Yes, it is observed enthusiastically by French children, and this year I remembered to have a good stock of sweets for them.  This delightful group come from just up the road, in the commune of Mars.  The pretty girl on the left is the daughter of my favourite le Vigan baker, Segondy.



Meanwhile in London, Ella was similarly attired for a nursery school do:



Three of the four grandchildren were suffering from a nasty virus. Now I have it. Day three and I’m feeling sorry for myself.

2 November I’m suddenly much better – hooray! That was an exceptionally vicious attack; I have been unable to do anything for ten days.

Death of my Mac

Near the airport I called into my Apple dealer to collect my Mac, to learn it was not sick but dead. I can’t believe it – a four year old Mac foutu, kaput! Well, it could be repaired by replacing the motherboard and video card for a price of over 800 euros.

I spent an hour wandering round the shop, wondering what to do. I had no doubt I would replace my computer, but with what, desktop or laptop? I was tempted by laptops but eventually opted for a slightly smaller version of my current iMac. I hope I don’t regret this.

The journey home

The evening before leaving I looked at my booking pass, saw no reference to my scooter, so rang one of Easyjet’s rare help numbers, got through eventually to someone in the Far East. After an unsatisfactory discussion he issued a new booking pass. End of conversation. Then I looked at the new pass – it said expressly no electric wheelchair! Phoned help again. Similar conversation, except this time the person admonished me for not requesting this change earlier. But I did, I protested – in my original booking a month ago! And I’m not requesting a change but rather a confirmation of my original booking.

So I set off early this morning all set to do battle at Gatwick airport. No need. Once again the Easyjet’s staff bent over backwards to be courteous and helpful. They agreed with me that their software was problematic, assured me that their System had my scooter in it, and once again escorted me like royalty.

Until I got to the plane itself where I discovered that it is up to each captain to decide what to do about electrically operated vehicles (apparently there had been a fire on a plane two years ago when the battery was left on a wheelchair – and connected! I produced the manufacturer’s certificate of compliance and eventually the captain agreed to do what they had done on the outward plane – store the batteries within the cabin. (The manufacturer actually says that this is not necessary because my batteries are so light!)

During the course of this many of the airport staff enthused over the simple, lightweight design of my scooter.

Painting Pottery

Part two of my birthday trips with Ella, this time shared with Jude, Maddie and Deb, was a visit to a delightful pottery shop/cafe where you buy an unpainted pottery object – a tile, bowl, teapot or picture frame, for example – you pay a studio fee and are provided with paints and brushes. Your painted objects are then put into a kiln to be fired.

Ella attacked her large tile with great enthusiasm and concentration. Onlookers had somewhat diverging views about adult intervention. Deb, who was doing a splendid job of seeing that the growing number of paint bottles used returned to their proper home, was splendidly non-interventionist. I, on the other hand, could not resist trying to explain that mixing lots of colors together on the palette was perhaps not such a good idea. But Ella knew her own mind: she definitely preferred the sludgy outcomes and showed a particular preference for black. The first tile had lots of energy, the second was more an abstract study in the sludge range. The third piece was a splendid photo frame with Ella’s handprints. Now I wonder who will be the lucky recipient? I look forward to Christmas…..

A most satisfactory visit and I anticipate much more pottery painting by the whole family.

“Girls'” trip to the Albany Theatre, Deptford

Since I was not to be here for Ella’s birthday party I took Ella to the theatre. In deepest Deptford… ( Luckily Ed kindly drove us there. )

This is my first solo outing with Ella and turned out to be a delight (apart from the journey home). Why “girls'” trip? Well our first action was a trip to the loo. I read out aloud the sign “Women” on the door. “Yes,” said Ella, “We are both women. That’s why we can go here.” (Not like her recent trip to Gents with Henry…)

The Albany is a lively social centre with an impressive programme of events. We were there to watch a gentle, right-on play about a couple (and their city squirrel) who move from the city to the country where their naïveté and the suspicions of the country folk (represented by an owl) make it hard for them to settle down. But all turns out ok in the end and Tony and his wife, Squirrel and Owl become good neighbours.


Perhaps more suited to five and six year olds, but Ella seemed to enjoy it (though flagging after the morning trip to the Horniman).


She enjoyed meeting Owl afterwards.

The journey home was a bit of a dampened. The two taxis that came up on the iPhones taxi hailing system, Hailo, rejected the job. Eventually I got the community centre secretaries to call a local cab (whose 15 minute wait turned out to be more like 35 minutes). A salutary reminder that life in deepest Deptford is a wee bit different from Camberwell or Dulwich.

Horniman Museum

There was to be a combined Gillies and Bennion-Pedley trip to the Horniman Museum. Complicated by the fact that the two households operate on entirely different clocks: by 9am the Gillies have been up for several hours and this is the required hour for expeditions, while the Bennion-Pedleys normally get going an hour or two later. A further complication was that by now I was back in Bromar Road, while my scooter was still in Village Way.

Result: a preliminary walk by the Gillies, which meant that by the time they reached the museum (and Steve had rushed back to get my scooter), Ella and Ed had already done a museum tour and Jude (with Maddie) and I were ready for our second cup of coffee. So, it was decided that we would skip the museum this time and just tour the grounds.

I am not too disappointed by this. I have heard about the Horniman from both Deb and Jude and know I will be back to what is by all accounts a quirky but entertaining mixture of natural history and musical instruments. The gardens turned out to be delightful, even though the nature trail will be for another day as will be the animal collection, temporarily closed.

The views across south east London are stunning.