Tuesday, 30 December 2008
I bought a pair of shoes, Ian bought a tee-shirt and that was about it!
Monday, 29 December 2008
The mountain air is challenging. It bites into your lungs, sears your skin, turns your hair and nails dry and brittle but if you can survive it you feel the benefits to your system over time, so despite the fact that I have ached, fallen over, bruised myself and generally felt exhausted I feel calmer, less stressed and now, after a week, much fitter. Interestingly my normal joint pains have almost disappeared.
We drove down the mountain in the dawn and by 11.30 we were passed Dijon and heading up towards Calais and England. We got back to London at 9.30 pm UK time and I felt a strange sense of unreality. How could we be in the Alps in the morning and then back in the city a few hours later? I felt quite unsettled! I have had this experience before when travelling and was telling a colleague who said it is when your spiritual self and your physical self have not quite caught up with each other.
Meanwhile, our physical selves were subjected to a dreadful lunch in a French motorway service station. As we were not in a hurry we decided to join the French in their exodus off the motorway in search of lunch. If I was ever under the illusion that the French were fussy about food and that all French food was better than English food it was well and truly put to rest yesterday. The queues were long, the food cold and oily and I ended up taking it back. The second attempt was not much better! We vowed never to do this again no matter how hungry we were!
To replenish our spiritual selves on the journey Ian tried to find an open D.I.Y. shop. However, as it was a Sunday they were all closed, so we stopped off in Reims and visited the Cathedral!
Friday, 26 December 2008
Wednesday, 24 December 2008
We all met for a late lunch and I returned back to chalet after while the others went off more skiing.
This is the view from the balcony this evening....
Tuesday, 23 December 2008
Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, which is more of a celebration in France than the 25th. We hope to watch the 'decente en flambeau' tomorrow evening, when all the ski instructors ski down from the top of the mountain with lighted torches.
My nephew is doing an ice sculpture outside for his art project and we are awaiting dinner!
The sun is shining, my legs ache, I have a lesson booked at 2.30 and the slopes beckon so I will be brief!
Sunday, 21 December 2008
I am currently sitting in your departure lounge because an earlier crossing has been cancelled. While I understand you have operational issues at the moment, this has happened the last two times I have travelled with you.
It would have been helpful to have reflected the delay on your website in the latest travel information section. I was also surprised that your staff in the terminal building did not have vouchers available for a complementary hot drink.
Dear Customer, Thank you for contacting the Customer Relations team at Eurotunnel. We are always keen to receive the views of our customers, and the feedback we receive is important to help us improve our service to you. All emails are responded to individually by a member of our team and you will receive a full response within twenty-one working days. For your reference, emails sent to this address are managed between 09.00 and 17.30, Monday to Friday (except Bank Holidays). Kind regards Eurotunnel Customer Relations .
Not much help to us then in getting a cup of tea!
(PS. Titan's sister is called Alexandra)
(PPS. I don't know what is worse, James Blunt or Christmas Carols)
1. The fire was bigger than the previous one several years ago and did more damage and yet it was relatively under reported. All we have seen of the repairs is a very edited programme on the BBC.
2. The burnt -out trucks are still property of the French police and under strict guard.
3. Normally after such a fire there would be interviews with truck drivers and passengers that were involved but there has been nothing so far; not least we have heard nothing from the lucky driver of the vehicle that started the fire who apparently escaped unhurt.
4. After I published my last conspiracy theory blog my site was 'visited' by Eurotunnel.
5. A free cup of coffee will stop me from writing more!
(To add insult to injury we have just been joined by a noisy family who's eldest child is called Titan! The sounds of 'Titan come here!" are echoing around the terminal.)
Saturday, 20 December 2008
Friday, 19 December 2008
"You wouldn't be the man with my turkeys would you?"
"Well, only if your name is Lovely"
"Well, it is as it happens; lucky I caught you"
"Well, when you said have you got my turkeys I thought you were joking! I didn't know that's what was in the box! Have a good Christmas!"
and with that he handed me the box and left!
The turkeys spent the night in the industrial fridge at work and now they are unpacked and in my fridge and waiting to be moved down to London for the next stage of the journey.
Tomorrow we have another Christmas dinner with Ian's mum, sister and niece and then our family duties are over and on Sunday we hit the road with the turkeys!
Wednesday, 17 December 2008
I have never supported the notion of troops in Iraq anyway so any reason for them to leave is fine by me, but the cynic in me says that the withdrawal at this point is more to do with the cost than ideals. At least if the country is really poor they won't be able to afford to invade Iran or Pakistan or other such nonsense.
Tomorrow two turkey crowns are being delivered to my workplace. I must find a way to keep them fresh on their various journeys from work to home, home to Ian's and then in the car all the way under the Channel, down through France until they finally arrive at their Alpine destination three days before Christmas Day. If we all get food poisoning I will know why!
Monday, 15 December 2008
Sunday, 14 December 2008
However, times are changing and together with the Nintendo Wii-fit you can exercise from your laptop. You can check her out her on-line lessons here!
Although we laughed it is a sad fact that there are many people who commission IT services (in places such as the NHS) who also have about as much knowledge! On a more basic level, one of the IT support staff at work got called to assist someone who was doing a PowerPoint presentation and couldn't get their memory stick to work. When he arrived they were trying to insert it into the Ethernet point! (Ian has also been asked where the any key is).
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
The other thing that occurred to me is that if you are rich you get choices and if not then you don't. The whole procedure was not cheap and I also imagine that the cost of this man's care before his death was not cheap either. A portable respirator, expensive wheelchair etc would all be above the reach of the typical uninsured American as would the flight and accommodation in Switzerland. So if you are poor then you don't get to choose to die when you want but you die much sooner because you can't afford the treatment to prolong your life.
After my gentle warning from high about the blog yesterday I call it Karma!
Tuesday, 9 December 2008
I wish to announce however, that a new and totally uncensored blog will be created dedicated entirely to the topic of health and safety man and other antics at work. However, this will be a secret blog and access will be by invitation only! Do leave a message if you would like to be on the list!
Monday, 8 December 2008
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Sunday, 7 December 2008
I also iced my Christmas cake. I mentioned before that I am cultivating the art of mad and eccentric cakes and this counts as one of them!
Wednesday, 3 December 2008
As you can see this one was made of mirrors! Lunch was beckoning and I had a yearning to try one of those nice looking tarts and so settled on a little coffee shop. It was full of older women sitting at tables by themselves having coffee and cake. My French has come on enough to understand the conversation between an older lady and a couple at another table. She struck up the conversation and after a talk about the weather she told them that her husband was now dead and she lives on her own but tries to make the effort to come out every day to talk to people. After lunch I wandered some more and took a photo of this cyclist! Just nearby a meals on wheels van was delivering its' fare .
After lunch I did more wandering...and began to get a bit tired. I longed for somewhere to just sit! As it was Monday all the museums were closed so I wandered up to the Cathedral. It was warm and inviting, with nativity scenes around the chapel representing all the ethnic communities in Brussels. I sat down and found myself drifting off to sleep for a while until the priest interrupted with a short prayer for all those who had lost their homes! I was surprised to see how many people ran out of the Cathedral at this as it is after all what the building is about and it was pretty inoffensive. Perhaps the priest thought I was one of the homeless as I was beginning to feel that way with 3 more hours to wait and nowhere else to go! My next walk took me past the main railway station where I looked at a few shops and then 'rested' again in the waiting area! I really did begin to feel like a down and out as the street dwellers came in to finish their cans of beer in peace and the man who looked like he was suffering from the side effects of his anti-psychotic medication came to beg food!
A final stop in another cake shop passed a bit more time and then I headed towards Le Grand Place where I was meeting Ian later. It was dark and the 'Electrabel nights' show had started with coloured lights projected over the grand buildings in time to electronic music from steel speakers in the square.
Monday, 1 December 2008
After lunch we walked briefly around the town centre and then we decided to walk out to the hotel ('not much further than we have already walked' according to Ian). The route out of town took us through the Arab quarter of town with little shops selling all sorts of exotic vegetables and lots of 'cafes' that were men only places involving mint tea and backgammon (and a space away from the family). We witnessed Brussels driving first hand when we saw a Passat collide into the back of another car and then hit a parked van (he had seemingly failed to notice the wet roads and the slow traffic in front of him). The road was definately quite long and mostly up hill! My feet were aching and we were in need of a drink and with some relief we reached the hotel; basic but clean and with internet access in all the rooms but other than that not much going for it!
We reflected that all big cities, no matter how glossy on the surface, have their run down ends where a lot of the imigrant populations tend to live and in many ways we could have been anywhere, in London, Paris, Zurich etc.