October Odds & Ends

Well my friends…October is coming to an end. Its been an odd month for us in lots of ways and frankly I wont be sorry to see the end of it at all. For a lot of the month as many of you will know if you follow me on FB or Twitter, we have been without internet or wifi in the flat. We came home one Tuesday morning to find that the broadband connection had gone…not to worry we thought as it often goes off, but then returns quite quickly. But not this time. We spent a full three weeks without a connection despite contacting our provider (EE) many, many, times trying to get it sorted. In fact, we are now on first name terms with a couple of the guys in the complaints department and Im sure they were delighted every time our number came up on their screens by the end of the saga. The problem seemed to be being laid at BTs door as they provide the basic hardware for our internet to work. However, between BT and EE no one seemed to be able to fix the problem and it dragged on and on. We were particularly annoyed and perplexed by the fact that all our neighbours in our flat complex were not experiencing any problems…surely BT provides their links too? EE eventually sent us a “dongle” which did allow us to have a limited wifi coverage in the flat, so we were at last able to do some of the things which we had become used to, such as skype calls and using the laptop for Geoffs work downloads, but the situation was far from ideal as you can imagine. Our patience finally snapped and Geoff wrote to our MP asking if he could intervene …which he did, by contacting EE and writing to the CEO of BT too. Miraculously, things started to happen after that and we were eventually reconnected last Tuesday…exactly three weeks after it went down. We bade a “fond” farewell to Darren (our EE contact) this week and have received confirmation from him that our complaint has been resolved via an e mail! I bet he was glad to see the back of us! So, fingers crossed now that all continues to go smoothly from now on. It brought it home to us very sharply just how reliant we all are…especially in these awful times…on the internet to stay in touch with everyone and to do things (such as Geoffs document revisions and teaching work) with ease. How on earth did we all cope beforehand?

Whilst we were still in our technological blackout phase, we had to go up to Hazel`s at times to do zoom calls etc. Geoff has now got his U3A French conversation group running nicely and I now join in too. It is great to be speaking French again and although a few of the group do speak quite good French, I can see just how much more fluent I am nowadays. When we first went to live in France, my French was not good, but now I realise how easy I find speaking French. And how much I enjoy it! I am hoping that by taking part regularly in this group I will not go rusty again!

Once that we had the wifi restored via the dongle thingy, I decided to have a go at doing some more family tree research. I tend to get enthused now and again and try to take the tree back a little further and having watched a few episodes of Who Do You Think You Are, on TV again, I managed to get yet another couple of ancestors added to my mother`s paternal side, which I have struggled with in the past. I was pleased with that. Mind you I really wish I had as easy access to the wonderful historians that the guys on the programme have to do all the researching! It is very satisfying though when another layer is placed in the puzzle :blush: I have also started doing some crafty stuff again. I am delighted that buying stuff for crafting is so easy here, but dismayed that shops like Hobbycraft are a nightmare for me. I need blinkers on when I go in there! The debit card becomes red hot!! I made an autumnal wreath for Hazel which I was very pleased with and so was she thank goodness! I really enjoyed doing some floral decoration stuff again…I missed all that in France. I shall be making some Christmas wreaths and decorations soon too now that I have restocked my floristry cupboard. I have made some Christmas cards too, although I am not going so mad with those this year. Again, being able here to buy lovely Charity Christmas cards very easily has taken away the necessity of making all my cards, so this year I will send a mixture of the two, I think.

Some great news this month is that I have started swimming again regularly. I had been a bit annoyed that due to my still gammy and painful leg I was not able to do much exercise - yes, my friends who know me well…this is still me writing this! However, thanks to my daughter, we have discovered a private leisure pool near here (at Dalston) where you can hire the pool for an hour for a private session. It is a bit expensive but it is sheer bliss to be able to swim in warm water! So far Geoff and I have swum there and last week I went with my friend Linda and we have decided that she and I will make it a regular weekly activity…followed by a coffee and chat session at the local garden centre afterwards of course! Happy days :blush:

My other big bit of news is that I have started working as a volunteer in a local charity shop. I have been thinking of doing this for a while now but the application I earlier put into a shop in Carlisle was not followed up. Having talked to a neighbour of Hazel`s about a newly renovated shop locally, which is part of the big St James Church scheme called Cornerstone, I put in an application form and thanks to some glowing references from my good friends Rose and Gill, I started there last week. I absolutely loved every minute! I was amazed that they let me loose on the till, (obviously my non-existent numerical skills did not feature in those aforementioned references!) but that till is wonderful as it does all the sums for you :blush: I intend to do one afternoon per week to start with. Mind you it does have its drawback working in that shop…I find lots of nice things to buy! Geoff was very pleased (not) to see my little haul when I arrived home on Monday!

We have at last managed to get round to exchanging our French driving licences for UK ones. It was a painless and easy process. I was however quite sad to have to surrender my lovely pink French licence – which indecently still allowed me to drive all sorts of unlikely vehicles - for a small piece of plastic which needs to be renewed in 2 years’ time I note :frowning: The next step is to get Geoffs passport renewed as it expires next March and we are still hoping to get back to France, whenever we can. That process is underway now…again it was very easy doing the application on line. Im not sure how thrilled I will be to see his new blue passport arrive though. My red one has a few years to go yet thank goodness.

Our purchase of the flat is also advancing now…slowly! We received another set of documents this week which we need to sign and send back to the solicitors. We have a tiny problem with that though as the signatures need to be witnessed by someone outside the family and the most convenient person to do that is our neighbour…and she is NEVER in! We will persevere though and hopefully the flat will soon be in our names.

We have continued to try and get out and about this month. We are still trying new local venues for lunch each Wednesday and so far, have eaten well. We discovered a beautiful place called the Hidden River Café which we adored both for its location and the food. We were lucky enough to go there on a lovely sunny day and ate our lunch on the terrace overlooking the river. Just like being in France…but with UK scenery! We have also eaten at Up Front Gallery and Laings Café, both of which were really good too. Last Wednesday we went to another favourite place of mine, Larch Cottage, but I was a bit disappointed here, both with the food and the general overall experience really, so although I will go back there for the plant nursery and the Red Barn Gallery which is part of the complex, I don’t think we will return to eat there. We have also had some wonderful little drives through the Lake District…just to enjoy all the fabulous scenery and now that the trees are in their autumn glory, we are reminded yet again, how lucky we are to live so close to all this beauty.

Something which has been amusing and amazing me over the last few months of the Covid pandemic, is how many “new” words and phrases seem to have crept into our daily language and acceptance. Who would have thought a year ago that we would be using words such as pandemic, furlough, lockdown, masks, self isolation, social distancing, PPE and now tiers with such ease! Since writing a lot of the above, we have learnt that from today Carlisle has gone into Tier 2 restrictions and so I am wondering how all this will affect our lives yet again. Im not sure now whether my weekly swims will continue for example or how I stand re the charity shop work as both involve social mixing with a person from another household. I have to say I am thoroughly fed up with all this lockdown nonsense now. I am firmly of the opinion that it is doing more harm than good. This virus is going to be with us for a long time and I think that we all need to get on with our lives and learn to live with it, whilst keeping ourselves as safe as possible. Locking people away again might slow down the spread temporarily, but the damage done to peoples mental health and lives is going to be immense. And the virus will still be there when we all come out to play again…so off we will go again. We have almost given up watching the news now, as it is always full of doom and gloom and dont get me started on all these stupid statistics and numbers. Anyway…rant over!

We are still hoping to go away for a break next week to Scotland … if the border remains open that is! We are going (I hope -lockdown permitting) to Peebles Hydro…a hotel we last stayed in over 40 years ago when we treat ourselves to a stay, just before our daughter was born. I have vivid memories of the putting green there and trying to play “golf” whist being unable to bend down as I was 8+ months pregnant! So, I will now cheer up, depart and look forward to sharing all the experiences of our stay there this time round, with you all next month

A bientot mes amis…

As ever, very interesting Christine. A few of your adventures struck chords with me, both good and bad.

I am glad you got your internet back and it echos my own experience of the value of a good MP. Our then, former, MP got a pension block shifted for us after everything else failed, including me writing personally to the PM, one Tony Blair, of unblessed memory. Sadly, according to a subsequent MP, Anna Soubry, as a non constituent I was not even allowed to talk to her, by law, never mind obtain any help.

I too dip into the family tree from time to time, sometimes with several years gap and, like so many others, now bitterly regret not pumping my Mum for more info many years ago. I have something of an irritation with ‘Who Do You Think…’ and all the valuable info presented to them on a plate, but I do enjoy it, whoever it is.

Swimming is something I intend to get back into as well, but ‘wild swimming’ in the pond I contructed many years ago and which has been sadly neglected. It needed a light dredging every day and once that was allowed to lapse, the prospect became daunting. Once when I started there was so much wildlife in each scoop that I stopped immediately. This morning was the first day of my renewed intent, I have decided, one wheelbarrow full each day, including a close wildlife inspection with each one. I reckon it will take till Spring, but if sooner, I will plunge in anyway. It was first completed in a November and I did not hesitate to christen it straight away. I carefully cleared the path from it to our nice warm shower room so there would be not a second wasted in thawing out, but in the event, it wasn’t needed, once back in the, warmer, November air, I too felt much warmer. Now I am inspired by a woman on the tv this week who loves open air swimming, ‘the colder the better’ and whose ambition is to swim in the Antarctic Ocean ! My pond in the trees will be like a hot tub compared to that.

Ah. Lockdown. Have to disagree, it is the only thing that will get us out of this, at least until some real defence like a vaccine is available. Your way, to let it run its course while normal life continues, will/might work, but I am sure only at the cost of thousands of extra lives. I am so pleased that Macron has finally taken my advice shouted at the screen for months now, and that it appears that Johnson is about to do the same. The enormous cost to each country will not be as much as the war, and we recovered from that, so a war footing is the only way to treat this.

Stay safe and I hope not too many of your old and new found pleasures are curtailed too much.

Oh thank you so much for that feedback! We used to swim regularly in the nearby lake when we were in France…& believe me because it was at 800m altitude, the water was never warm! We did do some wild swimming in the Lakes during the summer though & enjoyed it but we are not that hardy to do it now! Good luck with your pond…and your lockdown. I despair of ever getting to see our little French flat again…or bobbing around in the warm Med :slight_smile:

One month without broadband and you are complaining!
We and several neighbours lost our telephone and broadband for eight months, we now have our ligne fixe but ADSL is half the miserable speed it was in the beginning.
Jim has fixed up his own internet with wires all over the place and we have better speeds, for which we have to pay extra!
We are now in lockdown again, but as we are in very rural France, it is not making a great deal of difference.
Give my love to the Lakes.
Jane x

Oh blimey! We often say that our internet speeds were bobbins in France but somehow we expected better here for some reason! 8 months is awful. You have my sympathy. The lakes are looking splendid atm…we are loving being so near :slight_smile: