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2007: Jan Mar May
Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2008: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Xmas
2009: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Xmas
are fine with Harry and me. We are now pretty well settled
The residence is official, we are enrolled in the French healthcare
system with a doctor who speaks some English, we have a bank and a
bankcard that has a 'flea' to work in the automatic machines here, etc,
The house we have rented has been newly fixed up. It is a cottage made
from part of the stable block of a farm that used to stand in the area.
A number of the farm buildings have been converted. The car we bought
is called a Kangoo. It is very economical, comfortable and has useful
space for carrying things. Everything we have purchased for the house
(stove, frig, sofa etc.) has fit into the Kangoo to bring it home. Mind
you, we bought a small frig. Click on picture to enlarge. We are in the
house with the brown shutters and the Kangoo is parked in front.
At Christmas we acquired a puppy. She is a Beauceron, a type of French
sheep dog. They look a bit like a Doberman because Herr Doberman used
them when producing his new breed. One of their oddities is double
dew-claws on the back feet - so 22 toe nails. Click on the picture to
see a larger version.
The mildness of the winter is a pleasant change. It hasn't frozen at
night since New Years.
I am being very lazy about learning French. I sometimes feel a little
We hope to have visitors this spring and summer and we are looking
forward to seeing them. This is a bit of a French backwater, but that
has its advantages in lack of crowds and traffic.
Our puppy is growing like she is going to be a giant. She is so big
that I keep forgetting that she is only 4 months old - a 20 kilo baby.
Harry has joined a dog club.
Here is a picture of the neighbour's almond tree which bloomed for
The puppy has gone to a new home. She was just too active and demanding
a dog for people as old as Harry and me. The new owners already have a
Beauceron so they know what they are getting into and report that they
are happy with their new pup.
While we are without a dog, we thought we would take a trip (maybe two
or three). We drove to Austria to see friends we had not seen in 27
years and we had a wonderful time. (see Visits page)
The picture is the yard of the little Kienzl farm where we stayed. They
produce organic eggs and vegetables.
I heard from brother George. He was injured in a fall and is in
hospital in Kelowna.
George Barmby died in the late afternoon of June 3rd at Kelowna
Hospital. He was living in Merritt BC for the last year or so. He had
been in hospital with a number of ailments (kidney failure, injury to
arm, neck and spinal cord from a fall probably as he went into coma
from the kidney failure, C. difficile bowel infection, and his
pre-existing diabetes). He was improving, had a relapse and was
improving again when he died of a heart attack.
He was cheerful to the end as he always seemed to be.
I never heard or saw George ever be unkind or mean to anyone. And I
have never heard from anyone else a story of him acting unkind. The
world was not good to him but he was good to everyone.
He will be buried beside his father, Wallace Barmby, on July3 (after
Here is George before the beard.
- I crashed my computer. Everything was recovered
except for my email addresses and and a year's email messages.
I went to Canada to bury George in the last half of June and the first
half of July. Harry stayed in France.
While in Canada I was able to attend a family reunion, several
Toastmaster meetings and do some business and shopping. (see Visits
page). Ciara, Madeline and Marcia were lovely hosts so my
was very comfortable. The photo is of Dianne making breakfast at the
Between my computer crash and losing my address book during my trip, I
am not sure that I have all the addresses, phone numbers and email
addresses that I once had. If you want to make sure I have your email
address then sent me an email.
I am happy to be back with Harry. The summer is heating up and so my
bones will be less creaky.
August is the holiday month in France. The usual shops we use may be
closed; the towns and villages have their festivals and events. The
temperature is supposed to be hot, but this summer has been mostly cool.
We had a visit from Paul (see Visits
page) and Lucia. Below is a picture
of the cathedral where we went sightseeing.
A friend, Murray Coons, who worked with me for over 15 years has died.
He was in hospital for about 2 months after an attack (or accident)
near his home. He was an extremely talented person.
Autumn is here.
We took a trip to England and came home tired. I did not have to take
the cane out of the back of the car during the whole trip. See the
and second trip to Banbury in the family section. Below is
a picture of the White Cliffs of Dover.
Walnuts are falling from the couple of walnut trees on our lot and we
are eating them. Really fresh nuts are so moist. There were also a few
hazel nuts in the back yard. The grapes and pears in the yard are now
done. We missed the best of the grapes while in England.
my birthday the digger finally
came and started
work on the foundations (see
house page). The sun shone and we went
for lunch at La Cocotte. About a month ago the roses finally seemed to
be done for the year and so I pruned them. They immediately put on a
spurt and now we have roses again. And to put a final
touch on the day, there was 4 solid hours of snooker championship
games. The snooker bunch are the most well-mannered, good-natured and
sportsmanlike sportsman around.
the house is coming
(see House page)
and we have had a visit from Ciara, Ryan and
friends (see visits
page). While they were here they assembled a shed
for us. The house was crowded and we could not all fit in the car - but
the visit was great anyhow.
Now winter has come. They have had our first night frost and it
repeated itself for several nights in a row.
The photo is of some of the many ammonites from the Jurassic in the
limestone that has been dug out for the foundation.
I am now on Facebook.
We had a big scare in
early Dec, we thought we had lost our medical coverage with the French
Government. But it was a false alarm - the new rules do not apply to
pensioners like us. (!!Great sign of relief!!)
Last Christmas we treated ourselves to a puppy. But it did not work
out. We were not prepared for the energy and personality of a
Beauceron. (Don't do your reading about a particular breed after you
get the puppy) We had to find a home for Tchorna with people who had
and knew the breed. We don't like living without a dog so this
Christmas we got a dog from the pound. She is a two year old mongrel
(Lab X maybe Staffie) but quiet and even a bit scared, probably from
being in the pound. We call her Ginger. Her photo is here.
EDF installed our temporary electrical supply on the building plot.
(see House page)
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Janet
Nothing is happening this time of year. It is mostly rainy and I'm
Harry is building a motorized wheel barrow, called the 'chariot', right
The right size for a dog, which Ginger is, is not too small for Harry's
liking and not too big for mine. When we encourage her, she runs and
jumps around, but when she is not encouraged, she lies about. So she is
not running us ragged like the Tchorna pup did. In fact, she is often
as lazy as me. Generally she is well behaved, quiet and affectionate.
Her manners are very good with other dogs.
But the problem she has is that she has been traumatized some time in
the past and is only coming to trust us after a few of weeks. If I have
the back-scratcher or cane in my hand she hides. In so many little
things like that, she shows fear of people especially men. But everyday
she is a bit better and more relaxed.
Without the trees in the way, we can now see the church at the centre
of the village (as well as hear the bells).
The Hyacinth bulb that
Ciara brought from Amsterdam in November was blooming in early February
and filling the house with its scent. Later in the month we got the
neighbour's almond tree and some outdoor bulbs starting to bloom.
Harry is getting some major checkups of his lungs and heart since he
has had some mild but unusual feelings in his chest. All the testing
appears well so far. Our health care is all fixed up now that we have
delivered papers from the British Pensions to the French Assurance
Maladie. The French system is great.
Our drive is in.( see
house page) We are awaiting a steel delivery.
Bob and Dave will visit soon.
Bob and Dave came from Canada for
a visit in March. (see Visits
was 'springing' with bluebells and daffodils in the front yard when we
got some snow on Mar 4. So Bob brought some Canadian weather with him.
I hope that is the last of winter.
It seems (fingers crossed) that we have got everything finally together
as far as papers, bank account, insurance, licences, permits etc. etc.
are concerned in France, Canada and the UK.
Nothing has been done on the house since the last letter. But we have
more or less got things arranged for putting in the top of the
foundation with the floor joists set in it.
Apparently, as well as Easter, March has Pi Day. I have put in this
cartoon. Click on it to enlarge and if you like it, go to the Qwantz website for
more of the same.
Spring so far has been quite wet and we have spent a lot of time
indoors. That can be a bit boring. Especially as we have had no
visitors or gone anywhere or had any big problems or any great pieces
of luck. Our health continues to be fairly good although not perfect.
Ginger continues to improve and she has become quite attached to Harry
rather than frightened of him. We continue to be amazed at how great
her dog-to-dog manners are compared to her dog-to-strange-person
behavior. She never picks a fight or lets another dog bully her. TV has
only been so-so but there has been a lot of interesting things on the
blogs I read. Harry has been doing many little things on the building
plot but the rain has kept the progress slow.
I took a picture of Harry for his nephew one early morning and it is
You can take it that all is well in 'sleepy hollow'.
visable is happening with the house - just a lot of little
things and talking to suppliers etc. We have not gone anywhere or had
any visiters. No new purchases ....
We are well, the dog is doing well, the weather varies between OK and
great. I have started a tiny gardening effort - just some carrots so
I took a few pictures. First is the back yard of the house we rent. The
tree in the center is the pear tree and along the left side are the
vines and the bay bush going towards the door. The second is looking
over our back gate towards the northwest; the third is the northeast
from the gate.
June 08 Letter
Rain, rain go away. What a wet spring! We finally got a sunny day
and started making the top of the foundation on the
9th (see House page).
Below is Harry having a rest 4 hours in to the 9 hour job. Now its
have been busy starting a blog - so I am now a blogger. Great
July 08 Letter
have just had Fete Nationale or Bastille Day. It is the 219th
anniversary of the start of the Revolution. It was the end of the
monarchy and feudalism. It was the separation of church and state. So
the road was closed around the neighbouring town of Avord for the
airforce it strut its stuff. There was fireworks at the town hall.
Thankfully our dog doesn't seem to mind fireworks or jet planes or
We have had the first really hot weather of the year. There are not
many pears on the tree but it looks like there will be plenty of grapes
Summertime. (and no mosquitos!) My blogging is going OK. It has only
been 3 months but I am getting more visits than this site gets after 2
Harry has almost finished the top of the foundations -(see House page).
He also has a new computer. Harry
may have to
have a carpal tunnel operation.
Caira and Ryan have set the date - June 09. They and others may visit
with us in France after the wedding.
Here is a picture of the False Acacia at the near corner of our
building plot. It dominates the other trees. It is very different from
the acasias in Africa, but has thorns like them. It is also called
Locust tree or Robina. They are in the pea family and seem to grow like
weeds on our plot with their thorns .
On House page
is a group of photographs showing how Harry put in the floor joists and
his motorized wheel barrow.
I notice that I have not had a picture of myself in any letters. Here
is one Ciara took last fall.
Also below are the ripe grapes - tasty. We
have also had several feeds of wild blackberries - well worth picking
them among the thorns. What a wet summer we have had!
This is the 2 year birthday of this site. The number of
readers of my new blog, Thoughts on thoughts, continues to rise.
October 08 Letter
is my birthday month again - too
soon. I turn 69 this Oct.
The weather is getting chilly and it is raining often. But now that
summer is over, at least the TV is getting better. See autumn moon pic.
Harry will probably have an operation on his wrist this winter to cure
his tingling fingers.
We are putting down the floor for the house.(see House Page) I say
'we' but Harry does the work.
I hope all my Canadian friends and relatives had great Thankgiving
late Oct my cousin Brian died. He was a lovely man. There is a picture
below from his healthier days.
Harry has his wrist operation on Nov 19. He only had to wait
3 weeks. It is an in-out the same day deal.
The weather is getting cooler and we have the heating on.
We made some progress on the house (see House page) but
not that much due
to rainy weather and Harry's wrist. There will not be much work for a
while after the operation either.
December 08 Letter
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
Harry's operation for carpal tunnel went very well and he is recovering
quickly. Maybe too quickly - he is even feeling cheated that he didn't
have a longer holiday (I mean recovery).
At the end of Nov, after 6 months in existence, my blog has recieved
5000 visits in total and it is now running at about to 80 a day. This
site is steady at about 350 visits a month.
I have started taking the dog for a walk in the afternoon, if it isn't
raining. We both need the exercise. The pictures below is taken along
the walk on a misty afternoon.
We seem to
have less and less money these days as the dollar and pound
both fall against the euro - it is a fairly steady fall. Too bad.
My annual Christmas letter is below.
combined Christmas and Birthday present is a new computer - Harry's
was a camera. I have decided that this would be a good time to leave
Windows and take up Linux. Currently I am setting up this Website and
other things in the new software so this is probably the last time I am
going to update before the 'new look'. With the new computer I am doing
very little else (and I will need to catch up one of these
We have ordered the wood for studs and have bought a shelter for it to
keep it dry. Next step is to erect the shelter.
health is fine but the winter weather is making us very
picture is a winter dawn.
February 09 Letter
It has not been a very eventful month.
The wood for the house has not arrived yet. And this is a good thing because
gale one night blew the tent away that we were going to store the wood
in. We have had to get a new one. The dog is usually very good with
noise but I had to stay up all night because the gale was causing a lot
of loud and strange noises. I was not at all surprised that the tent
Harry and I have both had bad head colds that just would
not go away. It is colder this winter than it was the last two. There
have been no trees blooming this Feb. But many misty days, like photo, this year.
JanetMarch 09 Letter
We have had a good month. Some
progress has been made on the house (link above) and we have had visits
from Ciara and Ryan and from Bob (link above).
has come, sunny
and warm. The narcissus was blooming when Ciara came and the bluebells
were out when Bob left. (bluebell photo below) We are in good
health and feeling cheerful.
has been some strikes and demos in France but they have not affected
our rural corner of the country. Time will tell whether the government
can convince people that it's on their side. Janet
April 09 Letter
I have our taxes done for Canada for another year. The strong Euro compared to the dollar and the pound is not doing
anything for our finances. Still we survive.
The house progresses (see link above). We are raising walls.
said I should change the drawing of Ginger occasionally but we are just
lucky I could draw her once. Below is a photo. She wears a choker chain
rather than a collar because a collar is either way too tight or slips
off over her head. She has a lot of fresh around her neck. That is the
bit that is not right about my drawing - skinny neck.
am getting to like the Linux system and hardly use my Windows computer
anymore. Every once in a while I'm frustrated with it, but the rest of
the time it's great. The Blog is going well and I get 3000-4000
visits a month. This site (JanetsPlace) gets about 300 a month.
All is well with us. Janet
May 09 Letter
Now it is time for the French
taxes. We don't have to pay much but the form is a terrible job with
our French. Last year Harry took the forms and our Canadian tax return
etc. down to the Government office and talked a nice lady into filling
the French forms in for him over a couple of visits, each bringing
extra documents. This must have cost the Government a bit in her salary
and there was no tax owed to offset it.
We have managed to raise
the walls without any help. (pictures via house link above). We were a
little nervous and hoping that there would be no big wind. Now that
they are all there and fixed to one another we can relax about the
Ginger goes over to the building site with Harry and stays
in her wire cage. A couple of times she jumped out and wandered but
came back when called. It is a novelty to have a dog come right back when called - at least for us. The photo is Ginger, 'at home' in the new house - click on it to enlarge.
We are keeping our fingers crossed that all goes well at Ciara and Ryan's wedding June 6.
June 09 Letter
We have been here three years
now and I have always been away (in UK, Canada, Austria) when the
acacia bloomed. This year I'm here to see it, the biggest tree we have
with lots of flowers. Photos below. I also found some wild orchids on the building site.
French taxes are done. It is surprising how little ordinary people
actually read the forms -"all the amounts are printed in when I get the
form so I just sign it" they say. But ours does not come with the
figures filled in so we have to read it. Still its done and the
Republic is happy.
CONGRATULATIONS TO CIARA AND RYAN.
Work has started on the roof - see house progress link above for pictures.
I had to go back and use my Windows computer for a little chore. Now I'm convinced that I want to stay with my Ubuntu Linux.
The Duggleby reunion has been cancelled - but we still intent to go to the UK in Sept and include a trip to Yorkshire.
July 09 letter
Hi, Rain has again stopped house
building but there has been progress during was some very nice weather
before the rain (see house link). The roofs are well on the way
to being built. The man who mows the weeds along the edge of the road
destroyed the temporary power hookup and Harry had to redo it.
We had a great visit from Paul for 5 days (see visits link).
was due to have a little operation to remove a sliver that he couldn't
get out of his finger. But the op was postponed because of a mix-up
about seeing the anesthatist. A couple of days before the new op day, the
sliver worked its way to the surface so we took it out and the op was
The dog appears to be responding to the thyroid medicine. The dosage has been reducd but she is still fine.
had the hummingbird hawk moth back on the heather this year along with
several types of butterflies and several types of bees. It was a busy
little patch when they were all there together.
The picture is of the church in Avord which is about
the oldest church in the villages around here, built in the 1000s I
think. Paul, Harry and I were having a pastry and coffee across the
August 09 Letter
Hi, August is a
very dead month in France - everyone who can takes a holiday. We never
know what will be open and what closed. This weekend on the 15th is the
long weekend, in the holiday month, in the summer season - really dead.
are fine, in good health and good humour. The Vet has
cut the dog's medication in half which is less work and expense for us
but has not seemed to have been bad for the dog. Her skin is still good
and she is not gaining weight so she should be able to stay on the
were robbed. Someone broken into Harry's locked tool cabinet that was
inside the house walls. We are replacing the tools as we need them and
Harry has a more substantial tool bin and lock and also a sort of a
locked barrier at the door opening. We are getting the roofs ready to
lift (see house) and will probably be ready about the end of the month.
The picture is the back of the
building site filled with Queen Anne's Lace; this is what happens when
you don't mow the grass.
September 2009 letter
Hi, It is starting to feel like autumn again - not hot - lovely weather.
main parts of the roof are now on the house. For the first time it has a house-type shape and we will soon put in
windows and doors. Photo is below and more if you take the link to
'house'. Now that we don't need it for a prop, we can cut down the little elm that is dying of Dutch elm disease.
still intend to visit the UK but it will not be in Sept but early Oct -
we hope. I have been looking forward to the trip all summer.
October 2009 letterHi, Well
its autumn, we have not yet visited the UK - but we still will
one of these days. But it seems not this month.
has had shingles but not a terrible case. It did scare him though until
it was diagnosed. Otherwise we have been in good health.
am now 70 and suddenly I feel like a survivor. Three other cousins that
I grew up with are also 70 this year. Somehow we managed to be both
depression babies and war babies at the same time. There were only a
few months for that double billing.
We are working on the little second floor of the house (see house link). The photo is of
Ginger defending her pile of sawdust.
November 2009 Letter
Hi, Some work was done on the house (see house) but not as much as Harry hoped.
we took the trip to England that we have been planning since Sept. (see visits & see family) We
left the dog in a kennel while we went to England and it did not go
well. She was scared all the time apparently, but she is OK now that she
is back home. The picture is of a bird sancuary, run by the
Attenborough Trust, near the Hinsons in England. It reminded me of Wascana with
the Canada geese pooping everywhere.
Harry turns 79 this month.
autumn is definitely fully here. On the way to England through France,
the trees had every shade: green, yellow, orange, brown and red with
even some white and black; a week later they were mostly bare except
for the evergreens. We have turned on the heat and got out our sweaters.
Bengy gives its pensioners a bag of Christmas goodies and we received one. French Christmas goodies are pretty good goodies.
Harry's shingle attack is over and we are both well.
December 2009 Letter
that it is rainy or cold, and sometimes both, with very short days,
work on the house carries on in little things. But there are no
pictures or progress report this month.
Harry's computer became
flaky and so we bought another and had the usual fun and games getting
it setup with Linux and the CAD program Harry uses. Still it is easier
than it used to be with Windows.
I did not manage to find any
Christmas stationary in either France or the UK and so my Christmas
letter is without any colour this year. Still it is a letter and it is
in the mail. There is a copy below. The picture in the letter is Loughborough marketplace in 1885.
photo is mistletoe. Usually it is a small clump high in a tree, but
this tree was loaded with large bunches from top to bottom. Place we
lived in England had lots of holly bit only a bit of ivy and I don't
remember any mistletoe. Here there is tons of ivy and a lots of
mistletoe but very little holly.
Another year is almost over and it is time for my second go at a
Christmas letter. We have now been in France two and a half years so we
are well settled in.
Our typical day is now to wake up with the sun and without alarm, have
breakfast and do a sudoku killer puzzle. Harry goes with the dog in the
car to get some bread and meat for the day at one of the local
villages. We then do a bit of work around our rented house, on
computers or across the street on the building site. Next is lunch and
after lunch naps. Some more work in the afternoon and early evening.
English television then takes over. We have dinner about 8. Harry often
has a nap and stays up into the night, walks the dog and then goes to
bed. I tend to go to bed earlier. Once a week Harry goes to a computer
club and about twice a week into Bourges for major shopping. I
sometimes go into Bourges with him. It is about the most tranquil
un-stressful life you can imagine.
We have not done a trip this year and we just have one visit to us -
Bob McIlwaine and Dave Rammage came last spring. Ciara and Ryan will be
coming in January. We are looking forward to hearing their plans for
their June wedding.
In the middle of November Harry had a carpal tunnel operation on his
left wrist. It went very well - in and out the same day with only local
Our new dog, Ginger, is working out fine. She is a little weird but
pleasant and not demanding. She came from the pound and had been abused
so she can be quite frightened by innocent things. She is also living a
tranquil lazy life.
Most of Harry's creativity has its outlet in the house building and
learning better French. Most of mine is used in maintaining my Web site
and my blog. They are going well but the Cousin site does not get any
visitors or letters into it. If there is no interest in the next few
months, I will take it down.
From what I hear, Melvin is doing OK in Lang.
We hope you have great holidays.
2009 Christmas letter
year has been fairly good. Our health has not deteriorated, perhaps
improved a bit. The house building carries on, if sometimes slower
than we hope. The highlight was having an audience on lawn chairs
across the street when the roof was lifted onto the house. The dog
continues to get used to us and become much less frightened of
people. I am enjoying creating both my personal website and my blog
on consciousness. Much of our year is on the website:
which I update monthly. The blog has grown until now I get just under
5000 visitors a month.
part of France continues to be a quiet and easy place to live. In
fact, it is so placid that this may be a boring letter. My stress
level has reached zero. And that is in spite of having learnt
practically no French. We had visits this year by Ciara and Ryan
(before their wedding), Bob, and Paul, all very welcome and
enjoyable. We paid a visit to England, also a joy.
look forward to hearing from you and hope you had a good year. Best
wishes for 2010!