Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Over and Out

Okay. I give up.

I'm going to take a break again from this.

The wedding planning is going fine but I'm struggling with other stuff at the moment and need to focus on working out what I'm currently calling my "coping strategy".

The good news is that the ongoing back pain has been diagnosed. The bad news is that it's arthritis in my damaged lower discs. More scans and visits to the rhumatologists will continue in the coming weeks. There's nothing nice about being told you have the spine of someone several decades older than your actual age. When I read the leaflets and advice on diet, exercise and managing I see images of grey haired pensioners and have to remind myself I'm really a youthful 32 years old.

I still (just about) have a job but am going through the joys of job searching and applications as the monthly contract renewals are about to finally run out. Anyone need an experienced international marketeer, specialising in shampoos, soaps, washing powder, teas and sauces? Based in North East France, will travel for S'Miles and Frequent Flyer Points.

The weather in Reims continues to be grey, damp and dark. You see where my mood is going with this?!

I'll be back. Just give me time, a large packet of anti-inflammatories and a little motivation.

Saturday, February 04, 2006


This morning I was rudely awaken by the alarm at 8am. The reason for the alarm on a Saturday was that we had an important appointment at the family doctors.

Part of the marriage dossier, that has to be handed into the Mairie, includes a Prenuptial Medical Certificate. In the long list of things demanded from the State, this is probably the closest I have ever come to the State being involved in my personal affairs. But this is France and France is the State.*

Once I'd got over the 'not another bloody document' gut reaction, I realised that this is probably a good system. Identify a moment in your citizens' lives to ensure that they have a health MOT. The doctor gives a general physical check (blood pressure, respiration, heart, general ailments), a look to see if you're up to date on your immunisations, a check on your blood type and the voluntary opportunity to take an HIV test.

The only reason I think this is a good thing is because the State doesn't get to see the results and neither does your partner, unless you choose to tell him/her. It's a personal check up. The doctor signs a form to say you've been through the procedure and that is what is handed to the Mairie (along with a gazillion other pieces of legal documentation).

I ended up with a couple of test tubes worth of blood extracted from my arm . Much to Frog's annoyance, I have no idea what my blood type is(he is 'special' as a type that is shared with only 1% of the French nation). His annoyance was because we couldn't get the forms signed today as we have to return for my blood type result. The doctor will then advise us if there are any issues on our type compatibility for future children and sign the certificate.

There's a great line in the series Lost when during an 'emergency in the middle of the jungle blood transfusion', they are looking for people with matching blood types. Whilst all around, American characters are offering up their blood types, including the half-dead guy on the floor, the British character Charlie panics "I have no idea, I'm English. We don't know our blood types".

According to my Mum - the source of all sensible knowledge - the theory in the UK is that if we were to find out our blood types when we're young, some might quickly discern that they are not necessarily related to their parents, due to impossible inherited blood type combinations.

So, in 7 - 10 days I will find out. It's quite exciting really. I could make jokes about discovering the hidden truth, that I'm not related to part of my family. But I won't as my sister might get upset. I'm just thinking them very loudly!

*I highly recommend a book called 60 Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong (Why We Love France But Hate the French), written by two Canadian sociologists. It brilliantly and vividly explains the French psyche.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


Sometimes when the weather is this crap (the last day has given us sub-zero, grey, freezing fog, sleet and snow) I like to think about white sandy beaches, turquoise seas, sarongs, and a stack of books to read whilst relaxing on a soft towel.

Well, it so happens that as I was watching the snow start to fall outside the windows of the travel agency, we were in the process of booking our honeymoon.

The honeymoon planning has been a long saga. It was my responsibility but everytime I discussed options with Frog it swung towards another idea, from Croatia to Ibiza, Crete to Morocco. (If anyone wants them I have prepared excel sheets full of itineries and hotel quotes ready to go!)

Yet, despite the charming little places I found, we still couldn't decide on where to go with my Air France Air Miles. Free flights, access to beach and warm Mediterannean sun. Sounds easy? I know.

In the end, I started to pick up the (oh so subtle) signs that Frog was interested in going further afield. And shock! Might pay the extra. Anyone who knows a management accountant might appreciate the rarity of this act.

The outcome of this (and yes, I jumped into action fast!) is that as of 10:30am this morning, we have a 10 days trip to La RĂ©union booked, deposit paid and now just a bikini to buy!

For someone who lied through her teeth that "a couple of rainy days in Normandy would be fine, just so long as we get away after the wedding", this is paradise indeed.

If I sound smug, it's because I am smug!

There is, however, a postscript to this smugness. When the travel agent offered us the insurance, including cancellation coverage, Frog suddenly got very interested. What would that cover for reasons for cancellation? Would it have to be something very official to get the insurance to reimburse the costs?

I immediately started to panic. Is he getting cold feet about the wedding? Is this the moment where he's suddenly realised the impact of marriage and he's looking to see what his back out plan might be?

It's only once we were outside that he turned to me, white-faced, and confessed...

... he hadn't asked for the time off work from his parents and was worried his Mum was going to freak out about him disappearing for 10 days.

Honestly. Family, bloody businesses.

The post postscript, is that this afternoon he called to say his Mum is fine with the time and us taking a honeymoon straight away.

Breathe in. Breathe out.