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Friday, 05 December 2003
l’abre de Noel

Place Kleber Christmas Tree

This photo is of the official Strasbourg Christmas tree, in Place Kléber. The Christmas Tree, as a tradition, obviously has pagan origins (the Romans and the Celts used to decorate trees during winter).  However the modern Christmas Tree originated in Germany, with Strasbourg being the place where one was first mentioned in writing (in about 1605) - although this is disputed by the city of Riga, in Latvia.  According to the official site:

Throughout the month of December Place Kléber and the Facade de l’Aubette reveal their beauty in the soft light of the huge Christmas tree. The huge Christmas tree, which originates from the forests of the Domain Bitche and has a stately height of 25 metres (ca. 80 ft) delights hundreds of thousands of visitors, young and old alike.

Towering proudly above the village of sharing, majestic, the huge Christmas tree is lit with some 200 lighting motifs: Christmas balls, stars, lanterns, snowmen and model Alsatian houses, all of them from the hands of craftsmen.

At the foot of the King of the Forests is a village typical of Vosges. The original decoration is by Antoinette Pflimlin.

I took the above photo 2 evenings ago.

flank responded to my post on the recent insensitivity of the Australian Tennis Federation:

The cultural insensitivity was actually a mistake arising from Tennis Australia being supplied with the incorrect CD.  The fault has been traced back to the US company that supplied the CD.  The performer, who had been proud of having mastered this piece, was not impressed that his masterful performance was so badly received.  It is only the Australian cricket team that are such bad sports.  All our other sportsmen are pretty good blokes.  After Davis Cup we still currently hold about 6 World Cups (I think we may have just lost women’s hockey cup in a surprise upset to China).  England last held one in 1966.  I think they are making too much fuss over things at the moment.  They should win a few more World Cups first.

World Cups I think we hold:

Rugby League
International Rules Football
Men’s Hockey
Tennis (we have won this 28 times)

OK, the tennis is impressive. Carles told me it was 29, and more than double any other country. I also know that some countries do consider Field Hockey to be a sport. But this International Rules Football sounds a bit suspect. I wonder if any other countries actually compete at that.

Posted by bigblue on 05/12/2003 at 12:00 AM
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Wednesday, 03 December 2003
Before study (Haguenau)

Porte du Wissembourg

This is part two of my series of “before” studies (in Christmas lights).  Part one was on 23 Nov 2003.  It is of the Porte du Wissembourg section of the old city wall.  I took this picture last month, before the Christmas lights went up.

Yesterday I promised to say something about Cabaret today, but bluemeanie asked me to hold off, as she wants to talk about it. She was off school ill today, and then she and pinkie went to see The Lion King with their school this evening.

After work today I met up with Neil, Natasha and Cathy in Strasbourg for some vin chaud at the Christmas Market, and then on to Gepetto’s for dinner.  Cathy kept us waiting in the cold at Place Guttenberg because she was buying some equipment for her horse. 

It was good to catch up with each other. Cathy and I work together (in separate teams) but don’t socialise much. Neil is our ex-colleague, and Natasha is his partner.  Neil had invited us, ses “vieux” collégues to get together before Christmas.  I took a couple of photos tonight, but on my non-digital camera so there will be a delay while I get them developed, etc.

Posted by bigblue on 03/12/2003 at 02:24 AM
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Tuesday, 02 December 2003
la tortue marine

une tortue marine

Continuing the sea theme, here is a turtle from the Brighton Sea Life Centre as requested by Brenda.  One has to feel sorry for these creatures.  It�s all very well that they let the dolphins go, but what about the other animals who are used to large oceans to roam in.  They even have a loggerhead turtle in the main tank. 

About the dolphins: I used the term “let go” figuratively: I doubt that they really freed the dolphins that they used to hold in captivity. They simply don’t keep dolphins any more.  Tessa and I were discussing the turtles’ situation and she reminded me of that film, Turtle Diary (1986).  I told her that I hadn’t seen it, but now I think that I did.  It has mixed reviews, but I think I would agree with the description of it as a “quiet, moving film”.

Ash sent me a link to this news item, concerning fragile national pride, dented by the cultural insensitivity of certain Australians.

Today at lunchtime that solitary protester that I mentioned was standing outside the company across the road again, with his banner

La cantine a Denise.

  I walked over and asked him about it. He said it was a long story that he didn�t have time to explain today, but he gave me a pamphlet: a one sheet document entitled Un trois etoiles a Schweighouse?, signed by Denise et Roland Schoenn .  Schweighouse is a local village next to Haguenau, close to where we work.  He agreed that I can take his photo - he says he is there every Monday at lunchtime.  But he is only there on Mondays because he works every other weekday.  Next week I am working in the UK, but will ask Carles to take a photo of him for me.  I will translate his pamphlet, so I can let you know what this is about.

gogo asked me for some more information about bluemeanie’s school production of Cabaret. Tomorrow…

Posted by bigblue on 02/12/2003 at 02:06 AM
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Monday, 01 December 2003
les hippocampe et une anémone

les hippocampes

I took the photo of les hippocampes and une anémone at the Brighton Aquarium yesterday. According to the spiel at the aquarium this is the oldest aquarium in the world, except now they call it a sea life centre.  The demonstrator who gave our party a tour around the centre is taking a gap year. Next year she intends to commence veterinary studies.

une anémone de mer

This is a picture of une an�mone, from one of the touch pools.  Le os de seiche (cuttlebone) next to the anemone is used as a tool by the demonstrator to taunt the crabs into putting on a display for the visitors.  She also picks them (the crabs) up in her hands and allows the children to touch them.  There are two crabs in that pool - one “friendly” and the other “not friendly” (as the demonstrator put it).  After taking the photo, I put my finger on the anemone and it closed.  As one of Holly’s friends put it, it was “sticky”.

Posted by bigblue on 01/12/2003 at 01:04 AM
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