Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Holidays begin!

Les Vacances de Pâques are finally here - begun with Easter celebrations in both the English and French traditions, at home, at church, in the garden and with friends...I'm going to take my monthly blogging break to coincide with the first week of the hols - I'll be posting my Thrifty Swap parcel to Michela but I won't be visiting either my blog or yours until next Monday. The family, the garden and real life are calling..!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

The card is a bit grubby, but it's an Easter Greetings card from 1910, the year my grandmother was born! I'll join with the writer in sending you these Easter wishes, which translate as:

"I wish you good health, Joyous Alleluias and a Happy Easter for you and your dear children."

I hope you've had/are having a wonderful day - Happy Easter, friends!

My final prayer for our children is below. Thanks for your helpful and encouraging comments over this week of prayer!

A Prayer for our Children - New Life and Health

This is the last in my series of prayers for my own children, which you might be able to apply to your family too. I'm linking to Spiritual Sunday, and if you're visiting from there, please feel free to scroll through my posts of the last week, as I began the prayers last Monday. The photos featured every day have come from our Easter Garden. This prayer is very personal, as our elder son has had a number of medical difficulties this year... Christ is Risen - Alleluia! Jesus, you are the Lord of Abundant Life, not of judgement, death, illness and struggle. Please forgive us when we see the Christian life as one of puritanical denial, and instead let us see that you are always about More, not less, about Life, not death, about Wholeness, not restrictions. We pray for our children, that they will enjoy eternal life with you, but also abundant life now. Where their bodies aren't working properly, please bring healing. Where their brains struggle with learning and life, please bring clarity and purpose. Where their minds suffer from the stresses of living, please bring your peace and assurance. We entrust our children to you, Lord, knowing that you love them as much as and more perfectly than we do. In your name we give you our children: body, brain, mind and soul, and trust you that they will lead healthy, safe, fulfilling and faithful lives.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Prayer for our Children - Forgiveness

Lord, forgiveness isn't easy. You had to die to forgive us and we probably underestimate the cost of your forgiveness every day. Please bless our children with an attitude of forgiveness, for each other, for us, for others and for themselves. When they are in the wrong, please help them to admit that to you and to others, and when someone has wronged them, please give them both the desire and the grace to forgive. We know that we forgive because we are forgiven, and we also know that our unforgiveness leads to the building of walls - between us and you, and within our various relationships. Please don't let our children live with walls around them, but teach them and us to always seek and give forgiveness, in your name.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Prayer for our Children - Salvation

Firstly, if you read my last post, you will realise that our computer isn't as sick as we feared! It's allowed home so long as it gets plenty of bedrest and doesn't play any video games until it gets a new graphics card... But thanks for your kind messages all the same! I think I'll post my thrifty garden ideas next week though - a computer-lite weekend is called for. But here is my photo and prayer for Good Friday; I really did want to be able to complete this series, so I'm glad the computer's OK. Lord Jesus, every day we live we are blessed by your love, but today we particularly remember your sacrifice for us. Adults and children alike, we cannot reach God through our own attempts and only a childlike acceptance of the mystery of your death for us can bring us to Him. Thank you that you have blessed children with attributes we adults don't find easy. Thank you that we can learn from our children as much as we hope they can learn from us. Please bless our children, and bring them to a day-by-day trust in you, your forgiveness and salvation and your gift of new life. Don't let our weaknesses as parents make it harder for them to trust you, but instead, please help us to live and grow together with you.

Family all well, Computer all sick...

So no more posts until I've got it fixed, I'm afraid! Have a wonderful and blessed Easter, friends.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thrifty Week - Green Credentials

Whether by accident or design, being thrifty usually manages to end up being good for the environment too. Elizabethd and her husband are busy reducing tap-water consumption in northern France. Mrs Yappy Dog is reusing empty lemonade bottles. Jenevieve is making cloth nappies while waiting for a new arrival (and yes, cloth nappies nowadays really work brilliantly - you can forget those old Terries!). So thrift means reduce and reuse (recycle is the poor third relation in the Green Threesome - you don't need to recycle much if you reduce and reuse enough...) So here are a few of my thrifty ways which are also good for the environment - two old favourites and one real newbie! Firstly, cloth napkins are cheaper and more environmentally friendly than paper napkins or kitchen roll. And boy, do they look good for those who love vintage style! This is a snapshot of what's on our table at the moment - a rare example of all four of us having the same design. The boys usually complain when we all have the same napkins - they like the eclectic collections I build up and sort by colour. In my drawers I have a red set, a green set, a yellow/beige set and a blue set. Sorting by colours is enough to bring the disparate odds and ends I pick up in charity shops together. Washing and ironing them is no big deal - shirts are hard to iron, but squares of fabric are a doddle. I think we meet the criteria for style, convenience, thrift and creation-care with these napkins. I hope you agree!

The second old-favourite is using kitchen cloths instead of kitchen roll. I do keep a roll of paper for really nasty disasters (vomit-related, normally) but in the kitchen is a 'set' of blue cloths (some microfibre, some cut-up T-shirts) and in the utility room is 'the rest' - mankier cloths of all colours that can be used on the floor and for dusting. We help ourselves to them just as we would with kitchen roll, and then throw the cloths into a washing bin in the kitchen. I don't like them lying around damp waiting for re-use - they do breed bacteria. So I uses them once and wash them regularly. It works.

This baby is the new thrifty/green addition to our life - I bought it with some Christmas money. It's a steam mop - no more shopping for floor cleaning products! The hot steam disinfects as it removes the dirt, and the floor dries pretty quickly as it the water is so hot. If you need to really disinfect an area (this is the patch under the stairs where the dog eats and sleeps, so as you can see it gets truly grubby), you just leave the mop in one place for nine seconds and the steam kills all known germs - dead, or whatever those cleaning products promise. As Mrs Yappy Dog mentioned the other day, it's a bit odd to have really clean floors without a really clean smell - you KNOW your floor is clean if it stinks of pine - but that's something I'm getting used to. I bought mine, in true British fashion, at Lakeland Ltd.


Do visit Mrs Yappy Dog to pick up more tips and links for Thrifty Week. And have a look at my prayer for our children, below - there's a story attached to today's post - synchronicity is happening!

A Prayer for our Children - Growing Up with God, plus some Synchronicity

Today's picture is a fake! I could never leave that bread and blackcurrant juice out where the dog could get it... So the real scene only has the empty chalice today - I'm sure you'll forgive me. The story behind today's picture is obviously well known, but if you want to share it with your children you'll find it here. There's another story below my prayer - some kind of synchronicity is going on between these prayers and the way our younger son is thinking...
Lord Jesus, before your disciples had any idea of what you would do for them, you showed them how they could remember and understand it forever. Thank you that you do not wait for us to fully understand you, but that you love us and long for us to come to you, with as little or as much understanding as we already have. Keep our children holding on to you, Lord, as their minds and bodies mature and their understanding of you develops. Don't allow any of us, adults or children, to think that that we know all there is to know about you. Don't allow us to either dismiss you as childish stuff or to believe we have you 'all wrapped up' and have no need to learn more from you. Please bless our children with open minds, positive friendships and good teaching from home and church, so that they grow up with you, and never away from you.



And the little story of yesterday evening, following my posting of yesterday's prayer on the theme of growing up caring and thoughful, is as follows:


Our Son 2 is a hot-headed, imaginative, action-philosopher aged 12. Aren't all children contradictions? He's very wary of God - he finds it almost impossible to make committments, always thinking of the 'what ifs' and the 'but have you considereds' that the rest of us ignore as we rush through life. Last night, very unusually, he told me he worried at night and had bad dreams about natural disasters - he loves reading action and adventure books where the heroes narrowly escape volcanoes, earthquakes, floods etc, but he confided in me that the escapes were basically fiction and that, as a real boy and not the hero of a story, he imagined that he wouldn't have the same incredible last-minute escape if it happened to him. He went on to say that this was one of the things that made him very dubious about God - all this wrath of God through natural disaster. "He's done it four times, as far as I can see," he told me (he loves counting too). I told him I was impressed and ready to listen, so he set off listing Noah, the Plagues of Egypt, Joshua and the genocide as the Children of Israel went into the Holy Land, and "... um.. well, Abraham was his uncle...". Indeed, yes, Lot at Sodom and Gomorrah. How on earth did he know that story, not often covered in Sunday School? The Manga Bible, it transpires...


I'm not going to tell you all my replies - I made a few, but I felt that listening properly was more important than answers at that point. Son 2 went on to explain how, as far as he can see it, humans gain a tiny bit of power and then claim supernatural justification for holding on to and extending that power. He cited Nero, the ancient Greeks and Hitler. He asked why people hadn't sorted Hitler out, "when he was in prison writing books against the Jews". That was my second, "how on earth do you know about that?" moment and he told me: "I just pick things up, they're interesting".


It was all one of those How Do You Top That? moments. It was way past his bed time and he was tired. As always with Son 2, we were left with more questions than answers. But I remembered the prayer I'd posted earlier in the day, and ended the evening praying with him that, "God would show him the good in people as well as the bad". After he'd finished his own prayers he said to me, "What was the second thing you prayed?". I repeated what I'd said and he told me, "I think I do see the good in people too." And I left him thinking on that...


Sorry if you'd like a cut and dried story about how I'd answered all his questions and he'd decided to put his faith in Jesus after all that. Some children are that easy - to be honest Son 1 is. But don't you think it's impressive that God has made Son2s, as well as Son 1s? Life is never going to be boring with them around!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Thrifty Week - Baking

One of the things that you notice when you try to price up home made cakes for a cake stall (been there, done it...) is that home baking is actually not a very thrifty activity. If you really charged what that hand-iced coffee and walnut cake was worth, in terms of ingredients and time, unfortunately, most buyers would refuse to stump up. I gather it's the same for hand-crafted goods, and all this is rather a shame. However, of course that doesn't stop us baking, because both the process and the results are well worth it - things may cost a bit more than mass-processed versions in the shops, but they were fun and satisfying to make, and way better to eat!

Last week I cleared space in my freezer and used an unusually empty afternoon to bake for Holy Week and Easter. First I made hot cross buns for Good Friday...

I got to thinking about how I shop thriftily for home baking. My first rule seems to be: buy the cheapest ingredients, and if they turn out to be good, stay with them, but if they turn out to be rubbish, upgrade next time. This means that I buy budget flour, sugar, raisin and butter, but pay more for better quality spices and eggs - with eggs it's an ethical choice as well as a quality one, of course. I bake with cocoa powder but not too much real chocolate, as I don't like to buy rubbish chocolate and the good quality Fair Trade stuff I buy is really only for special occasion baking at the price! So I suppose that's my second thrifty baking tip - choose your recipes according to what you can afford, and what is easily available in the country you're living in. Brits bemoan the cost of imported Golden Syrup in France, and Americans mourn the lack of Hershey's Kisses! So, find recipes that don't use them...

Next thrifty tip, which I stole wholeheartedly from Cath Kidston - cover battered recipe books in offcuts of oilcloth! Oh, I did enjoy doing this, and have enjoyed using the books ever since! They're easier to find on the shelves now, too.

Here's the Simnel cake, minus its marzipan topping, which I'm going to put on when it comes out of the freezer before Easter. The last trick I use is to decide which ingredients are essential and which ones I can replace with cheaper alternatives. Self-raising flour is available in France but just as expensive as the British version. I seive in the appropriate amount of baking powder with my budget flour. Currants are really expensive here (quick lesson in etymology: they are called Raisins de Corinth, pronounced 'corrant' which shows you where we get the English word currant). Therefore I usually substitute cheap raisins/sultanas for the mixed fruit or currants in any recipe. It's not quite the same but this way I can afford to bake.

Do pop over to see Mrs Yappy Dog for her advice and links to all the other Thrifty Week posts, and please also feel free to have a look at my daily prayer for our children, below...

A Prayer for our Children - Caring and Thoughtful

Today's addition to our Easter Garden is a bowl of water and a tiny towel. Son 2 was quite interested in the contents of this miniscule bowl - we wonder if Raja will drink from it! Lord, you washed your disciples' feet - a leader, serving his followers! In our family, I pray adults and children alike will have an attitude of serving you through serving each other. Please bless our children with caring hearts, so that they not only know and use the rules of politeness, but use them out of respect and love for other people. They see and hear so many examples of caring and concern in their lives and on the news, but they see so much hatred, selfishness and materialism too. Please let them always be drawn towards the good, the loving and the bigger picture, instead of adopting the easier ways of self-interest and insularity. You are the Servant God, the King who washes feet, and in your name we pray,

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thrifty Week - Clothes Shopping in France

I'm joining in with Betty's Thrifty Week again, and continuing to post on the theme of Thrifty Living in Foreign Climes. Today I wanted to post about where I buy clothes. I have some serious criteria for clothes shopping, so here goes:

  • our clothes should be good quality and last well, at least for adults - the boys grow out of their clothes so fast that it's less important for them!

  • our clothes should good for the environment

  • our clothes should not bought from people who ran sweatshops to make them

  • we should look good in them!
Because cheaply bought new clothes are usually neither good-quality, good for the environment, nor fairly traded, I try to buy second-hand as much as possible. It's the 'reuse' part of 'reduce, reuse and recycle' and it works!

However, both the practicalities and the thrill of Charity Shopping seemed lost to me when we moved to France. I was actually speaking to a French mum this Saturday who commented: 'Of course, in England you have all those great little Charity Shops on the high street...' and we both got quite nostalgic over them. But there are Charity Shops in France, if you know where to look for them - you won't find them on the high street! They are big warehouses, more like the American Goodwill, I think, and they are on small trading estates, often near to the organic supermarkets, which is quite convenient... Why not ake a tour of one of my two regular Charity Shops with me here?

The other thing that the French really excell at is the town-wide second hand sale. These are called braderies or even, locally, the Troc Broc Sold, which probably inspired my blog's name! They are incredibly complicated affairs (see photo of the volunteers above), which I have explained here, but money is made for charity and good quality clothes are sold to the benefit of the donors (so better than a jumble sale, in that way). At the biannual Troc Broc Sold this weekend, which is where I got chatting to the French mum about Charity Shops, I bought enough shorts to last both boys all summer. I bought less for myself - my tastes and figure remain resolutely British, so I always do better in Charity Shops when visiting my father!


It's not possible to buy all our clothes second hand, of course, and whilst at first I had no idea where to buy cheap but decent clothes and shoes for the boys in France, over the years I've learned a lot, and now spend most of my 'new clothes' money at Decathlon, the major sports dealer which also runs fantastic 'Trocathlon' events twice a year - you've guessed it - second hand sports equipment sales! Once you get to know a country, you can find some very good thrifty deals. Just don't expect it to work the way your country of origin does...


Below is my second prayer for our children. Do have a look if you have children of your own, and want to be praying for them - maybe it will be of some use!

A Prayer for our Children - Enthusiastic, Hardworking and Motivated

This is the second prayer I've writen for our children, which I hope may be useful to other people too. I'm posting one each day in Holy Week, and with the prayer will be a photo of our Easter Garden, as it changes through the week. If you want to read the stories of Jesus during Holy Week with your children, I wrote one here last year, and this one explains why there is a tiny centime coin in our garden today!Lord, you created our children with abilities, gifts and plans for how their talents can be used. j Life at school can be so hard and discouraging at times, and hard work seems so much like, well, hard work... j Please bless our children with enthusiasm and dedication for their work, with teachers who encourage and an education system that motivates and seeks the best for each child. j As parents, please give us wisdom, committment to help our children, and grace to know how to encourage independent, motivated learners. j Throughout their education, please help our children to do their best and to know the rewards of hard work. j When they leave education for the world of employment, please give them opportunities throughout their lives to fulfil the talents and plans you have for them. j Amen

Monday, April 18, 2011

Thrifty Week - Vide Grenier in the South of France

This week the friendly and hospitable Betty is hosting Thrifty Week, over at Mrs Yappy Dog. Do go and visit her for thrifty tips and links to the other participants! My plan is to post daily (we'll see how that goes!) on the theme of Thrifty Living in Foreign Climes, as it's both interesting and challenging to change countries and continue to live a thrifty life. Another blogger who is good example of this kind of challenge is Juanita Tortilla, who has moved from Singapore to Switzerland, via the USA, and all on a tight budget.
Well, I know a lot of you want to know how the first of the spring-time Vide Greniers are going - my book review of The Flea Markets of France prompted a lot of encouragement for me to get shopping! Readers, I accepted your challenge! So this first Thrifty Post is a bit frivolous - it's about thrifting for vintage French treasures, rather than anything more practical. I promise the occasional bit of good sense in forthcoming Thrift Week posts, honest.
Yesterday was the really rather marvellous annual Vide Grenier at Bon Repos. Bon Repos is a lovely (but fast-growing) traditional village which completely closes down its streets once a year and invites brocante sellers and locals to set up their stalls. You get families selling off their outgrown clothes and toys next to dealers in French antiques. It's a car boot sale without the cars, a garage sale grown up and gone mad! My first success was at the stall pictured above, which always has a lovely blue velvet tablecloth. I have nicknamed this stall 'Two Fat Ladies', after the UK cookery show of the same name, but this year it has gone a step up and is now 'Three Fat Ladies', one of whom remained asleep throughout my lengthy conversations with her friends. I bought the bedraggled heap of lace from them, having spent ages sorting out the handmade from the grot, and then felt inspired to ask the price of the monogrammed apron. It really isn't usually worth asking, as I am indeed a thrifty shopper, and embroidered monograms are really out of my price range, even when stained as this one was. But to my delight, the chatty stall-holder told me she'd give it to me for just 2 euros! It is good to spend time sorting and chatting, because I think the stall-holders feel they've had their money's-worth out of a foreigner who takes time to look at their stock and tells them where she comes from and how much she likes French vintage. You quickly learn the ones who will take advantage of that and charge you silly money, and as my friendly Fat Ladies proved, not every dealer is like that.

So, I bought one stained linen apron (I do know an MJ, but he's a Martin, and I don't see him in the apron...), a bundle of lace, some of it very fine indeed but you need to know your stuff to recognise that, and I only barely do, and a fantastic load of vintage wooden, plastic and mother of pearl buttons from another really friendly stall-holder, this time a house-owner doing a clear-out.
When I got home I soaked the apron in Vanish, washed it overnight with the lace in a little net bag, and put everything on the line in the sunshine, hoping for the best as regards the stains...
It looks like Vanish plus sunshine wins again!
Oh, look at that. Really quite impractical, but do you love it as much as I do? So that's my first post for Thrifty Week. No one needs French vintage, but I derive an enormous satisfaction from living somewhere where I can buy it thriftily! It takes time - as with any kind of second hand shopping you can't expect to go to a Vide Grenier and find everything you need/want first time around. This kind of thrifty shopping requires a williness to wait for good things...
Below you'll find the first of my Holy Week posts - I'm writing a prayer for my children each day, and I hope that if you have children you might also find the prayers useful for your thoughts and concerns regarding them.

A Prayer for our Children - Knowing They are Loved

I'm going to be writing a prayer for our children, which I hope may be useful to other people too, each day in Holy Week. I'll accompany the prayer with a photo of our Easter Garden, as it changes through the week. The donkey is here because it was Palm Sunday yesterday - Carolyn has a great post about Palm Sunday here if you want to think about that a bit more than a plastic donkey will allow! If you want to read the Palm Sunday story with your children, I wrote it here last year. Dear Lord, you gave us our children, and in fact they belong more to you and to themselves than they ever will to us. j We love them but at the same time we know that we haven't always loved them perfectly. Please forgive us for the times we've let them down, harmed them, over-indulged them or otherwise made it hard for them to trust our love. Knowing that you love them perfectly, let our love for them be a mirror for yours, teaching them what it is to love and be loved unconditionally. And in grace and forgiveness, let us continue to grow together as a family where each one loves and know he is loved. jAmen

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Final Pause in Lent 2011 - Routine and Ritual 2

Lent is coming to an end, so this is the last post for A Pause in Lent 2011. It feels like it's gone fast - maybe too fast for me to take it all in! But that's why Lent happens every year, I guess. Please do visit all the other Pause in Lent bloggers listed in my sidebar, both for this Pause post and to celebrate Easter together next week too. What I said about needing Lent every year is perhaps a good summary of this post! I'm completing what I started when I first wrote about routines and rituals, and my thoroughly non-conformist dislike of both...
Now, the weird thing is, I resist them but I rely on them, too. I am confident that I'm not absolutely crazy, partly through reading Gretchen Rubin's comments about paradoxes. One of Gretchen's Secrets of Adulthood is “The opposite of a great truth is also true”. So, she argues, you can do a lot of good by resolving, for example, to: "Take myself less seriously—and take myself more seriously". I think you can see where she's coming from. So here comes my paradox:
I am a non-conformist who relies on routines and rituals.
There. Said it!
What do I mean? Well, routines help me keep the house tidy, the family clothed, my lessons prepared on time etc. Self-evident.
Rituals are more of a challenge, perhaps. As I said before, I learned to put words like 'empty' and 'meaningless' in front of the word 'ritual'.
But what if a ritual isn't empty or meaningless?
What if, in my free-form Bible study and our free-form worship at church (and boy, these French can do free-form) we only pick and choose the bits of the Bible we want to hear?
Isn't it easily done?
We have an almost weekly sermon from the letters of Saint Paul. Those are great teaching letters, so I can see why the various preachers go for them. But we don't hear many sermons on the Old Testament, which frankly requires a lot of explanation, or even on the Gospels, which are surely the base of our Christian faith.
I think a bit of discipline, in the form of (hush, whisper it) a lectionary to take us through the Bible bit by bit or even (gulp) some attention to the liturgy of the Church Calendar, would be a good thing in our non-conformist worship. And that's why I love Lent. The ritual brings order and discipline to my potentially self-centred, rather than Christ-centred, life.


PS The star of this post is the evening-scented flowering olive which I mentioned last week in my gratitude post!


PPS I'm linking to Spiritual Sundays.


PPPS Doing a PS is really bad from an English teacher's point of view, did you know that?

j PPPPS I'm going to be posting two posts a day starting tomorrow, assuming I get my act together. One will be a little snippet for Thrifty Week (see sidebar) and the other will be a daily prayer for our children. Last year I did a series FOR children in Holy Week. This year I'll be putting a bit of discipline into my Holy Week by praying for my children, and I hope that the prayers I write will be of some use to other parents too.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Easter bonnets, Easter scents

This month I was slightly stumped when I looked at Niki's fantastic Nostalgia calendar. She has a beautiful collection of vintage floral hats, and I don't. On reflection, I decided that I don't even wish I had a collection of vintage floral hats (something about the squashed flowers, I think...)
So I just decided to put some blossom branches from garden bushes into a pretty jug I bought in Edinburgh last year. I think it works! But at the end of this month I've decided to go a little bit red, white and blue, in celebration of all things British, royal and matrimonial. So you may get a second post about this space under the stairs this month...
The little branch in the jug is lilac-scented honeysuckle. It really does smell of lilac! But the Easter scent in the house right now is a Simnel cake, baking in the oven, and the dough for some hot cross buns, rising in the heat of the baking cake. I know I'm a week in advance - I just had some time this afternoon and have cleared some space in my freezer to hold everything over for a week! What do you bake for Easter?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Flea Markets of France - a little book review

Ben gave me this great little book for Christmas - it was on my Amazon wishlist! If you ever come to France I really suggest you put it on yours too...
I took it off the shelf yesterday when an American blogger sent me a lovely email about her forthcoming visit to France - it really answered all her questions, and now I've got it out I'm going to read more of it.
The information about Flea Markets in different areas of France is useful (it even mentions our all-year local one which I think of as a Vide Grenier...)But for me the introduction is the best part:

When to go * How to get there * What to bring * How to communicate * How to bargain * Checking market schedules * Special Sales * Transporting your purchases

If that section is useful to someone who's been here for six and a half years, it's likely to be helpful to anyone who uses it, visitor or resident. I loved the vocabulary and bargaining advice - I've been doing a lot by facial expressions and gestures up until now!


We have an interesting week coming up. Son 1 is currently travelling to Spain for a four-night visit with school, which is just marvellous - what an opportunity! They will be staying in Santender and visiting a lot of museums and galleries. Son 2 and I are going to enjoy some time together after school, walking the dog in our rather variable weather. Our holidays don't start until Easter Saturday, so I will be posting for Thrifty Week and Holy Week whilst working. Things might get a bit scatty... I am doing very little commenting on your blogs at the moment, although I often do have time to read them. I just seem to have energy to read what my friends are doing, without having quite the mental oomph to respond! I'm sure you know the feeling...


PS Blogger went nuts and posted this as I typed the second word of the title, so it's been on my blog for the last half hour simply as: 'The Flea!'