Wednesday, 18 November 2015


Living in France the horrors of last Friday's terrorist attack in Paris had a huge impact.   People were out with friends and family have a drink or a meal, some were at a rock concert, none of these people were advocating any political ideal, they were doing what all of us in Europe and the wider world do, minding their own business and enjoying themselves.    But some barbaric humans decided that this was something to be destroyed and they decided to kill and maim hundreds of people.   Why?  In the name of Allah?   Who is this god that demands such a sacrifice of humans?    Religion is a highly personal thing.    I myself would say that I am more spiritual than religious.    But I do not hold anything against anybody who has a strong commitment to their faith.   Indeed there are times when I admire the faith that some people hold and turn to in moments of dire need, if this is what comforts, soothes and heals you then why not?    I do not in any way shape or form believe that any one person's faith is better than someone else's or that those of faith are better that those without.

How can you murder and maim people in the name of your god? 

There are countless articles defending the Islamic faith, but the Koran has countless verses contained within it that espouse the killing of non-believers.    Have they been interpreted incorrectly from the original language they were written in?   Why do some extremists follow the Koran to the letter and others not.    I would love to sit down with a follower of Islam and ask their views on these verses and Sharia Law.   I do not believe in having an opinion about something so overwhelmingly important to some people without gathering the facts first.     However, based on the turmoil that is happening in the world at this moment in time, one cannot help but be wary of such a religion.    I remain to be educated.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

My naive little bubble is in danger of bursting!

Things here in Europe are at crisis point.   Migrants and refugees are coming over to Europe by whatever means necessary and the infrastructure of Europe is buckling under the pressure.

It has long been said that the mainstream media has a liberal agenda, but in my naivety I couldn't quite bring myself to believe this.

However, today I read an article posted on Yahoo! UK news by a "journalist" called Lee Moran.   I have put the word journalist in quotations because, in my opinion, he debases the title journalist in the worst possible way.

This article was posted today entitled;

Hijab-Wearing Woman Filmed Being Knocked To Ground As Hate Crime Soars Across London

What this article implies is that this happened recently, when in fact it happened in November 2012. The ambiguity of this piece is astounding. This kind of sloppy journalism just feeds the politically correct agenda and is tantamount to inciting even more disharmony in society than already exists. Michael Ayoade, from Nigeria, was the perpetrator of this attack in November 2012 and he was jailed in March 2013 for this as well as another on Daniella Monteith in 2011 (who was not wearing any head-covering garment). This would suggest that this was not an racially motivated attack as the first victim was black as was the assailant and the second victim was a muslim.

The above paragraph was posted by me in the comments section after the article, it had six replies and numerous thumbs up... this doesn't bother me, what does however, is the fact that my post, despite not infringing any of the "comment guidelines" was deleted by a moderator at Yahoo! News UK & Ireland.   It is not defamatory nor is it slanderous, it merely points to the fact that the photo, headline and opening paragraph of the article refers to an crime that occurred in 2012 and the assailant was brought to justice and jailed in 2013.

POP!!! That is the sound of my naive bubble bursting!   The mainstream media is being manipulated by an unknown entity to pedal a politically correct agenda that does not want the masses to know the true state of the situation.

This same article drew a comment from someone called "@Videonaut" they drew attention to a Polish blogger called Kamila Bulonisa who last week encountered some unrest on the border between Austria and Italy.  The link below will take you to his Facebook page (all in Polish) it has been translated into English - I use @Videonaut's translation here, but have translated his acccount myself using and it has come out in a similar fashion.

" Following is an account by Kamil Bulonis, a Polish citizen who is about a liberal as
one can get. He writes a blog alled “Obywatel Swiata” [Citizen of the World].

The translated excerpt:
One and a half hours ago, on the border of Italy and Austria, I saw with my own eyes
massive incidents involving immigrants… in all my solidarity with people finding
themselves in a difficult life situation I must say, that what I saw breeds fear…
This great mass of people — sorry that I write this, but it’s an absolute horde. Vulgar
words, thrown bottles, loud cries of “We want Germany” — is Germany at present
some kind of paradise? I saw how they surrounded the car of an older Italian lady,
pulled her out by her hair and wanted to drive off in that car. The coach I was on in a
group, they attempted to overturn. Excrement was thrown at us, they banged on the
doors, so that the driver would open them, they spat at the window… I ask, for what
purpose? How can this wild horde assimilate in Germany? For a moment, I thought I
was in a war…

I really feel sorry for these people, but if they were to reach us [Poland] — I don’t think
they would receive any understanding from us… For three hours we waited at the
border, which ultimately we did not cross. The whole group was escorted back to Italy
in a police cordon. The coach looks destroyed, covered in excrement, scratched and
with broken windows. And this is the idea to solve our demographic issues? These
great, giant regiments of barbarians? Among them, there were almost no women, no
children — the overwhelming majority were young aggressive males…
Yesterday, reading the news on all the websites, I was still subconsciously caring,
worried about their destiny, but today, after what I saw, I am simply afraid, but happy at
the same time that they do not choose our nation as their destination. We Poles are
simply not ready to accept these people — not culturally, and not financially. I don’t
know if anyone is ready. A pathology is entering the EU, which up until now we never
had a chance to see. And my apologies to anyone I may have offended anyone with
this entry.

Finally, I’ll add that cars arrived containing humanitarian aid — first and foremost, with
food and water, yet they simply overturned these cars… through the megaphone, the
Austrians announced that they agree for them to cross the border — they wanted to
register them, and allow them to go further — but they didn’t understand these
announcements. They understood nothing. And in all this, that was the biggest
horror… among a few thousand people, nobody understood Italian, English, German,
Russian or Spanish. The power of the fist was what mattered… they fought for the
right to proceed further, and they had this right — but they didn’t understand this! In
the coach of the French group they opened the luggage compartment — everything
that was inside, in a few moments was stolen, a few of the items were strewn across
the ground… in my short life, I had never had a chance to witness such scenes, and I
have a feeling that this is only the beginning. On a final note I’ll add, that it’s good to
help — but not at any cost."

I'm getting off my soapbox now.   I fear that I am far more cynical now than I was when I started this blog and it only took a few minutes

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

One down three to go!

First of all let me make this abundantly clear, I love all my children to the moon and back several times...but my role is to bring them into this world, give them values and principles to live by and then let them go.

My eldest, Oscar, has now left the nest and has moved back to the UK to continue his education.    He will be studying Architecture at South Bank University in London for the next three years.   I have read many articles about parents who are devastated by the departure of their children.   So why I am I not devastated?   I know he will be okay.   He knows how to wash his own clothes, knows his way around a vacuum cleaner (although he has not indulged in this particular pastime very often - the state of his recently vacated bedroom will attest to that!) and he can cook a mean cottage pie and spaghetti bolognaise.   So armed with these basic skills he will be all right in that big bad world out there and the most important thing he can take with him on his journey into independent adulthood?  Is the knowledge that I love him and will always be there for him if he needs me.

Will I feel this way when the twins, Jacob and Louis, leave home, or when Isabelle finally flies the nest?   Who knows?   But I will spend the next few years before this happens enjoying their company and preparing them for their adulthood (but I'll have a box of tissues to the ready just in case!)


Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Prince Philip - the perfect example of a closed mouth gathers no feet!

Prince Philip is 94 today and I've just read the link below detailing his top 20 gaffes.   He is hilarious and such a huge credit to the royal family.    I will admit to being an unashamed royalist!!

Friday, 5 June 2015

Graignes 71st Anniversary Commemorations

Today we had the annual commemoration service to pay our respects to the paratroopers who died trying to defend our village, as well as the civilians who lost their lives helping them, and to pay homage to the veterans who survived those terrible experiences and whose numbers decrease year on year.

The service started with speeches paying homage to the fallen and the veterans and culminated in the laying of wreaths by the invited dignitaries, whilst bouquets of flowers were laid by the children from the local school.

My family now has a special reason to pay our respects, not only on our behalf, but on behalf of the family of Flt Sgt Stanley K Black.   We now have the great honour of being the adopted family of Elissa Liggins (Stanley's Great Niece) and it is an honour we take very seriously indeed.   This one's for you Liss!...

Paratroopers from the US Army and representatives of the US Navy

Members of the Royal Dutch Armed Force

Wreaths and Bouquets

Our Tribute to Stanley Black

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Chronopost are doing my head in!

The pace of life here is slow, but it almost comes to a stop when you are waiting for a delivery from Chronopost.   We waited in all day Saturday because our parcel ordered from Amazon France was supposed to be delivered between 9.30 and 18.00, guess what ?   It didn't turn up.   Fast forward to Tuesday (Monday here was the last of three bank holidays this month) and we check online to find that they "tried to deliver but there was no reply" at 9.30 on Saturday morning.   Rubbish! Poppycock! and several other words that are considerably stronger!!!   We were here at 9.30 Saturday morning and no-one even attempted to deliver.   This is not the first time we have had this problem and should we be stupid enough to use a company that uses Chronopost, it won't be the last time either.   The drivers for that company are bone-idle and if they can't find the address, they return the parcel with "no reply" to the depot, who then attempt to send it out again.   They were supposed to deliver today (Wednesday) between 09.30 and 13.30 Nothing. Nada. Rien...  Bet you anything the system will show that they tried to deliver and didn't get a reply.   So I have issued a big note to self....AVOID CHRONOPOST LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!!!!

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Graignes D-Day 70th Commemorations 2014

Here are last year's commemorations in Graignes.

They started with a BBQ in the back garden

We were joined by a C-47 practising its fly past (which was to be part of the official ceremony)

We meet the Australian Federation Guard in a field near the memorial!

The C-47 dropped some parachutists (the first to drop over Graignes for 70 years)

The memorial plaque was covered in readiness for the unveiling.

The great and the good were there and speeches were made.

The veterans

Representatives of the German, American, Australian and Dutch military with Mr D Small, Mayor of Graignes-Mesnil Angot



I even read the English version of the mayor's speech! (I'd lost my voice so it was touch and go!)

Monsieur Denis Small - Mayor of Graignes-Mesnil Angot

The Colonel Frank Naughton's family unveiled the new memorial - they worked hard collating the all the names

The wreath laying was poignant
(Elissa and Flt Lt Mark Schmidt AFG)

The children from the local school laid their floral tributes

After the ceremony there was a "Vin d'honneur" laid on by the village and hosted by AFASEC Jockey School during which there was another parachute jump

6th June D-Day 70th Anniversary.

The 71st anniversary of the D-Day landing is fast approaching and it would be remiss of me not to mark it.   However, I have yet to write about the 70th, for no other reason than they were some of the most amazing days of my life and I wanted to really do justice to them!!!    

Way back at the beginning of 2013, when I was at my absolute lowest and thinking of jacking it all in here and going back to the UK, the French equivalent of the parish newsletter arrived in my letterbox.   On its back-page was an article about an RAAF airman who had baled out of his aircraft and later joined the US forces that had been miss dropped in our village.

I was well acquainted with the story of the miss dropped paratroopers and my family have been to every memorial service held since we arrived here.

What did baffle me was the fact that this airman's name did not feature on the memorial plaque installed in the old church.  So I went to see our local mayor to pose this very question in the most diplomatic way possible.

Our mayor, Denis Small, is a passionate historian and there is little he does not know about what occurred in our little corner of Normandy.  He told me all he knew about this particular airman and what happened after completely changed my life...

Flight Sergeant Stanley Kevin Black (that was his name), was born in Australia on 12 March 1923 and joined up on 19 June 1942.   He was trained initially in Australia before being sent to the UK in May 1943 arriving some two months later in July of the same year.

Our floral tribute to Stanley K Black
He ended up as a bomb aimer on with 106 Squadron flying out of RAF Metheringham.   On the night of the 6/7th June his squadron were tasked with the bombing of bridges in Caen, his aircraft was hit on the way back and crashed on the outskirts of St Jean de Daye near Graignes but not before he was able to bale out.   He was rescued by a local farmer and taken to the American paratroopers that had landed on the 6th June in Graignes, he fought alongside the paratroopers and died defending the village from the Germans.

This amazing information was gleaned from the National Archives of Australia, who have digitized their records and put them on-line for all to see.   For which I, for one, am eternally grateful.   But I would never have found them with out the lateral thinking of John Shipton who found Stan on line in a few clicks!!

John and I gathered the salient information from the website and I made another appointment to see our mayor to give him some more background to the story he had uncovered. Mr Small then gave me a copy of a local newspaper article dated August 1945 which told of the “man that fell from the sky” and told me that the family of Colonel Frank Naughton, of one of the key survivors of our local story, were in the process of collating the names of those who had died in Graignes and that a new plaque in their memory was to be unveiled for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

Shortly after my meeting in May 2013 we were commemorating the 69th anniversary of the D-Day landings and made our way to the Commonwealth Cemetery in Bayeux where the Normandy Veterans Association had organised a memorial service. We found Stan's grave and left a poppy cross.

During the summer of 2013 I found out more information about Stan and what happened to him. I posted some questions on a couple of military forums dealing with the RAF and it was there that I “met” Graham Roberts. He had, serendipitously, been at the cemetery in Bayeux at the same time as me and had seen the poppy cross and he was also a veteran of the RAAF . We started to communicate via email and resolved to try and track down the relatives of Stan.
In early 2014 and I had a “Miss Marple” moment where I had found some newspaper announcements from the Melbourne Argus from the late 1940's from Stan's father and siblings, one of whom was his sister Jean Caffyn and his nephew John. Graham, who lives in Adelaide then tracked down John Caffyn in Melbourne by using the good old phone directory and got lucky first time!

Graham explained the reason behind his phone call and events snowballed from there. I exchanged several emails with John Caffyn when, out of the blue, I received an email from Elissa Liggins, John's daughter (and Stan's Great-Niece), expressing a desire to fly over from Australia to be at the memorial.

So in June 2014, Elissa and Graham and his wife Lorraine came over from Australia and were joined by Elissa's friend Clare.
The Australian Embassy issued us all with invites to the official ceremony at the War Cemetery in Bayeux and confirmed that a contingent of the Australian Federation Guard would attend our annual commemoration ceremony in Graignes on the 7th June. We meet up with the AFG at Bayeux Cathedral on the 5th organised the elusive car passes (another story I won't bore you with) and looked forward to the ceremonies to come.

Elissa, Isabelle and Clare

With the pass securely stuck to the windscreen of our car we all piled in and tried to get over to Bayeux. This was no mean feat as all the roads between Isigny-sur-Mer and Caen were closed to all traffic except those cars with stickers. We approached the N13 which was blocked by Gendarmes and showed our passes and we were off! The N13 on most days is relatively quiet but on the morning of the 6th June 2014 we were the only ones on the road, we felt like royalty!

We arrived at Bayeux, parked and walked to the ceremony, encountering many veterans and their carers who had made the journey back to Normandy to remember their friends and comrades that didn't. We located Stan's grave and bumped into some members of the Australian Press who were there covering the visit of some Australian veterans and the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. We recounted Stan's story and they filmed Elissa paying her respects at Stan's grave.   She even got on Channel Seven news!!

After the memorial there was the most amazing, moving and memorable fly past of the Memorial Flight Lancaster and two Spitfires, just watching it brought tears to my eyes and gave me goose bumps, what a sight it must have been watching squadrons of them flying over head night after night.

Fly Past

We had lunch at a lovely restaurant in Port en Bessin and then made our way home via the coast road negotiating our way through the vintage vehicles that crowd the lanes, it was spectacular.

From back row left to right;
Lorraine, Isabelle, Me, John and Jacob
In front; Graeme, Clare and Louis

Then we went home to Graignes to reminisce and prepare for the next day and the village ceremony honouring Stan and the rest of the soldiers that died here.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

The Bells! The Bells!

I have just seen an article on BBC Breakfast News about the bells in Ashwell Church in Hertfordshire being silenced due to complaints about the continuous ringing on the quarter hour all through the day.  

Apparently they ring on the hour and chime the different quarter hours and have done so for the last one hundred and twenty years.   They underwent some renovation and were silent for about two years, when they were re-installed some people complained about the noise and North Hertfordshire County Council issued a noise abatement order silencing the quarter hour chimes from 23h00-07h00 but allowing the hourly chime.   

Thankfully a white knight has come to the rescue and has installed a muffling system to the bells thus reducing their tintinnabulation (love that word and have wanted to use it for sooooo long!!!!!) to a moderate level.   


Would you by a house near a railway line and complain about the trains?   Or what about an airport?   Some people are beyond belief!!!

Yours sincerely


Monday, 18 May 2015

France is on the cutting edge of science (LOL!!)

It's official, France is on the cutting edge of science, so much so that it has already filtered down to all the municipal workers and those contracted to work for the government, be it at a commune or a departmental level.   The science field they are excelling in?   Noetic Science!!!   The science whereby the mind creates the outcome (literally mind over matter).   How else can you explain the phenomena where one can pass a group of five workmen at 9.45am looking at a virgin piece of un-excavated road only to find that seven "workers" (I use this word advisedly!) were there an hour and half later with no discernible progress.   So one can only assume that instead of using the time honoured methods and machinery honed over decades, they have adopted the scientific mantle and are willing the hole to appear rather than digging at it!!

Monday, 30 March 2015

And so it begins

Well the time has come for the four main political parties in the UK to come up with a credible manifesto to take to the people in order to win their votes on 7th May.

So here is a letter I intend to send to the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and UKIP on behalf of my son, Oscar.

Dear  Sirs

As a virgin voter coming up to my nineteenth birthday and a soon to be first year university student, please tell me why I should vote for you?

Yours faithfully

I have tried to teach him that yes you look at the pledges that will have a direct impact on you personally, but that it is important to think of the wider picture too.   

You can vote for a party that promises to lower personal taxes (nobody likes paying these) but then you will be hit harder somewhere else where taxes are levied (no such thing as a free lunch).    Public services need to be paid for, so do you go with the party that offers no austerity and lower taxes without being able to substantiate where it will get its funding from, while still denying it will increase borrowing thus creating a bigger debt that somebody, someday, will have to pay for.    

Or do you go for the party that offers a stable economy, albeit with some initial hardships in the first few years, but that cow-tow to big business and corporations and have little sympathy with anyone who is in the middle income bracket.   

Or do you go for a party that five years ago categorically promised something to virgin voters in 2010 and quickly reneged in the face of pressure from its coalition partner (doesn't inspire much confidence does it?)   

Finally, there is the party whose main policy is the curbing of non-eu immigration and exiting the EU, but is subject to mud slinging of the grossest kind and whose supporters are often referred to as racists or bigots by the mainstream media?

Then there is the debacle that is the "first past the post" system that in days gone by favoured the two party system, effectively denying proportional representation to any smaller parties.   Now it would appear that very system, that they voted to keep in a referendum a few years ago, could well work against them, with the SNP (looking in the polls at least to be on course for a victory in Scotland) likely to be a party with a huge influence in Westminster whilst they only represent 8% of the UK population.   Doesn't seem very fair does it?

Then taking into account all of the above, consider how most  virgin voters must feel when the only things they care about are the latest music, fashion, films, sport results etc...   To us adults it's confusing, to these young adults they either default to following their parents voting habits or don't bother because "what difference does it make anyway?   All politicians are a liars and thieves" as I read on-line recently.

So my message to all current and would-be politicians out there would be this;

Clean up your act, you are there at the behest of the people who have voted you in under a specific mandate that they expect you to keep.   Stop the shenanigans, fiddling your expenses, nepotism and jobs for the boys and stop feathering your own nests with non-executive directorships that stop you being impartial.   Then and only then will politics become something good instead of the dirty, seemingly corrupt thing it is at the moment.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

UK General Elections 2015

It is five years since the Lib/Con coalition took over the running of the United Kingdom.   Now there is to be a general election to vote in a new government for the next five years.   My eldest son, Oscar, turned eighteen last year and although he lives with me here in France, I felt it was important that his voice was heard.   His intention is to return to the UK in September in order to complete his university education.    So it is only right that he registers to vote for the next government of the UK, because their policies will directly affect him during his time there.

Often young adults choose the party that has been traditionally followed and voted for by their parents.   My ex-husband has not been on the scene for some time and I am not really sure that they have actively discussed politics, so it falls on me to guide Oscar through the maze that is British politics and to try to give him an unbiased a view as possible so that he comes to his own conclusions on who to vote for.

Many young adults don't vote for whatever reason, but it is important that parents encourage their children to engage with politics, because politics do not exist in a realm apart to real life, they ARE real life.   From the food on our plates, to the money in our bank accounts to the air that we breathe, everything to a lesser or greater extent is influenced by politics.

I will post regular updates on Oscar's journey through the pathways of politics right up to the final moment when the results are in.   I won't tell you who he voted for though, everyone has the right to nail their colours to whatever flag they choose but it is for them to divulge that information and it has nothing to do with anyone else.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Real life vs Virtual

It is a sad state of affairs when we, as humans, are so obsessed with a piece of electronic equipment that we fail to appreciate the beauty of nature all around.   Especially in the case of a man on a sailing boat off Redondo Beach, California, why bother taking the boat out if you are not going to appreciate your surroundings?!!   The photographer, Eric Smith, was further away than the sail boat and in all the frames he took the man never looks up!!!   And I thought my boys were obsessed with their phones!!!

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2015!! (better late than never!)

Well here we are at the end of January, Christmas is a distant memory and the weather is enough to make you crawl under the duvet and post a sign saying "wake me when you see daffodils".

If January is a come down, February is the doozy for me!    I just have to put my head down and plough through the dreary days, reminding myself that the green shoots in the garden will soon be spring flowers and then the days will get noticeably lighter etc, etc...

The first month of winter in the northern hemisphere (a nod to my southern hemisphere followers - you know who you are!!) is palatable only because of the frantic preparations for the epic celebration that is Christmas.   The pretty tree lights sparkling in the windows of shops and homes and the municipal light displays in most of the villages here serve to distract our attention from the fact that we have entered into winter good and proper.

Then we have January, back to school and work, a chance to re-invent ourselves by way of  "resolutions" into better versions of who we are.

February serves to highlight our inability to follow through with these resolutions and that those less motivated of us (me) fell off the wagon weeks ago.   We use this month to self-flagellate ourselves for our lack of self-motivation and, BONUS, the weather usually reflects our mood thus reinforcing how crap we are!!  (or is it just me that feels like this!!!)
My way of coping with this is reading and re-reading The Secret, reminding myself that this too will pass, staying positive and trying meditation.   I've just downloaded a ten day trial of the Headspace app onto my phone, we'll see how Zen I can become and, who knows, I may just achieve some of my goals this year with my head in the right place.

Anyway, with the world in its current state I think 2015 is going to be a year full of surprises, some good (Greece voting in a government for the people and not Europe), some bad initially but that turn out good in the end (hindsight is a wonderful thing and something I am blessed with after the event) and some really horrific (two of which have happened already in Paris)

Anyway I wish you and yours a healthy, calm and peaceful New Year.