Walking record: February.

Ahem.

 

Cough.

 

Embarrassed shuffle…

 

After a good start in January, a mixture of cold, snow, disinterest, and sheer laziness means that my record for Februiary is dismal. I need to complete an average of 4.3 km a day to make 60 km by the end of February!! Aint going to happen!

So I’m changing my “challenge” a little: to purposefully walk 600 km before the end of October. Which is the equivalent of 60 km a month, but may not be done in that way!! Thus I’m hoping that as Spring approaches I will feel more inclined again to get out and walk.

BUT, rather than saying “it’s been rubbish so far this month” and giving up, I am going to start getting out again, starting from today. I had a lovely walk on Wednesday – along the banks of the Loire again. It was chilly, but sunny and bright. Today it looks gorgeous outside, so after writing this, I’ll get out there. There’s a nice 4 km or so walk that I haven’t done for ages…

But, in the spirit of being accountable, here’s the walking record so far!

FEBRUARY
Fri 1 0
Sat 2 0
Sun 3 0
Mon 4 0
Tues 5 0
Wed 6 0
Thur 7 0
Fri 8 0
Sat 9 0
Sun 10 0
Mon 11 0
Tues 12 0
Wed 13 2.5
Thur 14 1
Fri 15 0
Sat 16

(and, TBH, I’m being very generous giving myself the 1 km on Thursday, as it was down to Friend Alison’s for several glasses of wine and a lot of nibbles!!)

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An emotional week

It’s been an emotional week this week, and it looks set to continue…

Last Saturday, as I told you, was Michel’s funeral.

On Sunday, driving to church I came across a dead cat in the road. I couldn’t leave it just to get squished by passing traffic – if it had been our cat, I would have liked someone to move it. So I stopped the car (well, actually drove past, continued for about 500m and decided I couldn’t leave it there so I turned round…) and moved him/her to the side of the road. S/he had obviously been hit full on, and had died instantly, but it was still a sad thing. The body was already a little stiff as I picked it up. As I drove on, the emotions of the past few days caught up with me, and I bawled my eyes out – not necessarily the best thing to do on the motorway! When I reached church, someone asked me if I was OK, and I just started crying again!

In the afternoon, I popped across the road to see Monique – it wasn’t for long, but she and I had another weep together.

On Tuesday I had an MRI scan and a scintigraph, to see if we could get to the bottom of my rib/breast pain. The MRI was clear, and the scintigraph showed broken ribs. Which was a relief! It just means I have to wait for it to heal. The scintigraph involved being injected with some sort of radioactive product, waiting for a couple of hours and then going into a huge scanner thing. I spent my two hours going round Noz…(of course!) Then I had a three hour wait before the MRI scan – I took my book and went to MacDonalds for a coffee. I sat there for a good two hours, picking up my empty-save-for-some-milk-froth cup everytime a member of staff walked by – just looking as though I hadn’t quite finished yet! Waiting for tests – and their results – can be exhausting! The MRI scan was uncomfortable and noisy, but not as scary as I had anticipated.

Yesterday evening, Monique asked Mr FD if he would scan and print out some photos of Michel. I think she wants to send them to people. One is a lovely picture of him, that she has in a frame on her table. She’d asked MrFD if she could have it back ASAP, so I took it across to her. I then sat with her for about an hour – talking about “Poulou” and about believing in God, and how she wanted a sign that God was there…So difficult to know what to say in English, never mind in French! We laughed a little, smiled a little, wept a lot. She told me some shocking things I can’t share in the public domain, and we cried some more about how unfair life seems to be… She was glad to have the photo back, so she could look at it while she had her meals…

And now we are looking towards our Rector and his wife leaving. Tonight there’s a get-together in Clermont. Mr FD is coming with me, which I’m glad about. On Sunday there’s a goodbye lunch, and then next Sunday will be their last day.  The two of them and their dog will be leaving to drive to Rome straight after the service (to which the dog is coming!) It will be an emotional time. We are looking forward to the coming months, and discovering how we can pull together as a Church, and what the laity can do, but it is sad to be losing Rob and Caireen who have done so much for Christ Church. They will be sorely missed.

 

My ears feel a little flattened at the moment!

This month in walking… and a history lesson.

I didn’t quite make my walking goal, but I was close enough – as you can see below. February hasn’t started too well, as I did something to my back yesterday morning, and have been in too much pain to do much moving, never mind purposeful walking! So, with February being a short month, I may not make the monthly 60 km. However, if I keep going, I can still make 600 km by the end of October. When the weather is nicer, and the evenings longer, then I will be more inclined to find time and places to walk.

However I have enjoyed my last two Wednesday walks – sadly not as long as I’d planned, as somehow it took me longer than expected to get out of the house. I’ve been having mild panic attacks, and getting extremely anxious about self-imposed tasks or targets. Stupid, I know, as they’re self imposed, but logic doesn’t come into it! Anyway, the first of the enjoyable Wednesday walk was by the Port in Roanne:

As you can see, it was a snowy day, so it had taken me longer to drive down, and I only had about 15 minutes to walk, before the first lesson I was teaching. Still, I had a brisk walk up one side of the marina. As you can see, there are barges and other boats tied up here, as many people come and over-winter here in their houseboats. We know a few of them through Friend Richard, and I met one on line through a FB group too.

The following week, I had planned to do another walk round the Port, but decided instead to walk along the “levée” at the side of the river Loire.

The river has a large flood plain now, since the hydro-electric barrages were bilt further upstream, and is quite shallow. In the past, it was a deep river, and Roanne  was an important trading post ,exporting local products— wines, including casks of Beaujolais that had been shipped overland, ceramics, textiles—and after 1785, coal from St Etienne (an important mining town) which had formerly been onloaded upstream since river improvements at the beginning of the century. Sturdy goods were rafted downriver on sapinières that were dismantled after use.

This postcard shows a Sapinière on the Allier river – closeish to Roanne, but in the Auvergne. The Allier river plain is the next one along to the Loire valley.

Half the population of seventeenth and eighteenth-century Roanne depended in some way on this transportation economy: merchants and factors, carriers, carpenters and coopers, master-boatmen and their journeymen and oarsmen, and waterfront labourers. The other half were probably involved in the textile trade for which Roanne was famous, and later in the armaments industry. Like London, Roanne has a neighbourhood known as Arsenal.

Here’s an old picture of the Port (which is now where the houseboats moor) showing how busy it was.

My walk took me upstream, along the ancient levée, built as a wharf for loading and unloading. I’ve taken this picture from the upper part of the old wharf, looking down at what would have been at river level.

I can’t imagine that the Loire was tidal here – much too far inland! – but you can see the two flights of steps. One from what is now the flood plain, but would have been (I assume) under the river, up to the lower wharf. Then a further flight to the upper part

And here’s the river now.

.

My walk took me on a path between the river, and allotments, mostly beautifully kept, with some very smart sheds, with verandahs, patio heaters and barbecues. There were some less reputable ones too, cobbled together with various materials, but all well kept. I look forward to doing this walk again, in the springtime, but going further than I had time to on this day. I only had time to do 10 minutes one way and 10 minutes back.

I have, however, found that when I walk my knees are quite painful, and my hips also don’t feel “quite right”. I’ve generally felt more out of alignment since I’ve been doing more moving, and having seen the podiatrist, he explained that (because I haven’t changed my insoles since 2016) my walking position is all wrong. My feet are not positioned correctly, thus forcing my knees to point in different directions which twists my hips and my back. I’ve also had neck & shoulder pain, which may be connected to this. I am collecting my new orthopaedic in-soles on Monday, and I’m hoping they will help. I look forward to a miraculous improvement!!

Here’s my walking record to the end of the month:

DAY                                                                    DATE                                  DISTANCE

Sun 20 3
Mon 21 2
Tues 22 3
Wed 23 0.6
Thur 24 0
Fri 25 1.6
Sat 26 3.8
Sun 27 0
Mon 28 2.4
Tues 29 3.2
Wed 30 1.5
Thur 31 0
TOTAL: 58.6

A total of 58.6 km isn’t bad. Some of the distances have been guesstimated a bit – a couple of the Lesley videos stop halfway through and go into something else, so I’m not sure quite how far I’ve walked, but still…I think 58.6 is about right.

Aren’t I lucky?!

I had a company cancel 4 hours of lessons with only 5 hours before I was due to start. That means Hard luck for them, they’ll have to pay for them, but good for me as it means I got to come home at lunchtime, rather than at 17.00; thus missing driving in the dark and the snow that has been forecast.

It’s grey and mibsy and cold so I’ll “do a Lesley” in a while. Mr FD was going to be on cooking duty, but I’ll let him off. This is (near enough) what we’re having: Pavé de cabillaud en croute des herbes but I’m using fresh breadcrumbs rather than packet croutons, & I’m just using parsley with a few dried herbs. We’ll have it with potato wedges, sweet potato wedges, tomato sauce, and green beans. Also I’m using pollock, instead of cod. But apart from that….!!

Other than that, we’re pootling on…

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

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!)

Pom-tiddley-om-Pomme!

Back in October, I wrote about how we had to give Pomme tablets – for the rest of her life. And how, quite frankly, she wasn’t having any of it!

The hiding-the-pill-in-chicken-liver-trick only worked for a couple of days, unfortunately. The best way to administer the pill that we’ve found is to crush the tablet into a powder, and then mix it with butter (but beware – not too much butter that there’s a very buttery mess to deal with, but not too little that the tablet-taste takes over!) Then grab Pomme by the scruff of the neck, and wipe butter around her chops, in her mouth, on her gums, on her paws, if necessary. She then licks it off. If the pill has been ground finely enough, she has no choice but to ingest the tablet with the butter. If it’s not finely ground there are lumps of tablet that can still be spat out.

However, stupid as she might be, she has started to make the connection between me appearing after breakfast and  the smearing of foul tasting butter…

so when I went into the bedroom, where I thought she’d settled, this morning, she was immediately alert and in flight mode. I pottered around the room, at a safe distance from her, butter melting on my finger, until she was reassured that my intentions were good. THEN I grabbed her scruff, and administered the tablet. She was most disgruntled. “But I trusted you!” she appeared to miaow.

She also has to have special food – higher in fat content, lower in protein – which she doesn’t like very much, but the other cats do. So our evenings are spent swapping bowls so that Pomme is only allowed access to her food, and not to the others’ food, and vice versa. The morning feed is a bit more hit-and-miss as we are going out to work (except for me on Friday)

All of this is because her heart is starting to weaken, which affects her kidney function. But we know that the treatment is working – even if she may not always eat the whole tablet! – because we have the old, slightly-annoying Pomme back. She had become very listless, barely moving except to pee, poo, or eat. She was thin; she didn’t want cuddles, she didn’t want stroking; she wanted to be left alone. Now, she has put on a bit of weight, and is much more lively ( as much as a 16 year old cat is). She comes up to sleep with us during the night, instead of staying on the sofa; she is inquisitive, she moves around, and, most endearing (but also most annoying!) of all, she is back to her jumping-on-shoulders-to-show-affection habits.

This was the reason I chose her in the refuge – she jumped onto my shoulders, and settled there, purring – and now she is doing it again. It’s lovely, but annoying too. You can be just walking past the bookcase and suddenly she’s launched herself at you. I’ve even gone past her, going downstairs, and had her leap from the landing onto my shoulders. A couple of times there has been absolutely no warning (not even realised she’s hiding somewhere) and PLONK! There’s a cat on your shoulder!

Smile for the camera, Pomme…No, wrong end!

That’s better!

It’s good to have “our” Pomme back!