Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Life goes on

This morning when I got out of bed, I glanced out the window to see what the weather was like. This habit is part of my weekend (mine starts on Friday) routine. During the week, when I have to go into the office, I don’t bother … as long as it isn’t snowing …

Back to this morning. I looked straight into the garden of my mother’s cousin P. I saw her silhouette behind the kitchen window. She was leaning over the sink, probably getting some water to make her morning coffee. She looked like usual, a bit thinner maybe. But nothing special. Yet, I wondered what was going through her head, because only yesterday we buried her husband C. to whom she had been married since May 1960. He died last week, quite sudden after doctors had found a lump in his neck only a few weeks ago.

Even wilted roses keep their fragrance and beauty.

He had been poorly for seven months, not because of the new-found lump but after some really serious back surgery which kept him ‘chained’ to his chair since. My mother and I visited him just a week before her move, which was 8 weeks ago.

The funeral, yesterday, was very emotional. My mother didn't attend it. But I did and so did my cousin I. (my mother’s godchild) and some 400 other people from the village. There was a lot of sniffing and crying, but also a short burst of laughter when one of C.’s granddaughters addressed the congregation telling us how she remembered her granddad. One of the things she said even brought a smile on P.’s face (C.’s widow). ‘When P. turned 75’ – the granddaughter said’ – C.’ had said: “I wish I could trade her in for 3 of 25.” That’s how he was, also joking, always taking the mickey and yet being the best and most faithful husband in the world and a loving and caring dad to his 4 children and 9 grandchildren.

We will all miss him … As for P., I felt so sorry for her this morning, when I saw her standing there by the sink on her own. I really hope she can overcome her loss and has the courage to spend time again with her many friends, whom she missed terribly over the last seven months while looking after her handicapped husband.

I know this was a very sad post. I promise to update you soon on the happier stuff that has kept me occupied over the last two weeks.

Monday, 16 March 2015

New addition

Meet the latest addition to my household: an airing cupboard.

Now that we have put our family home up for sale, I can no longer dry my laundry in my mother's garden. When it's just small stuff, the clotheshorse in the second bedroom of my apartment offers sufficient drying space. When it's big stuff, like bed sheets and fluffy bath towels, though the clotheshorse is just too small. Moreover, I read somewhere that drying cloths indoors represents a serious health hazard because of the accumulated humidity ... And humidity is something I can do without - remember the problem I had in my former apartment, which forced me to move out ?!

The device is a Bosch, one of the better brands when it comes to white goods. It's less sophisticated than the more expensive Miele or Siemens. But it is sturdy enough for my limited needs. Washing for a household of just two - my mother and I - doesn't require heavy equipment.

It was also right within my budget. Because I have some other expenses coming up soon. And they don't involve working or washing ... I'll tell you about it soon. Stay tuned!

Monday, 9 March 2015


Clearing my mother's house has brought up some interesting and amazing finds ... little things I bought over the years but that I had forgotten about. In a large wooden trunk in my former bedroom I found my grammar (English and Italian) books from the 70-ties when I was at university. 

And I also discovered these little 'gems': 'Collins Gem Dictionary of Synonyms and Antonyms' and 'Collins Gem Dictionary of First Names' - both 1976 editions. I remember buying them at WH Smith in Deal. They cost 75 p each. One still has the price tag on it. They are in pristine condition and I just didn't have the heart to throw them away.

This is what the First Names Dictionary says about my name: Martine/Martina/Martin from the Latin Martinus, a diminutive of Martius, meaning 'of Mars'. Mars was the Roman god of thunder and war. According to popular legend, St. Martin was a 4th century soldier who cut his cloak in two to give half to a beggar one winter's night. He later became Bishop of Tours in France.He also gave his name to two birds, the martin and the martlet. This was the name of five popes, and also Martin Luther, the great Protestant reformer, so it has been very popular in both churches. It has been used more or less without a break since the 12th century and today is more popular than ever.

I guess that last bit was true in the 60ties when this book was first edited. In Belgium it went out of fashion in the eighties though, when the Anglo-American diminutive names became in vogue: Cindy, Wendy, Benny, Rudy, etc. Since a couple years Emma, Thomas and Luca are the most popular baby names. I wonder if Martine will ever make a comeback ...