Thursday, 13 December 2018

Winter Royal

"Tonight's poison. I think I'm in love." This is what I said on Facebook about Winter Royal and I think it deserves to be a new great unknown line. Winter Royal is the new winter ale from Rebellion Beer, and it is also part of my new Christmastime drinking stocks. I might even have it on Christmas day itself, I love it that much. Apparently, Winter Royal is a beer which existed decades ago at the old brewery in Marlow, but became unavailable when it closed down in 1988. So it is an ale reborn, all the more fitting for Christmas and the winter solstice. But it is mainly a flavorsome ruby ale that keeps you warm on a cold winter night.

P'tit Loup prépare Noël

J'ai blogué quelquefois sur P'tit Loup, le louveteau qui est le vedette d'une série de livres pour enfants et de jouets. Il semble être très populaire dans le monde francophone. Toujours est-il qu'il a au moins un livre qui est consacré à Noël, qu'on a offert en cadeau à mon petit loup deux fois plutôt qu'une: une fois à Noël 2016 par ses grands-parents, puis à Noël 2017 par l'un de ses oncles...  Je ne me rappelle même plus lequel des deux. Au moins, ça lui fait des livres en français dans la maison. Et enfin, depuis que les Fêtes commencent, Wolfie s'intéresse au livre et me demande au moins parfois de le lire avec lui. Je crois qu'il s'identifie au personnage principal.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Radio (Christmas)Times

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas and 'Tis the season to be watching. Case in point: Radio Times has finally released its Christmas issue. I don't have many Christmas traditions specifically linked to England, but one of the very few of them is buying a Radio Times to use as a TV guide for the season. In an age of streaming, browsing and of multiple channels, when you can find by the click of a mouse what is on the telly, this old-fashioned way of checking and choosing the entertainment has something reassuring and timeless. Owning a paper copy of Radio Times and reading its articles is part of my little Christmas pleasures.

Noël, Noël (Passe-Partout)

Je trouvais que je ne mettais pas assez de musique de Noël sur ce blogue, alors j'ai pensé partager une chanson du spécial de Noël de Passe-Partout. Je l'ai fait écouter à petit loup, avec un succèes modéré. Dans un même ordre d'idées, j'ai retrouvé sur YouTube Le Noël de Pruneau et de Cannelle, pour les nostalgiques de ma génération. Pas les meilleurs arrangements, mais il y a là bien des cantiques peu connus ou carrément oubliés. Mais celle-ci, que l'on retrouve aussi dans l'album, est une chanson originale:

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

I, Secret Santa

This Friday, we will be doing Secret Santa at work. I thought I'd escape it with my new job (I say "new", but I have been in this job for a year and a half now). I am not too keen, but I guess it does build up team spirit. It certainly brought some excitement in the office, with the younger female part of the staff wondering who was whose Secret Santa and what presents were they to expect. It is a small company, about a dozen employees, so with a bit of investigation someone can find out who bought what for who, although as the staff is made of a majority of women in their mid twenties to early thirties, it might make things a bit more challenging. I have been asked over and over again by the girls what I wanted for Christmas. The price range for the gifts is between £5 to £10. I bought a small notepad at around £6, with a beagle on it, as my colleague is a dog lover and beagle owner. I wonder what I will have. Maybe another mug, which although unimaginative is always useful. I might blog about it again, if it is worth another post.

Le temps des pingouins

Tout d'abord, une précision: je sais que les pingouins et les manchots sont deux espèces différentes, mais j'utilise le terme pingouin pour l'un et l'autre afin de faire plus simple. Et la photo a été prise à Branféré et elle est ici pour illustrer le sujet du billet. Toujours est-il qu'il m'est venu à l'esprit que le pingouin est un oiseau que l'on trouve un peu partout quand Noël arrive, surtout mais pas exclusivement dans les articles pour enfants: sur le pyjama de mon fils, dans les images associées à Noël, sur le papier d'emballage, comme décoration du sapin. Je songe d'ailleurs lui acheter, enfin je veux dire demander au Père Noël de lui apporter en cadeau un toutou de pingouin.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Nanaimo bars

We were invited today by a friend of my wife, a mother of twins a year older than Wolfie, to go to their place for an afternoon meal. She is a Canadian from Alberta married to a Brit and, while we don't know her all that much for now, she seems very eager to develop a friendship with us. My guess is that because our family situations mirror each other's: Canadians (not that I feel very Canadian mind you) married to an English person. Anyway, it was a very a pleasant time, their two boys were sweet and Wolfie enjoyed himself too. She had said to my wife that she had prepared (for the first time) a typical Canadian delicacy. I rightly guessed that it was Nanaimo bars. Now it does not come from Québec, or indeed Alberta, but I know Nanaimo bars very much as it was often parts of our Christmastime desserts in my family and the family of my friends. I don't remember eating them any other time of the year. So it was fitting and it tasted of home. It is a very nice dessert, shamelessly indulgent, full of sugar and so very easy to munch.

Neige

Photo prise par mon père il y a deux ou trois semaines, dans le domaine familial au Saguenay. je la publie ici parce que la neige et les vrais hivers commencent à me manquer beaucoup. Ici il pleut et même quand il fait plus froid il n'y a pas un flocon qui tombe. En tout cas, la neige ne s'accumule pas.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Scotland Yard

Once upon a time, before my brothers and I started playing role-playing games, we were very much into board games. To a point when they sometimes even influenced our make belief games. I used to ask for at least one board game as present at Christmas. One of my favourite has been Scotland Yard, which we received at Christmas 1987 if I am not mistaken. I was then, and I am still an anglophile and loved very much old fashioned crime fiction stories set in London and England and its police had a fascination over me. I didn't even know then that Scotland Yard was not even its real name, or even its real nickname anymore. In fact, everything about it being the élite of police in England was a tired old cliché. All the same, it was all I knew then of England's police life, or all I thought I knew, and it all seemed so exotic and exciting.

So I got the game as a Christmas present and to this day this is maybe my favourite board game (I rank it slightly higher than Clue/Cluedo). The premise is pretty simple: master criminal Mr. X is in London and he must be captured. One of the players is Mr. X, the others are detectives from the Yard and they are pursuing him in London through public transports: taxis, bus and underground. How much more British can you get? You spend tickets to travel (yes, even in taxi) and when you spent them all, you are stuck. That's a rip off, but not entirely unrealistic. In any case, it is a very exciting game and it is full of atmosphere and character. And what makes it unique is that it is a game of collaboration as the police officers work together to catch the villain. Strangely enough we did not play that often to Scotland Yard, maybe because I considered it a bit of the Holy Grail of board games. Maybe also because we played it as a make belief game more than anything else, although then Mr. X was not the only adversary we had. In any case, I would like to revisit Scotland Yard again.

"La fête de Noël au Québec"

Je plogue souvent en anglais des livres à lire durant le temps des Fêtes, j'ai pensé queje devais le faire pour mon lectorat francophone. Tout ça pour dire que j'ai reçu il y a plus de dix ans La fête de Noël au Québec et que c'est devenu un incontournable pour moi, littéralement mon livre de chevet dans le temps de Noël. C'est un ouvrage encyclopédique qui couvre tous les aspects de la célébration en version québécoise. Pour le nostalgique comme l'expatrié que je suis, c'est le livre parfait, on en apprend autant que l'on se souvient de trucs oubliés.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Grumpy Santa

'Tis the season to be drinking and I wanted to share online the rediscovery of one Christmas ale which illustrates perfectly in its name and its label one aspect of Christmas: Grumpy Santa by the Staffordshire Brewery. I drank it before, I think, but I remember mostly their Cold Turkey, which I did not like all that much. Then there's this Grumpy Santa, which tastes pretty good for a blonde (thankfully it's a dark blonde). But I bought it for the label and the name. Oh the name! Christmastime may be the most wonderful time of the year, there are moments when one feels tired, fed up, not in the festive mood and yes, grumpy. This beer is an homage to these moments. Let it be known: 'this (also) the season to be grumpy (sometimes).

Comment un chat voit le sapin de Noël

J,ai trouvé ce dessin comique sur mon fil Facebook. Il se trouve que j'ai beaucoup d'amoureux des chats parmi mes amis, bien du monde qui se sont découverts un amour pour les félins bien avant que ce soit mon cas. Dans tous les cas, ce dessin illustre assez bien la relation entre le chat et le sapin de Noël. Domino n'est pas si pire que ça, mais il a ses moments.

The stories of Saint Nick

It is Saint Nicholas' Day today. He is of course the prototype of Santa Claus, or rather Santa Claus before he gained weight and moved up North. I don't want to write a long post, but thought I'd share this video about the "real" Saint Nick. Or rather the old one, the one of old folklore rather than the modern legend. My favourite is "that butcher story", which I often shared on this blog.

Question existentielle (338)

Nous sommes aujourd'hui la Saint-Nicolas. Au lieu de mettre cette chanson comme je le fais d'habitude, je vais poser une question existentielle que j'imagine beaucoup de parents doivent se poser:

-Quoi dire à un jeune enfant à propos du Père Noël?

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

A train in the snow

Not a real one, but a model train by LGB. The snow itself is real, however. I found this picture on the Facebook page of LGB and thought I needed to share it as a Christmastime and winter post. When I was a child, in the weeks before Christmas, before the tree was up, we generally had our LGB train running in the basement on a network of railways set up by my father. It was a way to getting into the season mood and kept us patient through Advent. Of course we never ran it on the snow outside, but in our make belief games, it was winter anyway. This is partially why I associate trains and LGB models in particular to Christmastime.

Chercher le Polar de l'Avent

J'ai déjà blogué l'année dernière sur ce bouquin publié par Série Noire et que j'ai vu par hasard à Olivieri du temps de mes études à l'U de M, il y a de cela vingt ans déjà. Je regrette amèrement jusqu'à ce jour de ne pas l'avoir acheté. J'espérais naïvement l'avoir parmi mes cadeaux de Noël cette année-là, mais je n'ai pas été exaucé, ou alors personne de ma famille ne l'a trouvé. Je vais reprendre mes recherches cette année, en espérant pouvoir le lire l'Avent de 2019. Mais je vais élargir mes recherches grâce à ce blogue. Si par hasard vous l'avez, ou si vous savez où le trouver en France, au Québec ou en Angleterre (sait-on jamais), faites-moi le savoir dans les commentaires.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

It's not a natural tree...

...but it will do for this year. So anyway, we made the Christmas tree last Sunday. I thought the sooner the better, especially since we are stuck with an artificial one this year. We have had natural ones in the past years, sometimes, but this way before Wolfie's birth: because of his car seat, we cannot carry a natural one of a decent size in the car. I had forgotten how small our Christmas tree was. And how it smells of nothing. That said, I cannot complain too much, as putting it up was a real joy. Mainly because of Wolfie. At two, he is far more conscious about the Season and far more active than before, so he really, really, really had fun putting the decorations on. Or rather, bossing me around to put them wherever he wanted them to be.

Se "tinquer" pour les Fêtes...

Je ne sais pas trop comment on écrit le verbe québécois "tinquer" (ça vient de tank, alors ça pourrait être "tanker" ou "tinker", mais c'est bien ce dont il s'agit. Les caudeaux de Noël sont pas mal tous achetés, ou en train de l'être. Les décorations mises. Pour la bouffe, il faudra se préparer un peu plus proche du moment, mais ça vient aussi. Ne reste que l'alcool. Le défi, c'est d'en boire moins que l'on se stocke, pour en avoir assez aux vacances. Comme je ne bois que les fins de semaine, ça passe encore. Jusqu'ici, j'ai surtout acheté la bière de Noël de Marks & Spencer. Ce n'est pas ma préférée, mais elle se boit. Je compte me diversifier dans les jours et semaines qui viennent. L'Angleterre a une panoplie de bières festives, alors j'ai l'embarras du choix.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Whiteout ('Tis the season to be reading...)

'Tis the season to be reading and, as you may remember from the previous years, it means that I will suggest books for you to read during your Christmas holidays, or maybe ask for Santa to put under your Christmas tree. Today's suggestion (and the first this year) does not have so much to with the Season as it as with the season. I long for a proper winter and what's more wintery than Antarctica. So the book I suggest is Whiteout by Greg Rucka, illustrated by Steve Lieber. I blogged about it and its sequel last week, I thought it was just as fitting for a Christmas read. In this graphic novel the continent is pure winter nightmareland. Be that as it may, the protagonist, U.S. marshal and tomboy (you can even say butch) Carrie Stetko, has made the Ice (as it is called) her home. Then someone gets murdered. You have blood on snow, isolation, blizzard, violence, a thousand ways to die a gruesome death, a good deal of international intrigues and a dash of espionage to give it some weight as well as authenticity, there is a lot to love here. Whiteout is not only a great thriller, it's an intelligent one.

Le rond-point enneigé

Parce que j'ai insisté, mon père m'a envoyé des photos des premières neiges chez nous. J'ai lu il y a deux ou trois ans que Chicoutimi était l'une des rares villes où il y avait des Noëls blancs année après année. Autant dire que c'est vraiment le bout du monde. Ce que j'ai toujours cru du rond-point où j'ai grandi. Cette photo n'est donc pas celle d'un pôle... maisle rond-point marque peut-être bien un certain pôle, à tout le moins une polarité.