A Scary time

It has taken me a while to get started writing this months blog post as I, like so many of you I suspect, am horrified and very scared by what is happening in Ukraine at the moment. I have always hated the idea that humans can cause so much pain and fear to other humans and the idea of war terrifies and sickens me beyond words. I cant avoid the news (much as I would like to at times) and the thought that ordinary people, just like you and me, are having to live through all this is making me a) very thankful that it is not my son or son in law who is having to fight for what he believes is right and b) very upset at the prospect sight of ordinary people having to go through a situation that most of us hoped we would not see again. Please God, it all ends soon…but I fear the repercussions will abound for a long time yet and somehow our world suddenly seems to be an awful place yet again. I was talking to our organist at church yesterday and he was telling me with tears in his eyes about how his Ukrainian daughter in law and her mother are amongst those fleeing Kiev just now and somehow it all brought it home to me with a bang just how vulnerable we all are. Hazel, Geoff and I went to the candlelit vigil in Carlisle last night and my thoughts were with all those ordinary people who are caught up in this and other conflicts in the world. It was a very moving experience standing there, in complete silence for fifteen minutes, in front of the market cross with our candles, watching some Ukrainian families placing homemade flags and lighting candles for family back home. We need to live in peace my friends.

Ok, so having got that off my chest I`ll get back to my usual ramblings about what we have been up to this month. The month started well…if going to the eye clinic and having needles poked in my left eye can be described as “well”. It was a repeat of the procedure I had done in my right eye just before Christmas and again, was not the most pleasant hour or so I have ever spent! I really hope this all works and these trips to the clinic will not be as frequent now. I do seem to have acquired a “floater” in my left eye but no-one seems bothered by it…apart from me of course, as I find it very irritating! I have to learn to live with it, it seems…youpi!

I was both amused and annoyed by the reaction I got to my last blog post amongst my followers on the Survive France Network! I got cross by someone telling me to “undo” my diabetes, as he obviously had not read my previous blogs or indeed was not terribly well informed on the subject, or my views about it all! I was very thankful for all those who helped me sort him and his views out! Hopefully this month`s post will not be so controversial…although mind you, it did help to boost my reader numbers quite a bit, so there is always a silver lining, eh??

One of the highlights of this month for me, has been two visits to the theatre, which I loved. The first was a lovely lady`s day out to Newcastle with my friend Linda to see The Nutcracker ballet, at the Theatre Royal. We went by train and had a nice lunch too, but being back in the Theatre Royal after many years absence was fantastic. The ballet was wonderful too with exquisite sets and costumes. We both loved every minute and we are determined to repeat the experience again before too long. Geoff and I also went to see a play at the West Walls Theatre, here in Carlisle last week, which although on a much smaller scale, we enjoyed very much. It was great to be in a theatre full of people who were laughing so much and having a good time. Again, we have vowed to go back there very soon.

We both have also enjoyed watching the Winter Olympics coverage on the TV. The contrast between watching the UK coverage of events and the French coverage which we watched for many years was very marked. Not much coverage of the tedious (IMHO) long distance skiing and biathlon events and a more all-round coverage of most of the snowboarding events and of course the magnificent curling matches were great. I am a huge fan of curling!! I am almost tempted to pick up a brush and start sweeping…well almost!!

The big event for us this month of course has been Geoff`s “significant” birthday celebrations…and boy did we celebrate, for almost a whole week! We started things off with a lovely weekend away in Scotland. We stayed on the Mull of Galloway, at Sandhead in a very nice hotel and despite the lousy weather we managed to do some walking on the beach and to explore the peninsula. Our main objective though, was to visit Logan Gardens, which we did on the Sunday and we thoroughly enjoyed. Geoff loved all the tree ferns and tropical trees (and yes there was a bit of hugging as always!) and I loved all the snowdrops on display. It was a great way to start his birthday. On the big day itself we drove down to Kendal, braving crossing Shap in gale force winds (not a great experience!) where we met up with Matthew, Susie and the grandchildren for lunch, which was lovely. We then ate again in the evening with Hazel and Phil, a delicious meal Hazel had cooked and of course, there was birthday cake, complete with Star Wars figures and candles. We were extremely well fed that day! The celebrations continued on the Thursday when we met up with Linda and Mike for an impromptu lunch in Carlisle and again on the Friday when we were taken out for lunch by our friends Rose and Robin. That day we went to one of our favourite places, Upfront Gallery and Geoff was very pleased to receive the gift of a beautiful wooden bowl which Rob had made for him. So, all in all he was a very lucky “boy” and reckoned that being 70 wasn’t so bad after all! I was pleased to hear that, as it will be my turn later this year!

We have managed to fit in a couple of “date day” jaunts too this month. We drove out to the Solway coast one Wednesday to try and have a gander (sorry) at all the wild geese we had read about in the Wildlife Trust magazine. However, it was a bit of a “wild goose chase” (sorry again!) as there were very few birds to be seen, Apparently, Avian flu has struck and devastated the flocks which is a real shame. Last week, we braved the weather and drove down to Pooley Bridge for a nice lunch there, followed by a drive along Ullswater and then home via some pretty awful country roads, which were more pothole than road at times! It was a nice day out though (despite the rain) and once again we were reminded just how beautiful the Lake District is in all weathers, and how lucky we are to live so close to it.

We are continuing to lead the French conversation U3A group by zoom and also now by actual face to face meetings in members homes. This month it was our turn to host one of these meetings and so we were very pleased to receive the group as our guests, here in the flat. It was the first time we have had a significant number of folk here, but all went well. It is good for us to continue to speak French, as we are still hoping to get out to our flat in St Aygulf soon. We have started to look at flights and hope to book a trip out there …probably in April. I have also started to do the French version of Wordle and I really love making my brain figure out some very obscure French words! In fact, I seem to be better at this French wordle than the English one at times! We also had a really nice whatsap video chat to out ex “holiday house” neighbours from Chabanol. They live in Orleans and have just bought a lovely old farm house there, which they were very keen to show us. It was good to be able to converse in French with them and catch up on all their family news. I still miss our French friends very much.

Something to make you all smile a bit before I close. Due to there being not a lot of interest, to watch on early evening TV, I have to admit to becoming addicted to watching old episodes of Heartbeat. I love it! However, I am dismayed at being obviously in the target group for the adverts which pepper the programme…and it is a bit disheartening to see that we are now deemed as not being able to get a good night`s sleep without a special bed or mattress, need medicine to relieve constipation, need incontinence pants and most depressing of all, must immediately make a will and sign up for a funeral plan! There is no hope! We are doomed!

Well, my friends I think that’s all for this month. We are continuing with all our usual activities here in Carlisle…Geoff is pickleball playing twice a week, I am working in the Op shop 2 afternoons a week too and we are becoming more active in our church activities now. I have started to knit Easter chicks and bunnies ready for some giveaways in the months to come, but that apart life continues as usual. Let us pray that for people in Ukraine and beyond, that life will soon return to normal for them too and in we can all live peace again.

A bientot mes amis

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