Saturday, 29 December 2007

Prouder auntie

You are all of course familiar with Super nephew in all his loveliness:


Well, now this particular proud auntie has a Super niece too!


Isn't she the best? Of course, I am most grateful to Bro and Sis-in-law for producing a girl (lol lol), as this solved my possible dilemma on how to distinguish between two nephews. I couldn't have used super nephew 1 and 2 as this implies ranking. It was causing much consternation, but then Super niece arrived and problem solved. First girl to be born into my Mum's side of the family since me, in fact, so she is even extra special.

Why we pay for European breakdown cover

Or how not to end your trip home for Christmas:


We set off back to France this morning but didn't get very far. We made a quick pit stop at services on the M74 in south west Scotland, and Hubby had barely finished reversing out of the parking space as we set off again than the dashboard lights lit up in their very own Christmas display, the power steering failed and the engine started to make a very unpleasant noise. Hubby promptly re-parked. We sat for a moment then he tried the engine again. Warning lights and nasty noise. Off again. Hubby got out (in the rather horrid wintery shower) and looked under the bonnet. Looking under the bonnet only serves to confirm to me that I know nothing about cars or diagnosing what might be wrong with them. I mean, I can identify different bits of what's under there, but my automotive knowledge stops there. We tried the engine again. Same result.

I got the book of words out and found the page about warning lights. Under the battery warning light it said: when this light comes on, stop immediately and contact your Renault dealer. Oh bum. Oh bum oh bum oh bum. Hubby decided some oil might do the trick, even though the engine management system said it had plenty. He ventured off to the petrol station and instructed me to call Dad as my bottom lip started to tremble.

Hubby returned with oil and the news that the chap at the garage had called out a breakdown truck. I had stopped crying and found the number to call the insurance company. Felt better after we had spoken to them as the agent did a good job of being reassuring in a "we're here to sort it all out" sort of way. That'll be why we let them rob us blind for cover, so that when we need them, they can say "don't worry".

Meantime, Mum and Dad had leapt on their white chargers (read red Mégane and green Clio) and were en route to ground zero. When the recovery truck arrived the bloke took one look under the bonnet and said "ah yes I see the problem, it looks like the crankshaft". Does that sound bad to you too? He said it wasn't a very major thing to fix, providing it hadn't damaged anything else (I like the disclaimer). We transferred everything to Mum and Dad's cars and, declining Dad's kind offer of continuing home in his car and leaving ours in Scotland, we went back to Midlothian. I have decided that I'd rather stay here until we hear from the garage on Monday how long it will take (and how much it will cost) before going back to France.

Needless to say, the insurance company is delighted that we decided to go back to Mum and Dad's rather than requiring a hire car to continue our journey. Of course it is, costs less! So we are having an unexpectedly extended stay in Scotland until the voiture is fit to travel. You'd think I'd be pleased at getting extra time at home but in truth I would rather be in my trusty motor speeding southwards. Some folk are never satisfied.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Secrets of the handbag

Lovely Princesse tagged me to reveal the contents of my handbag. What an absolutely ace idea for a meme. I love handbags. I love shoes too. Don't know whether I love handbags or shoes more. The problem is my expensive tastes. I suppose it means that we don't yet have to buy a bigger house to accommodate my shoes and bags - I can't afford to indulge so often!

Having said that, I have still managed to accrue a reasonable handbag collection. There is the classy, minuscule "posh occasion" bag (big enough for camera, car keys and a credit card), there is the "cram in loads of stuff I don't need" bag (I have two of these, the exact same model from Mandarina Duck - one is blue and the other is pink, how fab is that??), there is the holiday mini backpack... Now, I only just changed handbags (I have a rotation system so none of them feel left out and unloved), to my grown up red leather Lancaster one:

It's actually a bit darker red than the photo, but anyway. I got it a couple of years ago and paid ... more than €100 I think. It has a lovely silky lining with LANCASTER sewn into it and I love the dangly heart thing.

Because I changed bags on Friday, I dumped a whole load of crap I didn't need (mostly receipts), and haven't yet accumulated any new crap. So the "bare minimum" stuff inside:

Hubby calls my bag a portable black hole. I beg to differ. Everything that's in there is essential at all times. And I can locate any item in less than ... well, I can find things.


So let's start with the gadgets. I'm quite a gadget girl really. Here we have my Palm (magic electronic memory - beeps at you when you have to do something), my camera (obviously not used to take these pics), my pink iPod mini (which is unfortunately dying, its battery won't hold a charge anymore - overused I think - so I might have to replace it soon), my USB memory stick, and my rather battered but much-loved Nokia phone (my ringtone is The A-team it's so naff!). I need all these electronic gadgets all the time. They are like life support devices. Especially my phone. How did we cope before mobile phones?!

These are the "practical" bits and bobs. Kleenex. I always have at least two packets of Kleenex. You can never have too many of them paper tissues. Lip balm (no explanation required). STYLE chewing gum "tabs" which have 3 kcal per tab, actually. That has sort of put me off them. Pens, always useful. Clarins Baume beauté éclair for emergency moisturising. And an empty packet of 1mg paracetamol tablets. I know, empty isn't much sodding use when you've got a stinking headache. I don't even know why I didn't dispose of the packet when I took the last tablet. I'm strange.

Specs for to see with. I wear them for the computer at work, occasionally at home too. And to watch the rugby on telly. And sometimes to drive with. I also have sunglasses for driving.

More practical stuff. My passport to be able to get back into Britain in an emergency (!) - well, you never know. Also serves as ID, which one must always carry in France. The grey wallet thing underneath everything else has my car insurance and owner's certificate, and my driving licence. One should have these documents on hand when driving at all times in France. My work badge, and my house keys. The car keys are somewhere else. Probably.


And finally the cash and cards! This is my lovely wallet that I bought in John Lewis last year. It's lovely soft black leather on the outside, and the lining is pink and violet and it's fab. I think I have at last found the wallet I need: zillions of pockets for credit cards, loyalty cards, health insurance cards and every other card I have, a decent pocket for coins, and plenty of space to shove credit card receipts. So as you can see, I have filled all the card slots rather well. The meagre supply of coins is quite usual, I never have any cash (and it is usually a mix of euros and pennies, too). That 20 euro note won't last long. And there are also about a thousand credit card receipts, which accumulate in my wallet until it is fat and full, and then I throw them out.

So there are the secrets of my handbag! Thank you so much Princesse for tagging me with this, and to Zhu for starting it. I've really enjoyed having a nosey look in your bags, hope you enjoyed mine!

Now I am going to go on technorati and catch up a bit. I am so very behind and very rubbish. Still, nevermind eh? Also hope very much to blog a bit more in the next few days, I might even manage it as our schedules are looking much less hectic. Bisous to you all!