There’s a reason I’ve not been so regular with my postings. My step-mum has been terribly ill and I’ve been family translator for her at all her doctor’s appointments, ultrasounds, x-rays and ‘urgences’. I have to say the French health system is phenomenal. We had an appointment on Thursday for her problems. The GP was fab. In England, you’d get a ‘see how you are over the weekend’ and ‘if it gets worse, come back’. Here, he ordered blood tests, ultrasounds and follow-up appointments, including the necessary three prescriptions (you have to have three when you are in France. It is compulsory, I think. Less than that means you’re just putting it on) and by Friday tea-time, though she hadn’t worsened and nothing showed up on the blood tests or the ultrasound, he ordered us to A&E in Angouleme.
At 7:30 in Bury, you have the first drunks turning up, beginning the onslaught of alcohol-related injuries that we English are so known for. Fights, stupidity, falls, people being run over, people with alcohol overdoses – if you don’t want to see Britain at it’s worst, steer clear of A&E on Friday and Saturday night.
In Angouleme, it was dead. There was one other person. Three nurses descended on us in a flurry of questions, hooked her up to an intravenous painkiller, gave her a glucose drip and soon we were trying to get to the bottom of her ailments. The doctor came at 11:00, after x-rays and further blood-tests and urine tests, said he couldn’t find anything, ordered more scans and told us we might as well come back at 10:00 in the morning – no point staying in if they can’t do anything.
The next morning, after 3 days of waiting rooms and salles d’attente, we returned. Brenda was whisked off for CT scans and ultrasounds, more tests. At 3:00, they decided to keep her in for observation. She’s still there.
Now whilst the doctors have made a valiant attempt to speak English, my French is better than their English. Plus, I’ve the benefit of having a sister in the medical profession. Thus, I can work out what white blood cell count is and translate various things they thought it was, and less is lost in translation. One woman told Brenda she was going to surgery. Whilst chirgurie is the literal translation, it really means a surgical ward with a specialism. So they really should have said she was going for observation on a ward – not she was going for surgery!! By 4:00, she’d been moved to a private room and she’s still there – horrible to be in a hospital bed in a foreign land.
So I’ve had no hammock time. Sadly.
My brother arrived yesterday morning, followed by my sister yesterday afternoon. How glad I am to see them! It’s been so long since I’ve seen my sister and I miss her so much. She’s where I was 5 years ago: assignments, work, running a household… and her spare time is rare and she has many friends to share it amongst, so I don’t get as much of her as I’d like, and she never gets as much of any of her friends and family as she’d like. I know that life, and I know it’s just one of those things. But it’s bloody great to have her here.
My brother-in-law is also ill – vomiting all night. He’s also got sleep Tourette’s. He swears like a navvy in his sleep. I’ve not slept properly since Thursday, I’ve picked up some nasty bug from sitting in the doctor’s surgery, it’s my Nana’s 80th birthday today and I feel like I need a holiday. And then the boys are back on Wednesday. At least, I hope they are. I’ve not heard a peep from Steve in a week and I’m terrified something’s happened to him.
Still, I know that’s just guys, and he’s back in England seeing all his relatives – I’m sure he has a million other things crowding his brain. It’s strange, but I could just do with him here. I miss them both so much.
The garden is at full strength – almost. Whilst I have a family here hoping for sunshine, I am waiting for the rain. It hasn’t rained properly for three weeks now and all our free water is gone. The garden is living off grey water and everything is dry. I even had to water the lawn yesterday – it’s looking like it’s around August out there – and I’m not surprised with all these days in the mid-twenties.
Everything else is robust – apart from the carrots, with which I have no luck. They just don’t seem to germinate here. I might have to do a series of pots with them in just to get them going. The peppers, which were slow to start, have gone from 10 seeds to 5 plants: not too bad in terms of wastage. We have about 100 tomato plants of various different species. All the potatoes have put up their first shoots and I can get to weeding between the rows. I have three different types of leek on the go and some ready to plant up to thicken up. The turnip tops are now huge and the biggest thing in the polytunnel, although as you’d expect, they are less courageous and vivid outside. Even my first cauliflowers seem to be fattening up their stems, though how they will ever turn into full-size cabbages is anybody’s guess. We have lettuces ready for Steve’s salad, huge radishes of varying sorts, broad beans in flower, our first crop of peas, melons and gherkins and courgettes putting out proper leaves, thyme, rosemary, oregano and basil growing well. The cabbages look a little thirsty and small, but the borlotti beans are much more adventurous and taking up the offer of free sun and warmth. I’ve planted out 10 sweetcorn and have another 10 to go out in the next couple of days. Here’s to hoping we have a bumper vegetable crop!
The fruit isn’t doing too badly either: lots of cherries beginning to form on our three cherry trees; beginnings of the plums we seemed to have so many of last year. The nectarine is flourishing. I discovered another quince tree in the hen quarters, although I’ve still got lots of quince jelly left from last year. Not sure exactly how to expand my quince repertoire! The apples – last to blossom – are still wearing some of their blooms. I pruned back a lot of the blackcurrants and redcurrants, although the great redcurrant bush didn’t get pruned quite enough – it has very few baby berries on it. Grape leaves are beginning to show, including little tiny buds of what will be grapes. The raspberries have flowered, and I’m not sure between the six bushes that we’ll have enough: oh well! I have found that the chickens very much like the baby berries, and so we need to enclose the bushes. Half my crop of blackcurrants and redcurrants have been lost already to our feathered high-jumpers.
And I’m not without flowers – pots and pots of petunias which seem to be growing tall and not putting forth any flower buds – will have to give them a pinching out maybe. Lots of alyssia and pansies, some sweet peas, although not as many as I’d like. Achillea waiting to go in, but no real signs of any of my aquilegia – not that I’d really thought there would be – it’s a very old packet.
Here’s to hoping that by September, all we will need will be meat, bread and milk!