20180508 – France

Tuesday

Can you believe anyone buys these razors?

Nightmare journey down the M6 as usual. What prat thinks that a 20+ mile roadworks is a good idea. They should be shot.

Arrive in plenty of time so have a wander around Gunnery Wharf and a drink, to pass the time away. Alas no slitted black bin liners to keep us amused as they attempt to eat spaghetti, under their nib.

Usual wait to board. How dare they keep us geriatrics waiting. Don’t they realise that as we’re so old we don’t have that long to live and time is more valuable than for the young. In future perhaps they might consider queuing based on eldest at the front.

Only 30 minutes out Wendy remembers that French have no sense of humour as she encounters the first surly, humourless French sales assistant.

Well stocked duty free, but a tad disappointing for Bourbons.
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1- How do the French kill themselves?
They shoot 15 centimeters above their heads, right in their superiority complex

2- What do you call someone who speaks 3 languages?
-trilingual

What do you call someone who speaks 2 languages?
-bilingual

What do you call someone who speaks 1 language?
-French

3- Why did Disneyland Paris experience some difficulties at the beginning?
Because every night, after the fireworks, the French would surrender

4- Why do the French say “to go to the toilets” whereas the Belgian (the French speaking ones) say “to go to the toilet”?
Because in France, you need to try 4 or 5 to find a clean one

5- After God created France, he thought it was the most beautiful country in the world. People were going to get jealous, so, to make things fair, he decided to create the French.

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Wednesday

Our full awning.

Off the ferry by 08:00 and then it’s a 80 minute drive to our caravan, along good, empty roads. Almost makes driving pleasurable.

Caravans on pitch and within an hour we’re all set up. Then we decide to risk divorce and attempt to put up our full sized awning, that we’ve bought with us. Better use it after it’s taken up the whole of the back seats of the car. We’re amazed how quick one cripple and a short arse got the awning up, it is as taught as fat tarts G-String to boot, and just takes an hour. Mind you it’s another 30 minutes stapling it down. But good news is not a single swear word and no divorce lawyers are needed.

Weather lovely and sunny and not too hot.

Dot and Barry arrive mid-afternoon. They’re on the pitch opposite so we can share wifi.

Decide we’ll all go out for dinner to save on the cooking. So it’s off to the Commerce. Had a good meal here last time and service was pretty good. This time the food, on the limited menu, is as good as always. If you want to visit somewhere in France to confirm their worldwide reputation for bad service, bad manners and chauvinistic arrogance then this has to be top of the list. Our waitress had obviously studied at the world renowned Parisian school for rude waiters, where she came top of her classes, summa cum laude, in each of the three main disciplines of bad manners, insolence and surly disposition. I’ve seen a better smile on a Tasmanian Devil with a raging toothache.
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An American man is having his coffee, croissants, bread, butter and jam at the breakfast table when a Frenchman sits down next to him. The American ignores the Frenchman who, nevertheless, starts a conversation.

“You American folk eat the whole bread?” asks the Frenchman with a large piece of chewing gum in his mouth. “Of course!”, said the American. The Frenchman blows a bubble with his chewing gum, then remarks, “We don’t. In France, we only eat what’s inside. We collect the crusts in containers, recycle them, then transform them into croutons, and sell them to the United States.” The Frenchman has a smirk on is face. All the while, the American listens in silence.

“Do ya eat jelly with the bread?” asks the Frenchman. “Of course!”, says the American. The Frenchman cracks his gum between his teeth and chuckles, “We don’t. In France, we eat fresh fruit for breakfast and put all peel, seeds and leftovers in containers, recycle them, then transform them into jam, and sell it to the U.S.”

“And, what do you Frenchmen do with condoms once you’ve used them?” asks the American. “We throw them away, of course,” replies the Frenchman, with a dumbfounded look. The American explains, “WE don’t. In the U.S., we put them in a container, recycle them, then melt them down into chewing gum and sell it to France.

Thursday

Good nights sleep and we’re not up until about 09:00.

A lazy day with the excitement of a walk into town. And that’s about all I can remember.
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Jacques Chirac telephones George Bush with a frantic plea for help…

”Mr. President, we have been informed by our scientists that a giant meteor is headed straight for French, and unless something is done, it will strike France in 8 hours and completely destroy our country! Please help us by aiming all of your ballistic missiles at it to help us eliminate this threat before it’s too late!!”

You are President Bush, what do you do?

A) Stay up late and watch it happen on TV.
B) Tape it and watch it in the morning.

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Who is the the West’s real rogue elephant?

What should the West do when a powerful hegemonic country, through its actions, breaks its promises and leaves its allies in the lurch? Can there be any kind of relationship with such a country, let alone a special one? This is not, it should be said, a reference to President Donald Trump who delivered on his campaign pledge to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal. The miscreant in this case is much closer to home.

A few days ago it emerged that Angela Merkel’s Germany, having signed up to the Nato commitment to raise defence spending to 2% of GDP, has no intention of doing anything of the sort. Its latest plans involve temporarily increasing defence spending to 1.3% of GDP next year, but then it will fall back in later years, thus moving away from the commitment. As a result Germany will continue to take advantage of the military spending undertaken by others, including Britain but also, of course, America.

Germany is frustrating its partners, including President Emmanuel Macron of France and his efforts to reform the European Union. It is exasperating its allies with its freeloading on defence. It has ridden roughshod over its EU allies on migration too, to say nothing of it flaunting EU fiscal guidelines, at the expense of Southern EU countries. Hardly a reliable partner.

Friday

Barry delivers!

Lazy start and then we’re off with Dot and Barry up to Cherbourg.

Get a call from an ex-colleague who wants to know if I’d do some consultancy for them on their ARC. Sounds interesting.

Call in at Decathalon where Wendy gets treated to a cooking stand for the awning – spoilt.

Weathers very pleasant so we start off with a coffee around the Place de something or other. Very pleasant people watching and they even employ a waitress with a personality.

Then it’s the highlight of the week for the ladies as they get to go to a giant L’elclrec – not it’s not an electric goods store – it’s a supermarket. Barry and I explore the wines and whiskies then it’s off for the 2nd Espresso of the day, whilst the ladies do a trolley crawl.

Tea is bread, cheese and wine around at ours. I could live on this every day. Then to finish off another awesome day Barry and I manage a night cap that makes a serious dent in a bottle of “Double Rye” – may be the cheapest of the High West Bourbons but it goes down like nectar.

I sleep very well.
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Our caravan.

The only seat available on the train was directly adjacent to a well dressed middle aged French woman and the seat was being used by her dog. The weary traveler asked, “Ma’am, please move your dog. I need that seat.”

The French woman looked down her nose at the American, sniffed and said, You Americans. You are such a rude class of people. Can’t you see my little FiFi is using that seat?”

The American walked away, determined to find a place to rest, but after another trip down to the end of the train, found himself again facing the woman with the dog. Again he asked, “Please, lady. May I sit there?”. I’m very tired.” The French woman wrinkled her nose and snorted “You Americans! Not only are you rude, you are also arrogant….Imagine!”

The American didn’t say anything else. He leaned over, picked up the dog, tossed it out the window of the train and sat down in the empty seat. The woman shrieked and railed, and demanded that someone defend her honor and chastise the American.

An English man sitting across the aisle spoke up indignantly “You know, sir, you Americans do seem to have a penchant for doing the wrong thing. You eat holding the fork in the wrong hand. You drive your autos on the wrong side of the road. And now, Sir, you’ve thrown the wrong bitch out the window.”

Saturday

Relaxing.

Lazy morning, by the time we’re ready for a stroll into town, all the shops are closed – apart from florists, hairdressers and lawn mower shops – for their 3 hour lunch. Smart move on our part.

Stop for an obligatory coffee. Explore the fish restaurant in town and confuse the hell out of the proprietor with my English renditions of French. Probably very frustrating for him as he can speak English and it would have been better than having a Roast Beef crucify his language. Mind you if he had the wit to display his opening times – fairly fundamental piece of information you’d think – we’d have saved ourselves 5 minutes of utter confusion.

Afternoon tea after our 4 mile saunter. Draft terms of reference for my proposed consultancy project. Could be interesting, just up my street and similar to previous consultancy projects. Then in the evening we catch up with more of the Americans from Amazon Prime.
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Can you believe that anyone would be stupid enough to trust Iran? Their avowed aim is the destruction of Isreal; they openly chant death to America; they sponsor terrorism throughout the World; and to top it all they want World domination via their religion of pieces and permanent offence.

Sunday

Coffee in the Place some unknown hero in Cherbourg!

Lazy morning. Fix the toilet pump without a single swear word or curse.

Have to say having a full awning up is great. Gets nice and warm even though the temperature outside is a tad cool, and gives us so much more space. Wendy can now cook in the awning which frees up more space inside.

Will have to consider one of those blow up awnings. We can sell this full awning.

Another walk into town, is the highlight of the day.

Dinner at Dot and Barrie’s along with some wine and a very pleasant and soft Glen Grant single malt whisky. Manage to stagger back across the road to our caravan. Try watching Homeland but sleep gets the better of me – I wonder why?

Slept like a log.
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Thank the FSM I wasn’t born French.

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Just about sums up my spoken French:

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Monday

Stroll round the lake.

Glorious sunny day, just the right temperature.

Lazy morning, again. Then walked into town, along the cycle path, just after lunch. Surprise, surprise nowhere is open.

What an exciting life we lead. Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster for Wine, Brandy and Whiskey.
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Is Islam the religion of peace?

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Macron, Merkel Call for ‘Full Force’ EU Integration, Vow Brussels Won’t Tolerate Resistance to Migrant Quotas,”

Emmanuel Macron has demanded closer and faster EU integration towards a superstate, in a speech where he vowed to “yield nothing” to conservative eastern members which believe in a Europe of strong nations.

Speaking in Aachen, where he received this year’s pro-EU Charlemagne prize “in recognition of his vision of a new Europe” and his “decisive stance” against nationalism, the French president urged Brussels to move full speed ahead on monetary union and creating a single foreign policy and defence strategy for the whole bloc.

Condemning the “music of nationalism [that] is resounding everywhere in Europe”, Macron called on Europhiles who want to see more power concentrated in Brussels to “move forward with full force and as quickly as possible” with plans for integration so as to drown out the “clear [voices] of nationalists and demagogues”.

THANK THE FSM WE’RE LEAVING. I HOPE!

20180426 – Belfast






Thursday

As usual waiting to board.

Caught the 22:30 Stena Line ferry from Liverpool to Belfast. Drive through Liverpool is worst than trying to navigate a maze on a tandem. As usual get their early, so we’ve quite a wait, but being recognised as a cripple we’re first row to board.

Ship is not that big but very modern and fresh. Cabins are quite spacious and when the bursar sees a cripple hobbling through we get assigned a new cabin on that deck – how thoughtful and considerate. Bars very pleasant and drinks are not too expensive.


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You have to watch this – awesome:




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Part of our journey takes us through a wonder of the modern World, the Mersey Tunnel. Last time I was here was 58 years ago. Can you believe it as a Ten year old we all came on a school trip to go under the newly opened Mersey Tunnel. 3 hours on a coach, under the tunnel, and 3 hours back. Can you imagine suggesting that as a school trip to youngsters these days, they’s think you were having a larf, but in the impoverished days of the late 50’s this was seen as treat.

It was obviously such an awesome and memorable experience that I don’t remember any of it.





Friday

Titanic museum.

Calm and peaceful crossing. I have a very pleasant full English breakfast. Only downside of this ferry is that you land at 06:30 and we’re first off.

It’s about a half hour drive to Anna’s so we arrive about 07:30. Wendy wonders whether they’ll be up this early. Well if they’re not they soon will be. Yes, they’re up.

Anna and Leon’s home is lovely in a very up market and secluded neighbourhood just outside Bangor. They’ve five bedrooms so the two of them are rattling around like marble in a steel drum.

Must have been hot working here.

After getting the grand tour and choosing our bedroom – good wifi – we drive back into Belfast. Park up at the Titanic exhibition and do it first as it’s only just opened up. A tad pricey but would recommend it. It seems that the place is infested with a Dutch down filled jacket Company tour, everyone is wandering around in these latest fashion icons, obviously get them cheap at their factory, and muttering away in guttural Dutch.

Have a spot of early lunch and then catch the hop on and off bus tour.

Classic screw up as usual. Brochure says pay driver, the cafe that sells tickets doesn’t accept credit cards but says they do on the bus. Bus driver does not accept credit cards and gets into a full scale slanging match with Wendy – little does he know not to mess with her she’s menopausal and can make me seem like a placid Tibetan monk by comparison.


The peace wall. Is it big enough?

Tour is actually quite good with good narration and anecdotes, at least when you can hear it. Although Belfast is

Stormount.

booming and there is a lot of regeneration I really didn’t realise how divided the city still is. Sadly the peacewall still exists, dividing the two communties, catholics and protestant – yet another one of the many benefits that religions brings to the World. At night the gates are locked and this monstrosity is about 3 times the height of the Berlin wall. What’s even sader is tha in a recent poll 72.5% wanted it to remain. Apparently there’s still violence kicking off daily, even if not on the scale of the past, and yet none of it gets reported in the mainland. It wouldn’t take much for this place to kick off big style and the BREXIT Irish border issue may just be the spark that’s needed. Then all those shiny new, glass fronted buildings will be a real nightmare.

Awesome graffiti.


Back to Anna’s for dinner and of course a spot of wine. Then we take a bottle of Proseco to the local beach to watch the sunset. Great end to a great day.



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Saturday

Hot lunch in the market.

Lazy start to the day.

All head off down to Belfast to see some of the sites on foot.

Start off with a drive past some of the murals, their very impressive. Then it’s the famous market. Wendy and Anna are in their element, but as for Leon and I well less said the better. In Leons case they must have been here so many times, doing their tourist guide stint with friends and family, that they are on first name terms and christmas card lists with all the stallholders. Have lunch in the market.

Dome with a view.

Then we’re off down to the glass domed shopping centre. Spectacular views from the top of the glass dome, very impressive and it’s free – but they’ll need more than the luck of the Irish for these glass edifices to survive if the troubles kick off again. They’ll truly get to know what the Shard means.

Then we have a grand walking tour. See some more murals. Walk to the famous Crown Pub but it oh so busy we give it a pass. Finally find a typical Irish pub where we can have a seat and try a Guinness. Can you believe it, 68 years old and never had a pint of Guinness. Tried a mouthful about 30 years ago and didn’t like it. Well either my tastes have changed or they’ve improved the taste. Actually really enjoyed it. No doubt I’ll be trying some more.

More graffiti.

Not bad for a cripple as I manage 3 miles on my cripple sticks.

Then we just get back to Bangor in time for our dinner reservation. Very pleasant dinner on the coast and then off for a short tour to see the sunset. Back home their’s just time for some wine. A pleasant end to a great day. Belfast is such a nice City, pity there’s still such a divide and it wouldn’t take much for it all to kick off again.

My first pint.





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Sunday

Out for a stroll.

Another lazy morning.

Wendy and I get the joys of a trip to Next and a local Mall.

Then it’s off for a stroll along the beach in Bangor followed by a pleasant lunch out.

Sunday evening we all have a takeaway from the local Asian restaurant. A mixture of Japanese, Chinese and Korean cuisine.



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Monday

WHiskey tasting at Bushmills.

Up early and off up to Bushmills for a tour of the Worlds oldest distillery – 1608 – and of course a no tour would be complete without a tasting. Lash out and buy a bottle of the very tasty and sweet Reddish. Also but some lovely tasting glasses and a shot glass to ensure I don’t drink too much.

Drive up to the Giants Causeway. Another World Heritage site. All looks very organised and obviously a big tourist attraction, but it’s £11.50 and as I’m still on me cripple sticks, we doubt we’ll get the full advantage of it. Give it a pass and save it for another trip. Who nows may pay us to join the National Trust next time we come – yes, there definitely will be a next time.

Lunch.

Drive back down the picturesque coast road. Stop off for an Irish stew lunch at Ballintoy, a picturesque harbour, used as a backdrop in the Game Of Thrones, Iron Island scenes. The coastal drives very picturesque but it takes us a good 3 hours and then we’ve got the drive across Belfast and out to Bangor.

Pick up some tea – an awesome apple and black pudding sausage rolls and sandwiches – from M&S, for tea at Annas. Then it’s off to catch the overnight ferry back to Liverpool. Wendy buys a load of duty free perfume and I splash out on a Litre of Busmills single malt. Prices are very good.



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Can you believe it? The EU wants our continued co-operation on security and defence, but when it comes to the Galileo GPS system they’re going to lock us out. Of course it doesn’t have anything to do with ensuring that France and Germany want access to the lucrative commercial contracts.

It’s simple think of the play ground. If you don’t share your sweets with me I won’t share mine with you.

If the EU wants to keep us out of Galileo, fine, then tell them that they can’t have our co-operation on defence and security. If only we had someone with some gonads to stand up to these tyrants. Appeasement just doesn’t work.





Tuesday

Game of Thrones Harbour.

Overnight crossing was very calm and we both got a good nights sleep. But off the ship at 07:00 and then drive home, avoiding Liverpool. How do people cope with this level of crap on the motorways every day. Whatever happened to living close to work. Instead of building more roads why aren’t we incentivising employees and companies to promote working from home?

Who the hell are these two?





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Caution to our American friends on how not to behave in London – hilarious: