Category Archives: French Onion Soup!

Wedding in Molinot — a photo essay.

Last week we had the first wedding in Molinot for five years. The Bride and groom have been together for years and decided to make it all official.  It was a lovely event, very redolent of a rural France that is fast disappearing. Yes folks, la France Profonde is contracting. Soon it won’t be there at all.

Meantime it was nice to see an event like this, with all the colour, hilarity and distinctly earthy humour. This is the Arriere-Cote.

I don’t know when we’ll see the next wedding in Molinot, so better enjoy this one.

Damp Walls–How to get them dry

Damp Walls--How to get them dry damp-walls-01
Houses in situations like this often have damp walls. Pic: Rod Fleming

In the past walls were rendered and plastered with lime. Lime is a truly wonderful material that can be bent to a whole series of uses, but as a render on stone it is unsurpassed. It ‘breathes’, allowing moisture to escape and suppressing damp walls. This is because it is very porous. So why are there damp walls in so many old houses today? Continue reading Damp Walls–How to get them dry

Europe’s immigration crisis erupts

Europe's immigration crisis erupts immigration-police-300x199A man was killed yesterday during a mass attack as at least 1500 people attempted to board trucks entering the Eurotunnel in Calais. This brings the death toll in the ongoing crisis, which began in June, to nine.

Eurotunnel, the operator, has invested heavily in security fences and personnel at the French end of the Tunnel but it is clearly not enough and they are swamped, daily, as would-be immigrants try to get into the UK.

The crisis has caused reduction in the frequency of freight trains through the Tunnel. Around Dover, the UK terminal, motorways have been closed for weeks as trucks waiting to depart for Europe are parked on them in what is called ‘Operation Stack’.

With the motorways closed, small towns and villages, whose roads are not designed for this weight of traffic, are jammed with cars seeking a way round the blockage. Businesses are reporting a catastrophic drop in revenue.

On the French side, large numbers of extra police and security have been drafted in to the Pas de Calais area to try to secure it, but they are manifestly failing.

While closure of the Tunnel is a drastic option, it may be the only one left. The situation, already catastrophic, can only get worse. Continue reading Europe’s immigration crisis erupts

Reims Bikini Attack: Suspects named

Reims Bikini Attack: Suspects named bikinis-300x200The broader media gave the story of how a young woman was set upon by five other women for sunbathing in a bikini in a park in Reims, France, some attention today and a few new titbits have come out. (I covered this yesterday.)

According to the national newspaper  Le Monde, under the headline ‘Emotions and hasty conclusions’ the woman who was attacked is Angélique Slosse. Three of her alleged attackers have been named, Inès Nouri, Zohra Karim and Hadoune Tadjouri. The other two are minors and their names have not been released. All five  are Muslim.

The newspaper says that one of the alleged attackers was slightly injured and was signed off work for three days. One of Slosse’s friends was also given hospital treatment for injuries received.

Buzzfeed France claims to have contacted one of the alleged attackers, who was not identified by name, but only by her age, 19. She confirmed that she and her friends were Muslims, but that she ‘was tolerant’. According to her, she had, on seeing the victim dressed in shorts and a bikini top, said that she ‘wouldn’t dare dress like that’, to which she claims Slosse retorted ‘If I had a body like yours, I wouldn’t either.’ Continue reading Reims Bikini Attack: Suspects named

Woman attacked for wearing bikini

Woman attacked for wearing bikini bikinis-300x200
Protesters today expressing solidarity with the woman who was attacked.

It’s a case of double-speak gone mad.

On Wednesday lunchtime, at the Léo-Lagrange Park near the town centre of Reims, France, a 21-year old woman was sunbathing with two of her friends, dressed in a bikini. This is perfectly normal and if you visit any park in France in summer, especially a hot one like this, you will see plenty of women wearing swimsuits getting a tan. It’s a French passion.

However, the woman, whose name has not been disclosed, was spotted by a ‘group of five girls’. One of the came over and told her to ‘Get dressed, it’s not summer.’

The sunbather replied that the newcomer was not ‘the religious police’ and at that point all five of the girls attacked the woman, requiring her to be hospitalised. She was signed off work for four days. Continue reading Woman attacked for wearing bikini

Probability? Get off my doorstep.

Probability? Get off my doorstep. what-are-the-odds_50290d9b95578_w1500.png-85x300I had an unusual experience last week here at Mission Control in Darkest France. I was door-stepped by Evangelists. We don’t see too many of those round here. They were working a nice formula; he was older and avuncular, she was young and very attractive. She was chosen to hook the guys, he because he was not threatening to women.

Having the kind of debate one has with Evangelists is a little harder in French than it is in English, at least for me, but I think I did OK. She seemed to like the bit about stardust…it’s nice and romantic.

He, however, brought up the ‘statistical probability of Earth being where it is etc etc’ canard. This is meant to show that the probability of Earth’s existence is so low that there must be magic, or as they would prefer, Divine Intervention, involved. Richard Dawkins debunks this in ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ very nicely and I recommend it.

It’s a bogus argument because it proceeds in the wrong direction: we are already here. There is no probability about it. The actual probability of the Earth being where it is, is 1:1 or 100% because that is where it actually is.

But this got me to thinking and I did a little thought exercise. What would the probability of any one of us being born when and where we were? Continue reading Probability? Get off my doorstep.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Crissyme-300x225Happy New Year 2015! I try not to write about myself too much, but this seems a perfect excuse.

2014 got off to the worst start imaginable. I broke with my lovely girlfriend, Crissy José, in a stupid disagreement that was entirely my fault. (I mentioned this in an earlier post). I had very little money and I was totally depressed. My world shrank and I turned inwards. I was emotionally gutted and actually in a very vulnerable condition.

Two events saved me. Well, three, but more of that later. Continue reading Happy New Year!

Wood in Traditional Building 1: Oak

Wood in Traditional Building 1: Oak oak-framing-203x300
Pic: Rod Fleming

Wood is, along with stone and earth, one of the principal materials used in the construction of buildings, and particularly older buildings. It is important to have some understanding of the nature of wood, its uses in the older house and some sympathy for its virtues as well as its limitations.

Timber is used in a wide variety of applications, and the most important of these are the support structure for floors; the roof timbers and associated work; and the interior finishing timber. Timber is also used in the construction of interior walls and in many areas in the construction of supporting walls.

There are three timbers commonly found in older buildings in France, namely oak, poplar and pine. Other timbers are often found as parts of outhouses and sheds.

Oak (Quercus sp) Continue reading Wood in Traditional Building 1: Oak

French Onion Soup! in the News

French Onion Soup! in the News rodcourier.wee_
Those avid readers who live in Scotland will be able to see yours truly’s geggy mutt plastered all over the pages of The Courier newspaper today. Support those who support me, I say, so get out and buy a copy! You can download the full page image HERE.

It’s publicising my hilarious collection of memoirs on life in France called French Onion Soup!, which you can download FOR FREE from Amazon today and tomorrow, as part of the promotion.

Please, please, though, if you like it, please leave a review on Amazon.