Sunday, 20 December 2009

Harder than hard

As ex - Paramedics we know more than most the unbearable situations that people find themselves in when health lets them down. We used to go into patients' houses, do our best to help and then swan off to the next job, rarely giving much thought to what we had left behind. How difficult then, that we find ourselves at the sharp end with our own family.
Neils's father was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year and has found his health failing in several dreadful ways ever since. The situation now is rock bottom. The whole family are trying to cope with the dreadful result of the decline of one of their most loved and treasured family members, and the sheer frustration and feelings of ineptitude are tangeable.
Living in France we have been cushioned from this decline, which makes things both easier but also harder. The sheer shock of seeing the difference in him and the realisation that this is unlikely to change for the better is frightening and we wonder how on earth things will go from here.
For once having a vague knowledge of the 'system' regarding elderly care is not really going to help, as there is nothing much to be done, and as much as we want to stamp our feet and make things change, apart from initiating support, if this will be accepted, we feel powerless and impotent.
I have lost count of the amount of patients who warned me "Not to get old dear",but as we all hurtle through life it is a stark reminder that every day counts.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Snowy Surrey

Having left the house/ducks/chickens/cats being looked after with military precision we sleepily climbed into our new (to us, unfortunately not brand new) van for the dreaded haul up the country for a Christmas UK visit. I was very excited about Tess's first cross channel trip and at the start she seemed happy enough. This all changed after a few hours on the auto-route when she started looking a bit freaked out by the traffic, aircraft and flyovers that were whizzing past the window and she started shaking.
It was bloody freezing in the van, as we had little protection from the icy temperatures outside, so I wrapped her in a scarf and Neils jacket (she being the more important passenger) but was disappointed when the shaking continued and I started to feel a bit guilty for taking our country bumpkin collie on such an ordeal.

Now she is here she is loving all the attention and the long walks she is getting far more regularly than she is used to. It is snowing here and she has been running flat out scooping her nose through the snow before diving into it and rolling. She is also meeting far more dogs than normal and loving the interaction, so we have been talking about possibly getting her a playmate. Watch this space!!

Friday, 11 December 2009

Tango with Tam

I'm a bit of a fan of strictly come dancing, not the dancing itself really, but more the journey the celebrities take whilst learning this new skill. I was doing a bit of an argentine tango myself this morning, flicking my legs up and around - if only to avoid the kitten who was wrestling with them whilst pleading for some breakfast.

We used a small radiator in the bedroom last night, deciding to hang the expense. We are getting fed up with the top duvet being damp to touch and its only December.
I wanted a relaxing bath the other night and our friend Alan had suggested we use his huge gas burner to warm up the place. We have been a bit scared of said burner, as it looks a bit like a jet engine and we were worried about burning the house down, but Neil fired it up and pointed it into the bathroom. Very well it worked I must say, although I did nearly burn my arse when I sat on the wooden toilet seat having got out of the bath some time later. It was almost worth the third degree burns.

The ducks are still protesting the demise of their siblings. I came downstairs yesterday to find a very large and wet pile of duck poo in the hall, and as I fed the horses a duck ran very loudly across the tin roof spooking them. It could just be me but I am sure it's a conspiracy.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Roast Duck

Neil has just gone off to stand in a field fitting a door onto a hangar he has built for someone and the heavens have opened. The velux above my head is being battered with rain and I am sure he has forgotten to take his coat. It will be yet another example of forces beyond his control conspiring to make his life as difficult as possible and I can almost guarantee that in the middle of the field not far from here there will be a great deal of muttering and swearing going on.
This will be all the worse because he has a bit of a sore head after partaking of several glasses of wine that helped the roast duck go down. The meat was slightly on the tough side (we ate the legs) which could be due to the fact they were always waddling around the garden or maybe just because we need to learn how to cook duck properly.
We were treated to a meal in a French restaurant near Toulouse once that specialised in duck, and it was served in almost a raw state (apparently you can't get salmanella with duck) so maybe we just cooked it too much.
If anyone has any handy duck recipes please let me know as there is still rather a lot to cook!!

Friday, 4 December 2009

Duck protest

I am taking it that this is a duck protest at the slaughter of its siblings. The two younger ducks have been staging a roof protest all morning. Either that or they are showing off their flying skills. They are getting braver by the day.

I am having a five minute break as todays job is wiring up the sockets in the kitchen, which is the most fiddly job you can imagine. I said to Neil that there must be an easy way of doing it, to which he replied "There is, employ an electrician". He's right but I won't be beaten by the blasted things.

Tam continues her/his evil conieval antics - yesterday he/she jumped onto the pipe at the back of the woodburner before realising it was boiling hot and then ran over the top of the woodburner. I was sure it would have burnt pads but it seems unscathed today thank goodness.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Oven ready

The ducks and geese came back in plastic bags today, and although I guess it is a bit of a cop out not slaughtering them ourselves I think I will find it a lot easier to enjoy eating them this way. At least we know that they have had a fantastic life with much more freedom than most animals will ever experience.
As a result of that a lot of our garden is suffering, and I keep coming out of the house to find the ducks chomping on the plants on the doorstep. The chickens seem to like the challenge of getting through the front door and into the house, until they are stopped in their tracks by Tess, who is now bored of herding them out again.
When (if) we ever have any spare money I think we need to try to properly fence the house and garden so that they are directed immediately into the field and they can do what they like in there.
Today we have been working on the kitchen, which is coming together but still a long way off being completed. Neil is a bit of perfectionist and was driven crazy by the fact that the thumb latch I fitted on the door didn't just slide shut without being lifted. I am quite happy just with the fact we now have a door, but little things seem to drive Neil mad.
We are hoping to get out on the horses tomorrow, hopefully meeting a friend french Virginie - who is completely mad but a french tutor, so I always get a bit of a free french lesson - which is not to be sniffed at. Lets hope for a dry day but the meteo looks terrible.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Goodbye Crispy and Bombay

Tonight our eldest ducks Crispy and Bombay are going off to the big duck pond in the sky and then coming back in an edible, oven ready format. They have had all summer quacking, swimming and a large percentage of time bullying the hens and so we have decided to let them go. Neil is positively drooling at the thought of roast duck and I have accepted that it's got to be done. This is helped considerably by the fact that we are not the grim reapers and that someone locally is doing the deed. We are also taking our Christmas goose, which has been residing at the home of a good friend growing in time for the festivities.
We have decided that we will take it back to blighty in frozen form, and although Neil is concerned about the bird flu regulations I have assured him that in frozen format it is unlikely to sneeze and give us away. As our family are all looking forward to a Christmas goose I feel it is a risk worth taking.
Our place has grown into something of a smallholding. We started off with a cat at our little house, but mostly (in fact totally) down to me this has now grown to two cats, a dog and twenty chickens and ducks. I must put a stop to my endless desire for little fluffy squeeky things that turn into lumbering great animals with endless appetites. Well, until Spring comes anyway!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

My new blog

I have been leading a secret double blogging life for some time. We were asked to write a blog for someone who lives in the village and has a business website and have been doing so for a quite a while just one day a week. We quite enjoyed 'doing' the blog, but found it quite a tie doing it on a set day and so I decided to start my own blog by way of a diary.
I found this a much more enjoyable way to write, when the mood took me and when I thought of something to say, but I have not 'spread the word' to family and friends of my blog as it did feel, rather ridiculously bearing in mind its content, like it was a bit private.
I have decided to knock the first blog on the head and so this will become my premiere blog! New Year and new start. Well nearly.... we've got to get Christmas over with first and the adverts have started already. I'm enjoying them at the moment but come Christmas I will be fed up to the back teeth of hearing jangly bells.
If you are having trouble sleeping and would like to read a bit of the old blog it can be found at http://rozahol.expat-blog.net/