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Toilet art

Posted on July 30th, 2012

The Café des Fédérations is one of the specialist bouchons of Lyon; small bistrot-style restaurants with zinc bars serving mostly meat dishes and an emphasis on tripe. Warm, entertaining and fun, this bouchon serves many pork dishes and the theme continues into the toilet, which is already occupied by an angry customer. An alluring Miss Piggy provides toilet paper.  

But what do you do all day?

Posted on July 22nd, 2012

Sometimes I am asked “But what do you do all day?”, seldom because the questioner really wants to know, rather this is code for “My own life is much too busy and fulfilling for retirement”. Such doubters seem terrified to let go, to move on, to step into the unknown. My response is to talk first about what I do not do. I tell them I do not wake to an alarm clock, or rush to join the morning traffic jam. Gone are frequent long-haul flights; travel is a pleasure again. No more deadlines, needless urgent requests or unproductive meetings. Goodbye to people who consider politicking a better means of advancement than results. I don’t collect superficial friends on Facebook or LinkedIn and I abhor the…

Far from the Ryanair crowd

Posted on July 15th, 2012

We flew from Marseille to Seville, then drove east for 3½ hours across Andalusia to reach Úbeda and Baeza, twin towns listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Few tourists make the journey to these well-preserved renaissance gems, nine kilometres apart among plains of olive groves extending to the horizon. The towns boast architecture built during an era of power and wealth far removed from the hard times of today. As one of the poorest regions in the EU, the Andalusian economy has only two means of support: the olive harvest; and public projects funded by grants from Brussels and Madrid. Most industry seems to have failed and factories have closed causing unemployment higher than 30%, but we also saw the construction of endless autoroutes, carrying very…

Between reptile and repugnant

Posted on July 11th, 2012

First, let me apologise for being off-topic. This post has nothing whatsoever to do with the Luberon, but I happened upon a recently released policy document so alarming to me that I must share it. I will reveal the authors in a moment, but they are powerful, committed and serious in their intentions. This is not a send-up. Here are some extracts: We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills, critical thinking skills and similar programs which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority. We believe the Environmental Protection Agency should be abolished. We oppose the recognition of and granting of benefits to people who represent themselves as domestic partners without being legally…

Marchand de crépin

Posted on July 3rd, 2012

Jacques Baudière’s grandfather bought this shop in rue Tupin, Lyon, in 1895. Nothing much has changed since, although electric lights were recently installed to replace gas lamps. A crépin merchant sells materials for shoemakers, such as nails, leather hide and glue. The grandfather’s one hundred year-old stuffed dog surveys the shelves stacked with packages, many decades old. It’s a rare glimpse into the world of Lyon a century ago.