Sunday, 20 January 2013

La Grippe.....

J is now back in UK. She pent a few days in London before trekking over to friends in Abergavenny followed by a night in Ledbury, Herefordshire. The next morning she had an appointment in Gloucester which she was unable to keep as it had snowed heavily overnight. Roads had been closed, cars abandoned and general mayhem marked the routes all around. All very different from our recent considerable experience of life in northern Sweden.

Up there, things go on as normal, though trains did come unstuck at times, with delays etc. Even that, however, always came as something of a surprise.  Here in France, where I am languishing for another week or so before returning to join her in Herefordshire, we've also had some snow. Nothing talk about in reality, but enough for this region, I'd say:

The view this morning:

Ginge was less than impressed:

In Sweden, we were used to a somewhat greater fall of snow at this time of year, so are now rather blase about the levels of snow in UK and France:

In truth, I've been feeling a bit off-colour for about 10 days or so now. Fluey but without the runny noses and some other symptoms. God knows what it is but I'll have it checked out when I get back to England next week.

I travel over on Jan 28th via Dieppe. We have found a place in Herefordshire which will do us nicely as we're unsure how long we might be there. Our daughter, LVP, is till struggling with the contact/access issues to her son, Hamish. Her ex-partner snatched him many months ago, since when there's been no contact at all. The court orders made in Carmarthen county court before Xmas are now uselessly out of date and whereas she should have had at least 5 supervised contact meetings at the Carmarthen contact centre, Ty Ni, there has yet to a single meeting. Totally unacceptable. The centre is local authority managed, which just about says it all. No doubt there will be the usual bleating about funding etc., but we're going over to kick some ass and try to move things on adequately.

As a former lawyer, with some knowledge of the system, I'm furious. It is a total failure by the Welsh authorities in this case, and as far as I'm concerned, somebody will have to sort it out and pay the price for their gross incompetence. LVP is constantly being told that delays in her application etc are possibly fatal and yet nobody seems prepared to ensure there are little or no delays involved. Catch 22 with a vengeance.

Anyway, we will have to see what can be done, who is responsible for the delays and therefore needs there butts kicked hard, and see what we can do to help her along the way for a bit.  We'll hang onto our place here in France with a view to getting out as often as possible in the interim and moving back out whenever possible. Though I have to add that I'm half looking forward to being back in Blighty for a while. Access to live music and friends will be good after many years adrift. We're also off to visit friends in Oregon in late June/early July and we will be attending the Portland Waterfront Festival while there. I also hope to catch up with an old friend who lives in the city and who is one of my favourite players, a Handy winner last year and a very fine lady, Mary Flower:

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

I'm Drinking Whisky Tonight.....

Happy New Year to all.

Here, we have temps of about 10 to 12 degrees - all plus, a change after Sweden at this time of year, where it's about minus 20 or so!  Here it's bright, sunny and dry. Not a trace of snow!!  A big difference.

We survived the Brit expat Hogmanay experience and even managed to drive back - on small, muddy farm-tracks between fields - without mishap. Here's the view from an upstairs window this morning:

Whereas in Sweden it's probably more like this, Id think. This was the year before last (Jan 2010) around this time:

Last January, we were in Spain, where it was mild and relatively warmish. Nevertheless, it's hard not to miss the sheer beauty of Sweden, despite the numbing cold!

At last night's 'do' there were about twenty Brit guests and only one Froggo - a woman who came along with a Scots couple. Of interest was the fact that the Jocks, who now live locally, are originally from the Heelans!  He is a retired copper from Inverness who met his wife while stationed on Isle of Lewis: she is from Stornoway.  Given the Blogs I tend to follow - many being from Eilean Siar itself - I was surprised to say the least! One of those strange, serendipitous things that make the world a small place at times. In addition, my family is from the Black Isle in Inverness-shire, so as soon as I mentioned my name he had a handle on it and its origins!

Sadly, however, we toasted the Year end with Champagne, never a favourite of mine; there was not a trace of Malt to be had!:

Lord knows what the Teuchters  must have thought - a bit disappointed, I'd expect. After all it is traditional in the Highlands & Islands. He should, of course, have brought his own! We fortunately had some at home.

 I must say the Jools Hootenany was a bit iffy this time round. Unlike last year when this crew appeared.  A fine little outfit, we had the good fortune to meet with in London last year. Glad to see they've been booked to play my favourite US Americana festival in NC this year. I suggested this to the guy - Roy Book Binder - who books the Blues acts for the event when I saw him in London last year and he hinted it might be a runner!  Seems, he was right. He must have given them a plug, as he, too, is a fan and initially tipped me the wink about them. I know the band are keen to play there and the guitarist, Adam, confirmed they would love to play the Merlefest festival: