It’s almost finished – 19th November 2017

Yes the living room is almost done, we were finishing off all the small jobs yesterday, furniture is back in place and I’ve been touching up the paint etc. Today, Pat will be completing his desk, so next week Pat’s blog will be photos of the living room, start to finish. I’ve put a couple of photos in as teasers (it’s a slide show & I love my new lights). I’m also in the process of sorting the 1 remaining book case upstairs. Unfortunately we didn’t get rid of all of them but we did get rid of 2 big and one half book case so that is a step forward and it makes my work space feel more spacious.

So, what else has been happening? Well one of my high schools (I attended 3) had its 30 year reunion last weekend. I’m loving the photos on-line and seeing how everyone has changed. It was interesting to speak with my friend S the day after, and how long it has been since our group of friends have seen one another. We did keep in touch for the first couple of years after leaving school, but that slowly petered out and eventually the only person I kept in contact with was S. It seems everyone just went their separate ways. So it got me thinking as to why people who are so close end up not speaking or seeing one another for almost 30 years. I think it is the need to find our own identity, find out who and what we are as individuals. However, I think that took me until my late 30’s to find out who I am, and I think it’s still progressing!

So it is another gloriously sunny, but freezing cold day in France. My jobs for today, planting out my bulbs into pots so I have a display in Spring. Cleaning the house, now that the construction has stopped, all the workbenches, tools and now unused items (e.g. bookcases) can be moved down into the workshop/garage. I will admit, I hate house cleaning, but today really looking forward to it as it means that we will have our house back, and we have decided no big jobs for the next year (though I’m planning out the garden for next year – that is something to take time over). We do both however have a list of lots of little jobs that need to be completed – but they are things that will only take a small amount of time.

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

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Sea, Sand and Hedgehogs! – 3rd November 2017

For those of you who have read Pat’s blog, you will know that we spent a weekend at the beach – something I miss incredibly. There is something about the smell of the ocean that just gets into your psyche and for me being near the sea really invigorates me and makes me happy. We had a great time and it was wonderful to take Siena.

Of course we have been back home now for two weeks and the feeling was starting to wear off, however during the week we discovered that we have hedgehogs in our garden (well at least one). It is so nice to find a live hedgehog. Siena was barking one evening at something on grass and out I went and there it was, so Siena is now not allowed out at night without being on lead, which is good as the other night Pat heard something at the cat flap, assumed it was the cat – opened the door and the hedgehog tried to come in! Obviously the house is warm and outside not so, but we are putting food out for it and hopefully it will find somewhere nice and safe to hibernate over winter. If we get a photo of it before it disappears, I’ll post it on my blog.

So what else has been happening, well I’ve taken up a drawing class as an external student from London College of Art. I’ve just submitted my first set of work, after painting for a couple of years and not doing much drawing, it has been difficult to get back into it. But I am enjoying it. The class is more about using colour pencils than graphite (I feel so much more comfortable with graphite) so it is a challenge. It does mean that I’m no longer doing my watercolour class, but the time is well spent on Friday afternoon’s drawing instead.

The living room is slowly progressing. It does feel like it is taking so long – with work during the week and DIY only at weekends – but hopefully it will be complete soon. I’ve been painting the doors (which Pat has made) for the cupboards, and tomorrow he is making the barn door which will hide the TV. It’s all a lot of work and a lot of paint!

And we know autumn is most definitely here, as the cranes (which can be a herd or dance of cranes) have been migrating south. We had a huge dance over the house during the week.

So for now à bientôt and remember Pat’s blog next week – http://patblog.patbell.co.uk

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Non, Je ne regrette rien – 21st October 2017

At the beginning of the year (I think) I was introduced to the “Barefoot Investor” book by an Australian friend of mine. I read the book at the time and got some good information from it (like the hospital only insurance cover which enabled me to have a private room when I had my operation earlier this year). Recently I revisited the book (and have instigated a few more things). I’ve also been online and had a good read through his old blog posts. In trawling through the blog posts I came across one about regrets of the dying.
It’s here if you want to read it
https://barefootinvestor.com/life-meaning-lessons-happiness-whats-important/
It was an interesting read, and a thought provoking one, partly because reading through the list I was ok with where I sat on 4 of the 5 points (well I’m still working through a couple of the 1-4) but the one that resonated with me was point 5.

5. “I wish I had let myself be happier”

Umm, what… let myself? And I guess to some extent it is correct (and it is partially correct if you look into the science). Given that over the past few years I’ve not been at my best in the happiness stakes (partly to be blamed on thyroid problems and perhaps even pre-menopause – anxiety, night sweats…) but now that I’ve had my thyroid operation and I’m feeling much better in myself, I’ve realised that happiness is a choice. As humans we have the ability to – to a certain extent – choose how we react to things. So for the moment my choice is to try and feel happy with things in my life, especially those that I can’t control (please note this does not include feeling happy about Pat falling off a ladder and splitting his eyebrow open – but I’m happy that he is recovering and didn’t do anything too serious and that he didn’t get any blood on the newly painted white bookcase in the living room)!

So as we in the Northern Hemisphere head into autumn with grey skies and less sunshine, I wish you a happy weekend and a happy two weeks – à bientôt and remember Pat’s blog next week – http://patblog.patbell.co.uk

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Random piano playing – 07th October 2017

One of the joys of living where we live is the lack of noise, however just as I sat down to start typing this blog, I got the joy of hearing my neighbour playing one of his piano’s. It is a lovely thing to hear. Unfortunately now our weekends are very much to the sound of gunfire as hunting season has started, and dog walks on the weekend have got a bit more interesting – ie. We have to go somewhere safe. Pat does occasionally meet hunters on his morning walks but generally things are ok. During the week, we are more likely to come across people hunting for mushrooms rather than the deer or boar, but on the weekend!

Our living room is progressing and we finally have the central bookcase up and the tv in place (and working). I’ve been madly painting the rest of the bookcases so that they can be also be put in place and attached to the wall. All in all, I’m very happy with the way things are progressing. We have had another cool but gloriously sunny day today and it does feel a bit of a shame to be stuck inside doing the painting, but these things need to be done. I really am at the stage that I would like this to be finished so that we can get back to normal living.

Sometimes it is easy to get stuck in a rut, so Pat and I decided that starting this October we are trying to do a different mid-day walk every day with the dog. We did forget for the first few days, but we did at least do different walks for most of the past 7 days, now we have to start thinking about new walks and we don’t want to travel to far from home so it will make us look at the area nearby in a new way (but avoiding the hunters).

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

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Nine years and still going strong – 23rd September

Hello from sunny but slightly cool France; as always an interesting couple of weeks. The weather has turned very autumnal with our heating kicking in every evening now (and occasionally during the day). But the past couple of days have been bright and sunny which means I’ve been able to get some painting done – mainly the skirting boards for the living room. Which has caused us a problem, as I ran out of paint yesterday just short of finishing (always the way) but when Pat went to buy some more this morning we discovered that it is a discontinued colour!!! Not what one wants to hear, however this caused both of us to jump on the computer and for me to find a discount site which has end of line paint – and thankfully my colour was available and at less than half the price we would normally have paid for it. So all in all a result – except I do have to wait for it to be delivered which will hopefully be later this week.

This past week Pat and I went out for dinner on Wednesday night to celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary – yes 9 years ago we were in Wales celebrating our marriage in glorious sunny weather (yes for real it was beautiful). We decided to try a restaurant that we haven’t eaten at since we bought the house – I go regularly for coffee (and I was there last Friday and made a very good impression by falling off a stool). We had a lovely dinner – with our main being the local speciality which is for the lack of a better way to describe it a potato pie, but that doesn’t really do it justice. Anyway we had a lovely night out.

The sunflower & me


This photo is of a self-seeded sunflower in our backyard – it is fairly close to the bird feeder so at a guess the birds are responsible. However, it is huge – as you can see from this photo I am standing beside it and it is taller than me. It is also a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster with multiple heads – though not sure if some sunflower varieties do that?

keeping the bees happy – and yes it is a big black bee.

I do need to get out into the garden and get some work done to get the garden ready for the winter. But at the moment as things are still flowering – I’m going to enjoy what is left.

For now I wish you all à bientôt and remember Pat’s blog next week – http://patblog.patbell.co.uk
PS – a sneak peak at the living room

Door – lol

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Holidays and summer are over – 9th September

Well folks, dad has been and gone. He arrived home late after an unexpected delay, but is back to the cool of an Australian spring. He is also the end of our visitors for this year (well the ones we know of anyway). So this week I have been back at work on my computer and this weekend Pat and I are working on the living room. Which I am happy to say is progressing – the flooring is down, I’m in the process of sanding and painting the doors and the radiators are back on the walls (this has become a necessity as we think the cold is really going to hit soon). I’m really happy with how everything is looking. I will admit I will be very pleased to have the living room back in use.

Last weekend as you saw from Pat’s blog we had a great time in Bordeaux (which was very warm) and headed off to some fascinating gardens in the Dordogne. We also did some walks closer to home and got to see someone on the zip line going over the lake at Espace Hermeline, which started an interesting discussion (as I also mentioned that I would love to do a zip line that goes from Spain into Portugal – you do this by going across a river and obviously the border. So Pat and I have decided we need to start doing some exciting things – so perhaps my Dad’s idea of finding zip lines across the world that are interesting in some way. We have decided that we need to do the one at Espace-Hermeline as a starting point. Perhaps a way to celebrate the finishing of our living room?

Tuesday we headed into Limoges to held dad look for a new leather wallet – so into Galeries Lafayette we went. I spotted a wrap that looked lovely and decided that it was worth a closer look. It was lovely and then I looked at the price – at this point most things are put back on the hanger or shelf, I sigh and walk on wondering why I have such expensive taste, but not this time! The price was good so I went and put my French language skills into action and purchased it; a lovely item for the coming autumn. I then proceeded upstairs to the men’s section looking for my dad and Pat who were still looking through all the wallet’s but dad did eventually find one he liked.

I do think that part of tomorrow will be pulling out my winter clothes and looking through what I want to keep from my summer clothes. I’ve had a few items in my wardrobe which I just haven’t worn this summer and not because of the heat (or lack thereof) but just because I don’t think I like them all that much and since I did buy a few more t-shirts recently I really do need to remove a few items. One advantage of a small wardrobe – you really do keep only what is necessary, nice and works.

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

A couple of photos from the Chateau in the gardens, both of these windows are trompe l’oeil

Windows

Windows

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Light at the end of the Tunnel – 26th August 2017

1. I’ve seen the specialist and he is very happy with how I’m healing and my blood results, and I’m back doing everything that I could before.
2. The insurance company finally came back with a decent amount for the car, and it is in the process of being fixed.
3. The ceiling and walls in the living room are painted and the floor is half way through being laid.
4. Summer is back (in style including high humidity).
5. I have a sleeping dog beside me.

Finally we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. However no more photos of the living room until it is finished.

So the past two weeks have been spent working (it has been a silly busy month which is unusual for August). Spending spare time painting the living room, and 1 night at a quiz. The quiz went well and despite getting a lousy 6.5 out of 20 for the music round we still won. We were paired with a couple we hadn’t met and we have decided to do the next quiz together. Interestingly I ran into them today just as I was leaving the hairdressers’, they were coming in. We had a quick catch-up (they very fortunately are off on holiday next week).

So what else has been happening, I’ll be honest I can’t think of a lot, my world has been resolving around working and painting. This week my dad arrives, so I’m looking forward to that and should have lots to talk about in my next blog. Sometimes life is just like that –  not much happens…

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

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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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