Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Smoooooth

Because she has to leave for her return journey to the UK first thing tomorrow morning and because Ryanair wouldn't let her onto the plane without proper ID, after a few phone calls, Gill went off to the British Consulate in Montpellier to collect her emergency passport. She had to take along about 90 euros and two photographs and, after about 30 minutes, she was issued with a passport. The passport was a very official looking A4 sized piece of paper valid for one journey only and which would be taken from her when she landed in the UK. Obviously some checking had been going on behind the scenes because it contained bits of information that had not been supplied by Gill. All very efficient and not too stressful. With that piece of paper and her police report she went to her local bank branch and they helped her withdraw some cash. Quite impressive!

Test yourself

Take a look here. It's a quick download and a bit of fun. I scored 35, how about you?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A mutual appreciation event


Anticipating a long wait this afternoon, Jan went to run a few errands whilst I headed for the dentist. I reckon that I'm at that time of life when all my ancient metal fillings are starting to crumble and pop. Such is the popularity of our dentist I've had to wait 30 days or so to have a huge hole filled, and when I say huge there was more hole than tooth and I've no idea how the remaining bit of tooth survived. Anyway, I arrived a couple of minutes early and was shown right in. Yes, you read that right, I was in the chair BEFORE the allotted time. I like Dr B, he's a nice chap and we always have a bit of a chat before I grab his nuts. I find that he's always much more gentle whilst I can inflict a lot of pain on him. I've even learnt the French for, "And we're not going to hurt each other are we?"

Now, it's a while since I've had any work done at the dentist and I half expected him to have to use a cauldron of molten lead to fill the tooth but no. He uses a resin, the same colour as the tooth, which sets so fast that he has to use the drill to finish it off. (Is there a point to this story? - Ed) Look, this may be boring for you but this was a significant event for me and I pass on the experience in the event that you may have to have dental work done in Quissac!

Monday, October 29, 2007

"Let's be careful out there"

We were just about to set off for Nimes when I got an urgent message to contact Glyn in the UK. His wife, who is visiting their holiday home next door at the moment, had just been 'mugged' at Truffaut in Nimes. It was the old scam of a man telling her that she had a problem with her tyre (it had been fully deflated) and, whilst the tyre was being changed, a male accomplice stealing her handbag which she had left on the front seat.
Her handbag contained everything. Keys, addresses, credit cards, passport, phone, everything. Anyway, one call to alex'll-fix-it and within two hours all the house locks were changed.
Poor Gill, she was quite upset but with help from very kind French bystanders she got to the bank quickly and cancelled her cards. The British Consulate in Montpellier were also very helpful and will provide her with an emergency passport when she visits them tomorrow.
When I was searching for an appropriate picture to go with the quote "Lets be careful out there", from Hill Street Blues, I came across this picture of Veronica Hamel who starred in the series. I remember that as a young man I had the hots for her. Just thought you might like to know.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Cheer up


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Days like this

It's on days like this that I remember why I'm in France. The sky is bright blue, it's the end of October and it's warm and, more importantly, there's nobody around to piss me off. Wonderful!

I can remember buying it, but not when. It was probably sometime last year, or even the year before. Anyway, the other night we opened a couple (three actually) of Chateau L'Euziere, Les Escarboucles 2003, from 34270, Fontanes, in the Pic Saint Loup area. Wow, was it nice. So, with a dinner party tonight for some special friends, who were an enormous help at James' wedding last month, we headed off to buy some more.

Madame was really helpful but was quite surprised that we wanted some 2003. There was none available on her price list but, she said 'she could offer a 2005 which needed laying down for a few years.' A quick tasting proved that she was right but, I pointed out, 'we need something for now.' 'OK,' she said, 'we do have a bit of 2003, which we're keeping (to sell later at a huge price), and I can let you have one box.' 'Sold' we said and, with a couple of boxes of some other stuff we headed over to Sommieres! Life just doesn't get better than this - until, that is, we pop some corks tonight

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Do you really want to know?

This you have to handle with care. Do you think your partner is cheating on you? Do you trust him/her? Well now you can track their whereabouts using a mobile phone tracker. It's great, it uses satellite map tracking with any connected mobile phone. Coverage anywhere in the world accurate to one metre!

Log on to http://www.sat-gps-locate.com the results are amazing.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It's pissing down!

Chris W, who runs this excellent site, popped round yesterday for a slap up meal, on his birthday, at auntie Jan's pie shop and to check out a venue for his wedding next year. As I'm now the resident wedding expert that bit was easy.


A little later in the day we popped over to Domaine Costeplane for a couple of boxes of red. As we were sitting outside, under the nèfle tree, tasting their various wines with Clare and David, Cecille put the corks back into each bottle. Hoping that we could finish them, I asked her the rather stupid question as to why she was putting the corks back in the bottles and she said, 'to stop anything falling inside the bottle.' At this point, the farm cat shot up the tree scrabbled about a bit and then pissed on us. I kid you not.

Try this

DavidCopperfield1
DavidCopperfield1....
Hosted by eSnips

This you've got to see

Monday, October 22, 2007

Thanks, Wendy

Having thanked her personally, I have to publicly thank Wendy, a woman of exquisite taste, for nominating this blog, here. If you also have excellent taste (even if a bit weird) then please feel free to add your voice. Stand up and be counted, show the world your true colours (colors for Rosemary) and join with that ever growing band of reprobates who happily put up with substandard stuff. If I can afford it, which is extremely doubtful, you will get your reward!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Roquefort

And there I was thinking that we'd come home for a rest. Last night, we and about 38 others gathered for what turned out to be a very good meal at Chez Vero to watch the rugby. The result is history, but suffice to say the boys dun good and you felt proud of them.

This morning we had visitors coming in at 09.00 into Montpellier (on a 06.00 Ryanair flight from Stansted - what an unsociable hour) so, despite going to bed shattered, we had to get up early for the pick up. As it happens, we were on our way to the Millau Bridge for a look see and then after a good hearty lunch at Le Combalou in Lauras it was off for an escorted tour of the cheese ripening caves at Roquefort. Now Roquefort is Jan's favourite blue cheese so it was of particular interest to her but, even having got up at an unearthly hour, our visitors Claire and David enjoyed it too. I thought about a cup of tea at Jacquis cafe (it turns out she was out running anyway) but as it happens I had other things on my mind.

We got back to catch most of the exciting Grand Prix from Brasil (what a good weekend of sport - and good effort Lewis) and, after a 'light' meal of soup, quiche and salad, and fruit, went to bed a tired but happy bunny.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

So now you know


If, like me, you find some of the rules of rugby a tad baffling then this page may well help.

***

As a change from all the rugby jokes floating around at the moment, here's something different.

A young man married a beautiful woman who had previously been married 10 times.

On their wedding night, she told her new husband to 'Please be gentle; I'm still a virgin'.

'What?' said the puzzled groom. 'How can that be if you've been married ten times?'

'Well, husband # 1 was a Sales Representative; he kept telling me how great it was going to be.

'Husband # 2 was in Software Services; he was never really sure how it was supposed to function; but he said he'd look into it and get back with me.

'Husband # 3 was from Field Services; he said that everything checked out diagnostically but he just couldn't get the system up.

'Husband # 4 was in Telemarketing; even though he knew he had the order, he didn't know when he would be able to deliver.

'Husband # 5 was an Engineer, he understood the basic process but he wanted three years to research, implement, and design a new state of the art method.

'Husband # 6 was from Administration; he thought he knew how but he wasn't sure whether it was his job or not.

'Husband # 7 was in Marketing; although he had a product, he was never sure how to position it.

'Husband # 8 was a Psychiatrist; all he did was talk about it.

'Husband # 9 was a Gynecologist; all he did was look at it.

'Husband # 10 was a Stamp Collector; all he ever did was.......... God I miss him.
'But now that I've married you, I'm so excited'.

'Wonderful', said the husband, 'but why?

'It's easy', she said, 'You're with the government... and this time I know I'm gonna get screwed.'

Friday, October 19, 2007

Chez Dyna


During our recent trip we stayed in this lovely bed and breakfast about 20 minutes outside Carcassonne. We can't recommend it highly enough.

A touch of reality

And, just before you get too carried away with the intimate moments of a film....

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Catching up

It's been a hectic, but very interesting few days mostly without Internet, so here goes.
On Monday we landed, earlier than scheduled, in Barcelona and braved the motorways (Ronda de Dalt) to make our way up to Girona (Catalan spelling), our stop for the night.
On Tuesday, I had a blind date. Not the sort of blind date that can get you into serious trouble (like I had in a previous life) but a date to meet a man that I had only ever communicated with over the Internet. I had earlier recognised Ray as the man who wrote and starred in a cult television programme called Operation Good Guys. A spoof, fly on the wall, documentary about a group of inept policemen. If you look at his bio here he has done much, much more. When he sent an invite to 'have a beer', how could I resist? We were passing near to him, on the way back from Barcelona, so a beer it was. Or, to be more precise it was wine. We started drinking with lunch at 13.00 and I finally gave up at 22.00 having lost the ability to form words correctly. It was a fascinating few hours talking about writing, producing, directing and acting in both television and films. He was great company, with lots of good stories, and he's even sent me a screenplay. He wants to do it again sometime, but next time I'll get into training first.

On Wednesday, after driving back from Carcassonne, we tidied up, picked up our 'very pleased to see us' dogs and climbed back into our own bed. In the previous 10 days we had slept in four different beds and, as usual, it was a pleasure to get back into our own.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Adios and gracias

Today it was our turn to leave. We headed back, via Barcelona, to stop for the night just outside Gerona.
Wow, wow, wow, I'm not usually lost for words but when we came to settle the bill this morning, there was absolutely nothing to pay. We were stunned, we were speechless. We have stayed, and eaten, in 5 star luxury for five days and nights and our host Luis (and my new best friend) picked up the tab. I was quite emotional and admit to a tear in my eye as I said to Jan, "We should have stayed for another week!"

England v France - Cry God for Jonny !

Thanks to Chris for this funny link.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Tat and more tat

Most of the wedding party left at lunch time and we were sorry to see them go. Neither Jan nor I speak Spanish (or Catalan for that matter), so fully joining in was a bit of a strain but we got by and had a great time.

We had been told about this 'great' market in nearby Teguise so off we went. I have to say that something didn't feel right for me but off we went. Hmnnn. What a load of tat. This little sign somehow summed it all up.

Not to worry, when we got back to the hotel, having found another recommended restaurant shut for the day, we headed for the 17th floor and their Altamar restaurant. The food, wine and views were excellent and made a fitting end to a lovely break.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Are you hungry yet?

Just in case we hadn't quite eaten enough over the last few days, we were kindly invited to lunch by the sea on the other side of the island. El Golfo is not a village you would ever just come across. It's at the end of a road with the next stop as Canada. More to the point it contains Paula's dads favourite fish restaurant, so El Golfo it was. Restaurante Bogavante sits right on the black sand beach, with the North Atlantic waves crashing at your feet. This is rustic open air dining at its best.
Apart from the starters, we went with the waiters recommendation. Have you ever eaten Piranha fish? These ugly little monsters tasted good. In fact they were a type of rock fish and their local name is 'little goats', because they live and hunt amongst the volcanic rocks in the sea. They were tasty but very ugly (which reminds me of a girl I used to out with - but that's another story)!

What a great day for English sport. In the afternoon the football team beat Estonia 3-0 and then, against all the odds, the rugby team beat France to get into the Rugby World cup Final. I went to bed a tired but happy bunny.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Spanish wedding






















A lunar landscape

Now I know what Neil Armstrong felt like. With a lunch to eat, we headed off to survey the lunar landscape. Actually Jan had identified a restaurant about 20 minutes away, in the Sea of Tranquility. We couldn’t find it. What we found was Restaurante La Bodega in Yaiza, (no, I don’t know how to pronounce it). We sat under the biggest Ficus you have ever seen. It was at least 25 metres side to side. It was a pleasant meal, somewhat spoilt by the police car pulling into the car park. I had my back to them but I had visions of the policemen counting the bottles on each table! I mentioned this to the waiter and he said ‘don’t worry they’re family’. So that was all right then! The bus that was going to take us to the church, miles away, was leaving at 17.30. We had a bus to catch.

80 million years with no sex


Listen guys, if this headline grabs your attention, you might be a bdelloid rotifer. It's probably best to stay shtum.

To keep you in the loop

The following pictures were taken at last nights cocktail party. They will help explain the 'Spanish Connection'. They will also help with your end of term exam! Here's a big clue. Paula is married to Ben, Jan's eldest.

The sisters. Andrea and Paula.


Paula and yours truly.



The happy couple. Andrea and Luis Miguel, who will get married tomorrow.







Paula and Ben, the even happier couple, and parents to be.







Now do you understand?


Keep up

I told you this on the 9th September. Up to the minute hard hitting news, even before it happens! See here.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Self control

Grief, the Spanish are noisy. And there I was thinking that the Italians had that honour. Watching the sunset last night from the 17th floor, amidst all the shouting and laughing, the wine flowed. A group of about 12 of us got stuck into the local stuff with the result that I emptied the minibar of anything vaguely thirst quenching at regular intervals through the night. If only I could learn to say, 'no', 'stop', 'I've had enough', or even remember to sink a pint of water before bed. Tonight's cocktail party will be a real test of my self control (I think we know the answer to that one, don't we? - Ed)

We didn't go far today, not that you have very far to go on this island. The scenery can best be described as lunar. The whole island, as far as I can see, is covered in volcanic ash and very little natural vegetation grows. The only things that grow have been planted and between and beyond those plants everything is a reddish brown, as far as the eye can see.

Lunch in nearby Costa Teguise consisted of peperoncinos de padrone and grilled dorade. Oh, and yes, a bottle of wine. Look I knew this wasn't going to be easy. Please help. We need encouragement and help, not sour looks and tutting.

For lovers of Australian wine


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

On the wrong foot

An early start for our flight to Lanzarote this morning. We're going to a Spanish wedding and have been invited by Paula's sister Andrea. I hope you're paying attention!

Driving around Barcelona in the rush hour is scary and it all seems to work but you do have to have your wits about you.

We’re in Air Europa, coach, which isn’t actually that bad. The leg room is OK and as it’s a 3.00 hour flight I’ve got my iPod plugged in. Cool.

After upgrading the car to something with air con we make the fifteen minute drive to the hotel.

The Arrecife Gran Hotel is 5 star, the tallest building on the island. I’m writing this from the twelth floor, overlooked only by low flying aircraft. Whilst I have 5 star ambitions, I don't have a 5 star pocket, the reason we are here is because the bridegroom is ‘management’ and we gratefully got a ‘deal’. We check in, and something isn’t right but it’s difficult to put your finger on it. OK, we got stuck into the complimentary wine and forgot about the car parked at the front. We met up later with Joachim, who sat next to us on our flight, and he told us that he’d got a ’ticket’. I went outside to check and sure enough we’d got one as well. Not to worry I said, I’ll park the car and pay the 30 euros. BUT - when you looked closely at the ticket it wasn't for 30 euros but for 300 euros. Welcome to Lanzarote. Bastards. I was really incensed. There were no 'no parking' signs and I took lots of photos to prove it. I’m mad. Generally I’d just have paid the fine, but this is robbery. Day light robbery. 300 euros, the bastards. They pick on an obvious hire car and know that the hire company will pay the fine. I’m up for a fight. Big time. This is outrageous. So I take a long walk to the police station and Jan comes with me. Senor policeman was actually very nice (I always find that in my dealings with police) and told me what to do to get the ticket 'scrubbed'. Hmnnnn. Anyway, back at the hotel Andrea, Friday's bride gets involved and offers to have the ticket 'dealt with' by her hubby to be, Luis, who 'knows' people. Luis is also embarrassed and angry because it's not a good start to their celebrations and he doesn't need this problem outside his hotel. Watch this space, but something deep inside tells me that I'll be paying this.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Rugby jokes

Thanks to Bryan for these.

World leaders are united in their praise for the All Blacks in doing their bit to reduce their carbon footprint by dropping the Wallabies off on their way home!
------------------------------------------

What's the difference between the All Blacks and a tea bag?

The tea bag stays in the cup longer.

---------------------------

Have you heard about the new All Black bra?

Great support but no cup.

--------------------------------------------

What's the difference between an All Black and an arsonist???

An arsonist wouldn't waste five matches

-------------------------------

What do you call 15 blokes sitting watching the world cup semi-final.....

The All Blacks

---------------------------------------------

NEWSFLASH

Graham Henry found dead in hotel room, 4.5 million suspects

------------------------------------------------

What's the difference between viagra and Graham Henry,

Viagra will give you a semi!!!

-----------------------------------------------

Sitges

The mystery of the Rugby t-shirt was solved this morning. There I was sitting in an internet café typing this rubbish, just around the corner from the flat, and up pops a new e-mail message. It’s from Glyn who came out for the weekend with his buddy and their children to watch the rugby. We kept missing each other, him because they were shooting all over the place having landed in Gerona, the only direct flight from Liverpool in winter, and us because we were out and about ourselves. We didn't even know that he was around. He left the shirt first thing on Sunday morning, whilst we were enjoying a cup of tea in bed, just before he had to shoot of back to Gerona. Wasn’t that kind.

***
We use a public car park near the flat, which is not cheap. Then what city centre car park is cheap? Anyway, what’s different about this one is that the payment machine does not take cards. You have to stuff in notes or coins, which means you have to be prepared. Our overnight bill was 39 euros. Mnnnnn.

***

OK, today’s big decision. Hit the shops in Barcelona or drive down to Sitges for lunch? Despite the obvious temptation, Sitges won because we like the place, there are lots of shops and it’s nice to have lunch by the sea. As we headed south out of Barcelona we passed several exotic shops with exotic sounding names. Names like Leroy Merlin, Decathlon and Carrefour. France hates competition from abroad but has no hesitation in invading other countries! But that’s another story.
When it comes to restaurants, we generally choose well? El Rincon de Pepe, Paseo de la Ribera, 93 894 50 54 is very smart, right on the sea front and looked immediately appealing. They had Arroz Negra, which we had already decided we wanted, on the menu, so the rest was easy. It was all superb helped no doubt by an excellent wine recommended by our waiter. Belondrade y Lurton 2005 made with 100% Verdejo (never had that one before) was superb. After a siesta in the sun, when Jan had a paddle in the sea, we headed back.
Just to round off a perfect afternoon I found an unencrypted wireless connection back at the flat. Some people are just born lucky!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Barcelona

The journey to Barcelona was uneventful, with the exception of getting into Barcelona itself. The roads, especially around Barcelona, are not for the faint hearted. It helps if you have a good idea where you are going because the roads are very busy with the locals driving at breakneck speed. It really helps if you have a good navigator. Jan’s good. Even getting off the ring roads doesn’t help much because, when you do, the streets are so narrow and many are now newly pedestrianised that a local map is only so much help. All these issues were compounded with a very heavy thunderstorm as we entered the city. Welcome to Barcelona!
The rain cleared enough for us to walk out for dinner. Ben and Paula, whose flat we are using, live in an area called
Gracia, an interesting area to the north of Barcelona with a distinct bohemian feel. The streets are very narrow, difficult to traverse, especially with our car, but quaint nonetheless. Dinner wasn’t memorable; we rather stupidly chose a restaurant that served food with a heavy French influence. We were tired!

Someone knows how big I am!

A very strange thing happened yesterday. Our normal morning routine, is to feed the dogs and let them out , make a cup of tea and then watch the breakfast news in bed. The back door is left open for the dogs to come and go. So it was yesterday. What was strange was that when we got to the kitchen for breakfast, a Rugby World Cup t-shirt, my size, was sitting on the bar with a similar key ring. Ooooh errr. We were reverse burgled. There were no human remains in the garden, so the dogs obviously knew the visitor, either that or they're bloody useless (something we have long suspected) and there was no attempt to rouse us. Despite a couple of phone calls we were still perplexed this morning. Spooky.
Anyway, I mentioned this to William before we left and he told me of a lady he knows who found a pair of strange pyjamas on her washing line one morning!
***

On a more sober note, this morning we left for Barcelona. After dropping Josh for his flight home from Nimes, we hit the motorway for a couple of nights in Barcelona prior to a flight to Lanzarote for our third wedding of the year. All will be revealed.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Vive la difference


Saturday, October 06, 2007

And for my next trick


Today was a good news day. First, I woke to hear that Lewis Hamilton made pole position for the China Grand Prix. Second (chronologically), Jan's eldest son's wife, Paula (above left), announced that she was pregnant. Third, and against all the odds, England beat Australia in the quarter finals of the Rugby World Cup. Not a pretty game but a win's a win. A good effort all round chaps.


***

Josh is coming to the end of his stay and, because we had a lot to celebrate, it was out to Le Fourneau de Clelia for a slap up meal tonight. Days just don't get better than this.

Pneus en Ligne


I'm an admirer of Blackcircles and have been buying tyres from them for a few years now. Well now they've created a site http://www.pneusenligne.net/ specifically for the French market. You buy your branded tyres cheap, they send them to you and you get your local garage to fit them. I've done it and it works a treat. Check out their prices, you'll be amazed at how much you can save. And no, I'm not being paid to say this, I'm just a big fan.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Not here, there


I was in a car park in Sommieres waiting for Jan, who had been in the optician for well over an hour. This wasn't anticipated but suddenly I needed the toilet. This happens more and more of late and I have toilets mapped out all over the place for such an eventuality. Anyway, the arene was just down the way and there was no one about. I have always admired the French penchant for peeing in public and I was about to join the throng. I parked the car and hid myself behind a small outbuilding just outside the arene. Bugger, a small white van pulled up behind me and the driver started shouting at me. It's difficult to hold a conversation mid-stream so I ignored him. When I was more comfortable I started to pay him attention. He told me in no uncertain terms that I shouldn't relieve myself there. Being half Italian and having developed the Gallic shrug I tried to ignore him. It ain't a sin and I needed to go, so that was it. Suddenly I realised that he sympathised. What he was trying to tell me was that I was actually pissing up the side of a toilet. A quick look round the other side confirmed his information. Bugger.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

A shortage of doctors

Josh got a phone call yesterday, asking him to go, a week earlier than planned, to his hospital in Brighton to have his plaster cast off. The reason given was that they would be short of doctors when his appointment was due. This raises several thoughts, non of them particularly beneficial towards the hospital in question.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A fighting spirit

What a great story. Just the thought of nuns having a catfight makes me giggle. Get into the habit here.


***


You can probably guess that not much is happening at the ranch at the mo. The most interesting thing that I'm dealing with at present is leaving the house dressed for autumn, in jeans and sweatshirt, and then complaining as the sun comes out and it hits 25C in the shade. Still, can't complain! It's turned out nice again!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Mad and madder

MAD

At first I thought that this might be a joke. I've had a few emails asking me to sign the petition, so I looked at the website and, sure enough, there was a petition, and the government has replied. I have no great feelings about the Red Arrows and certainly don't see them in a jingoistic way but I suspect that the men in grey suits were fomenting their insidious petty thoughts. Assuming that the initial rumour was true, it's just another case of PC madness.

***

MADDER

Monday, October 01, 2007