Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Book review : The Coffin Trail - Martin Edwards

 

The Coffin Trail is the first book in The Lake District Mysteries series by Martin Edwards. We are given a good introduction to the main characters in the stories (notably Daniel Kind and DCI Hannah Scarlett) and the ever-present Cumbrian setting almost starts to feel like another character, watching over the events unfolding in her midst. As well as magnificent views of mountainsides, green hills and clear, blue lakes, this location provides close-knit communities, with everyone living in each other's pockets, sneering at the tourists and those who have only just moved to the area. 

Daniel Kind is one such newcomer. An Oxford historian and TV personality, he is visiting the Lake District with his girlfriend Miranda, a lifestyle writer for the glossy magazines. On a whim, they end up buying Tarn Cottage in Brackdale, a secluded valley which offers them the chance to get away from it all - a welcome break from their busy lives in Oxford and London. But Daniel has failed to mention that he has deeper ties to this area. As a boy, he came here on holiday with his father and befriended a local boy, Barrie Gilpin. Barrie was a bit of a loner and had some learning difficulties but the boys shared some fun times in the hills. Then a local woman was found murdered and Barrie's dead body was discovered nearby. With all the ends nicely tied up, nobody bothered digging any deeper, but Daniel is determined that his old friend would not have carried out such a dastardly crime.

DCI Hannah Scarlett has just been put in charge of a new cold case review team. One of the cases that her team start to take a new look at is this old murder up on the Altar Stone. An anonymous phone call suggests that there is more to discover so the team start to re-interview the locals, which ruffles a few feathers.

While Daniel is hoping to clear his old friend's name, he also wants to uncover tales of his long-absent and now dead father - a policeman who used to work with DCI Scarlett. The two get in touch with each other and, separately, start chasing the truth about what happened on that fateful night.

I've never been to the Lake District but, as I read, I could really imagine the muddy paths and misty hillsides with views stretching out as far as the eye can see. Things have been majorly hectic at work lately and sitting down to read a few chapters each evening gave me a welcome break and a feeling of getting out in the fresh air (much appreciated during lockdown !). I enjoyed all the interplay between the characters and watching their personal lives slowly being revealed. I failed to predict the wrongdoer and even at the last moment, there was a final twist in the tail.

It's a fairly sedate read that is not big on blood and guts so even the faint-hearted won't be offended reading it. I had a slight inkling that the characters' names rang a bell and, after checking, I've just discovered that I read and reviewed The Frozen Shroud, the sixth book in the series, a year and a half ago. I've just started book two, The Cipher Garden, so look out for that review some time soon.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £8.99

  • ASIN : 0749082917
  • Publisher : Allison & Busby; UK ed. edition (31 Oct. 2005)
  • Language: : English
  • Paperback : 288 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 9780749082918
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0749082918

Sunday, 17 January 2021

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 3

 


I've just checked through the menu plan and we ate most of it as planned, until Saturday night when Juliette asked if we could have burgers and chips instead of tartiflette - I think she's missing our Saturday trips to town with lunch at McDonald's ! (To be fair, they had been on the plan earlier in the week, but got bumped as we had leftovers to use up.) I must admit, I've got into the routine of planning lunch for Saturdays too now so I don't know if we'll go back to burgers or not once coronavirus has packed its bags and restaurants open up again. We'll see ! So, on to this week ... Juliette's on a "lessons at home" week this week. It's hard keeping track of who's eating where !

Monday

lunch- leftover cooked chicken, pasta, onions, mushrooms, peppers (it's basically a fridge clearout but shh, don't tell the kids !)

dinner - I picked up some yellow-stickered stewing beef when I did the shopping so something in the slow cooker resembling beef bourguignon, with some leftover baked potatoes (possibly made into wedges)

Tuesday

dinner- I need to reschedule Tartiflette quickly before the cheese gets too stinky ! - baked potatoes, onions and bacon, topped with reblochon cheese and thrown in the oven

Wednesday

lunch- I picked up some yellow-stickered chicken too so French style chicken with peas and bacon sounds good, without the lettuce (I don't like the idea of cooked lettuce !), served with rice or pasta

dinner- I'm thinking there will be leftovers to use up

Thursday

lunch - smoked sausages, peppers, onions, tomatoes with rice

dinner- chicken paupiettes (chicken breast wrapped around sausagemeat) with mash & veg

Friday

dinner -spaghetti bolognese

Saturday

lunch- tacos or chicken fajitas - I'll let the kids choose 

dinner- Whatever I picked up at the supermarket (pizza?)

Sunday 

lunch- looking through the cupboard, I found the giant vol au vent cases that I bought - they can be filled with creamy chicken & mushrooms in a thick white sauce (they're called bouchées à la reine in French - "mouthfuls of the queen" !) - they can be served with salad and mash

dinner- leftovers or toast

***Click on my Menu Plans tag to see all my other weekly menu plan blogposts.***

Katykicker

Sunday, 10 January 2021

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 2

 


Last week was a great week in terms of food. We totally stuck to the plan (apart from when we were using up leftovers instead of cooking a new meal), ate loads of new dishes and everyone liked everything (including homemade coleslaw and frozen peas ... the kids usually turn their noses up at both !). Maybe they've hit that stage (every seven years, I think?) where their tastes change. Hmmm I'll have to work through loads of different vegetables again and see what appeals ! Right, on to this week's plan ...

Monday

lunch- Chicken Gyros (this is the recipe but I use pre-spiced meat from the supermarket) with rice & salad (Pierre can have a beefburger as he doesn't like the marinade)

dinner - pork meatballs with pasta and whatever veg is to hand (red & yellow peppers, onions, mushrooms, not sure what else) (The kids can use up the leftovers tomorrow for lunch.)

Tuesday

dinner- Tacos (as we didn't have them last week in the end)

Wednesday

lunch- beefburgers & chips

dinner- cannelloni

Thursday

lunch - I'm thinking there will be leftovers to use up

dinner- Pork chops with cream & mushrooms, mash & veg (carrots? Thinking about it, Sophie grabbed a load of courgettes and promised to make a courgette gratin so she can do that !)

Friday

dinner - Chinese chicken with veg & noodles (I'll be honest, the chicken and veg are frozen in a bag - we'll see what it's like. Adding noodles and loads of soy sauce should make it nice anyway !)

Saturday

lunch- spaghetti bolognese

dinner- Tartiflette - baked potatoes, onions and bacon, topped with stinky reblochon cheese and thrown in the oven

Sunday 

lunch- roast dinner, with whatever I pick up at the supermarket

dinner- Chicken spring rolls

***Click on my Menu Plans tag to see all my other weekly menu plan blogposts.***

Katykicker

Monday, 4 January 2021

Blippo Kawaii Face Masks review


Christmas is over (sniff !) and school is ready to kick off again. That means I have to sort out our stock of face masks again. With three of us going to school every day (me as a teacher and the kids as pupils), needing to put on a new face mask after lunch, we get through a whopping 27 masks per week, without even counting the weekend ! Luckily, Wednesday is a half day so I can quickly throw them all through the wash but even so, it takes some organisation ! Blippo helped me out by sending over a pack of their Kawaii Face Masks to try out.


The masks are a lovely pale pink colour and feature a whole host of cute pictures - that makes sense as kawaii refers to the culture of cuteness in Japan. Hearts, rainbows, fluffy clouds, sweets, stars, bows and balloons all feature on the masks and are perfect for spreading a message of happiness in these stressful and sometimes miserable times.


The masks are made from high-grade fabric (they feel like thick, soft tissue paper but they're very resistant and I couldn't manage to rip them) and offer three protective layers. They are very comfortable to wear and didn't make me sweat at all.


The top of the mask has an adjustable nose band that you can bend or squeeze into shape to give a closer fit to your nose.


The earloops are made of a stretchy elastic type material and they fit me perfectly. If they are too big for you, you can easily twist them to shorten them though.


They are big enough to cover your mouth, nose and chin completely. (I hadn't used the nose band in this photo, which is why it looks a bit too big.) It's the first time I've worn this type of mask, as I usually use washable fabric masks, but I was impressed at how comfortable they are and how well they cover your face.

A pack of 10 Kawaii masks costs £7.25. There are various other designs available, so have a good look. There's also an after-Xmas sale offering up to 50% off at the moment.


Disclosure : I received the product in order to write an honest review.

Sunday, 3 January 2021

Project 366 : Photo diary week 52

 We finally made it to the end of 2020 and thank goodness for that ! It wasn't that bad for us as a family to be honest - none of us fell ill and I was working (and therefore getting paid) all the way through, which was better than many people out there. But it was all just a bit depressing, living with constant worry, for example on the buses when people get on with their mask around their chin or in the street when they walk really close to you, and living with lockdown and home-schooling (and home-teaching !). I took some time offline over Christmas, just chilling out, spending time with the kids and slobbing out - much needed and I now feel ready to go back to work. Here was our final week of the year 2020. I'm taking a break from #Project365 for a while - there seems to be nothing going on, apart from non-stop work at the moment. Maybe I'll come back to it when coronavirus is a distant memory and we have time to actually get out and live a little again ! Here are our final photos of the year.


Our town (St Pol sur Mer) decided to put on some Christmas activities for the kids - not on the same scale as usual but there were some people dressed up as cartoon characters alongside a big Christmas tree and a postbox to Santa. In Dunkerque (the main town), there was no big wheel, free skating rink or Christmas market this year, but they did decorate the town hall with a special Santa world that you could visit, as long as you signed up in advance (80 people at a time).


After a couple more visits to the town centre shops and some last minute deliveries from the postman, our stash of presents under the Christmas tree was complete - phew !


Despite living in a country that opens its presents on the 24th in the evening, I was a rotten mum who made the kids wait until the 25th in the morning ! They didn't mind though and, to make things last a bit longer, I did let them open their stockings before bed. After giving out all the presents, we had one happy face ...


Two happy faces ...


Three happy faces ! Phew !


Turkey isn't a traditional Christmas meal in France. It is one option but not a very common one, with most people opting for a seafood starter (maybe smoked salmon or scallops) or a foie gras rich duck liver pâté, then a gamey type of meat for main course (maybe wild boar or deer, with ostrich and kangaroo more recent options), followed by cheese, then an ice cream or cake (or both!) yule log. I did find some turkeys in our big local supermarket but they had a use-by date of the 23rd. Finally, a few days before Christmas, I found a turkey in Lidl - yippee ! They only had about four so it was sheer luck that I managed to nab one ! I couldn't find anything for making pigs in blankets though - no mini sausages and no bacon ! - but never mind. Christmas dinner was a success.


This was our Christmas dessert ... but we didn't eat it until the evening as we were all stuffed ! Vanilla and raspberry ice cream yule log. A lighter option than the usual Christmas pudding !


Our Christmas leftovers didn't seem to last long at all. I put most of the leftover roast potatoes, veg and turkey in a pie with some gravy for Boxing Day.


I managed to throw together a turkey stir-fry too, but the rest disappeared in turkey sandwiches, which the kids couldn't get enough of ! Two days later, it was all gone !


For New Year's Eve, we opted for an apéritif - this is usually eaten along with drinks, before sitting down for another huge meal. We decided to have an apéritif as our meal though, which was perfect after all the heavy eating. Plus there was ice cream yule log left over for dessert.


We'd stocked up on Malibu, cherry beer and alcohol-free kids' champagne, so there was plenty to drink too !


Apart from that, we've been chilling out and going to the beach for some fresh air.


We've been taking the bus down to the far end of the beach which, as you can see, has plenty of space for everyone. There are lots of other people about but they're those dots in the distance so there's no worrying about being too close to others.


There were even some people riding their horses along the beach.


We went for a look at the mirror-covered bunker. It was made into a graffiti-style piece of artwork - the anonymous artist (who eventually made himself known) never asked for permission before covering one of the bunkers in shards of broken mirror. It was a big hit with the locals so, when he announced that he was giving up on reinstalling the pieces of glass (and the costs of glue), the council said they'd take over. At this point, he said he wanted payment for his "work". I'm not sure what they decided in the end, or maybe it's still going through the courts.


I even managed to find the time to write a review this week and this is the review that best sums up 2020 in my opinion. Kawaii style face masks ! 

Well, that was 2020. We made it ! Fingers crossed that 2021 will turn out to be happier and safer for us all.

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Saturday, 2 January 2021

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 1

 


And here we are back at week 1- time for new beginnings and hopefully a goodbye to coronavirus too. I didn't do a menu plan for the final week as we were eating leftovers and nibbles. Time to get back on track. Sophie is still with us at the moment - she would have gone back normally but with Hastings entering zone 4, I don't even know if she can travel down from London. With Brexit thrown into the mix, we'll work it out next week ! :-/ Here's this week's plan. I'm going back to posting my plans on a Saturday, but this might swap to a Sunday - I can't work out if it's easier to plan then shop (good if they've got everything I need - and as my freezer is back up and running, I'm thinking this will work) or vice versa. Lots of family-friendly dishes from BBC Good Food this week.

Saturday

lunch- tacos

dinner- pasta with leftover taco sauce

Sunday 

lunchChicken, bacon and potato stew with green beans, mushrooms and carrots added

dinner- big mixed salad with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, mushrooms, bacon, onions, olives, .... and whatever anyone else can find in the fridge !

Monday

lunch- chicken burgers, rice & ratatouille

dinner - Meatball & garlic bread traybake with homemade coleslaw

Tuesday

dinnerSausage & leek mash pie, with extra carrots

Wednesday

lunch- spaghetti bolognese

dinner- Hungarian beef stew with rice

Thursday

lunch - One pan egg & veg brunch for me & Sophie, leftovers for Pierre


Friday

dinner - Twice-baked potatoes with bacon, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes & cheese stuffing

Saturday

lunch- omelettes (leftovers for Pierre)

dinner- spaghetti carbonara

Sunday 

lunch- roast dinner (chicken maybe?)

dinner- toast (or maybe soup with the leftovers, if it was chicken)

***Click on my Menu Plans tag to see all my other weekly menu plan blogposts.***

Katykicker

Thursday, 24 December 2020

The December 2020 Degustabox review : Sainsbury's


Just in time for Christmas, the December Degustabox arrived last week. The November box had had a festive and gourmet theme, so I knew that this month's box wouldn't have Christmassy products, but I didn't know what to expect, especially as we had been told that it would be something a little bit different this month : a Sainsbury's box, featuring new and interesting brands that Sainsbury's have discovered and launched in their stores. Sounds exciting !


Unpacking the box, I saw lots of things that I knew would get a warm reception. It actually reminded me of a selection of products that would be great for a picnic in the summer, but the kids would definitely have no problem trying them out in winter either ! There are lots of things that are great as part of a snacky party tea or to help use up the oodles of Christmas turkey. Time for a closer look.


Brave Roasted Chickpeas (RRP £1) are a new snack option that are high in protein and fibre, contain less calories than popcorn and are vegan-friendly. We got the Sweet Chilli flavour, which are a great savoury snack, but they are also available in Sea Salt or Dark Choc varieties. We loved the crunchy texture and the spicy flavour and would definitely buy these again. They also get bonus points for their green ethics as chickpeas are one of the most sustainable protein sources on the planet and the packaging is recyclable.

The Curators Cocoa Caramel Peanuts (RRP  £1.20) are a premium, plant-based, British-made snack, made with just four ingredients. Food-loving friends Max and Ed seek inspiration from around the globe for their snacks and I have to say, we were impressed. The peanuts are lightly caramelised then dusted with cocoa and a pinch of salt - very tasty. They are gluten-free, high in fibre and protein and contain 191 calories per pack. 


Capsicana Mexican Tomato & Chipotle Tinga Cooking Paste (RRP £1.30) is perfect with chicken, beef, pork, vegetables ... and I'd add leftover turkey to that list, as it sounds great for using up the post-Christmas leftovers. It is based on the Chicken Tinga dish from the state of Puebla. It has a mild spice rating and a smoky flavour that makes it a great option for a family-friendly dish. Dinner can be on the table in fifteen minutes - absolutely perfect !

Tiny Rebel CLWB Tropica (RRP £2) is a tropical IPA, made with pineapples, mangos, passion fruit and peaches. It reminded me slightly of pina colada so if you don't like beer, this would be a good choice for you ! I was intrigued about the name - it turns out that clwb is Welsh for club .... ahhh Club Tropicana, it makes sense now ! It has 5.5% ABV. Could be good for seeing in the New Year !


Good Earth Ginger, Turmeric & Lemon Tea (RRP £2.75 for 15 sachets) offers a zingy, zesty, fragrant cuppa, ready in just three minutes. If you want something to cheer you up when the coronavirus news is getting too much for you or to add a dash of colour to a bleak lockdown day, this could hit the spot ! 

DASH Water (RRP £1.25) is a fabulous idea. It's a British sparkling water infused with wonky peaches. That is, bent, crushed, curved, knobbly, misshapen fruit that isn't pretty enough to be served for eating. I think it's a great step for reducing food waste and, obviously, it makes no difference to the taste. Do you want some more good news? Zero calories, zero sweeteners, zero sugars ! Yes please !

Nexba Pineapple Soft Drink (RRP £1.25 for 1 litre) looks and tastes like a regular fizzy drink, except it has a sneaky trick up its sleeve - it's sugar free. It's also free from artificial sweeteners, fructose, caffeine, GMO and hidden nasties. It's vegan friendly and 100% natural. Even better, the kids loved it !


Leon Aioli (RRP £2.50) is a lovely garlic mayonnaise that has a rich flavour and can be used to liven up leftovers, sandwiches and salads. You could even try dipping carrot sticks or chips in it - they're both delicious options ! This has been available in Leon restaurants since 2004 and uses aquafaba, a chickpea stock, instead of eggs so it just happens to be vegan. Your Christmas turkey leftovers will love this in sandwiches and salads !

Peter's Yard West Country Sour Cream & Chive Sourdough Bites (RRP £2) are made using their signature sourdough starter, slowly fermented for 16 hours. Crafted from Shipton Mill flour, they are hand baked and richly flavoured with sour cream from West Country farms and British grown chives. They are made with natural ingredients, are suitable for vegetarians and are low in saturated fat, as well as being a source of fibre. They have a lovely crunchy texture and are very tasty.


Odysea Aubergine Meze (RRP £2.15) is a smooth blend of roasted aubergines that can be used as a dip or a spread - perfect for nibbling over Christmas and New Year. Besides aubergines, it contains extra virgin olive oil, garlic and parsley - no hidden nasties and it is suitable for vegans and vegetarians. It's beautifully thick with a smooth texture and smoky flavour, great on crackers or with breadsticks, carrot sticks or anything else you can think of to dunk in it ! This can be kept in the cupboard and only needs refrigerating once it's open, which may be handy when fridge space is tight over Christmas !


Pipers Crisps (RRP £1.20 for a 40g bag, £2.50 for a 150g bag) are a brand that we have previously sampled and we love the crunchy texture and the strong flavours. We really loved the Lye Cross Cheddar and Onion variety, but we appreciated the Atlas Mountains Wild Thyme & Rosemary crisps too, as they offer something a bit different. They're made with British potatoes, which is a definite plus point. Perfect for sampling in front of the telly over Christmas !


Finally, Tony's Choco Lonely Milk Caramel Sea Salt Bar (RRP £1.35) has the perfect name for this year's Coronavirus Christmas celebrations ! As chocolate makers on a mission to make all chocolate 100% slave free, they lead by example and show the world that chocolate can be made differently: in taste, packaging and the way they do business with cocoa farmers. They promise that the more people who join their mission and share their story, the sooner 100% slave free becomes the norm in chocolate. Sounds good to me ! The chocolate is very tasty too.

This box, packed full of things to put a smile on people's faces over Christmas and New Year, arrived at just the right time, as the new Tier 4 lockdown came into effect. A subscription to Degustabox costs £12.99 per month including delivery, with each box having a value of much more than that, but the great news is, I have a discount coupon code for you which means you'll get the first box for just £9.99 - enter code PKUFE at the checkout. 

for more information :

Also now on Instagram @DegustaboxUK

Disclosure : We received the box in order to write an honest review. As a Degustabox blogger, I receive all of the products that go into the monthly boxes, but subscribers may not get exactly the same selection.

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Giveaway #744 : Win a Grumbalina bundle - closing 8/1


I have partnered up with children’s author Karina Frederiks, who has recently launched the first in a series of new books: The Tales of Grumbalina and Friends. The six-part series looks at a young fairy growing up and dealing with the delights and stresses of innocence. 

Together we are excited to be able to provide you the opportunity to win one of the very first exclusive copies of the book, alongside a range of exciting and fun merchandise. The bundle includes a jumper of your choice, a children's t-shirt, a fairy tote bag and a copy of the book. There will also be a runner-up prize of just the book.

The series centres around the magical world of Pufftown, where the fairies live. It is a place of spells and magic where anything is possible and yet there are hurdles along the way that they must face: lack of motivation, jealousy and sometimes failure. However, together, the fairies learn valuable life lessons in facing these hurdles and discover the true meaning of friendship, perspective and rooting for the underdog. 

In the first book, Grumbalina and the Day Everything Changed, now available to buy online, readers meet Grumbalina and the other fairies and learn about their world of spells and magic. The school year has just started again after summer and Grumbalina doesn't want to go back. Not only does she struggle with her spells, she doesn't have any friends at school. But everything is about to change very quickly.

 This new series will take your children on a magical adventure and will resonate with readers young and old, with valuable lessons of friendship and growing up. 

 For more information head over to: 
www.grumbalina.com #grumbalinaandfriends

 *Sizes of merchandise are dependent on stocks at the time of drawing 

For your chance to win this exclusive bundle, check the instructions over on rafflecopter and hop on the next cloud and float into Pufftown. There is also a runner-up prize of the book.


UK only. Closing date : 8/1

T & C's : Entries close at midnight on the closing date. Winners will be selected with a random number generator and announced on facebook and in the giveaway post subject line. Please note, you will be contacted by email and/or twitter and if I haven't heard from you after 28 days, I'll have to pick another winner. Prizes will be sent out by the companies or their PR directly to winners. Madhouse Family Reviews cannot be held responsible for any prizes that go astray. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. The winners' personal contact information will be passed on to the PR/brand responsible and used only for delivery of their prize.


Monday, 21 December 2020

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 51

 


I haven't been shopping yet so this plan may well switch around a fair bit, depending on what they have (or haven't) got in the local shops, but it's better to have a plan all the same ! 

Monday

lunch- pork chops with rice & frozen veg

dinner -sausages & mash 

Tuesday

lunch- beefburgers (maybe in buns), chips & coleslaw

dinner- slow-cooker Spanish chicken with couscous

Wednesday

lunch- spaghetti bolognese

dinner- fish, rice & coleslaw

Thursday

lunch - chicken & mushroom pies, boiled potatoes & veg (or maybe coleslaw, if there's any  left to use up)

dinner- I'm thinking a nibbly "party tea" - crisps, peanuts, mini quiches and other nibbles, olives, chorizo, carrot sticks, chicken wings ... as tonight would be the traditional Christmas meal here in France, but we're doing things the English way !

Friday

lunch- Christmas dinner ... hopefully of the turkey variety but we will see !

dinner - turkey sandwich, or any other leftovers/nibbly bits, if anyone is hungry !

Saturday

lunch- turkey & veg pie with mash

dinner- leftovers? or maybe pizza, for something non-turkey related !


dinner- sandwiches or toast

***Click on my Menu Plans tag to see all my other weekly menu plan blogposts.***

Katykicker

Sunday, 20 December 2020

Project 366 : Photo diary week 51

 That's it, we made it to the holidays - woohoo ! I need to chill out, sort the house out (lots of cleaning, dejunking and tidying planned) and manage to put on a UK-style Christmas in a country that doesn't do turkey, pigs in blankets and Christmas pudding. This could be interesting ! I think I've got all the presents covered (a few are still awaiting delivery) and the tree is up, so I think I'm doing pretty well so far ! 


Sunday 13th December - As Christmas is nearly here and I'm still not entirely sure what will happen shops-wise (I have fears the new Covid virus will head over to us ... people were saying at our school this week that they wouldn't be at all surprised if the schools shut down again in January or February), I decided to head into town with the kids to grab the final few Christmas presents. Whatever hasn't been bought can be picked up after Christmas now, as the kids are too old to believe in Santa anyway !


Monday - Pierre had to do an art project for school using nothing but different kinds of paper. Juliette helped him out and he created a Christmas scene using tissue paper, card, foil wrapping paper and a couple of little pictures (of a lion and a star). I emailed it to his teacher (who is working from home) and he got 15/20 so he was well chuffed !


Tuesday - It is dark when I go to school in the morning (I'm at the bus stop by 7am) and it is already getting dark by the time I come home at the end of the day, but Juliette took this picture of the cool sunset (or it could be sunrise? I can't remember !)


Wednesday - After a morning at school, I headed back into town, this time to drop off some paperwork at the insurance company's office and to put in a cheque at the bank. There were big queues outside all the shops so I guess I'm not the only one to have left my Christmas shopping until the last minute this year !


Thursday - The French government announced last night that schools will remain open for the last two days of term, but any pupils who want to stay at home in confinement for a week before Christmas were entitled to do so. Pierre informed me that all of his class except for 4 pupils were staying at home. It didn't really seem worth going in in that case so he stayed at home. Juliette did go in, but only because she wanted to go and have fun in PE - strange child !! This is a picture of the sunset, which means that the other one was sunrise. It doesn't really look like winter, does it ?!


Friday - The final day at school - phew, I definitely need two weeks off to unwind ! An arty photo taken through the trees at the bus stop for today. That was as good as it got. I got home from work at 5pm and fell straight asleep on the settee !


Saturday - We wrapped up all the presents that had arrived by post during the week and the tree is totally surrounded by gifts now. Next job - working out what we're eating and grabbing all the festive food. I don't know if you remember that our freezer defrosted when we were on holiday the summer before last and totally stank afterwards. I haven't plugged it in since, using just the freezer box of the fridge and buying fresh meat on a weekly basis. Well, we went to investigate and it didn't smell anywhere near as bad so we plugged it in to see how it went. It actually seems useable so we bought a few bits to try it out. That would definitely make things easier, especially over Christmas.

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