Saturday, November 28, 2009

Patience - French style

After yesterday's rant about French bureaucracy, how about this one. As a result of a nationwide upgrade, last February my mate Bryan was asked to return his Carte Vitale (medical card) in exchange for one with his photograph on it.

The other week we both went into CPAM in Nimes to see if it had been lost (the usual excuse with French bureaucracy). The receptionist checked the details, identified where the problem was and just shrugged her shoulders (French style) and said that there was nothing that could be done. It was just a question of waiting.

He has just received the replacement, nine months and two days later. With twenty five percent of the working population working for the state, it beggars belief.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

How to waste your time

Well, that was a complete waste of time. I finally got round to going for my pig flu vaccination yesterday.
I arrived in St Hippo (Tom Tom didn't recognise the address), so I stopped in a car park and asked someone for directions. I felt a right chump when she said, 'Your standing right next to the building.'
Inside the queue was enormous. I waited 30 minutes and calculated that it was going to take at least another hour. There wasn't any polite queueing (this is after all France), mainly because it comprised of mums with little ones and pregnant women who all wanted/needed to get on with their lives. What a shambles.
St Hippolyte du Fort is about a 25 minutes drive north of us and this centre obviously covers quite a wide area. But get this, it was only open two afternoons a week, so it was a complete fluke that I turned up when it was open, and there was I thinking that it would be open round the clock. I left in disgust and will try again tomorrow but this time with a flask and sandwiches. What a shambles.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A pimp? Not me officer

I feel like a pimp. I took a phone call this afternoon from a chap who had got our number from our vet. He said that he was looking for a Beauceron male to mate with his female. He had been told by the vet that Max was a particularly good Beauceron and he should call us.
Looks like you might be on for a shag Max. Lucky sod!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Have a little fun

The other day, Jan and I went into town for a little shopping. We were only in there for about five minutes and when we came out there was a policeman writing a ticket. I went up to him and said, 'Monsieur how about given a man a break?'

He ignored me and continued writing the ticket, so I called him a Nazi turd. He glared at me and then wrote another ticket for the part worn tyres.

Jan then went up to him and, unlike her, called him a shit in uniform. After he finished the second ticket he wrote a third and so it went on for about 15 minutes. The more we abused him, the more tickets he wrote.

Having said that we didn't really care. We'd gone into town by bus.

We feel that as you get older you have to have a little fun each day! It's important at our age.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

You look a bit peaky

I knew that I was ill. I received my Bon de Vaccination Contre La Grippe A/H1N1 today. Jan, who I'm sure thinks she will die before me, didn't get one. They obviously see me as a special case (no comment - Ed). I'm going to take a copy and waive it in front of her whenever I need a bit more care and attention (which is most of the time - Ed). You don't actually get one injection I've received a 'bon' for two. Suppose I'll find out more when I go. No appointment necessary, just turn up somewhere in St Hippolyte du Fort which is about 20 minutes away, and get done. I've decided I'm feeling a bit peaky, so I might go tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Vive La France

Read this. Some might say, liberté, égalité, fraternité, stupidité. But that would be cruel.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A big red one

That was a strange afternoon. I was sitting in the study fiddling on the PC when I heard a loud noise coming from the other side of the house and it sounded like something heavy was being dragged across the kitchen terrace. My immediate thought was that Minnie was playing and causing a bit of destruction.
I sent my trusty servant to investigate and she reported that the noise was coming from the dining room and that the wall lights had gone out. I ambled along to check it out and, as I went down to the fuse board to check what state it was in, the fire alarms all went off.
We could then smell burning and a quick check of the lights showed that one of them was on fire. Flames were licking up the wall and molten plastic had dropped onto the cupboard below and was burning merrily. How strange! My first thought was '
I knew I should have bought that fire extinguisher.'
Anyway I managed to put the fire out and I didn't once mention the fire extinguisher that we hadn't bought. But I am now!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Forgive me if you've already read them, but I've just finished reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. It's one of a trio of books that he wrote before he died and I've just started the second. With an unusual hero and heroine it was a thrilling book of the type that you do not want to put down. Recommended.

Roses from Bob

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ireland vs France

The match between Ireland and France this weekend looks promising. Trapatonni, the Irish manager, is taking it very seriously if you believe this. Having said that, (thanks to Dianne) it looks like a good dose of Irish humour will wind them up even more. This will make you laugh.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tough love

Every time I drop Jan outside the hospital entrance at Caremeau in Nimes, currently three times a week, I'm greeted by the sight of sick looking patients, quite often in wheelchairs, attached to medical equipment and smoking. WTF is going on? The other day there was this guy, ashen faced and bent double, wired up to an array of stuff accepting a light from a fellow patient. He didn't look as if he would last the day. It made me feel quite angry.
As an ex smoker, I feel somewhat hypocritical making this comment (no change there then - Ed) but it occurs to me that maybe it should occur to them that they're not really helping the situation. You have lots of resources being pumped into their well being but they couldn't give a stuff.
It raises the question should they be treated at all if they're not prepared to help. What could or should anybody do? What does common sense dictate? A contract would seem to make sense to me. A contract along the lines of, 'We will do this if you will do that.' I know it's easy said.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Byetta (again)

Since I started using Byetta in March this year, I've now lost 14.5 kilos (32 pounds). Since this equates to a bag of the dog food that we buy, and I know how heavy that feels, that's one hell of a lot of fat. It's difficult to imagine that you can carry so much excess weight. I was obviously kidding myself about the amount of food that I was eating. It's all a bit scary.
Anyway, talking about food, when we were in Italy recently, Jan took a shine to some beautiful looking small, red, bell, chilli peppers (about golf ball size) in the market and made some enquiries as to what to do with them.
'You stuff them,' said Pia, who, understandably, knows a lot about Italian cooking. We were led to believe that they might be 'sweet,' so Jan insisted that I bring a load back on my last trip.
When Pia started to make enquiries of her friend Lena, who also knows about these things, Lena's husband was dispatched to buy a kilo, a handwritten recipe was delivered along with several jars for our tasting delight. Trust me, they're not 'sweet' they're hot! Bryan and I demolished them. Excellent.
Over the last few days Jan has been cooking her peppers and stuffing them with a tuna mix before keeping them under oil, in a jar. Whilst all that was going on she also found a recipe for these chillies in Jamie's Dinners. It's not the same as the recipe that I brought back, the stuffing is different, but it looks interesting anyway. Here it is (minus roquet and parsley in the ingredients list). I've not tasted them yet so I'll let you know.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

An old cowboy

An old cowboy sat down at Starbucks and ordered a cup of coffee.
As he sat sipping his coffee, a young woman sat down next to him.

She turned to the cowboy and asked, 'Are you a real cowboy?'

He replied, 'Well, I've spent my whole life breaking colts, working cows, going to rodeos, fixing fences, pulling calves, bailing hay, doctoring calves, cleaning my barn, fixing flats, working on tractors, and feeding my dogs, so I guess I am a cowboy.'

The young woman said, 'I'm a lesbian. I spend my whole day thinking about naked women. As soon as I get up in the morning, I think about naked women. When I shower, I think about naked women. When I watch TV, I think about naked women. It seems everything makes me think of naked women.'

The two sat sipping in silence.

A little while later, a man sat down on the other side of the old cowboy and asked, 'Are you a real cowboy?'
He replied, 'I always thought I was, but I just found out I'm a lesbian.'

You've won how much?

Now far be it for me to be ungrateful, but given that two people won 50 million euros each last night, on the EuroMillions lottery, my 1 euro prize feels a bit shabby.
How will I spend my euro? Err, now let me think? I must admit that I'd rather have the problem of spending that little bit more. But that then raises another question. What would you actually do with a big win? I doubt that I'll ever find out (and yes, I am tempting fate), but the chance to ponder would be nice.
As a disgruntled punter it occurs to me that it would be better and a bit more equitable to make ninety people happy with a million each rather than dumbfound two people with 50 million a piece.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Kind deeds

A long time ago, the mechanism on the car glove box failed and we had to break the handle in order to open it. Eventually I managed to find replacement bits on the internet, had it delivered to my mother in England and picked it up when I was over there recently. When I got home I stupidly replaced the mangled handle but not the inner workings. Needless to say it jammed again. What an idiot (no comment - Ed). I was right back to square one.
Today I bit the bullet and took the car into our local VW dealer in Nimes and asked the workshop receptionist if there was any way of breaking in without breaking the handle. He said, no. Bugger.
Anyway, he was generally fiddling with it and he got it open and without murmur set too and replaced the broken innards with the new. He wouldn't take a penny, just my heartfelt thanks. See, there are good people in this world.
This isn't the first time that this garage has displayed exemplary service and I heartily recommend them to anyone around the Nimes area.


Pinga - treat with caution.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

This really works

Thanks to Will for this excellent tip.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Sitting there

Last night I'm sitting there bored out of my mind, waiting for the plane to touch down, when it occurred to me that flight attendants must lead a very boring life. It was dark and I was looking forward to getting home and asked the young flight attendant, 'was she finished for the day?' 'No' she said, 'we've got to go to Bristol and back yet.'

This morning I'm sitting in the waiting room, for my turn to have a blood test. In comes a woman with a large container in a semi transparent plastic bag. The container must have held several litres and what nearly made me fall off my chair was it was full of urine. She must have been collecting for weeks!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Leave my plate alone

Back in Harrogate for a couple of days but I've had problems getting the puter to access the web and then when I got that sorted it wouldn't contact blogger - bugger. Returning home this afternoon via Girona. I wasn't the biggest fan of sitting around in airports and planes in my previous life and that hasn't changed much so I'm not looking forward to the journey. Add to that it's blowing a gale and raining heavily which probably means we're in for an uncomfortable flight. Still, after this the travelling is over for a while.

Friday night we had a nice Thai meal at the Thai Elephant on Cheltenham Parade and last night we tried an Italian restaurant called Vivido also near Cheltenham Parade. Vivido was a slightly strange experience, given what I'm used to now. They served large portions of good quality, well cooked and tasty food, non of your nouvelle cuisine here mes braves. The size of each plate was a surprise and then there wasn't much lingering over the meal because as soon as you'd finished, whether or not the other had, the plate was cleared. As mum is a slow eater and I'm at the other end of the scale there was a lot of sitting around to do. I know that this might sound a bit strange, but there were too many waiting staff who were all a bit too eager to please. It wasn't very relaxing. Still the food was very good and I recommend both.