Sunday 30 March 2008


Voici le Korrigan en question. Il faudra lui trouver un nom. Des suggestions?


We didn't go to Rennes today, sadly, but we visited briefly Rochefort-en-Terre. It's a beautiful village, much nicer than la Gacilly I think, or more tourists-friendly anyway. I bought a little Korrigan figure, it's supposed to give good luck when put in a home. I was tempted to buy some more books on Breton folklore. If I had time, I could buy enough gifts for my family for all the birthdays and Christmas. As for treating myself, I have to be careful not to spend too much here, but I do want one or two more books, while I ams till here. I am still tempted to get a witch, but I still have to convince my wife of the use of being protected against Evil Eye.

Saturday 29 March 2008

Rennes tomorrow?

My wife and I might go to Rennes tomorrow, to see an old friend of mine, if we manage to get the train schedules correctly and if my friend has time to see us. The countryside is nice, but I cannot wait to see some civilisation. Today we went to a French-English get-together in the communal room of a (the only?) local bar. We tasted a bit of local cuisine (the desserts are absolutely delicious, I got the recipe of an abricot cake). The beers in the bar are from Belgium, strangely enough. I guess France (even in Brittany) is a country of wine, not beer, and I should have tried local wines.

Folklore of Brittany

I am reading La légende de la mort (the book bought in L'Oeil de Breizh). Well, I am reading Goldfinger too, but I read some stories from the other book. It is a nice little book, which really achieves being scary with minimal effects. It's a thick book so there will be enough to read for a while. I will read the book more thoroughly in September/October, because usually before Halloween I read scary stories to put myself in the mood for the day. I can't wait to read the chapter about l'Ankou.

Friday 28 March 2008


A cross close to my in-law's place.

Fruit cake

This is a fruit cake I baked myself, from a recipe of my wife's grandmother. It's basically sultana cake, but you can use other dry fruits. I am quite proud of myself. I might post the recipe one day, but I don't want this to become a food blog.

Thursday 27 March 2008

Citation du jour

"Des moyens très simples créent la terreur: une porte qui s'ouvre, un jardin sous la lune... On ne voit pas le diable mais son oeuvre..."

Auguste Villiers de l'Isle-Adam

Bretagne and France: semantic distinctions

Another thing I learned today: regionalist/nationalist sentiment is strong in Brittany. A lot of people around here don't consider themselves French but only Bretons. They are more Celtic than latins: the owner of L'Oeil de Breizh was proud tu tell me that there was no French flag in his shop, only flags from Celtic countries. I saw Welsh flags in La Gacilly, but no French one. It does feel very Celtic. Tonight, I am going to read a bit of the book I purchased today. Bretons myths and legends in the middle of Brittany, it's a treat.

Birds of La Gacilly

This is a sculpture/fountain that we saw in la Gacilly. Herons seems to be the birds of the village, like the red kites where we live. I don't know which is the other bird on the sculpture.


The strangest thing happened to me this afternoon: I went with my wife and in-laws in a little village called La Gacilly and I was buying some postcards in one of the many little shops they have, and I asked the shop owner if he had any literature about l'Ankou the messenger of death in Breton folklore. The guy said he didn't know what I was talking about, so I started explaining what l'Ankou was to him, and he seemed slightly worried, and said he didn't sell anything about death, devils, Satan or witches. He also mentionned a shop called L'Oeil de Breizh where I could find "the thing you are looking for". He also said that mentioning "that" was like mentioning Voldemort. So I think I genuinly scared somebody who believe in some of the old legends, and who thinks that it is bad omen to talk of Death openly or to seek it.
I went to L'Oeil with my wife and my sister-in-law and her boyfriend, and it's a real treat (for me that is, for them it's a bore): I was a kid in a candy store. I bought a book about Breton legends of death (!) and there are many more books to buy when I get back there. The owner was really chatty and I managed to bargain the price of the book. I learned a few things: a witch at the door is good against evil eye and evil spirits. So next time I will buy a witch (VeggieCarrie won't like it) and I will put it at the door of the flat. If my wife allows me, that is.

French books?

I want to go to a bookstore during my stay, and buy a book in French. I probably haven't read a novel in my mothertongue for a year.

Sunny day in Bretagne

It's sunny here, even a bit warm. It is such a change from the UK (I say that, but yesterday it rained a lot). I cannot wait to go to town. We indulge ourselves for breakfast, for some reason my in-laws, who always had croissants in horror, decided to buy loads for us, with French cookies as well. I think they are getting the French eating philosophy when it comes to eat: it is always better to enjoy yourself. Food-wise, it has been quite indulgent so far.

Wednesday 26 March 2008


We are in Brittany for a few days, and since I am typing on an English keyboard, my entries will be mostly in English. Ironie de la chose. A few things I have noticed so far:

-Cities and towns are always very beautiful here. In England, there aren't that many beautiful places. I am not saying England does not have nice (as in fun) places, but aesthetically, France wins hands down (although it's difficult to beat Bath). That doesn't mean much: Liverpool was not beautiful, but I loved that city to bits. Let's see if French towns are fun. I am sure I will enjoy the wine, but I know I will miss British beers.
-I didn't shiver with emotion when we got to Saint-Malo (as it is from Saint-Malo that Jacques Cartier left France to discover Québec). But from the harbour, it is a beautiful city.
-There are loads of chickadees in the garden, instead of the magpies we usually have in England. I miss the magpies. Chikcadees are more my brother's and his girlfriend's sort of bird (and try to find where the skull joke in the link comes from, if you succeed, I owe you a beer). In the garden of my parents-in-law there are also supposed to be salamanders and mice (aaaaaarrrrrghhhh!). We saw a heron on the way to the in-laws. No hawk yet.
-I had apple cider with the dinner. From Normandie. Enjoyable, but I want to try a wider variety and try some in England too, so I can compare.
-Travelling by boat is slow, but so much more enjoyable than by plane or train. There is space, the food is good, I don't feel sea sick and I even manage to sleep well and wake up before the alarm starts. Something I will definitely do again.
-Scotch is really good. I tried some in the duty-free boutique, as there was free samples. I bought two bottles for some friends of my father-in-law (got paid back in Euros). I wish kept them for myself. To my grat surprise, I didn't feel sea sick after tasting three or four of them. But I felt a bit dizzy. VeggieCarrie thought it tasted horrible.
-French biscuits and pains au chocolat are absolutely delicious, even bought at your average supermarket. Still, I can't force myself to drink coffee. I prefer tea, even here.

Tuesday 25 March 2008

Gastronomy and sleep

Easter is over (it was too soon this year, it happened too quickly) but this Easter Sunday got memorable for the wrong reason: I had to experience the worst case of insomnia I had in years, the mother of all insonias, in fact. I simply couldn't sleep. Too much wine, too much lamb (especially since I hadn't eaten meat in forty days), too much chocolate afterwards. I was terribly glutonous, and it came back with a vengeance to haunt me. I managed to fall asleep at 6:00AM.

Monday 24 March 2008

Smoking ban

Less than one year after the smoking ban, and it's crazy the difference it made.

Sunday 23 March 2008

Memento Mori

You can see this image at the very beginning of the opening credits of the series Rome. I know it from a book I had on Greek and Roman myths. I always loved it, it is deliciously sinister. The funny thing is that it was not supposed to be sinister: it was just telling people to enjoy life fully, whatever they decided to do, because life is short. You can see the lance of the soldier and the staff of the traveller and below the skull the wheel of fortune.

La sauce à la menthe

Un petit mot pour témoigner d'une chose: quoi qu'on en dise en France à cause de l'album d'Astérix qui se plaint de la sauce à la menthe dans la gastronomie britannique, c'est absolument délicieux avec de l'agneau. Je peux en témoigner. Avec beaucoup de vin rouge pour faire descendre le tout.

Le chat et la souris

Une photo de la souris et du chat en chocolat, cadeau de ma femme. J'ai déjà dévoré la souris et la plupart du chat, sauf la tête. Plus bas, vous avez immortalisée sur ce blogue une illustration qui se trouvait sur la boîte. Il semblerait que le chat et la souris filent le parfait amour. Je préfère les chats prédateurs, parce que je suis incapable d'endurer ces rongeurs (les souris, ça passe encore, mais les rats...). Enfin, contrairement à lui, je n,en ai fait qu'une bouchée. Et j'ai beau avoir la nostalgie du chocolat Lulu, il faut bien dire que je chocolat Thorntons est excellent.

Easter Bunny

My wife bought me a mug and this chocolate rabbit came with it for free. We bought Cadbury eggs and I thought I'd make this silly picture. The Easter Bunny Lindt version looks more like a reindeer (I think it's the same mould from the chocolate reindeers they sell at Christmas), but there it is. Easter in all its silliness. Enjoy.

Saturday 22 March 2008

Rome the series

I just watched the first episode of the HBO series Rome. Wow! I was blown away. I have been missing good historical melodrama, and that was really good stuff. And Ciaran Hinds who plays Julius Caesar...What a great actor! It's quite difficult to play historical characters, especially legendary figures such a Caesar, but he does it with such ease. There is no overplay or any cheap trick, he does it naturally. The tone of voice, the expressions, the gleam in the eye, everything is so perfect.

Musique pascale

Voici un autre billet "religieux". Grâce à youtube, je peux non seulement regarder Jesus of nazareth, je peux aussi trouver de la musique sacrée facilement. J'ai écouté Agnus Dei de la Messe du couronnement de Mozart, Jesus Joy of Men's Desire (ou whatever le nom qu'on lui donne en français) de Bach (prononcer Baarrrhhh) ainsi qu'un bon nombre de Laudate Dominum, d'autres Agnus Dei, etc. Il y a plus de musique de Noël que de musique pascale, mais je trouve que la musique pascale est plus souvent religieuse.


I have been missing snow since I got in England, because there is hardly any. There was some last yeat, for a few days, and it got me quite happy, even though I didn't have my winter boots here. Now I have them, and they were useless. Until today, because earlier on it snowed like crazy. Like crazy for England, that is. I am not sure I like it now, as it should be Spring. The snow arrives two months too late. I guess it's the same in Québec for many people.

Gordon Ramsay par la presse québécoise

Il semblerait que même le blogue de Mali Ilse Paquin fasse dans la nouvelle culinaire (sort of). J'aimerais quand même trouver un autre sujet, mais c'est difficile ici (parce qu'il ne se se passe rien). Étrange aussi que c'est à travers le Québec, ou du moins une journaliste-blogueuse québécoise, que je reçois des nouvelles de l'Angleterre. J'ai donné à mon petit frère un bouquin de Gordon Ramsay à Noël. Ma femme n'aime guère Ramsay à cause de son mépris pour les végétariens.

Il grêle encore. J'espère que le temps sera clément à Pâques. Mais c'est vraiment trop tôt cette année.


Une nouvelle rassurante, surtout après avoir respecté le Carême à la demande de ma femme et après avoir mangé un poisson prodigieusement sans goût hier. Est-ce que le poisson a une quelconque défaut en tant qu'aliment? Il semblerait même que le poisson à Montréal soit plus sécuritaire qu'à New York.

Friday 21 March 2008

The Heavens opened

Well, be careful what you wish for. It was a lovely, if a bit cold, day, and my wife and I decided to take a walk. Right by Burgers, she noticed a rainbow, and then it started raining and hailing like there was no tomorrow. At around 5:00PM. A hail storm of Biblical proportions, on Good Friday.

Vendredi Saint venteux

On est Vendredi Saint, il fait soleil mais c'est très venteux. Alors j'avais à moitié raison et c'est à moitié circonstanciel.

Vendredi Saint

On est maintenant Vendredi Saint. Je ne peux pas, logiquement, vous le souhaiter heureux. Ce sera sans doute un jour de pluie et de vent, alors ce sera approprié. Et je laisse une photo du Jésus de Zeffirelli avec Robert Powell pour nous mettre dans l'ambiance.
We are now Good Friday, but by definition, Good Friday cannot be "good". It has to be gloomy and somewhat sinister. So here's a picture of Robert Powell playing Jesus being crucified. I hope you get in the right mood.

Max le lapin

Le lapin que j'ai offert à ma femme. J'ai décidé de le montrer ici avant qu'elle ne le mange, il passera à la postérité. Tout de même, on n'est pas aussi extravagant ici que ma famille l'était à Pâques quand j'étais jeunes. On avait alors des oeufs en chocolat Lowney's de différentes saveurs (introuvables de nos jours), des oeufs Laura Secord, un animal en chocolat (des chocolatiers Lulu)pour chaque frère, PJ recevait de son parrain un énorme lapin en chocolat, de chez Lulu également. On peut voir les produits saisonniers de la compagnie ici, ça n'a guère changé depuis mon enfance, même le stupide joueur de hockey y était (je ne l'ai jamais aimé celui-là). J'ai eu une période lapin en chocolat (choix classique et conservateur), puis ours en chocolat (pour faire original), puis gros écureuil en chocolat (parce qu'à part le lapin géant que PJ recevait de son parrain, c'était le produit où il y avait le plus de chocolat). Je m'ennuie un peu de ces extravagances. J'imagine que de nos jours, j'apprécie l'agneau (avec un verre de rouge), je n'ai plus à manger "un petit morceau de jambon" et je peux toujours manger du chocolat, alors je n'ai pas à me plaindre.

Quand ma femme est venue à Montréal en avril 2004, je lui ai acheté un mouton en chocolat à Première Moisson, parce que c'était un mouton mignon comme tout et parce que c'est la seule façon pour elle de manger du mouton (ou du lapin, ou de la poule, ou de l'ours). Cette année, elle m'a acheté (de chez Thorntons) un chat en chocolat qui fait un calin à une souris, ainsi qu'une tasse accompagnée d'un lapin en chocolat Lindt. J'adore les chats, j'aime moins les souris (cousines des rats, que je déteste), alors ça a j'imagine un certain esprit pascal de réconciliation. Ce qui est mignon, c'est qu'elle a fait inscrire mon nom sur le chat, comme on peut le voir sur la photo de droite.

Et je suis bien conscient de faire ici un billet culinaire encore une fois, avec un peu de contenu religieux au travers. Mea culpa.

Thursday 20 March 2008

The BBC Passion

The BBC made a mini-series about the Passion of Christ. Why do I have the feeling it's a rip-off of Mel Gibson's Passion of Christ? I will probably watch it, or part of it, but it can't be as good as Zeffirelli's movie. The BBC doesn't do much in the drama department anymore, it's often cheap, tacky, soap operatic, dumbed down for dumber audiences and overall unwatchable.

By the way, I enjoyed Gibson's version, although I felt I was watching a horror movie. A good, very well made, well acted, well written, historical horror movie. If Dracula ever gets readapted, he should direct and maybe, maybe, we would get a faithful adaptation.

Suggestions pour un Vendredi Saint

Chronique culinaire... J'espère ne pas trop en faire. Demain, je vais manger du poisson, comme le veut la tradition. J'ai acheté à Waitrose un poisson à chair blanche. Des idées comment l'apprêter? J'attends vos suggestions.


I am watching Jesus of Nazareth at the moment, and I discovered that one of the uploaded versions on youtube practically cut all the parts where Salome was onscreen or indeed mentionned. So on that version, we see nothing of her dance and nothing of the lustful glances of Herod Antipas (brilliantly played by Christopher Plummer). In primary school, when they were showing us bits of the movies, they were always fast-forwarding these parts too. Does Herod look too much like a depraved voyeur? But that's the point. is the dance too sexual? Again, that's the whole point. I am apalled that even for religious movies, religious people apply censorship.

Équinoxe du printemps

Il semblerait que ce soit le premier jour du printemps. Avec la neige qui a tombé au Québec, on ne doit pas s'en rendre compte beaucoup. Ici c'est gris, alors ça passe inaperçu aussi.

Anthony Burgess in Jesus of Nazareth

As many of you know (well, many, a large proportion of the very small number of people reading this blog) I am a big admirer of Anthony Burgess. I will one day write a complete entry about him. After discovering him with A Clockwork Orange (I guess that's the standard way), I was happily surprised to see that he also wrote the script of Jesus of Nazareth, my favorite Biblical movie (maybe the only adaptation of the Gospels worth watching). I used to watch this movie every Easter since I was a child. A Clockwork Orange was my literary epiphany, but I knew Burgess from an early age through his Jesus. Without knowing, of course. I was happily surprised to see that the movie is available on youtube, which makes it possible to watch it this during the Holy Week, as I used to do when I was living in Québec. It's also terribly funny to see the comments left on youtube from religious people, blessing the ones watching the movie, blessing those who uploaded it on youtube, etc. Ironic, since Anthony Burgess was an agnostic, lapsed Catholic and almost accused of being the Antichrist when the movie A Clockwork Orange was released. As an adult, I now take pleasure to discover the Burgessians elements of the script, in the lines especially. I am wondering, if there are any of Burgess admirers reading this entry (who knows? one can hope), if they found many Burgessian elements in Jesus of Nazareth.

And I hope nobody will think this is a religious blog reading the last few entries.

Wednesday 19 March 2008

Agnus Dei

Je ne veux pas transformer ce blogue en chronique gastronomique, mais je vais parler un peu de nourriture ici, puisque ma vie est d'une tranquillité affligeante. Pâques arrive bientôt (trop tôt cette année). J'ai déjà acheté un lapin en chocolat à ma femme (Max the Bunny de Marks &Spencers, j'avais pensé lui donner Magnus, un lapin beaucoup plus gros, mais à £30 le Magnus, je trouve que c'est un peu cher, même pour du chocolat organique), je vais peut-être faire des oeufs en chocolat comme le veut la tradition familliale, mais je vais surtout apprécier la viande dont je me suis privé depuis le Carême (une promesse ridicule faite à ma femme, qui compte bien me la demander l'année prochaine). Je vais très certainement acheter de l'agneau et le manger avec un vin rouge très corsé. Quand j'étais jeune, c'était du jambon que l'on mangeait à Pâques, mais j'ai toujours détesté au plus haut point le jambon, au point de ne pas pouvoir l'avaler. Je mangeais des oeufs, quand il y en avait. Alors à l'âge adulte, j'ai décidé d'instaurer une nouvelle tradition et de manger de l'agneau à Pâques. C'est plus approprié: Jésus étant l'Agneau de Dieu et étant Mort pour notre Salut (les parenthèses font plus dramatique), il me semble que c,est de bon ton de manger un agneau, mort pour nous empêcher de mourir de faim. Ma femme trouve cette façon de penser terriblement cruelle, mais d'un point de vue théologique, c'est inattaquable.

In the Midst of Death

I am about to finish In the Midst of Death by Lawrence Block. I should read more of him. Matt Scudder is one of those classic private eyes, with alcohol problems, except in his case, he has real drinking problems: it sometimes gets in the way of his job.

Tuesday 18 March 2008

Fish Friday

Since it's Good Friday this Friday, I will not have meat, but eat fish. I can be a good Catholic once in a while, or once in a year to be more precise. I will either have bagels and salmon (a classic, but I'll miss the bagels from Saint-Viateur, there is nothing like that here) or I will go out in a pub for one of their Fish Friday.

Laura Secord

I don't want to turn this blog into a food blog, but regarding my last French entry (which I am sure will make me quite popular), I was saying (among other things), that I miss the Laura Secord Easter products.

Easter products aren't as big here as in Québec, sadly. I wish I could give my wife something totally indulgent.

Animaux et oeufs en chocolat

Je crois que je vais acheter un lapin en chocolat pour ma femme à l'occasion de Pâques. Je m'ennuie des oeufs de Pâques de Laure Secord. Surtout que maintenant il y en a toute une variété.

Semaine Sainte

On est en pleine Semaine Sainte. J'avais presque oublié. Pâques bientôt, ce qui veut dire 1)retour au régime carnivore bientôt. 2)Overdose de chocolat. 3)acheter chocolat pour tendre moitié. 4)musique sacrée. 5)visionnement Jésus de Nazareth.

Monday 17 March 2008

Saint-Patrick à Marlow...

Je ne veux pas avoir l'air de me plaindre, mais la Saint-Patrick ici est inexistante. Ou presque. Je n'ai pas entendu une note de musique irlandaise dans un lieu public. Je m'ennuie de Liverpool et de sa diaspora irlandaise.

J,ai pu boire une Guinness au Marlow Donkey, ma femme a bu un Irish Coffee qui était quelconque. Je vais boire une Guinness avec mon repas, du haddock et des frites avec des petits pois. Pas très typiquement irlandais, mais ma femme serait en colère si je mangeais du Irish stew.

Time for a Guinness

I'm off to the pub...

Happy Saint-Patrick's Day!

Happy Saint-Patrick's Day to everyone! I hope you celebrate. It has always been my favorite national day after St-John-the-Baptist's Day.
Joyeuse Saint-Patrick. Célébrez où que vous soyez. Si vous n'êtes pas irlandais, prenez quelques pintes de Guinness et ce sera tout comme.

Sunday 16 March 2008

A new portrait of Mozart

A newly-found portrait of Mozart has been confirmed to be genuine. Another article here, among many others on the topic. What do you think of the new portrait, which I have inserted here? I always thought Mozart looked very common for a genius, in most of the pictures of him (usually painted posthumously, from what I read)but there is something in this portrait's eyes that seems...accurate (I cannot find a better word). Maybe I am imagining things, but he looks remarquably intelligent there.

Quantum of Solace as a title

This entry was quite popular in French, so I will write here an English version. I have read this on cyberpresse last Friday, which made me jump. I then read the original article/column here and was apalled by the ignorance and lack of judgment of Jack Lechner. Friom what I see of his background, he should know better. Quantum of Solace is an excellent title for a Bond movie, regardless of the quality of the film (I am pretty confident about it, but that's not the point). Titles should not be obvious and generic. Quantum of Solace works because:

1)It's a Bond movie. Even if it was a bad title (it isn't), people would come and see it.
2)The title is evocative and atmospheric. It's not an easy title, as it's meaning is not obvious, but you don't need a dumb, obvious title. Nobody knew what Thunderball meant exactly, or Moonraker, both movies were very successful. Both titles were as cryptic as Quantum of Solace.
3)The title describes perfectly the state of Bond/his situation after the death of Vesper and the events of Casino Royale. Good that they didn't try to give it a stupid, generic title that could be tagged on any action movie. Die Another Day was a really dumb title (adequate for the movie, I guess), I am glad viewers can actually build their vocabulary a bit with Quantum of Solace.
4)The title comes from Ian Fleming. It doesn't make it a good title per se, but at least they get back to the source material. I am happy that they get elements from the mind of the creator of Bond, and not just superficial things that average viewers associate with Bond.

Saturday 15 March 2008

Legendary places

Okay, I don't want to sound too whiney right now, and I know, I did my share of complaints about the town I live in in this blog. But anyway, the place is short on legendary, "wow" kind of places. Mary Shelley is supposed to have written her Frankenstein here, but I have yet to see anything commemorating it. The UK is full of history, and probably more full of myths (modern or ancient), and we kind of miss it here. I used to do a fair share of travelling here in England, especially when I was studying medieval literature, when I travelled around, saw a bit of Wales, Bath, lots of castles, etc. Things that were connected to medieval history, and when I was lucky, to the Arthurian legend. We intend to visit Brittany eventually, as you know from this entry. Cannot wait to see the Fontaine de Barenton. When we have time, I hope I can convince my wife to go to Cornwall, see Tintagel Castle. We will most lilely go back to Wales, as we have friends there. The thing will be to convince her to do some cultural tours. She always have to endure my love for real ales and old pubs.
So that's it, it's my melancholy entry.

Friday 14 March 2008

Quantum of Solace

Lu ceci sur cyberpresse, ce qui m'a fait bondir. J'ai lu l'article original, qui m'a fait bondir à nouveau. Jack Lechner ne connait pas grand chose à Bond s'il croit que Quantum of Solace est un mauvais titre:

1)C'est un James Bond, alors le nom du personnage principal est suffisant pour faire venir les foules.
2)C'est un titre évocateur.
3)Le titre évoque l'état d'esprit de Bond après les évènements de Casino Royale, pas un titre générique qui essaie d'être catchy.
4)C'est un titre qui vient d'Ian Fleming. Ce qui n'en fait pas nécessairement un bon titre, mais au moins on sait qu'il a déjà marché. Et c'est heureux qu'ils prennent du matériel du créateur de James Bond.

J'ai très hâte au 7 novembre 2008.

Fish Friday

We went to the Marlow Donkey earlier on, and it is Fish Friday today. I checked the fish menu and it seems absolutely delicious (most of meals in the Donkey are). A week ago in Reading there was a special offer in Wetherspoon on the fish and chips. I am wodnering if the Catholics had a stronger influence than I thought over this country. I remember that there was fish on the menu in the cafeteria of the hall fo residences where I briefly stayed in 2006 in Liverpool. Not as nice as the ones available in the Donkey, of course. I was tempted to ask the barmaid (whose mum was writing the menu, she told us) if they were Catholics, but my wife thought it would be too nosy.

Bonne nouvelle

Une bonne nouvelle...

Thursday 13 March 2008


I promised an entry about phobias, so here it is. As some of you know might know, I am slightly phobic about rats. I mean, I really hate those disgusting rodents. I don`t know why, just writing about them makes me shiver. I even got nervous watching Ratatouille!

Maybe I got phobic about rats when I first watched 1984 (the adaptation by Michael Radford, when I was 12, years before I read Orwell's novel). The the first memory I have of being utterly scared of rats was when Winston Smith got in Room 101. That scene haunts me still.

Here's the scene for you to "enjoy":

Un blogue cousin

J'ai appris récemment que La Presse m'a pris de vitesse et a déjà un blogue sur l'Angleterre. Il y a donc une expatriée québécoise, au nom inusité de Mali Ilse Paquin, qui blogue sur la Grande Bretagne. Sauf qu'elle, elle est payée pour ça. Et elle doit recevoir des visiteurs intéressés à autre chose qu'une recette de gâteau aux carottes. À en croire sa biographie, son expérience ici, sans être exactement la même que la mienne, a quelques points communs: elle est anglophile (maladie rare chez les Québécois), elle est arrivée en Angleterre avec "deux valises pleines à craquer" (moi c'était en 1999 pour des études de maîtrise qui ont perduré) et elle frissonne qusnd elle voit Trafalgar Square ou la Tamise (okay, moi, c'était quand j'ai visité l'Anthony Burgess Foundation).

Notez que pour la petite histoire, ce billet est une mise en abyme, le blogue parlant du blogue.

The picture that makes you go "awwwww"

Found that one on cyberpresse, in Pierre Foglia's column. it is uber-cute. I will feel very guilty next time I eat deer. Thank God cats are not considered a delicacy.

Livre mystérieux

Il a venté fort aujourd'hui, comme c'était le cas des jours précédents également. Un des bancs de la cour intérieure a été renversé par le vent, comme on peut le voir sur cette photo, prise ce matin de la fenêtre de notre appartement. On peut apercevoir un livre par terre. Qui peut bien abandonner un livre à l'extérieur? J'avais l'intention d'aller le récupérer (et donc le sauver des intempéries) après ma douche, mais il avait alors disparu. À un temos où ma vie est mortellement ennuyeuse, cette anecdote a été l'évènement de la journée.

Wednesday 12 March 2008

Irish tales

Here's some sites with Irish tales: here and here.

Carrot cake

For some reason, my entry about my wife's carrot cake got caught on a French research engine. I got the visit of a French broswer of a minute and a bit more. There is one thing to learn from this: when you want more visitors, write food entries.

James Bond

I am kind of in the mood for a James Bond right now. But I don't want to impose it on my wife. Again. I have the book Goldfinger on the shelf, I will read soon after I finish the Lawrence Block novel I am reading.


Un questionnaire (abrégé) qu'une amie m'a envoyé:

A) Quatre emplois que j'ai fait dans ma vie:
1) plongeur (dans une autre vie)
2) enseignant
3) Enseignant
4) Language manager

B) Quatre films que je regarderais encore et encore :
1)The Godfather I et II (je le fais en un)
2) Amadeus
3) From Russia With love
4) Casino Royale
5)A Clockwork orange (désolé, il fallait le mettre).
Il y en a tellement d'autres, impossible de s'en tenir à quatre.

C) Quatre endroits où j'ai vécu
1) Chicoutimi
2) Montréal
3) Reading
4) Liverpool

D) Quatre émissions ou séries de télé que je regarde
1) BBC News
2) The Apprentice
3) Prison Break
4) Omertà (mais ça fait dix ans que la série est terminée, sauf qu'il fallait que je le mette).

E) Quatre endroits où je suis déjà allé en vacances
1) Québec
2) Bath
3 ) Dublin
4 ) Londres

F) Chaque fois (ou presque) que je navigue sur internet:
1) je visite mon blogue
2) je vais sur
3) je vais sur
4) je vais sur

G) Quatre plats mais que je ne mangerai jamais...(ou presque!)
1) du jambon. Jamais au grand jamais.
2) tout ce qui se rapproche du goût du jambon.
3) ?
4) ?
J'imagine que je ne suis pas trop difficile.

H) Quatre plats favoris
1) Bagels au saumon fumé.
2) Hamburgers (avec de la viande d'agneau de préférence, de la moutarde de dijon et beaucoup de trucs)
3)Spaghetti tunisien (avec beaucoup d'ail et beaucoup de vin pour faire descendre)
4) Saucisses et bière

I) Quatre endroits où j'aimerais être en ce moment
1) Liverpool
2) Montréal
3) en Écosse (hé, pourquoi pas?)
4) n'importe où sauf ici

Irish music

I am listening to Irish music, St-Patrick's Day is coming after all and I want to know some lyrics. Maybe it will be useless, as I doubt there is a genuine Irish pub around here. Another reason to miss Liverpool. That said, maybe we will celebrate St-Patrick's Day in Reading. Sometimes I feel almost Irish.

Tuesday 11 March 2008

Conte québécois: Le diable constructeur d'église

Tiens, avant de me retirer, un autre conte québécois célèbre: Le diable constructeur d'église. Unibroue s'en est inspiré pour le nom d'une bière, qui à mon souvenir n'était pas mauvaise.

Ce conte me fait vaguement penser à la légende viking de la construction d'Asgard.

Vent et milans royaux

Je n'ai pas vu un seul milan royal aujourd'hui. Je me demande si les bourrasques les ont tenus au nid. Ma femme en a vu voler quelques uns, mais pas moi. Ils me manquent.

Waiting for St-Patrick's Day and Easter

Easter comes early this year, it's in two weeks-ish, but in a bit less than a week, we have St-Patrick's Day. I always loved both days, Easter for longer, since you don't need to drink to fully appreciate it, and as a child I considered it my "birthday holiday", as it was ususally set close to my birthday. The only down thing about it is that at Easter dinner/lunch/brunch, we usually had ham. And I absolutely HATE ham. It tastes disgusting. Now I usually have lamb, it is more appropriate. Jesus was the Lamb of God, and if he died for us, what's wrong with eating a nice lamb who died for us too? My very veggie wife is usually shocked by such comments. Anyway, apart from that, Easter has always been for me a few things: chocolate (and lot's of it), Jesus of Nazareth (script by Anthony Burgess)that usually shows on tv during that time (if not then I usually rent it) and religious music.

Saint-Patrick's Day, I started enjoying it at an adult age, when I discovered Guinness and I developed a love for everything Irish. Anthony Burgess is of Irish descent, see, and so are almost all Quebeckers. I have a natural love for the country and its people: Catholic, republicans (in the right sense), they managed to get rid of the British rulers and while they have a small population (more or less equivalent of Quebec's), their culture is recognized and admired through the world. I usually celebrate St-Patrick's Day by drinking a Guinness or two and by listening to Irish music. I made an Irish Stew two years ago, the result wasn't very convincing. Last year in Liverpool, St-Patrick's Day was just great. It is so big there, thanks to the Irish community.

Old tales and atmosphere

The wind was blowing strongly all day and most of the evening/night. Bad weather is the perfect time to read old tales or horror stories, which I did. I will write entries on different topics soon. But then, old tales and legends are so much fun! The people in Brittany are really good at it (as you know from my entry about Brocéliande), they have a rich folklore. I will write one day about l'Ankou, I intend to learn more about him when my wife and I visit Bretagne...

Monday 10 March 2008

Le diable beau danseur

Je viens de lire une version de la légende du diable beau danseur. Pas aussi effrayante que la version que j'avais lue dans mon enfance, titrée Le baiser maléfique (et adaptée par un certain Robert Soulières), mais quand même assez intéressante.

Parlant du Baiser maléfique, il semblerait que sa fin tragique n'ait pas été appréciée par certaines mères poules. Elles semblent ne pas avoir apprécié son côté sombre et le vocabulaire ("désuet" dit une critique, qu'est-ce qui ne faut pas entendre, ton petit va simplement développer son intelligence, chose). Je trouve les mères québécoises parfois bien décourageantes et inutilement protectrices. Si vous ne voulez pas que vos enfants aient peur de leur ombre, mettez-les en contact avec le diable. J'ai raconté cette histoire à ma nièce, elle a eu une peur bleue, mais elle voulait quand même que j'en raconte d'autres comme celle-là.

Un document de l'Université de Montréal (je crois) qui possède cinq versions de la légende.

Autres contes québécois

Trouvé un autre site où il y a quelques contes québécois. J'en suis très content.

Tales to tell

Okay, a word to my English readers (not that I have much of a readership): I know, there is no translation. I taught I'd better put some works of fiction here, since it's called "Vraie fiction", and what is more real and fictitious than a tale. I am really into myths, legends and folklore in general, so that was bound to happen. I will try to find some in English, hopefully relatively obscure ones.

Conte: Les trois vagues

Un autre conte, dont j'avais vu la version animée étant enfant (à Radio-Canada, ils passaient souvent des contes à l'époque). C'était très sinistre, mais j'avais adoré. Vous le trouverez ici.

Conte québécois: Sainte-Catherine

Un conte de la Sainte-Catherine, que j'ai lu en quatrième année, que j'ai retrouvé ici et que j'ai beaucoup aimé (je sais, ce n'est pas la bonne période de l'année, mais peu importe).

La tempête attendue

Paraît-il que nous sommes en pleine tempête. Pour l'instant, d'ici, c'est plutôt de la pluie et quelques bourrasques de vent. Rien de très intense. Je vais publier des photos dès que ça prend de l'ampleur. Si ça prend de l'ampleur. J'espère que les milans royaux ne sont pas trop incommodés. Pendant ce temps au Québec il a neigé pour vrai.


Une tempête est supposée s'abattre sur le sud de l'Angleterre demain. J'entends le vent siffler déjà. J'aime bien les tempêtes, quand je suis au chaud à la maison. Une occasion parfaite pour relire Calvin et Hobbes et manger du gâteau marbré, alors que ça tonne dehors. Quoique c'est un peu tôt pour le tonnerre et les éclairs.

Return to Hare&Hounds

I am going to talk again about the Hare&Hounds. For the beer lover, real ale amateur that I am, I was sorely dissapointed, as you know. Because I like to try different/rare beers in such a place, I don't want to get something I can find almost anywhere else. In other words, I'd like the local beers, especially the home-made beers, to be available. I don't go to L'Amère à Boire in Montréal hoping to get a Boréale I can find in the nearest dépanneur. Not that I don't like the Boréale (or the Brakspear, for that matter), but I expect home beers in local breweries/pubs. Something I know I will get in l'Amère à Boire, and in a wide variety. That said, my wife had a decent cappucino, and the menu is really, really tempting. I'd give a lot to try their lamb, their venison and even their cod. It's a pretty common fish, and white flesh isn't exactly exciting, but the recipe they have, with red cabbage, shallots and beetroots, is simply mouth watering. And it's Lent after all, and I promessed to my wife not to eat meat, i.e. anything coming from a warm blooded animal. It wouldn't feel like so much of a sacrifice if I was having that fish. The pub in itself is really nice, the staff are friendly, the tables are comfy, it's not too old-fashioned for VeggieCarrie (she likes "modern" pubs). That said, at £2 the bowl of nuts, £15 the aforementioned cod, there is only a slim chance we will get back there. There is no point going to a fancy pub (and it sure is fancy) if they don't have the main attraction.

Sunday 9 March 2008


Je viens de manger deux pointes de gâteau marbré. C'est délicieux, et le glaçage est absolument indigeste.

pâte à gâteau

Ma femme est en train de faire un gâteau marbré. On ne sait pas encore si on fera un glaçage. je vais aller manger la pâte à gâteau qui est restée dans les bols. Il y a de l'oeuf cru dedans, mais pourquoi ça m'arrêterait? (C'est ce que j'ai dit à Veggiecarrie).

Hare & Hounds...disappointing

Got back from the Hare & Hounds. There was no home beer available, all had been sold out previously this week, and the Brakspear I got was expensive, too much for something I could get anywhere else. That sucks big time. They will get a new beer, the "March Hare", in a week and a half or so. Nearly at the end of March! Some seasonal beer that is. I thought it was borderline pathetic.

Night hunger

I shouldn't do this, not so late at night, but I checked the menus of the Hare & Hounds. It makes me really hungry, and also frustrated that I don't have a job anymore. It is the kind of place where I would love to be excessive and eat a lot. With loads of wine and beer to drown the food. And there isn't much vegetarian choice for my wife, but what's there is juuuuuuuust interesting enough for her to be happy.


Mes beaux-parents vivent maintenant en Bretagne, tout près de la forêt de Brocéliande, lieu de beaucoup d'aventures de la légende arthurienne, sans oublier le lieu de résidence de fées, ogres et esprits des bois. Je me suis spécialisé en littérature arthurienne lors de mon doc et j'aime les contes et légendes, c'est donc un lieu que j'ai très envie de visiter. Il faudra y aller un jour. Je pourrai en faire l'objet d'un très long compte-rendu ici, avec photos qui n'ont pas été prises sur google images (contrairement à celles qui sont ici). J'ai très hâte d'y aller, parce que disons-le très honnêtement, cette petite ville n,a pas grand-chose pour elle, à part les milans royaux et les pubs. Rien ne peut égaler la forêt de Brocéliande, avec ses fées, ses dragons, ses ogres, Merlin, et ses fantômes (un coup parti).
My parents-in-law now live in Brittany, and they are very close to Brocéliande, the land of many Arthurian stories, filled with faeries and magicians and monsters. I am specialised in Medieval literature, especially Arthurian literature, and I love old fairytales, legends and folklore, so a visit there is in order. I will give a long report on the trip there, with many photos which will not be taken from google images (it is the case of the ones on this entry). Anyway, I just cannot wait. Marlow has one good thing going for it: the red kites. That's it. And the local pubs. That said, nothing beats Brocéliande, faeries, ogres, dragons, Merlin, Arthur, and some ghosts thrown into it for good measure.

Saturday 8 March 2008

Calvin and Hobbes, again

I will be reading the rest of it this afternoon. It's funny how it reminds me of how I got through primary school. I wasn't half as mischievious as Calvin, but like him I had a wild imagination (in Calvin's case, it is borderline mythomania). As you can see on these images, they can be both sweet and very naughty.

Friday 7 March 2008

Calvin and Hobbes

I bought a Calvin and Hobbes today in Reading (at last I could get into a real bookstore). My wife already wants to give it to our niece. I am not sure about that yet.


Il ne neige pas ici. Il était supposé neiger en janvier, il n'a pas neigé. Il a fait froid, mais il n'a pas neigé. Or, je m'ennuie de la neige. Surtout qu'au Québec il y a eu des tempêtes depuis décembre. Misère.

Thursday 6 March 2008

Milan royal

finalement, le nom français pour "Red Kite" c'est milan royal (Milvus milvus de son nom latin). Il y a beaucoup de milans royaux quòn peut apercevoir ici, je vais essayer d'écrire un post complet là-dessus avec photos.

Partie remise

Finalement, on ira à Reading demain, ma femme étant un peu malade aujourd'hui. Elle reprend du mieux tranquillement.

Reading tomorrow

My wife and I will go to Reading tomorrow, it will be a nice change from here. She will see a good friend of hers and her gorgeous daughter (her friend's daughter, of course), while I will go to Waterstone, Blackwell, etc. and have a drink in the nearest Wetherspoon. I miss some nice real ales.

This visit to Reading will get rid of the feeling of claustrophobia I often have these days. Phobias. I should write an entry about them one day.

Wednesday 5 March 2008

Liverpool and Montreal

Small world. The owner of my favorite hockey team is the owner of Liverpool FC. During my year in Liverpool, I never managed to get into football, even though it's a religion there (like everywhere in Europe). I stopped following hockey years ago, but now I would be interested about it again, since the Habs are doing so well. I am a bit too far away to watch a game. They sometimes show on Channel 5, but too late at night, and I already go to bed too late.

Chronique gastronomique

J'ai déjeuné au gâteau aux carottes. C'est bon à ce point (et pas pire que de manger des croissants le matin). Cela dit, je m'ennuie des déjeuners du Québec. J'ai terminé il y a une semaine ou deux ma première jarre de beurre d'arachide Kraft. J'en ai une deuxième que je ne veux pas entamer tout de suite. Si j'avais du temps et de l'argent à dépenser, j'irais passer deux semaines à Montréal pour faire des provisions en beurre d'arachide et calmer le mal du pays culinaire: manger un hamburger à l'Anecdote, ou à Frite Alors ou ailleurs, vu qu'Eurosnack est en déroute (si ça existe encore), manger du vrai pain, de la confiture de petites fraises des champs, du beurre d'érable, boire de la bière québécoise.

Gâteau aux carottes 2

C'était absolument délicieux et ça se mange tout seul. On oublie presque que ce n'est pas décadent. Enfin presque pas.

Gâteau aux carottes

Je vais essayer le gâteau aux carottes.

Tuesday 4 March 2008

Soirée de cuisine

Ma femme a fait un gâteau aux carottes ce soir. On est souvent dans la pâtisserie ces temps-ci. Les résultats ne sont pas toujours concluants, mais le gâteau a l'air bien. Ma femme en est très fière.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

From John Donne, quoted by Hemingway:

No man is an island,Entire of itself.Each is a piece of the continent,A part of the main.If a clod be washed away by the sea,Europe is the less.As well as if a promontory were.As well as if a manner of thine ownOr of thine friend's were.Each man's death diminishes me,For I am involved in mankind.Therefore, send not to knowFor whom the bell tolls,It tolls for thee.

Books of an insomniac

The good thing about being unemployed (or a teacher) is that you have plenty of time to read, and you can read during night time. Which is what I am doing right now. That's one of the little pleasures of life. I think reading is an activity which comes more naturally when it is dark, something to do with the relative quietness of the outside world. And it cannot get any quieter than here.

I don't know if I will have finished reading From Whom the Bell Tolls tonight, I don't think so, but it will not be for much longer in any case. I am hesitating about my next book. I received the first book of The Best of Robert E. Howard at Christmas (from PJ), read two stories and a poem so far. It's quite entertaining, but I want some meatier works to go with it. Thinking about it, I have This Man and Music (a rarity, and such a fascinating topic) for more intellectual books, so I guess I can enjoy Robert E. Howard and some crime fiction (maybe a James Bond novel? I still have a few to read) with a guilt-free conscience. I haven't read a French novel for nearly a year. Last one was Le Sang des autres by Simone de Beauvoir, because I gave a lecture on it. I loved it (the lecture, and the book). But anyway, that's another reason for me to be guilty (problem with being a Catholic, even a lapsed one, is that you get stuck with guilt from the craddle to the grave): I read almost exclusively in the language of the invader (invader from a Quebecker's perspective, as I am a foreigner in the invader's country). And even if I was in Montreal, I would be more eager to get back the Anthony Burgess novels I left there than getting my hands on some francophone lit. I am officially culturally alienated. Sounds good for an entry title.

And when I can get my hands on it, I want to read some Calvin and Hobbes. It's just so hilarious. I cannot expect to find any in the local WH Smith though. Or anything really.

Monday 3 March 2008

Longer post...

My wife suggested that I write longer posts, to make it worth it. I will try.


It's a quiet day here, not much to do. I will try to finish reading From Whom the Bell Tolls. We might go to Reading on Wednesday (my wife wants to visit a friend), and if we do, I will use the occasion to go to the nearest Waterstone and buy a few more books.

Sunday 2 March 2008

Les oiseaux de Marlow

Quelqu'un a la traduction de "red kite" (l'oiseau, pas le cerf-volant) en français? Il y en beaucoup qui volent sur Marlow. On en a vu plusieurs en prenant une marche cet après-midi. La prochaine fois, on sortira avec une caméra. J'ai bien l'intention de les montrer sur le blogue.

Catastrophy cakes

Some cakes I made that ended up in a poor shape. Even though they still were delicious. I thought about that since I made a cake on Friday night which was a bit too heavy. The Devil-looking one was supposed to be an Easter Bunny cake, from my grandmother's recipe. I made it last Easter. My wife lvoed it, because it was delicious and because it made her laugh so much. The first one that is falling down was a birthday cake I made for my wife's 24rd birthday. it was not holding very well. But again, it was absolutely delicious and totally indulgent. And in the end, isn't it what it's all about? I mean, sugar and chocolate and decadence.


J'aime les loups. Je les ai toujours aimés, même quand je les croyais de dangereux monstres carnassiers et mangeurs d'hommes. C'est un scandale qu'ils aient été exterminés en Europe. Je suis heureux qu'ils soient réintroduits ici. Par conséquent, j'aimerais bien qu'on puisse ramener les loups en Écosse...

Vents en Angleterre

Il vente violemment depuis deux soirs. Je ne sais pas ce qui se passe, mais le climat est un peu intense ces temps-ci. Je ne m'en plains pas, n'ayant pas de raison de sortir dehors. Et j'aime le bruit du vent tant que je suis au chaud à l'intérieur. Il vente comme ça un peu partout en Angleterre, semble-t-il. Et le mercure risque de descendre aux alentours de zéro (ce qui est froid selon les standards anglais). Après le tremblement de terre, on est servi!

Saturday 1 March 2008

Hawks of Marlow

There is something exciting in Marlow after all. I will try to post about it more often, but seeing the red kites (and identifying them) today was quite exciting.