Well, we’re back. It was nice to get away, but nice to come home too!

So, how was our holiday? Busy, of course! On Christmas Eve we visited Vision Express in Brent Cross shopping centre to see if they could fit us in for an eye test. Not quite the Christmassy thing you were expecting, perhaps! I had found that concentrating for extended periods (for example driving at night) was making me rather tired. I had Lasik treatment some twelve years ago, and have not worn spectacles since then. This visit to Vision Express had been tentatively planned earlier in the year. From conversations with M, we had ascertained that having an eye test in France was not a simple event. She wears contact lenses and her daughter wears spectacles, so speaks from experience. The closest optician is in Orleans, and one needs to make an appointment six months in advance…

So we popped in to see if we could make an appointment. All we really required was to get our prescription (if spectacles were necessary) and we could then have these made up in France. It turned out they could see both of us that same day, as they had a free slot at 12h30. LSS’s checkup was fine. As for me, it transpired that my left eye had become long-sighted, and my right eye short-sighted, so I was fitted for some varifocal spectacles. The good news is that I don’t need to wear them all the time, only for tasks requiring concentration like reading or driving. The spectacles will be manufactured and posted to France in the next few weeks, so there’s no need to visit an optician in France. I suspect this is just as well, as we would probably have been told that the prescription was not valid because it was not written in French.

Other than that, we did vast amounts of shopping, buying exciting things like malt vinegar, HP sauce and baked beans. We also found an Indian Cash-and-Carry in Harrow where we bought lots of curry spices very cheaply. I struck up a conversation with the lady shop-owner whilst LSS was browsing through the racks of poppadums,  and we discovered to our shock that we had the same country of origin. Her entire family was born in Uganda, and was one of those evicted by the dictator Idi Amin in the early 1970’s. Her late husband was born in the same town as I. Small world!

On Boxing Day we visited the shops in Oxford Street, London. They were obviously packed, so this was not really an experience which I enjoyed. LSS managed to get a few items of clothing in the sales though.

The homeward journey was mostly uneventful, except that we missed a vital sign for the motorway and ended up driving through the north of Paris. Luckily it was a Sunday, but the roads were still incredibly busy! Oh – and don’t expect courtesy from Parisian motorists if you happen to be in the wrong lane. No wonder all their cars have dents in them. Fortunately we escaped unscathed; I had started having visions of being trapped in the inner roads of Paris for a week.

On the night of our return the temperature plummeted. I deduced that it had been cloudy the entire time we had been away, as the thermal store was at a miserable 13 degrees. Inside the house it was an equally miserable 5 degrees. My first task was to light both wood stoves, and when we went to bed the temperature outside had dropped to minus 12.9 degrees. Cat was obviously delighted to see us.

When Monday dawned we fetched a reportedly pregnant Mrs Bunny from neighbour J. The hens had been well looked after during our absence and had still been producing an average of 6 eggs per day. I then found that the greywater sump was full, which was further evidence of constant cloud cover during our absence (the solar panel had not charged the battery sufficiently). I plugged in an extension lead and connected the battery to my Optimate battery charger, which restored the battery to full health within 48 hours.

On Tuesday LSS had some bad news; she telephoned the Aged Aunt. Her husband answered instead, and it transpired that the Aged Aunt is in hospital. Apparently she fell down the stairs at home last Friday and has broken her femur. So it would appear that we’ve not quite finished with hospital visits yet.

What about the aged FIL then? Well, he’s not improving. We’ve concluded that he simply takes pleasure at having others at his beck and call; and as a result has decided that he will not make any effort to do anything for himself. An example: LSS bought some goodies for the carers (things like pots of English marmalade and packets of shortbread) and went around to the aged FIL on consecutive evenings to give these presents to the ladies. One had not been at the aged FIL since his return from hospital so was unaware of the current situation. The aged FIL instructed her to feed him, saying he was unable to hold a fork. The carer was about to do this, when LSS interjected that this seemed to be a new development; as far as she was aware the aged FIL was quite capable of feeding himself. So a very disgruntled aged FIL did, indeed, feed himself.

The medical profession has now instructed LSS to commence the paperwork to apply for his admittance to a care home. He has been informed of this. Of course his immediate response was “I AM NOT GOING INTO A HOME! YOU WANT TO PUT ME IN A HOME, BUT I’M THE BOSS! I DECIDE!”

But it’s not his decision to make. Nor is it LSS’s decision. The medical staff have made the decision, because it is no longer practical to care for him at home. One individual is incapable of getting him out of bed; it requires two persons. And considering that his bed linen needed changing twice today, it’s fortunate that LSS was on hand both times to assist. The aged FIL has been fitted with a nappy (diaper if you’re reading this in the US) but despite all instructions to the contrary, is constantly removing it, with the inevitable consequences. An ulcer has also appeared on one of his heels, which is exceedingly bad news for someone with diabetes… (http://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetes-footcare.html)

Anyway, enough of the medical reports. On a more cheerful note, I would just like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy New Year.

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