Thursday, 22 September 2011

I'm still Alive!

I haven't written for a while and there is good reason.  The only way you know how lucky you are is to be reminded that what I have, simple as it is, is so much more than so many others have.  When you are simply moving on with your life and improving your lot it is easy to become complacent and forget to say thank you and really look at and enjoy what you have.  In the fortnight since returning from France I have had to witness and help where I can in several important and life threatening situations that I can't detail here.  Everyone is alive and the sick are healing.  I have started to say thank you again.

There are no photos on this post because I am saving them for the post I will write a fortnight hence when most of my house will be complete, decorated and furnished.  It's looking well smart.  So far all of downstairs has had new floors, walls, electrics and ceilings.  The walls and ceiling have had their suction coats and are brilliantly white.  It looks like a hospital.  The house is wired for Freesat, data and phone.  The doors are off and the massive back door has been brought back to the wood, deeply sanded and primed.  The door furniture for this little piece of history has cost a small fortune but it will be a work of art and to a lesser extent so will all of the downstairs doors.  They are all the original cottage doors and over a century old.  Yup, getting to love this place.

The clear up is coming and I think it will be inevitable that means doing the gardens as both are currently covered in rubble and old timber.  I'm not prepared to spend money on this so it's going to be slow progress through the winter but hey, it will be a good work out and I can work at my own pace.  Initially I'm going to level the garden with my old plaster from the kitchen and living room.  Then work out what to do!  I need somewhere solid to park the Mazy and my Kwacker.  I guess I will start there.  A paved, covered car port.  As for the timber?  It will be a warm winter!

So time for the delve into You Tube and after a number of up beat tunes this one is a little different.  Probably because i'm tired and in pain (poor little love).  Anyway, this is a rock masterpiece.  I saw The Who play this in the pissing rain ironically.  Rog made a real good fist of it too, gawd bless 'im.


Wednesday, 7 September 2011

France and Soni. 1st - 6th September 2011

I'm just about to watch the England Wales game after eating a Chinese and I'm shagged.  The drive back this morning was a nightmare with horizontal rain, gale force winds and an high windy road exasperating the whole thing.  Tough 60 miles or so.

Let's return to the 1st of September and the first day of my Autumn travelling programme..  I met up with my travelling partner - Martin, a very close friend, on Thursday and we went out to have a curry and "shoot the shit".  With a gentle hang over and Delhi-belly we set off.  Martin on his 2008 Triumph Speed Triple and me on my 2002 Kawasaki ZX9R.  On the ferry crossing we passed the time speaking to a fellow English biker Jon who lives in France and was returning home after touring England - interesting role reversal! It made the boring 3 hr channel crossing an enjoyable experience.  Jon is a bit of character and this 60 year old gentleman explained to us how much he was looking forward to see his 34 year old beautiful French girlfriend.  We liked this.  We swapped e-mail addresses and went our way.  Martin and I hit the French roads in bright warm sunlight.  I didn't realise just how much I missed travelling independently and, for the first time in a long time, on my motorbike.  Bliss.

It's slow going through Le Havre but then the road opens a little and the Pont Du Normande comes into view.  This is a fuck off bridge!  It's in two "bits" one lowish and the second over the river and it needs to be high enough to allow large ships to sail up the Seine River.  Up and over we go and and the road clears as the Nationale to Caen goes into open country.  With an 80mph speed limit and an excellently maintained and clear road we cruised at a safe 85 to 100 mph.  Obviously popping in the decidedly unsafe "above 130" as the road demanded, as you do.  If you are a biker this is great stuff and you can hold these speeds for miles.  You get into a real rhythm.  We were travelling really light too (just clothes) so we stretched the legs of these excellent motorcycles.

From Caen we stopped off in Falaise for a beer and first use of schooldboy but well rehersed French.  From there to Mont Ormel which is where the gite is.  Those of you who are sad and bored enough to read this blog you will be aware of the gite in question from posts earlier this year.  It's idilic, quiet and the bar close by is the place to have a few cold ones, admire the lovely view, take in the sunset and shoot the shit.  We ate here for 2 nights and it's a little gem.  "Bar-Restaurant Le Montormel" is a family owned bar that does excellent home cooked food.  The owners have Armenian discent and at the weekends the plat is a Russian or Armenian dish.  This is a small place and quiet so you don't have much in the way of choice but go with it and you will get tasty homecooked food with reasonably priced wine.  You can't go wrong and they are good people.  We loved it. 

We shopped for our fresh food, bread, pate, cheese, beer, wine, cidre, more beer and then yet more beer, mostly in Falaise.  This gave us the opportunty to do the coffee culture thing and buy from the Saturday market that seems to fill every open space in the centre of this historic Norman town.  This was the birth place and home of William the Conquerer and also the site of bitter fighting in the Second World War.  Schrapnel damage can be seen on the older buildings.  Fortunately enough of the Norman town and castle remain to make this site important to the history of both Britain and France.  It's a nice place to chill in.  It has a slow but steady pace and everything you need (see list above) is here from the plethora of small shops.  Sharpens up your French too.  You have to ask for stuff and deal with numbers several times a day.

Then it started raining.  The last two days were wet and my shoulder - yeah that one - start to play up so we were grounded and went up the bar.  The way home was uneventful and then we got on the ferry.  I shouldn't laugh but you see I have never suffered from sea sickness on a ship...  It was rough.  Really rough.  You couldn't walk around the "Fastcat" passenger spaces because this fast catamaran was bobbing like a cork.  About 20% of the passengers hit the chunder button and the number of others, who looked like Martians (green), was the same again.  The crew were flat out dealing with full sick bags and slippery floors.  Martin and I had a can of Stella and a Ginsters Cornish pasty and looked on pointing out people who were throwing up to one another whilst trying not to chuckle too openly!  Wicked? yes, but you couldn't help yourself really!!!  As we docked and went down to the car decks the stewards were still hosing down the outside prom deck where groups of the unfortunate had gathered.  The "Fastcat" had become the "Vomit Comet". (I'm giggling as I recall this!)

We disembarked, said our goodbyes and set off on our onward journeys.  Martin had a 2 mile ride home and although the sky was angry, it was dry.  I was off to Poole and had a 50mile or so blat along the English south coast to get there.  An hour, and some rain later I arrived at Soni's for shower, dinner and cuddles.  What an Angel and Soni is alright too.

Right, music time.  The music links I place on here are all from acts I have seen live.  This is an unusual one but falls within that bracket and is one for the purists'.  Give it a go.  This is a bona-fide, top class professional singer at her pomp.  There is not one thing about this performance, from the phrasing of the words to the dynamics of her voice, that has not been worked on and perfected.  The power is amazing and the song tells a story.  It was written by George Harrison and is a cover of The Beatles (yuk!) hit.  There are many versions of this on You Tube and this one is the best I think.  I give you the one, the only, Dame Shirley Bassey.