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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1 month later – 25th March 2017

A few of you may have noticed that there have been some missing blogs! Unfortunately this happened due to the French Air Traffic Controllers being on strike and Pat and I getting stuck in the UK for an extra 5 days. We did have a great time in the UK catching up with a lot of people we haven’t seen for a while; however it is nice to be back home in France. (The Christmas tree decoration bought while we were on holiday as a memento of the trip is a wooden heart painted with the phrase – “home is where the heart is” I think it will be a good reminder of our trip and our inability to get home). I’ve put a few of my photos from the trip at the end of the blog as Pat very much covered our trip in his blog.

So now that I’ve been back home for 2 weeks, what have we been up to? Well we attended a quiz last Saturday night – which was fun, we did better than expected but didn’t win. I also spent a lot of time in the garden; now that spring has sprung, I’m having to play catch-up in the garden. I’ve got my seedlings started – they were mostly all put in last weekend. I’ve also turned over one of my veggie plots, just need to finish off the other – I’m thinking that is a job for tomorrow.

Today I’m going to enjoy a day of no commitments. I’m thinking I might clean the house – which isn’t very exciting I know, but it hasn’t been done since we have been home. I’m also thinking that a nice long walk this afternoon with Siena will be fun. Pat is clearing out the “cave” as this sit’s below the living room floor and we need to do some work to the wooden beams supporting the living room floor before we replace the floor. Our plan is to hopefully have the living room finished this July, there is a lot of work to get through but we are hopeful that it can be done! I am having fun going through lots and lots of images on the internet of various living rooms. We have been considering changing our light fitting to something a bit bigger and there are definitely some unusual ones out there! But for me, so much of this is about trying to make the house feel like it’s mine (ok well ours but Pat doesn’t get that much input into the decorative process he just gets to do the work). So we plan and budget and we shall see what we end up with.

I am however still trying to decide what we will do with the ceiling, the options being:

• All white – which is easy and a little conventional.

the final image – with the ceiling painted grey

• Beams white and the bits in between grey (which is what I did in the entrance hall)
• Beams grey and the bits in between white (which I have seen and like).

So while I clean today I think I will be pondering what I want my living room to look like.

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

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The Bathroom is Finished – well sort of! – 25th February 2017

A lot of this week is about the evolution of our bathroom so this blog will be photo heavy.

Firstly, photos of the bathroom as it was when we bought the house.

Before – note the bidet

the before sink that just had to go

 
So not many photos for the house before, but hopefully they give you a feel.

Now my first requirement when we moved in was the fact that the bathroom had to have a bath! So out with the bidet and the odd little draw unit, but also out with the sink as it just stuck out into the space too much. So we then had this… well without the blue, I painted the blue last year, but it gives you a good idea of what the bathroom was looking like after we changed the sink and put in the bath.

First try

Now we move on to the new(ish) bathroom.  We started by removing the lino, the electric heater (which was never used) redoing a lot of the panelling, removing the sink unit to revamp it.  Then we had the lights bought on sale to go above the mirror and while I love them, the light they cast, gave us horrible yellow marks everywhere (very odd), so they went back.

 

 

 

2nd try

We now have these which I love even more and they were cheaper – I consider that a result.

 

 

 

 

 
So why isn’t the bathroom finished? Well I still need to do some touch-up painting and I think I’m going to be doing some re-grouting as that isn’t as good as it could be in a couple of places. But ultimately the whole of the blue wall needs to be relined and re-painted, which I will do once we have the new vanity (I’ve still not found one that fits the space, that I like and is at an acceptable price) and when we take the radiator off the wall. I don’t know if that will be this year or next but we will find out.

So below are some photos of how everything is looking now.

From the doorway

and the other way

You will notice that we have cut down the vanity to give the feel of more room (it works well). We’ve changed the floor (it’s still lino, but much better lino). I revamped a mirror that we already owned, and I love the tiles, I’ve used them here and there is a single row on the small shelf beside the bath.  Basically the bathroom is feeling much more us and much more finished that it has for a while.

These are a couple of the new items in the bathroom, just to add some fun (along with my star fish on the mirror).

And the last photo – this we found when we took out the current vanity so that I could tile – I love the progression over the time – oldest wall paper is the purple flowers, followed by the textured blue paper; then the apricot (which I have painted blue). This is one of the joys (and pains) of an old house.

Taste through the years…

Enjoy Pat’s blog which will be a little late as we have plans for next weekend 🙂 http://patblog.patbell.co.uk

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How to make a house a home? 11th February 2017

I’ve been asking myself this question a lot lately, what makes a house a home and while I have lived in many a house (29 at last count) I’ve not lived in many places that I would call home. So along with all the decorating that we have been doing I’ve been wondering how do I make this house a home and what does home mean to me. It is a difficult question for me to answer, others find it very easy. I asked Pat what is home to you, his reply “home is where the dog is”. While this is one of Pat’s usual flippant responses made to make me smile, when we drilled it down, home to Pat is where his loved ones are. To me it isn’t so simple. Not that I don’t like being where my loved ones are. That is important. But for me I think home is more than the house. I’ve had some fabulous houses but not in the best location and the reverse, small or not great houses but in a great location. So I think I’ve figured for me feeling connected to the greater location around me is necessary. I think this is where Pat and I differ for him the house is much more important than the location.

I think partly I’m struggling with this idea of home as I don’t feel connected to France yet, I don’t feel that I belong. I’ve discovered that when you can’t speak to the vast majority of the people around you, it is isolating and it has been an unexpected aspect of living in France for me. I did think my French language would progress much faster than it has. I also think trying to find people of a similar age and who have a similar way of thinking as me has been difficult. However I am trying to address this, with doing things like Zumba and trying to get myself out to various lunches and coffees. We have also been looking at joining a walking group which will be good.

As to the bathroom update, well, that is still on-going, hopefully to be finished soon as I really want a bath! Especially as I have some very sore muscles after Thursday night’s Zumba class

Enjoy Pat’s blog next week at http://patblog.patbell.co.uk

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I’ve been shopping – 28 January 2017

Yep shopping – spending money :-), yesterday after my French class Pat and I headed up to Limoges to get to a Troc (2nd hand store) before it closed for lunch; we made it in time, but unfortunately didn’t find what we were looking for (though I did get some more picture frames which I’m always on the hunt for). Then off to “family village” which is a purpose built shopping area with the big DIY store, furniture stores etc. After a bit more looking around the furniture stores (and having already done lots and lots of internet browsing), we came to the conclusion that the item I wanted was just not available at the price I wanted it. So what is this item? A new bathroom vanity, however due to the narrowness of the space in the bathroom we had come to conclude that we were going to need to look at a side board or chest of drawers, however life just isn’t that simple so we have now decided that we will just have to make do with what we have but with a few modifications.

However in our journey around the different stores we came across an armchair that was on sale, we both looked at it, I asked the question “do you think it would go into the spare room?” Pat looked at me, we sat down and tried them out and went “yep”. So while we had discussed putting an armchair in the spare room and hadn’t been planning on buying one before next year – there are just some things that you don’t walk past and an armchair for €60 is one of those things!

Our lovely new chair.

So what else was on our shopping list yesterday? Well some tiles – for the bathroom. We were struggling to find exactly what I wanted and we were looking and looking, Pat asked one of the staff (in lovely French) and she thought for a moment and then said “come with me” (in English)! She took us a few aisles down and voila I was in tile heaven, an hour later (yes 1 whole hour) we had decided what we needed and how much. So here is peek at the tiles, but you won’t see how they are to be used until we finish the bathroom.

yep they are tiles…

So on that note our other joy for the week was lunch out (twice for Pat, 3 times for me). Friday a week ago I had a lovely lunch with a group of women from a facebook group that I belong to (then I headed off to art class). Monday Pat and I both hauled ourselves away from our computers to go to a lunch with a new social group that we belong to. I ran into two ladies that I used to do art with, plus a few others that we knew, so while our break away from out computers was brief it was very enjoyable. And yesterday while we were out and about, we enjoyed a lunch at a little restaurant attached to one of the furniture stores. Now you would think that something like a furniture store restaurant wouldn’t have very good food, here in France that is not the case. We discovered that restaurants in stores and in shopping centres have very, good food, which is a joy as far as we are concerned.

So apart from our bathroom, work and the occasional lunch, we haven’t been up to too much.

Enjoy Pat’s blog next week at http://patblog.patbell.co.uk

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