at 4. Coach from Victoria to Stansted at 4.30. Stansted at 6. Flight to Limoges at 8. Ooh, it's all go. This jet-set life is definitely over-rated.

Coming back

All was going well.
Well, when I say 'well', I really mean not too badly.
Up 'til now that is.

It's 7.30am, Wednesday. Last leg of the journey back to France from Scotland after watching Sunday's rugby. We've been up since 3.30. That's four hours. I'm just about to board the homeward plane from Stansted to Limoges. A female passport and boarding pass looker-atterer is asking me to place my hand baggage in the hand baggage measuring cage thingy. If it fits, then okay. If it doesn't, I have to pay extra and it goes in the hold. Fine, no problem. Or so I thought. However, minutes earlier, Christian had been told he could only take one item of hand baggage aboard, not two. So he'd transferred all his Scottish shortbread pack presents from a large carrier bag into his Adidas sports bag, which was already bursting at the seams with various personal and rather aromatic items of clothing, plus a sweater present for Isabelle, plus a Scotland hoodie top for Hadrien. Only they wouldn't all fit. So he'd shoved a couple of massive shortbread packs into my bag without thinking of the consequences (this being Christian's first trip abroad, he isn't well versed in the sensitive issues of cabin baggage weights and sizes - although I have emphasised on more than one occasion the importance of sticking within the limits). So, while my chum merrily scampers down that plane-boarding corridor having been okayed by the Gestapo, I'm left with the problem of trying to force a bag that's recently doubled in size into a hole that plainly isn't having it.

To make matters worse, I'm ill (being a hermit recluse, whenever I enter heavily populated areas, i.e. populations of around half a dozen or more, I immediately get hit with whatever germs are doing the rounds - this week it's apparently killer swine 'flu, with added bronchitis and probable pneumonia). Buckets of sweat drip from my hot head while I continue my battle with the confounded bag. The female passport and boarding pass lookerer-atterer clearly senses victory. A slight smile slithers across her face, like a snake. Any minute now she'll force me to give up and pay the price of being a RyanAir cheat. But I won't be beaten. Emptied bag, repacked, forced into hole upside down. Tight squeeze but it fitted. Then spent a good ten minutes trying to get the damned thing back out. Eventually boarded plane. Having been in Christian's close company for nigh on six days I was rather hoping for a seat to myself. But there was Christian, right down t'other end of avion, waving me forward to a tiny seat he'd saved in-between himself in the aisle and that other big bloke by the window. Ah well, never mind. Just play sardines. Piggy in the middle. Could be cramped but you'll soon be home.

Landed at Limoges around elevenish (French time), had a couple of coffees, found car and drove seventy miles home, collecting the dogs from the kennels on the way. Stopped off at our local town for a rustic lunch. Christian paid. Enormously grateful for his first trip abroad. And first time in an aeroplane. Excitedly entertained the other diners with tales of our adventure while knocking back a couple of much-missed Ricards. Couldn't really catch what was being said but everyone seemed mightily impressed. Then drove to Christian's and dropped him off. Insisted I come inside for a coffee. Went inside. Isabelle appeared from her after-work snooze. Showed her the snaps on the digital camera with Christian commenting. Then joined by Claude the plumber who's apparently been working on our house for the last couple of days. Eventually made it back home at around five-ish. Water disconnected - no water, no washing, no loo. Lit upstairs stove (Claude had already lit kitchen stove), gave dogs a quick run, fed and watered them (found six bottles of water behind fridge) and made tea. Then had a quick scotch. Phone rang. Hadrien. Come round immediately with camera. Claude's brother wants to see snaps. Went round. Stayed for supper. Isabelle kept saying how grateful Christian is for the trip. Hopefully he'll dine out on it for weeks. Returned home at around tennish. Snowing. Went straight to bed. Knackered.

Next morning (Thursday - yesterday), fancied a lie-in but no chance. Claude due to turn up at around 8.30am. Damn, didn't get any logs in last night. Kitchen stove's gone out and the upstairs stove's nearly burnt out too. No choice but to get outside to the woodshed and grab a few armfulls. So, wearing dressing gown and boots, I trudged through a foot of snow and stocked up. Then, with indoor loo non functioning, took advantage of the great outdoors. Damned chilly. (Shall spare further description as it falls into the 'too much information' category.) Spent the day trying to keep out of Claude's way but did lend a hand carrying the eyesore water tank from its former prominent position at eye level above the sink to its new position under the stairs. Messy old bizzo this plumbing lark. Downstairs floor all rather splashy. Claude plans to rectify a few leaky connections after lunch. This gave me a welcome two-hour break. First couple of hours I've had to myself in what seems like weeks. Went upstairs and checked emails, watery footprints marking route. Eighty three messages. Mostly Viagra, with loads about fake Rolexes, plus the usual 'bank requires you to log in again' scams. Scumbags. Then Claude re-appeared on the dot of two. Said the road to town was almost snow-blocked. Hmm, better make a dash for the supermarche and get stocked up (cupboard was bare). Slid off the road down the bottom of the hill. Chap pulled me out with his 4x4 and a rope. Stocked up and returned home. Snow thicker. Claude knocked off at 6.30. Bliss, time on my own. Knock on door. Christian. How's the plumbing? I've come for a look. Come round to supper. Went round to supper. Returned home tennish. Thick snow. Quick dogwalk. Bed.

This morning, Claude arrived at 9am. Old loo now standing in kitchen. Task is to plumb in new upstairs loo into old loo waste pipe. As I said, messy old bizzo. Shall visit local bank this afternoon to see if I can get some dosh out to pay Claude. I understand he's hoping to finish 'Stage 1' today. Hope that road down to town stays open.

Am really looking forward to a quiet week-end in.

Damn, just remembered: been invited round to Isabelle's birthday Sunday afternoon.

Monday, February 1, 2010


I'd rather hoped we'd seen the last of the snow. But Friday night it returned with a vengeance. So Saturday dawned dull, grey and freezing; a white blanket covering the landscape, with distant hills obscured by mist. Noticed a couple of birds on the kitchen window sill looking for crumbs. Broke up some stale bread and fed 'em. Then fed 'em some more. Stoked up the stoves. Got dressed and gave the dogs a walk, ploughing through six inches of snow, my Gore-Tex lined Lowa commando boots (second-hand off eBay) earning their keep. It's really quiet round here at the best of times but when it's snowy and misty it's deathly silent. Suddenly heard the crack of a rifle from across the valley. And distant barking. The hunters are out. Best not venture far. Had a quick circuit of the back field beyond the old granite cross then returned home (click pics to enlarge).

Phone rang. Georgie. Said it was nice and sunny back in London and she was just off to do her week-end stint of mother caring. She and twin sis Don take it in turns, juggling work commitments with acts of Florence Nightingale, sometimes aided by their older sis. So they get no rest and they get told off at work for being late and taking time off. Suggested getting a carer in. Apparently they have one already, two days a week. Told her to stick mum in a home. She refuses to go. And it costs seven hundred and fifty quid a week. Whaaaat??!! Well, what about a council care home? That's about four hundred a week, but mum's not eligible. Suggested getting the part-time carer in for more days a week. Said she'd have a word. Then had my usual blast about the imminent and massive problem of what happens when we ten million boomers need caring for. Nothing's been done in the way of preparation by Tony Bliar and Gordon Brownarse and their New Labour band of incompetent dickheads. Nothing. Still, when that time arrives, and it'll arrive soon, that bunch of tossers know they'll be history so they couldn't give a damn. Bastards. Mark my words, there's gonna be trouble. Big trouble.

Fed the birds again. Ran out of stale bread. Realised I'd run out of grub too. Jumped in the car to get stocked up with supplies before we really get snowed in. Road was just about passable with two tyre tracks down the centre. Occasional tyre tracks deviated towards the side, marking spots where cars had met head-on. Visited supermarche, boulangerie, tabac and essence garage. Bought enough to see me through to next Friday when I hope to fly to Edinburgh for the Scotland-France wugger, weather permitting. Returned home. Still snowing so bit tricky getting back up the hill. Good job I'd fitted those new snow tyres a few days back. Got more wood in, battened down the hatches and switched the telly on to listen to the radio coverage (weird, huh?) of the afternoon's footy. Nothing. Just an on-screen announcement: 'no satellite reception'. Dragged ladder out of shed, climbed up with broom, risked almost certain death by leaning out at a crazy angle and brushed snow off satellite dish receptor thingy. Went back indoors. Success. Listened to footy. Then dogwalk, cooking and bed. Had nightmare about being snowed-in for months.

Sunday dawned sunny with a clear blue sky. Bliss.

Flung open boudoir fenetre and hung out Jock's smelly bedding. Then slung my smelly bedding (also used by Sprocket) in the washing machine and fitted clean sheets. Takes hours for a bohemian comme moi to figure out how to get a duvet into a cover. Tried to enlist the help of the dogs (I thought they could crawl inside) but they just stared at me with a look that said "walkies". Went for a walk, came back, hung newly washed duvet cover and sheet on bannister rail to dry (washing line out of action due to removal of old lamp post), tidied kitchen, cleared table, dug out coloured marker pens and ruler and drawing paper from the depths of the indoor shed and got stuck into this new illustration brief that has to be done before the Scotland trip. Immediately had a couple of queries to the brief. Couldn't contact 'cos it's Sunday. Shall do so ce matin, soon as I've scribed this rubbish. Worked all afternoon. Then dogwalk. Planned on a soiree of working, cooking and telly-watching. No chance. Phone rang. Isabelle. Come round immediately for an aperitif, supper and a chat with Christian about the Scotland trip. Did so. Wobbled back at about tennish. Missed Top Gear. Walked the dogs up the granite cross. Bright as daylight. Full moon and snow. Plus these ridiculously bright new street lamps. Watched Match of the Day and went to bed in fresh bedding. Sprock kipped on the settee.

And, surprise, surprise, today's dawned sunny too. Maybe we'll make that Friday flight after all.