And I, for one, am not complaining.
The images that sum up this week, once again, are doggy pictures. Looking out of the landing window one afternoon, it became very clear to me that the larger dogs like to stay out in direct sunlight:while a look at the bottom of the stairs showed that the smaller dogs prefer some respite (they stay out for some minutes, then come back in, panting furiously, to cool off again)At the time, this is what the outside thermometer told us:The long dry period has stopped the grass from growing, and the lack of moisture has caused the grass to die off. However, the weeds aren’t as constrained, and have continued to grow strongly. On Wednesday, I decided that, whatever the ill effect on the grass (it’ll grow back; it always does), I needed to run around with the ride-on to get the weeds down, before they take too strong a hold. We have a real problem with the territorial ambitions of nettles, brambles, bindweed and other invasives, as you can see from the picture below, taken immediately after I had finished the cut.In other news:
I felt moved to comment on Facebook during the week, in praise of the local health system, as it impacts on me. Wednesday afternoon, I texted Arnaud, the lead nurse, to let him know that I needed a set of blood tests in preparation for my routine visit to the doctor next week. He arrived at the house at 8.35 on Thursday morning, leaving again about ten minutes later after taking my blood (as always, I didn’t feel a thing) and a short chat, when I told him I’d be calling him back in a couple of weeks, as my urologist needs a blood test before I see him at the end of the month.
The lab, which is in Montluçon, 30 km north of us, has my email address and lets me know when the results are available for download (they also put them in the post the same day, so I have them the morning after the nurse’s visit anyway). My experience of this has always been very positive; the email usually arriving by 5pm on the day the blood is taken. What was exceptional this time, is that the email arrived at 2.52pm – a mere six hours after Arnaud had left. The results were all okay, too.
Staying on medical things, Clare visited her GE consultant on Friday and came out with confirmation of what we were expecting (and hoping), that her condition is being controlled well by the medication and now just needs occasional monitoring.
Following on that tidy transition from my medical stuff to Clare’s, we’ll now move seamlessly from Clare’s medical stuff to her craft skills.
One of the aspects of Arabella (our camper) that we don’t particularly like is the dark colours inside. All of the woodwork is of a shade that is darker than medium oak but lighter than walnut. There’s rather a lot of it, but I don’t think we should try to change it all. What we can address, though, is the upholstery – seat covers, curtains etc. Here is, if you didn’t know it, what it has looked like since it left the factory, in 2001:And this is what it will look like when Clever Creative Clare has finished with it (she has only done the two single seats so far):It is far from an easy or trivial job, but will make a great difference to the look of the camper; and I am in awe of Clare’s skills with this kind of thing, as you may have gathered from some of my earlier posts.
Thursday was a significant day. It being thirty-five days before our planned arrival in Kerala (yup, it’s that close now), it was our first opportunity to apply for the e-Tourist visas. Those of you who know me will understand that I wanted to make the applications at the earliest date available,to allow plenty of time for any problems to be resolved. The on-line forms were long and complex, and I had trouble understanding the reasoning behind some of the questions (having declared my occupation as ‘retired’, why did I need to give an employer’s name and address, and why did they need the full names, nationalities and places of birth of both my late parents, and of my spouse?). I assumed, though, that these things have relevance in the Indian culture, so carried out some genealogical research to get the information for my and Clare’s parents.
The forms being completed, I had then to pay the fee on-line, using my choice of the Standard Bank of India and a commercial bank (Axis Bank). I chose SBI, for no particular reason. I browsed to their site, brought up the payment gateway and entered all the relevant information to pay for my visa – I couldn’t pay for the two together, as they are seen as separate. It said it wanted US$61.50. I put in details of my debit card and hit ‘pay’. The site went away for some seconds, then came back with a server error. Not knowing whether my card had been charged, I emailed SBI to report the error and to find out the status of my payment. Their response to my email that started “I need to pay for 2 e-Tourist visas through your gateway” was “Please advise whether the transaction was made from SBI gateway or Axis Bank gateway.” WHAT? Why would I email them, if my problem was with another bank’s payment gateway? I responded politely (not easy) and, while waiting for their reaction, I went to the Axis Bank gateway and paid for Clare’s visa – for some reason, the cost was a little more at US$61.72. That payment went through as quickly and as efficiently as we should be able to expect from all institutions. Buoyed by that, I paid for mine, too, in the same way, then emailed SBI to tell them that I had done so, and hoping that I hadn’t been charged.
Now, we’re just hoping that the pound doesn’t stage another nose-dive before we have to pay for the balance of our holiday (in Indian Rupees) a couple of days before we leave.