dimanche 18 juin 2017

New Ark crew--a Shark!

  It's not that we've installed a fish-tank on the Ark, or corralled a ferocious requin on the deck! The Shark in question is a new vacuum cleaner bought as a result of the demise of our Dyson. We have always preferred the Dyson, for its formidable suction and strong beater action on carpets. However, after needing service from a motor problem consequent to falling downstairs, it never seemed quite its former self, emitting a sobbing noise and needing frequent unblocking of its numerous exterior hoses. Finally, it quit altogether and needed a replacement . Our neighbour, IanMacdonald had bought a Shark Liftaway and said it was loads better than a Dyson, so he let us try it by cleaning his lounge... It did seem very satisfactory  and was somewhat cheaper from Amazon, so we ordered one.
  The Shark does have excellent suction and collected a disreputable amount of pet hair from the kitchen carpet in no time. The dust collection box is quite small and was soon full, but very easy to empty ( once the instruction manual had revealed the latch to be lifted. )  The various buttons seem a bit complicated  but a little use soon breeds familiarity. The term Liftaway refers to an ingenious feature, the motor unit detaches from the shaft and the beater brush continues to turn, so it can clean under low furniture. It even has a headlight, like the Hoover Dirtsearcher of many years ago, I have fond memories of selling them when I worked for Currys. All in all, a most useful crew member, I can thoroughly recommend it!
  Bye for now, sitting drinking iced lemonade, the weather in France having decided it's summer.
The Shark in question

mercredi 14 juin 2017

Visit to the Somme graveyards, part 2

   After our visit to the cemetery of the Devonshire Regiment, we went to have lunch in Albert, a larger town nearby. Following that, we set the Satnav to return to Cecile and Patricks house in Wattignies. As it often does, the Satnav chose a new and picturesque route, taking us by minor roads, and passing the much larger cemetery at Pozieres. We stopped to visit this and were impressed and saddened to see long lines of graves, over 2000 collected into this large site from the surrounding countryside . It's one thing to read about the many deaths of First
 World War soldiers, quite another to gaze at long lines of gravestones in serried rows. The most poignant graves in both cemeteries were those on which no name was engraved, as no identification could be found on the remains . On these, it just read ' A soldier of the Great War- known unto God '  I was deeply moved.... In one such grave there were even two Unknown bodies presumably where the remains were mixed up together in death!
  I'll try to attach some photos but I'm writing this on the iPad and photos are stocked on the mainframe .

dimanche 11 juin 2017

Visit to the Somme graveyards. A moving experience.

During our Spring visit to our friends at Lille, where we were made most welcome , we decided to visit the First World War graveyard of the Devonshire Regiment, with which we have a certain connection. Kim found out from the Net that this is situated at the small village of Mametz, near the town of Albert. As this was not too far from Lille, we set off to find it.
  With our usual luck, we spotted a sign to the site just before reaching the village, and were able to park nearby. A short, paved path led us to the cemetery gate.
   The graveyard , as is the case with all military cemeteries, is tended by the Comonwealth War Graves Committee and they do a grand job. Lawns cut and weeded, all ironwork freshly painted, the tombstones kept clear of any lichen, and loads of information provided. The 14-18 war is long enough ago to be before my time, yet it is not exactly history either. I expected it to be interesting but was not prepared for how moving it was. I found tears in my eyes several times, seeing tombs of people with common Plymouth names, they could have been my uncles or neighbours.
  The Devonshire cemetery is relatively small, mainly consisting of soldiers killed in a sortie against the near-by German front line, clearly visible from the trenches held by the Devonshire Regiment. Previously weakened by a severe artillery barrage, the German trenches were taken by the Devonshires but a machine gun hidden in a near-by graveyard cut down dozens of our soldiers. The bodies were interred by their comrades in the trench and a poignant inscription carved- The Devonshire Regiment held this trench; they hold it still. After the war, this trench was converted  into the existing cemetery.

lundi 29 mai 2017

Ark update

I see I haven't written an Ark since goodness knows when, and I think my friends and family will think  I've run off  with the milkman! I think a brief resume of our situation would be in order.
  My health situation continues to improve after my second stroke last September . From time to time I complain that progress is slow, but Kim points out that I don't have the intensive therapy I got at the Grand Feu after the first one, so it's not surprising . One or two sessions of physio therapy per week can't compare to three or four per DAY then! It's true, but.... I can't help feeling impatient. Nevertheless, my situation continues to improve, only the left arm and hand are a little weak and slow to respond and I limp a little on my left foot when I'm tired. Still, when I compare myself to others who have suffered strokes, I feel very lucky.
  What other news? Well, today I'm feeling very happy and carefree, I have finally completed my French tax return on line with the help of Agnes, our invaluable French friend. When it was finished and confirmed I didn't owe any tax, I was so relieved , I could have kissed her!
  Car wise, things are going better, too, after several false alarms, the green machine seems to be cured of its head gasket and slow puncture problems and we are regaining confidence in it.
  Our English TV is also recovering from its sulks, the purchase of a new but second hand box has permitted it to resume service with the bonus of some new channels to explore. The original five are really all we need, when I think I was happy with two as a kid, and those in black and white!
  We are planning our usual summer holiday in the Pyrrenees in June looking forward to that. We won't be continuing on to Orthez this year, as Arlette has the decorators in, she rang yesterday . Still, perhaps a briefer stay would be better for the animals at Mort Limouzin ...
   That's all for now, got to make a snack.

vendredi 14 avril 2017

The Ark takes a trip to Daneland

    No, the Ark hasn`t sailed off to Norway! We had decided to visit the HQ of Dane Rescue, from where we had obtained our Dane, Rufus, almost a year ago.Sharon had told us that they had rescued  Harlequin Great Dane even bigger than Rufus and we thought it would be great to see this phenomenon. He is slightly taller but much more hefty, although efforts are being made to slim him down. Here is a shot
 of the two dogs, nose to nose so you can judge.

  However, let's put the things in order. Yesterday was a fine, sunny day, we visited our local market to have a coffee and buy fresh vegetables from the stall holders. Then, it was pick up the dogs and head south via Angouleme. We had thought to have lunch there, but the GPS bypassed the town, so we saw no restaurants. We eventually bought supplies at a Boulanger at Marthon. Continuing o, we arrived at the site having passed loads of restos, 'twas ever thus....
  Sharon and Andy made us very welcome at Dane Rescue and introduced us to the new dog, which they have nicknamed Tiny! Both our own dogs were introduced into the fenced pen, where Laika was by far the smallest dog! She behaved very well, avoiding confrontation by Danes sniffing her backside by sitting on it, clever dog!
  We had a fab afternoon playing with the dogs though it was very hot. Reluctantly we took our leave, and started the long drive back home, arriving very tired.
  That's all for now, Blogger is showing signs of acting up...

mercredi 5 avril 2017

Reminisces of Noah--effective medecines?

     I was thinking today, when I was eating my breakfast and taking my pills, of the state of my hips some twenty years ago. We were on the south Cornwall coast on a ' wrinklies walk', a walk along the coastal path with a group of friends, spending the nights in different B and B's along the way. At least, Kim walked, my hips were too painful to go far, and I stayed in the car to meet the group at the finish of each day's march. Arthritis, perhaps, but it was painful, I walked with a stick, don't like to remember those days. Someone suggested cod-liver oil tablets could help. Without much faith, I started to take one a day, and after a few weeks, I was delighted to find my symptoms had gradually disappeared. I have walked freely ever since, and for me at least, the benefits of cod-liver oil need no further proof, I and Kim have been taking them ever since.
   Again, a similar time ago, on claims visit near Truro, I was struck down by an agonising pain in the lower tummy, a kidney stone we later found . Kim had to drive, and I suggested going straight to Treliske hospital, where the diagnosis was made. I had in fact, passed the stone, and the pain diminished over a day or so. It was suggested that cranberry tablets or drink could help, and I was very keen to avoid the pain, so I started to take them. The problem never recurred, so I take them still... Mind you, Kim doesn't do so, she did suffer repeated attacks and now doesn't, so I am less confident in recommending this, however I have never dared stop just in case!
  These are the only two 'food supplements I take, I also take prescription medecines for high blood pressure and the French doctors are keen to prescribe a blood-thinning drug for all the over fifties, but that's a different story. However, I can personally highly recommend Cod-liver oil by results, and just possibly cranberry if you suffer from the stones

  Bye for now, going to enjoy a walk.

samedi 1 avril 2017

The Ark tender returns

  I'm glad to report the green machine has returned from repair. We passed by the garage at Couture yesterday, and were amazed when Laurent said it was finished. In fact, Nadia, his wife and finance director, had left a message on our answerphone during the morning but we hadn't picked it up. On our return to the house, we rang our insurance to retransfer the cover fron the 206, that Laurent had kindly lent us, to the Berlingo. It was timed to change at 11am Saturday morning. This morning, I hustled to fill up the loan car with diesel and get to Garage Bayou at 11. Kim originally wanted to come, but had had such a bad night that she went back to bed, so Laurent passed the van back to me. I returned to Mort Limouzin, amid a most amazing hailstorm, Spring hasn't yet permanently sprung...
  I found the van far easier to drive than the 206, which lacks power steering and therefore manoeuvre facility at low speeds. The clutch was very fierce, too, quite difficult to drive smoothly.
  It is amazing the difference in attitude between French and English garages. Although the bill was considerable, the car was handed over with no payment, Nadia suggesting I should call in in a week or so, as she hadn't prepared the bill yet. There is also no problem to spread the payment over three months. An English garage wouldn't have released the car without cash or a certified cheque being handed over!
   I'm really enjoying driving the Berlingo, I was beginning to doubt my ability to drive safely as the 206 had such heavy steering .

 That's all for now, looking out the window at the green machine!