Monthly Archives: August 2011


Foire aux vins?

By |2017-01-06T11:16:34+01:00August 26th, 2011|Life in France|

When is a Wine Fair not a Wine Fair? When it's The Wine Fair! Ok - not funny, but true.  I refer of course to the famous Foire aux vins which takes place every August in Colmar. With such a name, you'd be forgiven for thinking that this particular festival had something to do with wine. Nothing could be further from the truth however. Unfortunately this doesn't stop hundreds of curious visitors making their way to the festival in Colmar each year and asking themselves "So where's the wine?" soon after getting through the turnstiles. (Which is precisely what my cousin and I did a few weeks ago.) What wine there is at the Fair you have to pay between 1.50 - 5.00 a glass to taste, and there are no spittoons - so you have to swallow.  However, you may have trouble locating the viticulturists in between the double-glazing and farm machinery stands, but then this is not a wine-tasting event per se, it is simply local show that has evolved into something of a mutating beast with [...]

Sweaty season

By |2011-08-21T19:39:22+01:00August 21st, 2011|Strasbourg|

Hot Summers, cold Winters... is pretty much the way to describe the climate here in Strasbourg.  In Summer though, while the idea of warmth might sound attractive, it is the inescapable humidity at night which drives local residents to the mountains or to cooler night air elsewhere in France (usually further south).  Daytime temperatures are currently averaging a nice 30 degrees, but at night we have to deal with 20 degrees and stifling humidity. Worse still, if you live in a stone building, the stone walls that absorb the heat by day simply radiate it at night - making sleep almost impossible without some form of air conditioning. It makes sense then to consider getting away in the summer to somewhere where the nights aren't quite so punishing.  We have just returned from a fantastic week in Les Landes in the Aquitane region of South West France where, we were glad to hear, we had managed to escape a minor heatwave back up north.  Even so, our nights down south were somewhat fractious due to excessive consumption of the [...]

It can’t go on …

By |2017-01-06T11:16:34+01:00August 9th, 2011|Life in England|

The British obsession with dissing the Euro project had to end sooner or later. Although, none would have predicted that the collapse of law and order across the entire country would be it. Now, as violent youths ransack high-streets up and down the country, the Eurozone PIIGS seem to have been quickly forgotten. With images of embarrassed British politicians picking through the wreckage of their country are broadcast around the world, those leading the five Euro nations under the magnifying glass (Portugal, Ireland, Italy Greece and Spain) must be letting out a collective sigh of relief. Ironically, even the phone hacking scandal was not enough to stop the likes of the vociferous Jeremy Vine verbally lacerating the Euro on his Radio 2 phone-in show throughout July. (Balanced discussion anyone? Don't make me laugh!)  The Euro crisis has consistently been the way the UK media have chosen to displace or ignore what's going on at home, particularly if they can also imply that it is the cause of economic problems at home. The events of the last few days are [...]

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