Seasons

27 – Springtime

It was written by me a few weeks ago that the worst of the winter was over and we could look forward to the spring. Naturally as soon as I wrote that and stepped outside, I was knocked down by a gale, frozen solid by the cold, and buried under twenty tonnes of snow from a falling blizzard.

However, today is the first day of Spring. It says so in this blog. It’s official. Continue reading

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Food and Drink, Places

26 – Chocolate Factory

For those clinically addicted to chocolate, look away now, for yesterday I was shown around the chocolate factory I have often mentioned. Never seen so much chocolate. Literally mountains of the stuff: thick, rich, oozing, bitter sweet sex magic.

It’s part of my job believe it or not. After all those years of delivering letters, waiting in bars, driving vans around, data entry, warehouse picking, number crunching, watching time disappear out of the window. I finally get to do something useful. Trusted. Continue reading

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Places

24 – Smoking Dog

For much of the time here I try to integrate with Lyonnais life: I speak French whenever I can; I respect their customs and food; I learn about their heritage and history, I drink their wine, I see their sights. However, on Saturday nights I become English again.

Once a week I need to remember who I am; shake off the pretence. Like I wrote a few years ago after living in Spain, it’s very hard to change your nationality from the inside. You can hold the passport, put on the clothes, speak the language, but can you change who you are. ‘Even if I dug a hole in the middle of Madrid and lived in it for 40 years, I would never become Spanish,’ I wrote. Continue reading

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Places

23 – Fourviere

One of my favourite days out in Lyon is to waltz around the parc des hauteurs. This encompasses the Fourvière Basilica, the Roman amphitheatres, the Cemetery of Loyasse, The Metallic Tower (the mini Eiffel Tower), and La Passerelle des Quatre-vents. It kills a good three hours if you have nothing else to do. Continue reading

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Seasons

22 – The Great Thaw

So The Great Thaw has begun. Walking to the Tete D’Or yesterday evening, the sun just managing to stay afloat above the Fourvière, I smelt spring. Finally unfrozen, my nostrils picked up the faint smell of grass. Not the freshly cut kind of a municipal park on Mayday, or the rich, heavy odour of a cow meadow in August. But simply the light scent of sodden grass. Barely alive. Hanging on in there like everything else. Continue reading

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Random

21 – The Moon

There seems to be no privacy from the glaring eye of the moon. It’s Friday, half past six and I’m sitting by the lake in the Parc De La Tete D’Or. This morning I was in my classroom at half past seven staring at the moon rising in the East above Fourvière. What a sight. It even came up in my early morning class with Monsieur Petit as I explained the difference between the definite and indefinite article . ‘The Moon – not a moon’. He seemed to get the point and we moved on. Continue reading

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People

20 – Jamshakcle

It’s twelve o’clock and I’m eating chocolate. I finally got the nod from up above and so this morning  I fired up my trusty Peugeot and headed down the A7 towards Marseille to the town of Tain L’Hermitage, famous for its wine and chocolate.

It’s a fairly nondescript drive through dreary desolate countryside: potato field, farm house, field, house, mist, fog, snow. But it made me think that fifteen years ago I would have seen the same view. Fifteen years ago I went to Nice with Jamshakcle, our beloved glam-folk-psychedelic rock band fronted by the magnificent Justin Brown with backing from Lee ‘Satin’ White on bass, James ‘Trickey’ Trickey on drums, Paul ‘The Quad’ Quadros on guitar and fiddle, and me, Phil ‘Oggers’ Ogley on guitar. That was a bizarre episode if ever there was one. Continue reading

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Places

19 – Routes

Walking back from school today along Rue Vendome was like walking through a wind tunnel used for testing Arctic machinery. I take the Velo’v to school in the morning and back again at night, but if I have the afternoon off I enjoy walking back down Rue Servient and into Place Guichard where I take a coffee, or more recently a hot chocolate. Continue reading

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