Sunday, February 27, 2011

The last day in Languedoc

That's it. The final day. I'm exhausted.
It's so tiring watching Jan pack boxes but I'll soldier on bravely. She is working so hard and doing such a good job that I'll postpone today's performance appraisal and the usual resultant corrective interview. All I've got left to do is tell her where to put all the boxes and how to pack the cars. That shouldn't take long!
We leave at the crack of dawn tomorrow, OK, 8.30 feels like the crack of dawn to me, to get the dogs to the vet for their final jabs and then wend our way to the first stop near Troyes.
Under normal circumstances we'd drive further but the restrictions imposed on pet movement into the UK means that we can't cross until 24 hours have passed after the dogs jabs and not more than 48 hours. What's all that about?
Stupid English rules are already getting to me and I haven't even got there yet. I guess there'll be lots to rant about in the coming months but I suspect that 'the rules' will be minor in comparison to the rubbish that French citizens have to put up with.
Anyway, to follow the story you will now need to click on this link.
Thanks for reading and see you again soon.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Is there any truth in the rumour that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi has asked to be moved out of Libya and back to prison in Scotland for his safety?


Below is the best chat-up line ever and always, always works.

'Excuse me love, could I ask your opinion. Does this damp cloth smell like chloroform to you?'

Friday, February 25, 2011

What an excellent idea

What a great idea. I even get a mention in the penultimate paragraph,  'old blokes who are bored with ranting.' 
The final paragraph refers to a great many people. You know who you are.

Confused of France

I consider myself a climate change heretic but I'm the first to admit that this is a knee-jerk reaction and not based on anything other than a gut feel.
With this in mind, I found this article interesting.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Proud dad

Max was sitting outside today soaking up some rays before he moves to Yarkshire on Monday. Clever dog!
I thought he looked particularly imposing and I couldn't resist this photo.

Getting there

The removal men arrived today and took the last of our stuff. A truck load.
I really like this company and I thoroughly recommend them if you want anything moving anywhere in Europe.
They make regular weekly trips between the UK, France and Spain and all points in between.

Anyway, Mark, one of the removers, who is based in Spain, told me this story.
He was assigned to a new lad who had just started with the firm and who had never travelled abroad before. Mark told the young man that they were going to Madrid for a job.
The lad asked 'which Madrid are we going to?'
Mark replied 'what are you talking about, there's only one Madrid?'
The lad who thought he was being smart said, 'no there isn't, there's Madrid and there's real Madrid.' Bless.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Is that a ferret in your trousers?

Having got up at the crack of dawn we're sitting here twiddling our thumbs waiting for the removal men and we start to get twitchy. We're not sure why.
Anyway, I decided to call their head office in England only to find that they won't actually arrive until tomorrow. Bum. That meant that we had to cancel a whole lot of stuff for Wednesday and reorganise.
Added to that Max has been very 'quiet' recently. We reckon that he knows that 'something's up', he's a fairly intuitive dog much more so that Min, and is worried about the move.
So he should be. The next move will be to Yarkshire but at least he will have ferrets to chase.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

You'll need deep pockets

When you are stumped as to what to buy your patriotic friend, partner or bit on the side, here's the perfect gift.

DEPEM (I don't know what it means either)

The other day a door shelf in the fridge broke so I looked for a replacement on the internet. I found exactly what I was looking for at DEPEM and nearly fell off my chair when I saw the price, €49.
It did however arrive with a personal bodyguard in a sedan chair without fuss about four days later.
Jan moaned about the price, and I can't say that I was happy, but when you consider that items like this are being stocked in their thousands for a whole range of new and elderly white goods in huge warehouses with no guarantee that they will be sold then it kind of makes some sense.
Compare this to foam shoe insoles. Whilst waiting at the checkout in Carrefour the other day I noted that the cheapest, simple foam shoe insoles cost €5. Now to me, that's expensive. And the prices went up to €17 for the super dooper ones that help you walk on water.
Given that these products are sold in their thousands in supermarkets and are simply stamped out from huge sheets then in my mind that makes them very, very expensive.
There's a job going for a latter day Ralph Nader.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Jan accused me of having more than a touch of OCD this morning.
As she rolled over for her morning cuddle, you know the sort where she lies on your left arm and sticks her hair in your face, I have to continue reading until I reach a certain point.
I can't put in my bookmark until one of two things happen. I have to stop reading at the end of a paragraph on the top left hand page or the end of a chapter.
This morning I could see the end of the chapter so I couldn't give her my full attention for about four minutes.
Jan, on the other hand, has a much more disorganised mind and can stop reading anywhere. To my horror she said that it doesn't matter if she reads a bit twice. I'd hate that.
She has a similar take on the packing that she is doing for the move. We tend to fall out because we can't agree on how to do things and, as she always gets her way, I just leave her to it.
There are boxes all over the house in a seemingly random fashion. Me, I'd finish one room at at time and boxes would be stacked neatly that would avoid double handling. I hate double handling anything. Do it right first time is my motto. Which does lead to me to spending a bit too much time thinking about things and not getting as much done as Jan.
Anyway, my fingers have been in contact with this keyboard for far too long so I need to go and wash my hands. Again.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A little tear ran down her cheek

We made our last visit to the hairdresser yesterday. Alain, who cuts our hair, seemed to take extra care and gave us both a good cut.
Jan in particular is getting used to her mohican and has grown quite fond of it. I, on the other hand, favour what I can only describe as a flat top. A sort of French gangster look but without the body to go with it.

Between us we look a real pair of prats dandies and departed walking on air but not before lots of kisses and saying our fond farewells. I swear there was a tear or two in Jan's eye.
We have let this guy loose on our hair for over eight years now so it was a moment of hirsute sadness.

Note: Someone has complained and I have removed the two pictures that I originally posted in this post.

You haven't stopped groaning yet

And if you thought the last one was bad, here's another from Nigel. This one's for you Serge.

I found a tiny half frozen bird as I walked to my girlfriend's house, so I put it in my pocket to give it a chance of survival.

When I showed it to her, she told me how much she loved me for being so kind and sensitive, so I thought I'd try for a bit of sex.

She said "Please, not in front of the chilled wren".

A nice thought

Jan still isn't talking to me.

I booked a table for Valentines Day but she got really fed up and angry.

I didn't realise she's no good at snooker.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Memory lane (again)

You know you can rely on me for excellent culinary tips. This one's a beaut.
We rarely cook chips at home because I can't stand the smell of frying lingering in the house and, even worse, covering my clothes.

Jan, in a rare fit of nostalgia, suggested that we had egg and chips for lunch. Now, whilst I hate the smell of chip fat everywhere, I love to eat 'em, so Jan sent me out (again) for the next best thing. In fact I think that they're better.

In the freezer cabinet look out for pommes rissolées. Tiny cubes of potato that fry up in a jiffy, minimising the smell, but making tiny golden, crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, 'chips'. Sprinkle with salt and serve with a fried egg. If you want to make it even more exotic and oriental have a bottle of HP Sauce on the side. A pan full of rissolées and two eggs serves one. Excellent.

You can fool all the people .................

I always suspected. Read this.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The price of fish

As usual when we left Spain we filled up with diesel at that wonderful frontier town of La Jonquera. The well known truck stop for overnight stays prior to entering France.
The town is also well known for its proliferation of hookers and is locally known by English ex-pats as La Bonkera.
Fuel in Spain has always been considerably cheaper than France. However, when I noted the price it was 1.25 per litre which was no different to the price that I'd found locally in Nimes. Bugger I thought, they're trying to get the prices in line between the two countries.
Anyway when I got back home I noticed the pump price in my local Carrefour had shot up to 1.329. What's going on? An increase of 7 cents a litre over the weekend. Somebody is making and awful lot of money out there and it sure as hell isn't me!

Monday, February 14, 2011

A quick trip to Barca

As we leave Barcelona, our friend Kevin, who was attending the Mobile World Congress, called to say that he would like to meet up.
We were heading out of the door so it wasn't possible, but when we got home I noticed this article. So there you have it, in one small article you have our last few days summed up.

There was a certain poignancy to our trip home because it felt like we were saying goodbye to an area, Catalunya, that we have grown to know and love. I know that we'll be back.


Being rather partial to a kebab and having recently eaten one in Barca (it was cheaper than my favourite from the kebab shop in Sommieres, Market Place, but nowhere near as good), this headline grabbed my attention.
There is so much snobbishness thought and written about kebabs that it really irritates me and most of the bad press comes from people who have never eaten one. Hey ho, such is life.
Notwithstanding the headline it's a fascinating article about Heston Blumenthal, well worth reading if you are interested in foody things.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A lesson learned

Say what you like about Ryanair but there's one thing that they've taught us and that's how to travel light.
In the good old days when there was no weight limit for luggage and England, Italy return was £200+ each, I can't tell you how much stuff I returned to the wardrobe, unworn, after a trip abroad.
For a holiday in the sun, by the pool, I'd pack enough stuff to last a month and actually end up wearing  about three t-shirts and two pairs of shorts. It was stupid, but now that Mr O has had his way with me (us) we pack much more sensibly.

In fact it has become a way of life. Take for instance this trip to Barcelona. Jan was cramming all our clothes etc. into two small carry ons. That is until I reminded her that we could actually get quite a bit of stuff into the car and that she didn't really need to be too frugal.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Way over the top

After a very  hectic day and in need of even more food last night (just kidding), Ben suggested that we eat tapas, so off we trudged to Piscolabis, Diagonal 593, Tel. 93 410 54 95, a short walk from the hospital where mum and baby were ensconced.
Frankly, I was so full from lunch that a few nibbles were just the ticket. If you're in the centre of town then this is a good spot serving a wide variety of tapas as well as other standard Spanish fare.
The Spaniards in the group received a short written menu whilst we, of foreign extraction, got one with pretty pictures. Our menu was obviously aimed at children and those nations perceived to have a problem understanding anything foreign and foreign food in particular. It was written in English, French and Japanese with a picture showing what the dish would look like. There's a message there somewhere.

Anyway, with time on our hands today, Saturday, we had to buy baby presents and all that good stuff, so we took the subway down into town. For reasons I won't bore you with, I also needed some more coffee from Nespresso and as there was a 'boutique' close to our destination we stopped off to buy some. What a laugh. You are met at the 'boutique' entrance by a man in a suit who dishes out your queuing ticket if you are going to purchase coffee. Down the steps and you enter a whole new world of glitz and glamour. Given that all we wanted to do was buy a bit of coffee, this was way over the top. The overheads for this place must be enormous. They gotta sell a lot of coffee!
We made our purchase and were offered a tasting of some other varieties. The young, attractive, English speaking hostess walked us over to a roped off area and lead us into the inner sanctum. It was just like being let into a very exclusive nightclub. It was all ridiculously over the top and I couldn't stop laughing.
If you're feeling low and you need a shot then this little trip into 'disney coffee' will cheer you up no end. Excellent.

What, another one

With the arrival of our fifth, but first male, grandchild in Barcelona on Wednesday, we headed off this morning to see him before we leave for England. It might be a bit more difficult visiting Barca when were in the hinterland of Yorkshire.
Luke was born without problems and mum and baby are both healthy and well. Grief he's our fifth grandchild and there's another on the way in June.
On the way down we stopped off for a slap up feast at La Roca Petita just off the AP7, junction 8, south of Girona.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Going home

After a great couple of hours with the grandchildren yesterday and a failed attempt to get into Jamie's Italian in Brighton last night it's back to France today.
Look, I know we are not in any way comparing like with like, but having to wait for an hour to get a table at Jamie's (we didn't wait) then walking next door to try Vietnamese street food, on a Monday night, I could only compare with my fairly recent futile, hopeless attempts to get a table, any table, anywhere, within a reasonable distance of where we are living in France on a Tuesday night.
Don't get me wrong, I know we live out in the sticks but service, real customer service, is nothing but a distant notion in France and frankly I can't really see it changing much.
Take my recent attempt to cancel our French mobile phones with SFR. I established what I had to do, how much notice I had to give and wrote them a nice letter explaining that we were leaving for England and would they be kind enough to cease the service on 1st March. I gave lots of notice. I enclosed separate signed letters from both of us.
Fairly shortly after, I received a confirmation email that they were sorry to see me leave, offering further service, and that they would cancel my contract on, wait for it, 22nd February. So far Jan has heard nothing.
They don't deserve me as a customer and sure as hell I don't deserve them.

What, no Jamie

I had to laugh when I read this. And there I was thinking that there is too much state control in France.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Kung Hay Fat Choy

If it's Chinese New Year what ya gotta do? Why, eat a New Year banquet at a Chinese restaurant.
As there are no decent Chinese restaurants around here we popped over to Chows in Westerham, Kent, courtesy of easyJet.
Back and forwards to England, we fly mostly with Ryanair because it's the only airline that flies where we want to go, at a price that we want to pay. Alternatively we use easyJet, especially if we need to be in or near Gatwick. It's difficult to put your finger on it but an easyJet flight is slightly more comfortable than a Ryanair one. I can't really identify why because they both offer a very similar product.
Anyway, the real reason for the trip was to see my mate AJ, who happened to have a very significant birthday recently and the excellent Chows was a really good starting point.

Friday, February 04, 2011

A special offer

Carolina has given me six iPads. She won't say where she got them from but I am happy to give them away free on a first come basis.
My mate Bryan has got the first one and he's really pleased with his! See below.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

My evil sense of humour

Imagine the scene. You are sitting quietly in the sun, filming your idyllic stop in an open air café.
You look adoringly at your beautiful wife and gorgeous child..................................

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Keep up

This new crime map (assuming you can get connected) will keep you frightened, on your toes and help you and your favourite old granny avoid getting mugged.
Additionally it will fulfil part of the new government policy of reducing house prices. Excellent.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

A dog prayer

Having just got back from the vet with Max this dog prayer from Bryan made me smile.

Dear God:  Is it on purpose our names are the same, only reversed?

Dear God:  Why do humans smell the flowers, but seldom, if ever, smell one another?

Dear God:  When we get to heaven, can we sit on your couch? Or is it still the same old story?

Dear God:  If a Dog barks his head off in the forest and no human hears him, is he still a bad Dog?

Dear God: We Dogs can understand human verbal instructions, hand signals, whistles, horns, clickers, beepers, scent ID's, electromagnetic energy fields, and Frisbee flight paths.
What do humans understand?
Dear God:  More meatballs, less spaghetti, please. 

Dear God:  Are there mailmen in Heaven? If there are, will I have to apologize? 

Dear God: When I get to Heaven may I please have my bollocks back?

Monday, January 31, 2011

A medical emergency

It was Sunday afternoon and Max had lost the bandage from his leg whilst out on a walk. He has quite a long stitched wound which is still raw in parts and it has to be kept covered for several days more. I knew what we needed to cover it and asked the resident medical person to bring me the necessary.
It transpired that we had a roll of stretch, self sticking tape but no gauze and nothing to hold the covering in place. Even though I say so myself, whilst I'm not too good with stuff like blood and babies being born, in an emergency I'm cool and objective.
I racked my brain. Where could I get what I needed? Bing - we had a small first aid kit in the car. It was bound to contain what we needed. I came back triumphantly. I'd rescued the day.
So what did it contain? I couldn't believe my eyes, there were no bandages, no gauze, just a handful of safety pins, a few plasters covered in Disney characters, some rehydration powder and enough Immodium to deal with an outbreak of dysentery over a hundred mile radius.
We might have limbs hanging by a thread and be bleeding to death but there was no way we would get the shits. Ever.
Added to that all the names and instructions for the medicine were written in Spanish. So useful for the next civil war but little else. Bugger.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Getting busy

There's a lot of pressure on us now with less than four weeks to go before we leave. Within that time we also have trips to the UK and Spain to squeeze in.
Ugh, why do we let things evolve this way?

One for the road

One thing we will definitely miss when we move back to England is the Saturday morning meet at Elie's bar in Sommieres.
Not only is it a very good market but we usually meet up with friends and chew the fat. Bryan and I had already decided that we were going to have a kebab so despite the fact that it was very cold and pissing down and most of the stalls had packed up and gone home a few of us hardy souls sat under the not so green outdoor heater and supped our vin chaud whilst sorting out the world's problems.
For once there was no problem getting a table because all the sensible people had decided to either give it a miss or go home early. In fact we were the only hardy souls sitting under the arches and, as a measure of thanks, Elie offered us all a drink on the house.
What he was actually saying was it's time to go folks and I want to pack your table and put it away so drink up and get lost. Still, who could resist the kind offer?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

That's a yellow son

Followers of English football might have a giggle over this.

Sort it out

Based on our own experiences, this article is spot on but it raises an interesting dilemma. When do you refuse drugs when they are prescribed for you and who are you, an 'unqualified person,' able to make such a decision?
There's no question that I walk away from the chemist once a month with a carrier bag full of medicines, but surely I have to trust my doctor to be making sensible decisions.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Where have they gone?

So we were standing in the vets waiting to be attended to when we could hear a dog barking in the background. The barking started just as we were at the counter and the dog could hear us.
I said, 'It sounds like Max to me.
Jan said, 'No the bark is much higher than Max.
I said, 'Jan he's just had his nuts cut off. What do you expect?.'
Jan said, I wish they'd done you at the same time.

I was right, on both counts. Poor Max.

Nuts or no nuts. That is the question

You're supposed to have a lie in on your birthday but no such luck today. We had an early start to take Max (his birthday was yesterday) to the vet for a minor op. I suspect that vets are much cheaper here in France than England and as he has had a minor recurring problem on his leg we decided to get it fixed here.
Added to that, I remembered a conversation that we had some time ago with an elderly Australian vet. He said that he had castrated all his male dogs and that as a result they had no health problems in later years. The only dog he didn't neuter had problems.
So I will discuss this with the vet as well.

In a previous life you were entitled to a day off from the company on your birthday. I don't remember taking too many days off cos that was for wimps.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Back home

We were having an excellent dinner at The Sportsman's Arms last night and I mentioned to mum that we'd seen the Ripon Hornblower and that he'd given us a 'lucky' wooden penny. I'd got one for her and gave it to her.
She was tickled pink, as you would be when someone gives you a small piece of wood, and was interested in the story that the ceremony had been enacted without break for over a thousand years.
Mum's reaction to this piece of news? "So it's not always the same man then?"

Anyway, when we left Ripon this morning it was cloudy, dark, damp and 6C. When we arrived in Carcassonne it was sunny but very cold with a biting wind and 2C. I don't suppose it's very often that it's warmer in Yorkshire than the south of France, assuming of course that Carcassonne qualifies as the south of France.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Ripon Hornblower

We met the hornblower last night. 
As we walked across the market square it was freezing cold and there was nobody about. It was cold and dark but there he was, George Pickles the Ripon Hornblower, by the obelisk in the market Square.
We were his sole audience and  we watched him blow his horn in four places around the obelisk and then doff his cap to the house on the corner. Intrigued, I asked him what he was doing. His explanation (click on the link for a full explanation) was that he was acknowledging the imposition set by the first mayor of Ripon in 1604. After we finished chatting he set off to find the current mayor (at home) and he would proclaim outside the mayor's house that the watch had been set.
This ceremony has been enacted without a break for 1100 years. Fascinating.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Getting there

Wow, Jan has done a great job and the house (in Ripon) is nearly ready to move into. When we finally move from France, because we will have the two dogs with us, we have to be able to move right in and now we can. That's one more little hurdle jumped. The biggest problem is the size of the new house. It's much smaller than the monster that we're used to and that will take some adapting to. There's no getting away from the fact that you get a lot more home for your money in France.
The other little hurdle was getting the house connected to broadband. As opposed to France, where everything has to be done in writing, in triplicate, I ordered the service on-line and we were connected yesterday. I was kept informed all the way by email and everything worked to plan with no hiccups. The good folks of England need to stop complaining and realise how good things are here. Mind you, I suppose it was the complaining that got it this way. Interesting.
Competition also plays a huge part, something that I feel is sadly lacking in France. People pay way over the odds for all kinds of things in France, including food, but more about that later.

Writing about a chicken jalfrezi the other day gave me a yearning and last night I had the yearning fulfilled. But - back to the curry. There are three curry houses in Ripon which will all need checking out. The Balti House, 16 Kirkgate, Ripon, is a dry restaurant which means you can take your own booze, which we did. Instead of paying £15 for a bottle of wine we headed to Booths and bought a decent bottle for £4. Excellent.
The other nice surprise was the bill. We both stuffed ourselves for the grand sum of £25. Double excellent.
One thing that has become apparent, after several trips to Ripon, is the size and price of foodstuffs. Take for instance a baguette sized beef sandwich from Booths, the meat cut freshly from the joint and loads of it stuffed into the bread all for the princely sum of £2.95. It is so big, so full of meat that we have to share one. Triple excellent.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A new discovery

The main idea behind setting out the day before for a distant early morning flight was to avoid having to get up too early. As I sit here typing at 02.56 what seemed like a good idea at the time is just a dim and distant memory.

I sort of knew it but greed took over. As a yoof, when I was learning about wine, and, more importantly trying to get my girlfriend drunk so that I could have my wicked way, I tried and liked wine from Corbieres. Carcassonne is Corbieres country so for me it was less about getting drunk, it was more a trip down memory lane.
Unfortunately as I have got older, if I drink a lot of wine with a meal instead of putting me into a soporific stupor it tends to make me wake in the night for the toilet and with a thirst. Bugger.
Still, one good thing came out of it. To quench my thirst I made myself a cup of Lipton's Lime Tilleul infusion. Apart from the plastic spoon melting in the boiling water, it was excellent.  
See, you knew that I could cook! Jan will be proud of me.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Exchange rates

Waiting to check in, I was standing behind a little Asian lady at reception.
She was changing money and she was obviously quite agitated.
I heard her say, 'Why it change? Yestaday I get too hundra uros for yen, today I only geta huna eighty. Why it change?'
The receptionist shrugged her shoulders and said, 'Fluctuations.'
The little old lady said, 'And fluc you white people too.'

Not long now

As I left home today it was very sunny and 18C and it occurred to me that as I was heading for cooler climes this wasn't maybe the smartest thing to be doing. The other thing that occurred to me was that I had something in common with Gene Pitney.
He was 24 hours from Tulsa and I was 24 hours from Ripon. We were both legging it to see our loved ones but, whilst the temperature might be quite a bit cooler where I was going, I had the added advantage of being able to shove a chicken jalfrezi down my neck in the not too distant future. Something I'm sure that is in short supply in Tulsa.
So mes braves, Bon soir from Carcassonne. I'm on my way to Ripon via Carcassonne and Leeds to see my beloved and, more importantly, get a good feed.
I'm sick of eating cold food. I know, I know, I'm a lazy git but I just can't be bothered to cook. It isn't as if I don't know how, I just can't be arsed and no way will I compete with Jan. I'm a better driver and she's a better cook. Each to his own.
Anyway, back to Carcassonne. The nearest direct flight to Leeds is presently from Carcassonne and, as it's an early morning flight (10.15 is early to me), I set off this afternoon for the flight tomorrow.
Why get up at 05.00 and 'suffer' a 2+ hour drive when it can be done in a relaxed manner the previous day with no time pressure. And, as a bonus, I have the perfect excuse, as if one were needed, to have a slap up meal somewhere new and not have to put the dishes away.
Gene got his leg over on the way but I doubt that I'll be so lucky otherwise it's win, win, win.

I need my vitamins

So the conversation goes like this.

ME (in France): Hi love, how ya doin'?

JAN (in England): Fine, I'm getting on well. Do Max and Minnie miss me?

ME: Yes, they mention it all the time.

JAN: Don't be sarcastic.

ME: Talking about M&M, some bad news, they caught and killed a cat last night.

JAN: Oh no, oh no. (Jan likes puddy cats.)

ME: What exactly did you think they were going to do when they caught one?

JAN: Are they OK?

ME: Well Max was looking a bit funny at my leg last night but I don't think he's got the blood lust yet.

Bla, bla bla, twenty minutes later.

ME: OK, I'd better go now. I need to see what little delicacy I can rustle up for tonight's feast.

JAN: Give the dogs a kiss from me and tell them not to be naughty and that I love them.

ME (trying my hardest to sound sincere): Sure honey, will do.

Twenty minutes later I had to stop when I found myself telling the dogs that Jan didn't approve of their killing but that she loved them anyway.
See what a lack of nourishment does for you.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A good plumber

As I write I'm waiting for the plumber. Why do we always have to wait for a plumber? It has to be the best profession for those who want a blue collar job. There are never enough good ones around.
My daughter Cara once told me that she was thinking of a plumbing career specialising as a female only plumbing service. I have to say that I encouraged her but eventually she developed a successful, desk bound, career in a very large software house.
Anyway, one strange feature of the otherwise lovely house that we are currently living in is that one of the upstairs toilets has been plumbed with hot water.
I know a good plumber here and based on what I have seen him investigate so far, it isn't going to be easy to change it over but I know he'll come up with a solution.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

We have got to do something

I must admit to being a little confused. There has been a move recently to call women that act, actors.

When I were a lad, when men were men and women weren't, a man was called an actor and a woman was called an actress. What has changed? Who authorised this change to the English language. I must have missed something.

When I start my new religion, (application forms will be available shortly), a religion that involves me receiving a lot of money and sex (and not necessarily in that order), I will set up a very influential department, headed by my mate Bryan, or anybody else who outbids him, to control the language and stop any unauthorised changes. A bit like the sterling work done by the Académie Francaise.

All and any changes to the English language will be approved by me and Bryan (know now and forever as the two immortals) who will sit in judgement and have the final say. There will be no more of this sloppy LOL business. Join me.

Friday, January 14, 2011

How to lose weight

With Jan in Ripon unpacking boxes and me on my ownsome in France looking after the dogs, you'd think I'd starve. Not so mes braves. I haven't actually yet cooked anything cos I'm not sure how to operate the cooker (all you've got to do is turn a knob you idiot - Ed) but what's wonderful is I eat what I want, when I want.

Last night for dinner, much to Jan's disgust on the phone, I had a piece of cheese and a fruit. I just wasn't hungry. Today however it was out for lunch with a friend, the first hot food since Tuesday. A low fat, low calorie, pot au feu, which was virtually tasteless. With a plate of boiled to death meat, veg and potatoes I'll lose a lot of weight. Excellent.

The bar at the market in Sommieres beckons tomorrow so I'll have a kebab (eat your heart out Peter H). That's my kind of hot food. Even more excellent.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A new national anthem

I can't remember what game it was but I do remember being recently embarrassed at the UK national anthem. I think it was a football match and they played the opposing team's anthem first. This anthem was bright and breezy and quite uplifting. They then played God save the Queen and I remember thinking that it was terrible. A slow, painful dirge.
Which got me to thinking about what would be better. When you add to this the need for all the team to sing and 'bond', I came up with the following.
The team wouldn't have to remember the words and could join in with the dance. Can you imagine this. It would be hilarious, be one in the eye for Johnny foreigner, totally incomprehensible to them and great fun. Take a look at this and imagine Wayne Rooney doing it.

If that doesn't rock your boat how about this next one? Remember it has to be something appropriate, that eleven grown men can perform and be uplifting for the thousands who have paid good money to see them getting humiliated in the game.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A question

Has anyone figured out what exactly he won't do?

What a bitch

We were in the pharmacy to get a prescription from the vet dispensed for one of the dogs. The prescription clearly showed that it was from a vet.
The woman behind the counter, who we had never seen before, looked at the prescription and said to Jan, "Is this for you?"
Jan turned to me and said, "I know I can be a bitch at times but that question is ridiculous."
We had a good giggle.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


There's a new programme on television called Zen. I like it, it's an expensive production, it's beautifully made and revolves around the beautiful people of Rome. You have to suspend a bit of belief but so far the plots haven't been too bad.
Prior to watching it the other night I said to Jan, who fancies Rupert Sewell the lead male, that I fancied the leading lady Caterina Murino. She turned and said, 'I don't mind as long as you don't dribble.'
Isn't that kind?

Monday, January 10, 2011

A problem solved

Ever wondered where the idea for the Lord of the Dance came from? Well look no further.

Thanks to Will for this.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

A problem to solve

We don't use the Golf much. For large parts of the last few years it has sat in the garage for use as emergency transport with a monthly trip out to keep the battery charged.
Now normally one side of me would say that this is a good thing but yesterday the other side realised that there are complications with this.
The car finally needed a rear set of tyres so I used to order a new set and went to one of their fitters in Alès to change the tyres around and get the new tyres fitted. Everything went well until they tried to remove the last security bolt on one of the wheels. The wheels hadn't been removed for a long time and this bolt had jammed solid and, as a result of trying to remove it, the security key sheared. The bolt had to be removed by brute force which involved a combination of drilling, hammering and praying.
Needless to say the praying didn't work so the car is now stuck in a garage in Alès with a few people scratching their heads.

Friday, January 07, 2011


I've said it before, but I do like Nîmes. I just love the old quarter, the Maison Carré which has been beautifully cleaned, the arène and the shops.
We popped in this morning to get some goodies at the indoor market which reminded us how good the market actually is. At one point Jan asked a butcher for some veal escalopes which he cut perfectly and then beat out nice and thin. A true artisan.
Jan had already mentioned that she fancied a coffee so as we were heading to the coffee bars in the Cupole I noticed a chocolatier advertising all things chocolate. Deroy is a posh looking chocolate shop/bar and as we had recently both had excellent hot chocolate at Segafreddo in the Geant shopping mall, a hot chocolate sounded good. We sat and ordered two chocolates and a pain au chocolat for Jan.
'Sorry sir, we don't have hot chocolate or pain au chocolat,' said the nice lady behind the counter.
Somewhat perplexed I told her not to worry we'd have two grande crèmes and cake instead. 'Certainly sir,' she said and a short while later brought us two expressos.
Even after all this time I still shake my head in wonderment at customer service in France.

Thanks to A Taste of Garlic

I had no idea. None.

Until Keith over at A Taste of Garlic mentioned it this morning. Today is the sixth anniversary of this blog. Thank you Keith for your very kind words, they're much appreciated. It makes the lonely toil, messing with words in the wee small hours, really worthwhile.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The second goodbye

I went to get my prescription renewed this morning and, because she gives me one that lasts for three months (there's a joke there somewhere), I realised that I wouldn't see my doctor again before we leave for England.
Dr N has been very good to me and I feel she has taken good care of me.
Our experiences of the health service in France are second to none.
Thank you Marianne.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

A seismic event

OK you smart asses. How come you're so quick to mention the earthquake in Ripon?

It's not the sort of earth moving event that I was hoping for, but there you go.

Free hugs in Italy

Turn up your sound. I found this surprisingly uplifting.

Monday, January 03, 2011


I first tasted a Nespresso coffee when we were down at B&P's in Barcelona. I was deeply suspicious being of the 'old school' when it comes to coffee. However, despite my reservations about not using a traditional coffee machine and ground coffee, I was very, very pleasantly surprised.
With this as a background Jan very kindly bought me a Nespresso machine for Christmas and we've been working our way through the sample coffees that came with it. We really liked three of the different coffees (one of which came from India) and all of which have an excellent creamy head.
Today was the day that we needed to place an order for more coffee. So far so good. Now rarely do I shout at the computer screen, I consider myself fairly long suffering, but today was different. In order to buy coffee you have to join their bloody 'club' and the club joining process was tortuous. They need to know exactly where the machine was bought, the exact model (of which there were many to choose from), the bloody serial number of the machine and then your choice of the various coffees which has to be purchased in multiples of 50.
Talk about grabbing you by the balls. I hate this type of merchandising. Listen you assholes, all I want to do is buy some bloody coffee. I'll let you know when I want to marry you.

French New Year

We both commented on how quiet it was during our outing on Saturday. Throughout the thirty minute journey we probably saw six cars. It was eerily quiet.

The French, like most, take New Year's Day as a holiday and, from our brief perspective given that it was normally market day, they seem to take it more seriously than any other holiday.

The only thing moving was a wee brown dog that seemed to be trotting along with purpose.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

The first goodbye

I guess it had to start sooner rather than later.
P&M very kindly invited us for an excellent lunch yesterday and we then realised that because they are about to leave on an extended trip to the southern hemisphere we wouldn't see them again in the near future. That's so sad.
We have met some really nice people during our last eight years here (and one or two weirdos, but more about them later) and, even though we don't leave for another two months, this was the first of several heart wrenching 'goodbyes.' They are a lovely couple and we'll miss them, especially P's words of wisdom during our Saturday morning meetings at the bar in Sommieres market.

So now you know,  an American pop idol teenager is more influential than anyone else. Think about this before you post your new tweet.

Happy New Year.