The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Wednesday 21 June 2023

It's all go!

How come weeks seem to go by where nothing much is happening, and then all of a sudden I have appointments left, right and centre? I recently ordered heating fuel so I would have a good start to the winter. It's obviously always better to order in the summer rather than the winter but I'm still thinking prices have started to come back down again after the enormous price hike associated with the war in Ukraine. The lady who took my order is very, very nice and when I told her I needed 1,700 litres she told me that comparing a 1,000 litre order last time to 1,000 litres this time, the price had come down €600, and if I wanted to compare it to a 1,700 litre order I was "better off" by €900! So while it's still a big chunk of chump change, I'll take the "win"! Out of curiosity I also went into my electric account and while it was initially showing consumption down around 27% after I had my solar panels installed, for the month of May it was down 37%, so that's looking good too. Of course it'll take a few years to recoup the installation costs, but so far I don't regret having them installed!

Then yesterday "the guys" came to instal my fireplace insert. It's a good job I keep track of my appointments because I was kinda expecting them to send a reminder message the day before but nope, nothing doing. Thankfully I was showered and dressed when they showed up at 8 a.m. and within four hours they'd got it installed. It wasn't an easy instal because of the limited size of my fireplace, but when I told them that I'd been to three other places and they'd all said "not possible" the guy just said that some companies just don't want the harder jobs. That being said, they did work very hard and the poor guy on the roof must have been boiling because it was 90°F that day and then the boss came in with wood and kindling because he was obliged to start a fire in order to see that everything was hunky dory. You can't believe what having a roaring fire blazing in the living room feels like when it's aready 90°. Still, that's another thing crossed off my list, except that I have to get the paperwork from them as I'm entitled to a €2,000 rebate from the French state for putting an open fireplace out of commission. Also, with the new insert it should prevent any more birds from coming down the chimney apparently. Last week as I walked into my TV room a terrified sparrow almost blew my head off, so I'm guessing he must have plopped down the chimney during the night. Then as I was loading up garden stuff to take to the recycling centre, I didn't spot the wasp attached to the bag, so ended up getting a nice sting to the belly - but I got my own back when he died a cruel death! You guys might think you have it rough with your grizzlies and snakes and crocodiles, but sometimes I have to wonder!

Monday night the plumber came by to have another look at my bathrooms, and we have finally fixed a date of 10 July for him to start work (he'd been off on paternity leave). So then when I got in touch with the tiler that I had lined up, he wasn't going to be available until September, so now I have another tiler stopping by (Monday, I think) who can hopefully work around the plumber! I'm not looking forward to the mess but I am so over waiting to get this work done!

I don't know about you, but when I was still working I found I would put off making my personal appointments until I got really mad at myself and then would make 10 phone calls one after the other and get everything sorted in a short space of time. Procrastination at its finest! I had another doctor's appointment in Geneva on Friday (he's been seeing me every three months for the past year) but he thinks he can push that back to every six months going forward but as he wants to be absolutely certain of himself I have to go to the hospital for an ultrasound scan just for him to sign off. You know, the bloody hospital with 500 beds and two parking spaces!!! I'm not worried about the scan, but figuring out how to get there should be a laugh a minute! So I've got that scheduled, plus the dentist and then the hairdresser to get this mop removed from my head and then hopefully that'll be it for a good long while!

Oh, but I forgot about my appointment at Ford today. I had to cancel having them take off my winter tyres and there was a minor repair that needed doing, so I left my car at Ford this morning and then caught the rickety old minibus back home. It's a real bone shaker so you wouldn't want to have brittle bones! I thought it was kinda nice though because after we'd driven through one village the driver told me he thought he'd missed a young girl who sometimes caught his bus and would I mind if he doubled back to see? Not at all, of course, and as it happened she didn't need the bus today, but I thought it was kind of him to do that. Then tonight, on my way back down to Ford, a new driver took a wrong road - and then apologised because he "had only been here a month". When I asked him where he'd come from he said the north of England and when I told him I was English he told me he'd go back in a heartbeat (he was French) as he loved it and had so many friends after spending the last eleven years there. So here's me totally happy in France and this Frenchman wanting to move back to England. I guess it's a good job we're all different!

Talking of brittle bones though, my neighbour (who just turned 90) had a fall last week and broke her femur. I have always admired this couple because they are forever out walking and he - at 87 - could still walk me into the ground. She is adamant she didn't trip over anything, but that her femur just gave way. Poor thing, it must be a real stressor for someone who has been so active her entire life!

Last night I finally finished watching the latest (and last) series of Mrs. Maisel and thoroughly enjoyed it. I can't say that about many series, to be honest, as for the most part I just can't be bothered with them. But I just loved the New York jewish humour (brilliant writers), with Tony Shalhoub as the neurotic grandfather almost having a nervous breakdown when he realizes his only grandson is not a genius - well he just steals the show for me. Him and Caroline Aaron as the brash, loud-mouthed mother-in-law. They were a real treat to watch! 

Tony Shalhoub

As I say, most of the series I have started I haven't actually finished because they don't hold my interest and I'm finding I'm starting to do the same with books. In the last couple of weeks I have finished seven very good books, and put three aside after a couple of chapters. Life really is too short to read a bad book!

And finally, I was just thinking that I should start looking at prospective destinations if I want to maybe do a long haul trip next spring and then waddaya know, Explore (who I have used before) are offering 10% off bookings made before 27 June. So I'm drooling looking at Thailand, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Mexico, South Africa ....! Oh dear, so much choice - that's never a good thing for me!

Sunday 11 June 2023

Not all superheroes wear capes!

As an update to my last post, the good news is that all of the four toddlers (aged between 22 and 36 months) stabbed by that lunatic are now out of danger (as are the two adults). The back story is he had been living in Sweden for the last 10 years and had asylum there. He split from his wife and last autumn travelled to France and requested asylum here in France. The French refused his request on 4 June on the grounds that he had been living for the last 10 years in Sweden, so now if he wanted to move to France he would have to qualify as an immigrant, and not under refugee status. Apparently his ex-wife had already written to both the Swiss and French authorities warning them that he was unstable but ....! So he'd lived in Annecy in an "irregular situation" since last autumn and then decided, for whatever reason, to stab a bunch of little kids in a play area. All I can say is thank God the kiddies are going to be all right. Well no, actually thanks don't belong to God, they belong to the first responders and doctors and nurses. Actually no, to give thanks where they really belong - well that would be to a 24 year old hero who came out swinging and managed to get that lunatic away from the play area until security forces could pin him down! It's ironic that footballers can be paid millions and when they score a goal they're referred to as "heroes" but in reality not all heroes wear capes!

Henri - a real hero!

In other news, my friend and I took our annual trip to the market in Turin yesterday, our first since 2019, for obvious reasons! We were up at the crack of dawn to catch the bus at 6 a.m. If all goes to plan we make it to Turin around 10 a.m. and then get to spend around six hours doing our own thing. We've done this trip often enough now to realize that next time we can afford to spend an hour or so exploring the old town before having lunch and then hitting the market. There are markets all over Turin but I reckon this must be the biggest. It's not even in the best part of town - it's a bit grubby and run down, to be honest - but god I love that market. As soon as I duck under the stall awnings I'm in my element. Prices have gone up just as everywhere else (it's still cheaper than where I live), but just the sensory experience is worth the trip for me!

Look at the size of those watermelons!

In my dream world I would live in one of 
those apartments and wander down to
the market every day! It's not even that noisy - 
Birmingham market is way noisier!

Having lunch next to
the market!

It drizzled on and off all day, but after a few minutes of rain, the sun would come back out and we'd end up walking round in what felt like a sauna! On the way back to the border we stopped at an outlet mall, the main point of stopping apparently being to buy booze and cigarettes! Our trip cost €60 so you don't actually "save" money by going to Turin, but I suppose if you are also buying spirits and cigarettes it might work out evens-stevens financially. I wouldn't know though, as I didn't buy either. To me it's just a lovely day out. I personally spent around €100 at the market (in addition to lunch), We had three buses going in our "convoy", I saw two buses from Annecy and quite a few more from other French regions relatively local to Turin, so the market really makes out by having the French buses stop in. Just as the northern French ports used to make a killing when the Brits would do a day trip by car and load up at the local supermarkets. Of course all that stopped when Britain left the EU. It's "funny" (in a not so funny ha ha sense) how these things have a knock on effect. Just imagine if the French could no longer visit the market in Turin and cross back into France with their purchases duty free. The whole house of cards would come tumbling down wouldn't it! A case of the hip bone's connected to the thigh bone, methinks!

The Glacier de Bosson, seen from
the Italian side, just before we hit
the French border!

Thursday 8 June 2023

Thoughts and prayers, thoughts and prayers!

I just read two minutes ago that a Syrian asylum seeker attacked a group of little kids in a playground on Lake Annecy (about 30 minutes from here). He attacked four three year olds and an older person, with the older person and two of the babies having life-threatening injuries. And the EU wants to open up the borders "no questions asked"!!! Bastards! And what do you get from the powers-that-be? "Thoughts and prayers, thoughts and prayers"!

Annecy attack

Tuesday 6 June 2023

This and that!

It's been a few days since I last posted but that seems to be the kind of schedule that is working for me at the moment. I was a bit blah for a few days, you know, when everything gets to be too much and nothing gets done. I suppose some of it has to do with waiting around for the plumbers while everything is moved out of the way and assuming they come shortly, they'll probably be here at the same time as the fireplace people! So yeah, this place has been getting to me for a while. In reality it's too big for me, but while the house is fine, the view is fantastic (and my neighbours are great), so I really don't want to sell up, especially given how much I've spent on it lately. Also, if I sell, Jordan and Jen would like to buy it, but can't afford it so I'm hanging on until my mood picks up a bit. What I am trying to do, therefore, is keep on decluttering, and I have to say I truly admire people who seem to plow through a day and take 15 loads to the charity shop! That's not me and it's frustrating as hell, but there is only so much energy to go around! That being said, I did pack up two bags of clothes to put in the charity bin in the village but almost ended up throwing them in the trash bin rather than the charity bin. Luckily I caught myselt in time because that would have been a shame!

I think I mentioned in a previous post that I was going to attend a course on ayurveda. Well I did, and it was interesting, but not at all what I was expecting (although truth be told I really don't know what I was expecting). At the end our teacher offered those of us who wanted to to do a "nasal cleanse" using a neti lota, to see what we thought. I'd heard of this before so while I wasn't hugely enthusiastic I just thought "hell go for it"! So we went outside and she handed us all a new lota filled with warm water and salt. You tip it up one nostril, swirl your head around and in theory it should come down the other nostril (makes a great visual doesn't it) rather than have you gagging because it went down your throat. Well I tried it and to be honest it did nothing for me and as she'd apparently put a bit too much salt in it felt like having your nose half burned off, you know, like when you get ducked under in the sea! Still, at least I gave it a go!

Actually I think I got my interest in all things yoga and so on at a very young age from my dad - which is pretty strange considering he was a sheet metal worker and not your usual suspect! I think his interest might have come from being so ill so young (heart problems) and he would try anything to help himself feel better. Hence the time when I was a little girl and caught him in bed with a teapot up his nose and he almost choked when he saw me watching him!

Talking of yoga, we had Monday's course outside in the sunshine - not something I'm particularly fond of actually because I hate being in the heat. Still, it was actually quite pleasant listening to the hens clucking around in the garden next door. Even the rooster didn't bother me too much - but when the guy got out his hedge cutters I actually burst out laughing. I mean, it's not exactly easy to "meditate" to the tune of a hedge cutter, is it!

Sunday was Mother's Day here in France and I was invited over to Jordan and Jen's with Jen's mom. I worked all morning in the garden and then ran inside to have a quick shower and bugger it - I had no hot water!!! So I'm filthy, my hair needs washing and all I had was ice cold water. In the end there was nothing for it but to grin and bear it (bare it?) but what really pissed me off was the thought of yet another thing to fix! Nevertheless we had a nice time at lunch, but Charlie has now taken to curling up in a ball sobbing if he's ever told no. I mean, the poor little kid is heartbroken, heartbroken, I tell you - well for all of about 30 seconds until he realizes nobody is watching him. I have to be careful to look away though as I can't help laughing!

And finally, I don't know what the heck is going on in my orbit, but there are so many friends, acquaintances and family going down with illnesses (some relatively minor, others very serious indeed), it's staggering. For instance, my sister went for a routine eye check and they found that she has "an indentation in the back of one eye with a fluid build up". She said she'd take care of it later that week but the doctor said "nope, we'll do it right now". So she had a needle inserted into her eye and the fluid drawn off and then she had to have it done two more times the same week and is now waiting on the results sometime in July. I mentioned to her that my friend was experiencing something similar, except in her case it was so painful she said she would have taken her own eye out with a spoon if she could, and did indeed end up driving herself to the ER. They're doing all kinds of tests on her, the next being some kind of scan on her head, but are still none the wiser. A friend of my kids has come down with breast cancer just ahead of her wedding in 10 days time, a 42 year old dad at day care collapsed with a heart attack and my 40 year old niece's husband collapsed in the street last week. Turns out he had also had a heart attack (probably several in fact) and I believe was operated on today (I have to call my sister later). What's going on with all these young people getting so sick?

But the worst I heard last night from my dear friend in the States. She is one of two people I would consider to have been instant friends. You know the kind of person you are introduced to and then five hours later you're still yacking (and 35 years later we're still friends, despite being an ocean apart). I won't go into any details but the amount of pain and tragic events she has experienced in her life would have put me under by now, and then just this week she got another triple-whammy. And by triple-whammy, I mean three things, any of which would have had me on my knees. I only found out about the latest crap she's dealing with last night and I cried when we hung up. She doesn't deserve this. Well I know no-one does, but how much pain can one person be expected to endure in a lifetime? And then after we hung up, she sent me this, which is why I loved her from the minute we met! Kinda puts my cold shower starkly into perspective, doesn't it!