Posts

Showing posts from September, 2021

Sunrise over the Jardins de l'Ars

Image
 

More future planning

 The question of where we go when we leave UFM is an interesting one. We moved here from North Wales where, in our post-industrial and unfashionable town, property prices are reasonable. We could happily return there and assume the life of UK pensioners. I do have some concerns. The NHS is excellent and the envy of the world, but queues are long and its excellence seems to be subject to geographical variations. Also the life of a UK pensioner is sometimes a life of fuel poverty, especially if we live in an older, poorly insulated house heated by gas for long months of the year. Modern flats can be found in city centres, and some might be within our reach. We have various little accounts here and there which, when matured and amalgamated might find us an apartment in a small city somewhere. Life in a city centre would mean that we wold not be dependent on running a car, another major expense. Or we could stay here. Fuel poverty is less of an issue here as we never heat our flat. Anyway,

It's a man's life in France

Image
At the pharmacy : "Do you have anything for when your ear is blocked with cerumen, some drops, perhaps ?"  The assistant went to a small display of assorted drops for when your ear is blocked with cerumen, including cotton buds and alarming rubber spiral gizmos for drilling into your lughole.  I gulped. "This is what you need. These drops. The instructions are on the box." "And do I need any cotton wool* to block up my ear with the drops in?" (I said ouâte de cellulose , I hope this is correct, I have a vague memory of this word and I can't be bothered to look it up having spent a week looking up words like Rückfahrkarte and Putenschnitzel - this latter is not rude.) "You have to rinse it." "Rinse it?" "Yes, rinse it" showing me the box which said, "il faut le rincer" = you have to rinse it. "With what shall I rinse it?" quoth I, "with tepid water?" "Yes, with tepid water. Do you have one

Kehlsteinhaus

Image
 One afternoon of the conference is given over to a sightseeing trip. On previous occasions we have taken the train to Salzburg and sung our way round the Sound of Music sights. This year we went to Berchtesgaden and to Kehlsteinhaus - the Eagle's nest. Berchtesgaden is a picturesque Bavarian town - Germany turned up to 11. On a mountaintop high above the area in the 1930s a meeting place was built for the Third Reich, accessed by a vertiginously winding road that leads to a wide car park, then a tunnel you must take by foot to a golden elevator that opens into the Eagle's Nest. There was a large meeting room, a sun terrace and a kitchen. There were no bedrooms. Nobody stayed overnight. It was spectacular, fascinating and astonishing. Pictures below.

Germany

 This last week I have been in Germany for the International Pastors' Retreat. We stay in a conference and holiday centre in a small town called Teisendorf, very near to the Austrian border and on the Munich to Salzburg railway line. I took the TGV to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport to catch a flight to Munich and then the train to Teisendorf. I knew that a colleague would be on the same flight as me, but I'd never seen him. By the time the crowded aeroplane took off we'd identified each other and were able to get out ticket to Teisendorf together. He speaks German. I'd done the journey before. We made a good team. I flew Lufthansa and it was a pleasant experience. I got the cheapest type of ticket. You get to stuff your bag under the seat (mine fitted fine) and you also get a bottle of water and a small piece of chocolate - which I missed on the outward journey because I was asleep. You also get taken to your destination at the same time as everyone else. Getting the G

The new choir

I've been out of sorts for a few days, forgetful, bothered and distracted. I leave the house without my tram card or my masks. I can't remember whether I locked the door or not. There's something going on, but I don't think it's anything serious. Anyway, if Pat had not urged me on I would probably not have gone to the rehearsal of the new choir. But she did. So I did. It must be a 40 to 50 person choir. I felt a little uneasy as we sat quite close together in the rehearsal room, but we were all masked and in principle all vaccinated or tested. The average age was about 10 years more than me. Allmost all the men appeared to be in their seventies or over. I feet pretty young!  We're singing Brahms, Saint-Saëns and  Franck. It's a huge change from the repertoire in the chamber choir. There it was largely 20th century. This is romantic stuff. And last night's two songs are in German. German has influenced French, but it remains quite different. French is all

Cooking. Kind of.

 I thought I would never say this, but to all intents and purposes I have given up chocolate. I have! Honestly! I used to buy milk chocolate in 100g bars and put four squares, 1/6 of a bar - about 16g - in my porage daily, along with a mashed banana. But the thing is, if you look at the ingredients in a bar of milk chocolate the principal one is sugar. hmmm. I looked at plain chocolate, but in decent French plain chocolate, if 86% is cocoa, then 14% is sugar. hmmm. So I did an experiment. Instead of adding chocolate to my porage I added a small quantity of good cocoa powder.  I ate it with bated breath... And it's fine! Oatflakes, banana and cocoa powder. Magic! Cook with water. Add a little milk for a splendid start to the day! That set us thinking. The place which Marmite holds in the British soul, Nutella occupies in the French. Excepting, of course, that EVERYBODY loves it. However, take one look at the ingredients in Nutella and you'll quickly see that a large proportion i

La rentrée scolaire

 It's back to school day today. This no longer concerns us directly. The days of searching the supermarket for obscurely named essential items that the children will never use are long behind us. Indirectly, however, it's a huge deal. 1) Foreign students arrive in Bordeaux, hunting for a flat, trying to get the hang of the way things run. The biggest headache is accommodation. The best thing students can do is to come EARLY. The early student catches the nice flat. 2) Church activities start up again after the quiet months of July and August. This means lots of organisation and administration to do. 3) Everything else starts up, too. The Reading Group meets next Wednesday. Pat's craft group starts up next week, too, I think. Choirs restart, too.  At present I once more find myself between choirs. My awesome chamber choir has changed its way of working. Instead of weekly Monday-evening rehearsals in Bordeaux there'll be a weekend each month in some small country town wit