Monday, 27 September 2010


The Universe works in mysterious ways as no sooner had I changed the banner at the top of the blog to demote the llamas to a less prominent position, they suddenly re-inserted themselves into my consciousness! I occasionally do a Google search of 'llamas for sale' and this time I spied someone selling a whole herd for a very reasonable price on the condition that the herd stayed together. Obviously an opportunity too good to miss and a quick email established that they had not been claimed. However, here is where the present interfered with our plans for the future as this news coincided with the weekend that Ian was finally moving out of his flat.

I arrived at his house on Friday evening. "I'm nearly packed; just a few bits of wood to remove from the loft tomorrow" said Ian; so with that I drifted off to sleep imagining some light packing, moving and cleaning the following day! Well, the few bits of wood turned out to be a loft full of tools, boxes, old cupboards etc and with 20 minutes to go until the new tenant arrived, we were still removing them from the loft! It really was like a scene from one of those DIY programmes where they are finishing off as the owners walk up the path!
Like one of those programmes we made it by the skin of our teeth, drove back to my house and were so tired yesterday it took us all day to recover! During our recovery we looked into the how's of transporting llamas to France and considered how we might  do it and whether it would be possible! I eventually phoned the seller of the llamas in the evening only to be told that someone had bought them that afternoon! Well I was a little disappointed but also relieved as logistically it would have been a nightmare!  However, what it did was re-ignite the llama flame and for that I am grateful!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

My grandmother's chair

This is my grandmother as I remember her in her later years. She was in her 90s here and in the winter she would move this chair into the sun and sit, looking out over her garden, snoozing, or just looking. I always remember her in this chair. She had two of them and they were her mothers' I think. She only ever had the money to get one re-upholstered and the other languished in it's original covering. She particularly liked the chairs because she was quite short and they were small and upright. When she died I couldn't bear to throw them out and no one else wanted them, so I took them to my small flat. I had every intention of getting them re-upholstered but never got round to it and in the end they have just cluttered up everywhere and had been and been virtually destroyed by the cats who seemed to think the rough wool covering was a perfect claw sharpener!

I still couldn't bring myself to throw them away despite their poor state but Ian insisted that if they came to France they must finally be re-upholstered. After a few attempts at finding an reasonable upholster I eventually stumbled into Chris from Valley Upholsters. He works with a partner in a smallish mews workshop near the station and mostly does contract and commercial work. However, he seemed genuinely interested in the chairs and knowledgeable about their construction and for a very reasonable sum of money put his heart and soul into rebuilding, restoring and recovering them. I got them back yesterday and I think my grandmother would be delighted to think that her old chairs will now be used again, and with any luck could last another 100 years!

About to jump

I have been experimenting with a new layout as I was getting a little bored with the other one. The banner across the top was taken from the terrace in France in the middle of August. There was not a cloud anywhere. The background is from a blogger template but I thought it fitted quite well. The sky and clouds seem to fit quite nicely with my current mood and feelings as it is like I am just about to jump out into space and float away freely to whatever awaits! (Well on some days it feels more like I am going to jump and land flat on my face, but I try not to think about that too much!) I also changed the description slightly as the dreams of llamas and cycling everyday seem a bit of a long way off at the moment!

Ian is on his way back from France after unloading a van load of boxes at our neighbours' house and trying to finish putting in the ceilings in the kitchen. This job took on more of a sense of urgency after he got up to make tea yesterday and realised that it was only 11 degrees in the kitchen! Ceilings and insulation make a big difference! I think my electric Teasmade is going to come in rather handy on the mornings when it is my turn to make the tea!

When he arrived there was no power to the house. We are still on a temporary supply until we have finished all the wiring and had it signed off by the local inspector and it had tripped out at the main switchboard, which happens to be on a pole in our neighbours hedge. Every time he re-set it, it tripped again, until he discovered the black and crispy plug socket in the bedroom! He later discovered that the pole had been hit by lightening a few days before, causing one of our neighbours plugs to fly out of the socket and across the room! Time to get the lightening arrester fitted!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Last minute panic

Suddenly I feel that the speed of events is picking up way too fast! Of course this is not true as we have been planning our move to France for more than two years, but all of sudden it is within touching distance and in some ways I can't believe we are there. It feels a little unreal and all those feelings of excitement and hopeful anticipation are being swept away into a tide of uncertainly and doubt and to make it all worse I am beginning to realise that I will miss my job and work colleagues! It's a strange feeling. I don't get it all the time but I am glad it is there as to really leave somewhere hating every last minute would be a bitter experience. At other moments I can get a sense of a new life ahead and an uncertain but exiting future. How great to still be able to have adventures when you are the wrong side of fifty!

Very soon there will be no time for these feelings as we will be totally caught up in the logistics of packing and moving. Ian is there already. Olga, a Russian woman from his previous workplace, was interested in his flat and she moves in next week. She is exited and Ian is rushing round trying to pack up his things. Tomorrow he drives down to the house with a full van of boxes and plasterboard, hoping to finish the ceiling in the kitchen before the winter starts. On his return we will start the final countdown.

Monday, 6 September 2010

The earth moved...

Well, it did for one of my closest friends, who now lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. They were close to the epicentre of an earthquake measuring 7.1 magnitude. These are her words:

an amazing 24 hours. the earthquake the most terrfiying thing ever. It felt as tho the house was picked up and dropped many times. I woke leapt out of bed shouting "earthquake" ran to Owen's room and was screaming at him to get up. It was so loud as the ground groaned. The house shook and china and glass crashed around us. We are all happily ok but left with a chimney that needs to be pulled down.

and from her husband

we are ok after major earthquake here in Christchurch. Our chimney is a gonner and a few precious things lost but we are fine if shaken. On top of it all, it is my wifes 50th birthday today - what a way to celebrate.

I called tonight on SKYPE and ironically had the best quality SKYPE call I have ever had annoying echo or time delay.. She had gone to work. The schools are closed and they are still experiencing after shocks. Last night Owen slept under the table and they slept on a matress in the living room. As I spoke they had another aftershock.  Someone had suggested that they go out for dinner, but I don't think there was anywhere to go out to!

End of an era

I am an occupational therapist. I do not talk about this specifically in my blog very often as I moved from clinical practice many years ago into teaching and did not want this to be a blog about occupational therapy as such.

When I did my training occupational therapy was a diploma and became an honours degree course in this country in 1991. It had already been a degree course for many years in the United States prior to this, and about that time a new breed of occupational therapy academics were emerging; helping us to back up our observations with science and developing theories to help us to understand what we were doing. One of these pioneers was Gary Kielhofner. In the early 1990s his youthful enthusiasm and ideas inspired us to think about our profession in a different way. His ideas were amongst those that guided me to towards my degree and PhD.

I met him on a couple of occasions. He became involved in some projects that were happening in my previous workplace and spent a few days with us. I didn't find him an easy person to work with at that time and I didn't always agree with him but found him interesting and charismatic as always!

He had just bought a farm with his new wife and it was rumoured that he was trying to cut down on his work commitments and spend more time there. Two weeks ago he became ill and was taken to intensive care. He was diagnosed with malignant lung cancer and died at the end of last week. He was 61 years old.

My profession is suffering from bereavement at the moment.

Merging lives

Apologies for the lack of posting. Contrary to what some think I did in fact make it back from France but was thrown immediately into work without time or energy for a moments reflection. However, this period of my life is now coming to an end.

This time I have returned in a different mood. Of course I will not miss the frustrations from work, but at last, thankfully, I am beginning to appreciate the things that I will miss. The colleagues who I can chat and joke with over lunch, the way I am challenged by some of the things I have to do (in a positive way) , the grateful students, and the not so grateful and the students that I know I have made a difference to! I can finally say that I am glad and sad to go. This trip was different to the others. Up until now I have had my time in France; a working holiday, my work life, and home lives here and at Ian's place in London and I have managed to keep them in separate boxes. Now, they are merging together, and my 4 lives are becoming one. In a couple of weeks the London life will cease when Ian rents his flat; and I already have some potential tenants for my house and I can see a real end to these lives soon.... and in the not to distant future my main life will be in France. This is important to realise I think. One thing I learnt over the summer is that for our change to work we must make a 100% commitment to it. There can be no going back and forth to England every month because we feel like it (although some trips will be necessary at first); we need to work hard to make sure that we integrate into our new life in France and not spend most of our time with other English people, I need to work the two days a month that I have been offered in Bordeaux and maybe look for some other work to keep me interested until our B&B is operational; I need to try to learn to be French for a while even if, for a while, it means putting my English bit on hold. (I can easily revert to it if necessary).