14 Days and counting

We are now 14 days into the Covid-19 lockdown.  Susan and I are both fine and we’re pretty sure the cat still hasn’t noticed any difference!

Apart from it trying to snow yesterday – whacking big flakes at times – I know SNOW!  S didn’t believe me when I said.  It didn’t lie and eased off by mid afternoon.  Otherwise the weather has remained good and we continue to feel fortunate that we are not cooped up in a basement flat in Dundee or somewhere equally exotic…

There was another Not Going Out event Thursday last with a few more people joining in to everyone’s benefit.

S had the most recent trip to the shops which she found a little un-nerving as more people were wearing gloves and masks.  I put a bit about French fitba on my Sports Writing Facebook page.  My birthday was quiet – unsurprisingly – and we are both still working.

The highlight today was – I hope for both of us – a stroll out together as the sun was heading down in the west.


Romance lives on..

Hang in there and if you are struggling speak to or message someone.  They may be toiling too…
Stay safe all and go wash your hands!

Lockdown Life

Hey.  It’s been a while.

To wrap up 2019 we continued in a similar vein, me working on-line and S doing a lot on the DIY. Progress was made on all fronts. The winter meant getting the wood burner in the living room going and at times the three of us being too hot! The cuisinier worked better too as we’ve got the hang of it and had better drier wood. You may remember we couldn’t get any till November in 2018.

My work continued and I made more money than planned, S’s stuff with Gites was slower despite her efforts but she learned a lot. Mitzy continues to not pay her way, something we have talked to her about! S, not Mitzy, continued going to Art on Sundays and we kept up the French classes, more S than I. She’s better at reading and can guide in delivery men to our wee hamlet, while I bumble through blethering in my usual fashion. Football wise I wrote quite a bit for a website called French Football Weekly so you dear reader are spared much of that here. Suffice to say Limoges FC died as an entity but the supporters club monthly meals continue, I pop along now and again and confuse them with my attempted French.

We spent a cracking day with my old Dondeh Uni pal Paul, Leiza and their lovely girls in Agen. The day topped off by seeing the car in front had a very domesticated looking pigeon riding on its parcel shelf. As we agreed no-one would believe us Paul and co appeared and also ended up behind said Dacia!

Crimbo was less Spartan than the last and we like everyone else looked forward to a new year of further progress.


Fast forward to today, March 23rd or day 6 of Covid-19 lockdown here in France.

The blossom is out on the trees, the sun shining, birds are singing and our bit of the Haute Vienne is as peaceful as always. The minimal traffic has reduced a little and our neighbours gardens are showing the effect of more work as people hunker down for however long it takes to help manage the spread of the virus.

The virus was more in our minds than most as I teach mainly Chinese and Taiwanese adults and children. Thus, I was aware of the shutting down of much of China and my employers were proactive in helping us get handwashing and similar messages out to our students. I had a double class with a 9 year old Taiwanese lad and an 8 year old Chinese girl which began with him saying “Everyone in China has it, they are lying to us” they got extra time as I made clear to him that wasn’t true and did my best to calm the poor lass. ☹

Many of my pupils are enjoying going out and about again and the adults indicate that life is returning to near normal but with more temperature checks and altered working practises. The situation can improve if we work together. 😊

As you can tell I continue to teach on-line and have a regular tutoring pupil in Saint Yrieix. S’s work has of course been affected by the virus but this is not a problem. I had a late winter cough which became a chest infection as I get used to French germs but now am back to normal. We have continued the DIY mainly with S doing almost all of it. The spare room is now looking rather good the pink carpet removed and the cherry wood floor looks rather better. I’d just reached a point that returning to the football was an option and they cancelled it all. Ho hum.

Covid-19 wise we have like the rest of the British immigrant community looked on with horror as the UK failed to act either promptly or adequately… For example tonight the Prime Minister Edouard Phillippe – second to President Macron – was answering questions live on the main news. I doubt Raab could do that properly…

As regards Lockdown tips here are a few.

  • Toilet roll is not currency here or anywhere else so dinnae buy it aw!
  • Get a haircut before lockdown or like me it’s going to get long and shaggy…  Ok, as I post this the Blonde Bombscare is taking action.  get your clippers out!
  • Use the extra time you have fruitfully, books can be read or listened to for free on modern gizmo’s.
  • Do art or something that stimulates you and yours – I’ll leave what up to you!
  • S not content with adding to her knowledge of French birds has been checking out butterflies and caterpillars too. Being rural and having half an acre we have creatures we don’t see but only yesterday she was regaling me with facts about the different, erm, calling cards of some of the visitors. That girl knows shit!
  • Last Thursday via Facebook I hosted a NOT GOING OUT event. More than 40 people and families from locally, elsewhere in France, the UK, Spain and even Estonia all had little soirees at 8 that night together but very much apart. Another is happening this Thursday tho we’re not sure if any more hot tubs will be filled for the occasion this time…
  • Pals have had a Chez Nous Night In restaurant trip which was also fun.
  • The more vigorous among you may be interested in yoga or keep fit there’s lots on-line apparently, we’ve the garden to wander and mow so I can dodge that!
  • Otherwise avoid everyone which some may relish and others dread. However, the differences between acting and not are pretty obvious.
Wee man

Made in lovely Gwen’s Art class – painted in lockdown

Stay lovely and safe in equal measure.
John, Susan and Mitzy

back door

PS – Mitzy thinks this is the back door and waits here not on the suntrap that is the front step.

Limoges FC’s ups and downs



Is there a linesman in the house???

Well I’ve written some more and now have all the bits I’ve done linked under my name on frenchfootballweekly.com which is very decent of them.

Here’s the latest.


The scoreboard reset before the pitch cleared of players at Feytiat!  Teehee

The next bit will be about the Coupe de France.  Hopefully there will be more about Limoges FC…

Gardening News


There are no prizes for guessing…


… why …


… we’ve invested …


… in a new …


… lawn mower!


Thus we’d been looking for a better lawn mower option…

We got a new petrol driven one at a good price and it was duly assembled and yanked into life.  🙂  All was good, it started, it stopped.  No problems.

The weather is rarely an impediment to doing outside stuff so after some work I had a wee go and the damn thing wouldn’t turn off…  Somewhat negating the safety feature of the red handle.


The engine wants tae take it!

Anyway, it ran out of petrol eventually sitting quite happily running while I blethered with the neighbour about our plan to let a bit of the garden go a bit wild.  We’ve seeds and are going to try and have a wee bit of mini flowery meadow on one side of the house.  It’ll mean less mowing for me and more food for his bees.


It was logical

Anyway we’ve worked out what the problem was and the rest of the grass will be cut with all the safety features of the mower operational…

Those who know me will not be surprised.  I’m not that technical, not with these nails…   The moral of the story is look at the picture in the instructions!  🙂

Anyway, next time the update will be longer with tales of my international business exploits and S’s sterling work decorating.

Till them.  🙂




Lately we’ve been beavering away and blogging has been down the list of stuff needing done – apologies.


Rush Hour in La Fayolle

Cuisinier man or not?  I hear you cry…

After no contact and another visit or four/five were attempted to the two shops providing – tho we had no evidence at all that they are nothing other than a front for some daring do – said services as it appears often to be the case they were oot…

Urgency had been added to the mix as we sourced a wood burner for the living room and the cuisinier had started emitting smoke and/or dribbling from every orifice!  Having cast our net wider one e-mail query was utterly ignored while following another – a Brit – arrived and tho showing willing didn’t fill us with hope regarding his level of expertise.  Having given up on the first place, who I’d thrown myself at the mercy of once I’d recovered from the shock of there being someone to talk to in the shop, we were we feared no further forward.

HOWEVER, (brace yourselves), the very same day the Brit appeared as planned a man from shop one not only appeared but was knowledgeable and helpful.  He showed me how to partly dismantle the cuisinier to clean it and having had a good old poke about in the living room and taken pictures up our chimney (!) departed saying he’d do a quote for fitting the wood burner.  As you both can imagine we were shocked, stunned and a little confused that our combined efforts using visits, e-mails and at times smoke signals that we needed a hand had been answered by not one but TWO – count them… un, deux – two cuisinier people in only four hours.  After we’d checked the date on the cheeses and pinched ourselves several times, we were pretty sure that this turn of events had not been some kind of group hallucination or symptom of a mental breakdown and had actually occurred.

There then followed a medium sized amount of rejoicing…

Contact made, and no doubt as there are Euro’s to be made, progress continues on getting things sorted for the wood burner and the cuisinier is again behaving itself.

Travels with Furniture

Mainy in Maine.jpg

Mainy in Maine

As alluded to above we got a bargain wood burner and flue parts – which was able to be got in the car – from a little south.  It was misty so we didn’t get to savour what was likely to be a marvellous view from their former home.  Pottering back as it was the weekend le Chasse chaps were out in their orange camouflage jackets.  The hunters – cos that’s what they are – hang about by roadsides and to our knowledge never shoot anything tho they do bang away a bit.  It must be the case they get the odd deer or boar but we’ve never seen any signs of success.  They are a fixture in these parts often looking a bit bored or driving in convoy to another hunting ground.  They apparently let the dogs go flush the prey, tracking the hounds with collar things and technology…  Which strikes us as a little unfair.

Anyway, with wood burner rattling musically in the back, we were nearly home when in the mist saw some of the hunters loitering in woods by the roadside.  Thinking nothing of it we continued, a little slower cos of the slightly reduced visibility.  When across the raised road came three running deer from one field to the next unhindered by dogs, hunters or a care in the world.  Our position was much less carefree as two dashed across our path and the third thought better of it and doubled back.  We took the appropriate steps me braking as we both nearly soiling ourselves coming within centimetres – and not many at that – of the third.  They’d been hidden by bushes and in other conditions namely us going a little quicker two would probably have been hit and killed before the car behind us rammed us up the, erm, flue!!!  This is a hazard of rural living and despite quite a scare we remain on the side of the wildlife rather than of their gun wielding foes.

Going north to the hamlet of Maine – no really – we picked up a nice little pine unit thing with a wine rack in it.  Why S thought we needed that element to it I don’t know!  This was a shorter trip and made easier by one of our other longer runs being that way.  S took advantage of the spell of lovely weather we had to take it outside, sand it, wax it and paint the top in a stylish and cool fashion.  Turning a decent piece into a better one, well done her.  😊

Eerie sky

Weird Sky

Above you can see an odd sky we happened across on one of our excursions.  it was in the east as the sun was heading westward and is no doubt some legit meteorological phenomenon and not aliens!  It looked weirder in the flesh (not that we stripped naked in it’s praise, it’s not that warm yet!) our phone camera’s didn’t do it justice.

A sideboard came to us which we built with remarkably little swearing and that still remains both functional and erect!  Pleasingly an item that co-ordinated nicely came available so we headed south to Drome which is a Plus Beau village perched on a rocky hilltop overlooking the Dordogne river.  Properly lovely it was on a glorious sunny day and we collected a large chest of drawers which – practised as we are – fitted in the car.  S pointed out the chap we got it from was wearing a City of Edinburgh sweatshirt not that I’d noticed.  It turned out he’d got it from a pal who was a bin man but who’s retired down there – there’s clearly brass in the muck!  The chest of drawers previous home was the most modern of the places we’ve picked up things from and tho in the village was in the newer less beau bit.  We lunched in the only place that was open – who were surprised to have customers on their first day of the year – and unlike others were not turned away.  I had fish and chips and S chips.  The walled village is gorgeous and no doubt the vibe will be different when hunners of folk are dawdling around it in the summer.

We also got a wee box thingy and now have the basic level of French TV which are not in the habit of watching yet.

International Business News!

I am – mainly due to S’s cleverness – a microentrepreneur and am back plugged in on-line English teaching.  As I’m registered we are sorting out a bank account and stuff and I look forward to paying a little in tax and social charges.  I picked up the knack again pretty quickly and have been putting some hours in to get back up to speed to have some dosh coming in for a change.  We’re ok moneywise but the delays early on and minor hold up’s here and there have meant the time without income was longer than planned.  As long as the Chinese Middle Class are doing ok we’ll be fine.




We’ve been stripping – or mainly S has cos I’ve been working – some charmingly quaint wall paper.  I discovered that my large hands can remove on more than one occasion a whole piece floor to ceiling in a oner which helped.   Not all came off that easily and this quest continues.  S is painting bathroom tiles as I type in the only room which had wall paper on the ceiling.  It doesn’t now.

There will be a before and after Grand Designs/Country Life style blog update when rooms are done.  Try to contain your collective excitement!


Our wee scamp – or as our neighbour described cats vagabond – has adjusted nicely.  She  got the hang of scampering up behind me as I opened the windows to shut the shutters and buggering off outside in a couple of leaps.  She’s had a couple of meetings with the other cat which came to blows on one occasion.  S was stripping and I was rooted to the spot teaching so S had to drop everything and go see what was happening.  Mitzy was fine – which is more than can be said for a few lizards who live in and around the concrete outside the front of the house.  A few more are now tailless after she’s gleefully brought them in to show S in the kitchen and to play with them.  Only one we know about was been despatched.


Mitzy soaking up the rays

The concrete out front is south facing and warms up nicely in the sun.  This is something we’ve taken advantage of – three times so far – plonking ourselves down in the sun with mini-Magnums as reward for something or other.  A February tan was almost a thing tho various people including our neighbours across the road made clear the ten days of great weather was abnormal, they only usually get a day or two like that.


Checking I’ve not dribbled chocolate on my face!


S has been working hard on various paperwork and admin things as well as processing her first gite booking.  It is clear that many Brits are holding fire on booking trips due to the nationalist driven BS that is Brexit and many a gite is sitting un-booked across France.  I have however proven to be more adept at dealing with French phone calls than paperwork so we are a good team.

S got her hair done without calamity especially after she realised the chair was giving her a massage and she wasn’t having some sort of fit.  We’ve started French lessons in a class of mainly Brits but with a Brazilian and a smattering of other nationalities.  Bernadette our 85 year old tutor is quite a character but good at what she does.  Coffee after is dominated by the same conversation about what the B word means to us all as the UK’s politicians plumb new depths in cackhandedness and ineptitude making what’s know as a Grayling of the whole effing thing…

We’ve been along to a couple the English speaking immigrant groups events which were good and it’s a little odd to be defaulting to English rather than French.  We continue to potter along with increasing efficiency in the lingo.



Both regular viewers will remember we on our previous stay we visited the scene of the largest Nazi atrocity hereabouts – at Pont Lasveyras.  It was the 75th anniversary the other week and in Paysac which we’d gone on a wee drive to there was an exhibition which was very interesting.  We ended up talking to the organiser for about twenty minutes about it and the support provided by the Special Operations Executive to the locals who were under daily threat.  Rather brilliantly the RAF dropped supplies with red, white and blue parachutes around Bastille Day!  There was a ceremony in SYlP to the residents who died there and despite me loitering at the back I ended up being in the pic in the local paper the next day.


Stop Cock!

Gru’s Again

The whacking great birds that migrated north to Poland in October came past on their way south again in equally impressive numbers.  According to the local paper that’s indication of an early spring.  It may also be another hefty hint that the poorer folk of the planets next few generations may be in for a tough time not that that’s the birds fault…


Many, many big birds

We were out and about as several flocks/groups/flights paused over SYlP to get their bearings before forming up in V shapes and heading off honking encouragement or gossip or whatever at each other as they do.

I will be making a quick visit to the old country from Sunday to Tuesday – to say farewell to Alec Condie.  He put up with me at the fitba over much of the last 30 years and his passing was an upsetting surprise.


Alec (right), some numpty and his son Graeme (left)

The silver lining to a large cloud will be seeing, briefly my Dad, Debra S’s sister and our brother in law as well as a more than a few pals wearing black…