Thursday, 31 December 2009
This meal was simple, unplanned but plentiful and better than many we have eaten in restaurants here. They didn’t need the likes of Gordon Ramsay to tell them how to cook!
Although this may be posted after the event, may your 2010 be all the things you want it to be.
Wednesday, 30 December 2009
Sunday, 27 December 2009
The drive to Tours was trouble free and we had a brief stop near Rouen to eat our turkey sandwiches. We had booked a hotel that sounded quite nice, with a particularly impressive sounding restaurant. However, the restaurant was closed as there are only three other people staying here so we ended up walking to the local shopping mall where we had a steak and chips! On the way we passed MacDonalds, which was packed. Don’t believe it when they tell you that all French people are gourmets!
Saturday, 26 December 2009
Monday, 21 December 2009
A whole week has gone by since I last wrote. Christmas is always a busy time of year and this year it seems worse than ever, although that is probably my imagination. To add to the chaos the weather has suddenly turned from wet and very mild to bone dry, snowy and ice cold, making the everyday tasks of shopping, getting to work and organising the Christmas round of relative visiting much more difficult!
We had the first snow of the year on Friday. There wasn't a great deal down here and by mid-day the roads were clear. However, the snow over the North Downs and Ashdown forest was much thicker and they lay between Ian's house and mine. Friday night for the first time in years I didn't go to Ian's and it felt very strange to be sitting in our separate houses at the start of the weekend. I packed up and left the following morning, not sure of what to expect. Ten miles out of Eastbourne the snow at the sides of the roads was thicker and although the main roads were clear the side roads were thick with ice. As I got further and further into the Ashdown Forest the snow and ice encroached onto the road more and more and by Crowborough my tyres were gliding over the icy tracks left from the previous nights attempt and clearing the road. This continued to Tunbridge Wells and that, and the number of people going Christmas shopping made it a slow and tortuous journey. I also had to stop twice to pee, which meant leaving the beaten track and driving over the ice covered service station forecourts! Driving required a lot of concentration, which was a shame as the snow and the Christmas lights made everywhere look like a fairy tale Christmas except that I couldn't really stop to look. Driving was also made more hazardous by the abandoned cars at the side of the road and drivers generally not used to driving in snow!
Coming back today the snow and ice was still bad across the North Downs but by the time I got back here a fine rain had washed away most of the snow and ice (although it is looking like it might return tonight).
Looks like the iced theme of this years Christmas cake is very appropriate!
Monday, 14 December 2009
Thursday, 10 December 2009
The Rocking Song
Little Jesus, sweetly sleep, do not stir;
We will lend a coat of fur,
We will rock you, rock you, rock you,
We will rock you, rock you, rock you:
Fur is no longer appropriate wear for small infants, both due to risk of allergy to animal fur, and for ethical reasons. Therefore a cellular blanket or perhaps micro-fleece material should be considered a suitable alternative.
Please note, only persons who have been subject to a Criminal Records Bureau check and have enhanced clearance will be permitted to rock baby Jesus. Persons must carry their CRB disclosure with them at all times and be prepared to provide three forms of identification before rocking commences. And be aware that over-zealous rocking could put you at risk of being prosecuted for harming a child .
Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh
O'er the fields we go
Laughing all the way
A risk assessment must be submitted before an open sleigh is considered safe for members of the public to travel on. The risk assessment must also consider whether it is appropriate to use only one horse for such a venture, particularly if passengers are of larger proportions.
Please note, permission must be gained from landowners before entering their fields.
To avoid offending those not participating in celebrations, we would request that laughter is moderate only and not loud enough to be considered a noise nuisance.
While Shepherds Watched
While shepherds watched
Their flocks by night
All seated on the ground
The angel of the Lord came down
And glory shone around
The union of Shepherds has complained that it breaches health and safety regulations to insist that shepherds watch their flocks without appropriate seating arrangements being provided, therefore benches, stools and orthopaedic chairs are now available.
Shepherds have also requested that due to the inclement weather conditions at this time of year that they should watch their flocks via cctv cameras from centrally heated shepherd observation huts.
Please note, the angel of the lord is reminded that before shining his / her glory all around she / he must ascertain that all shepherds have been issued with glasses capable of filtering out the harmful effects of UVA, UVB and Glory.
Little donkey, little donkey on the dusty road
Got to keep on plodding onwards with your precious load
The RSPCA have issued strict guidelines with regard to how heavy a load that a donkey of small stature is permitted to carry, also included in the guidelines is guidance regarding how often to feed the donkey and how many rest breaks are required over a four hour plodding period.
Please note that due to the increased risk of pollution from the dusty road, Mary and Joseph are required to wear face masks to prevent inhalation of any airborne particles.
The donkey has expressed his discomfort at being labelled 'little' and would prefer just to be simply referred to as Mr. Donkey. To comment upon his height or lack thereof may be considered an infringement of his equine rights.
We Three Kings
We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star
Whilst the gift of gold is still considered acceptable - as it may be redeemed at a later date through such organisations as 'cash for gold' etc, gifts of frankincense and myrrh are not appropriate due to the potential risk of oils and fragrances causing allergic reactions. A suggested gift alternative would be to make a donation to a worthy cause in the recipients name or perhaps give a gift voucher.
We would not advise that the traversing kings rely on navigation by stars in order to reach their destinations and suggest the use of AA routefinder or satellite navigation, which will provide the quickest route and advice regarding fuel consumption.
Please note as per the guidelines from the RSPCA for Mr Donkey, the camels carrying the three kings of Orient will require regular food and rest breaks. Facemasks for the three kings are also advisable due to the likelihood of dust from the camels hooves.
Rudolph the red nosed reindeer
Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer
had a very shiny nose.
And if you ever saw him,
you would even say it glows.
You are advised that under the Equal Opportunities for All policy, it is inappropriate for persons to make comment with regard to the ruddiness of any part of Mr. R. Reindeer.
Further to this, exclusion of Mr R Reindeer from the Reindeer Games will be considered discriminatory and disciplinary action will be taken against those found guilty of this offence.
A full investigation will be implemented and sanctions - including suspension on full pay - will be considered whilst this investigation takes place.
Saturday, 5 December 2009
The House in France
If you have read these letters before you will know that we have been building a house in the Dordogne, in between working and living in two different places in the UK. This year has seen significant progress with the house. At the beginning of the year the walls were finished and the roof was put in place, making it at last look like a proper building. The windows were fitted in March and the house was finally 'closed and covered'. Once this happened we could start thinking about the interiors and in March and April several journeys too and from France were made with van loads of plaster board and insulation (as the decrease in the value of the pound has meant that most things are now cheaper in the UK). Interior walls and ceilings were commenced and temporary plumbing and electric installed. Our hours spent planning the previous winter were not wasted as we knew where most things were going to go although to be certain we had not made a mistake we spent the first visit marking out the position of the baths, toilets and kitchen cabinets on the floor in chalk! We stayed in the house for the first tiime in May while more work was done to the inside. Over the summer we engaged a man with a digger who did some ground work and started work on the septic tank. This project has taken longer than we thought and is still half finsihed. We started some plumbing, varnished the windows and finished off some of the walls and in autumn we continued. Our next trip back is after Christmas, when I think our main aim is to galvanize the buidlers and the septic tank man into the next stage. The buidlers have been finishing off the outside in readiness for renderring and we have been waiting for the septic tank man to reappear. It has been a case of two steps forward and one step back but compared to this time last year it has progressed quite well.
Tuesday, 1 December 2009
Monday, 30 November 2009
I am now the proud owner of a very nice camcorder! Ian bought it for me for birthday/Christmas and so I spent a while playing with it. Watch this space for my first attempts at movie making! I am also now working on a new computer made from the left- overs of Ian’s computers and a few new parts! We are now planning our IT system for France and as we both may need computer access for any work we do we decided that we need one each! It is a bit of an extravagance but then these things will be more difficult to justify when we don’t have a regular salary!
News from France is that despite our array of drains the cellar has flooded again. We are not sure why but it seems that the pump had become disconnected. A spare pump and generator seem to be essential. There have been a few sunny days by the land and the builders finally returned to finish moving the downpipes. The next stage (hopefully) will be the rendering although that will require a few dry and mild days. Unfortunately Warren has not reappeared to finish the septic tank!
Talking of my birthday, I made myself a birthday cake as I really can’t expect Ian to make me one! This was a dark chocolate cake with a dark chocolate ganache topping. It took me two goes to get the topping right and even then I wasn’t that pleased with it. Note to self for next time; it needs very good quality chocolate and careful handling and tastes much better if paired with cherries of some sort!
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Arriving this morning another colleague was off sick. Not their fault but that left me and one other staff member out of the five tutors who had originally been assigned to teach this module. First thing was spent running around trying to see who was available to cover teaching and looking for misplaced teaching files. The rest of the morning was spent teaching between two groups; half an hour with one and then switching to the next one and then back and so on. After that it was straight into a meeting for an hour and a half (grabbing my sandwich on the way but no time to get a drink or go to the toilet). From there I left the meeting before the end to cover another teaching session for the sick colleague. The session was fun and the students were good to be with (I know that they are not the reason that I am keen to go) but it finished with just time to quickly check my emails and go home. The other urgent jobs that I had to do today were pushed on to some day in the future.
The other thing that brightened my day was the email from my manager announcing that she would be away at a conference/holiday from next week. Now I have no problems with this as we all need holidays and she has other important demands on her time. What I do have a problem with is not being informed about it until 48 hours before it happens at a time when her agreed deputy is off sick and as far as I can tell nothing has been organised in the way of deputising. As my job as module leader is to deal with all the sh*t that happens in relation to the day to day running of the module you can guess who will be left with the can! It would have at least been polite for me to have been given some warning, rather than an email sent from Europe!
Still..the end is in sight and when I allow myself to picture it, along with the sense of terror, I feel the beginning of a huge weight being lifted from my shoulders!
Tuesday, 17 November 2009
I say "news" because to me this is sadly not news. Fifteen years ago when I was last working as a clinician this was the situation and in fact it was the topic of my colleague's PhD thesis. The reasons cited at the time were the same as the reasons now; lack of training and skills from staff in knowing how to manage people with dementia, unsuitable environments, lack of resources. There were outcries, plans, policies (I can remember going to a few meetings and consultations in various organisations) and, as I'm sure there was an election then, there were statements that this would change and a lot of guidelines produced. Obviously they were effective!
As I see it, there are several problems:
Training is rationed in the NHS and expensive. Over the last years training budgets have been cut. Training for unqualified staff is carried out on the job (a good thing) by senior staff who also have little basic knowledge about care (not a good thing).
There is a high staff turnover on these wards due to the unrelenting pressure of the job (and poor pay and conditions, especially for the lowest paid who have the most patient contact). Even if staff have training they usually leave before they can put anything into practice.
Medical wards are usually under-staffed.
Dementia is still not 'sexy'. The majority of people with dementia are frail and elderly and Terry Hatchet, Ronald Regan and Iris Murdoch are the exceptions (and can or could afford proper care).
Solving these problems is not difficult but does require money and as there are an awful lot of people with Alzheimers it requires an awful lot of money.
So instead, governments prefer to spend money on cheaper but higher profile things that seem more trendy. Also on my local news this morning was the story that our local NHS Trust is opening an walk-in health centre at the railway station where people can "see a GP or nurse from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week".
A statement from the chairman of the local trust said
" the centre will also be able to look after anyone else who needs to see a GP or nurse, whether they live locally or are simply visiting Eastbourne or working in the town. It is all about making it easier for people to get the care they need at a time and place convenient to them."
I can't help wondering why we need such a place. Do you get off the train in Eastbourne and say "Ahh. on my way to the seafront I'll just pop in and ask this nice doctor (who knows nothing about me and my medical history) about the stomach ache I've got this morning"
Given the population profile of Eastbourne the money would have been better spent on the former problem but a GP and a nurse in an office at the train station is cheaper than the cost of ensuring that your basic services are up to scratch and a lot more trendy (just like on Street Doctor).
Monday, 16 November 2009
Norma's escape from the weather involved sleep and she spent all weekend like this!
Friday, 13 November 2009
Christmas Cake with Drambuie-Soaked Vine Fruits
750g Waitrose Wholesome Vine Fruit Mix
250g soft apricots, quartered
200g tub cut mixed peel
200g tub glacé cherries, halved
100g pitted soft prunes, quartered
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
250g unsalted butter, softened
200g dark muscovado sugar
5 medium eggs, beaten
300g plain flour, sieved
200g walnut pieces
Place all the dried fruit in a large bowl then stir in the grated orange zest and juice, and the Drambuie. Cover and leave to soak overnight.
Preheat the oven to 150°C, gas mark 2. Grease and line the base and sides of a 23cm-round or 20cm-square cake tin with baking parchment so it stands 5cm above the top. Use string to tie a double thickness of baking parchment around the outside of the tin. This will help prevent the cake drying out during cooking.
In a large bowl, use a hand-held electric whisk to beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the egg, a little at a time. If the mixture begins to curdle, add a spoonful of flour with the last few additions of egg.
Add the soaked fruit and walnuts, with any remaining liquid, then mix well. Fold in the rest of the flour. Spoon into the cake tin, then use a round-bladed knife to level the top of the mixture. Stand the tin on a tray and bake for 3-4 hours until cooked through, covering the top of the cake with foil if it starts to over-brown. To check that the cake is cooked, insert a skewer into its centre – if the skewer comes out clean the cake is cooked. Leave to cool completely in the tin.
Remove the cake from the tin and store in its lining paper, wrapped tightly in foil. Keep in a cool place. Feed the cake every few weeks by unwrapping it, making small holes in its top, then drizzling with a couple of tablespoons of Drambuie. This will help to keep the cake moist and add extra flavour. If the cake has domed in the centre during baking, neatly slice off the top before covering with marzipan. To ensure a completely flat surface for decorating, turn the cake upside down before covering with marzipan and icing.
Thursday, 12 November 2009
Facts about the crane are:
The crane is 200 tons (The same weight as a Blue Whale)
It can lift 600 tons.
There are only 4 cranes in the whole of England that weight.
It's amazing what you can find on the Internet!
Monday, 9 November 2009
Mother, with two children, one about six and the other about two, puts the brakes on the pram and takes the six year old to one side. Loudly and sternly (and with a very well spoken accent) she says the following:
" Now Harry, I want you to stop what you keep doing to Marcus because it is very naughty. You know, when you keep grabbing him by the chest and bouncing up and down on him. .. Because he's just a baby and you're a big boy..and it's very dangerous..and you could break his ribs.. and rupture his windpipe or puncture his lungs, or damage his heart, or make him stop breathing.. you musn't do it ever again! Now, I know he says he likes it ..but just because he likes it darling it doesn't mean it is safe.. and you are a big boy and should know better..okay?"
I don't really know why I found it so amusing since it is a serious topic, but I just thought the graphic detail was probably too much information and I found myself thinking that if I was Harry with all those ambivalent feelings towards my baby brother I might just be tempted to try a bit harder!
Thursday, 5 November 2009
Thursday, 29 October 2009
Sunday, 25 October 2009
"It always rains when we are here" said one of them rather grumpily! Fortunately it did not last long enough to stop them in their work. At the end of the day a sudden shower appeared followed almost immediately by the sun. I looked out to see if there was a rainbow and sure enough, there was the most amazing double rainbow that seemed to end in the corner of our field. Living most of my life in the city I don't think I have ever seen such a complete rainbow before. We have not yet found the pot of gold but we are hopeful!
Thursday, 22 October 2009
We have been less successful re-engaging the services of Warren, who is supposed to be finishing off the fosse septic. We have heard tales of broken diggers, borrowed diggers not turning up, lost drivers, wet weather and submitting the plans to the wrong SPANC and we have seen Warren for 5 minutes yesterday. Tomorrow is our last day so we will see if he returns!
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Well the weather has been sunny and clear during the day but the promise of warmer temperatures has not materialised! Another cold night prompted Ian to insulate the space above our temporary living area and make a temporary door so that any heat we have does not immediately disappear into the unfinished lounge. He has also been fitting the soffits in an attempt to seal off potential woodlice routes. The cold seems to have slowed their progress but the odd one or two are still finding their way in and this does not bode well for next year. Before laying the insulation Ian vacuumed up a bucketful of woodlice corpses and behind every item there are piles more!
This morning we were woken up by a loud bang. Sunday is the day of le chasse here and at dawn two huntsmen were out looking for partridge or pheasant in our fields. They weren’t very successful and in their wanderings came across our temporary sewerage pipe, which must have been very pleasant for them! Not to be deterred they returned at dusk but were no more successful. My guess is that most of the wildlife keeps a low profile on a Sunday as I saw the partridge happily pecking in our field yesterday. Let’s hope he lived to see another week!
Saturday, 17 October 2009
Friday, 16 October 2009
Monday, 12 October 2009
Hello..she answered, cautiously, expecting a sales pitch.
Well have you got your knickers on now?
She was a little shocked
Who's calling? she asked.
John, the gardener
John, the gardener??
Oh my God.. I think I've got the wrong number. He said with acute embarrassment in his voice
Yes you have! Goodbye!! and with that she hung up!
Sunday, 11 October 2009
Thursday, 8 October 2009
TOADS by Philip Larkin
Why should I let the toad work
Squat on my life?
Can't I use my wit as a pitchfork
And drive the brute off?
Six days of the week it soils
With its sickening poison -
Just for paying a few bills!
That's out of proportion.
Lots of folk live on their wits:
Losels, loblolly-men, louts -
They don't end as paupers;
Lots of folk live up lanes
With fires in a bucket,
Eat windfalls and tinned sardines -
They seem to like it.
Their nippers have got bare feet,
Their unspeakable wives
Are skinny as whippets - and yet
No one actually starves.
Ah, were I courageous enough
To shout Stuff your pension!
But I know, all too well, that's the stuff
That dreams are made on:
For something sufficiently toad-like
Squats in me, too;
Its hunkers are heavy as hard luck,
And cold as snow,
And will never allow me to blarney
My way to getting
The fame and the girl and the money
All at one sitting.
I don't say, one bodies the other
One's spiritual truth
But I do say it's hard to lose either,
When you love both.
Tuesday, 6 October 2009
After some heated discussions they finally came to agreement but there was definitely some tension between them. When the agent visited them all at work last week Ian approached her with firm bize on each cheek and made her very flustered as she obviously couldn't tell whether he was just being a bit culturally naive or trying to take the p*ss!
Monday, 5 October 2009
A couple of weeks ago Ian and I went for a walk in Foots Cray meadows and I saw some there, nestling in the chestnut trees. I tried to take a photograph and if you look very closely you may just see their outline hidden in the trees!
Apparently, despite their exotic appearance they have been breeding and living happily in London for years, unbothered by the less than tropical climate!
Saturday, 3 October 2009
Thursday, 1 October 2009
If you were at the School Full Staff meeting yesterday afternoon, thank you for all your post-its indicating which Research Groupings and/or Research Hublets you are interested in. I have transferred the data onto the attached spreadsheet which shows all groups and hublets and your preference. Feel free to add your name to other groups and hublets and let me know.
Now this confused me as I have never heard of a hublet and it seems neither has the dictionary. Could it be a made-up word? We are running a competition to see who can come up with the best definition of a hublet and one of my colleagues made one from a pom pom.
Saturday, 26 September 2009
So, with that in mind I started looking on various websites for Jack Russells in need of rescue. There were quite a few but in all cases Ian and I would not qualify as prospective doggy parents because we both work full time and all agencies have a policy about not allowing dogs to go to homes under these circumstances. Also, they will not allow us to take a dog out of the country. In addition we have never actually owned a dog before which means they will not let us take on any dog that may be more challenging. (The fact that we have chosen not to have a dog before because we did not feel that we could offer one a good home is not taken into account and we are placed in the same category as someone who has never owned a dog and is not interested in them).
I do understand the thinking behind this but it is just an interesting reflection that if you have two children then you are positively encouraged to go out to work full time and leave your children in day care!
Ian's neighbour Chaverley has two children and has just acquired a large dog as 'a favour to a mate'. The dog is very good natured which is just as well as although she doesn't work at all she still leaves him shut in the house all day while she goes out!
Friday, 25 September 2009
Thursday, 24 September 2009
Monday, 21 September 2009
This proved a long and complex job. Ian is quite fussy about it all looking neat and as you can see from the charcoaled board, soldering the pipes in place was a challenge. Must remember to put a fire extinguisher in next trip! The trick now is to test the pipes to make sure they don't leak before we seal the wall. (We don't know yet how we will do this!)
The main achievement however was to do some of the groundwork. Up until now we have never had a proper entrance and the builder, perplexed by the flooding cellar, had merely left it un-rendered and with a great ditch in front of the front door. The way in was over a pile of old pallets which we referred to as our moat and drawbridge!
Well, with the help of Warren the moat has been filled and we have a proper path leading up to the front door!
I felt like answering "What the f*ck is it to do with you. I've never seen you before in my life and already you're talking to me as if you've known me for years" but instead I say "okay" and try to push the door towards closed. Sadly, the opening line was the most fluent the salesman ever got as he then got into his prepared script to try to get me to sign up for some gas company that would save me money ('yes sure, so why do they pay you to tell me about it'..but you know they have a prepared script to answer that one and I really must get back to my marking). "I'm already with Scottish Power" I say , "and I have spoken to someone recently about the bill". (After all, he is only some poor lad taken from the 'welfare to work' scheme and obviously not really wanting to make a living doing this so no need to be rude). "Well, can you show me your last bill" said the lad , a little aggressively. "No", I said, getting irritated. "Oh, why not?" he said more aggressively. "Because it's none of your business, go away!", I said, crossly and shut the door. This did not deter him and he continued to ring on the door bell and bang on the glass for a further 5 minutes. I think he probably did his training in a young offenders institution!
Back to marking and half an hour later the door bell rang again. This time there was a young man and woman on the doorstep. My heart sank when he started with the same introduction. "Hello, and how's things today?" he said with a pseudo cheerfulness! "Do you have a BT Phone?"This time I managed to dispatch them a little quicker by just smiling sweetly and saying no thank you and shutting the door. He tried to wheedle his way in with a few niceties but this time I just didn't listen.
Back to the marking....
Tuesday, 15 September 2009
From Mr. Johnson Iweka.
My name is Mr. Johnson Iweka, a banker here in Abidjan, Cote D' Ivoire. I want to transfer $10,500,000 USD belonging to (late) Mr John Hughes who was among the victims here during the political crisis here in the year 2005. You can provide a bank account of your choice for this amount and also the percentage you wish to take for your assistance.
If we agree on the terms, you shall hold the balance of the funds on trust after deducting your percentage, until I will be able to join you with my entire family for investment.
Reply for more details.
Mr. Johnson Iweka.
And even better...
I am glad to inform you that I have successfully gotten those funds transfered to France through the help of a new partner,Nationality of Isreal but resident in France, I never forgot your help to me, be-kind informed that the total sum of US$2.700.000.00 was maped out for you as a compensation to you for your past effort and expencies which you made trying to assist me with my transfer that time.
Quickly contact my secretary Mr.Robert Jeffrey in Benin Republic at firstname.lastname@example.org) and instruct him were to send your money to you, remember that I had already left an instruction with him on your behalf to receive that sum.
Presently I am in New Zealand for a business project with my new partner who make my dreams to come true, i will keep in touch with you as soon as i return back to France, may the peace of Lord be with you and your family.
Dr.John Mohamed Myers.
Sentences typed by medical secretaries
1. The patient has no previous history of suicides.
2. Patient has left her white blood cells at another hospital
3. Patient's medical history has been unremarkably insignificant with only a 40 pound weight gain in the past 3 days.
4. She has no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was very hot in bed last night.
5. Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left hand side for over a year.
6. On the second day the knee was better and on the third day it disappeared.
7. The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.
8. The patient has been depressed since she began seeing me in 1993.
9. Discharge status:- Alive, but without my permission.
10. Healthy appearing decrepit 69-year old male, mentally alert, but forgetful.
11. Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.
12. She is numb from her toes down.
13. While in ER, she was examined, x-rated and sent home.
14. The skin was moist and dry.
15. Occasional, constant infrequent headaches.
16. Patient was alert and unresponsive,
17. Rectal examination revealed a normal sized thyroid.
18. She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life until she got a divorce.
19. Both breasts are equal and reactive to light.
20. Examination of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.
21. The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.
22. The pelvic exam will be done later on the floor.
23. Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities.
24. When she fainted, her eyes rolled around the room.
25. The patient was in his usual state of good health until his airplane ran out of fuel and he crashed.
26. Between you and me, we ought to be able to get this lady pregnant.
27. She slipped on the ice and apparently her legs went in separate directions in early December. 28. By the time he was admitted, his rapid heart had stopped, and he was feeling better.
Thursday, 10 September 2009
Problem number 1- taxi driver was like taxi drivers all over the world and drove off without really knowing where he was going (and as it happened in the opposite direction to where he needed to go) and then proceeded to try and call a number I had to get directions while driving. I put my French into practice and managed to do a very convincing rendition of 'irritable old woman' in French, commanding him to stop the car immediately as it was dangerous to drive when he wasn't looking where he was going. The journey was expensive but I got there in the end!
I arrived and found Virginie. She was about my age, very pleasant and introduced me to her colleagues. "Ahh, she speaks" French, they said. From then on the whole afternoon was conducted in French! I was shown round, we discussed research and why people don't do Masters degrees, the difficulties of working and studying and then they gave me some work to look at! I must admit it is going to take a while to read!
I was exhausted afterwards but quite pleased that I managed as well as I did, although at times I did feel a bit like this!
Monday, 7 September 2009
As lovely as they were there was no way Ian and I could use up that many tomatoes before they went bad so last week I had my first attempt at making and bottling tomato sauce! I searched for recipes on the Internet and in the end decided to go with just putting the hot sauce into sterile jars with a tight lid that fortunately sealed as the jars cooled. Hopefully I have done enough to avoid botulism! Peeling the tomatoes took a while and I'm afraid I did not have the patience to remove the seeds but I have 16 jars of summer tomato sauce to remind us of France over the winter.
Thursday, 3 September 2009
The installation of the septic tank involved the digging of a very large hole, in which was placed a large concrete tank. To prevent it floating away this then had to be filled with water (at a cost of 80 euros).
From the tank, a drain is dug leading to a pit 20 metres square. This will become our filter bed, consisting of layers of sand, gravel and sand to filter and clean the water from the tank. The run off from this, which should be clean, then has to be directed to a drain or ditch of some sort. The tank itself needs to be vented away from any buildings to avoid that nasty dead cabbage smell permeating the air!
After Warren has fitted all of this and got it working we have to get it approved and certified by something called the 'SPANC' or something that sounded very like that! All in all it is a big project and something we hope will be finished when we return in October.
Wednesday, 2 September 2009
I was searching for something on google and by accident came across this news story from June 2007 concerning a plane crash in Malawi which five Britons died. Reading through, I recognised the name of one of them, Daniel Turnberg as I had been on a mountain biking holiday with him in Greece about 10 years ago. In fact, I still have an old photo from that holiday up above my desk at work showing us all sitting in restaurant by the sea, enjoying a beer or two. I remember him as a really nice guy, easy going and good company. I knew he was a doctor but he never told us that his father was a Peer. He was the sort of person that could get on with anyone from any background or walk of life and really was popular. My particular memory is of the last night of the holiday, when everyone was rather drunk but we were both less drunk than the rest and were very worried about people diving in the sea. In the end we escorted the tour guide home and made sure she got to bed safely as she was too drunk to stand up!
I was a little shocked and surprised that I had not been aware of this news at the time and it felt very strange to be hearing this two years later, but now that I have looked back on by blog to check what I was doing I can see that it was at the time when my mother was ill and we were packing up her house, so I guess I was otherwise distracted.
I read down the article a little more and two of the other names seemed familiar as well. I then realised that Dawn and Colin, two of the other victims, had been on the mountain bike trip that I did to Japan in 2004. The trip had been hard and we had faced hurricanes, landslides, rain, Japanese food and the intrusion of a BBC film crew together for two weeks. You get to know people quite well in those circumstances and although I did not keep in touch for long after I felt very saddened by this additional news. Out of the five dead I knew three of them. It felt so strange to think that in my head for the past two years I have been imaging them as alive and yet they haven't been.
I have had enough happen to me to realise that death happens quite easily and I don't take my life or other people's life for granted but those thoughts don't stop the sadness and I sat at my desk and shed a few tears over the computer. I feel quite a bond with people I know or have known from my various cycling activities and I think it is because it seems to attract the type of people that definitely take 'the road less travelled' in life. Most have not gone down the married with 2.4 children route, or if they have, they often have a far from traditional view of the world and within this broad group I have found people that I can identify with.
So...to Dan, Colin and Dawn. Thank you for the memories and for making the holidays such great fun and for being such good companions for all those ups and downs, even though I did not know you for long. I imagine you all now tackling that heavenly singletrack, laughing over a cold beer afterwards and gliding smoothly down the celestial hills.. and if, while you're there, you happen to come across a nice titanium framed hardtail mountain bike that looks like it might fit me, please put it aside for me when I arrive.
Monday, 31 August 2009
Saturday, 15 August 2009
On Thursday we invited our neighbours round for dinner. This time last year we sat on a concrete slab and ate lunch in the dining room. This year we were able to prepare a meal for friends, sleep in our bedroom, shower in our temporary shower and flush our temporary toilet (into the field somewhere). It was just great to sit there and hear the cicadas and the owls. We also realised just how fantastic the sky is at night. We can see Venus from our room and the stars are amazing when uncontaminated by light pollution!
Talking of contamination our neighbours half a mile away kept us awake last night with a party! Here we are in the middle of nowhere and you realise that sound carries for miles without buildings to block its passage.
Today we got back to modern life by going to Bordeaux to visit various DIY shops for more urgent supplies and also to visit IKEA. We had meatballs for lunch and it was just like being in Croydon except the toilets were dirtier and the coffee was stronger!
Sunday, 9 August 2009
“What are you doing?” I moaned.
“just been down to the cellar... took a video of the water pouring in through the walls”
Despite the new guttering the damp problem has still not been solved!
Today it has rained all day but the forecast is more promising! (Even the sunflowers didn’t bother to wake up today!)
(actually the didn't wake up for the entire three weeks as they are ripe and now drooped over and turning black in anticipation of being harvested)
Saturday, 8 August 2009
When it came time to leave Ian cautiously reversed the van out and went to exit just as Mr Frenchman in a Mercedes pulled in. There then followed scenes reminiscent of the standoff at the OK Corralle, with Mr Mercedes refusing to reverse or go up on the grass, the cars behind refusing to reverse back and Ian getting more and more grumpy! After a few minutes Mr Mercedes very reluctantly pulled over and we were able to leave. As I attempted to get in the van Mrs Mercedes said something to me to the effect of ‘it is a one way’ and ‘you stupid English’. Well, it wasn’t a one-way and Ian was now at the end of his fuse and decided to get out and have a row with Mr Mercedes, convincing him that although English his knowledge of French swearwords was indeed fluent.
Eventually I managed to drag Ian away, avoiding an International incident, and we continued South.