November - Holidays, Hadley & an all round Hectic month

Well, November…that was some month! What should have been a nice quiet post holiday run up to December`s activities turned into a very hectic time indeed for us. But lets start at the beginning shall we? Holidays…

We had a great cruise & thoroughly enjoyed ourselves in a very relaxed way. Our house sitters (our sons parents in law) arrived safely by train(all the way from Edinburgh) & they soon made friends with Xena who was practically sitting on Dougies knee before we left! All our travelling went really well & having parked Sylvie under cover near Lyon airport (remember she leaks so coming back to a wet car seat had not seemed attractive) we flew off to Venice & were soon chugging across the lagoon to the Lido & our first night away. Because we couldn`t get on to the cruise ship until the next afternoon, we spent a nice morning visiting Murano before collecting our luggage & taking a vaporetto to the cruise terminal. The cruise itself was great. We had a cabin with a window (treatsville!), a lovely ship, very good & interesting dinner companions (coucou Stephanie& Nicole if you are reading this!) & we went to some wonderful places.
My favourite has to be the lovely town of Kotor & the sail back up the long inlet as we left, was absolutely beautiful. As per usual the week passed far too quickly but we did feel that we had had a really good rest, had seen some wonderful places…& of course had eaten far too much lovely food! We spent another day & night in Venice after we left the ship & thoroughly enjoyed that too, although we did keep as far away from all the tourist trap places as we could, in order to avoid all the crowds. I love just wandering along the back streets & small canals in Venice. Very atmospheric & not so much hassle as the touristy areas. Again our return journey all went well & we were soon back at home being greeted by some thoroughly spoiled animals & happy house sitters – who had all had a great time too! Lesley & Dougie left the following day & things quickly got back to normal again…although we now seem to have a dog who likes sleeping on the settee!

Our lives soon crept back to normality. Geoff started working again & I set up my Christmas card making workshop in one of our B&B bedrooms this year as the gite is still occupied by our young couple. They seem to be making some progress with their house hunting, but I think they will be here until after Christmas at least. We have been trying to get our electrician friend to come & put some more heaters in the gite for them, as it is getting a bit cold over there now, but so far, although he has been & has decided what to do, he still hasnt committed to a firm date to do the work. We are hoping he doesnt leave it too long though…fingers crossed.

I met up with Linda for our annual visit to the Creative Fair in Cournon & we managed to keep our spending under control this year! We did have a good afternoon though & I got caught up with all Lindas family news. She has had a very hectic year with two of her children getting married & another presenting them with their first grandson. She & Mike are also in the throws of sorting out Mikes retirement & their eventual return to the UK so she had lots of stories to tell me.

Geoff & I went up to the remembrance ceremony in St Etienne sur Usson as usual too on November 11th . It is always a moving little ceremony & we enjoyed the chance afterwards whilst having the vin d`honneur ( an essential custom at all these occasions here in France) to catch up with our village friends & have a bit of a chat. Brexit was a hot topic for conversation (surprise eh?) but all the locals seem to be still quite supportive of us… good news :slight_smile:

So …where does this hectic month come into things then? Well it all started just after lunchtime on the 12th when we got a phone call from our son who was in Ireland having a weekend away with his uni mates. At first I thought he might be in trouble…he rarely actually phones us…but no, it was our daughter in law Susie, who was in trouble, having gone into premature labour up in Edinburgh, where she had gone to spend the weekend with her parents, while Matthew was away. And so began a pretty anxious afternoon all round for everyone. Matthew was trying desperately to get to Edinburgh from Cork (not the easiest task in the world), Susie was being told she would need a C section as the baby was so small (5 weeks early) & was breech & we were hanging on to our phones waiting for messages & calls to say all was going OK! In the end all did go OK - Matthew didnt make it in time to see his tiny new daughter make her entry into the world unfortunately – but Susie & the baby were fine. Hadley Elizabeth weighed in at 4lbs7.5oz (about 1.8 kgm) & apart from being early & small she was fine, needing only to go into an incubator to keep warm. Susie was very lucky to have been in Edinburgh, where her family was on hand to swing into action. Her parents were there for Ethan, & her sister (who incidentally is a midwife) was there to support her through the labour & subsequent C section. As you can imagine it was a bit of a shock to everyone but everything since has gone very smoothly. Susie & Hadley stayed in hospital for just over a week (with Matthew there most of the time too) & then went back to her parents for a few days before returning to their home in Manchester last Thursday & all seems to be going well. I decided to try & visit whilst they were still in Edinburgh, so hastily sorted out flights & had a really lovely weekend in my old stamping ground - I did my midwifery training in Edinburgh many moons ago! Susie's family were wonderful & I got the chance to cuddle my tiny new granddaughter for a couple of days – as well as an unplanned chance to see Ethan too. It was an expensive & hectic trip but I wouldnt have missed it for the world!

There have been a couple of other events which have happened this month too. Before all the baby excitement, we had a very typical experience with French bureaucracy at its very best! We have been thinking ever since we had our fosse septique inspection earlier in the year that we might just go ahead & have the fosse changed to meet all the new regulations. As we will probably inherit a bit of money from Geoffs mums estate in the near future, we thought we would at least see how much it would cost, what sort of grant we could get & what would be the best way to go about it. The first step was to contact the “advice” people & Geoff did just that, enquiring about the promised grants we had been told about. Sharp intake of breath from the other end of the phone & then the splendid comment that our advisor didnt think we would qualify for a grant as we were “foreigners”! That caused a sharp intake of breath here too...before Geoff pointed out that we owned our house here, had lived here for 10 years & paid taxes all that time too! He would go & check, said our advisor. He then came back with he news that we did not qualify for a grant after all...wait for it...because according to our inspection report, our fosse, although it doesnt meet the new regulations, does not pollute or cause any danger to health or the environment, & only those systems which do, qualify for grants! So to sum up we have been told we need to change the system because it does not meet the new regulations or when we sell the house to take money off the value so the new owners can get it done, but our system is working just fine & is not a problem & therefore doesnt not meet the criteria for a grant! Dont you just love France & its flipping regulations…not to mention its bureaucracy which keeps people in a job! Needless to say, without a grant, we are unlikely now to go ahead with any work – I was never that keen to have my garden dug up anyway!

Finally, just to end off this eventful month, we had our first real dealings in earnest with the French health system this week. Geoff has had this nasty blob on his eyelid for about six weeks now – it started off as a horrible spot, but just hasn`t gone away & has now turned a dark colour& is full of blood. He was referred to a plastic surgeon by our doctor & we went for the consultation on Monday. It is all going to be routinely dealt with…removal of said “tumefaction” (lump) by local anaesthetic in January which is good news. What was not so good was the reams of paperwork to be read & signed & sent off to various places! Not once did the very nice consultant check if Geoff could read or understand all the complicated French (he can, but that is not the point) which I thought was poor. So we have that to look forward to in January. Geoff is panicking already…not because of the op but because will have to take his earring out! He can never put the darn thing back in. Such a problem eh??

So the end of a fun filled month . We are in the midst of sorting out our Christmas trip back to the UK just now. We have booked the ferry (our credit card bill was not happy reading this month what with holidays, last minute flights to the UK & the ferry crossing ) & have found some house sitters thank goodness. We are now in the process of sorting out accommodation as we will be there for nearly a fortnight this year due to a family wedding on the 17th December. We will be making lots of visits to nice friends…who have spare beds :slight_smile: We are also off to Strasbourg on Friday with Linda & Mike for a trip to the Christmas market – something I have wanted to do for a very long time. So it looks like December will be a hectic month too. Can I have another holiday please???

A bientot mes amis :slight_smile: