Monday, June 30, 2008

Her Majesty's Consulate in Marseille


Yesterday I called the Honorary Consul in Montpellier and left a message explaining the situation regarding T's lost passport. Something niggled inside so as a backup I called the British Consulate in Marseilles and asked if the Montpellier consulate was open. No, came the reply, he's on holiday. Just as well I called Marseilles because we'd still be waiting for the return phone call.
Anyway, Pascale Gautier at the consulate was kindness personified, no doubt having assisted many lost souls in the past, and explained that as long as she could find you on the 'system', and subject to 74 euros and a couple of photos, she could provide a one journey document that would get T back to the UK.
The trip to Marseilles is not my favourite and even less so because we were given directions down the A55. Literally a stinking journey as we passed all the petrochemical works. The cross town trip to Avenue du Prado wasn't easy either but we found the consulate without too much difficulty. Five hours of my life wasted but what the hell.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A lost passport

A last minute panic about a 'lost' passport marred the family departure this morning. Despite turning the place upside down, Trevor couldn't find his and Easyjet wouldn't allow him to board. Becs and the children got back home and tomorrow starts the fun in getting a document for T to board a flight.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Maisie

That was nice. For the first time ever, Maisie our 5 year old grand daughter agreed to go out with us. Maybe the bribe of a present (because she had learnt to swim) had something to do with it, but it felt good nevertheless. We traipsed her round the fruit and veg shop, Intermarché and then down to Elie's bar in the market place. She was an absolute delight and a pleasure to be with. Excellent.

Tuna from the barbecue and rosé from the village finished off the day.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Champion vs Intermarché

For a pretty good example of the French attitude to customer service look here.

Our Intermarché in Sommieres has had a free run at all the local traffic for 6 years after the neighbouring Champion was knocked out by the floods of 2002. Champion, who normally open on Sunday morning, are finally re-opening next week, a couple of kilometres away.

Guess what. Intermarché have also just decided to open on Sundays as well.

As Peter says, about six years too late. Customer service, pah! Vee only do vat vee hav to do!

I think I'll support Champion for a while.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A great restaurant find


Bryan (above left - I'm starting to get worried about him) and I were out doing boys things this morning and decided to treat ourselves to lunch. The bloody women do it all the time, so why not the boys? What an excellent meal we had. If you live in or near Sommieres you have got to try this place.

Brasserie La Farigoule, 4, Imp de la Malautière, 30250 Sommieres, 0466 355659, is not the sort of place you take a girl to on a first date. It sits between the Renault Garage (where they're doing a great offer on servicing your air con, this month) and BNP Paribas (where they don't do great offers on anything), facing the car park outside Intermarché. Useful if you need an ATM, need to get your car fixed or haven't yet done the weekly shop. But I digress.

Jan, Bryan and I had a beer there the other day and the food that they brought out looked good. Let's try it said the ever hungry Bryan. OK, said the even ever hungrier me. The 14 euros lunch menu took our fancy (that and the table of lovelies next to us) and what a good choice it was.

It's difficult to get worked up about melon and ham (the starter) but this was excellent. The chef was trying hard with good ingredients, his presentation and it worked. The large pork chop that followed was perfectly cooked and covered with a beautiful mushroom sauce. Bryan waxed lyrical about the cauliflower cheese whilst I waxed lyrical about the ever growing table of lovelies next to us. (For goodness sake calm down - Ed) For pud we had a lovely, fresh tasting, strawberry fool. It was, without question, the best meal of its type that I have ever had in France. Wow, I can't believe I said that. They are trying hard and I am going to support them.

Monsieur showed us around inside (he realised that I was an important person) and it is much bigger than you first imagine. It was air conditioned and arguably inside would have been a better choice than the carbon monoxide poisoning outside, had it not been for the fact that there was a table of lovelies sitting outside. Did I mention that before?

They open in the evening on Friday and Saturday and I'm definitely going to try them at that time. If the dinner is anywhere near as good as the lunch then I'm in for a treat. Highly recommended.

Sorry


Look, I'm sorry. Chris W mailed me this morning demanding to know where his daily fix was. I know that I haven't posted for a few days.

We have guests staying, which takes up a lot of time (which is another way of saying that I stumble drunk into bed each night) and then added to that other friends turn up out of the blue and the entertaining takes up a further chunk of time. That, and having to pop out to continually replenish our rosé stocks because of the huge amount that everybody is drinking.

Anyway, please accept my less than humble apologies.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Summer vs winter


It's funny how much less television we watch in summer. As I write this I have just staggered from the kitchen terrace, one more bottle of rosé having hit the dust, all my good resolve about eating and drinking less out of the window and looking at the world through rosé coloured glasses.

Ben and Paula left for home this afternoon, which leaves Rebecca, Trevor and the little ones to feed and water. That's what we've just been doing. Feeding and watering. Well, after a lot of watering and just a bit of feeding I find myself talking to you my dear reader. Well actually talking to myself cos I haven't a clue whether you're reading or not. Strange that.

Back to the original thought, less television. In summer we have lots more visitors, hundreds of the bastards (now, now - Ed) and dinners tend to take place in the cool of the evening outside on the kitchen terrace. Compare that to winter when we shut the blinds and light the fire at around five and hunker down for a night in front of the box. Summer is so different. Out is cooler than in. We care less about television and enjoy food outside, until late, and my beloved keeps insisting that I open another bottle of rosé. As I slow down, others take on that duty.
So now it's after eleven, I'm well fed and even weller roséd, and all dressed up and nowhere to go. (I think you'd better get to bed - Ed) It's good here. Bloody good.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Lazy Sunday afternoons


Jan and I took Josh (above centre) to Nimes this afternoon for his trip back to the UK and then spent the rest of the day lazing by the pool. It's still hitting 30+ C each day so the pool is the only place to cool off. Just before the group split up Jan took this photo of her beloveds.

Please note the extremely clean terrace!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Long lost

A few of us, including baby Kate, went to the market in Sommieres this morning and some, not baby Kate, had oysters. We met up with long lost Tara and, despite meeting Peter H who was flogging magazines, we all returned in a happy mood.

Staying on a long lost theme, early this afternoon, our long lost electrician called to say he would pop round for payment on some work that he completed over 2 years ago. When I rant from time to time that some workmen are what you might call indolent, this is what I mean. The Anglo Saxon side of me says that this is no way to run a business, the Latin side says, mañana. In their own way both sides are right. Who lives longer and happier?

With the heating now working again, the pool hit 30C this afternoon, warm enough to tempt a softy like me in. So I did.

David

This is funny.

You wouldn't believe it

No shit Sherlock?

Friday, June 20, 2008

A family weekend

Rebecca, Trevor and their children Maisie and Elsie arrived this afternoon, taking the group to nine. Jan's children don't get together that often, so she is in her element. Only Luke, who couldn't make it, is still at home. Still, if he had come, I'm not sure where everybody would sleep. All the bedrooms are full.



Shift Happens Narrated

This is interesting. Thanks to Will for sending it to me.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The England Football Team

We were out at 07.30 this morning to take Rob to Montpellier for his flight, then over to north east Montpellier for Jan's optician appointment at 10.15 and then over to Nimes to Pick up Jan's son Josh who was coming for the weekend. All in we didn't get back home until 15.30 much to the relief of two very sorry dogs.

The quote of the day came from Josh when he said, "It's good not to have England playing in the Euro football finals, spoiling the event for you." It's true, as much as you would love to see them there, they usually put you through the wringer with their poor performances.

Just after 23.00 Ben, Paula and little Kate arrived from Barcelona. The house is starting to fill up.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Forza Italia!

I'd love to say that I knew they'd do it (I admit that it wasn't looking too good) but you can't just brush aside the world champions. Having knocked out France last night (de boys dun gud), Italy face Spain on Sunday, which is an altogether more difficult challenge. A must see match for any footy fans. With a house full of children this weekend, some with a Spanish connection (Paula, an ardent Barca fan, is visiting from Barcelona with her new baby) it should be fun.

Wedded bliss

A man and his wife were having some problems at home and were giving each other the silent treatment.

Suddenly the man realized that the next day he would need his wife to wake him at 5:00 AM for an early morning business flight.


Not wanting to be the first to break the silence (and LOSE), he wrote on a piece of paper,'Please wake me at 5:00 AM.' He left it where he knew she would find it.


The next morning the man woke up, only to discover it was 9:00 AM and he had missed his flight.

Furious, he was about to go to see why his wife hadn't wakened him when he
noticed a piece of paper by the bed. The paper said, 'It is 5:00 AM. Wake up.'

Men are just not equipped for these kinds of contests.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

For the cause

Look here. See the danger that my hard hitting prose subjects me to each day. (Most people would be happy if you spent a night in the slammer - Ed)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Bill Maher on France

Thanks to Bob for showing me this.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Friends

Chris W sent me this. Said he was thinking of me. Can't think why!



Saturday, June 14, 2008

Soirée Rock and Roll

This evening the village held its first Soirée Rock 'n' Roll. We (fifteen of us, cos we do everything mob handed) arrived at 18.00 to watch an Abrivado Bandido followed by aperos, a meal of macaronnade and all the bits and then a live band.

I didn't think the macaronnade would be very good but it was excellent. A pasta dish, which was cooked from scratch in huge paella pans and turned with a shovel, which I'm told originated in nearby Sete which is tomato based and includes sausage. The event was organised by Laurent (on the left, 15 pictures down and was cooked by him and his sidekick on his right) and the whole thing cost the princely sum of 8 euros.

It was dark (and you were pissed - Ed) so there are no pictures of the dancing to embarrass anybody with. Shame, because there was a lot to be embarrassed about!

The pictures tell the story.

















Friday, June 13, 2008

Yet more visitors

This afternoon we popped over to meet Jan's daughter Rebecca and family, who flew into Montpellier for a weeks holiday by the sea near Perpignan, before coming back to stay with us next week. The girls were in great form. Five year old Maisie and two year old Elsie were full of energy, laughing and joking. It's great being a grandparent, teasing them and slipping them chocolate when their parents aren't looking. They'll wear me out. I love it.

Stained glass

It probably seemed like a good idea at the time!

Big Rob


My good friend Rob (above) and his 'girls' arrived at Montpellier this morning for 5 days of sun and tennis. They're a great bunch of people and we don't stop laughing. That's nine in the house and they all need feeding and watering. Jan is, as usual, a star, serving up meal after meal of delicious food.
I love Rob. When I wanted to learn how to teach tennis, I went to him. He is an exceptionally talented tennis coach, great with young ones and great with adults. He's a coaches' coach. He is big hearted, the least opinionated person you will ever meet (wait for it- Ed) and very generous with his time and energy. He is 'big' in so many ways. As the picture below shows.




Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Apprentice

This is funny.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

All Karchered out

Yippee, I've found another use for the Karcher. It's great at cleaning garden furniture. (Why don't you put it away in winter like sensible people do? - Ed) The other day Jan and I spent about half an hour scrubbing and bleaching the round table below. Even with a lot of effort it was still grubby and stained a pink colour thanks to sirocco wind and rain the other year. We worked hard but couldn't make a real difference.

Get the Karcher on it and voilà, white again. Having said that, it weighs a little less now. I got a little too close with the beast and took a layer of plastic off the surface so it's all pitted now. But it's white!

Spring cleaning again

Despite starting to clean the terrace on May 25th, I have finally got round to finishing it. (That's 17 days ago! Action packed and dynamic you are not - Ed)

The before and after contrast is amazing. There I was thinking that the terrace was clean(ish) and it's actually horribly dirty. A job that now has to be finished because it looks so obvious. In order to save time and effort I did suggest to my beloved that maybe she would like a chequerboard pattern. That way I'd only have to clean half the flags. She was not impressed!

I blame it all on Jan. She needs to improve her nagging skills.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Forza Italia!


Looks like I spoke a bit too soon about the Italian football team. They got stuffed by Holland last night.

A new job

Talking of football teams, I have applied, and been accepted, to manage a little known team from Finland. They are not very well established but I think that they've got potential and I can't wait to get stuck in. I attach a team photo.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Blood sports


The lull before the storm. Just after calling me cute this morning (get her eyes checked - Ed), Jan proceeded to try and cut my finger off with a pair of tree lopping shears. Don't you just hate it when someone says "Soreeee", in that whiny way when you know that they are not really sorry and accept no responsibility. It has to be one of my all time pet hates. (Sounds like her pet hate is you - Ed)

Despite the above, I cheer myself up with the knowledge that it's a great day for sport. The men's final at Roland Garros, the Canadian Grand Prix, Euro football and the UK Open Darts Final (just kidding about the last one!) I'm going to have to ration myself with the football. Do I really care how Austria and Croatia get on? My team, Italy, will undoubtedly kick ass so that's who I'm rooting for. Bring it on!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Larry LaPrise

With all the mess around the house at the moment I forgot to mention the death of Larry LaPrise, the man who wrote the Hokie Cokey. He died peacfully in his sleep at the age of 96.

The most traumatic part for his family however was when they came to bury him. Putting him in the coffin, they put his left leg in.....................and then the problems really started.

(This joke has been around for ages - Ed)

A real hero

The saga of the blocked drain continues. The first picture is a general view of the crater (with Bryan in it) left by the excavation to uncover the manhole and the picture below is Bryan crouched over the 50x50 cms manhole bailing it out. When you want to describe the meaning of hero, or friendship, this picture of Bryan up to his neck in our shit should help.



Friday, June 06, 2008

A wise widow

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Hmnnn

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Le Vintage

At lunchtime today, we met up with Fran and Peter, long time friends of Jan, who were on holiday in Avignon. Despite what Jan had said, I thought that they were very nice!
We met at the Vintage Cafe, 7 rue de Bernis, Nimes, 0466 21 04 45, (in the old part of Nimes) a restaurant I'd heard good reports about. The reports were correct. My 16 euros three course lunch was good and with some thought having been put into each course. We sat outside in their small courtyard. Recommended.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

A great curry


If you're stuck in France, or anywhere else for that matter, and you just have to have a decent curry, look no further than this recipe. Jan cooked it the other night and I loved it. For the perfect rice accompaniment then this is the recipe for you (and me).

Airport security

I have long objected to the ill conceived, inconsistent and sometimes stupid security at airports. I think that this just proves my case.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Yves and Bo



I was sad to hear about the death of Yves Saint Laurent this morning. Not because of his design skills but because of his perfume. Over the years, my perfume of choice has been 'YSL Pour Homme'. This is very closely followed by '1881' by Cerruti. It all depends upon my mood. (You're looking for some free samples aren't you? - Ed)
Jan, who is more of an engine oil and sweat kind of girl, has Opium, also by YSL, as her favourite. So, on behalf of chez nous, thanks Yves.
To make matters worse,
Bo Diddley has just died as well. So much good music and not a smell in sight. Shame.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Moonpig


We have always been disappointed with the selection of greeting cards that we could find in France and I've seen, and received, some really funny cards from Moonpig. The vast majority of the cards that we send are for delivery in the UK and with a couple of birthdays coming up this month I've just ordered two for delivery nearer the date. It's a great service, even allowing you to personalise your cards with uploaded photos and setting reminders so that you won't forget. Have a look and see what you think.

Bored


It's the first of June and it's still raining. A local chap, who keeps weather stats, said that this has been the worst May since he arrived 12 years ago. A small crumb of comfort is that it is pretty miserable throughout most of Europe. This site tells all.

Being confined to the house makes me realise how much I miss being outdoors. Added to that, Jan, who is normally a 'well' person, suddenly decided that she was ill. How inconsiderate is that? She knows that I can be a nuisance when I'm bored so she is probably feigning it.
I'm so bored that I could even look forward to repairing the manhole and the stench of human excrement. That shows you how bad it is. Having said that, it will still need fixing tomorrow so that's something to look forward to.