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Posted on November 30th, 2014

Saturday in Lourmarin with friends for an afternoon of rugby at Cafe Gaby. Two good matches: Toulon-Clermont, followed by England-Australia. During the first match a very smart group arrived unannounced, directly across the pedestrian street. Impeccably dressed in 1930s clothes they set up a loudspeaker and began to dance the tango. No-one seemed to know who or why they were there. The brilliant show lasted almost an hour and they were gone. Such events seem to happen often in France. Unpredictable and very delightful.

Deadly pastime

Posted on November 30th, 2014

The hunting season is in full swing. I met two hunters with three dogs in the forest last week – they seldom seem to kill anything, but this time were proud to show me an elusive becasse, or woodcock. There have been 25 deaths from hunting since the season opened in August. Seven were shot dead, while other deaths include falling from cliffs or shooting towers, motor vehicle accidents on hunting trails, drowning or heart attacks. Fortunately only one non-hunter has died so far, but even he was a member of an ancient wolf-hunting society. These statistics do not include the many injuries however, some comical, some less so. A fortnight ago two hunters were crawling around the edge of a pond to stalk…

Pictures in the Louvre

Posted on November 23rd, 2014

The Louvre

It has been several years since I visited the Louvre. Crowd numbers are much the same, but what struck me was how smartphones have changed the experience. Everyone was taking selfies or pictures of friends and family. I watched as people forced their way through the crowd surrounding the Venus de Milo or the Mona Lisa. Having reached the best viewing spot, they promptly turned their backs and lined up a selfie. Task completed, they moved off without a second glance.

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Unwelcome visitors

Posted on November 16th, 2014

Every autumn the house is invaded by several families of loir, seeking suitable nesting sites for hibernation. Resembling a miniature grey squirrel, the loir is also known as the edible doormouse because they were considered a delicacy by ancient Romans and Etruscans, who ate them as a snack, roasted and dipped in honey or stuffed with pork and pine nuts. They are still eaten today in Slovenia, particularly in autumn, when they fatten in readiness for hibernation. Loir live for three years, enjoying long winter breaks, but generally die in the fourth hibernation, having worn down their teeth to the degree they cannot eat properly. In late autumn they enter walls, ceilings or cellars and this year tore a hole to nest inside a…


Posted on November 11th, 2014

Today ceremonies have taken place across France to remember the fallen in World War One and all wars since. Almost 1.4 million French soldiers died in WWI, nearly double the losses of the United Kingdom. These simple ceremonies always take place on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, recalling the signing of the armistice to end the Great War. The French President lays a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier at the Arc de Triomphe, while village mayors conduct simultaneous ceremonies at war memorials in every village and town throughout the country. Many people wear a cornflower, the Bleuet de France. Like poppies, cornflowers continued to grow in shell-ravaged areas of the trenches and young conscripted soldiers…