Family, Chores & Life Stuff
Another week gone in our little rural hamlet and another thousand signs of Spring life are popping up all around us.
Nature seems to accelerate this time of year, as if catching up to the first rays of warmth require a sprint rather than a stroll. Suddenly there are dandelions and daisies everywhere in the lawn, which conjure up bees and butterflies, creating a flurry of activity not seen since last fall. Tulips and daffodils have barreled out of their winter sleep, their green leaves racing out of the ground. Roses have shot out long, red stems, as if testing the weather for more.
Soon the glory of flowers will follow and life will renew again.
As for our little corner of it all, my brother and his family have come down from UK, finally allowed to travel again after last-minute frontier blocks prevented them from joining us in Granada over Christmas. They’re soaking up the sun like sponges and enjoying their first real trip away from home in a long time. Their visit prompts us to go out and visit places we usually forget, as all locals do.
Beginning of the year is also the beginning of the yearly chores from car to house maintenance, and never-ending tax forms. Not always the most fun of things, but basic stuff you just can’t avoid.
Early life, early chores and family time. That’s about the mix of it for this weeks blog.
My brother and his family arrived late Friday evening, after taking an overnight ferry from the UK.
The ferry itself took around 7 hours, which for some reason seems so much longer than it should. In my mind the UK is a skip and a hop across the Channel from France, a mere finger-width of sea when you look at it on the map.
Back in my younger days I remember taking a hovercraft that crossed the distance from Dover to Calais in mere hours, a rather cool, albeit noisy transit as the big boat aired up and glided like a bloated whale across the ocean. That no longer exists, but there are ~10 different ferry options that take anywhere from a few hours to 11, as well as the Chunnel (the ~50km undersea tunnel from Folkestone to just outside Calais) which does the whole thing in a mere 35 minutes.
My bro opted for the Portsmouth to Caen route, sleeping overnight on the boat, taking a hour to clear customs on the French side (a post-Brexit joy) and then driving directly down. They were all exhausted, but deliriously happy to be “free” on holiday again after almost two years stuck in UK.
Since his arrival we’ve been taking advantage of good weather and doing all the usual touristy stuff. Market visits, walks around downtown, old churches, the “artists town” (Carla Bayle), drives to the mountains, and selecting a few of the Grand Sites to sightsee. It’s great to have them around, not just for the family time but also to be pushed out and reminded of the cool spots that surround us.
Sometimes local sightseeing is a bit like body re-booting….you need an outside push to get ya going.
February is also a chores month, where a lot of yearly stuff needs to get done.
There’s the start of US tax season (a process we get to enjoy FOREVER as US citizens), insurance payments, pellet boiler service, chimney sweeping (required for the house insurance), and mechanical stuff such as annual maintenance on our car and motorhome.
For the first time this year we also had to do a Contrôle Technique (what you’d call MOT in the UK) on our car, an inspection that that checks your vehicle for safety, roadworthiness and exhaust emissions. All vehicles in France have to go through this every other year (except for brand new buys that get an initial 4 year grace period) and if anything is found amiss you only have a few months to fix it. It’s yet another European thing that doesn’t really exist in the USA, unless you count stuff like SMOG certification in CA.
Surprisingly the whole thing went easy as peas, or mostly easy. I booked the appointment online at a local spot, waited while they did the tests, and strolled out a mere 30 minutes and 60 EUR later with a 2-year sticker on my window.
My only hiccup was when the young man started ranting about French politics, a passionate and delicate affair especially during an election year such as we are. I nodded and frowned at what I deemed the appropriate moments, added a few non-committal grunts and mumbles and generally just tried to avoid the minefield as best I could. I must have done a decent job because he said something along the lines of “it’s good to have sensible customers” as I left. Phew…..
Politics, a messy subject in any language.
Love On The Horizon
Love is on the horizon and unlike the former, it’s a subject that’s beautiful in all languages.
Our local supermarket has sprung into action with glorious heart-shaped displays of apples, flowers and of course fois gras (nothing says I love you quite like a heart-shaped piece of fatty liver, right?).
At home we sense it all around us with fine sunshine, cool winds, swirls of birds doing summersaults in the fields and the kind of warm fuzzy you can only get when you fuse into the warm embrace of Nature.
Our dear Polly has felt it too.
She’s been busy keeping the “herd” on track, a complicated job with three more of us in house. She stares at us intensely whenever meal-time is nigh, waits patiently by the door if we go out, and barks to ward off things-that-should-not-exist. The latter is admittedly more of an old-lady thing that often involves noises that jolt her up from a snoring slumber. She’ll go outside and bark at the offending ghost, scan the fuzzy horizon with her old eyes and sniff the air to ensure said-danger has been properly sent off. Then she’ll come back inside very pleased with herself. Naturally, I always praise her profusely.
“Good girl, good guard dog, you saved us again”.
As for me? I’m chugging along in my reboot and still walking as much as I can. Progress is being made as a pair of hiking pants I purchased last month are actually a smidgen too big for me, a phenomenon I’ve not encountered since 2017. Perhaps the wash will finally stop shrinking my clothes now? Plus I’ve gotten spurts of unexpected energy that suggest a Version 2.0 of present-day Nina may actually exist. Perhaps I will re-flower just like the Spring daffodils?
While we wait to that exciting event to happen, I wish you all the love and joy in the world, and a beautiful week to pack it into. Happy Valentine’s Everyone!SPONSORED LINK:
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