Tag Archives: countryside


Living On The Wild Side!

Living On The Wild Side!

Many will recognise this beautiful, delicate wild flower, but most folks won’t know very much at all about it. This is Pulmonaria officinalis aka Lungwort (or, Common Lungwort), it’s predominantly an open woodland plant, one of the first to flower in early Spring.

Lungwort is what’s known in horticultural circles as an ‘ancient’ wild flower. Many moons ago, in medieval times, its leaves were used to make a form of ‘medicinal tea’ that was reputed to cure severe chest infections, such as bronchitis. Whether or not it works, I don’t know, but Tom commented that he might test it at some point in the near future, to find out if it will hold his emphysema at bay, Bless him!

Yesterday, as Spring was very much in evidence with wonderfully warm sunshine, singing birds, buzzing bees and sunbathing lizards, two of my menfolk and I enjoyed the hobby that all four of us took up when we first became hobos in France, we went woodland walking!

Sadly, Tom is no longer able to enjoy this pleasurable family quality time, his health has deteriorated very swiftly since we were forced to take to the tent in 2008. But, he remains at our ‘home base’, wherever that might be at the time, and he makes the tea when we arrive back!

We take photos as we walk, mostly of wildlife and other natural topics, and those pics are a great source of pleasure to us all as we drink ‘Tom’s brew’ and look at the pics together!

Life is what we make of it, and the vast swathes of forestry, meadowland, rivers and gorges, mountains and lakes, across France, are inspiring, even for hobos!


Posted by on March 13, 2012 in World


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Here, There, Everywhere But Home!

It was the 1st March 2009, we packed up the car, left Castres, and we headed for the Aveyron in the Midi-Pyrenees. Tom had a heavily bandaged foot, to protect his frost-bitten toes, I worried about his pain and about the fairly long drive ahead of him. But, Tom didn’t complain at all, he just said quietly, “Think about the log fire that’s waiting for us, we’ll get there, we’re not missing that!” Bless him.

We arrived at Skye’s farmhouse around 4pm and were greeted with a wonderful pot of tea and biscuits. The house was set in the rural beauty of rolling farmland not too far from Carmaux, a typical farming community, tranquil until the cows were being brought in from pasture! In a small paddock to the left of the house as we approached the front door, there was a huge pig snorting and snuffling in mud and grass, Skye cautioned us that it was being fattened for market, and the pig wouldn’t be leaving the sty (next door) alive! Not quite the best bit of news for a vegetarian to hear, but I made a mental note to buy earplugs!

That log fire worked overtime during the spring, and even into early summer, the weather was unusually  inclement for much of the time we were there. Nevertheless, we loved the area, despite Tom losing his wallet to a pickpocket in Carmaux market! The wallet was found very quickly by a market stall holder, nothing missing except cash, of course. But, the inconvenience of reporting the theft, cancelling bank cards, ordering new cards, well, many will know all about that. Then, there was the added complexity of needing new cards and PINs to be sent to an address that wasn’t the address recorded as our home address! Thankfully, our UK bank listened, put us through a robust verbal security check, and we received new cards and PINs within a few days. We had to drive to Tulle, in the Correze, to collect our new French bank cards. Our wonderful friend and former neighbour, Madame ZC, phoned through our new PINs when they arrived a couple of weeks after we collected the cards. This is France! C’est la vie!

We were sad to say goodbye to Slinky, Sky’s pretty little cat, when we left the Aveyron in June to move on to the Dordogne. Another pet/house sit, just outside Montpon-Ménestérol, for a lovely couple with whom we have become close friends since the summer of 2009, Sue and Rick. It was during our initial sitting period at Sue and Rick’s that we discovered how badly our avocat, Monsieur MA, had let us down, betrayed us, robbed us in effect.

I telephoned Monsieur MA’s office to let him know we had moved from the Aveyron to Montpon-Ménestérol, the office secretary politely informed me that Monsieur MA was no longer in employment with the company. I asked to speak with the senior avocat, I was transferred straight through to Julia. During our long telephone conversation, it was revealed that Monsieur MA had not collated the evidence from a number of our prosecution witnesses. As he had never even contacted those witnesses, very little evidence had been filed at the initial Tribunal the previous December. No wonder the judgement was awarded against us, despite the notaire having put up her hand to the fact that she knew the hairdresser’s Lease had been sold before we purchased and she had not informed us. Julia had only recently discovered how little evidence was presented at that Tribunal, she had immediately dismissed Monsieur MA and had written to let us know. She had no idea we were not able to live in the house, she had no idea about how we were living. Julia was clearly shocked, and we ‘worked’ together, via emails and telephone conversations, to prepare for the filed Appeal that was due to be heard that November.



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Mountains And The First Judgement

Following the ‘stolen teaspoons’ fiasco, we headed for Nice and the possibility of a pitch on a site that remained open throughout twelve months of the year. We were thinking about Christmas, wondering how we could celebrate Christmas in a tent with a ‘hobo’ cooker! We were also thinking about our family in the UK. By that time, our youngest grandchild, born in the UK in August 2007, had come through various life-saving treatments, but her condition still gave cause for concern about her future development. Her mum and dad were under constant pressure and, for the first time ever, I could not be there for one of my kids. Nobody will ever know how I felt during that dreadful period, I was torn apart by the need to ‘be there’ with family on both sides of The Pond. When people mention the word ‘compensation’ to me, I know they are referring to money. No amount of money could ever compensate for what we have suffered, that applies to our entire family living in two countries.

Earlier in the year, I had become a member of an on-line Francophile forum. Whenever possible, I would visit an internet café and keep abreast of the news for the British community living in France. Our telephone was still connected at the house, and I would spend a couple of hours on the forum when we went to collect our mail. The forum was ideal for locating camping sites that would remain open the year round. I also made time to offer other forum members information when I was on-line.

Unfortunately, when we arrived at the camping site near Nice, that should have been open, we found it closed with an à vendre (for sale) notice at the entrance. The forum had not been very helpful on that occasion! So, we headed inland. I was the GPS and, usually, my map-reading skills are very good, but, not that day! We headed up-country from Nice, aiming to reach Villars by late afternoon, where we knew we could pitch the tent for one night on a commune camping site that offered space, fresh water and toilet facilities. Somewhere along the route, we took a wrong turning and strayed off course.

The terrain assumed an undulating form, then the hills became very large hills, until they turned into mountains! We were in the foothills of the Alps between France and the Italian border, on a road that was one way only! The road back to the coast, to Monaco, was some 500 metres below us. Solid mountain to the right, a sheer drop to the left, I was mortified, I’m petrified of heights and that was not a wide road! Kilometre after kilometre, every time we rounded a section of jutting cliff face, the road seeming to hang off the edge of the rock, I hoped to see flat land in front of us. Instead, there was just another purple mountain, taller and more heavily snow-laden than the one we were on. Several hours later, a road sign took us away from the Alps and back down-country to Gap. That’s when we added our jerry can of petrol to the tank! That night, we slept in the car in an aire de repos (equivalent to a lay-be with a picnic area and shower facilities). We were shattered, and Tom, our only driver, was exhausted to the point where his face was grey and his eyes were red-rimmed.

We spent the next three weeks moving from camping site to camping site, spending occasional nights in one or another of the many aire de repos facilities that are widespread throughout France. One day, we found ourselves on the outskirts of the village where Brad Pitt and his family lived, I spent at least twenty minutes with my nose pressed against the cold car window, hoping for a glimpse. No such luck!

We returned to the house very early one morning in December, on the day of the Tribunal, to wait for the telephone call giving us the justices’ decision. We waited all day, but that call didn’t arrive. We stayed in the home of a French friend in the village for a week. The house was tiny, and we were obviously over-crowding the home of our friend, although, she never gave any indication of being unhappy about it. On the seventh day, I telephoned Monsieur MA to politely demand the verdict. Taken by surprise, he told me, “The justices did not find in your favour, and you must pay €1,000 compensation to Monsieur and Madame T. There will also be Court fees to pay, and my final bill will be there after Christmas, to give you time to pay. But, I think you should Appeal. I will send the documents to you by post. L’Huissier (the Court Bailiff) will bring you the Tribunal’s Judgement document.”

We couldn’t even cry, we were stunned. We just hugged each other closely together against the cruelty and the injustice of it all.


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