The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Sunday 16 July 2023

This and that!

I've been pretty lazy again lately and it was starting to get me down but then I realized I'm always like that this time of year - it's the heat ya see! And of course, as soon as September rolls around I'm up and running again like the Energizer Bunny! It's been hitting around 90° regularly here and not having A/C it can get pretty miserable of course. Oh I have a small ventilator unit that I sit in front of and last night I put a mobile A/C unit on for a short while in my bedroom, but more often than not homes don't have A/C here - just shops and offices!

Anyway last week I decided to take advantage of the A/C at the mall down in Annecy as I wanted to pick up some garlic salt (it's not easy to find here) and look for a couple of bottom sheets for my bed. So I called my friend and asked if she wanted to go with me and then maybe head off to the Jardins Secrets, which is only about 15 minutes from there. I first went there about five years ago and loved it. Then I took my family when they were over here four years ago for Jordan's wedding and while they liked it, they weren't as enthralled as I was. This friend had repeatedly said she wanted to go so we set off to hit the mall before the 2 p.m. opening of the gardens! When we got to the mall I commented that the parking was pretty full considering the kids were still in school, but when we got inside we realized that the July sales were still on (I never pay attention to that stuff). So was it fortuitous or disastrous? Who knows! We had a nice lunch but my garlic salt ended up costing me €192 - who knew you needed a shopping trolley to buy garlic salt?

We made it to the gardens around 2.30 p.m. and I think my friend loved it even more than I initially did (although the pictures don't do it justice). The flowers were in full bloom, there was so much to see, and sitting having a drink and a beignet at the end we were entertained by Alain, the husband side of the original man and wife team that had built the place. He was a real character!

Alain, the owner - making beignets!

The riyadh!

Then Friday was Bastille Day - French national day - and since we were planning to have our latest board game evening on Saturday Jen's mom suggested we have it at her place on the Friday instead so we could watch the fireworks. We had a lovely evening and Charlie had great fun kicking a ball around, while being watched by the little boy on the first floor balcony. Jen's mom was saying that he frequently throws things over the balcony and she has to take them up to give them back, so I suggested she get them to tie a basket and string to the balcony and do the transfer like that - and maybe she could get to know them better that way! Jen laughed because when Charlie throws things over their balcony, one of the neighbours on the ground floor just sticks whatever it is in the lift and sends them a message to say "incoming" - and Jen runs out to meet the lift door! Meanwhile Macron was booed at the Bastille Day parade, while Professor Didier Raoult was cheered (see here). Prof. Raoult is one of France's top microbiologists, specialising in infectious diseases and who went head to head with the government over its handling of covid - and was thoroughly abused for his pains)!

And what's going on with the French Post Office then! Apparently since 1 January you've pretty much got to "conjure up" your own stamps etc. online and drop your mail off at designated drop spots without ever seeing the inside of a post office if possible. Well I tried to avoid that kerfuffle for as long as possible, but I recently saw a post about a little boy in Pennsylvania suffering from leukeamia who was asking for postcards and decided to send him one. Except what I picked out was huge, too big to go in a regular mailbox and I couldn't find an envelope for it anyway, so I had to wrap it in brown paper like a parcel, and then gear up for registering my "parcel", and buying and printing my stamps online. I have to say, however, that when the little "can I help" chat box popped up I was expecting a bot, but ended up having a lovely chat with a really helpful chappie called Arnaud in Brittany. When I told him what I was doing he asked for the lad's address, so now Carson is going to get a post card from Arnaud at the French post office in Brittany too. How nice is that!

Then the other day "the guy" showed up to paint the underside of several neighbours' roofs and asked if I was interested. I don't know what you call it actually - it's the copper "plank" that sits just below the guttering. Sorry, but I'm not sure I ever knew what that was called, even in English. Anyway I told him not this year as I'd spent plenty of money on the house already, but when he looked at my roof he asked me if I realized my chimney was wobbly - and sadly I knew he was right. He also spotted a couple of tiles that had moved - I'm guessing in that dreadful storm we had a couple of weeks ago - so he's coming back tomorrow to re-do the chimney and check over the tiles that need resetting. Bugger it! When I had my new fire insert installed last month I became entitled to a €2,000 rebate from the state for putting an open fireplace out of action, and now all of a sudden I guess I'll just briefly smell that $2,000 cheque as it's being whipped out from under my nose!

Anyway, today I'd had enough of being lazy so thought I would take myself off to the lake at Passy for a walk (and possibly a glass of wine), but when I got down to Bonneville, the roads were blocked off as the bloody Tour de France (sorry Dave) was coming through! So any thoughts of getting a walk in went up in smoke and I drove back home and had lunch in the little restaurant in the village - which I have to say was absolutely delicious! I ended up sitting next to two older American cyclists who had flown over to catch the Tour and ended up having a nice chat with them before they had to dash off to ride down to Bonneville for the excitement!

The Tour in Les Gets - where Jordan is
currently working!

And finally, I was sorting through some paperwork the other day when I came across a packet of old photos. There were photos of the kids when they were little but also quite a few photos of my ex-MIL and a few of her siblings, which I'm going to send to her once I get round to writing a letter to include with them. She was number 11 of 11 siblings and there are only two left now, so I think she'll appreciate them. I also found a photo of André when he was about 10 competing in a grand slalom with the ski club. While he was never going to win, he was doing just fine - well that is until he saw our neighbour filming him and skied over to her for a chat. The crowd all started roaring at him as she was just short of the finish line, so he never actually crossed it and came last! I guess another Olympic hopeful bit the dust that day then!

André in the process of coming last!

Tuesday 4 July 2023

Hurry up and wait!

Don't you sometimes feel like you're wading through treacle? I'm pretty sure we all feel like that sometimes, but as the great philosopher, Artistole, probably never said "meh, que sera "! I guess that's one of the advantages of being retired - for the most part you never have to hurry anymore!

The plumber was supposed to start work on Monday but meh not gonna happen. Bearing in mind this has been going on since January, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. It took four months for all the fittings and tiles to arrive and then a few months to get a plumber lined up (they're all busy, of course). I had a tiler recommended to me by my neighbours but because everything took so long he's now not available until September. I had another tiler recommended to me by the plumber and he came out about 10 days ago. So yesterday the plumber calls to ask if everything is lined up for him and the tiler to play tag team starting Monday but nope. Not only has the second guy not sent me his quote but he is also unavailable until September. I have to hand it to the plumber though, he's proactive and very much on top of everything. So I suggested he come and start work on Monday anyway but since he didn't want to leave me with a worksite for three months, we've pushed it back to mid-September, after I get back from Mallorca (assuming my original tiler can now take over)! I guess there was no point being in a rush anyway, but I do thank god I'm incredibly laid back (for the most part)!

We had a massive storm here last week and while it only lasted about an hour, my goodness did it do a lot of damage! Thankfully the only thing it damaged at my place was the BBQ which it managed to hurl down the driveway, but a few houses had roof damage and the school in the next village was pretty badly affected too. It's amazing how quickly these storms can build up and I admit I was worried about Jordan coming down the mountain after work, but he made it home ok, even if it was a bit hairy in parts. Talking of Jordan the company he has been working for (via the temp agency) for the last year proposed a helluva job offer to him a couple of weeks ago - he was stunned how good it was. However, he had quite a few questions that needed answering first - like why were they at the tribunal owing €1.6 million to their suppliers, and why hadn't they paid the temp agency for the last three months? They must have come up with some really good excuses because next day the offer still stood - and that is when his supervisor, Christophe, managed to get hold of him just before he signed and told him not to do it as they were going bust! Christophe told him he'd just handed in his notice and that the company's former director (who had resigned in May) had set up his own company based out of Grenoble, but was also looking to have a two-man team working the Vallée de l'Arve area (this area) and was Christophe interested? So Christophe said yes, as long as Jordan comes with him!!! They get along really well so fingers crossed it all works out for him this time. In the meantime, the temp agency has pulled him off the job in Flaine (building a hotel) and he's now working a bit lower down the mountain for another company. He said he was a bit disappointed as he would have liked to have seen the hotel through to the end, but I wonder if it will ever get finished now!

My sister called me the other week and when I picked up she said "finally, where have you been"? Well nowhere as it turned out, but I had apparently missed a couple of calls on my mobile so she started to become concerned when she wasn't getting through on the landline either. I just laughed and told her I'd unplugged the house phone about six months ago as I was fed up of the telemarketers, but I never thought to actually tell her! Anyway, she called to tell me that my niece and her husband had received the gift certificate I'd sent them for dinner in a local restaurant when Ian feels better. In fact the manager of the restaurant had hand delivered it "as he was in town anyway". Ian was the one that collapsed in the street a couple of months ago and they found out he'd had several heart attacks. Anyway, he was in hospital for a total of about five weeks (they did a valve replacement) and while the operation went well, recovery is very, very slow. For as big and gruff a man as he is (he looks like Desperate Dan), it hit him extremely hard mentally, so there are huge lifestyle changes being made in the C household as a result - and good for them!

Desperate Dan - god that takes me back!

When I opened my shutters this morning I noticed my neighbour sitting on my wall scraping away at a few weeds growing into it. Fine by me. I try to keep up with it but I can't be everywhere all the time and in any case I know he likes to keep himself busy. But when I came down a bit later I realized he was actually painting it (it desperately needed it) and again, fine by me. It's a very small wall and he said he had a pot of paint that he didn't want to waste and he would "paint as far as he could". So I told him I had odd pots of paint downstairs and went down to look around and guess what - I came back with another half pot of exactly the same colour, so he is going to do the whole thing. While I know I moan about him a lot and for sure would not want to be married to him, he's not all bad, as you can see. Now I have to give some thought to redoing that front patch of garden as while the roses are beautiful they are just too overwhelming for such a small space!

I had to go for a scan at the hospital yesterday, after having been seen by my gynae every three months for the last year. Apparently a cyst suddenly developed last June and he wanted to keep an eye on it - hence the three monthly visits. I can't say it ever worried me because I'm just not a worrier, and when I went about two weeks ago, he decided he could "sign me off" to every six months as blood markers for tumors had come back negative and he thought the cyst might be shrinking too. But still he wanted me to go for a scan just to be sure - you know, at the hospital with 100 beds and 1 and parking spaces! So this time I reckoned I should try parking at the border and figuring out the bus/walk/tram way to get there. In actual fact it was pretty easy so I arrived very early and had time to sit and have a coffee in the lovely coffee shop. It's the hospital where Jordan was born and is very luxurious, although very pricey too, of course! Anyway, the nurse called me at 3 o'clock and asked if I had a full bladder (that's a bit personal isn't it???) but when I said no she told me I had to sit and drink at least three glasses of water for the scan to be accurate. So being a good girl I drank four, and when she came back to see me I got up to follow her and she said "oh no, now you have to sit here for at least 45 minutes to wait for the water to make it's way through"! Oh crap, I'm always bursting for the loo under normal circumstances, so I reckoned I was going to do the Mr. Bean squirm by the end of 45 minutes! Anyway, the doctor did a couple of tests and told me she thought everything looked absolutely fine and was nothing to worry about, so I kinda thanked her and went running out the door to the loo! After that I decided to walk back to the border and was surprised to find it only took 45 minutes so I think that's how I'll be making that trip in future! On the way back home I got stuck behind a bike race (but not the Tour de France as it hasn't reached here yet) and a vintage car rally, so I was really glad I didn't still have the four glasses of water in me at that point! Agony Ivy, as we used to say! And as I said to Dave, the cars were lovely and the bums were pretty nice too!

And finally, I've been pussy-footing around lately thinking about where I might go in spring - as was my wont pre-covid, so I starting looking at Solos and Just You and Explore, and "ooh look Explore have a special on Belize, and ooh look there's a trip to the Golden Triangle", and then I gave myself a good talking to and said "where have you always, always, said you wanted to visit", so just in case this turns out to be my last long-haul, I went ahead and booked Thailand with for end February 2024. Since I wanted to make my own flight arrangements rather than having to fly back to London and then fly out again, I started looking up Thai, Qatar, Etihad and Emirates and today, after much piddling around, I booked myself on Emirates, via Dubai. The prices were pretty reasonable actually so I thought I would try to pick out a decent seat in economy, buuutttt this little voice in my head said "go on, just do it", so even though I might have to sell a kidney (mind you, who'd want one of mine?), I booked myself in business class and will happily spend the next year paying for it! So yay me, I'm finally going to Thailand!