Friday, May 1, 2009

A vacuum called Henry......................

Now as everyone knows I do not like housework. All that hard work and effort and it needs doing again shortly thereafter! Anyway the cottage we are renting is furnished and whilst some of the items are not too bad, others are obviously the cast offs used in most second homes. The vacuum cleaner is one of them. It is a 'Henry' cleaner and is bright red with cute nose and eyes. There the fun ends as it works for about 5 mins then cuts out presumably because it is old and overheats! Fortunately most of the house has tiled floors, very cold in this climate but easy enough to keep clean. There are two large carpets one in the main bedroom and one in the lounge area. These are the bane of my life as I have resorted to good old fashioned broom cleaning as I just cannot be bothered with Henry's idiosyncrasies. The hassle of bringing him downstairs together with all his bits and bobs is not just worth the effort.
Today is Mayday, celebrated in most parts of the world as a public holiday. Whilst out shopping yesterday I was aware that there were tiny bunches of Lily of the Valley on sale as well as being attached to supermarket tills. On doing some research I discovered that this tiny flower is considered a lucky charm as it always flowers around this date and it is tradition to offer friends and family a lily of the valley, the sprigs which naturally have 13 flowers considered especially lucky. May 1 is also the only day when muguet is allowed to be sold by people in the streets without having to obtain a business licence! This tradition is most practised in France and Belgium as well as in Switzerland.
I have also discovered that there is a Flower Exhibition at Nantes later this month. Apparently held every 5 years it is the leading French floral show and one of the most prestigious in Europe. Might be worth a visit! There is also a Gypsy Festival on May 24th in Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (come on now you can all translate that one!). Some 10 000 gypsies from across Europe will travel to France for a two day folklore festival centred on a Christian legend.
And then there is the Annual celebration of bread, held in the middle of May to celebrate Saint-Honore, the patron saint of bakers.

The two pictures above are of a traffic island in Pontivy. For weeks I have driven past this amazing display of flowers and said I must take a photogrraph. Yesterday it was pouring with rain and the flowers are starting to fade now. I had to jump out of the car, wait for a gap in the traffic and snap a quick couple of shots. Not the best I'm afraid but if the flowers are still looking good next week will try again.
I love books and when not working it is one of my greatest pleasures to sit and read. Megan recently sent me two books which she found at one of the London charity shops. Knowing that I miss my books and that there are few English language books readily available, she very kindly sends me a supply every few weeks! One of the bookst was The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. This book is wonderful reading and reminded of my African childhood. Set in Botswana it is written with eloquence and a gentle humour. Mma Ramotswe is a larger than life character, must try and get the rest of the series.
The second book which I am still reading is Elizabeth Gilbert's 'Eat, Pray and Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia'. I am enjoying this book and can empathise with Elizabeth's difficulty in emptying her mind to meditate. The book also contains some interesting factual information about Indonesia. However I am left with a feeling that this is a very lucky lady who can afford to take a year off from life to find herself.
Enjoy the weekend....................

A book is like a garden carried in the pocket. ~Chinese Proverb

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