This months post is going to be a difficult one to write as the “sad times” referred to in the title are mostly to do with the death of our lovely dog Bounty. He wasn`t perfect by any means, but we loved him & we are finding it hard to adjust to not having him around any more. Bounty came to us 7 years ago after our old dog Chester died. We lasted three weeks after his death before we started to look for another dog & after looking in the local refuge & not really finding a dog who would “fit in “ here, we by chance spotted a little card in the window of the dog grooming shop in Issoire. A family was looking to rehome Bounty..probably because they couldn`t cope with him....he was a bit, should we say, boisterous! We rang up & they brought him to see us, we liked what we saw & agreed to take him for a weeks trial. He was full of energy, loved the big garden & soon wormed his way into our hearts.The family assured us he never went on the settee(yeah right!) didn`t go upstairs (his favourite place was on the landing outside our bedroom!) & wouldn`t run off ( 2 days later he disappeared into the field next door!)However we did take him on & he spent 7 happy years here. Geoff loved walking with him & the guests who came here here mostly loved him too – especially when he sneaked into the gite & stole their food! A couple of weeks ago he started to need a sit down on his usual walking routes & looked to be getting a bit slower. We took him to the vet on the Tuesday morning to have him checked out & she said he had a major heart problem. She wanted to do more tests & maybe give him medicines but gave Geoff to understand that this was just delaying the inevitable, so we decided just to bring him home, cut down the walks & try & keep him calm...fat chance! He was still racing round the garden with this squeaky toy whenever he got the chance! The Friday evening following the visit to the vet, he ate his dinner & went out into the garden as usual. Ten mins later Geoff found him dead..probably of a massive heart attack. Its been a big shock losing him like that, but at least he died happily in his beloved garden & so we have consoled ourselves with that thought. We do miss him so much though. People keep asking if we will have another dog. It is really hard finding a dog for here so we are not sure yet. We need a dog who is good with strangers coming & going in the house all the time, good with children, good with cats, who will not chase the hens...etc etc. Not easy...but never say never. We lasted 3 weeks the last time!
The other big sadness in our lives this month was Geoff going back to the UK for a visit & seeing the rapid deterioration in the health of his Mum. She is now very confused & is again in hospital following a fall. This time it looks unlikely that she will get back home due to her dementia & so we are just waiting for a suitable place in a nursing home to become available. Geoff was understandably upset by her condition. It is so sad to see someone you love change so much in a short time.
It was Mother`s Day whilst Geoff was in the UK & once again I found myself on my own! However the kids came up trumps as usual & I got some lovely cards, flowers & a beautiful little snowdrop vase which all made up for not seeing them in person.The flower delivery man must have thought I was a bit strange as I tried to explain that it was Mother`s day in the UK (French mother`s day is much later in the year)& grandma`s day in France! He gave me a look which said he thought I was truly a babbling raving grandma as he quickly departed!
We have had our first visitors of the year in the gite this month which is good. They were Swedish, father & daughter, & were here for the European motor cross endurance competition in Brioude, where the girl was competing. They were very unhappy when they got here having gotten very lost & discovered that we were about 40 mins drive from Brioude, which they thought was too far. They also had a huge van & didn`t like the small roads around here. Great start to our year we thought!However they mellowed as the week went on & honestly, we hardly ever saw them as they went off early in the morning to look at the course & do the practice sessions & returned in the evening & went to bed.In fact, as they used very little gas, electricity or wood they were perfect guests really! We always worry a bit when we have early visitors in case the weather is cold, as our gite is very big & not easy to heat. However they went off at the end of the week quite happy so all was well :)We have had no B&B guests at all this month but bookings are starting to arrive now for the months to come so I`m making the most of no early starts to make breakfast just now.
We have managed to replenish our woodpile thank goodness too. We were worried & sad last year that our usual wood supplier, an old guy who we like very much,would not be around this year as he has cancer of the throat & really wasn`t well last time we talked. However with the help of our friend, Phillipe who also buys his wood from this man,& who has a tractor & trailer, Geoff was able to go & get a trailer load of wood & help Phillipe with his load too.We will need some more at some time this year but at least we have enough for now...& Mr A is a happy man too with some more cash in his pocket!
Geoff has suddenly become very busy with his teaching this month, as we had thought would happen. After a dismal January & February, the teaching organisations have finally started to get their act together & sort out contracts at last. Now I hardly see him as he is so busy...& there is more work still to come. Good news for our cash flow at last...I might even start looking for a cruise for the autumn soon!!
A bit more sad news hit us earlier in the month when Geoff went to a scintillating & exciting meeting in the village to discuss fosse sceptiques. He gets all the fun doesn`t he? The news from this meeting was that the rules regarding sewage & water disposal are all being severely tightened & that we all have to obey them. This is bad news for a lot of people in our commune as the older houses do not have disposal equipment which meet the new regulations.There was a lot of bad feeling at this meeting as you can imagine, as installing a fosse sceptique is not cheap & is not easy here either where people don`t have a lot of land or where their house is built on volcanic rock. As far as we are concerned, we do have a fosse which is OK, but we need to do something as regards the run off, which does not comply with the regs. So sadly it looks like sometime in the next year or so we will have to have a lot of my lovely garden dug up to sort that out.I am really not looking forward to that at all. We have also just had someone to look at the gite roof window which leaks from time to time – usually only when we have guests in there as Sods law dictates. I hate having guys go up on the roof..always bad news! After lots of ooh la las etc this guy seems to have discovered the problem & so we now await the devis to tell how much it will cost to fix - “le sigh”. Yet another roof visit due today too, to fix the TV aerial which has decided to give up the ghost. Geoff will be glad to have the TV back though as I took the lack of TV as an opportunity to catch up on several episodes of Downton Abbey from my boxed DVD sets...he is not a DA fan at all :)
We haven`t been out & about very much this month with one thing & another. I did manage to catch up with my friend Linda one day for lunch in Clermont Ferrand & we met up with Tots & Muta at the sad send off of Tots brother who died suddenly last week. I always find these crematorium funerals so bleak & sad, but when you are not religious there is very little alternative really.We went out for lunch afterwards & toasted his memory in mineral water ..which I`m not entirely sure he would have approved of, as to say he was a bon viveur would be putting it mildly!
So, now we are almost into April. The clocks have sprung forward (always upsets my body clock that),we have some nice warm sunshine at last,the spring flowers in my garden are looking splendid & the birds are singing away like mad things. I think we can safely say that Spring is here now...but we wont take the snow tyres off the cars yet just in case!I am though now into my second sockless day..I hate socks so I am thrilled when these days arrive :) We have more gite guests due next week & B&B guests booked in for later in the month so it will be all systems go. Better to be busy though...it keeps our minds off how much we miss our old pal Bounty. A bientot mes amis.