97 – Shacks and Smiles

Walking to Mahle last week I passed fifty or so shacks on a waste ground. At first I thought they were part of an abandoned allotment waiting to be cleared for development. But then I saw a woman washing clothes in a tub. Children playing in the grime. Guys kicking a ball around. Smoke rising from chimneys. Continue reading

The French

95 – Five packets of Gerblé biscuits and a box of Bavarian Gold

After my trip to Annonay last Friday to see my dieting biscuit friends at Cereal & Santé, I fancied a pack of my favourite beer: Pelforth Ambrée. It would have been an easy trip to the supermarket if I hadn’t seen Bavarian Gold on special offer:




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94 – Col de la Chassenoud

I drove up to the Col de La Chassenoud in the Pilat Park on Sunday and after trekking up a lovely woodland track for an hour, arrived at a tiny locked chapel that was the summit of the creatively named Mont Monnet. What’s more there was a panoramic viewing board that explained all the features I was looking at: primarily the Rhone valley, with Lyon on the far left, Annonay on the far right and a lot of fog, haze and industrial pollution in between. There was also a plaque on a rock that said you could see Mont Blanc on a clear day. Continue reading


93 – Twenty Days to the Equinox

When I told my students yesterday that ‘Thank the Lord it was spring tomorrow,’ they looked at me as though I was dribbling the slimy filling from a half eaten Ginsters Cornish pasty all over their notes.

‘No, Oggers,’ they said in unison consulting their online agendas. ‘Spring begins on Thursday 21st March not the 1st.’ Continue reading