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Showing posts from 2010

Witness to a Crime ("I know kung fu")

Hi all,

Have had eyes opened to the seedy underbelly of France. Am shocked and appalled.

Lisette and I had moved on from Ambois to Blois (about 20 minutes up river) and were exploring the local market. Very scenic, rotisseries full of chicken being roasted, stalls carrying great wedges of nasally powerful cheese. Interesting soap, you know the like.

The marketplace was crawling with people and as we stood taking it in I felt a slight prod behind me. When I turned around I realised a French woman on a bike (say early-40s) had just run into me. I moved aside and watched her cycle on through the marketplace colliding with people as she went. Perhaps unsurprisingly, not everyone took this well. An old man (80+ if he was a day) who was on the receiving end of one of her collisions with the masses took umbrage. He bellowed something French at her and waving his arms chased after the woman through the marketplace in the style of a zombie in Dawn of the Dead. She, for her part, was as…

The Crash (or How My Digestive System Unfurled Le Blanc Flag and Waived Like a Mad Thing)

It happened last night as we were approaching dinnertime. I'd felt the odd twinge throughout the day but nothing serious. Come 6pm last night matters took a turn for the worse though as I was overcome with a massive pain which caused me to collapse doubled up in agony. Fortunately we were at the hotel when this happened and so I could stumble to the bedroom and crash. Never had pain like on the stomach front. Felt I was gifted a small insight into veil of tears that comes with childbirth. Lisette was my saviour of the moment, heading out to acquire a multitude of pills from the local pharmacy which were quaffed with much urgency. Following 12 hours of bed-rest I'm pleased to report that I'm feeling much more normal.

Nevertheless, there have been changes on the gastronomic front prompted by this. No more with le steak frite and creme brulèe. No more with the mounds of cheese and butter. No more l'escargot (though it was only Lisette and Una who wer…

Gout is within our reach... (and Kermit too)

After nearly a week of eating French cuisine I am presented with a mystery and it is this: how are the French not yet extinct?

Each meal appears to consist of a *minimum* of 3 courses. Each course contains enough calories, cholesterol and fat to give an elephant pause for thought. So how are these people still functioning let alone skinny? I have some vague notion that the French send themselves away to foreign countries every now and then where they find the cuisine so repulsive they abstain entirely from eating while their bodies return to healthier levels. A "detox trip" if you will; this may explain South Kensington.

We see Lisette's (French) mum and (English) dad next week in Spain and so I intend to consult Annie on the matter. Perhaps that's what led her to make for Geordieland in the first place...


In an effort to fit in more with the locals I have been attempting to pepper my language with French colloqialisms. So there's been a lot of …

On Seine in the membrane

Dear all,

Am typing this on the strangest keyboard I have ever encountered. It appears to be the standard French keyboard which for no reason that I can comprehend does not tally with any other computer keyboard on the face of the planet. Can't think why they made it like this other than to slow the non-French down. It's definitely working. Struggling to find the letters and have given up on punctuation. So if this reads a bit odd I apologise - it's this or insanity.

Lisette and I arrived in Paris on Friday night and met up with our good friend Una who had just flown in from Belfast. It didnt start off as the most French of experiences. Due to the trains not running - maybe a strike - we had to catch a taxi into town. We ended up being driven by a man in gleaming white robes, strange hat and listening to "Africa 1" Radio which is about as local as it sounds.

Una, Lisette and I had decided to venture into unknown waters on our weekend in Pari…

Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds....

... Dalek.

Hi all,

Many things I am capable of but, as I discover, many things are unwise.

Lisette and I were woken at the princely time of 1:50 am and tumbled out of bed, into clothes and into the blackness outside. The plan, such as it was, was to climb Adam's Peak which is either the fourth or fifth highest mountain in Sri Lanka (Asanga and the Lonely Planet are still arguing the toss on this point). The plan was to reach the summit and watch dawn break from the top. Also, Adam's Peak famously casts a shadow the shape of a roughly equilateral triangle just after dawn breaks which we were also hoping to see.

Climbing a mountain in the dark is less fun than you might imagine. There's a lot of stumbling, wheezing and general bitter self-recrimination as to why you ever agreed to doing this in the first place. There's also a fairly worrying amount of losing the people you're travelling with as well. In the event we did finally make the ascent, reaching the Sum…

I'm Not Steve McQueen...

...no - as it turns out I'm *all* woman... (thanks to the good Professor)

Hi all,

First up, thanks for your emails - apologies for not responding in kind but I've just recently (within the last half hour) been re-introduced to the world of "pre-broadband". Internet connection in Kandy is pretty much approximate to to internet connection in England in the early 90's. Maybe slower. And so each keystroke has alas become rationed for today.


Following about 12 hours of monsoon rain Sri Lanka has returned to levels of frankly dangerous heat and humidity. Even Lisette (bearing in mind her boundless enthusiasm for heat) has declared that it's "a bit much". If you'd like to paint a mental picture of me at present you should imagine a man in a sauna, fully clothed and eating curry. I'm hot.


I've been to Happyland.

Happyland, it turns out, is a spice garden on the way to Kandy. We visited it yesterday and were greeted by quite a short man (e…

I'm Steve McQueen...

...and this is The Great Escape - I'll come back to that....

Hello Folks,

Lisette and I have headed off for one of our adventures - this time to Sri Lanka. Unlike our usual approach to holidaying (buy tickets, catch plane and pray) we have decided to deviate. We are "on a tour".

The tour started somewhat inauspiciously. We arrived after a 12 hour flight at 3 am on Valentines Day in Colombo. We were met by a man bearing an "Adventure Company" sign who bundled us into a van together with our fellow tour-ees/tour-ettes. All were pretty shattered at this point and pretty much hoping for instant bed. Not to be. Our tour guide (Asangha) drove us for quite some time and we were in some pretty ropey neighbourhoods by the time he confessed that he may have taken a wrong turn at some point.

However, by 4am we were delivered to a hotel. The good. The bad: hotel was pitch black and it soon became apparent that we did not have reservations. The group mood did dar…