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Big day! I‘m going out. Only to our local town with Simon, but it’s still almost ‘out, out’.

First thing is to get into the car. This proves to be something of a major challenge as the seat is set too low. Nevertheless, I swing my legs and body in and round at a bit of a lick. Simon suggests making the seat higher to try and make it easier.

I’m not convinced. He is.

The extra lifting and speedy entry into the car results in pains where I shouldn’t have them for the duration of the car journey.

I suddenly realise I’m going to have to speak French. And get out of the car too.

Mild panic ensues.

Arriving at our destination, we elevate my seat to its highest point where my head is boring a passage into the car roof. The extra height means the leg swinging exercise is vastly less difficult, but slightly more taxing to get my head out.

Happily, Simon resists the urge to say ‘I told you so’.

Now for the talking bit. After coming out of hospital I felt as if I had been on an intensive course. My French had improved dramatically. Now the nurses have stopped their daily visits too, there are only English voices in the house. Use it or lose it.

Deep breath and in I go. Fortunately, it comes back from somewhere within the deepest recesses and I manage to convey what needs to be said, understanding the responses and questions fired at me by the receptionist.

That’s the worst bit done. Breathe a sigh of relief. Phew.

Car entry and exit is definitely easier with practice. And increased height. He was right.

While we are out and about, there is mastic to buy in two glorious shades, plus a jolly chapeau (hat) to perch on the top of the stench pipe. Mastic buying proves unusually quick and simple for a shopping trip with Simon. For that, I’m slightly stunned but delighted.

We then go on a trawl through several of the larger DIY stores for the jolly chapeau. That’s a lot of getting in and out of cars. Something I would normally not give a second thought to. There’s a poo hat in the third store.

Simon grumbles about the price of the chapeau and the fact it is black not grey. Why are the rest of the pipes grey and this bit is only made in black? He does have a point.

A gentle hint to the C word tumbles from his lips.

While we are out we can also collect my pottery from lovely Val. Her studio is a haven; a sanctuary of calm.

That is until someone drops a tub of glaze on the floor - amazing how far it can travel in a very short time.

Or sticks their finger rather too briskly into the side of their just completed fabulous creation while removing it from the wheel. There then follows a palpable and sympathetic silence from all the others working in the studio, while the fabricator mushes their beautiful creation to a pulp, weeping a little inside.

In a day of ‘potting’ over a month ago before I had surgery, I managed to get a couple of pieces finished. Val has since fired them for me. Thank you, Val.

It will be a while before I get back to pottery as rolling the clay takes quite a mighty effort, being that my preference is to make large platters usually about 50cm across. The one above is much smaller than normal at about 20x30cm. Right at the end of my time pre-surgery, it simply became too painful to roll out larger pieces of clay.

I guess I could have a go at some smaller more intricate stuff, although sitting for long enough to make anything at all would be impossible at present.

We return home. I long to go back to the pottery studio.

Parsnip update: Carefully and slowly, I peel most of the contents of the wheelbarrow and concoct soup so thick you could point our walls up with it. A wooden spoon stands up handsomely by itself in it. The soup can be thinned down upon thawing but freezing it as thick as this saves freezer space. The house of a hundred parsnips is transformed into the house with a freezer full of parsnip soup.

Now the rest of the barrow contents left are beetroot, so the plan is to make borscht. That will have to wait for another day though.

Arnie update: he’s so much happier in himself. This is good in one way and very bad in another - he’s pain free, so scampering around as if there is nothing wrong at all. I notice he is dragging his back toes when walking and his back is more arched.

This is very bad news indeed.

Guess what? He’s going back to the vet’s bright and early on Friday morning again. Sigh!

Simon update: Mastic, in both shades, is applied but Simon, ever the perfectionist, is not happy.

The C word is heard, not for the first time today.

Today’s mastic will be coming out tomorrow, with another lot going in. Ear plugs at the ready.

Much use of the C word heard upstairs.

Simon launches himself up the impossibly high scaffolding tower to plop the chapeau on the poo pipe. He’s absolutely knackered poor chap. As he reaches the very tippiest of the tippy top, the chapeau plunges earthwards and the bloody thing snaps in two.

Extensive, unbounded and liberal use of the C word follows.

Lovely friend Donna arrives. I’m slightly shocked he greets her only with ‘Hello’ as I half expected to hear him say the C word at her, having heard it so much today.

Retrieving the poo pipe hat from the ground, he heads towards the workshop to look for glue but doubts ‘If any will be in date’.

He departs trailing the C word languidly behind him.

Emerging ten minutes later, it seems the glue is ok so he’s back up the scaffolding again, mended chapeau in hand.

As he pops the hat and extended pipe onto the existing pipe it doesn’t go in straight and the glue has gone so tacky he can’t shift it. Now if there is something that Simon cannot abide it is unstraightness when straightness is required. We will never hear the end of this. Never.

Crazed, slightly hysterical usage of previously heard and much used C word follows.

Thankfully it’s footie training for him this evening. Hopefully he will have a great evening with his chums and he’s not too tired so can still run around.

Doubtless the C word will abound there too.



Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I’m Jill, a RHS gold medal winning English professional gardener, garden designer and landscaper living in South West France since 2012. This is a personal account of my gardening life, some of the jolly and occasionally not so jolly japes that ensued while working, that probably caused my subsequent back problems.

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