Friday, November 30, 2007

It's getting hard

Peter, who has more illnesses than your local hospital, hasn't showed for tennis for some time, so Milton his partner, who, obviously tired of getting beaten, turned up with a ringer, René, this morning. It only took me two minutes to see that he could play so I whispered to William that we would have a fight on our hands and so it proved. We just managed to edge the first set 7-5 and were down 3-0 in the second before we got our act together. Game by game we pulled them back until we just won the second set 7-5 again. When René gets his eye in (he hasn't played for a couple of years) it will get even tougher. Should be fun.


We have finally got tired of the house filling with smoke every time we light a fire so we went in search of wood burning stoves this afternoon. They're not cheap but we found one we liked at Cheminees Decors du Sud. However, they can't instal until the end of next January when winter will virtually be over. Bum!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Your place or mine

According to the UN, France is the 10th best place in the world to live. First place goes to Iceland. I'll stick with tenth!


I have to congratulate the enterprising hooker who has recently purchased a big white van, fitted out with curtains, and who parks in a lay-by just outside Nîmes. You'd recognise the van because it is a) the only one ever there and b) it has party balloons on the nearside door handle. She has plied her trade from this lay-by for several years in a car and I have always wondered, amongst other things, where she, and her companions, went to do the deed. I wonder no more. She deserves an award for her enterprise. Anyone want to give her one? (Sorry I couldn't resist it!).

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Guillon Whisky

Did you know that they make whisky in France? We were in Intermarché this afternoon and there it was, a French made single malt from the 'mountains of Reims'. This 'Grand Cru du Whisky' (note the Scottish spelling), Guillon Whiskey, from 51150 Louvois, is 43% vol. I'm no whisky expert but it seemed ok.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Name that road

Ah ha, it worked. The goose wandered out into the front garden this morning, allowing me to shut the gate behind it and keep it out of the pool area. What a mess it left behind (or rather, left its behind). The pool cover was covered in shit which, when I clean it off, I need to be careful not to sluice into the water below. Charming! Armed with a couple of brooms we shepherded our unwelcome visitor back into the village and safety. Safety from me because I have never eaten goose but more importantly from the dogs who came back from kennels this afternoon.


I've been inundated with suggestions about English motorway road names (well three actually and all from Nigel who lives near Stansted).

M11 - L'escape-route au Stansted Airport
M20 - Le Rat-run à La Manche
M25 - L'autoroute de Merde

Monday, November 26, 2007

Goose step

Good heavens, I'm celebrating a little milestone today because this is my 1000th journal entry. Thank you all for reading my scribblings. You know who you are!


We left H&E after breakfast this morning replete with their fabulous hospitality. Never have so few eaten so much and drunk so well. Thanks to you both.


A few days ago, before we left for Agen, we found a goose in the pool area and when we got back this afternoon it was still there. Goodness knows what it's been eating. It was sitting comfortably on the pool cover, gently undulating up and down as if it was sitting in water. We might have one dumb goose here! Anyway, we know where it normally lives, just a few doors away, so we'll try and get it back home tomorrow. It must have flown in because it had no direct access so I opened a gate to see if it would walk out. Strange what you have to do sometimes.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ferme de Ramon

We made our annual pilgrimage to Ferme de Ramon in Aiguillon at lunch time. This is a duck farm and this is its open weekend. During the weekend they open up a big barn and add additional marquees where you can buy lots of local goodies like Armagnac, Champagne, Sauternes and cheese and also sit down to a duck fest. The barn is packed with people, mostly French and lots gets eaten and drunk. After our slap up feast we wandered round the stalls and shop buying some goodies for Christmas. This is what I wrote at this time last year. It still holds good.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


After a delicious dinner last night of pheasant and some of H's Premier Grand Crus Claret (I've absolutely no idea what the poor people were eating), we waddled off this morning to explore the hinterland. The destination was Duras and in particular lunch at Dom Camillo, place Marguerite 0553 83 76 00, followed by a trip around Chateau de Duras. If you're hungry, Dom Camillo is the place to be. I was still stuffed from last night, and settled on an a cep filled omelette as a snack. When it arrived I nearly fell off my chair, it was a monster, it must have contained at least four eggs and a cup full of ceps. I was very nearly defeated, but sheer greed got me through. A good effort and highly recommended. I hope my doctor doesn't read this stuff, because I keep telling her that I eat like a sparrow (she only has to look at you to know you're lying, you idiot - Ed). Anyway, re-stuffed we all set off around the castle. What an interesting place but more to the point there was so much to see that by the time we'd finished I was hungry again. Just kidding! It was a fascinating place to visit and is well worth the effort. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, November 23, 2007


This morning we quickly re-packed and headed off to the west of France, over towards Agen, to see friends H & E. This has become an annual pilgrimage that we look forward to. H & E are very generous hosts and we love to explore the countryside with them. Before we hit the motorway, we popped into Chateau des Hospitalier (above) for some of their lovely oak aged Merlot. Why we don't visit here more often is a mystery because they make lovely wine. Anyway, back to the motorways. The A9, which took us towards our turnoff at Narbonne, has the usual plethora of extra Brussels imposed E numbers, but is also called the Languedocienne. Tom Tom also told me that we were heading for L'autoroute des deux mers (joining the Atlantic and the Med) and this made me think that the French and Italians, who both give their motorways appropriate nice sounding names, have the right idea. This then made me think (shouldn't you be concentrating more on your driving? - Ed) what I would call the English M1. The best that I could come up with was the Route d'Ilkley Moor Bah Tat (a very English joke I'm afraid). What about the rest? A prize for the best ideas!

Sorry, got to go, I'm typing this on a French keyboard and it's making head hurt.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Joe Cocker 2 and a bit of Marseille

JC put on his usual fantastic performance last night. He obviously appeals to a very wide age range and they went wild as he knocked out all the old favourites. Goodness knows how long he can keep it up. He's older than me and, having sung in a band in my youth, I know how draining it can be. At times you'd have though he was ready for a coronary, but good on you JC, thank you, an excellent show.

Marseille isn't at all what I'd imagined but as Jan said, "What did you expect?" In the end I can best describe it as similar to Naples. If you've never been to Naples that's not much help but thinking about it it sort of makes sense. Both towns are huge ports on the Mediterranean with a very cosmopolitan mix of people. Both towns have heavy traffic (in Naples they drive beyond belief crazy) but both towns are attractive, you have to be careful with your belongings and they have an inescapable buzz. This morning we were both tired and our culture meters were running at nearly 100% so we didn't do much. Lunch was at L'Hippocampe, 14 Quai du Port, 0491 90 88 38 and very good it was too. Jan was keen to eat Bouillabaise which she described as fish soup with pieces of fish in it. I said, "Well, what did you expect?" We'll go back, spend a bit more time and explore.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Joe Cocker 1

I wonder if we qualify as groupies? Having last seen him in July in Carcassonne, we set off this afternoon to see Joe Cocker in concert in Marseilles. Neither of us has ever visited France's second city, mainly as a result of our friend Chris W getting mugged there one time. Funny how these things can put you off. But accompanied by my beloved bodyguard, (you just don't mess with Jan when she's pissed off) off we went.

I'd always realised that I had special powers. Psychic would best describe it (surely you mean psycho? - Ed). I have no idea what prompted me, but only two times in the last five years have I set the car's cruise control at the speed limit on the road into Nimes, and both times there has been a police speed check. How spooky is that?

Look I know I've written about this before, but on the autoroute to Marseille Tom Tom advised us that we were heading for the A7/E714/E80. It really makes me mad to think that there is a department of highly paid bureaucrats in Brussels re-numbering all the roads. Can anyone tell me why? The road has a number and it most certainly doesn't need another one let alone two. What's going on? Why doesn't someone stop this lunacy? Imagine this.

"Well what did you do today at the office Daddy?"

"Listen son its a bit too difficult to explain but let's just say that that I got tired of calling the Autoroute du Soleil the A7 so I gave it two new numbers to confuse the hell out of all those stupid motorists. That and I filled out my expenses which as you can probably imagine takes a long time to do."

"Thanks Daddy, will you read me a bedtime story?"

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Winter maintenance

It was blowing a gale this morning. The morning that I had belatedly decided to cover the pool. Yes, I know I should have done it a month ago but something minor had prevented me from doing it until now. This morning I was ready. The wind was unbelievably strong but the good news was that it was blowing from the south and was quite warm. The bad news however was that it blew new leaves in as fast as we could fish them out.

We had four pairs of hands this time (Bryan and Gill came round to help) so it was relatively simple. I remember last year when there were just two of us and at one point one end of the cover dropped into the water and and started to sink. It was the devils own job to hold the cover proud of the water to let the new water drain away. Still we got it fixed easily this time and I've learnt my lesson.

It has just occurred to me that Bryan is a spitting image for Joe Cocker and Bryan has even been stopped in restaurants and asked for his autograph. I don't know who to feel more sorry for, Bryan or Joe Cocker. Anyway, this links nicely with tomorrow's expedition to Marseilles. Guess who we're going to see in concert?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Wave like a queen

Have you ever tried doing the queen wave? We were watching original footage of the queens wedding on the news in bed this morning and we were trying to imitate her wave (see what puerile imbeciles we are). It was a good laugh and I thought I'd got it, but Jan was hopeless. I tried to tell her that it's all in the wrist, but would she listen? I reckon it disqualifies her as a pretender to the throne. She said that she thought that I was an old queen anyway. Charming.

Finally got stuck into the Pate de Pezenas today. Mnnnn, not sure, and I understand why Jacqui doesn't like them. My guess would be that they're the forerunner of our present day mince pies. Ours had a subtle lamb taste but with a strong sweet taste of oranges. An unusual combination and anyone that's tried one mutters politely, but nobody raves. If you closed your eyes and thought of England you could imagine a mince pie. I mentioned this to Jan but would she listen?

Sunday, November 18, 2007


That was an interesting day. We had to leave home at the ungodly hour of 08.30 because, along with 24 others, we joined a conducted tour of Pézenas. When younger I always considered conducted tours were for old fogies and now that I've joined that venerable band, I think they're a good idea. Whilst I can't say that the tour was wildly exciting, it was certainly interesting and we were shown courtyards, fabulous staircases (above) and gardens that we wouldn't have otherwise seen. Sunday morning is an excellent time to visit a town centre because there aren't too many people around and it's easier to move and stop as a group. Lunch at the Hotel Moliere was good.

At dinner with friends in the village last night we mentioned the trip to Pézenas and Christiane waxed lyrical about a speciality from the town called Petite Pâte de Pezenas. I promised to bring her some back and at the end of the tour we were shown where to buy them. They are supposedly made from a recipe left in the town by Clive of India. They consist of a mixture of mutton, suet, sugar and lemon peel in a pastry case. It was Sunday lunchtime and the town was shut but we found a patisserie that was open. Job done.
When we got back, Max managed to scale a two metre fence to get out of the garden. Oh to be young and in love again. Bloody dog!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Again, please

Poor old Max. He and Minnie sleep in the study and we have to pass through the study when we get up in the morning. It was just after 06.00, still dark outside and there he was, sitting and alert. He'd opened the door into the house, and was waiting for his breakfast and his first 'outing' of the day.
Just like a bloke, he had sex yesterday, realised/remembered how nice it was and woke up early hoping for another session. Jan, on the other hand, had other ideas. I was instructed to feed him on the lead, walk him round the garden (in the freezing cold) and bring him straight back in. I heard Jan mutter, "You're not going around to see that old slapper again," and, in order to distract him, Jan gave them both a cuddly toy to play with. That diversion worked for about ten minutes until Max remembered what all the fuss was about. He strutted around the house whining, resting his head on the settee arm like he does when he wants something, and expecting to be let out. When I think about it the similarities with the human species are amazing.

Friday, November 16, 2007

In flagrante delicto

For the last two mornings Max has disappeared, on a mission, straight after his breakfast. He scrambles over a gate about 1.75 metres high and disappears for a while. It's not usually a problem because he reappears quite quickly, especially if you shout 'biscuit'. This morning was different. He was gone for some time which prompted me to put my woolly hat on, get wrapped up against the freezing wind and go look for him. Well, I found him. Stuck. Coupled with a female dog (the old village slapper who usually growls at you as you walk by) and unable to separate. It was easy to get the lead on him but, neither of us were going anywhere in a hurry, not without dragging another dog along, backwards. I felt such a prat. Standing there with my dog on a lead, stuck to another dog and unable to move backwards or forwards. Bugger! Thank god the only person that walked by was René, the local hedge expert. He suggested that I go home and leave them because they might not be free until lunchtime. He might know a lot about hedges but even I knew that this was only going to last for about 30-50 minutes. Max on the other hand, just stood there and looked calmly around as if the whole episode had nothing to do with him. I was sure he avoided catching my eye. Bloody dog. Anyway, after about 20 minutes they separated and I really had to drag him home. Surely he couldn't do it again? When I got home, I shoved him into the kennel for a bit of solitary confinement. At least he could smoke a cigarette in peace!

A couple of hours later we let him into the house. Minnie, who was delighted to see him, rolled over onto her back and started acting very playfully. He had just been unfaithful and there she was making up to him. Bloody tart. Max, on the other hand, was very up (if you'll excuse the expression) and with his ears pricked (again excuse the expression) was looking with anticipation out of the back door as he tried to open it. Horny sod!

All I need now is the stupid owner who let the dog on heat out into the village coming round demanding palimony.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Strikes around the world

For a different twist on the strike by US screenwriters look here.

Talking about strikes, Penny sent me these funny links.

On a totally different theme, we hosted an introduction to wine tasting at lunchtime on behalf of BritsNimes. Ten of us were taught how to consider smells and taste, by a professionally trained oenologist, and then we were given various wines to try and make comments on. It was very interesting but I'm afraid it deteriorated a tad mainly due to someone 'getting the taste'. Oops.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Don't talk to me like that

I still keep playing with my satnav (above), despite knowing the journey like the back of my hand. I play with it because it's the only way that I'll get to learn to use it properly. Anyway, we were travelling back from Nîmes again today when Jan made the observation, "At what point does the bloody thing tell you that you've done this journey a thousand times and when the hell will you know the route?" I suppose it's a fair question and it reminded me of the following. Open this page, download the clip which will open in Media Player, make sure your speakers are turned on and sit back. It's very funny.
Later, as we entered the village, Alain the artist pulled us over and invited us in for a quick drink. It was 14.30 and the last thing I really wanted was any booze but, being a man of high principal and low resolve, a drink it was. Lest I seem ungrateful Alain has always been the kindest, friendliest and most helpful man and he further demonstarted this by inviting us to dinner on Saturday. Such is village life. Aren't we lucky?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

That's a real pain

So the four of us are sitting and having a very nice lunch in Hiely-Lucullus, 5 rue de la Republique, Avignon, 0490 86 17 07, when the conversation got around to bread. Is the dough made on site or is the bread bought in frozen? Chris W, who knows about these things, admitted that at one of the restaurants he worked in they bought frozen bread. This obviously happens all the time but the question for me is, does your local boulangerie do this as well? Anyway, we laughed about our local bread shop in Quissac and the formidable lady that runs it. Jan's story is that, in the early days, she would wander into the shop and ask for un baguette. Madame, never one to mince her words, replied frostily that it was une baguette. Chris W mentioned that he had had much the same problem when he first arrived and, after receiving similar treatment, he got a bit of a mental block about the gender. But Chris, as inventive as ever, found a solution. From then on he always asked for deux baguettes because the male/female issue went away. Clever, but it meant that he had to eat a shed load of bread! Mnnnnnn.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Time travel

Its funny how our behaviour has changed since we came to France. In England we lived in a large town but here we live in a small country village. Life seems a bit more personal. This morning, along with others, we attended the remembrance service at the war memorial. Why did we never think about doing this in England? But there are other changes too. Jan buys clothes from the market, she buys food from the market and has even bought cooked chickens, something she wouldn't dream of in England. We now visit different shops for our produce when in England it was one stop Sainsburys. We seem to have taken a step back in time probably in line with our new found leisure time. The pace of life used to be hectic, we both had jobs and had little time or energy for more 'mundane' activities.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Men, women and sat navs

I really like my new Tom Tom. We went to Nîmes yesterday and as we drove home, a journey I've done hundreds of times, it was there advising me, just in case I'd forgotten, where to turn and when. When we got back to the village it even confirmed that we'd arrived. Excellent! How did I ever manage without it? It's an amazing little gadget. I've had to drive this route lots of times and this thing knows it straight away. It even recognises the different speed limits on the road and it warns you if you are exceeding the limit. Talk about spy in the sky! My beloved, displaying a rare cruel streak, wondered if I could input the coordinates so that it would help me find the kitchen and the sink. 'We'll never know', I, perhaps unhelpfully, told her. 'When you know where to find the wheel locking nut, when you next have a puncture, I'll look for and find the sink.' Somewhat unsurprisingly, this didn't go down too well.

Friday, November 09, 2007

And what did you do today daddy?

I omitted to mention yesterday that we met a very interesting couple at the restaurant. She was English and he was French and they met many years ago when they were both performing in variety. She was a dancer and he was a 'foot juggler'. He lay on his back and juggled with his feet. Her history was that she lived out of a suitcase for many years with her parents, who were also in variety and he similarly. They had both travelled the world with their acts and had finally settled in Gard. You should have heard him wax lyrical about Blackpool. He loved it. One of the best places he had ever visited, he said. Hmnnnn, that's a very generous comment, but each to his own. Don't get me wrong, I like Blackpool. When I lived in Harewood, between Leeds and Harrogate, a lawyer friend organised a coach trip and we had a great time. Fish and chips, beer and the pleasure beach. I take it for what it is, but I can think of one or two warmer, sunnier places to spend my hols.

There are lots of jokes around at the moment and thought you might like this:


Saturday 20th October 2007

Saw him in the evening and he was acting really strangely. I went shopping in the afternoon with the girls and I did turn up a bit late so thought it might be that. The bar was really crowded and loud so I suggested we go somewhere quieter to talk. He was still very subdued and distracted so I suggested we go somewhere nice to eat. All through dinner he just didn't seem himself; he hardly laughed and didn't seem to be paying any attention to me or to what I was saying. I just knew that something was wrong. He dropped me back home and I wondered if he was going to come in; he hesitated but followed. I asked him again if there was something the matter but he just half shook his head and turned the television on. After about 10 minutes of silence, I said I was going upstairs to bed. I put my arms around him and told him that I loved him deeply. He just gave a sigh and a sad sort of smile. He didn't follow me up straight away but later he did, and I was surprised when we made love. He still seemed distant and a bit cold, and I started to think that he was going to leave me and that he had found someone else. I cried myself to sleep.


Saturday 20th October 2007

Scotland lost. Gutted. Got a shag though.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Toys for the boys

With about 10 other people from an organisation called BritsNimes, we had lunch at L'Esclafidou, 7 rue Xavier Sigalon, Nîmes, 0466 21 28 49. Our set lunch at 22 euros was excellent and a quick look at the carte looked interesting as well. We will definitely be back and well worth a visit.

What made my day however was that my Tom Tom arrived and I spent several happy hours setting it up and learning how to get to various nearby towns. Towns that I could drive to with my eyes shut but, as you know, that's not the point. I have a new toy and now I have to find a way to use it!

A less than perfect Redhead

A man is dining in a fancy restaurant and there is a gorgeous redhead sitting at the next table. He has been checking her out since he sat down, but lacks the nerve to talk with her.

Suddenly she sneezes, and her glass eye comes flying out of its socket toward the man.

He reflexively reaches out, grabs it out of the air, and hands it back.

'Oh my, I am so sorry,' the woman says as she pops her eye back in place.
'I'm sure that must have embarrassed you so let me pay for your dinner to make it up to you,' she says.

They enjoy a wonderful dinner together, and afterwards they go to the theatre followed by drinks. They talk, they laugh, she shares her deepest dreams and he listens, he shares his and she listens.

After paying for everything, she asks him if he would like to come to her place for a nightcap and stay for breakfast.

They have a wonderful, wonderful time.

The next morning, she cooks a gourmet breakfast with all the trimmings. The guy is amazed and totally impressed. Everything had been SO incredible!
'You know,' he said, 'you are the perfect woman. Are you this nice to every guy you meet? '

'No,' she replies. . . . . . .........

'You just happened to catch my eye.'

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Not that old chestnut

I love roasted chestnuts and, having read Jacquis post this morning, I realise that I'm eating châtaignes as opposed to marrons. I didn't realise there was a difference. At the market on Saturday we saw the biggest juiciest chestnuts ever and, each evening, Jan cooks a handful on the stove in her perforated chestnut pan. Scrummy. A season of mellow fruitfulness and all that.....

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

You can't call your pig Napoleon!

Take a look here for a funny list of absurd laws.

Monday, November 05, 2007

You found it where?

Ever since I read that about one person in three carries the MRSA virus in their nose, I can't stop thinking about it. How come they don't get ill (answer above)? It adds a whole new dimension to picking your nose. Grief, just the thought that someone could die because I picked my nose is kinda scary. Look, I know that 'picking' is frowned upon but how else can you keep your nasal passages clear. We need to be told!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Men are from Mars etc.


Yes = No.
No = Yes.
Maybe = No.
We need = I want.
I'm sorry = You'll be sorry.
We need to talk = I need to complain.
Sure, go ahead = I don't want you to.
Do what you want = You'll pay for this later.
Are you listening to me? = Too late, you're dead.
You have to learn to communicate = Just agree with me.
Be romantic, turn out the lights = I have flabby thighs.
You're so ... manly = You need a shave and you sweat a lot.
Do you love me? = I'm going to ask for something expensive.
It's your decision = The correct decision should be obvious by now.
You're certainly attentive tonight = Is sex all you ever think about?
I'll be ready in a minute = Kick off your shoes and find a good game on TV.
How much do you love me? = I did something today that you're really not going to like.


I'm hungry = I'm hungry.
I'm sleepy = I'm sleepy.
I'm tired = I'm tired.
Nice dress = Nice cleavage!
I love you = Let's have sex now.
I'm bored = Do you want to have sex?
What's wrong? = I guess sex is out of the question.
May I have this dance? = I'd like to have sex with you.
Can I call you sometime? = I'd like to have sex with you.
Do you want to go to a movie? = I'd like to have sex with you.
Can I take you out to dinner? = I'd like to have sex with you.
You look tense, let me give you a massage = I want to have sex with you within the next ten minutes.
Let's talk = I am trying to impress you by showing that I am a deep person and then I'd like to have sex with you.

No hiding place

Having worked in the consumer finance industry for over 45 years I gained a certain amount of experience of tracing people. The other day William gave me a wallet, which had been found by the side of the road, in the village, for an obviously Scottish person. There was no cash, surprise, surprise but several credit cards and more importantly a UK photo driving licence. My initial thought was that it had been lost by one of our recent wedding guests so I emailed James. The reply was negative. William, who knows most of what happens in the village, wasn't aware of anybody who fitted the description so what to do? Well the obvious thing was to check the home address on the licence. Using the online phone number finder from BT I got a reasonably close match and phoned and left a message. Within the hour Euan called back and said that his hire car had been stolen from the front of a relative's house in the nearby village of Combas last July. The cards had all been stopped and duplicates issued (bum and there I was thinking of a little holiday somewhere) so after a friendly chat we agreed that I should destroy the cards and I decided to put a trip to Thailand out of my mind.

Friday, November 02, 2007


We got back to a four for tennis this morning because Peter had just returned from his four week break in Madagascar. Whilst three of us had sweat shirts and joggers on because of the early morning cold, Peter turned up dressed for the beach. It was his first day back and hadn't yet acclimatised. That didn't stop us taking the mickey out of him. As a nice surprise he gave us all several fresh vanilla pods. Vanilla has historically been of particular importance for Madagascar, and when Coca-cola switched to New Coke in 1985 — which involved less vanilla — Madagascar's economy took a marked downturn (returning to previous levels after the return of Coke Classic). Not many people know that.

Always tell the truth

Photo from Cadance. From a posting on this blog.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Let's be more careful out there

Where have all the children gone?

I love giving children treats, but only four children visted the house last night for 'trick or treat'. Four young children with mums in tow. Usually, I over supply with chocolate because I know whatever is left over I get to eat. This year Jan bought a much more sensible volume and, call it female intution, but very few kids showed up. Still there was plenty left for me!