Monday, 29 May 2017

Whoda Thunk It?!

The Belgians do not have a reputation amongst people of other nations as being fun loving, exuberant, and eccentric. These are people who have evidently not been to a Belgian wedding.

We went to a Belgian wedding on Friday, and it was probably the most fun wedding we have ever been to. Quite possibly my favorite bit is was what happens between cutting the wedding cake and pieces being delivered to your table:

They go mad....

You can just about see the bride (Caroline) in the middle of this photo.

The music starts, people pick up their serviettes (napkins) or their scarves - or even their neighbour's scarf - and proceed to act in a most undignified manner - as shown in this random youTube video taken at someone else's wedding. (I didn't do video - I was jumping about waving my napkin like a loony. Who wouldn't?).

I knew the bride when she used to rock and roll (but I can't see this bride ever stopping!)
Caroline cutting some serious moves on the dancefloor

I assume that the napkin waving is a tradition older than the song many people use, and that the actions started on the football (soccer) terraces. I don't care though. It's slightly weird, easy to join in on (even if you have no idea why). We were told it's a Belgian tradition, and that's good enough for me!


The Lakes of Connemara is a song by Michel Sardou written in 1981 with lyrics by by Pierre Delanoë and Michel Sardou, and music by Jacques Revaux.

Having suffered from the heat following a long journey, Jacques Revaux's synthesizer gave a sound close to a bagpipe, which gave Michel Sardou the idea to write a Scottish song. Since neither he nor Pierre Delanoë knew Scotland, Delanoë went to look for documentation but came back with a tourist brochure about Ireland. The lyrics are inspired by John Ford's movie "The Quiet Man".
(from Wikipedia) 

Sunday, 28 May 2017

A Wooded Ridge

A wooded ridge in south-east Queensland, native vegetation typical of these rises, which are not suitable for ploughing. The dominant tree is a species of eucalypt known as ironbark. There are many equivalent wooded ridges in the Touraine, dominated by Downy Oak.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Stray South Africans

The other day I got an email from my friend Christine. She asked me if I'd encountered a South African couple called Jheanne and Joy in the street in Preuilly. She told me they had borrowed a house at the top of our street and were here for three months, with no car and no French. So at Christine's suggestion I made contact with them. A few days later they were passing and we were in the garden, so they stopped for a chat and a cup of tea. As Christine says, they are très sympa.

They aren't the only stray travellers we've been directed to recently. On 8 May at the ceremony for Victory in Europe Day there was a couple attending, standing diffidently at the back of the group around the War Memorial. I didn't recognise them, and neither did Gérard, the deputy mayor. He went over to introduce himself and discovered they were Australians called Christine and Geoff, travelling around France, who had seen the ceremony as they passed by chance and stopped. Christine spoke some French and was very interested in the World War II history of the area, especially the Resistance. She had been reading Robert Gildea's Fighters in the Shadows, and her own father had been in the Special Forces in Borneo. Gérard made sure we were introduced and we joined them for the vin d'honneur and talked about the war.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Petit à petit l'oiseau fait son nid

At the moment we have an old fashioned string mop wedged into our fence. It was put there to dry, but now we can't remove it because we have noticed that a pair of Gold Finch Carduelis carduelis (Fr. Chardonneret élégant) are stealing fibres from it.

The couple must be building their nest in a neighbour's garden. As you can see in the first two photos, only the female collects nesting material. The male perches nearby in the clematis keeping guard. He isn't protecting her from predators, but from other male Gold Finches who may attempt to mate with her. According to Tim at Aigronne Valley Wildlife, he probably has several females in a sort of harem.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Steve is Dead

Unfortunately our Siberian Iris, Steve, didn't make it through the winter. I don't know what the problem was. He'd been transplanted into a nice new blue ceramic pot that matched his petals beautifully, but obviously he just wasn't happy. I suspect it was lack of water, and therefore our fault.

A Pseudo-Steve Siberian Iris in the back garden.

So it's up to the Pseuds out the back to keep the flags flying. Which they are doing admirably at the moment.

Another one.

The above photos were taken on 22 May by me with my old Fuji. The photo below was taken yesterday by Simon with the Pentax that Tim gave us.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Hole-in-the-Wall Pizza

This place, in rue du Commerce in Tours, used to be a perfectly ordinary pizza takeaway restaurant. Now it is a vending machine. What is the world (or at least central France) coming to? I didn't look at it closely to see exactly how it works. Can one buy a pizza at any hour of the day or night I wonder? Rue du Commerce is in Vieux-Tours (ie the old medieval heart of the city of Tours, with lots of surviving medieval buildings). The residents include lots of students and it is where many tourists choose to stay. I imagine this pizza machine is probably well used and the owners are congratulating themselves on a smart business decision. I'm still dubious about the idea though, and not just on aesthetic grounds.


Simon has been busy, redesigning the website for Loire Valley Time Travel. He started at 9am on Sunday and with the exception of going to a picnic on Sunday afternoon worked through until 11pm on Monday, at which time it was "just about there".  Yesterday he slept until lunchtime, and then spent 10 hours testing to make sure it did what it was supposed to do, and (hopefully) correcting all the typos. Then he sent it live and spent another 3 hours testing it still worked in the wild.

The website is here: and theoretically will work properly no matter what computer or device you are using. It's called responsive design, and until Sunday he knew what the concept was - nothing more. He says if it doesn't work properly for you he would like to know, but that it might make him vewwy cwoss with technology.