Thursday, 20 June 2013

It's all or nothing here!!

Those of you avidly following the progress (or otherwise) of the pool and other work we're waiting to have done on the house and garden will know that precious little has happened for the past couple of months.  This week we would have come close to getting the pool installation started BUT we have been hampered by the most awful weather.  It seems to have rained almost constantly for the past week plus we have had 'orange alert status' storms.  To digress slightly, let me share with you the fact that on Sunday night we had hailstones the size of golf balls!  Our cars now have little craters all over them! Above our bed is a Velux window and I was convinced that, at any moment, the glass would give way and we would be showered with hailstones.  Luckily, that didn't happen but I have moved the getting of blinds for the Velux windows up to a higher position on my "to do" list!

But back to the work on the house and soon as the weather improves, work IS going to start on the pool installation!  We're not too hopeful about having the garden just how we want it this summer but it will be nice to be able to see it evolve.  And you never know, we may get an Indian summer and be able to use the pool later in the year.

In the meantime though, other jobs have been piling up.  You may recall we bought a fireplace some months ago.  This is what it currently looks bits on the drive...

Well, today.... YES, today... work has started on ripping out what we have at the moment and putting in this new fireplace.  This is the work in progress so far....

Literally, as I write, there has been a hitch!  The tool that the builder is using to remove some of the existing stone has "died" and the job has had to be postponed until a replacement tool can be commandeered from someone/somewhere!  Why is it not the simplest thing for these people to just go and buy a new one?!

But all is not lost!! The builder is going to move on to cutting out the stonework in the room that is to be my utility room to put in a door through to the attached barn.  (Evidently, it's a completely different tool that's needed).  Fortunately, where we're having this doorway is exactly where a door used to be at some time in the past and the 'hole' has been bricked up.  In my little non-technical brain, I think it should be the easiest of things to simply open it up again BUT experience has taught me that it almost certainly WON'T be that simple!!!  

If we succeed with the fireplace and the utility room door, the builder is then going to cut through stonework in the kitchen so that we can change the existing window to double doors!  

We have waited so long to have these jobs done and even though the whole house seems to be in pandemonium at the minute, Danny and I are thrilled that it's all finally happening.  All of the jobs are triggers to us being able to complete the things we want to change in the house.  In the lounge, once the new fireplace is in, we should be in a position to strip off the wallpaper, have some more power points put in then decorate it to our taste.  (We may change the staircase but that's for a later date!).  Once I have the door from the utility room-to-be into the barn, we can plan out the utility room, get a washing machine plumbed in there etc.  We want to be able to get into the barn without having to go outside for a number of reasons, not least because it's where we plan to have our chest freezer and it will be a good place to collect our recycling stuff (which we have to take to the déchetterie - or tip - ourselves).  And of course, most importantly in my world, is that once we have the new doors in the kitchen, I can have the kitchen refitted.  I don't think I've told you but we have already bought the kitchen and it's all stacked up in the large barn!  Why have we bought it already?  Because IKEA had an amazing offer whereby we got back 10% of the price; the offer was on for a limited time and we figured it would be silly to not avail ourselves of it, even though it means having stacks and stacks of flat packs!

So there we have it... one minute nothing was happening... now it's all happening!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Pretty garden...

Given that the back garden looks more like the battlefield of the Somme, it makes sense that the front garden should be as pretty as we can get it.  Virtually everything in the garden has been inherited from the previous owners who used the house as a holiday home.  Having been through all the seasons here now, I realise that it's been planted with certain months' colour in mind.  For example, most of the front garden was spectacular in the spring...

More recently, all the rose bushes in front of the house itself, have started to bloom and it's a gorgeous sight.  I don't normally like white flowers but this bed containing a white rose and white lilies is, I think, particularly spectacular...

I have even picked some of the roses for our table.....

However, now that the spring flowers have gone there seems to be a gap in colour, until things like the hardy fuchsias bloom.  So I need to consider all this and do some planning for next year, I think!

Anyway, I decided it would be lovely to have some flowers in window boxes and pots so we went off to one of the local garden centres, Jardiland, and spent a small fortune on loads of window boxes and plants.  When we got home, Danny set up an impromptu potting table for me and I set to potting it all up.  Here I am in action..

All of the window boxes are up now and they really do make the house look pretty...

 Even the back of the house looks better for having some window boxes!!
And here's Danny fixing the trays so that those boxes upstairs don't fall off and cause an accident!
A few days later, we bought a few more plants and I also got some strawberry plants for hanging baskets.  Imagine how lovely it'll be when (if?) they grow and we have strawberries cascading down!

 Even if I say so myself, I think this is a lovely
collection of potted summer plants.

And here are the strawberries!
So, all in all, it doesn't matter that the back garden doesn't look all that great right now.  We know that eventually it will look fabulous and in the meantime we have lots of other stunning plants and views to feast our eyes on!
I hope you also get some pleasure from seeing all these pretty sights that nature is offering us right now.
A bientôt à tous!

Sunday, 9 June 2013

I'm back!

It's close to FOUR weeks since I last posted on my blog so I thought I really ought to write an update on all that's been happening!

At the outset, let me tell you that, pool-wise, pretty much nothing has been happening!  To remind you, this is what it looked like when I last posted on here.....

Since then, Phil, our digger man has been back and dug out the hole completely.  Unfortunately, we have had some awful weather since then and the state of the hole is deteriorating rapidly.  Shortly after digging it, this is what it looked like....
You think that's bad?  After this, the sides, worn away by the constant rain, have started to subside so it's almost started filling in again!!  As if that's not bad enough, we have since found out that the pool kit we've bought for an 8m x 4m pool actually measures 7.93m x 4.27m.  The fact that it's slightly shorter in length is not too much of a problem but the additional 0.27m on the width actually means that Phil has to come back and dig out a bit more.  Well, come to think of it, he's got to come back to re-dig it anyway so what the hell!!!
On the plus side (I think!) the pool kit was ordered and it has duly arrived.  Some of it is just dumped on the drive....

....while the rest of it is in the barn as it needs to be away from the elements, for example the electrical parts, heat pump etc.  The large white bit on the left in the picture above are the Roman steps!

All we are waiting for now, is for our builder to actually come and make a start on installing it!  After all the bad weather, we finally had a gloriously hot and sunny week last week and it would have been ideal pool weather!

But everything happens for a reason....or in this case, doesn't happen!  Because, even if we had a fully operational swimming pool out there, I wouldn't be able to swim in it because nearly four weeks on, I can still do very little with my right arm, because of my shoulder operation........


I have to tell you first of all, that I simply cannot fault the French healthcare I've had as it's been second to none.  And I am talking as someone who was a member of and have experienced the advantages of BUPA in the UK.

When we got to the hospital on that morning of 14th May, we were shown to what was to be my very own room, with its own en-suite facilities.  I was given lots of information, a brochure of the hospital and made to feel very welcome and comfortable.  In due course a nurse came and did all the normal pre-op checks - Danny was very much in his element as she was a particularly attractive young nurse!  I then had to have a shower using a special liquid, which I assumed to be a disinfectant of some sort.  Then it was into a gown and special protective "slippers" and even knickers!  At the risk of getting some mickey-taking from you, here I am in my pre-op outfit!

Around 3pm, a lady came with a wheelchair and took me off to the operating theatre.  Now this was something of a surprise to me.  I've had a couple of minor ops in the UK and neither time have I seen the operating theatre!  But here, I walked in and had to hoist myself on to the operating table then three nurses (who were really lovely, kind and chatty) "prepared" me for the operation with heart monitors, cannula etc.  I was lying there thinking 'I hope at some point I'm going to be given the anaesthetic!'.  Sure enough, one of the nurses told me she was going to inject something to make me 'quiet' (ha ha, people have been wondering how to achieve that for years!) and I was gazing at the ceiling, thinking, 'hmm, am I going to feel woozy?....ooh yes I do feel a bit woozy.......'.  Next thing, I open my bleary eyes and see a clock showing 6pm and I figure I'm in recovery!  Things are pretty hazy after that.  I woke up again back in my room, in bed, attached to various drips; saline, antibiotics, morphine, on one side and a drain on the other.  Every couple of hours, nurses came and went changing the drips, taking my blood pressure and so on.  All the time enquiring "ça va?" which means "how are you?"  On one of these visits, a nurse asked if I could move my fingers.  What!  I couldn't even feel my right was such a horrible and scary experience.... When the nurse left I rang Danny (who incidentally had gone home at my insistence, come back while I was still having the operation and had rightly gone home again) and  talked to him, I gather rather incoherently, about not feeling my arm.  Of course, he was able to be perfectly rational and pointed out that it must have been anaesthetised deliberately to stop it moving.  Throughout the night, the nurses' visits continued and gradually I could move my fingers and naturally, eventually, I did feel my arm again!  I felt really rough the next day and couldn't even face food and drink until lunchtime when I ate a tiny amount.  This is normal for me... I mean after an anaesthetic! By then all the drips and the drain had been removed, I had been given a bed bath and the enormous dressing on my shoulder was changed for a smaller one.  A physiotherapist came in and did some work on my shoulder and showed me some exercises which I have to do four times a day (even now!). The surgeon also came to see me quite early, if I remember rightly, when I was still feeling poorly, but he also come back later and assured me that everything had gone as planned.  He told me I could go home the following morning at 11am.   Sure enough, in the morning he came back and confirmed I could go home.  I was given a prescription for various medicaments, a letter for a physiotherapist and a letter for the infirmières à domicile...what we in the UK would call District Nurses, I guess.  Danny came to collect me and we stopped at the local pharmacy for my prescription.  It's not like English hospitals where, in my experience, you are given all your drugs by the hospital.  There were painkillers and anti-inflammatories but in addition, there were boxes of dressings and antiseptics which I was to take home ready for the nurses who would visit for two whole weeks!  I didn't know where to begin to find our local nurses but the lovely lady in the pharmacy kindly rang them for me and sorted it all out.  As I said, the nurses came every day for two weeks, giving me an anti-phlebitis injection every day and changing my dressing every two or three days.  After the two weeks, my stitches were removed and the visits ceased.  As regards the physiotherapy, I am to have 18 sessions in total, all I believe to mobilise my shoulder and these are in addition to the exercises I have to do myself.  I am due to see the surgeon on 3rd July and I am really hoping that my shoulder will be functioning close to normally by then.
Those of you who know me well, will be very aware that I like to be active so being unable to do things comes very hard to me.  As does having to ask Danny to do so much all the time.  I confess I am an impatient patient and am finding it hard to accept my current limitations.  But, I do know that it's getting better all the time, slowly but surely.  I can't move my arm very much and especially can't raise it or carry anything remotely weighty.  Even cutting up food is tricky (we were out having dinner with friends last night and Danny had to cut up my meat for me!)  I still take pain killers but not as many as I did in the beginning and, as is obvious, I can type! 
I am going to finish here because I don't want to bore you all any further with more detail about my health!  But before I go, I must pay tribute to my friend Donna who was so helpful when I was in hospital, supporting Danny by ringing the hospital on his behalf to find out how I was.
And I must also pay special tribute to Danny, who is being run ragged, doing so much that I can't do.   He has been and continues to be the most amazing support and his patience easily makes up for my lack of patience!  So thank you Danny...... and now, can you come and open these tins of animal food so I can feed the cats and dogs, please?!!!