Walking Catch Up

At the beginning of January, I started my efforts to walk 60 km each month until I reached 60 – and hopefully beyond! – which equates basically to 2 km a day. This post took you up to 08/01/19 and this is to get up-to-date. Generally, I’ve found it quite easy to fit in a walk, even when the weather has been unpleasant. I remember that the Thursday before last was cold, blustery and rainy, and I was on an industrial estate just outside Clermont. I did not want to walk, but I knew that I wouldn’t do it in the evening;  lunchtime was the only option – and so I did it!! I did a 20 minute walk just up and down the main road. Head down, into the wind and walk for 10 minutes in one direction, turn round and head back to the car. And do you know, there was a perverse pleasure in it!

I was NOT skipping along with my umbrella & a smile. My hood up and a grimace on my face more like!

Tuesdays are the most difficult: I teach from 9.00 – 12.00, then from 13.00 – (about) 17.00, but sometimes 17.30. Not much time at lunch time to get from one office one side of the city to the other side, and eat my lunch, and do a walk. Last week, however, I finished earlier than 17.00, so I took advantage of that and did an enjoyable 2.5km round some fields and a village near to the location of my last lesson. The sun was setting, and the weather was reasonably mild – I put on some music and strode out. It was very enjoyable!

However, if it’s not possible to get out (either due to weather, or no time)  I “do a Lesley”. That is I do a 15 minute mile, walking on the spot, with Lesley Sansome on YouTube. I have been known to do 3 miles with her (although my pedometer disagreed with her, and reckoned I’d only done 2.5 miles!) Still, it counts!

It is nicer walking in the country though!

And at my last doctor’s appointment – at which one is always weighed – I appear to have lost 4 kg!! Which is a great bonus.

I do need to get new inner soles fairly quickly though, as I can feel that my old ones aren’t supporting me as well as they should – leading to painful knees and hips. I did have a prescription in November 2017, but other events took over, in which getting new inner soles didn’t feature high on the medical priorities!

I didn’t do anything on Friday or Thursday – basically on Thursday I forgot! I wasn’t working, because I had an appointment with my oncologist, but I was running round cleaning and shopping, before the appointment. However, I’ve said this has to be “intentional” walking,so the steps I did then didn’t count. On Friday I was busy, and meant to do a Lesley, but forgot about it until it was too late before my one lesson of the day. And when I got home, I couldn’t be bothered!! So on Saturday I did a Lesley mile, and  a 3 km walk in the afternoon. My total so far is 37.5 km, which is on target.

DAY – DATE – DISTANCE

Tues 8 1.8
Wed 9 2.3
Thur 10 1.75
Fri 11 2
Sat 12 4
Sun 13 4.5
Mon 14 2.5
Tues 15 2.5
Wed 16 1.7
Thur 17 0
Fri 18 0
Sat 19 4
Advertisements

Meet the Cats: Senior Director

Our Senior Cat is Pomme.

We got Pomme about a month after our move to France. At the time, Mr FD was working 1 week in London, one week in France, and so he didn’t help to choose Pomme. I chose two cats that day, Pomme (named by the refuge)  and an older cat Biscuit (a tri-colour cat named Arc-en-Ciel – Rainbow – by the refuge, but changed to Biscuit by me)

Sadly, Biscuit didn’t last long. She came to us on 9th October and by 19th October she had died. This, I am still convinced, was partly, at least, due to the incompetence of the vet here in the village. I’m sure he is a good big farm animal vet, but not a small-animal vet. I know two other people who believe he was responsible for the death of their pets too. I think Biscuit had some kind of virus before she came, but still…

I kept a journal through my first months here and the day I got the two cats I wrote: “Went to Roanne on Saturday and got 2 cats. I’m not sure I made the right decision though, as one is completely AWOL – though very sweet – and I’m pretty sure the other is diabetic! She’s drinking a lot and not eating. What a to-do! Biscuit (diabetic?) is very similar to Manda’s colouring (our old cat in the UK) but has a sweeter face than Manda’s. She is 8 & had been in the refuge 3 years. I think her likeness to Manda swayed me. The other, Pomme, is younger and is very lively. She stole my heart by jumping onto my shoulders and draping herself.

It started well, but there are moments of despair in other journal entries: “Her one mission in life is to Get Into The Kitchen because that’s where Food is. It’s a nightmare keeping her out”…”Pomme was mad tonight and broke my Mysteries of MK plate. I yelled and yelled and wept and wept and threw a book at her” …”

After Biscuit died I went back to the Refuge and complained they’d sold me faulty goods (!!) That sounds mean, but it isn’t cheap adopting a cat, and to have it die 10 days after you get it home is a bit much! So they relented (very begrudgingly) and let me choose another. Mr FD was with me, and he chose Pumpkin.

I only have two photos of lovely Pumpkin. She was mad as a box of frogs, and while Pomme and Pumpkin seem to be friends in this photo, that didn’t come easily. As the journal shows: “Pumpkin is 5 months old. Black and white and so sweet & lovely. Pomme doesn’t let her be, so Pumpkin is shut up for most of the day. She also doesn’t use her litter tray, so the dressing room (which is now my study) has a particular odour of its own now – and it isn’t very pleasant!”…”A big fight on Monday which I didn’t know about until I came across gobs of spittle and two wary cats”…”Took Pumpkin to the vets in Noiretable; he diagnosed a digestive disorder. Pumpkin does NOT like the vet. As he injected her she took off like a jet propelled ball of fur, just missing my eye and with the needle from the syringe still stuck in her neck. ‘My, what a little character’ he said, through gritted teeth.”…”Cats managed a peaceful hour before Pomme went for Pumpkin last night”…”When Pomme does attack Pumpkin Pumpkin tends to lose control of her bowels so we have shit sprayed everywhere as well as fur”…

For a couple of months I kept either Pomme or Pumpkin in a big cage while the other cat had free run of the living room during the evening. This helped acclimatise them to eah other, the last entry in the journal (I gave up after 4 months) reads “Cats still not meeting except by accident, when Pomme goes in for the kill, or so it seems. Pumpkin doesn’t seem very fazed by these meetings though…”

They must have become accustomed to each other, however, as the first photo shows. Mr FD has just come & reminded me that they got used to each other when we went to the UK, and put them both in a cattery. They were in adjoining cages/pens, so, one imagines, they made friends through the netting. Unfortunately, Pumpkin wasn’t with us for long. She died in 2009, about 3.5 years after we got her. On one of my first blog posts I wrote:

September 15th 2009 “Goodnight Sweet Cat…”…and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

We’ve said Goodbye to Pumpkin, and she’s set off on her Very Big Adventure. We took her to the NiceVet who said that her temperature wasn’t good, her breathing had worsened, and, to be honest, we could see that she was weary of it all. NiceVet was very gentle, giving her an injection so she went to sleep – the first proper sleep she’d had for days – and we could caress her and love her. Then he stopped her heart. We left her curled on his table – we don’t want to bury her, or have her ashes. We want to remember her as she was. We have a saying in the Dormouse family: “as mad as a box of frogs”. We shall change it in her honour: “As mad as a box of Pumpkins”

For a while Pomme was the one-and-only, but about 6 months later we were ready to have a new cat, and our friends cat was pregnant. I’ll tell you about those cats later – but I can promise you that Pomme did not accept the kittens very well either!

But, look, I can be so appealing!

Food, please. NOW!

Planning a shoulder launch…

Now Pomme is getting on in years, and isn’t in the best of health, but, as I have recently said, the medication is giving her a new lease of life. Here are some of her mischievous moments:

Well, I thought everyone had finished eating the bread! (Yes, this really is our bread basket she’s settled into!)

A box! A box!!

A bag! A bag!!

She is a dear cat, although she does have her little foibles which can be less than appealing. She’s a total diva where Jasper is concerned, and makes a heck of a lot of noise if he comes anywhere near. And giving her her medication is a nightmare – although my journal has offered me a possible solution:”Pomme has some tablets to take, which, when ground down into fish soup, she wolfs down…” (EDITED TO ADD: We tried the tablet in the fish soup trick. She sniffed it distainfully, sneered and got off her perch. That didn’t work then!)

But when she curls up next to you, or on your lap, purring like an engine, it’s hard not to love her!

.

We hope she’ll be with us for many years to come!

I am a cider drinker

A blast from the past here, with the video of The Wurzels, a British comedy (questionable!) band from the 70s. Does anyone remember them? They had a Number 1 hit with “I’ve got a brand new combine harvester (and I’ll give you the key)” as well.

Anyway…I thought of them as I wrote the title for this post, which is about our cider making exploits, back in November. It was a very mild day – just after a very cold spell – when our friends Jean & Claire called us to tell us that they would be making their cider that day. So we first of all picked apples at our friend Danièle’s plot, singing along to Big Big Train’s “Wassail” which seemed appropriate.

 

I was still wobbly on my feet – apparantly one of the longer-lasting side effects of chemo – so Mr FD did more picking than me, but we got quite a few bags-full between us. Bizarrely we found several “Bags for Life” abandoned in the orchard – we have no idea who left them there. They wouldn’t be from Danièle’s family, as no-one lives in the village any longer, so maybe it was an apple scrumper who was disturbed! Whoever it was, they lost their bags, as we used them and took them home!

It was very pleasant in the warm sunshine, with a view over the village. Here’s a view of the orchard

 

Some of the apples had been eaten away – I imagine from the inside, as some flying creature laid its eggs inside the apple to provide a food source for the hatched babies, whatever they were. The remains were actually rather lovely in their way. We left a lot of apples on the trees and on the ground – hopefully they will provide nourishments for “creatures of the forest” during the winter.

After we’d picked the apples, we headed over to Les Ports, the family home of Jean, now used as a holiday home by his sister, who lives in Lyon. Here there is the old machinery that has been used for generations to make cider. Each year (that the harvest is good enough) Chantelle and her husband, and possibly children too, come across from Lyon, and with her brother, Jean, and his family, the ancient equipment comes to life once more.

This year, Claire & Jean’s youngest were home from their studies: Alyssia and Joe are twins. Joe had brought two sisters from China who are at Uni with him to see what was going on.

 

 

 

First the apples were tipped into the hopper of this machine, which chopped them into smaller pieces. It’s a vicious machine, with blades going up and down really quickly. H&S doesn’t exist here, as Jean pushes the apples towards the blades with his bare hands! The pieces of apple are gathered in large plastic buckets, ready to be tipped into the press.

    

Mr FD, Jean, and Jean’s BiL are manipulating the press. The apples have been tipped into the barrel part, and the top part is weighted down and a huge screw-like mechanism is turned to press down on the apples to extract the juice.

There’s a bucket at the bottom, collecting the juice (which is filtered through straw placed around the base of the barrel-part) and we had to keep an eye on this, ready to whip it out as it got full, and replace it with another.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was then taken outside where it was decanted into various jerry-cans, bottles, and demi-johns to be transported home. Here’s Alyssia and one of the Chinese guests carefully pouring the juice into a demi-john.

I was getting really chilled near the end, so I went and sat next to the log burner inside, while everyone finished off, overseen by Jet and Bilout, Jean & Claire’s two dogs

We took home several bottles of apple juice, which Mr FD mostly drank. It was a bit too sweet for me. I suppose (thinking about it far too late!) I could have mulled some of it with spices and lemon juice, which would have been nice! Never mind…

It was a very enjoyable day.

(Sorry the placing of pictures and text is a bit random. I was trying to embed the pictures in text but wasn’t very successful!)

Changing attitudes…

It struck me, as I sat waiting for my mammogram results, how events can change attitudes. I know this is really quite obvious, when you think about it, and I suppose I knew it on an intellectual level, but I hadn’t really thought about it before.

Before November 2017, I had no problems going for my bienniel* mammograms. Being tall enough to reach the plates without standing on tippy-toes, and being (cough) large on top, I found them uncomfortable, but not painful. Waiting for the results was just a formality.

On Wednesday, I had a mammogram & ultra sound; the first since the tumour was discovered (and removed!) And my attitude was so different! Before I hadn’t considered that they might actually find anything wrong; even when the doctor said that there was something “odd” and I needed to go back for an ultrasound (sorry, they couldn’t fit me in that day, but in a fortnight would be fine!) I scarcely imagined that it might be cancer. This time, I was worried before the mammogram, I was worried during, and I was worried after! It wasn’t until – immediately after the ultrasound – the doctor said “It’s fine. It’s all clear” that I was able to relax. And even have a bit of a weep!

I can’t go back now to that carefree attitude. Every mammogram is going to be the same: holding my breath until I get the all clear. But it’s so important. Don’t hold back. If you are offered a breast check then take it! Having mine caught the cancer early enough to stop it in its tracks.

Now I need to go and have a frottis!!

* I had to look this word up. I got bi-annual (twice a year) mixed up with bienniel (once every two years)