mardi 16 décembre 2014

The Roscoff Tank


   To reassure  readers of my previous blog, Kim did arrive on the amended schedule on Saturday and we were able to cover the 540 k to our French home without incident, so we have resumed our life from the Sunday. I have been reflecting on the large number of times we have covered this route over the years.....
    Do other readers have our habit of mentally ticking off the various high points of the voyage? We have a mental list of sights which punctuate the trip. The first is just after leaving the ferry port, an ancient and dilapidated Second World War tank, abandoned by the side or the road as you leave Roscoff to start the drive south. There are many others, for example, shortly after the tank, a roundabout harbours a red double-decker London bus! Further down-road, the sight is what we call the spewing dolphin, a stone dolphin fountain, the water spouting from his mouth, a weird effect which has always amused us. Later, at Lamballe, it is the flying saucer, a futuristic wooden building always impressive. Much later, crossing the Loire, the final and most impressive checkpoint is the ' JC' bridge, an enormously high suspension bridge, our name for which derives from the blasphemous exclamation called up when we first saw it!
      But back to the tank. It stands beside the road, a Sherman tank, casualty of General Patton's campaign to reconquer northern France. I don't believe it was damaged locally, but was brought in from elsewhere to advertise the Second World War museum that was situated behind it at the time. When we first passed it around 1990, it stood proudly , it's sandy paint pristine, and in good condition with its tracks complete. Now it is a sad sight, paint flaking and stripped of its tracks by some petty scrap metal you can see by my header shot. A shame that Roscoff town can't afford some minor refurbishments or at least a coat of paint to restore an item which has always spelt out Roscoff as we passed!
  Bye for now, going to enjoy the feeling of being home again.

jeudi 11 décembre 2014

Marooned at Morlaix!

   Well, here I am once again at the B and B Hotel in Morlaix, Finisterre  ready to spring out of bed tomorrow morning and rush down to Roscoff ferry port to pick up my Best Beloved at eight o'clock. There's just one snag--she won't be there! Due to bad weather in the channel, Britanny Ferries have had to cancel the sailing, and she now won't be arriving until Saturday morning, 24 hours late.
  To do them justice, they did let me know before I was due to drive up, and I could have postponed the stay at Morlaix a day accordingly. There was, however a snag...there always is! If you book the hotel on line and pay at the time you get a substantial discount..BUT the booking cannot be amended or cancelled, so I would have lost 50Eur including an uneaten breakfast. Bearing this in mind, we decided that I might as well stick to the plan and arrive a day early. On reflexion, the scheme did have some advantages-- it allowed for any sudden delay, like the accursed Bonnets Rouges who delayed my arrival at Roscoff on a previous occasion, and it gives me a day to recuperate from the 500k drive up before undertaking the drive back, admittedly with the benefit of a co-driver. Roscoff is one of my favourite towns and a day spent wandering round is far from a penance.

   So, here I am, footloose and fancy free, but feeling, I must admit, a bit tired. The very helpful girl on the desk advised me to book the extra day on line to get the advantage of the discount, so after logging on the I-Pad, that's what I did, so I can enjoy a sort of Bretagne mini-break. I have never had the advantage of Internet access in a hotel until I was given the Pad, what luxury!

  Bye for now, going to have a shower to use as much of my outlay as possible!

mercredi 26 novembre 2014

The Charente at Rejallent, my favourite piece of river

As Kim is away in Plymouth, I consoled myself with a walk along the Charente in the late Autumn sunshine, a very pleasant walk with the dogs along my favourite riverside path. We walked along to Moulin Neuf, a mill that did not look as new as its name implies! Warm in the sun, very mild weather for late November as these photos will show.

dimanche 23 novembre 2014

Beware of the Duck!

  They look so domestic and harmless, do ducks, all fluffy white feathers and yellow feet and beak, no hint of danger about them. However, I have a couple of nasty cuts on the back of my hand to prove there is an unsuspected element of danger in handling them!

   When I let the two Muscoveys out of their enclosure into the field on Thursday, I found that instead of walking across the grass, one duck took off and flew over the hedge into the next-door field, where she is allowed, but how much further might she fly? a wing-feather cutting session clearly indicated. Accordingly, we went to grab them from their nest box at dusk the next day, but I failed to take the duck around the wings merely lifting her by the neck. Bad scheme, she flapped her wings and scrabbled her feet, raking the back of my hand, blood everywhere! Few people realise that ducks have small but sharp claws like a cat on the tips of their webs. Not deep cuts, but looks nasty, I shall be far more careful next time!!

  Bye for now, at Morlaix taking Kim to ferry, going to feed the dogs.

jeudi 6 novembre 2014

Hospital visit for Noah, Ark drifting!

Last Tuesday, I had to visit my Doctor for a series of vague tummy symptoms, I didn't see my usual one but the other Doctor in our Centre. She diagnosed a bug and prescribed loads of remedies which didn't banish the mild tummy ache just under the ribs. During the night the pain intensity increased and it moved to the right groin, Classic appendicitis symptoms. Back to the Doc I went,whose examination confirmed what I had feared. She gave me a note for the Urgences at Niort hospital, and I set off there immediately towards midday, having asked our neighbour Ian to look after the animals if needed. my idea was to check the diagnosis , return home and pack some requirements and get Ian to drive me in.
  However, the Hospital's ideas were quite different. They took my cover details, basic cover and complementary insurance, whipped me on a trolley and to an emergency room, where I was asked to put on a sort of nighty, buttoned up the back, having stripped off my other clothes. The afternoon was spent in complicated tests and examinations and eventually the admissions Doctor confirmed that it was indeed appendicitis, and said I would be assigned a surgeon and proceed to operate that very night! They don't hang about in France!!
  Luckily I had my mobile and was able to keep Kim in the picture, and the poor girl had to make emergency arrangements to catch the ferry back from Plymouth to Roscoff and the train from Roscoff to Ruffec, where our friends Jan and Steve had offered to  pick her up. She also arranged a house sitter to mind the animals, and all sorts of other arrangements which I was too preoccupied to notice. I was very pleased to know she was on her way, as Kim could organise for Britain, even though she wouldn't arrive at the hospital until Saturday . Our friends, Clive and Christine would bring her, and she could pick up our car to use from the car park

  Anyway, I was put to sleep and woke in an enormous recovery room, minus the appendix. Later, I was transferred to a two-bed ward, which I had to myself. My Surgeon, M. Delaplaque,told me it was a ' belle appendicite' and even was ulcerated as well. I Had to stay in until Wednesday, until the drain and tube could be removed. Each day, the nurse would tug 3 centimetres of the drain out of the wound, not my favourite time of the day.

  Still, all's well that ends well and now that drain has gone I feel much better, especially having come back home  with Kim to fuss over me. I really can't fault the care Niort hospital have provided, I would recommend it to anyone. Our complementary insurance covered all extra costs, even food. Even the hospital car parks are free, at Plymouth they charged seven quid a day and I expect they would have towed the car away if I'd abandoned it like that for several days! You pay for health insurance here, but you get good value and prompt effective treatment, I'm not complaining!

  Bye for now, going to let Kim stroke my brow....

lundi 27 octobre 2014

Telephone Advertising--It's driving me nuts.

Is it just me?  You know the scenario, the phone rings, you run to answer but either there's a silence, or an enthusiastic voice introduces itself as Collette, speaking for the firm of..... With a special offer of something which you have no interest in buying. It's starting to make my phone practically useless as a quick response medium. My neighbour, Ian, tells me he doesn't answer the phone when it rings, lets it go to answerphone to filter the calls. What the Hell, I didn't install a phone as a sort of bulletin board for advertisers. It really annoys me.
   I take what counter measures I can. I tell all advertisers that I NEVER buy anything advertised by phone. I have told callers that my phone is prohibited for publicity, but firms are impervious to insults and regard all phones as a cheap route for advertising their products.
  Right, what can we do? I have been considering how we can make a difference. What about using the power of the Net?
   If we responded to the call sufficiently to identify the firm, or to obtain their phone number, we could publish it on the Net and ask everyone to ring the number and put the phone down,it would cost nothing and would swamp the firm's switchboard, play them at their own game. Is anyone interested n setting up a site?

  Bye for now, breakfast calls.