A Lovely Sunday.

A posting from Gerbil (regulars will understand).

Olif and JS thank all their friends and family that have shown all their love and support in the last few months.

On Sunday 6th March, Maudie and I had a lovely meal with long standing friends, Richard and Anne and of course Olif at the Red Lion, Earlswood.
Great company, great food and great service.

I don’t have the story telling talents of Olif, but she is as useless at updating this site as I am at filling in for her!

Personal note… John & Nessie… I love you.
NESSIE GIVE ME CONTENT. XXX

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Some lovely pics. No words needed.

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Vaccinations, Brexit & a Gynaecologist

Vaccinations, Sheep, Brexit, Golf and the gynaecologist!

Bonne journee mes amis.

We will all miss you Captain Tom.

“At the end of the day we shall all be ok again; the sun will shine on you and the clouds will go away.”

A huge thank you to all our NHS Staff, and front-line workers all over the world.

“It is the courage to continue that counts” – Winston S. Churchill

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Vaccination.

World Statistics.03/02/2021. Cumulative COVID-19 vaccination doses administered per 100 people: “Israel.58.8%, UK 14.9% France 2.4%,” Here, there is no system!!!! France was late starting this essential bit of health (January 18th and came to a complete standstill 10 days later!) NO VACCINES.

It seems our President is covering up his lack of supply of vaccines by casting aspersions on the efficacy of the vaccine in the over 60’s.

Dirty business politics.

Interestingly, only 54% of French polled said they would get vaccinated against Covid-19, which raises the question as to why this should be. Firstly, they feel these vaccines were developed in haste and worry about potential side effects, and secondly, that the level of acceptance of a vaccine is linked to the level of trust people have in their politicians and scientists. In France these are extremely low.

You apply online for a rendezvous to your nearest centre, ours is easily found as it’s 50 yards from the cemetery!
Name,sex,date of birth, any acceptable disabilities (being English is considered a disability, so that can push you up or down  the line) then search for availability. This all sounds quite simple, but it must be like bidding for a Van Gogh on eBay.
Get the timing right, computer literacy and speed essential, fluent in French (a Welsh based vet recently told us that his NHS letter inviting him to make an appointment for a Covid 19 vaccination came in 17 languages (including French!, but unbelievably not one of them in Welsh) and your enthusiasm and surprise that there is just one slot available.

JS booked a 12.30am appointment on 18/01, (all the French are having lunch). His documents at the ready, passport in a new transparent folder, English/french pocket dictionary, mobile phone on code scramble line to our French agent Tash, face mask virtually glued to his nose and wearing two pairs of sterile blue plastic gloves. Marched past the crematorium and up to the vaccination centre, which was not difficult since most other candidates were on Zimmer’s or sticks.

One hour later, he was seen at the exit, wearing his well-done sticker, four forms confirming insertion of the Moderna vaccine, date for the following jab, no post effects noticed by drop dead gorgeous nurses that hold your hand and check your BP. Number one ticked off from his bucket list.

“Nothing to it Nessie, no physical post jab signs and symptoms that I can see!”

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Sheep, Golf & Dinner

“There is a sheep JS standing on our 3-hole putting green, trying to eat the artificial grass.”
“Tash, your Mum has finally lost it after all this isolation”
“Dad, she lost it years ago!”
But there was Harry, standing on hole 2.
“Take a photo of Harry’s identity tag on the inside of his ear Mum, then I will put the picture on facebook!”
“What are you going to do JS?”

As chief veterinary advisor I will manage the situation from afar. Two hours later, we have a call from Claude, the Callas shepherd, who has seen Harry on Facebook! I will collect him in the morning, but keep him warm, calm, and isolated from the dog or the vet, who incidentally was already sharpening his scalpel and preparing the mint sauce.

No sooner had Claude rounded up Harry, than Claudette, a rather old ewe, obviously in search of the vaccination centre, had got stuck in the brambles down the track. Tash was on Facebook in an instant.
Claude arrives, joins me in the brambles, no social distancing, or masks or even gel anywhere to be seen, and having untangled Claudette, licks his lips and suggests:

“Agneau roti le dejeuner du Dimanche madame?”
“Roast lamb for Sunday lunch madame?”

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Brexit.

More administration for us residents to prove our legal existence to the powers that be, that we can continue to receive health care if it is not too complicated and that we must learn to be patient, realizing we are now second-class citizens, and to always permit the Frenchie’s to be first in the queue (memories of waiting your turn at a French Ski lift?), threatening to make us take a French driving test (do not think JS ever took one in the UK) under no circumstances smuggle into their country our unpalatable Mature cheddar cheese, British beef, Marmite, ginger nuts, fresh scottish salmon, except for oysters ,which are from the UK anyway and sold in Calais markets. and finally, charge us more to buy a stamp for a package to the UK, than a return ticket with easyJet. (Gerbil – aaand breath)

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Covid-19 current rules. 01/2021

All borders are closed to people arriving from outside the EU, large shopping centres,restaurants ,bars and ski resorts closed.
Masks obligatory in public places and police checks and on the spot fines,135 euros for the first offence, which can raise to 3,750 euros and even a sentence of six months in prison for repeat offenders.
Curfew 6pm-6am
The vigneron must stop pruning the vines as the light fades at about 4.30pm, leaving them 90 minutes to come in from the cold, change out of their work clothes, hop into their tractors, and zoom home before 6pm. No third lockdown yet.

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Golf

After 4 years of abstinence, not wine you fools; golf, we joined a new golf course in Roquebrune,. Just 9 holes, and JS managed a hole in one (it did hit the school bus on the main road) but as luck has it, it ricocheted back onto the course, struck the flagpole and down it went, still classified as a hole in one we reckon!

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Gynaecologist.

You men can go get a coffee now, this is for the girls only!

With no chance of flying to the UK this month, and my HRT replacement necessary, desperate measures were required. I find a French gynaecologist, whose name was Joe.

With Mr J’s expertise on these matters and expect to get it got sorted asap! Not an easy task!

Tash recommended a certain Doctor Blondie from Frejus,who a friend’s friend’s cousin’s aunt from Facebook that thought he was  good looking, gentle, but had rather large hands! (2 out of three I suppose).

My man from Edgbaston, suggested what I needed was such and such and it was simply a prescription, and that would be that.

I do not think so!

Dr Blondie spoke English, which has to be a bonus in these circumstances, but frankly had never heard of my current type of HRT, so he rang a doctor friend in Chester/UK and asked what I was on about! Prescription sorted, but it was not as simple as my Mr J had led me to believe.

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Illegal drinking in Port Frejus

Our bubble, JS,Tash and I, take a long walk at midday, admiring the boats moored in the port, when this guy waves at us.

“Do you know him Tash, is he a friend or a client?”
“Neither mum, but he says if you pop round to the back of the palm tree, he has a small café serving rose wine and a pizza if you fancy one!”
“But all restaurants and bars are closed” explains a worried JS.
“Who cares, I’m off to investigate “ says Tash, ”a large or small rose Mum?”

All grandchildren seem to be surviving rather too well without their grandparents!

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Getting warmer here at last, living in hope we have a few more available vaccines, real hugs, kisses, and parties, and Olif and JS can start their entertaining and share a glass of wine with all our friends. Without masks, gel or social distancing.

All my love

Olif. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

PS.
BIL/Gerbil..good luck with the grammar, and this RR can officially go on the site (when you have checked all spelling mistakes!) (BIL/Gerbil – It only took me 2 hours. You are improving my darling Olif)

Cad. I have reserved 2 sunbeds opposite the sea, with our own waiter at Saint Raphael for 02/06,12noon.

Buzz.  Your bedroom has been fully refurnished, so when can you arrive and come and cook for us for 2 weeks!!!

TJ. Miss you all so much.

Little hands. I need some help on a further ceiling to paint and Kate to hold the ladder.

My lawyer has advised me to tell you all  that most of the above is in fact true, but some points may be not totally accurate!!!

Mike (Gerbil) & Maudie (Jill) would like to say WE MISS YOU ALL AND ALL YOUR FRIENDS XX

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Interesting Facts

Interesting little read, to occupy yourself for a minute or two

There is an old Hotel/Pub in Marble Arch, London, which used to have some gallows adjacent to it.

Prisoners were taken to the gallows (after a fair trial of course) to be hanged.

The horse-drawn dray, carting the prisoner, was accompanied by an armed guard, who would stop the dray outside the pub and ask the prisoner if he would like ”ONE LAST DRINK”.

If he said YES, it was referred to as ONE FOR THE ROAD.   

If he declined, that Prisoner was ON THE WAGON

So, there you go … More history. 

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They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot and then once a day it was taken and sold to the tannery. If you had to do this to survive you were “piss poor“, but worse than that were the really poor folk, who couldn’t even afford to buy a pot, they “Didn’t have a pot to piss in” and were the lowest of the low.

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Here are some facts about the 1500s:

Most people got married in June, because they took their yearly bath in May and they still smelled pretty good by June. 

However, since they were starting to smell, brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odour.
Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

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Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water.  

The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water,

then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies.

By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. 
Hence the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!” 

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Houses had thatched roofs, thick straw piled high, with no wood underneath.  It was the only place for animals to get warm, so, all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof.  When it rained, it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. 
Hence the saying “It’s raining cats and dogs”.  

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There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom, where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection.

That’s how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt.
Hence the saying, “dirt poor.”

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The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing.  As the winter wore on they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance.
Hence: a threshold. (Getting quite an education, aren’t you?) 

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Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over they would hang up their bacon, to show off.

It was a sign of wealth that a man could, “Bring home the bacon.” They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around talking and ”chew the fat”.  

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Those with money had plates made of pewter.

Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning and death.  

This happened most often with tomatoes,so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous. (Gerbil – they still are!!!)

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Bread was divided according to status. 

Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, The family got the  middle, and guests got the top, or ”The Upper  Crust”. 

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Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and  wait and see if they would wake up.
Hence the custom of ”Holding a Wake”.

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England is old and small and the local folks started  running out of places to bury people, so they  would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house and reuse the grave.
When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realised they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, thread it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a  bell.
Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift) to listen for the bell;  thus someone could be, ”Saved by the Bell” or was considered a ”Dead Ringer”   And that’s  the truth.  

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Now, whoever said history was boring!  So,  get out there and educate someone!  Share these facts with a friend, like I just did!

Olif XX

Gerbil – These facts have not been fact-checked!! 🙂

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Olif Lockdown to World Lockdown

April 30th, 2020. Corvid 19.

Quotes:

“One day this will be over, and we will be grateful for life in ways we never felt possible before.” – Olif et. al.
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill.
“There are times in life when you have got to go through it to get it!!” – Mark H.
“What we need are recipes that take a week, not minutes.” – Clive Anderson talking to Ainsley Harriett. 11/04/2020.

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Captain (Corporal) Tom

We continue to thank our Heath Systems and their heroic work and Captain Tom, raising £30million for the NHS and becomes the oldest artist to claim a UK No 1 single.

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Silence(ish)

St Blaise remains more silent than usual, if that is possible, just the birds, Golden eagles, and JS’s snoring (somethings never change).

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Shopping

A weekly shop. JS refuses to wear a mask (not mandatory in France) but scatters the entire supermarket with 6 sneezes just opposite the fresh fruit shelf, but Olif then has the whole place to herself. It works a dream every time.

Vineyards remain open 7 days a week, thank goodness.
Garden centres and pool outlets allow you to order online and collect. Very necessary when Olif is ordering essential items (lotions, anti-wrinkle face masks, miracle grow, for the plants not me, although having read the ingredients of MG, they are not too dissimilar to what I take every morning!)

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Planting

Thank you Google translate for assistance with my french homework and Tash.
Collected 20 rosemary plants, spent 2 days making holes for the little beauties. Soil like rock here. It’s like digging a tunnel from the East to the West, but slower. Applied handfuls of virgin soil into each, watered, wished them the best of luck that we have a wet spring and lowered them into their new homes. They looked like soldiers all lined up for duty.
Checked them the next day, and all but 2 had been removed by a family of Sanglier. JS was so fraught that he could not even face his Weetabix. a 6000-volt electric fence is now in fully operational mode.

Franklin’s expertise on all gardening projects and DIY: he has muscles like an ox, capable of removing 6 foot cacti with one slice of a blunt axe (worth watching I can tell you).

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Bats

Removal of bats. A protected species worldwide, but I reckon they are on a short wicket just lately, so with the arrival of 4 yesterday, and we are only just recovering from the sanglier invasion, it was perhaps best if they found another home.
A joint effort from the Sieurac and Speer family and 2 dogs, a loud haler, a large waving French flag and shouting in English, French and particularly Chinese, one never knows where they have originated from, the army defeated their enemy within minutes of attack. Even Boris would be impressed with the speed of tactics and execution.


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JS is a dead man walking & Mary Berry

JS acts as chairman, manager, co-ordinating officer, an authority on almost everything since the lockdown! (how do they think us weaker sex existed before now?)
He is very enthusiastic, but pushes his luck when suggesting my 99th Mary Berry recipe, hugely adapted to supermarket availability, 

“Is delicious Nessie, but doesn’t look like the picture”

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My routine

I have tried to keep a daily routine during self-isolation as we are told to do by the powers that be:

  • Champers for breakfast
  • A good walk up the track in hope that I meet another human being other than JS
  • Gardening, but the coordinating officer seems to assign me to weeding all the time
  • Attempt to watch on line a video by some perfectly groomed beauty therapist (how can she look like this during self-isolation?) to self-wax certain parts of the body  (I can assure you it’s impossible to follow instructions and do the deed at the same time without getting hot wax on the iPad or anywhere else it shouldn’t be going!)

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WhatsApp

Next up is what’s app – family and friends…
Twinnies doing fine, apart from Indy sticking a popcorn seed up her nose and Remy tuning into a Zoom/ house party on Tessa’s mobile as she was in the shower and expecting her to join in!

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Croquet

A croquet competition, using a 50 year old set, rule book and one dead rat found in the bottom of the box! Rules for this game are impossible.

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Some true(ish) facts

Edwarde Phillipe has told us that May 11th is the date when selected less infected departments and the following can start to be allowed ‘out’.
Tongue in cheek as usual from Olif are the true facts!

Schools:   French children aged 6-10 only, have this golden opportunity to cram in 8 lost weeks of education, as well as their intensive home schooling into the final summer term, no half term, ending late June. Macron clearly has a great future sussed out for these chosen few.

Fabric shops: Selling material in the french flag colours so one can make one’s own face mask.

Electronic shops: Devices sold to attach to a face mask that detects all undesirables within a two-metre distance, then automatically stuns that person.

Hairdressers and beauty therapists, gyms and free personal trainers: So when this country faces the world the French population will look so well-groomed and wearing designer patriotic facial protection, we will look as though we have never been in a lockdown.

Viva La France.

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So Good luck to all ‘lock downers’ there is light at the end of the tunnel, and we will be kissing and hugging very soon, but even France may reduce their double cheek kissing to a good lip job, provided you are wearing your mask!

All my love, and see you some time this year, I promise.

Olif. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxw

PS.
Mike. Thank you once again brother in law (err… Genius Brother In Law, ed.) for your post, and for creating the blog many years ago, constantly updating it, correcting my non-existent grammar, and for your love, loyalty and kindness. A huge kiss and a hug to you and Maudie. Xxxxxxxxxxx

A huge hug also to all our mates worldwide, constantly via telephone, WhatsApp, FaceTime, emails and all the rest of the latest communications available.
Please leave your comments below. Friends, family and well wishing newcomers to the site.

Invaluable. xxxxxxxxxxx

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Addendum

This is an extract from Riviera Radio’s website on Wednesday 29th April. If there any copyright issues Riviera Radio, please contact the editor via a comment on the post and I will comply with your wishes immediately.

Logo Riviera




Coronavirus cases – Five people died from Covid-19 in the Alpes Maritimes and the Var on Tuesday April 28th. Both departments have recorded in total 391 deaths from coronavirus since the start of the epidemic.

More…

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Gerbil’s message during lockdown

Hello everyone who loves and follows the adventures of Olif & JS.

This is a message from Gerbil (Olif’S fabulous and incredibly handsome Brother In Law. Don’t ask where the Ger came from because we can’t remember.

During these torrid times, I am creating this post by sending out a message on behalf of the Speer family about how much we miss our family and our friends, and why.

Nessie & John have the most loyal friends and family because they are loyal and supportive to their friends and family.
Maudie and I regularly witness their kindnesses to us and others and how that is reciprocated.

Whilst Nessie & John’s circle of good friends and family is not unique, it is very, very rare.

I ask you to share your thoughts and memories about your relationship/adventures with Nessie & John, your own lockdown experience or anything you want to share in the comments section.

I believe that we will all come out the other end of this different, better and stronger.

Thank you to everyone we’ve met and loved because of the joy they and you have created.

All our love to you.
Mike & Maudie.
XX

PS: Please leave a comment. 🙂

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RCVS Advice (sic)

This is a genuine (probably) email that our very own Shipman, JS. JS if you don’t know is a graduate, as in Mr John Speer MRCVS BVet Med from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, received from his own collage (sic).. (COLLAGE!!). I (Gerbil) reproduce it in full…

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Good morning

The Royal Collage Of Veterinary Surgeons has today issued this statement;

Should Veterinary Surgeons get called up to aid the NHS with the Coronavirus crisis, we are sure our esteemed profession will come to heel immediately, seizing their new roles like the proverbial dog with a pet-safe chew toy.

However, we do have a few words of advice;

Although PPE is in short supply, arm length gloves will NOT be required. Patients have enough to worry about without seeing farm vets in their usual gear. This is also true of calving jacks and ropes, should you be seconded to the maternity units.

Instructions have been given to all staff and patients to refrain from touching their faces. Remarkably, the humble buster collar hasn’t yet been utilised but if it is, we are advising that rapid deployment of Veterinary Nurses will be required to construct and fit the bl**dy things.

Please remember where the thermometer goes (and does NOT go) in humans.

We are advising your medical colleagues to try to remember to not request that you ‘put a patient to sleep’. However, if this does happen, PUT THE SYRINGE DOWN.

If you are asked to take a blood sample, remember that the patient does not need to be restrained by being nestled in your chest (no matter how much they might like it). Nor are you likely to be required to wrap them up in a towel or place a muzzle. However, if you are stationed in paediatrics, your handling skills may actually come in extremely useful.

It is important to put patients at their ease in the hospital. Although it possibly isn’t standard practice in the human field, do continue to compliment your patients on their shiny hair/excellent teeth/ideal body condition as appropriate. Calling them a ‘good boy/girl’ will hopefully be taken in the spirit it is intended but ear tickling or a vigorous bottom rub may be considered a little too much. It is unlikely they will want to lick your face but if they do, it is in any case not permissible under the current hygiene restrictions and should be discouraged.

We hope you find this advice is helpful as you transition from hairy, four legged patients who can’t speak, to slightly less hairy but more chatty ones.

We warned you. Please take a pinch of salt, stay safe, isolate and be safe out there.

All my love, Gerbil.
PS: Olif had nothing to do with this post: Bwaaahaahaaa.
XX

PPS: If you know the true source of this clever fake, please leave a comment.

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Coronavirus. We will beat it.

Support from Olif and JS.

We will beat it, we will beat it, together. (Boris Johnson March 2020)

A huge thank you to all our medical staff worldwide for their expertise and dedication.

Encouragement to you all from up the mountain.
Where the Golden Eagles continue to fly, and Olif and JS are in isolation for a further 5 weeks!

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JS loo lockdown

Macron announced March 25th that he has extended the French lock down. The over 70’s must self-isolate (so reluctantly Olif has had to confine JS to the downstairs toilette, obviously supplied with plenty of loo paper, no shortage) fresh fruit, bottled water and his kindle. Internet in there is a little temperamental, but such is life.

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Excercise

Similar to our UK friends we can exercise daily, but here we must walk on our own, maximum 1 hour and only 1km from home.
No cycling and we can only visit either the pharmacy or do a food shop. Unlike the Brits, every time we do escape (according to Tash, Brigadier- chef) we must by law have proof for the purpose of our visit to show the gendarmes who may pop up between the lavande at any rond point, of the following…

The Law

  1. An attestation de Deplacement Derogatoire confinement form, stating reason for departing from St Blaise, dated, and the time you leave home, to show that you are not using this form as an excuse to stay out all day, and signed. The police have the authority during an inspection to enter the time, so that the form cannot be used for a second trip on the same day.
  2. Original passports
  3. Carte de Sejour
  4. French Driving licence
  5. Carte grise
  6. Yellow jackets
  7. Breathalyser
  8. Red warning triangle
  9. English/French dictionary

Plus, for the french ladies…
A lipstick
Small bottle of perfume and a packet of M&S gingernuts or homemade chocolate cake, obviously to charm the police in case of a stop! (Not a fact – Gerbil)

The French Police have fined over 4,000 people since March 17th for violating lockdown, a fine of 135 euros and could go up to 375 euros.

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Tips from Olif

If possible, but time is running out fast, try and do the following before you get to week 3. Macron or Boris could extend your period of isolation!

In order of importance! All with a pinch of Olif humour…

Get the highlights topped up
Eye lashes extended and dyed
Eyebrows shaped and dyed
Top up on all body and anti-wrinkle creams
Pedicure and manicure
Entire body exfoliation
Thorough waxing everywhere
Teeth bleached
Order at least 6 months of daily contact lenses.

…else you will not be recognised by your public, or even see your public when we are let out!


Once you have accomplished the above, next job is to teach your other half jobbies they have never attempted prior to COVID19…

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JS Jobs

Replace loo rolls (if you have any that is!)
Cook anything other than spag bog
Iron
Locate the vacuum cleaner (to use it may cause a domestic, so delay that idea!), or in my case learn how to start the tractor
Do not confuse petrol with ‘mix’ half and half
And an even bigger challenge, pull the cord of the starter motor of the strimmer without bursting a blood vessel or punching one’s chin with the backlash.

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Exercise

Regularly…
Down the track to the post box.
A little further than the statutory legal distance each way
No letters to collect as the local facteur (postman) is self-isolating till further notice.
Wave to the neighbours, from a 2metre distance and offer any friendly support, in French of course, who then smile, wave and repeat my sentence again in correct grammatical French!
I get used to this, but I do miss all the kissy kissy bit.

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Pharmaceutical supplies

The French are neurotic about their health (Gerbil – need references!), so the queues here are gigantic. Far worse than the sights we see on the BBC at your supermarkets.
Falling low here on paracetamol and durex apparently!
Our German friend has offered to send both as supplies are plentiful over there. I can send loo rolls by DHL to anyone who needs them.

Alcohol gel. Shipman (JS) has spent many hours in the garage creating his own chemically acceptable hand gel. He has not perfected it yet!

Alcohol and Prostitution

Local wine remains readily available (thank goodness).
Tabac’s remain open, and I did notice en route to do a food shop that the prostitute’s van plus prostitute remains in her position on the R2246.
Not sure how the 2 metre distance protection policy works here?

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Both JS and I send everyone everywhere all our love, support and once achieved, the ingredients for Shipman’s anti-bacterial hand gel.

All my love

Olif.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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PS: A message from Gerbil and Maudie…
We really miss all our family and friends.
To everyone who loves Nessie & JS, keep in touch
Please stay safe..

All our love
Mike (aka Gerbil) and Maudie (aka Mrs Speer)
XXXXXXXXXXXX

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2019 and now 2020!

 2019, and now 2020!

Bonjour mes amies.

The Beast from Spain
“You are the physio, be it sometime since you retired! I need a machine to make my ankles bigger!”
“Why don’t we have a personal trainer that looks like Daniel Craig “I suggest.

A week later, the beast from Spain arrives, a Multigym.
Flat packed, 12 boxes, 245 individual parts, 12 alan keys and instructions for erection in Spanish. Delivered by DHL, a Frenchman who had no resemblance to Daniel Craig or Mr J in any form!
Assembled, and looking rather like something from 50 Shades of Grey.

 “Try it out Nessie”
“What about those 8 nuts and bolts you haven’t used?”
“Don’t think they are essential, have no idea where they should go!”

Franklin carefully explained to the optimistic OAP’s, correct usage to maximize every muscle group, number of repetitions, and get the surviving parent in law to memorize the procedure to contact the pompiers!

JS’s ankles continue to remain the same size!

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Passport for an illegal immigrant (rant).
A UK citizen, resident in France, a possible Brexit agreement on the horizon, and JS’s passport is due for renewal.
Advised by one of her Majesty’s Passport Officers ‘Mr Bean’ suggests we can either apply on line, by post, collect a form from a UK post office, or use the one day personal service by appointment only, he wishes us the best of luck in any event, since the French yellow vests have put an end to an efficient postal service, BA pilots can strike at any moment, the post offices are confused to which form is currently used and the personal service bit costs the hopeful applicant twice as much as the other methods but the extra dosh goes directly to the  government and not to Mr Bean, who, as a hardworking, dedicated civil servant is totally fed up with the system and wants to retire to the south of France!

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Passport photo
Looking tanned, hair carefully bouffoned and all traces of stubble removed (this is JS not me!). It’s passport photo time.

“Who is this?” JS asks
“it’s you isn’t it?”
 “I don’t think so, this guy looks dead, let alone apply for a 10-year passport!”

Liverpool passport Office, 9am, 20/11, the hopeful candidate arrives for his interview, armed with all necessary documents and a choice of 36 ID photos (all as ghastly as each other!). 3 hours later, new passport handed over with a little wink from the Passport Officer, “We used your original passport photo ID Mr Speer” who quoted, “if you look like your passport photo, you’re not well enough to travel!”

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Me and The Beatles!


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Brexit
The French find that there is nothing better to talk about at a French dinner party than Macron or will us Brits be deported back to the UK sooner or later?

I quickly change the subject to the yellow vest disputes and that occupies the conversation till its time to go back home!

We continue to have French conversation lessons every week, which will be useless if we are sent back!

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Grandkids

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A spare UK chateau?
We remain illegal immigrants, until Boris accepts our existence, but when this memorable day happens (if at all) have any of you guys got a spare UK chateau en face a la mer?

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A few trips abroad
We had visitors during the whole summer, so it was tight on the waterfront, high on the salads, and even higher on the local rose!
A quick break to the Fairford Air tattoo in July, on the exact date that the UK had more rain than we had had in 3 months at St Blaise, saw no displays except for a Ryanair flight which must have got lost on its way to Malaga.

A long weekend in  Neuwied, Germany, with close friends Eckhard and Astrid, who fed us nonstop on delicious German food and an evening on the Rhine to experience ‘The Rhine in Flames’ a magnificent summer night with local wine, beer and fireworks (a must on everyone’s Bucket list).

A week in Tenerife in December, sunshine, Spanish wine this time and an evening with our Lithuanian friends who work in Adeje, to a party in a mountain cave to meet the local mafia. An interesting evening.

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Franklin & Tash in America
Franklin and Tash are very happy in their new house.
After the whole process of buying land, building a palace, constructing and completing all the interior themselves, they decided a holiday was in order their first for 5 years.
In October they went to Santa Rosa, near San Francisco, where Franklin’s Dad and step mum live.
They timed it well… the worst fires for 5 years, evacuated twice, no method of communication for a while.
Incredible support from Max,Stephanie and Sean throughout the ordeal.

Thank you to our American family. xxxxx

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The Twinnies
The Twinnies have started school, football training sessions and ballet classes every week.
They love school most of the time, ballet all the time (Grandma Speer’s influence) but are not too keen on the football big boys, which goes down like a lead balloon with Keith!

Indy

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2020.

Champers, DIY, hoping the multigym changes the body, becoming fluent in French (that will be the day)! And probably more champagne!

Emmanuel Macron has said France won’t promote Dry January in case it harms the country’s wine industry.

All my love

Olif. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

PS:. Mike, I know you are busily organizing the logistics of delivering a Ferrari or a Porsche to richer clients than Olif, but could you check my grammar, spelling and transfer this RR to www.ourladyinfrance.co.uk    please. Xxxxxxx love u.(the creep) – Done my Darling OLIF!

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2 minute shower

Bonjour All.

Please note:

Now up and running, our new email address: j.speer@orange.fr

This is all thanks to orange, for costing us less than sfr, JS’s perseverance, but mostly thanks to Houston/Swadlincote HQ for “Remotely’ intercepting us at 11pm last night and successfully making this possible.

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A big kiss to Lou,D and probably Hattie. xxxxxxxxxxxxx

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Macron & water bottles
“Nessi, (like the lochness monster!) Macron has offered free water bottles to all motorists on the autoroutes throughout France during the exceptionally hot weather, but the yellow jacket demonstrators (militant lot) can only receive an empty bottle!”

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Hot
“Shall we take the trailer JS? because the pool needs filling up and I would just die for a longer shower than 2 mins!” It has been 40 degrees plus everyday here for the last month, even at night its 36! JS continues to resist the thought of heavenly air conditioning. “would you like a holiday in the Caribbean, white sand, chrystal sea and a Pina collada, or a noisy fan humming away all night?”

Absolutely nothing could be as noisy as his snoring, and the thought of a cool night, plus the bagpipes on full blast may just be more acceptable than a perfect beach.

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Best grandma babysitter ever & No. 7
Quite a few UK visits this year, babysitting the twins, babysitting the twins and babysitting the twins!!! With an hour off each time for excellent grandmother behavior, I to dash into M&S, John Lewis and Boots. The No.7 counter can see me coming, and almost greets me personally… “it’s the lotion Queen from that dried up part of France, grab her quickly and convince her at her age she needs to top up on the latest anti-wrinkle creams”
Honestly, I never make it past the no.7 counter, without every possible ‘we promise this cream will make you younger ‘promotion’”

Ladies, or gentlemen, IT DOES NOT WORK!!!

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Alpacas
We visited an alpaca farm with all the grandchildren in Atherstone. A boiling hot day, the alpacas just wanted to eat the grandchildren (intelligent animals) A wonderful day out!

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Still best grandma babysitter ever
In the glorious Solihull sunshine, I volunteered to pick up Indy and Remy from the child minder, about 2 miles each way. Trainers on and double buggy well stocked with emergency rations, (this Granny was once a Priory hospital team leader in case of any emergency, for one day at least!) I thought nothing of pushing an empty pram up the road to the collection point. After 3 successful trips, an elderly gentleman attending his front garden stopped me and asked, “Have you found something to fill your empty buggy Dear, or do you think a cup of tea and a chocolate digestive may help?”

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Those pesky bats
The bats continue to breed like rabbits in the garage, some of them have twins and triplets, much to JS’s disgust, especially with the amount of bat poo they can deposit in just one day. Excellent for the garden we are told, bearing in mind all the plants have dried up completely, so depositing bat poo may just kill or cure.
I reckon if Shipman (JS) sleeps in the garage for 24 hours, the noise of his snoring would force them to move their breeding station, and meanwhile I could install the air conditioning. I’m not such a dumb blonde you know!

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Caterpillars vs my bottom
I attempt to do my lengths every morning, after removing 100’s of ghastly suicidal black caterpillars from the bottom (of the pool, not my bottom!) .  My PT promises me that the body will be transformed by Autumn, he is lying, like the sales ladies at the No.7 counter.

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The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!
Tash and Franklin continue to receive every award there is possible from the French government for the cleanest most immaculate, not a spider or cobweb in site house in Callas, even Jackson, the dog wears bootees everywhere!

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Illegal Immigrants
We remain illegal immigrants at St Blaise, as far as the opinions of the local French are concerned, despite a carte de sejour, proof of euro dosh tucked away under the beds (hoard it when you can with the most recent Boris euro/sterling exchange rate!) in fact, I reckon the French tax office in Paris know more about the Speers than 90% of the genuine native French!I

However, despite their bureaucratic minds for paperwork, and every i must be dotted, and t crossed, I received my driving licence 2 weeks ago.
The application was submitted October 2018!
Nante (driving licence HQ) also requested numerous forms of ID… birth certificate, passport, marriage x 2 certificates! (and the bits in between!), and my original UK driving licence.
Much to everyone’s surprise, after 8 months my new  French licence arrived by registered post, but was delivered into the wrong letter box and signed for by a neighbour. I can now officially drive in France a car, a double decker bus, all HGV vehicles and a JCB!!!! (French administration at its best!)

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A bit of a rant
So, I have now tested the patience of Orange.fr, and the persistent interruption to this round robin from our previous server, SFR. an invasion of flying ants, bats rerouting through the office towards the garage, stag beetles, mosquitoes and a sandstorm brewing up!

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Life continues for our lady in France to be as calm as it is always has been and always will be!

With all my love

Olif. Xxxxxx

Ps.

John and Cag: Bring plenty of insect repellent! As well as cheddar cheese and high baked water biscuits next week please.

Mike/Stig: Grammar correction if you could find time between driving the BMW i8 coupe around your country estate. (Thank you OLIF – she is referring to my new job as a Trade Plate Driver for Ecomotive Logistics. PPS. The grammar correction takes longer & longer each Round Robin)

TJ and Keith: love to the twinnies but could you get a dishwasher that works next time I come to stay. Xxxxxxxx

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