Another week passes and I am feeling much better. I went to the hospital last Monday to have my stitches out. Yet another good experience of the French health service. My appointment was at 3pm so we arrived in good time. At Mayenne hospital there is plenty of parking and it is free to park (unlike most hospitals now in the UK). We had to register at the reception and were seen promptly and referred to the department of “chirurgie viscerale” (abdominal surgery). We arrived at their waiting area at 2.55pm and were seen right on time at 3pm.

A very gentle nurse removed all my stitches and thankfully I hardly noticed. I was then seen by the surgeon who showed me photos of my gall bladder on his mobile phone! This showed the extent of the infection and why there was a need to remove it. After a brief discussion I was given a date of 2nd March to have a final check up with the surgeon. By 3.15 we were finished and off to do some shopping with my daughter. 

Once I have seen the surgeon on 2nd March I can come off my strict low fat diet which probably means that I shall put back on some of the weight I have lost. Today I had my first glass of wine for about a month! It was very nice. I am looking forward to having some cheese after 2nd March. The surgeon tells me that I should be able to eat most things after that date but not all at once!

My convalescence has seen lots of get well messages and one or two presents. This week I received a parcel from the USA, which turned out to be from my brother and his partner Shuriu. What I was not quite prepared for was the little knitted model of a gall bladder!!! Apparently this is an example of an “amigurumi” which I had never heard of.

My gall bladder amigurumi!!

Amigurumi is the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small, stuffed yarn creatures. The word is a portmanteau of the Japanese words ami, meaning crocheted or knitted, and nuigurumi, meaning stuffed doll.  In the west they are called Amigurumi, which are the original phonetics of in Japanese language.  Amigurumis vary in size and there are no restrictions about size or look. While Amigurumi has been known in Japan for several decades, Amigurumi first started appealing to the masses in other countries, especially in the West, in 2003. By 2006, amigurumi were reported to be some of the most popular items on Etsy, an online craft marketplace, where they typically sold for $10 to $100.  Since then popularity has continued to increase. 

So, now I have something to follow up the knitted chicken tabards that Shuriu sent me. I can be pleased to think that I am probably the only person in Europe to have a gall bladder shaped Amigurumi. Anyway you can see from the photo with the blog the full amigurumi experience!

I am coming to the view that chickens are not to be trusted. They spend quite a bit of time huddled together and to be in deep discussion. It looks like they are conspiring. But what are they up to. For a time the centre of their attention has been the feeding time for the cats and how best to go about stealing their food. They even worked out the time and suddenly appear and loiter about pretending not to be watching the front door. But as soon as the door is open they move in en masse to try to outfox the cats.

There is obviously a subtle motive behind this action as the hens worked out that this was a win – win situation. Either they would get some cat food or else we would provide some sort of chicken treat to tempt the hens away from the cats. So now we have a glass dish into which we put spare potatoes or other treats and this comes out at the same time as the cat bowls.

The hens however did not take into account Mrs. Parish who turned the tables onto the hens. The hens have now in Pavlov’s dogs’ style become synced into the dish and as soon as it appears they come running from wherever they are to get their treat. This is now a useful way of getting the hens back into their run during the day.

So the hens have tried to change tactics and have discovered that they can get up to the windows of the house and try to look intimidating by peering in. They have obviously been watching Hitchcock’s “The Birds” to try to maximise the intimidation. They have also discovered the window boxes and have started to peck away the flowers to try to get us to offer them treats. 

Hens at the window

At least the hens are continuing to lay eggs although with some irony I am currently not able to eat any eggs. This means we have to find friends to give eggs to as Mrs. Parish can’t keep up with production. Hopefully after 2nd March eggs will be back on my menu.

I promised to keep you up to date on the cormorant situation at my friend Ian’s lake. Last week we left Ian with Emile’s ancient shotgun and some live cartridges pitched against around 20 cormorants. Well the good news is that Ian has managed not to shoot either himself or Sarah. He has also managed to avoid hitting any cormorants which would be against the law. He has been going up to the lake before first light to try to catch any birds before they land on the lake. This has led to him firing the shotgun and scaring away the cormorants and a couple of herons.

This is a holding arrangement as you will recall that the cormorant tool box advises that cormorants will eventually get used to the shots. So the plan is to net the lake but first there is a need to clear away some branches and other vegetation to enable the net to fit over the lake. So Ian has bought a little rowing boat to patrol the lake. It arrived this week and Ian after an on land try out has now been seen doing his impression of Captain Pugwash!

Captain Pugwash v the Cormorants

The good thing has been a change in the weather and it has got distinctly warmer and we have had several clear and sunny days. The days are beginning to get longer and it is now light when we get up in the mornings. There is more bird song and spring flowers are beginning to show. We have had a number of crocuses out in the garden. The cats are much happier and have begun to find all their sunny spots to sleep and soak up the sun. Unfortunately this also means they spend more time sat on our car so the roof is now very dirty with muddy cats’ paws. To this one can add the mud that is on the sides and wheels picked up from the roads around us. This is the impact of all the tractors moving around.

Just been out to feed the cats and as soon as I opened the door three hens came running at top speed as if from nowhere. Mrs. Parish has appeared with the magic dish and diverted the chickens back to the hen house so the cats can eat in peace.

So at least this week I can once again contemplate an early evening aperitif. It will soon be time to go and have a look at the cave and make a choice. As I have already had a glass of red wine today I should probably be prudent and go for the option of a glass of cider which is only 2% proof.

Bon weekend