Thursday, 6 December 2012

Cut off from the world……..without internet access!


Did you wonder why there was “silence” here?  Well we lost our internet connection last Friday afternoon, making us feel quite cut off from the world!  We have a package deal with Orange France which gives us Internet, TV and phone for a set monthly fee.  The phone deal gives us inclusive calls within France and 100 other countries including the UK and America.  Don’t ask me to explain it but the telephone is internet based and consequently, if the internet is ‘down’ then we have no phone either!  Fortunately, Danny has a French mobile phone (with unlimited calls within France only) but he is able to get internet access, albeit a bit restricted.  So we did have some contact with the outside world but even so, it’s amazing how cut off you feel without the internet.  For me, I do virtually all my banking online and I find it hard not to have unrestricted access to the bank, day or night!  And most importantly..... I couldn't publish my Blog!

Orange France provide an English speaking help line which is fantastic because even with good French, it would be hard to deal with the technological language needed to resolve problems.  BUT….the helpline only operates between 8am and 5pm on Monday to Friday.  Although Danny managed to contact them on Friday afternoon it was just before 5pm so nothing could be done before Monday. 

Anyway, we’re back!  Goodness only knows what the fault was but now we’re back in full contact with the world, who cares?!

And funnily enough, a lot has been happening since I last wrote…..


Charity Fashion Show

Last Thursday evening, we went to a fashion show held to raise money for charity.  It was held in a restaurant called Lion d’Or (Golden Lion!) and the price of the ticket (12 Euros) included a dessert and a glass of wine (you can see why I wanted to go!!).  I’m sure you’re wondering why Danny went because apart from the glass of wine, there would be little to interest him!  Well, the reason is simply that I don’t like driving at night over here.  The whole journey is on unlit country roads (part of which is through a forest) and I just hate it!  There were several other husbands and partners, abandoned to the restaurant bar so Danny didn’t mind too much! 

As well as the show itself, there were about six “stalls” selling make up, jewellery and Christmas items.   The models were all “ordinary” girls and ladies and it was a really good fun evening out.  (Oh and the dessert was yummy!)

Our first hospital experience!

(and some information about French healthcare for those who are interested!)


I doubt many of you know that I had been diagnosed with having frozen shoulders about 18 months ago.  Yes I did say ‘shoulders’ – both of them!  Despite seeing an orthopaedic surgeon before leaving the UK, nothing could be done and I was assured that they would just get better one day.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I slipped in my kitchen and in trying to stop myself from falling, managed to do further damage to my right shoulder.  I was in so much pain that I gave in and went to the doctor.  Our doctor is a Romanian lady, with fluent French and some English, so it is, shall we say, challenging, to explain how you feel.  Anyway, she sent me off to the hospital for X-rays and an ultrasound, the upshot of which is that I have a ruptured tendon and need an operation.  Today, I made an appointment to see the orthopaedic surgeon and that will be in January.  Watch this space….. and in the meantime I am managing with strong painkillers.

But my reason for telling you all this was to give you a bit of insight into the health system here.  Danny and I have French healthcare cover by virtue of our UK National Insurance contributions and the state here pays up to 70% of the costs.  For the remainder we have taken out what they call “top-up insurance”.  It’s not particularly cheap but it means we don’t have to pay anything else other than our monthly premiums (and a small admin charge of 1 Euro each time we claim).  To give you an example, whenever we visit the GP we pay 23 Euros but we get back 22 Euros.  The trip to the Radiography department at the hospital was different in that we didn’t physically pay out anything as the receptionist took all my details, including my insurance details.  I would have been interested to know how much the X-rays and ultrasound cost but unless it appears on an insurance statement, I may never know.

We were most impressed with the hospital, which was very clean and showed none of the chaos of hospitals we’ve experienced in the UK.  I was seen promptly and taken to a room where I could undress discreetly – quite different from the times I sat with my mum in a crowded waiting room in Southend Hospital, while she sat in an ill-fitting gown, on display to all and sundry!  To be fair, I imagine the population in this area (the hospital is in a town called Bressuire, about 15 kilometres north of our village) falls far short of Southend so the demand must be a lot less but even so, it was very pleasant to get what felt like private treatment in a state system. 
As an aside, I am left wondering whether the tendon was recently ruptured or if that has been the problem with my right shoulder all along.  Interestingly, I had no X-rays or ultrasound in England so with hindsight, I think the orthopaedic consultant there based his diagnosis on the balance of probabilities!

I shall let you know how I get on with the orthopaedic surgeon in January…..


Another Marché de Noël

(and the turkey is ordered!)

Last Saturday we went to the most amazing town of St Loup sur Thouet to the Christmas market there.  It runs from 3pm to midnight on the Saturday and is open again from 10am to about 4pm on Sunday.  Unfortunately we went a bit too early to really get the benefit of the lights but it was spectacular nonetheless. There were dozens of artisans selling the most beautiful stuff and at mostly reasonable prices. The buildings are all ancient and many had their tiny rooms open to display craft work. All the buildings and the streets themselves were decorated with Christmas trees and other foliage and lighting. We stopped to buy a glass of "vin chaud" or mulled wine for just one Euro a glass! I have to be honest and say I could have spent a lot more time  and money there (and Anne G - you would love it - you and I could have easily spent the entire evening there browsing the shops and stalls!)
This was our first visit to this particular town and we have made a mental note to return in the summer to see what it's like in the sunshine! I'm afraid I am not eloquent enough to describe just how beautiful it is but hopefully we'll get some pictures in the summer and, God willing, at next year's Marché de Noël!

And finally, as they say, I was really proud of myself in that I managed to order our Christmas turkey from my local boucher. As to its quality, we shall have to see but if the meat from this boucherie is anything to go by we should be ok! Some of our summer guests were treated to the most delicious fillet steaks while they were here!










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