Nationalist Francophobia

With anti-European sentiment running high at the moment, it really should come as no surprise to find that social networking sites such as Facebook are vast repositories of such views.

(Or should that be suppositories?)

However, some comments really stand out, such as this one (on an English Nationalist page) which tackles the current hot topic of Sarkozy and Merkel trying to shore up the Euro:

  Sarkozy is keeping up the famous French tradition of collaborating with the Hun.

Looking at the writer’s profile, they appear to be well-educated but there’s so much wrong with what they say, that I have to say that whoever awarded them the degree they claim to possess needs fucking sacking.

In one short sentence, they manage to cram in so much xenophobic feeling that you can almost smell the bigotry.

A 10 minute car journey from where I live will take you to a disused quarry where 27 French resistance fighters were executed by a German firing squad. Yes, of course there were French collaborators, but there were also many, many brave men and women who tried to keep France free and make life difficult for the occupying Germans.

Then there were the majority of ordinary people who neither resisted or collaborated but who just tried to get on with life as best they could whilst surrounded by deprivation and the constant reminders of the horrors of war.

People like this Facebook poster seem to forget that one of the main reasons that the Germans never invaded Britain was a purely geographical one.

Britain is an island and this was what saved us from being overrun like France was.

However, if Hitler had been successful and invaded us, then I have no doubts whatsoever that along with British resistance fighters, there would have been British collaborators.

The Nazis did, in fact, occupy British soil during the Second World War – the Channel Islands.

And yes, there were collaborators there, too – British ones.

Indeed, Facebook (and the same source) offers yet more anti-French ‘goodies’ which have emerged since I broke off writing this entry.

Here are a few examples:

"France; a beautiful country inhabited by swine…."

"The biggest trouble with France is it is completely overrun with the French."

"Lol I love France, just can’t take the arrogance of its inhabitants!!"

"I’m pro English, not anti-French. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. hang on a minute – that’s the same thing, isn’t it? LOL"

"I have just started using the French version of Twitter.
"Its exactly the same except it retweets really quickly.:-)"

My…they’re a fucking riot, aren’t they?

And so self-congratulatory and amused by themselves.

Well, having lived here for nearly 2 years, I can quite honestly say that the French we’ve met have been nothing but friendly, kind, helpful and welcoming.

Still, that’s some English Nationalists for you…

Xenophobic, intellectually-stunted and petty-minded.

 

english-bulldog-dog-muzzle-leather-dog-muzzle-bulldog_LRG

Or, to put it rather more succinctly, shit for fucking brains.

I Dunno…

One of my favourite Georgia Satellite songs performed by my favourite Satellite, Dan Baird, with one of my favourite guitarists, Warner E Hodges (also in Jason and the Scorchers – another one of my favourite bands):

 

As Dan sings…

Good to see ya back again in the land of salvation and sin

…I’m reminded that we’ll be going back to our own land of ‘salvation and sin’ next week and catching up with the family before Christmas.

Lunch in Tahiti

A good morning’s digging has restored me to a far less jaded state than I’ve been in since yesterday.

The cause of this was yesterday’s visit to this area’s best-kept secret when it comes to restaurants – the ‘Tahiti’ at Renazé.

 

tahiti

 

It’s an unpreposessing place from the outside but it’s surprisingly pleasant and comfortable inside – which is what counts.

Diners can be directed to any of three dining areas, depending on how busy the Tahiti is or how many people are in your party. The big room is my favourite with its display of Mexican sombreros – supposedly fitting in with the South Sea Islands theme in some bizarre way (!) but I’ve never asked.

Yesterday, the five of us in our party were shown to a table in the front dining room near the bar so it was easy to see the customers arriving. Most were people taking their works lunch break and the mass of white vans outside attested to this. It filled up rapidly and – as you often read in guide books – the sign of a good restaurant is one that is very busy and full of locals. This is certainly the case all year round at the Tahiti.

The lunch time menu is a mere €10.70 per person, with 4 courses – buffet of hors d’oeuvres, main, cheese and dessert, with as much local cider, red or rosé wine as you like.

Fantastic value, bearing in mind the totally home-cooked and generous nature of the food and the drinks are included.

The service is excellent too – polite, prompt and friendly – which can make a good meal into a very good one, which the Tahiti does time after time.

The first buffet course meant that you could help yourself to terrine, various cooked meats, hard boiled eggs, diced beetroot, rice salad, pasta salad and green salad. If you’re not careful, you can spoil the rest of the meal if you go too mad…

The main course yesterday – it changes radically from day to day – offered several choices:

  • hake
  • roast pork
  • turkey milanese
  • black pudding
  • sausage
  • beef tongue
  • tête de veau (a sort of brawn using meat from the head of a veal calf)

This was the most ‘French’ menu I’d seen at the Tahiti, and as I usually avoid eating bits of animals that I’d normally see on an abbatoir floor, I opted for the pork – as did two more in our party, the remaining two having the hake. To accompany the meat or fish, you had a choice of creole rice, pasta, green beans or chips.

The chips at the Tahiti are one of the best things about the menu – hand-cut and then fried in some sort of fat as opposed to oil – they taste like real chips should and are a far cry from the anaemic frozen French fries that you often get.

The pork – two thick slices – was tender and subtly seasoned and, with my chips, made a simple but very satisfying main course.

I then followed with cheese – Camembert, Port Salut and Emmenthal – and some bread. I was too full to manage dessert, but I could have had ice cream, fresh fruit or a choice of whipped desserts; creamy or fruity.

Throughout the meal, I washed the food down with cider – a medium one made some 15 km north of where we were eating – and then rosé, a Loire one which was very smooth indeed.

I was very glad that Mrs Shark had agreed to drive us home…

I’m sure that some of the main courses I balked at were very good. It’s a slight problem I have, in that I was brought up in a home where my mother disliked the cheaper cuts of meat, even though I now realise that she didn’t have that much money to spend sometimes. Consequently, I dislike meat with bones in, and although I’ll quite happily eat liver and kidney, I avoid anything that might be brains, bollocks or other bits of an animal like that.

Anyway…the Tahiti.

Good surroundings, great service, unlimited cider or wine, copious amounts of good, fresh, home-style food and all for €10.70 a head. They don’t rush you, either, so the five of us spent a very pleasant couple of hours indeed.

I wholeheartedly recommend it – and don’t forget to leave a tip; the waitresses are worth it.

As for the digging, a couple of hours with the fork brought on a good sweat in the autumn sunshine and finally got yesterday’s lunch digested – as well as another vegetable patch ready for planting.

A bun in the oven?

Little did we know 10 months ago, that when we bought our house we also bought this:

 

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Although it doesn’t look much, this unprepossessing structure is actually a four à pain, or bread oven.

It stands on the end of the boundary between our neighbour’s sister’s land, on the left in the picture, and our other piece of land, with our barn, on the right.

We’d always assumed that it belonged to someone else and the estate agent we dealt with seemed to think it did, too. However, whilst we were clearing the area yesterday our neighbour passed by and we learned the truth about it.

Yes, we now have our very own four à pain.

It stands about 6 feet high and is circular with a diameter of about 10 feet.

Originally, we suspect that it looked something more like this:

 

four-a-pain-bannalec

However, the domed roof has collapsed and the front stonework forming the doorway has gone, assuming it was there, although there’s an outside chance that it may all have fallen inside.

We spent a while clearing the back of it this morning and revealed a wall made of thin stones, which makes sense as there are vast deposits of slate and other sedimentary rocks locally.

 

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Apart from the obvious differences in the building materials, it looks remarkably like the example shown above, with the remnants of a dome clearly visible, and the overall shape seeming to be a good match.

Date wise I’m assuming that it’s contemporary with our house, which predates 1840 at least – if the Napoleonic cadastral plans are any guide. Our neighbours informed us that a M. Boulaye who lived in our house used to bake bread for the local people and as our house was the main dwelling in our lieu-dit then I’m making a guess that the bread oven has been here for a long time. The shape of it certainly looks like other 19th century examples I’ve found online.

We plan to strip off all the brambles – evil, evil fuckers that’ll rip your arms to shreds – and the ivy and weeds and then have a dig about inside it. There may be some collapsed stones and who knows what else.

At the very least, it should make a nice feature along the communal road here and possibly get planted up with something colourful – Ipomoea is the current favourite, although I fancy growing strawberries in it.

Song of the day – Kevin Gilbert’s Toy Matinee with ‘Last Plane Out’. Great playing, vocals, composition, production…what’s not to like?

I’m now cooking dinner – baked smoked gammon, Noirmoutier potatoes and haricots verts from our neighbours’ garden; all washed down with cheap rose.

 

A ploughman’s and a promenade

We’ve just wrapped up a very pleasant and productive day with our evening meal and then a walk.

We had what I suppose you’d call a ploughman’s lunch this evening.

Some part-cooked petits pains finished off in the oven, some Pilgrim’s Choice Extra Mature Cheddar,  lettuce, tomato, Branston Pickle, home-pickled shallots and some crisps all combined to make a simple but satisfying, delicious and very English meal. We washed it down with cheap rose.

We then took the cats for a walk.

This has become a regular, usually twice daily, ritual. The two cats come either separately or together for a walk down the lane which runs past our neighbours’ garden – complete with beehives – and out into a huge field:

 

P1020208

Oscar came ahead of Django who must have been busy killing voles – something he’s done a lot of lately.

Here’s Oscar catching up with us:

 

It was very hot today, but there’s a definite autumnal ‘twang’ in the air this evening…

A lot of fosse about nothing

Today, I are mostly bin clearin’ ditches:

 

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Before we moved to France, drainage wasn’t something we’d had to bother about.

Rain water went off the roof and from elsewhere, then along pipes and into the sewage system…end of…

However, not being attached to any proper sewage system – it’s mostly a matter for the individual and his fosse septique – you have to make allowances for drainage if you want a dry house and dry land around it.

We had a storm of almost biblical proportions the other weekend, and only a quick drainage channel cutting exercise in the torrential rain averted a flooded dining room.

So, we’re putting drains in:

 

P1020206

 

However, it’s no use if the water from them doesn’t go anywhere – hence the ditch clearing that I did today. I thought I’d take advantage of the good weather, so girding some old clothes, wellies and gloves I cleared the ditch by hand and then used the brushcutter to tidy it up.

Hot, sweaty and smelly work  – it was 28 degrees and there was no shade – but it had to be done as there are more storms predicted for tomorrow.

However, every cloud, etc, because we should be able to see if the drainage all works before we order some gravel to cover the pipes over.

Should you want to find out more about drains like ours then Wikipedia has an article here.

18 months ago I’d have found it totally boring, but now I find it very interesting indeed…

A home studio at last!

It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve now finally been able to unpack and semi-organize my ‘stuff’ – ‘stuff’ being the desktop PC, guitars, my music gear and all the associated bits and pieces.

I now have a studio cum office in what used to be a downstairs bedroom and which once looked like this:

 

P1010271  

And here it is now:

 

P1020203

The guitar stash is a bit depleted – from 19 down to 9 – and now consists of my Taylor electro-acoustic, the Yamaha electro-acoustic, the blue Telecaster, the Gitane, the bling Tokai Les Paul, the old Precison bass, the Variax and the two Vintage resos. Bringing 19 guitars across to France wasn’t a serious option and I was thinking about pruning down the collection anyway.

I’m now starting to play guitar a lot more in an effort to ‘get fit’. I’m seriously rusty and as I’m getting a duo together with another English guy here, I need to get more fluent and build up the old stamina. I’d lost all the hard skin from my fingertips gradually, but now it’s coming back.

I also plan to write and record.

Quite what exactly I don’t know, but I have all the gear, lots of time and a lovely place to do it all in.