31 October 2021

TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE of a bossy daughter, one month apart.

The bridge over the Creuse at Descartes in September.

Day one.
A phone call:
Dad: can you tell me the number of the chemist. My tablets haven't come.
Me:  I had a text two days ago to say they would be delivered yesterday.  (I check texts on mobile phone.)  Are you sure they didn't arrive?  Have you looked outside the door?
Dad:  they're not there. I've run out of my heart tablets (he means his anti-angina pills)
Me:  leave it with me.

Phone call to his nominated pharmacy delivery service:
Them: they were undelivered.
Me: well that's odd, he never goes out. How can I get them?
Them: you can collect them from here.
Me: where's that? 
Them: …..they give directions to the "pharmacy hub" on the other side of town, twenty minutes away.

At the "pharmacy hub" twenty minutes later:
Me: I’ve come to collect my father's meds. His name is……
The assistant looks efficient and goes to get them.
Her: they're not here.  They don't arrive back here until after 4pm on the day after they should have been delivered.
Me:  I wasn't told that. Does that mean I have to come back here again later?
Assistant looks sympathetic and makes a suggestion.
Her: should I ask the driver to deliver them to his nearest pharmacy instead? 
Me: oh yes, thank you, that would be much easier.
Her: I’ll phone the driver now.
She goes away. Muffled voices heard from the back of the shop.
Her: the driver says they were delivered yesterday.
Me: but I was told they were undelivered and Dad says he hasn't got them.
Her: the driver says he asked her to put the box in his airing cupboard.
Me: box?
She has a look of pity on her face.

Back at his flat:
Me: they say you asked the driver to put the box in the airing cupboard.
I inspect the airing cupboard. No boxes, just a jumble of sheets and towels 
(I make a mental note to try to remember to sort that lot later)
Dad: a box came the other day. I don’t know why.
Me: what was in it? Did you look? Where is it?
Him: I don't know.
I go into his spare room, thinking this is odd, his meds come in a paper bag, not a box.
The spare room is a jumble of boxes piled around his mobility scooter which hasn't turned a wheel since he moved in.  Unpacked boxes since he moved last year and several boxes of catheters.  (When he had shingles a few years ago he lost bladder function and ever since has been self catheterising.)
All the catheters come from a company called Charter. There are at least four huge boxes with "Charter" labels.  And one without.  I open it.  Inside are another ten boxes of catheters and a small paper bag containing his meds.
Counting up the boxes I reckon he has enough catheters for at least a year. 
Mental note to self: must phone Charter and suspend the order.
I hand the bag of meds to Dad who immediately opens it and begins to sort them out.

Day two, one month later:
A text from the pharmacy delivery service:  Your (Dad's) medication will be delivered tomorrow. If you're not going to be in phone this number….
Me: (to self) rats!  That’s the day I'm taking him for his booster.  Better phone them.
Them: would you like us to deliver them to his nearest pharmacy instead?
Me: yes please , that's much easier for me.

The next day, on the way to the vaccination centre:
Me: your tablets were supposed to arrive today but because you're out they're sending them to the chemist round the corner and I'll go and fetch them.
Dad:  ok.

Booster done and back at his flat:
Me: are you feeling ok?  Your tablets were supposed to come today but they're taking them to the chemist round the corner instead.  I'll go and fetch them.
Dad:  yes, is it time to go down for lunch?

At the pharmacy round the corner:
I've come to collect my dad's meds, his name is.......
An unsmiling young assistant avoids eye contact and goes in the back, returns empty handed.  I get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.  She taps on a computer.
Her:  we don't dispense your dad's meds any more.  
Me: yes, I know but............I explain the situation
Her:  they won't be here until after 4pm today.

The next day, at the pharmacy, 1.05pm.
Another unsmiling young female assistant:  I can't give them to you while the pharmacist is out.  He's having his lunch.  
Me: (thinks to self: he's probably within earshot at the back of the shop.)  Does that mean I have to come back again?
Her: yes.
Another man in the shop:  I've come for my tablets
Her:  I can't give them to you..........
I exit the shop as they argue about it.

Later that afternoon, after 4pm
I think I'll just phone and check where these blessed tablets are before I go out in the pouring rain again.
Me: can you tell me if my dad's meds have arrived?  His name is......
Assistant (I recognise her voice.  She's the Polish woman who's always very friendly and helpful): we don't dispense his medication any more.
Me:  I know but.............I explain the situation again.
Her:  I'll go and check for you.
I'm on hold for two minutes
Her: they're not here. 
Me: I was told they would be here after 4pm yesterday.
Her:  would you like me to phone the delivery driver and find out where they are?
Me:  yes please, that would be very helpful.
I'm on hold for five minutes.
Her: the driver said she delivered them two days ago.

Phone call to Dad:
Me: have your tablets come?
Him: what tablets?
Me: the ones that were supposed to come the day I took you for your booster.  I told you they would be sent to the chemist instead and I would fetch them.
Him:  yes, they brought them two days ago after I came back from lunch.  I was asleep and they woke me up!

Five minutes later, the cork out of a bottle of whatever is nearest, I begin arrangements to change his "nominated pharmacy" to Tesco.  They have a pharmacist on duty all hours that the shop is open, 7am to 10pm, plus 10am to 4pm on Sundays.  That means any of us, me, Nick, my brother or "that woman" (how he refers to his cleaning lady who also does his shopping) can pick them up at any time and take them round to his flat.  It's a two minute drive from home, two minutes more to his flat, and you can park outside.  Fetching his meds every four weeks is going to cause me a lot less trouble than having them delivered.

I add this story to my repertoire of anecdotes of disastrous deliveries.  The Amazon parcel that I ordered for him while we were in France, that I had told him when it was coming and where to put it, that he said hadn't come and searched for for days, that I opened a missing parcel case with Amazon for, and that my brother found in his flat, unopened, exactly where I had told him to put it, after the delivery driver had "handed it to resident" just as the email said.  

Then there was the talking clock incident, the little grey box with the big yellow button on, that sat on his chairside table and that he had no idea what it was or how it got there.  Turns out it was a gift from his lady friend who, tired of him phoning her at night to find out what time it was, ordered it from the RNIB.  We found out later that "that woman" had luckily been at his flat when the parcel arrived, helpfully fitted the batteries that were supplied with the clock and set it up for him.  When his lady friend asked how he was getting on with it he said it hadn't come so she complained to the RNIB and they sent another one, which was still there in its box, unopened.  

Life has turned into a sort of never ending comedy of errors.  As soon as one problem is solved, another one follows and we have to find a way of making life easier for us as well as trying to make it comfortable for him. 

29 October 2021



Our friends Chris and Gail had spotted a flyer for the evening market at Angles-sur-L'Anglin in late August and invited us to go with them.  It was one of those typical events of the rural towns and villages we have come to love.  No charge to park the car and no entry fee.  Just arrive, wander and enjoy.

The weather in August had so far been a bit hit and miss, not as hot as we would expect for the time of year.  We were thankful for that on the whole, yet were somehow missing the heat.

On this particular Friday evening, it was perfect.  The sun had shone all day and the evening was warm and heady with the fragrance of summer flowers everywhere.

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.

There was little folk band working its way round the town, moving on to the next spot and starting their repertoire of tunes all over again.

There are dozens of little higgeldy-piggeldy quaint cottages around every corner in Angles.

The umbrellas were all out on this beautiful summer evening.

There was a mysterious feature or artifact to ponder here and there.

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.

The poo bag dispenser (a recent acquisition I think) sits on a wall opposite the memorial to fallen soldiers.  Anything that helps the war on dog poo is very welcome.

One can ponder what this building might have been.

And what was behind these old doors.

 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 !!

25 October 2021


 Photos from the night market in Angles-sur-L'Anglin in August.

Waiting for the menu.

Still waiting.

Waiting for dinner perhaps.

21 October 2021


I popped into a charity shop this morning to donate some things and the young woman serving thanked me for wearing my mask.  She was wearing one herself as it was company policy for all staff to wear one.  Customers were advised to wear one but not obliged to do so and staff were not allowed to insist on it as since mid July government guidance is that it's up to the discretion of each individual.  My observation is that it's mainly the older people still wearing masks and most people are going without.  

Everyone was wearing a mask at this vide grenier at Azay-sur-Cher on 5th September.

In France, at the time when we left four weeks ago to come back to the UK, the wearing of masks was still mandatory in shops and other public places including markets.  In Loches on market day there were gendarmes on patrol checking that everyone was wearing a mask and wearing it correctly, pointing out to people that it has to cover the nose as well as the mouth.  In restaurants we had to show our "pass sanitaire", a digital record of having both vaccinations, before being allowed to enter or even eat outside.  We felt very safe.

Back in the UK we feel nervous.  The graph above shows that the situation worsened here very soon after the easing of restrictions.

I heard a politician talking today on the radio, saying that numbers of infections appear lower in other countries because they aren't testing as many people.  That may or may not be true but the numbers of deaths are presumably more reliable and we are still at the top of the league table in Europe.  I get the feeling that in the UK the idea that we have to "live with the virus" has turned into a perception that a number of deaths is acceptable and, worse still, because it's mainly the old and vulnerable (and the unvaccinated) that are succumbing to the disease, that's fine.  As if these people don't really count.  Two plane crashes a week is what they amount to, at the moment.

I heard an expert in human behaviour relative to health issues putting a very good case for why wearing a mask, social distancing and hand washing are still the way out of this mess because vaccinated people still get the virus and still spread it.  It's just that if they're lucky they don't get very ill or die.  They just pass it on to those that will.  The success of the vaccine programme is effectively wasted if the disease is still spreading and gives people a false sense of security (the I'm alright Jack effect).

Are we taking bets on for how much longer the buffoon in number 10 will carry on pretending things are going well, that we are getting back to normal - and when he will suddenly decide to "follow the science", listen to the experts and restore sensible safety measures to being mandatory instead of advisory?

13 October 2021


In 2020 we were only able to stay in France for eight weeks because of the pandemic.  (That's a fraction of how long we usually stay, twenty six weeks or thereabouts.)  One of the things we noticed early on in our eight weeks was a huge crack in the barn wall next to the door.  The wall was effectively falling outwards.  What this picture doesn't show is that on the inside, a massive beam that supports the barn roof and should have been sitting on this wall, was now almost resting on fresh air!

We approached the builder who had fixed our chimney the year before and he came along to take a look at it.  He rapidly fitted an acrow prop under the beam to support it and avert the potential catastrophe of the beam collapsing, possibly taking a huge chunk of the roof with it.  He also came up with an idea to fix it, saying he would start the work in October.  

That was last year but time went by, a devis (estimate) never arrived, the work never got started and we found ourselves looking for a new builder.  Local inquiries earlier this year revealed that all the builders for miles around were incredibly busy and booked up for months ahead, if not years.  However..............

We have friends in the village who are in the process of having their house renovated and, having learned of our building woes, invited their builder to take a look.  To our absolute joy he not only agreed to do the job but also to do it while we were there in the summer.  What a relief!  One of our worries about having it done in our absence was the security problem if the barn doors had to come off while nobody was living in the house.

He came up with a different plan to fix it - by taking down a large chunk of the defective wall, rebuilding it and rehanging the doors and work was to start in the middle of September.  Our friends had effectively agreed to  "lend" him to us for a while so that the job could be done before the end of our Schengen period.

The first job was to fit a few more acrow props and take the cracked wall down, stone by stone.

Then to start rebuilding it.

The old wall, probably three hundred years old, was constructed from stones held together with mud.  This should last several hundred years more!

With the wall rebuilt it was time to render over the underlying stones.  A technique called "pierre apparente" where some of the stone is left visible.

The hinges were reconnected with their new wall and the door rehung.

Et voilà !!

The work finished less than two days before we travelled back to the UK.  Our plans for closing up the house and barns for the winter in a relaxed and careful way turned again a huge scramble, but it was a small price to pay for knowing that the wall is repaired.  It looks like a project for next year will be to get some new barn doors as the ones that came with the house will not last much longer, but for now the place is at least secure.  And the roof will not fall in!