Thursday, 18 December 2014

Frosty England

This picture was taken a few days by a local resident for the Facebook page of the town where I live. I saved it, as usual shamelessly, so I could share it on this blog. you see a frosty pathway by the Thames. The temperature was quite cold at the beginning of the week, for England anyway. I thought it was a beautiful picture, of a typical frosty English winter morning.

Du vin chaud pour Noël?

 Depuis que j'ai redécouvert le vin chaud cette année, je me demande si je ne devrais pas en faire moi même pour Noël cette année. Bon, c'est pas comme si on ne prenait pas beaucoup d'alcool et si on n'en avait pas déjà en masse, mais c'est une petite tradition de Noël qui est fort agréable, surtout pratiquée dans les pays froids.On en a déjà fait une fois durant les Fêtes, c'était je crois mon idée, mais je ne sais pas pourquoi, on ne l'a jamais répété. Peut-être que le résultat n'a pas été très convaincant. Il faudrait tout de même réessayer.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

"Touch not the cat bot a glove"

I took this picture in Derbyshire, in a wild animals sanctuary, mainly owls and otters, but also, as you can see, wildcats. The title I used for this post is the motto of the Clan Macpherson of Scotland. It truly means "Do not touch a cat without a glove". Here is what Wikipedia says: "The 'glove' of a wildcat is the pad. If the cat is 'ungloved', its claws are unsheathed. The motto serves as a warning that one should beware when the wildcat's claws are 'without a glove'. It is a reference to the historically violent nature of the clan and serves as a metaphorical warning to other clans that they should think twice before interfering with Macpherson business." So it was meant as a warning.

I feel strongly about this motto for many reasons, for one because it is sort of mine. I explain: on my mother's side, I belong to the Archibald family, which apparently, from the research I did on Google (for what it's worth) belongs to the Clan Macpherson. Maybe it is far fetched, but I find it very fitting for me, as I love cats of all sorts. Of course, my society with cats is less of the feral and more of the domestic type, but all the same, there is something feral and untamed about the whole species. All cats are, in a sense and at the core, wild. So this motto fits my fellow felines than my fellow primates.

St-Ambroise millésimée

J'ai déjà reçu ça comme cadeau de Noël: une Saint-Ambroise millésimée. Je ne l'ai pas demandée cette année pour une raison: les bières millésimées que j'ai reçues sont pour la plupart encore dans leur contenant. Enfin non, ce n'est pas vrai: j'en ai bu, mais étant expatrié je n'ai pas eu beaucoup l'occasion d'écumer mes réserves. Et quand je reviens chez nous, je bois plus des produits McAuslan réguliers. Cela dit, j'ai vu sur leur page Facebook cette photo promotionnelle parmi leurs idées de cadeaux et je me demande si je ne devrais pas/n'aurais pas dû l'inclure dans ma liste de cadeaux. Cela dit, je la suggère pour ceux qui ont à offrir quelque chose aux amateurs de bière.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Jazzy Christmas music

I didn't upload enough music recently, so I thought that I would do this tonight. And, while I am old fashioned and traditionalist when it comes to Christmas, to the point of being antique, the song I want to share is a modern one. It is even jazzy. It is from A Charlie Brown Christmas, a timeless classic. The cartoon is a seasonal favorite of mine and it didn't take a wrinkle. It is a beautifully simple Christmas story with great character and perfect atmosphere, which of course the music is a central element. The album is often played at home during the season. So here is one song for you to enjoy.

Question existentielle (248)

C'est ma première question existentielle ce mois-ci, croyez-le ou non:

-Quoi ne pas acheter comme cadeau à Noël?

Monday, 15 December 2014

An oak, a sword and a Norse god

As Christmas is coming, I am getting deep into its Pagan roots, and more precisely its Viking elements. So yes, yes, this is actually a post that is about Christmas, troll the ancient Yuletide carol everyone. I am reading this book about the Völsunga saga. And there is a particular episode of the saga that has some Christmas overtone. You see it illustrated by Alan Lee on your left. A beautiful, powerful image. You see Odin Allfather, in his usual disguise of an old wanderer, sliding a magical sword in the trunk of a tree. It is often said to be an oak tree, but the word used for oak is often a generic for tree, or so I read. The tree is named Branstock, and it was at the center of the house of the Volsungs. Odin offered the sword to anyone who could pull it off the tree. Prince Sigmund, the son of Volsüng, who was to become the father of the hero Sigurd, was the one who succeeded to pull it off.

Now, of course the first thing you can think of is King Arthur, but it has many Christmas elements. There is the tree in the center of the hall, for one. I always thought Christmas trees were descendent of Yggdrasil, and Branstock was meant to be a direct descendent of Yggdrasil. Odin himself is a possible ancestor of Santa Claus, who sees all, asserts the behavior of men and also is a gift bringer, like in this story. A gift he places under/in a tree. So there you have it. A Yule story to tell your children, grandchildren, godchildren and to read.

Décor de film (La photo du mois)



Le thème ce mois-ci était choisi par Alexinparis. Ca a été très simple et j'ai réglé ça en trois coups de cuillière à pot: la gare des trains à vapeur à Buckfastleigh, entre cette ville et la ville de Totnes dans le Devon. C'est indubitablement un décor de film. Un film d'époque bien entendu. Mais enfin bref, cette gare ferait l'affaire pour un whodunit, un film d'horreur, un western, que sais-je... On plonge vraiment dans un autre monde en y allant. Et on a même le figurant comme bonus, pour faire plus époque.

Allez voir les autres décors de film:

A'icha, Agnès, Agrippine, Akaieric, Alban, Alexinparis, Amy, Anne, Arwen, Aude, Autour de Cia, Ava, Bestofava, BiGBuGS, Blogoth67, Blue Edel, Brindille, Calamonique, Cara, Champagne, Chat bleu, Chloé, Christophe, Cocazzz, Crearine, Cricriyom from Paris, Cécile Atch'oum, Céline in Paris, Dame Skarlette, DelphineF, Destination Montréal, Dr. CaSo, E, El Padawan, Estelle, Eurydice, Eva INside-EXpat, Fanfan Raccoon, François le Niçois, Frédéric, Gilsoub, Giselle 43, Gizeh, Guillaume, Homeos-tasie, Isa de fromSide2Side, Isa ToutSimplement, Isaquarel, Josette, Julia, Kantu, Kenza, KK-huète En Bretannie, Krn, La Dum, La Fille de l'Air, La Nantaise à Paris, Lau* des montagnes, Laulinea, Laurent Nicolas, Laurie, Lavandine, Lavandine83, Les bonheurs d'Anne & Alex, Les Filles du Web, Loulou, Luckasetmoi, Lyonelk, magda627, Mahlyn, Mamysoren, Maria Graphia, Marie, Marion, Marmotte, MauriceMonAmour, Memories from anywhere, Milla la galerie, Mimireliton, MissCarole, Morgane Byloos Photography, MyLittleRoad, Nanouk, Nicky, Philae, Pilisi, Pixeline, princesse Emalia, Renepaulhenry, Rythme Indigo, Salon de Thé, Sandrine, Sylvie, Tambour Major, Tataflo, Testinaute, Thalie, Tofashionandbeyond, Tuxana, Utopique-Lily, Vanilla, Voyager en photo, Wolverine, Woocares, Xoliv', Yoppappop, Yvette la Chouette, Zaza.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Cream tea for brekafast

This was the first breakfast we had, my wife and I, during our time in Devon. Basically, we kept the scones, clotthed cream and jam we received in our welcome basket for our first afternoon tea (as we arrived late afternoon/early evening) for breakfast the next morning. My wife does not like tea (how un-English of her) so she had coffee instead. I had the real thing, albeit with no milk in my tea. I find tea better without milk. There is already dairy with the clotted cream, so the milk would be superfluous. Otherwise, I put the cream before the jam, as I have read this is what they do in Devon, so I respect cream tea orthodoxy.

Anyway, I was looking at the pictures this morning and thought it would have made for a nice Sunday breakfast today.

Emballage et calembour atroce

Je suis en train d'emballer les cadeaux de Noël et depuis j'ai un calembour atroce en tête, que je tiens à partager pour que vous ayez tous le même mal de tête que moi: "Emballer des cadeaux, ce n'est pas toujours très emballant." Tous en choeur: ayoye!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Reinbeer!

During Advent and the Christmas holidays, I often drink and try seasonal drinks. Mulled wine of course, but also Christmas beers, or Christmas themed beers. They show up in pubs everywhere here when Christmas is coming. I think they are more Christmas-themed beers than Christmas beers per se. In other words, they just put a Christmas label on a beer and voilà. The one I am about to plug, like many of the ones I drank, use the legendary Rudolph's red nose as a symbol for alcohol. I have seen many beers named Rudolph in the past. This one is named Reinbeer and it is from Ringwood Brewery. The beer is quite nice, easy enough to drink, maybe not dark enough for my taste and not really red like I would expect from its label. Not my first choice of real ale for the season, but it is from Ringwood Brewery and I often enjoy their products, so if only for this, I would encourage people to try it. And it does have a nice word play for a name.

La Légende du feu

Mon père a produit sur YouTube cette vidéo, une mise en images de La Légende du feu, dramatisée par Les petits violons du regretté Jean Cousineau, narré par Albert Millaire. Comme le dit mon père dans sa présentation: "Il se peut qu'il manque quelques lignes à la captation de l'histoire. Le disque de référence a servi plusieurs fois et a quelques accros." C'est peu dire qu'il a servi plusieurs fois: enfant j'obsédais sur cette légende et je l'écoutais sans cesse. Alors forcément, le disque a fini par prendre des rayuresJe veux retrouver le disque original en bon état, afin de pouvoir l'écouter sans qu'il y ait de coupures. Mais d'ici là, il y a cette vidéo.

Friday, 12 December 2014

The Fish & Chips craving again

I took this picture near the sea in Paignton, during my time in Devon. It was the last time I had fish and chips. I had wanted to have fish and chips by the sea for ages and thought a town by the sea Devon was the ideal place for it. I was hungry so I enjoyed the food enough, as I always do when I eat fish and chips, that said it was overall a disappointing experience. The fish had a strange aftertaste of curry and Paignton may have been the most vulgar town I have ever seen. I guess this is what happens when you are looking forward too much for an experience: it ends up being underwhelming. And I had far better fish and chips, even though I had them far from the sea.

But anyway, it struck me tonight that this was the last time I had fish and chips. In the middle of August! And I am craving them again. It is Friday, so it would be a perfect evening for this kind of dinner, or at least customary. But I am trying to fight the craving. Soon it will be time for eating excesses, so I am trying to eat healthy, or at least not too much and too fatty food. All the same, I am craving fish and chips.

Les pommes sous la neige

Voici une autre photo des pommes d'un de nos pommiers (ceux de mes parents, veux-je dire). Je regrette un peu que mes parents ne les aient pas toutes cueillies avant, ça aurait fait de la compote pour les Fêtes, mais bon, fait tout de même une jolie nature morte et hivernale.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

A Literary Christmas

As my readership knows, I read seasonal. And that means during the Advent and Christmastime, I read books about Christmas, or set during Christmastime, or linked to the season in an apparently tenuous way. But I do also read books that talk of Christmas at length. Last year in Waterstone's, I bought A Literary Christmas, which I am reading at the moment (among many other things. It is an anthology, which means it has a flaw: I can find the same stories somewhere else. And this one has, apart from the usual poems, quite a lot of abstract of novels or short stories rather than full stories. And the cover is rather lame. But let's not judge a book by its cover. Even if this one is lame, the book is a rather fun read so far, full of Yuletide atmosphere. And with many classic authors, the book certainly has soul. Or should I say souls? In any case, it is proper literature, although sometimes truncated.

Le vice de la vice-reine

Je suis en retard un peu à bloguer sur la nouvelle deux jours après les faits, mais ça vaut la peine de bloguer à ce sujet: Lise Thibault a plaidé coupable à une partie des accusations de fraude. La vice-reine était escroc. Vous savez ce que je pense d'elle en tant que personne. La justice confirme maintenant que la lieutenant-gouverneure était d'abord et avant tout une escroc. Il y a quelque chose de profondément illégitime aux dépenses privées d'un monarque, quel qu'il ou elle soit, surtout quand il utilise les fonds publics. Quand le monarque n'en est pas un, ça en devient grotesque. "The queen can do no wrong", clamait la demeurée comme défense. Tu parles! Si la Reine n'avait rien à se reprocher, elle y renoncerait, à sa couronne. Mais la vice-reine, elle, portait une couronne imaginaire. Ce qui est le plus troublant, c'est que Lise Thibault se croit légitimement monarque. Lorsqu'on prononcera sa sentence, j'espère que l'on ne sera pas trop gentil parce qu'elle est en chaise roulante et qu'elle est âgée. Parce qu'une escroc demeure une escroc.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Ice and salt

This morning at the train station, waiting for the train to go to work, I noticed another sign of winter, proving without the shadow of a doubt that the season was here: there was salt on the platform. Lots and lots of salt, to cover the ice or make sure there was no black ice. I saw it before, once I even got to work late because someone had to salt the platform (yes, sounds dumb written like this) before the train could leave. Now the salt had been there since before early morning. Before I was waiting for the train anyway, which I guess is not early morning, but it often feels like it, especially Monday. Anyway, it was the anecdote that made my day, it was the non-event of the beginning of this week. Ice and salt. Winter is here.

Les réserves de beignes

Je parlais récemment des réserves de pâtés à la viande, ce soir je blogue sur les réserves de beignes. vous voyez sur la photo de droite une photo de la production familiale, qui dure d'habitude pendant quelques semaines, pas beaucoup plus. Pour mon frère PJ, le beigne est LE dessert essentiel de Noël, enfin du Noël québécois, plus encore que la bûche de Noël. Bien que je préfère la bûche, tant parce qu'il y en a dans pleins de variétés que de par sa nature symbolique (j'en dirai plus là dessus un de ces quatre), je crois bien que mon frère a raison. Surtout dans le sucre en poudre, comme ça. C'est disons-le assez québécois, faits maison et tout. Et enfin bref, je me demande comment sont les réserves, si mes parents en ont fait durant cet Avent qui est déjà commencé.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

The Monstrous Manual online

This is a great moment for the geek and nostalgic in me: I found online the complete Monstrous Manual of the 2nd edition of Dungeons & Dragons. I am not 100% certain of the website is 100% legal, but as this edition has been discontinued for some time, I don't think there is any harm in its existence. My brothers and I never had the full Monstrous Manual, not in one volume, as it used to be sold (see the left-hand side image). We had various volumes of the Monstrous Compendium. TSR made us spend a good bit of money on these ones. That was before the internet, when you now can find pretty much everything of the old stuff online. Going through the entries, it reminds me the good old days when we could play every weekend. And of the many stories we could invented with various monsters, sometimes on a whim. Now I play D&Dr once a year, at Christmas. But reading these entries, it allows me to revisit these old memories and daydream about what we could do with these monsters, many used, some never really exploited to their full potential.

Une mésange à travers la neige


Cette photo a été prise par ma cousine Amy, l'artiste-photographe talentueuse. J'ai décidé de la télécharger parce que... Ben parce que c'est une superbe photo hivernale. Petite anecdote sur les mésanges: j'en ai déjà eu qui ont mangé dans ma main. Ce ne sont pas des oiseaux farouches, enfin pas selon mon expérience. Et c'est un oiseau bien hivernal, doit le noir et le blanc se fondent bien avec la neige et les branches.