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?