My little bank

What is the Santander TV ad. to promote their flexible ISA all about?

A person riding a bicycle made of giant red Lego pieces; Lego piano, Lego car, Lego furniture.

I completely fail to get the message from smaller-bank-gobbling-Santander. Are their banks built of Lego? Their coins? Do they have Lego notes? Why the obsession with Lego? Is it to attract the young saver?

Wednesday WOrd


The word used by glamorous and enigmatic Rachida Data, France’s former Justice Minister, during a recent live television interview.

Intending to say “inflation”, in a moment of excitement she was carried away by a slip of the tongue, causing worldwide merriment. 🙂

Walnut help, please

During the great storm of 1999, which if you lived in France at the time you will never forget – 92 killed, 270 million trees destroyed – our large walnut tree was blown to the ground. But, luckily, one branch prevented it from being completely uprooted. It stuck at an angle of about 25 degrees, with just a few roots still embedded in the ground. We heaped earth over the exposed roots, and in quite a short time the tree came to life. At first it looked odd, a side-ways growing tree, but soon branches began to grow upwards, and it looks like a normal tree now, from a distance. If you get close up, you can see the original main trunk growing parallel to the ground – it makes a nice place to sit on and read in the shade.

The old saying “A woman, a dog and a walnut tree, the more you beat them the better they be,” seems to hold true in the case of the tree. I don’t take to beating. On the only occasion when I was threatened by a male, many years ago, I got in first and kneed him so vigorously in the archway that I doubt he’d ever want to try and beat a woman again. In fact, he may well have never wanted to do anything at all to a woman. Anybody who beats a dog needs the same treatment.

But the tree has flourished, and in fact it has done too well, with so many offspring growing from the original roots that it has entirely taken over a corner of the garden, making it somewhat gloomy and oppressive. So yesterday we began thinning it out, removing some of the younger trees. This year’s walnuts are particularly large, and are starting to fall, but on the trees we felled there were still quite a few nuts that hadn’t split from their husks and inside the walnuts are still very white and milky. I’ve gathered them up, but am unsure what do do next.

Leave them in the sun to dry out before removing the husks? Dehusk them and leave them in the sun? Any advice, please?

If you missed the great storm, you can get an idea of it from here:
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Sad, not smug

Read the full article here.

So I’m glad to live in France. It isn’t perfect, but it’s still pretty good.

But how very sad to see England ranking so poorly. Whatever happened to that once green and pleasant land, now buried beneath quangos and insatiable bankers, motorways and housing estates? How did we let things get to such a state?

However, I can’t agree with the author of the article that food is more expensive in England. I’ve found quite the opposite. It was 15 years ago, but the cost of food has risen dramatically over the last few years in France, where a cauliflower in England costs 45p, and an identical cauliflower in a French supermarket costs €1.95.  I’ve generally found that shopping in England is now far cheaper generally than it is in France.

What we enjoy in rural France is open space, slow pace, uncrowded roads, wide horizons, night skies unspoilt by ambient light, countryside unspoilt by traffic noise. People not consumed by consumerism, unhurried meals, polite children, friendly and courteous neighbours with time to stop and talk, doctors with time to listen.  Long ago we enjoyed those same basic pleasures in England.

This week has just kept getting better!

It’s been a fabulous week for me; so many good things have happened. Maybe that’s why I was still wide awake at 2.50 am; or maybe it was one of the cats sitting on my legs vigorously washing itself for hours on end. Anyway, forgetting for the time being any hope of sleep, I turned on the iPod to catch up with news and emails, and there was the news that so many of us have been praying for over the last 17 days.

Thomas, disappeared 17 days ago, now reunited with his owner

The Gypsy Cob stolen from our friend in Australia has been recovered, safe and sound. No details yet as to where he might have been, or how he was returned, but he is in fairly good health and his owners are obviously ecstatic.

What has been most impressive about the whole story is the tremendous support and response from the Australian community in helping with the search for Thomas. They really have been champions.

Getting Thomas back was the icing on my cake. If Mark Webber can win the Singapore GP tomorrow, or Jenson Button or Lewis Hamilton, that will be the cherry. 🙂

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