9. On parade

What do these people have in common? Charlotte Church, the choir of King’s College, Cambridge, Sting with Pavarotti, and  Kiri Te Kanawa?  Not much you might say, but they have all recorded César Franck’s captivating setting of Panis Angelicus, part of a hymn  written by St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century to celebrate theContinue reading “9. On parade”

8. The bank with no money

Is cash out and the contactless card in? The French bank notified us that we can tap up to 50 euros, which is a giant leap forward in a part of the country where people delve into their bags or pockets for their cheque book.  Technology moves slowly in the deep SW and a cheque-lessContinue reading “8. The bank with no money”

7. Keep your distance

It ravaged London; trade and social life shut down. The royal court and parliament fled the capital until the epidemic subsided. The wealthy left for the country taking the disease with them. Sounds familiar? Plus ça change, meaning (broadly) that history repeats itself. We’re talking about 355 years ago this summer when the Great Plague struck.  PeopleContinue reading “7. Keep your distance”

6. Pigs in fur coats

When is a pig not a pig? (and it’s not a joke from a cracker).  If you were Hungarian you might recognise this sheep pig as a Mangalitsa (several different spellings), a cross breed from, among other animals, the European wild boar. Prized for its meat it sells for about four times normal pork. KeptContinue reading “6. Pigs in fur coats”

5. No Camino

Being the only man in a dormitory of females was not intended but, candidly, rolling out of our sleeping bags before dawn, walking by torchlight before breakfast and then carrying our rucksacks all day in the heat, we appreciated any bunk to crash on, no matter what the company. In the first dormitory on ourContinue reading “5. No Camino”

4. La rentrée

  La rentrée; except that it isn’t; it just feels like the real thing.  It’s a fausse  rentrée if you like. Schools that have been closed for weeks are now starting to re-open, cautiously. What is missing is the frenzied rush to the supermarket or papeterie for the stationery that sets parents back a tidyContinue reading “4. La rentrée”

3. To get to the bottom of…………

i.e. to discover the truth about……… No prizes for guessing which supermarket shelves were cleared first. Yes, these……….   ………but followed by a short  head by flour. May seem odd, but down here in SW France home baking is part  of everyday life and those shelves haven’t yet recovered from the onslaught. Our neighbour, whoContinue reading “3. To get to the bottom of…………”

1. Sacré bleu!

  Zut alors! The French are being encouraged, ordered even, to abandon a cherished custom. France is urging her people to cut back on the customary double-cheek kiss in order to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus. The health minister has advised the country to avoid this traditional greeting, known as ‘la bise‘. AContinue reading “1. Sacré bleu!”