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.

vendredi 24 octobre 2014

Sink Problems

You know how it is. Yesterday I had planned all sorts of tasks to do, but when I reentered the kitchen the kitten had upended a plant pot from the shelf above the sink and the mangled seedling and the potful of compost were dumped in the sink. Now our kitchen sink, as you can see above, isn't the most modern of equipment, yet it is an improvement on what was there beforehand. This would have been a stone basin installed in a recess, with a round porthole window above. The earlier sink's waste pipe debauched through a short pipe into the gutter, allowing the water to run away down the road as was the norm in rural France. The 'new' sink was simply installed on top of the stone one, and its waste  discharged into it. All this I have more fully realised as a result of this little accident. I cleared up the majority of the soil, but didn't worry about flushing the rest down the plug hole as this compost wouldn't be objectionable. We normally wash up in a bowl and carry any dirty water through to the bathroom, adding it to our septic tank by flushing it down the loo.
  However, my action did have a consequence on this occasion, as it blocked the sink. The stone sink underneath overflowed, and water poured out of the cupboard under the sink.
  Unfortunately, my usual standby of a sink plunger didn't work, as there was no connection between the two waste pipes. The wire from a coat hanger, my second standby also failed, the more so as the top sink's waste turned out not to be opposite the hole was time to call in a snake.
   A snake is what plumbers call the long length of coiled spring you feed down the plug hole to clear it when the caustic soda fails. Unfortunately, I didn't have one but Weldom supplied this very posh version at 22Euros. Scarcely had I fed the end of this up from the bottom of the waste pipe when a gush of muddy water showed the money had been well spent. All's well that ends well and I shall surely find the tool useful in future blockages.

  Bye for now, pet feeding time!

mercredi 22 octobre 2014

Roscoff, gateway to Plymouth.

   On Saturday, as Kim was en route to spend a few weeks with our daughter Alyson, we drove the 560 kilometres to Morlaix, where we had booked in to spend the night in the B and B hotel. Normally, we break our journey at the Formula 1 at St Brieuc, an hours run South of the ferry terminal at Roscoff. However, after my previous traumatic experiences with the infamous Bonnets Rouges, who blocked the road and prevented me from catching the ferry, we had decided to install ourselves at a nearer spot, which would be nearly impossible to barricade.
    We spent the night fairly comfortably at the B and B, which does have the advantage of en suite bathroom, rather than than in the corridor  like the Formula 1. After a lavish and very copious breakfast (I try to eat at least the cover charge for the unlimited breakfast) we drove on the few k's to Roscoff.
 Roscoff is an amazing town; people who arrive at the ferry port , which is located a kilometre away from the little town and port, and just drive off towards their southern destinations miss a real treat. The town is a little gem, granite houses, some with amazing carvings, narrow cobbled streets and a thriving fishing and leisure harbour with a huge tidal range so it changes from lapping water to an expanse of weed and sand in a few hours. It is a prosperous little burg, too, mainly based on servicing the trade brought to it by Brittany Ferries, so it supports loads of restaurants and little shops. The country round about is charming also, little ports and inlets many with sandy beaches and several offshore islands. I always enjoy a visit even if it is to put Kim on the ferry. I shall be back to fetch her, and to make a short crossing to Plymouth myself in a few weeks!
Note the onions for which Roscoff is famed!

samedi 4 octobre 2014

A strange year for weather.

   This is a pic of our courtyard taken a few years ago, and is the normal aspect of the grass on this very thin-soiled former farmyard. Indeed, our daughter Alyson, who normally visits in the summer was AMAZED to see it green when she came in the spring. Although looking as dead as a dodo, it revives almost instantly when the autumn rains resume.
   Not this year, however. It has remained green and verdant all the summer, due to increased rainfall in what is normally high summer, though I must say the weather
is redeeming itself now with a lovely dry, sunny autumn. It does look far prettier, I must admit, but it has needed cutting throughout the summer, normally that chore ceases in May. On the up side, the garden has not needed any watering. Hey ho what you lose on the roundabouts.....

  Bye for now, off to strim the orchard!