Added on Tuesday 29 Jul 2008
For the past few weeks I have been acquainting myself with the insides of hospitals, doctors surgeries, X-ray machines and so on. The reason for all this goes a very long way back to when I was three, which wasn't yesterday! When I was three I contracted osteo-militis (a form of polio) in my left leg, which left it some 2 inches shorter and made the ankle semi rigid. Over the years and after many accidents later the leg has become a bit of a bind and now has started to cause me pain as arthritis has started to become much more severe. Up until about a couple of years ago this was reasonably bearable but now it has become a more serious problem calling for some action in the near future. While the French medical system is excellent, they say that it is one of the best in the world, it is set up very differently to the way the NHS works. When you go along to the GP you then start a long chain of events which involves choices of where to go, who to see etc. All followed with another visit to the GP to report back and then another decision as to what action needs to be taken and where and when. Also most things like x-rays, physio etc does not take place in hospitals but in various private clinics all this followed by another visit to the GP. While this may seem a little long winded it is in fact remarkably quick, just a few days in fact, There is certainly no such thing as waiting lists of months here in France! Having made up my mind that something needs to be done, an appointment was made with the surgeon for me to enter hospital on the 5th of August for an operation to my ankle. Sadly the surgeon told me that I will have to have the leg in plaster for about three months. This apparently is to let the joints all knit together as the whole ankle will have been taken apart, the cartilage to be removed and it will mean that the ankle will remain more or less immobile but at least the pain should have gone. I hope!
With the sunny weather at the moment our front door is kept open most of the day and the other week I heard a sort of snuffling and scraping sound getting closer to the door. Getting up to have a look out I saw a rather scruffy badger coming up the road against our wall of the house. It paused just at the door, with enough time to have a little look inside and then continued up the road. Not realising that Fiona had never seen a badger, I called out to her "We have a badger at the door" to which she replied, "What on earth are you talking about?" When she came and had a look she saw what I meant and then explained that this was the first time that she had ever seen one and it made me realise how lucky that I have been with my background partly in the country what creatures I have seen in my life. I am just curious as to where it had come from and where it was going. Although I have seen badgers before I have never seen one here in the village, I always thought that they were nocturnal creatures anyway!
Last week was Bastille Day, which you will know is a national day in France, and even in rural France is taken very seriously and in Salignac is no exception in participating in celebrations. Here we have dancing in the square in the evening followed by a fireworks display down by the chateau, which fortunately is just across the road from us, which gives me a wonderful vantage point from which to take some photographs and being such a clear night it was, as always, great to see. Sadly it is not finished off with a curtain of colours, the red, white and blue of the tricolour as it used to be some years ago but a lovely display none the less, and for free as well. What more can one ask for? In all the years that I have lived here and occasionally one can get a bit depressed about life, money, health and all sorts of things but it just takes half an hour of things like that to make one realise just how lucky I am. I live in a lovely country in beautiful surroundings, the food and wine is good (and cheap), the sun shines most of the time, the people are very friendly and very helpful (although officialdom can be exasperating, but then that is the same anywhere!) Yes I am very lucky.
Rural France. I love it!
Barry Paton (c) July 2008.