Monday 30 November 2020

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 48

This week is going to be a busy week, with after-school meetings meaning I get home not just late but also knackered. Not good when faced with hungry kids ! Maybe Juliette will sort out food before I arrive (or maybe not !) Hmm, I think I need to plan on quick food this week.


lunch-  there is leftover kebab meat from our cheeky Saturday night takeaway - that should be good warmed up in a sandwich or wrap with some salad

dinner - there are also leftovers from our Sunday lunchtime raclette - potatoes, ham/salami and stinky raclette cheese. The kids can even throw it in the microwave before I get home, if they get too hungry.


dinner- sausages, eggs and mash - and I have to leave the eggs runny enough to dip the sausages in !


lunch- fish, rice & peas

dinner- chicken tacos


lunch - spicy creamy chicken with pasta

dinner- pizza


dinner - spaghetti carbonara (or leftover bolognese) for Pierre, Spanish omelette for me & Juliette


lunch-  fingers crossed, Sophie will be arriving home about lunchtime - I have no doubt we'll end up with a celebratory takeaway !

dinner- whatever we picked up in Lidl - I could make a cottage pie, maybe?


lunch- roast chicken, roast potatoes, veg & lashings of gravy

dinner- leftovers or toast

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


Sunday 29 November 2020

Project 366 : Photo diary week 48

This time last week, I was happily telling you that I'd finished off the big translation job and sent it all off for the Norway project. Then on Monday, I got an email. "Sorry, I've just found two more documents that need translating." *Sigh* Well, I've made a start on those but this week's job was filling in the end-of-term reports. The "conseils de classe" kick off this week - each class (I have seven classes - five main classes and two groups) has a meeting that lasts about an hour to an hour and a half, all after school. At least it's almost the holidays once they're over !

Sunday 22nd November - Just a lazy day, taking some time to chill out. Caught up with my family on the phone and Sophie on Facebook, then headed out for a walk with the dog and Juliette. This is what we have to fill out every time we go outside during the confinement. You have to put in all your ID details (name, address, date of birth, place of birth), the date and time and the reason for going out. Then you sign it and this pops up, giving you an hour's time outside. If you're stopped by the police without one, you get a fine (€125, I believe). It's fairly quick to fill out but it's a pain if you just need to pop to the corner shop !

Monday - It's my afternoon off so I had an appointment with someone about changing the boiler and all the government help that is available. They were cold callers who had phoned me and it actually fitted in with my current plans so I said OK. They said they'd come at 2pm, then phoned back and asked if they could come at 1pm. I said that would be a bit tight for getting home from work but 1.30 would be OK. Well guess what? They never showed up ! Blooming gits ! I waited in for about an hour then gave up. I went shopping in Lidl and ... ta-da ... they finally had some tinned tomatoes in. Yay ! They haven't had any for the last three weeks so I stocked up. I've been craving spaghetti bolognese and lasagne and chilli con carne and all those things that need tomatoes !

Tuesday - It's been feeling a bit nippy this week, so when I saw all these birds lined up on the roof opposite our house, I wondered if they were getting ready to emigrate. Either that or their loft insulation is rubbish and they were warming up their feet !

Wednesday - It's my afternoon off and I cleared lots of school work then chilled out online for a while. This website popped up in my facebook page and gave me a giggle. It's people who asked a photo editor to tweak their photos (in this one for example, the boys all want to be the same size) and he does all the changes quite literally. Some of them made me laugh ! It's here if you fancy a look.

Thursday - Usually I come home and catch up with the kids at lunchtime on Thursdays, as I finish at 11am and start again at 2.30pm. This week, though, I decided to stay in school and carry on filling in my school reports. I managed to get most of them done. Just one class left - phew !

Friday -  Finally the end of the week. And I even grabbed the time in my lunch break to finish off my reports. Yippee ! As you know by now, Friday afternoon finishes off with my naughty class (their last hour and mine). This week, one pupil was excluded, awaiting his "conseil de discipline", in which it will be decided if he gets kicked out of school or given a final chance. Then - completely unexpected good news ! - another of the troublemakers was called to give his books back because he's changing schools. This is great news as it will totally change the dynamics of the class. Phew ! I got home just in time to see the sunset with lots of birds flapping around in the sky.

Saturday - This was Pierre's breakfast that he made and proudly came to show me. Three slices of bread in a double-decker Nutella sandwich ! And he ate every mouthful then even finished his lunch not that long afterwards ! This actually gave me the idea of making double decker cheese on toast - hmmm, I might have to give that a go !

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Saturday 28 November 2020

Fab freebies of the week 28/11


Stop the world, I wanna get off ! I am absolutely knackered ! I feel like I've spent the last few weeks just running around, trying to clear through a backlog of work - if it's not marking, it's filling in reports and then there's the big translation job to finish off too. Add on top of that Christmas shopping, plus all the end-of-term class meetings about to kick off next week and I am absolutely pooped ! But it's the weekend, so I'm looking forward to chilling out, clearing some of the jobs off of my to-do list and catching up on sleep ! Hope you have something nice planned. Here's this week's freebies for you to peruse :)


Loads of free samples to grab with your shopping at CheckoutSmart : Alpro My Cuppa Soya Drink, Alpro Chocolate Praline Drink, FAGE Junior Vanilla Yogurt, FAGE Junior Strawberry Yogurt, Kelloggs All Bran Prebiotic, Kelloggs Crunchy Nut Choc & Nuts Bars, Rice Krispie Square Vanilla Thins, Flyte Energy Drink, Organix Melty Veggie Sticks, Irn Bru Energy, Irn Bru Energy No Sugar, ... loads of these are Black Friday offers so get in quick as they're only valid for a couple of days.

Order a letter from Santa from the NSPCC (recommended donation £5)

Now available on Send Me a Sample: La Española Olive Oil. Exclusive to users living in Central and South East England only

Try a free can of Nordic Spirit nicotine pouches - could be handy if you're trying to give up smoking or vaping in the New Year. Use code FREESAMPLE at checkout for the free pouch with free shipping.

Over on Trnd : GilletteLabs Heated Razor for Men EXCLUSIVE: Be one of 80 influencers to try Gillette's unique, high-tech razor! Experience luxury shaving and spread the word!

Win one of 500 pairs of ready to drink cocktails with Gordon's and Smirnoff 

 To help stop the spread of Covid and the damage that single use masks are causing on the environment, Joosapp are giving away high quality, reusable Joos masks - completely for free! 

 Black Weekend offer! 
Are you exposed to bad odors? allergic? exposed to bacteria? Try NOSA product for free. Send us a DM to request a free sample of NOSA allergy filter, NOSA smog filter or NOSA odor protection! - * Valid until the 30th of November 2020.

Mums (and dads), grab some free nappies from Pampers ! You’ll get not one but two packs of Pampers Active Fit Taped nappies. Crack into the first pack right away and then, when you post your pictures to Instagram, have the second pack in the photo so your fellow mums, dads and kiddie carers know what they’re looking for when they buy.

M&Ms have a fun pinball game with prizes to be won daily

You can grab a sample of DryNites Pyjama Pants too

When you visit one of our participating stores and bring five empty products to one of the in-store recycle bins, we’ll give you 500 Boots Advantage Card points – that’s worth £5! We’ll also track how many empties you bring back so you can see the positive impact you’re making to the planet. What can I bring back? We’d love you to bring back beauty, wellness, healthcare or dental products that you can’t recycle through your household waste. It doesn’t matter what brand they are or where you bought them, we’ll make sure they find a new lease of life. Take a look at our T&Cs for a list of things we can and can’t currently recycle.

 Sign-up now to the Taco Bell UK app and you can redeem a FREE Chalupa Cravings Box until 28th December! Once registered, you can grab your free Chalupa Cravings Box via Click and Collect or takeaway. The Chalupa Cravings Box includes a Chalupa Supreme, a crunchy taco, a portion of cinnamon twists, regular fries and a regular soft drink. So what are you waiting for? Head down to your local Taco Bell restaurant now!

You can see previous weeks' freebie roundups by clicking here but be warned, many of the offers are only valid for a short time. Let me know if any have expired and I'll remove them from the roundup.

You may also be interested in my current giveaways :

coming soon !

Monday 23 November 2020

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 47

This week, we stayed on plan most of the time, although I still didn't get to make corned beef hash as I was using up leftovers. Right now, I'm so knackered I'd be happy to eat nothing but sandwiches all week ! I don't think the kids would be happy though ! Juliette is studying from home next week (it's her turn for "week off" at school) so she might even take over on the food front, if I'm lucky. I doubt it though so I'm going for quick options !


lunch-  spaghetti bolognese

dinner - sausage rolls, mash and peas


dinner- chicken pie (chicken, mushrooms, gravy, carrots, peas) with rice


lunch- Quiche lorraine, boiled potatoes and salad

dinner- I have some stand 'n' stuff tortilla shells so something like fajitas with rice


lunch - I'm thinking there will be leftovers

dinner- Battered fish, couscous & ratatouille


dinner - right, third time lucky ! - corned beef hash


lunch-  spaghetti carbonara

dinner- pizza


lunch- raclette (melted cheese, potatoes, ham/salami, etc, gherkins)

dinner- toast or leftovers

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


Sunday 22 November 2020

Project 366 : Photo diary week 47

This week could be summed up in one word : busy ! On top of sorting out the car and finishing off the translation (phew !), we finally started tackling Christmas shopping. We got a lot done, but I definitely don't feel like I've had a weekend so I'm not looking forward to going back to work tomorrow ! I haven't even had the time to do any blogging all week. Hopefully I can catch up this week ! :)

Sunday - A nice quiet day. Well, in theory ! I cleared another one of the translation documents so, once I'd got through the laundry (washing one load and folding another) and had a shower, I didn't even have the time or energy to phone home this weekend. Not good ! A strange sunset today, with pink-tinged clouds hanging in the sky above a strip of pale blue. It probably means something but I am not Wincey Willis, alas !

Monday - After a morning at work, I dashed home and sorted out lunch, then the neighbour came and picked up the car to take it in for its MOT. Pierre was feeling ill - he'd spent all morning thinking he was going to be sick and wondering if he'd be allowed to take his mask off if he did (he even asked his teacher !) so I told him he could stay at home for the afternoon. After a bit of a sleep, he felt better - phew ! The neighbour brought the car back. There'd been a problem - he couldn't accelerate. It turns out, the filter that he'd swapped over beforehand had a problem (they'd all been called back) so he put in a new one and will take back the car on Thursday. I'll have to sort out the insurance again. (It's only insured in the garage, as it's never usually out on the road.) Dashed off to the shop, passing by the town hall. In theory, this will be transformed with Christmas decorations next week.

Tuesday - A busy day at work so no news to share today. I headed in to the kitchen at bedtime, as Juliette was sorting out her hot water bottle. She'd plonked the dog on the counter while she waited for the kettle to boil and the silly thing was just sitting there waiting. I shook my head at her and at him for putting up with her ! (Can you see all the dust in my oven door? I have no idea how to get it out as it's in between two glass panels with a narrow gap between them and there's no way in there. Even the vacuum cleaner nozzle won't fit - I've tried ! Any suggestions ?!)

Wednesday - Morning at work, afternoon chilling out at home. In my dreams ! Dashed off to the supermarket for some school bits (pens, paper, glue, ...) for Pierre and Juliette that needed replacing. It's a pain now that most of the shops are shut with coronavirus restrictions, as I have to go further afield. They've got their Christmas decorations up at the supermarket now though, which is nice - the illuminated reindeer looks lovely and festive. It's actually made me realise just how close Christmas is !

Thursday - Another busy day at work. Came home for lunch and let the neighbour in so that he could take the car out of the garage and drop it off (again !) for the MOT. This time it came back with a clean bill of health - phew ! Absolutely knackered so I didn't bother doing the translation this evening and chilled out in front of Netflix instead. I've started watching The Crown, which is quite interesting, but I have no idea how truthful it all is. I didn't realise that the Queen and Prince Philip were looking at divorce in the early days. They always seem quite cosy with each other these days ! Juliette played around with her phone camera and took this fish-eye picture of her and the dog !

Friday - My late start to the day - I don't have to leave home until just after 10am. After getting the kids off to school at 7am/7.30am, I headed back to bed with my laptop and chilled out - bliss ! It was nice to get up after the sun for once - I'm normally heading off to the bus-stop at 7am when it's still dark. Another big run in with the "naughty" class. I picked them up after the afternoon break and one of the troublemakers was totally stressed out (he'd had a run-in with another one of the troublemakers and "couldn't take it any more" ...) and the liaison officer (almost like a social worker - she deals with all the problems outside of school, linked to the pupils' families, that have a link to how they are at school) told me things couldn't go on like this, she'd spent the whole break reassuring the girls who were in tears because there had been a fight in an earlier class. Took them up to the classroom, had a good shout at them (because they were all hyperactive and not at all concentrating on the lesson) and actually had a pretty good class with them. Just at the end of the lesson, the headmaster and deputy headmistress came to the classroom - things will not be left to go on like this, changes will be made as from next week, all the troublemakers had better change their ways extremely quickly or measures will be put in place to solve the problem radically. Oo-er, I don't even know what they'd done ! Another evening off, chilling in front of Netflix - my brain is frazzled !

Saturday - I know, you can't even see what this picture is, but it's my translation folder with all of the files completed - at last ! Yippee ! Sent it off to the team in Norway. Now I can just forget about it - phew ! Had a lazy day to celebrate - chatted to Sophie online, went food shopping, walked the dog and watched Ghost Adventures on TV. Bliss :)

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Saturday 21 November 2020

Fab freebies of the week 21/11


What with work and crashing through the big translation job when I get home and sorting the car out for its MOT, this week has been very full-on. I'm starting to feel in need of a holiday but we have a few busy weeks to get through first. Oh well, let's start the weekend off in style, with this week's roundup of the best freebies. Hope you find something you like :)


Take part in a Winter Wellness Challenge - "I will receive one sachet of Turmeric Golden Paste for People from The Golden Paste Company once I have completed the challenge and submitted my details in full using the form."

Simply register or sign into your account for a chance to win 1 of 20,000 free samples of a NESCAFÉ in1 coffee of your choice. The prize draw shuts on 8th December, best of luck!

Get a FREE Sample of Avène Aqua-Gel. A 3-in-1 moisturiser for dehydrated skin. 

 To celebrate our first year in business at, we're giving away 100 prizes! Climb the leaderboard to unlock goodie boxes, rewards, candles, melts and more...

Grab the McDonald's app and if it's your first time, you'll be entitled to a free cheeseburger. Ends tomorrow so be quick !

Be in with a chance to cosy up in 1 of 200 Limited Edition Nutella Christmas Jumpers

And finally, try to grab a McDonalds Christmas jumper too !

Answer the question and fill in the form below to be in with a chance to win one of at least 15 Cockburn’s hampers every month. Packed full of food, goodies and of course Cockburn’s Special Reserve, we’ll give you everything you need to enjoy a big night in at home with those closest to you.

Now available, only on Google Assistant, SB Reserve CBD oil. Just say to your Google Assistant… “Ask Send Me a Sample for SB Reserve” 

 The first 2000 Marie Claire VIP users to install the Marie Claire VIP chrome app will get a free Illamasqua lipstick. The next 3000 will get a free lipstick with £20 purchase from Illamasqua. 

 Win 1 of 50 limited edition Olio della Villa olive oil bottles!

You can see previous weeks' freebie roundups by clicking here but be warned, many of the offers are only valid for a short time. Let me know if any have expired and I'll remove them from the roundup.

You may also be interested in my current giveaways :

coming soon !

Monday 16 November 2020

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 46

Well ... last week I went totally off plan, but it isn't my fault ! I went shopping on Tuesday and they were clearing out the meat/fish aisle in preparation for the bank holiday, I suppose. It was all short-dated though so I worked through everything that I bought, ignoring the menu plan. I'll catch up this week and list what I made last week in brackets, just in case you want a little nose at what we ate !


lunch- leftovers

dinner - chicken, red peppers and pasta (with cream? - it's basically a use-up-whatever's-lurking-in-the fridge dish !)


dinner- chicken burgers, ebly & ratatouille (we had creamy, spicy prawns with couscous last week)


lunch- pork paupiettes & pasta (we had leftover beef stew last week)

dinner- Slow cooker pineapple chicken with rice (we had chilli con carne last week)


lunch-  spaghetti bolognese (leftover chilli last week)

dinner- Battered fish, wedges & peas (smoked salmon in cream with pasta last week)


dinner - corned beef hash (veal stew last week)


lunch-  beefburgers, rice & grilled tomatoes (leftovers last week)

dinner- pizza


lunch- ribs, rice & coleslaw (beef stew last week)

dinner- cheese on toast or leftovers

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


Sunday 15 November 2020

Project 366 : Photo diary week 46

 This week could be summed up in one word : work ! In fact, that pretty much sums up the weekend too. I've been asked to translate all the reports for the Norway project from French to English, so that's 10 times about 6-10 pages to get through - eeek ! I hit it hard this weekend, as I know things will get busier at school in the upcoming weeks near the end of term, so I did one report yesterday, one this morning and one this afternoon. There are only two left to slot in somewhere this week now - thank goodness for that ! I have to admit, when I've been seeing people online moaning about being in confinement, I did think to myself that I quite fancy a quiet few weeks, dealing with everything from the comfort of my own home without heading out into the cold and the dark and the rain and the wind every morning ! Who knows what will happen though? We'll see. This is probably just me feeling sorry for myself as Juliette has been on a week-off this week (in her new week on-week off timetable to reduce numbers in class). It'll be a shock to the system going back to school tomorrow for her ! 

Sunday - I knocked up a beef stew in the slow cooker today, with beef, carrots, onions and ... a tin of cherry tomatoes ! I didn't even know you could buy tinned cherry tomatoes, but they are currently the only tinned tomatoes available. I usually head to Lidl and they haven't had any for the last two weeks, so when I popped to Carrefour, to grab a Sodastream gas cannister, I decided to head to the tinned tomatoes aisle. They were completely out too, except for five tins of cherry tomatoes. Well, I grabbed three of them. They're good enough !

Monday - After a morning at work, I had to dash back home , grab a quick bite to eat, brush my teeth then dash off to the dentist's. I was the only one there - they put one appointment every half an hour so the whole place is empty. The receptionist took my coat, opened the door to let me in the waiting room and then shut it behind me. There was one chair and an empty table - it's usually covered in magazines. It felt very strange, almost like being in prison or in solitary confinement ! Anyway, she replaced my filling that fell out back in the summer - at last ! Back home and the neighbour was busy swapping over the car battery that he'd gone and picked up for me. The next minute, broom ! It was working again ! Looked up the price online and he's going to help me sell it (he's a mechanic and is used to buying up old cars, repairing them then selling them on so he knows what he's doing ... unlike me !). He organised the MOT too so that's next Monday (well, tomorrow, by the time you're reading this !) - it's all go here ! After he'd finished, I cleared some of the translation. It's a totally grey day, raining on and off all day. Yuck !

Tuesday - As tomorrow is a bank holiday, I did a quick dash to Lidl after work for some shopping as I'm not sure if it's open tomorrow or not. They were clearing out pretty much all of the meat/fish section, so I grabbed loads of things that we don't normally buy - prawns, two lots of smoked salmon, veal, stewing beef, ... Juliette wanted the prawns straight away so I cooked them up with some cream, onions and spices and served it with couscous. Ten minutes and dinner was on the table. Can't get quicker than that !

Wednesday - A bank holiday and I had nothing planned - phew ! I cleared some more of the translation and caught up on washing. This is one of the big spiders that lurks in our kitchen. I keep throwing them out of the door but there always seems to be one. Juliette absolutely hates them (well, I can't say I'm overly keen either !). At the end of the afternoon, a plumber (friend of the neighbour) came round to give us a quote for changing the boiler. He suggested going for a "pompe à chaleur", which I think translates as a heat pump. It's a lot more expensive but there are lots of bonuses available from the government so I need to look into it. I asked for a quote for a normal boiler too, to compare.

Thursday - Back to school. I couldn't even head home for lunch with Pierre (and Juliette this week) as I had meetings for the naughty kids, along with their parents, other teachers and the headmaster. Hopefully it'll do some good ! Sophie is looking at coming home for Christmas in a couple of weeks (blimey, I didn't realise it was coming around so quickly !) so I grabbed some advent calendars as our first nod towards Christmas ! It was buy one, get one half price so I had to get one for me too - hee hee hee !

Friday - Friday is my lazy day, when I don't start until 11am ... well, except for today, as I had more meetings with the naughty pupils and their families from 9.30am - boo ! I shoved some meat, potatoes, carrots and leeks in the slow cooker and left it to work its magic while I was at work !

Saturday - A day of working on the translation, clearing a few odd jobs around the house and watching some Netflix - I've just started watching The Crown. I'm only on series one and everyone is talking about series four coming out, so I need to catch up ! This dingy photo of the sun starting to set is about 4.30pm - aaagghhh ! I hate it when it's already dark when I come out of work !

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Saturday 14 November 2020

Fab freebies of the week 14/11

It's been a busy old week, with various meetings at work, alongside a big translation job that needs doing for the Norway project. I'm looking forward to the weekend ! Hope you have something nice planned. Let's kick things off with some lovely new freebies to apply for :)


This one only works on mobiles but it looks great - Doritos are giving away 10,000 packs, as well as 100 PS5s. Get in there !

Grab a sample of Always Platinum 

Over on the Arm & Hammer instagram page : Want to get yourself a free sample to try? Just share an image of your basin WITHOUT Arm & Hammer™ to your story, tag @armandhammeruk_official and #SinkShare and we will send you out a free sample to trial at home (UK residents only).

The festive games are kicking off ! Download the One Stop #EddysChristmasHeroes app and win loads of exciting prizes including chocolate reindeer :)

Buy two Nestlé wholegrain cereals with a green banner and claim back £1.50

Try Harringtons Natural Choice cat food and claim your money back

Join the 7th Heaven VIP Angel Club for product tests, exclusive giveaways and more

McDonald's have 40 pairs of football boots up for grabs

Maskne (mask acne) is a new skin problem that needs to be dealt with - 65 people will receive a bundle of skincare samples and asked to give feedback

Free4You looks like a great site for product tests - they currently have Bepanthen Nappy Care Ointment up for grabs

@enriched_coffee  FREE SAMPLES are going fast! Congratulations to the person who bagged our last Dark Cherry pouch, your coffee will be sent out First Class tomorrow. Are you in the UK? Sign up free and claim yours today! #freecoffee #freesample #freesamples #getenriched

You can see previous weeks' freebie roundups by clicking here but be warned, many of the offers are only valid for a short time. Let me know if any have expired and I'll remove them from the roundup.

You may also be interested in my current giveaways :

Thursday 12 November 2020

Book review : A Killer Came Knocking - S. B. Caves

From the title to the picture on the front cover, A Killer Came Knocking looks like it is going to be a classic work of crime fiction. It turns out that the end came as a surprise though, but I'm not telling you about that - you'll have to find out for yourselves if you read it !

The book starts in a supermarket. Jack, minding his own business, picking up some shopping, has the shock of his life when he sees a man with striking green eyes walk in front of him. Jack is is mesmerised and follows the man to find out where he lives. Those eyes are unmistakable - he has to find out more.

It turns out that Jack's pregnant wife was murdered at her door step several years ago. When she opened the door, someone slashed her throat and, as he ran away, Jack saw him, locking eyes with the killer. Those eyes will never leave him ... and he has just seen them again in the supermarket. Jack's mission sounds simple - he needs to kidnap the man and find out why he killed his wife. 

He calls on an accomplice - his dead wife's twin sister, Emily. She is still suffering, missing her sister and subject to haunting nightmares, so she agrees to help him out. But how far will he go? As things start to veer off plan, she finds herself getting dragged deeper and deeper into the kidnapping plot. She is starting to have doubts - is this the right thing to do? Are they even totally sure that this is the right person? - but Jack is in charge and leaves her no choice.

I actually felt very sorry for Emily. After enduring the pain of losing her twin, she is dragged into things that she doesn't really feel comfortable with and the end of the novel suggests that she will end up paying the price, despite being a largely unwilling participant. Jack is a trickier character to relate to. While he is clearly still suffering from the anguish of his wife's death, his anger and manipulative character make it harder to feel sorry for him. His girlfriend, May, seems completely crazy, switching from sickly sweet lovey-dovey behaviour to screaming, raging tantrums when things don't go her way. Thinking about it, none of the characters in the book really seem worthy of much compassion !

It's an interesting read, with a twist at the end that came as a surprise. The narrative is left open-ended, giving the reader the job of working out what will happen to the various characters. I found this unsatisfying, as I doubt there will be a sequel. 

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £8.99

  • Paperback : 352 pages
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1788637657
  • Product dimensions : 12.9 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Publisher : Canelo (23 Jan. 2020)
  • Language: : English

Monday 9 November 2020

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 45

This week, I'm at school, Pierre is at school and Juliette is at home - lycées (upper high schools) are starting one week on/one week off teaching in half classes. Who knows where we'll go from here ?! I need to go shopping tomorrow so the menu plan may change, depending on what meat they have at the supermarket.


lunch- leftover chicken & potatoes

dinner - chilli con carne & rice


dinner- chicken burgers, ebly & ratatouille


lunch- pork paupiettes & pasta

dinner- Slow cooker pineapple chicken with rice


lunch-  spaghetti bolognese

dinner- Battered fish, wedges & peas


dinner - corned beef hash


lunch-  beefburgers, rice & grilled tomatoes

dinner- pizza


lunch- ribs, rice & coleslaw

dinner- cheese on toast or leftovers

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


Sunday 8 November 2020

Project 366 : Photo diary week 45

 Back in confinement, but schools are still open, so it makes basically no difference to us, as we're all heading off to school each day. As a teacher, I was expecting even more measures to be brought in (or brought back in, compared to how things were before the summer, with half classes and kids working to a week on-week off rule) but things are just carrying on the same as usual. That said, we were pretty hot on COVID measures before the new lockdown anyway and were doing a lot of things that Pierre and Juliette's schools haven't been doing. What annoys me is getting on the bus each day - they are always packed, with all the pupils on their way to lessons (which is fair enough) but also old people heading off to town to do their shopping, parents out with their baby in a pram, ... We're supposed to be in a lockdown so why are they still out and about ?

Sunday 1st November - It's a bank holiday (but totally pointless as it falls on a Sunday - boo !) for Toussaint (All Saints' Day), the day where most French people go to the cemeteries to honour their dead loved ones. Now call me miserable, but I always avoid going. I have nothing against going to the cemetery with flowers but why do it just once a year ? The price of flowers goes up for this weekend, as everyone is buying them, which annoys me too. We go to the cemetery for Madhouse Daddy on a regular basis and I don't need a special day to tell me to go, thank you very much ! I had a little giggle looking out of the window and seeing this car. It's a "voiture sans permis", a "car without a licence", which has only two seats and a maximum speed of something below the limit. I don't know how true it is but Madhouse Daddy always used to say that they cost a fortune so the only people that drive them are either people who drive really badly and can't pass the driving test or people who have had their driving licence taken away.

Monday - Back to school. We started off with a meeting then each form teacher paired up with another teacher and decided what they'd do with their pupils for an hour and a half. We had to do a lesson on Samuel Paty, the teacher murdered by terrorists just before the holidays, and freedom of speech, the values of France and the rules/freedoms of French schools. Nobody really knew what to say but we managed to fill the 90 minutes allotted to us ! Our "Vigipirate" measures (anti-terrorism security plan) have been put back up to the top level, so, on top of worrying about COVID, we also have the armed military jeeps circling and sitting outside of our schools. Scary times ! I had to shoot back to school for a meeting in the afternoon, then dashed back home and let the plumber in. He started at 5.15pm and didn't leave until about 8.30pm. Our insurance covered the transport fee and one hour's work, but I still had to pay €150. Oh well, it had to be done and I didn't even mind because ... da da dum ... he managed to get our hot water working again ! Yeeesssss ! Even he struggled to manage it, which made me feel better, so fingers crossed it stays on now.

Tuesday - A full day at school. Shocked at how many people, besides school kids, are waiting at the bus stops and filling up the buses - they're absolutely packed. Absolutely great for COVID - not ! I finished reasonably early (3.30pm) so it wasn't dark by the time I got home. It won't be long though. I decided the gap between the clouds looked like a little heart. Absolutely enjoying the hot water - had a luscious shower tonight !

Wednesday - A half day at school. Popped to the shops and was reassured to see that they still have plenty of everything, including toilet roll ... but no tinned tomatoes ! I'm assuming it was a problem with a stock delivery rather than anything to do with COVID. They had loads of Christmas sweets in so I decided to give the kids a treat ! Got home and I'd missed a call from the insurance, checking that the problem had been dealt with. I decided to stick my head in the garage before calling them back and ... there was water running down the wall again, in exactly the same place. No !!! Phoned the plumber who sounded surprised and agreed to come back but warned me that if it's not the same problem, he'd have to charge again. He advised me to call back the insurance and see what they suggested. Phoned the insurance - they said that I'm entitled to two call outs per year so to call him back. If it IS related to the first call, he'll do it for free. If it ISN'T related to that, call them back and put in a new claim. Called him back and set up a new call-out on Monday.

Thursday - Full day at work. Had one class where everything was kicking off, so spent ten minutes dealing with each problem (basically three "naughty" kids all playing up for different reasons). It was wasted time from my lesson but the next class was with a replacement teacher, who had just arrived to replace a pregnant colleague in maths, so I needed to calm things down before he tried to start with them. The CPE (it's a job that doesn't exist in UK schools - she deals with all the detentions, punishments, phoning parents, absences, etc) - arrived at the end of my lesson to have a go at them too, as they'd been playing up beforehand. Good to know it's not just with me then ! Back home, looking out of the window, I realised that all the leaves have disappeared from the trees. They were there the last time I looked - maybe a week ago ?! Things change fast around here !

Friday - Normal day at school. Had the nightmare class from the day before and they were as good as gold. I think we're getting there with them - phew ! Juliette was feeling sick so took the day off school. Hopefully nothing to do with COVID. (A boy in one of my classes was off at the start of the week with tummy aches and his doctor sent him to do a COVID test, so who knows ?!) She found out at lunchtime that she has no school next week, as they've started a week on-week off system with half classes. The neighbour called round and changed my leaky toilet flush and leaky kitchen tap. They've been bugging me for soooo long ! Better news for the planet and my pocket (in no particular order !) Why is it that whatever DIY job you're doing, there's always one screw left over at the end ?!

Saturday - Spent the day at home and actually felt like we were in confinement for the first time. The kids discovered that our new tap has a normal water function and a spray function, which they love ! I have to find something to get all the limescale off the back of the sink from behind the old tap now though. Grrr !

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