Saturday, June 30, 2007

Two delights

When we left France it was 31C, hot and sunny. We knew that it had been raining heavily in the UK for most of June, so we weren't about to be surprised. With the exception of our arrival, it has rained for most of the time since we have been here. However, what lightened up our lives was the two little ones that were the main reason for our visit. Maisie and Elsie (who chose those names?) are an absolute delight. Maisie, the older one is at just the right age to have fun with, whilst Elsie is still, er, a baby. Shitting and staring at you! Having said that she is very pretty and always had a big smile on her face.


When we met Cap'n Steve on Friday the conversation got round to curries. Our mouths watered as he said that the curries in his forthcoming hotel in Mumbai are the best in the world. We, on the other hand, were visiting Brighton and, whilst the choice would be large, the quality would be questionable. Ashoka, 95 Church Road, Hove 01273 734193, didn't disappoint. After the little ones had gone to bed, we decided to stop at the first curry house that we saw on the way back to the flat and, against the odds, we chose well. With the exception of the nervous, pompous ass next to us, who insisted that his wine was opened at the table, the food was good. Recommended.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Sweet revenge

The most satisfying thing that happened today was that William and I crushed the 'young upstarts', 6-0 in the first set and 6-4 in the second. Just for the total avoidance of doubt, just in case they started to get too cocky! It's a pity that I won't be there Monday, because I wanted to hear them squeal. Yup, that feels better. OK, so I know I'm being childish, but I needed revenge.


The reason that we won't be there on Monday is because we left for a few days in the UK this afternoon. When we booked the flights, I seem to remember that Ryanair was expensive, so, because we were going to Brighton, Marseilles to Gatwick seemed like the sensible option. We opted for EasyJet out of Marseille's new 'low cost' terminal, MP2. Low cost because it was built specifically for the low cost airlines. Part of the 'low cost' experience for us travellers is that after you have checked in your bags you have to carry them a further 20 metres or so before they disappear into the bowels of the airport. Frankly I'm surprised that in a project of this magnitude they omitted 20 metres of rubber belting. But then what do I know?
Anyway, you may remember Steve from a couple of posts ago, who was reading this rubbish in Mexico, well, there he was on his way to Mumbai, (Bombay when I was a boy). It was great to see him again and we had lots of laughs.
Because the weekend was forecast to be pretty wet we decided to hire a car rather than rely on public transport around Brighton. First stop was the Avis desk to see if they had a Daewoo Matiz or something not quite so exciting. "Sorry mate, no cars at all," said Mr Avis, so then it was on to Hertz. I quite like Hertz and generally have a good experience with them. "What have you got that is small, perfectly put together and won't cost me a fortune?" I said. He looked knowingly at me and confirmed that I was actually looking for a car. After lots of humming and haaing Mr Hertz came up with a Fiesta for £195.00. I was sort of thinking of hiring it for a few days rather than buying it I whined and, after a bit of negotiating, I got him down to £125.00. That's £70.00 that would pay for dinner. Still, it was a nice car and got us to Brighton and Murasaki cafe in time for my favourite sushi.
After a sumptuous Japanese feast, it was back to the flat to see if I could get an Internet connection. I turned the wireless roaming on, on the laptop, and would you believe that I found an unencrypted connection (thank you Micky - whoever you are ) and, stuffed full of plum wine, started to pound away on the old laptop. Shlurp!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Good service

We needed to replace a couple of parts on our Dyson this week, so Jan visited this site on Monday, ordered the parts online, and we received them Wednesday. Now that's what I call service.


I have always like Caroline Wyatts commentaries on France and it looks like she is leaving for pastures new. I found this, her last piece, very interesting and accurate.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Mama mia

Talking about Italian Mamas, mum was lying on the settee having a nap and, being woken by me, jumped up when she saw me hoovering. "Whata are you a doing?" she said incredulously (you didn't know that I could write in Italian). You have to bear in mind that mum is an old fashioned mama and that I had entered very firmly into female territory. As an aside, when at my auntie's house in Italy, I am always served first at meal times. It's a way of life that is very easy to get used to. OK, I suspect that there are a few feminist hackles stirring out there, but bon courage my feminist friends, I finished the hoovering then took her a cup of tea.


So Jan was ringing for an appointment at a consultant in Nîmes and the secretary asked, "Can you make Thursday 28th?" Jan, looking at her diary, said, "The 28th isn't a Thursday." Until she realised that they were talking about this month and not next. It was in fact in 2 days time. Funny how you get conditioned to thinking that appointments have to be a least a month away.
Mum left this morning on Ryanair's flight to Liverpool and the subsequent 2 hour journey to Harrogate. The slight worry was the disruption that the rain was causing in the UK and whether her lift would arrive on time. Anyway, she was sorely missed by Jan and I, and by the dogs, whom she had spoilt rotten.
When we got back to Nîmes from the airport, with a couple of hours to kill, we decided to have lunch at le Danieli, Place d'Assas, 0466 360666. We had eaten there a couple of times when we first arrived in France, and didn't have much of a memory of the place, so decided to try it again. It offers much in the way of ambience and menu but basically it fails to deliver. The food is at best mediocre and the wine is over priced. It's a great pity because there is lots about the place which is good. Hey ho, can't win em all.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Italian mamas

Glyn called from the UK this morning complaining of terminal teenage overload. More to the point he had misplaced his French bank card and wanted me to check his house. He had visions of the waiters at our last restaurant stop in Nîmes setting off on a cruise at his expense. No problem, I found it, and now I'm off on the cruise!

Chris sent me this piece about seagull pie today. It's one of the funniest pieces about Italian mamas that I have read in a long time.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Chez Ju Ju revisited

Mum is coming to the end of her stay, so as a treat we took her to Chez Ju Ju over near Salin-de-Giraud in the Camargues. Lots of people ask me for directions to this place, mostly as a result of people searching for the restaurant on Google and finding my comments, so, to save (mostly me) a bit of bother, here's how to get there.
Take the D36 south from Arles towards Salin-de-Giraud. About a kilometre before you enter Salin, turn right onto the D36C and you will find the resto after about 5 minutes on the right. Tel 0442 86 83 86. The web site above also has directions.
That's it, from now on if you ask me I'll take you there, and you pay for dinner.
So why do we like Chez Ju Ju so much? There are several reasons. Firstly, they cook the freshest fish, perfectly, in a wood burning oven right next to where you sit. Even though we live quite close to the sea, it is extraordinarily difficult to find simply cooked fresh fish anywhere near where we live. I suspect that there must be a resto but we haven't found it, yet. Secondly, the ambiance is great. You can sit outside, by a pond with ducks, under an awning that gives dappled shade. Thirdly, they cook tellines, as a starter, in a wonderful homemade aioli. Fourthly, whilst he doesn't know me from Adam, he recognised us as the 'five' that had booked under the name of Alex, so he called me Alex, asked how I was, and so now, whilst he doesn't realise it, 'Manu' and I are now great buddies.
The top picture is one of William (just after he learnt that he was paying) and Christine, the other of Mum and Jan.


Just in case we hadn't eaten quite enough fish today, Jan made me BBQ some enormous black tiger prawns for supper! When I questioned her menu planning, Jan responded with the blindingly obvious comment that they were supposed to have been cooked on Friday but because we went out, we had to either eat them today or chuck em. That shut me up (about bloody time too - Ed)!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Qwerty or Azerty?

You have no idea how much you depend upon a keyboard, and how frustrating it is without one. Despite several hours of mental work arounds I gave up and decided to get a new one. My computer thinks that anything in the PS2 slot is a mouse so what I need is a keyboard with a USB connection. The problem with that is that it would take a week or more to get one from the UK and we'll be there this time next week anyway. So it was off to Sommieres this morning to see what I could find. Needless to say I found a cheap 'azerty' keyboard and coincidently a helpful chap in a shop just off the marketplace. I'll get an English board next week but in the meantime if the spelling goes a bit qonky you'll knoq qhy.


In order to cheer up Glyn, who has had a bit of a wake up call having to deal with 4 teenage boys, we kept him company last night on his trip into Nîmes with the lads. What had really been pissing him off was that none of them had offered to help around the house. That is, with the exception of one lad.

I said to him, "It wasn't the lad the you helped save from drowning was it?"

He laughed and said, "Yup, I didn't think of it that way."

So the moral of the story is, hold your kids head under water until they are just about to die. It's amazing to see how grateful they become when you let them go. Child psychology, the Hampshire way.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Everyone's out to get me

We hadn't played as a four for some weeks but the lads turned up for tennis this morning and, for the first time ever, the 'youngsters' won both sets. I played like a donkey and was the main cause of our loss. Roll on Monday, I need revenge.


Determined to upgrade my computer, so that I could watch video clips properly, I installed a new graphics card yesterday afternoon. Whilst I was in the box, I also added another 512 meg of memory and gave the box a good clean out. A clean out that involved blowing gunge away from the fans and hoovering all the rest. Fingers crossed that there was no damage done. The moment of truth came and, bang, it all worked. The memory and new graphics card were recognised but, and it's a big but, I still had jerky video. But that wasn't everything. The computer then failed to recognise the keyboard. It thinks the keyboard is a mouse and advised me that my mouse didn't work properly. Despite already having a functioning mouse and shouting, "Of course the mouse doesn't work properly, it's a bloody keyboard," it failed to respond. The dogs are bad enough to keep under control, but a dumb, insolent computer drives me wild.


Anyway, Glyn came round for a drink late tonight, having spent all day with his 'boys' canoeing in the Ardeche. The 'boys' comprise Glyn's son Tom and three mates on an end of term treat. It turns out that one of the boys got into trouble whilst swimming in the river and shouted for help as he went under. He was rescued safely but the incident gave Glyn a shock. As he said, " Going home with only three of the boys would not have been a good idea." It put my computer problems into perspective.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

We got mildew

I got mum to the surgery first thing this morning and, having seen the effort we had made to get details from the UK, the doctor kindly obliged and wrote a prescription for mum's missing medicine. One job completed satisfactorily.


Later this morning Vincent and Francoise called round to establish what was wrong with my two vines. Grief, this couple farm 30 hectares of vines so a problem with my two piddly things should not be a problem. It took them all of 5 seconds to identify that they have a bad attack of mildew, not that I could identify it and, come to think of it, they had mildew last year as well. Bum, bum, and thrice bum. Each year I learn a little more about growing grapes but unfortunately I don't learn enough each year, so I estimate that by 2020 I'll be an expert, but dead.


Despite still not feeling too good after a last night's big (in every sense of the word) BBQ, we all popped over to Sommieres for the Fete de la Musique, and dinner at Elie's. I can't say that either was brilliant. Elie needs to change his menu and the music was just OK.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Honest, it's true

Apple Computer announced today that it has developed a computer chip that can store and play high fidelity music in women's breast implants.

The iTit will cost $499 - $599 depending on speaker size.

This is considered to be a major breakthrough as women have long complained about men staring at their breasts and not listening to them.

What pills?

A psychiatrist is a person who asks you a lot of expensive questions that your wife asks for free.


I just love this time of the year. Under normal circumstances you should shed a bunch of weight, eating, salads, fruit et al, but the only trouble is that I drink a lot more. And I'm not talking about water here. Yesterday at about 14.00 I said to Jan, I fancy a drink tonight and she said hmnn, I might join you. I did and she did. My mummy was not amused but then she was the reason that we fancied the drink in the first place!


If you remember back to this incident, we'd been eating out on the kitchen terrace last night and on walking back to the kitchen this high pitched whistling noise started to irritate the hell out of me. It's just mum's way of not letting you forget her.


Over lunch today I said to Jan, "Darling, do you know where my pills are?"

She replied, "What pills?"

I said, very sarcastically, "You know, those pills that help keep me alive."

She said, "Oh those pills." And, with a pause for dramatic effect, "I've hidden them."

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Making herself available

Juppé quits as Ségo splits. I just loved that headline, but don't believe all the hype about the reasons for Ségolène and her partner splitting up. The real reason is that she knows I fancy her rotten and she is trying to make herself available (in your dreams - Ed).


I had an email this morning that really cheered me up. Steve a pilot with AB (I've mixed the letters up to disguise the company), who lives not far from us and who is presently suffering the tribulations of a 5 star hotel in Mexico, wrote to say that he reads this rubbish and it keeps him in touch/reminds him of home. Maybe I should restyle myself as the Vera Lynne of blogs. Keeping the troops on distant shores in touch with their loved ones. Anyway, thanks for your very kind words Steve and no, I can't lend you any money!


So there we were sitting having lunch (30c in the shade - Steve) when my mum stared at Jan and said, "Are you going to have your hair cut?" Not known for her subtlety, my mum.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Not so - Superman

Peter didn't show for tennis this morning. The same Peter who at 52 still thinks that he can throw a 24 hour party from 9 pm Saturday to 9 pm Sunday and still get up for tennis on Monday morning. Hmnnn.


Aren't modern communications wonderful. Mum arrived recently to stay for a few days without some of her medication. So this morning, after tracking down her doctor's phone number on the internet, we persuaded the surgery to email us details of the medicine. The next stage is to persuade our local doctor to give us a script and everyone's happy (and feeling better.)


I went to the Patent Office the other day to register some of my inventions. I went to the main desk to sign in and the lady at the desk had a form that had to be filled out. She wrote down my personal info and then asked me what I had invented. I said,

"A folding bottle."

She said, "Okay. What do you call it?"

I said, "A Fottle."

She said, "What else do you have?"

I said, "A folding carton."

She said, "What do you call it?"

I said, "A Farton."

She sniggered and said, "Those are silly names for products and one of them sounds kind of crude."

I was so upset by her comment that I grabbed the form and left the office without even telling her about my folding bucket.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

CRAV Terrorists

We have terrorists in our backyard. Look here and here. And there we were thinking that we had got away from terrorist problems by hiding away in the French countryside. How foolish. I love it when wine producers and farmers can't think of anything better than demand that their government solve their problems. This is what year upon year of nanny state intervention and subsidies have produced. And, it's not as if food in France is particularly cheap. Yet another small problem for Sarkozy to deal with.


Talking about the price of food, in a recent English television news item, they panned across an outdoor market stall and I noticed that they were selling apricots at £1.65 a kilo (approx conversion €2.39 a kilo). The last lot of apricots that we bought were over €5 a kilo. And they were grown in France and they're probably subsidised by the EU. What's going on?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Wise words

We took mum to Sommieres this morning. She loves oysters, so she ordered a dozen which, as a dutiful son, I delivered to her table. I still need to understand how anyone can sit and eat a huge plate of snot. Anyway, despite the snot eating it was a very productive trip. On her way to meet up with us at Elie's bar, Jan mentioned that she had just seen a jazz band. Four piece, two guitars, a violin and a double bass, playing gypsy jazz. I checked them out, bought a CD and, when we got home, told James and Pauline that I had sorted out their live music for the wedding in September. So far so good. Later that evening James called to say that he had offers from two other (different musical style) gypsy bands to play at the wedding. Listen to this. This could turn out to be a fun evening.


Jan went for a girls night out tonight, to a sumptuous restaurant nearby, whilst I had to endure a plate of my absolutely favourite, pasta al vongole. Thank god mum was visiting. What would I have done without her? Anyway, whilst she is cooking, I'm sitting at the PC writing this rubbish and mum creeps up behind me and says, "Alex, have you got the wine, I need some more for the sauce?" I passed her the bottle and she very wisely said, "if you continue drinking that, you'll get drunk." She's smart, my mum!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Village people

Out to the P's last night for a finger buffet. My mother tried, oh how she tried, but I never developed a taste for fingers! Anyway, these are very wealthy people and claimed that because they had a small kitchen (well, build a bloody bigger one!) that's all that they could provide. Hmnnnn. So, for the record, it's two huge dinners to us (both times they turned up uninvited) and one finger buffet to them. Not that I keep count. Anyway, we had an excellent evening, helped no doubt by our hosts enthusiastic bottle opening skills.


Shopping with mum is very frustrating. We have a favourite fruit and veg shop in Sommieres and letting her loose in there is like watching a child in a sweet shop. Jan and I breeze through the shop, like a couple of old pros, buying our usual goodies and finishing 20 minutes before mum. The trouble is that she sees things that she wouldn't normally see in her shops in Harrogate and, in a flurry of nostalgic excitement, can't stop buying stuff. This, despite the fact, that we tell her that we have already bought some of the stuff that she has bought. Jan then gets worried about space in the fridge. Such fun - not.


It must be the start of the party season. We were invited to Beatrice's housewarming this evening. All our favourite village people (that's a good name for a band - Ed) are there, so the evening passes very shmoothly.

The Buffalo Theory

Click on the image to make it clearer.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Living in a vegetative state

An interesting thing happened today. William rang from the Mairie to say that our neighbours were about to have their electricity cut off. I called X, (Glyn, I hope you appreciate that I haven't mentioned your name) to try and sort it out. X mentioned that he had had problems trying to pay them (oh yeah) and could I help him out. Now nothing gives me more pleasure than going to see Michelle, Williams admin assistant, because she is very attractive and always greets me very warmly. Anyway, she told me what to do, and after a quick trip to the Post Office and 200 euros lighter, I wrote to X thanking him for the opportunity to spend my hard earned cash on his behalf, but more importantly for the opportunity to pop to see Michelle.
Joking apart, what was really interesting was that EDF advised the Marie that electricity was about to be disconnected. Presumably as a safe guard against freezing someone to death.


Out to lunch today with a bunch of people at Mas de Roux. It's our second favourite local resto and Jerome who owns it and runs front of house is very nice. Anyway, last time we were there he pronounced the name of the restaurant as Mas de Roox. I have always pronounced it as Mas de Roo. When questioned, he said that that was the local pronunciation and only Parisians pronounced it Roo. Bloody hell, you don't need to associated with Parisians around here!


Last night, Jan and I were sitting in the living room and I said to her, "I never want to live in a vegetative state, dependent on some machine and fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens, just pull the plug." She got up, unplugged the TV, and then threw my beer out of the window.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Parti Socialiste

I'm finding it difficult to have any respect for the Socialist Party in France (but then why should you? - Ed). First they try to win a presidential election (for the third time) with a range of policies that have repeatedly been rebuffed and now they are considering an alliance with a party that will win at the most four seats. Ségolène Royal is very attractive and I'd give her one (my vote) anytime but purleese stop and think mes braves. Think about the reasons why you keep losing elections. Maybe, just maybe, your political message is out of date. Look what Blair did with the socialist party in the UK. He pretended to be socialist, stole all the Tory policies and then won three elections. Let me at her, I'll show her how to win an election. Having said that I'm not sure that she'd pay the price! (if you know what I mean.)


Despite warnings about an airport strike in France, mum's plane touched down on schedule at Nîmes today. Good old Ryanair. We sneaked our way into the baggage hall to help her with her bags only to find that she was nowhere to be seen. If you remember I had the same problem in Tenerife last April. I checked everywhere and what made matters worse was I could see that the immigration police had packed up and gone away. Anyway, out of curiosity I looked out towards the plane only to see her being given a ride in a wheelchair towards the terminal building. She loved it. I asked her if she had asked for the chair and she said no, they just offered. Good old Ryanair.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


I'm a big Google fan and reading this article brought something to mind. I have started to receive less spam. Instead of 30 or so overnight spams I now regularly get about 15. Gmail's spam filters are so good that I rarely, if ever, receive spam into my inbox. The only conclusion that I can make is that spammers must see a Gmail address as a waste of time and spam them less.


I've been an only child for a very long time and, after speaking to my stepmother today, I have also made contact with my stepsister (one of two). Lots of emails passed backwards and forwards throughout the day and I'm learning more and more about my extended family.

Monday, June 11, 2007

You Tube

We've finally joined the modern electronic age (and not before time! - Ed.) It was our granddaughter's birthday yesterday and, unable to be with her, I had the idea of leaving her personal birthday wishes on You Tube. Well, blow me, it was all very straightforward. We left 2 short video clips taken on a digital camera, one from each of us, that she could view at her leisure and hopefully have a giggle at. And no, I'm not going to give you the links. Rock, on Tommy.


The 'girls' left this morning, after a short stay. You know who you are and thank you for all the laughs.


It's my daughter Cara's birthday today. Happy birthday darling!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Just two more votes then that's it for a while

It's the first round of the French parliamentary elections today. Sarkozy has consolidated his recent election victory by announcing a package of generous fiscal measures last Friday. One element of his proposals that I thought was clever was that he does not propose to change the 35 hour week, (even though most people see it as a stupid) thereby keeping socialists voters happy, and offering tax free overtime to employees to keep everybody happy. This legislation will be discussed and voted on in parliament after these elections. So the message is 'give my party a big majority and see what I'll do for you'. He's outmaneuvering even the most cynical of his opponents. How smart is that?


If you've been following the Paris Hilton saga you might find this funny. If I'm reading the news correctly it sounds like she may have mental health problems.

Aaron Wilburn

Thanks to Will for this.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

The good life

I know I keep banging on about how good the French health system is but here's a little bit of proof. First, let me tell you about Jan's recent experience. Her consultant was considering putting her on a powerful auto-immune suppressant. Given that this could potentially cause problems, if Jan had a serious undisclosed illness, he sent her for a whole series of tests to establish that she was well enough to take the drug. Common sense you might say but later, when Jan was discussing this on the phone with her GP daughter in England, she was told that this sensible, careful and cautious (and expensive) approach would not have happened in the UK.

In addition, I have just started to read about a lady's new life in France when I stumbled across this piece. Take a look at this. The same thorough and cautious approach to diagnosis and potential problems. Live in France, THE place to be ill!


The pool hit 30C yesterday which feels kinda early for such a high temperature. Anyway, it still felt bloody cold to me!

Friday, June 08, 2007

A different layout

It worked.

A little journey

Because I want to make a few changes to the layout of this blog I need to update to a newer version. I trust it all goes smoothly but if it doesn't, you know why.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

I want what you've got

Ever since they last came back from kennels, Max, who is usually quite gentle, has become quite dominant and greedy when it comes to food. Minnie, bless her, now refuses to eat until Max has finished and, if he finishes first, he will barge in and start to eat her food. Anyway, Jan now has to stand between them, whilst they eat, to keep Max out of Minnie's bowl. Yesterday Max, very unusually, growled at Jan as she tried to keep them apart. Needless to say Jan, who is normally very calm and gentle, got very angry with him and threatened to cut off his balls. Grief, I think I'd better watch my step for the next few weeks.


Talking about Minnie, the 10 years old daughter of our recent visitors started to giggle when she was introduced to Minnie last week. It transpires that Minnie is the latest street name for a vagina, hence the mirth. You have been warned!


Good grief. An audience of 33,000 people causes mayhem in Belgium. The authorities there need to wake up. Every Saturday in England there are over 20 football matches with much bigger attendances. What's going on?

The Olympic logo

This is my version!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

This made me laugh

Thanks to Bryan for this one. Click on the picture if you have difficulty reading it.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

French elections

If you would like to understand how the French election system works, let me tell you what I understand. First you vote for a president (Sarkozy won) who, when in power, is supposed to broadly reflect the political will of the people. That's why he chose from a range of different political parties for his ministers. Separately you vote for the députés (the members of parliament). This is the député stage. The first vote is this Sunday and the next round the following Sunday. If one of the candidates gets more than 50% of the vote then that's it, they're in, but in practice no one ever gets 50%, so the top two go into the second round. We live in the Fifth Circonscription du Gard. Our department of Gard is broken down into 5 areas, with each area voting for one député. If we were able to vote (we can only vote in our local elections, ie. for our mayor) we would have 16 candidates to chose from. Yes - 16. Talk about shades of politics. Amongst them you have the Nazi party, two shades of green, and and least three shades of far left. The motsky trotskies, the trotksy motskies and the ultra socialist, ultra trotsky, trotsky left wing trotsky party. No wonder it's difficult to chose! Anyway, they're predicting a landslide for Sarkozy, and all this might signal a big change in French politics for the foreseeable future. My best guess is that Sarko is going to be around for ten years (two terms). He'd have to screw up big time to lose the next election and at first glance he looks too clever for that.


And there you were thinking that it couldn't get any worse than 'Fatal Attraction'. Take a look at this.

Monday, June 04, 2007

French medical charges

This not likely to be of any interest to someone outside France. But you never know?
Penny wrote:

"Hi Alex,
I know I normally only pop up when there's a beauty contest but we saw this article:

How does this compare with what's happening in the Languedoc?
Is it getting more difficult to find a doctor , dentist or optician who is operating (?) under Sector 1?"

I replied:

"I usually attend doctors with Jan because my French is a little better than hers, so I get to visit quite a few surgeries/consulting rooms. I wasn't fully aware of pricing differences between doctors but I was aware that they would often post details of their charges in their waiting rooms and that they often referred to 'standard' pricing. My knee jerk reaction to your question is that I suspect the doctors that we see price under Secteur 1. This is a relatively poor area and our specialist doctors seem to charge in the region of 30 - 40 euros depending on what they do during the visit. A 'hello goodbye' visit costs say 30 euros but the same doctor charged 45 euros when he had taken a skin sample for examination and stitched the wound. Fairly reasonable I would say. Having said all that I'll pay a bit more attention in future and let you know."

Penny replied:

"What brought it to our attention first was when we contacted our optician ('opthalmologiste') for an appointment and we were informed that she no longer adhered to the Convention Medicale de la Securite Sociale and that therefore we would have to pay 40 Euros for a consultation, whereas our 8 year old son who was not an existing patient would have to pay 50 Euros for an eye test (none of which was covered under the normal system, not even under the insurance complementaire). Basically she's gone private which apparently seems to be increasingly the trend."

Sunday, June 03, 2007


I have always said that one of the nicest months in our department, Gard, is the month of May. Not so this year. I'm a little embarassed to say that I have been keeping daily weather stats for the last 4 years (and before you laugh, just stop and think about anything that you have saved in the past, like champagne corks for instance) and my statistics show that May was not a good month. (What about just sticking your head out of the window? - Ed) It's almost as if April and May swopped places. Everything that you would expect in April happened in May and vice versa. I could bore you with the statistics but won't. Just write if you want to know more. (Do we need any more proof that you're a sad git? - Ed)


First you had the Butter Wizard now you have Net'Skim. I first saw this product in April when I was getting some pool supplies at Leroy Merlin (don't you just love that name?) in Nimes. Whilst at first a little sceptical, this thing really does work. You'd be amazed at the crud that it prevents entering the 'system'. In principal it's a closed mesh net that fits over the skimmer baskets in your pool. The main benefit, as I see it, is that it helps you keep the 'plumbing' cleaner and, because you backwash less frequently, you save water. Neat!


Slowly the gardens are getting a bit of a makeover. With a wedding due at the end of August, when over a hundred people will descend from around the world, we are slowly completeing maintenance jobs that would otherwise be ignored. Today was all about rubbing down and varnishing two outdoor wooden tables. Bryan lent me his all powerful (takes half an inch off if you're not careful) sander and the job was done in no time. Frankly I'm not too sure about this so called hardwod furniture that they sell you (you mean that you buy! - Ed) but the sander takes you back to bare wood and, after couple of coats of stained varnish, voila, you've got a new table.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

57 Ways to hurt your lover

'A', 'T' and the children left this morning for the drive back to London, laden with local goodies. If you ever needed a knowledgeable recommendation about the price and quality of our local wines, then bearing in mind that this man's business supplies ingredients to most top London restaurants, he travelled back to England with a boot full of the stuff. They are a lovely family, great fun and love our dogs. We were very sorry to see them go.


So, there you have it, it's now official. If you are going to throw baked beans at anyone make sure that they are in a take away tub and not in a tin. A tin would constitute a dangerous weapon and you would undoubtedly be prosecuted. Heinz, please note.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The next generation

Bryan sent me this. Supposedly real answers to an exam for 16 years old.

"The following questions and answers were collected from last year's GCSE exam results.


Q: Name the four seasons.
A: Salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar.

Q: Explain one of the processes by which water can be made safe to drink.
A: Flirtation makes water safe to drink because it removes large pollutant like grit, sand, dead sheep and canoeists.

Q: How is dew formed?
A: The sun shines down on the leaves and makes them perspire.

Q: What causes the tides in the oceans?
A: The tides are a fight between the Earth and the Moon. All water tends to flow towards the moon, because there is no water on the moon, and Nature abhors a vacuum. I forget where the sun joins in this fight.


Q: What guarantees may a mortgage company insist on?
A: If you are buying a house, they will insist you are well endowed.

Q: In a democratic society, how important are elections?
A: Very important. Sex can only happen when a male gets an election.

Q: What are steroids?
A: Things for keeping carpets still on the stairs.


Q: What happens to your body as you age?
A: When you get old, so do your bowels and you get intercontinental.

Q: What happens to a boy when he reaches puberty?
A: He says goodbye to his boyhood and looks forward to his adultery.

Q: Name a major disease associated with cigarettes.
A: Premature death.

Q: What is artificial insemination?
A: When the farmer does it to the cow instead of the bull.

Q: How can you delay milk turning sour?
A: Keep it in the cow. [He got an A]

Q: How are the main parts of the body categorised? (e.g. abdomen)
A: The body is consisted into three parts - the brainium, the borax the abdominal cavity. The branium contains the brain, the borax contains the heart and lungs, and the abdominal cavity contains the five bowels, A, E, I, O and U.

Q: What is the Fibula?
A: A small lie.

Q: What does "varicose" mean?
A: Nearby.

Q: What is the most common form of birth control?
A: Most people prevent contraception by wearing a condominium.

Q: Give the meaning of the term "Caesarean Section."
A: The caesarean section is a district in Rome.

Q: What is a seizure?
A: A Roman emperor.

Q: What is a terminal illness?
A: When you are sick at the airport

Q: Give an example of a fungus. What is a characteristic feature?
A: Mushrooms. They always grow in damp places and they look like umbrellas.


Q: Use the word "judicious" in a sentence to show you understand its meaning.
A: Hands that judicious can be soft as your face.

Q: What does the word "benign" mean?
A: Benign is what you will be after you be eight.


Q: What is a turbine?
A: Something an Arab or Sheik wears on his head.