Monday, 27 October 2014


Some of the lovely things to come out of all this cancer malarkey are the kindness, thoughtfulness and generosity shown by people.

It is heartwarming, uplifting and I thank you deeply.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Balinese sunset

Glorious day today. Sat out on the balcony in the sun enjoying the lovely view, the birds singing, bees buzzing.
Trouble with being on the side of a valley is that sound rises. Man with strimmer starts in the bottom of the valley. Soon to be joined by leaf blower man in one of the houses on the other side. And then another strimmer man joins his friend. Then bonfire man starts his fire........... Can't really complain because HO did a lot of destruction followed by burning  of cut stuff yesterday afternoon but it reminded me of something.
Years ago we had a holiday in Bali and one of the things to do was to go to see the sunsets which were a feature of the place. We got ourselves to a bar on the beach, cold beer in hand we settled back to watch this view.

What the picture doesn't reveal is that the sun actually sinks into a layer of smog before it hits the sea. The world and his wife was also having the same idea so we were surrounded. There was the sort of music playing reminiscent of a car passing with thumping beat and nothing else. And then the salesmen started.

Would madame like a copy watch? How about today's newspaper? Sunglasses? Icecream? Snacks? Cigarette lighter? Massage? Hat? endless people that went down the beach and then, ever hopeful, back again to try again.

It was hilarious but not quite what we had in mind.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Had me in stitches

The two nurses have between them been every day to give an injection and rebandage as required but as it comes nearer the time to take out the stitches they became a bit doubtful. Each hoping that the other one would do it. "Very good surgery but I think the doctor should take out the stitches."

OK today I go to the doctor. Lovely young woman. Very kind chat and then gets down to the job.

"Hmmmm............................. hmmmm ........................ let's try the other one. Hmmmm ................"

"I know it's a long time since I did my surgery rotation but this should be easier than this, there don't seem to be any ends............................"

"It's no good, I shall have to ring the surgeon." I can appreciate her reluctance to ring with what seems like such a basic stupid question.

Eventually gets past the dragon on the gate and talks to the great man.....................

Turns out that they are soluble stitches. The prescription for removal of stitches is his mistake.

Smiles all round.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Mirror, mirror on the wall

I've never been one for gazing admiringly at myself in the mirror. The sort of hotels that have walls of mirrors in the bathroom have me scuttling for towels. But having made such a good job of hiding the orange pine on this one I thought it was only fair to have a good look at what me at 60 looked like.

After a moment of 'hmm, not too shabby' I noticed that one of my boobs was catching the light oddly. Feels a bit squidgy lumpy underneath but not what you'd call a lump, just not quite the same as the other one. Well since I'm already seeing nice doctor tomorrow, I'll just mention it.

So 8 weeks later it turns out I have breast cancer that is going to need every sort of therapy. The joys of that are not defined as yet but it looks like it might be ruling the roost for the next few months.

Well, you'll be pleased to know this isn't going to be a breast cancer blog. The wonders and weirdnesses of the French health system may well get a mention but no gory details.

But what I want to say is that I really want you all to go to the doctor's with your lumps and bumps. This has all come about from a clear mammogram in April. Four months later I'm on the breast cancer roller coaster.

If in doubt GO TO THE DOCTOR..................................................and avoid some of this.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Do you rinse?

At dinner on Saturday with French, American, Scot and us English the question of  'Do you rinse' came up.

Coming in on the tail end of the conversation, my first reaction was 'rinse what?'. Last I noticed they had been talking about dentists and the conversation had come, via flossing, to 'do you rinse'? Surely everyone rinses and spits after brushing??

Turns out they had moved on to washing up. Did we rinse our plates after washing them in Fairy Liquid?

Ummmm no. Never have, don't know anyone that does, never even thought about it except the good glasses in really hot water to drain sparkly.

Every other nationality was appalled. Horror crossed their faces. Complete disbelief that anyone could leave the residue of Fairy on their crockery/cutlery.

'Well you've eaten/drunk at ours, have you ever noticed anything soapy?' 'No but you've got a dishwasher.' Well now we have but that is a relatively recent innovation.

I do remember Mum complaining about Aunt Alice (an elderly Aunt when I was young) who always washed up in half an inch of cold greasy water which was a relic of the days when every drop of hot water had to be boiled on the stove. But Mum never rinsed, my mother-in-law never rinsed............................

How about you guys?

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Le Weekend de Patrimoine

This is the weekend of the patrimoine. Certainly our town and I think all towns arrange special events for the weekend and it is free. I think in the little local chateau's case, they got more grant to do it up if they agreed to open it to the public for a certain number of days in the year. So we had a busy day yesterday.

First, the chateau. Only a very little chateau which has been done up in the last few years by Parisiens as a holiday home. Not done up by themselves (we were suitably sniffy about that) but beautifully done in a very expensive, sparse manner with everything Farrow and Ball sagey green. Expensive in a copper guttering, lead bath sort of way.

But the joy of the place has been discovered in the attics which nobody had touched for centuries.

Walls covered in the most glorious frescoes. Amazing pictures hidden away and now proudly exhibited by the new owner. Spectacular. (And apparently the macon who did our cellar wall was the man who started redoing the wall and covering them up!)
Home for a quick lunch and then off to meet a local expert at Les Habitations Troglydytique. The other brilliant thing about the weekend is that the extremely elderly experts that set up the local sites are able to come and show for the two days required where they don't want to do it regularly. We had already seen the local cave dwellings - in ancient times the very poorest lived in basically natural but extended caves under the wall of the town. They were hidden for centuries again and then found when a vehicle suddenly fell through the carpark into a hole.
Our guide had done the excavation and built or rebuilt the bits and pieces of furniture - don't touch the door it may fall down!
We then went back to his house to be shown the actual pots and bits and pieces that he had found rather than the copies for tourists and then off to Le Cluzeau de Petrou.
This is a series of tunnels and rooms built originally under a house in Cathar times (12th century) for them to be able to hide in should they need to. Our guide had spent 7 years exploring them and found evidence of them being used for various storage things over the centuries. Now they are just under a bit of corrugated plastic in the middle of the wood.
Down into the dark.

Over the pit to trap marauders.

and into the chambers. This is our guide - must be 80 if he's a day - full of information and loving to share it.

I'm glad I didn't know the French word for 'bats' so didn't realise that I was being warned that there was one on my back. I thought they just meant that it was very low and mind out :-)

Saturday, 13 September 2014


The weather is glorious. Cool, misty starts with cups of tea in bed looking out over the valley. Sometimes early enough for the breathtaking pink sunrises. By breakfast time it's warm enough to sit on the balcony and then by late afternoon it's still hot enough to swim in the river and bask on the bank. (picture to follow)

Yesterday we were joined by an extremely fit black Labrador type dog that we all thought belonged to someone else. He chatted to everyone, joined everyone in the water in turn, sometimes just going in for the fun of it. As we were the last people left, and he was still leaping about, we began to wonder what on earth was going to happen to him. Evidently it was time to leave, he had a final swim, shook himself down and trotted purposefully off up the steps. I wonder if he'll be there today.

Had to go to see a different doctor this week. Directed to the wrong clinic, but had left plenty of time, as usual, so got ourselves to the right place just in time. Worryingly chaotic at the desk with newly appointed receptionist, not helped by the French habit of always dealing with the telephone caller before the person in front of you. Waiting room like something out of the 1950s..............

Sat muttering 'it'll be alright, it'll be alright' in my head and of course it was. Charming doctor young enough to be one of my sons who explained clearly and kindly, spoke excellent English much to HOs relief, and quickly set about organising the next thing needed. Well, he tried, but by that time it was lunchtime and he couldn't get anyone to answer the phone :-)

As we walked back to the car we realised that we were in a touristy place and wouldn't be too late for lunch so sat under a tree in a shady square watching little ones catching falling leaves in the golden sunshine.