Monday, 7 December 2015

My mother said not to ...

.. put beans in my ears.  This used to be a favourite song back in the day (around 1969) when I worked on a farm in the UK which grew (inter alia) field beans.  It appears that Pete Seeger interpreted the song to be about using beans as ear plugs.  After the Hopital Charles Nicolle in Rouen fiasco (see end of this post) I am unlikely to do that, but thought an alternative would be safe enough.
Having the legume on hand was an outcome of clean-picking the broad beans in our vegie garden.  I realised that the time was right for this when a few of a daily pick seemed to have a small dose of mank (a less technical term for a fungal infection).

So here is the patch before my ministrations ...
 and after.  The pile of vines is being left to dry before it meets the chipper chopper and is thus made into mulch.
There then followed a couple of hours shelling the beans and storing them in a couple of zip lock bags.  They weighed about 4.6kgs.
The Charles Nicolle episode occurred in 1997 when Frances and I were touring Europe.  We were approaching the end of our trip and doing a loop of the Ile de France.  We camped in a nice site just outside Rouen (where the owners brewed a very nice artisanal cidre).  This is not too far from La Manche and thus reasonably well infested with Poms who used the phone box near our tent at 10pm to ring their acquaintances back in Brum to boast about being somewhere with better weather,

As I wanted to sleep I rammed my ear plugs in.  About 11pm I realised that:
  1. the discomfort of the plugs was now keeping me awake; and
  2. I couldn't get them out.
Frances had a go and also couldn't do the job.  We recalled seeing a sign to a hospital so set off to find it.  This involved one moment of farce when I jumped out of the car to ask a young lady for directions - probably speaking too loudly as a result of being deaf.  Once she realised I was just a tourist-with-issues and not an axe-murderer she was most helpful as was the charming doctor who removed the foam article in about 2 nano-seconds.  I offered to pay but this was "pas possible a cet moment."

Fast forward about 2 months in time and 15,000 kilometres in distance.  A bill arrives seeking some smallish amount (perhaps $30) for this service.  However they could not accept a credit card payment.  So I wrote them a cheque in the expectation that they would send it to their bank who would send it to the central bank who'd send it to the Reserve Bank in Australia to Westpac and then in reverse.  Not possible a month later I get my cheque with some bizarre request for a bank cheque in Francs.  I explained that would cost me another $30 in fees so could they try again.  

After, I think, two more rounds of this gave up and so did they.  I was a bit worried in 2000 when we entered France again, but it seems a bad debt of $30 isn't enough to get one on the Immigration Watch List!  It does seem however that the procedure for paying bills has not advanced greatly!



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