What is it about January? It is always such a miserable month & for the last couple of years things seem to have gone wrong during January...exactly when we have very little money coming in to pay to get them fixed. This year, the January jinx has been a corker & we seem to have spent most of the month without essential equipment & being pretty fed up & stressed by it all.
I will start at the beginning though. We saw the New Year in up in the village Salle de Fetes where the young people of the village had made a valiant attempt to put on a Reveillon do. They had organised a meal & a disco & there were about 30 people there...which is not bad for a first time try. New Year here is either celebrated as a family event at home, or as a very expensive meal out, so people like us who have no family nearby tend to do nothing. So it was nice to be able to go out for a change. The only downside was that it was one of the coldest, iciest nights of the winter so far & the Salle de Fetes was freezing! Everyone arrived dressed appropriately (it was -8c outside) with trousers, boots & maybe a sparkly jumper (well the ladies anyway!), took off their coats & scarves & then promptly put them back on again! We did have a nice time but I have to say it was the first New Year`s Eve do –inside anyway- I have ever been to where I spent the whole evening in my coat!
The snowy, icy weather continued for the first week of January really, much to the delight of our holiday house neighbours who were visiting for the very first time in winter. They have decided to try & get some more use out of their house than their usual 3 week stay in the summer. Because we are here all the time & can put their heating on for them before they come, they have now tasted their very first Auvergnat winter stay in over 40 years of having the house! They really enjoyed it too, borrowing our toboggans, going skiing at Super Besse & taking snowy walks with their dog. We benefitted too as Vincent`s parents spent New Year`s Eve with them & stayed overnight in one of our B&B rooms. They are now planning to return (if they can) for the February holidays too which is good news.
We have managed a couple of bright spots during the month sharing the traditional Gallete des Rois ( a pastry filled with marzipan)with our friends Judith & Edward here, & with a group of friends at their house..both of which were happy occasions. I have also had lunch out with my “ladies wot lunch” friends a couple of times, managing to fit these trip in between car disasters!
So now we come to the jinx bit! Firstly, the car. Both of our cars are getting a bit elderly now but with the help of our friendly neighbourhood garage they keep on going...so far! However, coming back from a shopping trip to Issoire one Friday, my car started to make a funny noise & then the engine warning light came on & we had to stop. The car had to be picked up by a breakdown truck & taken to the garage. Fortunately some friends came to our rescue & we got back home. We were then without the car for nearly a week meaning I was confined to barracks for most of that time. Happily, it could be fixed & we did eventually get it back...although we are not sure how much it will cost yet...our garage is not so good at getting their bills done! Having just recovered from that trauma, we were driving to visit some friends, when there was again a funny noise from one of the back wheels. We nursed the car home & then back to the garage where after a few days it was again repaired - a bearing had gone apparently. So now we await the arrival of 2 garage bills :(
Next it was the turn of the computer. Again our computer is getting on a bit but has really not given us any trouble at all. We had noticed recently though that it was very slow to boot up & also to close down. Then one day it just froze & refused to close down or do anything, so off to the computer shop it had to go. We spent a very long week using phones, the tablet & “little thingy” (a netbook my friend Tots loaned us a while ago, to try & keep up to date with work & social activities. They did all work, but boy did my eyes take a hammering using the small screens! Again happily, the lovely boys at the computer shop (who built the PC in the first place) worked their magic & we now have the machine back & working, thank goodness. The only drawback is that we now have a French version of Windows installed & it also took us a while to figure out how to change the keyboard setting to enable us to use our English keyboard! I have to say that using a French keyboard takes a lot of getting used to...just finding the @ key, for example, takes ages & a certain amount of dexterity to get it to work! Again though, sighs of relief that we don`t have to buy a new computer, as money is not exactly flowing in just now!
Geoff could really do with the January jinx to lift for his English teaching too. He does a lot of his work now in small businesses using the scheme whereby employees are entitled to so many hours of training per year, if they pay their cotisations. However the government, in their wisdom, have decided to change the regulations for this & until all the training agencies get their heads around the new rules (& paperwork of course), there are very few new contracts being sorted. This means a lot of his work is on hold just now...& frankly we could do without it! January is always a duff month for me with the B&B & now with Geoff also not working much, we are not really earning any money :(
The jinx struck again in a way neither of us wanted & which resulted in me having to visit a doctor for the first time in 9 years! I have almost a phobia about going to the doctor (& the dentist) & always manage to sort myself out if I can. I also don`t do routine check ups...& before you all start saying that I should...I know! However I had started to really worry about a dimple which had appeared on my right breast & which was showing no signs of going away much to my annoyance. I am an ex nurse & know that this is a classic sign of breast cancer. Eventually I told Geoff, & as expected I found myself having to go & see the doctor at his insistence. So I have at long last, experienced the superb efficiency of the French health system, having been examined by the GP, having had an echo graph, done there & then in his surgery, a mammogram & a more sophisticated echo graph done in a clinique, received my results, had a follow up appointment with the doctor, all within a week...& fortunately had the all clear from them all :) So I am back to sleeping again & am full of admiration for the service. Still not keen on going to the doctor though....! One bright spot in all this was when I was making my appointment for the mammogram & the receptionist asked me for the date of my last period as it would depend where in my cycle I was as to when I could have the test done! I had to smile as I told her I was 62 years old & these things were long gone! Made my day :)
So as we come to the end of an eventful month I feel that the jinx is also departing. I have just today confirmed the first summer gite booking (youpi!) & also a huge weight has been lifted from my mind today as I have found & bought a fantastic outfit to wear at my daughter`s wedding. To quote a well known song, in this oufit “I feel good...”. It is the big Foire de St Paule today in Issoire, & I should be getting a big bunch of beautiful mimosa soon, although at the moment it is snowing like mad so we are in “the should we go” mode. Mimosa always makes me feel very happy, so I think we may well have to try & go! But looking at the snow coming down...maybe the jinx is going to continue until the very last minutes of January after all!