Monday, 21 July 2008

Hiking in the French Alps on a hot July saturday...

When the weather forecasters say that for Sunday, bad storms are coming in from the south west and the result will be high winds and thunderstorms, yet that Saturday will be hot, and sunny and dry, the only thing to do is to fling the day's chores out the window, pack a picnic and grab plenty to drink, sunscreen, a hat and insect repellent and hike off for a few hours...

To perhaps, my favourite pond in the Alps. Well, nearest favourite to here....

Lac de la Case. Between the Dent d'Oche and the Portes d'Oche on the GR5... somewhere between Amsterdam and Nice...

The views are wonderful, and the peace and quiet is only disturbed by the buzzing of the insects, the cry of buzzards, and the incessant ringing of the bells hanging from the necks of the presumably deaf, Abondance cows... apart that is, from the shouts and cries of the hundreds of (mostly) ill-equipped holidaymakers who have decided that a climb of the nearby 2222 metre high mountain complete with omelette serving refuge, is the order of the day.

The local PGHM, who fly the helicopters that rescue the ill-advised, the ill-shod or the just plain ill, made three sorties in the space of as many hours, rescuing people off nearby peaks and cliffs.

They risk their lives to save us, the ordinary man or woman on the Clapham omnibus, or Paris metro, and rescue us they do, in our hundreds each year. They accept that as ordinary free men and free women we can risk our lives for fun and accept responsibility for our own choices...

Long may that continue.

In some cases they have rescued people whose only misdemeanor was to go off hiking and to search for beautiful mountain flowers... and while away the weather changed... as it is oft to do...

For when there are specimens like this to be found, who can blame them.

Fabulous country in which to live.

But to the people who staff the PGHM...

Merci Merci Merci...

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Budapest outdoor eating...

There is something about the sound of sizzling sausages and the smell of onions and garlic, bacon and potatoes all being cooked over a gas burner in a small Hungarian saturday market, the adjacent tables full of local people, out of towners and tourists from far flung parts, drinking beer and wine and dining al fresco, to the sound of a local band, playing that mesmeric Hungarian gypsy music.
Buy some uncooked sausages, take 'em home and put them in a pan, chop the veggies up and spread them around the pan, put on some music... but it ain't quite the same.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Dwain Chambers, China's Beijing games and the Olympics...

So Dwain Chambers has lost his case to be allowed to run for the Great Britain team in the Beijing Olympics next month.

Quite right too.

He knew that Britain had such a ruling before he took his performance enhancing drugs. The fact that Britain is the ONLY country to have such a restrictive ruling is unfortunate for him and maybe unreasonable, but it depends upon how strongly Britain feels about playing sports with and against other countries that do not have such a harsh ruling. But Britain does have that ruling and so there you have it.

On the other hand I have seen that Britain is quite willing to ignore the harsh realities of life in China and to witness and have its politicians, diplomats and business representatives witness the crackdowns, the imprisonment and the killings of Tibetans by the Chinese authorities and the corruption of their Government and officers.

If you think the whole charade stinks, you'd be right.

It does.

The whole Olympic movement is corrupt and always has been. The idea that there is an Olympic amateur ideal in 2008 is laughable. Britain now finds itself in the unenviable position of not wanting to upset that apple cart as then who knows what will happen in the run-up to the 2012 Games ??

If however you want to make your feelings felt, and agree with any of the above, and have friends who think likewise, then why not let the friendly sponsors know?

Change your credit card for instance. Ditch the Visa and get a Mastercard

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Chinese impose blackouts for new Tibetan monk deaths

Well that was the headline on the Times On-line page...
The rest of the world doesn't seem to bothered though does it ?
For my money, I'll be watching something else and letting the sponsors know...
And we still think the Olympics should have been awarded to China ?

Should they have been awarded to Britain, that's to say, London ?? With the knifings and the ever increasing camera surveyance, I have my doubts, but then it is just my opinion...

Wednesday, 16 July 2008


Everyone should know how to make Pesto at this time of year !!! Especially if you are, like me, lucky enough to live somewhere warm enough to have a copious amount of basil growing. Now that could mean in a pot on the balcony....

so here is a French recipe for "Le Pesto à la mode de Gênes" - Pesto as it is made in Genoa, Italy.
for those that want the recipe in French,

But in the language of Albion read on...

To make about 300gr of Pesto; 3 to 4 cloves of garlic, a large bunch fresh basil, 50 gr pine kernels, 120 gr parmesan (parmigano) fresh grated, 150 ml of olive oil, 1 coffee spoon of coarse sea salt...(French coffee spoons are bigger than UK teaspoons so you'll have to judge...)

wash the basil leaves and pull from stalks, dry them on kitchen paper, peel the garlic and remove the little sprouty bit in the middle to avoid the bitterness therein, then cut the garlic very finely with a peeler or a small sharp knife. Into a mixer, put the garlic and the basil leaves, the pine kernels the coarse sea salt.

Mix in short bursts, for a total of at least 3 minutes. You should have a fine paste. Add a soup spoon of grated parmesan, mix again for a minute. Then continue in pouring half the olive oil while mixing. Add another spoon of parmesan cheese, blending all the while and then adding the rest of the olive oil. When that is well blended add spoon by spoon the remainder of the parmesan. Add some fresh ground pepper and blend again. This should last several days in the fridge in a sealed pot as long as it is covered by a good film of oil.

Cook your chosen pasta and add spoons of this orgasmic paste... this is one of those simple meals to make and eat with your lover, your missus, you know... your soul mate, the one who turns you on...

pour 300 gr env. de pesto; 3 à 4 gousses d'ail, 1 gros bouquet de basilic, 50gr de pignons de pin, 120 gr de parmesan râpé, 15cl d'huile d'olive, 1 cuil. à café de gros sel, poivre
Préparation : 15mins
Lavez le bouquet de basilic. Détachez les feuilles des tiges. Séchez-les sur du papier absorbant. Epluchez les gousses d'ail. Fendez-les en deux sur toute la longeur. Retirez le petit germe du centre et détaillez les demi-gousses d'ail en fins copeaux à l'aide d'un économe. Mettez dans le mixeur les feuilles de basilic avec les copeaux d'ail, les pignons, la cuillère à café de gros sel. Mixez par pulsions pendant au moins 3 min. Vous devez obtenir une purée fine. Ajoutez 1 cuil. à soupe de parmesan. Mixez 1 min, puis continuez en versant la moitié de l'huile d'olive.

Dès que vous aurez versé la moitié de l'huile d'olive dans la crème de basilic à l'ail, ajoutez de nouveau un peu de parmesan râpé. Mixez et continuez de verser l'huile d'olive en mince filet. Sans cesser de mixer, ajouter peu à peu le reste du parmesan. Poivrez. Récupérez le pesto dans un bol. Si vous le recouvrez d'une fine pellicule d'huile d'olive, vous pourrez le conserver ainsi au réfrigérateur pendant 3 jours.

Voilà, mangez le dessus des pâtes, avec... une muse, une femme ou homme de la vie, avec votre âme-soeur...

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Adele at Montreux Jazz Festival

At the end of one “Friday Night with Jonathan Ross” show not so long ago, he introduced the music to end the show from one, Adele. As she sang shyly in front of camera, her eyes evading its intruding search, I thought to myself, she'll go far and I want to see this girl perform live, she'll be great. A soaring voice and choice of genre just filled an empty space, left vacant by RnB singers of past years...
Last night I saw Adele play Montreux Jazz Festival when she opened the evening's musical offering in the Miles Davis Hall and would be followed by Mark Ronson and Jill Scott, who she credited with making her want to sing in the first place.

She nervously played with her audience and they were hooked. She said she was nervous and had had two beers earlier in the day, and they made her a little...'y'know, whwooo..he-he.' (tipsy?) They lapped it up and cheered her on.

Her confidence growing by the minute, she admitted that festivals daunted her. Then, realising that some of the international crowd there where from England she asked how many there were in the audience and a huge shout went around the hall and one guy shouted “Holland!”
She seemed taken aback and said, “we're in Switzerland so we must be Swiss tonight...” then she asked if there were any Germans, a cry went up to my right, she asked for the French, and a crowd immediately in front of me shouted loudly. Adele seemed overwhelmed. “Italy?” she called. Again more cheering, and then she thought and said, “Australia,” and some cheered... Wow!

“New Zealand?” A solitary hand went up and Adele laughingly dismissed it as a joke. She didn't seem to realise that so many from around the world either worked over here or had heard of her so that during their travels through Europe they might stop off to see her perform in concert.
She was magical. Her set opened with her own songs usually with a short preface that hed the audience loving the girl. Her story of First Love to a Spanish Columbian had audible sighs sounding upwards, we knew even if we were not her age, the emotions she felt. She even added a couple of covers by Dylan and Etta James, but only after apologising for doing covers, “because people will think you haven't written much...”

But this young singer with passion and a voice to fill the halls sang her heart out, played her guitars, one a four string acoustic bass that had the most wonderful of sounds and left our hearts fulfilled.

England has a new jazz singer, a new RnB singer... a youngster who pulls at her worn jumper on stage and complains of the holes in it and who for the moment, has that wonderfully engaging naivety and shyness thats make one at once proud and protective.

A great performance. The sole reason I bought the tickets for the show. And as tomorrow is Bastille day here in France, just across the water from Montreux, I'll have to wait til Tuesday to rush out and buy 19... her debut album. It'll be bought quickly enough by those there, that haven't already got it.

Her ranking in the world of modern music was ably shown when Mark Ronson during his show, admonished the audience for not roaring the very moment her mentioned Adele's name, and again when before he introduced her onto the stage to sing with him, her the fabulous hit “Cold Shoulder.”

I only bought the tickets for Adele, and am I glad I did ?.
ten out of ten....

Friday, 11 July 2008

I don't care for Bullfighting....

...But when the bull fights back, I sense a moment's pleasure before it is finally dispatched as I am sure it always is.

Memories of Pamplona 1998, when I took my son then aged 13, for a week's holiday to Iruna and introduced him to the world of macho drinking, Hemingway's bars, the delights of Spanish eating and the sights of drunken men and a few women playing about in the arena after a night on the tiles and the breakfast running of the bulls.

We watched as one man in jeans and white shirt, waving his bottle of Jack Daniels' was hit from behind and tossed by a young bull, that trying to gore him, caught it's horn in the belt of his pants and flipped him again. The violence of the toss was such that the man's pants and shirt were torn and being "gored" or at least turned on the ground again and again, the remnants of his garments were soon torn away.

Other revellers nearby seeing what was happening had by this time run up and were whacking the young bull with rolled newspapers which distracting the attentions of it, allowed the tossed man to get up and quickly compose himself and holding aloft his bottle of Jack Daniels' show the baying crowd around the lower tiers of the arena that he had not spilled a drop...

Friday, 4 July 2008

Heaven Forbid, a normal civil servant ???

"Last year he was criticised for publishing personal details on his website that showed him to be far removed from the traditional image of a grey civil servant. He is a follower of American rock group The Grateful Dead and a keen windsurfer and cyclist. "

Phew... just think what might happen to the country if we were not aware of that....

The photo is only there because I like it... itis not a statement about, or alluding to, the Civil Service... (?)