Sunday, 22 December 2013

210. Countdown to Christmas..

11th December 2013. Driving back from Saint-Jean-de-Luz this morning I saw a sign for this café as we flashed by.. For some odd reason, this name is a tad lacking in "curb appeal"!

On the northern side of the Adour there's a similarly unfortunately-named shop that I spotted a few weeks ago.. Wouldn't you think that, given that we're in the era of "Frankenstein foods" as the UK tabloids insist on calling GM food products, someone somewhere might have roused himself from his post-lunch torpor with a start - and suddenly realised that, "Hey, perhaps Le Mutant isn't the greatest name we could have picked for our supermarket..."

Classic moment of marital bliss this morning.. I can laugh about it now.. (almost) We were walking around Saint-Jean-de-Luz and Madame drew my attention to a shop that had been one of her favourites - but is now empty.. As I looked to my right, I felt an indescribably sharp pain across the front of my legs and I went down as if poleaxed, heading straight for the pavement - as though someone had cracked me across the knees and shins with a solid steel baseball bat. Some bright spark in the council had the bright idea of positioning a great knee-high stone block squarely across the pavement to deny cars access to the pedestrian-only area. This block of pavement-coloured stone – the original immoveable object - was about 6 feet long and almost 2ft by 2ft..

After I’d gone a**e over breakfast, Madame uttered those immortal words – words to which no answer is possible.. (while I still felt as though I’d been knee-capped).. she said, “Didn’t you see it?”  


In the interests of domestic harmony I thought it best to say nothing.. (but my knuckles got a good clenching!☺)

17th December 2013. A quick raid across the border to Irun this morning for some retail therapy.. A loudspeakers outside one shop there was pumping out "Jingle bells" in Spanish.. which had me doing a double take..

I'm in two minds whether or not to mention what follows but - what the heck! Coming back from Spain we did a dogleg to Ascain intending to drop in at the racily-named Hotel du Parc Trinquet Larralde for a dose of their fixed price lunch (highly recommended by the way) - but we'd forgotten that many restaurants are closed on Tuesdays, including this one.

Xoko Ona
Undaunted, we looked around the village until we came across Xoko Ona, a small bar/restaurant in the Rue Zerbitzari-Ren Karrika (must remember this for the next time we play Scrabble!). We just made it there before the boom came down.. home made vegetable soup complete with chunks of duck in it, then chicken cordon bleu (ie, stuffed with ham and cheese) served with (shock horror!) chips (frites) fried in duck fat... eased down with a half litre carafe of an excellent red, then a slice of apple tart and coffee.. 24€ for two! Try it - that's all I'm saying! Very friendly place.. read the story of it here and here. I wish them well with their venture - we'll be back!

21st December. Very crisp morning (code for freezing!) down at the riverside this morning - at most 1 or 2°C - with a layer of what looked like steam rising off the water.. There were enough of us to put out 2 VIIIs - and so we set off. I was in an VIII set up for ramer-en-pointe while the other boat was set up for ramer-en-couple. (explanation here) The other major difference was that my boat was largely mecs and the other boat was, with one exception, all nanas! You can guess the rest can't you..! Sure enough, it wasn't long before we were racing side-by-side (briefly!) with the inevitable result.. Still, it kept us warm and it enabled the customary banter to be exchanged between the boats!☺

Madame has worked her customary magic with the house - it really looks like Christmas.. and an intriguing collection of beautifully wrapped presents lies beneath the twinkling tree - the end result of many mysterious solo trips into town - there's even one for the dog! I've been warned not to go "'investigating" - as if!☺

Best wishes to you all for a Happy Christmas with friends and family!

I found this pic earlier that for some reason made me smile..!
I don't subscribe to this philosophy here though otherwise I would end up talking to myself (just like now in fact!☺)  

This story made me laugh! It was the night of the golf club Christmas dinner and one of the older members (he was 70) turned up with a mid-twenties blonde who was definitely bimbo material.

His playing partner took him to one side during the evening and said, "Bill, you old devil..! How did you ever manage to get her! Did you tell her that you were 50..?"

Bill raised one eyebrow and replied with a cunning smile, "No - I told her I was 90!" ☺ 

Monday 23rd. This was the scene off the coast just to the south of Saint-Jean-de-Luz yesterday when the conditions were just right (don't ask me what they are!) for the wave known as "Belharra" to form.. 
It doesn't matter how many times I see this wave, I still take my hat off to anyone who dares to surf it.. 

Saturday, 28th December. Sad news today.. First of all, no rowing for me because it's a wild, wet and windy start to the day down here. Surprising - because it was a very welcome 20°C yesterday! The other piece of sad news is the report in this morning's Independent of the imminent demise of the much-loved VW Campervan..   
After a lifetime spanning over half a century, Volkswagen plans to stop the production of perhaps its best-loved vehicle, the Campervan. 
The end of the line comes after Brazil, the last remaining producer of the iconic campervan, introduced tougher safety regulations on production. Talking to Autocar, the head of product development for VW in Brazil said that to comply with the new legislation, the van would have to become “a new car”. With deviation from the classic design not being a viable option, the Brazilian factory will cease its campervan operations on the 31 December this year.
Introduced in 1950, the Volkswagen Type 2 has enjoyed pretty much continuous production, and has endeared itself to owners across the generations. Jason Jones, a campervan dealer, said that the car “has been ingrained into British people’s hearts” and that the end of the year will mark “the end of an iconic era”.   

I've wanted one of these ever since I saw my first one (in the 60s I think) but somehow I never got around to buying one.

If you're a rugby fan and you're trapped indoors by bad weather, visiting relatives, domestic duties - or all three! - then find yourself a quiet corner and watch this next video (it lasts about 1¼ hr).. It's a very personal insiders view of tackling and "big hits" by my favourite practitioner of the art - former England flanker Mickey "The Munch" Skinner - and it's just about the most enjoyable rugby video I've seen. Why we don't see and hear more of the very entertaining "The Munch" I'll never know. One of the game's true characters.

Mickey Skinner and Eric Champ embark
on a Hegelian dialectic during the 1991 World Cup
quarter final in Paris, Skinner proposing thesis,
Champ stating antithesis, the pair hoping the tension
will be resolved by means of a synthesis
(according to the Guardian!☺)
The video starts with what is perhaps the greatest try-saving and game-changing hit of all time.. It happened during the infamous France-Angleterre clash that took place in Paris during the quarter finals of the 1991 Rugby World Cup. This was an ill-tempered affair that was, as far as both teams were concerned, a "must win" match. The traditional pre-match rendition of the "Marseillaise" seemed to unnerve many of the French, especially as President Mitterand was in the stands. Emotions were already running high and the clattering of Serge Blanco by the English pack served only to add fuel to the flames. Brian Moore in particular had a magnificent match and he caused havoc in the front row battle. Never one to back down, here's "The Munch" going eyeball-to-eyeball with Eric Champ (right) in that same match in his typically uncompromising fashion..

In a match-defining moment, Marc Cecillon (no slouch he) came bursting around the base of the scrum 5 metres out from the English line only to meet "The Munch" - who stopped him dead in his tracks with a colossal hit.. before driving him back 5 metres.. Mickey talks us through the match and that tackle at 20:40 for which he will be long remembered by English fans. Watch and enjoy..


Lesley said...

You must play Double Scrabble with Home Rules. Only one Z in our bag and definitely no proper nouns.
Anyway HAPPY CHRISTMAS, 15 and 16, better if on a triple, have a good holiday!

Pipérade said...

Must dig the Scrabble out - haven't played it for a long time.
Wishing you a very Happy Christmas too..

Mandy Indonesia said...

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