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Monday, 27 October 2003
faites attention (de les méchants)

Haut Koningsbourg

This is a picture of Haut Koningsbourg, overlooking the murkey plains of Alsace. This castle was mentioned in the historical record for the first time in the 12th Century, and was destroyed by Swedish artillery in the 17th. However in 1899 the nearby town of Séléstat gave the castle to Kaiser Wilhelm II, who had it restored to its current glory.

Of course it fell back under the French government a mere 10 years later, and is now the responsibility of some French ministry. My landlady, mme wolff, tells me that it was neglected for many years, until recently, because of its association with the Kaiser.

I noticed today that the myth of the healthy French nation is being exposed.  Who knows what the impact of this news will be on this nation of hypochondriacs

Our local newspaper today had an article which highlights how Disneyland Paris has been overtaken by evil and malicious things, until 2 November 2003.  Our very own kitchen here at chez wolff has been decorated with an orangy theme by anna-sofia.  So, this coming week we can commemorate the paleopagan festival of Samhain, remember all our dead ancestors, and give thanks that the commercial activities now associated with Christmas are delayed for another week.  At least in France.

Today is also the start of the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan.

Posted by bigblue on 27/10/2003 at 11:47 PM
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Sunday, 26 October 2003
en retour

Chateau Ramstein

Here is another aerial picture of Chateaus Ramstein and Ortenburg, which I took on the same day as the last one, but from the nearby Haut Koningsburg..

We had a great party last night at Eric’s sister’s house in Verneuil-sur-Seine. It is a large old house, in a u-shape (so interesting layout and flow of the rooms) with a courtyard in the middle.  Eric had put out some candle-lanterns in the courtyard but we mostly stayed indoors due to the cold (smokers excepted).  There was nobody else there from the specific project that I had worked on in Paris when I met Eric.  But there were few actual Parisians on that project.  However most of the people there were DCS employees or ex-DCS.  I met some interesting people, including a Swiss-Columbian couple who had travelled from Geneva to attend the party (i.e. further than me !). 

The highlight of the party was at 00 :30 this morning when Eric announced that he and Virginie were getting married on 12 June next year, in Paris.  Plans have already been underway for the past 2 months, but it has been a well guarded secret and was a surprise to everyone except close family.  As I had a late night and an early train to catch into Paris in the morning, I had only 3 hours sleep.  What a fortuitous night for the clocks to go back one hour!

Posted by bigblue on 26/10/2003 at 01:49 PM
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Saturday, 25 October 2003
en route

Chateau Ramstein

After being outflanked (as he put it in an email) by his joke comment yesterday, I thought I would stick to the military theme, and introduce Chateau Ramstein (snigger snigger). The picture here, showing Ramstein on the lower slope and Chateau Ortenburg above, is taken from just off the road leading to the village of St Dié, from the Strasbourg-Basel motorway.

I am writing this sous le manche on the train from Waterloo to Paris. Besides for the rugby matches today, there is also the match between Leeds and Liverpool which I am �following� via the text messages announcing the major events in the game:

Latest: Liverpool 1 Leeds 0 - Owen(35). Volley Left Footed from 18yds (Sky Sports)
Latest: Liverpool 1 Leeds 1 - Smith(42). Right Footed from 18yds (Sky Sports)

This is also the half-time score.

I have been reading today’s paper on the train and noticed a photo (not available in online version) of an impressive bust of the American poet, and author of Hiawatha, the previously mentioned Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, sculpted by Edmonia Lewis in 1872.  In their summary of the highs and lows of the week, the paper also tells the story of a chestnut seller in Vienna, who tried to drum up trade by ringing police with a hoax call claiming that there was a bomb hidden in a shopping centre. He had hoped that if police cordoned off the area and evacuated the centre then lots of people would stand around in the cold to watch and be tempted to buy his products. However, after no bomb was found, police traced the call to his mobile phone and he was arrested.  Idiot.

Posted by bigblue on 25/10/2003 at 05:08 PM
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nous faisons les textos

Chateau Fleckenstein

This picture was taken at Chateau Fleckenstein, from the top of the castle wall that I displayed on 8 October 2003, but at a different time of day.  ruth is noting the shapes of the mountain. There is a glipse, at the end of the valley, of a village that is just over the border (from Alsace) in Germany.

I have decided to go to Paris for the weekend. eric is having his 40th birthday party at Verneuil-sur-Seine. OK, so not really in Paris itself but the banlieu I’ll go through on Saturday morning, returning Sunday.  It should be fun - I’ll let you know how it goes.

brenda, davidm and holly have been in Spain for the past week. I phoned alex this evening to see how he was doing, but he wasn’t there - he went to the evans for the weekend. Within an hour I got a text message:

Hi hope u r well, Dana said u called * Alx is fine * we r bac Sunday AM * Hope to see u soon grin

Yeah, was just checking up on him. Am leaving tom. for my friend Eric’s 40th b.day in Paris. Coming back to UK on Sunday am.

Eric the half a bee? :*)

Is that a childrens character? If so, beyond my time !

Monty pythn

lil blue meanie just explained. . .  grin

. -Y-

So did the rain all fall on the plain? It is now cold here. Frost this morning.

Littl rain & warm but it will b good 2 b home >o

<

I’ll call you on Sun to see if I can pop round. But have flight on Sun pm back to SXB.

Great looking fwd 2 it I D

This morning it was below zero in Haguenau, with frost on the front and back windows.  But although it remained cold the whole day (maximum 4 C) at least it was sunny.  When I fetched bluemeanie from choir practice this evening, one of the other parents told me it had been frosty in Oxted too.

Posted by bigblue on 25/10/2003 at 12:40 AM
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Thursday, 23 October 2003
la ligne maginot

la ligne maginot

The above photo is one of the 89 shelter bunkers located a few miles behind the ouvrages of the Maginot Line.  All in all the fortified frontier of Alsace with Germany is made up of innumerable fortresses and blockhouses.  Of course Hitler cheated by going around and striking directly towards Paris. Still, one of the forts (Schoenenbourg) held out for a few months, surviving artillery and aerial bombardments.

Today is still cold (2 C) and grey. Outside has the ambiance of a tupperware box. Inside the office, the brighter neon lights keep the melatonin levels at a reasonable level.

I didn’t post yesterday as I got home at about 1 am this morning, after attending evening puja at the centre zazen in Strasbourg and then salsa classes at au camionneur restaurant/bar.  Tonight we are going to other salsa classes, this time at Strasbourg Uni. After that a colleague is participating in a separate salsa animation at another venue.

So salsa seems to be the flavour of the month in this region.

Edit: With thanks to my colleague Lynn for her careful proof-reading of my blog, I have corrected the perennial error of typing seperate instead of separate (28.04.2005).

Posted by bigblue on 23/10/2003 at 04:17 PM
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Wednesday, 22 October 2003
il fait froid

garden

This is the picture of the garden outside my room in chez Wolff.  The garden is very peaceful and in the summer we sometimes eat outside under the tree in the evening. The grass is a bit dry after the long hot summer.

At the moment it is 2 C outside, and it should drop to below zero overnight.  Finally summer is over. Yesterday and today we had showers of rain.

Last night I backed up all my webpages and then upgraded my blog software. It was a bit more time-consuming than I thought it would be, and it’s just as well I made the backup because in my tiredness I made a mistake and the simplest way to fix it was to restore.  You shouldn’t notice any differences after the backup, but it will allow me to introduce more things in the future.

According to lil blue meanie:

bluemeanie is sick today. done
german homework. my day was good.
i want to go to japan.

In fact she has been nagging me about going to Japan since our trip to Cape Town in August. Last year I nagged them about going to Japan (but they weren’t keen and we ended up in Cuba instead). I am pleased that she wants to go now, as I have been wanting to go to Japan for about the last 21 years.

gogo has also been in touch, and said on Sunday night:

I have been reading all your news and looking at the photo’s - such joy to me!  I particularly enjoyed your comments about last weekend in Oxted and the photo of MasterParkholly certainly makes her views known and I agree that she needs to be able to join in conversations!

I won’t lose much sleep worrying about that.

Posted by bigblue on 22/10/2003 at 01:03 AM
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Monday, 20 October 2003
Les nouvelles choquant

The Meanies

This picture was taken exactly a year ago today, after bluemeanie’s confirmation. Amazing how a year flies. Yesterday afternoon I took bluemeanie to this year’s confirmation ceremony (in Hurst Green) as she was singing in the choir. It was an interesting service, and the Bishop spoke very movingly - about what it means to take a spiritual journey. Refreshingly he spoke ‘out of the (traditional) box’, with humour, feeling and depth. He even had a Zen Buddhist quote about walking the path.

lil blue meanie is well, but we had a little ‘fight’ yesterday. I don’t like her using tic-tac (press stick) on her walls.  A weird experience: did you ever feel worried that you were turning into your own parents?

brenda, davidm and holly are in Spain for the week. They left alex behind with dana. Well he spent the weekend with petite maman’s family.  I spoke to brenda before she left (on Saturday) and of course she asked me what the shocking news of Thursday 16 October was.  I didn’t have time to explain this yesterday, so here goes.

I have mentioned that dylan was busabouting in Europe. Well, he had a night of debauchery in Rome on Wednesday and overslept the next morning, thereby missing his bus. To catch up on his itinery he decided to catch the train to Florence that day, rather than spending extra time in Rome. He would have had to wait 2 days for the next bus.

To cut a long story short, he was robbed on the train: some thieves, whom he did not see, made off with his luggage. Fortunately he had his day-pack with him so didn’t lose his camera, passport, etc. However he lost all his toiletries, the clothes that he wasn’t wearing, his traveller’s cheques, some books, etc. On top of that, he had the hassle of getting to his campsite for the night, reporting the incident to the police, etc.  After some thought, dylan decided to return back to the UK (which he did on Friday evening).  At least this will give him more time to organise his trip to North America.

The Meanies

Posted by bigblue on 20/10/2003 at 09:16 PM
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Sunday, 19 October 2003
du rôti (l’agneau)

The London Eye

So yesterday we made it into London and caught Bea Arthur’s penultimate show at the Savoy Theatre. During the show she tells jokes, chats about her experiences in show business, and sings songs accompanied by her friend Billy Goldenburg. It is well worth seeing but, naturally, seeing it twice destroys some of the intimacy that she creates through the format of the show.  For example at the start of the show she gives a lamb recipe, and along the way she gives the appearance of just chatting away, sometimes suddenly remembering details. So you can lose a little ‘magic’ the second time round, when you see how perfectly repeated it is.

Bea appeared to be suffering from a cold, and used paper tissues from time to time during the performance. If I hadn’t read that she had been sick over the past couple of weeks and had cancelled some performances I would have thought this was also part of the act as she had the same relationship with the tissue box in Cape Town.  Apparently she is about 81, so doing the show every day must be quite a strain.

I was interested in whether there would be any ‘local flavour’ to the show in London.  At the show in Cape Town, Bea had spoken about how South Africa was the first country to legalise gay marriage - when mentioning that Canada proposes to be the third.  That was kind of a local touch.  In the London version, she made a joke about Loiners.  Basically she spoke about Maude, and mentioned the fact that it had never been shown in the UK.  Billy piped in

Didn’t they get it in Leeds?

to which Bea replied

It was broadcast in Leeds, but I don’t know if they got it.

Other than that she forgot to tell the story about Tony Curtis at drama school, but came back after the interval and acknowledged this and told the story.  This was not an obvious “fault” in the show, because it fitted in just as well there as anywhere.  bluemeanie reminded me after the show that she had also not mentioned the bit about her drama training covering strong Shakespearean roles.

bluemeanie criticised me for buying tickets for the matine�.  Fair enough - the atmosphere would probably have been better in the evening. 
The only other highlight of the outing was when bluemeanie and I found the dressing-room window where Zbornak had taken the picture of Bea.  It was closed.  Not that we wanted to spy on her (cough cough).

For most of yesterday I was trying to fix the girls’ desktop computer. It is still not running, despite the valiant efforts of pcfixer last night. Still we have a good idea of what the problem is now, and thankfully he was able to back up all stored work/documents.

Posted by bigblue on 19/10/2003 at 04:39 PM
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