Poppins Palaver…Leads to War on Rainy Days

A Poppins palaver has dominated our past few days. On my return to Wimereux from Gay Paris, I found a Worried Husband and Sick Dog. Poppins stood stock still, giving me  a long accusatory stare, burred tail between her legs, and slunk away to hide in a corner. It seems she had escaped the lead on the cliff tops while I was away and chased rabbits. With the scent of a rabbit, Poppins is loath to respond to commands of ‘Come Here’, even if all the letters are capitalised, so to speak! When she was eventually caught by Worried Husband, she was put in the bath. Poppins doesn’t like baths and despite Worried Husband’s best efforts, she escaped the tub too, spraying water everywhere, I imagine. We tried again together and did quite a good job at excavating aforementioned burrs. I held her tight, did some dog whispering, rubbed and picked away. The water afterwards looked like a Spanish armada of prickles and sticks. However, Poppins Dog wasn’t well.  She wouldn’t eat. I went to Intermarche and bought Saucissons which she loves, fried them up and chopped up two for her delectation. During the night she was retching and vomiting, and one by one, each piece came back, undigested. Her Paddington bear stares continued. I kept a watchful vigil (keeping King Charles company) all night and next morning decided we had to visit the French Vet.

Poor Poppins screeched and snapped as I held her down while Pleasant Vet tried to take her temperature up her arse. ‘Je n’ai encore fait rien,’ she exclaimed. ‘I haven’t done anything yet’. I confess, having stayed up all night with Poppins, I was close to tears at this stage, and the temperature soared in the tiny room which was already high with three adults and Miserable Dog. I don’t like people who say, ‘I haven’t done anything yet ‘. The statement opens a cruelly imaginative door as to what is coming. The air thickened with intense stress and emotion. However, I took a deep breath, did my stiff upper lip thing, and managed to control myself. The vet took a minute too. And when she came back, the room was calmer and everything went a lot better. In fact, I would recommend this vet to anyone. I came back armed with a bottle of medicine, a syringe with which to feed her the medicine, more pills, and instructions to cook roast chicken and boiled rice to feed Poppins the next day (and a 100e lighter). Poppins wasn’t having a syringe anywhere near her, but she was happy to lick it off my little finger.

Exhausted by our dog ministrations, we left Poppins and her baleful eyes still cowering in the corner and went to Boulogne to visit the Musee du Chateau which is in the vieille Ville of Boulogne. Who knew there was a vieille Ville of Boulogne. I didn’t, despite being here so many times, thirty years ago. You can walk all around the veille Ville city walls which has fabulous views both into modern Boulogne and the old town. The chateau  and the ramparts are beautifully restored! Lots of circular towers, circular cobbled stoned courtyards but sadly it was Tuesday and museums are shut. We petit toured around the beautifully maintained city wall, descended into the old town and found the Crypte de la Basiique du Notre Dame instead. What a spooky place! It was 4000 square metres of meandering around religious artefacts!  There were ancient old painted walls painted with a series of 160 religious scenes, whitewashed in the 20th century and then restored. The vaults were adorned with arabesques or ornamental features, but apparently, the artists were never known. And the red brick work was exquisite. Still red, and perfectly synchronised. After poking around in there, we went for a delicious hot chocolate in the old town in the rain and came home to roast a chicken for Poppins.

Aside from the Poppins palaver (I think she’s on the mend), it has pretty much rained for two days. I don’t mind rainy days. It gave me time to try my post impressionist painting (not for show yet), pamper Poppins, and continue reading my Stephen King book, If It Bleeds, which is an easy read. It’s made up of three novellas about death/the end of the world so its not particularly life enhancing. I prefer it, however, to the Nuala O’Faolain memoir. Sadly, I found that book to be a badly written tirade of begrudgery and misery about a well lived life, which at the same time managed to name drop at least a hundred famous writers, apparently for no other purpose than she met them. I couldn’t really trace a cogent argument or rationale for the book, other than Nuala! Maybe that is the point of a memoir…but usually, I find memoirs more coherent.

As I mentioned before, the French seriously memorialise the two world wars. So, yesterday, to get away from rainy day activities, we went to an excellent Musee in Ambleteuse about the second world war which is privately run without any State support. Over the years, through literature, film, study and exhibitions, I have learned a lot about the world war. As events, I know about the German subs in the Atlantic, or the North Africa Campaign, or the bravery of the Normandy Landings, or the horror of the Polish invasion by Germany, but what this museum did was pull them all together and put them into context . They had young pretty male models modelling the uniforms from all the involved countries, (French, German, British, Italian, Japanese, American, Canadian, Arab, African etc, the none of the models were black), carrying the bags, the guns,  smoking cigarettes,  eating tinned meat, set in bunkers, on the field. There was all the general paraphernalia of war. It felt very real. I read about the Maginot line, the Vichy Government, all of which I had heard of, but this exhibition brought it all together displaying in detail the full horror, futility and appalling sadness of war.


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