I have had a quiet few weeks recovering from surgery, hobbling around on crutches or being wheeled around. The plaster came off on Monday and it is nice to have the freedom of having a shower and being able to move more easily. I am booked in for surgery at the end of the month to have one of the screws removed from my ankle, it is a large screw that goes through both the fibula and tibia, and I will not be able to walk properly with this in. In the meantime I am now allowed to start putting some weight on my foot, which makes walking with crutches somewhat easier. Hopefully by the time the screw comes out I will be able to walk small distances without crutches.
So, what else have we been up to? Firstly John is working long hours, much more than either of us anticipated. He is teaching for around 30 – 35 hours a week (contact time) so by the time you add class prep time to that he is a busy man. The school doesn’t have any admin support so the boss asks the teachers to do a fair bit themselves, and I have started helping John with this, much of which is in excel which is one of my skills. He is enjoying the teaching though and it pays well, so it is not all bad. We are treating ourselves to a new wind generator out of his wages, so there will so long term gains out of his hard labouring.
We are living with Annie and Philippe still, with John sleeping on the boat 2 nights a week when he starts work at 7am the next morning. They are a lovely couple and we share a lot of laughter with them. They have two sons; the younger has been staying with us recently, between working on the Ille de Groix in the summer and travelling to Turkey, firstly by air and in a couple of weeks time is driving over there with a friend, in his very old Renault Quatrelle!
At weekends we cook a special meal for them, a Sunday roast, or John’s specialities in Chinese and Indian cuisine. This is something we both enjoy doing and it is nice to be able to give something back to a couple who have and still are doing so much for us. Annie adores my pastry and with a crate full of apples in the garage, apple pie appears on the table at least once a week. I have also introduced them to my homemade cheesecake which they are both very fond of. When I first decided to make this in France, I of course needed the ingredients. I make it with Philadelphia cheese, now when I came to describe what this is so we could buy it, I struggled. What is Philadelphia, I know it by no other name, France has many types of cheese, including the soft varieties, but I was at a complete loss. With Annie’s help we guessed at Fromage Blanc, and whilst not the same, it did work, and with the help of a drop of Baileys, I made my first French cheesecake.
On my next visit to a supermarket, there it was hiding between the Goats Cheese and the Raclette Cheese – Philadelphia. We bought some and I produced a fantastic Blueberry cheesecake. A friend from Groix was staying at the time and a couple of days later when back at home, she rang and asked for the recipe, and made the same for some friends of hers. A big compliment for me that she liked it so much she wanted to make it for her friends. I think I have made 3 more since.....
Round the dinner table we tend to have discussions on correct grammar, either in French or English, and also to laugh a lot! One particularly amusing evening with friends for dinner we somehow got on to the topic of bad language. Merde is a French word that I think everyone learned at school, but what we didn’t learn is that it is less vulgar in French than the English translation, so it is in very common use. Annie says she wouldn’t have used it in front of her parents, but her boys use it in front of her...a sign of changing times perhaps. Zut is rather like saying “oh bother” and I haven’t heard it used except for in jest.
So back to the dinner table and the Merde conversation, it went something like this:
Groix visitor: what was the correct pronunciation in English,
Another : Sheet
John: no not sheet, sh#t
Groix Visitor: Sheet
John: No not sheet......
A few more rounds and a bit of practice and all the French people round the table could now pronounce a word that we told them was offensive in English and best not to use it!
Along similar lines, one that appealed to me was how the French pronunciation of Spreadsheets sounds and they think it applicable that excel spreads sheets! Remember the previous conversation??
The boat is in a sheltered place for the winter, so it is always calm there. The tides are big and getting up and down the bridge onto the pontoon has been rather challenging for me at low tide. Everyone we have bumped into down there has been friendly, and a Norwegian chap who is living aboard with his French wife left us a note inviting our acquaintance. Somehow he managed to find this blog and had read it before we met, so already knew what we had been up to (hello Espen)! He has been a visitor for coffee a few times, and I am waiting for my leg to improve before I visit their boat.
My French continues to improve, although I think the pace has slowed down. The grammar is getting more complicated and I have hardly started yet. Annie and I sit at opposite ends of the table for dinner, with John and Philippe facing each other between us. There is a fair bit of rivalry goes on between the sexes, which again causes laughter. Whenever I know a word that John doesn’t (perhaps once a week if I am lucky), Annie will tease him and question that surely he knows the word. Yesterday’s word of the day for this was beetroot!
Having finally lost my plaster, I no longer have the pleasure of the daily injections by the nurse to stop my blood from clotting. The injections cost around 7 euros per day, the nurse another 3 to inject it, and another 7 for the nurse once a week for a blood test – which then goes to the lab who charge a further 10 for the result. I think at present I have incurred around 700 euros in medical costs, a much reduced rate as I have the EHIC card, without this it would be about 3 times the amount PLUS hospital in patient time which is free with the EHIC. In the next week or so I will be paying a visit to the local health social security office to find out how much I can get back, I believe around 70%.
That’s all for now, hopefully I will be updating with stories of me running marathons in the next blog.