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mardi 29 décembre 2015



I hope your Christmas treat is no longer playing the fool in your stomach, and that any possible headache has faded away and left you clear in your mind to read this new chapter.

The festive consumer frenzy is still in full swing for a few days : at the poulterer's, turkeys, crusts and Guinea fowls are performing an ultimate strip-tease for their farewell tour, at the pastry-maker's, Yule logs and Twelfth Night Cakes are having a fierce competition. Even chemists are rubbing their hands together, cause medicines against hangovers and overeating are selling like hot cakes !!
I must confess that, every year, that kind of spending spree puts me in a stay-at-home mood. Don't get me wrong : I am not a wet blanket, but entertaining myself on cue is not my thing.So, forget about getting any New Year's Eve Party tips !

No plot in this week's chapter, no twists and turns, no thrill, just a commonplace but topical issue : the weather !

Come on, don't turn your nose up, don't knock the weather : nine-tenths of the people couldn't start a conversation if it didn't change once in a while.Better yet, a lot of us rely on the weather forecast to know what to wear.Last but not least, whereas religion, politics and money matters can turn into bones of contention( especially during big family gatherings such as Christmas), the vagaries of the weather is a topic that calm things down in a wink and on which everyone agrees !
 A weather saying always keeps the conversation going.By the way, do you know any ?

Here is one I have got from my grand-mother :

"Birds flying low, expect rain and a blow".

Anyway, whilst this saying may sometimes be true, it is far from reliable..
Climate change and global warming often counter sayings and weather forecasters.
So, I have withdrawn my confidence in most of them ( except maybe some shipping forecast sites).

To know what the weather was(and would be) like, till November I used , when opening the shutters, to have a look at the ground to see if it was dry or wet ( Mrs Deer had already licked the dewdrops). Yet, just a glance around was not enough to know if it had drizzled or poured down during the night, and if I needed to water the newly-planted fruit trees.

Fortunately, a good friend of mine spoiled me with a bear rain gauge to make my recorded rainfall sharper, and as she added wittily," to keep 
Mrs Deer company ".
Since this cute little bear took up residence on our terrace, he had not done an outstanding job ! He has withstood sneaky gusts of wind, and even better, he has restored the image of Brittany !

I mean, from early December till Boxing Day his gauge has been chock-full just once !! Unless parched he has gulped down the gauge content, it means we have been enjoying a pretty fine weather, haven't we ?

So, drop the so-called weathermen, and dismiss rumours about rainy Brittany ! Next time you hear someone say :

" It only rains twice a year in Brittany : August through April and May through July ", 




lundi 21 décembre 2015



Whoopee ! Goody ! Thanks to all of you ! Father Christmas,let's call him Christmas gift-bringer (no offense, all of us are of age, aren't we ?), has not set off yet, and I have already been spoiled !! Thanks a million, you have really filled me with joy !! Come on, don't pretend you don't understand ! By sharing my blog with your relatives and your pals, you've helped me to boost my readership.Gee, last week you did such a great job that the number of my readers skyrocketed overnight. That was quite unexpected !

Actually, when I started this blog, I had very few readers. The very first and biggest adventure of Dany the Perky Busy Bee was to succeed in posting one chapter a week.
Today when I read some of the chapters posted between February and June,I find them childish, girlish, mawkish or even deadly boring, but " practice makes perfect ",doesn't it ?

So, I am quite grateful to my early days' readers who have never missed our weekly appointments, and have always stood by me through think and thin.
Congratulations to all of you and keep on sharing !!

Now, the countdown has started. Within a few days it will be Christmas and, I guess some of you must be pretty busy shopping (last-minute purchases are a real headache), giftwrapping ( my pet-hate : either the paper tears or I run out of sellotape),or decorating ( I have a soft spot for candles and I love the warm glow of their flickering flames, and above all the spicy scent of cinamon, clove and orange of some of them).

Yet, before indulging yourself to  Christmas meal ( even if you fancy ditching the traditional turkey with chestnuts,and the fatty Yule log, I guess you will push the boat out, so make sure you have some medicines to help you enjoy the food and be fit as a fiddle the day after.No one likes a food hangover), I do hope you will get some spare time to drop me a mail because ...

I have created a new e-mail address just for you :

I am expecting loads of season's greetings !! In the meantime I wish you a Merry Christmas !! 

PS : A special thank to you J.... for the e-address you gave me to learn  

mardi 15 décembre 2015



First of all, I'd like to thank all those of you who have commented chapter forty-two, and told me that having a coffee outside everyday does not mean you are a barfly.
Well, to be honest, I must confess that I was expecting such an answer.
One glass too many can turn a barfly into a boozer whereas one cup too many never makes me tipsy.Hard liquor can make a drinker stumble, but a strong coffee never makes me lose my balance. Of course, it gives me throbs and keeps me awake all night long, but nothing serious compared to a hangover !
No, actually, I have nothing much in common with barflies, I'm just a coffee buff. I must admit that when it comes to coffee, I am quite fussy : I have often deserted a café because the beverage they served was just brown  
water !
In my favourite haunt (see chapter 42)every early afternoon I spoil myself with an excellent coffee. To top it all, Sylvain ( I forgot to mention your name in chapter 42 and as you are modest, you were not sure I was writing about you , so now you know !) knows I have a sweet tooth, he never fails to add some treats to my espresso !
Hey, don't get me wrong !! Even if I have found the place to have the perfect shot of espresso, the main reason for my choice is that my Aladdin's cave is a social hub, a good place to chit-chat, to socialize and to ...overhear conversations.
Some weeks ago, I was sitting near a group of four old men.I was pretending to flip through the newspaper, but actually I was eavesdropping on their chatter ! Don' call me nosy bee, please !!
I just pricked up my ear because I could catch some snatches of conversation in Breton.That reminded me of my grand-parents who used to speak Breton, first to save their language, but also for me not to understand when an important matter was brought up !
Those four men's words were such a music to my ears that I decided to learn the basics of my ancestors' mother tongue.

I didn't want to get a degree but just to be able to handle some everyday situations within a few weeks. So, I thought a phrasebook would meet my expectations...
I was just deluding myself and I realized it as soon as I received the paperback ordered from a website.
I know phrasebooks offer the seductive illusion of mastering a language at little cost, but, anyway, in mine I found some sentences I can hardly conceive of ever using. I can't help quoting some :

I'd like to buy a pair of binoculars.
. I am allergic to nutmegs
. I want to rent a rubber dinghy.
. What's that barn in the middle of the clearing ?

I've got tons more if you want !

So, I shelved my purchase and found a website to learn Breton for free. I knew there are no miraculous short cuts when it comes to language learning, you just need to commit. I was willing to work hard, and, the idea of being able to exchange with the four men in the café helped me to feel motivated. I studied everyday : I hammered words, phrases, and so on, into my brain over and over again.

Then a few days ago, I decided to take the plunge !

I greeted the four Breton speakers in Breton and managed to tell them( still in Breton) that I was going for a walk , and, as it was overcast, I hoped it would not rain.
Then I said kenavo (=bye in Breton) and left.
Hardly had I crossed the threshold when I heard one of them say :

"What did she say ?"

Another answered :

" Something about the weather, but I could not catch all ".

To my dismay, a third voice added :

" She was not speaking Breton, was she ? ".

Fortunately, I was outside, otherwise I would have wanted the earth to swallow me up. I was as red as a beetroot, I had a lump in my throat, my hands were sweaty !

Yet, my power walk helped me to cheer up and pull myself together.
Whatever the number of mistakes I had made, I had taken the plunge, and as the saying goes : " the first step is the hardest " !

Learn that lesson !!

Share this chapter with all the people afraid of speaking a foreign language !!

Remember : the sky is the limit !

mardi 8 décembre 2015



Summary of the previous episode : A friend of mine had mail ordered a road sign mirror, the company had cashed his cheque, but since then no news and no safe way to drive out of his place !

Solving the Mirror Affair has left me dead beat. When I accepted to help my Dutch friend with his mail order, I did it wholeheartedly, because as the saying goes, " A friend in need is a friend indeed " !

Well, either I had overestimated my mental toughness and my patience, or I am not the stuff detectives are made of. My first experience has really washed me out, and if I had not promised last week to tell you about it, I guess, this week I would have played dead. I would have idled away my time, and, I would have pinned my cyber silence on a poor Internet connection. But promises are made to be kept, and, I won't be an exception to the rule.

This, then, is the story of a poor Dutchman dogged by ill fortune, who, on an impulse, left his fate to an apprentice detective.

When I first browsed through my friend's "hot file ", I realized immediately it was high time to help that poor guy, otherwise within a short while he would have to be put in a straightjacket. It was such a bag of bones that I decided to start all over again and phone myself the company he had ordered his mirror from.

First round : first jimjams

The company responsible for my friend's sleepless nights had a toll-free number, so I naively thought I could wrap up the whole case by the end of the morning. Unfortunately, that kind of things happens only in fantasy land !
After two rings, I got caught up and lost in a computer voice directory service. I bet all of you will agree that there is nothing more frustrating than having an issue you need resolved ASAP and not being able to ask to talk to a live person ! To crown it all, among the different keys the unbearable voice invited me to press, of course there was none matching my request !
Never mind ! I still had a few tricks up my sleeve , and that stubborn robot was entirely mistaken if he thought I could be easily put off !
I had heard you could confuse the system by pressing all the numbers, mumbling, using bad language, speaking nonsense, or doing nothing.
I wasted the rest of the morning testing all those silly tips, but unfortunately by lunch-time I was none the wiser. Yet, using bad language had given me the opportunity to let off steam !

Second round : never complain, never explain ??

After lunch I googled the mirror maker's name, and after browsing a little, bingo !! What was supposed to happen, happened ! I came across a consumer website on which a disgruntled customer had posted the phone-number of the comapny official : revenge is a dish best served cold !
A few rings later ( to be honest, my first three calls went unanswered), an understanding and efficient operator put me through to the man in charge of the after-sales service.
He apologized for all the hitches due to a stock shortage, but , luckily, they had received the mirror the day before, and sent it immediately to my desperate friend. I was so elated that I didn't even tell him that a phone-call or a mail to let their customer know about the delay was the least they could have done ..
I rushed to the café to bring the good news. My friend jumped for joy, hugged me and even asked the regulars to applaud his " savior "!

My joy was to be short-lived... I was not done with my effort ...

Third round : going down for the count !

A few days later, a phone-call from my friend made me hit the roof ! He was appalled and so was I.
He had received the mirror and he had immediately fixed it on the post near his gate.
Unfortunately, either he had not screwed it strongly enough, or it had been gusty ( or my friend had fallen under an evil spell), anyway, the morning after the mirror was on the ground, smashed of course !
The mirror was in pieces and so was I !!
I turned a deaf ear to the little voice inside me humming nastily :

Breaking a mirror may bring you bad luck for seven years !

Instead, I put up a good show and said to my friend : " let's sleep on it ".
Fortunately, among the regulars, a former constable said we 'd better ask the mayor for a speed bumper and that's what we agreed to do !!

Case closed !

mardi 1 décembre 2015



Ever since I got old enough to be allowed in, I have loved going to cafés. Don't get me wrong, I am not a barfly ( at least I don't think so,but anyway, I would like to get your opinion), but nursing an espresso, and observing people around has always been one of my favourite ways to while away my free time.

As long as I can remember, cafés have been my favourite haunts.
When a student, I used to cram for my exams there. Then, when I met my future husband, that's where we built castles in the air. Later on, when I was working, I never failed to sip an early coffee in a tiny café near the school where I was teaching : the familiar sound of the coffee machine, the snatches of conversation ( sometimes bits of bar talks), the owner and the barista ( she was to become one of my best friends), all that really cheered me up for the whole day.

So, when we settled down here, it didn't take us long to set our hearts on a small café where every afternoon we warm up before our power walk.
We like the authenticity of that place : its creaking wooden floor, its old-fashioned countertop, the scatter of tables and bright chairs make it genuine, comfy and warm. The bartender is the right man for the job : demure but with a ready ear, always in a good mood but not too exuberant, that guy has really the knack to turn passing customers into regulars. He remembers your name, knows what you drink, and makes everybody feel at home.
Of course, as we go back there again and again, we have developped trusting relationships with some of the other regulars, sharing enthusiasm, grief, feedback, and of course the local paper.
It is just like having a focus group at beck and call. You can ask anyone for their opinion, and they will give it, no strings attached.
Don't go overboard ! Our café is not a philosophy café, but, anyway, that melting pot of people of different walks of life is an invaluable source of information. Mr Google had better watch out ! No Wikileaks in our café !
There the motto could be : " to every problem there is a solution ".
Among all the regulars there will always be someone able to meet your needs.
Tips and tricks for the garden ? Experienced gardeners and ecofreaks will tell you their secrets.
Leaking faucets ? A retired plumber or a DIY enthusiast will lend you a hand.
Longing to brush up your English ? An English couple will invite you to help them with their crosswords.
A stiff neck or a backache ? Jean, the bonesetter will heal your pain in a wink !

So, no wonder sooner or later we were to be roped in, too !!

A Dutchman (a regular) asked us if we could help him navigate through the phone-calls jungle.
He told us he was living along a secondary road, and at rush hours the traffic was so heavy and the drivers so reckless that driving out of his place was rather risky ! He had told the mayor about his concern, and with the agreement of the latter he had mail ordered a road sign mirror to fix on a post close to his gate.He had sent his cheque, and, since then he was experiencing what French people are used to : countless phone-calls, endless call waitings, unbearable hold on music, narrow-minded secretaries, people in charge reported missing, on holidays or on a sick leave, and all that for nothing !!
He had not been delivered his order, and yet his cheque had been cashed !

He was about to kiss good-bye to his mirror, but however he was wondering if the picture on the company catatlogue was just smoke and mirrors ! Unfortunately His French was too poor to investigate...
And that's when we were to come in !

Coming up next :

Dany The Perky Busy Bee and the Mirror Affair

mardi 24 novembre 2015



First of all, I do apologize for not updating my blog last week, but like all of you I was shattered and unable to pull myself together. I was numb with shock and grief, and writing something funny was way beyond me !

Anyway, this week, fed up with the newscasters repeating over and over again the same minute ( and sometimes meaningless) details, I have decided to have a screen-free week.

Today, I'll try to deal with tragedy through humor and I hope I'll change your mind off things.

So, what about starting with a short quiz to find out if you are likely to win the tactlessness world champion title. 
Why such a quiz ? Well, you'll understand afterwards...
Do not think about the questions too long. This test is not based on any scientific study whatsoever. It is intended for fun only ! So, just give straightforward answers.


. Have you ever made a blunder ?
. When asked to keep a secret, have you spilled the beans inadvertently ?
. Have you ever wished you had thought twice before speaking ?
. Have you ever wanted the earth to swallow you up ?


. O/1 yes answers : you are thoughtful and tactful, perhaps a bit demure 
                                   and shy, as well.Forget about winning the title !

. 2 yes answers      : you happen to let go, but so rarely that the title will
                                    never be yours.

. 3 yes answers      : you have found the golden mean, but you can tip the 
                                    balance and take the biscuit ! It's up to you ...

. 4 yes answers      : congratulations ! I was looking for the perfect 
                                    blunderer and you fit the bill !!

Now let me tell you about an awful blunder of mine and we'll see if we can be placed equal first.

You remember I am just a budding  gardener, plus let's be honest, a fair weather gardener,as well, and I have not proven myself very reliable when it comes to upkeep. Anyway, my fruit trees are the apple of my eye, and I wanted to learn how to properly prune them. One snip of shears  too many and I can kiss good-bye to 2016 harvest.
So, when I heard there was a pruning demonstration in the nearby nursery garden, I decided to attend it.

The demonstration went on smoothly and I took down notes to make sure to use my tools properly.
Then questions were encouraged from the audience, and the use of pesticides was brougth up.As most people were against, everyone gave their own tips and tricks. Dear me, why did I stick my oar in ?? I must have been in a daze, that's the only reason I can find.
I raised my hand and said :

" I have been told that spreading hair on the grass around the trunk keeps pest away."

There was an awkward silence, then a huge roar of laughter rang out !
All eyes were on me !I glanced at the man in charge of the demonstration, he was pointing at his skull : he was BALD !!

Why hadn't I thought twice before speaking ? Because I am a first-class blunderer.I am not about to give up my world champion title , unless the results of the quiz show that you are within a hair's breadth of standing on the podium beside me !

mardi 10 novembre 2015



" The Undergrowth Chronicles " season 1 is over.Mrs Deer and her little darling are safe and sound in the very depths of the undergrowth. I guess we won't see them again till the end of the works, which means...Dear me, I really don't know what the phrase "the end of the works " mean !
Breton craftsmen do have all the qualities but one : reliability !
Whatever you ask them for, quite sure you'll get a straightforward " yes ".
Then, you can feel quite satisfied, as long as you are not expecting a tight schedule.Calendars and deadlines are their pet hates.
Those skilled people are the stuff divas are made of ! They can keep you cool your heels, and then, once you have kissed them goodbye, come out tof the blue. Once you know that, you are immune !
So, I just keep my fingers crossed, and hope there won't be any more trenches in the garden by Xmas. Otherwise, I wonder how Santa Claus's reindeers will pull their sleigh to my place ... Time will tell.

Last week I told you there would be still plenty of twists and turns ( and fun, as well) in the chapters to come, and I swear I'll stick to my words !
But today, I'd like to attract your attention on something special.

While I was leafing through Mrs Deer's precious notebook, it crossed my mind that you could follow her example. I mean, keeping a diary ( in English,of course !). It is another way to improve your vocabulary and consolidate it.
You write your thoughts in spoken-English style, but you have time to think about the language you are using.So, a diary is a good link between accuracy and fluency.
Don't rack you brain to get a leading thread. Just jot down everyday facts. Even if you think you have nothing worth to say,you'll see that just pottering about means learning a good deal of new words and phrases.

For example, look at my diary entry for last Wednesday :


Today I got up early, and, fortunately, I was full of beans, because Wednesday is my anti-procrastination day.
I had to deal with all the things I had kept putting off !

So, in the morning I got rid of all the red tape cluttering nearly two thirds of my desk : I checked my bank settlement, cancelled a subscription to a monthly ( I have not even read the one but last issue), tore the junk mail, updated some files and dropped a few lines to Domi ( a longlife friend).

Then, it was lunch-time. Quite satisfied with myself** for being able to deal with the left-overs crammed in the fridge. The left-over boiled chickpeas made a perfect hummus for the chicken salad !

In the afternoon we went for our daily ten kilometres' power walk. The weather was gorgeous and exercising was pure bliss ! We came back home frazzled but happy to have stuck to our self-imposed schedule.

For dinner I tested a coconut red lentil soup recipe. My coriander powder was a bit old, so, not as tasty as it should have been, but as a whole it is a recipe worth keeping.

As there was nothing much on telly (as usual), I decided to take the giant shoebox filled with loose photos out of the closet where it had been tucked in since we moved in. I've started putting them in some kind of order.


You see, keeping a diary does not mean writing a masterpiece, or competing for Pullitzer Prize, but just being factual and trying to use the most accurate words.

Anyway, advice is cheap, so take it easy and have it your own way !

Next week we'll set off on new adventures and I bet you'll laugh heartily when I tell you what happened to me some days ago ...

** getting too big for my boots again !!!

mardi 3 novembre 2015



I guess by now you must have read the few lines I dropped last Friday. Have they tickled your curiosity ? Are you eager to know more about " The Undergrowth Chronicles" ? Are you striving to solve the riddle ? Or, are you just daydreaming of a world where all of us 
( deers, foxes and birdies included) would speak the same language ? In that case, forget about it ! Even if English is not number one on the list of the most spoken languages in the world, it still has a bright future ahead. So, either you face the facts and improve your English by reading this blog, or you find skilful craftsmen ready to build a new Tower of Babel ! And that's another kettle of fish ....

Well, let's stop joking ! What matters today is Mrs Deer's message.

You remember that what I deciphered, blew my socks off. It really did !  I couldn't get over it !  I mean, I had to pinch myself to make sure it was true-to-life ! So, I won't keep you waiting any longer. Here is Mrs Deer's message, word for word.

" Dear Perky Busy Bee,

That's your name , isn't it ? I heard it on the grapevine. Yet, when I saw you steal my precious notebook, I thought " Nosy Cheeky Bee " would have suited you better !
But, little by little, watching you on the sly made me change my mind and realize you were harmless and caring, as well. By the way, thanks a million for the salt licks, and my deepest apologies for the rosebuds , the figs, and all the temptations I shouldn't have yielded to !

I have received your warning loud and clear. How nice of you !!

Anyway, don't worry ! Deers are demure, but clear-sighted, as well. Some time ago, when I caught sight of a man wearing rubber boots and overalls, and striding across your garden and along the edge of the undergrowth, I smelled a rat ! I was high time to bid farewell to our piece of Eden. With the help of Dear, I emptied our pantry and lugged our stock to the very depths of the undergrowth. Where ?? I won't tell you, for fear an intruder should force you to let the cat out of the bag !!
A soon as you sound the all clear, I'll come over with Dear. "

Flabbergasted,aren't you ? Now I will leave Mrs Deer quiet, but in next episodes, a lot of twists and turns ...

jeudi 29 octobre 2015



Since the day when I came across Mrs Deer's diary till the phone-call which sounded the death knell of my reading, I had time to increase my knowledge and get pretty good at deciphering illegible writings.
A bit boastful of me, isn't it ? Well, the problem with getting too big for your boots is that, when you realize you are, it is already too late : the process has been sneaking on smoothly, and moving backwards and eating humble pie is no picnic !!

Well, let's say no more about it !

The reason for this last-minute intel is that I am all excited about revealing you my yesterday's discovery !

So, I was picking up walnuts the wind had blown down and the magpies had not seen yet, when a larger dead leaf attracted my attention. There were hoof prints on it !! 
Dear me, sure Mrs Deer had left them on purpose !
I just felt like Champollion when he started deciphering the hieroglyphics, and even if I didn't have the Rosetta Stone, I could get through the hastily scribbled note quite easily.

Mrs Deer's message  blew my socks off ! I can't get over it !!

                        Continued in the next chapter

dimanche 25 octobre 2015



First of all, let me apologize for last week chapter which, according to some of you, was a bit short, and left you somehow unsatisfied. It was not due to a tight schedule or a lack of imagination.Not at all ! Actually, I thought it could do you good to get a breathing space. It would give you some spare time to browse through the previous episodes, and check the vocabulary you weren't quite sure about.Have you done that ? Then, you must have noticed that every two or three chapter I use the same words or phrases.Don't worry about me : I don't ramble yet ( please, don't chuckle to yourself !). It is just one of my favourite "educational' tips.I call it the hammer-driller method ( by the way,now that I live in the countryside, I could call it the woody woodpecker method).I've been using it since I started teaching  (ages ago) and it runs smoothly ! I keep drilling whatever the thickness of the "bark" is, because I know that sooner or later it will split and let a new word in !
Repetition is the mother of teaching,isn't it ?

Well, enough speeches ! Let's come back to " The Undergrowth Chronicles".

Eager to know more about my short warning note to Mrs Deer,aren't you ?
Since last week, some of you have been racking their brains to solve the riddle. I can't help quoting some of your suggestions :

. " Beware of the backhoes".
. " Harmful craftsmen on their way".
. " Tenants who have not paid their rents will be evicted on Monday
     October 19th".
. " East of a den under works". ( There are film buffs among my readers)
. " Better clear off because of clearing".

Well, I must confess that my warning was neither so witty, nor so punchy, but rather factual.I wrote :

" Sorry for being a pain in the neck, dear Mrs Deer, but you'd better fall back to another safe place further in the undergrowth,cause the first half of it will be rather noisy and in the limelight over the next few days.I'll sound the all clear asap".

Next week, more about" wildlife on the rocks" !!

PS : Don't be shy, below each chapter there is some space where you can leave your comments. When you send private messages or messages on Facebook, some of my readers can't see them and feel frustrated. Thanks in advance !

PS 2 : When there are words or phrases you get stuck on, leave me a message and I will give you the translation in the context.

lundi 19 octobre 2015



Since I started copying out "The Undergrowth Chronicles", my readership has soared. I'm plyed with questions about deers, fawns and even foxes ! I receive gorgeous photos of some of Mrs Deer's distant relatives, not to mention one Bambi trailer !! Thanks a million and my deepest apologies for the unanswered questions.

Don't get me wrong ! I'm not getting too big for my boots ! Yet, even if I know "The Undergrowth Chronicles" is far from being a cliffhanger, I guess you are looking forward to reading some more more extracts.

Unfortunately there is a snag ...

A couple of days ago I was engrossed in reading Mrs Deer's diary, ticking the dates something funny or unusual happened to her ( sometimes I feel like a spy in your pay !), when suddenly the phone ring made me startle. I picked up the phone reluctantly. The voice on the line sounded familiar. Fortunately I was sitting, otherwise I would have fallen head over heels ; the boss of the company we had asked ages ago to clear the undergrowth was just telling me he was ready to come on Tuesday( today) if we agreed !
I told him we had been waiting for him eagerly, and that in the meantime we had renamed him " L'Arlésienne".
He is quick on the draw and he replied that that name is quite common among craftsmen ...
Anyway, all things come to those who wait. On Tuesday October 21st at 9 on the dot, works would start.

I was thrilled and was about to share the good piece of news with my husband, when in a split second my blood ran cold !!

Clearing the undergrowth meant frightening Mrs Deer and Dear, sacking their pantry, and perhaps even worse ransacking their den !!

OMG ! There was only one thing I could do : take the diary back to the undergrowth with a short warning note, and that's what I did.

In next chapter I'll tell you what I wrote and what happened next...

PS : get any clues about the warning note ??

mercredi 14 octobre 2015



Last week I had told you I would copy out some more extracts from " The
Undergrowth Chronicles " by Mrs Deer,so promises are made to be kept !
But first of all, let me apologize for the " delay in delivery ". Deciphering Mrs Deer's diary was no picnic. More often than not, her hoof prints were illegible and translating them into English ( Mrs Deer is Breton) was sometimes a real headache ! 
All over the last few days I have strived because I didn't want, first your curiosity to lose its appeal, and secondly the " diary affair " to come to an 
abrupt end ! Fortunately I had some hooks and all things come to those who wait, so enough small talk, here are some other passages.


May 24th,2015 

My fawn is born ! I've named it Dear.Doesn't it sound lovely ? Dear Deer !
I'm already crazy for him, and , even if his so-called sugar daddy has shirked his responsabilities, sure his doting mother will stand by him for long !

June 15th, 2015

After nursing Dear ( he loved my fat milk and wags his tail to thank me for the meal ), I went shopping. My housemate has planted fig trees, rosebushes and hazel trees, and now the garden looks like an all-you-can-eat buffet. Has she done it on purpose ? No one knows ..Anyway, while
I was tasting some rose buds, she came out to watch me with her binoculars. Cheeky of her, isn't it ? I pretended not to see her because I didn't want to treat her to a good meal. Enough is enough ! Sharing the garden is one thing, giving her a part of my harvest is a different story !!

June 18th,2015

Today is a red-letter day. I've introduced Dear to my housemate. It was not a snap decision. I had weighed the pros and cons,but the day when she laid some salt licks at the edge of the undergrowth, I knew she was harmless. You know, salt licks are deers' guilty pleasure !
So, today after grooming Dear, I led him into the garden and let him 
frolic. My housemate was on the terrace and I guess she enjoyed the show ! She looked over the moon and ,as for me, I was as happy as 
Larry. However, I will keep an eye on Dear who is the stuff hams are made of .. ( haven't you heard of a distant cousin of mine whose name was Bambi ? )
So, now we'll stay in the undergrowth for a while.
Dear me, today's outing has worn me out !
So, as humans say : Good night, sleep tight !

lundi 5 octobre 2015



Did my last week discovery tickle your curiosity ? I hope so, because, even though curiosity killed the cat, getting a better understanding of wildlife
is praiseworthy,isn't it ?

So, not to keep you waiting any longer, here are two extracts from " The
Undergrowth Chronicles" by Mrs Deer.


January 5th 2015 :

Phew !! At last I'm all settled ! If for humans, house-hunting can turn into a nightmarish obstacle course, for roedeers getting a suitable den is no picnic,either !
First I had fixed my choice on a nearby wooded area where beds of
vegetation are really thick,soft and king-sized. Unfortunately, a few days later while looking for a snack ( I was a bit peckish), I came across three
used cartridges. That immediately rang a bell. Cartridges mean guns,
hunters and , of course, packs of dogs ! The place was not safe at all,especially for a mother-to-be ! Yes, I'm pregnant and I'll give birth to my fawn next May ! So, I broke the camp, and after wandering a bit, I reached a garden with an undergrowth ! The garden itself was not spick and span, but anyway not bushy enough , compared to its undergrowth.
A network of brambles and fern, a plush bed of ivy and bindweed, and a
fifty- green-shaded canopy ! I set my heart on it immediately, and there I am in my piece of heaven. Yes, my future delivery-room is just Heaven on Earth !

February 3rd 2015 :

An old friend of mine visited me some days ago. She had heard about my good fortune and she was eager to see by herself.Yes, roedeers are shy and demure, but nevertheless a bit "nosy". It was just dawn,so I thought I could show her round safely. In spite of the cold dew on our hooves, we were having a good time tasting leaves and blades of grass when suddenly the sound of a door opening made us choke ! We stopped dead.
A lady was staring at us ! Our hearts were pounding ! To flee or not to flee that was the question ! As the lady stayed still, not to lose face, we moved slowly back to the undergrowth.
Well, I must confess I am a bit puzzled !
Shall I have to share the place with a housemate ? It's quite trendy , but till May I would prefer to be on my own.
Wait and see ...


Next week I 'll give you some more extracts , but for the moment I am really too engrossed in my reading to deliver the sequel.

Have a nice week and thanks in advance for all your comments or questions. 

samedi 26 septembre 2015



Last Thursday when I got up, the sky was overcast, and , according to what the naughty weatherman had said the night before about Brittany ( heavy showers and mist),  I thought it was the right day to declutter my study room. After last Summer carelessness that place was the worst clutter hotspot, and, little by little it had turned into a daily offender !

So, I rolled up my sleeves, set my timer for one hour and I tackled my deadly boring task.
One hour later, I had torn and thrown away a stack of useless papers  (drafts,leaflets,reminders I was clueless about, and so on ..), my precious
tools ( eraser,ballpointpens and lead pencils) were having a break in a drawer while waiting to get back to work, in short my " den " was spick and span. Every nook and cranny had been combed through.
I was wondering which room to continue with, when, fortunately, a ray of sunshine came through the window to free me from my devilish cleaning binge.

Great ! The rising tide had cleared up the clouds, and a wonderful Breton sky was calling me outside. 
With no time to spare, I put on my rubber ankle boots, slipped on a windbreaker, just in case, and off I was !

I was clearing myself a path through the undergrowth ( Jeez ! Brambles grow
at top speed off my back) when suddenly I tripped over something and nearly fell.
I knelt down to find out the alleged culprit, and what I discovered under a 
layer of fallen leaves and chesnut burrs really blew my socks off !!
A notebook !! I'm not going to lie : I was flabbergasted !
What the hell did that mean ?

I sat down on a stump, opened the notebook and read :

Name :               Mrs Deer
Address :            Perky Busy Bee's Undergrowth
Nationality :        Breton
Marital Status :    Single with one dependent child
Job :                   Animal lovers'entertainer

I glanced at the top of the page and read the title :

Mrs Deer's personal diary

I flew back home with my treasure, curled up on the couch and started :

The Undergrowth Chronicles

I am pretty engrossed in my new bedside book, but I'll let you know ...

To be continued

mardi 22 septembre 2015



Last Monday, while catching the last rays of Summer sunshine,I was wondering what to start this week's chapter with.
Don't get me wrong ! Of course, I already had my leading thread !
Rambling with Ulysse,my faithful and devoted courier, on the moor among heather and gorse, playing fetch with Canaille, my tireless goalkeeper, and last but not least, burning off Summer-stored calories on my bike give me a fair bit of time to craft my little stories ! The only snag is their beginnings. After all those months'blogging, starting to write is still a daunting project, and I often freeze up at the sight of my blank page !
So, last Thursday I was pondering about that prickly issue when it came to my mind that you were partly responsible for my mild anxiety. Yes, you readers !
Let me explain that.
Once, I heard a book reviewer say that the beginning is where the reader decides whether to keep reading, and now his remark flashes through my mind whenever I am about to write a new chapter !
If I hook you right off the bat, my readership will skyrocket. But, if I fail to grab your attention, then my blog traffic will plummet in a wink.
So, first thing to do today is to thank you for your loyalty, your leniency and, of course, for your advice and comments. Some are breezy and timely, others are teasing, but none nondescript ! You are more and more numerous, and this is hands down the best booster ! Thanks a million !!
Now I'll stop congratulating you, otherwise you'll get too big for your boots !

So there ! Bob's your uncle ! You see, I have started my chapter on the sly ! I hope you don't mind ...

Anyway, I don't want to be a pain in the neck, and, even though it is Autumn this week, I won't ask you the spoof question : " What is your favourite
season ? "
All throughout our school days teachers used and abused that topic and we had to rack our brains to write a witty essay !

Yet, let me point out that for weight watchers like me, Autumn is an enchanted interlude. I can say good-bye to uncomfortably revealing cotton
T-shirts, and hello to lovely cable-knit pullovers and corduroy trousers. Fall clothes are flattering without being bulky !
Another good thing : picking apples (a lot of stretching because either the apples have grown higher or I have shrunk) and chestnuts (a lot of bending
up and down on sloped ground), then racking up big piles of crunchy leaves will jump-start my energy level and improve my muscles tone !
With all those awesome outdoor workouts, I am willing to bet I'll win next stage hands down !
So, ready, steady, go !!

lundi 14 septembre 2015



I have already told you about my smoothly-running method to stay consistent in blogging. On weekdays mulling over an idea while walking the dogs ( which means a fait bit of time as Canaille and Ulysse are warring brothers and can't even do their business together !).Then,on Sundays, collecting my thoughts to try to build a well-crafted story.
Till last week things were going like clockwork, but I had not reckoned with my " Tour de France winner training "...
Jeez ! First, I didn't know that pedalling could be so grueling, secondly if I  had not skipped anatomy classes at grammar-school,I would have gained a better understanding of how muscles and bones work together.
After my fourth day ride, I felt a kind of muscles soreness, but no pain, no gain !
On the fifth day I found it difficult to stay on track, but, anyway, I leaped out of bed and jumped on my beloved bike.
Well, on the sixth day I was sore all over and barely able to move. Delayed Onset Muscles Soreness, better known as DOMS, was Mr Google's diagnostic.It's an acronym that fitness buffs are said to wear with pride !
Rather foolish pride, isn't it ? Or, maybe, I am not really a gym buff.
I was so washed-out and listless that I even had to resign in disgrace from my duties :

My hubby was promoted dog-walker.
Mr Picard managed our meals ( better than I do, actually).
The feather-duster dismissed the hoover.
Last but not least, I had to shelve my computer ! Poor me, even typing really was agony ! It was as if someone had stabbed my shoulder blades with a hot knife and then just left the knife in there !

Had I gone overboard too quickly ?

Yet, the reviews on my new hobby horse sait it provided workouts easier on one's joints than running on a treadmill. But easier doesn't mean easy, and of course, doesn't mean as easy as ABC, either. 
They also said it toned legs, hips and glutes. Well, I must be the exception that proves the rule..
My legs are like cotton wool and I can't sway my hips anymore. As for my glutes, they demand thick-padded seats !!

First, I thought I should kick back, but no snap decision : Rome was not built in a day, so I will pull my socks, keep pedalling, turn a corner to cross the line.
Sooner or later, the yellow jersey will be mine !!

Don't chuckle to yourself and in the meantime no blabbing, please !

lundi 7 septembre 2015



Last week I proposed a toast to celebrate the end of Summer holidays and I hope you had one ! Don't you think it is uplifting and energizing to celebrate little things in life ? Well, I do ! Long time ago I read in a book of wise sayings that we should enjoy the little things, for one day we may look 
back and realize they were the big things. Those words are still etched in my mind, and whatever happens, I try to remain optimistic and look on the bright side.
Anyway, we have to face the fact : Summer has really come to an end ! Fewer holiday-makers, backpacks and back-to-school stationery on display, quieter seashores, noisier school playgrounds, yes we do have to bid farewell to Summer time. It's high time to turn the page and take a fresh start. 
Doesn't September feel like New Year for you ? For me it does ! I enjoy making post-summer resolutions : it does help me to face my friends' departure,shorter days, falling leaves, let alone all the Autumn snugs such as the Tax Property sheet crouching in the letter box, or even worse my bathroom scale's evil eye !!
Indeed, with that monster in my bathroom it is quite impossible to enjoy a gentle waking up ! Hopping onto it is more like a crash landing ...
So, moving on will be my one and only September resolution !
When I say " moving on ", I really mean it. I don't mind all my past defeats,
I'm ready for a new challenge. No more basking and lounging around. The muffin top hunting is open !
Don't get me wrong ! I am not the physical type, so of course I won't take the plunge and go bungee jumping, for example ( even if I jump head first off a high bridge with a tiny elastic rope around my ankles, I guess my extra kilos won't stay on the bridge rail, our relationship is too tight).
Going to a gym club, you said ? Forget about it ! Just to think about all those twits and other divas preening and fixing their hair and headbands to ensure they look super cute in their workout gears make me sick ( not to mention 
the cost of a membership card doomed to be never recouped, of course).
No, I think my home, sweet home is the best place for an efficient workout
routine : no sweaty neighbours, no prying eyes, just me, my muffin tops and my birthday present...Guess what !!
A new tracksuit ? New trainers ? A health and fitness tracker ? No, I have 
already got all that stuff.
No, a home recumbent bike ! It has got a comfortable seatback, the pedals are out in front of the body instead of below it, so I can pedal and read or watch BBC news at the same time ! 
I have already started my 20-minute-cycling daily workout and I do enjoy
it ! 
Fat better watch out ! Dany The Perky Busy Bee is back on track, and even if she has a rough ride, she will ride the obstacles out, and why not next Summer slip on the yellow jersey !


PS about the title of this post :

Don't confuse Burning Fat Festival and Burning Man Festival. The former takes place in Brittany, the latter in Nevada.

lundi 31 août 2015



At this time of the year, when I was still working and that Summer was drawing to an end,and back-to-school days floating around, I used to wake up in the middle of the night, all in a sweat, my heart pounding and with a tight knot of fear in my stomach.Well, maybe not really fear, but let's say a kind of stage-fright. Yes, even though I was a teacher, I must confess that all throughout the very first week, getting into new classrooms and meeting new crops of students made me feel like Daniel walking into the lions'den !
I guess for me the kick-off of school year was just like the three knocks at the theatre, for actors.You know, sweaty palms, racing heart and a feeling of dry mouth or butterflies...
Fortunately, once the curtain up, I didn't get the chills any longer. 
Working with adult learners has always been a bundle of laughs, and now I often happen to miss those early September feelings !
Thanks again to all those who have kept in touch, and read this blog every week. I do hope I bring you as much as you do to me !!

Anyway, Summer 2015 is nearly gone, and I am quite happy because I have achieved what I wanted. Of course,I didn't have lofty goals, yet they were absolutely uplifting.
Spending time with longlife friends ( we have known one another for nearly 60 years), remembering the good old days (oldy but goldy), drawing plans for an old people's home ( just for the 15 of us) was really great fun !
Celebrating special dates with my relatives was also cheerful and so emotional : my mother's two brothers singing a song my father had taught them 65 years ago ( when coming back from Indochina) was a pure purple of patch !!
Oops, I was about to forget all the treats ( sometimes a bit too boozy) which helped my top muffins to settle..

Now, Winter is just a few short months away, and it is high time to pick up apples, make apple sauce jars and freeze them.
No blackberry jam this year, but instead crème de mûres. Yes, I have decided to take the plunge ! Don't get me wrong : even though I am drowning in fresh and super ripe berries, I won't open an off-licence in Audierne. I just want to make the most of this year's surprisingly good blackberry harvest, and, treat my guests with a a home-made kir.
So, guinea pigs are welcome !!

Cheers !

lundi 24 août 2015



Some days ago I got an email from a former student of mine telling me he found my weekly posts quite useful because they help him to expend his everyday vocabulary.A bit of buttering up probably, but I must confess I was absolutely elated. I guess it was the highest reward blogging had bestowed upon me since the early days of The Adventures of Dany The Perky Busy Bee.It really made my day !
It is true that all throughout my posts I try to use new words,new phrases, because most adult English language learners I've taught said they were constrained by a lack of vocabulary, and were often stuck for words. I also manage to arrange frequent encounters with new words. According to a recent survey, four exposures to a new word are necessary to remember it :

. You never saw it .
. You have heard of it, but you don't know what it means.
. You recognize it in context,it has something to do with ...
. You know it.

In my opinion, the more exposures students have to a word, the more likely they are to store it and use it properly.

Indeed,the size of your vocabulary matters when you want to talk about this and that. Low vocabulary can turn into a trap.That's one of the very first things I noticed when I started teaching adults. So, let me tell you how.

I had been teaching for hardly one year when one Friday my boss asked me if I could stand in for another teacher who was on a sick leave.I agreed to do it, so he gave me all the instructions for my one-week mission starting the next Monday.
As soon as I read the information, my heart started pounding,my knees shaking and some butterflies went through my stomach : the week after I had to give one-to-one tuitions to Kellogg's Human Resources manager,four hours a day from Monday to Friday !
The only thing I knew about Kellogg's was the cornflakes I put on the breakfast table every morning. My knowledge of cereals stopped there !!
I was scared because, first, Human Resources managers are not people you can clap on the back, and secondly, my food-processing vocabulary would not hold water over one hour !I was in a fine mess !!

I spent the whole weekend cramming for my " impossible mission ". I learnt all  I could about wheat,buckwheat,oats,maize,barley,rye and so on ...I spent two hours in the nearby supermarket reading the English lists of ingredients on packets of cereal bars, fruit-flavoured snacks, etc

On Monday morning I was so sick of all those cereals that I let the children help themselves with their favourite ones. All the way to Kellogg's headquarters I was all at sea !
My knocking at the manager's door was just like " For Whom The Bell Tolls ", but what else could I do ? Take a French leave ? My boss would have fired me.
So, there I was, expecting the door not to open, but of course it did !

To my " Good morning, Sir ", the man answered in French and explained that apart from food-processing vocabulary, he was hopeless at English, and , to top it all, at the end of the week he had to entertain his American bosses every evening, treating them with good meals and showing them around Paris.
He was really stressed out, unlike the Perky Busy Bee who perked up in 
a wink.
The first hours were a real nightmare for him : he was as red as a beetroot and all in a sweat, but little by little he gained confidence, got used to paraphrasing when stuck for words, and last but not least, stopped 
preparing speech in his head before speaking !
I hope after that intensive training he could enjoy Paris by night with the
American team ..

Anyway, for me that was a kind of trigger for my teaching methods and I hope it is still useful.

Enjoy yourselves and make the most of the last days of August !

lundi 17 août 2015


Chapter twenty-seven

To make sure to never run out of ideas and stay consistent in blogging, I had decided to update " The Adventures of Dany the Perky Busy Bee " weekly, I mean once a week. Playing with the big boys and posting twice or three times a week was a task I didn't feel up to.

My weekly routine suited me perfectly. From Tuesday to Saturday, while walking the dog along the Breton paths, I used to weave my next story. I just paid attention to stick to my own demands : write something funny, true-to-life and with expansive vocabulary.Then, you know the rest..

Unfortunately, my smoothly-running method froze up nearly two weeks ago and left some of you somehow puzzled. 

So, first, let me answer your questions :

I was not off on holidays : Audierne is too gorgeous to leave it. Its motto is :
Audierne, love it or leave it !

I was not healing my sunburns ! Among my readers, there are some malicious tongues, aren't there ?

I was not babysitting for Mrs Deer. The fawn has grown up, it has little horns,and is a cheeky boy ! It has turned the hazelnut leaves into lace !

I was not overwhelmed by gardening. the showery weather has kept me inside and the wild garlic and wild carrots have given room to four-leaf clovers. I hope that if I let them enjoy the place, they will bring me good luck. It is said that the first leaf is for faith, the second for hope, the third for love and the fourth for luck ...

Last but not least, I was not stuck for ideas. There is always something nice going on around.

SO, WHAT ???

Well, over a fortnight ago, I was about to chew the first bite of my dinner, when suddenly I felt a kind of swelling under my lower jaws. In a wink the perky busy bee turned into a gloomy toad.
It wasn't that painful, but not really attractive..
After a sleepless night, tossing and turning in bed, I rushed to my GP who diagnosed a salivary gland disorder . What a plague for a chatterbox like me!
I was on antibiotics for five days, but looking like a toad or a hamster was not my cup of tea.
Fortunately, that misfortune had already happened to my best friend's husband and she gave me an efficient tip : a mouthwash of lemon juice ! It really worked !! It blew off my socks ! In a split second, the wonder juice had deflated my unattractive swellings ! ( What a pity it didn't remove my jowls, as well !)/

So, now you know why the Perky Busy Bee was as silent as a grave !

Looking forward to answering any questions about vocabulary, grammar or busy bees' way of life.

In the meantime, enjoy yourselves !