Tuesday, February 28, 2017


So here we are. A month of blogging. Even if much of mine was low quality. So to end I have three questions.

1) Will Brennig be setting another June Blogging challenge.

2) If he does will I do an October one this year so we have three nicely spaced challenges.

3) But more importantly, whatever has happened to people who used to play the saw. You never see them any more.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Homeward Bound

So it's an early night tonight as we need to be up by 7am, which is early for us but no doubt that is later than the rest of you.

I haven't kept a complete tally of what I managed to eat that I can't get in France but it has included scampi twice, pies twice, a korma, pizza hut, some decent sandwiches. We are back in six weeks so I can have some more then although if I've put too much weight on I might have to resist.

I don't think I've done this year's Blogathon justice with the travelling and with one more post to go it won't improve.

Anyway, tomorrow's post will wing it's way to you from a hotel in Bourges.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Janet & John

We went to Waterstones in Kingston yesterday, where I worked for a month one December, and had a nice surprise in as much as they were selling some older books off for a quid. Some had slightly torn dust covers, others were just remainders. We bought four books;
The full scripts of Downton Abbey series 2 for someone as a present.
A thriller by someone neither of us knows but are willing to waste a pound at worst on.
A coffee table book of eclectic recipes which would have cost £35 new, which I wouldn't have paid.
And finally, the scripts from the Janet and John stories off of Terry Wogan's morning show.

I already own two of the cd collections of the stories. If you don't know them they are a wmix of the style of writing of the Janet & John books some of us grew up at school with and good old fashioned British double entendre. Terry read them and often corpsed with tales where various mishaps befell poor old John who would innocently tll his wife Janet how he'd helped the bakers wife to knead her baps and had a quick taste of her muffin. Not quite what you'd expect from Radio 2 but very, very funny. In a schoolboy sort of a way. Which is why I liked it. Even though I no longer am. A schoolboy that is.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Reading Aloud

When I used to drive for a living I'd get fed up of listening to music and talk rdio used to annoy me so I took to listening to audiobooks. In those days they were 12 or 16 cassette long readings of, in my case, mainly crime novels, although I wasn't averse to something of a comedic quality.

A few weeks back it suddenly occurred to me I should do that again when I am driving around and I've had my fill of French Radio. Which is actually longer than you would think. The other time would be when we are driving back. I shall be scourig Amazon etc for some suitable titles but nearly bought a John Grisham audio book today. I reaslised that if we started listening when we left home we would just finish before we reached my Mums in St Albans. I'm not sure we could sustain two full days of listening to a book. Not speaking, not wanting to sing to something which we often do when driving. But maybe we could do one book over the journey there and back?

The downside sometimes with audio book is that the person reading it is wrong. Rather like reading a book and then seeing the film where all the actors are completely wrong to the way you pictured them, the voice of the person reading needs to correspond to the voice you read the book in, or at least one of the characters in the book.

Of course I could download books onto Audible or a.n.other app but when driving I think cd is best.

So now I shall start trawling the sites for something interesting to listen to....

Friday, February 24, 2017

Sigh of Relief

We've been in the UK now for 8 days and we both feel it is time to go home. Too much noise, too much traffic and too much to get on with back home.

Anyway, another reason to go back is to stop eating so much here. We have indeed managed to eat all the different things we miss plus more besides. We now need to go on a diet. Before we left we were talking to a friend who ha been using a technique which she may well have got from one of the big dieting companies. The idea being that one listens for the internal sigh when you have had enough to eat. Sceptical as I was I discovered I do indeed have such a sigh. To do it properly you should only eat when you are hungry and you should stop dead when you have the sigh, even if there is a half full plate in front of you. You can always finish it if you are hungry later. She has lost about a stone since she started just after Christmas and she wasn't exactly large beforehand.

Whilst we haven't stuck to it yet, we have noticed portion sizes getting smaller, (our big mistake). Let's hope the body sizes start getting smaller in the near future!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Nostalgia Ain't What It Used To Be

I don't know whether this is another one of those things everyone thinks when they get old but kids these days don't seem to care about the past, or it's use for the future.

Let me give you an example....

At the wedding last weekend, due to the rrival of little Poppy, there were four generations of M's family there. And her great uncle had brought a photo with him of himself with M and her two sisters sat in the garden with him when he was in his late teens and they were just small kids. Marj wanted just two photos taken, one of the four generations and one of her great uncle with her three daughters. Could she get one, could she buggery. Trying to get her girls to have a photo taken at a relevant time was impossible. They couldn't fit it in between their drinking at the wedding and their need to bugger off the next morning to go and do something which didn't involve hanging araound a minute longer than necessary. They couldn't see why she wanted these photos. What was so special? What was the point?

In the end, just before they all left M rather through her toys out of her pram, or as much as she ever does, whih comes across as slightly peeved. Two of the three daughters I think had realised that maybe this was something their mother cared about and rang later that day to find out if she was ok a they thought something might have upset her. So she explained, but they still don't get the idea why she would want these photo's. Luckily by chance, I had taken a photo during the reception that had all four generations in it, although it isn't posed, Poppy has her back to us, and it's slightly out of focus as people moved. But at least it is there and we hope one day it will give Poppy a chance to see her Great Great Uncle the first time she met him.

It's funny, with digital photography all three girls take hundreds of photos a year on phones etc, thousands of photos perhaps, but maybe not one will ever be a special photo. They won't be printed, they will just be lost in digital files, never to be seen in 20 years time when someone thinks back, if indeed they ever do. So we are going to print off a few photos each year and out them into an album to give to Poppy when she is 21. Hopefully they will mean something and be special for her. As for M's daughters, I suspect one day they are going to wake up and realise they have nothing physical to remember the past by or at least to jog their memories as to people and events.

How sad.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Hanging Around

By the time we have returned to Franceland hopefully our lounge will nearly be ready. The last thing we need to do is to put a couple of shelves up for the sky box and the radio. we can't find much in France other than some bits at Ikea so we thought, not a problem, we'll get something in the UK. Wickes - Nothing. Homebase - Nothing. B&Q - Nothing very exciting, but the best we are going to do. I can't believe how little shelving there is in either country, other than the aformentioned Ikea. If this is what the state of the shelving economy is now, what the heck is going to happen post-Brexit. I hope Theresa May has got this on the agenda, we might need some more in a couple of years time!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

How The Leopard Changed It's Spots

The first point I saw somewhere, possibly the Metro letters page, made me think and then the second point occurred to me earlier today.
They both come from the point that the vast majority who are against Trump and also against Brexit tend to be on the left of Politics

1) The Queen, who is normally a sponger off the state, everything that is wrong about the class system and should be got rid of immediately, has suddenly become a poor old woman and great-grandmother who should be protected from Donald Trump by calling off the State Visit as she might be embarrassed by him and it and should be protected.

2) The House of Lords are a bunch of non-elected, upper-class, old men who are out of touch with the normal person and should be abolished forthwith. Except, having laid into them, The House of Lords should rally round and throw out Brexit.

As an aside, many on the left would like to abolish the HofL and the Monarchy and make it more like that wonderful American system with a President and, oh, hold on a second, something wrong here.......

Monday, February 20, 2017

It's All In The Stars

I can't remember whether I've mentioned before but I have yet another random hobby. Astrology. Specifically natal astrology and Synastry. The former being the obvious interpretation of a chart cast at birthpoint. Synastry is a sidebranch where you compare the charts of two people and see how they affect each other. You could therefore call it relationship astrology, although the two "persons" could in effect be a person and an animal, or even a building. With the latter two you are not looking at everything, nor the things you look at being interpreted in the same way.

Most people's relationship with astrology is via a newspaper, magazine or website. It is, as most people soon realise, mainly a bunch of absolute rubbish. It partly is based on predictive astrology which I don't touch as I don't have the feel for it. The stuff in papers is a little like saying my car has a wing-mirror therefore we are all driving the same car, colour, make, model, cc etc. It is an extrapolation that is so generalised it is irrelevant for nearly everyone.

I haven't really been doing much in the astrology line for some time. It is quite time consuming and another problem has been that I don't have all the books I want cos some are still in storage and I also need up to date data. So, I went up to Watkins Books who have always been my purveyor of astrological tomes. I can have things sent to France but if I'm in London it gives me a chane to browse as well as pick stuff up. I went to buy one item and came back with four, three of which were on sale.

I now have everything i need to make the chart for our Grand-daughter. The visual chart will be framed and hopefully hung on her wall, as the one I did for my niece, 24 years ago, still hangs on hers. The interpretaion is then sealed in an envelope for either the parents to read then, or to put away until their child is 21, or another age of their choosing, and then just read it out of interest. My niece would have hers if my brother hadn't managed to lose it. The reason for reading it then is not to see how accurate it was, as I say, I don't do predictive astrology, so what is it about?

It comes from the understanding at what a natal chart actually is. The snapsht of that time and day shows a map of the stars. and it exactly the same as a map of the roads. and even more relevant these days with sat-navs. If you want to get from A to B it will show the fastest route, or the shortest, or whatever you want. But once you have set that route it isn't fixed. A roadblock might make you change route, or an accident, or the need for food, or a number of things, including free will. Same with your natal chart. It explains all the routes you can take but the one that should be the road you go on can change through the actions of parents, peer group, free choice.

Of course, this is a very simplified explanation and you may decide it is all absolute hogwash.......

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Dirty Rotten Scoundrel

That's me. Posting this to just get in under the midnight deadline. We are down in London at our friends house and the laptop won't connect to her new Improved VirginMedia box. Luckily this phone will.

Tomorrow hopefully normal service will resume and you'll get more than a dozen words!

Saturday, February 18, 2017


Old Time Dancing
Cuddling Grand-daughter
And onwards.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Wedding Eve

So here we are in Grantham, or just outside. we are staying at the Ramada Resort. What a damn stupid name. It's an oldish hotel that they have taken over and spruced up a bit. But it's hardly Las Vegas!

The staff aren't overly helpful either. Assuming they are the original staff they have taken " more profesional" to mean "more aloof". The Magnificent M had an argument with them the other day about one of the daughters checking in early tomorrow. They were happy to take the money but did want to point out how inconvenienced they were by it. M's sister, the Bride, has been given a room which has twin beds! Not exactly what you expect for your wedding night, however old you might be.

We shall see what tomorrow brings but they better up their game. There's no such thing as a cheap wedding but there are such thing as complaining guests....

Thursday, February 16, 2017

+ & -

The Positives of being back in the UK so far

Chunky Kit Kat
Tropical Cooler from Costa
Pukka Steak & Kidney Pie and Chips
A Mr Kipling Pie
My Mummy

The Negatives of being back in the UK so far
The traffic jam on the M20
The traffic jam on the M2
The traffic jam on the M25 x 2

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Halfway There

The reason we choose Bourges to stay in because it is about 600km from home and about 600km from Calais and Eurotunnel so a pretty good halfwy stop. The woman on the desk of the hotl actually recognised us which was nice. The bonus today was the weather. We expected to travel in clousy wether with erhaps a little drizzle but instead had sunshine and the temperture just touching 20° which meant we had a mid-afternoon stop for an ice-cream. Not really what we wxpwct for mid-Feb

The other thing about the hotel is that we get to see French TV. We only have UK tele at home, although we are going to put French tv in as well this spring. French TV is worse than French music. They absolutely refuse to use subtitles so absolutey any UK or American series or film is dubbed very badly. And I mean very badly. No attempt at all to lip-synch. The quizzes are as simple as UK quizzes. They must be because I often get the answers right with my level of French. Someties I even beat the contestant which would be very embarrasing for them if they knew.

Anyway, early night for me. Qurter past nine and I'm ready to go to sleep. Not like me at all. I must be getting too old for all this driving.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Northward Ho!

Bags Packed √

Passports in Bag √

Eurotunnel Booking √

Snacks for journey √

Car washed √

Petrol filled. √

All ready to leave for the UK first thing in the morning. Well, as far as Bourges tomorrow and St Albans the day after. And then the East Midlands the day after that. The 9th visit between us in 12 months. For the third wedding in 12 months.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Rum, Sodomy & The Lash

I've come to this Pogues LP somewhat late. I bought a set of 5 cd's in a boxed set and, although I like odd tracks on most, this is good from beginning to end. Sometimes you tend to forget that some of the more traditional sounding songs are in fact penned by Shane McGowan. Anyway, for me there are 4 track that are stand out tracks to my ears.

1) I'm A Man You Don't Meet Everyday

A traditional song which is sung by Cait O'Riordan who played bass for them normally. Strange to hear a woman sing the song but her voice is like drinking Baileys. Sweet, smooth and leaves you wanting more.

2) Sally MacLennane

A semi autobiographical song penned by Shane. The bar in question being the one he was brought up in. It's a great raucous sing-a-long foot stopmer of a tune. One you can't help joining in the chorus with, and unusually for Shane, you can actually hear the lyrics of the chorus which helps.

3) Navigator

Written by Phil Gaston, manager of Shane's first band, it is a paean to the Navvies who built the railways and canals. Another tune to join in with. A typical Irish reminiscing song.

4) And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

Written by Eric Bogle, Scottish folk singer who emigrated to Australia, it is one of those songs that conjures up what was is about and how those who were there felt about it. It is to do with the Gallipoli Landings and the carnage of the event. I have a slight connection in as much as although this is about the Australian armed forces, there was also a company of The Lancashire Fusiliers at Suvla Bay. They were decimated, in fact worse than 1 in 10 died. When the call went out to restaff the battalion my Grandfather moved across from the King's Own Yorkshire to the Fusiliers. Whilst I would consider myself to be a pacifist I am certainly not one of those who prefers to wear a white poppy because they believe the red poppy glorifies war. I am a pacifist because I don't want young men to be slaughtered like that again, and it is songs like this that help transmit a form of reality that cold facts can't. Whilst Shane can never be said to have a beautiful voice, it is a very sensitive and understanding voice that sings these lyrics.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Terpsichorean Tragedy

So the wedding we are going to has all the guests choosing a track they would like to dance to. We chose Let's Marvin Gaye. And we decided that we should practice a bit of a dance based on some Ceroc moves. We used to do Ceroc about 5 years back.

So we moved all the sofas and coffee table out of the way to form a nice little dancing space. We revised a couple of moves and developed a small routine. A small routine that worked quite well until I twisted my knee. So here I sit on the sofa with my knee up, getting larger, and rubbing on Voltarol and taking anti-inflamatories.

Let this be a warning that my dancing years may be behind me, although to be fair they never really arrived.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Shanty Town

We have, in the area down here, a group of men called The Aude Shantymen. ats they have gathered a series of UK shantys, sea songs plus some French equivalents and perform occasionally around the Aude and Ariege areas of the Languedoc. I knew about them before we came down because one of them used to be in the Navy with the guy we bought the house off of. The estate agent who sold us the house's ex-husband also sings with them. When we did the audition last Wednesday, one of the women there was married to one of them. Whilst they perform irregularly they rehearse weekly which tends to start with a drink and food and then the singing gets fitted in once that has happened.

At ten o'clock this morning there was a bang on the door and there stood their unofficial leader. I had an idea this might happen. As a tenor, and often towards the upper range, I am lucky that we are often in demand. So now I have the offer of joining them after we come back from the UK in a couple of weeks time. It's very good for the ego being headhunted and it will be fun so I will have to be donning a Breton stripey jersey and Languedoc neckerchief in the near future.

So now I will be involved in two groups. The main problem is that rehearsals for both are on midweek afternoons. Plus on a Friday afternoon we often meet with our near neighburs for French conversation in order to improve. I'm not sure I can take three afternoons a week off, much as I would like to.

At least when I am working on the pools I will have some relevant songs to sing as I haul covers on and off!

Friday, February 10, 2017


A little bit of China is coming to Loupia tonight as our neighbours pop round and we play Mahjong. I haven't played since I was probably 9 or 10 and I can hardly remember the basic rules let alone memorising the special hands! I used to play onine against a computer but that is much easier. And I can't practice online because now I can't find a proper game because of the proliferation of Mahjong Tile sites playing a form of solitaire.

I'm hoping we have a slight advantage in as much as The Magnificent M's mother was actually born in Shanghai. M's Grandmother, having been born in the Scottish Highlands travelled on her own at the age of 16 to Shanghai to catch up with her boyfriend who had joined the Shanghai police service. That must have been an adventure for a young girl just after the 1st World War.

I suspect by the time a few beers and glasses of wine have been consumed it might be more a fun night than a serious games night but I'm too competitive to ever really let go.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

A Possible New Toy.

Our trusty VW Golf is knocking on a bit having gone through 300,000kms on out last trip back. It's fine at the moment but it's always in the back of our mind it might die a death at any moment. And that moment will almost definitely on a Saturday in July or August when it couldn't be more inconvenient if it tried. We know what we want, probably, a Peugeot 5008, and we've seen one in Nottingham that is LHD French registered and a decent price. As the wedding we are going to is in Grantham and we are also visiting Newark, we could go have a look and a test drive.

The problem is shoud we buy one now to forestall a problem or are we better to leave it in case the car manages another couple of years? We know the date of first registration for our car but it would be even more helpful if there was a date of terminal breakdown.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

My Public Awaits.

It's two and a half years since I last performed on stage and two years for the Magnificent M. When we came out here we thought at some point we might have to join a group. And today we went and auditioned for a group doing pantomime in December. I was told in no uncertain terms by M I was not to go for a main part and really we should both be just in the chorus. I compromised, I went for anything except a main part.

Luckily they seem a friendly enough bunch and even M liked them. The audition was pretty informal but in case I get a medium part I had to do a singing audition. As a tenor, normally you are in demand, which is lucky for me. It is also very good for the ego. Even meeting those eight people have led to me being invited to join a well known local group so I will have to consider that.

I should know what part I get in a couple of weeks if I get one. I actually don't mind whether I do or if I'm just in the chorus. I'm actually just happy to know I'm going to tread the boards again.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Bargain of the Century

The Magnificent M and I went to Carcassonne, La Cité this morning. Although it's our big tourist attraction and sells lots of touristy things it also has some nice "normal" shops. Including M's favourite jeweller, although luckily just dress jewellery. So with a wedding coming up and the dress bought there was a pressing need for some matching earrings, ring and necklace. Just so you know I won't be wearing any of those. Being midweek winter the car park was pretty empty so we parked, got to the shop and within a short time the relevant items were bought along with another ring for good measure. The bank card took the necessary beating of just into three figures and off we went back to the car. The whole process took less that half an hour which meant we had avoided a 1€ car park charge.

I understand that this means the whole trip was particularly good value!

Monday, February 06, 2017

Destroy It Yourself

Yes, that old joke but in my case pretty true. Or at least as far as home is concerned.

Since we have arrived in France I have been registered as a "Homme Touts Mains" - a handyman. Although my main job is looking after pools I do have to do a reasonable amount of simple repair stuff. And in general I have surprised myself by how much I have been able to do. Changing a pump for a pool, building from scratch some shutters that were the size of doors, building a fence. Not by any stretch of the imagination the most complicated of jobs, but for someone with the dexterity of a retarded wombat, a definite improvement over what had gone before.

But even after all this, when it comes to doing something in the house I cannot get it right. As well as buying the main storage the other day we bought 3 cd towers. They were pretty easy to put together but it didn't stop me getting one of the shelves put in upside down. I'm also doing some pretty simple tiling with stick on tiles and even with those I've managed with one pair to not get the edges straight together.

I wonder if anyone here knows a good handyman?

Sunday, February 05, 2017

State of the Nation

I rarely post anything about politics, mainly because I tend to think it's a personal decision. I don't often link to anything political on Facebook either unless there is something particularly funny, and at the moment there is very little stuff that is very funny. Plenty of stuff people think is funny, but it isn't. And this week I have done something I haven't done previously. I have unfriended one person and unfollowed a group because I just cannot stand the constant stream of anti-Brexit, anti-Trump moaning.

What worries me most are some basic principals which seem to be lacking. In both cases, the referendum and the US election, there was a legal vote, one side won and to a degree that should be an end to it. If you didn't get the result you want, you work towards making sure the vote goes your way next time. Even with Brexit, where there might not be a next time, you work to get the deal you want and you make the best of it and try and make it a success.

But not in Britain anymore. Or apparently in the States. What happens now is that if you lose a vote you should not accept it and do everything you can to have it overturned. Demand the other side is wrong and demand politicians overturn things. And you do all this by making stupid statements and attacking people, both members of the public and those in power.

Amongst the stupid statements and suggestions are;

Only 37% of the population voted to come out ofthe EU so we should stay in! That might be an argument if that didn't mean that only 35% of the population voted to remain. There is the argument that 50% of the population should have been required but it is irrelevant as that wasn't the condition of the vote. In fact it is rare for any election in the UK to provide a result where more than 50% of the electorate vote for one side or the other.

Politicians must do the right thing and vote to remain and not trigger Article 50! To start with, it is somewhat presumptive to belive that only "your side" can be right. As we now know, most MP's did vote to trigger the vote. How could they do anything else. It really should have been a simple and obvious decision for each MP. whichever way your constituency voted, as their elected representative, you vote the same way. There shouldn't have been a three line whip. The Lib Dems are pulling their normal trick of taking a stand where they believe they can convince some voters to come over to them. They will once again find long term it doesn't work. Hw did anyone think that MPs would overturn the vote. If they did that there could never be another election again because anyone could declare it unacceptable and a precedent would have been set.

For the sake of going on and on I'll leave it there. Most of the pre-vote talk was about how only racists would see immigration as a bad thing. So, what was largely the far left and then latterly people who wuld normally not be so vocal, lay into those who voted out with a venom that if people on the right had used would be declared bigots and racists and evil.

I recently described Facebook as the Home of Righteous Indignation. And that is what it has become to all too many people. I haven't seen a kitten for weeks! It's just constant bile.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

It's Saturday, It Must Be Sweden

So today we visited the Swedish Republic of Ikea. I always feel as though Ikea has the same status as an embassy and all their property is considered as part of their home country. Then again I've had a conversation with magpie this week so you cn't expect much sense out of me.

Our nearest Ikea is 106km away on the outskirts of Toulouse and takes about 1hr15 to get there. Then again when we lived in Loondon our nearest Ikea was just under 9 miles away and could take that long to get to. We were after some storage for the lounge and decided to use a modular system so for the last couple of weeks we have been planning out sizes of units, colours of doors, matt/lacquered/textured.....

Saturday probably isn't the best day to go when in reality we could go any day in the week but we had to go out and get our saturday morning croissants from the bakers 6km away so we were nearly there anyway give or take the last 100. So we fought the crowds, walked about a further hundred kilometers round the "yellow brick road to where the display was and then eventually, having marked down all the codes, aisle positions and quantities, descended into the bowels of the store. All went incredibly well and we got absolutely everything except one door. One door costing five euros.

Hopefully we will pass an Ikea when we are next on our UK travels either here or there because I'm not doing that journey again just for one small piece of wood.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Four and Twenty Blackbirds.

This would be an apt title if it wasn't for the fact that there is only one bird involved, it's a magpie and it doesn't end up in a pie.

We look after a house in Pieusse, a village just on the outskirts of Limoux. We do security visits once a month and I was out their earlier this week. There is a resident magpie in the garden. Bloody noisy thing it is, cawing at the top of it's voice, or whatever the noise a magpie makes is called. It particularly likes the fruit of the kaki tree, which we know as persimmon, and you will normally find it there. Anyway, the other day I was walking round the garden when he decided to come and fly down and hop along side me. I'm not great with birds, flappy things that they are, and magpies beaks are a bit of a nasty looking weapon but I retained my composure faced with this six inch predator and as I walked he hopped along side of me. I talked to him and then he cawed at me. I talked again and then it started making a strange noise that then became a few words in French. I picked up bonjour, bonsoir and c'est bien. A bit of repeating and a few other words. So I stopped walking thinking I might be imagining it and he stopped hopping looked at me said a couple more words and then, somewhat bored with the fact I had stopped walking, flew off back to his tree.

To say I was a little surprised would be an understatement. It's not everyday one partakes of a conversation with a feathered friend. I didn't know magpies could mimic humans but a quick google search informed me they can. And this one apparently does. He certainly wasn't scared of me so no doubt he has either heard guests or visitors speaking and learnt the lingo. Which I have to say is somedays better than I think I am doing.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

We are a Grandmother.

The Magnificent M and I worked out that since last February we have travelled back to the Homeland 9 times either together or separately. Before we moved here no-one in M's family seemed to have any plans and then the moment we relocate you can't stop them coming up with ideas to bring us back. Last March we were out for eldest daughters wedding. This January M flew back for her sister's hen night who is getting married later this month so we will be across shortly. The big event however was in November when youngest daughter presented her with the first grandchild, Poppy. So I now have a granddaughter-in-sin or, as I am in a marriage sauvage, (wild marriage as the French so eloquently call living together), I have a wild Poppy. And more importantly to me as I couldn't have kids, I have presented my mum with the nearest thing she will have to a great grand-daughter and very excited she is too. So here are a few pictures and I promise I won't flood my blog with baby pictures!

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Becoming John Malkovitch André Verchuren

"Not André Verchuren!" I hear you cry. Or not, as the case may be.

Anyway, André is the mot famous of all French accordionists. He has sold over 70 million albums. That's more than one and a half times as many as Eminem. Ha. take that Slim Shady. You've been beaten by a French hair-dyed nonagenarian. Who knows though, by the time he is in his 90's he might also have sold that many.

Still, enough about them, it's me I'm you're interested in. And you'll be pleased to know, even though I only have 30 years to go, I am taking André on. From a standing start. And to that end, just prior to Christmas, I purchased a piano accordion. Not just any accordion but the one in this photo.

The Magnificent M and I had half jokingly, half seriously thought it would be nice to have an accordion now we lived in France. I mean, how much more can you integrate than that! So I started looking how much one would cost. Do you have any idea how much they cost new? Well, do you? I didn't. It's £6,000.00-£10,000.00. No wonder it's a dying art! Firing up ebay I immediately checked out second hand ones and they are still £1500-£2500. So that idea died a death. Then one day I was perusing Facebook when one of those annoying personalised adverts popped up in the right hand margin. For an auctioneers. So, for no reason other than idle curiosity, I clicked on the link to see what they sold, hoping it might have art deco ceramics or jewellery. But it was musical instruments. And in general, stringed instruments. And tucked away, a few items from the end was the piano accordion. A £200-£300 guide price at least made it look a damn sight cheaper than most, and it was a well known make and professional model. So, I put on a very cheeky offer only to be told I hadn't reached the reserve price so I put in the maximum I was willing to pay, still less than the guide price and, rather like on e-bay, it took enough money to reach what was obviously the reserve price but not my total bid. So with 5 days to go I was lead bidder. And that was it. Nobody else bid. Bargain!

Luckily we were going to be in London the week after so we could pick it up in person. And we did. Neither of us ever having touched one before. And so now it resides in it's box in our living room.

M has yet to touch it and I have tried it once. By God it takes some effort. It's heavy, the bellows take some pushing and pulling, (the trick is you have the shoulder straps at different lengths so gravity helps extend the bellows so you only have to push them back). The good thing compared to the violin is that when you press a key at least the correct sound comes out, no scraping, no screeching. Our cat however, decided I had bought a large box with a filling of cats that were being pummelled and squashed within. She went from lying on the couch to going through the cat flap like a bullet within about two seconds. She did come back and then screeched. I'd like to think she was singing along but it may have been cries of pain.

So at the moment André is unlikely to be spending much time worrying about me, particularly as he is presently sitting on a cloud learning the harp, but I shall not give up. I pledge to you now that by the end of this year I will post a video on this very site of me playing it. Unless you pay me not to. You have been warned!