I’ve never had hay fever in my life before and now I do. I feel for all you hay fever sufferers. Now I can empathise. Horrible. Can anyone recommend anything for it? I can’t even get to sleep tonight because of it. Yuck.
We have taken to choosing a different village every now and then to walk around. It makes for an interesting walk, gets the children out and about, and allows us to explore a few of the thousands of interesting wee places which are tucked away all over the place around here.
There are some villages called ‘Circulade’ villages which are very old villages, built on hill tops with the church on the highest point and the narrow streets arranged in spirals around the church extending outwards and down the hillsides. The most important businesses used to be in the buildings nearest the church and the least important further down the hill.
We went to a village recently called St Benoit which is very very old and very small. The church has an unusually tall bell tower and has links (mysterious ones, not physical ones) with Rennes le Château.
While we were there, Duncan was astonished by an amazing piece of engineering which he took a photo of. Here it is: Duncan’s downspout
The school holidays are almost over. Two weeks off school and Savourna is apparently fed up. This morning over breakfast she said, “I’m going to live on my own now. I’m annoyed with you two Mum and Dad.”
Cria cuervos y te sacarán los ojos.
So it’s back to school on Monday morning but for two days only and then it’s off again until the following week, this time for Victory day and Ascension and whatnot. Trying to explain what Ascension is to Savourna led to an interesting discussion about religion! How do you explain religion, and the world’s religions, to a four-year old?
It’s nearly ‘tax’ time of year in France. Everyone has to do their own tax returns here in May of each year. I tried to go and get the relevant form from the tax office the other day but the forms aren’t available until 6th May. First time round it’ll be interesting, though not too complicated yet I hope!
Talking of tax, did I ever tell you the story about the VAT cock-up in the NTS? A couple of months after our arrival on Canna we received our first invoice from the NTS for our utilities: bottled gas, electricity, heating oil and diesel for the 4x4s are all supplied by the NTS to the residents. Residents are invoiced every quarter for these. When our first bill arrived Duncan took one look and declared it to be wrong. The NTS were charging us 20% VAT instead of the reduced rate 5% which is applicable to things like heating oil and electricity. Duncan took the bill to Stewart who said he’d pass on Duncan’s comments to the finance office.
After more than a month we all got a response: the NTS had been charging all the tenants on Canna (and quite possibly on many other NTS properties) the wrong VAT rate for the past…….many many years! Residents would be given a refund - £1000s in some cases - and former residents would also be affected. Everyone was very happy! The only household that didn’t get anything out of it was our own since that had been our very first invoice. How on earth had no-one noticed the error previously?!
Your child’s first hair cut is usually quite poignant: he’s not a baby any more, he’s a wee boy; save a lock of his hair for his baby book etc.etc.
In true Fergus style though, his first haircut the other day was unplanned and not poignant. He had discovered that it was fun to hold his remote control train up to his head. “Tickly”, he said, and did it again and again.
Next thing we know his hair is getting caught in the wheels and he’s not finding it funny any more. So, having teased most of the hair out of the wheel mechanism, the last, most tangled curls had to get chopped off with the kitchen scissors! Poor Fergus.
Today’s temperature, and wild asparagus from the hill:
Another blog post, another song lyric title!
This post has nothing to do with the song of that name, rather it is to do with the page below (click it to enlarge) from the NTS magazine which they send out to their paid-up members. I wish I had some way of telling them the other side of the story; the whole story.
You know, ever since we left we’ve asked them only for three things: recognition of the real reason we left Canna (not a hope), the assurance that the bullying would not happen again to any existing or future resident (it has and the victim has left the island already), and an apology for the rubbish they put in the press about us (again, not a hope). Maybe we should have raised a case of landlord harassment or bullying or something….however they know how hard it is to prove bullying and they know that they have huge legal might in Edinburgh whereas we don’t have two pennies (centimes now!) to rub together and could never win. Having read the blog, ‘bullied by the boss’, I am even more glad that we didn’t try to take legal action - in her case and in ours the judicial system would not, could not have brought about justice.
Still, reading that blog and some other good literature has brought an unexpected benefit…..
Yes, it’s very far away but this past week or two it keeps popping up again and again.
Firstly, a friend in Badenoch tells me that there are several letters in the NTS magazine complaining about events on Canna, and there is also the usual NTS response. I have yet to see it but knowing the NTS magazine (a very glossy self-promotion / fund-raising tool) they will have selected the least offensive passages from the least offensive letters (or even made them up themselves as I suspect they did with some of the online anti-Spence family stuff in the Herald). How I would love to see the complete file of Canna complaint letters. (I’ve got another funny story about the NTS mag but I’ll save that for another day.)
Then there have been several people letting me know of various friends, family members and contacts who have cancelled or not renewed their membership to the NTS because of what has happened / is happening on Canna.
And finally a friend’s Mum found herself seated at some formal lunch event next to one of the NTS six senior managers. She knew the whole story of what happened to us on Canna and she asked him about it all. He was embarrassed and gave the usual NTS response about there having been an ‘independent investigation’. With the best intentions and even following the relevant codes of practise, the investigator could not have been independent because she used to work for them. was interim head of HR, possibly employed some of those criticised in the whole sorry mess and certainly worked with others among them. The NTS commissioned the investigation, paid for it and selected the investigator. That is not independent. Still, it’s a handy response for them to use, isn’t it?
Yes, the subject keeps on popping up here, there and everywhere.
They may think it’s an organisation…..and, friends, that’s just what it is.
I brought out a new tube of children’s toothpaste last night and explained to Fergus that it was strawberry flavour.
“Strawberry”, repeated Fergus.
I put some toothpaste on his brush and he put it in his mouth, took it out straight away, made a face, and said, “Garlic, yuck”.