Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Happy Christmas

I just want to wish all Novel Racers and fellow bloggers a Happy Christmas and a creative New Year. I haven't felt much like blogging recently as I am finding the idea of Christmas quite difficult to deal with but I expect to be back blogging soon. I may even accomplish one or two items from my to do list over the next few days/weeks!!!! You can have a guess at which things may be possible at this time of year!!!

So have a good holiday and I will catch up with you all in the new year.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

To all our American bloggers have a great day.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Early morning thoughts

I still have nights when I don't sleep well and I often have thoughts in my head that I just have to get up and write down. If I don't write them down there and then they have often gone by the morning or I don't remember them as I want to. The same thing happens sometimes when I am out running which is a bit trickier as I have to keep the thoughts in my head till I get home.

4th October running along by the river:

I lift my face to the sun and feel it's warmth
The river flows over my feet and it is icy cold.
I am held between light and warmth
Cold and dark.
I cannot move.
11th November early morning:

There are two mes

There is the me who each morning
Along with her clothes
Puts on her public face.
The public me whose smile
Just avoids the eyes.
"How are you?" they say
And the public me says "I'm fine"
But the other me
Whose private face
Is sad and bewildered
Is Crying.
The other me who wants to say
My son is dead, grieve with me.
The other me who cannot understand
But the public me just says
"I'm fine."

I have a notebook where I write down all these thoughts, it helps to have them in one place.

Monday, 10 November 2008

sheep for sheepish and check out my word count!!!

What a lovely surprise in the post this morning, jj sent me these gorgeous little sheep to add to my collection of anything "sheepish." In case you can't see they are book marks so will feel very much at home with my sheep books and mugs. It has helped me a lot to know that I have been in my fellow bloggers thoughts over the past three long months. Life here moves on slowly.

I have been under the weather for the past three weeks so have not managed any writing but I have typed up some previous work and to my surprise my word count is now up to 40000 words with more still to type. It has given me some encouragement and I hope to get back to my wip this week as I think I am finally on the mend. It's the OH's turn now and we all know what men are like when they are ill!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If you have ever seen "Open all Hours" with Ronnie Barker I am threatening him with Nurse Gladys Emmanuel if he stays in bed too long!!!!

We are still waiting for a start date for the Builder, are they the same the world over? The weather is sunny and warm most days so I hope to be back running and cycling this week.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Of photos and e-mails

The very helpful Zinnia told me how to add a photo to my profile and I have also decided to add an e-mail address. Is there no end to the resoucefulness of us woolly creatures?

I shall now sit back and wait for lots of e-mails and compliments for my new photo.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Strictly come dancing and anonymous poets!!

I'm rather under the weather at the moment with a stinker of a cold, sore throat, chesty cough etc. So I've not managed to do much at all this week. No running, no cycling,no writing, just feeling sorry for myself. However I do want to thank Anonymous for the lovely poem she/he left in a comment on my last post, do let me know who you are.

I have managed to plant some lovely Pansies that we bought at the Market on Sunday [not a good photo but it was the best I could manage today] some delicate colours to brighten up the Winter, although the weather has been glorious for the last few weeks, warm sunny days and mild nights. We are still waiting to hear when the builder is going to start, two or three weeks we hope, it will probably start raining then!!!!

A couple of weeks ago the OH and I started Dance classes in the nearby town. The OH wants to learn to jive and we thought it would be a good way to meet people. We have signed up for Latin American starting with Salsa and Pasa Doble this term, jive comes later. It is proving to be good fun but much more difficult than we anticipated. We go on a Thursday evening from 9pm to 10pm, we go with a couple of English friends but the rest of the wannabe dancers are all French. Luckily we all seem to be blessed with two left feet so nobody stands out. We have a couple of drinks at a local bar first just to loosen up, tongues and feet!!! It has done us good to make the effort and our friends appreciate me translating for them. I think it will be hard work tonight but I daren't miss a lesson.
Today I am going to try and get some more of my wip typed up so I can update my word counter. It will be good to see it moving forward again.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Evenings and early mornings

In the early evening I like to sit at the front of our house reading or just sitting as the last of the days sun sinks behind the hill opposite. We are on the edge of the village with just a few neighbours so its very peaceful especially at this time of day.

As the sun dips behind the hill
The last rays are warm on my skin
Muted sounds rise up from the village
People on their way home from work
Voices in the distance, ordinary sounds
That wash over me
Leaving me alone with my thoughts.
Leaves rustling, wood pigeons cooing
Soothing my heavy emotions.
The jarring sounds of crows
Heading home to roost
Interrupts the growing stillness.
The sun disappears and the sky
Turns from hot blue to cool.
Vapour trails from a distant plane disect
The cloudless sky but do not linger.
As night descends the village settles
Into its quiet time.
Shutters closed, fires lit
Time to reflect.


Awake in the soft darkness of the night
Hearing nothing but the shallow breathing by my side
Watching grey light seep through the shutters
Listening for the first sounds from the village
Waiting for the slow dawn of a new day.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Sad Sundays

Our son died on a Sunday morning, he had gone to work as he did every Sunday to do the milking for a farmer that he had worked for for many years. He knew the herd very well and had assisted more than a few of them into this world. Amongst them was his favourite cow, Whiskey. This is how I think about that morning.

Sunday Morning

Soft mist over cool green Devon fields
Dew sparkling in the early morning sun
A gentle breeze murmuring through the hedges.
Cows with kindly brown eyes
Stand in silent confusion, heavy with milk,
First a patient lowing then
A shifting of their hooves
A quickening of their breath
A snort, a nudge.
But still the steady drone of the tractor
Stopped forever in a moment of time.

Then the sound of sirens, all peace destroyed
The herd scatters, then when all is quiet
They return silently
Carefully probing the empty tractor.
For a moment they are lost
Something has changed.
But the call of the Milking Parlour is strong
And they must answer.
Only one remains
Whiskey remembers.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

A gentle day out

Last wednesday we loaded up the bikes and went off to the Canal du Midi for a bike ride followed by lunch. It was a lovely sunny day, well we don't do bike rides otherwise!! The photo was taken during the ride, I really wasn't sure if the barge was going to fit under the bridge, they had already had to take a load of water to lower the boat. But it just made it.

For a surprise I had decided to take the OH to a restaurant that we first visited 20 years ago when we had our first holiday on the Canal. It could have turned out badly as I didn't even know if the restaurant was still there, we had not been back since. But luckily for me it was and I had even found a photo of our visit in June 1988, I can safely say we don't look a day older. Well I can say that because I'm not showing you the photo, or the one that the proprietor took 20 years later. By the way it was the same owner although he didn't remember us!!!

We had a lovely lunch on the terrace overlooking the Canal. It was that holiday on the Canal that inspired us to buy a property in France and we haven't fallen out of love with France or the Canal since. For more info and some stunning photos about this amazing feat of engineering go to . We had a lovely day out.

Life continues even though there are bad times we manage some good times aswell. We have lots to be getting on with here, demolition to do before the builders start, stripping walls ready for redecorating, and the OH has started on some retaining walls to stop the garden falling onto the shed he wants to build. And I have managed to write a bit more of my wip, so I think we are moving forward slowly. I will post some photos soon of the work we have been doing. Also some more poems because they help. Then one day back to some farm tales.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Two months gone

Thanks again for all your lovely comments and for sharing this time with us.

It has been two months since our son died. Sometimes it seems like a lifetime ago or that it happenned to someone else. I don't really want to accept that he died. It goes against the natural order of things to bury your children.

I know that I was at his funeral but it feels as if it was someone else there not me. That I was a spectator not a participant. I find it very hard to explain my feelings but utter helplessness comes closest.

Usually I feel in control of the events in my life but now I am powerless, absolutely nothing I can do except find a way forward. Which I am trying to do but it's hard, very hard.

I have managed to start reading again which I wasn't able to do for about 6 weeks and this morning I have managed about 250 words of my wip. I am determined more than ever to finish my novel and dedicate it to the memory of my son.

These are some of the poems that I write in the small hours when I cannot sleep.

I am numb.

I sleepwalk through the waking hours
Shuffling slowly with leaden feet.
Then when the night comes
I lay watchful with sad heart.
Sleep eludes me as images
And thoughts crowd my mind.
So the days and nights pass slowly by.


In the daylight hours I banish thoughts of you
Then when I lay down at night
Your voice and face come unbidden
But they are welcome.
The edges of reality are blurred
Tears fall silently to ease the pain
Are you really gone?

Finally sleep comes
But in the morning
You are gone
And I am desolate.


I hear his voice in the dark "Hiya Mum"
I reach out to touch him
But he is not there, he is gone.

It helps to put my thoughts on paper as I can't express them out loud.
Now I am off for a run which also helps me get things in perspective and I shall be visiting blogs and catching up with the recent innovations here which seem to have passed me by.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Heartfelt thanks

I just want to offer my heartfelt thanks to all my fellow Novel racers who have taken the time to leave a message for us in this very difficult time, and to all our friends who sent cards and offers of support it has all been very much appreciated.

We are still struggling to come to terms with the death of our son and realise that it will take a lot of time. We are trying to get on with our lives, as we must, but it is hard to get through the days.

I have decided to share with you some of my feelings in the hope that putting my thoughts in black and white may help me.

Our son's funeral was in a beautiful village church in Devon, it was full with his family and friends. Grown men cried which showed me how much he was loved and appreciated. He was buried in a little graveyard surrounded by open fields and trees. For someone whose working life had been dedicated to farming this was as perfect as it could be. One day I will find comfort in knowing where he was laid to rest although for now such beauty just makes me cry.

After the funeral we all went to one of his favourite village pubs to celebrate his life. We had written a few words between us about our son which my husband very courageously spoke. This is what he said:

Our son was a decent and honest bloke and didn't deserve to have his young life cut short in this way. He was extremely happy with his lot and together with his wife was living life to the maximum. Even through the hard times in agriculture he managed to keep the dream alive and his new milking contract was going to give them a more secure future.
He worked hard and of course played hard when the opportunity was right. He was as fit as a fiddle which makes the circumstances of his death even more difficult to understand and we feel very angry and hurt by that. Whoever or whatever decides these things gave him a bum script.
At a young age he told us he wanted to go to Brymore[agricultural boarding school] and since then he has followed his dream. He was at his happiest working amongst the farming community in this village, working long hours when needed and caring for your cows as if they were his own, especially Whiskey[his favourite milker].
I can claim to have taught him the indispensable skill of drinking large quantities of beer, we even managed to play rugby in the same 7 a side team. And his Mum taught him the equally important rudiments of skinning and gutting a lamb. What more could a young man expect from his parents. And we were even happier with what he gave us.
However none of us will miss the unmistakeable smell of his very own eau de cologne, a mixture of cow shit and sweat. But when he had had a shower and got dressed up he was a match for anyone, especially on Karaoke night!!!!
Nothing was ever too much trouble for him. If a friend or client had an emergency or a problem he was always the first to help out if he could and we will all be the poorer for the loss of his generosity of spirit, a rare and valued gift.
He died doing what he loved best at the farm he loved best. He will be sorely missed by one and all and that is perhaps the best testament and celebration of life and the affect he had on everyone who knew him.
He will never ever be forgotten.

Just a few words to try and describe a very good person.

Since his death I have been writing my feelings down, just raw emotion really but thats all there is at the moment. These are the words I wrote on the card with the flowers for his coffin:

I have cried a sea of tears for you
But it is not enough.
Your dad feels his grief in other ways
But I can see the hurt in his eyes.
We try to smile for you
But it is so so hard
And we are weary beyond words.

And this is what went in his coffin:

Life is grey without you
Even though the sun is shining
The sparkle has gone out of our lives.
We are weary as we watch the minutes
Drag slowly through the long days.
Life will go on without you
But it is on hold for now.
We are not ready yet to let you go
The pain is too great
We are not ready.
Sleep does not come easily
Images crowd my mind
And will not let me rest.
I am overwhelmed by grief
You should not have died.

Thank-you for sharing this with us. I will hope to resume some blogging soon although I hope you will allow me to continue to share my emotions with you. It helps me to express them in this way.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Devestating news

I shall be away from the blog world for a while as we have had some devestating news. Our son died suddenly from a massive heart attack last Sunday the 20th July. He leaves a wife, two young children and us.

For now I have no words only emptiness and pain. We are getting through each day as best we can but it is very hard

When I am able to I will write about him as he was a wonderful son but for now I cannot bear it.

Friday, 27 June 2008

To anonymous of Tunbridge Wells.

I can't believe thats it's over a month since my last post. Firstly thanks to all who made suggestions for combining my wish list. I particularly liked Lanes idea, lie down and eat more cake, and I think I can avoid spilling any wine. And to anonymous don't think I haven't guessed who you are!! And you are way off with your thoughts on wish no.10 but you are free to keep trying.
Since my last post the weather here has finally taken off and we have been basking in temperatures of 30+ and I have been taking full advantage of it. Although running in this heat will take me a while to get used to, particularly as I always run at midday.[Mad dogs and Englishmen etc] So another excuse for not much writing or blogging. Although this week I have finally managed a few thousand words and shall try for some more today, I must get the recent work typed up so that I can update my word count.
Tonight we are off to Toulouse to watch England take on France at Rugby league which should be good. It's a warm up match before the World Cup in Australia in October. French Rugby League has been coming on in leaps and bounds since the Catalan Dragons joined the Super League three years ago so we are looking forward to a close match.
On the house front we have just about finished the first bedroom with en-suite bathroom and have moved in to it. Now we can start the next room which is also at the top of the house and will be for storage, something we desperately need. We have also agreed with a local builder for the extensions which he will start in September. Before then we have quite a large demolition job to undertake, so thats August taken care of. That will leave July for a bit of R&R, well we mustn't overdo things!!!
And we have eaten the first peaches from the tree we planted back in March, we also planted a Cherry tree but will have to wait til next year for fruit from it. We are lucky in already having Figs, Plums, Almonds and Walnuts all ripening nicely. The down side is knowing what to do with vast quantities of Figs as eating too many is not a good idea!!! Sensible suggestions will be welcome.
And I really will continue my sheep stories very soon, I still have some tales to tell.
So I'm off for a run now, sweat off some of the wine I consumed last night!!!

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Combining my Wish List

One or two people, JJ for instance have suggested I could combine some of the items on my Wish List. She suggested wearing high heels while doing a Triathlon!!!!!! Someone else suggested wearing some of the clothes seen at my local market and joining the musicians, with or without high heels. I thought of learning to dance while wearing skis but that might prove very dangerous for a lot of people. I could of course wear high heels whilst visiting Venice but I may not manage much sight-seeing.

Any suggestions will be given serious consideration!!!!!! In the meantime I am desperately trying to get back to my wip, it is proving difficult to get into any sort of routine. There are far too many distractions here, including the odd trip to the local drinking establishments, all in the interest of meeting people of course, plus we just had to see what the local race course is like. Not bad by the way and we had a few winners. And then there is the DIY we have nearly got a new en-suite bathroom [just one or two tiny tiny leaks!!!!] and the bedroom will be ready to move into soon. That just leaves the rest of the house and summer is coming. Oh well mustn't rush these things.

Must be nearly time for a glass of wine then I can give my wip my "full attention". Well maybe not today maybe tomorrow!!!!!!! Me procrastinate no surely not.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Ten things I want to do before the next big 0!

Not an original idea but one that I borrowed from Caroline (of "in search of Adam" fame) read it here who in turn borrowed it from "40 things to do before I'm 40."read it here. So as I have another biggy coming up in three years I thought I would give myself a wish list. I don 't want to be greedy so just 10 things I want to do before the next big one.
Oh and I'm not telling you how old maybe I will when I make it!!!

1 Finish my novel and get it published. This one is maybe too easy but I thought I should include it!!!!!!!
2 Try cross-country skiing. We are only about 1 hour from the Pyrenees so that shouldn't be too difficult to achieve.
3 Visit Venice.
4 Wear high heels again. I seem to have lived in wellies for the past 15 years and it has played havoc with my feet. But I haven't worn wellies for 6 weeks now so it's looking more hopeful.
5 Join a Salsa band. This may be a bit trickier as I have no rhythm and I'm tone deaf but they might let me have a triangle or a tambourine!!!
6 Learn to dance. Proper dancing such as latin american jive etc.
7 See an Ashes tour in Australia or the Cricket World cup somewhere exotic. Now I don't like long flights as I am Claustrophobic but I reckon some tranquilisers such as I gave the dogs should do the trick, in fact I've got a few tablets left so that's okay.
8 Go to the Super League Grand Final between the Leeds Rhinos and anybody else. Obviously I need Leeds to help with this one.
9 Do a Triathlon. Just a short one, I already run, I cycle a bit in the summer and I swim but only breaststroke. But hey I only want to finish I don't expect to win.
10 This one is for my eyes only but I may tell all when I reach the big one!!!!

So there it is my wish list for the next three years. Now all I need is some cooperation from the OH and for me to stop procrastinating and they should all be possible. I will try and put a short list in my sidebar to keep you up to date as to how I am getting on. So wish me luck and if you want leave your wish list.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Sunday Market

As promised here are some photos I took last Sunday. One of the musicians is sporting a fine example of a mullet and the stalls are all in addition to the usual wonderful selection of fresh fruit and veg, flowers, cheeses, charcuterie, wines, hardware goods, more conventional clothes and shoes and much more. It really is a fabulous Market that runs throughout the year although it is obviously much busier in the summer months.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Settling in.

Thanks to all who have welcomed me back to the blogging world, it's good to be back. It hardly seems possible but we have been here over 4 weeks already!! So it really is time to stop my favourite past-time of PROCRASTINATION and start blogging and more importantly writing again. I have been sitting at my laptop for the past hour messing around, deleting e-mails, checking out other websites, you know how it goes, anything to avoid actually doing anything remotely connected with blogging or writing. Anyway I have finally run out of things to distract me so here goes: blog number two in our new house.

A few words about where we came from and where we are now. We had been living in the Poitou-Charentes region of France for the past 18 years, sheepfarming, hence the title of the blog!! Our farm was completely isolated which suited us very well, but eventually we decided that we were ready for a bit more life without having to drive 30/40 minutes. So now we have moved to the Aude departement, we have settled in a large village about 40 minutes south of Carcassonne. What a contrast!!! We are only about an hour from the Pyrenees and the Med and so not far from Spain either. We are looking forward to wine buying trips across the border.

We are within walking distance of 3 BARS plus all the other shops etc, but we are on the edge of the village and manage to have found a really tranquil setting. The house requires a lot of work including a extension to provide a new kitchen, but we enjoy a challenge and have already started on the top bedroom. In the meantime we are fairly cramped compared to what we had before, lots of boxes will not be opened for some time and we have a lot of furniture in store, where it will stay until the extension is ready.

Luckily the village provides ample distractions for when we get fed up with DIY. Every Sunday morning there is a huge Market with people pouring in from miles around. Market stalls selling everything you can imagine plus quite a few selling the unimaginable. The village and surrounding area has a large hippy population which means the Market is very 'colourful'!!!! I have never seen so many mullets, on the young and not so young!!!! I have suggested the OH grows his hair so that he can blend in . We shall also look out our Indian cotton dresses[for me] and shirts[for him] plus anything else from the dressing up box. It does however give me an incredible range of characters that I can draw on for my wip. I always have my notebook handy when we stop for a beer or two, all in the name of research of course. I will take some photos of the more colourful stalls to give an idea what it's like here.

It looks like we are in for a tough life here but hey we'll do our best to cope!!!! More Sheep stories will appear from time to time along with updates on life amongst the Beautiful People.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008


First of all thankyou to everyone who left encouraging comments.

It proved far worse than I could have imagined. Having spent nearly two years with our farm up for sale I thought I would be so relieved to be moving that it wouldn't matter how stressful it was. I had intended to do progress blogs but there was never enough time or energy, the timescale of just 6 weeks to pack up our farm was far too short and it descended rapidly into a frantic race against the clock. The last couple of weeks were a complete nightmare and we were only saved by an extra week before completion.

The OH did 5 round trips of 1200 km with loads of furniture and boxes, I don't know how he did it. We finally moved on the 7th March. The OH was driving the 4x4 plus a trailer load full of so many odds and ends, he also had the two dogs whom I had tranquilized as they are very poor travellers. I was driving our toyota MR2 also filled with more odds and ends, plus I had the cat, also tranquilized, in a cat box and our two goldfish, in a plastic bag in a plastic container!! In the event the OH arrived before me as I had to make several stops to squeeze the cat back into her box and to stop the water slopping out of the goldfish bag!!!!!!

But it was such a relief to finally arrive here, never mind the fact that until we get the extension built half of our furniture is stored in a garage, and half of our belongings will have to stay in boxes until we can get some serious decorating finished, plus a bathroom or two.

We are now back on line and have somewhere to sit and watch tele, and I have just about enough room in the kitchen to rustle up reasonable meals. The wine racks are full and we have already been taking advantage of the fact that we can now walk to a bar or three for a bit of company if we feel like it. And the complete novelty of being able to walk to the boulangerie for a baguette or the little supermarche for just about anything. The dogs are settling in well as is the cat, all very new for them too.

It has taken me this long to feel able to write a few words for my blog, lack of sleep and the stress of moving left me physically and emotionally exhausted. But I am getting back to normal and will be trying to catch up with all my favourite bloggers, not an easy task but I will do my best as I have missed them.

I intend to carry on with my farming tales but also hope to give progress reports on the work we are doing to our house. All we need now is for the weather to improve, we did not expect snow but that is what we have had over the past few days, and it has been cold. So roll on the sunny days when we can throw open the doors and spend lots of time outside. Now it's time for a glass of wine, so cheers to you all.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

On The Move!!!

Firstly I would like to wish all visitors and fellow bloggers a happy and creative New Year.
Fleur and Tigger have no idea of what the New Year is going to bring and I would guess they don't really care. Life is good for them.

After last years disappointment when the sale of our farm fell through it now looks as if we have genuine buyers. We signed the Compromis de Vente [provisional contract] last Saturday morning and we are due to sign the Acte de Vente on the 28th February. That gives us 6 weeks to pack up everything and move to our house in the Aude region of France. OH BLOODY HELL !!!!!!!

Never mind it won't give me too much time to worry about it all. The OH has gone off this morning with the first trailer load of garden equipment plus a car load of spare duvets, curtains towels etc, and so it begins. So much to do and so little time to do it all.

In between I shall try and keep up my blog and my wip as we have started a new race this year and I am determined to finish the first draft [ this year atleast].

We are looking forward to starting a new chapter but it is going to be quite a wrench to leave some very good friends behind, and we have been very happy in this house for the past 17 years but all things move on and now it is time for us to move on.

Look out for progress reports and signs of impending madness as the time flies by.