Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Flying monsters

So there I was thinking that my advancing age had finally taken control of my life. I had received a reminder for a phone bill which I had no recollection of receiving. France Telecom are a pretty unforgiving bunch and will cut you off quickly if you are not careful, so I paid the reminder and decided to sort it out later. Imagine the scene:

Me, "Darling, you haven't seen a phone bill lately have you?"
She, indignantly, "No I haven't, that's your department!"
Me, "Well I've just received a reminder for a bill that we have never received. Bloody France Telecom!"
She, rustling through pile of papers on her desk, "Oh, what's this?"

The moral of the story chaps is that you are not getting old and senile, you just need to look on your wife's desk to get your life back in order.


From time to time small birds fly into the house and because of our very high ceilings they can be a bit of a problem to get rid of. This morning, Jan's shrieks alerted me to the fact that we had been invaded (by monsters) again. It was a redstart, which we get lots of around here. Anyway, the poor little thing flew round and round and eventually knocked itself out trying to get out of a window that we hadn't yet got round to opening. I picked it up and noticed that it was blind in one eye, which probably explains why it was flying round in circles. (You're such a joker - Ed.) I put it out of Max's reach so that it could recover in its own time and an hour later it had disappeared. As a result I had this nice warm feeling. (Known medically as incontinence! - Ed.)


It was blowing a gale this afternoon so we watched a bit of the French Open. We were very lucky to see an exciting and absorbing match between Frenchman Marc Gicquel and German Nicolas Keifer. Gicquel, who Jan got the hots for, was a qualifier and had the partisan French crowd right behind him. Eventually Keifer won 11-9 in the fifth after some superb tennis. Fabulous. (We've all got television as well, you know - Ed.)


Tonight, as there was little on television, we watched a DVD. If you want to see a very funny film, watch Troy. As far as films go this has to be the corniest, worst dialogue and worst acted film that we have seen in a long time. I usually fall asleep in a bad film but this was so entertaining in a 'bad film' way that I stayed awake. You have been warned!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Is there no end to this man's talent?

Willy and Charlotte leave today, for the drive back to the UK. They have been such good fun and a pleasure to have around. We shall miss them.


Lots of little jobs have been building up, not the least a bad water leak from an outside tap. I called the plumber last week, and again this week, but he has still not returned my calls. What is it with artisans in France? Surely they can give you the courtesy of a phone call? Even if to say that they are too busy. Anyway, Jan suggests that I fix it. Whilst I realise that it can't be that difficult, my concern is that if I take off the tap and somehow make a mess of it, then we could be without water for some time. The tap is on the main run to the house with no means of isolating it without cutting the water to the house. (I'd ask you to repeat that but I'd fall asleep - Ed.) So moi, the intrepid, amateur plumber cuts the water, buys a new tap, and replaces it without any new leaks. There was one small hitch however, in that no matter how hard I tried, the tap always finished upside down. Bum. Foreman Jan decides to leave well enough alone.

Monday, May 29, 2006

One smart dog

So there we are, thinking that we have built a safe and secure chenile kennel with a fence 1.65 metres high. Needing to pop out for a short time, we made the mistake of walking past the dogs who were in the kennel, to the bottom gate from where we normally take them for a walk. Max got very excited, and anxious (he suffers from separation anxiety), but I feel that we have him well contained. Anyway, we were round at the gite and had been there for about 15 minutes when, who should come panting into the house, but a very excited Max. He had escaped from the kennel by climbing over the fence (this is a 40 kilo dog), let himself out of the garden and followed our scent right across the village. We were very surprised and somewhat shocked, but I couldn't be angry. That's what I call smart!


Another hotty today, with the midday temperature up to 30 C in the shade. W&C head off to the beach with one of Jan's great picnics, and return at 20.30 for a meal of warm avocado and bacon salad, Jan's famous ribs and tarte au citron. There I was moaning the other day that I hadn't had tarte au citron for ten years and then two come along at roughly the same time. There's a joke about sex there somewhere, but I don't have the muse!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Any more laid back and he'd be horizontal.

The pool hit 28 C yesterday (my kind of temperature) and by 11.00 this morning it was already up to 27 C. At 17.00 this afternoon it had hit 29 C. Now, to most people, this a good temperature to cook eggs, not me bruv, it's the perfect temperature to enter the pool and so I did, without any squealing, and for the first time this year. Who's a big brave boy?


This made me laugh. This morning I read a succinct description of the languid England Team Manager, Sven Goran Eriksson. "He shows less emotion than a koala bear in a coma."


Tim, our German neighbour, who we haven't met before, pops in to say hello. He works in the film industry and mostly around Paris, so it's a bit of a bummer that his house is 500 hundred miles further south. Anyway, he is very nice, speaks three languages fluently and is now our tenuous link to Hollywood.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Not so much a parrot

I've been inundated, well, one person wrote to say that in my posting of 24th May, I inferred that the bird that I'd hung on the terrace is a parrot. He points out that it is, in fact, a toucan. Happy now Monsieur Pedantic of France? Talking about birds, we seem to be seeing more than our fair share of bee eaters this year. They appear all over the place but particularly on one road out of the village.


Charlotte (above), accompanied by a beheaded monster, needs to buy some wine to take back for her father so we pop into Carnas on our way to the market in Sommieres. Needless to say their new red goes down a treat and so dad is going to be a very happy man.

I'm running short of white wine, coupled with the fact that Charlotte wants to bake a surprise birthday cake for Willy, so we (the boys) head off to Domaine Arnal. As it happens, Willy has driven down in his Porsche and kindly lets me drive. It's ages since I've driven a sports car and this was great fun. I feel a mid-life crisis coming on. (In your case, a mid-geriatric crisis - Ed.)

Friday, May 26, 2006

A shirt that comes with a health warning

We went out to Bob and Lynne's for dinner last night, to meet their friends Peter and Diane from England, and to catch up with Clive and Jo. As usual Lynne really pushed the boat out. For aperos she had made her own tapenade, which was delicious, amongst a raft of other delicious goodies. This was washed down with champagne. For starters, Lynne had made sardines covered in a parsley and parmesan crust. Now I'm not a big sardine fan but as I ate them, I grunted with approval, so Jan, who loves sardines said, "If I prepare them like this will you eat them?" "Yes dearest," I responded meekly. (You wouldn't know meek if it sat on your lap - Ed.) See what I've got to put up with? Now Bob, who has recently taken possession of a new barbecue (above), and who was showing his colour coordination skills with his Las Vegas shirt (above), had to demonstrate his cooking skills with the aid of a new, all singing, all dancing, electronic temperature probe. When I tactfully (you don't do tactfully either - Ed.) suggested that the beautiful sea bass that he was about to cremate with his new probe only needed about 6.5 minutes each side, he scoffed. Thank goodness his probe bleeped with excitement 6.5 minutes later or one of us would have looked very silly. After cheese we finished with home made apricot tart and strawberries dipped in white chocolate. All this was washed down with a delicious Pic Poule. I feel full just thinking about it all. Thanks Bob and Lynne, a great evening.


Willy and Charlotte (names have been changed to protect the innocent) arrived this afternoon for a few days. Willy we have known for a few years and he is great fun (by way of a present he brought Max a copy of Dogs Monthly). For dinner Jan cooked chicken paprika (a new dish) and apricot crumble. Good gear!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

And what happened 30 years later?

Owen and I had another hit this morning and he won again. I started like a steam train, smacking some heavy forehands, but he slowly reeled me in and he beat me 6-3, again. Wales 2 England 0. Bum.


Roxanne and Owen leave this morning and we're sorry to see them go. They are such a nice couple and I hope we see them again. They have invited us back to Oregon, which was kind, and at least I now know where it is.

From time to time I bang on about the complacency of the French wine industry and how I consider that Bordeaux and Burgundy produce overrated wine, of questionable quality and at inflated prices. 30 Years ago, in a blind tasting, by French professionals, Californian wines beat the top French wines hands down. Well, they have just had a re-run and guess what? Look here to see what happened. Despite how I feel about 'so called' top French wines, I have to say that the quality and price of wines from Languedoc takes some beating. Aren't we lucky?
We are out to Bob and Lynne's tonight for dinner but more of that tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Who's a pretty polly?

Owen fancies a hit this morning so we play a set. He's a good player and beats me 6-3. So that's Wales 1 England 0. Must try harder.


I'm in maintenance mood (or is it mode) this afternoon so it's up a ladder to see if I can fix the kitchen terrace light that our highly paid and qualified electricians inexplicably left not working. Even to me it makes sense that you connect wires to the power, if you want light, so I did. Replete with self satisfaction (don't you mean smug? - Ed.) I then fixed up the pretty polly that Jill and Harry bought us last time they were over.


Jan produced a really nice meal for dinner. We started with stuffed peppers, stuffed tenderloin of pork and my favourite pudding of all time, tarte au citron. Now it's no exaggeration to say that Jan has never made this for me in 10 years. I'm not a pushy kind of person (yeah right - Ed.) but to keep me waiting 10 years for a lemon pie is tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment. See what I've got to put up with? Anyway, I did my bit by opening a bottle (or two) of Domaine de Coursac, Révélation 2004. What a cracker!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Farts can kill!

And you definitely can't light one!


Roxanne and Owen arrived today, for a couple of days. Roxanne is a blog reader from Oregon so I can only say nice things about them. At least that what she thinks!
By way of a little local wine tasting we headed off to the Cave Cooperative at Carnas who have a got a really nice Viognier (5.90) on offer and an even nicer very special red at (13.50). The red is the most expensive wine I have ever seen there but boy is it nice. Highly recommended. After that we visited Francoise and Vincent Coste at Domaine Costeplane to taste some of their delicious organic wine and for me to top up on their rosé. F&V were leaving first thing the following morning to attend a wine fare in Alsace. When I mentioned that it was a long way to go for a wine fare Vincent said, "Not really, we already have orders for 20,000 bottles." I'm not surprised.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Festival du Clown

A few images of the last day of the Festival du Clown, pronounced cloon if you are interested. (Thanks, I'll sleep better knowing that - Ed.) The centre of the village has been shut down all weekend involving a big detour to get in and out. The place has been humming with hundreds of people and the whole event seems to have been very well organised. The picture at the bottom shows two clowns reacting to Max and Min as we took them into the village to see what was happening.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Amina du Murier de Sordeille

It's Minnie's birthday today and she is 8 months old. She is nearly as tall as Max and regularly
knocks seven bells out of him when they have their rough and tumble. We think that she's going to be quite formidable when she matures. Notwithstanding that, she is the friendliest, lickiest dog and we feel very lucky. Happy birthday Min!


I got Floyd and Delano to Montpellier for their flight at midday, which is just as well because I'm not so sure how they would have made it on their own!


Jan called Gill and Bryan this afternoon to invite them for aperos. Aperos turned into a barbecue and a very liquid time was had by all.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Bulls, clowns and olives

After a quick trip to the market in Sommieres, Delano (left), Floyd (right), Jan and I headed off to the Fete du Printemps, Festival d'Abrivados in the adjoining town of Villevieille. Posters had pronounced that there would be 4 manades (ranches) doing their stuff so we anticipated something quite grand. Not so, it was fairly ordinary but at least Delano who had never seen anything like it was interested. After lunch I popped into the village to see what was happening at the Clown Festival. Just my luck, they were having a break so I'll take another look tomorrow.


We had intended to spend the evening in Nîmes visiting the annual olive gathering. Evidently there was much to do and see as long as you are interested in olives. Unfortunately Floyd realised that he had made a mistake with his tickets just before we were due to leave, and he should have returned today and not tomorrow. This had the effect of him having to spend time on the phone and computer so that he could get back tomorrow. The bottom line was that it cost him another £160 just because he hadn't checked his tickets. What is it about tennis coaches and administration? Within the space of a couple of weeks, one coach loses his passport and another gets his travel dates wrong. Hmnnnn.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Sexual harassment

This morning I was sexually harassed. This was kinda strange because it's normally the other way round but anyway, I had to visit the doctor to get my prescription renewed. It was the lovely Dr J on duty (I must remember that Fridays are a good day at the surgery) who I hadn't seen for a long time. She is very tall, was wearing hipster trousers and a very short top. Every time she moved or bent down she showed acres of midriff (not that I really noticed). In my head, I was troubled because I knew that all this exposure was going to shoot my blood pressure off the scale. As I lay there with my arm nestling near all that naked flesh I had to concentrate really hard at relaxing. It was hard! Anyway, she seemed satisfied with my blood pressure at 13/8, whatever that means. She is a very nice doctor, very friendly and she didn't tell me off for not losing any weight. She asked why I had lost 8 kilos last year. I replied that it was because I was scared stiff of the nutritionist, but that it was hardly a long term solution to my weight problems, never mind being bad for your heart. She laughed and agreed. What a nice lady! (For goodness sake, calm down - Ed.)


Reminiscing with Floyd (who played Davis Cup for his country) this morning I remembered a ProAm tennis tournament that I played in a few years ago. I was playing with a tall, friendly, foreign male called Hans. We had a good time and really kicked ass. I knew he wasn't a tennis player because I would have recognised him, but he had fabulous ball sense, great hands and could really hit a ball. Trying to be friendly I said to him, "You play really well, you could play sport professionally." He laughed and we carried on. It wasn't until a little later that I realised that it was Hans Seegers, who played in goal for his country, Holland. Boy, did I feel a chump. I met him lots of times after that, at the club, and he was always up for a beer, so I suppose he forgave me. Nice man.
After lunch, Floyd and Delano took off for the Pont du Gard, a must do trip for anyone new to this area. Because we've been there many times before, we decided to chill at home. I'm getting good at chillin. So good that I didn't wake until 08.30 this morning and I had a nice nap this afternoon. I wonder if I'm getting sleeping sickness? (More like old git syndrome - Ed.)
For dinner tonight, Jan cooked her famous ribs (marinated in rice vinegar, soy sauce, chilli, ginger, star anise, cinnamon stick, spring onion, groundnut oil, sesame oil and honey ) and a delicious hot chocolate soufle pudding which is all soft and gooey in the middle. It's a good job I didn't mention all this stuff to the doctor!.
Just before we headed for bed we could hear drums from somewhere in the village. Why on earth they need to start practising at 11.00 at night is for anybody to guess. This weekend is the village Festival du Clown starting on Saturday and finishing on Sunday night. This is one of the excellent events that the village holds every year and is well worth a visit. Tomorrow promises to be a busy day.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Yummy mummies

The sky was dull and miserable this morning as befits Arsenal's defeat the night before. Floyd's text to me read: "We're on the train, see you as agreed at 10.23 unless the bloody referee gets in the way again." I have to admit the referee was pretty poor, but a bad decision by him led to Arsenal's only goal. These things always swing both ways.

The funniest incident concerning last nights match in Paris concerned an interview with a young man.
Interviewer: Have you got a ticket for the game?
Youth: Yes
Int: Where did you get the ticket from?
Youth: My Dad
Int: And where's your Dad?
Youth: At home looking for this ticket!

So it was off to Nîmes this morning to meet a depressed Floyd and his brother Delano off the 10.23 TGV from Paris. Contrary to expectations, they were in good spirits and had just about got over their pain. Jan prepared a simple lunch, starting with tellines (a tiny little clam no bigger then a fingernail), which we ate on the terrace. The meal finished at 16.00. I just love long, lazy, chatty lunches.
We nipped over to Anduze, late afternoon, to visit the pretty park which Jan is supposed to have visited last Monday with her art class. The purpose was to sketch a few things that would grab your fancy for the art class the following Monday. I went along for the ride and all I could spot were a couple of yummy mummies who I wouldn't have minded as models anytime.
For dinner Jan cooked Mexican. Chilli con carne, fajitas and all the trimmings followed by a spicy mango pudding (mango and chilli powder - sounds horrible but tastes absolutely delicious).

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Just a bowl of cherries?

This morning Jan called me sleazy. Now most men would treat that as an insult, but not me. I see it as recognition of all the effort I put in to being sleazy. Which I suppose, sort of justifies her insult! Notwithstanding this attack on my character, I picked her some cherries off our tree (don't they look good?) and offered them to Jan as a peace offering. We had them for lunch and she graciously decided to share them with me.


Later, in the process of shaking out some towels that she brought in from drying, Jan noticed that the noise had frightened Minnie. We were discussing this when Jan said, "Mind you, I suppose I can understand her fear, look how frightened I get when I see a duster!" It would have been cruel of me to mention an ironing board, so I didn't.


Anne (she of the recent tennis group) wrote to say that her wine arrived home intact (which pleased husband Mick), and to say that she lost her passport at check-in. Not lost in the strict sense of the word, but lost as in down into the bowels of the airport, on the luggage belt. The Gendarmes jumped on her to stop her following it, but found it in time for her to board the plane. As she said, "Thank goodness it wasn't Heathrow!"


Wild horses wouldn't have shifted me from in front of the television tonight. It was the Champions League final between Arsenal and Barcelona at the Stade de France in Paris. My friend Floyd set off this morning, without a ticket, to see if he could watch the match. When I asked him how much he was prepared to pay for a ticket (from a tout) he said about 150 euros. I heard on the news this morning that they were going for up to 2500 euros each so I think Floyd will have watched the match in some Parisian bar somewhere. For purely selfish reasons I hoped that Arsenal would win because Floyd trains it down tomorrow for a few days and he'll be like a bear with a sore head if Arsenal lose. I have warned him not to be miserable! Anyway, Arsenal lost 2-1 in an exciting match so I hope Floyd behaves himself.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Good as gold?

A bit of fun. Click on the pictures to make them bigger. Modesty prevents me from saying that I found 10 faces, so I won't.


After a four course 11 euros lunch (how do they do it?) at the relais in Montmirat, Jan headed off for a shopping trip to Nîmes with Jill and I didn't. The main purpose of my afternoon was to wait for Mr Dishwasher Repairman to arrive. Arrive he did, and the bloody thing worked first time. He was at a loss to understand what had happened so we are now in a wait and see period. All that washing up for the last few days might have been unnecessary. I reckon that we were being punished for something but, as I have been good as gold, it can't be me!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Hooray, no leftovers

The girls leave today and, as if they haven't played enough tennis already, they have one more session before leaving at lunch time. Where do they get the energy? They are a good fun group and we shall miss them. I also have a special good feeling about them and that's because they eat so much. It means that I won't be eating leftovers for the next week or two. Thanks girls!


Out to dinner at Jill and Harry's tonight. We haven't seen much of them this trip because we have been busy. I always look forward to eating there because Jill always makes a special effort and produces something tasty and interesting. We started with asparagus with a delicious light and fluffy hollandaise sauce followed by lamb shanks cooked on the barbecue and my all-time favourite, tarte au citron. Thanks Jill.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Kapo, man's best friend and a wasp's worst enemy

The dogs are, once more, being mischievous and Minnie burrowed out of the garden again. She spotted and enlarged a hole that Jan and I both thought would be too small. It was too small for Max but not for her. This meant that the little darlings had to spend the morning in the kennel whilst we fixed the escape route. When will they ever learn? Or, more to the point, when will we ever learn.


It was one of the hottest days of the year so far today so we finally uncovered and cleaned the pool furniture. However, no job like this is without its danger. We discovered two small wasp nests that were being made within the folds of the tarpaulin and I had to use a wonderful spray called Kapo which can be used to zap wasps from about 6 metres away. Having been stung last year, I'd rather be standing in the next village to spray but I suppose that 6 metres isn't too bad if coupled with a pair of running shoes.
Jan took the plunge this afternoon and ventured into the pool. She said it was bracing. Yeah right! For bracing, read bloody cold!


For dinner tonight, Jan cooked asparagus, stuffed pork tenderloin and a chocolate pudding with a soft bit in the middle (look, it's late and I'm tired). This was washed down with our white from Domaine Arnal, rosé from Coste Plane and my current favourite red from Domaine de Baubiac. Throw in a Muscat de Lunel with the cheese and everybody went to bed very, very happy!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Aphyllanthe de Montpellier

For some time now we have been intrigued by a beautiful delicate little flower that we see on our walks in the countryside, with the dogs. No one has yet identified it, until today. Celia went into Google (don't you just love Google?) and within a short time had it identified. Details can be found


No trip to our village, Cannes, is complete without a trip to Sommieres. It's Saturday, so it must be Sommieres, but on the way we had to pop into the Cave Cooperative in Carnas to buy some of their delicious champagne. They can't call it champagne, but it is, and it's only about 5.00 euros a bottle. Very nice it is too. Jan and I also wanted to taste this years reds and rosés. We have always said that if we had to buy from only one cave we would probably shop at Carnas. They have a wide range of consistently good wines, at a reasonable price. Good stuff!


Tonight I barbecued lamb and pork, but modesty prevents me from saying how (bloody) good it was, so I won't. What Jan cooked was pretty good as well!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Oh go on then, jusht one more drink

Left to right, Sue, Anne, Cilla, Helen, Jane and Celia, on receiving the news that Rob had missed his plane.


Anne told this true story over breakfast. She reminisced about her first wedding anniversary, which took place a few moons ago. To celebrate this event, she and new husband Mick had decided to celebrate at a local restaurant. They were young and naive and really splashed out. When it came to paying the bill they realised that they were five pounds short, so Anne, leaving Mick in the restaurant, went across town to her father's house in order to borrow the money. She arrived back very flustered only to find that she was still short of enough money to settle the bill because a glassy eyed Mick had run up another five pounds, drinking brandy whilst he was waiting. She left the restaurant again giving the waiter firm instruction not to feed him any more drink. Nice one Mick! My kinda man!


Still no news from the errant Rob, so the girls get down to some serious tennis without him. In the meantime the dishwasher has packed up so it's all hands to the sink for a mammoth dishwashing session. It actually stopped working last night so we had pots, dishes and glassware coming out of our ears and I forlornly hoped that I could fix it this morning. Wrong! Mr Scuderi can't come and look at it until next Tuesday so there will be lots of hand washing for somebody for the next few days.
A major international incident was avoided through my excellent diplomatic skills (like in Nazi Germany, diplomatic? - Ed.) when Jan tried to tell me how to fill the sink with hot water. I didn't realise that she had such a low opinion of me. (I'd like to meet this Jan; we could compare notes - Ed.)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

So where are you?

Anne, Cilla, Celia, Helen, Jane and Sue arrived as scheduled, for a little tennis, this afternoon. Rob, their coach, was absent! He'd lost his passport and therefore couldn't fly. What is it about tennis coaches and flying? Floyd, another good friend, has managed to miss his flight twice. Once because he didn't allow enough time to get to the airport and another after he had checked in but arrived too late at the gate. Notwithstanding this, the girls were in good form if judged by the amount of noise they made on court. They're a good fun group and we are always pleased to see them.


Dinner tonight had a 70's feel. We started with prawn and avocado salad, then slow cooked lamb and creme caramel to finish. We should have dressed up in hot pants, flared trousers and kaftans to give it that authentic feel. (The thought of you, in hot pants, is too horrible to contemplate! - Ed.)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Of course I love you

Having put 12 bags (300 Kgs) of salt into the pool last night I switched on the electrolyse de sel, salt chlorination system this morning. The temperature, according to the thermometer that floats in the pool, said 18C but the temperature as monitored by the electronics said that it was only 15C. Either way, still too bloody cold for yours truly to entertain, but very pleasant when your only alternative is the North Sea.


Based upon this research, I could propose an argument that men will have to walk around with a bag on their head! Do you really want a woman to know that you want a quickie or to father their children?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Escorpius flavicaudis

Today was mostly spent preparing for a houseful of guests on Thursday. One of the rooms that we don't use very often was being cleaned, and you can tell that Jan is either much braver, or more blasé than usual, when she mentioned casually that she found a scorpion on the bedroom floor (it probably choked to death on the dust). Jan definitely prefers wild animals out on the savannah and most certainly not in the house. These little critters aren't very big and just give you a nasty, non life threatening bite, but nevertheless they are black and look quite menacing. My big brave girl then asked me to dispose of it! What happened to equality of the sexes?

Monday, May 08, 2006

Solitary confinement

This is the view from the terrace at Chez JuJu. I couldn't get it to upload the other day. Pretty huh?


After Jan left for her art class this morning, she phoned and gave me a shopping list. It seems that as soon as she goes out to amuse herself she has to make sure I'm at home, busy. What does she think that I'll get up to?


It rained heavily this afternoon (not another weather forecast? - Ed.) which confined me to the house. Being a holiday as well it meant there were no shops open, so that cut off another source of distraction. Bum.

Saturday, May 06, 2006


This is the second of the holiday weekends this month. Our trip to Sommieres was uneventful but what was notable was the huge banks of beautiful deep coloured poppies by the roadside.


Out to Nicky and Graham for dinner last night, where we met Buddhists Robin and Jennie. I'm not sure that I've ever met a Buddhist before and you know what, they look just like you and me. I thought that they all wore orange robes and shaved their heads. (You are so stupid - Ed.)


With visitors due next Thursday, I spent most of today tidying up the pool, which included fishing out a baby toad that had hitched a ride on top of the floating pool thermometer. Cute.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Chez JuJu revisted

This morning we drove, for an hour and ten minutes, down to the Camargue for lunch at Chez JuJu. Prior to it moving from the beach, a couple of kilometres away, this place has been written up under the heading of one of the best restaurants in the world, however unless you have a fascination with mile after mile of paddy fields, then the journey to it is quite boring. I didn't realise quite how much rice is grown in this area.
We sat outside on a sun dappled terrace next to a duck pond, which in summer may well be home to mosquitoes, but that's another story. It was a beautiful, rustic, tranquil setting. If I have a small complaint it was about the level of the background 'gypsy' music, but this did at least add to the atmosphere.
The menu is small, with a choice of six starters. Bulots are not for me, the seafood and vegetable terrine was 'off' so we settled for grilled gambas and crevettes. The crevettes were good but unspectacular and the gambas (24 euros)excellent. Despite what the menu said, we only had a choice of sea bass or turbot and we were escorted to see them in the cold cabinet. They were very fresh.

The fish was cooked, to perfection, in an outdoor wood burning oven. Very tasty and washed down with a Picpoul or two from Domaines de Montredon 2005. This is simple food, fresh and well cooked. Most of the fish (although only two were available) was charged at 5.80 euros per 100 grams and our single large (600g) fish was charged at 34.80 euros.
We found ourselves comparing the meal to Tahiti Plage that we visited last week. They are about the same travelling time, parking is assured at JuJu but more problematic at Tahiti Plage. Tahiti Plage is a definite seaside experience whereas JuJu is quiet and rustic. There was more choice at Tahiti Plage but the cooking at JuJu was better. JuJu just edges it. When Chez JuJu was right on the beach then it would have won hands down for the combination of food and raw seaside experience. Now that it has come inland the atmosphere has changed, not worse but different. It was a very good experience and I will definitely go back, but then I will go back to Tahiti Plage as well. We must try them both at night. Both recommended.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Hotel California

Will sent me this today. Take a look, you won't be disappointed. Make sure your speakers are on.


Then to top off the day Glyn wrote to invite us to see the Eagles (Farewell Tour) in Manchester, next month. Wasn't that kind? It took all of 10 minutes to check the fares and book a flight with Ryanair to Liverpool.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

60 Million Frenchmen can't be wrong

I'm reading a really interesting book at the moment, Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong. Since moving here I have been surprised at a lot of what I have observed and I have tried to better understand French attitudes and customs. The book makes some very interesting observations. Anyway, so far there has been no mention of French driving and I could write a book on that alone. Take what happened the other day. Between here and Sommieres there is an ancient narrow bridge. I seem to remember that it is single file but naturally no one observes this edict and everyone treats it as two way. So there I was passing another car at about the halfway point, as happens all the time, when the opposing driver (with a 26 plate - Drome) seemed to get very upset that I was on the same bridge as him. Why he was angry is for him to know because there was ample room to pass each other, as indeed we did. What really pissed him off was that he had stopped his car in order to get out and have an argument with me and the driver following him (with a 13 plate - Marseille) ran into the back of him. I don't think that either of them were particularly happy when I burst out laughing. As the guy in the car from Marseille was showing more tattoo than skin, I didn't hang around to help them sort out their problem.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Ankle bracelets

They only positive benefit from working in the garden is a sun tan, if indeed that's a benefit. The down side is that I get back ache. The suffering that we gardeners do for our calling.
This evening, as with other evenings throughout summer and even in winter, we see the wonderful 'peach glow' that bathes the house and surrounding countryside, as the sun sets. It's quite magical.


It's funny how these conversations develop. There we were watching a collection of 'American stars' on television singing 'We are the World' and I happened to mention Paul Anka, and how good he was the time I saw him in Las Vegas. Jan piped in that she would love to go to LV and, to groans from Jan, I happened to say that we would have to use a limo and stay at some flash hotel. The reason she groaned was that the last time we were in California, I had a difficult time in persuading Jan to get a limo from Irvine, where we were staying courtesy of the Barretts, to the airport in Los Angeles. Her working class roots came to the fore and Jan just wouldn't entertain the idea. Eventually I persuaded her and I called a limo company to book it. I insisted on a black limo because a white one only reminded me of Essex girls (sorry Essex girls) and their drunken trips to the racing at Ascot, near where we used to live. Anyway, I was on the phone requesting a black limo when Jan piped up in the background to say that if we were going to get a limo we might as well go the whole hog, and get a white one and that she could also buy an ankle bracelet. Isn't it funny how these conversations evolve?

Monday, May 01, 2006

Fête du Travail

Today, May 1st (Fête du Travail), is the first of the three official holidays this month. William came round for tennis at 10.00, whilst Jan chatted in French with Christine. We then played doubles, by which time it was lunchtime and so Jan prepared an unplanned lunch. In fact they went home and brought over what they were going to have for lunch. They left at around 16.00. Don't you just love those impromptu meals that go on and on? Excellent.