Saturday 29 March 2014


Incredible source of information, imagination - and, an unimaginably huge, black hole where hours just disappear.
I looked up Tommy Cooper this morning as Ezra had said juslikethat for some reason, and all the memories of that manic hulking man came flooding back. Before I knew it I had spent fifteen minutes, not looking at Tommy Cooper, well, I did for the first five minutes then noticed one of those X factor things - man who died on stage during, whichever thing it was. Of course I had to look. Actually it was pathetically bad, but I clicked, like an automaton onto the next, and the next . . . STOP: jobs must be done, money earned.
After the jobs, I thought I'd just do a quick youtube experiment.
I put in CATS and wondered how long, going off on any presented tangent, it would take me to get back to CATS.
Armed with cup of tea and notebook, I started. (I didn't watch most of these, otherwise I would no doubt still be writing this on Sunday evening)


Cats sleeping in funny positions compilation 2013
The Russian sleep experiment/I read creepy pastas??
Awkward escalator (LAHWF, there are hundreds of these, so about ten pages later, I nearly gave up) Hypnotist gets out of speeding ticket, (not paying rather than stepping out from a speeding ticket I assume)
How to touch beautiful women
How to touch ugly women (not really)
How to use negative suggestion (some bloke who had posted about three zillion films – fast forward many pages)
Alan de Botton on pessimism
The pleasures and sorrows of work
thinking like a genius can improve our lives
The genius of Marie Curie
Albert Einstein - how I see the world
Black holes - what are they
People who still walk on all fours
Radioactive wolves of Chernobyl -  this could have been a death metal band, but wasn't.
Gangland female gangsters
Girls in da hood
Girls not in da hood (ha)
Girls in raincoats without hoods (ha ha)
Camping cars - challenger. What!
Five shocking medical experiments on humans (how-from camping cars?)
Twenty-five scary bridges (followed by millions of twenty-five other scary things)
Top ten strangest and weirdest things on earth
Ten weird things found in an x-ray
Something in Russian I wish I hadn't clicked on
Something else in Russian about sex
Many, many things in Russian . . . another tea later, finally an English entry . . .
Life in North Korea
The giants of Iceland
Real-life Ukrainian Barbi
Real life Ken and Barbi hate each other - I did see this and I think it wins the award for 'uh? how is the human race still going?'
Louis Vuitton condoms - see above award.
Inmate found stuck in wall trying to escape from prison
I want the world's smallest waist - actually, this could be the award winner.
Worlds longest dreadlocks

and  . . .

World's fattest CATS.

Odd that there was hardly any sex, music, DIY; no food and only a bit of space exploration to get back to my chosen subject.

Our own cat sleeping in quite a normal position for him.

Monday 24 March 2014

Second hand dogs

Back in September we finally went to collect Gala, a rescue Spanish Greyhound, (see previous posts) after visits had been made by members of the association to check we were suitable for the dog, vice versa, fences high enough, the cat wouldn't get eaten, etc.
One thing they never did check is what sort of sleeping arrangement she would have.
I must send them this picture of the poor, long-suffering hound on her sun bed where she spends quite a bit of time when not on the indoor sofa or on a 'walkies'.
At least we managed to give one of these incredibly graceful hounds a good home; sadly there are thousands of others each year who live a life of beatings, stab wounds and finally a death that I cannot write of as my keyboard will become soggy and thus useless.
For anyone who would like to adopt a Galgos/Galgas check out this link. There are other associations too in France, UK, Netherlands and elsewhere.

Good choice of dog for exercise. Gala will hike happily all day, or make do with a couple of fifteen minute walks and then lie about looking beautiful. They are, or she certainly is, completely docile with people, kids, dogs and cats (in the house anyway). She smells faintly of warm toast, drops virtually no hair and came to us house-trained. She woofs very occasionally, and it's usually for a good reason - help, my bladder is full, or the other
And you get to have a dog that might have appeared in a previous life in any number of Italian Renaissance court paintings at the feet of some royal person or other.  (UK)

Wednesday 19 March 2014

Fishin' in the rivers of life

See last post. Good old Tammy - make mine a 99.

Unfathomable things

To Mark, anyway.

I LOVE this record - love it, there, said it. Why? I cannot possibly say. Tony Hadley looking like a preppy bank manager, strings, clichéd sax break, WHITE grand piano, terrible 80s suits, but it just gets me every time.

The single came to light as we were having a massive clear out of vinyl records at the weekend.

Mark: 'I've gone through all of these and wondered if you (really!) want to keep any of these . . .

Ten minutes of shuffling through a stack of 80's and 90's music . . .

Me: 'Sorry, but I have to keep: KLF, Alien Sex Fiend, Yello, Bauhaus, everything by The Cure, Bandulu  - who was that? Blancmange . . . '

Mark: 'The Electric Light Orchestra? What!

Me: 'I know, it's just that track, Mr Blue Sky . . . it makes me feel happy, if I'm ever not . . . feeling happy.'

Not that I need it as I can play it all in my head, along with all this other stuff, but you know, nostalgia and all.
Of course, Mark would have been listening to Ornette Coleman, Egg, Stockhausen and Charles Mingus when I was happily wallowing in sentiment, singing along to Tony in my Morris Traveller, little knowing our paths (me and Mark) would cross and our record collection would become amalgamated, so to speak.

Anyway the records have been stowed away for another few years and I'll take the more embarrasing ones to a shop in Toulouse that sometimes buys a pile knowing there are one or two possible gems amongst the future landfill - or those bendy plant pots you can fabricate.

Think I might follow this with a post of KLF's Justified and Ancient, featuring Tammy Wynette - one of the more wonderful and bizarre offerings of the very early 90s.

Friday 14 March 2014

Building No 36

I did go back to Collioure and retrieve the missing bag (see last post) and a lovely day it was too. After lunch, I went wandering and discovered a path that leads out into the vine fields. I say fields; these are not fields as in the sense of strict lines of well behaved vines that we see everyday back at home. These are brown-grey shale slopes of crumbly earth: precarious and weather beaten. No mechanisation here, no tractors, just an occasional silhouette of a lone vine-clipping person, moving between the ancient gnarled plants.
    Dotted about on the slopes sit small candy-coloured vine worker's shelters. There seems to be competition on the brightness and colour combinations used; my favourite was this custard-yellow hut, a playful contrast to the muted earth tones surrounding it.

Wednesday 12 March 2014

The occasional usefulness of lost things

A couple of days ago we had a family day out at one of our favourite places - Collioure, on the coast. Place of flower-filled streets with glimpses of the sea, anchovies, deep red wine, lack of parking and terrible art. Out of season, like now, the parking is easier, the flowers in bud but the art mostly still headache-inducing. We had a happy day of wandering; my boys, a more serious three hour hike, me thinking, writing and drinking tea overlooking the bay.

This morning Ezra discovered he left his bag at the wonderfully named restaurant L'insolite' — meaning, strange, unusual, a little weird. I have offered, like the selfless person I am, to go and fetch it . . . such hardship.

Rocque's wonderful anchovie shop in Collioure.

Friday 7 March 2014

Meandering road trip

So, while everyone else headed to the ski slopes for their winter holiday, me and Ezra headed for a bit of South-Western France where there was sure to be no snow.
We had a vague idea that Agen might be interesting, mainly as it is the hyper-centre of prune production in France, and we like prunes.
We set off far too late in the morning and ate our picnic about three miles away overlooking a particularly favourite view of mine.

Auch was the first stop with its majestic hilltop cathedral, of which I only have a picture of this door,

lots of shops, huge, racing brown river and I'm not sure what else as we got caught in a massive downpour and retreated to the car.
We were going to stay in Agen, but got sidetracked into visiting a small town called Lectore as it had a hotel called Hotel de Bastard - very glad we did as it was a charming place, and the hotel doubly so. It looked way above our budget, but an out of season room was actually no more than the boring motel-type room we stayed on the following night.
It's odd how certain days on a trip end up being right in every way. That was one of them: great hotel, weird and wonderful meal in a local café and inspiring walks/drives/observations etc.

The next day was less successful. On arriving in Agen we walked about, went in the museum, ate a pancake and found not one solitary bag of prunes. The one remaining 'prune specialist' shop was shut, and as six stuffed prunes (stuffed with further prune) seemed to have a price tag of nine euros, I was quite relieved.
Drove on to visit two of the 'plus beaux village de France' which were indeed beautiful, and tourist (other than us) free; then, in the spirit of meandering holidays, decided to drive to Bergerac.
It was rather a long way. The ancient, elegant and faded hotel I had been imagining didn't exist. The tourist office offered 'The family' hotel' and 'the Europe', near the station. Both looked dull, and one was shut. We eventually found three huge hotels in the middle that the tourist office had obviously not seen. Chose the cheapest and sank gratefully into a hot bath before stepping out to experience a fabulous meal.
The place I had decided on was having some sort of function and everything else looked too expensive so we went in "La Scala' where the food was unmemorable but the menu translations were worth the drive to Bergerac.

Egg stink with its fingers of bread in fois gras.
Duck wipes
Omelette of the leader
Salad of crudeness with its greenery 

This can only be surpassed by a restaurant in our town serving:
Side idiot of tomato and paving slabs of salmon.

We left early the following morning, bought a couple of croissants, drove about ten miles out of Bergerac, realised we had left all the maps in the bakery, drove back and out again. Then sallied forth into the lovely rolling hills dotted with impossibly beautiful buildings that is the Dordogne.
Ezra wanted to go to Cahors, mainly to look at the train station, so we did. Had a fine cup of tea in the station café and wandered about a bit.
I decided that we should do something madly touristy and headed off to Saint-Cirq-lapopie, thirty two KM away from Cahors along a stunning winding stretch of the Lot Valley.

(borrowed from wikipedia pic)

I'm glad we did, and I'm glad it was in March. I can imagine how impossible it would be to get there in July; the amount of spaces reserved for coaches was a fairly good indicator - this tiny fairytale place, like most of the other 'Plus beaux' villages obviously becomes a seething mass of people, ice cream, and nicknacks as the summer starts.

Set off homewards, wishing we had bought more food, and wishing both of us hadn't eaten quite so many dried apricots . . .

The best shop front of the trip

The best cat of the trip

Contrast in dining experiences: The elegant dining room of The Bastard, where we went mad and had the buffet breakfast. And the formica splendour of the 'Café du coin' where I had an excellent 'Pot au Feu', soup, wine, and Ezra a basic but comforting spag bol, all for the price of breakfast at the hotel.

The best hotel name

And the best nightclub/church experience

Monday 3 March 2014

Real breakfast cereal

Porridge. Not the 70's sitcom, although I did like that too.
Good old real breakfast stuff. Just normal oats, with water and milk - and brown sugar/treacle/nuts, cream, seeds, bits of chocolate, etc - whatever happens to be lurking in the cupboard.

Having just looked up some porridge facts, I now know that traditional Scottish porridge would 'ner be seen with the likes of any of that twaddle; just oats, water and salt - think I knew that; but I didn't know that stirring the preparing spoon anti-clockwise can encourage the Devil into your breakfast, and using steel-cut oats (?) rather than rolled, keeps you fuller for longer as the body takes longer to break them down . . .
I also just looked up what was actually in a cereal such as Special K. A lot of air, sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, rice and grains put through an 'extruding process' and added vitamins. So you take some natural ingredients, bash them about until the nutritional elements have died, blow them up and add white sugar and 'vitamins'. It's all a bit stupid really when you can eat something totally natural and add what you want to it, healthy or otherwise, depending on morning mood; but it would still be better for you, and cheaper.

I saw a quote somewhere by Michael Pollan, author of 'Food Rules: An Eater's manual.

His first rule:  Don't eat anything your grandmother wouldn't recognise as food.

Saturday 1 March 2014

Motor (way) home

I was about to write a quick post about rocks in cages on motorway embankments but got sidetracked by this startling image of a house in China.
Under the present law, apparently no house can be demolished unless all the occupants agree to move. The remaining old couple refused to move and the route was built around them.
Once the motorway is actually open, nipping out to get some milk might be a tad risky.

Image from