20240422 – Caravan Then Brett’s Wedding


Lazy start to a grey day, but at least no rain.

Have a drive up to Cherbourg, not that we’ve never been there before!

A tad on the cool side with the wind.

Have a wander around the shopping centre and the main square. The place is infested with Brits, there’s a cruise ship in port.

Then a leisurely drive back. At least the suns been peeking through .


Free speech in Europe



This week’s rants are going to focus on living in a kakistocracy. People ask why do we spend so much time abroad. The answer is simple, I don’t want to be in the UK, it is a kakistocracy. The stupidity and ineptitude of our politicians, wokes and libtards drives me insane. At least when we’re in America I can escape it, as long as Wendy stops reading the UK news every morning. Yes, things are chaotic in America and they have their own bunch of half wits, but at least it doesn’t affect me so I can sit back and cope with it. As long as they don’t mess with my 6 month B2 visa I don’t really give a damn.

So I’ll stick with my last key task in life, “To be out of the UK for at least 8 months a year”. Good news is so far I’m easily achieving it, bad news is there’s no bonus attached.


Weathers pretty good, so the highlight of the day is taking the awning down rather than risk rain in the next few days. Takes about 40 minutes. Easier than erecting it.

Decide to keep it simple and leave all the windows in, amazing I manage to fold it into the bag.



New turbo roundabout in the USA. Bloody hell they can’t cope with a simple roundabout, this will be a death trap.




Have a stroll into the market in La Haye. Amazing for the first time ever we buy something, sausage and pork steak for my tea.

Market day is probably the busiest day of the week so the butchers decide to close – pots for rags.

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The strategic importance of La Haye-du-Puits was not lost to either side in the conflict, lying as it does on an important crossroads between Cherbourg and Coutances. Surrounded by hills, the Montgardon ridge lies to the west, the Mont de Doville and the Mont Etenclin to the north, and Mont Castre to the east. These heights were where the Germans had set up their defensive positions known as the Mahlmann Line. To break through this front and liberate the town, the Americans, coming from Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte, had brought up 3 Divisions of the 8th Corps, deployed between Portbail and Baupte. To the west was the 79th Division, to the east the 90th, and between them the 82nd Airborne.

The battle for La Haye-du-Puits began on the 3rd July and lasted nearly a week, partly due to the strength of German resistance, and partly to the drenching rain which prevented the Americans from making full use of their firepower and mobility, and rendering efficient large-scale air operations difficult if not impossible. Between the 3rd and 7th July, the 82nd Airborne was dropped on Mont Etenclin and the Poterie Ridge. The 90th took particularly heavy casualties on the slopes of Mont Castre, which was only captured on the 10th July; the 79th got off more lightly in taking the Montgardon heights and Mont Doville, but encountered some difficulties clearing the Germans out of La Haye du Puits, which only completely freed overnight between the 8th and 9th July.

The town itself sustained considerable damage and many houses were destroyed.




Time to leave. After breakfast we set about packing up the caravan ready for storage until next year.

About 2 hours later and it’s all done. Amazing how it takes longer to pack up than to set up.

Nip to the supermarket and then relax around for the afternoon.

Drive off around tea time to get to the ferry. Sadly it doesn’t leave until 23:30 so we’ve a lot of time to kill, sat at the port in Caen. Eat our butties, drink some beer and wine, watch some TV.




Brittany Ferries send us an email with everything you need to know about your sailing. Typical screw up as it omits the address of the port. Seems fairly fundamental to me but what can you expect.


Trust us to get behind a couple of plonkers when driving off the ferry. He comes and checks the boot at least 4 times and she checks it 5 times, guess they’re looking for their passports. He wanders off to look. Everyone starts to drive off. She finds their passports. By now they’re holding up the row so she wanders off, assumedly to look for him. He comes back but she’s gone. Still holding line up. finally she comes back. What a pair of dollopers.

Finally get off the ferry and over to Brett’s for breakfast.

Lazy day at Brett’s combined with some shopping – joy.

Fish and chips for tea. I try Huss, meatier than cod.




Teachers face being stopped from calling pupils girls or boys under new gender rules drawn up by Scottish council officials.

They are urged to use “they” instead of “he” or “she” and “children” or “young people” instead of “boys and girls”.

Has the World gone mad? Who even listens to these crazy pillocks.


It’s the big day, Brett and Karine getting married. Meet them in Chichester, along with Karine’s two children. There’s just the six of us, Brett daughters wouldn’t come.

They’re getting married in the registry office. Very nice ceremony, in a pleasant location, mind you at £700 so it should be. They just wanted a no fuss wedding. Afterwards we all go to a French restaurant for a lovely lunch and of course some wine.

Then it’s back to Brett’s for more drinks and cake.

All in all a awesome day, and even the rain managed to stay away.

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Be bonny and buxom in bed and at board.

This was a phrase found in a 1085 marriage contract overseen by the bishop of Salisbury.

Bonny: french for good. Buxom: German for obedient or compliant. “In bed and at board” means in the evening and in meals. Board apparently refers to sideboard where food would be kept. It is a promise to be good all day long and to feed the husband well.

Actually, buxom could be flexible…maybe there was another connotation after all.





Is Capitalism or Socialism More Democratic?



Lazy coffee morning then in the afternoon we all go for a stroll around Arundel. Would have gone in the castle but at £20 a head that’s not worth it.




Human rights travesty


Joy getting out of France.

It took us all of 4 minutes to clear passport and immigration getting into Europe – well done Spain, amazing.

Now try getting out of France. They want to scan my suitcase, no illegals found; scan our backpacks, no illegals found; check under my armpits, no illegals found. What in the name of the Flying Spaghetti Monster are they looking for?

Pity they don’t concentrate their efforts on stopping illegals crossing on boats rather than standing by and watching them.

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20240415 – Our Caravan in La Haye du Puit


It’s forecast high winds and some rain for today, hopefully the awning will survive. Brings back memories of surviving the Tramontana when we had to get help to take our old awning down in a howling gale. It is claimed that these blow up awnings survive high winds so much better than your traditional awning – we will see.

Real lazy day hunkered down listening to wind and rain, similar to Belthorn.

Tea tonight is rabbit stew, reminds me of my youth. I was raised on rabbit, my dad would snare them and bring them home for tea, delicious. He had a big black overcoat and many a night would come in, undo his coat and there’d be one rabbit hanging down each side. Sometimes he’d bring home wild mushrooms or blue buttons. He never poisoned us.


Having a Toilet, sink and shower unit on our pitch reminds me of my child hood when we had an outdoor toilet, no luxury of a shower or sink in it. But, we did have a pigeon with a broken wing in a cardboard box, recovering. Oh the joy of going out in the pouring rain for a pee. Happy days, we just didn’t know any better.




What I know about Islam


Wind and rain so just hunker down.

Awning looks like the crooked house. Not one of my better erections! But at least it survived.

Trip to the supermarket is the highlight of the day. Wendy, likes the Intermarche at Lessay better than the one here and there’s a Lidl next door so that’s the drill from now on.


More lessons in patience as I fill the 40 litre water butt. It just takes so long and you have to keep the tap depressed.


Sun and cloud.

Today’s highlight is a trip to the Biscuit Factory. Amazing the cafe is open for lunch so we splash out on some coffee, sadly the lunch menu just consist of cakes and desserts, but at least they’re open – amazing.

Look for a decent Cognac. Can you believe they only have one bottle. Bizarre considering they have nearly every Whisky, Bourbon and Rum you can think of.


Say you are an older senior citizen and can no longer take care of yourself and the government says there is no Nursing Home care available for you. So, what do you do? You opt for Medicare Plan G.

The plan gives anyone 75 or older a gun (Plan G) and one bullet. You are allowed to shoot one worthless politician. This means you will be sent to prison for the rest of your life where you will receive three meals a day, a roof over your head, central heating and air conditioning, cable TV, a library, and all the Health Care you need. Need new teeth? No problem. Need glasses? That’s great. Need a hearing aid, new hip, knees, kidney, lungs, sex change, or heart? They are all covered!

As an added bonus, your kids can come and visit you at least as often as they do now! And, who will be paying for all of this? The same government that just told you they can’t afford for you to go into a nursing home. And you will get rid of a useless politician while you are at it. And now, because you are a prisoner, you don’t have to pay any more income taxes!
Is this a great country or what? Now that I’ve solved your senior financial plan, enjoy the rest of your week!


Sun and cloud and a bit warmer.

Decided to learn the Swift programming language. It’s promoted by apple as and easy first language complete with a playground to help you develop it. In my opinion, having written in over a dozen languages, it is far from easy and has complex type rules. Spend the morning battling with Swift and finally crack the problem.

Next bit of excitement, swap the front windows in the awning around. It turns out they are not symmetrical. There are two identical side window, two identical (I think) front windows, and one central front window. Swap front window with central front and the awning starts to look almost presentable.

Well that’s two excitements for today.

Now for the supermarkets.

Awesome value for money, just E9.28 for 3 litres.

After the traditional afternoon tea, we are British after al, we have a pleasant stroll around the camp site and stop off for a glass of wine, in the sunshine, with an English couple in one of the static caravans. The wine is a E9 box of Gamay and is very quaffable. Never really tried much Gamay or wines from the Beaujolais region. But will certainly buy a box or few of this to take home.

Coincidentally, tonights wine is a bottle of Julienas I picked up early this week to try. It’s made with the Gamay grape and is luscious and fruity. Certainly as good as a Pinot Noir. Time to explore Beaujolais and Gamay.

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Gamay is a light-bodied red wine similar in taste to Pinot Noir but can be enjoyed at a cheaper price. With elevated acidity and little to no tannin structure, the wine is straightforward to drink and exhibits flowery aromas and tart flavors of red fruits like cherry, raspberry, cranberry, and red currant.

Gamay is the grape variety most closely associated with Beaujolais, the wine region south of Burgundy. There, Gamay is made into a red wine that ranges from bright and fruit-forward to surprisingly age-worthy. The trick is to refer to the terminology on the label indicating where it was grown. But Gamay is also grown in other places too, most notably California, Oregon, and Australia.

No matter where it’s from, the best Gamays produce red wines of freshness and exuberant fruit, with a lift of flowers against an occasional savory bass note — excellent on their own and friendly accompaniments to a range of foods.

Where Does Gamay Wine Come From?
Gamay wine comes from anywhere that the Gamay grape variety is grown. Excellent ones are notably produced in Oregon, California, and Australia, but France is where Gamay reaches its peak of fame. In the Loire Valley, the red Touraine Gamay wines are worth checking out, as are the rosé wines produced from Gamay in Saumur and Anjou. Gamay wines from Savoie are also very good.

Gamay’s most well-known incarnation, however, is Beaujolais, where Gamay wine arguably reaches its peak. In fact, Gamay is often used interchangeably with Beaujolais, but that’s not entirely accurate: While red Beaujolais is made from Gamay, not all Gamay is from Beaujolais. Exploring the world of Gamay wine will take you through several regions of France and then across entire oceans. You’ll even find some excellent Gamay wines in Australia, New Zealand … and Canada!

Why Should You Drink Gamay Wine?
Gamay is an increasingly discussed grape variety among sommeliers and other wine professionals, due to its ability to express where it’s planted and the fact that it can be made in a drink-right-away style or one that’s more suited to aging. It’s also a fantastic antidote to the heavy, high-alcohol wines that are often trophies of personal collections and restaurant wine lists.

Gamay wines tends to be lighter in texture and tannin than many of their red counterparts, so they work as excellent pairing partners for a wide range of foods, most notably on Thanksgiving. Gamay often represents excellent value.

What Does Gamay Taste Like?
Red wines produced from Gamay tend to exhibit exuberant fruit flavors reminiscent of berries and cherries, as well as hints of flowers and, depending on where it’s from, sometimes a sense of earthiness. When it’s grown in Beaujolais, there are four levels of Gamay red wines you can buy. Beaujolais Nouveau is the most fruit-forward and uncomplicated of them, an inexpensive and cheerful red released the third Thursday in November.

Wines labeled simply “Beaujolais” are produced from grapes grown throughout the region; they tend to be fruit-driven and fairly straightforward. Beaujolais-Villages on the label indicates that the fruit was grown throughout the permitted 38 villages in the northern parts of the Beaujolais region. And Beaujolais Cru is the most age-worthy. On those, you won’t see “Beaujolais” prominently displayed at all, but instead the name of one of the 10 crus; Moulin-à-Vent, Brouilly, and Morgon are among the most frequently seen in the United States, and they tend to be more structured, complex, and cellar-worthy.

In general, serving red Gamay wine with a slight chill is a good idea: A 20-minute stint in the fridge will brighten it up even further and bring its floral and fruit notes to the fore.


Lazy morning, start to a cloudy day.

After lunch we set off on a touristy route around some of the beaches. Yeah, the sun comes out. Some lovely beaches but nowhere open to have a cafe along.

Very relaxing on theses roads, hardly any traffic, but what few cars there are are all exhaust bandits. Why can they not comprehend how stupid it is trying to drive up someone’s exhaust, there really is nothing of interest up my BMW exhaust.

Stop off at Intermarches to buy a box of that gamay I enjoyed yesterday. All of E9.28 for 3 litres. Not bad, very quaffable.


Sunny day, so the usual lazy start to the day.

After lunch we have a stroll in la Haye. Stop off for a coffee and in my case a beer or two. Lovely sat out enjoying a beer, the sun and watching the French world go by.

Back home for tea and as those two beers in the cafe have ruined my alcohol free day it’s time to open that lush bottle of Margaux. Oh thea of weak will.

Wendy always moans about me nodding off to sleep in the evening whilst I watch TV after some alcohol. But, I only nod off if the programme is crap, nothing to do with alcohol. If the programme is worth watching then I stay awake despite the alcohol.


A lovely sunny day so we splash out on French cafe life.

Can you go to any cafe in France without being enveloped in 2nd hand smoke? Tout le mond feumer.

A grandma and mother just sat down with young daughter, about 5, and proceeded to try and kill her with 2nd hand smoke inhalation – unbelievable – thank the FSM for BREXIT.

This was going to be an alcohol free day until I saw all those beers lined up. It would have been a sin not to try a couple of them. Conclusion if you want a beer go to Germany or the UK.



French advert to help cut down smoking!


A lazy start to a grey cloud day.

After lunch we take a leisurely drive out to Utah Beach, it’s where the Americans landed on D-Day. Have a great museum there so we splash out on a visit. It appears that it’s not free for Americans or British, there’s gratitude for you. Nor is there a price reduction for us geriatrics. Despite that it’s a great museum, can you believe it, I even say it was worth the E9.

Then have a drive up along Utah Beach and then down to St Mere d’Eglise. Greedy ingratiates there want you to pay to park everywhere. Bet it was free parking on D-Day.

Back to caravan for Lamb Stew and hopefully we can find a copy of the Longest Day to watch. Alas it’s only on Prime and you have to Pay!

Never mind finish off that delicious Margaux and stay awake.

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Utah Beach, was the code name for one of the five sectors of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings on June 6, 1944 (D-Day), during World War II. The westernmost of the five code-named landing beaches in Normandy, Utah is on the Cotentin Peninsula, west of the mouths of the Douve and Vire rivers. Amphibious landings at Utah were undertaken by United States Army troops, with sea transport, mine sweeping, and a naval bombardment force provided by the United States Navy and Coast Guard as well as elements from the British, Dutch and other Allied navies.

The objective at Utah was to secure a beachhead on the Cotentin Peninsula, the location of important port facilities at Cherbourg. The amphibious assault, primarily by the US 4th Infantry Division and 70th Tank Battalion, was supported by airborne landings of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Division. The intention was to rapidly seal off the Cotentin Peninsula, prevent the Germans from reinforcing Cherbourg, and capture the port as quickly as possible. Utah, along with Sword on the eastern flank, was added to the invasion plan in December 1943. These changes doubled the frontage of the invasion and necessitated a month-long delay so that additional landing craft and personnel could be assembled in England. Allied forces attacking Utah faced two battalions of the 919th Grenadier Regiment, part of the 709th Static Infantry Division. While improvements to fortifications had been undertaken under the leadership of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel beginning in October 1943, the troops assigned to defend the area were mostly poorly equipped non-German conscripts.

D-Day at Utah began at 01:30, when the first of the airborne units arrived, tasked with securing the key crossroads at Sainte-Mère-Église and controlling the causeways through the flooded farmland behind Utah so the infantry could advance inland. While some airborne objectives were quickly met, many paratroopers landed far from their drop zones and were unable to fulfill their objectives on the first day. On the beach itself, infantry and tanks landed in four waves beginning at 06:30 and quickly secured the immediate area with minimal casualties. Meanwhile, engineers set to work clearing the area of obstacles and mines, and additional waves of reinforcements continued to arrive. At the close of D-Day, Allied forces had only captured about half of the planned area and contingents of German defenders remained, but the beachhead was secure.

The 4th Infantry Division landed 21,000 troops on Utah at the cost of only 197 casualties. Airborne troops arriving by parachute and glider numbered an additional 14,000 men, with 2,500 casualties. Around 700 men were lost in engineering units, 70th Tank Battalion, and seaborne vessels sunk by the enemy. German losses are unknown. Cherbourg was captured on June 26, but by this time the Germans had destroyed the port facilities, which were not brought back into full operation until September.


Driving around Utah Beach makes you think of all those brave young men, some who gave their lives, back in June 1944. As you pass each hedgerow you can’t help but wonder who died there on D-Day. Thanks to them for all they sacrificed for us.

Sadly I don’t think our younger generation has any appreciation of what those young men went through and how brave they were. It must have been terrifying landing on those beaches that day.


Freedom is my religion

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20240408 Cognac, Rennes unfortunately and finally our caravan


Manage to squeeze our car out of the dungeon.

Drive up to Cognac, one of the highlights of the trip. All this way to buy some Baron Otard Cognac.

Arrive at our garret in Cognac. It’s on the 2nd floor, that’s the 3rd for our American friends, all the way up a spiral wooden staircase. I think it dates back to Marie Antoinette’s time. Makes you feel old and dodarie when coming down and knackers you going up with your luggage. But, never mind the room is modern, comfortable and has a kitchen.

Wendy, gets the highlight of her trip with a visit to L Eleclerc. What a disappointment that was, poor choice.


Ban the Burka


Lazy morning, warm and sunny. I have a stroll around town and visit the tourist info, amazing they were open, but pretty useless.

In the afternoon we’ve booked a tour of the Baron Otard distillery and the castle. Wasn’t really interested in the castle but it seems some king or other was born there so they got quite excited about it. Finally get to the serious bit with the distillery. Overall a very informative and interesting tour and the tour guide spoke good English.

The best of the tour was left to the end, the tasting. Sadly they’re obsessed with their new D’Usse brand and you only get to compare the VSOP and XO. I ended up buying a Baron Otard VSOP to compare. Still prefer the Baron Otard but there’s not much in it. They won’t let you taste the Baron Otard VS, “that’s just for cooking with”, it’s also a lot cheaper.

End up buying 2 Baron Otard VSOP, 1 Baron Otard VS (the only way I can get to try it) and 1 D’Usse VSOP. Got to stock up as you can’t get Baron Otard in the UK. Looks like the greedy gnomes and goblins in their marketing department (source of all known evil) are really pushing this new D’Usse brand. Need to try the D’Usse some more alongside Baron Otard.

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Get to know the exclusivity that is Baron Otard

Exclusive, luxurious and splendid – all apt descriptions for the fine Baron Otard Cognac. This alcoholic beverage has an intriguing, ancient history attached, which dates as far back as the Middle Ages. Baron Otard Cognac has long been venerated from its conception in 1795, until today. This brand is superior in quality and highly valued.

The intriguing history of Baron Otard Cognac

The history of Baron Otard Cognac is absolutely enchanting, and as rich and exquisite as the beverage itself. Jean Baptise Antoine Otard, grandson of the Scottish Baron, James Otard, created Baron Otard Cognac in 1795. This followed his return from England, after being exiled from France. In 1793, in the town of Cognac during the French Revolution, James Otard was arrested and sentenced to death. The villagers, disagreeing with this decision, forced their way into the prison, and freed him. Baron Otard then made his exile to England, where he remained for a few years, returning in 1795, with the cognac that he had developed. Otard came from a family of winemakers, and they had experience behind them. The transition from winemaking to cognac was smooth, and the product manufactured was superior in quality and taste. Upon his return in 1795, Otard also purchased the Royal Chateau in Cognac in an auction. Baron Otard saved it from being demolished. He had plans to form his estate on the Chateau, prior to his arrest and exile, and so continued with his plan, once he had returned. The Chateau was the perfect place to create fine cognac. Its dense walls, a condition conducive for ageing, a humid environment, and the close proximity to the Charente River, ensured the final product would be impeccable.

Luxurious and exclusive: Baron Otard Cognac

Baron Otard Cognac is all about excellence and the marketing initiative reflect its merit and worth. When you purchase a bottle of Baron Otard Cognac, you immediately know that you have invested in an extraordinary product. You don’t even have to taste Otard Cognac, to recognise that you have a premium product in your possession. The way, in which Baron Otard Cognac is packaged, in elegantly shaped bottles, illustrates absolute exclusivity. The company is also known to produce limited editions, which again presents a feeling of distinction and value. Expensive and elite, the Baron Otard Vintage Cognac, launched in 2006, was produced from the Grande Champagne region. As little as 1000 bottles of this vintage cognac were released. The 1795 ‘Extra’ edition of Baron Otard Cognac is, however, the crème de la crème, and the most expensive of all cognacs. This special blend is stored in an undisclosed cavern, inside the Chateau, which adheres to an established tradition. All of this is carried out to create a product that promises exceptional quality. Smooth and spicy, while nutty and fruity, equally fitting descriptions for the amber liquid that is Baron Otard Cognac.

Robust and powerful, smooth, but never harsh, the refined aromas merge with the distinct flavours, to position this brand of cognac way above the rest, on the highest of ranks. Baron Otard Cognac carries the mark of the quality. It is made to perfection, ensuring every sip delivers a taste so exquisite, you will attest that Baron Otard Cognac is indeed the master of all cognacs.


Hotel is modern and comfortable spoilt only by the ridiculous high table.

Hated the really stupid little table with high chairs. Very modern and trendy, but totally impractical. Wendy couldn’t even reach the table and I got altitude sickness and nose bleeds sat on those high stools. Only a stupid trendy yuppie would think this was a good idea. A normal corner table with sensible chairs would have been so much more practical.


Lazy start to the day again.

We set off for lunch at a local restaurant, bugger another restaurant that’s too lazy to update their website to show they’re closed – bloody French.

Today it’s a trip to the Hennessy Distillery. Interesting 2 hour tour complete with rather bizarre virtual reality experience – does this mean I need an Apple Vision Pro? Best of all was the tasting, VS versus VSOP and the difference ice can make. Must say rather surprised to find ice improved the VSOP, contrary to the long held tradition swirling in a brandy glass to warm with your hands. But I think if the ice cubes melt it would spoil the taste, need those frozen ice rocks. Unfortunately for Wendy she was driving so I had to help out by supping her samples – life can be tough.

Cost me a bottle of the VS for Wendy, she preferred it to the more expensive VSOP – thank the FSM (Flying Spaghetti Monster). I tried them all in the lounge afterwards. Also we had to buy 6 stylish small tumblers. Another day, another dollar / euro. Interesting in the lounge we couldn’t buy a glass of the Caribbean version – law against it – but we could try all the more expensive Cognacs – now there’s a surprise. And then people wonder why we left to EU?

Splash out on a bottle of Pineau des Charentes. A local title, wow, it’s very sweet.

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Pineau des Charentes, (Pineau Charentais, or simply Pineau) is a regional aperitif of western France, made in the départements of Charente, Charente-Maritime, and (to a lesser extent) Dordogne. While popular within its region of production, it is less well known in other regions of France and somewhat uncommon abroad.
It is a fortified wine (mistelle or vin de liqueur), made from either fresh, unfermented grape juice or a blend of lightly fermented grape must, to which a Cognac eau-de-vie is added and then matured.
Pineau is also found as a home-made product in the neighbouring Deux-Sèvres and Vendée départements. There is also a similar drink called “Troussepinette” that is made in the Vendée, which is often flavoured with pine or fruits such as pear. Elsewhere in France analogous drinks are made (Macvin in Jura, Floc de Gascogne in the Armagnac area; there is also Pommeau, similarly made by blending apple juice and apple brandy), but these products are much less well known nationally and internationally than Pineau.


Weak government climate policies violate fundamental human rights, the European court of human rights has ruled.

In a landmark decision on one of three major climate cases, the first such rulings by an international court, the ECHR raised judicial pressure on governments to stop filling the atmosphere with gases that make extreme weather more violent.

Well if ever there was a reason to get out of the ECHR then this on top of Rwanda flights is it.


Depart Cognac, so glad we had two full days there and did the Hennessy tour.

4 hour drive up to our overnight in that dump they call Rennes.

Stay at an Ibis Styles, more upmarket and nicer than a basic Ibis. What the omitted to mention is that it’s a build site as they drill, drill and more drilling. Asked to be moved but it’s the same all over the hotel. “Oh don’t worry it stops at 17:00”, until then we’ll just go nuts.

Pop out to Intermarche for our dinner but they have nowt. End up at MacDonalds, to be fair the first this road trip. Not bad but not cheap.

Get a 20% discount for the noise after complaining.


Good news the World is not ending



It’s a short two hour drive up to the caravan at La Haye Du Puit.

Arrive in lovely warm sunshine, then the ordeal starts, setting up the caravan. Never fun, I think I’ll leave the joy of the awning until tomorrow and settle down to some well deserved, bread, cheese and not forgetting the all important wine. I’ve been looking forward to this all week.


Another warm sunny day. Time to man up and set up the awning. After 2.5 hours it’s done and stapled down. Can’t imagine it’ll wine a gold Olympic medal for the best set up awning, but at least it’s not fell down yet. They reckon these air awnings are easier than the traditional awning with poles. I don’t think I’ve ever agreed with that but at least you can set up single handed. Let’s hope it survives the winds forecast for Monday.

A tad more wine and the remnants of the Pineau des Charentes followed by the inevitable a snooze through “The Tourist” on BBC iPlayer – no wonder we couldn’t find it on Netflix.


Apparently Saint Augustine said:

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.


It seems that France has finally conquered its toilet seat problems, but if anyone is looking for a golden business opportunity then it’s toilet roll holders. In the vast majority of hotels and Airbnb’s not a single toilet roll holder encountered. Get yourselves on Dragons Den with a simple toilet roll holder and a marketing plan for France.


Another sunny day but not so warm. Time to enjoy the awning.

Just a lazy day sorting odds and ends in the caravan.

Finish the day with some wine and the last of my Camus VSOP Cognac. Amazing that I remained awake through “The Tourist” – it seems to have got lost though.


Filling our 40 gallon water butt is a great way to learn patience.


Wake up America


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20240401 – Palavas le Flots



A lovely sunny day.

A real treat for Wendy as we go to biggest supermarket we’ve ever seen. It sold every thing from washing machines, mops to melons and freshly made paella. Well not quite everything, no fresh figs, American Cream Soda or Aix en Provence red wine. Soon get lost as I wander off to explore the wines.

In the afternoon we drive over to Lunel to watch the bullfight.

Try finding our seat at the arena. Assistants are useless, they don’t know where R3_1195 is. It bears no relation to the letters A to P on the entrances. There’s pictures of flags galore around the arena but no seat numbers. Just another excess of stupidity. You really couldn’t make this shit up.

Really enjoyed the Course Camarguaise, I think for Wendy it fell into the same category as a Rodeo, once you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all.

Then it’s home, Pork meatballs for tea. Alas no wine.

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From spring through to autumn, on the golden sand of Arles’ arena and in each Camargue village, an impassioned and knowledgeable crowd is gathered. Razeteurs (Camargue bullfighters) come head-to-head with Camargue bulls in this chivalrous game that requires such values as loyalty and valour from both Man and beast.

Skill and agility, along with a mutual re-spect, are key to the Camargue bullfight.

Unlike with corridas (Spanish bullfights) which show the matador’s name in big letters, post-ers publicising the course Camarguaise puts the bull’s name before that of the razeteur.

The name of the manade (farm) from which the bull comes is also given. The true star of the show is really the bull! From fight to fight, his qualities bring him glory and make him a sought-after animal, guaranteeing some very action-packed afternoons!

As for the razeteurs, they are just support acts, their fame being based on the reputation of the bull that they are facing. No blood is spilled in the Camargue bullfight; the Camargue bull does not come to kill, unlike his Spanish cousin! When this bull kills, which unfortunately can happen, his name is scratched from all lists!

It is around the age of three that a bull is at the peak of his “training” and knows his “profession” well. This is the one that that breeder saves for the end of the show, allowing the younger and less experienced bulls to go first so as to learn how to avoid the traps set by the razeteurs. It is this which gives the fight its crescendo intensity and helps to recognise future “hopefuls”, be they bulls or razeteurs.

The clash of Man and beast in the ring requires much cunning from both parties. The organis-ers coordinate six bulls for one afternoon. The bulls take turns to enter the ring for a few minutes; just enough time to contend with several skilled and energetic razeteurs.

The razeteurs compete against one another to remove, as quickly as possible, the objects placed between the bull’s horns. These are strings, tassels and a cockade which each earn the razeteur a cash prize upon removing it.

But, before cutting and removing each of the objects with his four-bladed hook, he must first tire the bull, which, with good strong legs, often chases the razeteurs right up to the barrier. This results in the razeteurs throwing themselves several feet in the air over the barriers in order to escape the sharp and powerful horns. Sometimes, the particularly agile bulls will also jump over the barriers, making the event even more dramatic and emotional, especially for those lucky specta-tors in the first row!

At the end of each round to signify the end of combat, the famous aria from the opera Car-men is played.

Every year, the “golden rosette” in the Arles arena gathers the elite of the course Camar-guaise. At the end of this prestigious after-noon, the highly coveted rosette is awarded, honouring the work of the breeder and recog-nising the bravery of the best razeteur of the year. This razeteur, in addition to receiving the praise of the tradition’s professionals and the people of Arles, is allowed to kiss the always beautiful Queen of Arles.


Today’s jaunt is a bull fight in the Camargue (Courses Camarguaises) unlike the gratuitous cruelty, bloodshed and violence of a Spanish bull fight, not a drop of the bulls blood is spilt. More likely that the guys in white bleeds. Quite spectacular.



Ban the burka




Sadly another French Airbnb with parking designed to try the patience of a saint, not something I’m known for, and the need for a car the size of a Bubble Car. Sadly we have the misfortune to have an internal garage. The problem is reversing into it is a nightmare. It doesn’t have to be but they have some stupid barriers in place that serve absolutely no purpose other than making it inch by inch impossible to easily reverse in. No chance to drive in. Yet another example of sublime French stupidity. There really is no sense to it.


Another sunny day in the mid 60’s. Very lazy morning.

Enjoy the sun on the balcony then after lunch and a small glass of wine we have a stroll around Palavas. Stop for a drink, I finally get a Pastiche while Wendy has a very nice Cognac.

Paella for tea and some more wine.


Sat on the balcony watching the seagull gracefully glide on the air currents, not a wing flap needed.




Islamist dickhead


A corkscrew.

If the French still insist upon their silly corks you would think that in the hundreds of years bottling wine they could at least create a corkscrew that works with ease. Alas not so, the corkscrew in this apartment doesn’t work. Stupidity rules yet again.


Lovely sunny and warmish start to the day. We could have breakfast on the balcony it’s that warm and best of all no breeze.

Have a drive over to Le Grande Motte for a stroll around and a spot of lunch. They have Scallops (Coquille Saint-Jacques) on the menu so even I am tempted for lunch. They’re not bad, not as big as the American ones and have an orange bit to them. If I wake up dead tomorrow everyone will know why. Wendy settles for a chicken burger and chips, it was a croc of shit.

Then it’s a trip to that awesome, cavernous supermarket. We pass on the fridges and washing machines and just settle for wine, fish and steaks. I try a Teille for tonight’s tea. As it’s our wedding anniversary we treat ourselves to a bottle of Cognac to sip on our sunny balcony – cheaper than in a bar.

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Great scallop (Coquille Saint-Jacques) or Pecten maximus, common names the great scallop, king scallop, St James shell or escallop, is a northeast Atlantic species of scallop, an edible saltwater clam, a marine bivalve mollusc in the family Pectinidae. This is the type species of the genus. This species may be conspecific with Pecten jacobaeus, the pilgrim’s scallop, which has a much more restricted distribution.

Saint-Jacques Shells (last letters “t” and “s” are not pronounced), or the great scallop, is a first choice dish in France. It is nutritionally interesting (proteins, vitamins, trace elements) without a lot of calories: only 50 Kcal/100g (not counting any sauce you might add).

Tips for Eating Saint-Jacques Shells:

Our kitchen.

Here are the main tips you should utilise to choose and cook the right Saint-Jacques and enjoy the taste!
All scallops are not real Saint-Jacques! To enjoy the real Saint-Jacques Shells or great scallops, you have to choose them carefully.
– Firstly, the period of the year if you want to buy them fresh is from October to mid-May.
– Secondly, the species: the real one is Pecten maximus caught mostly in Normandy (Protected Geographical Indication: Coquille Saint-Jacques des Côtes d’Armor) and Brittany in France. You’ll find also Pecten jacobaeus in the Mediterranean area and Pecten fumatus in Australia.
– Be careful! The label of Saint-Jacques can be also be given to other products of the pectinidae family from Canada, Chili, Chine, etc. But it is not the same seafood: the shells are different and they don’t belong to the same genus.
-It’s common to say that the tastier is the Pecten maximus and I agree more than never!

our bedroom.

How to choose them fresh? Take care of the aspect and the smell (iodine only). The shell should be closed or should close itself quickly if you touch it. Sometimes the fishmonger will sell them already without the shell. The white part should be pearly, the coral should be shiny and bulging. No part should touch the ice, it spoils the flesh.

It’s just question of presentation. In France one of the best recipes with great scallops is Saint-Jacques gratinées: great scallop with other seafood or mushroom, a sauce, and breadcrumbs presented in their shells after a quick moment in the oven.

Modern art in the apartment!

Raw or cooked? It can easily be eaten raw: tartare, carpaccio are very simple to do and flavourful. Scallops should be very fresh and not served to pregnant women. If you cook them, the cooking of the scallop has to be short. Otherwise you will lose consistency and taste.

With or without coral? The coral is the orange part of the scallop, it’s the female sexual organ and gets bigger with the development of the eggs. You can cook it with the white part of the scallop and present them together which gives the best visual effect to your dish. Some people doesn’t find any interest in the coral, they don’t like the consistency and the taste is less strong than the white part of the scallop. So they separate them and use the coral to make a tasty orange sauce or chantilly.
And what to drink? As with other seafood, it is recommended to choose a mineral white wine. But you can also enjoy champagne when preparing them raw or a fruity dry white wine for rich sauces, and a light red wine for seafood/meat combinations.

Recognisable at first glance: meaty, pearly white, almost translucent, with lovely orange coral the ideal size and above all the unique glow of vitality.

The presence of the roe or “coral” is guaranteed  and enhances the dish with a lovely touch of orange. Its taste is also highly prized.

Pecten maximus frequently creates a slight hollow in the substrate for its shell to lie in by opening and closing the valve to eject water from the mantle cavity, which raises the shell at an angle to the substrate so that subsequent water jets into the sediment and create a recess. Once settled, sand, mud, gravel or living organisms coat the upper valve, and the margin of the shell, with the tentacles and eyes, is all that is visible. They are filter feeders which extract particles from the surrounding water via a feeding current which is drawn by cilia across the gills where the food particles are trapped, then taken to the mouth in a stream of mucous.

Pecten maximus swims but this is generally limited to escape reactions. The main predators which cause this reaction when detected are the mollusc eating starfish Asterias rubens and Astropecten irregularis, although starfish which do not feed on molluscs can cause limited jumping or valve-closing reactions. The swimming action is performed by rapidly clapping the valves and expelling jets of water from each side of the hinge so that it moves with the curved edge of the shell at the front. The scallop jumps forwards by gradually relaxing the adductor muscle and then rapidly opening and closing the valves.

The oil company Shell plc derives its highly recognizable logo from this species.[17]

Yes, you can eat scallops raw to enjoy the natural flavors of the sea. However, you should only eat raw scallops at specialty restaurants or if you manage to buy fresh, dry scallops that aren’t harvested in contaminated water. NOW THEY TELL ME.


It’s our wedding anniversary, for the first time ever I forgot, not that we ever buy cards or presents anymore. That’s what 53 years does for you. Quite an achievement in this day and age.






Does France have a national problem with bad eyesight.Judging by the number of Optician shops I think the whole population must have eyesight problems. Perhaps that explains why they drive up my backside, perhaps they can’t see me until they’re 10 centimeters away or they’re try to read my number plate.


Another sunny day so it’s a stroll around Palavas and the beach, followed by a somewhat dubious beer.


A pleasant stroll along the beach reveals some pleasant sites. Topless bathing in France lives on. Hallelujah. I think in this instance we should thank the skill of a plastic surgeon and the benefits of silicon engineering.

At least I did the chivalrest thing and resisted taking a photo.






The second law of Thermodynamics, “Entropy tends towards infinity or put another way – “Eventually everything turns to shit” – explains so much of the daily shit and stupidity we encounter, a lot of it aided by incompetent software. The joys of so much stupidity in the world and living in a kakistocracy.


Another warm sunny day.

Drive to Perols to catch the tram into Montpellier.

Go for coffee at MacDonalds in the Egg but the queue is just too long. Settle for a tad more expensive cafe. Sit enjoying the sun and people watching.

Have a saunter around the shops and then it’s back on the tram to the car. Followed by a treat for Wendy to that ginormous Carrefour supermarket in Perot’s

Another quiet evening in watching more crap on TV and sipping Cognac.


Really have to admire the efficiency of the tram system.






Montpelier has a superb modern tram system that’s great. Problem is try buying a ticket for it. Me and a French geezer tried it. Nothing seemed to work. French geezer gave up and declared it “hours de service”, roughly translated “kaput”. I eventually got it working, a classic example of and utterly crap Human Computer Interface.Button on the touch screen doesn’t work, button below does.

Way back in 2009 we had a similar problem in Montpelier, except this time the sun shone on the screen and made it unreadable.

Who are these 10 year old simpletons that design them and worse still who are the managers that sign off on them. Has no one in France heard of use-ability testing.

Another day in France and the stupidity continues.


Warm and sunny again. A Leisurely morning relaxing on the balcony.

After Wendy’s lunch we take a leisurely stroll around Palavas. What a treat, in honor of Dylan I even stop for a beer, sadly they have no decent German beers or even decent French ones – a bit of a contradiction in terms.

Back home for a Cognac and of course a cup of tea.

Get everything packed ready for departure tomorrow.






Well it’s good to see Blackburn excel at something!

Blackburn has been named the vape capital of the UK, with nearly 22.56 e-cigarette shops per 100,000 people.

The former mill town came just above Bolton and Manchester, which had 20.26 and 19.84 vape shops per 100,000 people respectively.


Up early and ready for a 10:00 departure

Richard, our caretaker comes round to let us out. Yes, the locks, doors and parking is so complicated we cannot escape without help.

It’s a +2 hour drive up to our next stopover in Toulouse. We decided not to bother trying to explore the city centre so opted for an Ibis on the outskirts. What a mistake. Another underground rathole to park in. This time they are tight even one of those street scooters would struggle. The single slots are just 10cm wider than my car. How to scrape the paint off your car. You really need to have the roof down to climb in without opening a door. More French stupidity. Bugger that for a game of marbles, find a double slot and occupy both of them.

The room is similar to the parking, not enough room to swing a rat around in. Cancel our future Ibis stay in Rennes, cross them off our approved list.

There’s hardly anywhere open around the hotel apart from a bakers. Get some sandwiches and cake for tonights tea.

Later I discover a cafe that’s open about 15 minutes away. Wander round and treat myself to a beer. It was disgusting.


Today’s delight was Richard. He’s our caretaker and has let us in, looked after any problems during our stay and today let us out. He doesn’t speak a word of English but seems to be able to cope with my awful French words thrown together with not a moments consideration of grammar, word sex or verb conjugation. He’s a lovely chap so amiable. Started our stay with a bottle of Red Wine and ended with a fridge magnet for Wendy, showing our penthouse. A real delight and yes he’s French, 76 years old and born in Toulouse.




Free speech is sacred


It’ Toulouse. It’s France. It’s Sunday. And of course it’s closed. The problem is figuring out when they can bother opening.
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20240325 – Port Vendre


A grey but dry day.

After a lazy morning we have a stroll into Port Vendre. As we should have remembered everywhere is closed – it is France after all closed Saturday lunch through to Tuesday morning; plus Saints day (amazed how many saints there are); plus special events; plus stock taking. And of course closed for 3 hours at lunch time – staggered lunch breaks are much too difficult for them to comprehend.

Leisurely coffee and then off to Lidl who can be bothered to stay open.


The laid back, no rush life of France, especially their restaurants, when they can bother to open and serve. Teaches you patience.






More climate nonsense from the EU. Under EUDR, importers of commodities like coffee, cocoa, soy, palm, cattle, timber and rubber – and products that use them – must be able to prove their goods did not originate from deforested land, or face hefty fines.

The EUDR requires companies to digitally map their supply chains down to the plot where the raw materials were grown, which could potentially involve tracing millions of small farms in remote regions.
Moreover, because companies often don’t deal directly with farmers, they could be relying in part on data provided by multiple local middlemen, some of whom they also might not deal with directly or trust.

Many smallholder coffee farmers, who primarily sell their harvest to European markets, now find their main source of income in jeopardy.

Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster we escaped all this lunacy.


Well it’s a rain day today, at least it’s not as cold as home.

After leisurely start we squeeze the car out of the car park and drive over to an Intermarche hyper market. Great selection but alas no Cream Soda or Root Beer and no Aix-en-Provence red wine. But they do sell fresh sardines and mackerel. Fish salad for tea, along with some awesome coleslaw and fennel.

TV is in a good mood tonight and we get to watch all UK TV. Try a bottle of St Estephe, intent to only drink half but it was just too good to risk overnight oxidisation.

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Why do we drive on the left side of the road in the UK but most other countries drive on the right?

Driving on the left It is possible that the custom of driving on the left dates back to pre-history and may later have been used as an early road safety measure. At a time when the main danger on the roads was mugging, careful travellers would pass on-coming strangers on the left with their sword arm towards the passer-by.

The keep left rule did not become law in Britain until the increase in horse traffic made some sort of enforcement essential. Before this, the drivers of coaches leaving London for the country simply chose the firmest part of the road. The main dates for the introduction of the legal requirement to keep left are:

1756 – London Bridge
1772 – Towns in Scotland
1835 – All roads in Great Britain and Ireland

In Europe, Pope Boniface VIII instructed pilgrims to keep to the left in the year 1300. Later, class distinction in France meant that aristocrats drove their carriages on the left side of the road forcing everybody else over to the centre or to the right-hand side. Keeping left had really only ever applied to riding or driving. With the onset of the French Revolution in 1789 and the subsequent declaration of the rights of man in 1791 many aristocrats decided to keep to the ‘poor side’ of the road so as not to draw attention to themselves. Keeping to the right of the road was also seen as a way of defying the earlier Papal decree.

The subsequent Revolutionary wars and Napoleon’s European conquests led to the spread of driving on the right to Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands. Napoleon ordered his armies to use the right-hand side of the road in order to avoid congestion during military manoeuvres. The nations that resisted invasion – Britain, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Russia and Portugal – generally kept to the left.




Stop sharia law in Britain


Lazy start as usual. Sunny day so we try out the deck chairs on the balcony but by lunch time the balcony is in shade.

After lunch we have a stroll into Port Vendre. Have a capucino and I treat my self to a beer. Lovely sat out in the sun.

Come back and set the deck chairs up in the tatty courtyard whilst we have afternoon tea.

Overnight the wind got up, wow noisier than Belthorn.




Warm sunny day. Drive over to Collioure. Leave Wendy in the car – she’s taking it easy on her back today – while I have a stroll around the town and harbour.

Then it’s a drive into Argels sur Mere. Nice beach front but not much in the town. Then Wendy’s treat we go to the Hypermarket – it is impressive.


Wendy gives me an Easter Egg ready for Sunday – never forgets.




Another warm sunny day. Lazy start.

Drive up to a local fort and sit in car for Wendy’s lunch.

Then drive over to Banyuls sur Mer. Drop Wendy off on the beach front whist I search for parking I would hate to be here in summer, just no where to park.

Have a coffee on the beach front and French people watch. It’s lovely and sunny with a slight breeze.

Banyuls has to be the zebra crossing capital of France, some a less than20 yards apart. Not that it makes much difference to the French. Even if they bother to use them the motorists and bikers must just think they’re road art.


The pigeon story continues. Today as we’re sat having coffee we watch two pigeon fight over a piece of biscuit. They chase one another, squabble and it must change beaks about 8 times. Seems that they’re not bothered about sex, more interested in food. Fascinating to watch.







Another sunny day with a lazy start. We start to pack some of the bags and lug then down to the car ready for tomorrows departure.

Then we have a languid but tortuous drive over to Cerbere. The roads we’ve around the vineyards on the hillsides. Not a lot there but we get a coffee on the promenade and enjoy the afternoon by the sea.


The laid back, no rush life of France, especially their restaurants, when they can bother to open and serve that is, teaches you patience. Perhaps it’s the life we lost when we abandoned Sunday closing and half day closings. Mind you there’s a good chance you’ll die of second hand cigarette smoke or are deafened by the roar of noisy motorbikes doing 60 through a 20 mile sea front.






Met the woman who manages these apartments. Told her about the sat nav problems finding the place. “Yes, I know, you’re not the first one. It’s a problem.”. Stating the obvious I ask her “Why not put some guidance on the joining instructions”. “Good idea, I’ll look into it” she says. Dumber than a box of hammers.

“We are all born ignorant, but one must
work hard to remain stupid”  Ben Franklin


What a grey day. Finish loading the car and off by 10:00. Then it’s an easy drive up to Palavas le Flots.

Arrive in a howling gale, need goggles to get out the car as being near the beach is a sandstorm.

Getting in the Airbnb is a nightmare. We have to ring Richard. Richard doesn’t speak a word of English and my French is useless, annd even worse over the phone. Finally get to meet him at the garage entrance. He shows us where to park, our own garage; how to get in; where everything is in the apartment. Face to face we get by with my broken French. He gives us a bottle of wine to welcome us, he’s very amiable and by the end of it all we’re the best of buddies. Just a pity these French Airbnb’s haven’t heard of internet or keysafe locks.

Lounge / dining room

The apartment is stunning. It’s the penthouse. Modern and massive inside with a wrap around balcony that overlooks the sea and harbour. Fantastic views and we’re not overlooked. The only first World problem is the TV is a tad small for such a spacious lounge. We’ll cope.

Kitchen and 2nd dining room.

The howling gale continues all evening, worst than the winds in Belthorn, time to bring all the electronic shutters down. Wot no curtains, just shutters like most of France.

Finally get to enjoy my bottle of St Emillion that I’ve been lusting over all week.

trivia header


Near the Spanish border. Better not go across as those mosquitos will be waiting for Wendy.

The politics of France take place with the framework of a semi-presidential system determined by the French Constitution of the French Fifth Republic. The nation declares itself to be an “indivisible, secular, democratic, and social Republic”.[1] The constitution provides for a separation of powers and proclaims France’s “attachment to the Rights of Man and the principles of National Sovereignty as defined by the Declaration of 1789”.

The political system of France consists of an executive branch, a legislative branch, and a judicial branch. Executive power is exercised by the president of the republic and the Government. The Government consists of the prime minister and ministers. The prime minister is appointed by the president, and is responsible to Parliament. The government, including the prime minister, can be revoked by the National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament, through a motion of no-confidence; this ensures that the prime minister is practically always supported by a majority in the lower house (which, on most topics, has prominence over the upper house).

Parliament consists of the National Assembly and the Senate. It passes statutes and votes on the budget; it controls the action of the executive through formal questioning on the floor of the houses of Parliament and by establishing commissions of inquiry. The constitutionality of the statutes is checked by the Constitutional Council, members of which are appointed by the president of the republic, the president of the National Assembly, and the president of the Senate. Former presidents of the republic can also be members of the Council if they want to (Valéry Giscard-d’Estaing and Jacques Chirac were the only former presidents that participated into the council’s work).

The National Assembly sits in the Palais Bourbon, by the Seine.
The National Assembly is the principal legislative body. Its 577 deputies are directly elected for five-year terms in local majority votes, and all seats are voted on in each election.

Senators are chosen by an electoral college of about 165,000 local elected officials for six-year terms, and half of the Senate is renewed every three years. Before the law of 30 July 2004, senators were elected for nine years, renewed by thirds every three years.[29] There are currently 348 senators: 326 represent the metropolitan and overseas départements, 10 the other dependencies and 12 the French established abroad.

The Senate’s legislative powers are limited; on most matters of legislation, the National Assembly has the last word in the event of a disagreement between the two houses.

Since the beginning of the Fifth Republic, the Senate has almost always had a right-wing majority. This is mostly due to the over-representation of small villages compared to big cities. This, and the indirect mode of election, prompted socialist Lionel Jospin, who was prime minister at the time, to declare the Senate an “anomaly”.


Today’s good life entry for the Wave has to be this stunning, luxury apartment. We sure are shitting in the tall cotton here. It may have been a tad expensive, but we’re worth it.

Memo to self It’s only money, look to book luxury every time. After all said and done the bible has plenty to say on rich man and eye of needle, plus there are no pockets in shrouds, so get it spent before we kick the bucket.




Our Airbnb in Port Vendre’s was interesting. I didn’t do a review for them but if I had this is what I would have said:

The Good

Clean, modern and comfortable.

Nice views from the balcony.

To be fair the owner did get us some balcony seating within hours of complaining, but no way as comfortable.

The not so good

Lacks some of the basics, classic being a tin opener. Cups are a joke, a set of thimbles with handles, I think they must have got them cheap from a child tea party set.

4 Keys, 2 lock boxes and 4 doors are a nightmare to get in the place. Anyone would think it was Fort Knox. Very frustrating. Can’t even be bothered to label or colour code the keys to make it a tad easier.

On the 2nd floor and no lift is a nightmare, need to be an entrant to Ironman to lug everything up those narrow stairs. To be fair you we are warned in the posting.

3 different Sat Nav’s couldn’t find the place and no simple instructions to help. Apparently a common problem yet no guidance on the joining instructions.

Balcony didn’t get the sun after 1100.

The Bad

Comfy balcony furniture, as per photos, had vapourised. Replaced by 3 rusty kitchen stools – disgusting.

It say the beach is only 100 metres away. In their dreams, nearest is 450 metre. The sea is just over a 100 metres away but you’d be torn to shreds on the jagged rocks.

After complaining the comfy balcony furniture was replaced by two basic deck chairs – a joke.

Web site photos still haven’t been updated to remove the comfy balcony furniture – misleading future guests.

Well I would have given this place 5 stars, but due to comfy furniture issue I’ve given them 3 stars. Acid test, would I come again? No.

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20240319 – San Sebastián, Tarbes, Carcasson and Port Vendres


Lazy start to the morning followed by a trouble free, 5 hour drive down to Plymouth.

Hotel’s quite quaint, in a big old house, only 24 rooms but spotlessly clean, comfortable and cheap.

Being poor tea consists of roast beef butties for me and a trout salad for Wendy, started off by some smoked salmon and topped with


Well I start my French trip with good intentions. At least one “Wave” entry – something good every day.

Today I celebrate the screw top wine bottle, none of the difficulty of the cork so beloved by the French. Just easy on a road trip. Screw open, no need for a corkscrew. Drink. Screw bottle top with the remnants, assuming of course you’ve not managed to swig it all down.

Topped off by todays useless piece of information:

The best known brand of wine screw caps is Stelvin. The caps have a long outside skirt, intended to resemble the traditional wine capsule (“foil”), and use plastic PVDC (polyvinylidene chloride) as a neutral liner on the inside wadding.

The Stelvin was developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s by a French company Le Bouchage Mécanique at the behest of Peter Wall, the then Production Director of the Australian Yalumba winery. In 1964 Peter Wall approached Le Bouchage Mécanique. The Stelvin cap was trialled in 1970 and 1971 with the Swiss wine Chasselas, which was particularly affected by cork taint, and was first used commercially in 1972 by the Swiss winery Hammel.[6] From about 1973 Yalumba and a group of other wineries – Hardys, McWilliams, Penfolds, Seppelt, Brown Bros and Tahbilk – were involved in developing and proving up the concept and began using it commercially in 1976.

Wow, what a surprise, developed by a Frenchman. To this day some appellations ban the use of screw caps.


On our way to the delights of France.


Up early’ish for a traditional English breakfast. Traditional boarding house style breakfast, no buffet, just cooked on demand.

Have a wander around Plymouth. What a depressing place. Main shopping all second hand / charity shops, all the big stores are in a modern shopping precinct. Just another typical downtown city. Almost as bad as Blackburn.

Then stroll up to Plymouth Hoe, so much history there.

Well that’s enough Plymouth for one lifetime, drive over to the port. Usual queues. Security are having a fun time stopping nearly everyone, searching old ladies handbags and checking there is an engine under the bonnet.

Goodbye England for 6 weeks.

At least we board early. Pretty nice two bed cabin with settee (AKA sofa) and a porthole – it doesn’t open so any puking will be inside. Pretty good tea (AKA dinner); watch some downloaded Netflix; wine and then time for bed.

trivia header


Is this his bowling club?

Popular legend has it that it was on Plymouth Hoe, on 20th July 1588, that the Elizabethan Sea-Captain Sir Francis Drake was playing bowls when first news of sightings of the invading “Spanish Armada” was brought to him. Thereupon Drake ostensibly signified his wish merely to continue his game of bowls undisturbed, a cool reaction fabled as an act of English heroism. In reality, however, Drake and his fellow captains probably knew full well that the wind and tide conditions at that particular moment precluded the English Fleet from putting to sea immediately from Plymouth!
When he eventually went out to sea, he defeated the Spanish Armada and this is what possibly he is best known for.


A visit to Plymouth Hoe. Francis Drake finishing his game of bowls before setting off to defeat the Spanish Armada. And I’ve just seen to most beautiful Spaniel ever, a black and gold sable cocker spaniel. I’m so annoyed I didn’t get his photo. When I retire I will just have to have one.



Where have all the toilet seats gone? There must be a shitty trade in stolen seats.


Islams war on freedom


Not even in French terroratorial waters and French chauvinism / stupidity strikes an annoying blow. Half bottle of wine in the self service restaurant has a cork rather than screw top. Unbelievable. Scrat around for a cork screw, you’d at least think there’d be one chained to the wine racks. Alas have to join a serious queue and cashier has to open the bottle – adds to the queue. Stupidity reigns yet again.


This is Wendy’s cruise for the year. Complete with formal night photo, obstructing the the main staircase of course.

Reasonable nights sleep, crossing the dreaded Bay of Biscay was as smooth as the Southport boating lake.

Fairly mediocre breakfast, avoided the croissants and like a condemned man stuck to my last traditional English breakfast.

Arrive on time.

Just a short 2 hour drive to our first overnight in San Sebastián. Driving along the auto routes in Spain and France is so much more relaxing than motorways in the UK. There’s no one on them. Mind you that’s not surprising considering you have to stop every 200 yards for yet another toll plaza.

What a dump this place looks. Masses and masses of tower blocks as far as the eye can see. Our hotel is in the midst of them. OMG what have we let ourselves in for. Turns out to be a very modern and trendy hotel. A superb 5 star amidst these ghettos. We upgraded to a suite , free. Only downside is that dinner is not served until 20:00. Do they not realise we’ll be asleep by then – bloody foreigners!

Suites lovely, but no one mentioned that the water doesn’t flow unless you pop your key in the slot. Bizarre!

There’s free parking in an underground maze. I’m sure that there will be cars down there with skeletons in of the drivers who never found their way. No one mentioned you need to be in an open top car as the spaces are that narrow you can’t open the doors to get out. Unbelievable.

Research local restaurants, but as they mainly seem to have 3.5 stars and it would involve walking through the ghetto we give them a miss.

By 19:30 our stomachs are of the firm believe our throats been cut, could demolish a bear fur sandwich with gusto. Go down to the bar for pre-dinner drinks, all very civilised. Then Wendy goes and swigs down a 15 euro brandy – I need resuscitating.

Wendy’s meal is disgusting, fewer chips than a macdonalds kiddy fries portion and a few anorexic mini lamb chops. A shame because this is a lovely modern hotel, all very trendy.


We were one of the last cars off the ferry so I was dreading and expecting a 30 to 60 minute immigration queue. Wow, it was amazing must have been all of 4 minutes. So damn efficient it makes me start to wonder why we left the Evil Union. Nothing like the horror queue stories propagated by the lying English press.



SO many toll booths.


How much energy will the World need?



Thankfully breakfast is better than last nights dinner. A great buffet continental selection.

Set off on a two hour drive to Tarbes.

Arrive in glorious sunshine 75. Sit in local park to have our gourmet lunch, a mandarin for me.

Good to see my French still just about works as I ask for the toilets. In typical French fashion it’s hidden behind a Photo Booth that you have to squeeze past. The good news is that the seat thief hasn’t been but expecting a toilet roll is excessive.

Hotel’s ok.

We try to find a restaurant that’s open, most seem to have a lazy opening on 19:00. Find one; waiter screws up order; slanging match ensues with owner; I refuse to pay for my food order; pay for drinks and that’s it. End up getting a selection of desserts from Intermarche. Nothing like desserts for tea.


Awesome sat in a sunny park in Tarbes, with flocks of peacocks. For the first time get to see a white peacock. Then watch a rampant pigeon trying to mount a female who in typical female fashion is having none of it, headache and playing hard to get. The male’s fascinating as he stalks after his prey, but still sates his hunger by pecking food from the ground as he follows her.






Drive over to Carcasson. The castle looks amazing. It’s a warm sunny day, but a tad breezy. Check into nice hotel and then have a stroll over to the castle.

Wander around the shops and restaurants inside the castle walls. Stop for a beer and sit and enjoy the sun. Then it’s back to the hotel to await another late tea, 1900. A strolling minstrel stops by to entertain us. the couple at the next table offer to pay him to stop with the infernal racquet he’s making. He’s dressed like a Middle Ages plague doctor, terrifying, there will be adults and children having nightmares tonight.
Tea is good, I enjoy a lovely cassoulet followed by tradition bread and cheese. And so to bed.


This castle is amazing. Just strolling around, enjoying the sun and warmth, and imagining how life used to be.



Yes, we nearly forgot they’re never open.


I always thought America was bad for the exhaust bandits driving up your backside to see what’s inside your exhaust pipe, but France is so much worse. The safe stopping distance in France is 50 metres. I blame the EU using the metric system as the stupid ones are confused my metres and centimetres so they assume it’s 50 centimetres.

Some famous geezer once said it is better to travel than to arrive. Utter nonsense. My saying is “travel to see stupidity in action”.


Another sun, cloud and breezy day. After a good breakfast we take a stroll over to the castle again and pay to walk the ramparts and go into the castle. We’ve done it before but can’t really remember it.

Before we set off for Port Vendres we need a supermarket, being France they nearly all close at Sunday lunch, only a Casino open. Pretty grim supermarket, big but poor choice and shoddy fresh produce.

Then it’s a 90 minute drive over to our Airbnb for the next week in Port Vendres.

10 year old software geeks strike again.

What a nightmare finding the place. First sat nav takes us to the bottom of a 65 stairs up to the airbnb. Second takes us to a dead end and third hasn’t a clue. End up ringing the owner who talks us through getting there.

Swinging car into park lot is a nightmare, tight squeeze built for a bubble car. Then we have the key fiasco. Retrieve key 1 to get us into a courtyard. Retrieve set of 4 keys needed to get us through the various doors to our apartment. None of the keys are labelled and none of the doors / apartments are labelled. Stupidity rules yet again. Do these people ever think.

Apartments lovely with sea views and a balcony. Wot, where’s the comfy balcony furniture gone? It’s pretty well equipped and comfortable but you have to burst out in hysterics when you look at the thimbles they have for tea cups. Obviously think the rest of the world only drink espressos.

Tea tonight is the all time favorite of bread, cheeses and wine – even if we do have to do battle with a cork.


Awesome sea views from our balcony.




Welcome to Saudi Britain


Climate The Movie

Well worth a watch to question climate change.


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20240226 – San Diego Again


A grey day and not so warm.

Take a drive up to Mission Beach for a stroll along the sea front. It’s definitely one of the more salubrious areas of San Diego. Walk down as far as the home exchange we stayed in a few year ago, wow it’s a tad decrepit.

Drive around a few supermarkets in the hope of finding some of that soft Australian liquorice. No luck.







Australian Prime Minister does it again!! This woman should be appointed Queen of the World.. Truer words have never been spoken.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard- Australia:

Muslims who want to live under Islamic Sharia law were told on Wednesday to get out of Australia , as the government targeted radicals in a bid to head off potential terror attacks..

Separately, Gillard angered some Australian Muslims on Wednesday by saying she supported spy agencies monitoring the nation’s mosques. Quote:

I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Bali , we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Australians. ‘

‘This culture has been developed over two centuries of struggles, trials and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom’

‘We speak mainly ENGLISH, not Spanish, Lebanese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society …. Learn the language!’

‘Most Australians believe in God. This is not some Christian, right wing, political push, but a fact, because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture.’

‘We will accept your beliefs, and will not question why. All we ask is that you accept ours, and live in harmony and peaceful enjoyment with us.’

‘This is OUR COUNTRY, OUR LAND, and OUR LIFESTYLE, and we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this. But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our Christian beliefs, or Our Way of Life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great Australian freedom, ‘THE RIGHT TO LEAVE’.’ ‘If you aren’t happy here then LEAVE. We didn’t force you to come here. You asked to be here. So accept the country YOU accepted.’

Maybe if we circulate this amongst ourselves in UK , SA, Canada & USA, WE will find the courage to start speaking and voicing the same truths.


Appropriately warm and sunny for our last day of our California Road trip.

Take a drive up to the famous La Jolla Cove for a pleasant stroll around and watch the seals. Try to find somewhere for coffee, but no luck other than rip off Starbucks. What the hells going on this Is America or have we been transported to some 3rd World ghetto.

Drive down to explore La Jolla Shores. Sit down on the beach front for coffee while Wendy goes indoors to order. A stroppy waiter confronts me. Oh I need to take your order. Well you weren’t here so my wife had to go inside to order. “Look I don’t give a rats who takes my order, it can be Donald Trump for all I care. All I want is a coffee, black, no pollutants. Simple.” Wendy encounters shit service indoors so we vote with our feet.






Apple what is wrong with you? You claim to be the best in ease of use yet so many inconsistencies between IPhone, iPad, MacBook and Mac it makes me want to throw the whole lot out and go back to the evil Empire.

Complete lack of common sense and consideration. Just two classics Time on Mac on top right, time on iPhone top left; email swipe to delete on iPhone wanders from swipe left or swipe right with no obvious pattern. Sack the 10 year olds – incapable of tying their own shoelaces – and employ some adults with some common sense, For gods sake get a grip and before launching anymore trivia, get an Ease of Use / Standardisation project under way. I’ll gladly give you a burgeoning list of the senseless.


Up even before the crack of sparrows – 0315. Then drive to airport, drop off Hertz mobile, it may be a boring Chevy Malibu but it’s very comfy and served us well.

Usual queues at TSA – see rants below.

Into lounge with Dragon pass, not exactly one of the most luxurious, but it sufficed.

First flights Delta to Atlanta. Usual Delta staff, officious bitch at boarding had all the charm of a menopausal grizzly, obviously on a power kick. Flight crew weren’t too bad, lazy as usual but at least some of them smiled.

Dragon Pass has no lounges at Atlanta so we have to stump up $100 for a 4 hour layover. Tried to drink and eat our moneys worth but didn’t quite make it.

Virgin flight to Atalanta was the usual great Premium flight, although sadly they had no Baron Otard Cognac – will it be Aer Lingus next?

Home at last. Dog tired.


Well what an awesome road trip. Yes, we’ve been to many of them places before but discovered new attractions, 17 mile drive; Point Lobos; Monterey Aquarium; not to forget three days in Joshua Tree NP, one of my favorites.

Met some new friends. Had some great dinners with old and new friends. Stayed with Nat & Paul, our oldest Home Exchange friends; stayed at Bob & Marilyns lovely home twice – thank you all. I think we might take friends advice, get our feet wet and come across the border (will the mobile they give us be an iPhone?) and then squat at B&M’s home – it so comfortable and relaxing.

Thanks to everyone.






Good thing about the TSA queue of 20 minutes, as it gives you time to contemplate the evil of the religion responsible for it.

To encourage contemplation and as a reminder of that dreadful event, and to help pass the time the walls could be decorated with excerpts from the Quran extolling the virtues of violence.

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20240212 – Sacramento to Desert Hot Springs


Leave Monterey, we’ve had a fabulous time there, and drive over to Sacramento.

Been past Sacramento a few times but never stayed.

Pleasant sunny drive. Check into a Home 2 Suite and as usual it’s a great all round, suite complete with a kitchen.

It’s in a nice neighborhood so we have a stroll to a local supermarket to get our tea (dinner for southern snowflakes).




Pat Condell – Appeasing Islam


Start the sunny day with a good breakfast.

Then after a lazy start, we’re off down to old town Sacramento, yes they actually have an old town, complete with river boat steamer. Very pleasant to walk around.

The next stop is the state capital. It’s only half a mile away but in true American laziness we drive to it.

Car parking in this city is expensive, typically $3 an hour.

There’s an indigenous Peoples Protest. What are they protesting about. Well, it appears that some of them have gone missing or been murdered. When I ask a so what question they point out that indigenous people are 7 times more likely to be murdered or go missing. Apparently, they’re not blaming police negligence. Fortunately, there’s a protest march followed by a cultural dance event in front of the state capital.

We sit down to watch, not all that impressive, no dancing and just a lot of singing of very repetitive “Girls Coming of Age” songs, which apparently solve most known social problems. Each song is unique to that girl and seems to consist of about 3 words chanted to death. Haven’t a clue how it solves problems unless it’s just the song’s so repetitive and boring that it drives you nuts.

They all have flags of their Nation but of course some woke snowflake has to spoil it with a Palestinian flag – disgusting they allow it.

Have a free guided tour of the palatial state capital building, similar to the one in Washington. What is it about politicians the World over splashing out taxpayers money on extravagant palatial offices, what’s wrong with a few low-cost portacabins. Apparently ND or is it SD has a very basic, low-cost capital – must look it up

Signs to the tour are wrong, point this out but everyone knows they’re wrong and nothing can be done about it, too much bureaucracy and politics involved so instead they just f..k with customers and waste their time. Typical politicians.

The Guided tour is great, very informative and interesting, without being too long and boring.

Yeah, it’s pancake day or as the Americans call it Mardi Gras. When I was a kid this was one of the highlights of the year. Just English pancakes for tea with orange juice, if you were lucky, and sugar on them, no Maple syrup or other exotic toppings. Times were hard and it’s a reflection of the times that his was one of the highlights of a kids year.

So, in loving memory, it’s going to be just pancakes today. Off to iHOP, I imagine tey’ll be packed out, it’s their day of the year. Surprised hardly anyone in, what’s wrong with Americans? It’s two Lemon Ricotta Mixed Berry Crepes and two Cinnamon Bun Crepes drizzled with Cheesecake Mousse. Heaven. A cholesterol special will bugger up my diet.




After a lazy start we set off on a long, 5 hour drive, down Bakersfield. Fairly pleasant drive down I5.

Stop overnight in Bakersfield, nothing much there really, just a big city.




The religion of fear


We’ve decided to add a stay Thursday and Friday at our Desert Hot Springs Airbnb rather than stop over two nights in Motels somewhere. So it’s a 3 hour drive down to Desert Hot Springs. A lovely scenic drive and very little traffic.

Arrive at our Airbnb for the next 9 days. It’s lovely, in a pleasant neighborhood. A real home from home, loads of gadgets and everything you need.

Spend the first 5 minutes on arrival looking for the button to open the drive gate, until I realize it’s manual. Can you believe that this is America, and this is California – bizarre.

Have to say the photographer did a good job of making the rooms look way bigger than they actually are, but they’re big enough and lovely furnished, so it’s not a problem.

Tea for me tonight is a Beef Burrito from a local Mexican restaurant. Good, plenty of beef.

Sort Apple TV out and we’re settled in for the night with a couple of beers and some Zinfandel.


How come there’s no cave paintings of salads?


Lazy start to what will be a lazy day and for Wendy the excitement of a supermarket trip.

Wendy has a shower and then can’t turn the water off. I try everything. Ring owner who gets her Uncle to come round. Meanwhile turn water off at the mains.

Uncle can’t fix it so a plumber is on the way. Meanwhile, we have the joy of a trip to Ralphs in Palm Springs.






After a lazy start to a warm sunny day we’re off to Joshua Tree National Park, I’m excited.

Call in the visitors centre, tempted into buying another JT hat and then buy an annual NP pass, ready for summer.

Devastated at how busy the place is. Mind you perhaps coming on a Saturday was not such a good idea, and to top it off it’s a bank holiday weekend – Presidents Day on Monday. But the child in me could hardly wait. Nearly all the parking areas were chockablock, just too many damn tourists. Managed to park and have lunch sat by skull rock along with thousands of other pesky tourists. take a small stroll around the area, decide the best philosophy is to just drive around and enjoy the scenery as we will be coming back another day. scenery is awesome especially the rocks never mind the Joshua trees.

Back home for steak and salad for tea.

trivia header

Joshua Tree rock formation animation:

The giant boulders found in Joshua Tree National Park were formed through a geological process called exfoliation, which is also known as “sheeting.” This process typically occurs in areas with granite rocks, such as Joshua Tree, which is part of the Mojave Desert in southeastern California.
Here’s how it happens:
* Formation of Granite: Granite is an igneous rock that forms deep underground when molten magma cools slowly over thousands to millions of years. This slow cooling allows large mineral crystals, such as quartz, feldspar, and mica, to form within the rock.
* Erosion and Weathering: Over millions of years, the surface of the Earth undergoes weathering and erosion due to wind, rain, temperature changes, and other environmental factors. These processes slowly wear away the outer layers of rock, exposing the granite beneath.
* Exfoliation: As the granite is exposed to the elements, it undergoes a unique type of weathering called exfoliation. This occurs when the outer layers of the granite expand and contract at different rates due to temperature changes. During the day, the surface of the rock heats up and expands, and at night it cools down and contracts. Over time, this repeated expansion and contraction cause the outer layers of the granite to crack and flake off, similar to the way layers of an onion peel away.
* Formation of Boulders: As exfoliation continues, large sheets of granite break off from the main rock formation. These sheets eventually break down further into smaller pieces, which are then shaped and rounded by additional weathering and erosion processes. The end result is the formation of the giant boulders that are characteristic of Joshua Tree National Park.
These boulders are scattered throughout the park and often stacked on top of each other in fascinating formations, providing a unique landscape for visitors to explore and enjoy.



Joshua Tree is beautiful, but we missed this beauty.


I’ve been told how busy the National parks have become, but never yet experienced it. Well, this place is infested with damn tourists. So have come up with a few ideas and thoughts on how to get rid of them.
1 Use the obvious tactic of pricing them out of the market, but that would spoil it for the poor people. Are there any poor people in America?

2 You could limit the number of people allowed in per day, that would mean I’d have to get up early.

3 I think this solution is simple. Get rid of the car parks near the attractions and build replacement car parks at least a mile away on the basis that no Americans walk, it would easily get rid of 90% of the tourists. The distance between the attraction and the car park could be directly proportional to the popularity of the attraction. So really attractive attractions would have a car park, at least 5 miles away, while, the less popular would be a mile away.


Warm and sunny so decide on a lazy day as Mike’s arriving.

Nip out to the supermarket and Mike turns up while we’re out. Great to see him.

Quiet night in.





trivia header

The Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) primarily grows in the Mojave Desert of southwestern North America, particularly in California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. While it’s true that Joshua trees have specific habitat preferences, including certain altitudes, their distribution isn’t solely determined by altitude but rather by a combination of various environmental factors.
Here are some key factors influencing the altitude range of Joshua trees:
* Climate: Joshua trees thrive in arid and semi-arid environments with low rainfall and high temperatures. The Mojave Desert provides these conditions, which are typically found at lower elevations. However, they are also found at higher elevations within the Mojave Desert where the climate is suitable.
* Temperature: While Joshua trees can tolerate extreme temperatures, they are limited by freezing temperatures, which can damage or kill them. Higher elevations generally experience colder temperatures, and Joshua trees may be restricted from growing at very high elevations due to the increased risk of frost damage.
* Soil Conditions: Joshua trees prefer well-drained, sandy or gravelly soils. Altitudes with certain soil types conducive to their growth may influence their distribution.
* Precipitation Patterns: Altitude can influence precipitation patterns, with higher elevations often receiving more rainfall or snowfall. Joshua trees are adapted to low rainfall environments and may not thrive in areas with significantly higher precipitation.
* Competition and Ecosystem Dynamics: At different altitudes, the ecological communities and species compositions vary. Competition with other plant species and ecological interactions may limit the distribution of Joshua trees at certain altitudes.
While Joshua trees are commonly associated with lower elevations, they can be found at altitudes ranging from about 1,300 to 6,000 feet (approximately 400 to 1,800 meters) above sea level. Within this range, they occupy habitats that provide the specific conditions necessary for their survival and growth. However, outside this range, environmental factors become less conducive to their persistence.
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20240205 – Hearst Castle to Monterey


Sun and cloud, with the odd shower.

Lazy morning with a trip into Cambria for tonight’s dinner. Must have a slice of Olallieberry pie.

Then it’s one of the highlights of our trip, or so we suppose, as we visit Hearst Castle. Despite having passed this way several times we never got round to visiting it.

Well have to say it is amazing, but for all the wrong reasons. Just an ostentatious flaunting of extreme wealth. An amazing collection but all somewhat gaudy. Seems like he had a scandalous love life for those times and was also a supporter of the Nazis. Really will have to watch “Citizen Cane” as William Randolph Hearst was the primary inspiration. The castle, despite it all, was well worth seeing . Guided tour is very well done and informative. Even if they didn’t confirm what his politics were – see Trivia.

It wouldn’t be America without a bottle of tomato ketchup on the table.

Then we drive up to the Elephant Seal Beach. Now that is truly amazing. The excess of pictures tell the story. What a boring life they must lead flipping sand on their backs, copulating, giving birth and nipple feeding. Well worth seeing.

Pie was good, but pastrami was pathetic. I’m becoming a real pastrami and Reuben’s snob these days.



trivia header


William Randolph Hearst Sr. (/hɜːrst/;[1] April 29, 1863 – August 14, 1951) was an American businessman, newspaper publisher, and politician known for developing the nation’s largest newspaper chain and media company, Hearst Communications. His flamboyant methods of yellow journalism influenced the nation’s popular media by emphasizing sensationalism and human interest stories. Hearst entered the publishing business in 1887 with Mitchell Trubitt after being given control of The San Francisco Examiner by his wealthy father, Senator George Hearst.

After moving to New York City, Hearst acquired the New York Journal and fought a bitter circulation war with Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World. Hearst sold papers by printing giant headlines over lurid stories featuring crime, corruption, sex, and innuendos. Hearst acquired more newspapers and created a chain that numbered nearly 30 papers in major American cities at its peak. He later expanded to magazines, creating the largest newspaper and magazine business in the world. Hearst controlled the editorial positions and coverage of political news in all his papers and magazines, and thereby often published his personal views. He sensationalized Spanish atrocities in Cuba while calling for war in 1898 against Spain. Historians, however, reject his subsequent claims to have started the war with Spain as overly extravagant.

She has a headache.

He was twice elected as a Democrat to the U.S. House of Representatives. He ran unsuccessfully for President of the United States in 1904, Mayor of New York City in 1905 and 1909, and for Governor of New York in 1906. During his political career, he espoused views generally associated with the left wing of the Progressive Movement, claiming to speak on behalf of the working class.
After 1918 and the end of World War I, Hearst gradually began adopting more conservative views and started promoting an isolationist foreign policy to avoid any more entanglement in what he regarded as corrupt European affairs. He was at once a militant nationalist, a staunch anti-communist after the Russian Revolution, and deeply suspicious of the League of Nations and of the British, French, Japanese, and Russians.[2] Following Hitler’s rise to power, Hearst became a supporter of the Nazi Party, ordering his journalists to publish favourable coverage of Nazi Germany, and allowing leading Nazis to publish articles in his newspapers.[3] He was a leading supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932–1934, but then broke with FDR and became his most prominent enemy on the right. Hearst’s publication reached a peak circulation of 20 million readers a day in the mid-1930s. He poorly managed finances and was so deeply in debt during the Great Depression that most of his assets had to be liquidated in the late 1930s. Hearst managed to keep his newspapers and magazines.
His life story was the main inspiration for Charles Foster Kane, the lead character in Orson Welles’ film Citizen Kane (1941).[4] His Hearst Castle, constructed on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean near San Simeon, has been preserved as a State Historical Monument and is designated as a National Historic Landmark.


Mixed weather so after a lazy start we set off from the hotel in Cambria, really nice place, to our Airbnb in Seaside, just outside Monterey. Couldn’t go up Highway 1, as planned, the road is closed.

Pleasant drive up 101. Stop off at Mission Nuestra Senori de la Soledad for a look around and Wendy’s lunch in the car. It’s a quaint little Missiondating back to 1791 and off the beaten path.

Arrive at our Airbnb. Very comfortable


Pat Condell – O Dhimmi Canada


Rained all day so the usual lazy start. Drive down to Cannery Row, a tad disappointing. Just went shopping, trying to find a decent supermarket was worse than trying to find a decent web site. Then hunkered down and spent the day in.

In the evening we started watching Citizen Kane, based on the live of Willian Hearst. Obviously a tad dated and in black and white. Well it may be an iconic film but so dated it was hard work.


Sun and cloud day, so after the usual lazy start we take a drive down the Famous highway to the Big Sur. some awesome coastal views. Can see why it’s the most dangerous road in America, too many great views to distract you. Although we’ve drive highway 1 South to North, we had planned on this trip to drive all the way up highway from Atascadero to Monterey but it’s closed is currently closed due to a massive landslide that occurred in January 2023 at a location called Paul’s Slide. This landslide buried a two-mile segment of the highway, making it impassable. It’s not forecast to be open until late 2024, but at least we got to photograph the iconic bridge.

In the evening we go out for dinner to Tarpy’s. Paul’s recommended their Shrimp and Grits. It was just around the corner from our Airbnb, the shrimp and grits were amazing, I was stuffed. But as for the rest of it, well. Place was freezing, needed long Johns and an anorak. Had an Artichoke starter, what an Anorexic Artichoke, hardly any flesh on it. Wendy had the Meatloaf, not very tasty, but the shrimp grits made it all worthwhile.




Sunny day so we take a drive around the famous 17 mile drive. Yes, we have to pay $11.95, but unusual for to say it was well worth it. Some spectacular ocean views and get to see the World famous Lone Cedar – reminds me of the cover of the book Snow Falling On Cedars.

Then it’s a trip to Costco – treat me sen to some new socks – and then cheap petrol. Also discover Lucky supermarket, so much better than anything round here.

Audrey drops off free Aquarium tickets and we chat.

trivia header


The Lone Cypress is a Monterey cypress tree located in Pebble Beach, California. Standing atop a granite headland overlooking Carmel Bay, the tree has become a Western icon and has been called one of the most photographed trees in North America.

Early history
The tree is believed to have been seeded circa 1750 in what was then the Spanish colony of New Spain. However, due to the invasive nature of traditional dendrochronology, the precise age of the tree is unknown and can only be inferred.

Over the centuries the tree has been weathered by the wind and salt spray coming off the Pacific Ocean, gradually altering its appearance. The earliest known depictions of the tree’s likeness in paintings and photographs date to the 1880s, which shows the tree with a lush dome-shaped canopy.
20th century
In 1941, a stone retaining wall was constructed around the base of the tree to protect its roots from erosion.
In 1948, a series of cables were installed to help support the tree.
In 1969, the tree was fenced off to the public in order to protect its roots from being damaged from trampling.
In 1984, an unknown arsonist attempted to set fire to the tree. The tree survived with only minor fire scarring.
21st century
On February 16, 2019, the tree lost one of its limbs during a severe weather event known as a Pineapple Express. This dramatically altered its appearance.
The future longevity of the tree is unknown. The longest-lived Monterey cypress based on physical evidence lived to only 284 years old.

The tree is located off 17-Mile Drive between Cypress Point Club and the Pebble Beach Golf Links, two of world’s best-known golf courses.
The Monterey cypress grows naturally only in Pebble Beach and Point Lobos.

A drawing of the tree was registered as Pebble Beach Company’s trademark in 1919. The company said the trademark protected not only the logo but also the tree itself.

trivia header



Sunny day. Off down to the Aquarium . Parking is a nightmare. I end up ina 2 mile No Left Turn debacle, unbelievable.

Aquariums very crowded but enjoyable. Some great exhibits. Alas no scuba diving in it, just not big enough. Exhibit on Sardine business and canning on Cannery Row, which was in full swing until the 1950’s, was very interesting. Amazed to see the examples of Pilchard cans, yet nowadays you can’t get Pilcards in an American supermarket, rarer than a bible seller in Tehran.

Take out a second mortgage for the coffee and can you believe $20 to park.

Then it’s off through farming country to Salinas and the Steinbeck museum. Yes, I know we’ve been before, but thanks to my geriatric memory I can’t remember it so I delight in a whole new experience.

Pop round to Audrey’s to return the free tickets.

Then it’s back home, Lucky’s supermarket, and a great Hickory Beans and burger dinner.


Pat Condell – Sharia Fiasco

trivia header

Elephant seals or sea elephants are very large, oceangoing earless seals in the genus Mirounga. Both species, the northern elephant seal (M. angustirostris) and the southern elephant seal (M. leonina), were hunted to the brink of extinction for oil by the end of the 19th century, but their numbers have since recovered. They are the largest extant carnivorans, weighing up to 4,000 kilograms (8,800 lb). Despite their name, elephant seals are not closely related to elephants, and the large proboscis or trunk that males have was convergently evolved.

Seeing elephant seals in the wild is a truly remarkable experience, and coastal viewpoints in California offer breathtaking sights of this species that you won’t want to miss. As you watch these large, blubbery mammals interact in their natural habitat, the experience is made even more special knowing that you are witnessing a conservation success story. 
Northern elephant seals were hunted to the brink of extinction by the end of the 19th century. After decades of being slaughtered for their blubber, which people used for lamp oil during that time, only an estimated 100 animals remained on one small island off the coast of Mexico. Mexico and the United States declared protections for this species, and northern elephant seals rebounded in a big way—there are an estimated 150,000 – 200,000 individuals today, and the population continues to grow every year. 
This species is found in the North Pacific, ranging from Baja California, Mexico, to the Gulf of Alaska and Aleutian Islands. Elephant seals spend the vast majority of their time—about nine months of the year—in the open ocean, only coming to shore twice each year to breed and molt. 
They have one of the longest migrations of any mammal in the world, traveling up to 13,000 miles each year from shore to their feeding grounds in the northern Pacific Ocean. During their biannual migrations at sea, northern elephant seals forage for bottom-dwelling creatures and dive up to depths over 5,000 feet (that’s equal to four Empire State Buildings!). 
While there are peak seasons between December and June when most elephant seals haul out, or temporarily leave the water, you can see elephant seals year-round in California on their breeding beaches, called rookeries. But with so much of their lives spent underwater up to 5,000 miles offshore, how is it that elephant seals can be spotted on the beach during any season?  
Male and female elephant seals swim to and from the rookery beaches in phases, depending on where they are in their life cycle. This means that depending on when you venture out to an elephant seal overlook, you might be able to spot 4,500-pound male seals fighting for dominance, expectant mothers coming ashore to give birth, or young pups learning to swim.  
Whether you visit an elephant seal viewing point or tune in to our live beach webcam, you can watch wild seals ashore and observe their fascinating natural behaviors. Follow the incredible life journey of this species in the timeline below, find out when and where to see elephant seals in California, and learn how you can help protect these animals.  


Another sunny day.

After a lazy start we take Audrey’s advice and visit Point Lobos. It has to be one of the State Parks ever. Amazing and awesome coastline, my iPhone nearly ran out of film! But photos don’t do it justice, really don’t know how to get them all on this blog. We were really lucky as they were closing the entrance when we got there we were the last car in. Sadly very limited parking. Best $9 spent on this trip so far.

In the evening I watch the Super Bowl tonight. Pity I don’t understand it. Adverts galore. Half time entertainment was pathetic, who were they? Wot no costume failures.

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20240129 – Santa Monica to Atascadero


A very lazy start to another warm sunny day. I could really get used to this lifestyle.

Drive over to the Santa Monica Mountains. First stop King Gillette Ranch. Of course the visitors centre is closed but have a shuffle around. Then it’s on to own main objective, Malibu Creek Park. Sit an have lunch admiring the Mountains – well hills really – and the Blue Birds. Then head off to the Rock Pool. It’s near the visitors centre which as well as being closed is a 1 mile walk away from the main car park. What numpty dreamt this up. Don’t they realise this is America, nobody walks in America. On top of that the distances shown on the signs are a total screw up. Not only must their idea of a mile be based on some mythical American mile, but to find the Rock Pool gets further away as you get closer must be some sort of space time distortion in the fabric of their universe.

Anyway finally get there and it’s infested with two families and an excess of noisy rug rats.

Ventura park.

Then it’s onto Paramount ranch, but that’s all being rebuilt after a forest fire – no doubt caused by climate change which in turn has been caused by BREXIT.

Pass on Peter Strauss Ranch.

It’s been a lovely drive around these “mountains”, so very picturesque.

Then decide we’ll drive down the rest of the famous Mulholland Drive, can you believe it’s closed. Oh well, 101 back to home for afternoon tea in our new mini-kettle – Assam, so civilised.

Big decision, wine or no wine?



Ventura town hall. Why do they always have to be so palatial? Just like the UK it’s taxpayers money so it doesn’t matter.

Stop signs in America leave a lot to be desired. Are they just a stop or is it a 4 way, look for the plaque underneath that says “All Way”, well not always. Now here’s a suggestion why not keep “All Way” stops as an Octagonal sign and 2 way / Others as a Square. That way if you miss the plaque you can still know what it is by the shape – SIMPLES.

Up in Monterey they don’t even bother to say “All Way”.





Only in California.


Another sunny day and lazy start.

Drive down to Main Street Ventura, a pleasant traffic free zone. Have a shuffle around and Wendy has lunch.

Then we do the botanical gardens, at least with plant watching they don’t fly off like bird watching. The place is in need of a bit of TLC and some signs. Good 90 minute walk up and down but not really worth the $7 each.

Quick supermarket stop and then back home for afternoon tea.

The sea mist is shrouding the Channel Islands, there’s an occaisional peep through the mist.


On the wall over the urinal:


Pat Connell – A Word to Islamofascist




Lazy start to a grey day as we pack to move onto to Nat and Pauls home in Atascadero. I must be about 8 years since we last saw them.

Drive up to Pismo beach and stop off on the beach car park for Wendy’s essential lunch. Then drive down to the pier for a stroll. It’s going to rain any moment and is blowing a gale. Is this really California?

Then drive onto Atascadero after yet another brief supermarket stop.

It’s great to see N&P again, they make us so welcome. Nate prepared dinner and then we have a pleasant evening in catching up. Put the World to rights. Agree that we’re both living in a kakistocracy. Watch The Sound of Freedom. And yes by way of a change it’s raining.


An American professor suggested adding a pinch of salt to a cup of tea, and Brits lost their minds. People were pissed. The US Embassy even had to issue a statement condemning the recipe. They said, “We want to ensure the good people of the UK that the unthinkable notion of adding salt to Britain’s national drink is not official United States policy. And never will be.”

It’s Very, Very Funny How These 29 Extremely American Things Confuse The Bloody Hell Out Of British People.

Because I love a good “US vs. UK” moment (our comments in brackets), here are some American things that confuse the hell out of British people:

When Americans say what grade they are in to describe how old they are.

Beans on toast. (what’s wrong with them – awesome).

Sweet potato casserole.

The way Americans heat up water in microwaves. (both bizarre and dangerous).

The fact that Americans call it “math” instead of “maths.” (never understand that one).

When Americans say, “Wanna grab a coffee?”

Why Americans are so friendly and chatty in general. (We agree, they are so awesomely friendly).

Why Americans always joke about marmite.

Why Americans care about the royal family. (never understand that one).

Summer camp. (never understand that one).

The fact that Americans wear things that say “London” and “Oxford,” and Brits wear things that say “New York” and “Chicago.”


The way Americans call pizza “pie.”

The fact that Americans find British accents sexy. (never understand that one, but it’s good for us).

The use of “xx.”

The whole kettle vs. teapot conundrum. (never understand that one. Very rare to find an electric kettle, we take our own.).

The legal drinking age. (never understand that one).

Wee vs. pee.

School dances.

“Chip chip.” (really annoying along with “tally ho” and “old chap”)

The fact that Americans call it “horseback riding” instead of “horse riding.”

Clapping and cheering at movie theaters. (never understand that one).

The way Americans carry shopping bags.

The way Americans think talking in British accents is funny. (just annoying).

The way Americans tell non-Americans what specific state they’re from, as if the non-American has any idea where that is. (never understand that one).

“Lovers’ lanes.”

“On line” vs. “In line.” (worse still is the line instead of queue – probably because it’s difficult to spell queue).

And lastly, toasting marshmallows.




My expensive, luxury easy peel orange – £3.

After a good nights sleep there’s home grown Figs for breakfast – awesome.

Have a lazy day in with N&P, just enjoying one another’s company. Must be over 6 years since we saw them.

Go out for dinner in the evening to a local restaurant in Atascadero.

Then it’s back home for some Netflix – I manage to fall asleep. It’s oh so tiring doing nothing all day.

trivia header

Sea glass are naturally weathered pieces of glass, which often have the appearance of tumbled stones. Sea glass is physically and chemically weathered glass found on beaches along bodies of salt water. These weathering processes produce natural frosted glass. Sea glass is used for decoration, most commonly in jewellery. “Beach glass” comes from fresh water and is often less frosted in appearance than sea glass. Sea glass takes 20–40 years, and sometimes as much as 100–200 years, to acquire its characteristic texture and shape. It is also colloquially referred to as drift glass from the longshore drift process that forms the smooth edges. In practice, the two terms are used interchangeably.

Sea glass begins as normal shards of broken glass that are then persistently tumbled and ground until the sharp edges are smoothed and rounded. In this process, the glass loses its slick surface but gains a frosted appearance over many years.

Naturally produced sea glass (“genuine sea glass”) originates as pieces of glass from broken bottles, broken tableware, or even shipwrecks, which are rolled and tumbled in the ocean for years until all of their edges are rounded off, and the slickness of the glass has been worn to a frosted appearance. Then, the glass will wash to shore where it may be collected.






Morro Bay.

Wake to more frozen figs for breakfast. Then the usual lazy start and once we all get our acts together we drive over to one of our favorite places – Morro bay. Have lunch there overlooking Morro Rock. I have the best crab cakes I’ve ever tasted. Quite novel having a meal at lunch time and then a snack / salad at teatime.

Then drive down the coast to Harmony for a shuffle around the pottery and glassworks. Only 18 people live there!

trivia header

Groundhog Day (Pennsylvania German: Grund’sau dåk, Grundsaudaag, Grundsow Dawg, Murmeltiertag; Nova Scotia: Daks Day) is a tradition observed regionally in the United States and Canada on February 2 of every year. It derives from the Pennsylvania Dutch superstition that if a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day and sees its shadow, it will retreat to its den and winter will go on for six more weeks; if it does not see its shadow, spring will arrive early.

The tradition has roots in the ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas when clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter. The candles represented how long and cold the winter would be.

While the tradition remains popular in the 21st century, studies have found no consistent association between a groundhog seeing its shadow and the subsequent arrival time of spring-like weather.

The first Groundhog Day was celebrated on Feb. 2, 1887, in Punxsutawney, Penn., according to History.com.

The weather lore was brought from German-speaking areas where the badger (German: Dachs) is the forecasting animal. It is related to the lore that clear weather on the Christian festival of Candlemas forebodes a prolonged winter.

The Groundhog Day ceremony held at Punxsutawney in western Pennsylvania, centering on a semi-mythical groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil, has become the most frequently attended ceremony. Grundsow Lodges in Pennsylvania Dutch Country in the southeastern part of the state observe the occasion as well. Other cities in the United States and Canada also have adopted the event.

Punxsutawney Phil brought cheers as he predicted an early spring is in store for us in 2024.



Storage of all the items for the troops.

One of the boxes ready to go.

Storage of all the items for the troops.[/caption]For a change here’s a real good news story.

Our friends Nat and Paul run a charity to send boxes to troops. Every Monday, along with some helpers, they make up boxes to send out to their troops. They also raise money for this charity.

Mission Statement

To serve all our troops in all branches of the United States Military by sending care boxes full of items they need for their professional and personal well-being.

We are reaching out to all deployed military personnel, with the hope of making their deployment a little easier.

Sample list of needs, some of the items requested, that we send in large flat-rate USPS boxes are:






After a fig breakfast, a lazy start and a salmon salad for lunch we set off to our next stop in Cambria. Of course no journey would be complete without a supermarket stop.

Paul tried very hard to get us to stay longer but we’d already booked the hotel and house guests are like fish they go off after a few days. Much as we enjoyed our stay with N&P, it was awesome, we were determined not to overstay our welcome.

Hotel is very nice and comfortable. Chicken salad for tea and a full bottle of wine. Slept like a log despite the 5 serious weather warnings.






We were going to drive up Highway 1, all along the cost to where it was closed off. But when we saw the various work crews clearing fallen trees decided it might be more sensible to just hunker down for the afternoon. Test out some SQL solutions for PCMSC, and who knows I might even get some of the Benjamin Franklin biography read.

Judging by the alarming and dire TV weather forecast you would think this was Armageddon, enough to strike fear and terror into anyone. Stay indoors and check your emergency supplies. The end of the World is nigh. Five weather warnings, don’t they realise this is just a typical summers day in Belthorn:




Nabeel Qureshi: Why I stopped believing Islam is a religion of peace


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