Thursday 10th March


Yes, I know I made a load of promises in the New Year to write regularly but I seem to have lost the art of time juggling recently, and when I manage to catch one ball, I drop the others.

You know that feeling where you don’t actually have time to do anything, but when you look back on your day, you haven’t really done anything?

MimosaWinter so far really has been special and today the view from my window is fluffy yellow, baby doll pink, soft white and vast and shining Wedgewood blue as mimosa, cherry and almond blossom and an infinite blue sky crowd my vision every time I take a break from my computer.

I have started cycling again, dragging Olivier, he-of-the-sore-bike-bum, with me to Amélie last weekend along the disused railway track from Céret to Palalda.

As a more regular and experienced biker I KNOW that I shouldn’t listen to him when we go for a ride, as he immediately turns my slow 50-something relaxing jaunts into a competition.

He waits for me at the top of hills, and when I arrive, little short legs pumping away in granny gear, red as a lobster and breathing like an old puffing billy, he says “What kept you?”

He Launches into long, boring and unsolicited explanations of how my gears work and why I shouldn’t change from this one to that one as it puts pressure on the other one, how I need to pedal faster to get into ‘the zone’ for burning calories…. SOOOOOO irritating but I love it, I love him and always return home from rides together tired but so very content.


Of course, If you read this blog regularly, you will know that on bike rides, every time I open my gob to say how wonderful life is, something drops, plops or flies into an orifice and this ride was no exception! Very lucky I’m not a vegetarian!

I pay the price for persuading Olivier to come biking with me though, as I have to go out on his motorbike! Arrrggghhhhh! Don’t think I will every be a biker chick. I’m getting used to the straight bits (as long as he doesn’t go too fast, but if he does I just bang hard on his back!) but I really don’t like the bendy bits where the bike leans over to one side, and try to get him to plan outings to straight-ahead places where possible.

BisouHer Royal Hairiness is no longer her stinky old self – she has nearly lost her sight completely as the large doses of insulin continue to take their heavy toll, and can no longer come cycling or walking with us.

We do so miss her, and often cut short an excursion to come home to her, where she always gives us a welcome worth the wait.

I’m not sure that she will see another summer season through, and the thought that she will not be there to fall into the pool at regular intervals in pursuit of the ever present squeaky toy and shake all over me, or lie at my feet licking between my toes as I work, breaks my heart.

She is 14 and has had a reprieve of two years, compared to what the vet estimated when she was first diagnosed as diabetic, so whilst we continue to cherish every day with her….. we are prepared. She still seems mainly happy, plays on the beach, squeaks her rubber chicken or runs for her ball, but five minutes of this really knocks it out of her.

We tried a slightly longer walk than the end of the drive last week but Olivier had to carry her back on his shoulders. She didn’t mind at all – in fact I think she quite enjoyed the ride and when Daddy put her down, was filled with a renewed enthusiasm for her ball. She still looks like a puppy to me (and smells like a wet sheep) but I suppose I’m a bit biased!

The spring P-O Life is out – what a great effort as always by all the team, occasional and regular, who contribute to both the magazine and the site. It is heart warming that there are still people around who give so generously of their time and ask nothing in return.

Once P-O Life becomes big and famous and I can actually pay myself for producing it, I will take you all out and wine and dine you in the royal manner that you deserve. Without you, P-O Life would be a shell.

And then of course there is P-O Life designer Simon and P-O Life business and PR director, Michelle, who are actually both so much more than that, who have turned P-O Life around and organised me and convinced me into believing that I’m not just some scruffy little middle aged chancer who happened to be in the right place at the right time – and that P-O Life is actually GOOD and worth reading!

This is beginning to sound a bit like a speech so I won’t go on any more, but I am lucky to have so much support, often undeserved because I can be a grouch, and a ditherer and a bossy old boots! Don’t know if any of you read this, but to those of you who have helped to make P-O Life what it is today, either by walks, reviews, art, cuisine, restaurant, pieces about cockroaches and gardening, life, tradition, politics… THANK YOU. (Isn’t it typical of a woman? I said about five lines ago that I wouldnt go on, then I went on! OOOOPS)

While on the subject of P-O Life… time for a rant. If you dont follow the forum, or forums in general, then just ignore this next paragraph and jump to the next bit as you will be scratching your head in total confusion.

I’m not usually much of a ranter. On the whole I like most people and most things, but the forum on my website has become an itch that I just have to scratch!.

Why do a few silly men feel the need to go onto other forums and attack this one, pulling apart what I have written, making a mockery of something that I have spent nearly seven years building?

It’s free, it’s helped many people over the years, it has stormy moments but is mainly sunny.

It amazes and saddens me that some adults behave so badly on the Internet, under alias. One guy lives in Banyuls, and therefore is surrounded by beauty, the sea, the vines, but despite an idyllic setting, creates ugliness regularly by having a go at this forum, its members, myself… and has actually told an acquaintance that he enjoys ’winding people up’ on the forum and putting a cat amongst the pigeons.

It’s fun… a game. Another was a regular on the forum but had a disagreement with somebody about something, doubt he can remember what and why, and now joins in the nastiness.

Why? I just don’t understand the pleasure in causing trouble, upsetting others, pretending to be something or someone that you’re not. If I go to a pub, and I don’t like the clientele there, I go somewhere else. I don’t keep popping back in with a mask on to see if I can start a fight, or sit in my new pub obsessing about the other place.

Oh, and whilst I’m having a rant… the other people I don’t understand are those whom I get on with both in cyberspace and real life – then something goes wrong on the forum, a wrong word with someone, a disagreement… and suddenly I am persona non grata.

Friends one moment, silence the next, if I’m lucky or insults on other forums if I’m not. Fortunately they are in a very small minority but how can they not see that I am not the forum – it is just a bit of software that I happened to set up? The person, me, is just some silly woman trying her best to keep a useful non profit making service going, and wondering, in the face of some of the unpleasantness from these nasties, what is the point. OK. RANT OVER, honest. I feel quite purged!

NestHave you noticed the caterpillar nests, high up in the pine trees? Yeuch! These are the ‘chenille processionnaire’ larva which live in large “tents” and march along in single file (hence the name).

They leave behind them a pheromone trail ( a kind of chemical message), which enables them to find their way back to the nest after feeding. French naturalist, Jean Henri Fabre arranged a group of these caterpillars into a complete circle around the edge of a flowerpot to test out their urge to follow each other in a single-file head-to-tail line, and they followed each other round in a circle for seven days! Silly sods.

If you have nests on your property, you are advised to cut off the branch of the tree and burn the nest. If the property has a large quantity of nests, ask advice at your local mairie.

Which ever option you choose, do take care. Quite apart from the damage caused to the trees, the caterpillars have fine hairs on their back containing a protein which causes severe irritation and dermatitis, and in some cases an allergic reaction (anaphylactic shock) to both humans and animals.

Even after the caterpillar is dead, the hairs remain toxic. Take care when walking your dog in areas where the caterpillars may be, or have been. Initial symptoms to watch out for in your pet may include vomiting and tongue swelling. And on that delightful note, I will take my leave.

Went to a pub quiz this evening in Saint Genis des Fontaines. Great fun. You are split up into random teams and of course my team was great and thrashed the rest.

OK, we didn’t, not even nearly – but the questions were really hard. HONEST! At one stage we thought we might just sneak out of the back entrance and slink home… but we stood firm and went on to get a rather unrespectable 20 out of 60.

Nice table of new friends though so I was a winner in different ways. Luckily for them, I didn’t have my camera! If you would like to join in with the pub quiz in English, you can contact the hard working organiser David on

Friday 11th March

Smile, it’s Friday! In fact, smile whatever day it is, because if you search around your life, you can always find something positive going on in it. I know it’s more difficult for some than for others.

You may be unwell, stressed, bored, unhappy….. but tomorrow is another day, and when it dawns, maybe it will bring with it something or someone that you’ve been hoping or praying for. The majority of British people who are lucky enought to live, holiday or be involved in the Pyrenees-Orientales never go hungry or thirsty, and are treated every day to magnificent panoramas, soft winters, sparkling springtime… Blessings just waiting to be counted.

And did you know that laughter helps us keep healthy as it enriches the blood with oxygen, helps to reduce stress and pain, boosts the immune system, controls high blood pressure and heart disease, and generally gives a sense of well being by releasing endorphins? It also helps us to sleep better and reduces snoring as it strengthens the muscles of the soft palate and throat.

Saturday 12th March

It’s absolutely wazzing down! Can’t possibly be expected to diet when the weather’s miserable so have had to forgo my usual meagre breakfast of a slice of ham and a yoghurt and send Olivier out for croissant and pain au chocolat. Today is going to be ’stuff your face, stay in, and cuddle up in front of a DVD with sweet smelling husband and sheep smelling doggie. Well, someone has to do it!Rigolant

Tuesday 15th March

Il pleut comme vache que pisse! Yes really, it is still absolutely lashing down, and when it rains, I just want to eat…lots….chocolate, bread, cake….. so I’ve sat myself down firmly in front of my computer hoping that keeping my mitts busy typing will stop them dipping into the fridge. Not sure if it’s working though. No, no. Help! Au secours! Uh oh, here they go again, dragging me screaming and kicking towards the biscuit tin. What can I do but follow. Byeeeeeeee!

Thursday 17th March


Après la plue vient le beau temps – still quite a lot of low cloud but the sun keeps piercing through and the deluge seems to be over for the time being.

If you have a holiday home, and kindly friends or neighbours, or a property manager, do get someone to check on your house and garden. Olivier spent a day going round a dozen properties yesterday – the rain has caused landslides and the rivers have burst their banks in many places. The photos here are of the main Argelès – Saint Rain

Cyprien road and two ’passages à gué’, (click to enlarge as usual) one just of the main Le Boulou – Le Perthus road and the other under the bridge at Le Boulou. We regularly bike over them – not today, oh no, no, no!



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