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Boo!

Well, you’re possibly thinking right now “Bloody hell! Where’s he been?”

I’ve been here. But I’ve also been busy. I’ve also had some rough times that meant I just didn’t feel at all like ‘blogging. Lots of things have happened in the past couple of years since my last post. Lots of things have changed, and some things most definitely haven’t!

It’s been a long time since I last wrote on here, about our lives in France. One of the reasons I gave up was purely and simply down to the actions of one man – Terry Little. Now, I can hear you all say “don’t let that idiot stop you…” And you’re right, of course. But let’s be clear about what he did, and continues to do, nine years down the road. He saps energy from you. You don’t feel like sharing your personal experiences bcause you simply don’t want the arseholes of the world to know what you’re doing, how you’re feeling. You don’t want them to be aware of anything that impacts on your life. You don’t want THEM in your life. And in reading these ‘blogs, they’re sharing my experiences, possibly commenting to their friends (if they have any), and passing judgement.

Now, I’m up for anyone having a say, making a comment and hopefully learning from one another. But when all you see are drips of negativity, morsels of shit-infested ‘wisdom’ passed down from on high, you just wonder why you do this. I do. I did. Bit then I realised something quite profound. He’s like this because he has no other ways of expressing himself. He’s an energy vampire, he sucks the energy from those who come into contact with him. He loves the fact that he believes he’s solely responsible for my not ‘blogging anymore. He isn’t. Not at all. He’s a part of it, sure. But he isn’t the only reason.

I’ve believed for a while now that we’re not the only people he likes to harass. Proof of this came a couple of days ago when, out of the blue, I was contacted by a lady named Alison, by email, wanting to learn more about a man named Terry Little. The lady runs a B&B/restaurant in the Dordogne that’s attracted the ire of my Sad Little Stalker. But, unbeknown to Alison, she lives in the same village as Terry Little! Just 1km distant, in fact. Yes! Really! How stupid must you have to be to ruffle the feathers of a fledgling business in your own village? Instead of offering support to a new business in the village, offering delicious food and a comfortable B&B, he appointed himself to the position of critic, business advisor, stalker and general halfwit to Alison and her husband. This is a person who’s not even eaten at the establishment, let alone met the new owners. So even from that, you kind of get a feeling for how utterly ignorant the man is?

Unluckily for Terry Little, Alison appears to be more than capable of handling our boy Terry, and it’s fun to watch the drama unfold. It’s also nice to have an ally, and it may turn out that they and we can combine our knowledge of this despicable Little runt to rid the internet of him forever. We’ll wait and see. But for now, in the words of Sherlock Holmes – “the game is afoot”!

So what else has happened in the intervening chasm between ‘blog posts? Well for starters, Syb & I are the proud grandparents to Ella, Capucine, Grace and Noah! Four beautiful grandchildren in the space of 18 months. Ella was born first, to proud mum and dad, Liam & Jenna – who you may remember were married here at Le Chant d’Oiseau? Then came Capucine, to our daughter Hannah and her long-term partner, (soon to be hubby), Steve (The French Connection!), followed by our twins, Grace and Noah and their parents Niall and Emma. As yet with no plans to be married having just bought their first house together, and Niall embarking on his self-employed journey as a roofer in the Bideford, Devon, area! The grandchildren are just adorable, and being grandparents is the best thing ever. But it’s often hard, on both sides I’m sure, due to the distances involved. Facetime is good, but there’s just no substitute for those cuddles in reality.

What else happened? Sadly, my mum passed away earlier in the year and that’s hit hard.

Le Chant goes from strength to strength, despite the best intentions of Brexit, exchange rate madness (mainly due to Brexit), the terrorist attacks in France(!) Yes, really. People have indeed told us that they know others who won’t visit France due to the threat of terrorism. Now, in the twelve years we’ve lived here, we’ve yet to see a terrorist, or be involved in any kind of terror attack. Mouliherne just isn’t that kind of a place, I’m afraid.

We have a new, young, dynamic president too. Emmanuel Macron. He’s the French foil to all of the madness that seems to be happening elsewhere, with the rise of the Right Wing in the USA (and here in Europe, too). He’s willing to try to bring much needed reforms to the EU and is seen by many, just the man to be able to do that. The French elections weren’t all that well received by many, due to their curious run off system. It boiled down to a two-horse race between Macron and the Right Wing lunatic, Marine Le Pen. Many people felt that they were coerced into voting for Macron simply to keep Le Pen out, angry that Macron wasn’t their boy. But even more angry that they had to vote for him to keep out the threat of Le Pen and her extreme policies. Extreme they are. Here’s an example that many Brits wouldn’t necessarily know about, but which focussed many minds here in France.
Marine Le Pen decreed that if she won power, then children who weren’t judged to be of ‘pure’ French race, would be denied access to free education. Let that wording sink in for a moment. ‘Pure French race’. Where might you have heard a phrase like that before? So, for people such as our sin-in-law, Steve, knowing that a Le Pen administration would do their level best to exclude our ‘non-pure race’ granddaughter, Capucine (French daddy, English mummy) from the education system. Hannah and Steve could pay, of course. And I’m sure that the fees would be suitably exorbitant, and ever-so-gladly received by Le Pen and her buddies. The madness was averted, but Macron has still a mountain to climb, and four years in which to prove himself – not just to the French, but to the rest of the world. We wish him luck!

We’re having a reasonable season this year, with just a few more weeks left to run before things calm down and the dynamics change. Less families, more couples and more time for Syb & I to relax a little more. At the moment, it’s ‘up and at ’em’ from dawn ’til dusk (and beyond), but the guests we’ve had on thus far have, to a man, woman and child, been brilliant. Many laughs around the firepit and in the barn have been had, and many friends have been made. The 2018 season is already looking very good, and we have not one – but TWO weddings booked in! Admittedly, one is Hannah and Steve’s, but the other is for a lady and her beau who’ve never been here before, but fell in love with the look of the place after seeing our website and our facebook page! The weather has been super too – which always helps when you’re on holiday! The difference between last summer and this is marked! Last June, just 10 days before we were due to host a week long wedding celebration, we had to install a system of land drainage at a not inconsiderable sum, due to the amount of rain we’d had in the previous months. True to form, the rain stopped just as the wedding party arrived, and from there on it was sunshine all the way! This year, we’ve seen relatively little rainfall and much more of the bright yellow ball in the sky! That drainage system has worked wonders!

Little things are improving what we do, and how we operate here. It’s still a learning curve, even twelve years later! Which just goes to show that you can teach an old dog new tricks (ask Bracken) and that it’s never too late to learn!

I can’t promise I’ll be a regular ‘blogger, but I do promise that certain Little arseholes won’t stop me from sharing our lives with those that want to hear about them. It’s this simple, if you don’t like what you see, don’t look. But if you keep on commenting, then you must really like what you see! 😉

Until next time.

Au revoir!

 

 

 

 

September Supermoon.

Last night was a rare treat for star (and planet) gazers! The ‘September Supermoon’, plus the added bonus of a total lunar eclipse. The weather was just perfect here at Le Chant d’Oiseau, so we took advantage and stayed up really late! In fact, we barely got to bed!

A little explanation: a ‘supermoon’ occurs when the moon, in her orbit around the earth passes at its closest point to us. It appears in the sky slightly larger and very much brighter. The eclipse happens when the sun, the earth and the moon are in perfect alignment, the sun casting the earth’s shadow across the face of the moon. The two do happen separately fairly often, but for them to happen together is pretty rare iIndeed, and it’ll be another 18 years before it happens again!

We watched TV for an hour or so before we wrapped up in warm clothing. Even though the weather has been sunny and warm during the daytime, we knew that the clear skies would bring a chill. The telescope was already out and in situ, along with the DSLR on the tripod, having set them up earlier in the evening, before the light of day faded. We stepped outside, walked across the courtyard and, looking up, we were treated to a celestial smorgasbord. The moon was just as perfect as ever to begin our evening’s skywatching session, turning into a menacing red ember by the end of the night. We followed the trails of the satellites as they zoomed across the sky, reflected by the light of the setting sun, far away, as it fell into the southern hemisphere.

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A long exposure image of ‘The Plough’ revealed other stars around that quite simply couldn’t be seen with the naked eye at this point, the moon was so bright!

Long exposure of The PloughWe zoomed in on Orion later on, and the nebula in particular. Even in black and white through the telescope, it was an awe-inspiring sight. This is where stars are ‘born’, and through the ‘scope looks like a shimmering smoke screen with bursts of brilliant light emitting from within. One of these days I will treat myself to a camera specially for the telescope, and share some of these celestial wonders with you! In the meantime, you’ll have to settle for a timed exposure image of the constellation, rather than the nebula. It’s fascinating to see just how fast we’re spinning, as we record the star ‘trails’ as they cross the viewfinder in such a short time.

OrionEven though we were constantly watching the moon, and getting the telescope back on station, we had a mess around with time-lapse on the Canon DSLR, showing some star trails, and Team Le Chant (yes, there’s really just the two of us), creeping up on the camera!

2All this to a soundtrack of hooting and screeching owls, which were busy hunting by the magnified light of the largest, brightest moon seen in quite some time.

Supermoon

As the evening progressed, we saw the light dim, and the moon shadows fade as the sun, earth and the moon aligned. It was just stunning to compare how, just a short time earlier, we were walking by the light of the moon around the place – no other light source was on, and now it was almost pitch dark, and we could see the stars, the constellations where previously, due to the brightness, we were lucky to pick out the major constellations. Now, the heavens were being revealed in all their magnificent splendour. The Milky Way strode across the night sky, there were a few fleeting, but oh-so-bright shooting stars and we reluctantly turned our attentions back to la lune.

We were treated to a moon drenched in a blood red veil, obscuring the finer details of the lunar surface – even through the powerful 8″ reflector.

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At a little after 6am, we called it a night, and retreated to the warmth of the farmhouse, amazed that we’d seen such a memorable celestial event, and happy that we’d been able to capture the moment on camera. These images simply don’t do the night justice, and to really, truly appreciate the tremendous dark skies we have here, I’ve promised myself better eyepieces for the telescope, and to work on my camera techniques, in order to better capture the beauty that’s all too evident above us, when we’re able to witness events such as this, but which we rarely take the time to appreciate.

Until the next time, au revoir…..and do remember to look up from time to time, you now have an idea of what you’re missing!

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