2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,800 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 47 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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pets and heartache



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Jessica & Mini Mike, we lost him when he was 6 weeks old…that was very hard, a baby


Maisy was 9 when she died.

Today my brother had to take the incredibly difficult decision to let his delightful Airedale Terrier cross over the Rainbow Bridge. Only 7 years old, Mavis had a big inoperable tumour in her bowels but her suffering was becoming intolerable…such a shame as she was one of those dogs as if she was on 4 pogo sticks and just had an incredible lust for life…got me reminiscing about some of the fur family we have lost over the years and about some of the creatures that our friends & neighbours have had that have touched our lives over the years…then I started to think about friends that have sick pets and are going through the mill with cancer treatments for their dogs, fortunately my cousin who had a sick Beagle has had the all clear, but Jenny in America has another 10 weeks of treatment for her Max to get through.

Some folk look at cats & dogs as just that – a cat or a dog, and then there are the folk like me who’s life is totally dominated up by the little fur darlings!

Christmas presents for the dogs, Christmas stockings for the cats…I cook chicken for the dogs every day, the 8 cats have a running buffet all day – Mike calls it the all day diner for cats…whiskas on tap!

Jack Russell’s are our preferred dog, for many reasons to include as someone described ‘they are the Spitfire pilot or the dog world’ never a truer description, they don’t know fear, they don’t know that they are small, they don’t get that the world doesn’t spin round them! 2 of our 3, a father & daughter couple are complete characters , anyone comes to the house they jump on the table so they have better eye contact and can show off better, Madge the 3rd is a complete ball/stick girl and lives to entertain our guests here! The only way we think this habit of getting up on the table was invented was them watching the cats and as the cats are bigger than them, they don’t get that they are not allowed on the table, so I’m afraid anyone coming to our house please don’t be shocked if you see a Jack Russell on our table singing God Save The Queen…yep, you’ve read right…Mr W’s party piece! Our Mayor even bought some people round the other day to witness this spectacle! Mr W is even on YouTube singing Happy Birthday…(we must do a new one of him doing God Save The Queen as he is much better at that one!).

Every night on Facebook I see all the photos of poor dejected creatures in high kill shelters and every night I am saddened and feel so helpless, I also feel at times how unfair it is when you have a much loved dog or cat and you lose it at a ridiculously young age through accident or illness when these others are thrown out and abandoned by heartless non caring people .

Well, I have come to the conclusion I wouldn’t have it any other way, I’ll continue risking my heart being broken or bruised by my fur persons…I’d much rather have nutty Jack’s on the table, 8 rescue cats mistreating my furniture and keeping the all day diner in business, than live in a sterile clean house without muddy paw prints, or a little paw patting my face very early in the morning trying to get me up, but most of all I just love the way they all think we’re the bees knees, they never judge and they are always pleased to see you…and no I don’t believe it is just cupboard love!

So for all of you that have lost a dearly loved pet, I fully understand your grief, they are part of the family and in many respects the loss of a pet can be equally, sometimes be even harder as the fur family members are with you 24/7.

We lost Johnnie Johnson 6 years ago aged 8 it’s only now can I mention him…so as my little epitaph to my dearly loved & missed pets some photos of past & present and for those with heartache and pain it can only get easier…


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Madge photo bombing The Colonels visit! Always wants to entertain & please, she is still with us!


Harriett on Harry was 19 when she went


JJ at the window upstairs


Bertie, hit by a car


Monty, was 22 when his heart failed, found him abandonded at the side of the road when he was at least 11


November 3, 2014 · 8:59 pm

Final tweaks & history

bob house  new pics 11 (1 of 1)We’re now 6 weeks of renting out the Band of Brothers House – each time we go up to visit another little tweak is done…Mike has done a great job on the wall in the hallway with researching & collecting photos, maps and paintings all related to that day 6th June and the village in 1944.

the hallway

the hallway

The most interesting that we have been told is this story : quite staggering it happened in this garden of ours & makes me think how fragile it all is…

Sometime in the early hours of the 6th June 1944 , in one of the gardens of the row of the houses you are in, this event took place. A wounded 101st Airborne paratrooper was alone in one of the gardens when a group of German soldiers who were fighting at the rear of the properties came across him and  decided to take him with them as a prisoner.  He was dragged from garden to garden, was  thrown over  walls as they were trying to defend themselves from other American paratroopers. At some point they decided that the prisoner was not worth the effort and that they could escape quicker without him. They decided to shoot him. He was already sitting against a wall as the two Germans stood in front of him. He looked at them and knew what their intentions were. He closed his eyes and prayed. He heard them cock their weapons, the next thing he heard was the sound of a Thompson machine gun being fired . When he opened his eyes the two Germans were lying dead on the ground . A paratrooper from the 101st had jumped over the wall and shot the Germans . He kept on his way fighting through the gardens. The injured paratrooper could not believe his luck . He never found out who it was that had saved his life. He was found by Medics , taken to Utah Beach and shipped back to England for medical care and survived his wounds.

It certainly makes you think how close conflict can be…as it is… in our back yard all those years ago


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The unveiling…

And here we are 4 months after starting our project it’s FINISHED!!!

Back at the end of June Mike decided I should start marketing without any photos with availability from 1st August…not shying from a challenge I went for it using our other properties as a touch stone and a follow up telephone call to reassure folk we were not talking nonsense! Our 1st guests arrived on the 2nd for 1 week…apart from sewing curtains until 11.30 pm the night before we were pretty well on track.

Our date to be able to say finished for fixtures and fittings was agreed as 30th July for us to stay and try the house out…thus the reason for late night curtain making – street light actually attached to our house between the bedroom windows…we never noticed it until we went to bed (the bed a super kingsize & possibly the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept on),turned out the light and then asked Mike to turn his light out as it was light enough still to read…a dash up to Cherbourg the next morning to buy blackout material…but for one reason or another I bought 5 meters forgetting there were 2 windows – I needed 10 meters – so a 2nd trip was needed!!!!!!

So here we go – I’ll try to line up the before’s & afters!! The main bedroom started as 2 rooms.

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St Marie du Mont 14 (1 of 1)

main double bedroom

main double bedroom half way

bedroom armoire

bedroom space

armoire bedroom

The bedroom at the back was in a dreadful state, broken windows, holes in ceiling and water penetration destroying all the plaster


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The bathroom was a kitchen…holes in ceiling.

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shower 1

shower2double sink


Kitchen – oh dear, basically falling down! New roof, walls etc.

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lounge 3lounge 2

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St Marie du Mont 18 (1 of 1)


unveiling BoB House  More pictures here

I’ve embroidered all the towels, put in as many little thoughtful things folk would enjoy – I just hope everyone that comes to stay with us enjoys the house as much as we really did renovating it!


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And we’re OFF!!! The 1st ceremony today 21st May 2014 for 70th Anniversary

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the 1664 team

Today 21st May we went to our 1st 70th Anniversary Ceremony… I felt the emotions starting & the tears started, (note to self must pick up plenty tissues next time at the supermarket!). We were invited by a very dear friend who is serving with The Royal Marines to come and see the 1664 Challenge in Port en Bessin here in Normandy. 350 years ago in 1664 The Royal Marines were founded, so to mark this anniversary what better way to mark the occasion than take 6 men, ski across the Arctic Circle for 1,664 miles, then get on a yacht and sail 1,664 miles through the roughest seas down to Cadiz in Spain, then cycle 1,664 miles to Port en Bessin where the 47 Commando had a huge battle June 6th & 7th 1944 mark that with a ceremony, jump in Kayaks and paddle across the Channel to Eastney, Portsmouth just a mere 100 miles across open sea and then when on dry land run round Great Britain 1,664 miles! Port en Bessin was a crucial point for the success of the Invasion as it was the link between Gold & Omaha plus the point for PLUTO the pipeline under the ocean for fuel to keep the troops going. However the Germans had dug themselves in good and properly over the 4 years of occupation. 47 Commando unit landed on Gold 12 miles away and suffered casualties there, made their way to within 2 kms of the objective by nightfall on the 6th June 1944 when there was another fierce battle with even more casualties, local people helped the wounded that night and in the morning the 7th June 1944 the local Gendarme Henri Gouget acted as guide, the ensuing battle was fearsome with many casualties to include Captain Cousins killed leading his men in the last assault bringing the surrender of the Germans. The Royal Marines had battled machine gun nests, concrete bunkers all surrounded with barbed wire and flame throwers, 46 men killed & 65 wounded. Today’s ceremony was poignant and very moving, we were stood in the shadow of the bunkers they fought so hard for with The Mayors speech really reflecting the bravery and solidarity of the Marines along with the heartfelt thank the town still feels for their liberation. A very gracious and moving tribute, it brings it home we are still in living history especially with 2 Royal Marine veterans in attendance. 92 years of age, ramrod straight, bright as buttons in their British Veteran uniform of grey slacks, blazer, beret, polished medals & highly polished shoes! Make me very proud to be British.

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the parade with the 2 veterans

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Simon with the 2 veterans

When you take this 1 story in just one small town here in Normandy and start to equate how many towns and villages there are, with a story, believe me every single one has a story, you start to ‘get’ the size of the Invasion…when I see in front of my eyes old ladies becoming a young woman again giving kisses and flowers to the liberators and the veterans becoming the conquering heroes again, it is incredibly moving…Living History. I feel privileged to be witnessing it. We have just seen the weather forecast for the Channel, it is the worst anyone could have feared…I am thinking of these young men, the 6 keep going, the support do 2 hours on 2 hours off on the support boat. As I head to my wonderfully comfortable bed tonight and snuggle down under my quilt I shall whisper safe crossing & good luck…I may even take my iPad upstairs with me to check in now & then as there is a live link to them see http://www.1664challenge.co.uk

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leaving the harbour

heading out to sea

heading out to sea

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70th Anniversary and this hidden peninsula….


There is just so much going on in this area of Normandy, certainly I have learnt that the British side of the Invasion Beaches whilst busy with parachute displays etc. this American sector seems to making a huge affair out of it all…I’m finding my head is spinning and not able to express myself sufficiently, I’ve decided to try to make sense out of it all and at the same time to kill 2 birds with 1 stone…I’m starting a new blog and as we’re also creating a new web page it makes sense to join the 2 projects together.  

Our new webpage will be about Normandy, a lot of it about what this hidden peninsula has to offer, our concierge services, from car hire to bikes, war tours and in depth information plus our houses. 

My blog will be following the 70th anniversary preparations and manifestations, the whacky and official ceremonies plus I am researching bits of interesting historical facts – along with Mike’s photographs I hope I can bring this wonderful part of France alive for you all…and of course I’ll be updating about our renovation project in Sainte Marie du Mont plus all our creatures here at Ferme de l’Eglise…watch this space!!



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keep turning the handle!

That’s what it feels like now…keep turning the handle, don’t let go now!

In actual fact everything is going really well, but we are tiring slightly…Mike is on a mission saving the original fireplace in the main bedroom…so kind soul has slapped on 2 or 3 coats of what is called ‘crepe’ almost like artex but harder!! 2 electric sanders so far have been burnt out…but as you can see he is half way, when we paint it and get it looking something it will set off the room.Image

Meanwhile downstairs the kitchen has had plasterboard & insulation put in place, the new window, door and a wall blocked up




We had to lose a window on the left as I want to put in an American Fridge so there is on tap filtered water & ice, no need to buy bottled water!

The electrician plumber is back next week to do 2nd fix, the shower tray is in place, take no notice of the toilet placing here…it’s just out the way!! But between us we’ve designed a great big Italian shower…



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So tomorrow, off to choose tiles for the bathroom & kitchen plus the kitchen units, I’ve already bought the cooker which I’m thrilled with!

May is wonderful in Normandy this year the blossom is unreal…the scent is heady – just to give you an idea here is the view from the bedroom now the trees have opened up a bit more … the candles on the chestnut tree are huge!

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We’re also starting to see the folk arrive for the 70th anniversary…look what was parked outside the house yesterday! Jeeps all sorts are starting to congregate!

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