Sunday, August 30, 2009

Gimme a break

What a week. Our neighbours, the Lloyds, have just celebrated a significant birthday here last week. We have been involved for 5 days with a 'party' on each of those days. Talk about having to pace yourself. We started on Thursday with dinner for 14 at our place, then over to Nimes on Friday evening for drinks and dinner at Le Ciel de Nimes with about 25 of their friends and family. Saturday night was a catered dinner at their place for 25 people and then today, Sunday, back to their house for an all day and evening barbecue for about 40. It's difficult to believe, but I actually lost weight during the week.

Grief, I need a rest and intend to do very little for the next week or so.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The French health system

This is an interesting article.

Thank you

Wow, you are such nice people. Thank you so much for all your kind messages of support.

Monday, August 24, 2009

To cheer me up

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Rest In Peace

It's been a very difficult few days for my son James and his wife Pauline. Their first child, Constantin, was born prematurely this week and he lived for less than a day.

Rest in peace little one.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


We're in the middle of a bit of a canicule here at the moment. 39C is predicted for this afternoon. But have no fear it drops to a freezing 35C tomorrow.

Amongst the general instructions, published by the meteo bods, is to look out for old, fragile and infirm people. Where's Jan? (They also include mentally infirm, so count yourself in - Ed)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Let's get a grip

This morning, I read this and then this and thought, we've got soldiers dying for these people.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

And another

The family had departed and we were snoozing in front of the television when a thunderous roar overhead woke us up.

There were three of them, Canadair water bomb planes and, after they circled low above us, they set off for an area about two kilometers away. Our local arsonist was at it again.

This could be interesting, I said, so off we went to see the fire close up. I know, I know, you think we're a couple of sad gits to go and watch a disaster happening but there was nothing on television and, more to the point, I knew where we'd get a good vantage point.

The planes work in threes, circling, until the lead plane drops down close to the fire and drops his water. The next two planes just follow his example. They then head off east to reload with water from the Rhone, about nine minutes flying time away.

I've got to say the fire brigade are really switched on around here and together with the planes they had the fire under control in no time. Good effort guys.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Too much excitement

A bit of excitement this afternoon. From the main terrace looking towards Montmirat we could see a large scrub fire. Given the distance and comparing the size of houses nearby, the flames were shooting 20 meters into the sky. I called 18, who took an age to answer, good job it wasn't something serious then, and the guy said that they knew about it and they were on the case.

Eventually, you could see several fire engines in the distance and their tactic seemed to be to surround the blaze and stop it spreading.

Next thing we saw was a Dash 8 (a plane that normally drops fire retardant) which circled the area and a 'control' helicopter which patrolled the sky for a time.

Eventually the fire was brought under control and the planes departed.

Much later, as eleven of us were having dinner on the kitchen terrace, I let Max and Minnie out of their kennel to come and bug us and hoover all the crumbs from the floor. But instead of shooting up the steps to greet everyone they both shot off into the garden and, from his yelps, I knew what Max had found. I called him using his favourite treat as an inducement. I could hear him in the darkness trotting towards me. Out of the dark, up the steps he came and deposited a huge hedgehog at my feet. Needless to say it was yours truly that had to move the hedgehog to safety and save all the diners from its viscious fangs. Max, bless him, has a very gentle mouth and the hedgehog eventually scuttled off to its lair.

Just too much excitement for one day.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Your choice

Imagine for one minute that you had the choice, the choice would be, tit or tits?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Golf under pressure

I agree. The space could be put to much better use - like feeding the people. When our great leader Comrade Gordon Brown reads this, I suspect that there's a few of you out there who'd better start re-thinking your leisure activity.

The big slip

Fake or not, it's good fun.

The black hole called CPAM

Chatting to B today, who doesn't look anything like the photo above, he mentioned that he had still not received his Carte Vitale. France is in the process of renewing all its cards for a card that includes a photo. B, along with his wife, sent theirs off as requested, for renewal, on 24th February this year. His wife has received her card but B still hasn't received his. Many phone calls to CPAM, who issue the cards, have produced no results. All they get is a succession of excuses and nonsense. Bearing in mind that 25% of the working population work in the civil service, the system is obviously in total disarray.

When he goes to the pharmacy he would normally have to show his CV before any medicines can be dispensed. The pharmacist, who now knows B, noticed that the card had not arrived said, "Unbelievable, but not unusual."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Assisted suicide

As I've grown older I've become more of a fan of assisted suicide. (There are plenty of people willing to help you! - Ed) Given my Catholic upbringing, I know it's a tricky subject for lots of people to accept but I've come down on the pro side.
With this in mind I've become fascinated by the service offered by the Swiss clinic Dignitas. That is until I read an article the other day that said that you have to cough up about €5000 for the privilege. I gasped in disbelief. What the hell do they need €5000 for?
The place looks fairly utilitarian to say the least, so you are hardly dying in 5 star luxury. What can possibly be involved? The fees of a couple of doctors, an IV setup (even the person commiting suicide pushes the plunger) and someone to push the stiffs out of the door. This must be the most expensive bed and breakfast in the world, and you don't even get to eat the breakfast!! Seems a bit excessive to me.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sunday, August 09, 2009

My secret is out

I might as well get in on the act. I think Angelina Jolie might be my daughter. How I would love to bounce her up and down on my knee!

Happy families

The start of a busy week, with three out of four of Jan's children and extended families arriving in Nimes today for a seven day stay. We get to see three grandchildren all together for the first time in several months. Should be fun.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Customer service

Nothing gets my goat more than poor service combined with rudeness. We're waiting at the checkout in Intermarche Sommieres ("because the prawns are better there") and get thoroughly pissed off with people messing about in what is supposed to be the 'quick queue'. The cashier is obviously getting pissed off as well. We were the last in the queue. So what does she do as it come to our turn to pay, she starts to labouriously count out her notes so that she can send them in the tube to control? There is no one behind us and we have to stand there like lemons whilst she does a job that she can easily do a couple of minutes later with no interruption to anybody. To add to that, as we pay she takes a phone call, thrusts the receipt in Jan's direction and ignores us as we leave. Bitch.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


This pretty much sums up what's wrong with the world. What was it that Kennedy said?

Monday, August 03, 2009


Last night we met up at a Thai restaurant in Maidenhead (it was good and they're all ticked off now) with my daughter Cara, before she sets off next month on a work sabbatical to Africa and India. She intends to spend three months in each continent, travelling and getting involved in voluntary work. Her request and justification for the time off (she works for a major American software house) was brilliant and made me very proud. I sincerely hope she has a safe journey.

We return to France tomorrow morning with a very early flight from Luton. As we come to the end of this trip we agreed that we should make no plans for our last day. If you're away from home and plan to do nothing all day it is so much more effective as a 'day off' than similar time at home because at home there are always jobs to do. So often we cram too much into a trip so that when we get home we need to chill because we are so tired. With any luck this trip will be different. We shall she.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

You looking at my yurt?

I've seen the yurt. Or, to be more precise, we attended a post nuptial party at J & H's yesterday, that was held in a yurt. Cool or what. It made a change from your traditional marquee, in fact it made a huge change. In a marquee you normally get to sit on a chair, at a table. There's nothing as fancy as that with a yurt. With a yurt you get to sit on cushions, on the floor, in a decadent Roman orgy kind of way. I threw my keys into the centre several times but nothing happened (I wonder why? - Ed)

Trouble is, I managed to get down OK but when Jan sent me on an errand (for her third helping of chicken, I think) I had trouble getting up. And, by the time I'd eventually heaved my sylph like frame from the floor, I'd forgotten what I'd set out for. Bugger.

Still, it was an excellent 'do', enlivened by one particular single lady who decided that she needed a man. Me and my new found buddy decided to help her find one and had a lot of fun drafting a suitable 'advert' and giving her lots of 'suitable' advice. A great deal of wine (or was it fermented yak's milk?) had flowed by this time. Excellent.