For example, we had to make two trips to the opticians; the first for Danny to have the measurements for his new glasses checked then secondly to collect the finished articles. And here he is in his new regular glasses...
...and his new prescription sunglasses - note the similarity to Tom Cruise in Top Gun!!!
Not to miss out on changed appearances, I have to tell you that I have made a drastic change to my own appearance! For a number of reasons, I decided to have my hair cut. And I mean CUT! The last time I had hair this short, I was 14 years old! I'm still getting used to it but I am very pleased to have had it done! What do you think?
Going back to Danny, we had to go and visit the dentist because yet again, Danny's crown tooth has fallen out! The last time it happened we were in the UK and we managed to see our old dentist. He recommended that Danny now has a bridge. To have it done in the UK would cost around £750 and would involve two separate trips to the UK, a fortnight apart. So, when the crown fell out again, we decided to ask our French dentist (a) if he agrees that Danny needs a bridge - he does - and (b) how much that would cost. Are you sitting down? We were actually given a formal estimate (called devis in French). The total cost is estimated at €1,710 but we would get some back from the state leaving us with €1,430 to find. I have asked if our insurers will pay any of that and am waiting for the reply. (In France, the state pays up to 70% of your medical costs and it is usual to have what is called a "top-up insurance" to cover the rest. The reality is that a lot of things - like dental and optical costs - are not reimbursed leaving you with rather large expenses!) Still, anything will help! Given the costs of getting to and staying in the UK on top of the treatment, we decided that, if Danny is going to have it done, he may as well have it done here! (As an aside, I was terribly amused that, after having carefully planned what I was going to say at the dentist, it turns out that the word for 'bridge' in a dental context in French is....'bridge'! Go figure!)
Talking about healthcare reminds me that we had another 'fractured' day when we had to go to the office that deals with our French healthcare. Called Caisse Primaire d'Assurance Maladie or CPAM, the main office is some 60 kilometres away from us in Niort. Without going into all the boring detail, because Danny will start getting his UK State Pension this April, the UK will reimburse the French authorities for our healthcare. Yes, "our" healthcare - I become a dependent of Danny's for this purpose until I get my own UK State Pension! I rang CPAM's English speaking helpline to see if we needed to complete any special forms for this purpose and was told no; just take the form S1 that DWP had provided plus our passports. Since our experience of French bureaucracy to date has taught us that it is best to go armed with a shed load of supporting documents, we arrived at the CPAM office with a huge carrier bag of paper! And guess what? We didn't even need our passports - the lady asked a few questions and it was done! Incidentally, I know some of you are interested in the way the Healthcare works over here so if you do want more information, click here.
Well! That was all very serious wasn't it! Let's get onto some lighter stuff! Like the fact we've been having some gorgeous weather over here. Beautiful dry, sunny, warm - even hot! - days. The sort of days when you have to just abandon whatever you thought you might do indoors and pick an outdoor job instead! Yesterday, for the first time in 2015, Danny mowed all the grass in the front and back gardens. And that included the areas of new grass for the first time! (Remember back in the autumn Danny sowed loads and loads of grass seed?) The area we did in the front garden looked gorgeous after Danny had mowed it....
We will be putting a garden bench there - we just need to find the 'right one'. We had originally thought of moving my mum's bench from where it is just outside the front door but now we think we'll leave it there and get another one for the new area above.
Most of the jobs I have been doing in the garden don't really warrant photographs as they are essentially just tidying up, weeding etc. But I did dig up an especially big and awkward root from the trough which is to become my herb garden. Danny insisted on taking a picture of my achievement...
Now the trough is ready for planting herbs! It is right outside the kitchen door so it will be so handy when I'm cooking to nip out and cut just what I need.
A week or so ago we went to a Curry Evening at a bar in a village called La Chapelle-Thireuil. The bar - called Le Chap's - is French run but is frequented by around 20 - 30 Brits on a Friday night and every 6 weeks or so, they arrange a food evening. One thing that Danny and I do miss living here is a good old takeaway. The thought of an authentic curry lured us away from our sofas, the fire and the TV. The curries were being made (heated?) in a van, parked outside the bar. You ordered your food then just waited your turn. I have to tell you it was a major disappointment! Danny had a beef curry which he said was more like a beef stew as any evidence of curry was lacking! I had a dish that was called Chicken Tikka Marsala but it was tasteless and I couldn't eat it (and that's saying something for me!) We had other things like rice, a naan bread and samosas but most of that was inedible too! On the plus side, it's a very friendly bar and we got talking to some other couples - so much so, that I was invited to join a dog walking group, which I intend to go along to in the coming weeks! There is another food evening Friday week - this time a Fish & Chip van - and we shall probably go along just to have an evening out!
If you've been following My Peak Challenge Diary, you'll know that I have been doing a fair amount of walking and have now crossed the 7km mark! Danny has started to come with me on a Sunday and we take all three dogs with us. Of course we don't do the sort of distances I do on my own but Danny is gradually building up his fitness and hopefully over the summer, we'll be able to do some nice walks together. Here is a photo he took of me "minding" the dogs on our walk last week...
Walking is no longer the only activity I am doing! Yesterday I started going to a yoga class and on Thursday I am starting an aqua-gym class at the swimming pool in Moncoutant. It's funny because I tried yoga a couple of times when I lived in the UK and I didn't like it. But I have got to know a yoga teacher here (an English lady) and she's been "nagging" me to try her classes. She offered me a free trial so I could hardly say no! I went yesterday and was so pleasantly surprised as I really enjoyed it! And it may sound daft but it left me with a lovely feeling of well-being all day long! As regards the aqua-gym, I think most of you probably know that I did what was called aqua aerobics for many years in the UK and I really loved it so when I heard there was a class starting at the local pool, I rushed to register! Let's just hope the moves are not too different from what I'm used to and that I can understand the French instructor! (I'll tell you all about it next time!)
Well, I think that's about all of the more interesting goings on - or do you want to know that Danny and I shifted 3 cubic metres of logs (hopefully the last delivery for this winter!) and that Danny had to drain yet more rain water out of the swimming pool? All right, how about that we've bought a second-hand but hardly used BMX bike for the grand-kids to use when they're here?
No? Ok, how about a peep at the latest little jumper I knitted for my newest cousin, Ruby? (Bless her, the sleeves are a tad long for her just now!)
Well, that really is about all there is to tell you for now. I will just leave you with the beautiful picture of the sky we had the other night - so magical!