26th May 2011. This made me laugh this morning - I read on an aviation web site that "..the hump on the 747 was designed so that the Captain could sit on his wallet." And while we're thinking about that, have a look at this:
It looks spectacular but there's at least 2,000ft separation between the two aircraft.. (that is, provided that both pilots don't cough at the same time!)
A clip showing rowers from Aviron Bayonnais in competition:
Watch out for them rowing uphill at 2:42.. How do they do that!
Another milestone date is approaching.. don't ask! My motto is fast becoming Old people live longer.. I worked out in an idle moment that during the course of my 65 orbits around the sun I will have clocked up about 38bn miles or 60bn km. Puts my rowing distance into perspective!
12 happy km this evening in a mixed VIII sculler.. very nice outing on a breezy river. (Running total: 712km)
There's a storm in an espresso cup going on in France at the moment. In the wake of the latest figures showing that road deaths are on the increase despite the year on year pattern of a continual decrease, the government felt compelled to take remedial action to reverse the upward kink in the trend. Fixed radar speed cameras (left) were widely installed across France over the past few years as excess speed has been identified as a major contributory factor to accidents. Motorists were warned of the presence of these cameras by a warning panel (right) approx ½km before the radar camera. The government has decided that the panels are to be removed and this caused a predictable and very vocal outcry. Speaking as one who has been caught speeding via these cameras, I can only say that it's a good thing.. Drivers must change their habits.. We don't need warning signs reminding us not to commit murder so why should speeding be any different? A speed limit is not an invitation to drive at that speed. People used to slow down when they saw the warning sign only to speed up once past the camera. There's also a proliferation in the number of unmarked mobile radar traps.. and of course there are no warning signs for these.
The latest device to hit the French roadsides are the "radars pédagogiques" (left). The sign is warning you that your speed is 53kph, worth a fine of 135€ and 2 points off your licence* and to watch out for kids. In accordance with their fondness for linguistic precision, only France could christen this type of radar a radar pédagogique.. Reportedly, over a thousand of these are going to be installed across France. The intention is clear - to warn offending drivers (or automobilistes as they're known in French!) that, one, they are speeding and two, of the penalty they would face were they to be stopped. Knowing the mindset here, I would anticipate that the vast majority of French automobilistes will disregard these warnings once they realise there's no financial penalty or points on licence.
*Sharp-eyed readers will have noted yet another difference between the UK and France. In the UK, you start off with 0 points on your driving licence and points are added up to a maximum of 12 - at which point you take up walking/cycling/Lib Dem politics (topical jokette there!). In France, it's the other way around - you start with 12 points and watch them slowly disappear.. Wouldn't it be handy to be able to manage your points total by alternately committing offences in the UK and France to maintain your running total somewhere between the two extremes!
France has discovered radar speed cameras with a vengeance and so the days of driving at 160kph and more are a thing of the past. The gendarmes are now armed with hand-held radar or laser cameras.. which are impossible to spot. Even if you were to spot one in advance, the chances are that the operator will already have spotted you. The moral is quite clear - don't speed.
I believe the current prolonged outcry in the Left-dominated media over this issue - where the benefits are self-evident - is nothing more than a maskirovka operation designed purely to attack the government and thus avoid the DSK affair from hitting the headlines. If the government didn't take any action, there'd be just as many howls of criticism.
Thought for the day:
There is no pleasure worth foregoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. ~John Mortimer.
Another UK/France difference (this could build into a series!): English book titles on shelves can be read by tilting one's head to the right - whereas in France - yes, you've guessed it - it's by tilting your head to the left. We have several bookcases full of English and French books - scanning along is a nightmare..
28th May 2011. Went out in a quad sculler this morning on a warm cloudless sunny morning.. Did 12km (Running total 724km). I forgot to mention that I moved the plancha out of the garage and up the steps to the terrace where it will now stay until November probably. I cleaned all the spiders webs and other assorted crud off it, oiled the wood and it looks like new again. I have an idea that Madame is planning to use it today..!
This evening we were out on our sunlit terrace (me still in my shorts and t shirt), with a glass of sangria each and some olives and nuts, playing a game of cards while the dog snoozed on his back with his paws in the air.. There wasn't a cloud in the sky. Now, I ask you, what more do you want?
The answer to that, of course, is that great 3-1 win by a classy Barçelona side against an uninspiring Man Utd in the UEFA Champions League Final. Class vs hype? Only one outcome..
29th May 2011. Since thinning out an overgrown corner of the garden the other afternoon, I've uncovered 2 palm trees (each about 8-9 feet tall) that were being stifled. I've been cutting back old fronds and pulling creepers off the hairy trunks - they're certainly very different to the trees we had in our garden as a kid! Now that they can see the light, I'm hoping that they'll put on a growth spurt. I'm glad we put in a 350 litre (77 gall) rain barrel over the winter - it's come in v handy during the prolonged dry spell we've had here.
In case you've forgotten, Vino Griego (click on 'Listen' next to "Vino Griego - Harmonie bayonnaise - MP3" for a better quality rendition than the video below) is the anthem of Bayonne that we hear each time Aviron Bayonnais (the local rugby team) play at home. And of course, during the Fêtes de Bayonne, it's heard constantly..! And during rugby internationals in Paris, you'll often hear the Basque travelling choir bien arrosé "giving it large"! By the way, that's the rowing club at 00:14 into the clip..
Heard this today for the first time I think - pity they didn't keep the instrumental part and junk the rest..