July 12, 2016

A WEEK OF SPORT

Last week was a week full of distractions of a sporting nature, starting with the Tour de France and ending with the Wimbledon final, The Grand Prix and the football.  I’m not passionate about any sport these days although in the past I had my moments, but the proximity of the Tour de France route got us all excited and we thought “why not?”.  So off we set to the lovely old town of St Savin with sun cream and picnic, arriving in good time to get a good spot.

Of course, it’s really all about the advertising.  The caravanne takes hours to pass through, followed much later by the leaders then the peloton, which goes by in seconds.  If you blink or look the wrong way you miss it.

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Nick found us a good spot to sit and watch, with a clear view of the road, opposite the old abbey.  I couldn’t help pondering the difference between France and the UK when I noticed that the very young female police officer, her motorcycle parked nearby, was carrying a very businesslike firearm.  You would be highly unlikely (probably unlucky too) to ever see a policeman with a firearm in the UK.

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The caravanne started to arrive and it was worth the wait.  What fun these people must have, dressing up and fooling around through France for several weeks, seeing smiles on people’s faces as they go by.

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After the entertainment of the caravanne, it was time for lunch, picnic pies, fruit muffins, ham sarnies and a bottle of fizz.  After what seemed like forever, suddenly it all happened.  The leaders passed by in a flash, followed by the rest of the cyclists.  Whoosh, gone.  Followed by hundreds of spare bicycles.  And that was that.  Time to pack up and go home, after a great day out in the sunshine.

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At the weekend, having watched Hamilton win the Grand Prix and Andy Murray take the Wimbledon trophy, we wandered down to the village for a beer at the PreHisto to find excitement mounting for the evening’s football.  Nick fell victim to the enthusiastic face painting going on but after a while we headed home for dinner and to watch the match in comfort on our own sofa.

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What a damp squib that was.  There’s nothing more boring than a football match where nobody scores.  I don’t get it.  How can people become millionaires for kicking a ball around and not getting goals?  After the first half I went off to finish the ironing, much more worthwhile!

July 11, 2016

LIFE GOES ON

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In years gone by I have learned to be careful about who I told about losing a dog.  There are those that understand and those that think that it’s only a dog and the answer is to go straight out and buy another one.  A conversation with either is likely to find me in tears.  It helps that, at last, summer has finally arrived here in Sud Touraine.  Long, hot and sunny days and plenty of the usual activities to distract me from the constant feeling that I have forgotten to do something, of expecting to see her lying in the grass soaking up the sun, or lying in just the right spot to be in the way on the cool tiles when she’s got too warm.

Two weekends ago we went to two outdoor musical events, one an Irish night on the Friday, with fish and chips – some local musicians playing Irish jigs in the square behind the church in the village, fish and chips being served all night by local people, and very good they were too, popular with both French and English customers.  It was a great evening and we had a good time but my mind wasn’t quite there as it was too soon, and the photos of the event are poor.

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The next evening we went to an annual do called “Les Barroudeurs”, an outdoor music festival down by the river in the next village, Barrou.  This year the music was exceptionally good and much more to our taste than in previous years.  We had a lovely evening in the company of friends and I began to feel a little bit more like my old self.

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Some friends gave us this lovely rose which we have planted in Lulu’s memory next to her favourite spot in the garden.  Other friends gave us a climbing plant which we have planted so that it climbs the wall overlooking the same place.  How kind people can be when it really matters.

We are trying not to let the loss of Lulu spoil our enjoyment of the summer whilst at the same time not wanting to forget all about her.  We just have to get through the first few weeks so that we start to recall the fun part of life with Lulu, not the sadness of her last days.  

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With that in mind, we at last got round to tidying up the picnic area and bringing it back into commission for the summer.  It’s a great place for lunches outdoors, barbecues and long lazy evenings.  The house faces south so is in full heat of the sun, but this shelter always provides a shady spot to sit.  When we first looked at the house we had no idea how useful it would be.

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We have more or less finished the changes to the garden.  We have enough flower beds to provide a bit of colour without having to spend hours watering every day.  There is a small veg patch where we grow a few beans, cucumbers and lettuces but not so much that we don’t know what to do with them all.  There are two rows of tomato plants that we more or less ignore.  The biggest job is the weekly mowing of the grass and transporting the sacks of clippings to the déchetterie.

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All in all, we are feeling settled here.  There are places all around the house where we can sit to either enjoy the sunshine or escape the heat if it’s too hot.  As a last resort we can sit indoors, where it is always blissfully cool.  And with so much happening, life goes on and is pretty good.

July 1, 2016

RIP Lulu

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Our joy in getting back our old Lulu did not last very long.  We collected her from the vet’s last Friday evening, full of vitality and brought her to France with us on Saturday, but on Tuesday morning I thought I noticed signs that all was not well.

She deteriorated fast, as our UK vet had warned us she might.

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After her teatime walk on Tuesday she was obviously in distress and took to her bed where she stayed for eighteen hours.  An appointment was made with our vet in Descartes for Wednesday afternoon. 

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We got her up at lunchtime and after pottering around the garden she came with us for one of her favourite walks around the lake at La Celle-Guenand.  We all like that walk and it’s on flat ground so not too taxing for a dog that’s feeling poorly.

The vet in Descartes was wonderful.  The practice is in a different league to our vet in Derbyshire, but that’s another story.  We showed him the report of her illness and treatment and he said he would take another blood sample.  Our hearts sank.  If we had to wait another two days for the result Lulu would most likely be in a terrible state again by then, and we didn’t want that to happen.

But no, the surgery is far better equipped and after a last walk around outside, amongst the flowers and trees, the result was in and showed that her kidneys were in a very poor state.  With no other treatment available and no future for Lulu except pain and feeling ill, we decided to have her put to sleep there and then, before she became as ill and distressed as when we first took her to the vet in Derbyshire.

Anyhow, that’s where we are.  Doing the right thing never feels right afterwards and now we have to adjust to a life without Lulu.  It won’t be easy.