The great man-bag debate and the turning of a modern tide

“It’s not a man purse. It’s called a satchel. Indiana Jones wears one.” Alan in ‘The Hangover’, 2009.


I recently had lunch with some friends. A few years back they purchased a property in France not far from where we live. It was to be a holiday home and my husband did some work for them and following on from that we became good friends. We try to meet up at least once during each of their fairly regular visits, usually for copious amounts of alcohol under the thinly veiled guise of some interesting, stimulating and intellectual adult conversation.

On this particular occasion, my husband was away on business so it was just the three of us.

During our many and varied conversations about books, writing, travel, potential additional house purchases, food, politics, the economy, my female friend piped up that her male partner (sat opposite us) had recently purchased himself a ‘man-bag’, she tittered, finding it all very amusing. Hailing from Glasgow and having previously been in the RAF I could see that this still did not sit comfortably with him. It was, I concluded, a source of some minor embarrassment. Continue reading “The great man-bag debate and the turning of a modern tide”

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A limbless donkey, the ‘C’ Word and Crimes against Art and Literature.

Without wishing for the main part of summer to be over already, I can’t help thinking about some lovely plans that we have in September and whilst I am wholeheartedly impatient for them to arrive, I realise that in wanting them to be here, I am effectively already writing off the whole of August.


Firstly, we are having some very good friends to visit during the first week of September, whom we have not seen for some time, excepting a very brief get together in February.  Brief get together’s are very pleasant, of course, but they really are not sufficient, for indeed my friend and I can talk the hind legs off a donkey when we are together, in fact, I’d go as far to say that where my friend is concerned, that poor donkey would be entirely limbless. Continue reading “A limbless donkey, the ‘C’ Word and Crimes against Art and Literature.”

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I was absolutely delighted to discover that my waist was only 28 inches, until I realised I had started at the wrong end of the tape measure!!

This week I have made numerous trips to the kitchen to open the same fridge and the same cupboards in the hope that they will have magically had their contents refreshed with something delicious for me to eat.


Alas, since I have not been shopping, their contents remained pretty much unchanged (apart from the bits I ate). It got me thinking about the magic wardrobe in the Chronicles of Narnia and I sat and imagined how satisfying it would be if I could just pop into my wardrobe and instantly be at the supermarket. I know it’s not exactly the most wondrous use of a portal between kingdoms but I’m really lazy and I hate going shopping.  Continue reading “I was absolutely delighted to discover that my waist was only 28 inches, until I realised I had started at the wrong end of the tape measure!!”

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Weird things I have googled this week: Pink Shower Slime, Armpit Rash, Is there a collective term for fruit and vegetables?, January by Pilot,1975.

It’s been a busy week this week; we have celebrated my husbands birthday with a garden party and barbeque, it was just a small family gathering, although the hoards of uninvited flies that gatecrashed the proceedings more than made up the numbers!

We have had family to stay and to entertain and in addition to this ‘normal’ life has continued.


Pink Slime: So after cleaning this weird substance away for the umpteenth time, I finally got round to googling ‘pink slime in the shower’ to find out just what exactly IS that stuff that seems to appear in our shower every few days? Continue reading “Weird things I have googled this week: Pink Shower Slime, Armpit Rash, Is there a collective term for fruit and vegetables?, January by Pilot,1975.”

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A cow called Marguerite, a donkey called Viktor and the lifestyle of possibly the poshest Vegetables in France!

The response to my blog launch has been very positive from friends and family and having spent a good deal of time, of late, dedicated to all things ‘blog’ related, I recently decided to have a complete day off (well almost) and visit the city of Limoges with a friend for a day of retail therapy and to ‘do lunch darling’.


We selected a lovely restaurant called Les Tables du Bistrot, arriving unfashionably very early and without any reservation at 11.55am, we dithered around outside for a few minutes wondering if perhaps it was something of an actual crime to be expecting to be allowed entry at this unholy hour. Continue reading “A cow called Marguerite, a donkey called Viktor and the lifestyle of possibly the poshest Vegetables in France!”

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I proudly present to you ‘My Family and Other Animals’ *

Seriously……don’t even ask !!!!

I would dearly love an impossibly cute, little, yappy dog, preferably a gorgeous fluffy little Pomeranian that I would, of course, insist on calling Pom-Pom, in fact, one just like this…….


This is Boo and he is ‘The World’s Cutest Dog’ and quite possibly the most famous, with in excess of 17 million fans! Isn’t he just adorable! Continue reading “I proudly present to you ‘My Family and Other Animals’ *”

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The curious disappearance of the completely unmemorable Cornetto!

I know that I said I would aim to update my Blog just once a week and generally that will indeed be the case, but on some occasions there will be stories that are more topical or time critical and on those occasions I will undoubtedly update more frequently.

It’s July and in central, rural France, that usually means saying hello to some pretty crazy weather. This year, it seems, will be no exception.


Our weather during the weekend just passed has been boiling hot with what felt like 100% humidity, whereby it was absolutely necessary to stand continuously in front of a fan on full blast whilst wearing as little as was absolutely possible. Unfortunately it is not possible to wear ‘less than’ nothing, even though at times I was sorely tempted to try and remove my own skin in my more desperate attempts to cool down. Continue reading “The curious disappearance of the completely unmemorable Cornetto!”

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To say I am accident prone is possibly an understatement, I rattle through life, like a hand grenade rolling around in a box of dynamite

Like a great many other people, I once thought that the nauseating bum-jiggling dance that is more commonly referred to as ‘twerking’ was an absolute breeze to replicate but having seen endless, uploaded, epic fail videos of people trying their damnedest, some with spectacularly, mortifying results and having once even attempted it myself with the outcome of looking like I was having some kind of seizure, I can conclude that simply ‘jerking’ is not the quite the same as ‘twerking’. It is actually quite difficult to master. 

So, it would seem, is this blogging lark and I’m beginning to think that launching my blog, ahead of actually spending time learning HOW to use it, will perhaps turn out to be another in a long line of ‘hasty decisions’ and one that required significantly more research, not to be mistaken for endless procrastination, which I appreciate is a common characteristic with many writers.
I had somewhat overlooked or failed to anticipate the technical capability required for such an undertaking in complete favour of my desire to get on with the ‘easy bit’, waxing lyrical and sharing my observations with my intended audience and despite a former career in IT, which admittedly, mostly consisted of me sending smart arse emails and bossing a few very capable technicians around, I can hardly profess to being an expert or a bit of a whizz kid.  In fact my technical abilities could quite easily be put to complete shame by my three year old niece, who is already quite adept at using an iPhone, an Android device and the TV and DVD player. When it comes to using any such touch screen device, I may as well be wearing boxing gloves or have hands resembling those utterly, useless grabbing claws found on the cuddly toy machines at funfairs, I am seemingly technologically-dyspraxic and my husband is forever having to save me from a classic case of digital-disorientation. The SatNav is quite possibly the worst of them all, it unconditionally hates me and deliberately misinterprets absolutely everything I try to enter into it’s parochial and prejudiced fields. I type ‘France’ and it suggests ‘Saint Kitts and Nevis’. 
Add to that, that I have very little idea about plugins, themes, widgets or CSS and therefore it is rather unsurprising that I find myself stumbling along blindly and also not surprising why there are indeed so many blogs about ‘how to start a blog’. Thank goodness for my very patient and long suffering brother who is an absolute oracle when it comes to understanding all things web based, his help and keen detective work when issues have arisen have been invaluable. 
Of course, I have looked at various tutorials and on line forums in a quest to better inform myself and I have tried my very best to concentrate and absorb the information made available to me, but I just don’t have the attention span to fully do it justice. 
I am a creative person, prone to flights of fantasy and easily distracted. I am not really equipped to ‘reading the manual’ or taking things very seriously, I am more generally accustomed to ‘winging it’ at every given opportunity and for one reason or another I find that my mind wanders very easily. This is very probably why I have never learnt how to play the piano, the violin, a guitar or even the tambourine. If I couldn’t just pick it up and instantly play like a maestro or musical savant, I immediately lost interest. I’m amazed that I actually ever learnt how to drive and pass my driving test. It was hard and required enormous amounts of concentration when there were so many other distractions.
Once, in very, very slow moving traffic, I tapped the back of a brand new BMW because I was busy admiring a pair of shoes being worn by a young lady who was walking on the path alongside my car and I returned my attentions to the road just a fraction too late to notice the illuminated stop lights in front of me. Myself and the BMW driver had to pull over at a convenient spot and inspect the cars for damage and I must admit that I told a ‘little white lie’ and said that I was momentarily distracted by an ‘unsupervised child’ who was running around on the path and I was fearful that they might run into the road. I thought this made me sound like a much more conscientious and sensible driver than someone who is thinking “Oooohhhhh, pretty shoes”…THWUNK. Thankfully there was no damage to either of our vehicles and after a perfectly courteous and pleasant exchange, we went on our respective ways. 
Some weeks later, I was back ended by an enormous tractor that almost wrote off my Honda S2000 (yes, I completely agree it is a rather strange and frightening choice of car for someone who is not actually that adept at driving!). I was stationary at a roundabout, at the front of the queue, when this big arse tractor decided to start moving. The sound of this huge metal beast practically mounting my tiny car was deafening and terrifying, as was the subsequent sound of my male passenger (my body building stepson) who swiftly exited the car and bellowed a continuous stream of rather choice expletives at said driver of tractor. To be fair, the tractor driver was probably more shaken than we were, hardly surprising when you take into account that he hadn’t even seen us….right there… in front of him……in a gleaming silver car! 
Anyway, the point I was trying to make, was that initially when I told my friends and family about this incident, they of course assumed that somehow this accident was my doing. They were entirely unprepared for the fact that it might not actually have been my fault, so well known is my propensity for distraction and attracting mishaps. As far as they were concerned, it stood to reason that I somehow was to blame for the fact that I was sitting in traffic and a bloody great big, ugly tractor had decided to try and drive through me.  I think one of my colleagues even assumed that I had reversed into the tractor. Who…. Me??? 
What followed was endless months of inconvenience at the hands of my completely farcical insurance company, not to mention the rather unpleasant experience of having to drive a Vauxhall Insignia which was like trying to steer a barge (because my ‘like for like’ insurance policy guaranteed me a ‘similar 2.0 litre car’ whilst my Honda was off the road….. similar???? really????) and all the while having to endure endless repetitions of  “I hear someone smashed your back doors in” by countless male colleagues who obviously thought they were the first person to utter such a witty and original remark. Guys, please, if your microscopic brain has managed to come up with that line, then believe me… are certainly not the first! 
But, yes, it is true that I am easily distracted and fickle and I fly headlong into projects with endless initial enthusiasm but sometimes with very little preparation, occasionally falling at the first hurdle and never very stylishly at that!
Never the less, my blog is now active following a few ‘technical difficulties’ and it is my intention to update it each week with any random, nonsense that I see fit.  
Until the next time.
Thanks for reading
The Virtual Recluse
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So, without further ado, I give you my very first Blog post

My husband, altogether too frequently, will suddenly blurt out “Why don’t you write your best selling novel and then we can realise our dreams of retiring to Spain much, much earlier?”

Oh dear, sweet, adorable, faithful husband of mine, it really is not that simple I will sigh to myself.

I’m sure that deep down he thinks I am just being lazy, a little work shy. I married an eternal optimist, who, for reasons unbeknownst to me, has an unequivocal, unshakeable faith in my abilities to actually achieve a career as a ‘best selling novelist’.

In many ways it is very flattering to know that he truly, unwaveringly believes I am sufficiently talented for this and that there is no doubt in his mind that I will succeed and on the other hand it is becoming increasingly, excruciatingly frustrating to try to explain the overwhelming difficulties I am currently faced with.

My husband is a practical, capable problem solver, he fixes things and therefore to him, there is always a logical solution to any problem.

One day he led me out of our house to stand and look at our barn that sits opposite. This huge cavernous building, with its metre thick stone walls is everything from a garage, workshop and overflow storage, to a gym and playroom and has even been used by our predecessors as a banquet room when they threw a huge party for the whole village.

“I need to re-point all the walls in this barn” he said looking thoughtfully across at the giant building “now if I look at it as a whole, it seems an impossible task, but if I do it a bit at a time, just chipping away at it, a little bit here, a little bit there each weekend, then before I know it, it will be finished” He grins at me, all positive energy and endless enthusiasm. His analogy imparted, he kisses me tenderly, gives me a squeeze, says he’ll be a couple of hours, winks at me and then saunters off towards the barn, no doubt to attempt to fix something else.

Bless him, there are a million reasons why I simply adore him,  not least for his support and absolute faith in me but I can’t help feel that he genuinely doesn’t understand my predicament and somewhat misses the vital point.

To complete his current project, he can just pop along to any number of similar hardware shops, buy the materials needed from a veritable array of choice and with, not a small amount of effort on his part I grant you, he can crack on with the job a little bit at a time. When he runs out of materials he can simply return to the shop and buy some more and carry on when time and energy allows him.

He just doesn’t realise that MY small, lone, single-employee shop is currently out of stock of EVERYTHING and very much struggling.

The ‘brilliant ideas’ shelf has been bare for months, the very last drop of ‘creative juice’ was exhausted weeks ago and the meagre stock of ‘backup plan’ reached it’s expiry date and had to be thrown out along with all  the ‘mediocre ideas’, the ‘crap ideas’ and the downright ‘desperate ideas’, not to mention the reams and reams of good quality paper where the odd reasonable suggestion were being held hostage amongst an army of ever encroaching doodles,  they were also relegated to the bin.

With all the best will in the world, all the right tools, ample time, a quiet peaceful home in which to work with few distractions and a very, genuine desire to ‘get on with it’ in order for us both to realise our dreams ahead of time, I am still missing the key ingredient….. enlightenment.

So, as I struggle, quite possibly for the rest of eternity, to finish my book, I have in parallel to that decided to start this blog, to unburden myself of my thoughts and frustrations and avail you of all of these choice witterings, completely for free.

I hope you enjoy this journey with me. I will do my best to keep you entertained as my sanity slowly unravels.

Thank you for being here

The Virtual Recluse


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