Alpine Mummy

A new life in the middle of nowhere


Reader Appreciation Award

I have always been totally addicted to reading.  In the UK I got through about four library books a week (commuting was good for one thing!), and spent a ridiculous amount of my kids’ inheritence in Waterstones.   But when we moved here I left all my (hundreds) of books in the UK – it was so painful but I knew we had no room for them here.  With a heavy heart I packed them away, and now they’re waiting patiently for me (I hope) in my dad’s garage.  I was so lost without them.

But then I discovered blogs.  I was saved!  I have found a whole new world of words –  so many amazingly well-written, witty, poignant, thought-provoking and downright brilliant blogs.  Trawling WordPress and Twitter for yet more posts to devour has become my new reading addiction, and is the main reason why my house is such a tip (other reasons include the fact that I hate housework, the fact that I often have a screaming baby and/or an excited four-year old attached to my boob and/or leg, and the fact that I’m just downright lazy).

One of the above-mentioned brilliant blogs is ‘Just Me With…’.  Her posts are laugh-out-loud-funny one minute, and will bring a tear to your eye the next.  She is the only person I know who has given birth to five children in three and a half years.  Wow.  And she has moved into a house which used to be inhabited by hoarders.  Who peed in Coke bottles.  Which they hoarded.  Wow indeed.  Check her out.

Anyway, Roxanne from ‘Just Me With…’ has very kindly nominated me for a Reader Appreciation Award.  How lovely!  Thank you very, very much – you really have made a new blogger very happy.  And it’s always nice to feel appreciated!

So now it’s my turn.  Here are the rules:

1. Link back to the person who nominated you.
2. Attach the icon to your site.
3. Answer the questions.
4. Nominate some other bloggers whom you feel deserve this award!

I’m a lawyer.  I like rules.  So I’m going to follow these to the letter.  Roxanne gave me the choice of answering the same questions she did, or making up my own.  Since it’s late, I haven’t had an unbroken night’s sleep for several weeks now (Alpine Girl has given up sleeping and thinks I should too), and I’m trying to watch the special extended edition of Lord of the Rings Part II at the same time as writing this post, I’m afraid I don’t have the imagination to set myself any questions.  So I’ll go with the first option.

So, here goes:

Q: Do you watch television?

Yes.  A lot.  Or at least I used to.  As I mentioned, I am a total Corriephile, and am very happy to have  finally found a way to catch up with the omnibus on my laptop when I need my fix of cobbles and warm ale.

Q: Who is your favourite author?

Too many to mention.  And it changes by the week.  This week I love Haruki Murakami.  But I also love Marian Keyes.   I’m weird, I know.

Q: Do you like 80′s movies?

Not especially.  Though I do like Top Gun.  I used to watch it every day after school when I was 12.  I had the soundtrack on a cassette and everything.  Cool.  And I have very fond memories of watching it again with my sister the day before I moved to France.  Thanks Ruthie. X

Q: What social issue bothers you?

This question is too hard.  I could do a list but it would go on forever and would no doubt offend and impress in equal measure, depending on who’s reading.  So I’ll just pass.

Q: What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

Cow’s tongue was pretty weird (though Alpine Papa disagrees and thinks it’s totally normal).  You can see (and feel) all the taste buds on it and everything.  Not my favourite.  And I had guinea pig in Peru but was disappointed.  Not very meaty.

Q: How do you like your eggs?

In a cake.  A big cake.

Q:When did you discover blogging?

Only about 4 months ago.  It took me a while to pluck up the courage to actually start as I kept stumbling upon really good blogs – weirdly inspiring and depressing at the same time…

Q: Why do you like to blog?

Because I like to talk.  And talk.  And talk…

It started off as a way to keep in touch with the friends and family I’ve left behind in the UK.  Now it’s just as much for me as for them – it keeps me from going crazy here in the middle of nowhere with two kids and a lot of snow.

So that’s it.  Me in a few questions.  And now it’s my turn.  I hereby nominate the following brilliant bloggers for the Reader Appreciation Award:

Mummy Drinks Tea
Thinking Cowgirl
Mum in a Muddle
Shoes on the Wrong Feet

Please, if you haven’t come across them already, pop across and have a look.  Their blogs are all great, all in different ways.  One of them cuts up Orla Keily books (I know!! But she does now have very posh Christmas decorations, so it’s OK).  One of them is not ashamed to put up photos of herself in the 80s.  One of them makes me cry with her WordPress therapy couch.  And one of them is my walking buddy even though she’s miles away.

They really don’t have to answer my questions – I just want to let them know I think their blogs are great!  If they do want to answer some questions, how about these ones:

  1. Who would play you in a film of your life (or rather, who would you want to play you?!)?
  2. You are granted an extra hour in your day – what do you do with it?
  3. Cake, chocolate or crisps or salad?
  4. Why did you start blogging?  Why do you continue blogging?


That’s all folks!


And yet more snow!

snow tree

This post has been a long time coming but I’m discovering quite how time-consuming it is living in the mountains in winter.  And winter has certainly arrived – we have nearly a metre of snow in our garden, it’s currently about -13°c outside, and our driveway is covered in ice.  I think I must have been singing “Let it Snow” just a little bit too loudly; someone up above appears to have heard me… Continue reading


Yet more suppositories, Madame

Poor Alpine Girl has once again encountered the French medical system.  I’ll say one thing for French doctors:  they certainly are thorough…

Beaucoup de medicaments

Beaucoup de médicaments – all for Alpine Girl

She started off with just a cold and a slight temperature on Monday last week.  I didn’t really think too much of it:  it’s the first time she’s been ill and, although it broke my heart to see her red eyes and snotty nose, like the good English girl I am, I didn’t want to bother the doctor.  I remember going to see the doctor in the UK when Alpine Boy had his first cold (as I was worried it had got to his chest), and being told it was, well, just a cold.  The doctor didn’t actually roll his eyes and call me a hypochondriac during his three-and-a-half-minute consultation, but he may as well have.  I felt truly chastised for having wasted his time for “just a cold”.

So, forgetting the French aren’t like that, I didn’t take Alpine Girl to the doctor’s at first.  I still thought she was just a bit bunged up and I didn’t want to take her all the way into town in the freezing cold for nothing (it is very cold here at the moment).  But last Tuesday was the night from hell:  she wouldn’t sleep at all and I spent all night walking round with her, sucking snot out her nose (nice) and waving eucalyptus steam around the room.  It was the three hours’ sleep that night that finally convinced me that a doctor wouldn’t mind seeing her.

So last Wednesday we bundled her up and braved the cold for the doctor’s appointment.  I was still not convinced a doctor wouldn’t just tell me to stop being such a drama queen, but Alpine Papa convinced me.  You can tell he’s a true Frenchman.

And worth it, it was.  We had a full 15-minute consultation – none of the cursory glances I had experienced with the NHS.  (Please don’t think I’m slagging off all NHS GPs, I’m really not – some of my best friends are NHS GPs and I am sure they do a fantastic job!  Unfortunately they don’t work in my local doctors’ surgery…).  Everything was thoroughly and methodically checked – eyes, ears, nose, throat, chest, tummy, head….  And there was not one single incidence of eye-rolling.  Unfortunately, though, that’s because Alpine Girl did in fact have more than “just a cold” – she had an actual, real-life chest infection.  The weird, fleeting feeling of relief that I wasn’t a time-waster, however, was certainly not worth the pity I felt as I looked into the weeping, rheumy eyes of my poorly little girl and held her close as she coughed with fatigue (straight into my face.  Great.  I am waiting for my very own chest infection now).

But don’t worry, Alpine Girl – the doctor has just the thing for you.

Lots of things in fact.

We got antibiotics.  And a nose wash.  And eye drops.  And paracetamol.  And a decongestant.  And 6 sessions of physiotherapy.  My mouth dropped further as the doctor’s prescription got longer.

I had learned my lesson from the previous time the doctor gave us a prescription for paracetamol.  This time I swallowed any pride about not wanting to look like a stupid English prude, and specifically asked for syrup, not suppositories (to be honest I was thinking more about Alpine Boy – I’m now an expert at sticking tablets up a baby’s bum, but I don’t dare even suggest it to a grumpy three-year-old with a headache who has never had a suppository before…).  The doctor chuckled and obligingly deleted the word ‘suppositoires’ from her screen and, with a look of amusement in her eyes (no doubt relishing her new dinner-party story about the funny English woman who doesn’t want suppositories), slowly typed ‘s-i-r-o-p’.  I sat back smugly in my seat:  English sensibilities – 1; French superior treatment plan – 0.  Ha.

The doctor got her own back though – I casually mentioned that I had put some Vicks on Alpine Girl’s chest during that Tuesday night from hell, and she frowned and muttered how bad that was.  “I’ve got something much better than that for you” she said, taking a pen to the already long prescription.  “It’s really good – herbal decongestant, gets to work right away, will clear her nose and let her sleep.”  She looked up.  “I know you don’t like suppositories, but…”.  I could swear she was hiding a revengeful smile.

English sensibilities – 1; French superior treatment plan – 1.

And then the physio.  Wow – definitely 2:1 to the French by now.  It wasn’t a particularly serious chest-infection, but apparently this is standard treatment here.  Do they do that in the UK?  I’ve never heard of it (but that doesn’t really say much).

We had no idea what the physio process involved.  Alpine Papa’s colleagues were therefore keen to explain it to him, one of them helpfully reporting that her kid had been so traumatised by the treatment that he now refuses to visit any doctor.  Alpine Papa also made the mistake of watching the process on You Tube, and called me from work just before the appointment to explain just quite how horrific it all was.  Thanks.

So it was with trepidation and a knot in my stomach that I cautiously opened the physio’s door.  “Don’t worry, Madame” he smiled at me kindly (whilst cracking his knuckles and rolling up his sleeves like a pro arm-wrestler).  “It won’t hurt a bit.  I promise.”  My relief was short-lived, however, as he quickly went on: “She’ll scream like hell though! Don’t worry, that’s good”.

Oh.  OK.

So, for all you physio novices out there too: the process involves a burly physiotherapist putting his huge hands on my tiny baby’s fragile, bird-like chest and squashing her like a deflating air-mattress until all the air is forced out of her miniature lungs.  He doesn’t squash her hard, he assures me, but try telling Alpine Girl that.  She did indeed scream like hell.  Apparently that’s good because that gets all the gunk out of those millions of alveoli.  But I’m a mummy, not a doctor, and so it didn’t seem good to me, watching her get redder and more stressed and tired, screaming and screaming and not having a clue what was happening to her.  That first session was probably about as difficult for me as it was for her.

I’m hardened now though.  Maybe it’s because for the last two weeks she hasn’t slept more than five hours in a row, and has started waking up screaming two or three times every night.  I’m so tired that it’s actually a relief to be able to put her in someone else’s capable (albeit firm) hands for 20 minutes or so every day.  Even if it makes her cry.  And I can see it’s working – after five of the six prescribed sessions her lungs are getting clearer and her coughing has reduced.  If I can manage to get the car through the 60cm of snow we have up here then we’ll go to the final session this afternoon, and hopefully that will be it, she’ll be cured.  I never thought I’d say it, but I think I am a convert to the French school of interventionist medicine.  I’m sure many people will have things to say about how such treatment really isn’t necessary and causes more harm than good, but all I can say is it worked for us.  That horrible chesty cough has gone.

And you know what?  Those decongestant suppositories worked a treat…

Snowed in?  Not yet...

Snowed in? Not yet…