27 December 2021
22 December 2021
16 December 2021
10 December 2021
2 December 2021
We decide that the time has come to get some help for Dad. Carers will need to be paid for.
I go online to the Gov.UK website and find the form to claim for Attendance Allowance*. It has to be filled in accurately, not missing out any detail, so that DWP can see exactly what the situation is.
The form is a 28 page document, taking a Very Long Time to fill in. I fill it in using a PDF file, printed it out and take it round to Dad for him to sign it. "What am I signing for?" he says. I tell him and he immediately forgets, asking me the same thing twice again.
I return to the Gov.UK website to find out where I should send it. The wording on the web page is:
Nick takes it into the post office to hand it to the post mistress (Nisa shop assistant) who gives him a telling off. It seems that the Post Office advice is that they should not accept items with a hand written Freepost address on it. They are only supposed to accept them if in a printed Freepost envelope or with a printed Freepost label.
Nick points out that that is what it says we should do on the Government website and she agrees to take it "at your own risk with no guarantee that it will be delivered".
This means that, having followed the instructions on the DWP website properly, there is a possibility that this document, containing very personal information about my father, including his bank details, might not be delivered and could go astray.
I write a polite but succinct letter to our MP about it. Meanwhile, instead of thinking "job done" and being able to sit and wait for a decision, I now have to worry about what happens to the blasted form.
Why does EVERYTHING have to be so damn hard?
A reply comes from our MP's office very quickly, after only two days in fact, saying they are writing, in the first instance, to the Post Office, to seek clarification on their policy regarding this matter and will keep me informed.
I can't help wondering if this incredibly prompt response has anything to do with the beating the government is taking for their appalling record on Social Care. And that maybe our MP's office staff have their computers set to filter out and prioritise any emails that contain the words "social services" or "care for the elderly".
Not that it will help one bit if my dad's bank details end up somewhere they shouldn't.
*Attendance allowance is a non-means tested benefit that can be used to pay for help with certain tasks in someone's own home.
29 November 2021
Snow in November is not unusual in Derbyshire. Typically we would get a significant fall of snow in late November then another in mid December. The snow doesn't usually hang around for too long as temperatures go up and down and we haven't had a true white Christmas here for decades.
I thought it might be interesting to go back through my photos over the last ten years and see where we were and what the weather was doing at the end of each November.
November 2020. We were stuck in the UK in lockdown, some friends were staying in our house in France where the weather was gorgeous. They sent us this picture to prove it.
November 2019. Pre-covid. Our last normal year. We returned to France for the last week of November to put the garden and house to bed for the winter. It was cold but mostly sunny.
November 2018. Our last week in France for the year and we had deep frosts.
November 2016. This was our "annus horribilis". Our beloved dog Lulu had died young in the summer, I had had my handbag stolen on holiday in Barcelona, the UK had voted to leave the EU and, although the weather in France was beautiful in late November, a few days after this picture was taken, Nick had his heart attack.
November 2015. We were getting to grips with the reality of our new house in France. The weather was cold but bright and sunny and we had new wood burning stoves installed.
November 2014. We had been in our new French house for two months. The weather was gorgeous all through the autumn and we ate outdoors most days. Lulu loved it there.
November 2013. One of our favourite walks in Derbyshire, any time of year. I had retired. Nick was still working but we were formulating ideas for a future life in France.
November 2012. The weather turned, as it so often does at this time of year, from pleasant to simply awful in a matter of days.
The winter of 2012-13 was a really bad winter. Heavy snowfalls one after the other. Having to fight my way to work in it, over and over again, became more than I could bear so in the February I decided enough was enough. I handed in my notice and gave up work for good three months later. Having worked flat out for forty years I found I didn't miss it at all!
So here we are, exactly ten years ago. A cold and frosty month, snow on the hills just a short distance away. At this time we were both still working, we had a small holiday home in France and no idea what the next ten years would bring.
12 November 2021
Our house is completely surrounded by fields.
All the fields right next to the house are owned by a farmer who lives in the next village. The set of fields next to them are owned by two other different farmers. They all tackle the harvest at slightly different times, the furthest to the east being the first and ours being the last. This means that we usually have a bit of a warning when it's about to happen chez nous.
This is something we need to know!
We need to know because it makes a lot of mess! The first time it happened we were out and got home to find everything covered in a thick coating of dust and chaff. Fortunately the weather is often quite breezy where we live and the wind will soon blow the worst of it away. Unfortunately we found out the hard way how much dust it creates inside the house if we leave any windows open.
On 1st August this year we heard the tell-tale rumble of our farmer's old and trusty combine harvester in the distance. He always begins with the fields furthest from our house. That gave us time to whizz round closing doors and windows and stacking garden furniture and other bits and pieces in the barn. If you have ever wondered how long it takes to clean up chairs and tables and remove dust and straw from candle holders and tealights just ask!
The machine makes an unbelievable amount of noise as it rattles past the back of the house within a few feet of our ancient walls, although I suspect it's also the vibration that makes Daisy go into hiding. Hugo isn't usually bothered too much but we keep him indoors, as an eyeful of the horrible dust or chaff would not do him any good at all.
10 November 2021
It's fairly windy chez nous, good for drying the washing. We rarely have to use the tumble drier.
Two years ago when Dad had to give up driving because of his eyesight he moved to a practice much nearer to his home, the theory being that he could get there on his scooter if necessary. He was very happy with the service there and we were so impressed that we also registered at the same place.
We plan to go back to France soon after Christmas or maybe New Year for a couple of weeks. We will be able to finish putting the garden there to bed for the winter, clearing up the piles of leaves and getting them to the tip and generally making sure the house is as winter proof as it can be. Only another six weeks or so to go and we can't wait !!
2 November 2021
A relaxed evening chez nous in July.
In early September Dad's lady friend came to stay with him for a week. We were in France so my brother dealt with all their shopping needs but life was made easier because they could eat lunch together in the ground floor restaurant. Getting Dad to eat enough has been a challenge so knowing he gets a cooked meal for lunch every day is reassuring.
The "Royal Visit" was a great success. Dad perked up and was a lot more alert, some of which we attribute to his eating more snacks but also to having someone to talk to him all day (he doesn't talk back much).
Dad no longer handles his own money and I now pay the restaurant proprietor, Sharon, by bank transfer online. After the departure of the lady friend Sharon sent me a text with the bill to settle up. She also told me that Dad now has a "pudding* and a cuppa*" every day which so far we haven't been paying for. That's good news I thought, a pudding every day will help to stop the weight loss and extra fluid is a bonus. I went into online banking, adjusted the four weekly payment to include the puddings and the drinks in future, and settled up for the puddings and drinks supplied so far, sending Sharon a text with my detailed calculations.
Three weeks later Sharon sent a text to say Dad no longer has a pudding. It's as we thought, he ate one every day that week in September to please his lady friend! I did the complicated sums and adjusted the next standing order online for his restaurant bill to include the "pudding overpayment". I sent a text to Sharon explaining in detail how I had arrived at the amounts paid.
Shortly after that Dad told us he never has a cup of tea with his lunch. I questioned him closely. He's sure they never bring him one, he never gets offered one and he never asks for one. He said he doesn't want one. Dreading an awkward conversation with Sharon and the palaver of working out the sums again I checked with him several times.
My brother was due to visit him last Sunday and eat with him in the restaurant. He was going to observe the routine and clarify the situation regarding the supply of drinks. Unfortunately Dad forgot he was coming, went down early for his lunch and was back in his flat by the time my brother arrived!
So, I questioned Dad one more time. I timed my phone call for when he would be back in his flat straight after his lunch. Did he have a cup of tea? Does he ever have a cup of tea? Do they offer him a cup of tea? The answer to all three questions was no. At £1 a cup it doesn't sound much but it mounts up and I feel it needs to be right. The implication that we were being charged for something that they were actually not supplying niggles me. Harrumph.
I composed a difficult text to Sharon, deciding to write off the overpayment but make future payments correct. Having done that I settled down in front of my laptop to do some Dad related paperwork. Five minutes later the phone rang, Nick answered it and it was Dad. "I've been thinking about the cups of tea."
My ears pricked up and I had a sense of dread. "They do give me a cup of coffee every day instead."
Nick found me crumpled in front of the computer, head in hands. What on earth was I going to say to Sharon without looking like a neurotic and a complete idiot. Going to my phone to compose an excruciatingly embarrassing apology I noticed that luckily, I had forgotten to press "send".
*For anyone who is confused, a pudding is a dessert. Other terms for it include "afters", "sweet" and simply "pud". A "cuppa" is the word normally used for for a cup (or mug) of tea. A cup of coffee would normally be referred to as "a coffee".
31 October 2021
29 October 2021
Angles is always good for a stroll around. We first went there in 2007 during our first house hunting tour of the region. That would have been almost exactly fourteen years to the day. Goodness, how time flies. Where does it go? I remember that we thought how beautiful the place was, contributing to our feeling that it would be great if we could find somewhere to live in this region.
The view from the upper part of the town over the river Anglin is fabulous.
In Angles there is an abundance of quaintness everywhere.
Not all the houses are crumbling, humble cottages. Some are for the more well heeled.
The ruined château sits at the highest point overlooking everything.
One can ponder what this building might have been.
We claimed one of the empty tables at the first restaurant we passed and decided on an early dinner. There were a lot of visitors and not many places to eat. By the time we had ordered most of these tables were occupied.
The light was fading as we finished our meal but the market was still in full swing.
A stroll through the ancient streets after dark presented a whole new perspective on life in an old medieval town.
Bon weekend !!