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England

Sunday, 07 December 2003
respectez la propreté des lieux

litter

I intend to post a picture from Pinkie’s concert on Saturday night. However today it was sunny (but cold) so I explored the bushes at the bottom of the garden. The above items were found. Perhaps I should write a letter to the local pubs and shops asking them what they intend to do to ensure that their customers are not responsible for such litter. Unfortunately one doesn’t have time. Today was hectic: I dropped bluemeanie at church to sing in the choir, dropped Dylan at the station (he went to Camden with a friend), then went to the local supermarket to buy our provisions for the week, came back and unpacked them, then Pinkie and I dashed back to fetch bluemeanie, and we picked up Beezy (their aunt), then we all went to Bluewater. Bluemeanie and pinkie wanted to buy Christmas presents. Beezy (and Pinkie also) wanted some clothes. I needed a pair of jeans. We all spit up. Ten minutes later I had my jeans, but we had arranged to meet in one hour for lunch at Pr�t � Manger, so I arbed around for another 50 minutes. I went to a bookshop, walked around the outside ice-rink, and stood under the snow-machines, which were creating the appropriate backdrop to the skating and the performance of a local choir. I was on time for lunch; the others were all late. After lunch we all split up again, but pinkie and I arranged to meet after 30 minutes, so that I could pay for some clothes she had chosen. In the meantime she was going to buy some other stuff she had seen, but not had time to queue for before lunch to pay for. After 30 minutes I was in the appointed spot. Pinkie arrived 15 minutes later. We bought her a pair of trainers - sort-of retro tennis shoes. Bluemeanie arrived to join us, then pinkie led us the wrong way around Bluewater to get: pyjamas, a jacket and some sunglasses.  Pinkie paid for the sunglasses herself. Then it was back to the exit, where Beezy had just arrived, and then back to Oxted.

This afternoon I tidied the kitchen, fetched Dyl from the station, cooked this evenings meal, cooked tomorrow evening’s meal (but this was not one and the same thing!), did all the washing up (assisted by the dishwasher), did all the laundry (assisted by the, um, whatchamacallit), hung out all the laundry, folded away all of yesterdays, and ironed bluemeanie and pinkie’s skirts and shirts for school tomorrow.

Bluemeanie was upstairs working on her essay. She says she has been having writers’ block the past two days. But I notice that she doesn’t seem to have much writers’ block here. Pinkie did her nails and tidied her room. Her nails look cool, but I can’t notice any difference with her room - it still looks like un vrai bordel.  Tomorrow I will post a picture from Pinkie’s concert.  I am tempted to post a picture of her room. She says she is aiming to have it clean and tidy by Wednesday.

Dyl was the first to bed tonight. I noticed that he has been very tired lately - he is still jetlagged from his recent trip to Canada. He says he wakes in the middle of the night too.

Posted by bigblue on 07/12/2003 at 11:55 PM
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Saturday, 06 December 2003
After Study (Oxted)

Oxted High Street

Here’s the “after” study of the photograph that I posted on 23 Nov 2003. The Christmas lights of the Oxted High Street.

Today is St Nicolas day, an important day in certain circles.  I bought some spicy biscuits in Strasbourg yesterday to celebrate. Pinkie had a (presumably belated) Autumn Concert for SESAY (South East Surrey Area Youth Symphony Orchestra). I got most of it on video, including that bit at the beginning (in close up) of Pinkie shaking her head at me and going “No, no! Turn it off!.

This coming week I will be working in the UK, and looking after bluemeanie and pinkie as their mom will be in Geneva preparing for the World Summit of the Information Society.  I am looking forward to seeing them every day, as well as Dylan who is back from Canada.  Next weekend the four of us are going to Disneyland to celebrate Dylan’s birthday! We will go by Eurostar, leaving on Saturday morning and returning on Sunday afternoon.

Posted by bigblue on 06/12/2003 at 10:09 PM
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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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Sunday, 30 November 2003
bon anniversaire holly

fish cake

Today we (the parents, the godparents, the brother, Holly, and about 7 of her friends) celebrated her birthday at the Sea Life Centre in Brighton.  I drove two little devils through, and returned with two little angels (one of them being the same person).  The parents and brother made the above cake last night, and brought it with them. It was certainly aquarium weather in the South East of England today - cold and wet.  Then this afternoon, I went to a performance of the South East Surrey Arts Wind Orchestra, with Pinkie performing (excellently). Then this evening was the final� of bluemeanie’s school play, Caberet.  So a very proud day all round.

And I bought nothing today!  (Sorry to all those expecting birthday presents!). 

While on the subject of birthday’s: I missed Kirsten and Tamsin’s on 28th!  This was despite a reminder from their big sis’ and the birthday alarm on my mobile going off at midnight the night before! Well that was probably the cause, as the alarm should have gone off at 9am on 28th itself.  I had better check the upcoming birthdays, because it is not pleasant waking up at that time if you have just fallen asleep.

I came across this really strange story on the internet: “Indian fakir hasn’t eaten or drunk anything for several decades”.  No, it’s not National Enquirer, and it’s not Ananda Marga Publications but the BBC - and they say a hospital is monitoring him - he is 70 and in perfect health, and didn’t eat or drink anything in hospital for 10 days. Most people can only live a few days without liquids.  The story is here. If you look at the second photo of him, it looks like he hasn’t grown very much in 70 years (heh heh!).  Actually, the BBC is a mine of interesting information. For example, if you get past the initial disgust of this article and work your way to the end, you find out that “parasites make up the majority of species on earth”.

Another interesting site I found is Mr Picassohead where you can draw your own Picasso. Give it a go.  They will even email your artwork to you, but beware: I don’t advise this because I saw that the company that developed this “game” is involved in direct-to-consumer email campaigns and online marketing.  Spam no doubt.

Finally, I got to see what this site would look like if I had an Apple Mac.  Courtesy of iCapture.  Seems to work fine!

Posted by bigblue on 30/11/2003 at 12:52 AM
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Saturday, 29 November 2003
postcards from the wardrobe

wardrobe pictures

I took this photo of some postcards on pinkie’s wardrobe. What struck me was how much this nightcrawler of the right hand picture looks like Ross Gellar (actor David Schwimmer) of Friends from the left hand picture. nightcrawler is an X-Man, whose body is covered with tatoos/scars. He is apparently German and religious, although he is a mutant. My information comes from bluemeanie.

This week has flown - it is Friday already, and tomorrow is Holly’s birthday party. In fact this year has flown as it is nearly December. On Monday I heard my first supermarket Christmas Carol (in Auchan in Schweighouse, near to Haguenau).  And it was a Boney M one - so I could award myself double points.  Then I got home to chez Wolff and found my first Christmas card had arrived.  It was from someone who sent me an email, not very long ago, complaining that people are celebrating Christmas too early. She won’t mind that I threw the card in the bin then.

I have to start thinking about Christmas presents. I tend to leave it till the last minute, which ruins Christmas Eve as it introduces too much stress.  Perhaps I will find some things at the Strasbourg Christmas Market, which opens this weekend.  Mewn has posted a photo of last minute preparations here. I am going to see the market for the first time on Tuesday after work - meeting up wtih an ex-colleague for gluwein and a promonade, then perhaps a restaurant somewhere.

My favourite Christmas lights/decorations in Strasbourg are in rue des Hallebardes - Baccarat crystal apparently.  I will try to take a photo of them this year.  The French word hallebarde mean, in English, a halberd, a medieval weapon, as depicted here.

Posted by bigblue on 29/11/2003 at 12:08 AM
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Monday, 24 November 2003
Never mess with a wizard

St Mary's graveyard

The above photo shows what a church graveyard looks like in the middle of the night. I didn’t take it in the middle of the night, but when I fetched bluemeanie from choir practice one evening, at 8pm.

Last week, I mentioned that I ordered the Two Towers extended DVD set. I will watch this before The Return of the King is released this December. As we all know, director Peter Jackson cut some bits out of Tolkien’s books (e.g. Tom Bombadil), and added some characters of his own. Well, the extended version has Denethor, who was missing from the theatrical version (seige of Gondor).

I also recently read that the actor Christopher Lee (Saruman in the movie) is complaining that he was cut from the third movie.  This is inexplicable, as Lee says.  If Saruman doesn’t appear in this movie, then does that mean that the end where the Hobbits rescue the shire is cut? Will we not have a Worm Tongue killing the fallen wizard? Tolkien’s final book returns to the Shire, and the hobbits, where the whole journey began.  As we have seen in the previous two films, director Peter Jackson has turned the story into a bit of an action flick.  I suspect that in the theatrical version of the final film he will continue with this theme and over-focus on Aragorn.  If so, we will have to wait for the next extended DVD set in order to view Tolkien’s ending.

At lunchtime (during our promonade around the car park) we noticed a solitary demonstrator across the road (outside the company opposite). He was holding a banner which read: La Cantine a Denise. I popped off for my camera, but when I returned he had gone. What are we to make of this?

Posted by bigblue on 24/11/2003 at 07:59 PM
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Sunday, 23 November 2003
Before study (Oxted)

Oxted High Street

I took the above picture a while back in the Oxted High Street (Station Road East). It is a “before” study (in Christmas lights).

Today it’s a bon anniversaire to Alex who turns 14. I phoned him this afternoon to wish him a great birthday (I’ll see him next week to give the present, and wish him properly).

I have decided to award the prizes for the halloween caption competition and the winners are: bluemeanie and africanwmn. Surprise gifts are on their way to both of you.

Not much going on here. It’s wet. At least it is not too cold. According to the weather report it is 6 degrees in Oxted (but “feels like 4”). As they get their data from Biggin Hill airport, it is out a bit on the temperatures!  But notice how they predict rain every day now until Monday 1 December! bluemeanie is at rehersals the whole day today. The play is on this week. I will see it on Saturday evening, the finalé.

Posted by bigblue on 23/11/2003 at 04:56 PM
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