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Friday, June 29, 2007

Flaming June

Going on for 19h00 and at last the sun is pushing its way through some fluffy white clouds and I could almost imagine that this is June and not early November. Mustn't complain? Why not? Yes, I agree that compared with parts of the UK we have escaped lightly and that we should be grateful for little mercies et tout ça BUT it really isn't how it should be - is it?

Tomorrow and indeed for the next 10 days the forecast is set for at least showers and at worst deluges of rain.

Accentuating the positive, my first successful attempt at sweet peas is looking like a success with an abundance of buds about to burst forth the next time something like summery weather calls by. Next to the pond the unidentified but enormous plant continues to burgeon - I wonder if whatever it is will be edible?

Having continuing problems with French workmen and the admnistrative bureaucracy. A pleasant enough fellow came round three weeks ago to give our kitchen (extension) roof the once over and we have been awaiting his estimate ever since though even three weeks ago the first possible date he would have been able to do the job - before we were anywhere near knowing the price - would have been early October. No wonder they are so lax with their paperwork. We are also expecting a grant from the region and three months of waiting have elapsed and as we are now on the threshold of the great summer shutdown it seems unlikely that anything will happen before at least la rentrée. Given that we shall need the money for the roof perhaps I shouldn't be too bothered about the delay?

Let's get positive again! The sales started this week and it looks as if some bargains are up for grabs. An article in the paper suggested that the discounts may reach 90% this season. Perhaps Max and I will be able to treat ourselves to something for our holiday in September when it simply must must must be sunny and warm for the majority of our break in Majorca. I prefer to spell it Mallorca - a remnant of my Spanish O Level I guess - but was going for the alliteration.

Will soon be back in London for 9 days to help a friend with a business start-up. Given my singular inability to find any enthusiasm nor motivation for my own it seems like a good idea. Not sure we have ever been apart for quite so long. Thankfully Angela has free calls to Europe!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Almost blue

A wave of rationality and proportion swept over France yesterday when the blue tsunami failed to materialise and hence the massive majority expected for Sarkozy's UMP is not to be. Indeed the UMP lost seats overall and their majority will be less than in the outgoing parliament. Their highest profile candidate, Alain Juppé failed to secure a seat and thus has been forced to resign from Prime Minister Fillon's government.

For the PS this is almost a win and they can, with some legitimacy claim that the French people have voted for them to provide the checks and balances required in a functioning democracy. Given that 40% of those registered decided not to vote it means that something less than 30% of the French have actively supported UMP candidates. We now have a government with a good majority but not one which will allow them to ride rough-shod over the wishes of the nation.

Some asides. The FN again failed to secure a single seat in parliament. Their only candidate in the second round was the recently made-over Marine Le Pen, daughter of the irrascible Jean-Marie who declares his intention to carry on despite his party's abject failure.

Another snippet concerns Ségolène Royal, the PS candidate for the presidency. She was forced into announcing that she and her partner of 29 years, the lumpish and charisma-bypassed party leader, François Hollande, have gone their separate ways. This was an open secret throughout at least the latter days of the presidential campaign. Now the churlish and supposedly correct anti-Royal brigade are making subjective remarks about how she "lied" during the campaign by not revealing this sooner.

I am beginning to regret taking out a cheap subscription to "Paris Match" as it has turned into the official Sarkozy fanzine. Endless spreads of the French first family at different functions and oleaginous copy. I hope their circulation falls.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Cherry envy

When will the grey skies clear and allow summer to start in earnest? Yes we have certainly paid for April ie ever since! And why do I have this interest in the sun? Apart from the "free" hot water we obtain when the day is bright, this year we have attempted to make more of the garden and it appears to be stuck ie everything is there and making attempts to burst forth but growth is stunted and unimpressive. One of the courgette plants has disappeared either because it rotted in the damp/wet soil or because - more likely - the slugs found a way over the blue pellets I had thoughtfully provided for their delectation. I have a mental image of a kamikaze gastropod dragging itself across the "mined" soil determined to sacrifice all. Anyway everything else though living is only growing timidly and the fuchsias look more end of September than mid June.

The cherry tree is having a year off. At least it has gone part-time and there are hardly any cherries worth harvesting. As I gaze across the neighbours' gardens from the upper floors of the house I note with some envy that next door but one has a tree that is veritably dripping with plump red fruit jewels. Can this be fair? There is no way they are going to be able to harvest them all so I guess many of the top ones will simply go to supplement the local wildlife diet. Too bad that slugs don't do trees, eh?

Not all is lost however as this weekend we are in deepest darkest France, or as deep as it gets in Nord-Pas-de-Calais - and that is surprisingly deep and dark with the far right's candidate coming second and thus in the second round of the general election tomorrow just down the road - visiting the Bopes. They have two cherry trees in their immense garden, one of which is equally heavily ladened. I did some extensive sampling this afternoon along with the raspberries which are also plentiful. I feel sure that we will be taking some home tomorrow in our 20 year old Corsa. Belated Joyeux Fêtes to the old lady who celebrated this milestone on 3 June in a garage near to where I am writing this. She is now fully fit and raring to go. We won't even touch on the bill but to say it was large yet generously discounted.