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Archive for the ‘Weather’ Category

Ah how very British of me! A post about the weather. Well, it has to be said that the weather has been pretty crazy recently and I have heard that the UK has actually been getting better weather than parts of France too which is a turn up for the books and not what we’re used to hearing!

For those of you in France, you’ll know exactly what I am talking about. The endless winter came to end suddenly last week and we launched ourselves straight into summer with temperatures soaring over 30 degrees with no time to gently dip ourselves into the summer way of life.

Now I am reading on Connexion France (article here) that Paris is experiencing violent thunder and hail storms and parts of France have been put on Orange alert.

Taking a quick peak at my own weather forecast (which I admit to looking at several times a day, every day) I see temperatures are going to plummet again and no doubt we will be back to putting on the fire in the evening to take the chill out of the house.

Temps plummeting to 18 degres high

Temps plummeting to 18 degres high

There is one good thing about the late arrival of summer: apart from having to cobble an outfit together for a few hot days, there hasn’t been any real need to wear summer clothes so therefore no need to buy any as yet and the sales will start soon (26th June here) so I’ll be able to get my summer wardrobe at a discount! Youpee!

Date for your diary!
I love a bargain and even more so a giveaway so I’m giving you a heads up on a competition that I’ll be running here in collaboration with Subscription Save from Wednesday 19th June. Don’t forget to pop in on Wednesday to join in!

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In France there is a lovely term for finding temporary measures or for saving money on stuff known as “système débrouille”. I couldn’t find an exact definition of the expression but we recently experienced it in our own unique way.

Our Systeme D

As you know, we have been suffering from heating problems due to the extreme cold weather. Last Saturday our oil boiler decided it was going to work when it wanted to and I blogged about how we were literally freezing. Temperatures were as low as -20 degrees Celsius at night and on Monday our heating system packed up altogether. That meant no heating and no hot water!

Fortunately for us, a good friend had managed to get their neighbour to sell us some wood so we weren’t completely cold. Mr Piglet and I moved into the living room and the three of us huddled together in front of the fire.

Thankfully Baby Piglet goes to the Nannies during the day so I was comfortable that she was keeping warm. When at home she has an electric radiator in her room to keep her nice and warm.

On Tuesday disaster struck, Baby Piglet caught the dreaded gastro (tummy bug) and began projectile vomiting everywhere. At only 9 months old my poor, poor baby was very sick and I had no way of getting rid of the terrible odour that had invaded the house. I bathed her as best as I could using a flannel and a bowl of cooled down boiled water but by Wednesday afternoon desperation had sunk in.

I called my Mother in Law hoping that we could escape down to her house for a few days, as she answered the phone my hopes plummeted, she was sick with laryngitis! Not something I wanted her to give to Baby Piglet.
So I started calling on local plumbers and heating specialists.

Deep down I hoped that there was another issue with the boiler and that we would be able to get some heat. After numerous calls and being told that nothing was possible for days, I finally found a firm that prioritised families with young children. We were in luck!

The guy came out and spent a few hours looking at our boiler and concluded that it was definitely down to the frozen oil. I sighed, oh well, at least I had tried.

Later that evening after Baby Piglet had gone to bed and I was drinking wine in a bid to keep warm, my phone started ringing. It was the owner of the plumbing firm – he had a temporary solution to offer us! Systeme D!

At 9pm he rolled up and came in carrying two jerry cans full of car diesel. We watched, intrigued as he dismantled part of the boiler and sunk two tubes into the jerry can. He explained that this would keep us warm and allow us to have hot water and when we ran out, we’d just need to pop down to the petrol station. Even I could mannage that!

I’d heard of local farmer folk using red diesel to run their cars but not of anyone using car diesel to run their boiler! This was upside down, topsy turvy living. Systeme Debrouille in all it’s glory.

So the innovative plumber had found a temporary (if not expensive) solution to our coldness and I felt much better knowing that my darling daughter would be nice and warm.

Each jerry can costs 30 Euros to refill and the first one run out this morning but I think that was more to do with the fact that it had to re-heat everything back up.

Jerry Can!

I am so grateful to the plumber for not giving up on us and am so relieved that he found a solution for his, his innovation has made us warm and also proved that solidarity and good service from companies does exist.

I did have a chuckle as well as Mr Piglet was getting on well with him and they were chatting just like old friends and the apero (at 11pm mind you!) was being served. Mr Piglet asked what the Plumbers wife was doing and I just loved the Plumbers response: “she’s probably in bed” he sighed! Mr Piglet was asking in fact what she was doing in her life which is the literal translation from French, the information he was seeking is what profession she had!

Do you have any Systeme D experiences?

ps. I’m pleased to report that as of todat Baby Piglet seems to have recovered although she will only eat Strawberry yoghurts right now!

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All house hunting has been pretty much on standby this week as Lyon and most of Europe got a major dumping of snow and roads and motorways became best avoided if possible.

So I’ve been able to enjoy a nice relaxing week of home and work and what better way to start the month of December than with a blanket of snow? Even my blog has snow on it although I’m not quite sure how that happened but I’m not complaining!

Major snow dump in my back garden

I’d been feeling pretty down in the dumps because we’ve decided to have a stay at home for Christmas this year and I hadn’t been feeling at all Christmassy. But snow in December is not something I can remember ever having seen before and it has really got me in the mood for Christmas. Poor Mr Piglet however is getting rather fed up of me constantly singing out of tune Christmas tunes and I’m sure he’ll soon be ready to pay me to stop.

Prize from Littlewoods Europe

We’re off to get our Christmas tree today, but in the meantime I’ve been enjoying setting up an advent calendar. I was lucky enough to win this hand crafted, wooden advent calendar on the Littlewoods Europe Wordless Wednesday competition. I’m really glad I did, so a big THANK YOU the LW team! There’s nothing more magical for me than the opening of an advent calendar each day and I’m sure little Piglet will enjoy it for years to come also when she arrives!

Better not eat too many of these... Delish!

I wouldn’t be me if I hadn’t been having a moan about something though. This time it was the lack of British Christmas products in France that set me off as I had yet another craving for a Mince Pie. In the good old days when M&S were still here, I needn’t go without anything, however, not many expats live around here and there aren’t any Brit food stores (the closest one I know of is Jim’s near Geneva). So imagine my surprise when I was in Monoprix yesterday and came across Mince Pies?! I yelped with excitement causing a stir amongst fellow shoppers who all turned round to investigate what was causing my excitement. I stuffed four boxes of them into my trolley, vowing to go back and get more if they were nice. At 3.50 Euros for 4 they weren’t cheap but they made my day and sometimes happiness doesn’t have a price.

Whilst I was out and about in the city, I was full of admiration for how beautiful Lyon looked under the snow and managed to brave the ice like temperatures outside of my car to take some pictures:

Have you had snow this week and has it made you feel festive?

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Friday saw Mr Piglet and I embark on yet another day of house hunting. We still have the farmhouse in mind as a practical choice, but we are keen to find a property that sweeps our heart away.

So we set off in the cold on the motorway from Lyon towards Grenoble and quickly encountered huge snowflakes and fields of the white fluffy stuff. If you’ve ever tried taking photographs whilst traveling on the motorway you will know it’s near impossible so I didn’t get to take any souvenir photos of the journey there unfortunately.

I have always found snow rather magical, and whilst Mr Piglet wasn’t very impressed that we were house hunting in the snow without snow tyres (irresponsible), I was enchanted, very excitable and was looking at everything through fairy tale glasses.

The first house we visited was set in a small valley amongst the hills and consisted of a farmhouse (we have a thing for 200 year old farmhouses) and stone cottage with a cute garden, flanked by Christmas tree covered hills.

If you’re a sucker for fairy book settings then you could not fail but to be charmed by the location of this house, especially on a snowy day, just one month before Christmas.

A Fairy Tale Location

The house was livable and offered plenty of space, even though the decoration was a mish mash of partition walls, old fireplaces and orange wall paper. We could easily have converted two of the upstairs rooms into a master bedroom with ensuite and dressing room, had an office and a lovely nursery with room to spare.

To continue with the fairytale theme, one of the views from the house was looking out towards a Chateau. I had to zoom to take this photo, but not all that much, you could easily see it with the bare eye.

View of the castle

The stone house just opposite the property needed finishing and drainage as well, as it was a bit damp and with a bit more imagination it could make a beautiful, cosy guesthouse and office. It was spacious and homely at the same time.

The downside of visiting property in the snow is you can’t tell where the sun is and the fact that the property was surrounded by hills (or mountains as I kept calling them) probably meant that it didn’t get much sun which was a huge negative for us. This property definitely needs a second viewing to work out the suns logistics.

We soon had to leave as we had to make our way to a second property and had a battle with a snow storm on our hands.

Picture postcard driving conditions... NOT!

On leaving the little village we came across a goat that took a liking to me. Every time I cooed at it would turn its head towards me and look at me. If I stopped cooing then it would stop looking at me! It either liked me or thought I was a strange English nutter!

My first new friend in the country

We then went on to view another house which was also fantastic but is another story (think more skeletons in the chimney!). Part two to follow soon.

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With the intense heat of the last week and my crazy schedule it’s been a bit manic with not much time to blog!

Wedding Cruise

Last Tuesday I attended a wedding party of one of my first French friends I met when I was just 16 on one of the boats on the Saône river in Lyon. Despite living here for many years, a river cruise is something I had never done we were lucky that the day was so perfect for such an activity. The weather was just hot enough to spend the whole evening on deck, cruising along without feeling any chill whilst coiffing back champagne and enjoying delicately prepared nibbles from a well known traiteur (which I don’t know and need to find out!). I didn’t get chance to take too many photos as conversation was flowing and I hadn’t seen a lot of people on the boat for 10 years plus, but if you’re ever in Lyon it is definitely something I would recommend.

Then last Friday I dashed off on a last minute business trip to Paris on what was to be the hottest day of the week and the last day of school for Parisian kids. What a nightmare! The heat in Paris was so intense you literally melted, I thought things were tough in Lyon where it is often hotter than Paris, but mix in the Parisian pollution, tall buildings and that many people everywhere and the heat feels far more intense.

Whilst I was in Paris I was lucky enough to be able to meet up with Karin from An Alien Parisienne in a Starbucks close to Opera Garnier. It was great to meet Karin and it is a shame that she’s in Paris (or that I’m in Lyon) but I’m sure we’ll get other opportunities to meet up in the future. I’m sure Karin won’t mind but I’ve pinched one of the photos she took of us to share here (below).

Karin was excellent in guiding me from the tube to Starbucks and then she kindly accompanied me to my meeting as I didn’t have a clue where I was going (I’d forgotten to take any maps, duh!). It is only thanks to her that I know I have seen the Opera Garnier now, I have often wondered what the building was!

Another thing I have to thank Karin for is introducing me to Picasa for my photos – it’s great and I love it. Picasa is another reason why I have not blogged this week!

At the end after all my meetings, I was a melted, tomato sauce splattered wreck and wanted one thing and one thing only – to be back home. Alas, I was not going home tonight though, I was off to friends for a weekend! As I waited in the crowded Gare de Lyon with everyone who was going South, I started to wish for rain. This is most unlike me, but the heat was just so intense and with all the people standing waiting for their late trains it was extremely claustrophobic and I could barely breathe without touching other people as my lungs expanded. I ventured outside to try and get some fresh air before I fainted and was overjoyed to feel spots of rain on my bare arms. ‘Hurrah’ I though as I stood there embracing the rain. It was a short-lived sensation though, my train had been announced and the platform was the other side of the station – not an easy feat trying to cross Gare de Lyon during the peak traveling period like that! I have now made note never, ever to travel again by train during peak periods such as last day of school.

Saturday the hot weather persisted and I was unable to do much, but come Saturday evening I had a new lease of life and we enjoyed a boat trip with friends around Lac de Bourget near Aix-Les-Bains. Now, this is somewhere I would love to live if I ever left Lyon… I did get one of those free property magazines but I don’t dare open it and look just in case I see somewhere I really like the look of as I think I may just be tempted!

Lac du Bourget

Aix-Les-Bains is only an hour or so drive from Lyon and it is a fantastic thermal spa town sitting on the Lac de Bourget. We weren’t staying in Aix itself but in a nearby village at one end of the lake. I love being around water when it’s very hot and I can say that we definitely appreciated being on water Saturday evening and most of Sunday as temperatures soared past 34 degrees celsius.

Since returning from the lake, the hot weather has persisted in Lyon and yesterday I registered 36 degrees, so it’s now been officially declared that the canicule (heat wave alert) is persisting in Lyon and as I write this the temperature is increasing steadily and yet the sky is slowly being covered by large, grey menacing clouds. I think we’re going to be in for one heck of a storm later! I miss the fresh air from the lake and all I can inhale here are car fumes. I may just sneak a peek at that property magazine this weekend after all…

Where would you like to be during this heat wave?

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Well, contrary to last week when I started Jardinage Jeudi, temperatures have dramatically declined and it has been tipping it down, so I’ve not been in the mood for gardening. I did mention in my last post that my lack of talent in the gardening department is probably due to the fact that I am a fair-weather gardener.

My Belle-Mere told me last weekend that its normal for cold spells to arrive in May, and that until the Saints de Glace (11th, 12th and 13th May) are finished we are still at risk of frost and traditionally you’re supposed to avoid planting anything sensitive until afterwards. Ah well, if I’d known that before…

Looking at Pissou’s blog, we’re getting off lightly in Lyon compared to other places. Check out the photos of the snow that she had on May 4th – unbelievable, somebody tell the weather we’re in May for goodness sakes!

So, not being very keen on the gardening this week I have turned my attention to improving my comfort in the garden and stuff that can be grown indoors.

On a previous visit to the Beaux-Parents (BP), Hubby and I spotted a lovely outdoor sofa suite, complete with cushions and all. The price was right (and so much cheaper than anything I had seen over the past two years) but the location was not. Not too worried about how we would get it from Provence to Lyon, we bought it and had it delivered to the BP’s house. We weren’t feeling quite so smart this weekend when we were confronted with an absolute mammoth box! How we were going to get that back to Lyon was another question entirely.

Hubby as always, was full of bright ideas and eventually we set off, in gale force winds, with a sofa and a table on the roof and the rest of the chairs in the car. Fearful of being stopped by the police on the motorway (and also for ours and other drivers’ safety) we set off on a long drive home, Nationale 7 all the way. Despite the bad weather, it made for a nice change and the scenery was lovely (I of course was not driving so could fully take in my surroundings). If it wasn’t for having a sofa on the roof and for fear of having it nicked if we stopped (yep, I am too used to living in a city now) I would have loved to have stopped at some of the vineyards and quaint little villages we crossed along our way.

The whole experience reminded me somewhat of the Maghrebin families that return to their home countries with plenty of goods for their families in the summer. You often see them on the motorways with loads as big as their cars tied to their roofs and I’ve often wondered how long it would take them to arrive at destination. They are certainly determined people and it must take a lot of courage and patience to go all that way with that much stuff on the roof.

Photo Credit: Code Clic.com

Anyway, the outdoor suite is now back safely and installed in our garden. Unfortunately it hasn’t stopped raining for long enough for us to sit on and enjoy it, but it looks like it may stop in time for the weekend, so fingers crossed…

A big thank you to Gillpj and Rosabell who helped me in identifying my flowers last week. They are looking a bit worse for wear after all the bad weather but I am confident that now I know what they are I should be able to grow them successfully. I guess only time and TLC will tell! On Rosabell’s recommendation I have even purchased a new hanging basked (PIC) for my ‘special geraniums’ officially called Tirol Geranium. I will be waiting until the weather improves though before re-planting!

So, onto what’s been growing inside. A few weeks ago I planted some Basil seeds in yoghurt pots, in the hope that they would grow big enough for me to be able to plant them outside with the tomato plants. I did this last year and had three lovely Basil plants. This year is not proving to be as successful though, unfortunately my cats got at the seedlings last weekend and I only have two little spurts of a plant left! They obviously preferred the taste of Basil plants to their cat biscuits! I guess I’ll be planting some more soon.

Poor Basil Seedlings

Possible Culprit 1


Possible Culprit 2

Here’s hoping the sun comes back out in time for the weekend so I can get back in the garden.

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Catching Up!
Well, its been a good couple of weeks since I last wrote a post here and its good to be back! I’ve been suffering from writers block (oh, that sounds so serious !) but seriously, I have not been capable of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) due to my world being turned upside town and spun round and round. Personal events in my life had taken a grip on my day to day life and left me first in great expectation and then in deep anguish but I am pleased to report that I’m feeling much better and am back on track. Itching to write!

As Graham Green said: “Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those, who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear, which is inherent in a human condition”

Cadbury’s Eggs
I have found over the last week that writing is an excellent from of therapy so me being back here is proof in the pudding. A Cadbury’s cream egg that arrived today from the UK has also been of much assistance and tasted so delicious that I just had to write about it! Whilst biting into the yummy milk chocolate (which wouldn’t be considered as chocolate in France) it came to my attention that British chocolate really does taste difference. Now I am seriously worried what will happen to my beloved crème eggs now that Cadbury have been taken over?

Weather – Sun & Ash
Since I last wrote, the weather has definitely taken a turn for the better and we have had two consecutive sunny weekends in Lyon which have been fabulous. No signs of volcanic ash here even though the airports are still closed although there has been a horrible burning smell today although I think that is more to do with our neighbours bonfire! It did have me wondering this morning though!

Its been quite fascinating stuff to watch everyone’s great struggles to get home on the TV, they’re have been some pretty amazing stories of how people have walked, cycled and maybe swam (I don’t think anyone did but that just sounds good doesn’t it?) to get home. Obviously those with money have been more financially able to make arrangements than those on tight budgets, I mean seriously, would you pay a couple of thousand Euros to get home in a taxi? I doubt I would (I mean if I could financially) although it would really depend where I was stuck and whether my airline was paying for my accommodation or not. Stuck in the Bahamas or somewhere exotic, no, I would probably stay there but if I was stuck in somewhere obscure with not a lot going on and I had the money then I’d definitely pay up!

Another Strike, another moan by me
What’s really got me is that the French SNCF are still carrying on with their strikes. I’ve been so disconnected recently that I didn’t even realise they were striking again, but now I know its been ongoing and the transport system in France is in crisis. Surely the French army should commandeer the trains that are not running due to the strike and help people continuing to move? They could be milking this for every penny which would no doubt pay for the extra money they want to earn or whatever it is this time. I just don’t see how they can continue to strike when so many people are in difficulty and are trying to get home – not to mention the fact that it’s the school holidays. I find anyone who can strike during a transport crisis to be of incredible selfishness. I’ll stop on the subject of the SNCF now that I’ve relieved myself of that gripe.

Frog Band & Plant Market

Frog Band


On Sunday there was a plant market in Les Grattes Ciel near where I live, so being in an inspired gardening mood (I am a fair weather gardener) off we went to buy some more plants for our garden.
Les Grattes Ciel is an Art Deco district in Villeurbanne and I am a great fan of Art Deco architecture and design. In fact, my home is in an Art Deco building and when I went to Miami a few years ago I spent all my time taking pictures and admiring the Art Deco buildings there.

The shopping area is a wide avenue lined with trees that ends with the rather grand Mairie, a beautiful white/grey building with huge Art Deco pillars, a really fantastic building but so difficult to capture in a photo. The street was transformed into a pedestrian area and was lined with all sorts of stalls selling many variations of plants and flowers, so many in fact the street looked like a garden centre.

It was a really lovely morning out, with the street cafés open and so many people meandering around, buying plants and flowers. I actually wondered whether all these people had gardens as lots of people here live in apartments and I wondered whether thanks to this market there would be a lot more flower boxes this year. I will have to keep an eye out for those.

Frog Band outside the Town Hall


Everything was topped off by a very animated Frog Band playing fanfare music that had me jigging around like a demented person who couldn’t control their feet. I really didn’t want to jig but with the sun and the music my feet kept jigging much to the embarrassment of my Hubby! I was rather fascinated why they were dressed up as frogs but didn’t want to ask for fear of being misinterpreted. Also, I don’t think they would have heard me as they didn’t stop playing for hours on end.

Now we just have to plant the rest of the stuff we bought and when we do I’ll take some proper pictures and maybe someone can help us in identifying what we purchased!

Rubbery Man
I’ve been following Sion’s Faux Pas Fridays over at Paris (im)Perfect for quite a while and have enjoyed laughing until my sides hurt, but last night I had a reversed faux pas of my own thanks to Hubby. He asked me how to spell Rubbery, so I politely spelt it out for him R U B B E R Y. I then wondered why on earth he wanted to know how rubbery was spelt (we were playing on our Iphones – quite sad I know but hey, this is my generation) so I asked him. He replied that it was for a game he wanted to register to play. So, what type of game I asked thinking it was really weird. Texas Hold’Em he replied. Ahhhh, imagine a light bulb in my head slowly lighting up. He wanted to know how to spell ROBBERY. Poor guy, he was registered as RUBBERY, it was too late! We had a laugh and I don’t think anyone wanted to play against him as he soon shut down the application!

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Even though my family reckon I’m more Frenchie than British now, one thing that shows my true origins is my tendency to complain and more so my tendency to moan about the weather!

How come after months and months of freezing cold, miserable weather, spring finally bursts upon us almost over night and yet after a week of glorious sunshine I consult the weather forecast for this weekend and wham! It’s going to rain! Why is it always like this? Sunny before and sunny after the weekend, but the weekend itself Mr Raincloud is coming to visit! Go away, stay away, I don’t want to see you!

Weather Forecast for Lyon this weekend

Weather Forecast for Lyon this weekend

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Not only did it rain, it poured! My streak of bad luck continued last Friday as we left Lyon with bright blue skies to arrive in Lisbon in absolute pouring rain. It was absolutely tipping it down and anything remotely tourist related was impossible without getting drenched.

We found a small café on the promenade at Estoril and stayed there for ages, taking our time to eat and drink in the hope that the rain would go away. What a fantastic view we had!

View from our café in Estoril

View from our café in Estoril

Thankfully it brightened up on Saturday and we were able to visit Lisbon properly although we had just one day. I was able to take lots of photos although not with my own camera as my battery was dead! Arggh!

The weather is really strange at the moment as when we arrived back in Lyon on Sunday it was snowing! Again! We are in March! It never snows in Lyon, not normally anyway. It also snowed in the South of France and there were horrendous queues on the motorway. My cousin in law took 11 hours to drive from Lyon to Montpellier… so I was lucky to be in Lisbon in the rain after all!

If you read French just take a look at this article . I just love the photo of the snowy road!

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