Thursday, 20 September 2012

195. September blues

15th September 2012. This morning we were reminded to be back from our outing on the river by 11am as the club's very own Olympic medal winner, Perle Bouge, was going to be present at the clubhouse. Longtime readers (aka sufferers) of this blog will remember that Perle had been training hard for the London Paralympics where she and Stéphane Tardieu would be representing France in the Mixed Sculls. In the event, they performed brilliantly, being bested only by a strong Chinese entry and they returned home with a Silver medal each for their efforts.

Sure enough, at 11am this morning, her car pulled up and there she was. This was the first time I've ever seen an Olympic medal of any kind, let alone held one. It was surprisingly hefty and it did make me wonder what it was made of. Checking with Google, it appears that the silver medals are made up of 92.5% silver with the remainder copper. Here she is - medal in hand! Well done Perle!

17th September 2012. Speaking of Perle, she was on national TV news today as she and all the other Olympic medal winners were invited to the Elysée Palace to meet the current incumbent - about whom someone memorably said that he has the posture of a president - but not the stature.

At the start of each rowing season we need a medical certificate to show that we are healthy enough to continue for another year so this afternoon I shuffled down to the doc's. After being poked and prodded for a few minutes, I was adjudged to be fit enough  - BP 130/80 and a 64 bpm heart rate which, if I've understood the doc correctly, should allow me to extend my toehold in the land of the living - if only for another year! I didn't tell the doc that sometimes I need assistance in getting out of the boat! If you want to have a sleepless night, have a look at the Blood Pressure Chart to see what yours should be. George Duffee's* quote on the subject is that at his age he no longer buys green bananas!☺
* see previous post

While you're digesting that, here's John Williams at his very best:
Here he is again with his stunning interpretation of Rodrigo's very well known Aranjuez Concerto:
After a confused summer - meteorologically speaking - here in the Pays Basque we seem to be heading straight for autumn. In summer, we had temps nudging 40°C, often with stifling humidity, interspersed with days when the temp would drop to 20.. Now there's a definite coolness in the air in the mornings and yesterday saw me pull out a sweater for the first time in months. We're going up to Nantes in late October and they're already experiencing single digit morning temps. Think we're in for a cooold winter. Strange thing is that today we're forecast to be the warmest place in France with 27°C.. We replaced all the radiators in the house this summer and some of them are very high tech - I'll need to decode the instruction books soon to work out how to set them up.

Here's a Mark Knopfler classic played on his National steel guitar:

22nd September 2012. Had a blokes-only outing in an octuple (VIII sculler) this morning - and right from the 'off' it went well.. (I'm not suggesting that there's a link there - I wouldn't dare!) Beautiful hot morning too under blue skies. It wasn't long before a few rivulets of sweat were dripping off my earlobes and the end of my nose but the boat was running well and all minor discomforts were forgotten. When we turned the boat around about 8km out, I noticed that there were more than a few large chestnut leaves floating around. Even with days like these, there's no denying that autumn is on its way. Returning to the "garage" (clubhouse in English) instead of stopping we continued on under the bridges and through the centre of Bayonne (below) until we stopped out on the mighty Adour before turning around and retracing ours steps back to the pontoon. This link shows you the Nive as it winds its way down from Ustaritz to Bayonne.    

I found this atmospheric shot of Biarritz at dusk - try clicking on it to get the full impression:
© Jérôme Cousin
24th September 2012. We lolloped into Biarritz yesterday morning as the sun was shining and after finding a space for the car somewhere in the vicinity of Pluto's orbit, we walked into the centre to find the reason for all the cars in town was that there was a Braderie in progress. This is one of those words that you don't learn at school but it means a clearance sale.. most of the shops had moved out into the street and there were lots of 50% off signs in evidence. All the centre was closed off to traffic and a seething crowd of people (ie, women!) were riffling through all the racks of 'bargains'.. Slideshow here!
Best with the quality set to 1080p and full screen..

Meanwhile here's another of those songs that will embed itself in your head for a few days!

29th September 2012. It's just been announced Mike Phillips, the Welsh international scrum half who's been playing for Bayonne, has been dropped indefinitely by the club president and major sponsor. More here (French) and here (English).. Reason? Conduct involving alcohol and wives. How stupid do you have to be not to have noticed that the game has moved on from the boozy excesses of the 60s, 70s and 80s. Us Brits have always had an uneasy relationship with alcohol but I would have thought that an athlete in the prime of his career like him could ill-afford - in every sense - to involve himself in the kind of mindless activities that were commonplace not so long ago. Here's one drinking game (below) - drinking a shot of burning rum without putting the flames out first - going very wrong.. You might have to run your cursor over the image to trigger the action.

I thought he was more intelligent than that. Other, far more talented and better paid, players like Jonny Wilkinson have come to France and have managed not to disgrace themselves, their club or their country. Phillips should take a long hard look at himself.

30th September 2012. We went to Zugarramurdi (spell it correctly and win a prize!) and nearby Urdax in Spain this afternoon. Here's a taster..

There's a restaurant at Urdax that caught our eye.. It's been filed away for a visit one day. The dining room was resplendent in dark wood and white table cloths.. I like the formality of Spain. We sat outside a café and had some gateau Basque made with almonds (instead of cherries) with a coffee while the dog made friends with all and sundry..  

I've just discovered - courtesy of Wikipedia - that my all-time favourite single malt whisky - Glenmorangie - was sold to the Auld Enemy - ie, France* - who else! - in the shape of LVMH in 2004. The tragic news is all here - and if, it may please the Court, the link will now be referred to as "Exhibit A".. I had wondered if something was amiss because when I bought a bottle a few years ago, instead of the traditional upright bottle (left) that I've known all my adult life, the amber nectar was now enclosed in a curvaceous bottle (right) of the type that you normally find under the kitchen sink - like those that fabric conditioner is usually sold in. I guess some sharp-suited marketing type in a black shirt (who clearly has never tasted a drop of Glenmorangie) thought this might attract the ladies.. Ye Gods.. what's wrong with these people..? To me it is akin to some edgy design clown straightening up the label on a bottle of Johnny Walker.. or putting Dimple Haig in a squeezy plastic bottle. I always liked the traditional look of the Glenmorangie bottle. To me, the soulless shape of the new one is totally at odds with its contents - it implies that its contents are bland, smooth and non-threatening - which is way off the mark. If, by some random coincidence, anyone from Glenmorangie reads this, try surveying your customers via the web site to see what we think. I'd be extremely surprised if the new shape bottle achieved more than 10% support. Now breathe deeply, think happy thoughts and r e l a x..!
If you've not tried Glenmorangie before, I suggest you volunteer to do the shopping this week and treat yourself to a bottle. You'll thank me for this. If this ploy is rumbled by 'higher authority', when you're asked what you'd like for Christmas, instead of mumbling a few pairs of socks or a sweater - just come on right out with it - "I'd like a litre (go for it!) of Glenmorangie Original 10 year old." Works for me! I have to say that the Speyside single malt Balvenie Doublewood 12 year old runs Glenmorangie extremely close..

Finally, here's a very clever Heath Robinsonesque animation that shows how Glenmorangie is made..

11th October 2012. Last Saturday I had a rewarding outing in a mixed VIII - we did 18km and last night I went out in a IV and did a quick 12km before It got dark. I'm snowed under with work at the moment - 17,000 words of technical aviation French (ouch!)  to put into la langue de Shakespeare as they call it here..

On Sunday we went to Biarritz to have a look at the exhibition of local artists - known as the Brouillarta - that was being held just above the Grande Plage. Photos here.

We're still enjoying a prolonged summer down here in the Pays Basque.. We've just had lunch outside on the terrace in a comfortable 21°..

I came across a quote the other day that made me smile: When I was young, I wanted to be somebody when I grew up. I now realise I should have been more specific. 


Lesley said...

My better half prefers the Ard Beg. Whisky is not my tipple but I'd like the socks or sweater please!

Pipérade said...

How can you say that..? Heresy!!☺
Put a drop of water in your Glenmorangie and you'll never look back! It's a completely different drink to Ardbeg..
Send yourself shopping!