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Saturday, 17 October 2009


The grue flew overheard crying weirdly on three twilight evenings and then winter arrived.

The temperature was zero or below for three mornings and the garden white and crisp.

At midday I walked around my garden crying 'Oh-oh-oh!' like the grue as I saw my blackened vegetable patch and dead flowers.


We are at some altitude here and sunny days and clear skies mean very cold nights and a rather cool house.

They still haven't harvested the maize around us but soon the trees and the earth will be bare.

We are told that we will be very cold indeed by Christmas. At the moment the clear sunny days make the chill quite endurable.

The 'Grue cendree' is the common crane, or 'grus grus' who fly overhead from northern Europe to Spain and Portugal for the winter


So this is what good friends are for - they did not use the guest privy but we went to a beer festival in a community hall.
As if by magic - at the beat of the guitar or was it the vanishing of the beer - everyone changed from being old retired Brits to young French music fans.


So you know that you will have every convenience if you come to stay - here is our garden privy uncovered and exposed after John got busy with axe and chain saw and debroussailleuse.


It was pointed out that it is unfair to boast about our excess of tomatoes to those hardy gardeners struggling with English weather.

Just so that you know that things have equalised -

we have had a glut of huge hornets on our figs competing with many lovely butterflies -actually attacking them - the ground is covered with fermenting figs and flies and smells of rotting fruit which gets tramped into the house.

Friday, 16 October 2009


It is different to British medicine.

At our ages we have rather encountered it head on.

Once registered with a doctor and CPAM - a whole new experience - we immediately were invited for routine scanning hence my mammography and the envelopes of shit.

The biggest difference is that you get to hold all your medical files yourself - as yet we haven't evolved an appropriate filing system - luckily we don't have to keep copies of the envelopes of shit. I am impressed by this system as it seems to work well for a dispersed small rural population.

I have to collect my mammography Xrays and keep them. I get to keep the results of my blood test (I see them before the doctor!)- and the photos of the corneas of my eyes. I think it makes you feel more in charge of your health.

If you need a blood test the doctor gives you a prescription for the laboratory. Results are next day. For routine colorectal tests you collect an envelope from the doctor and prepare the shit slides yourself for 3 days - then post them off to the lab - results in 3 days - really!

You have to see an opthamologist to get a spectacle prescription - that way they make sure you have healthy eyes as well as being able to see but there are long waits for this service if it is routine.

Medicine doesn't seem to be by suppository as I expected but prescribing seems generous. We pay to see the doctor but prescriptions are free and some treatments or part of the treatment is reimbursed if you have insurance.

You do need reasonable french to explain your symptoms and ask the relevant questions

Saturday, 3 October 2009


(This title (awful pun narrowly avoided) is going to get us a lot of random hits!)

There I was by myself - waiting for the mammograph.

T-shirt on, bra off for some development that hadn’t been quite understood/explained.

Chap came in with a load of X-ray plates for the radiographer.

He put them down, stood up – young – 40ish – curly hair, stylish casual shirt, slim hips, tight jeans.

He gestured – "take off your shirt"

And again – "hands on your head"

Then he firmly patted and felt my breasts all around.

Standing back he gave me a wonderful smile

‘Impeccable!’ he said.

I rather hope he wasn’t the doctor!


We heard the faint mewling of a kitten somewhere in the hedgerow but did our best to ignore it for a day.
'Dammit' said I, 'I must go and see.'
A small black and white kitten came out of the woodpile and headed straight for us yowling squeakily. It allowed me to pick it up. A smelly wild male so no chance we would have it. Back on the ground, it went into the kitchen and helped itself to Topaze's food.
We retreated for strategic discussions - could it be the traditional French outdoor cat and Topaze the indoor cat? Vets bills were raised and its inevitable death on the road outside the house.

It got a meal and was put outside to find its way home.

In the early hours I hear an owl hoot and a kitten crying for help as it was carried away.

That was a solution but I did feel guilty.

However next morning the kitten reappeared. Topaze was livid. Spitting and hissing she got the kitten in a half-nelson and tried to bite its head off.

This could be another solution. Let Topaze drive it away. After all what could we do.

She adopted it.

No doubt she will publish another blog about it.

(Yes, I will - Topaze)