Monthly Archives: November 2009

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Robbery at St Sebastien

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:42+00:00 November 28th, 2009|Life in France, Strasbourg|

Fate, I thought, had played a hand in my future last weekend when thieves broke into our (rented) car and stole my suit jacket. As the only suit jacket I possessed this was surely divine providence - I was clearly destined never to work in an office again. Creativity, the written word, and my panache for story-telling were clearly my calling, it would be roll-neck sweaters from now on ... either that or someone didn't want me to listen to the Buena Vista Social Club CD that was secreted in the left pocket ever again. [This event taking place only days after my employer had announced that they wouldn't be renewing my contract.*] The crime scene was the car-park of the beautiful Chapel St Sebastien on the outskirts of one of Alsace's most charming vineyard towns: Dambach-la-ville. There we had parked our Auto-trement Smart car for a mere 90 minutes while we hiked up to enjoy the views from the uniquely positioned ruins of Château Bernstein (the tower of which you can still climb up to enjoy spectacular views), [...]

English Poet Laureate of Alsace

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:42+00:00 November 25th, 2009|Strasbourg|

Friends, it humbles me to reveal that my talents with the pen have finally been recognised. Winning is a rare experience and not since the Colgate toothpaste colouring competition in 1978 can I say I have actually won anything on individual merit. (Those rowing trophies usually required at least four other people) Je suis content. I am of course talking about the English Speaking Community's recent Limerick competition. Here's an extract from this month's ESC newsletter: The response was extraordinary! There were 18 entries and they displayed a lot of originality. However I had to be quite objective and scientific in my assessment. First, limericks have a syllable-rhythm. Applying this I went through each entry line by line, marking each with a cross or tick. This eliminated those with more crosses than ticks. Next, was the novelty and originality element in each entry. This of course is a personal choice which is much harder than ticks and crosses! After much deliberation, I was left with about six entries and from these I chose the three best ones. Your President [...]

Robertsau split

By | 2009-11-13T16:55:26+00:00 November 13th, 2009|Strasbourg|

Can anyone shed any light on the ream of protest banners appearing in Robertsau? Judging by the content of said banners it appears that the city council is planning to create a new municipal 'quartier' - and not everyone is thrilled with the idea?

Using a French keyboard

By | 2009-11-08T20:50:37+00:00 November 8th, 2009|Life in France|

Quand on veut écrire quelque chose en français c'est bien plus facile si on utilise une clavier française, but if you zqnt to zrite so,ething in English on sqid keyboqrd; the chqnces qre it zill come out qs co,plete gobbldigook. This is because the letters and symbols on a French keyboard are located in entirely different places to where you normally expect to find them on an English keyboard. the a is where the q should be the z is where the w should be there is a , where you'd normally expect to find an m and you have to hit shift in order to get any numbers - as the entire top line is dedicated to peculiar characters: &é"'(-è_çà No surprise then that it tqkes a bit of getting used to!

Long live the €uro

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:42+00:00 November 6th, 2009|Life in France|

When we made the move to France, way back in 2005/06, the exchange rate, pounds to Euros was such that we could walk the streets of Strasbourg with a smug grin our faces. After all at 1.48 Euro to the pound - who wouldn't have? Every penny we shipped across the channel enabled us to finance a lifestyle that was, for all intents and purposes, a good one and a half times better than in England. How times change. While it was easy to predict the downfall of the UK's house of (credit) cards, the plummet in the value of Sterling came as a nasty shock, to us and most other expat Brits living in the Eurozone. Indeed it has meant that many have had to throw in the towel and move back to Blighty. But hopes of a recovery look baseless as the UK government lurches from one disaster to the next, one moment promising reforms, the next cuddling up to the bankers that helped them to cause the chaos in the first place. The pound, for the [...]

Les Bleus: from head-butts to butt-heads

By | 2009-11-04T10:14:29+00:00 November 4th, 2009|Life in France|

The current slump in performance by France’s national football team, ‘les bleus’, can be traced back to the end of the last World Cup. The beginning of their woes, like an omen, was signalled by the departure of one of the country’s greatest ever sporting heroes: Zinedine Zidane. It wasn’t just the fact of his departure from the spotlight that signalled the end of the good times, rather, it was the way that he did it. His now famous ‘coup de tete’ into the chest of Italy’s provocative Materazzi signalled the end of his career, the end of the World Cup 2006 and the end of the glory days of French football in one fail swoop. An event that has left many a Frenchman beating their own chest in despair ever since. No-one would have predicted then that two years down the line France would be bundled out of Euro 2008 with a goal difference of minus five at the pool stages, nor that in qualifying for the World Cup Finals 2010, they would struggle to find form against [...]