Wednesday, February 28, 2007

It's turned out nice again

They talk about global warming and I think that I can add weight to the argument (you could add weight to anything - Ed). I started keeping some simple weather statistics over 3 years ago and this month, February, has been significantly warmer than any February for the previous 3 years. The average temperature for the month is up by over 2 degrees. In fact the weather for the last 3 years has improved every year. More sunshine, higher temperatures, less rain and less wind. No complaints there then!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Yet another coincidence

OK, so you want another coincidence. There we were watching television last night when my nephew appeared in the programme. To be precise, he is my first ex-wife's brother's son, so he may technically be my first ex-nephew, but I think he may still qualify as a nephew. I'm not sure. Phew, don't families get complicated? He's a lovely chap and this is the first time that I have seen him for about 20 years. Not a close family I hear you say.

The best comeback line ever

This was apparently in the Washington Post.

In summary, the police arrested Patrick Lawrence, a 22 year old white male resident of Dacula, GA, in a pumpkin patch 11:38 p.m. on Friday night.
On Monday, at the Gwinnett County courthouse, Lawrence was charged with lewd and lascivious behaviour, public indecency, and public intoxication.
The suspect explained that as he was passing a pumpkin patch on his way home from a drinking session when he decided to stop,

"You know how a pumpkin is soft and squishy inside, and there was no one around for miles - or at least I thought there wasn't anyone around" he stated in a telephone interview.
Lawrence went on to say that he pulled over to the side of the road, picked out a pumpkin that he felt was appropriate to his purpose, cut a hole in it, and proceeded to satisfy his alleged 'need.'

"Guess I was really into it, you know?" he commented with evident embarrassment.
In the process of doing the deed, Lawrence failed to notice an approaching police car and was unaware of his audience until officer Brenda Taylor approached him.

"It was an unusual situation, that's for sure," said officer Taylor. "I walked up to Lawrence and he's just banging away at this pumpkin."
Officer Taylor went on to describe what happened when she approached Lawrence.

"I said, "Excuse me sir, but do you realize that you're having sex with a pumpkin?"

He froze and was clearly very surprised that I was there, and then he looked me straight in the face and said..... "A pumpkin?

F*ck me..... is it midnight already??"

Monday, February 26, 2007

Ouch that hurt

Milton still hadn't recovered from his ankle sprain from last Monday, so there was just the three of us for tennis this morning. The weather was almost perfect despite a gently gusting wind from the north so we played two rounds of two on one. You'll be pleased (and surprised - Ed) to know that your athletic (I can think of a word begining with 'a' that describes you perfectly, but it isn't athletic - Ed) correspondent was in fine form and kicked ass.


I'm getting a thing about coincidences (now there's a coincidence - Ed). We were in Nimes and decided to pop into the Prefecture to change our English Driving licences for French ones. Who should we meet, some way away from the Prefecture itself, but Dutch neighbours from our village who were on their way to do exactly the same thing?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Gli Azzurri

We didn't like the look of Max's stitches last night so we made a quick trip to the vet. The stitches were made from metal with twisted ends sticking out all over the place and, in some places, they didn't look like they were holding much together. I asked the vet why they used metal instead of any other type and she said is was to discourage the dog from licking the wound. Hmnnn, not sure about that one. It certainly didn't stop Max licking his! Anyway, she removed the stitches, albeit a few days early, and re-bandaged his leg. This time he was a big brave boy, much braver than I would have been under the circumstances.


It rained a lot over night and it was quite wet and gloomy when I woke, so a trip to Sommieres looked doubtful. Having said, that the sun came out at about 10.00 and Sommieres was back on the agenda. It was a good table with the usual misfits, all in good form, and all looking forward to the rugby this afternoon. The first match on was Scotland, who were at home to Italy. Italy, who played out of their olive coloured skins, were, within 7 (yes you read that right, 7) minutes, 21 points ahead, having scored three tries. From that point on they didn't look back. To top it all, Jan made me a celebratory apple cake. Does life get any better? Well, certainly not for England, who were second on, and who were comprehensively thumped by a rampant Irish team. OK, one out of two is still a result for me. France won the third game but I couldn't watch it all because I was suffering from a good dose of rugby fatigue.

Friday, February 23, 2007

A lot of torment

Only Peter showed for tennis this morning so we played singles. Now Peter is younger, and much fitter than me (my goldfish is fitter than you - Ed.) so I was expecting a bit of torment. I was right. This man never stops! You make him run all over the court, you think that you've finished the point and the bloody ball comes back. Anyway, I beat him 6-2, 6-1, but he made me work for it.


Jan's jokes for today:

One day, a man came home and was greeted by his wife dressed in a very sexy nightie. "Tie me up," she purred, "and you can do anything you want."

So he tied her up and went to the pub.


A woman came home, screeching her car into the driveway, and ran into the house. She slammed the door and shouted at the top of her lungs,"Honey, pack your bags. I won the lottery!"

The husband said, "Oh my God that's great! What should I pack?"

"Doesn't matter," she said. "Just pack and get the hell out."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

This is not service as we know it Jim

I like Lidl. I have to admit to being a shopping snob. I visited Lidl once a few years ago and couldn't wait to get out. It was an absolute mess and didn't stock anything that I remotely recognised. Anyway, they remodeled our local one in Sommieres and we decided to give it another go. Well, I'm hooked. This is one cheap store and, based upon what we buy, the quality appears good. What's more they have this centre section where they sell a whole bunch of things that you never knew you needed. My best purchase today was a kite. The beach down at L'Espiguette (photo) is huge and cries out for kite fliers. We'll be down there soon!


Now Jan is a gentle soul (not like you, you grumpy old sod - Ed.) but even she gets fed up with rude shoppers, cashiers or shop assistants. We're in Weldoms and some idiot, who has been queuing like the rest of us gets to the cash desk and then hails a passing 'expert' and the makes the queue wait until he has sorted out his problems. When Jan gets to the till, she is half way through paying when the cashier takes a phone call (without any acknowledgement) and then spends ages trying to connect two people. Service levels in this part of the world are terrible and it happens more and more. I'm going to start getting more vociferous. Watch the sparks fly (or you get thumped - Ed.).

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Welcome home, son

Yesterday was a beautiful, warm, spring day so whilst we were in Nîmes we lunched outside on the terrace at the Carré d'Art (left). Such bliss. A very nice lunch washed down with half a bottle of Puech Haut, overlooking the Maison Carré and the rooftops of Nîmes.


We have looked forward to today, for nearly two weeks now. Our best guess was that the Max and Min problems would be over, so I went off to pick him up from kennels. Hallelujah, they greeted each other with unbridled glee but Max didn't have one sexy thought in his head. Well, not that he demonstrated. Great stuff, and now we can get back to normal. My boy's home.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Understanding French

Before we knew it we were 3-1 down. The 'lads' (they're younger than us) seem to warm up quickly and are very keen to beat us. Anyway, we slowly hauled them in and got back to 5-5, when Milton twisted his ankle. The rest was easy, keep the ball on him and make him move. OK, I know that's not very nice but this is war. Kick 'em when they're down I say!

By the way, I found this picture of the perfect doubles partner. Sorry, William.


Jan is getting better slowly and finds it easier to walk each day. She'll be cooking a storm by Wednesday. Yippee!


What is the worst word that you will ever hear in French? Let me tell you. The word is 'normalement' - normally, as in 'I will come back next week to finish the job.' This word, when uttered by a French artisan, means - 'look pal, we both think that I'm good but I am very busy and I haven't left enough time to finish your job and I've promised someone else that I'll start theirs. If by some miracle I have a spare day next week I'll come back and finish your job but I suspect that hell will freeze over first. I have so many jobs to finish, because I'm absolutely useless at managing my time, that you will have to wait until I can't stand you ringing me any more to come and finish your job.'
And there you were thinking that English was a very expressive language.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A very special New Year

Happy Chinese New Year. It's a particularly auspicious year for me because it's the year of the pig (I knew it, I knew it - Ed.) but a special pig year, inasmuch as it's a 'golden pig year.' Evidently these only come around once in your lifetime (every 60 years) and this year I will be very lucky and can do no wrong, something that I've suspected for a long time!
I quote from an Australian Government website:
"The Year of the Pig in 2007
People born in the Year of the Pig are nice to a fault and possess impeccable manners and taste. Pigs also care a great deal about friends and family and work hard to keep everyone in their life happy. Pigs are highly intelligent creatures, forever studying, playing and probing in their quest for greater knowledge."
But then you had guessed that already? (they missed out 'shy, retiring and modest - Ed.)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Forbidden thoughts

Poor old Max. We picked him up from the kennels this morning and took him to the vet to have his bandages removed. He was not a big brave boy but at least he didn't think of biting anybody. Methinks I need to talk to him about being a bit more manly (or is it doggy?). Anyway, when we got him home he went potty when he saw Min because she is obviously still very 'attractive' to him. Having a good understanding of how he felt, it made me feel sorry for him so, in order to take his mind off things, as it were, it was off to another, much more distant set of kennels this afternoon. It's a sort of aversion therapy, feel horny and you get locked up for a week in the slammer. Poor Max.

Friday, February 16, 2007

A nice surprise

Mum rang this afternoon to say that she was fed up with the weather in England and fancied some time in the sun. After a flurry of activity, arranging flights from the UK and Girona (for us), we booked a week at a large hotel in Tenerife. It's not the sort of hotel that Jan and I (not pictured above) would normally choose, but mum offered to pay. When someone else pays, you do as you're told! Thanks mum.


Unable to stand me anywhere near her beloved kitchen, or watch me mess up simple dishes, Jan cooked dinner last night. It works every time!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov

This morning I read about this chap who has been voted in as President of Turkmenistan. My theory is that by the time a voter had finished reading his name he/she would get fed up and couldn't be bothered to read any more. So they just marked his name with the cross, and he won.

Jan had a fever yesterday afternoon so it was off to the doctor this morning. Her ongoing leg problem has surfaced again so it was back to bed today with lots of medicine and daily injections. Poor thing.
Vincent D turned up expectantly this afternoon with his mini pel to start spreading more gravel. When we moved here, I took the decision fairly early on that anything other than gravel would be expensive or hard work. We now have acres of gravel, as far as the eye can see, that covers a lot of sins and just needs 'topping up' now and again. There's pretty.
With Jan bedridden, I had to cook myself some dinner (say ahhhh - Ed.) so I made pasta al broccoli. One of my favourites and the sort of food I like when I feel threatened (as it were). Cook broccoli heads, drain, and then cook the pasta in the water that you cooked the broccoli. Drain and mix together together with olive oil and chili flakes to taste. Not that you can taste much after I have finished with the chili.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A walk in the woods

Well lordy, lordy. I got three (eat your heart out) Valentines greetings today. One from Jan and two which were delivered mysteriously to my desk, by hand. What's going on? I wonder if she's starting to like me at long last. (Don't hold your breath - Ed.)


To celebrate, we joined 30 others on a Bryan organised walk through the garrigue between Vic le Fesque and Fontanes. It was tough going in parts but quite amazing in its discovery. Having climb steadily up from V le F we noticed in the distance huge statues of Mary and the Crucifixion. I say huge because they were a long way away and they were big. Who on earth built these things in the heart of the countryside, in the middle of nowhere? Descending a hill we came across a chapel and a tree lined avenue with the stations of the cross. And, bearing in mind that we were in the middle of nowhere it felt a bit spooky. We had arrived at Notre Dame de Prime Combe, a place of pilgrmage since 887. If you want to know more look here. Hope your French is up to scratch!


Afterwards, a big group of us had lunch at the relais in Montmirat. Lunch with a bunch of wine for 13 euros per head. Excellent.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

No sex please, we're dogs

We took Max to the vet this morning to get his stitches looked at. He's becoming a regular visitor there and they all seem to like him. Anyway, they re-bandaged his leg, gave us something to calm him down and sent him off on his merry way. We then had to take him back to the kennels because Min is still highly fertile and we need to keep them apart for a week or so more. Bum.

Monday, February 12, 2007

A very determined pair

The Lloyds arrived yesterday and invited us for dinner tonight. I can't figure out whether it's me or Jan that they like (I think we need to have a litle chat - Ed.)


The four musketeers played tennis again this morning. Peter and Milton came at us like there was no tomorrow. Peter was particularly agressive and slammed down aces all morning. We managed to hold them to a tie-break, which they won 7-2. You should have seen the look on their faces. They were ecstatic. We were 5-2 up in the second set when rain stopped play. Bum. We'll get them next time!


It transpired that Max needed 14 stitches in his leg the other day in his frantic attempt to 'get at' Min. The vet reckons that the kennels (at the other side of the village) are close enough for Max to be able to smell and/or hear her. In fact when I was playing tennis this morning, Min howled for a short time and I thought that I could hear Max barking in the distance. Anyway, we'll take him to the vet tomorrow to get him looked at again. The kennel lady had to fork out 156 euros for his treatment. Thanks Max!

Sunday, February 11, 2007


We were out to dinner at Peter (Czech tennis player) and Michelle's (the Maire's lovely assistant) restored country house, last night. What a place! It sleeps ten and he lets it out. Highly recommended. Anyway, the rest of the tennis team were there with their groupie partners.
At one point I was talking to Peter about coincidences. He told me why he was living in this part of the world and the reasons that got him here. He also mentioned that he used to live in a nearby village called Carnas which is where he split from his wife. Alarm bells started to ring in my head. The house he moved out of was the self same house that we were on the verge of buying when we moved here in 2002. Spooky!


Late afternoon we got a call from the kennels because Max had hurt himself. In a repeat of a similar accident a few months back, when he was in kennels, he had cut his paw trying to escape. She had to call the vet and get him stitched. Will he ever learn?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

You gotta kicka da ass

Bryan wrote yesterday asking who I'd be supporting today (England play Italy at rugby). He got the smart answer, I replied that I couldn't lose. The truth is, my heart wants Italy to win at least one game but my head said that it wouldn't be today. Still, like watching the English football team, you live in a forlorn hope!
Max was in a right tizz this morning. I'm not sure why this morning, because Min has been on heat for several days, but he was yelping, very, very agitated and he repeatedly kept trying to mount her (takes me back to my youth). I suspect that at least 50% of the population have a good understanding of how he was feeling, don't you boys? Anyway, Minnie got a little distressed, kept rejecting him and kept plonking her rear end on the floor suggesting that she was not in the mood. I suspect that other 50% of the population understand what I'm talking about too, don't you girls?
It distressed me to see Max so agitated so it was off to the kennels with him. Boy, was he up for it. Fortunately his run had a wire netting roof on it because Max was leaping up the two metre fence with ease. It was quite spectacular. Even the kennel lady stood there open mouthed.
After dropping Max we headed to Sommieres for a wee drink with Bryan and Gill but more importantly to get a present for this evening. Normally when we go out for dinner we would take a bottle or two of wine and maybe some chocolates. Not so here. It's not unusual for a guest to turn up with a huge floral arrangement or somesuch. On one occasion someone turned up with a lemon tree.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Tommy Cooper

Apropos of nothing, I was reminded of Tommy Cooper the other day. As with most comedians he wasn't everybody's favourite, but I loved his zany, off the wall humour. Two of his jokes:

I went to the doctor. He said 'you've got a very serious illness'.
I said 'I want a second opinion'.
He said 'all right, you're ugly as well'.
I went to the dentist. He said "Say Aaah."
I said "Why?"
He said "My dog's died."
Further to my post on dangerous driving the day before yesterday, on our way back from Nimes this afternoon, a car overtook us on a blind bend at something approaching 160 Kph (100 Mph). We were travelling at about 100 Kph and he went past us as if we were standing still. More fool him, you might say, but if he'd hit another car, they'd have stood no chance and we'd have been killed by shrapnel.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Beer goggles

I didn't really know what 'beer goggles' meant until now. Some clever soul has come up with a formula that shows how 'beer goggles' affects a drinkers vision in a research project sponsored by Bausch and Lomb. My contact lenses are made by B&L and frankly I would have preferred it if they had considered reducing their prices rather than wasting money on this stupidity. Still, it gave me a laugh.


Out of the blue, Vincent C came round last night to say that he was starting work tomorrow in the garden to finish some levelling work. It was raining this morning, so he arrived and picked up his mini pel, never to be seen again.


The news from England this morning was all about snow. Shock horror, they had up to 10 cms of snow in places. Four whole inches. The country was in near paralysis with schools shut down, airports closed and accidents all over the place. What is going on? When I was a kid nothing, absolutely nothing, stopped me from going to school. Six days a week I travelled over 25 kilometres from the outskirts of Harrogate to my school in Leeds. Ahhhh, those were the days.
On the subject of travel it looks like
BA are about to commit commercial suicide. What are they thinking of?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Please Max just give it a rest

In the normal course of events we had another two weeks before Minnie should revisit the vet for her second anti chaleur injection. Not so because she started again today so we had to whisk her off to the vet to start the process again. Now we are on full alert to make sure that Max doesn't get his leg over. Bum.


We hadn't been to the market in Quissac for a long time so off we popped to check it out and get a coffee in the square. It was sunny and warm, the market was bustling and a coffee en plein air was just what us 'Frenchies' needed. There were hardly any tables occupied outside but the bar was full of smokers inside. Unusually, the door into the bar was closed because I presume the bar would have been guilty of allowing smoking in a public space had it been left open. Now this probably seems strange to you, but two females came and sat next to us and, listening to them, they were obviously English. I felt immediately pissed off. Here I was, being French, in my little backwater of France and my space suddenly gets invaded by the bloody English.


Driving around here is not for the faint hearted because it is not unusual to see examples of downright stupid and dangerous driving. But now I've seen everything. We were driving towards Nimes on the main road and, whilst driving round a roundabout covered in foliage and trees, I had to slam my brakes on to avoid a lorry that was reversing around it. Presumably this idiot had decided to take a different exit.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

You want a laugh?

We had a four again yesterday morning and William and I were quite outstanding. We beat the upstarts 6-2, 6-2. I suspect that we were still smarting from our two sets to love defeat the last time we played. A little revenge does the soul good.


I know that I've mentioned this site before but I found this piece so very, laugh out loud, funny. Isn't it a great picture of Charles?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

A very funny man

After waking in the middle of last night, for my usual mid night ramble, I couldn't get to sleep so I went to the library, yes, we have a small library in our bedroom (also known as a few book shelves - Ed), and chose Bill Bryson's (pictured here as Chancellor of Durham University) latest, 'The Thunderbolt Kid', which I received at Christmas. I like BB and I like the way he writes. His book, 'Neither Here Nor There', is still the funniest book that I have ever read. We were in Spain at the time, Mijas to be precise, and we were sitting next to the pool when I was convulsed with laughter. I had tears running down my cheeks, I couldn't speak or breath for laughing and must have looked a right twit to the others nearby. Anyway, there I was reading the new book and I started to laugh. The bed shook so violently that I was sure that I'd wake Jan. Luckily, my sleeping beauty takes more than just a minor earthquake to wake her and eventually sleep overtook me, so the danger subsided.


Wales played Ireland this afternoon. What a good match. Fast, aggressive rugby which Ireland (the favourites) won. Excellent.
I think that it's about time that one of you owned up. The police have better things to do with their time.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Six Nations tournament

We didn't fancy Sommieres this morning for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I didn't want to be pissed this afternoon, (do the words 'self' or 'control' mean anything to you? - Ed) with the resultant headache, because, secondly, there was some interesting rugby on television and I didn't want to sleep through it and thirdly, because our friends who used to run the restaurant in the village came for dinner tonight.


The rugby was good because England won their match, but poor because Italy lost theirs. If you note a hint of bias here, you'd be totally correct. My father was English and mum's Italian. She has lived in England for 60 of her 82 years, so in many ways she is more English than Italian but I have always appreciated the fact that I'm a half breed. It meant that as a youngster I spent many months vacationing in Italy, learnt to speak a bit of Italian and, this will come as a surprise, developed a love of food. Italian national teams don't usually let me down unless it comes to rugby, or wars. Still, I keep hoping.


JM and JP came for dinner tonight. They're an interesting couple. They used to run the village restaurant, which was the best for miles around at the time, but have stopped because of her ill health and the small matter of their divorce. They are still divorced, as far as I know, but live together again now. What was interesting was that they have followed two of their sons to Zimbabwe and have developed a retired lifestyle out there. Listening to their stories of corruption and genteel living appealed to a) the Italian in me and b) the lazy oik in me, and they have very kindly offered us their house there if we ever fancy a trip. I'm not too sure. Bribing a border guard as you enter a country is hardly the best start to a safe or relaxed holiday. Still, you never know.

Friday, February 02, 2007

A very small taste of fame

I've been recognised. I accompanied Jan to the optician this morning because a) she (the optician) sometimes puts drops in your eyes and you can't see anything and b) because she talks so fast that it can be very difficult to understand her. Two heads being better than one! As we sat and waited she walked in and said to me, "I recognise you. Do you blog?" Evidently she Googled a chocolate shop in Sommieres (Courtin) that I have written about and my post came up. She recognised my mug shot. 'Tis a funny old world.


I'm beginning to miss all my spam. I get the usual few legitimate emails each morning, and that's it. The Gmail spam filter stops any stuff getting into my Outlook Express inbox which looks empty and forlorn most mornings. How I miss messages from people with names like:

Mictlantecuhtli Scarbou
Rocelle Cantu
Tanit Winebrenner
Dante R Lahe
Lilia Whang

I hope they're still writing to you!