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Wednesday, 05 November 2003
La Musica


It’s been a pretty boring week so far. I have been working late because we are busy at work. I got home to chez Wolff this evening, and found Alain and Anna-Sofia in the kitchen: playing guitar and singing songs.  Anna-Sofia and I had a little argument with Alain: he insisted that the tune for House of the Rising Sun was composed by Jonny Halliday. Please. Luckily we found the credits for the tune in Anna-Sofia’s songbook.

According to Oxfam’s Cool Planet this museum piece,

the Belgian Jonny Halliday, who was a famous rock star in the sixties, is still well-loved in France.

The rest of the week is starting to look up. Tomorrow night I am playing badminton, then probably going on to Charlies (a pub anglais in Haguenau, named after Chaplin). On Thursday night we are having a farewell do for Khalid, on a boat which is berthed on the River Ille in Strasbourg.

Posted by bigblue on 05/11/2003 at 12:14 AM
Filed under: France • (1) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share
Monday, 03 November 2003
La Honte des Moutons


I took this picture last year, when bluemeanie and pinkie visited Haguenau. Some of these birds don’t migrate to North Africa any more, because although it gets cold in winter they are very well looked after at the breeding sanctuaries.

Ash tells me that they have finally solved the problem of the ship of sheep.  They are sending the ship to New Zealand and renaming it The Love Boat.

Today the weather cleared up a bit and it is looking pretty mild for the rest of the week.  It’s a pity that it gets dark so early now.

Posted by bigblue on 03/11/2003 at 11:18 PM
Filed under: EuropeFrance • (1) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share
Sunday, 02 November 2003
Bienvenue Scarlett!

Jazz Jam

I got back to Haguenau this evening and found that bluemeanie had already started posting to her new weblog. By the way, if you are a member here, then you are also a member of her weblog, so please mosey over there, see what she has to say, and post some comments!

As she says, today Pinkie went to a Jazz Jam workshop organised by the Surrey County Arts.  At the end of the session this afternoon they put on a concent (see picture above). They had split up into three groups during the day. At the concert, each group performed a piece or two, and then they had a final� at the end where all the groups came together. The emphasis on these sessions is improvisation and each child gets a turn to improvise a solo.  Earlier this year bluemeanie participated in a Jazz Jam workshops and Granny Ruth and I attended the final concert.

I enjoyed the Wales/All Blacks match this morning.  Talking of rugby, are you a kicking king?

Posted by bigblue on 02/11/2003 at 11:47 PM
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Saturday, 01 November 2003

Tourist souvenir

In Alsace they are so geared up for tourists, that they even sell little figurines of tourists in the shop for the tourists to take home with them. This is weird. I can imagine what they tell their friends and family when they get home:

We saw castles and quaint houses and farms, and tourists walking about with cameras like this.

Yesterday evening, at the airport in Strasbourg, I turned on my mobile phone and found a message from flank:

Nous et en route a Wollongong. Vive les Bleus!

I immediately replied, but forgot that it would be the middle of the night over there.  Oops, sorry.

This morning I am leaving (right now) to get my hair cut by Ali of The Business 2.  Then, depending on how the
weather pans out, I may do some gardening. I have planted all my spring bulbs, but have a bit of pruning to do. I am a bit clueless in this department: does anyone have any tips? Tonight I am having supper with Ruth and some special people.

Posted by bigblue on 01/11/2003 at 09:42 AM
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Friday, 31 October 2003


Caption competition: There’s a prize for the person who comes up with a suitable caption for the above picture!  Post your entries under comments below, or mail them to me.

Spoke to Petite Maman last night and wished her happy birthday. She was in lively spirits and told me about the loads of presents, and visitors, that she received yesterday. She says that most of the family don’t remember her birthday is on 30th and call her on 31st.  I can’t imagine why people would get confused between her birthday and Halloween.

It feels like this week has been a short one.  This week has been Passion Week at work. In the corridor outside there are all kinds of games: hop-scotch, noughts-and-crosses, puzzles, etc. fixed onto the carpet. We have red heart balloons on the ceiling, and a vie-ma-vie programme where you are supposed to go and find out about somebody else’s job in the company.  They had a programme in the factory yesterday where you could go and see how they make M&M’s and mix your own colours.  A bunch of people came up from the factory at lunchtime with pink and other strange coloured (and shaped) ones. This morning one of our IT colleagues is going to be showing a group of people from the business what she does on a normal day.

Our colleagues in the US came to work yesterday dressed as Halloween characters.  My team-mate who is there mentioned the names some of these characters to me, but I had no idea what or who they are.

Posted by bigblue on 31/10/2003 at 08:05 AM
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Thursday, 30 October 2003
On a trouvé les marrons


I recommend leaving Marmoutier via the old Saverne road. After 1,5 km you can turn left into a minor, poorly surfaced, road and follow this up a hill through the village of Sindelsberg. At the end of this road you enter the church yard, where there is a fantastic birds-eye view back down over Marmoutier.  If, like us, you go at this time of the year there are numerous chestnut trees in the churchyard, providing a delicious snack.

We got some looks from locals who were walking through the churchyard, but they seemed to have a laissez-faire approach to our helping ourselves to their chestnuts. 

Mme Wolff apparently has ownership of a chestnut tree on some common land somewhere in or near Hagenau.  In previous years she has given us, her locataires, a basket of chestnuts to share.

Mme Wolff has been away on holiday this whole week, as have the students Aline and Alain. (The names are just a co-incidence!) Khalid has been working from the UK, so the house has been quiet: only Anna-Sofia and myself have been about. Our other house mate, Elodie fait un stage d’infirmi�re (she is doing a work placement as a nurse).  Basically we hardly see her either.


This picture, also from the churchyard of Sindelsberg, is taken in the opposite direction - facing away from Marmoutier - and gives a good view of the low-lying chestnut trees.

Posted by bigblue on 30/10/2003 at 04:52 PM
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Wednesday, 29 October 2003
La gris rose d’Alsace


About 45 km east of Haguenau, by car, is the village of Marmoutier, which seems to be a stop-off point for a number of coach tours of Alsace, particularly in the summertime.  It has an abbey-church containing a famous Sibermann organ, built in 1710, and considered one of the finest in Alsace

Traces of a Meringovian church have been found beneath the transcept (which is also well worth a squiz). The Meringovian Kingdom of Northern France was around in the 6 Century, and its symbol was a frog. The abbey itself was founded by St Columba (an Irish monk who arrived in France in 590 with 12 companions). Later he lectured the Duke of Burgundy about morals, and as a result was expelled from France.  He moved to Bobbio, in Italy.  Around the abbey, craftsmen and farmers settled and a town flourished in the middle ages. Marmoutier had one of the oldest Jewish communities in Alsace. We can assume that this community was invited there by the abbots to handle their trading activities.  In 1792, during the French revolution, the abbey was abolished and the monks dispersed.

The church is a striking sight, constructed of red sandstone (or gris rose d’Alsace  as it is known in these parts).

Posted by bigblue on 29/10/2003 at 02:31 PM
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Tuesday, 28 October 2003
Le Voyage de Chihiro

Spirited Away

davidm emailed yesterday, recommending the latest film by the aclaimed director Hayao Miyazaki. I had read some rave reviews of this film, and look forward to seeing it. This is what he had to say:

Spirited Away is a full-length animated film about a Japanese child who wanders into a kind of feudal Japanese world, populated by witches, creatures and animals. This is a very poor description but in short it was enchanting, engrossing and I would recommend it highly to anyone. I was worried it would be too scary for Holly and told her a number of times before and during that if (for example the sight of the parents getting turned into pigs was too scary for her, we could leave for the comparative safety of the foyer. In the event she was fascinated and loved every minute of the story. The main character is a girl of about her age or perhaps seven or eight, who struggles against odds and manages to pull through, mainly by reciprocal acts of kindness to the creatures she meets. The strength is in the storyline and action which never stops.

The themes were interesting since it differed from the common good-guy / baddy idea so often found in children?s movies, each creature or person had more than one layer of personality and acted on their own. Holly says she wants the DVD for her birthday, but it is only going to be released here in February. I might just order it from Amazon in the states, since they are not bound by greedy European marketing schemes and have it for sale already.

Note: While Spirited Away may not be available in the UK, and Chihiros Reise ins Zauberland ist noch nicht ver?ntlicht in Deutschland, Le Voyage de Chihiro is indeed already available in France.  The languages available on the DVD version are Japanese and French, with optional subtitles in English. I am not so sure whether that makes the French marketers of the film less greedy than the others wink

Posted by bigblue on 28/10/2003 at 12:19 PM
Filed under: Asia PacJapan • (2) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share
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