Monday, 16 February 2015

A Strange Week!

Last week went by in something of a blur and looking back it was a strange week in which  we did none of our usual things.  I didn't go on any walks, we did no wallpaper stripping and apart from our regular French lesson, we did no other French practice.  I should perhaps mention that although I didn't do any walking, I wasn't completely idle as I have started doing Pilates at home using a DVD.  I used to go to Pilates classes regularly when I lived in the UK but I haven't been able to find any classes locally.  (And even if I could find a local class, I don't know if my French is up to following the instructions!)

So, back to our unusual week for which Danny's eye is partly to blame!  He had a problem with his right eye and scared himself silly by looking up the symptoms on the Internet!  It seems there was a one in seven chance that he had a detached retina (according to the Internet!) which, if left untreated, can cause blindness.  I have to be honest here and admit to having been more than a bit worried myself (although I did my best not to show it). 

Yet again, it gave us the chance to experience French healthcare at its best.  I phoned our general doctor straight away on Tuesday and got an appointment that same evening.  She referred Danny to an Ophthalmic doctor and the following morning she telephoned us with an appointment for later that same morning.  We rushed off to the Clinique Sud-Vendée where Danny had the most extensive eye tests and examinations I have ever witnessed.  Thankfully, apart from Danny's glasses being hopelessly out-of-date, the doctor found nothing wrong with his eye.  Two days later, on Friday, armed with a prescription for new lenses, we went and chose some new glasses for him.  Glasses are rather expensive here but he is getting a prescription pair of sunglasses as well so we feel the money is well spent! 

As you can see, Danny's eye did take up quite a chunk of the week, one way and another!

Another reason why our week was, shall we say, abnormal is that after the clinic on Wednesday, the weather was unexpectedly bright and sunny.  It was also pleasant enough to work outdoors, as long as you were wrapped up so instead of going for a walk (which I wanted to do) I decided it would be a good opportunity to do a job which was long overdue.  Our entrance gates, which are white plastic, looked less white than green with mildew.  I started to clean them by hand but then Danny came out and rigged up the pressure washer for me.  Now I love cleaning things with that washer!  So when I'd done the gates, I decided to wash off the mud on the car....

You can just see the white gates in the background and off to the right, one of my "red" helpers!

Another thing that happened this week was that our bath panels have been repaired at last!  I don't think I wrote about this at the time but back in the Autumn we had a problem with a leak in the downstairs bathroom. The people who had owned the house before us had tiled panels in front of the bath and to one side to mask all the pipework.  Unfortunately, no thought had been given to gaining access and the tiles had to be broken to enable the plumber to gain access and repair the leak. 

We are hoping to get some reimbursement from our insurance but in the meantime, we have just paid to have new wooden and removable panels put in.  Our friend Les has done a beautiful job, don't you think?

And on the subject of repairs, Danny had to make a little panel to cover a hole where we found a mouse - or mice - were coming in of a night and helping themselves to food.  I thought I was imagining it at first, a hole in a bag of flour, little black droppings....but when I showed Danny he confirmed my worst fears!  At the back of one of the kitchen drawer units there was a hole to give access to an electrical connection (see below)....

....but clearly, the mice were using it to get from the barn into the drawer.   Danny has now put paid to this adventure by making this little panel...

You may remember that when we did the utility room, Danny put up the drying rack that he'd made originally for my kitchen in the UK.  My main intention was to use it for drying herbs but I've found that it is a very good way of drying clothes during these winter months!  We don't put on the heating in that room but it does get a lot of sun so I guess that is how it is proving a great way to avoid having wet laundry around the lounge!

Well that just about wraps up the news from last week.  Fortunately, we seem to have got back on track.  I have been out walking yesterday and today; Danny has resumed the wallpaper stripping in the lounge and I did some French practice earlier! 

I am just going to leave you with some "feel good" photos.  The first ones are the snowdrops and crocuses which are coming through now. 

And these....well, these are two views from the house that I never, ever, tire of.  And when the sun is shining and I see these views it reminds me that I am very, very lucky to live in this beautiful place.

So until next time, à bientôt

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Stripping walls and striding walks!

I know it's a good two weeks since my last post and that is rather deliberate.  Those two weeks seem to have drifted by with very little to report!  In my mind, when I look back, all that we seemed to have done was strip wallpaper and gone out for walks! it turns out, there are other bits and pieces to tell you!  Let me explain.  When I sit down at my computer to write these posts, the first thing I do, is upload any photos I've taken since writing the last one.  Then I go through them, deciding which ones I'm going to include and finally, I write the blog around those pictures. 

So, by way of example, until I saw the photos, I had completely forgotten that we had had this little visitor last week....

Now Danny is generally fearless when it comes to removing "creatures" but even he was reluctant to touch this horrible fella.  Clearly some sort of centipede but Danny couldn't be sure he wasn't poisonous.  So, he was carried out with glass and paper to carry on his life outdoors!  Fortunately we haven't seen him since.....the centipede that is, not Danny!!!

As I've said, we've spent a fair amount of time stripping wallpaper off the lounge walls.  The top layer comes off very easily but it leaves behind a backing paper which must have been put on with a very strong adhesive as it takes a lot of soaking and scraping to get it off.  Nonetheless, we try to do some most days and slowly but surely we're getting there!  Here are a couple of photos to prove it!

Since taking this photo, Danny has in fact finished stripping this particular wall and next week, all being well, he will start on the adjacent wall.  We are thinking of changing the tall radiator you see in the second photo above, to a smaller one.  To do this, the system will need to be drained and it is really too cold right now to contemplate such a thing!  So we are taking our time with the wallpaper stripping in the hope that we will be able to change the radiator early in March.  (Last year, the weather in early March was glorious.  I recall us sitting outside enjoying apéritifs in the sunshine!).

As the title of this post suggests, I've been continuing with my walks.  If you're following My Peak Challenge Diary, you'll know that I can now walk well over the 5km I set as my original goal.  Earlier today I walked 5.8km!  When I first conquered the 5km distance, I wasn't sure whether to carry on trying to walk further or to improve my speed doing the original 5km.  Given that I usually take one of the dogs with me and that they each walk at different paces, the latter would have been quite difficult.  I asked advice of the Personal Trainer involved in the "My Peak Challenge" event,  and he has advised that I do both!  So, from now on, at his suggestion, on one day a week, I shall go out walking on my own, without any of the dogs, and will seek to improve my time of walking just the original distance of 5km.  On other days, I shall continue to walk a bit further each time, revising my goal accordingly.  And of course I will continue to take one of the dogs with me - I honestly don't think they'll let me get away with not doing so now! 

You may remember that this is not just about getting fit; it is also about raising money for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research in the hope that one day no one will die from blood cancer.  So I have decided that for every extra kilometre I can walk over and above my original 5km goal, by 14th March, I will donate an extra £10.00.  I would be delighted if others were willing to support me by giving too.  If you'd like to donate, you can do so at  You can do so anonymously if you wish, but it would be good if you mentioned my name!

And on the subject of my walks, here is a photo I took with my phone when I was out on one of my walks last week.  Despite being cold, you can see it was a beautifully sunny day with a fabulous blue sky...

Of course, as well as Danny's wallpaper stripping and my walking, we have our routine and other tasks to do.  For example, pretty much every other day finds Danny refilling bird feeders now.  Obviously word has got round the bird population of the area and the garden is always  full of hungry birds!  Here is Danny, battling against the elements yet again...

(as usual, with his red helper!)
And if he has any time left after all these activities, he is still working on his model of a London bus.  Recently he painted all the components which will make the seats...

And finally, to end on a very positive note, here is a photo I took earlier today of the first show of crocus.  This part of the south-facing front garden is quite a sun-trap and I think the bulbs have been fooled into thinking it is the beginning of spring!  Still, let's hope it's not too long away!

Until next time then, à bientôt!