Wednesday 9th December

Whoops ! I nearly missed December completely. Decided to do a bit of accidental ‘close up and personal’ research into French hospitals when a cyst turned septic, and I had to be rushed into hospital, put on a drip and butchered!

I am totally fine now, tho’ a little traumatised by the food.

When I arrived, they asked me all the usual hospital questions, amongst which “Vous mangez bien?” “Non, j’ai beaucoup de mal” I replied. For heaven’s sake, I had a fever and was feeling like sh-t; the last thing on my mind was eating!

Unfortunately, it turned out later that she had said ‘vous machez bien?” (Can you chew?) and for the 5 days I was there, I was served up liquidised fish, chicken and veg. About as disgusting as you can get, right at the very top of the vomitometre!! Fortunately, I had plenty of visitors who kept me well supplied with chocolate.

Today has been absolutely delicious. Blue skies, warm sun dispensing tender caresses – winter seems miles away! The local chemist in Maureillas was registering 24° on the outside themometre when we drove by.

Best months of the year for me in the P-O? Without hesitation, I would say September to December.

Before I was struck down with the dreaded lurgy, Olivier and I managed quite a few nice walks. We can’t go too far any more because Her Royal Hairiness gets tired very quickly, and between various serious problems with heart, kidneys and liver, diabetes involving two injections of insulin per day and in excess of 200€ worth of medicaments per month, we cherish every day spent with her as a bonus.

However, she does have good days, when she is a bouncy pup again, and is able to walk several miles without complaint.
A favourite walk that we did with friends last month starts behind the casino at Le Boulou. Bisou managed it really well, and it was fantastic to see her wagging her tail and running around.

Only animal lovers can really understand to what extent a family dog is part of your life and part of your heart. Unconditional love and loyalty cannot be too highly prized.

Another favourite walk of ours takes us up into the Albères towards Las Illas via the hauts de Céret.

Mainly off-road, some of the uphill climbs were quite taxing for my little legs but the views were magnificent as with so many walks round here. You can follow the whole walk here – a superb winter day out through cork trees stripped to the waist of their bark.

If you do this walk, one upsetting aspect of it is the notice up on the wall of a trashed cabin, explaining that the wooden shelter was built for walkers to use in case of sudden bad weather or other problems but that it has been vandalised. What is wrong with people? It’s way up in the hills – surely people dont walk all the way up there to destroy a facility that has been so kindly offered by the landowner? Incroyable!

So what else has been going on? Well, last weekend was the telethon, one of the few occasions when France gets charitable, as I have to say that giving to charity is not a ‘point fort’ for the French.

The telethon raises money for just one very worthwhile charity, the ‘ Association Française contre les Myopathies et les maladies neuromusculaires’ for neuromuscular diseases.
This year so far, it has raised €90,107,555 and more than a thousand of that was raised by the Brits in the little village of Maureillas who held a very well attended ‘British Tea Rooms’, including some fabulous singing by three lovely ladies of the village, who once again showed the French that the Brits can sing, dance and make a bloody good cuppa!
Down on the list to wash up and serve tea and cakes at table, I hid behind my recent operation and took along friend Sue, who did all the work leaving me to chat graciously to the punters and stuff my face! Thanks Sue – you look great in a pinny!

Have every intention of starting a serious diet tomorrow, and am hoping to lose a stone by Christmas – or I might wait until New Year to start this strict new regime. Yes, that sounds like a much better idea. I feel a lot better now that wobbly intention has been swept back under the rug for another few weeks. Get the crisps out!

Monday 14th December

Wow what a weather change! The Albères mountain range looks like somebody has sprinkled icing sugar over it – a real winter wonderland.
Big drop in temperature, with light snow this morning, but a weak but ever hopeful sun still managed to squeeze a few rays through this afternoon. It’s time to light the fire methinks. OLIVIER!

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