It's about time someone pointed out that cross-border on-line trading in the EU is a farce; and thankfully it's someone with a bit of clout: eBay. The article on the BBC today suggests eBay is most concerned with transatlantic trading, but the on-line restrictions whether imposed by the EU or by businesses themselves can make cross border shopping a minefield. We came up against a wall of idiocy like this recently when we tried to buy a toilet seat (yes - a toilet seat, one of those kiddie friendly type ones) from the UK. Every distributor we approached refused to send us the item because we were based in France; and their distribution channel agreement prevented them from selling abroad. In that case, would they know where we could buy it in France then? Of course not! Normally we only expect this sort of static because of the billing issues (few UK on-line stores give you the option of paying for an item with a UK bank card registered to a French address). Of course taxation is the big [...]
Just arrived in the UK for a month-long jaunt, and I've caught a stinking cold. This may by due in part to it being on average 10 degrees colder here than in Strasbourg, or it could just be that British cold and flu viruses are much hardier than their European counterparts. Whatever the case, I'm in England, and I'm miserable.
One of Strasbourg's finest features, beyond that of its historic buildings, is to be found north-east of the city centre facing the Palais de l’Europe. Here stands the Parc de l'Orangerie - a masterpiece municipal facility. Andre Le Notre, who created the gardens at Versailles, is said to have first drawn the plans for the park in the seventeenth century, but it was when the city inherited 140 orange trees after the revolution, and a pavilion was built to house them, that the park got it's name. The Germans though are credited with much of the park's current appearance following the Strasbourg exhibition of 1895. Today the park is home to a stork hatchery, a mini zoo, a mini farm, an ornamental boating lake (with grotto, waterfall and fountain), a bowling alley, two restaurants, three play areas for children, a Greek temple, a skateboarding area, a mini football pitch and a fairground ride. But it doesn't stop there, the city spends a great deal on the park all year round. The Pavillon Joséphine (named after Napleon's bit of fluff) [...]
One thing that perpetually irritates me about British culture is that sport equals football. That is to say, to the common man football is the only sport that matters, nay exists. Indeed I have noted this before. So it is with not without a hint of schadenfreude that I will be following the Euro 2008 Championships this summer. And the same might be said for those among us who enjoy following sports other than 'Le foot'. It is clear however that British sports journalists are still in a state of denial over England's failure to qualify for said championships (no-one actually expects Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland to qualify for anything). It seems that the papers are still stuffed with news about England's efforts on the field; particularly against the USA and Trinidad & Tobago, as if they were worthy opponents, and as if the result even mattered. Today, this is the leading headline on BBC Sport website: "Hughes appointed Man City manager". Yep - English football still makes the headlines even when the season is well and truly [...]
If you're intent on showing yourself up as shamelessly middle class in Strasbourg here's what to do: buy a house in Robertsau (miles from the tram stop), buy a large expensive German car and sit in traffic jams all the way to work and back twice a day, five days a week (remember everyone goes home or eats out for lunch in France). Then, on Saturdays, howl up and down the A4 to the various out of town shopping districts and buy up as much over-priced junk as you can. Sunday - go and play golf somewhere. If on the other hand you want to do your bit to save the planet; and not have people sneer at you when you pause at traffic lights, here's a few suggestions as to what you should do: buy/rent a house in a suburb that is actually served by the Tram system (e.g. Schiltigheim, Ostwald, Meinau), or even consider living in the city centre (though pick somewhere well away from student nightspots/binge drinking areas) don't buy a car work from home travel [...]