Vocab post about coughs and colds hijacked by coughs and colds! Splutter.

I had planned to get a post written and scheduled for tomorrow about coughs and colds but – wouldn’t you know – this week has been hobbled by them! Not all week. I’ve been a little distracted from my French learning this week thanks to an exciting new venture in the form of my new business, Languedoc 121 Tech, which will offer personalised home and small-business computer services and training. Most spare moments have been dedicated to that. The site’s not quite done but it’s getting there. If you hop over to take a look, please let me know what you think – both of the site and the concept.

But back to the cold. Actually, it’s a cough. Knowing I was in for a busy week I planned to work on this new post at some point today and then this evening. That was before my gorgeous little DS was up for a good few hours coughing his little lungs up. It was a wet, sticky cough in the night that had turned into a dry hack by the morning. He was a bit wheezy too and obviously, feeling under the weather, a proper little cling-on. No free time for me then.

What I have discovered though – and this is definitely something of a cultural inauguration – is the power of the suppository. We just don’t do those in the UK, except as a last resort but here and in most other countries in mainland Europe they’re just another method of administering medicine, no big deal. At the chemist to source something for DS’s cough – wanting to avoid another disrupted night, if possible – the dispenser persuaded me to buy a suppository called Coquelusédal. That’s what we normally use, she said. I wasn’t 100% sure I’d use them but for 4 euros, why not? I bought them. Then at ludothèque shortly after a couple of the mums commented on DS’s chestiness, prompting a recommendation the very same stuff: Coquelusédal. Oh yes, they agreed, it worked very well. I was on about 90% persuaded now. If it worked, why not. Better than a trip to A&E at 1am, right?

DS was shattered after a busy morning after his restless night the night before, so fell asleep on the way home. An hour later he woke up in a pretty bad way. His chest sounded really bad and he couldn’t stop coughing. He kept saying “poorly poorly” in the saddest little voice you’ve ever heard. I was thinking we’d be off to the doctor shortly. Time to try the Coquelusédal? James wasn’t keen but I’d done research while DS was asleep and discovered a few things about this particular medicine and suppositories in general.

One, it is an old herbal remedy typically administered for bronchial problems and asthma. The two active ingredients are Grindelia and Gelsemium. I’m a big fan of “old” remedies like this: two of the most effective medicines we use are J Collis Brownes and Gees Linctus. Sadly the latter is becoming harder to come by, which is a shame because it’s incredibly effective. (If you do ask over the counter for them, expect a sideways gaze from the pharmacist before they are handed over.)

Two, the reason it’s given anally not orally is because the compounds are harsh on the digestive system, so it’s not safe to give it orally, especially not to a child.

Three, suppositories are an incredibly effective way to get medicine into the system at home. Especially with a small child who will often resist. They work quickly as they are designed to melt at body temperature and are then rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. A mum online, whose child refuse oral medication, reckons a paracetamol suppository can bring a fever down in 15 minutes.

Armed with these factoids I informed James that I thought we should try it, despite his reservations (which concerned bodily autonomy, which I agreed with.) He agreed I could give one and if it made no difference, we’d bin the rest. So I administered my first ever suppository to a screaming, sobbing toddler. Following the instructions I’d read online, once I had some light on the situation it was pretty quick and easy (definitely not something to try and do in the dark!)

The result? Not 20 minutes later (and after one enormous poo) DS was transformed – an entirely different child. He was riding his bike again, talking, running around the room. And not coughing at all. Nothing. I was expecting it to work and was just happy that he was obviously feeling better again. James was surprised that it had worked so well – conceding that we would not be throwing them away after all.

And today, after giving him another before bed last night, he’s totally back to normal. There was some coughing in the night. We were awake for a while but today he’s got some colour again, no coughing, his breathing is fine. I’m sold.

So far winter is a hygge-fuelled knit fest

December was a busy month for me. With the run up to the Christmas there was extra shopping, crafting, and multiple trips to La Poste, in addition to a bunch of admin tasks I was determined to clear from my to-do list by the end of the year. Getting things done was in some ways greatly aided by a run of fairly bad weather – Manchester weather, by all accounts! Grey, windy, pretty cold, more often than not rain, plus a few days of snow. Because we’ve been cooped up a lot this month, I’m extra grateful to be in this warm and spacious house in this quiet and friendly hameau: this would have been a terrible year to come to France and rent that draughty little gite where we spent the winter last year. If we had, I think we’d be seriously considering coming back! Having a warm home for winter is so important here.

I think it’s because I’ve been feeling all cosy and hygge, that one of the many things that’s kept me busy this month has been knitting. I picked up my needles a few months ago, inspired to knit presents for some of Holly’s friends, starting with a hat pattern I thought would suit one of them. I decided to knit a test hat first using a spool of yarn I’d picked up for a song (£2) in a bargain bucket several years ago. I’ve always liked the colour of it but never really knew what I wanted to do with it but I thought it would work nicely with the Capucine pattern. And I’m sure it would have if only I was still capable of following a pattern correctly. I swear, something has happened to my brain since I last sat down to do some knitting and I lay the blame entirely on lack of sleep and general parenting fug, because somehow I managed to knit using both the wrong number of stitches and the wrong size of needles for the yarn resulting, not surprisingly, in a hat that was not quite the desired size. In fact it was considerably smaller; only just big enough for DS!

Undeterred (it’s powerful stuff this hygge) and feeling confident that I had figured out (albeit too late) what I’d done wrong I embarked on a second attempt. This time using the right number of stitches on the right sized needles. Except I managed to muck it up again. Introducing a hat suited only for the largest of heads. It’s huge! I haven’t bothered sewing the ends in as it’s I will repurposed it at some point.

Capucine done badly: one too small, one too big!

But unlike the overwhelming urge to never ever make anything ever again that occurs after making mistakes with sewing, for some reason it just made me want to knit something else. Next came the bumblebee hat – a yellow and black version of the Luuk pattern, which had been on my to-do list for a while. Cute and pretty much to the pattern but sadly almost too small for DS. I did consider gifting it to a friend but I’m not sure I like it enough – plus the yarn’s not great for a baby, being of unknown origin from said bargain bin. So I keep putting it on DS. And he keeps taking it off. I the long run, that’s one for the Magasin Gratuit, I think.

A Luuk Hat for Sam – “Bumblebee”

Still not ready to quit, my mum and I reached for the needles to knit socks. It was snowing. We had no Internet. My kids only had thin socks for their wellies. So we sat by the fire and knitted. It was very hygge but, sadly, not very productive. As I didn’t have the right sized needles I made mine on slightly smaller ones and my mum made hers on slightly larger ones than the pattern stated were needed. Sadly, this did not turn out well. We each finished one then tested them on DS who, without shame, screamed when I tried to put them on him. So that was that.

Then I realised that DD didn’t have a scarf or any mittens. I started on the mittens, got distracted, and – having stumbled across a nice pattern on Make And Do Crew – decided to also make her a cowl. Following the easy pattern would be too simple though, so I went off piste creatively and used the 4 rows knit, 4 rows purl method from the Luuk hat, as I figured that might sit better. The result is a super-bright and super-snuggly cowl. I thought it was too big for her when it was done and was all ready to frog it and start again but she loves it. At last, a wearable product! I definitely want one of these for myself and James has requested one too, although probably in a more subdued yarn than the one DD has (it’s Cygnet Seriously Chunky in Macaw.)

Colourful Child's Cowl
A MakeAndDoCrew/Wurm hybrid design – very snuggly

After that, back to the mittens. They’re made with some really very natural, which translates as itchy, wool from Cornish Organic Wool recycled from the failed sock experiment. I originally bought it to knit a soaker for DD when she was small and I was experimenting with night-time reusable nappy solutions. It does soften nicely over time so I figured it’d be perfect for mittens given my intention is to shrink them a bit and then lanolise them so they can be worn in the snow and keep small hands warm. I found this pattern but of course impatience got the better of me to so I decided to make a start on slightly smaller needles than recommended since I didn’t have the right size. I made the 4-8 year old size, which have turned out to be just right for DD. I hand-felted them a bit (I got bored after 10 minutes) and haven’t found my old, stiff tube of Lansinoh yet, so they’re yet to be lanolised. There’s no rush since DD was given several pairs of stretchy gloves and some super-soft mittens for Christmas (thank you, Grandma) so refused to wear the pair I made because they’re too itchy. DS is happy to wear them though, bless him. They’re huge on him, of course, but can be made to fit if I sew some synthetic fleece liners inside. He needs mittens anyway so it’s worked out quite nicely.

A picture of some child's mittens in cream wool with an orange stripe across the palm
First attempt at slightly-felted mittens


I think once they’re done that’s it, I’ll be all knitted out for a while. Then it’s back to the sewing machine for a bit.