Saturday, September 30, 2006

What part of 'I agree' don't you understand?

For various reasons, Jan hadn't been to Sommieres' market for a while and fancied a chat (she doesn't get out much!). We headed, as usual, for Les Delices de Liban, after first buying gallettes from Elie's other venture across the square. Bryan and Peter were already ensconced, Bryan with a beer and unusually Peter had had a coffee, and we were shortly joined by Gill, Bryan's better half and Jan's painting partner. Anyway, the atmosphere at these get-togethers is always good with people buying rounds and sharing food. I can't mention buying rounds without acknowledging that Peter bought his share. Whilst I'm the first to have a go at him, I have to applaud this long overdue generosity. Thank you Peter. I, on the other hand, failed to buy anything, and I felt ashamed (for about 30 seconds - Ed.). The photos above reflect the bustle of the market and our get together, and in particular, one of Peter to mark the momentous occasion. From the top, 'Olivier's' a great deli, the motley crew drinking at Elie's with appropriate music (incidentally the accordionist drives a Merc), Elie, left, standing outside his resto/bar which was famously used as a set in the film Jeanne de Florette, my beautiful Jan and, my not so beautiful, Peter.


So there we were having a pre-dinner drink when there came a knock at the door. At 19.00 on a Saturday night it had to be one of two people, who would need 'topping up' for the night. But no, it was Mr E and his son. Whilst Mr E and son are nice enough, they give the word 'anal' a bad name. Anyway, the son said to me, "have you instructed a geometre as I told you to?" Let me pause for a moment and give you some background before I wax lyrical about this little peanut. A year or two ago, Mr E senior came fussing about the position of our mutual fence, which was connected to a dispute he was having with the neighbouring owners on other sides. We share a boundary marker, a borne, with Mr E and he wants to establish where it is. We found it, but according to him, it wasn't where it was supposed to be. I said to him at the time that I couldn't give a shit and he could put it wherever he wanted. With the benefit of hindsight this was a very good tactic because he couldn't argue. Anyway, a month ago, E junior came to the fence and rambled on about something, and again I said to him that he could put the marker wherever he wanted and that would be fine by me. These anal peanuts are not used to people agreeing with them and so he went off chuntering about something.
Back to their visit tonight. E junior asked me what the geometre that I was supposed to have instructed said. At this point I lost my cool and told them both unequivocally that I couldn't give a shit where the borne was and if they wanted it marking officially then they should pay an expert. Hell would freeze over before I put my hand in my pocket. They were worried, but I wasn't. In the meantime they could decide where they wanted it and I would agree with that decision. I just couldn't get it into their thick heads that I didn't care and that I wasn't going to argue with them. E senior however began to see the light, albeit slowly, and we trudged out to search for the offending article. Needless to say, we couldn't now find it (I'll explain why on my deathbed) and we all agreed, after I had shouted some more common sense at them, that if they came back tomorrow with tape measures, we could triangulate the position with precise measurements and save having to pay an expert. E senior liked the tone of my suggestion because he was already in court with one of his neighbours and I suspected that he was paying more than enough in lawyers fees. Dealing with these people is like taking sweets off a baby. Part two tomorrow?

Friday, September 29, 2006

Scenes you seldom see

After showing Jan where everything was, and then showing her how to switch on the iron, I took this photo for posterity. I'll file it under 'scenes you seldom see.' Jan readily admits that she does not like ironing so she has found someone, in the village, who is superb. She is so good, that she irons better than my mother, and that's saying something. My mum used to iron creases in my underpants. It's no wonder that I walk funny!


We needed a couple of things in Sommieres this morning and because we finished at about 12.00 we decided to eat at a new resto that we'd heard about. The Villa Heloise, 13 Place des Aires, is a tastefully restored house, on the N110, in the square on the outskirts of Sommieres. The three course menu du jour was 17 euros ish including a quarter of wine. We ate off the carte menu, both starting with a small salad, which was good and then Jan had gambas and I had a magret. We both enjoyed our food. It was warm and fairly sunny so we ate outside, far enough away from the road to be comfortable, but not far enough away from the noise when about 40 Hell's Angels went past on their bikes.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Shock news - prisoners are not very nice

This report concludes that Pentonville Prison in North London is 'vermin-ridden' and 'overrun with cockroaches'. What the hell do they expect, it's a prison for goodness sake?


If you are from Yorkshire (I was raised there) or if you understand Yorkshire people or even if you're a southern poofter, you will find this funny. You will need your sound turned up.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Dolce far niente

Despite what the title suggests, we got the bikes out, late afternoon, and took the dogs for a walk at the same time. This is not an activity that I would recommend. The dogs were bemused and ran alongside, but a bit too close for comfort, but not as bemused as we were in trying to re-establish a relationship with two wheels. When we bought the bikes, one of the first things that I did was buy extra wide, gel filled saddles. As you can see, they needed to be an awful lot wider.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A marriage made in France

During tennis this morning William mentioned that he had also been invited to a mushroom hunt with Vincent yesterday. I told him that if I'd known that he was going I'd have gone too and proceeded to tell him why I refused. He thought that this was very funny and admitted that he couldn't understand Vincent either. Next time we will both go.


Whilst we were both in Decathlon picking up our newly serviced bikes, James (my No 1 son) rang this afternoon to tell me that he was now engaged to Pauline (Powlina - the German pronunciation)) and that they planned to get married next year. He further asked if we minded if they got married in France with a reception at our place. This was very unexpected but we were both absolutely delighted. Call me old fashioned, but I do like to see the next generation getting married rather than just living together. Anyway, we've held big parties before and a wedding is no different (except there are more fights!) so it will be fun.

Monday, September 25, 2006

More ceps

Spot the design fault.
Vincent D popped round this afternoon to invite me to go find mushrooms with him tomorrow. The trip involved leaving at 05.00 and returning at 17.00. In the normal course of events, I would go, but as I have great difficulty understanding anything he says, being with him for 12 hours would prove to be a challenge that I could pass on. Let me be clear, Vincent is a very lovely man but he talks with a local dialect and has usually had one or two (but more likely 7). When I'm with him I just nod and smile and hope that I haven't agreed to anything too outlandish. I have to ask him to repeat eveything at least twice. If I'm with him for an hour I get a headache. Anyway, they sell ceps for 16 euros a kilo in the local supermarket and I'd spend a lot more than that in petrol!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A new word to play with

Alison and Toby left today after a brunch which included Eggs Benedict (don't tell me, it's one of your favourites - Ed.). They're a great couple and we are sorry to see them go. As befits this unhappy event, it rained all day so I was forced to plonk myself in front of the television and watch the last day of the Ryder Cup. Didn't we do well?


During an interview today, Tony Blair used the word 'resile' (rizail), meaning to abandon a course of action or withdraw. Never having heard this word before and because I like new words, I decided to use it at least once in general conversation today. So I said to Jan, "I'm not going to resile from what I said before, about the hollandaise sauce on the Eggs Benedict not being runny enough," to which Jan replied, "and I'm not going to resile my decision not to cook dinner tonight. You can get it yourself." See what us wordsmiths have to go through!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Ceps and award winning rosé

This village never fails to surprise, with pleasant little encounters. Whilst we were visiting Alain yesterday in his studio, drinking an unusual Lambrusco, Vincent Ducros turned up with a basket of ceps that he had gathered that morning on Mont Aigoual. The artist in me (yes, piss artist - Ed.) just had to take a picture.
A little later, I took Toby and Alison up to Domaine Costeplane because Vincent Coste had very kindly offered to give them a behind the scenes tour and explanation of his wine making facility. He makes our favourite rosé which he was proud to tell us had just been awarded two stars in next years Hachette Guide. It's good to know were not drinking rubbish!
Tonight, we managed to get into our favourite local restaurant, Le Fourneau de Clelia. The last few times that we had tried to book they were full, so this was also a pleasant surprise.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Alain Jamis, artist

Our neighbour, and local artist, Alain Jamis invited us down to his studio this afternoon. He needed a high resolution photograph sending to a journalist for an article on a forthcoming exhibition. He knows that we can help with a digital camera and email. Alain has a very particular style. He explained that he uses techniques similar to early Italian painters. He fixes canvas to wooden board and makes his own paint from caseine, water, a little ammonia and paint pigment. This he applies in layers which he then sands down, creating an interesting background, until he is ready to paint the focal point. For the exhibition he was displaying, amongst others, a series of paintings of doors, one of which is displayed here. It's a style we really like.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Happy birthday Min

It's Minnie's first birthday today. She has developed into a warm, friendly and terrific companion (which is more than can be said for you - Ed.). We think that she is an absolute delight. Despite their different ages (Max is nearly two years older) she is nearly as big as him and gives a good as she gets when they play fight. We are so lucky with them both.
Toby and Alison arrived this afternoon. As readers of this rubbish I'm going to have to be on my best behaviour, but not as much as Jan because, to quote my uncle, "they know how to eat." Toby's business supplies produce to all the best restaurants in and around London so they both know their way around a plate of food. Should be interesting.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

One pedal, or two, with your bike sir?

This time it's Jan's turn for a medical check-up, so, first thing, we went into Nîmes to see the doctor. She gets the all clear, which was excellent news, and now she has no excuse when it come to cooking. Phew. (Give the poor woman a rest - Ed.)


The next trip was to the bank to sign the back of a cheque. The bank called in a panic, the other day, to say that the cheque from the sale of the little house in the village was going to bounce. Now as this cheque is 'official', as in it comes from a tressorie account, this was a little surprising. Anyway it turns out that if you want to bank a cheque in France you have to sign it on the back before depositing it in your account. I was not aware of this and paid it in through a 'hole in the wall'. When it hit the tressorie they refused to honour it until it was signed. Yet another little stupid rule a la Francaise. Since then, I have asked lots of people including the bank, the reason for this rule and no one has provided a sensible explanation. In fact I doubt if there is one. But, stupid rule there is, and into the bank to sign it we went.
If you want another bit of stupidity, read on. We then went to Decathlon to pick up our recently serviced bikes. Mine looked nice and shiny and well oiled but with one glaring discrepancy, it was missing a pedal. Now, when I was a lad, a bike always went more quickly with two pedals, in fact it didn't go at all with only one pedal. It transpires that because I had delivered the bike with one pedal missing (it had broken off) they thought that maybe I had kept a pedal back (or something) and tried to give it to me with just the one. Duh!


Sick and tired of incompetence, we headed off to find a little restaurant that had been recommended to Jan. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day so we sat outside at Simple Simon a pleasant little resto just off the main drag in the old part of Nîmes, at 11 rue Xavier Sigalon, Place des Esclafidous, 0466 67 55 61. It was good without being outstanding and we would definitely go back. What, however was outstanding, was a rosé from Mas d'Espanet, Freesia 2005. Go there for the wine alone!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Has Ikea lost it?

This morning I went to the optician for my annual contrôle. Jan has to accompany me because by the time the good doctor has finished, an hour and three quarters later, I am unable to open my eyes properly. One of the checks she does is dilate my pupils so that sunlight becomes unbearable and that makes driving impossible. Ah well, at least it is only once a year, and she is very thorough.


Out for lunch today with Bob and Lynne. We haven't seen them for ages so there was lots to catch up on. It's always good to see them. They brought Harry, one of their black labradors, and he Max and Minnie had a great time.


Not content with spending 12 euros each for lunch, Jan and I headed off to Ikea for a little retail therapy. Contrary to our usual behaviour we only filled half a trolley which is some kind of record. If I have a criticism, we didn't find the choice of goods up to their normal standard and in particular their glassware. We usually just replace glasses as they become dishwasher scarred but they had none of the ones we normally use and we were disappointed with what was offered. Hmnnnnnn, are they starting to show a weakness?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Turn off the fax and let me outa here

We had a power cut this morning that lasted long enough that the fax machine (yes, they still use the fax in France) had to reset. When it resets, it goes through a self-test which makes quite a bit of noise. Whilst this was happening I heard Max scrabbling at the door into the house. I went to look and found that he had opened the door and that both he and Min were sitting down in the hall waiting to be let out. This machine has spooked him before, so now I've unplugged it. We only ever use it when someone wants a signature, which isn't very often. What happened to the brave, fearless dog that we bought?


William called in this morning because he wants to start tennis again. He has resigned as 'mayor of mayors' so now he has more time on his hands. Perfect timing as I have just decided to do a little more exercise. Battle commences Thursday.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The UN or the EU, which is worse?

Look, I'm not trying to take sides here, but today's Sunday Times was interesting and I particularly liked this piece from Rod Liddle, "The Pope should have been aware that Islam always reacts to western allegations that it is not a peaceful religion, by mass outbreaks of vituperation, denunciation and acts of jihadic violence. That this is a paradox seems not to be even remotely recognised by many Muslims....................a spokeswoman for the Pakistani foreign ministry....."Anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant, encourages violence."

I could also mention violence in the name of Christianity throughout the ages, but that's another story.


Jan continues to mend at a great pace but she still can't dig the garden. The vegetable patch needs clearing so I left it so that she can do it tomorrow. Apart from that she's doing fine.


If there's one thing I dislike as much as the United Nations it's the EU. This outfit is another joke, filled by highly paid executives who churn out rubbish. Think about this:

1 Pythagoras' Theorem has 24 words.
2 The Lords Prayer has 66 words.
3 Archimedes Principle has 67 words.
4 The Ten Commandments have 179 words.
5 The Gettysburg Address has 286 words.
6 The new European Union rule on the sale of cabbages has 26,253 words.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

It's good to have you back

Given that the French don't have the most sophisticated sense of humour, unless you call falling over and getting a custard pie in your face, Jan pointed out that unless I wanted to get sued I should offer a retraction to my Clinique Kennedy comments yesterday. This I am, of course, very happy to do.
STATEMENT: Clinique Kennedy is a great hospital. If you are ever ill, in or around Nîmes, then I recommend that you go and get better there.


The very handsome Dr R visited Jan this morning and told her that she could go home. Jan has fallen in love with him and I have to say that if she doesn't want him, then I'll have him! More to the point it was good to have Jan back at home, especially as she headed straight for the kitchen as she walked through the front door. Pasta, three nights in a row, is not good for you! I insisted that she stay off her feet all afternoon until it was time to cook dinner when she'd probably be very rested. See how considerate I am?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Clinique Kennedy

Jan's hospital, Clinique Kennedy, built in the 70's, is in need of a refit. It reminds you not so much of a clinic but more of a Maximum Security Twilight Home. The electric fence around the perimeter adds nothing to its appeal, except when the inmates empty their bedpans from the balcony and it provides a wonderful firework display. People come from miles around. Talking of bedpans, they were using the new, unpatented, heat seeking ones when I visited and I pointed out to Jan that she was sitting on a fortune. Jan didn't like the hospital one bit and was trying to tunnel out, which would have been a good idea, if she hadn't been on the second floor! (OK, that's enough of the jokes - Ed.)
Anyway, after the op Jan was a bit groggy and it was difficult to get a sensible conversation out of her. She kept drifting off to sleep as I talked to her, so not much has changed really. Hopefully she will come out tomorrow because I have now had pasta two nights in a row!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Command and control

Lest you moan about the regulations concerning small businesses in your country, take a look at this. It's quite a good summation of one of the major problems regarding 'free enterprise' in France, and I suggest that it is more than likely at the root of France's inbuilt objection to foreign businesses. I look at the number of French owned organisations in the UK and then compare the uproar when a foreign business tries to take over a French company here in France. Its not by chance they have a 'Foreign Legion'. The French State has a very firm control over its business community, a power that it will not relinquish easily. Somebody once posed the question, 'Is France the only communist state that has ever succeeded?' The more I live here, the more I understand that statement. This country is certainly different. Interesting.


Jan (a favourite photo above) went into hospital this afternoon for a minor op that had been put back from last week, because of the infection in her leg. She's in the wars at the moment, poor thing. This operation is a sort of look see and test. Nothing to be too worried about unless you want to worry about me having to look after myself! Added to that we didn't sleep at all well last night because of a violent thunderstorm that raged all night. At one point the clap of thunder was so loud and so close that we both lifted off the bed (about time too - Ed.) We were up and down all night but the dogs didn't seem too perturbed at all.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Vendage 2006

We were driving to Nîmes yesterday when we saw a huge grape picker (there must be a better name for it than that) emptying its load (top) into a trailer. No specially selected, handpicked grapes here m'lud, this is grape picking at its most basic and probably represents what the majority do.
A little later we popped into
Domaine du Grand Chemin to buy some of their Gris. There we saw Emmanuel Floutier (bottom) tipping grapes into the first stage process of removing stalks and other detritus before the grapes are (in this case) pressed. Their Gris is well known in these parts. It is a very pale rosé made from cincault and grenache. Whilst both these grapes are black, they are treated like white grapes and pressed rather than macerated. The pressing allows for a little contact between the juice and the skin which gives it its pale rosé colour. Jolly nice it is too.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Tour de Fat

One neat feature of our house is the centralised hoovering system. Whilst the house was built, all the necessary pipework was installed, under the house, with a suction unit in an outside cupboard. We were pleased to find this system because we had never seen it in the UK (but had seen it in the US). However, as neat as it is, from time to time, the pipes get blocked and it's a bit of a nuisance to unblock them. I usually use a very powerful 'regular' vacuum. But not this time, this time it's well and truly blocked. Mr Vacuum Man calls to say he can come next week and sucks in through his teeth when I tell him the make. Do they go to school to learn this technique?


Out to the relais in Montmirat for lunch with Jill and Harry for their bank busting 11 euros lunch (including wine). Suitably refreshed, Jan and I head off to Nîmes to take our cycles in for a service. Don't laugh, I take the view that if I'm going to start cycling for exercise (yeah right!! - The Tour de Fat - Ed.) then I don't want the bike to fall to bits, just like it did when Josh took it out a few weeks ago. We bought these bikes over 5 years ago and they have very few miles on the clock - very few! In fact they have travelled further in the back of the lorry that brought them out here to France, than with someone in the saddle. May be I should just give up on the notion, as someone once said, 'brain cells come and brain cells go but fat cells are forever.'
Isn't the mind a funny thing? Watching the remembrance services last night, made me think about a trip I made up the Empire State Building, then, there I was lying in bed this morning wondering, why do people pay to go up tall buildings, and then pay to use a binocular to look at things on the ground? Hmnnnnn.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Of course I'll still respect you in the morning

Jan has to take things easy at the moment. The problem with her leg has not been as painful or debilitating as it was last time but still it is taking some time to heal. The main issue is tiredness and the effect of her medication which makes her feel tired and woozy. See, it's not just me!
Anyway the doctor said that it was healing nicely and that she may be prone to this infection at this time of the year (last time it was in July). Must take more care!


This story, about a man who was forced to marry a goat, has been around for a while but, just in case you haven't seen it. If you had made this up people would have laughed at you and run away. This is a very good example of life being much stranger than fiction.


There are problems with the software at Blogger that is preventing me uploading pictures at the moment. I'll either come up with a workaround or we'll all have to wait. Either way I'm sorry. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible and in the meantime you'll have no pretty pictures to look at whilst you read this rubbish.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

It's just a question of maths

On this day in 1513 at the Battle of Flodden Field, James IV of Scotland was defeated. I wonder if this was the start of the collective chip on the Scottish shoulder?


A woman came home from work and found this letter from her husband:

My Dearest Wife,
You will surely understand that I have certain needs that you with your 54-year old body can no longer supply. However, I am very happy with you and I value you as a good wife. Therefore, after reading this letter, I hope that you will not wrongly interpret the fact that I will be spending the evening with my 18 year old secretary at the Comfort Inn Hotel.
Please don't be perturbed, I shall be back home before midnight.

When the man came home, he found the following letter on the dining room table.

My Dearest Husband,
I received your letter and thank you for your honesty. I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that you are also 54 years old. At the same time, I would like to inform you that while you are also reading this, I will be at the Ritz Carleton with Michael, my tennis coach (above), who, like your secretary, is also 18. As a successful businessman and with your excellent knowledge of maths, you will understand that we are in the same situation, although with one small difference: 18 goes into 54 a lot more times than 54 goes into 18. Therefore, I will not be back until lunchtime tomorrow!


Not much happened today.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Spooky tomatoes and happy dogs

This is strange. In a tiny gap between the junction of the main terrace and the house wall, a tomato plant has grown. I made a half hearted attempt to destroy it some time ago but, because it has resisted my less than valiant efforts, I have left it alone to flourish. How on earth it got there is anybody's guess because it doesn't look like anything that we would buy or, more to the point, if it was the result of some meal that we ate outside, how on earth did the seeds get where they are? The two red tomatoes that you can see on the floor fell off the plant when they were green and have ripened in the sun by themselves. I'm surprised the dogs haven't eaten them. Yet another little mystery to ponder.


The dogs have been heavily constrained over the last week because of the little ones. Max would be fine because he is just a gentle giant but Minnie is still a pup and tends to jump up a bit. She would send a small child flying, never mind scarring her for life. Anyway, they are free to roam now and this resulted in Max escaping from the garden again this morning.


All bar a couple of bits, Pierre has installed the automatic pool filler and it works perfectly. In over a week the level hasn't changed at all, so no matter how much it blows, how hot it gets, or how many leaks it has, the water level never varies. Brilliant! However this now brings a second question and that is, how much water is going in and, if water is going in as a result of a leak, how would you know?


No matter her poorly leg, Jan made my current favourite pasta dish for dinner. No matter how much I begged her to take it easy, sit down and keep her leg up, she ploughed on and made dinner. Next time, I swear that I won't whisper!!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Would you like a bacon or tofu sandwich?

From time to time you may have noticed that I have a little rant and express a little prejudice, well here's some more to be going on with.

Why do all the men that wear hats in cars drive slowly? Sometimes they also have beards. This afternoon this new car was being driven on a clear open country road at about 60 kph (40mph) and the male driver, with a beard, was wearing the most enormous wide brimmed panama style hat. The first question that comes to mind is, WHY THE BLOODY HELL ARE YOU DRIVING SO SLOWLY? There are lots of lunatic French drivers who will get impatient and overtake you on a blind bend. THINK. The second question that comes to mind is, 'is he expecting to get wet in his car?' because for bloody sure it wasn't going to protect him from the sun because, amongst other things, there had been no sun all day. It could have been worse, he could also have been wearing sunglasses! I could go on. In fact I will. Look I understand that I'm going to offend somebody here, but hey, that's life. It could be worse, you could have a hat, beard, be driving slowly and be wearing glasses, but that wouldn't be as bad as wearing a hat, beard, glasses, shorts, Jesus sandals AND SOCKS, and driving at a ridiculously slow speed on the open road. Hmmmm, that feels better. (No UN or diplomatic corp for you my son - Ed.


There I am watching CBeebies, children's television for the under 5's and over 50's, with Maisie our granddaughter, when I nearly choked on my cornflakes. It was a programme about cooking, but instead of using meat they used tofu, and even went on to describe how it is made. This programme was obviously aimed at the thousands of 3 year olds who insist on a meat free diet and who are looking for alternatives. Instead of being urged to eat something natural, that man has eaten throughout the ages, they were being encouraged to eat an artificially produced, synthetic food (like cornflakes - Ed.). Smart and to my mind a very insidious use of children's television, by some pinko, bearded, vegetarian, female (oh all right he could be male, in which case he'd be wearing Jesus sandals and socks as well) television producer. Dangerous! (It's you that's dangerous - Ed.)


Over to Montpellier to take our visitors to the airport. A quick turn round and back to collapse until it was time to go over to Jill and Harry for dinner. As usual the food is very good and Jan has developed a bit of an appetite, which is always useful when you are out for dinner.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The hills are alive to the sound of tractors

The vendage is now in full swing and it's not unusual (good name for a song that- Ed.), to wake to the sound of tractors in the hills. If it's hot, like it is now, they will harvest the grapes in the middle of the night, when the temperature is cooler, to prevent fermentation starting before they can get the grapes back to the cave.
It never fails to amaze me that the monster machines (above) can complete such a delicate task as removing the grapes from the vines, without destroying everything in sight, but they do.
On the subject of wine, Nigel wrote today to express his satisfaction with the Picpoul that I recommended in the posting of 8th June. I'm surprised that they had any left, anyway, yet another satisfied customer. Thank you, Nigel.
Things you wish you had said:
"I'm not vegetarian because I love animals, I'm vegetarian because I hate plants!"
It was Becs and Trevor's last night tonight and they fancied tuna. Trevor marinated it in lime juice, garlic, chilli and oil and I cooked it on the BBQ. Everyone enjoyed it except Jan who is still very delicate and had her own courgette soup.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Exclusive news photo

Al Qaeda leader "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi", killed in Iraq recently, has just met with the first of the 72 virgins that he was promised !!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Come on in, the water's lovely

As the last two healthy human beings able to walk, talk, eat and drink, Rebecca and I had dinner together last night. I suppose that as we had suddenly become 'carers' we both felt like a glass or two. Becs made pasta with a putanesca sauce, one of my favourites (most things are one of your favourites - Ed.) and I opened copious bottles of rosé. Later that night when Trevor emerged from his sick bed he came to join us out on the terrace. Offering him a drink, having had several myself, I'm told (this morning by Trevor) that I uttered the immortal words, "Come on into my world, it's lovely in here."


Because it was Sunday yesterday we were unable to get Jan to see a doctor so it was up early this morning to arrange a visit. My suspicion was that she has a recurrence of the blood poisoning that she had last year, and this was confirmed by the good doctor this morning. Poor Jan.


The pool got up to 28c this afternoon and I couldn't resist a dip. Not bad for September.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


Ben and Paula left this morning for the drive back to Barcelona and work. The journey back is likely to be busy, it being the end of the Barcelona holidays, so that, combined with a return to work themselves tomorrow made for a miserable departure.


It looks like the next few days are going to be very hot with temperatures back into the 30s. Given that more time will be spent by the pool I filled a sand pit for Maisie (3 years old). Bless.
Trevor took to his bed this evening probably because he sat out for too long today. It was at least 35c in the sun for a large part of the day so the pool has now heated up nicely. I could venture in tomorrow.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Even more conspiracy theories

During lunch yesterday a very intelligent, successful chap started to talk about the conspiracy theories surrounding 9/11. He conceded the possibility that explosives were used to collapse one of the Towers. I started to laugh until I found that he was deadly serious. When I mentioned this during our evening conversation at dinner last night, some of the kids started making the same kind of preposterous comments. These thoughts all emanating from intelligent people. This made me start to think about why people look for and embrace these kinds of thoughts. Are people becoming so cynical that they refuse to see or believe what's in front of them? Are they looking for alternative meanings because life seems too mundane or are they just a product of the fantasist age where demons lurk under stones and where police are the new villains? An age where people that want to blow up planes need to be better understood and are not just dangerous, brainwashed maniacs.


On a lighter (thank God - Ed.) note Ben, Paula and I went to Sommieres to buy some goodies for lunch. I finished what I had to do and was waiting impatiently in the car for them to return. When eventually they showed up I had a little rant and said, "Just how long does it take you to buy a bag of cheese?" Paula, quick as a flash said, "This is no ordinary bag of cheese, this is a great selection of cheese." She should be in advertising!


Jan was not feeling too well yesterday and took to her bed. This meant that yours truly had to cook dinner. Well, the truth is that is was already mostly prepared, I just had to cook it. And very nice it was too, he said modestly.

Friday, September 01, 2006

A leisurely artistic lunch

The students (and partners) of Jan's art class got together today for an exhibition of their work and for an al fresco lunch. Everybody brought something to eat so there was tons of tasty food and some interesting conversation. I sat next to Brian S, who I like, and he came out with all kinds of interesting information. He played Rugby League for Great Britain and, because he was involved in organising part of his trip, he met Pope John Paul 2 when he visited the UK a few years back. Fascinating stuff, if you're into that sort of thing. He also gave me some salacious gossip about one of the Royal's protection officers, who he knows. Lunch started at 14.00 and finished at about 17.00.

Two of the photographs above don't do justice to Jan's ability, but they are examples of some of the paintings that were shown.