Friday, 18 March 2016

Grape Stakes


This time last year Christophe Davault from Domaine de la Chaise was busy making dozens of vineyard stakes. You can see how they are used in the vineyard in this post about the nearby vineyard of Clos Roussely. The vines are pruned and vine supports renewed over the winter. In fact, talk to any winemaker and they will tell you that winter is the busiest time of year for them.

That's quite a lot of kindling too.
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Tableau Noir: A couple of nights ago we watched a documentary on TV5Monde about a little one teacher school in the Jura mountains. It was called Tableau Noir, which means 'Blackboard'. If you have intermediate or better French I highly recommend it. Gilbert Hirschi, the teacher at the school for 41 years, is wonderful. The children are an absolute delight and the film maker has done a fabulous job of capturing them behaving naturally. Sadly, the documentary is the story of the last year of the school's operation, and it closed a couple of years ago. Tears all round at the end. It got a special mention at the Locarno film festival in 2013. I can't find it in full on line, but Gilbert Hirschi tells you where you can purchase it on DVD in the comments after the promotional video on YouTube.
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Brexit: If you are British and living elsewhere in the EU, please make sure to register to vote in the upcoming referendum to decide whether or not Britain withdraws from the EU. It is easy to register as a UK voter living abroad and easy to apply for a postal vote. It just takes a couple of emails. The information you need to register is here. As British citizens* we currently have the right to live and work anywhere within the EU. What would happen if Britain withdraws is anyone's guess, but it will undoubtedly be a pain in the neck at the very least for those of us established in France but without French citizenship.

*We have dual Australian and British citizenship.

15 comments:

  1. What I know about British politics could easily stand on the head of a pin, but I think it would be a mistake for the U.K. to leave the European Union. It has taken so many years in the making, it would be a shame to dismember it now. Not even the Greek crisis was able to crack it! Here, one can think of the U.S. moto, E Pluribus Unum!

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    1. The British really need to either sh*t or get off the pot, as we say so elegantly in the U.S. Either they are part of Europe or they are not. Why do they seek special treatment? Maybe the U.K. should just cut the cord and go it on their own. They are so disdainful of the rest of the world.

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    2. The same could be said of Greece, and the French are fairly good at demanding special treatment, especially when it comes to the CAP. On a purely personal level aimed at avoiding pain in the neck paperwork, I care if Britain stays or goes. I also think that some of the discussion about how the EU works (or not...) is valuable. A lot of it is not though, and is just tabloid media beat up and lies. I am 100% behind the idea of a united Europe and what it stands for (no more war on French soil due to German agression for example, freedom of movement across borders, a common currency) but it doesn't mean the organisation is perfect and that the bureaucrats shouldn't be put on their mettle. On the other hand I think that if Britain leaves other countries with real or imagined issues with the bureaucrats in Brussels will agitate to leave. That is not a good thing.

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    3. There are plenty of French people who believe France should leave the EU, and even a majority, according to polls, who favor a referendum on the question. Other countries might ask themselves the same question. But so many countries have entered into the Union wholeheartedly, including the currency union. The Uk is the Texas of Europe -- secession or half-hearted adhesion. is there any middle ground there? Nothing is perfect. Everything is a work in progress. Or retrogression, as the case may be.

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  2. crazy politics on both sides of the ocean

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  3. According to a news story today, the London stock exchange and the Deutsche Bourse are going to merge. I can't imagine that the financial folks would be happy with a Brexit.
    On the other hand, happy to trade you that for Trump.

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  4. You are right, Susan, that a Brexit might cause big problems for you British expats living on the continent, and also for French expats living in the U.K. Sometimes, though, I can't help thinking that most of the British expats here haven't paid their dues — learned the French language, I mean, or even really tried — and have it much too easy compared to us Americans, who have to montrer patte blanche to get into the country in the first place. The British entrent en France comme dans un moulin. It's kind of galling, to tell you the truth. They give expatriates a bad name.

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    1. I'm not sure it will cause big problems exactly. I think it will cause chaos while the new rules are established and then applied. In France that always takes a couple of years and if you are on the receiving end usually means that if you comply with the new rules too early you are likely to encounter a load of hassle because the implementation won't be properly rolled out and none of the government departments involved will know what the hell is supposed to happen.

      The US is of course famous for letting French and British people into the country, granting them permanent residency and a green card, no questions asked.

      Expatriates everywhere have a bad name. It's inevitable, because an expat is someone who isn't in it for the long haul. They can go back anytime. They are not immigrants. A lot of expats have it easy because they have a corporate support network too. They are an easy target. The other thing to remember about the British in France is that there are two distinct groups -- those that live here full time and those that split their time between a house in the UK and a house here. In a way that second group are not much different to all the Parisians who have a maison secondaire, and if you speak to the locals here, most of them would tell you they prefer the British.

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    2. They prefer the British because the British are more gullible and are willing to pay more for home repairs and improvements than the more savvy Parisians are willing to pay! And what about the language issues? Parisians get a bad rap because they speak French and are hard to dupe.

      The US will let you in if you have enough money. Voilà, c'est dit. If things continue to deteriorate over there, Muslims and Mexicans need not apply. I don't think the "no questions asked" thing is real. I can give you examples.

      "Big problems" for people in France who can't really function in French are exactly that. Interpreters. Translators. Misunderstandings. Suspicions. Stalemates. It's not pretty.

      Your opinion of French bureaucracy does not match mine. Things might seem to move slowly here, but that's on purpose, I believe. The main thing is to get with it and get on with it. Re-learn patience daily. What's the hurry? And what will happen to all the French expatriates in the U.K.? Will they just be welcomed with no formalities?

      I also don’t think expatriates everywhere have a bad name. It all depends on their attitudes toward the local people and their willingness to blend in and not stand separate, forming "enclaves" or "colonies" within the "invaded" country. It's mostly a question of knowing and demonstrating why you want to live in another country, and then following through.

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    3. The 'no questions asked' isn't real! I was being sarcastic!!

      Regarding bureaucracy, you clearly haven't spent the whole of this year trying to comply with stupid pointless new regulations which have been so badly rolled out that neither the bank nor the arm of social security that I deal with have been able to cope. As a consequence I have had 12 appointments this year with the bank to try to sort it out and have been fined for late payment of social contributions, despite the fact that I was not late. I simply made the mistake of complying with the new regulations promptly. The law has changed but the processing systems obviously haven't. The mess is ongoing and I resent having my time wasted and my cash flow restricted through no fault of my own.

      I'm afraid I just don't seem to meet the cunning French people and the insular British that you seem to know. They are stereotypes that one hears about but I can recall only a few times when I've actually met anyone who really met the criteria.

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    4. I've dealt with the French bureaucracy for more than 40years, and successfully. As I've said patience is of the essence. But most of those government employees are sincere and cooperative. The bank people.. well, I don't know about them.

      The British are by definition insular. They don't usually recognize themselves as such -- obviously. I am well placed to criticize, you know, as somebody who would have been British if my ancestors hadn't decamped in the 1700s and wound up in North America. In my experience, many English can't stand nd are disdainful of the Americans, the Australians, the Irish, the Scots, the French... need I go on?

      On personal level, I think you are one of the least insular people who have moved here from England that I've come across. I admire your willingness and efforts at what they call intégration. You do a lot more with all your activities and interactions with local groups and people than I do at this stage in my life. But I think I paid my dues years ago and am mostly assimilated. Carry on...

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  5. My take on it is that British politicians are now reaping what they have sewed.

    For years they have used the EU as a convenient excuse whenever they have done anything unpopuplar - "Europe made me do it"* - no matter that the laws implemented have nothing at all to do with EU legislation. Now they have lied to the poplulace so much that the lies are being believed. The "most hated" piece of EU legislation (supposedly) is the convention on human rights - something that British politicians blame on Europe, but which was a British inspired piece of legislation started in 1949. Leaving the EU won't change that.

    I think the only people truly in favour of leaving are those who believe the lies, and the petty, one issue, politicians who have no actual future in power.

    It doesn't help that most newspapers in the UK are owned by non-residents who fear losing money because of the EUs integrated approach towards tax evasion (Murdoch, I am paticularly looking at you...). To keep that power (and money, natch) they will tell any lies they can to inluence the vote.

    *this is not exclusively a British trait...

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    1. Simon, I can see why you have specila words to say to R. Murdoch, his being Aussie and all. But blaming the media can only go so far to explain things. Is the media responsible for the rise of The Donald in America, or the Le Pens in France?

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  6. Ken - In a word (and simplifying things to a level that most populist news outlets do), yes. When Fox News is regularly the most trusted (statistically) news outlet in the USA - even when people know it is lies they are being fed - I think the media have a huge amount of scaremongering to answer for.

    People are no longer being given facts to make up their own minds - they are fed an agenda that conforms to their prejudices.

    http://www.standard.co.uk/comment/comment/anthony-hilton-stay-or-go-the-lack-of-solid-facts-means-it-s-all-a-leap-of-faith-a3189151.html is why Murdochs papers are so anti europe.

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    1. I guess my problem is that I don't know anybody who actually watches or listens to Fox (so-called) News. Somebody once wrote this line: A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest...

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