Wednesday 27 February 2019

Wolfie and his train set

I took this picture at the National Railway Museum of York and I am sharing it here as it illustrates tonight's topic (as usual). I don't think I shared it before. I hope not anyway. Today, my wife when thrift shopping, at the instigation of one of her friends (Blonde Tickler's mother). My wife wanted to buy more toys for Wolfie, as if he doesn't have enough already. Well, she found an offer that was so good she could not refuse it: a whole train set for only £4.00. This include a lot of railways, locomotives, wagons, some pieces of machinery to go with the trains, a station and some other things. Nothing very sophisticated, it's all cheap plastic stuff, and second-hand on top of that. But Wolfie loves it. The set turns the living room into an already bigger mess than before, nevertheless I am very happy to see that he shares the same fascination for railways as his father, uncles and grandfather.

N'en jetez plus... cour est pleine. Dans ce cas, c'est littéral. Nouvelle photo envoyée par mon père, de la cour justement, après la tempête de neige qu'ils ont eue. L'entrée était ensevelie sous la neige et la cour avant de même. Et dire qu'ici, on décrète presque l'état d'urgence quand il tombe un pouce de neige...

Tuesday 26 February 2019

Card games and me

Fellow blogger Debra from She Who Seeks is learning bridge and reading about it on her blog made me think of my own troubled report with card games. To sum it up, I generally suck at them and consequently I really don't like playing them either. I don't remember playing bridge, but I do have memory of trying to learn cribbage (or crib as we called it) with a friend (cribbage? How lame is that? Even the name sound dull!) who for some unknown reasons was really into it and being so darn hopeless that we stopped playing altogether. He turned out schizophrenic, which might explain why he thought crib was so the epitome of cool and sophistication. I also remember reading the rules of Canasta, I believe it was at school, and finding the name very dull as well. Then there was solitaire or patience as I knew it, which I quite liked, because it was simple to understand and well, you could play alone. When it comes to cards, what I like the most are the look of the cards themselves, if that makes sense. Jacks, Queens, Kings, Aces, they look quite elegant and sophisticated (unlike a crib board, which is really ugly).

I also vaguely remember playing or at least learning about Blackjack, which is also fairly easy to understand. And there was poker of course, which remains to this day my favourite card game, even though I very rarely play it, have never truly played it (read: I never played for money) and, furthermore I have never been very good at it. I guess not playing for money was either a blessing or it prevented me to be truly motivated and become a decent player. I will try to write a full post about poker in the near future, suffice to say for now that I started enjoying this particular card game all thanks to a certain classic movie where it is heavily featured. As a young teenager I had developed a fascination for The Sting and partially to enjoy the film more I had started learning about poker hands and so on. But I digress. I still cannot find interest in card games. But I still like the look of the cards in a deck.

La souffleuse et la neige

Je pensais intituler ce billet d'une citation très célèbre pour les gens qui ont grandi dans les années 80 au Québec: "La gratte a passé, deux morts". Mais je l'ai déjà utilisée pour ce billet. Vous pouvez le lire pour le contexte et la petite histoire. et puis vous voyez sur cette photo une souffleuse soufflant, pas une gratte. Enfin oui, une gratte un peu, mais c'est la souffleuse qui est en action sur la photo. Toujours est-il que c'est toujours l'hiver pour vrai de vrai au Saguenay, contrairement à ici et mon père m'a envoyé quelques photos comme celle-ci, que je veux partager.

Monday 25 February 2019

Schizophrenic weather

People here have been very happy: the weather has been extremely kind these last few days. This weekend, I only wore a light coat when I went downtown and to be honest, I did not need a coat at all. Then today the temperatures where approaching 20 in some parts of the UK. But this was only part of the picture. When I woke up this morning, it was still freezing, with temperatures barely above zero. I thus had to wear my winter coat. It is only later during the day that it became unusually and ridiculously hot. People say Spring is here already, but they forget that the weather changes drastically during this season. In other words, it is not because Spring is at the door that Summer is on its way. The weather these days is just schizophrenic and to be honest, I find it utterly unpleasant.

Lait aux (fausses) fraises

Vous savez qu'au travail, je me payais parfois la traite avec les milkshakes de Shaken Udder. C'était le cas jusqu'à ce que j'essaie leur milkshake à la fraise (et à la clotted cream). Ce fut une déception. Vous vous rappelez le Quik aux fraises? Je crois que ça se vend encore, je peux me tromper. J'ai il y a fort longtemps fort aimé le Quik aux fraises, comme chaque enfant de mon âge, j'imagine. Mais c'était dégueulasse. Ben cette affaire-là, ça a le même goût de fraises artificielles. À un point tel que j'ai maintenant un regard plus critique envers les autres produits Shaken Udder: même leur lait à la vanille que j'aimais tant, bien je ne l'aime plus si tant que ça. La prochaine fois que je vais boire un milkshake, je vais me le faire moi même.

Anthony Burgess' 102nd year

I do it every year, or at least try to do it every year: I hereby mention that today, 25th of February, is the birthday of John Anthony Burgess Wilson, better known as Anthony Burgess. He would have been 102 today.He is my favourite writer. If you wonder why, please read this post, or that post, or this one. Or this post too, come to think of it. Bottom lime is: he is great. And I hope you find time to discover him. I wanted to find a good picture to celebrate his anniversary, I found this one which I thought was so typically Burgessian: the rather ugly, outlandish suit, the cigar, the painting in the background. Cultured, bon vivant, with a dash of snobbery. Yet look at the sharpness in his eyes. Burgess may have been rather ugly (even his second wife, whom I met, said that much), but he had a beautiful mind.

"Un, deux, test"

"Un, deux, test". C'est ce que j'ai tapé comme titre de billet il y a onze ans, le 25 février 2008. Vraie Fiction a onze ans aujourd'hui, ou en tout cas l'aura à 21:41. Aujourd'hui est donc l'anniversaire de ce blogue et je voulais le souligner. Je ne sais pas trop comment ni si je vais le célébrer. Mais j'essaie de me rappeler chaque année que Vraie Fiction existe depuis le 25 février 2008. Je soupçonne que je suis souvent le seul à le lire, mais ce blogue est vraiment important pour moi, à la fois comme journal et comme source de créativité.

Sunday 24 February 2019

Venus & Mars

This was yesterday’s poison. Venus & Mars from Black Sheep Brewery, which beers I have enjoyed in the past, but very seldom tried. I thought it was the right time to get acquainted with their products. I bought it and decided to try it then because February is the month of Venus (with Valentine’s Day and all) and the coming March being the month of the God Mars (well, duh!), I also loved the way they sold it on the label, the meeting of two world, heavens and earth (Mars is also a Cthonian, thus an agricultural god), "ancient alchemy in full force." I thought this was an obvious choice. It may not be as amazing a drinking experience as the promotion made it out to be, but it is nevertheless quite enjoyable for a pale ale that is actually not so pale, as you can see from the picture.

Domino le chasseur

Domino a décidé de chasser son déjeuner ce matin. Il s'est pointé devant la chatière vers 11 heures avec un rongeur dans la gueule. C'était une souris, peut-être un petit rat. J'ai pu barrer la chatière juste à temps. Il a donc pris son déjeuner dehors, en bon chat sophistiqué qu'il est. Non, mais c'est drôle de le raconter comme ça, mais notre chat est un chasseur méthodique et sans merci, diablement efficace, alors je me méfie toujours lorsque je le vois. Ce n'est pas la première fois qu'il tente de faire rentrer les rongeurs qu'il tue (quand ce ne sont pas des oiseaux) et il l'ai fait avec succès à quelques reprises déjà. Cette fois-ci au moins, je n'ai eu qu'à nettoyer les viscères du jardin. C'était dégueulasse, mais moins pire que de ramasser un cadavre de souris dans la maison, avec un chat qui te regarde comme si tu gaspilles de la nourriture.

Saturday 23 February 2019

Books are...

Here is another comic strip from Grant Snider, which one of my friends from way back (my undergraduate years at uni) shared on his Facebook wall. I really loved it. This is very sweet, evocative, and so very true. Funny in a witty, like Snider work is, the kind of thing that will not make you laugh, but will give you a long lasting smile. So I had to share it here. Vraie Fiction is a lot about literature, big and small (often small). This comic strip shows why.

Trop chaud, trop tôt?

Je l'ai dit il y a une semaine environ, il y a comme un air de printemps ces temps-ci. Aujourd'hui, on dirait même un printemps avancé: il a fait un soleil splendide et aux environs de 15 Celsius. Je devrais me réjouir, mais je trouve ça trop chaud, trop tôt. Il va y avoir un retour à la normale, ou pire en dessous de la normale, à un moment donné et on aura alors tous la mine à terre. je suis fataliste, je sais. Ou alors je suis lucide.


Maybe it is a rumour that has gone wild, maybe it is genuine, but I got excited about it anyway. You know that I am a big fan of James Bond, both in novels and movies. Well, I heard and read today that the next Bond movie apparently has its title: Shatterhand. For those who know the character and the work of Ian Fleming and not only his cinematic adaptations, you will recognize the pseudonym used by archenemy Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the novel You Only Live Twice. It might only be a working title, but if it is true, I am very happy and excited. Does it mean that Blofeld will be back? And that they will use the novel as inspiration in some capacity? I sure hope so. If nothing else, it's a great title.

Friday 22 February 2019

Fous de Bassan gaspésiens

C'est une nouvelle ancienne photo d'oiseaux que je partage ce soir, encore des Fous de Bassan de Gaspésie. (Une question comme ça: peut-on vraiment dire des Fous de Bassan gaspésiens? Parce que l'île de Bass, elle est en Écosse. Il faudra sans doute que j'en fasse une nouvelle question existentielle). Encore une fois la photo a été prise avant ma naissance, ou en tout cas il y a des années.

Thursday 21 February 2019

The No Nonsense Coffee Guide

I found this picture at total random today on social media and I thought that even though I hate coffee, it was too good not to share it here. I have been once to the Lake District, but never to Silloth. Since my wife and I have been wanting to go back there, maybe we will go in this area next time. This is one of my new holiday objectives anyway: to visit Silloth and the Fairydust Emporium. I haven't checked the reviews anywhere online, but I love their attitude. Because what I dislike about coffee, apart from its colour, its taste and its smell, it is the snobbery and silly verbiage associated to it. For Pete's sake, you just want coffee, sometimes with something in it! This guide is straight to the point.

Livres et temps libre

J'ai trouvé cette courte vignette bédé sur Facebook. Je la partage ici ce soir parce que c'est vraiment criant de vérité, en tout cas en ce qui me concerne. Et vous?

Wednesday 20 February 2019

Hump Day

The word of the day today/tonight (haven't done that in a while) is hump day. Which is a popular term for Wednesday, being the middle of the week. Apparently, it can be written humpday, hump day or Hump Day, among other spellings. I am not sure which one I prefer. Wednesday is maybe the worst day of the week for me, where I feel the most tired at work and the weekend seems far, far, far away. This is the case in the morning at least. And until the day ends, time is so very long and things go very slow. Hump Day is maybe just a way to give a positive spin to Wednesday, but it is sitll Wednesday, and I can only call it Hump Day when it is finally over.

Table en bois

Vous vous rappelez peut-être de la table en bois dans le chalet (enfin la cabane, voire le campement) de mes oncles. Une table en bois, faite à la main, dans une cabane en bois, dans les bois... Ça ne s'invente pas. J'ai retrouvé une photo de la table en question. J'aimerais vraiment en avoir une comme ça ici. Bon je ne peux pas me plaindre: nous avons une très belle table en vrai chêne, mais elle est toujours couverte de pleins de choses, alors on ne peut pas vraiment l'apprécier. Mais c'est notre faute. Non, je voudrais une table comme celle-ci comme table de bureau, où je mettrais mon ordinateur ainsi que des trucs pour écrire. Mais alors il me faudrait une maison plus grande, avec sans doute une une pièce de plus pour pouvoir la mettre là. On peut rêver...

True (Organized) Crimes

I have on my bookshelves a book on organized crime by Paul Lunde, which I received a few years ago for Christmas. It is aptly titled Organized Crime: An Inside Guide to the World's Most Successful Industry. It is merely a coffee table book, but it is a fun read and I want to get back to it again as inspiration and source of information for the synopsis for the crime fiction story I am working on for my writing workshop. Because I know criminal organizations will play a central role in the plot and I always believed that crime fiction was at least fueled bu true crime stories. This book may not be the most up to date resource, but it can be a starting point and if nothing else, it has some striking pictures that will put me in the right creative mindset.

Onze muffins dans une douzaine

Mes parents ont fait des muffins au gruau cette semaine (la recette ici, essayez-la c'est délicieux). Mon père m'a envoyé cette photo. Ils n'étaient pas sitôt sortis du four qu'il en manquait déjà un pour la photo. Ils sont bons à ce point-là. Nous allons sans doute en faire pour que notre petit loup il goûte. C'est l'un des classiques gastronomiques du côté de son père qu'il n'a pas encore essayé et je suis confiant qu'il va adorer.

Tuesday 19 February 2019


I took this picture at the National Railway Museum in York. You must have recognized, even not looking at the information board, the Eurostar. It struck me recently that I haven't traveled in it for about five years, and that I did not fully enjoyed it the last times as it was for work. I must do it again one day, with the family, just for the pleasure of the journey. The Eurostar is a modern example of everything I love about trains: its elegance, comfort, its technological achievement. I still remember when they were digging the Channel Tunnel, back when I was still a kid, and how big a event it was when it was opened. And now it's part of modern urban life, one mean of transport among others. But what a mean of transport! I have only used it a couple of times, but I don't think I will ever get bored by the experience.

La langue du travail

Je travaille grosso modo dans le même domaine et la même industrie que dans mon travail précédent. Il y a cependant une différence majeure entre mon ancien emploi et celui que j'ai présentement: ma clientèle était composée d'au moins 50% de francophones, je communiquais donc quotidiennement en français. Maintenant, je parle presqu'exclusivement en anglais dans tous mes échanges professionnels. Et je vais avouer une chose ici: ça me manque de parler français régulièrement à l'extérieur de la maison.

Monday 18 February 2019

More on "my" pickpocket

This post is an update about my creative writing workshop. As I mentioned on the 9th of February, I have as a homework to write a synopsis for a novel based on some of what I wrote (or rather scribbled) during the workshop, and one of the character that has the most potential is my lady pickpocket. I still don't have a name for her, but I know a bit more about her background after doing some research. As you probably know, one of the most infamous cities in the world for pickpocket crimes actually Paris. I did not fall victim to them during my visits there, but once my wife and I had actually seen some at work, who even tried to rob us (using the gold ring trick, read about it here). So I thought: let's make my pickpocket a Parisian woman, who learned her trade there and left for Montreal when things got a bit more heated for her at home. Montreal means new hunting grounds, maybe less competition, and it is also a land of opportunity in the eyes of many French, so why not the petty criminals among them? I still need to develop her and other characters more and the whole plot is still sketchy at best, but at least my pickpocket is taking a life of her own.

Un quai à Sainte-Rose-du-Nord?

Je regardais des "vieilles" photos (enfin, pas si vieilles, elles datent de quatre ou cinq ans tout au plus) envoyées par mon père et je suis tombé sur celle-ci. Je crois que c'est Sainte-Rose-du-Nord. Quelqu'un peut me le confirmer? Et vous aurez remarqué que je fais souvent dans la plogue des endroits touristiques québécois en général et saguenéens en particulier ces temps-ci. Je crois que je fais une liste mentale de tous les lieux que je veux revisiter un jour...

Sunday 17 February 2019

The secret passage

I blogged before about my fascination for secret passages, real or imagined. Secret passages and secret pathways, whether they area narrow track between rows of trees in a park or a woodland, an alley in a neighbourhood or, like in my old grandmother's house, the space underneath the stairs leading to the basement. As a child, these were the settings of many make belief games. It turns out that this house has one secret passage. Well, not the house itself, but the garden: the garden door leads to this alleyway. It is used to take the rubbish and recycling bins out and back. I blogged about it in French before. When my mind wanders, I still imagine it being a mysterious secret passage nobody but me and a few initiated know about. it makes the mundane chore of taking the bins out far more interesting.

Comme un air de printemps

Je sais que c'est tôt dans l'année pour le dire, mais on dirait que le printemps s'en vient: il a fait très doux ces derniers jours en général et aujourd'hui en particulier. Pas toujours beau, mais vraiment pas très froid, ni même frais. Je sais que ça ne durera sans doute pas, et pour être honnête j'espère que ça ne durera pas. Le printemps n'est pas ma saison préférée (n'est plus, devrais-je dire) et un printemps qui arrive trop tôt veut souvent dire des températures traîtresses pour la suite des choses. Enfin c'est mon expérience.

Saturday 16 February 2019

Guerilla weekend

It's not that we had planned a busy weekend or anything, but our poor little Wolfie has been poorly since yesterday night. Because of this, a lot of normal weekend activities, whether they are chores or pleasant ones, will have to wait. So we are not doing much except staying home and looking for him. It got us all quite tired. In moments like this, I feel like in a guerilla: the smallest thing such as feeding, washing or cleaning becomes quite a challenge when you have to make sure you don't disturb a little boy resting (and surprisingly quiet). And like in a guerilla, most of our time is spent waiting.

Le chevreuil et les pommes

Bon, la photo date déjà un peu et j'en ai mis une semblable sur le blogue en 2014, mais comme c'est une photo mignonne, je la partage ici aujourd'hui. Un chevreuil qui mange des pommes mises pour appât, dans le lot de mes oncles. Même une caméra de surveillance peut montrer un tableau plein de charme.

Thursday 14 February 2019

Sally, Snoopy and How Do I Love Thee

To celebrate Valentine's Day, I shared tonight a scene from Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown. A reading/performance by Sally Brown and Snoopy of the poem How Do I Love Thee from Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Watching the cartoon as  child (a classic by the way), I never noticed how cultured this scene was, but I knew it was hilarious. Kudos for Sally's reading skills. She has very good eyesight too. And Snoopy is quite a charmer.

Une pensée sur la Saint-Valentin

Je n'aime pas beaucoup la Saint-Valentin: en couple c'est stressant (la boîte de chocolats est-elle assez imposante? Des fleurs, pas de fleurs? Une carte ou pas? Autre chose?), célibataire c'est déprimant. Mais si vous êtes seul(e) aujourd'hui/ce soir et que vous lisez ceci, consolez-vous en vous disant que vous échappez un peu à une journée d'excès. Ah oui, et quand j'étais adolescent, je ne recevais jamais de cartes de Saint-Valentin à l'école, en tant que geek un peu beaucoup rejet (le secondaire ça a été vraiment des années de m*), et je crois que ça m'a marqué au point de vraiment prendre la fête en grippe.

Wednesday 13 February 2019

Rock cakes

My wife decided to do some baking recently and for some reason she thought she'd make rock cakes. You can see the picture here. It was not the first time I had rock cakes, but it was the first time I ate home made ones and they were delicious. I know they are not the most decadent dessert, but I love fruit cakes when I'm in the right mood, and these days it is just what the doctor ordered for a healthy release of endorphin. They were also a huge success with Wolfie: he ate them like they were getting out of fashion. Like hot cakes you could say. "Rock cake please, more rock cake please!" With his cheeky grin, it is irresistible.

"Un polar sans morale..."

Je pensais partager ce soir une citation de Jean-Patrick Manchette. Elle n'est pas tirée de La position du tireur couché, mais je mets ici une image de couverture tirée du roman, parce que c'est le roman qui m'a fait découvrir Manchette (en fait pour être franc c'est le seul roman que j'ai lu de lui, à ma grande honte) et parce qu'on n'a jamais assez de couvertures de Série Noire. Enfin, voici la citation, tirée de je ne sais où: "Un polar sans morale, c'est une soupe sans moustache. C'est de la soupe." Ça rejoint pas mal mon sentiment.

Call for the Dead

I have not done it in a good while, so here is today’s reading suggestion: Call for the Dead by John Le Carré. A sort of (accidental) prequel to The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. This time featuring antihero (and maybe more to the point anti James Bond) George Smiley, a spy who is more an ageing civil servant dealing with petty bureaucrats than a master secret agent. He investigates the apparent suicide of colleague Samuel Fennan after a routine security check. A rather mundane (if embarrassing for the British government and Her Majesty's Secret Service) mystery where the ghosts of World War II haunt both the protagonist and his world. It is set in dreary, utterly unexotic, unglamorous and unglamorised Cold War England between January and February, so all the more fitting to read it around this time of year.

Vieille photo gaspésienne

Nouvelle ancienne photo prise par mon père il y a quelques décennies en Gaspésie et qu'il m'a envoyée récemment. On y voit des Fous de Bassan, encore une fois. Je sais que cette photo n'est guère saisonnière et que je dis souvent que Vraie Fiction a les couleurs du temps de l'année où je blogue, mais je fais un peu accroc à mes principes parce que 1)c'est une jolie photo, 2)c'est impressionnant, des Fous de Bassan à perte de vue, 3)j'aime le nom "Fou de Bassan".

Tuesday 12 February 2019

Cate Blanchett is a brunette

I missed the BAFTA this year, as I often do. It was Sunday, and I didn't watch them. I would not have really regretted it, the ceremony is usually something that interests my wife more than me, but for one thing: Cate Blanchett showed up and indeed made quite a striking appearance. My wife pointed me to this article from the Daily Mail, but it was all over the BAFTA news anyway: Cate Blanchett had a striking dress with gigantic jewel on it and she is now... a brunette. Not a blonde, as she usually is, or a redhead, as she often is. A brunette. It makes no difference. Blonde or brunette, Cate Blanchett shines all the same.

Question existentielle (341)

C'est la Saint-Valentin dans deux jours, je vais pose une question existentielle sur le sujet:

-Quel cadeau original et pas quétaine faire à la Saint-Valentin?

Monday 11 February 2019

How to deal with too many books

Here is a post that I hope my readers will find helpful. I finally found out how to deal with the crowded bookshelves and tables and so on I have, due to owning too many books, thanks to this comic strip by Tom Gauld (I don't know him, although his drawings look familiar). That is how it must be done. You may say it does not solve anything, but then you would be wrong: it solves everything, it gives you peace of mind, you know you are among the righteous.

Informations sur le marabout

J,ai pu observer une fois un marabout, c'était à Branféré. Voir sa photo ici. Avec son long bec, ses grandes pattes et sa posture courbée, il m'avait fait une assez forte impression. J'ai aussi pris une photo de ce tableau informatif. L'image n'est pas très bonne, mais elle vous éduquera un peu (et j'espère que vous trouverez les informations intéressantes, enfin celles qui sont visibles). Au Québec, on dit d'une personne grincheuse qu'elle est marabout. Je peux témoigner, après avoir vu l'oiseau en question, que l'expression est parfaitement justifiée.

Sunday 10 February 2019

Apple harvest cake

My wife recently bought me a dessert at the coffee shop of the farm where she often goes with Wolfie. She hesitated to buy it as it has a very autumnal name: apple harvest cake, and she knows I generally eat seasonal things, even desserts. But I would not have said no to a dessert, especially not one that is associated with my favourite season like this one. When autumn is still very far away and Christmas is over, I can start longing for autumn again. So I was happy to have a slice of it. I was happy for another reason: this is actually the second time I eat an apple harvest cake. The first time was at the cafeteria of the hospital where Wolfie was born, a day or two after his birth. You can see the picture here. I thought it was fitting then, to mark the birth of my son during the harvest season. So anyway, I associate this cake with my boy. The cake itself is pretty simple: there is some apple in it, some raisins and it is topped with almonds. I shared this new piece with Wolfie.

Molière et moi

Le Google Doodle d'aujourd'hui rend hommage à Molière, dont ce sera l'anniversaire de la mort le 17 février. Ça me rappelle des souvenirs de l'université, où j'ai lu Molière, mais aussi où je l'ai joué. J'ai en effet joué le rôle de Purgon dans Le malade imaginaire. Autre anniversaire à souligner: la première était le 10 février 1673. Ça m'a donné le goût des planches. Molière, c'est en le jouant que j'ai vraiment appris à l'apprécier. Cela dit, je l'ai trop peu lu et trop peu vu, alors il faudra aussi que je corrige ça.

Saturday 9 February 2019

What to do with a pickpocket

As you know, I had my creative writing workshop recently and was asked as a homework to write the synopsis of a novel using the material I have created and worked on on that day. Not all the material, but some of the material, to be rearranged and developed as I see fit. So I am trying to write down a plot based on that. Of all of what I wrote, the lady pickpocket is the character I find the most inspiring. The rest, the politician who loves a book he never read and the mobsters, less so. I could find them something to do of course, but I find my low level criminal far more engaging, especially since she can easily be pictured in a sympathetic light, more an antihero(in) than a villain. Now the question is what to do with her, since I now have a good idea of who she is and why she does what she does. I know that she will run into trouble with some members of organised crime. A bit of a commonplace, perhaps, but it has a lot of narrative potential. Now it is how to have her go from point A to point B that I need to work on.

Revoir Val-Jalbert

Petit retour sur un billet récent. J'y repensais et je pense qu'il faudrait peut-être organiser un jour une petite visite (revisite pour moi) en famille à Val-Jalbert. D'habitude, mes retours au pays se passent à deux endroits: Montréal et Chicoutimi, c'est à peu près tout. Mais il y a pleins d'endroits au Québec à voir et revoir. Surtout dans ma région, qu'il faudra bien faire connaître à mon fils.

Friday 8 February 2019

Cuddly red panda

In the last few weeks, our little Wolfie has become more interested about teddies than he had been before. He cuddles the plush toys he has far more than he used to and, while he still spends a lot of time with his cars, trains and dinosaurs, he does enjoy his moments with his teddies. I am glad as I bought many of all sorts when he was in his mummy's tummy. In fact, he has a whole menagerie of them now. That said, given his new interest towards stuffed toys, I thought it might be the right time to buy him a red panda. If you remember, I once blogged that the animal is pretty much meant to be a model for stuffed toys. So maybe I should buy a red panda to add on to the menagerie, especially since Wolfie seems particularly fond of animals who have bright fiery colours. Maybe next time we go to Branféré, where I took that picture. Or another zoo that has red pandas. Or I will just look online.

Les Fous de Bassan

Autre photo prise par mon père il y a des décennies en gaspésie, cette fois-ci des Fous de Bassan. Joli nom, dont je ne connaissais pas l'étymologie jusqu'à ce que je lise l'article sur Wikipedia. En haut d'une falaise (ou d'un cap?), c'est assez impressionnant.

Thursday 7 February 2019

Italian friendship

A few days ago, I was chatting to my Italian friend over Messenger. She is a friend I met during my first year at uni in this country and is about the same age as me. The last time we met, it was back in 2000 in Bergamo, where she is from and where I think she still lives. She is generally discreet on social media, so it was nice to getting some news from her. She has a young boy a few months older than Wolfie, let's call him Cesario. I haven't seen any picture of him yet. Anyway, she told me that she will give birth to a baby in six weeks, another boy. Talking to her like this made me feel better about myself, not only because of the nostalgia, but because she is living the same reality as a parent. We both became parents at a relatively late age, our children seem to have a similar mischievous spirit, they both have long afternoon naps and they both struggle to keep a sleeping routine. I wonder if Wolfie would get along as well with Cesario as he does with Uber. In any case, I think a trip to Italy is long overdue. When my friend get used to the reality of being a parent a second time (and at 41!), maybe we should plan a visit there. I'd learn a bit of Italian, reconnect with an old friend and we could maybe even extend this friendship to a new generation.

Le char de gros Gin

On est quasiment la fin de semaine, alors j'ai pensé partager un numéro hilarant de La fin du monde est à sept heures, afin de se dilater la rate et de se mettre dans un bon état d'esprit. Ah, les années 90! L'époque du début de l'internet et des cassettes VHS qui étaient encore populaires. Bruno Blanchet est vraiment au sommet de sa forme, dans un gag long, lent, presqu'un suspense, jusqu'à la chute finale. Si elle ne vous fait pas plier en deux de rire, je suis vraiment très triste pour vous.

The Woman in the Blue Cloak

Since the beginning of the year, I have been binge reading crime fiction. I mean more than usual. Maybe it is because of my writing workshop, as I try to find inspiration learning from the very best. Who I think are the very best in their craft anyway. Among them is of course South African crime fiction writer Deon Meyer. I recently discovered that his latest book, featuring reformed alcoholic cop Benny Griessel, is now available in English, under the evocative title of The Woman in the Blue Cloak. So I hurried up to buy it. It is next on my reading list. The book is actually a novella, which I have been told is quite a popular format these days. So reading it will also be instructive.

Le Rocher Percé

Nouveau billet sur une attraction touristique québécoise. Mon père m'a envoyé des scans de vieilles photos, voyez-vous... Enfin bref, il y avait celle-ci du Rocher Percé. Je ne l'ai vu qu'une fois, je l'ai trouvé brut et magnifique. J'ai montré la photo à mon fils, il a été très impressionné. Il faudra bien que je fasse découvrir la Gaspésie à ma femme et mon fils un de ces quatre.

Wednesday 6 February 2019

Merlin and a new old story

Time goes so fast that I did not have time recently to report here on this blog a piece of news that got the former academic and medievalist that I am very, very happy: they found a "new" XIIIth century manuscript telling the story of Merlin at the University of Bristol. As you may know, I specialized in Arthurian literature, so this is right up to my alley. when I read something like this, I wish I was still in academia and I envy the lucky team of experts that will investigate things further. It especially reminds me of the time I was studying paleography some twenty years ago. Now I hope the text will soon be available to the general public. Or I might just book this family a short holiday to Bristol...

Les chutes de Val-Jalbert

Mon père m'a envoyé hier des photos prises il y a très longtemps dans divers endroits du Québec, dont une des chutes de Val-Jalbert. Je crois que ces photos datent d'avant ma naissance. Je ne me rappelle être allé qu'une fois à Val-Jalbert, le village fantôme comme on l'appelait, mais c'était en mai je crois, pas lorsqu'il y avait encore de la neige. J'avais trouvé l'endroit plein de charme et d'atmosphère. Les chutes étaient impressionnantes, quoique pas autant que sur cette photo.

Tuesday 5 February 2019

Willow, the cat from the garden centre

Here is a little bit of feline news to hopefully brighten up your day. We recently went to a nearby garden centre, which we hadn't visited in a while. It was being refurbished, so there wasn't that many interesting articles there, but we made a chance encounter that made the whole visit worth it. As we were walking through the aisle, I had a glimpse of a swift shadow passing by, then I saw this gorgeous black cat. I love all cats, but full black cats are by far my favourite. We were worried that this was a stray cat, so we made a few queries to the staff and apparently no, this is the garden centre's feline resident. Her name is Willow and she turned out to be quite friendly, although a bit aloof, as many black cats are (from my experience anyway). I can't wait to visit the garden centre again and get better acquainted with Willow.

Répondre aux commentaires

Ce billet est en fait une courte notification: je vais essayer de répondre aux commentaires. Ma femme m'a fait remarquer que je ne le fais à peu près jamais. C'est parce que j'ai peu de temps libre pour ça, j'écris mes billets en priorité et je commente sur les blogues que je suis. Sauf que là, je vais répondre de temps en temps, sinon régulièrement (je vais faire mon gros, gros possible, promis, juré)...

Monday 4 February 2019

About the writing workshop

As promised, I thought I would give you a few details about the writing workshop I went to recently. I don't want to give too much away, but I absolutely loved it. it was great to meet other wannabe writers aspiring to be published. We were a small group of eight, mostly of women, but there was another man as well and everybody was very nice. We did a couple of exercises, a good deal on writing stuff on the spot, as well as a bit of poetry. I liked the poetry part less, as I have never been very good at it. They were all very encouraging about me doing crime fiction

Here is a bit about some of the exercises:

-The first was using one of two pictures to write a scene. One was a crowded dodgy London street, the other a Mediterranean looking town by the sea. I felt inspired by both, so managed to fit in two scenes, one set in Italy, where a private eye was pondering about Italian beer, the other set in a dingy strip club where two mosbters met to discuss a drug deal.

-We were given each a list of objects and had to create a character who owned and used them. Mine were a purse, lipstick, mirror, knife and condoms. I came up with a female pickpocket. A prostitute would have been too obvious. And I thought even pickpockets are entitled to a sex life.

-We were given a list of characters, a recluse, a homeless person, a failed actor, a politician and so on, and were meant to describe their habitat. I chose the politician (mainly because it's easy to put one in a crime fiction setting) and described his office. We had to choose five objects that was important to the character. Among them, I listed "a book he hasn't read." That was apparently brilliant, as it told so much about him.

So there you have it. For the next workshop I have been asked by the hostess to write a novel synopsis using the stuff above, characters and settings (or not, I was pretty much given free reign). Not sure where to go with it or how to go with it. I do like my pickpocket and want her developed (a name for her would be nice). The politician, I might put him on ice until I find something interesting for him to do. But I will definitely write more.

L'oiseau de métal

Il y a des artefacts qui parfois me fascinent. Prenez celui-ci par exemple. J'ai pris cette photo au York Castle Museum. C'est l'un des nombreux bibelots anciens qui sont exposés dans le musée. Je dis ancien, mais selon mon souvenir, c'étaient des objets du 18e et 19e siècles surtout. Celui-ci, je parierais qu'il vient de l'époque victorienne. Je me demande si c'est une représentation d'un oiseau réel ou mythique. Si je ne trompe pas, c'est un oiseau de proie. Il y a aussi un médaillon avec une inscription dessus. Quelqu'un arrive à la lire? Je me demande ce que l'oiseau représente et ce qu'il décorait à l'époque où il a été créé.

Sunday 3 February 2019

A barrel for a chair

We recently went to Perkys Coffee House in Wooburn Green. It was our first visit. It is a nice café, from what we could tell, but what struck us the most are some of the chairs. I took a picture of one. They are basically like barrels turned into a chair, with a few extra cushions for comfort. They also have more mundane ones, but of course when we saw the quirky barrels, we wanted to sit on these. Wolfie really enjoyed them, he spent a lot of time sitting there, hiding underneath the cushions, messing them around and so forth. I might actually buy some cushions for our own sofa, so he can put something else on it than his toys. But maybe it was the chair that got him so hyper.

La Pathétique

C'est dimanche après-midi, le moment mélancolique de la fin de semaine. Si vous n'avez rien à faire, ou si vous avez à faire des affaires plates comme les tâches ménagères, autant écouter un peu de musique. La mélancolie, ça se cultive et ça s'apprécie. Alors j'ai décidé de partager ici la Sonate dite Pathétique de Beethoven. La Sonate pour piano numéro 8. Avec une illustration tirée des albums du Petit Ménestrel. Parce qu'elle est mélancolique aussi.

Saturday 2 February 2019

Veggie chili

I went to my writing workshop today. More on that on another post, but I wanted first to mention that lunch was included, and what a lunch. We had this chili con carne, but vegetarian, so veggie chili. With true chili pepper and cubes of feta cheese to go with it. The feta was truly inspired. I will ask for the recipe, as it was exquisite, with just the right kick to it.

La Chandeleur

J'utilise la même photo que l'année dernière avec ce billet sur la Chandeleur. La photo a été prise au York Castle Museum. Photo de chandelles, parce que la Chandeleur, ben forcément on l'associe aux chandelles. Je ne fais pas grand-chose pour la souligner, à part bloguer sur le sujet. Cela dit, j'aime bien associer le mois de février à autre chose qu'à la Saint-Valentin, alors j'essaie de mentionner la Chandeleur ici. Et mine de rien, cette photo est la première de février.

Friday 1 February 2019

Grey: more or less

I bumped into the father of Blonde Tickler a few days ago and he asked me if I had done something to my hair. He said I looked less grey on the temples. I told him no, that my last haircute was a bit more than a month ago and that there was no product whatsoever on my hair. I added "If anything, being a father of a young boy, I am greyer than I was before." He laughed and he agreed. (Although I must add that even if he barely younger than me and the father of a teenage girl who is also a tomboy, he is not greying at all.) I then said, as if to give myself some kind of solace: "But I don't mind if my temples are greying, at least I still have plenty of hair." He laughed and agreed again. I think both lines deserve to be great unknown lines. I do like my grey temple, it may remind me of my own mortality, but also of the life I have. And I am really happy I have so far escaped baldness.

Observations à propos de la neige

Au moment où j'écris ces lignes (nous sommes le soir et donc la veille de la journée où vous lisez ce billet), il neige depuis déjà quelques heures. Je sais que je blogue souvent sur le sujet, mais je vais le faire encore une fois, car j'ai fait quelques observations:

-S'il continue à neiger comme ça, l'état des routes me forcera à arriver plus tard au travail, voire à avoir un congé forcé.
-Si ça se calme, mais qu'il neige à nouveau dans la journée, je devrai terminer plus tôt, mais alors le retour à la maison sera plus long.
-Dire à son fils qu'il neige juste avant de le mettre au lit, ben c'est pas la meilleure idée.
-Quand même, comme il demandait "More neige, more neige!", au moins son français a progressé d'un mot.