Friday, June 29, 2012


Prior to going over at lunchtime I called my mum to ask her if there was anything that I could get her.
"Yes," she said, I want six fresh eggs from Booths".
"Sorry mum," I replied, "they only sell stale eggs, will they do?"

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Who da thought it?

Sorry, I've got a writing block on at the moment. It happens from time to time.
I was tickled by a short piece in the The Times on Sunday last weekend which detailed the 'well read' towns in Britain according to Amazon.
If your knee-jerk reaction suggests a university town then you'd be right with Cambridge in second place (Huntingdon was first - probably too much time and too much money) but the real surprised was, - wait for it -, Doncaster, the only town in the charts in the north of England.
Why are us northerners so illiterate?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What's dangerous about that?

So Jan and I were chewing the fat over a cup of coffee and reminiscing about one of our neighbours in France. He was English and recently discharged from the Foreign Legion.
He had a thousand yard stare, he sent shivers through you. Let's just say that I'd always want him on my side in a fight. Absolutely no one knew that he was living there, which was surprising because the local mayor knew everything about everybody. I reckon he came to the village under cover of darkness on his belly.
Anyway, the last we'd heard of him, he'd moved over towards the Cote d'Azure and, because he was continually being asked to join a security service by his ex-legion pals, he was now probably doing security work in Baghdad.
I mentioned that because it was dangerous work I hoped that he was OK.
Jan, bless her, said  'what's so dangerous about security work in Baghdad?'
I had to point out, rather sarcastically, that I wasn't talking about a security guard at the down town, Baghdad branch of Tescos. Bless.
Anyway,  during the same conversation we were chatting about our dogs. Foolishly, I mentioned that Max was like me, soft, gentle but strong.
Jan replied, 'Yes, just like toilet paper.'
There was no need for that!

Monday, June 18, 2012

The olympic torch - a new record?

I'm not a big fan of the olympic torch idea, I just can't get my head around people turning out to wave at someone in a white tracksuit and I don't really see the point. Even less all the mumbo jumbo of the 'lighting ceremony' in Greece, but when I heard it was coming to Ripon tomorrow I had a look at where it would start and finish and noticed that they had just finished filling all the potholes along that road.
As luck would have it, it starts right next to where we take Max and Min for a walk.
What I was wondering was, if I take Max down to the starting line and tell him to 'go fetch' just as the runner starts off, could we set a new world record for the fastest olympic flame handover?
Just a thought.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Stupid and foolhardy

So you have just set off on the final leg home, it's the north of France so it's quite cold and trying to rain.
As you leave the hotel garage, you close your window and you hear a loud bang from the door.
Is it an attempted assassination?  No.
Has a large stone hit the door? No.
What should you not do? You should not try the window to see if something is broken inside and to see if you can open it, because if something has broken inside there is the strong possibility that you will not be able to shut it.
If you drive with your window open on a cold, rainy day you will get a pain in your ear, especially if you don't have warm outer garments, towels and a balaclava to hand. This will hurt. It will hurt a lot, and your car will slowly start to fill with water.
If, after a few miles, the pain becomes unbearable and you stop and try to push the window up with both hands, one on the outside and one on the inside, the window will shut. Your headache will go and all those around you will think that you are a hero. A brave but foolhardy hero. You can then continue your journey feeling smug and a lot dryer and warmer.
Here endeth the lesson.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Ermitage de Pic St Loup

So what do you do on a cool wet day in Languedoc? You go shopping, well, wine tasting to be precise.

No1 son, having heard we were in France, emailed to say that he'd like some wine and could we pop over to Ermitage de Pic St Loup and get him a couple of cases? Now, I'd have been pleased if he'd asked how we were and simple stuff like that, but being the dutiful father, and fancying a quick tasting on a miserable day, off we went.

Look, I know you are supposed to taste and then spit it out, but not me bruv, not at those prices, so everyone went home happy.

Poorer, but happy.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Heaven on earth

Don't get me wrong, I like ham, egg and chips. It's something we eat very rarely at home but driving all the way to the south of France to eat it, is, I would say, definitely a little strange. Still, last night it was very tasty, very continental, especially if you shut your eyes and think of England. Talking about thinking of England, Jan has always said that egg and chips would be her last meal on death row. Grief, I hope she makes it through to the morning!

If it's Saturday it must be the market in Sommieres, so off we trundled.

I've been dreaming of that south of France delicacy, a kebab, for several months now and today was the day that the dream came true. Forget all your fancy French food, forget the sauces, forget your foie gras, forget your Michelin stars, this is it. Tomatoes, salad, meat of a questionable source and variety, with two stripes of 'white sauce' and two of chili sauce, wrapped gently in a warm galette. A culinary masterpiece, a culinary tour de force, this is five star eating at it's best. Nothing comes close! This is perfection, it just doesn't get better than this. Oh yes, I forgot, and with a portion of chips on the side.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Let him have it!

Inconsistency. One of my pet dislikes came into focus yesterday. For several years we have bought medicine for Minnie from pharmacies in France. It's a medicine that theoretically requires a prescription. Having said that we have asked for it over the counter many times and been given it without a script (it's much cheaper in France).

Yesterday, after buying some in Nimes (we needed more but couldn't wait to have it ordered), we went to the pile em high pharmacy in Quissac and the server was adamant that I had to have a script despite having bought from them before without one. So far so inconsistent. So off we went to our old vets and met up with Serge, our favourite, flamboyant, gay vet hoping to get him to give us one.

'I don't know this stuff,' said Serge, who was mid injecting another animal. 'Does it work,' he said to me.

'Yup,' I said.

'Ok,' he said, and then he told the receptionist to write one out for whatever I wanted.

Now that's the sort of service I like!


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Memory Lane

Some things never change. Having just driven north to south through France, all, (ok nearly all) the service stations and picnic stops were undergoing major refurbishment. It was quite strange. You'd think that the work would be staggered. Anyway, what did we notice, how had things changed, after a year's absence? The roads (apart from the north) had got busier, but in the south, danger was ever present.

As we drove along the A9 towards Nimes we saw a plane crash. I'll repeat that, we saw a light plane crash land into a field near Courbessac airfield just next to the motorway. I kid you not. Then, after the peage at exit 25, at the roundabout, we saw a car cut across two lanes of traffic, missing a lorry and another car by inches. Welcome to France. At the next roundabout we saw a car in the near side lane signal left only to drive straight ahead. Welcome to France. Talk about keeping death on the roads! Some things never change. Still, a little later, it was nice to see Bryan and Gill and chew the fat before we drove down to Le Boulou on the Spanish border.

The purpose of this part of our trip was to stay with friends and meet up with others at a BBQ at the top of Col de l'Ouillat, an ancient smuggling route between France and Spain. What a drive up the mountain, with no safety barriers and sheer drops (Jan was not happy) and what spectacular views. This was real nosebleed territory but thirteen of us managed it. Custom fire pits allowed us to cook duck, chicken and various types of sausages. Excellent.

After four days of hard partying with really nice people we drove north towards Nimes to stay in the village that we moved from twenty months ago.

I haven't figured out how to post pictures yet with this new machine, so you'll have to use your imagination. Lots of people sitting round trestle tables, fire pits smoking, tall, tall pine trees with dappled sunlight.