Joyful June?

30/06/2020 Joyful June?

I have decided to try and be a bit more upbeat this month…although that has not always been easy as you will see further on into this post. We were given a Joyful June challenge sheet by Hazel and Phil at the start of the month and we have met some of the daily challenges, but by no means all of them. It has been a good exercise in trying to keep our spirits up though. The task for the 25th June – to eat food that makes you feel good and really savour it -was particularly galling for me as you can imagine. I really fancied a squishy cream cake and a caffe latte and that would certainly have made me feel very good…but, of course, sense prevailed and I resisted! I will manage to do today`s task though…Make a list of all the joys in your life and keep adding to them. A clear case of counting your blessings that one and I am lucky to realise that I have many of those and am very thankful for them.

One of the joys of this month has been the relaxation of the lockdown rules a bit, which has meant that we can now get out and about a bit more. So far, we have not ventured more than 25 miles from Carlisle but we have discovered some really lovely places to walk Xena and delight in the nature and scenery which surrounds us here. All these walks are helping me to stick to my enforced exercise regime too. We have walked along the River Caldew at Rose Castle and again at Bells bridge. Both of these walks were beautiful and also very peaceful and as usual I delighted in finding wild flowers and butterflies to identify. We drove up to Brampton a couple of times too and discovered a wonderful walk through Gelt Woods marvelling at the great rock formations made by the River Gelt as it travels through the gorge there. I regretted my choice of footwear that day – my preferred walking sandals didnt really cope well with the unexpected muddy paths in the wood – but then again, as I always say, it is easier to wash mud off feet than boots really! Our other trip out Brampton way was to walk along the beside the River Irthing at Lanercost. Now, Lanercost has always had a big place in my heart as I spent a lot of time there visiting & staying with my best friend, Rose, from nursing days. as her family lived there. We even detoured a bit from our walk that day, to visit Roses mums grave in the priory churchyard. I really enjoyed my walk down memory lane that day. We have also enjoyed discovering all the great parks and open spaces in Carlisle itself. Hazel and I took Xena for a short stroll around Hammonds Pond one Sunday afternoon and we were thrilled to see the family of swans there with their six cygnets. We have enjoyed walking in the Kingsmoor Wildlife Reserve, which is a lovely ancient woodland where hunting and racing used to take place dating back to the 1300s. It was so peaceful there and Geoff loved looking at all the ancient trees. Xena liked chasing the squirrels up those trees too! Bitts park has some lovely riverside paths in both directions alongside the River Eden and the afternoon we spent in Rickerby park, was another good outing. We have started to look for geocaches again and found our first three, since returning to the UK, in Rickerby Park that day. This is very unusual for us, as we are not good at finding them. even though the GPS co-ordinates tell us we are almost standing on them! Xena was also perplexed by our apparent desire to spend ages gazing at random trees and walls! Of course, Xena has also enjoyed all these outings immensely and has continued her quest to swim and paddle in every stretch of water in Cumbria. Im wondering now how she will cope with this quest when we venture a bit further afield and get back into the Lake District! I think Hazel and Phil were trying to tell us something, when they gave us a dog towel to leave in the car…they don`t really appreciate that every time Xena comes out with us, she returns wet -and muddy too on occasions!

It has also been nice to be able to meet up with the family a bit more…whilst maintaining social distancing at all times still. It is good to be able to call in on Hazel and have little chats over the doorstep and they have called in with the dog on occasion when their walk takes them our way. Hazel made lunch for us on Fathers Day which was a big treat. Again, we sat at opposite ends of their big kitchen table but it seemed much more like normality had returned again. We have also managed to see Matthew, Susie and the grandchildren once, as they called in briefly, for a visit on their way back to Manchester one weekend. Fortunately, it was a lovely day so we were all able to stay well apart in the garden…but I was longing to give the kids a hug. I made the big mistake of asking Ethan if he would like me to make something for him and he asked for a Yoshi! Ok I admit it, I had to google that one…but the said Yoshi has been knitted and stuffed and is awaiting delivery. Hadley loves unicorns so I am knitting a rainbow coloured unicorn now too. What a super Grandma I am!

With the shops beginning to open up a bit more, we went into Carlisle city centre one Saturday afternoon, to do a bit of low-key shopping. We are still trying to kit ourselves out with more summer clothes…most of ours are in France remember. We found it all quite quiet, no real queues anywhere – we didnt want to visit Primark of course! We managed to get all we wanted without any problems really and didnt feel unsafe at all. I had to go into town again last week, as I have been noticing that for the last couple of weeks, my vision had not been as sharp as it was. Since having my cataracts done 2 years ago my eyesight has been great, and I was a bit worried by this change. I began to wonder if it was linked to the diabetes and so went to get an eye test. I`m afraid it was not good news, as it seems I have a macular hole which is the reason for the blurry vision. Apparently, it is not uncommon in the over 60s (le sigh) and as the optician said, the bad news is that you have it, the good news is that it is fixable by surgery! Oh bliss, oh joy! I have to say that this year has been the pits for me medically and I am truly fed up with it all! I am now awaiting an appointment to see an eye surgeon to see (excuse the pun) where we go from here and in the mean time I am struggling to see clearly again :frowning:

Geoff has had a flare up with his back again during this last week and although it is getting slowly better, he is still hobbling around looking a bit like a hermit crab. He has no idea what has sparked it off this time and he was a bit disappointed, as he has been controlling this back problem for a long time, by doing Pilates. Personally, I suspect the timing, as on one of our walk outings we visited a local tennis club to see if it would be possible to start playing again. I use the word “playing” lightly here, as it is many years since we played for real, but a gentle knock about, far from mocking eyes has begun to appeal to us both. Unfortunately, again, our racquets are in France (repeat le sigh) but this club has racquets we can borrow, so we thought it was a goer. I have even bought some trainers…and I hate trainers! But all is on hold again until his back is sorted again. And talking of tennis, I am delighting in a bit of Wimbledon viewing at the moment. Yes, I know its not the real deal, as that isnt possible this year, but for someone who has lived in a Wimbledon desert for the last 13 years as French TV only covered the French Open (of course), I havent actually seen any of these epic matches from recent years, so apart from knowing the end result, I can really bask in the beautiful tennis at long last! And I am enjoying it greatly :blush:

As we are talking about France, a bit of an update on our Carte de Sejour application which we put in to the Prefecture in Clermont Ferrand last June. In spite of our having had our interview and fingerprints taken in October and having been assured by the nice man who did this, that we would be able to collect the said Carte de Sejour in December, we received a bulky package this week returning all the original documentation along with a letter stating that the rules had now changed (Quelle Surprise eh?) and we would have to start all over again! I think that particular ship has sailed due to our decision to make our permanent residence in the UK now, which is a shame as the said carte would have made life a lot easier for us when (or if) we ever get to spend more time in our flat in St Aygulf. I do regret the waste of several forests worth of paper it took to put in the applications though, not to mention the time wasted. Very annoying to say the least.

Having said all of the above we did get a bit frustrated with some UK silliness last week, when Geoff took Xena to the vet here, to update her vaccinations and her pet passport. We also need to change her microchip registration address as she now lives with Hazel and Phil. The vet told Geoff the vaccinations given in France were not compatible with the UK vaccination regimes, so she would have to start all over again. It was pointed out to the vet that the passport, with the French vaccinations clearly recorded, was perfectly acceptable to the UK authorities when we brought Xena into the country in December…and that we had evidence in the passport that a blood test (which was very expensive!) had confirmed the presence of rabies antibodies in Xena’s blood…but no go. The poor dog has to have another jab in a months time. Personally, I smell a money-making scheme here, but as always, we have to comply :frowning:

Just a couple of little thoughts to share with you all before I finish. One of the great delights for us when we came back to the UK was to buy and enjoy certain goods which we had not been able to get in France. Of course, because of the new diet regime, a lot of the foodstuffs I had been enjoying briefly (like white bread buns, custard tarts, ham & pease pudding sandwiches etc etc) are once again off limits, but I have rediscovered the joy of using Pears soap again! It takes me right back to my younger days when I bought no other soap but Pears and the smell is so evocative! I feel rejuvenated!! Another thing we were hoping to enjoy and which is also being denied us by the CV restrictions is going to the theatre. We did the other night though, tune into The Globe Theatres production of Midsummer Nights Dream on Youtube using our new Firestick -get us…quite the techy wizards now you see! It wasn`t the same as actually being there, of course, but the production was wonderful and we loved every minute. We will do more of this I think in the coming weeks.

So, on into July we go then, when we hope to have yet more freedom if the relaxation of lockdown rules is all to be believed. I don`t think we are in any hurry to go into any crowded places just yet though, as I still believe that this virus is not done with us all by any means. However, we are still hoping that our treat couple of days away in a luxurious hotel near here - which also has a spa & swimming pool which we are fervently hoping will be available to us – will go ahead as planned next week. Geoff is still recovering from the assault on the credit card as this “treat” is not going to be cheap…but then I have had such a lousy year so far, I think I deserve it! I will report back next time I promise. Take care everyone :blush:

A bientot mes amis.