Saturday, 20 November 2010

98. View from the grassy knoll..

20th November 2010. Brace yourself for another update to the saga of my long-suffering lawn.. The far third of the lawn was looking pretty sorry for itself after the long hot dry summer (complete with hosepipe ban) so a few weeks ago I raked all the dead grass out, tugged out some more entangled roots that had infiltrated from nearby bushes and trees before spreading some fertiliser and then fresh soil on top. I raked it all level and let it stand so it could settle a little before starting Phase 2.

Maybe I'm doing something wrong but the only visible result from my repeated attempts at re-seeding has been the newly corpulent appearance of the local blackbird and starling population. They gather in the trees for 'sticky seconds' during each re-seeding effort before landing with a thump on the lawn the moment I've finished! I had to resort to putting a net over the newly seeded parts of the lawn but each time the resultant growth of new grass was short-lived.. the new grass would grow, appear to thrive for a while and then thin out and die off. (suggestions welcomed)

Yesterday, things moved up a gear and got serious. I went out and bought some rolls of turf. I imagine even our starlings would find it hard to abscond with a roll. I was surprised at how easy it was to lay and it all looks pretty impressive. For now...

I'll report back in a while. 

Another rugby fest today.. Wales struggled to find their stride against the big-hitting Fijians last night and that match finished a draw: 16-16. Other matches today: Australia (surprisingly beaten by Munster mid week) are in Italy; Scotland look to be in for a bruising encounter with the Springboks; a rejuvenated England will be looking to build on their performance of last week against the Wallabies when they face another impact team from the South Pacific - Samoa; Ireland take on the All Blacks and finally, France confront the Pumas (Argentina) - their bête noire - the Pumas having won 7 out of the last 10 encounters.

Living in France - yet another difference (part of an occasional series!) In the UK, greeting card shops are omnipresent and there are cards for just about every occasion you can think of - and some would say there are too many. In recent years in the UK, cards started appearing to celebrate occasions that I for one had no idea what they were about. Hannukah, Diwali and others.. Now, we have Happy Winter Holiday.. the mere reporting of which is guaranteed to turn the readership of the Daily Mail apoplectic..!

All that confusion has come to an end here.. Card shops - a High Street staple in the UK - are thin on the ground in France. Christmas cards are rarely if ever sent - in France, it's more customary to send New Year cards instead. And while we're on the subject, finding a birthday card that says more than Bon Anniversaire ain't easy either. 

Thought for the Day: There's been a drastic decline in the world's bee population over the last 5 years and scientists are at a loss to explain it. Increased use of pesticides, mobile phones or mites fron South East Asia are all possible factors. This has the potential to pose more of a threat to the continuance of life on Planet Earth as we know it than the global warming scenario. This is worth reading up on...

As a fully signed-up member of the Cheese Appreciation Society (Gannet Section), I've often thought it would be something to try to have a multi-course meal composed entirely of progressively stronger or more pungent cheeses, with your bread of choice and accompanied by a suitable wine in each case. The first course could be a selection of fairly mild cheeses - for me, I'd pick an unpasteurised ripe Brie de Meaux, to be served by attendants from the Confrérie des Compagnons du Brie de Meaux.. I'd be looking for a cool Bourgueil to drink with this (others may differ!). 
Brie de Meaux
For my main course (assuming we're being health-conscious and only having 3 courses!), I think I'd want a blue cheese such as a nice creamy Roquefort (mixed with a knob of butter).. and perhaps with this I'd be opening a Haut Medoc despite what the recommendations are here..
Assuming I'd make it this far, I'd want to finish face down blowing bubbles in - no prizes for guessing! - a ripe Vacherin Mont d'Or.. and/or a runny Camembert with either (or both!) a Pessac-Léognan or a Saint-Julien in attendance.. A good Madiran would also do the cheese justice.
Mont d'Or
After I'd wiped the crumbs from around my chops, a Greek coffee (Eng trans) would re-invigorate the system before the knock-out blow of a Marc d'Irouleguy - guaranteed to set your eyeballs contra-rotating..

It would then be time for a brisk pull-through of my main arteries with a Dyno-Rod followed by a quick half hour in an oxygen tent..! Then home for tea and medals..

What do you think... brilliant idea or what..?!

Thinking about it, if the idea was carried through among say 6-8 French people around the table, the process of obtaining a consensus for the selection of each cheese with a matching wine would be problematic.. and that's being tactful! Imagine trying to agree one or two cheeses and wines per course that would meet with general approval. Exactly! Notwithstanding that though, I'd still like to try it.. Madame could be persuaded I'm sure..

21st November 2010. In the Autumn rugby internationals, congratulations are due to the Scots, captained by Rory Lawson, for a superb win over the world champions South Africa yesterday. It wasn't the prettiest of games played as it was in sweeping rain which led to handling errors on both sides. But - it was there to be won and fortunately Scotland seized their opportunity. As unexpected as it was welcome, it will give them a mighty boost in confidence. And Rory's grandfather* would have been tickled pink by this performance! Here's tae ye, Scotland! Well done lads!
* The legendary Bill McLaren..
The other results were more predictable: AustraliaEngland, New Zealand & France (mangled English translation here) all won against Italy, Samoa, Ireland and Argentina respectively.

Have you noticed that reporting of Icelandic volcanic eruptions has reduced to zero..? Wonder what's happening up there..? Here's a powerful reminder of Nature at work - you might have to wait for the images to load or, if you're in a hurry, click on the image to see the animation:

Stop Press: Curious story.. We'll be hearing next that his shelves of smoked & strangely mellow duck have been stripped bare!

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