Friday, 31 July 2009

What I Done On My Holidays #5

The French attitude to parking can only be described as one of 'angry disdain'.

Sometimes it is nothing more than stopping in the middle of the road and getting out, even on motorways. On other occasions, they will happily turn sharply onto a zebra crossing, mount the pavement at a jaunty angle and exit the vehicle by any of the available doors, including the boot. Car parks are easily spotted, not by the traditional 'P' signage but by the scattergun approach to alignment taken by the customers. In fact, if it looks like an East End scrapyard specialising only in Peugeots, Renaults & Citroens, it's almost certainly a French car park.

Cahors is no different, being as it is a medieval town with a massive river through the centre of it and definitely not designed for easy motoring. As such, parking spaces are at a premium and are a) very small and b) surrounded by car-unfriendly obstacles such as ancient trees, lamp posts and riverside benches. Throw into the mix an almost-brand-new hire car with a €1000 excess and yours truly had a certain amount of sweat on, attempting this little manoeuvre in the 35 degree midday heat:

Nailed it though. Even Freyja (yes, that's her, sitting by the tree) applauded.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

What I Done On My Holidays #4

After being informed that blogging about your holiday was insensitive to those affected by the worst recession for 50 years, I spent today taking pictures of the sky. As literally both my avid followers will know, last year I posted about of the bluest sky I had ever seen, directly overhead whilst I was in the swimming pool at Lascombe:

This afternoon, 359 days later, it was almost identical:

I say almost because today was one degree hotter at 35C; I wonder what Klein would have said about that? My best guess is:
"Merde, il fait chaud."

Sunday, 26 July 2009

What I Done On My Holidays #3

One of the benefits of having been a wind instrumentalist in my youth is a pretty decent lung capacity. As such, on any holiday involving water, it inevitably falls to me to inflate a wide variety of lilos, floats, dinghies and beach balls as required by those present.

So far today, I have given the kiss of life to a medium blue lilo, an In The Night Garden beach ball, a round floating baby seat and a giant multicoloured snake. And what better way to spend a sunny afternoon that by attempting to run across the pool using them as a rudimentary technicolour pontoon:

In seven attempts, I didn't make it once (in my defence, I think the lilo has a leak...)

Saturday, 25 July 2009

What I Done On My Holidays #2

The house in France is lovely, but the cooker is over twenty years old and takes about eleven days to heat up to a temperature only vaguely near the one you selected. As such, we tend to BBQ a lot: confit de canard, saucisses de Toulouse, ├ępaule de sanglier and that traditional rural French dish, chicken tikka :)

The latter was on the menu for tonight, so fire was required:

Oh, and there's none of that charcoal malarky - this is purely a wood burning affair. And bloody delicious it was too.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

What I Done On My Holidays #1

Today was spent getting more and more furious at easyJet's apparent failure to realise that to run an airline with any genuine intention of getting your paying customers* from A to B - in this case, Gatwick to Toulouse - you are actually going to need what is commonly known as a PLANE. One that works. And is where it is supposed to be, when it is supposed to be there.

Scheduled departure time 0940; actual departure time 1300. FFS. Still, at least I now know all the Mr Men books off by heart...

* and none of that 'You get what you pay for' nonsense; these flights were the same price as BA charged us last year, but who no longer offer Gatwick to Toulouse, the bastards.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Anything To Declare?

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is how you pack for two weeks... on Twitpic

Yes - that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is how you pack for two weeks in the South of France. I shall have limited access to the interweb for the next fortnight and when I do, I will mostly be checking the score in the Third Ashes Test from Edgbaston. Happy days...

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Overheard #86

In the car, earlier today:
"I don't trust the French, with their ... hats."

Rhapsody In Buloo

Freyja is obsessed with 'Waybuloo' on cBeebies but the theme tune is a proper earworm and has been bugging me for weeks.

Finally, this morning over breakfast, I worked it out. It's the strapline from the "Where in the world" PC World TV advert over 'Hong Kong Garden' by Siouxsie and the Banshees mixed with the in-game music from 'Crash Bandicoot'.

I really need to get out more.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Wooden It Be Nice

So there comes a time in a man's life when he requires a wooden structure away from the familial home in which he can keep his vast collection of paint stirring sticks, listen to Test Match Special and spend some time in deep contemplation, growing a beard. That time has come. Shed time.

My DIY Dad wholeheartedly agreed with me and the parents popped down last weekend, with Mum delighted to be allocated full-time keeping-Theo-away-from-power-tools duty. After Homebase (better selection, cheaper price and quicker delivery than B&Q, in case you were interested) had delivered the appropriate wooden bits (forty-seven) and we had established that we had enough electric drills (three), we set to with the construction. Actually that's not quite true; I had to go to work on the Friday so he spent the morning digging an 'ole...

Upon my return, there were 28 sacks of rubble, an ex-tree to take to the tip and a base to be bolted together and dropped in...

Standing back, admiring our handiwork I squinted at the frame, leading me to casually remark that it "looked about level to me". So we tested that theory...

Bloody hell, it was! Hurrah, saved about an hour's banging things randomly with hammers :)

The next thing was to get the sides up. There aren't many photos of this process, as it seemed to require a minimum of 6 arms and there were only two of us. Still, we were making progress...

Not surprisingly, the next stage was to tackle the roof. After the obligatory joke about "getting felt up", we did just that (also note classic use of delicate Victorian garden furniture as sweaty bloke's drill storage area, sawmill and workbench)...

By now, it was very late, we were very tired and the door wouldn't close because, it turns out, the adjacent window fittings had been designed by a committee of Venezuelan baboons on acid. In fact, we ceremoniously tore up the instructions at this point and got a load of 2" screws involved. And, suddenly, we'd only gone and built a shed...

The following morning, before dashing off to play cricket near Slough (I know, my rock 'n' roll life, eh?) there was Ye Grande Shedde Openingg with honoured guests and dignitaries from the borough...

And today, one week on, I found myself sat out at the very same spot in a canvas chair with a mug of tea, reading the weekend papers whilst Aggers burbled gently from the wireless and the sun beat down on SE London. Bliss...

Huge thanks to the parents, without whom this project would have been an epic fail, and to Solveig for finally caving in and letting me do it (although I suspect that she is secretly delighted that she now has somewhere to banish me...)

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Fry On Cricket

Simply wonderful.

"Thank you ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much indeed. It is an honour to stand before so many cricketing heroes from England and from Australia and at this, my favourite time of year. The time when that magical summer sound comes to our ears and gladdens our old hearts, the welcome sound of leather on Graham Swann..."

Monday, 13 July 2009

Shall We?

Three phrases you don't generally want to hear from your wife in quick succession:
1) "Do you like this?"
2) "I saw it on the internet."
3) "It's quite expensive."
However, I found myself responding:
1) "Yes, I do as it happens."
2) "OK, let's click on the link."
3) "Keeeerrriiiissssttttt!!!!!!"
I'm thinking we may have to sell one of the children...

Mens Things

Added to which should be, of course, BUILDING A SHED!

More to follow...

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Play Park(ing)

It's a good job I have a decent amount of IKEA self-assembly experience. Theo received a wooden garage for his birthday and I've just got round to putting it together. It's beautifully crafted but I'm fairly sure I spent less time building two beds, a wardobe, a chest of drawers and a bookcase when we moved in here :)

Anyway, some how-to photos (and you may catch a glimpse of my junior construction assistant who was mostly helpful, when she wasn't hiding key pieces under the sofa and trying to keep a straight face when I couldn't then locate them).

And, after he woke up from his nap, the happy recipient:

Overheard #85

Sunday afternoon question time:
"I see the Cath Kidston collection is building up."
"Actually, one of them's Laura Ashley"

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Boycott The Shirts

So I've started a petition:

They're bloody awful and I hope nobody buys them. I don't care if the replica kit income would pay for a new defensive midfielder; they're taking the piss.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Shed Watch #1

It's here!

Somewhere in that lot are some instructions, I hope. Watch this space (or if you are our neighbours, watch the scrubby bit at the back of the garden next to the leylandii and the holly bush...)

Thursday, 2 July 2009


Sleevage is a wonderful site and today's featured album provides a very interesting look behind John Squire's artwork for one of my favourite albums of all time:

The painting featured on the cover of The Stone Roses is titled Bye Bye Badman, as is one of the songs on the record. Both the song and the painting are about the May 1968 riots in Paris, which explains why the tri-colours of the French flag are featured on the cover.
I did not know that.