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.