April 21, 2017

TULIPS, SOME PROGRESS AND THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE OWL.

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We have had a magnificent spring so far.  Ever since Nick arrived back from the UK on 5th March we have had barely a cloud in the sky and some really warm days.

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The garden is loving it.  We had a good show of daffodils, swaying gently in the breeze, followed by the tulips, which have been glorious. 

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Tulips are possibly my favourite flower.  They come at a time of year when we really need them.  After a long winter we need their bright colours to cheer up our gardens and who can resist having them in the house, to lift our spirits.

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Nick should get all the credit for our display of tulips this year.  He planted the bulbs last autumn to give us little forests of tulips all over the garden.

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We have tall and sleek ones, short and frilly ones and crazy two tone ones.

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I think my absolute favourites are possibly this little clump of short and stubby ones which are the most amazing orange colour.  Tulips come earlier here in France than we get them in the UK.  Which is good news for a tulip lover like me.

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Another piece of good news is that as of this very morning we are one step nearer getting my carte vitale.  A letter arrived giving my number in the French system and requesting an up to date photo for the card itself.

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I have to say that since my last post I have asked the right questions of people who have used the French health system and now understand how it really works for UK citizens.  I had got it completely wrong and it is much simpler than I thought.  The carte vitale is not essential to get treatment, it just makes the process easier.  Maybe I will write a post about it one day, if for no reason other than to have it written down for my own future reference.

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Just to prove the point, I had to visit the doctor in the village recently.  It’s all so different from in our home town in the UK.  There, I would have to jump through several hoops to get an appointment quickly.  Certainly, if you are really ill you will get seen on the same day.  If you have something less urgent to discuss you would be lucky to be seen in less than three weeks.  If you need a referral or a blood test either can take several more weeks to get done.

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When I phoned the doctor’s number mid morning on a Saturday, I was told to come down to the surgery for 12.15.  The surgery is in a ramshackle building with peeling paint, cracked, ancient tomettes and nearly as ancient magazines.  The door was propped open to let in the lovely spring sunshine and I was the only person there, the place seemed deserted.  I sat opposite the door so that I could hear the birdsong and watch the cats playing in the courtyard.  There were no automatic doors, no computers, no severe looking receptionists, no coughing and grumbling patients, it was more like sitting in a friend’s front room waiting for the kettle to boil than waiting to see the doctor.

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Which brings me to the point about the owl.  When people ask what it is about living in France that I love so much, I am sometimes lost for words.  Where do you start?  I could rabbit on about how the tulips come early and how you can get to see the doctor the same day without having to be seriously ill.  I could mention the almost total lack of litter, bad language and bad manners, and point out the deserted roads.

How much do these things matter?  Each one doesn’t matter very much by itself but when you add them all together they amount to a feeling that life here is better than it could ever be back in our home town in Derbyshire. 

When we were looking at this house and thinking about buying it the previous owners were very keen to point out that an owl was nesting in the barn.  I was curiously impressed and when he said “but of course you’re not going to buy a house just because it has an owl” I remember thinking that in actual fact I couldn’t think of a better reason at all.  If a house has its own owl, it can only be because it’s a really good place to live.  Sitting in the sunshine, admiring the tulips, listening to the birds, contemplating the lack of traffic noise, I realise that the owl was right.

25 comments:

  1. Jean, what a lovely post! Yes, the early Spring colour from bulbs....and some tree blossom.... lift the spirits after the winter gloom.
    And the owl bit made me smile.... owls like calm....so they know where's right.
    Dr. M's waiting room has seen better days, but it is also a calm environment to sit and wait....and there's nothing wrong with old magazines.... but perhaps we should add a few Anglais to the pile??

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    1. I'm sure surgeries in the UK have piles of French magazines you can read while you're waiting!

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    2. In our surgery in rural Staffordshire you sometimes find the odd 'Living France' magazine, but it is in English!

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    3. Our UK surgery banned all magazines in the waiting room due to the possibility of cross contamination.

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    4. Ken, I read the French ones.... I was thinking about placing the English ones in there for the French to read... no point for me, as I've already read them!!
      Our dentist in the UK had an interest in Powerboats and Sailing craft of all types... the magazines reflected that!!
      I used to put the odd French language magazine in there....
      we are all Europeans after all!
      This is the same coment as the deleted one... but with the "smellchequer" applied!!

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    5. Are you setting up a colony down there?

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  2. We have had a lovely Spring as well, but we could do with some rain as everything is very dry. I love owls, and there are a lot around but not in our barn, but bats are living in the barn, and that's alright with me as well!

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  3. Lovely post showing why you want to make this corner of paradise your home.
    I have a few old English magazines...

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    1. I think it's always a good idea to take your own reading material when you go to sit in a waiting room for a while.

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  4. I couldn't agree more! I enjoy following your blog. We moved from Staffordshire to the Drome (Chatillon en Diois) 4 years ago and every day is a delight. What I do miss here though is the song of blackbirds. We have lots of other birds and wildlife but there's something special about a blackbird singing and we seem to have them here only rarely. Small price to pay though!

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    1. We have more blackbirds (merles) around here than you could shake a stick at.

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    2. Where in Staffordshire, Jane? We are from Salt, between Stafford and Stone.

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    3. Hi Gaynor, we lived in Cannock, not far from where you worked I think! I follow your blog too! And we have sons who've worked in the Far East teaching English in common too.

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    4. Ken, you're lucky and I'm sure you enjoy their song. We have also suffered from the cold weather here with our local vines for Clairette de Die damaged together with the apricots, cherries and some of the walnuts. They say it's been the worst cold snap in living memory.

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    5. Jane, lucky you, the Drôme is lovely and was our equal first choice for somewhere to live in France. We spent many happy visits there and Die is twinned with Wirksworth in Derbyshire, where I went to school and in fact lived for a short while.

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    6. Jane, its a small world. We used to live in an old police house at the top of the Pye Green Road in Hednesford for a couple of years. We both taught at Cheslyn Hay in the late 70's and early 80's. I then taught in Penkridge for thirty years. A very small world indeed...

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    7. Gaynor, we lived on Old Penkridge Road. Are you sure we're not related? :-)

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  5. Jean, it's good to see that you are in better spirits.

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  6. It is great to hear from you. The bird was right, a great place to nest.

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  7. Please post about the carte vitale! We should be in France by the end of the year and need all the help we can get!!!

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  8. Lovely post! Especially about the owl.

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  9. Great post and yes the Dr is so much easier here generally. When I was here alone, I was feeling awful one Saturday morning. I staggered to the car and made it to the Dr with no phone call. After arguing a little when he wanted me straight into hospital, I finally, with a neighbour's help, ended up back home in bed with x-rays and medicine by 11am. The Dr came to the house later to check on me and did this daily for the next 10 days at no extra charge, luckily he lives close by. I had pneumonia.
    Love the owl detail and hope that it is still with you. Diane

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    1. Diane, I remember reading your blog posts when you were ill and thinking what an incredible difference in approach between the medical care in France and the UK.
      That kind of personal attention is how the village doctor used to ge when I was a child, but definitely not any more!

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  10. Flowers, colours and positive thoughts: I'm glad for you. Greetings from Downunder.

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  11. You've done a super job of the garden and, like you, I like tulips very much. Colour just when you need it. I just wish that they lasted longer. Well done getting to grips with the health care system. It's one of the aspects of living in France I miss the most. I don't often comment but I do visit your blog quite often to see how you are doing. Best wishes to you both. Craig

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