You stop writing for just a couple of days...

Hmph. You stop writing for just a couple of days, and people stop reading what you write. Oh ye of little patience...

I don't actually have much to say - it's been nice weather here recently, so I've spent much of my time on the beach. Story is now up to 78k or so, maybe 79k. Today I was encouraged to nearly explode a friend's flat - sadly, the gas still doesn't work. So not only did her flat continue to survive (and it is a gorgeous, gorgeous flat - if our own wasn't so lovely, I'd be jealous) but her boiler still doesn't work. So she has no hot water, and a house full of guests arriving tomorrow. That'll be fun then...

I may come back with interesting and/or relevant information tomorrow. Perhaps something educational about Workers' Day. Nothing in France is going to be open tomorrow, so I will have lots of time to look into it, particularly since it's apparently going to rain. Then you'll be sorry you unsubscribed to my lovely RSS feed. (Why doesn't my computer think unsubscribed is a real word? Am I spelling it wrong?)


Full moon

There's a full moon here tonight. It looks beautiful reflected in the sea, low and golden. I can hear birds singing, a dog barking and there's a train going past. And that noise that boats make when they move in the sea, a sort of clanking noise - I know very little about boats, so I've no idea what causes it. But it's the main source of noise pollution here, once the tourists leave.

There are worse places to live.

ETA: Pictures!

Full moon in Villefranche

Full moon in Villefranche

Full moon in Villefranche

Full moon reflection on the sea


Pendants and Earrings - a productive day in the sun!

(Cross posted to my jewellery, but I felt like sharing here, too... Why yes, I am putting off going running. However could you tell?)

Yesterday was a productive day! I made some new pieces and took some new photos of older pieces - a vast improvement!

Sterling silver and amber earrings:

Sterling silver and amber long earrings

Sterling silver and rose quartz earrings:

Sterling silver and rose quartz long earrings

Sterling silver and hammered copper earrings:

Sterling silver and copper hammered earrings

Sterling silver, hammered copper and white Akoya pearl pendant:

Sterling silver and copper hammered pendant with pearl

Sterling silver and labradorite pendant:

Sterling silver and labradorite pendant



It's definitely summer - it's been so hot this morning, it was a relief to walk in the shady streets of the old town, to go to the post office. Any tips on wasp deterrance would be very welcome though; they like summer, and Oscar, and I'm a little worried they might decide to set up home here...

Today's lunch is fresh, warm baguette from the best bakery in the world (although the baker is a bit grumpy, sometimes, today she was all smiley!), serrano ham, chilled chevre and pesto. No one is to even think of mentioning the calorie content in this meal, else I will find you and hit you. It's summer, calories consumed while preparing to go to the beach don't count.


Summer evenings

I'm sitting out on the balcony after dinner, writing this, watching the moon get brighter and brighter, with Oscar smelling lovely in the background. The only noises I can hear are the waves breaking on the shore, children laughing and birds singing. I spent the afternoon lying on the beach, in the sun, until it got too hot. This is the view I have at the moment:

Summer evenings in Villefranche

This is why I moved here.


New shiny things

Some earrings I made today:

sterling silver byzantine and kyanite earrings

sterling silver byzantine and kyanite earrings

Kyanite briolettes, sterling silver byzantine chainmaille (the rings are tiny - 2.4mm!)and handmade hammered sterling silver earwires. I like them.


It's still raining.

But I did go running - it was easier in the rain, oddly. I managed the whole thing, wasn't even close to dying, and then went to the supermarket afterwards.

We have lots of food now, I need never leave the house in the rain again.

In case you're interested - and I assume you're all hanging on my every word, else why would you be here? - meals chez nous for the next few days might be:

Lunch (today and tomorrow) - spinach rice (without feta, since I didn't get any)
Dinner (today and possibly tomorrow) - vegetable Thai green curry and rice (possibly with tofu, if I can work out how to cook it...)
Sunday dinner - chilli con carne
Monday dinner - white bean, chorizo and tomato stew
Tuesday dinner - chicken korma
Wednesday dinner - lemon tuna pasta

All this for the princely sum of €30. I amaze even myself, some days.


It's raining.

Or, if it's not, it's grey and bleh. I haven't actually got out of bed yet to check. I'm supposed to go running this morning; would it be too rubbish of me to put it off til tomorrow?

If I do put it off, will I actually go tomorrow?


Playing with paypal

Ignore this post.

I'm thinking there should be a way to make it so people can buy things from me, without having to go to Etsy or Dawanda and set up an account. Ideally, I'd put something on my website, but there are some technical limitations there. So I'll play here first and see if I can make it work.

Say I had these earrings for sale:

That button should, in theory, if you click it, take you to paypal, where you can easily give me 10 euros and should, further, allow you to tell me where to send it. I shall click it and see...

ETA: It works! Magic!


200 posts! I talk too much...

"Live in a world of your own, but always welcome visitors."

The sole point of this post is to act as a repository for random quotes I come across and like, and would otherwise lose. As such, it may be edited in the future, or I may forget about it entirely. Don't expect much.


Week 7 and lunch

Week 7 is all runs of 25 minutes, but with crap music. So I'm going to repeat Week 6, day 3 until it's time to move on to Week 8. Today's run went ok, too - I think I'm getting better at this. The last couple of minutes is still horrendous, but that might get easier with practice. It had better - next week, they add more minutes. Apparently the aim is to have me running 30 minutes non-stop by the end. Oh goody.

Today's attempt at cooking lunch was what can only be described as a failure. I tried to make Spanish omelette, and, well, it didn't work. All the ingredients were there - and cooked, even - but you would struggle to call it anything like an omelette. More like scrambled eggs with potatoes and red pepper. Tasted fine, as long as you don't actually look at it.

Will it keep til tomorrow? I had planned to have a nice half tortilla to eat for lunch tomorrow; instead I have a bowl of scrambled eggs. In theory, it should, since it's the same stuff as the tortilla would be. But my grasp of food hygiene is such that it's only blind luck that we haven't both died of food poisoning by now, so I'd welcome any advice...


Things that aren't so good...

Our balcony is falling apart, though. Concerned, we contacted the landlady who sent round the mason. A small Italian man turned up at my door this morning, wandered through to the balcony, took the broken bit of concrete apart and left again, saying "I might be back to put some more cement there. Don't worry."

I'm perfectly reassured now.

Also, my darling boyfriend went to work with our suncream. I am left with the remains of a bottle of children's suncream that probably won't last long enough to stop all of me from burning. I may sacrifice my lower legs to the greater good. Or stay inside til it's 3 o'clock, which is when I reckon I can go to the beach without burning. Maybe 3:30. Possibly 4.

There was something else I was going to talk about, but I can't think what. The sea distracted me. If it comes back to me, I'll be sure to share it. I bet you're all on tenterhooks.


Quinoa, running and jewellery

Excellent stuff, quinoa. I recommend it. Today I had a sort of quinoa tabouleh - except I don't know how to make tabouleh and I don't have any mint. So really, it was just tomato, cucumber, red and green peppers and quinoa, with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

But it was nice, so you should go and eat it. It even made tomato nearly edible.

Running yesterday was a triumph - 25 minutes all in one go, and I didn't die or cheat and have to walk - starting when you've walked up the hills and steps to the flat bit is the way to go, here, rather than running up them which is what kills me normally.

As far as jewellery goes, I've made a bookmark, and I've written a tutorial on how to make a helmsweave bracelet. But not done huge amounts else.


Copper wire twist bookmark 3
Copper wire twist bookmark 2 Copper wire twist bookmark 1


Flowers from the mairie

Turns out the event they're hosting at the mairie is a giant market. With flowers and cheeses and sausages and jewellery and Italian lessons and all sorts of things.

We carefully resisted the cheeses and sausages (though the samples were nice) and managed to only buy a couple of flowers - one yellow/orange one and one blue one - to keep Oscar and friends company.

I forgot my camera, so you can't see all the bright colours of the flowers for sale - if it's sunny, I might go back tomorrow, some of those cactuses were stunning! - but I have a photo of Oscar and friends on the balcony getting used to their new colleagues. You'll perhaps notice that Oscar has no orange oranges yet - I blame the loss of the Role Model Orange. But he does have flowers that are beginning to open and smell nice.

Oscar and family:

New additions to the Oscar family

New additions to the Oscar family


Week 6, Day 2

Running before breakfast is a bad idea. I have known this for a while, but I remembered it again today... Sadly, I only remembered it 10 minutes into the run, which was to be followed by shopping. Bad timing, really. Must try harder next time...

On top of that, the run knackered me, since I decided to run to the supermarket rather than the way I normally go. Won't do that again, even if I'm going to the supermarket.

My next-door neighbour informs me that this weekend, our town hall is hosting some sort of event. With flowers and food. We shall go and investigate this afternoon - if you're very good, I might tell you all about it. (Other than Josh, none of you are being very good and introducing yourself - and the day when *Josh* is better behaved than anyone else is a sad, sad day for humanity ;-) )

Also, are purple poppies common? I've never seen them before, but by the bus stop at the top of the hill, there's 2 purple poppies growing - they're pretty. Can I start a heroin farm and make a fortune from them?


Charity raffle - benefits to go towards fighting breast cancer

The lovely Janine from Athena's Armoury in the US is fundraising for the Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure, where she's going to walk 60 miles in 3 days to raise money for community-based breast health programs and breast cancer research. All sounds very admirable to me, and as part of her fundraising efforts, she's holding an online raffle.

You can see all the items she's raffling here - one of which is this bracelet, made by me:

HP 4-in-1

If you're interested, instructions on how to buy a raffle ticket are here.


Readers, introduce yourselves!

Keith has asked me who you all are. Which is a very good question - I know who some of you are (hi Dad!), but feedburner tells me there are 21 people who read my blog through an RSS feed. And there are some people, according to Google Who Knows Everything that read this not through an RSS feed. So, who are you all?

Introduce yourselves in the comments section - tell me something about you. Actually, tell me two things about you: one true, one false. Entertain me (and the other 20 odd people who are apparently reading this...)


Social security number!!

I have finally (I think!) got my social security number!! They haven't, of course, told me this in a letter specifically to that effect, but they've sent me a bill which contains a numéro de sécurité sociale - I am legal and more importantly can now claim back all that money they owe me...

Anyone know how I now go about getting a Carte Vitale? Is that also a supposedly automatic process?

(This will all need to be redone once we get married, won't it? How depressing...)


Week 6, Day 1

Today's running has gone back to sane levels - 2 blocks of 5 minutes and an 8 minute run, rather than all in one go, which is knackering. Sadly, the hills are still in the way - some inconsiderate bastard seems to have forgotten to move them.

Going to take my pen and paper to the beach and write the chapter where they're at the Palace - I half wrote it in my head weeks ago, how hard can it be to get it done properly now? Then my revolutionaries will have an army, and then I've just got a war to write. Anyone done any writing of battles? Or sword fighting? Let me know...


Jewellery blog!

I have a new and shiny jewellery blog. I may, or may not, do anything with it from now on, but I quite like the idea of having a blog where I can talk about jewellery stuff to my heart's content and not worry that I'm boring the two or 3 of you who read this, presumably to hear more about France rather than shiny things.

If you *do* like to hear about the shiny things, consider going to my new Shiny Things Blog and becoming a Follower. I don't have any followers there and one can never have enough, I feel. (But only if you like the Shiny Things and want to hear more, in great detail, about them - if you want to hear about France, stay here and have a croissant instead. I'm going to.) Content is sparse at the moment, but it's early days; I only made it this morning...

I will still show pretty pictures from time to time (ok, fairly often) of shiny things here, so you won't all miss out entirely on shiny. But that other blog is one I can send random strangers to without boring them with the minutiae of my day-to-day life. Unlike you lot, you happy few, you band of brothers (and sisters, naturally), who have volunteered to be bored by the minutiae of my day to day life.

Bref, new Shiny Things blog:

This blog will continue as normal, in any event.


Dear EasyJet...

Dear EasyJet,

Nearly 2 months ago, we volunteered to come off an evening flight from Gatwick to Nice, because you had overbooked it, and had more passengers than seats. You promised us compensation to make up for our increased inconvenience, and we were happy with this arrangement. You managed to get us home the next day, after arranging somewhere for us to spend the night and providing a token amount towards our dinner, which we appreciated.

It's now 2 months later. Mid-April. You still haven't given us our compensation payment, let alone refunded the costs incurred of getting between the hotel you chose for us and the airport (no, that bus wasn't free. It wasn't even cheap.) or the costs of our numerous international phone calls to your Customer Service helpline - with the consequent phone tree and long periods on hold - to find out what's happening. Needless to say, while your Customer Service people are very friendly, they haven't been able to actually help. They aren't in a position to process our payments, sadly. I still don't know what exactly the hold-up is, except that it's apparently something to do with your staff in Gatwick.

Hopefully, you'll manage to sort it out soon; if you make promises of compensation to mitigate inconvenience, it doesn't help your customer relations at all if you don't actually follow through on those promises. Or if you make your customers have to keep spending money to contact you to repeatedly find out that nothing's happening. It rather negatively affects the goodwill we had towards you, as demonstrated by us volunteering to inconvenience ourselves to make your life easier. We won't be doing that again, given your subsequent handling of the situation.

Yours sincerely,

An increasingly dissatisfied customer


Being responsible instead of beach

I didn't get to the beach, because I had to go shopping instead. Oh, the humanity. I can tell you're all just outraged on my behalf. Anyway, we now have food - dinner for tonight will be salad nicoise - and I made a new pair of earrings:

Purple and silver aluminium dragonscale earrings
Also, I saw this ad for the first time. It amuses me possibly even more than J'adore! La montagne!.


Week 5, Day 3 and storywriting

Day 3 was a bitch. At the beginning of this week, the longest I'd run in one go was 5 minutes. I was quite pleased with that, all things considered. One week later, and the runs are suddenly 20 minutes long, all in one go. I can't help but feel this is a bit of a steep learning curve! But I didn't die, and although my legs feel a bit like jelly, I'm sure time on the beach this afternoon will help them...

I managed to write 2100 words on my story yesterday, even with all the interruptions to be domestic. (Paul thinks I'm going mad when I start sorting socks into pairs - I do it occasionally, and he always looks a bit worried - it's quite a long way outside my normal domestic range of "How long has it been on the floor? Does it smell? It's probably clean enough.") I'm going to take paper and pen to the beach and do more story - we're almost up to one of the bits I've actually outlined, so that will help significantly!


Procrastination has never been so useful...

I started off the day feeling like I'd overslept because Paul went into work much earlier than he normally does. Very confusing, when you're half asleep...

So, I started reading back my story - the first parts of it are actually quite good, I was surprised. The idea was to read through, remember who my characters are, and then be able to write the rest of it at least vaguely in the same voice. It kind of worked - I started writing the next chapter, where they disappear off into the desert, on their way to the Palace in the neighbouring country to get reinforcements before the Revolution. Then I decided to get up, with a vague intention to clean my teeth, get breakfast and come back to bed to do the rest of the story.

I got distracted. After cleaning the bath and the bathroom sink, I decided to clean the kitchen, while I was at it. The sink and cooker and kitchen floor now sparkle. Then I took out the rubbish. Then I started sorting the clean clothes into "winter" and "summer" - "winter" are now sitting in bin bags in the spare room. 3 bin bags. Big bin bags. "Summer" clothes now all fit in the wardrobe. I've tidied up the bedroom shelves, too, so Paul now has another shelf for his clothes, my jewellery stuff is balanced somewhat precariously on the top shelf, but that's ok, it can grow into piles up there without hitting a shelf above it. I even sorted the socks into matching pairs. And did the washing up. And another load of laundry. And finally had breakfast. And now I'm here instead of writing. I shall at least get my little band of revolutionaries to the Palace, before going to the beach... If I don't, shout at me!


Week 5, Day 2 and other bits and pieces

Today was Day 2 of Week 5 - Day 1 was simple enough, 3 5-minute runs, with some walking interspersed. It went quite well (principally because the running bits managed not to coincide with the hill bits of the path) so I was feeling quite optimistic about today. And then I discovered they changed the podcast. Day 2 is not the same as Day 1, and has 2 8-minute runs with some walking.

Those of you who point out that's only an extra minute of running will be first against the wall, come the Revolution. Because 8 minutes at a time is not the same as 5 minutes at a time. Even if I did manage to change my route to minimise the uphill bits (not quite enough to get rid of them all, but at least they happened at the beginning of the runs, rather than the ends). However, I did it and didn't die. Kind of dreading Day 3, now, though, in case they've changed it again...

Slowly uploading my jewellery into my DaWanda shop (which sells in Euros) - and even more slowly, putting some of the listings into French. Something I've been meaning to do for ages, but which is proving to be just as slow and painful as I expected it to be... Still, once it's done, I can finally create my French jewellery shop on ALittleMarket - maybe it will mean more people buy things. It will at least give me something constructive to do when I can't sleep at night...


French wedding vows...

Do they make them? Do we have to make them? Are they pre-set, or do we need to make our own? Anyone who's ever been to a French wedding (or had one!) please do let me know what to expect here...

As a reward, I'll give you a personalised M&M if we end up buying them. (I'm pushing hard for this, don't you all want personalised M&Ms with my name and his name and "On se marie!" on them? Go on, you know you do...)


Some shiny things

Just because.

Carved obsidian, sodalite and sterling bracelet

Amber, turquoise and silver plated necklace

Hammered copper pendant

Sterling silver diamond and sapphire earrings


Week 4, finally done, and photos

I did my 2nd iteration of Week 4, and tried varying the start point this time, to see if it made it easier. It didn't - the opposite, in fact, since today's timing left me having to run up a steep hill. It nearly killed me... I'm moving on to Week 5 now, I'm bored of Week 4, I've done it twice. I'll come back to it if Week 5 is too hard.

Today, you get photos. I walked the coastal path back between St Jean and Beaulieu (to the supermarket) and had my phone with me. So the pics aren't exactly award-winning, but I like them, so you get to see them too. Aren't I nice?

The last few exist because of the different textures they show, even without a zoom. The ones with yellow flowers are better if you can see them bigger, the contrast between in focus/out of focus is clearer then.





















In which I discover several things...

Firstly, those signs saying "wet paint" aren't lying.
Secondly, there aren't enough of those signs.
Thirdly, wet paint is surprisingly hard to wash off your hands.
Fourthly, I'm not mad and I have in fact booked the mairie for when I thought I had. Though the lovely ladies at the mairie now undoubtedly think I *am* mad, since I had to go and check. They laughed.

I also now have the suggested menu from the restaurant. It looks nice.
And the hotel have happily extended Claire's booking for me. I think the woman working there who looks deeply anxious all the time just looks that way, and she's nice really. She remembered who I was, at least...


New earrings

Shiny things first, a pair of garnet and hammered sterling silver wire earrings. I've found out my display rock also doubles as an anvil, isn't that nice?

Hammered sterling silver and garnet earrings

Now I'm off to go and see the hotel about extending my nearly-sister-in-law's room booking and to the restaurant to try and pick up a copy of the menu, to see if what *we* think we're getting and what *they* think they're providing match...


I haven't forgotten you all...

It was pointed out to me that I hadn't written here in a while. I'm sure you all missed me deeply... I'm not quite sure what I've been doing instead, but I hadn't forgotten you all. I just didn't have much to write about, obviously.

Wedding invitations are mostly sent out - at least all the ones I've written so far. Still a couple to do. Restaurant is pretty much sorted, though we need to go and get something in writing from them to look over and check we agree with it. (We ate there on Friday. They do good food.)

The weather's been lovely today - I might have some photos if I can get them off my camera. But I bet you're all bored of photos of sunshine on the beach - tough. The only downside is that the beach is overrun with tourists. Horribly shouty tourists.

Running: I've decided to do Week 4 twice, since it's knackering. Today was Day 2, Part 2, and I finally managed to do all the running bits without having to stop. I'll do another day of Week 4, then move on. Kind of dreading what Week 5 might bring. My technique to actually doing it is not to find out in advance what kind of intervals they put in, so that by the time I do find out, it's too late and I'm already out there and have no choice but to carry on... Working ok so far!

Jewellery. Easter being just gone, I've made some topical cross-shaped jewellery - pendants and earrings.

Copper chainmaille cross pendant

Copper chainmaille cross earrings
There's a larger steel cross pendant in the same pattern, but I've not got any photos I like of that yet.

And I've also made another fan pendant - the tutorial set this up to be a pair of earrings, but I modified it a bit, made it a bit bigger, and turned it into a pendant instead. I quite like it, though the wire could be neater.

Copper and pearl fan pendant


Copyright Nicole Hill, 2009-2010

All photos and text are mine - ask me *before* you use them elsewhere. Don't just copy them and hope I won't notice, it's theft.

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