Showing posts from December, 2023


French politics is quite confusing for British people. Brits are used to static parties that don't change their names and which occupy a certain space in political thought - be it left, centre or right. Those positions drift, and there are spectra within the parties, so you can talk of the Tory left, the right wing of the Labour Party, etc... But it's always Labour, Conservative and whatever the other one is called. In France it's different. For a start there's more parties. Also they change their name  so it's hard to keep track of them. At the moment Emmanuel Macron's "En Marche" (EM, get it?) is the centre-right party and he has a minority government just now, sometimes backed by the centre-right party, currently called "Les Republicains". The centre-left is still represented, I think, by the Parti Socialiste. France also has a Parti Communiste. Then there's the far-right party currently called "Le Rassemblement National", he

Rain, and lots of it


Unusual Birthday celebrations

The tram system in Bordeaux is 20 years old this weekend! Hurrah for the trams! To mark the occasion two trams collided one the C/D line right in the middle of Bordeaux at 8pm on Saturday evening. A points failure is suspected. The weather was mild, no icing up is possible.  Anyway, whatever the cause, the first effect was the collision of the two trams, resurgent in one being squarely derailed. Nobody was hurt in the accident. The trams we moving at low speed. This meant that on Sunday afternoon, when we hied us from our cosy nest to go wassailing with the singers, there were no trams. We contemplated waiting for a bus de substitution, but there were no signs of life whatever at the stop. So began a somewhat crazy and frustrating journey to church, which involved much waiting at stops and perhaps too much crowding into Bus 9, which does the circle fo the boulevards - this Sunday very slowly indeed... We joined the merry band of wassailers about an hour late. Happy Birthday Trams !

Mincemeat making

Mary Berry's recipe, slightly amended because of the difficulty of obtaining candied peel. Yes, I know you can candy your own peel, but life is too short for such shenanigans. 

Chutney making

I doubled the quantity, but it takes a shocking amount of grating to fill two tablespoons with orange and with lemon zest! And why add 1/4 teaspoon of chopped garlic? Doesn't the author of the recipe like garlic? Anyway, here's the recipe I followed - same as most years : 3 large tart apples. diced 1/4 inch 8 cups. 
( I used Granny Smith) 1 cup cider vinegar 
 3/4 cup finely sliced dates. 
3/4 cup brown sugar. 
 1/2 cup dried apricots finely sliced. 
 1/4 cup orange juice. 
 1/4 cup raisins 
 1 table spoon each of: 
orange zest, 
 lemon zest, 
 grated ginger, 
dried onion flakes and 
 mustard seed. 
 2 1/2 tea spoons salt 
 1/4 tea spoon chopped garlic. In non reactive sauce pan bring to simmer all ingredients over low heat. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes until thickened. Stir as needed to prevent burning.  We shall have chutney with our cheese this Christmas !

What we brought back from Strasbourg

 Covid. Mrs D. I was jabbed couple weeks ago.

Escapade to the east

We had s credit note with a budget airline company that flies to small and mid-size cities in Europe. I wondered how we could use it, where we could go and when. The answer was a brief escapade to Strasbourg. Our flight was at 8:40 on Sunday morning. It takes an hour to get to the airport by tram. The 30" shuttle doesn't start running till 7:30, so we got up at 5am and scuttled out. We arrived at the airport at about 6:30. The airport was pretty well deserted. We got through security in seconds. Thankfully the cafe was open, so we bought some drinks and sat in fine but grubby armchairs looking out on the silent runway. Boarding was simple. The flight was almost full. The flight was comfortable and we landed just after 10. Near the central railway station in Strasbourg is a café run by a church. The café looks quite anonymous and there were no signs that a church was meeting. We arrived perhaps 20 minutes late for the service but we had been told not to worry, so we went in and

The amazing electricity company

 Sometimes tradesmen come into the café. We seldom entrust ourselves to them. For example one charming man from a nation wide fire extinguisher company came, introduced himself and asked if we minded if he inspected our fire extinguishers so he could sell us better ones. We told him that we did mind and advised him to sling his hook. There have been several of these unsolicited encounters, and I have a principle of never signing up for something without at least a minimum of research. Thus it was that when two charming people came in to tell us of a wonderful system whereby we could render patriotic service to France, save ourselves some money and automate our heating system (two electric radiators), our response was somewhat noncommittal. In short, we did not commit ourselves. We did, however, report to the committee of the café what the charming people had said. "Run away", was the initial response. I often feel that our initial, visceral response can be ill-founded and ill