We’re doing OK

Everything is fine here – we are both working, and so our weeks are busy. Mr FD holes himself up in his study, I hole myself up in mine, and we meet briefly when one or the other makes a hot drink for us both, or over lunch. I’m busy because I’ve actually got a couple of new students, and also because working from distance means I need to write a follow up email to the students – which I wouldn’t do if we were meeting face to face.

On Monday morning I plan my lessons, and prepare the lesson summaries as much as I can; then from Monday afternoon onwards I’m teaching, or doing admin work. Although I’m finding it tiring I am very grateful to have work, as I know that so many self employed people are facing financial problems. We also are saving money as I’m not travelling to Clermont every day. In fact, Soozy (which we collected the Saturday before the lockdown) has hardly moved since she came home!!

Our treats involve going next door, to the restaurant-turned-takeaway to buy something. The people only opened the restaurant a couple of weeks before the lockdown meant restaurants had to close, so we’re supporting them as much as we can. We’ve had pizzas, burger-and-chips, and the most delicious chocolate/apricot gateau. That was so rich I had to eat my slice over two days! Today they’re cooking Cantonese rice and Spring rols, but we forgot to order, so we’ll probably just have a pizza.

As we’re out in the country confinement isn’t affecting us too much. We get out most days for a walk, but we have to remember to take our Attestation. You aresupposed to print out a new one every time you go out, but so far I’ve been tippexing out the date and writing today’s date. It seems remarkably wasteful of paper and ink to keep reprinting, and tippex shows that one is not trying to cheat in anyway. I’ve not been stopped any way, so I’ll plead ignorance if I have to.

Shopping is reasonable, with most things available. We are definitely using local businesses now, and trying to spread ourselves around.

But confinement has been extended to mid-April, with most people expecting it to continue to the beginning of May. One of my students, who is the director of a small company, has said the Government is warning businesses to prepare to be closed until the end of May, or even the end of June!

However, we know it’s the right thing to do – unlike many people in the UK, it seems! Our local GP, and the head of the school have both succumbed, with the GP being in hospital for several days. I’ve not heard how he’s doing. Tonight I’m meeting Friend Alison for a virtual apero – FriendCathy, in the UK at present, was invited but she thinks it’s possible she has the virus too.

The cats know what to do!!

Actually our cats love having us round, especially Jasper and Millie, who follow the sun around Mr FD’s study. I get Bib coming to meeow at some of my late afternoon students!

 

A blast from the Past

I’m cheating & sharing an old post, from my previous blog…I used to volunteer to walk dogs at the SPA near work. However, they insisted you “adopted” a dog first, and then you walked that dog. I started with Benji, but he was adopted quickly…It seemed that every time I turned up, my “god dog” had been adopted!!

And then I met Gavroche, who put an end to my dog walking…

Read on, dear one…

 

I think you are all a bit behind me on the God-dog front. When I got back from holidays, WMD had been adopted. So I chose a new dog called Youpi (who was a Bison Frisée (or is that a large cow-like creature with a curly lettuce?!) ) But as there were people looking to adopt a dog, and were interested in Youpi, I took out another cheeky chap, with the unlikely name of Tooraloora – or something equally bizarre. Anyway, yesterday I went to take out Youpi, and found that s/he (I never got to find out!) had been adopted! Never mind, I hadn’t exactly bonded with him/her, so I chose to take out a young labrador cross, called Gavroche.

Getting him out of his cage was tricky enough, as his companion was also determined to come with us. At one point, Gavroche was outside the cage, on his lead, while I was inside, with the door closed, hanging onto the lead, and trying to fend off companion, who was howling mournfully, while pawing at my legs, desperate to join Gavroche. I eventually managed to escape and Gavroche and I trotted off for our walk. He was splendidly well behaved – but a little strong – and was very good when I gave him a treat, sitting and waiting until I handed it to him.

So, as I say, he was well behaved, but obviously wanted to explore the river that we were walking beside. But there was a 4m drop down and no safe way of letting him go. He kept darting off, sniffing and trying to find a way down, and I kept hauling him back. Eventually we discovered a slope down to the river and Gavroche washopeful. I started to gingerly make my way down the rather slippy slope. At one point I went on my bottom, making a spectacular mud slide down my jeans. I struggled to my feet and was just thinking that maybe this wasn’t such a good idea, when Gavroche couldn’t hold back his excitement and made a plunge for the river. As I was already a little unsteady on my feet, and the slope was slippery, I couldn’t haul him back and he took me off my feet, pulling me face first into the river. I ended up sitting in the river, waist deep in sandy water, having bashed my face and knees on rocks, and twisted my ankle in the process. I later discovered that I’d hit a rock so hard with the corner of my glasses, that the arm of them was driven into behind my ear, leaving me with quite a nasty gash there, and a red line across the bridge of my nose. I sat, shocked for a second or two and then I just howled for a couple of minutes, while the dog (after his first joyous splashing about) sat and looked at me. After a bit, I remembered my mobile and my watch – both in my pocket. Luckily both were okay. But here I was hurt, shocked and quite some way from the SPA centre.

So what did I do? Phone them? No – I couldn’t explain where I was so I couldn’t. Retrace my steps? No – though why, I’m not sure…maybe my scrambled brain thought I’d gone too far – though as I was on a new walk I didn’t actually know the route back to the centre… I decided to carry on with the walk…So hobbling on my ankle, bawling like a two year old and hiccupping I started to walk.

Poor old Gavroche was trying to have a good walk and kept trying to pull me towards interesting smells; I could hardly walk by now and couldn’t keep up with him. So the poor thing kept getting jerked back on his lead as I sobbed and pleaded “No, Gavroche, no – come back”.Jerk. “I can’t do this”. Pull.

I struggled past a house where someone watched my faltering progress as his dog barked for France. He worked out something was wrong and came over to me. I tried to be very sensible and spoke in my best French. He offered to drive me to the centre, but I’m too wary of getting in cars with strange men -although having seen the state I was in when I finally got back, I can’t imagine he had any designs on me – mud/tear/blood streaked face, filthy dripping jeans & T-shirt… I was also concerned (for some reason) that he had bare feet. So, refusing him, I hobbled on, taking an hour to walk the 1.5 or so km back to the centre – all the while hoping that he’d drive up behind me and get me in the car – because by then I’d’ve accepted a lift. Or that he would’ve phoned the centre and they’d come for me. But no. I finally got back, whereupon several volunteers appeareded, clucking over me, taking Gavroche and guiding me to sit down . And I collapsed into a weeping pile of uselessness.

Somebody ( possibly a vetinary nurse!) strapped me up and washed me down a bit, and decided that I could well have torn some ligaments in my ankle. And said could I get someone to collect me? Er, no – we live 70 km away. I’m afraid I’m on my own here! Luckily we’ve got cruise control on the car, so driving the motorway wasn’t too difficult. My braking was occasionally a bit hard as I couldn’t press gently, but on the whole it was

fine. Our friend, the nurse, has checked me over, and while I’m still sore, I’m generally not too bad today (much less stiff than I expected, to be honest) Sleeping was a bit uncomfortable, as I woke everytime I moved positions, but thankfully it was not worse than it could have been…

Next time I’m taking out a chihauhau.

*** FIN  ***

 

Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite fine, and have struggled with a swollen knee ever since (it was 5 years ago!) Hey ho. Cats are much less trouble!!

 

And what of them…?

“A Day to Myself” by Clifford T Ward: I post this song every Remembrance Day – I love it as a song, but it is appropriate for this time as well.

It’s a beautiful, poignant song, but it’s important to me because it brings to mind the fact that, more and more, the fact that we do forget – or just not realise – what the young men and women who have died in conflicts to serve their country gave up.

And what of them, …Who died so far from home, No last farewell kiss…

We don’t really think of the individual: we are concerned with our busy lives, and even at this time, we scarecely pause to think of what was given up for us. Somebody posted this on Facebook:

A reminder to pause, to reflect, to remember… I’ll be joining the village memorial tomorrow at the War Memorial, here in France – because the young French men and women remembered thereon also fought bravely for our freedom. I’ll be wearing my poppy (slightly battered as the cats found it!) and giving thanks that there are those who gave up their lives to stop xenophobia, hate, fascism and injustice from taking over. I will also be grieving that these evils are once more becoming stronger in our world, and praying that it will not take another world war to stem the tide. What can I do? What is my battle to be fought?

DAY TO MYSELF
Clifford T Ward
 It’s all so different now
From just a few weeks ago
When April was about to smile on England
And I had to go

So here I am again
Far from where the blackbird sings
And lanes I love to walk along
Lost in my thoughts

And what of you my love
Though you’re so far away
Yet so close to me in all I do and see

And so on my day off
I could have chosen monuments
Historic chateaux, palaces
Or finding ways of improving my French

Instead I wandered out alone
Here where woods and fields abound
And in a quiet corner found the resting place
Of English soldiers killed in war

And what of them my love

Who died so far from home
No last farewell kiss
All that remains is this

It makes me so ashamed to feel alone
Whatever would they think of me
For I shall see my love again

It’s all so different now
From those few years ago
When April smiled so sweetly still
And they had to go

Thank you Kezzie…Part III

Kezzie  has provided the inspiration for the last two posts, and finally for this one too! Answering 60 questions about oneself. Here’s the last 20

41. Cooking or baking? Hard to choose as I enjoy both (although the everyday cooking gets a bit boring!) (Hence the reason for my answer 40) If I had to choose, I suppose it would be cooking, as one cannot live on cakes alone.Baking is more pleasurable however; I don’t “do” yeast though. It rather disturbs me.

42. Favourite Baked goods? Oh, how to choose?! I think flapjacks – so easy to make but so delicious!! Note that is UK Flapjacks not US flapjacks (which are pancakes. What’s that about?) Recipe here, should you wish to try it! If you can’t get golden syrup, then honey or Agave syrup can be substituted, but the quantities & cooking time may need adjusting.

43. What is something you wish you could be good at? Gosh, there are so many! A not-particularly-useful thing is singing. I’ve got a loud and serviceable singing voice, but I wish it was better. A more-useful thing would be being organised, or as Kezzie said, not worrying about stuff. There’s an envelope saying “Important Information Included” waiting to be opened. I worry about what’s inside it, so I don’t open it. Stupidstupidstupid.

44.  Skiing or surfing? Like Kezzie, neither. I never took to skiing, and surfing seems just as difficult with the added “bonus” of getting seawater up every orifice. I have wobbly ankles and no balance.

45. First celebrity crush? As far as I can remember it was Ben Murphy, from “Alias Smith & Jones” I had photos of him stuck onto the lid of my desk at school.

 

Then…and now (I actually prefer the “now”!)

46. Most recent celebrity crush? Alan Rickman, always Alan Rickman. But actually Ben Murphy has just surprised me!!

47. What colour was your prom dress? Proms didn’t exist when I left school. We had a Leavers’ Meal and Disco, somewhere in Liverpool city centre – very grown up! I have no idea what I wore!! I do remember that for my 21st birthday party, held at college (university equivalent) – which I shared with friends Diane and Lynne – I wore a cream knee-length dress.

48. How do you manage stress? I don’t! As a result of my hormonetherapy, I get stupidly over anxious.

49. What do you do to relax? Blog, read blogs, art “journalling”, zentangling, reading.

50. Shoes or bags? If the question is asking what do you have more of, then I guess it’s shoes. I’m always on a quest to find comfortable shoes, that are also elegant. I haven’t found them yet. Especially as I can’t walk in heels of any height. I like bags, but don’t buy a lot of them (handbags, that is. I have myriad tote bags, but I’ve not bought many of them. They’re mostly gifts) I am very frugal buying handbags though – the ones I like are usually far too expensive to buy!

51. How do you know if you’re in love? Crikey! How to answer? I like Kezzie’s answer (more borrowing!) Worrying about that person, wanting to make things better for them, still loving them even when they are mean to you or drive you mad.  Not sure really.

52. Who do you turn to when you’re sad? Usually I turn in on myself. I’m not very good at sharing sadness. Mr FD only wants to try to “fix” it, or rationalise it, and that doesn’t really help.

53. What are you most enchanted by? The night sky.

54. What is your biggest strength? No idea. If we ask what am I good at – teaching, preaching, Some have said I’m a good listener, and am empathetic. I don’t know if that’s so. I like to think I’m usually kind, but I can also be very ungenerous.

55. What is your biggest weakness? I’m very lazy. And disorganised. And a worrier/panicker. Mr FD says I panic first and ask questions later, and that’s becoming more and more my default position. I don’t think I’d be very good in a crisis.

56. What are 3 words to describe living in your city? I live in a small town/big village. Quiet…humdrum…pleasant…

57. Cutest thing on planet Earth? Probably something with baby animals, especially kittens

58. Favourite colour? I honestly don’t have one! It rather depends on my mood.

59. Favourite time of day? The moment of silence when I turn off the car ignition outside my house after a long day’s work. Especially if I know Mr FD has cooked dinner!

60. Favourite band? I don’t have one – but here are a few that I really like: Elbow, Rend Collective, Big,big Train, The Divine Comedy.

13 months ago…

…I had just finished radiotherapy, and had been on holiday to Italy with Mr FD.

My sister and mum came to stay, and this is a photo Judy took of me, sitting in the courtyard at Ambierle. The hair was just starting to grow back.

It was not something I would have chosen, but the cancer was, I think, something to be grateful for in many ways. Surprisingly. I’m still a bit bewildered by that statement, but I believe it to be true.