Changes in Life, 12th August 2017

There is a certain irony in the below post, because I wrote it yesterday(Friday) and it is currently 5am on Saturday in France and I’ve been up for the better part of 2 hours with what I can only assume is a stomach bug!  ça la vie…

It has been a long two weeks, I’ve started back at work and wanting to get my life back. I’m still unable to do certain things, but I am slowly returning to normality. However, as illness tends to do, it has raised the spectre of being older and unwell. It has made me realise that I want to be fitter and healthier, I will never be what I was in my late teens and early 20’s – but I can be fitter and healthier than I am currently. So as I heal I am trying to decide what changes I can make to my life to move me towards being fit and healthy. Though unlike one of our friends, I will not start doing triathlons (as he did when he retired)! Running is also out of the question (not my thing and my knees would object).

Living room 1

Along with that, one thing I am planning on doing is making sure I have actual times set out for my jobs around the house – that is the big jobs around the house – like painting the living room walls, kitchen cupboards (again), and beams. So this weekend as the plastering has been finished my plan is to paint the beams in the living room – and perhaps the ceiling. Pat will most likely be involved 🙂 as I don’t think I will be able to do it all by myself.

Living Room 2

As well as my return to work, I have been doing some summer art classes. Two on painting ceramics and one on painting a trompe l’oeil; I’m hoping to get some time over the weekend to paint some more of my trompe o’oeil, but I do know that I won’t be able to see my ceramics until next week as they won’t be fired until the beginning of the week. While we have not created the pottery, we have created and painted the designs with the glaze. It will be interesting to see what comes out of the kiln. I have painted 2 coffee mugs and a milk jug. Hopefully I will have pictures for you in a couple of weeks.

On a not so great note, we have had a lot of wet weather of late, and unfortunately my tomatoes plants have blight. I’ve done some serious removal of leaves and hopefully we will have enough sun so that the tomatoes I have will ripen. I’ve already had some tomatoes off the plants and they are doing well. We just have to see what happens.

Now I wish you all à bientôt and remember Pat’s blog next week – http://patblog.patbell.co.uk

PS my scar is healing nicely now – doesn’t look too offensive at all 🙂

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My first trip out – 29 July 2017

Good Afternoon all, I’ve finally been out and about. This week I’ve had 2 trips out, and I must admit it has been lovely. One trip was to an art class – so that one wasn’t too bad, very much doing what I had been doing at home, sitting down and painting. My second trip was to Brantôme yesterday with our house guest P. It was lovely to walk around the markets and then find somewhere for lunch. After which I requested to head home as I was absolutely exhausted, but it was good to go and get out – especially as yesterday was a lovely day. It will be a summer of scarfs unfortunately as the scar is not to be exposed to sunlight.

Pat and me in Brantome

Last weekend I created a picture in oil pastels which I’m really happy with. I’m going to have another go at this in acrylics and see what I come out with. But that will need to wait a few weeks, partly because as I get better I do want to get on with doing a few of the jobs around the house that I want to get sorted.

My painting inspired by a Jonathan Shaw painting.

Today we are hoping to head out for a walk this afternoon around a nearby lake, however we have had some unexpected rain –we are hoping that now that it has rained the clouds will disappear and the sun will come out. So far the morning has been spent eating croissants, drinking coffee and chatting so can’t really complain.

Next week I’m back to work, which will be good. My scar is healing well (I’ve put some photo’s at the end of the blog – if you are squeamish don’t look). My scar is around 8.5 cm long but I think it will be well hidden once it has totally healed.

For now I wish you all à bientôt and remember Pat’s blog next week – http://patblog.patbell.co.uk

Scar photos – you have been warned….

 

the day the dressing came off (2 weeks after op)

Today (nearly 3 weeks after op)

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I’m doing fine – 15 July 2017

Hi all, typing this as I wait for the nurse to come and change my dressing. Pat has just had to ring them and ask where they are. So definitely an interesting few weeks for me, as you would have seen from Pat’s blog, I had my Vernissage – our student exhibition opening a week ago. It was a warm night and the turn out wasn’t as good as previous years, but I think that was more to do with the heat than anything else (there are pictures in Pat’s blog from last week). It was a good night looking at some fantastic paintings, drinking wine and chatting to people we know.

This week I have been into hospital to have half my thyroid removed. While it was all operating as it should I unfortunately had a cyst on my thyroid which caused some obstructions within my throat so it needed to go. I will admit coming around from this operation was horrible it has been over 20 years since I’ve been under a general anaesthetic and I’ve never had problems previously, unfortunately this time I was very nauseous and yes basically throwing up quite a bit – this didn’t stop until the following morning. The food at hospital wasn’t the best, I think that this was mostly because I was on a soft food regime – the yoghurt however was pure bliss on my throat as was my first cup of earl grey tea. When I came home, Pat very nicely made me scrambled eggs on very soft bread it was one of the yummiest things I’ve had in a while.

One thing I will say – the staff at the hospital were brilliant, there was a lot of Franglaise happening, but most of the staff had patience with me and my French. However, being woken between midnight and 1am for blood pressure, pulse and temperature checking is never pleasant.

Well the nurse has been and changed my dressing and is very happy with how things are healing. I’m glad to have a different dressing on, as the glue on the water proof ones were reacting with my skin, I have some interesting red marks across my neck and chest area at the moment.

I’ve been for a walk around the garden since I’ve been back, and I’ve had 2 courgettes and a yellow squash to pick. Before I went into hospital the cucumber plant gave us a cucumber – which was lovely as last year’s attempt to grow them gave us bitter ones. The tomatoes are coming along well and every plant has some fruit on them. Unfortunately my turnips didn’t do so well – most of them were eaten – and not by me – as were my carrots – at the moment I have 2 carrots growing! I’m going to attempt a second lot and see how we go. My aubergines are also going well, and have flowered, unfortunately my pepper (capsicum) plant just isn’t doing much, so I might have to move it. Our blueberries have also come to an end which is a shame as we do love blueberries. I will have to put in some other fruit (raspberries and strawberries I think) next year.

But for now I wish you all a bientôt and remember Pat’s blog next week – http://patblog.patbell.co.uk
(which should have photos of the completed living room sub-floor…)

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The changeable weather – 01 July 2017

So how are things in our world? Improving thanks. We have had some interesting times over the past few weeks, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Pat’s foot is almost back to 100% which is fantastic. The floor (well the sub-floor) of our living room will be going in next week and our car is now, probably, to be repaired. So everything is starting to get back to being normal.

the first sunflower

As to the weather – wow, I’m not use to it being so changeable. We have had weeks of hot (high 30’s, high humidity) day and hot nights where we needed the fan to sleep at night, and then Tuesday it changed – the storm finally hit, heavy rain, thunder, lighting and the temperature dropped and it has stayed like that since. We are back around 20 degrees and wet! For me summer shows up and that’s, that, you might get the occasional bit of rain – but for the most part it is hot and dry for the next 3 or 4 months (Perth’s average summer rain fall – 50.1mm – where I currently live in the Haute Vienne our driest month is still higher at 60mm). But I must admit everyone is saying that our current rainfall is unusual as we normally get a day or 2 of the storms in summer and then we go back to very hot. But it does mean that I haven’t had to water the garden for the last week, my water butt is fully again and weeding just became much easier. All the plants seem to have survived. I’ve even had one of my sunflowers open this week!

Along with that sunflower I’ve been finding some unusual poppies in the garden – I found a red one with its petals being white at the base, I currently have some completely pink ones, and pink ones with white at the base of the petals. 

Roses from one of my rose bushes – there are lots this year

My week has been good, work calmer, and I’ve had some time for socialising, Sunday we had Pat’s photo group around to ours after they had been out for a photo shoot session at the local motocross track, Tuesday I went to a friend’s house to have a coffee and a chat about thyroid removal (she had her whole Thyroid removed 10 years ago). My Friday was very busy, I had coffee with another friend from Zumba, then out for lunch with a group that we join regularly for lunch – there were a couple of new people – but surprisingly enough they were from Pat’s photo group so we already knew them. Then I went off for my last art class as we break for summer, after our art exhibition next Friday. I wanted some simple paintings for my class this week, so this is what I completed (I finished a big painting last week). And this morning I went and met another friend for coffee – which was great. It’s fun to catch-up and have a natter and a laugh.

simple but effective watercolour paintings (and fun)

Enjoy your week and remember Pat’s blog next week – http://patblog.patbell.co.uk

As an extra treat – a couple of photos that I got of a hummingbird-hawk moth one evening as it was drinking nectar from our lavender plants.

Hummingbird-hawk moth

Hummingbird-hawk moth

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Pat my hero – 17 June 2017

Things in our world have stayed interesting over the past couple of weeks, but I will start with the positive. Firstly most of the beams (joists) for our floor are in, hopefully next weekend the floor can start to go in. The weather has been superb with lovely warm if not hot days with blue skies, my veggie patch is going well (though it is filled with weeds) – need to sort that. I’ve had Physalis (aka Inca Berry, Cape Gooseberry) I’ve tried these a couple of times before with no luck but this year – success. My flower bed which I started last year, is going from strength to strength this year with lots of self-seeded flowers popping up and some of the ones I put in this year are doing well.

Inca Berry – not ripe yet, but it is growing…

For those of you who read Pat’s blog last week, you will know that he was having a problem with his foot. Unfortunately he still is, but after another trip to the doctors who was very quickly getting Pat into a specialist (I will leave the full story for Pat in his next blog), he now has a set of much stronger antibiotics which seem to actually be working and his foot is starting to heal.

So why is Pat my hero? Well while Pat has having to deal with his own ill health, he has also having to sort the problems of double payment for the hire vehicle (from when we moved the beams). Sorting the car insurance – especially as the paperwork came back with the wrong car year, make and model! And as we were due to return the courtesy car on Friday to the garage that currently has our smashed up car, Pat had to deal with speaking with them to see if we can hang on the courtesy car. Thankfully the garage (it is our regular garage which services our vehicle) has said keep the car for the moment, we know there are problems with the paperwork.

Along with the above Pat has been dealing with me and my tiredness and my trip to the new specialist for translation duties. So after a hectic week this week (I’ve been winding up working for one of my clients as my current workload is too much for me while I’m ill) we headed off to the specialist who had a look through everything and said that yes into hospital I have to go to get half my thyroid removed. He did say it is an easy operation, around an hour, but of course I’m now dealing with all the hospital paper work in French! While I’m not looking forward to the operation, I am looking forward to not having the constant feeling of there being something stuck in my throat (this is due to the size of my thyroid pushing on my oesophagus).

So he is my hero, because he isn’t feeling great himself and yet he is still doing lots of complicated things to make my life easier – and he even bought me a cup of coffee to my bedside while I was writing this blog in bed.

To part on a positive note, last weekend (and it did take me all weekend) I got a few of the kitchen cupboard doors re-painted (yep repaint number 3). I used a paint sprayer this time, and I’m very happy with the result and how they look. Now to do the other 4 doors!

no longer white.

Enjoy your week and remember Pat’s blog next week – http://patblog.patbell.co.uk

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Chaos Theory – 02 June 2017

It has been an interesting couple of weeks – and this week is a week that I think Pat and I would rather not repeat.

To start this week off I had my CT scan for my thyroid. A very easy process all in all – which surprised me and I was very thankful for. After scan (which was at 8:15 in the morning) we hit the café at the hospital and had relatively good coffee and a fantastic croissant for breakfast. It was a bank holiday in the UK so I had the day off which was nice, though I did have to do a bit of work and we did a few things around the house in preparation of visitors this weekend.

Tuesday was spent trying to catch up on work, however towards the end of the day we discovered that the lumber yard were not able to deliver our wood beams. So we (well Pat) spent a few hours trying to find a vehicle that we could hire that would take the 4 metre long beams. Vehicle found and a few phone calls later we were organised.

Wednesday another early start as we headed back to Limoges to speak to the specialist about my thyroid – and to discover that things were not great and I have now been referred on to another specialist as I will be needing an operation. On the way back from the hospital I dropped Pat off to pick up the hire vehicle and he headed off to get the flooring (not the beams). I headed home to get some work done. Late in the afternoon, off to the wood yard to pick-up our beams, now while there weren’t that many, and with a small fork lift they were relatively easy to get into the hire truck – we discovered that they had cut them too long, so they needed to be recut. Off back home to unpack the beams! Now we had been told that they were around 45 kilos each – they were not! I think they were easily closer to 65 kilos each, and when there are only 2 of you to carry the beams down a set of stairs, you know about it. We did the majority on the Wednesday evening to do the final 4 on Thursday morning before returning the vehicle.

At which stage they pointed out a scratch at the top of the vehicle, which Pat hadn’t even noticed happening. This means that they are keeping the deposit until we know what the cost of fixing it is. So not the best start to the day, but we headed home afterwards, for me to finish off some work before getting ready for the arrival of a couple of friends.

Pat had to do some running around, including returning a computer to a friend, at which point a car coming off a side track (and it was a side track) drove straight into the side of our car! With Pat in the car! Pat is fine – thankfully, but the driver’s side of our vehicle (it’s a right hand drive) is totally smashed in. Pat came home as I was trying to finish up my work to let me know what had happened. We then had 2 friends drop in – which we had forgotten about – to have a look at the beams and our cellar (cave) to talk about if he could help with the installing of the beams. By this stage, we had really decided we needed to get someone in to do the work! So I’m then off to get some friends from the airport – with a totally smashed in car. Thankfully the car was just about driveable, and I was able to pick them up without any problems, but I came home to Pat and the other driver going through the insurance paperwork, which apparently needed to be completed on the day of the accident.

Friday morning was spent by Pat finalising the paper work, speaking to the insurance company and getting the car off to the garage to be looked at and to pick up a courtesy car. Meanwhile I and my friends headed off to the small local market, we bought some nice cherries and strawberries and some cheese. We came home with the fruit and some patisseries to eat before heading off into the sunshine for lunch. A lovely lunch was spent at a restaurant beside a river eating lovely food and then a lovely walk around the village enjoying the sunshine before heading home (via the supermarket) for dinner of salad, bread and cheese while sitting outside.

It is great to have friends here to force us out and about to do things rather than sitting at home pondering on our fate! Hopefully Pat’s blog next week will tell you about all the wonderful things that have happened.

Enjoy your week and remember Pat’s blog next week – http://patblog.patbell.co.uk

Some pictures:

The freshly painted outdoor chair

Blue isn’t it?

The things you find at a fete – pink Kangaroo Paw – in France!

As I mentioned last blog – the new cave door

Yep same blue as the chair!

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Poppies are trying to take over the world – 20th May 2017

Well it feels like poppies are trying to take over my garden at least. They are all up in my lavender bed – which actually I like as they fill the space between the bulbs and the lavender flowering. But they have expanded their territory and are popping up in the patio, all my other garden beds, behind the shed (keeping them) and in the grass! However, poppies are not the only things popping up in the grass – we have a mole. A brave mole as Siena being part terrier has started digging at these interesting new mounds that have appeared in the grass. I’ve been surprised that we got a mole, not quite sure how it made it to our yard, but I’m not really all that fussed about it.

Last years photo of the poppies in my lavender

Flowers & art – perfection


Last weekend, as our beams hadn’t been delivered, Pat and I spent our weekend doing various things – one was visiting the flower show / sale at a lovely little village about 30 minutes away from us. It was a beautiful day – warm and sunny and we pottered about for an hour or so. I could have bought so many things, but ended up buying nothing as I was overwhelmed with the choice – next year I will be prepared with a list of what I want to buy. There were some lovely roses! My neighbour didn’t have the same problem, I saw her later in the day after she had just returned from the show – unpacking her car with lots and lots of flowering plants.

Roses everywhere

Flowers in the church

Unfortunately this weekend will also not be spent doing the new flooring of our lounge as the beams have still not arrived. We have been told Monday or Tuesday – we shall see. So I have been down in the garage, sanding some of our garden furniture and painting it. I’ve also painted our new door for the cave. The colour was not exactly what I wanted but it does the job and the colour has grown on me. Pat and I will be fitting the new cave door today so hopefully I will have a photo of it in-situ for my next blog.

Enjoy your week, remember Pat’s blog next week – http://patblog.patbell.co.uk

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Updates – 07th May 2017

I apologies this isn’t the most exciting blog I have ever written, but sometimes things are just like that.

Well a lot has happened over the past 2 weeks, firstly we have no floor in the living room (photo’s on Pat’s blog from last week) and we spent yesterday (Saturday) clearing the last of the wood and junk out of the cave ready for our beams that are being delivered this Wednesday. Next weekend will be spent putting the beams into place and hopefully the weekend after putting the flooring into place. I might be, being overly optimistic but I can hope. I do however think that there will be a lot of work over the next few weeks.

As to my thyroid, we now know that I have a cyst on my thyroid. We don’t know how it happened or anything else. The specialist has booked me in for a CT scan which is at the end of the month. But it is looking very likely that I will need to have some level of operation. I will admit doing all of this in a language I don’t speak very well is very difficult and slightly unnerving. Once I have the CT scan and have been back to the specialist we will hopefully know more. I will keep you updated.

So what else has been happening, Pat and I have been for a few meals recently – we have been to a local Italian restaurant which was lovely and the servings were huge! On Tuesday for Pat’s birthday we went up to the local Relais and had a lovely steak (of the Limousine variety – yes Limousines are cows not just a very big car). So we have been enjoying ourselves a little. Pat did get a gift via Amazon – but there was no paper work inside, so we have no idea who it has come from – so if it was you. Thank you from Pat

Apart from that I’m currently struggling with the garden as I have seedlings that I need to plant out but we are having unseasonal weather at the moment and we have had a few frosts overnight – most things have survived as I am remembering to cover them but I really do want to get my veggies out into the ground so that I can have a wonderful summer harvest.

Enjoy your week, remember Pat’s blog next week – http://patblog.patbell.co.uk

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Coffee and Croissant – 22 April 2017

Morning everyone, it is very early here and at the moment, I’m waiting for the Red Cross to arrive to take my blood. They were meant to be here at 7:30 but it is now 7:50 and still no-one, it is unusual and I’m just hoping that Pat got the message correct and that they are coming here and that I wasn’t meant to go down to them! Hope they will be here soon, especially as this blood test has to be taken before eating or drinking.

Home made Hot Cross Buns made for Easter – and yes they were yummy


The finish – yah

So you ask why a blood test, well my week has been odd. Last weekend (Easter) was lovely I had recovered to full health after my rather nasty cold, Pat and I finished re-pointing the back wall of the house (yah), which we were so happy about. I got into the garden cleared weeds, checked on my dahlia’s (not doing well, lost 2 of the 3 tubers over winter). Planted out some new plants that I have bought, and basically got things going in the lovely sunshine we have been having. The rest of the week started fine everything seemed to be ok, but Tuesday night I started to get a sore throat, Wednesday I very obviously had a swollen gland on the side of my neck so rang the doctors, Thursday evening off to the doctors we went – he checked my throat and my ears, blood pressure etc – nothing abnormal but of course you can see that my neck is swollen on one side and he very gently checked my neck. He asked when it came up and I said overnight on Tuesday. Apparently it is my thyroid, but he seemed concerned enough that he rang the local hospital first thing Friday morning to get me in for a ultrasound on my neck and he asked that I get a blood test ASAP. So currently I’m waiting for the blood test. Pat has just rung to ask where they are as it is unusual for them to be late, but we didn’t get a very satisfactory answer. I do love the fact that they will come to your house, but it does mean waiting around.

I have been for the ultra sound, very quick and efficient, can’t read what is on the report due to it being quite complicated technical French. The person doing the ultra sound did try to explain it to me but my French isn’t up to that level. But the word operation was used! It was very difficult to go for a hospital appointment and not understand what was being said to me, but I survived. But now I wait for my blood to be taken – while wanting a coffee and a croissant. I just answered the phone, it was the red cross, she is just running late, but she did ask where I live in my hamlet, now this is difficult to explain in English let alone in French, but the red cross do visit our neighbour regularly, so I asked if she knew my neighbour – yes she did so that was nice and easy. So I will be able to have my coffee and croissant soonish.

This weekend will again be busy, I’m meeting a friend for coffee this morning (yes I drink a lot of coffee) and then more work on the garden and the living room. The living room more to prepare it for clearing out as next weekend is the start of the demolition!

Enjoy your week and the lovely sunshine, and remember Pat’s blog next week – http://patblog.patbell.co.uk
PS. My blood has been taken (we were given the wrong time apparently), the croissants are warming in the oven and the coffee is made – time for breakfast I think

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Spring Colds – 8th April 2017

I’m currently sitting in bed with a big box of tissues beside me, not feeling the best. I have a cold and it is a nasty one. At the beginning of the week I just thought that my hay fever was really starting up, but apparently not. On Wednesday night the cold really hit and I was not happy. Partly because this week and weekend have been glorious spring weather, a time for me to be able to get out into the garden, sunshine with not too much heat. My seedlings are starting to erupt from the soil and I need to finish clearing my veggie patch and start on wedding the flower beds and patio. So today while I should be out helping Pat with the re-pointing, I won’t be I will be keeping myself warm and sedate with the hope of a quick recovery.

Part of my annoyance is that we have had to cancel a few things, currently there are free arts programmes happening – so free theatre, music and art exhibitions. We had planned to head out to a few of the free music – especially as they were close by, but no. We were planning another quiz this Saturday but cancelled that. I should be well enough for the things planned for next week, but we shall see.

Of course this was also the week that I had two new clients start, I had a call with one on Tuesday so that was ok, but the other I was speaking with her for the first time on Thursday. I sounded dreadful, and of course I needed to get work done so it’s all been a bit hectic. I finally got to sit down yesterday afternoon (no art class) and just rest. It was lovely.

One thing I have been happy about has been my bulbs – I planted out some daffodils and tulip bulbs at the end of the year last year, in pots, with the intention of having them out the front of the house. They have been very successful and my neighbours have told me how lovely they look, so I’ve been very happy with the result, I’ll be doing this again. The tulips in the back yard are just starting to open so I’ve got lots of spring colour that is really lovely.

For those of you who read Pat’s blog you will know that we now have the big job of ripping up our living room floor. We were going to start this weekend, but I convinced Pat that perhaps we better find out when we could get the replacement beams in before we had a huge hole in our house. So this week (after someone had mentioned a very good wood yard / mill) Pat went off to speak with them about the wood. He came back very happy, with a good price on wood that would be the size we need, it is oak and it will have been dried (dried wood is very unattractive to wood worm). However delivery won’t be until mid-May. So currently we still have our living room – most of the stuff has been emptied out of it. Over the next few weeks I will check all the wooden legs of our furniture, sand them back, treat and repaint them all. We also need to check our lovely wooden side tables for any potential damage. The upside of this is we have decided not to go with a new wooden floor in the living room, a shame but there is a lot of wood in this house and the weak spot is the cave (basement) so we would rather not run the risk of having to remove the floor again.

So on that note, I and my cold, shall sign off, enjoy your weekend and hopefully some sunshine.

Enjoy your week and remember Pat’s blog next week – http://patblog.patbell.co.uk

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