October 28, 2004

Until next week…

Bonne semaine à toutes et tous!

filles at 12:04 am

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October 27, 2004

Languedoc vs Burgundy

One of the problems of going to France for a short break is that there are so many nice places to visit, you just never have enough time to do everything you want to do. Michelle has a couple of meetings to attend in Lyon this week and again next week – so we decided to take the 4 days in-between to relax & do some visiting. It will be our first reasonably long break we’ve had alone together this year since Bangkok in January. Sure we’ve spent a couple of weekends away this springtime in Reykjavik & Rome, and others with visiting friends & family over the summer here in the UK, but this is: 4 days. Alone. Together.

I love France and have done since 1989 when I spent 6 months living in Paris on barely nothing. If you ask my friend Kerry she’ll tell you that I’ve had a thing for France and everything French ever since. If it’s french I will have eaten it, tasted it, read it, looked it up in the dictionary, discussed it, written about it, or whatever – as applicable… (she will even claim that it is what led me to Montreal in the first place – and she might even be right!)

Now the heat of my love-affair with France has been in Paris, but I have spent some time travelling about. From Mont St Michel in the north, through the Loire and then down the west Atlantic coast, across the Pyrenees, plenty of time in the Languedoc/canal du midi area, following the Mediterranean coast, a brief flirt with Provence, the Cote d’Azur – with a quick visit to Les Arcs for skiing one festive period. All this, but I’ve never done anything more than drive through the Rhone/Lyon area.

Now we have a couple of days to spend as we like. We have a car and no firm plans. It could be perfect, only I have family in France. Family that lives 4 hours drive from Lyon. Family that runs a very busy property management business – that doesn’t close down (not that they should) when a wayward daughter passes through the country. Family that includes a little brother (5yr) who only gets to see his big sister once a year. And you know what ‘family’ means. I can’t be so close and not go seem them; not so close to christmas; not when I haven’t seen them since April; not when you just never know what’s in store for the future. It’s family, you love them regardless, and when you see them after a long separation it’s all worth it.

So, now the question is, when do we fit an 8 hour return journey to Languedoc Roussillon (which we’ve visited many times) into our little idyllic holiday so close to Beaujolais and Burgundy (where we’ve never spent any time)?

I know the bottom line is that it will all fit into place somehow. Between the trick or treating on Friday night, the property visits on Saturday and the dinner party Saturday night – we’ll manage to squeeze in a couple of hours somewhere! We will after all be in France, where the sun is shining, the wine flowing and the food scrumptious. How can one complain?

filles at 9:14 am

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October 26, 2004

mood swings

It’s freezing, but sunny. I’m busy, but not efficient. Hungry, but don’t know what for….

Do you ever get in one of those ‘unsatisfied’ moods? Where you don’t know what you want, but you know what you “don’t” want when someone suggests something? I’m sure it’s a right pain in the behind to be on the receiving end of one of these moods, but I can tell you – it’s not so pretty being the one having it either!

Planning our little trip away to France. Trying to co-ordinate ‘trick or treating’ for my little brother, work for my father, work for Michelle and 400km of driving between us – all in an effort to see my family for a day or so before christmas…

Anyone know of a nice, cozy, little hotel or guesthouse somewhere halfway between Narbonne & Lyon – Nimes area??

filles at 12:04 pm

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October 22, 2004

glaswegian commentary

football.jpg

This was taken at the Scotland vs Slovenia world cup qualifier back in September at Hampden Park. The score was 0-0. The game was pretty terrible, but the atmosphere was great and no violence – note all the police around the field, and the commentary we heard from those around us was priceless!

“fer focks saaake”

filles at 1:25 pm

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October 21, 2004

grounded

We’ve been in administrative hell over the last 10 days, struggling to have our work permits renewed. The initial permit was granted for 18 months because it was the first time a permit was offered under the company name here in Glasgow (?). Anyway, the contract was 2 years, the permit was 18 months… go figure!

We started the renewal process with the HR department early summer and at that time we were told “not to worry, it’s just a formality...”. Now 5 months later it hasn’t been so much a ‘formality‘ but more specifically an ‘extremely stressful situation’. Michelle has a series of uncancellable meetings scheduled in France next week to attend, me I was going to go along for the ride, and the chance of free accommodation, free use of a car, plenty of good wine – and my all-time favourite – confit canard…

Up until just now, we’ve been “battle gear on – all swords blazing“, we haven’t been able to contact the correct governmental department, nor have we received any confirmation of receipts or in fact, anything at all. They have our applications, and our passports. It’s a feeling close to being cut off – with nowhere to go, because we don’t have our identity documents.

However just now, SUCCESS. I was finally able to get through to the correct ‘in-country team’ to find out that all things being equal, our case should be processed today and sent out no later than tomorrow. That is of course if they agree that we should be awarded with an extension for an additional 18 months. And you just never know….

So now we just have to hold our breath to ensure that our notoriously bad post man doesn’t deliver our very important passports to the wrong address (again!).

I just can’t imagine how I would have time to hold down a job.

filles at 11:04 am

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October 19, 2004

Comments

I have just been notified that my COMMENTS function is not working…. so for anyone who may have tried to place a comment over the last month or so and was rudely told “you are not allowed to post comments” please accept my apologies, I didn’t try and single you out, I promise.

It would however explain why I haven’t received any comment span for awhile….

filles at 7:11 pm

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travel with books

Everywhere I look these days I see mention of ‘BookCrossing’. I’m starting to think that the universe is trying to tell me something…

I took the time today to go find out what it’s all about at www.bookcrossing.com. Essentially it is a celebration of the love of books. It’s all about “releasing” books that you love into the world for others to find, so that they might be touched by the words that touched you. You register your book on the site, then release it by leaving it somewhere for someone to pick up and enjoy. All this is tracked through the website and hopefully you’ll be able to watch your book travelling around the country, and even more fulfilling, around the world!

Brilliant idea! I’m going to release one today…

filles at 11:22 am

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October 18, 2004

Wishful thinking Myth No. 1

The Healthy Lunch.
I reasoned that if I was at home all day, I would make nice healthy cooked lunches to eat, low in fat, high in nutrients – very earth motherish. Well it starts well. I get up early to prepare a packed lunch for Michelle almost every day – spinach salad with parma ham, olives and sundried tomatoes or perhaps an olive roll with hummus, lettuce and feta cheese – or maybe something special, homemade tabbouli with toasted pita and falafel… a whole range of ‘earth mother’ delights.

But after making my own lunches now for close on 17 months I can tell you it’s a myth. Really, just a myth. It doesn’t happen, well at least it doesn’t happen to me. Once I’ve finished the packed breakfast fruit salad and gourmet lunch for Michelle, I start doing the things I do during the day, you know, all the bits and pieces you have to get done. Filing, cleaning, tidying, washing blah blah blah – all the things you do when you’re a house ‘person’ keeping the house. When lunchtime comes all those magical recipes and good intentions have flown away… I usually end up eating a toasted cheese sandwich or noodle soup – or more commonly picking at leftovers in the fridge….

I guess I’m going to have to work on that.

filles at 1:56 pm

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October 16, 2004

Jeff Bridges

takes photos…. not bad either, a bit ‘look at me’, but hey.. he is in Hollywood!

I’d copy one here, only I think that would be against the law…

filles at 6:39 pm

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October 15, 2004

Hillwalking in Newtonmore

The beautiful scenery whilst hillwalking…

filles at 2:56 pm

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October 14, 2004

Glesga

I’m getting as bad as Michelle, reading old newspapers….

Discovered this article from last weeks paper on photographs. A reminder that we see thousands of pictures everyday – why do we only take notice of so few?

Its pouring with rain now. Ah Glasgow… so much for going out to see my friend Alistair Hulett play tonight – Michelle will only be back around 9pm tonight from Manchester. The next gig he does in Glasgow is at the Partick Festival Nov 27th – if you’re around you should stop by…

filles at 4:56 pm

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fait accompli

I went along to a neighbourhood meeting yesterday, called in response to Land Services proposal to introduce a Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) in our area…

Around here there are a lot of businesses, and because of its proximity to the city centre, there are a lot of cars during the day parked in the area. It starts filling up around 7.00am – is full by 8.00am and doesn’t start emptying out until around 5.30pm of an afternoon. It’s tough for the residents if you need to use the car during the day. Once you leave your spot, it takes about 30 minutes on your return to find something on the hill – not outside your property but somewhere on the hill which is about a 1/2 mile radius. Sucks if you don’t keep regular 9-5 office hours…. anyway…

In response to residents complaints that there should be designated “resident only” parking – the Land Services Department has come up with this ridiculous CPZ proposal. What they are suggesting is that those residents who meet certain criteria (a) they have a car registered here; (b) they live here; and (c) that their building was zoned residential prior to Jan 1st, 2000 – to stop new property developers from not putting in their own parking – they can pay Glasgow city council another £150 per year for a disc that they can stick on their car for the right to park at home if they can find a spot!. You see, the CPZ proposal does not actually guarantee resident parking. What they are planning on doing is setting up ‘pay & display’ parking metres of 3 hour max duration, and with a parking disc – a resident has a right not to have to pay. For those residents who initially complained to the city – the ones who have to leave during the day – this won’t make the slightest difference. People will just be out feeding metres each day. There still won’t be any spaces between 8-5.30 during the week – and worse, the metres will be valid from 8am till 10pm 6 DAYS A WEEK! So forget about having visitors, they’ll all have to pay metre parking!!!

As you can imagine, there was a lot of heated discussion. The land services guy initially claimed that we could have our say and that our points would be considered, however by the end of the meeting it was quite clear that this was not only the proposal, but the fait accompli. Damn shame really. I’m going to join the neighbourhood – Fight Back – group and see what I can do, but I won’t be holding my breath. Instead I’ll be juggling our finances again, to see where we can find the additional £150 a year – that is providing we qualify, you see our building wasn’t converted until 2001 – which may be another problem to resolve.

filles at 12:35 pm

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October 13, 2004

Art & tea

It’s actually a gorgeous sunny day at the moment. Not hot mind, just sunny…. I’m going to take a break and wander down to the No.1 Tea Art House on Great Western Rd for a bit of culture!

It’s nice to be able to take advantage when there is some sun out. Especially when the first thing I heard on the radio alarm this morning was that the forecast for this winter is going to be, wait for it, freezing!

filles at 2:03 pm

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October 12, 2004

the Killing Moon

Time has just run away from me over the last week. I’ve been busy getting over hangovers, shopping in all the sales (it’s never too early to start xmas shopping….), trying new restaurants and seeing old guys perform exceptionally well.

I thought Elvis was fab last Wednesday, but he was seriously topped by Ian McCulloch on Friday night at the Cottier theatre. Now if you don’t recognise the name straight out I will forgive you, I hadn’t heard much from him since his Echo & the Bunnymen days. But there you are, he was here in Glasgow last week. Most, in fact ALL of our friends said, “nah! it’s ok – not interested” – so I dragged Michelle along with me…

He was just fantastic. Really really fantastic. Despite the fact I could barely understand what he was saying in-between songs with his Liverpudlian accent, the music was great. He did some solo stuff, he did some Lou Reed and David Bowie covers and the odd Echo track as well, including, as he so succinctly put it “possibly the greatest pop song ever writtenKilling Moon. I’d have to agree. If you don’t remember hearing it, or if you didn’t see ‘Donnie Darko’ to remind you of it, you can play it from here… just go to the ‘MEDIA’ button and then scroll down in the pop-up for the track & video.

Also, here you can hear some of his acoustic stuff. Brilliant – go on… have a listen!

So what with Elvis Costello on Wednesday, Ian McCulloch on Friday it felt like a bit of an 80’s revival. The rest has been pretty low key. Nursing a couple of hangovers last week was probably the most that got done. I tried a couple of new restaurants, Zinc in Princess Square which was ok for lunch – the best part was the celebrity watching, and Bar Milano on Byres Road for dinner which was cheap and cheerful, and just ok.

Sunday we went off to see ‘Ae Fond Kiss’ a new film out by director Ken Loach. It’s a film about cultural conflicts in Britain and is the third of Ken’s films set in Glasgow. Its a tale but a tale told almost in documentary style, using non-actors reinforced this “documentary” feel, but I think to the detriment of the film… anyway, the story was good, it was fun to spot places in Glasgow and in fact the film seems to grow on you as time goes by…

Yesterday took me back to my photography class. I printed a lovely picture of Moselle for our friends Milene & Gabriel in London… I can’t scan it on here unfortunately, but one day soon I might get myself a negative scanner and then you’ll all be bombarded with my black & white photography habit!

So that’s you then. All caught up. Michelle is off playing golf in Kingsbarn today which I understand is in St Andrews, she is more than a little excited as you can possibly(?) imagine….

filles at 11:08 am

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October 7, 2004

Fab concert

We had a great time last night. Caught up with an old buddie from Oz who gave us tickets & a backstage pass to see Elvis Costello and the Imposters. It was a fabulous concert – 2+ hours of old and new hits at Glasgow Barrowlands. The audience was rapt. It’s the first time we had ever been to the Barrowlands, the building is an old ballroom with the floating floor replaced, mirrored walls, featured ceilings and wooden floors, it must have been spectacular in its day.

A very long night on the JD, I think I can probably say, with a little bit of certainty, that I won’t be in a hurry to drink and stay out till 5am for a little while to come.

Thanks Stan for your generosity and your good judgement of character, we had a fabulous time, and next time I promise we’ll take you to a restaurant that we can guarantee is good! Have a safe trip home and we’ll see you next time.

filles at 5:17 pm

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