Yearly Archives: 2008


Window to Strasbourg

By |2008-10-13T11:22:58+01:00October 13th, 2008|Strasbourg|

The fully updated and revised edition of 'Window to Strasbourg' has finally hit the shelves. This is a must-have if you are an anglophone in, or about to move to Alsace, being a practical guide to everyday living in the region. The book translates as much French bureaucracy into plain English as is humanly possible, telling you: which forms to fill out, when to do it and for what reason How the tax system works how the health and social security systems work, how to rent or buy an apartment the rules of the road and how to get around finding schools and education for your kids where to shop, eat and party about social groups, clubs and societies loads of other stuff about life in the area, that escapes me right now The most appealing thing about Window to Strasbourg however, is the cover, which I designed. You can buy a copy online at or at the Bookworm (the English bookshop next to Les Halles).

Democracy in action

By |2008-10-08T13:06:11+01:00October 8th, 2008|Strasbourg|

Knowing how much politicians like a freebie, it's a miracle that it has taken this long for an MEP to come off side and start a campaign to rebuff the 'One-seat' campaign, because the benefits are clear: every session henceforth spent in Strasbourg will be like one long party. Such is the case for Brigitte Fouré, founder of the 'One City' campaign to retain Strasbourg as home of the European Parliament, who must surely now be looking forward to free meals, drinks and theatre tickets from the grateful citizens of Strasbourg, who know which side of their bread is buttered. Just as soon as they finish fixing the roof of course. Seriously though, and less cynically perhaps, I am glad that at least one politician is not afraid to demonstrate her belief that the founding fathers of Europe made the right choice, and that the current quarrel is the result of a number of things for which the people of Strasbourg should not be punished. The 'circus' would not be such an issue if: there were better/faster direct transport [...]

Allez les bleus et blancs

By |2008-10-01T13:40:45+01:00October 1st, 2008|Strasbourg|

This article was written for Goal Weekly, and featured in one of their September 2008 issues.  There was a football competition down the road a few weeks ago; it was called something like ‘Euro 2008’. A bunch of countries from around the continent sent squads down to the Alps to kick a few balls around in the name of winning a bit of silverware to take back home. Spain won I think, because they seemed jolly happy about it. Okay, I’m kidding, I was glued to the screen for a fortnight, which I have to confess was something I never expected to find myself doing. You see I’ve never really been a huge fan of ‘the beautiful game’, not in the way that I’m a fan of Rugby, the ugly game if you will. (Due in no small part to being from the English west-country, rugby heartland and home to ‘Bath Rugby’ who at one time ruled both the English and European leagues.) So, I usually manage to avoid it except during times of national interest such as the [...]

The worlds least-favourite airline

By |2017-01-06T11:16:47+01:00September 29th, 2008|Strasbourg|

Strasbourg's airport has yet to welcome in any of the low cost airlines, thanks in no small part to French protectionism. If there had been such a thing as a French low-cost carrier, I'm sure we would have had at least a direct link to Brussels in operation by now. So if you want to fly direct to Strasbourg from the UK you have no choice whatsoever. The only service that exists is run by a firm called Britair (who occasionally outsource the actual flight operations to Scotair) who run the Air France route between Strasbourg Entzheim and London City. As far as the service goes itself, it's top notch. A dinky plane, usually half full, takes you straight into the heart of London, without the inconvenience of a five mile hike to the arrivals hall, nor having to find your way to London proper via train or coach. The downside is, it can be rather pricey, particularly if you need to travel during an EU Parliamentary sitting. There is one other option nearby, which is about as convenient, [...]

Outlook with Business Contact Manager 2007

By |2017-01-06T11:16:47+01:00September 11th, 2008|Uncategorized|

Ok, so this has nothing to do with Strasbourg, but I've got a blog, and I need to whinge. Microsoft have persisted with this frankly second-rate software product for a five years or so, and having tried both the 2003 and 2007 versions - I can safely say that they should just throw in the towel. On Wednesday night I spent 80 minutes on the phone to Microsoft support, (you get up to 90 minutes for free) to find out why BCM 2007 wasn't doing what it was supposed to. After deleting everything and starting again, twice, the support engineer finally demonstrated that it does in fact do what it's supposed to do - sometimes. "So it's a bit unstable then?" I asked the engineer. "You could say that, but that's not what I'd say." he replied, knowing full well that the call was being recorded, and any admission to this end would most likely result in the loss of his job. So there you have it a blog that's out in the ether, finally, spelling it out: if [...]

That list

By |2008-09-09T08:50:10+01:00September 9th, 2008|Strasbourg|

We finally received our 'list' for our eldest's first year at school. It seems that 3 year olds don't have much need for stationery: exercise book 320mm x 240mm with protective plastic cover (and name on) portfolio booklet with at least 40 sleeves (and name on) daps (with name on the in-sole) two boxes of tissues two rolls of absorbent kitchen roll one bar of soap and some plastic bags a cheque for 45 Euro to cover tea breaks a cheque for 30 Euro to cover school trips school insurance certificate One can only assume that by the time he's sixteen that things like soap, tissues and kitchen roll will no longer be a requirement?

English or British?

By |2017-01-06T11:16:47+01:00September 8th, 2008|Strasbourg|

[This article was written for 'What England Means to me' in November 2007. To read more article on the subject of 'Englishness' please visit]   I first discovered I was English the day I met a Scottish Nationalist (in Darjeeling of all places, but I digress) and while I am sure beneath her sour veneer she was genuinely a nice person, she seemed to take great pleasure out of telling me just how ashamed I should be of my race - given what my forefathers had done to her forefathers. It seemed there was little doubt in her mind that one of my ancestors had been complicit in the butchering of Scottish innocents and the eradication of much of Scotland's native language and customs. Quite an accusation I thought, and hardly something I should be expected to agree with; but even so I felt it would be easy enough to distance myself from the macabre events of yore; for I, like her, was British rather than English; and to that end we were united fellow-countrymen (or countrypersons) - [...]

Breaking the law

By |2017-01-06T11:16:48+01:00September 8th, 2008|Strasbourg|

That's it. I'm now in the system for good. When the cops type my name into their central database - bang - back it will come. Hulley, Barth; one speeding ticket, 3rd August 2008, travelling at 11km over the speed limit on the northbound A35 at Geispolsheim in a rented Fiat Bravo. Speed cameras eh - doncha love em? 11km for goodness sake. I have sent off my cheque and now await the judiciary's decision as to how many points they will opt to put on my license. Though luckily it should be zero - as I still have my UK permit!

Baggersee plage

By |2008-09-05T15:41:39+01:00September 5th, 2008|Strasbourg|

The first time we visited Strasbourg, way back in 2004, we stumbled across Baggersee beach and, along with many other things here, we listed it as yet another good reason to move to Strasbourg. So move we did. Baggersee Plage is a well hidden, white sandy beach set beside a small lake not far from Central Strasbourg. Easily accessible by tram, it is free to use, a short walk from the Auchan hypermarket at Ilkirch, and therefore, understandably, a popular destination during hot weather. Contrary to popular belief, the water is crystal clear and clean enough to support the hundreds of little fish that swim in the shallows (and that have thus far refused to nibble at my toes whenever I go for a paddle). During the summer season there is a permanent lifeguard, a beach patrol, a café, open-air showers (v. cold), volleyball nets and plenty of space to spread out. So although Strasbourg might be as far from the seaside as you can get, just about everything you get at the coast is here. Except of course [...]

The great air-raid siren mystery

By |2008-09-03T18:48:57+01:00September 3rd, 2008|Strasbourg|

Twice a day Monday to Friday (I think), at midday and fifteen minutes later at precisely 12.15 the peace and quiet of the Contades district of Strasbourg is shattered by the sound of an almighty air-raid siren. Well, it obviously can't be an 'air-raid' siren, because there aren't any air-raids, but it is a siren nonetheless. Loud and brutal. The question is : where is this noise coming from, and why? Is it the official lunchtime toll? Is it a pigeon scarer? I need some help here. Can anyone solve the great air-raid siren mystery of Strasbourg?

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