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dimanche 31 juillet 2016

AN UNFORGETTABLE MEAL




CHAPTER SEVENTY-SEVEN:










Hello all of you,


This is your captain speaking.
Welcome onboard Perky Busy Bee ocean liner.Once again thank you for choosing to cruise with us, and we hope you will enjoy a fairly smooth sailing.

Since we last cast off, we have had quite a few stopovers and offshore breaks.Some were given an enthusiastic reception, others got mixed views.
Quite normal as there is no accounting for taste.

Anyway,to keepyou happy and to improve your ways of enjoying time at the ports of call, some weeks ago we launched a kind of survey.I mean, all sailed and sailing guests who had provided us with their email address, received an invitation to participate in an online satisfaction survey.
First of all thanks a million for all your answers.We appreciate your help . The feedback we have gathered is pretty interesting,even though sometimes a bit puzzling, not to say jaw-dropping...
No wonder, as you, my dear passengers on Perky Busy Bee, come from all walks of life.

Yet, there is one thing you have in common : a good sense of humour !
You all agree that life is sometimes  rather dull and with all the gloom and doom you get blasted with everyday, what matters during our weekly stopovers is to have fun and laughter !

I guess you feel good at making fun of me, don't you ? In a friendly way,of course, but my absent-mindedness, my blunders and the pranks I am played on often trigger smiles and giggles.

Come on, don't play the fool ! I know seafarers had great fun watching me swim offshore in murky waters in ' Woman overboard '(chapter 65).
And what about you, geeks ?
My fear of suffering from FOMO in 'Lost in abbreviations ' (chapter 62)put a smile on your face, didn't it ?
Not to be outdone, the fearless and cold-blooded passengers, after visiting 'Thrill seeker ' (chapter 57) sent me tips to overcome my fright of brooms ! Shame on you,mocking guys !!

Don't get me wrong : I do enjoy all that wholeheartedly !!

But,just a while ago, I told you that some feedback was jaw-dropping,and then, I owe you an explanation.

' Hunting season '(chapter 68) caused a general outcry among anti hunters and animal welfare defenders !
I am awfully sorry because I really did not mean to hurt you. That was a terrible misunderstanding !
You have been sailing on Perky Busy Bee long enough to know that as an animal-lover I am second to none !
So, forget about it !

Anyway,it takes all kinds, but, actually, after reading all your answers thoroughly, there is a no-brainer :
whatever your pet-hobbies, your pet-hates, your country and your mother-tongue, there is a topic that always  bring you all together on the gangway, ready for a shore excursion : food !

So, no more time to be lost : let's set foot on dry land and enjoy a meal at ' What's next ? ' restaurant !

The summer I was expecting my son, Dearhubby and I went on holidays in Auvergne (a volcanic region in the heart of France).
The village was in the middle of nowhere(we were already die-hard fans of such places),but the hotel where we had booked full-board was just awesome !
Green holidays were not trendy yet, and we were just two couples in the hotel.
So, no need to tell you the owners simply spoiled us.
The lady(in charge of the meals) made a point of treating us with all her region delicious foods. By the way, have you ever tasted aligot ? It is a specialty to die for ! If you don't know that dish,have a go !
The weather was gorgeous, the countryside breathtaking so what else ?
We could have spent the rest of our lives there,but unfortunately all good things come to an end ...

For our last dinner, the lady was to prepare what she had called ' an unforgettable meal ', and it was ....

So, there we were, sitting in the dining-room, waiting for our mouth-watering treat.
When she brought the starter and served it proudly, Dearhubby and myself pretended to marvel at it,but once she had gone back to the kitchen, we begged the other couple to do us a favour and have a double portion of quails with chestnuts and raisins !
Eating poor little birdies ? No way for the two animal-lovers we were !
The two other guests accepted our offer heartily !!
They ate all out and then, we started waiting for our hostess to bring the main course.

We were getting hungry,and soon the breadbasket was empty. We had eaten the last little crumb and the hands of the dining-room clock were going on their own sweet way : ticktoc, ticktoc, ...
We had chatted casually with our ' bird-eaters ', and then a kind of hush had fallen onto the room.
The only noise to be heard was the rumbling of two empty stomachs !

The clock struck 10 and we were just feeling like the passengers on the Titanic, except that our captain could not be seen anywhere !
We had to make it clear.
A raid into the kitchen was imperative !

Armed with our forks and knives, we flung the door of the chef's den open to find the place empty(like our stomachs) and messy (like our ideas after such a fast !).

Suddenly,the washer-up turned up, stared at us and uttered :

"What are you doing here ? "

Dearhubby answered a bit angrily :

" Well, investigating the disappearance of the main course ! ".

"OMG", the young man said , " the boss has received a phone-call from her son-in-law. He is on a business trip and his wife has delivered a baby boy one month earlier than expected. My boss must have forgotten you, cause she has immediately rushed to the hospital not to leave the mummy and the new born alone ! ".

Jeez !!! I was about to faint !! I was so hungry, I could have eaten a horse !
I was staring at the fridge so hungrily , as if it was Aladdin's cave, that the washer-up opened it and said :

" Help yourselves  ! "

No sooner said than done .

We went on a binge eating, and since then ham , sausages and cheese from Auvergne are no secret to me !!

That's all for this week !

Enjoy your reading and don't forget : be perky !!

dimanche 24 juillet 2016

HORSES AND CLOVERS




CHAPTER SEVENTY-SIX







Hello everydoggy,

Captain Perky speaking

Oops, sorry ! Hello everybody ! That was a slip of the tongue, due either to July dogdays, or to Canaille who, in spite of the current  heatwave, makes a point of keeping my toes warm !! But he is such a die-hard supporter of Perky Busy Bee and a first-rate entertainer that taking my feet for a comfy pillow is one of his numerous perks.

Come on,don't worry, no more dog stories ! I guess you have had enough of them ! And one too many, and I would have to rename Perky Busy Bee ocean liner, and call it Doggy Doting Lover.
No way !! You know why?
Because, according to a sea fisherman I know, it is bad luck to change the name of a boat. He told me that boats develop a life of their own once they are named (no wonder then that life is cheerful on Perky Busy Bee), and if you do rename the boat,you absolutely must have a re-naming ceremony !

I'll think about it for my second blogiversary, but for the moment, let Perky Busy Bee flag fly in the wind of laughter, lightness and joy(we need that, don't we ?).

Don't get me wrong : as I am a budding captain, I always trust seafarers when they speak, but otherwise I'm far from being superstitious. I have no problems with black cats, ladders or open umbrellas in the house, and, Friday 13th is like any other day for me !
I have no Lucky charms....well, ...let me see, ...oh, yes I do !
A four-leaf clover I have kept in my wallet for years, and well, I guess it brought me good luck at least once !

So today, let me take you on  a day-trip to the racecourse, and then you'll decide whether lucky charm talismans can change your luck for good ...

First of all, have you  ever been to such a place?
No, never ? Well, even if you are anything but a punter, an occasional risk-taker, let alone a gambler through and through, it is a venue worth going to !
Of course, to see fabulous horses and fillies, to admire the jockeys'bright silks, but also to feel the thrills and spills floating all around.

Perhaps, my opinion is not that unbiased, cause I went there just once, but as it is still etched on in my memory, let me tell you about my first steps as a one-day punter.

One day, Dearhubby, one of his best friends, and myself had been to the movies to see " A day at the races ", a film starring the three Marx Brothers (still a must even if dating from 1937 !).
Once out of the movie theatre, on an impulse, we decided to go to the races, the next weekend.

As none of us had ever been to such a place, we  wanted to get the full monty !
So, we arrived quite early and went to the pre-parade ring to see the horses warming up before being saddled.
There were 14 thoroughbred horses, one more beautiful than the next, but I immediately got a crush on Sweet Zephir.
Within a wink I could feel a kind of betting craving !
Dearhubby and our friend laughed at me and said that my 'sweetheart' had very poor odds, and then, wasting money to offer Sweet Zephir some extra oats was just my own business!

So, they bet on the favourite, Sudden Lightning, but I stuck to my decision to back Sweet Zephir!

After the bustle of betting activity,suddenly, as the stalls flew open, a hush fell over the racecourse.
A few seconds later, the thundering hooves and the roars of the spectators burst out, and I could hear and feel my heart beat in my head like a huge drum !
Dearhubby and our friend were shouting their heads off, cause Sudden Lightning was galloping far ahead, whereas Sweet Zephir was just going  on his own sweet way ! He had adopted the stately pace of the perfect loser !!

My two punters were laughing up their sleeves, when suddenly, just before the final stretch, the favourite, certainly driven by a kind of desire for freedom or a feeling of rebellion, took the wrong track , followed by all the others except ....Sweet Zephir !
He crossed the finish line quietly under the gaze of flabbergasted spectators !!

I was as happy as Larry when I got my winnings !
Then, as I was putting the banknotes into my wallet, I came across my four-leaf clover.
If I had been a good girl, I would have given it to my two losers, but after all, they had made fun of me,so I just dangled it in front of them and said mischievously :

" A stroke of luck ? "

Anyway, to soak up their disappointment, on behalf of Sweet Zephir, I treated them with a good dinner and they ate like a horse (actually like two horses !!).

I still have my four-leaf clover,and I must confess it brings me good luck,because you are still onboard Perky Busy Bee ocean liner !

Have a nice and lucky week,and don't forget : be perky !!







dimanche 17 juillet 2016

A SPAGHETTI STORY





CHAPTER SEVENTY-FIVE :






First of all, I just want to say one thing and I cannot say it enough :
hats off !
Yes, I know I already congratulated you last week, but don't get me wrong : I am not buttering you up ! It would be unfair and rather offending,wouldn't it ? No,no flattery, just compliments.

No wet blankets on Perky Busy Bee ocean liner ! Only real livewires !

As soon as I make my weekly announcement, you always rush onto the gangway to be the first sightseers, and then you never fail to send the word round and advertise our cruise !

Even those who early July had to get off because of Summer family holidays, off-the-beaten-track destinations or personal reasons, wrote , before leaving, so enthusiastic testimonials on our guest book that I can't help quoting some !

PerkyBusy Bee cruising offers something for everyone from the young to the young at heart like me !

On Perky Busy Bee the choices are endless from invigorating reading to more relaxing browsing.

The incredible choice of true- to- life stories,blunders, pranks and tricks makes each stopover a delightful new adventure. I'll be back in September !


Jeez, thanks a million, but now stop it , or sooner or later I'll get too big for my boots !!

Sorry for such a long speech, but I think you deserved praises.

Now, I can see a lot of you champing at the bit and wondering when Captain Perky will stop spouting off and ,at last, announce this week's stopover !

Well, how shall I put it ?....This week we won't set foot on dry land.
Come on,don't panick ! No lifejacket needed !
This break offshore has nothing to do with the vagaries of July weather.
You know that on Perky Busy Bee ocean liner we always look at everything through rose-tinted glasses,so no matter the temperatures, the clouds, the showers and the storms !

So what ??

Well,actually, we've been sailing for over one month now, and I let myself sidetracked so easily that I have not even asked you about your favourite food !
And yet, even if our cruise is entertaining, you can't live only on fun and laughters.

Of course, I try to cater to everyone and  make sure that there are enough choices to satisfy any kind of taste.
I know there are love-it or hate-it foods such as oysters,beets and other polarizing eats.

That's why I have decided that today's special will be pasta !
Quite sure, you won't turn up your nose at such a dish, will you ?

So, let me tell you the spaghetti-lover story.

Ages ago Dearhubby and I decided to go backpacking on Greek islands with a couple of friends, and, of course Jolux !
You remember the naughty puppy cocker of ''Love at first sight '' in chapter 71, don't you ?
By then, he had gone through the awkward age.
After climbing onto the dining-room table to chew the bamboo pendant light fitting, he had decided to stop wreaking havoc and to make amends for his behaviour !
Maybe,the brand-new dog crate threat had helped him to make that long-awaited decision ...

Anyway, he had become such a well-behaved and cute dog, that he was even allowed to travel with us in the passenger cabin.
Then, once on the island, everything went on smoothly.
We let him frolic in the backcountry, and when in villages, we leashed him up not so that he didn't bother anyone, even though the locals used to give him lots of cuddles and pats.

Unfortunately, for his meals we had been dead wrong, and we quickly ran out of dry pet food.
In those days, hopping packages and tours had not congested the Greek islands yet,so  asking the natives where we could get dog food (dry or tinned) turned  soon  into a daily headache !
We were so bad at making ourselves understood that once we nearly fed our hungry little dog with stuffed grapes leaves ! (by the way, thta's delicious !).

We started getting fed up, but Jolux did not !

So, one day, in an open-air restaurant, we were about to order, when Dearhubby had a bright idea.
He would order two courses : a Greek salad, and meatballs with spaghetti and he would give the latter to our dog, on the sly, of course !

As soon as the waiter had served us, Dearhubby immediately spooned the spaghetti dish into our dog's bowl under the table. That "trick " took him just a few seconds.
Hardly had he put the plate back onto the table when the waiter was back with some water.
When he saw the empty plate, he nearly dropped the jug ! He stared at my husband, turned round and rushed back inside to tell the cook to keep cooking, cause there was a guy outside eating like a horse and what's worse, awfully quickly !!

We were doubled up with laughter ! Under the table our little spaghetti-lover was digesting, sleeping like a log and dreaming of holidays in Italy !!

Feeling hungry now ?? Come on, sure there must be some pasta in your pantry !!


Enjoy your meal and don't forget : be perky !!

the address for help, comments and anythingyou need is :



dimanche 10 juillet 2016

NOTHING TO DECLARE ?




CHAPTER SEVENTY-FOUR :

               



Hello everybody,

Captain Perky on cloud nine speaking.

First of all, hats off to all of you !
As cheerful and enthusiastic passengers, you're second to none. You really made my week !
You've been as keen as mustard and you've racked your brains to solve the two riddles I asked you last week.
Even though I had cleaned up my mailbox before launching the game, it got crammed with answers from all over the world in a wink !
Oh by the way, some of you asked me for clues !!
Come on, you clever little buggers, how on earth can you have imagined I would be had so easily ?
Don't try to teach your Grandma to suck eggs !
However, in a way you were not totally wrong, cause as the saying goes " Nothing ventured, nothing gained  " !

Anyway,by the end of the week I had received a dozen or so right answers, but then, suddenly I realized to be really fair, I had to take the jet-lag into account !
That's why,eventually there are three winners : one in France, one in America and one in India.
Congratulations to the three of them who, two days after I had posted chapter 73, found out a snail (with its wonder slime)was hiding in riddle no 1, and a watch(with its two hands, one for the hours and the other for the minutes) in riddle no 2 !
They'll receive a phone-call from Perky Busy Bee soon to choose among some little gifts.

Now, for those of you who are not that keen on riddles or any brain teasers, don't worry, the game is over !
Sorry if it's still a bit jumbled up in your heads, but with today's stopover , you should not be all at sea any longer !

The place we'll visit within a few minutes is tucked away behind Memory shifting sandbars, and, you are really spoiled because up to now, your servant, Captain Perky,had never taken any day-trippers to that breathtaking spot !

Years ago, when I discovered that off-the-beaten-tracks destination, I immediately felt the urge to etch it on in my memory. To make sure I would never forget that day, I needed a catchy name.
I hesitated between " Nothing to declare ? " or " Tax haven ", but it turned out that the latter was not that suitable...(  you'll see why later on).
So, I put a brave face and chose " Nothing to declare ? ".

Now let me show you round that unforgettable place.

In those days I had not joined the blogosphere yet, and I was teaching English in a secondary school.
All throughout the year, things used to go on more or less smoothly, depending whether my pupils were sloggers or lazy slobs.I don't know why, but it seems there have always been hords of the latter in English classes....
Anyway, little by little, I had learnt to manage with any category of  poor teenagers  compelled to listen to the mysteries of English language, or at least to pretend to !
Yet, I guess I was not really fit for the job, and a few years later when I started teaching adults, then it was the most rewarding experience I ever had . Even better, some of the avid learners I had the opportunity to meet have become friends forever !!

But let's go to my secondary school years as a teacher.

Every year, the daily routine I had built with my pupils for nearly three terms, was smashed to bits as soon as the exam season was launched.

Let me explain.

Of course, beating the end of school year stress and dealing with teenagers more and more restless and daydreaming about their Summer holidays was not ice-cream and cookies (that's the July and August version of " wine and roses " ), but nothing compared to the stack of papers to mark by, most of the time, the day-before-yesterday deadline.
Overnight hundreds of papers stormed my desk, and years after, I still don't know how I managed not to be buried and die chocked under a pile of those written sheets !
All throughout the month of June I was like a bear with a sore head ! My main concern was  to keep unbiased after the umpteenth same mistake , and to bottle up the mounting pressure Inside.

Yet, years after years, I kept accepting that nerve-racking exercise,cause, I must confess, the pay-cheque at the end was the key to an early Summer spending spree (by then,the sales were in full swing !).

So, of course, one year when I received a phone-call from the Ministry of Finance asking me if I could mark the English part of one of their closed competitions, I accepted immediately.
First, because it was a juicy income booster, and then, the idea that , for once, the roles were reversed, and I was the one who would scrutinize the tax-collectors' scripts and track down the error, was somehow quite satisfying !
I guess none of you will blame me for that petty feeling of revenge !

It turned out that their demands and marking criteria were as many as the lines on tax-returns !
Even worse, their marking scheme supposed to make things as easy as
ABC was actually a real headache !
But after all, the payment per script was pretty attractive, and no pain, no gain !!

Three weeks later, my 300 exam papers were marked , tied and packed into cardboard boxes so heavy that Dearhubby had to give me a lift to the Ministry of Finance.

All was well that ended well : in a few minutes I would be able to enjoy deserved Summer holidays!

Then, you know the last thing that went through my mind ?

When the tax-officer handed me the " reward ", instead of saying thank you, I asked :

" Is  that declared ? "

The man turned as white as a sheet, and myself as red as a beetroot !
Not enough colours to make a rainbow, but enough to remember to think twice before speaking, especially in the tax-collector's den, cause that's a place where anything you say can and will be used against you !

Well, our little day-trip is over. I hope you enjoyed it.

Have a nice week, and for my French readers, fabulous fireworks, parades and balls !

And don't forget : be perky !

                            


lundi 4 juillet 2016

PLAYTIME

CHAPTER SEVENTY-THREE :
    
Hello all of you,
Captain Perky speaking :
Happy to see you gathered on the upper deck looking forward to another adventure. Relieved, too, because up to now nobody has been blogsick. And I must confess, that is thanks to Dearhubby, the man at the helm.
I mean , you know how easily I get gung-ho, so, around mid-March, when Perky Busy Bee ocean liner reached its cruising speed, I felt like speeding up a little and having two or three stopovers a week.
Fortunately, my favourite helmsman and the two main entertainers onboard, Canaille and Ulysse, slowed down my enthusiasm.
And they were quite right,cause, even now, when maping out our weekly excursions, I sometimes happen to feel overwhelmed as a child cut loose inside a toy store. Too many adventures to share with you, too many cheerful memories to help you see life through pink glasses, and then ......too many tears ready to roll in the event of too few eyeballs on the blog ( hey, come on, don't believe that, I'm joking ! You know I'm not a whiner, don't you ? ).
Anyway, Dearhubby warned me that, of course, too few stopovers can turn Perky Busy Bee ocean liner into a disabled ship adrift, but too many can make passengers sick ( overreading has the same side effects as overeating !). To convince me of his arguments, he reminded me that as the saying goes " Fair and softly goes far in a day ".
Quite wise, isn't it ?
So, as Captain Perky and her crew are dedicated to the comfort and care of all of you, till our second blogiversary, we will sail at a one-stopover-a-week cruising speed. I hope that pace will suit regular passengers as well as first-timers. Time will tell ...
Oh, sorry, I'm once more too talkative ! Words flow like milk over rice crispies and time is flying !
Well , I think it is too late to reach our port of call before sunset, so we'd better stay offshore and enjoy some carefree hours.
No casual talk, anyway, because we all know that sooner or later topical issues are likely to be tackled, and nobody wants to hear about disheartening, shocking or baffling news, do they ?
So, why not, for once, focus on being happy and in the moment ?
Who are the best at that ? Kids, of course !
Well, even if your childhood is over, it doesn't mean playtime is ! Let's anticipate the day as if it was your birthday, and you're turning six again, and let me  ask you today two " Who am I " riddles !
Just identify who or what is being described below and mail your answers on perkybusybee@gmail.com as soon as possible !
A reward for the first right answer !!
Riddle no 1 :
I'm a peaceful veggy. Unfortunately, I have a very poor eyesight and I have to rely on my sense of touch and smell to get food. I can pass across the edge of a razor or the blade of a knife, and not get hurt. When threatened, I  seal the entrance of my home and can stay inside several months without water and live on stored fat. I am celebrated on May 24th,so next year try to remember that date !
Riddle no 2 :
I can be any shape. I am a reliable assistant, cause I work round the clock, and I 'm getting smarter and smarter ! I have two hands, but one is shorter than the other ! Is that the reason why the new generation has no hands at all ? Maybe ...
Now, put on your thinking cap, rack your brain, ask your relatives and friends for help, cause the countdown has just started !
Ready, steady, go !
Have fun, and don't forget : be perky !