Wednesday 31 January 2024

My January (and yours)

I will start this post by aterrible cliché: this is the last day of January. A month that is often dreaded by people, often also disliked as one long, grey, dreary return to normal. I, for one, came to enjoy January. It is far from my favourite month, yet I came to enjoy it. Not sure when or how it happened exactly, but I made peace with it. It went really quickly, for one, partially because I took a lot of holidays this year. In fact, just like last year and the year before, I am currently on leave until, well, until tomorrow. It's another staycation and I enjoyed it doing nothing, or as little as possible. Maybe that's why I now love January more: I take more time off. Maybe also I am enjoying it because I feel less pressure when I do take holidays this month. Anyway, that was my January, what about yours?

Machinerie dans la forêt

 Autre photo envoyée par mon père à son petit-fils. Je n'ai pas d'autre commentaire. Sauf que c'est la dernière photo du mois.

Tuesday 30 January 2024

Buckinghamshire Folk Tales (a quest)

 I went to the local bookshop yesterday. I did it because I am on annual leave and I wanted to encourage local businesses and to buy some new books for the new year. I had one title in mind: Buckinghamshire Folk Tales, which I had seen during my Christmas shopping. Sadly it was not there, so I bought another one (which I will also blog about another time). Of course, I asked the woman at the till if it was in stock. It wasn't, but they can of course order one. I told her I didn't buy it as I was hoping Santa would have it for me last Christmas. She said: "Oh, rude of him! Santa can be so rude sometimes. I wanted an air fryer last year and I did not get one either, even though I had been good." I thought this was very funny and it deserves to be a new great unknown line. But anyway, I know I can preorder it, which is good, as getting hold of this book is my brand new literary quest.


Des fois, mon père m'envoie des photos rien que pour son petit-fils, lequel aime tout ce qui est machinerie. Enfn bref, mon père est allé sur le lot de ses frères il y a quelques jours et il m'a envoyé quelques photos de l'évènement, dont de cette monstruosité. C'est une abatteuse, enfin une tête d'abatteuse, qui "arrache, coupe et scie en même temps." Du bois, bien entendu. Comme moi, vous vous coucherez moins niaiseux ce soir. Et un coup parti, abatteuse est notre mot du jour.

Monday 29 January 2024

Monopoly Junior

Sometimes, it takes a while for a little boy to truly appreciate a a present he received. Case in point: finally, after a year or two since he received it, Wolfie has decided that he wanted to play Monopoly. Well, not quite, it was the Junior version. When bought it for him, either for Christmas or his birthday, he could not be bothered with it and didn't give it a second look. Then a few months ago he played with his friends from school once, home-made rules. When he saw it among his toys and games last week, he just remembered and it's all he wanted to play. It's pretty much the same game, only way simpler and far more based on luck than strategy. But hey it's a start. I love board games, they kept me busy through my childhood, so I hope Wolfie's interest in Monopoly Junior will lead to more.

Grand-père à l'érable

Mon père a fait des grand-pères à l'érable il y a quelques jours et m'a envoyé des photos parce que... Ben parce que c'est ce qu'il fait quand il fait de la bouffe. Des grand-pères, c'est vraiment niaiseux à faire, même moi qui suis piètre cuisinier, surtout pour les desserts, je les réussis sans problèmes. Mais ça fait des années que je ne me suis pas réessayé. Parce que ma femme n'aime pas vraiment le sirop d'érable et qu'ici ils vendent ça à prix prohibitif, en tout cas pour la quantité. J'ai montré cette photo à petit loup, qui a trouvé que ça avait l'air dégoûtant. Un phénomène rare pour un amateur de desserts comme lui. Je pourrais me réessayer malgré tout, ça m'en ferait plus pour moi.

Sunday 28 January 2024

The New Pelecanos

 You may remember last year that I was wondering what had happened with US crime writer George Pelecanos. I was desperate to read more stuff from him, as last book I had read dated back from 2018, an eternity forme. Well, he will publish a new book, Owning Up, which is made of four novellas.A bit like the four gospels, perhaps? He must have kept it really close to his chest, because I really didn't see this one coming. It popped up in one of my Amazon notifications a few days ago. Be that as it may, it will be released next month and I already preordered it. I quickly read the summary(ies), it sounds like classic Pelecanos.

Pelle mécanique dans la neige

 Des fois mon père m'envoie des photos de la neige au Québec et des grosses machines pour son petit-fils. Sinon, je ne connais pas le contexte des photos prises.

Saturday 27 January 2024

Mozart's Music and Chocolate

Well, today is a very special day for music lovers. It is the birthday of that boy fron Salzburg, the Christ of Music (as he was called), also known as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. His full name is much longer. I will of course celebrate today my favourite composer. I already bought a decent quantity of Mozartkugels. I was tempted to bake a birthday cake, but that might have taken things a bit far. Mut hey, the Mozart chocolates are now available in bars, so that's cool. Of course, I will also listen to Mozart's music (with Wolfie, I hope, the chocolate is like a way to get him in). And share some of that music with you, my dear readers. You may be surprised to see that the piece I have chosen to share today is not from an opera but fromthe Serenade Number 10, aka Gran Partita. If you want to know the reason, watch this. Otherwise, I wanted to find the appropriate music to celebrate the birth of Wolferl. Something both solemn and joyful.


Bon, on se tape encore un petit billet de nostalgie. Quelqu'un parmi vous a-t-il déjà joué à Stratego? C'est un jeu de société parent des échecs, en version un peu plus moderne et un peu plus dramatique. Mes frères et moi n'avons guère joué en suivant les règles du jeu correctement, puisqu'à l'origine c'était un ami qui les avait expliquées tout croche. Mais on a fini par les lire nous même. Dans Stratego, ce que j'aimais, c'est le plateau lui même, avec ses deux lacs, ainsi que les rangs et les divers rôles des pièces, toutes cachées à l'adversaire. La bataille avait une dimension dramatique que les échecs n'ont jamais eu. Enfin bref, je crois que je vais acheter Stratego à petit loup (si vous pensez qu'il est encore un peu jeune, sachez qu'il joue déjà aux échecs avec une amie), ou le demander pour moi même à ma fête.

Friday 26 January 2024

Cards of Marlow

Gotta love British post boxes. They sometimes have the cutest decorations on them, things that make them stand out and are just cute and quirky. I have seen some a few months ago in Wallingford. During one of my latest visits in the little town of Marlow, I saw this crocheted thingie over a post box, painted in gold for one of the Jubilee (the gold one?). You can see a rower and a house of cards. Not sure why the cards, but that is uber cool (yes, I find crocheted displays on post box cool). And uber cute too.

Les Bouquinistes (détails de la vente)

Des fois, je fais de la promotion. Mais comme c'est pour une librairie, une librairie indépendante par-dessus le marché, qui plus est une coop, je crois que c'est pour une bonne cause. Enfin bref, comme je le disais hier, les Bouquinistes font une vente d'inventaire. Vous avez les détails ici, image prise de leur page Facebook. Alors c'est pour bientôt et les rabais sont vraiment intéressants, alors allez-y nombreux et faites une razzia. C'est ce que je ferais si je pouvais.

Thursday 25 January 2024

The Book of Volcanoes

I don't know why, I thought about an old book my family had. Something my father bought, but I think my brothers and I spent more time reading it and especially watching the very impressive pictures than he ever did. Especially PJ, who got so fascinated by volcanoes he wanted to become a vulcanologist. He even did a few science displays on it at school. Nowadays, Wolfie is also curious about volcanoes (read this post). I might show him this book when we visit his grandparents, see what he thinks of it.

Les Bouquinistes: vente d'inventaire

Nouvelle annonce d'intérêt public pour les gens du Saguenay, surtout ceux de Chicoutimi. J'ai appris sur la page Facebook des Bouquinistes qu'ils font une vente d'inventaire. Allez trouver vos aubaines.

Wednesday 24 January 2024

The Assassination of Caligula

For history buffs here, today is an important date: it is the anniversary of the assassination of Caligula. It also thus the day when Claudius became emperor. A page in history that has been fictionalised and immortalised in I, Claudius by Robert Graves,and its TV series adaptation. I know it is not how it happened, yet for me, this is how I always imagined it happening. Since I first saw it some more than 25 years ago. I was completely blown away. Anyway, here is events unfolding, with Derek Jacobi as Claudius and John Hurt as the mad Caligula. British acting at its finest.

Café Cambio

Depuis le début de l'année, j'ai beaucoup blogué sur les attraits passés et présents de Chicoutimi. Mais je n'ai pasencore blogué à proprement parler du Café Cambio. Pourtant, ma femme et moi avons un arrêt obligé au Cambio au moins une fois à chacun de nos séjour. Elle parce qu'elle peut manger végé, moi parce que j'aime l'atmosphère et parce qu'il y a une bonne sélection de thés. C'est un peu dommage, mais Cambio est arrivé sur le tard au Saguenay, après que je l'aie quitté pour Montréal et puis l'Angleterre, alors ça n'a jamais vraiment été mon pied-à-terre dans la région. Mais c'est vraiment sympathique et ça m'étonne un peu que je n'aie pas vraiment blogué sur lui jusqu'à aujourd'hui.

Tuesday 23 January 2024

James Bond for January (and a thrilling cover)

 I found this image on the official Facebook page of Ian Fleming, back in January 2020. Right before the pandemic. They were suggesting to cure the January blues by reading a Bond novel, more specifically Moonraker. This cover is from the 2012 vintage edition and I just love it. Both soberly elegant and ominous. A truly classic cover for a classic hero. Anyway, the original novel is so much superior to the film and would make for an excellent read this month. even though it's set in August (if I'm not mistaken).

Souvenir des "Catacombes"

 J'ai déjà blogué il y a plus de dix ans sur les "catacombes" du Cégep de Chicoutimi. Je me demande encore pourquoi on appelait ça les Catacombes, parce qu'à ce que je sache, ça n'a jamais été un sépulcre, même du temps de l'ancien Séminaire. Ca serait la base d'une belle histoire d'horreur, cela dit: un couloir dans le sous-sol du cégep rebâti sur des anciennes tombes de prêtres catholiques. Mais bon, je ne crois pas que ce soit le cas. Elles ont malgré tout un côté lugubre, comme le disait mon frère PJ. Pour tout le monde au cégep, ce sont les Catacombes. Enfant, j'y allais pour le restaurant. Étudiant au cégep, je les ai vraiment découvertes, comme un passage secret entre les ailes et les lieux de cours. Mes amis et moi, nous avons même filmé quelques scènes là, pour des projets d'étude comme pour des projets indépendants. Les Catacombes stimulaient notre imagination. J'aimerais bien les revisiter un de ces quatre, même si je me demande si elles ont gardé leur air de mystère. Peut-être que je serais déçu. Peut-être que je serais inspiré.

Monday 22 January 2024

Stormy Winds

Since yesterday, it has been ridiculously windy. It is Storm Isha's doing, apparently. BBC Weather even gave a yellow warning of wind, ending today at noon. So far, we've been all right, touch wood. I love windy days, so I am not complaining. As long as I can stay in the comfort of home, I actually enjoy stormy weather. For me, it's like Mother Nature is giving a free show and it is the best excuse to not go out without feeling guilty about it. Please feel free to give me your own take on it in the comments section. In any case, if it is windy where you are, or stormy, or both, stay home, stay safe and try to enjoy it. I know I will.

Le petit renard

Nous sommes allés il y a quelques mois dans un refuge pour animaux, en fait une sorte d'hôpital pour animaux sauvages blessés ou malades. Sans être un zoo, c'était un endroit plaisant à visiter pour des enfants, ou même des adultes, avec des sections plus muséales, des aires d'activités et des murales avec des dessins mignons, dont une remplie de petits renards comme celui-ci. Je cherchais un moment pour partager la photo, je me suis dit pourquoi pas aujourd'hui.

Sunday 21 January 2024

The local Mountain Warehouse

It is a strange quirk of mine, but I love Mountain Warehouse, as you may already know. I say strange, because I am not into outdoors activities, or hiking, or sport. Yet now almost every weekend when I go downtown to run errands I end up stopping there and buying something. It's mostly clothes. Warm clothes, to be more specific. Socks, mainly, often gloves too, sometimes thermals. I did this yesterday too. It has become one of my go-to shops in town and a sort of ritual every weekend. In fact, after the bookshop, it might be my favourite shop here. I still don't completely understand why. The staff is nice and friendly, and more to the point always efficient, but I think there is something deeper than that. It seems that I always find what I am looking for there and I often find what I did not know I needed. I guess I find the whole place kind of comforting. And you, do you have shops like this you just love to go to?

Café Columbus (Chicoutimi)

Je me demandais il y a quelques jours dans un billet quels sont les cafés de Chicoutimi qui ont de l'allure et pas trop loin de chez mes parents. Ma nouvelle lectrice Maryse m'a suggéré dans les commentaires Café Columbus, qui est pratiquement de l'autre bord du Boulevard Talbot, juste en face du Montagnais. À ma grande surprise, j'apprends que c'est une chaîne française qui a une présence au Québec et ailleurs.  Comment elle a pu se retrouver à Chicoutimi, c'est un mystère. Cela dit, elle a un ours comme emblème et ça c'est cool, même si ça aussi ça fait un peu étrange. Nous comptons bien le visiter lors de notre prochain séjour dans tous les cas.

Saturday 20 January 2024

The Orient Express (jigsaw)

 A couple of weeks ago, I saw this jigsaw puzzle as part of the window dressing of our local bookshop. Because bookshops don't only sell books, sometimes they sell other cool stuff, such as games, such as this gorgeous, gorgeous puzzle. So anyway, I love all things trains, especially old steam trains and no train can be cooler and more glamorous than the Orient Express. Well, okay, maybe one train matches it, but not many. I am not very good with jigsaw puzzles and this one is 1000 pieces, yet I suggested it to my wife as a Christmas present. I did not get it. But my birthday is in April, so who know what might happen then. Be that as it may, just because it's the Orient Express, I would love to have it.

Recréer Ciné-famille

J'ai eu une inspiration récemment: recréer une filmographie de Ciné-famille, pour moi et peut-être, si ça l'intéresse, pour petit loup. J'ai déjà blogué sur Ciné-famille, l'émission radio-canadienne qui passait le samedi après-midi et où on présentait des films pour enfants. C'est tombé dans l'oubli, même si on trouve l'intro sur YouTube. Pour ce qui est du reste, j'en trouve très peu sur le sujet dans les internets. Avec ma mémoire, j'ai malgré tout réussi à retrouver certains des films et les ai mis dans une liste sur YouTube. Enfin, les titres dont je me rappelle. Je compte en mettre d'autres, si vous vous rappelez de ce qui y passait, faites-le moi savoir.

Friday 19 January 2024


 I just read an article on the BBC about the potential return of the hovercraft. It never disappeared as a mean of transport, but let's face, it's far from the most popular. This apparently might change. It will make Wolfie very happy: he loves hovercrafts. He, like his mother and father, only used it twice: when we went to the Isle of Wight and then back from there. And it was a very short journey. But he loved it all the same, as if it was the coolest thing. Maybe hovercraft is the coolest vehicle ever, come to think of it. And I have to say, I was impressed by its speed. So I would love if it was a more widespread mean of transport. And you, ever been on an hovercraft? If so, what did you think of it?

L'hiver anglais

 J'ai pris cette photo ce matin. Voici tout la mesure de l'hiver anglais, parce que oui, c'est vraiment l'hiver. Ne riez pas. Oui, il manque de la neige. Enfin, il manque la neige. Mais ça ne veut pas dire qu'il ne fait pas froid. Il fait froid en Angleterre, un froid humide qui est pire queles froids québécois. Je suis très sérieux. En plus, les bâtiments sont mal isolés, alors on gèle facilement. Je ne râle pas trop: je sais m'habiller chaudement et je préfère et de loin le froid à la chaleur. Sans être le paradis, je dois dire que j'aime bien les journées comme celles-ci.

The Compleat Angler

I blogged before about at The Compleat Angler at Marlow, including this month. This is because it is mentioned (but surprisingly not featured) in John Le Carré's first novel Call for the Dead. I have been wanting to go back there and share some pictures of it. I have been unable to so far, but yesterday I found on social a picture of the place. It is right by the Thames. It is such a perfect setting for a spy thriller, especially this time of year.

Les vieux trains lents

 J'ai lu en diagonale cet article de L'Actualité appelé Éloge des vieux trains lents. Article de Tara Grescoe, que j'ai mentionnée en juin 2023 à propos d'un autre article de L'Actualité sur les trains. Ce nouvel article porte sur des trains en Italie dans des trains vintage. Il faudrait vraiment que j'essaie lors de mon retour éventuel en Italie. Ca fait quasiment 25 ans que je n'y ai pas mis les pieds et je veux y retourner. Le voyage ferroviaire est souvent ce que j'aime le plus de mes vacances, ou à tout le moins un des éléments importants pour me faire apprécier un séjour quelque part. Si le trajet en train est plaisant, c'est comme la moitié du plaisir de pris déjà. Alors marier le train à l'Italie, ce serait vraiment génial...

Thursday 18 January 2024

A police chase near us

 Here is a bit of local crime drama we nearly witnessed. It happened almost next door, or rather in front of our houses. Anyway, we live in a dead end and two days ago we were doing the back to school run. We first drove back Wolfie's classmate, who lives two streets way from ours. As we were nearby, I noticed a dodgy looking man being held by a police officer. I told my wife to be careful. Then, once Wolfie's friend was safe home with her parents (and the guy and the police officer gone), we drove back to our place. We saw at the end of our road a police car, parked behind another car that had hit the wooden fence. There were skid marks on the grass. We could reconstitute the scnee we had missed by a minute or two: they gave chase to the suspect I had seen, who may or may not have known he was driving to a dead end, he hit the bonnet of his car with the fence, then ran off. 

A few minutes later, we saw a few more police cars coming to our street. Some were unidentified. It took about an hour for the whole thing to wrap up. We heard a knock on the door, a police officer asked us if we'd seen anything, we said no, we asked what had happened, he told us briefly that someone refused to stop his vehicle when they summoned him to do it and then made a run for it. Now after this, I think there is some source material for a crime story and I wish I could have paid more attention to what was happening. In fact, I wish I had seen the drama unfolding, although I am very glad we didn't drive home while the thuggish looking guy was on the run. So yes, we had a bit of local police drama in our street recently.

Salade niçoise

Des fois mon père m'envoie des photos de ce que mes parents ont mangé. Il y a quelques temps, c'était cette salade niçoise. Bon, une photo sans doute plus estivale, mais qu'importe. J'ai découvert la salade niçoise, assez ironiquement, ici en Angleterre. Ils l'appellent "tuna niçoise". Plus précisément, c'est grâce àmon beau-frère que je l'ai remarquée: il l'a commandée une fois lors d'une réunion familiale. C'est pas mal ce que je commande quand je veux manger santé. Ce qui est rarement le cas quand je suis dans un restaurant.

Wednesday 17 January 2024

Smoke Bellew (a memory)

 I don't know if it's because the weather is finally cold and somewhat wintery (for England), but I recently remembered a book I read when I was a child. One of Jack London's, and the only novel I read for this author. Back when I was still young enough to have read all that was on my on my bookshelves, I was bored stiff and wanting to read more. I found Smoke Bellew in a pile of novels inherited from my maternal uncles (unless I'm mistaken). One of the titles published by the Bibliothèque verte and which I mentioned in this post. It was an adventure novel set in Klondike during the Gold Rush and had as a hero a dandy turned tough guy Christopher "Smoke" Bellew. I remember bits and bots of it now, mainly that it was a fitting read when it was freezing cold outside. It's a perfect winter read. I still remembered the cover, which I easily found. I find it strange that I never read Jack London again, or indeed any adventure novel, even though I liked that one and it was a genre that I was naturally inclined to go for. Maybe I should revisit Jack London one day, but I suspect he may be one of these authors that have to be enjoyed when you are a young reader.

Les pingouins du Dorset

 J'ai pris cette photo à Weymouth dans le Dorset, dans leur Sea Life Centre, enfin bref leur aquarium. Nous avons vu ces pingouins (et je ne sais pas si c'est le terme correct en français, mais enfin bref, peu importe) juste avant la fin de notre visite et ce fût peut-être le clou de la journée. Ils étaient très mignons et ils aimaient se montrer en spectacle. Et ils avaient tous des personnalités différentes, enfin c'est l'impression que nous avions. Nous avions même nos préférés (celui avec les tags verts je crois). J'aurais aimé écrire ce billet il y a quelques mois, quand mon souvenir était plus frais.

Tuesday 16 January 2024

Brio Steam Train

 I blogged about a week ago about Wolfie getting the coolest present for Christmas. Wlel, I might have been wrong. Because I also received a Brio train as a gift. And not just any Brio train: the BRIO World Battery-Operated Steamed Train. Their flagship, or flag train if you will. I haven't played with it yet as it needs AAA batteries. I bought some last weekend, but haven't come round to putting them. I might do it this evening with Wolfie when he's back from school. Truly, this is a present for both boys in the house, the young one and the grownup one.

La Théière à l'envers

Un récent commentaire d'une nouvelle lectrice m'a rappelé qu'il y avait un endroit à Chicoutimi que je n'avais pas encore visité. Je parle de la maison de thé La Théière à l'envers. Le pire, c'est que je connais son existence depuis 2015. J'ai visité leur site et leur page Facebook et pour l'amateur de thé que je suis on dirait vraiment que c'est l'endroit idéal en région. Je pense que je suis dû pour une visite.

Monday 15 January 2024

Blue Monday: some thoughts

In case you didn't know, or maybe didn't notice, or didn't care (which is almost my case), today is Blue Monday. The most depressing day of the year, according to, well, pseudoscience. But I don't find this Monday more depressing than any other and I find it less depressing than other Mondays in the year. Of course, the day is still young, so I might feel differently in the evening, therefore touch wood. So far, so good. I don't find Blue Mondays depressing for the reasons stated in 2023. To sum it up here: I don't hate my job, I don't have to commute to go to work, I find the months of June and July more depressing than January and I only got back at work last week. Also, I have a few more holidays this month. So yeah, while no working Monday is great, and while I understand why some people dislike it, I don't feel particularly blue today.

Une certaine fascination pour le grenier

 J'en ferai peut-être une question existentielle, cela dit d'ici là quelqu'un peut m'expliquer la fascination des enfants pour le grenier? Quand j'ai dû ranger les décorations de Noël et ensuite d'autres cossins il y a quelques jours, Wolfie voulait absolument voir ce qu'il y avait là-haut. Ce n'est pas la première fois. J,ai même blogué sur le même sujet en 2020 et sa fascination pour notre grenier s'est développée depuis. J'avoue qu'enfant, j'étais aussi comme lui. Je n'ai jamais mis les pieds au grenier chez mes parents, mais j'ai toujours voulu. Ma femme m'a dit que c'était la même chose pour elle quand elle avait l'âge de petit loup. Je ne sais pas si c'est donc un trait de famille ou un truc générationnel. Tous les enfants aiment-ils les greniers, ou est-ce juste mon fils?

Sunday 14 January 2024

Blue Vinny Mac and Cheese

I was going through the pictures I took in Dorset during our last holidays. In Weymouth, to be precise. In this household, we love macaroni and cheese. My wife especially. But she loathe blue cheese. So she was devastated to learn that the one mac and cheese on the menu of the restaurant of the resort we were in was with Dorset Blue Vinny. Maybe I should say horrified. Be that as it may, since she would not try it, I did. Because I love to try local products when we go somewhere. And blue cheese and pasta is just my kind of thing. And I quite enjoyed it. The blue cheese really gave it a nice kick. As for my wife, well, at least she had the satisfaction that I had a veggie meal.

Un crabe

 J'ai pris cette photo à Weymouth dans le Dorset,dans un centre pour touristes qui est peut-être fermé maintenant. En tout cas le café à côté n'existe plus, ce qui m'a bien chagriné. Dans tous les cas, voici un crabe. Je ne sais pas si on peut dire empaillé quand il s'agit d'un crustacé, mais je l'ai trouvé impressionnant.

Saturday 13 January 2024


I blogged before about the artillery drawer: a place where I put most (but not all) of Wolfie's toy guns and other weapons and equipment for our "War Game", a mix of police, spy and, well, guerilla thriller where we fight an evil organisation run by King Cobra. Well, this is the amount of weaponry we have (most of it anyway) after months and months of playing and improving our stocks. It has handguns, revolvers, a rifle, a machine gun, grenades and plenty of other stuff. I'm very proud of it, so is Wolfie. I even started filling another drawer. Like I always said, having a son allows me to live a second childhood.

Pâté à la truite

 Des fois, mon père m'envoie des photos de ce qu'ils ont cuisiné comme repas. Il y a quelques semaines, ils ont fait un pâté à la truite. Je crois me rappeler qu'ils l'ont mangé avec mon frère PJ, chez eux pour les Fêtes. Je suis grand amateur de poisson, de truite et donc de pâté à la truite. C'est pour moi plus un poisson à manger l'été, ou au moins au printemps, je ne sais pas trop pourquoi. Quand même, j'en aurais bien mangé, que ce soit de saison ou pas. Et vous?

Friday 12 January 2024

The cry of the red kite

We have a lot of red kites flying round here. Like a lot. When I first came here, I did not know what were these birds of prey flying so low and that had that such a distinctive cry. It felt like our quaint little English town was in the middle of the wilderness. A quick Google search helped me identify what I now call my neighbours. Or avian neighbours. But yes, they do cry rather loudly. Yesterday I heard one when I was in the garden. I found it in a nearby tree and managed to take a few snapshots. Not great ones, but here is one for you.


 Autre photo envoyée par mon père des neiges au Saguenay. Je crois que c'est la plus jolie depuis le début de l'hiver.

Thursday 11 January 2024

The Snail Torch

 My readers may know that I am a surprisingly loyal customer of Mountain Warehouse.I generally buy warm clothes there. But I also buy other things. Last time, I bought this cheap snail torch, because for some reason Wolfie seemed to like it. He gave me his usual Wolfism when he wants to buy something I don't think he needs (although it's usually a plush toy): "Oh but daddy, but daddy, I already gave him a name!" I gave it to him for three reasons: 1)because it was cheap, 2)because his pleading was cute and 3)because we can never have enough torches. At least when he needs one for his blanket fort, he will not use any of mine and waste their battery. And what is the name of the snail torch, you may ask? Honestly, I cannot remember.

La neige...

Des fois, mon père m'envoie des photos de la neige qui est de retour au Québec. Un peu tard, mais quand même, c'est l'hiver pour vrai là-bas. Sinon, ce billet est une excuse pour partager une photo hivernale. Mais ça en vaut la peine.

Wednesday 10 January 2024

Bookshops on holidays

I took this image from Books Are My Bag. I was not sure if they were advertising books for tourists or books set in the place you were travelling. I turned out the link with the image leads to a search engine to find bookshops near you. Which is a pretty neat idea. I'd like to go on holiday at some point, I mean not a staycation, and maybe buy a book or three at the local bookshop. It could be a nice little holiday project, like a side quest.

Les poules de Pâques déjà?

 Photo trouvée sur la page Facebook des Pères trappistes il y a quelques jours. On y annonçait le retour de leurs petites poules de Pâques en vente sur les étalages de Jean Coutu. En janvier. Ma première question: déjà? Bon, j'imagine que je ne devrais pas trop m'étonner. Je le dis souvent: une fête chasse l'autre assez vite. Les décorations de Noël sortent dans les commerces aussitôt l'Halloween terminée, puis c'est le tour de la prochaine grosse fête dans l'année, donc Pâques. Qui arrive d'ailleurs assez tôt cette année. Mais quand même, je trouve ça prématuré. Et vous, qu'en pensez-vous?

An old railway signal box

 Here is a piece of sad news for railway lovers like myself: Cornwall's oldest railway signal box is closing. Okay, to be honest, I was there were any signal box left in this country and it is a surprise there was still one in function, even in a small Cornish village. All the same, it is a symbol of a bygone era that is going to close down. And I always loved signal boxes. I hope they do something with it, like that one in Devon. A café, a pub, a museum perhaps? Something to give this box not so much a second life as a second career. And old things can still look good, especially old buildings, especially railway buildings.

Nouvelle lectrice du Saguenay

Petite nouvelle dans la publication de Vraie Fiction: j'ai une nouvelle lectrice. Oui monsieur.Ou oui madame, car c'est une femme. Et du Saguenay en plus, sans doute de Chicoutimi. Elle a répondu gentiment à ma question sur ce billet, quand je demandais des adresses de cafés où aller à Chicoutimi. Pas que j'irai bientôt. Mais au moins là j'en ai deux, grâce à ses suggestions: un café et une maison de thé. Des endroits que je compte bien visiter avec ma femme et mon fils lors de notre prochain séjour, qui ne sera pas demain. Espérons qu'ils ne fermeront pas d'ici là. Dans tous les cas, bienvenue à Maryse sur Vraie Fiction et au plaisir de lire tes commentaires.

Tuesday 9 January 2024

Another Clue/Cluedo?

My long time readers know my long time love and fascination for Clue. Or Cluedo, as it is called here in the UK and elsewhere. I have one version here, a present from my wife, but it's a Game of Thrones variation. We played it a few times, it's fun. But I miss the old classic version of my youth. And I also want to try the other versions there are. Anyway, to my great surprised, I saw yet another Cluedo in the local toy shop. It costs £29.99, not exactly cheap, but I am happy to encourage local businesses. I am not certain if it is a new version or the old one with a new cover. Basically, they changed the age and ethnicity of some of the characters. Otherwise it could be, as it says on the box, the classic mystery game. I have to say, this one looks better than the one I saw back in 2019. It looks less cartoonish. So many Clues, which one to choose?

Glaçons (et neige)

Photo prise en janvier dernier (je crois) par mon père, durant un hiver plus hivernal qu'il l'est cette année au Québec et qu'il l'est ici, à chaque année. Cela dit, on annonce de la glace ici aussi, enfin il y a danger de glace noire au sol. Il pourrait même y avoir de la neige cette semaine, ou dans les prochains jours. Je suis comme d'habitude sceptique. Je serais heureux s'il y avait de la neige, même si les Anglais la gèrent mal.

Monday 8 January 2024

Free cocktails to take away

This weekend, we went for a quick stop (that ended up being not so quick, but I digress) before dinner. It was in the pub where I used to go about 15 years ago, back when we were renting. It used to be a run-down pub full of old people, but it was the nearest pub from the flat and I came to like the variety of drinks there. I think the last time I went there must have been ten years, if not more. Well, since then it got new owners and it has been completely revamped and gentrified. It also has a Chinese take away/restaurant attached to it, but that is the topic of another post. Let's just say for now that it was one of the reasons why we stopped there.

The advantage true advantage of this pub it that the guy in charge of cocktails and one of managers is also the father of one of Wolfie's friends. We actually sometimes get the girl to and back from school with us. So when we were waiting for our Chinese meal to be ready, my wife was pondering if she should take a cocktail, but she was driving. So I suggested we asked if wecould buy a cocktail and take it away. Daddy manager and cocktail maker said not only it was possible, but he would give it to us for free. A Christmas martini (don't ask) worth I believe £10.50. It was served in a plastic pint, not full but almost, with all the forth and everything, covered with a big sandwich bag. By some miracles, we got it home intact and not a drop of it was lost on the way home. It took my wife three evenings to drink it all. Moral of the story, it's great to be connected.

Les enseignants le lundi

 Une amie de la lointaine époque du cégep a partagé ce dessin de Jack Koch hier. Elle est bien entendu prof. J'ai cru opportun de partager ça aujourd'hui. J'ai quitté le merveilleux monde de l'éducation il y aura bientôt 14 ans et je ne m'ennuie pas du tout, surtout pas le lundi...

Back to work...

 Well, today is a day I have been dreading: I am back at work. Not that I don't like my job, but I always dread getting back to work after a long holiday, and I have been away for three weeks. Thankfully I don't have to go to the office as I'm working from home. It makes the transition easier. I will probably still be socially jetlagged. And I am already longing for my next holidays, whenever they may be. Yesterday, my mum told me something one of her former employees (now retired) used to tell her every time she got back at work: "I need to work so I can afford my next holidays". I think this deserves to be a great unknown line. In any case, I will keep that in mind today and for the rest of the week.

Remise sous la neige

Autre photo de la neige à Chicoutimi. Rien que parce que. Oh et il va peut-être neiger cette semaine ici. C'est un gros peut-être.

Sunday 7 January 2024

Brio Snow Plow Train

 Sometimes, my wife buys presents to Wolfie and she makes two men happy instead of just one, because I enjoy it just as much. This was the case when Wolfie got the Brio World Snow Plow Train among his gifts. Coming with its own set of snow and snowbound track. Now I love trains and Brio sets have been a great way to bond with my son over the years. But this may be his coolest train yet, one that is a snow plow as well. I think I like it even more than he does.


 Photo prise par ma mère, celle des neiges d'antan. Enfin non, celles des neiges du mois dernier, juste après Noël. Il a finalement neigé à Chicoutimi, je crois comprendre que c'est toujours l'hiver au Saguenay. Ici, c'est l'hiver anglais, donc dans les tons de gris et brun. Je partage parce que l'image est jolie et ce genre d'hiver me manque beaucoup. On prévoit de la neige ici, mais comme je le mentionnais hier, je suis sceptique. Mettons que je l'ai entendu avant. Dans tous les cas, ça ne ressemblera pas à cette photo.

Saturday 6 January 2024

Polar Blast?

Apparently, winter is coming to the UK. And I mean proper winter: the one with snow. My wife told me so. I checked the news and apparently yes, in the coming weeks there might be a Polar blast hitting us. She is dreading it. I am torn between hope and dread, as I know this country does not cope well with snow. But I am mostly skeptical: snows have been forecast in the past and we got nothing. And from what I can see in the forecast of the upcoming days, it is weather as usual: rain and little else. In other words, I will believe it when I see it, but we will get ready should it come.

La galette des Rois digne d'un roi

Aujourd'hui c'est le douzième jour de Noël, le dernier. C'est donc l'Épiphanie, ou "les Rois" comme on l'appelait quand j'étais enfant. C'est aussi sans doute mon dernier billet qui porte sur Noël jusqu'à au moins novembre. Afin de souligner, je partage ici la vidéo d'hier du Chef Michel Dumas. Pas que j'aie l'intention ou capacité de cuisiner ça, mais si jamais ça vous tente d'essayer.

Friday 5 January 2024

Crime books to read

As a new year starts, I am starting to plan what I will read in the upcoming weeks and months. More specifically, what crime books I will read. I mostly read crime fiction all year round, except from August to October inclusively. A quick search on my shelves made me discover that I don't have so many unread crime novels. And I promised my wife I would not hoard books this year. So I will behave. Or will try to. Worst case scenario, I borrow from the library or reread some titles, like D.C. Noir, an anthology of short stories edited by DC local (and one of my favourite crime writers) George Pelecanos. Apparently they adapted it into a movie. I must find it and watch it too. Anyway, any suggestions are welcome, please comment.

Galette des Rois décadente

 Demain, nous serons le jour des Rois, ou l'Épiphanie, comme je l'appelle maintenant. Pour moi, ça a toujours été "les Rois". Le dernier jour des Fêtes. Quand je vivais à Montréal, j'achetais une galette des rois de Première Moisson, même si on ne célébrait plus depuis notre enfance. Or, j'apprends via la page Facebook de la boulangerie qu'ils ont une version "signature" choco et canneberges de la galette, en plus de la traditionnelle. Mêmesi je suis traditionaliste de nature, j'avoue que je l'esaierais bien, rien que parce que ça a vraiment l'air décadent. Et le mélange chocolat et atocas, que j'ai pu apprécier dans une autre de leurs oeuvres, est vraiment quelque chose.

Next Greggs' sandwich?

Sometimes, just to spoil myself and the family, I buy us some sandwiches from Greggs.With a few extra bits and bots: a dessert for Wolfie, a coffee for my wife. Greggs is not really healthy, but it is the epitome of everyday comfort food. I usually go for a baguette, chicken most of the time, even though they go heavy with the mayonnaise (see the picture). But I don't mind, I guess I got used to the quantity of mayonnaise and it is just part of the excesses. I blogged in 2017 about my history with Greggs. We ate plenty of it for lunch last month (last year). Now that the holidays are practically over and that people are returning to normal, I think we need a treat for get us through, well, normality. My wife will probably think I'm exagerrating, but she will come round to it.

Feu et mélancolie

 Autre photo du feu de foyer que mon père m'a envoyée. Et puis rien d'autre, ça n'a aucun rapport, mais c'est le dernier jour de mes vacances (enfin, sans compter la fin de semaine qui s'en vient) et ça me calme de ma mélancolie.

Thursday 4 January 2024

Jiu-Jitsu, Kickboxing (and Krav Maga?)

 We got a leaflet through the door today, for a local business. It was advertising Brazilian jiu-jitsu (or jujutsu, or ju-jitsu) and kickboxing classes. One side for the martial art, the other for the contact sport. No, I'm not interested into doing either. Too old, too out of shape, too sendentary, not really into sports or martial art. But it reminded me that I have long stopped training in Krav Maga. And that's not good. Now, why would I still do Krav Maga and not kickboxing or a martial art? Because KM is completely a self defence and this is what I would need in a threatening situation. Maybe it should be a new year's resolution: go back into training.

L'hiver de retour?

Ma mère m'a envoyé cette photo. Après un Noël pratiquement sans neige, une première de mon vivant (enfin de mémoire), il semblerait que l'hiver soit de retour timidement au Québec, enfin au Saguenay. Je l'espère dans tous les cas.

Spies at The Compleat Angler

Quick post today, because I blogged on the very same topic yesterday. As you may know from John Le Carré's Call for the Dead, today is the day master spy George Smiley is supposed to meet (or was supposed to meet, as this was set in the early 60s) his colleague Samuel Fennan. As per the following letter:

"Dear George, 

    It is essential that I lunch with you tomorrow at The Compleat Angler at Marlow. Please do your best to meet me there at one o'clock. There is something I have to tell you.


Samuel Fennan

Of course, The Compleat Angler still exists, it is a beautiful and rather expensive hotel which I visited a few times. Any Marlowian reading this blog and visiting it today: anybody noticed anyone looking shady? Although I guess spies would look just like anybody else. Good spies would, that is. All the same, I wish I could be there today at one. Anyway, next time I go there, I will take pictures, just in case there are fans of John Le Carré among you...

Les cafés de Chicoutimi

 Vous savez par mon billet du 2 janvier que j'ai appris avec tristesse la fermeture du Passion Café sur le très drabe Boulevard Talbot. Alors je me demandais si, parmi ceux qui me lisent et qui vivent à Chicoutimi ou le visitent, vous connaissiez d'autres cafés potables dans les environs? Bon, il y a Cambio sur la Racine, mais je veux dire dans le coin de l'ancien Passion Café. De préférence avec une sélection de thés et de menus végétariens. Ce n'est pas demain la veille que nous retournerons à Chicoutimi, mais quand même, j'aimerais trouver un endroit sympathique lorsque nous y serons.

Wednesday 3 January 2024

Spy Meeting Tomorrow

"Dear George, 

    It is essential that I lunch with you tomorrow at The Compleat Angler at Marlow. Please do your best to meet me there at one o'clock. There is something I have to tell you.


Samuel Fennan

I blogged about this before, back in 2019 and again last year. This quote is taken from John Le Carré's first novel Call for the Dead. The George mentioned in the letter is of course protagonist George Smiley and the letter being dated on the 3rd of January, tomorrow is, well, tomorrow. We don't live very far from Marlow or the Compleat Angler, but I doubt we will have the chance to go there at one o'clock. Besides, we are a few decades too late, the novel having been published in 1961. All the same, having been to that hotel, I get excited at the thought that I walked in the setting of a classic spy drama. Next time I go there, I take a few pictures.

Feu de foyer

Mes parents on soupé (un vin et fromages) au coin du feu de foyer récemment. Disons que ça termine bien les Fêtes. Et ça me rappelle queje m'ennuie des feux de foyer.

Tuesday 2 January 2024

The search for AAA batteries

Here is a bit of trivial topic for you: I found out this evening that I need AAA batteries. The context: I bought some toys (will tell you what in another post) for Wolfie for Christmas and he thought he would try the toys tonight. But of course the batteries are not included. And to make matters worse, it needs AAA batteries. I thought I had bought some a few months ago, I either went through them already or I put the spare ones where I cannot find them anymore. Be that as it may, I cannot find AAA batteries in the house. So yeah, it is trivial, but very inconvenient.

Question existentielle (385)

 Les Fêtes ne sont pas encore officiellement terminées, cela dit pour beaucoup c'est le retour au travail et petit loup recommence l'école bientôt. Je me pose donc la question existentielle suivante (qui est assez proche de la question 277, mais un peu différente):

-Après Noël et le Jour de l'An, quand est-ce que nous sommes bel et bien, de facto, dans le retour à la normale?


I blogged before about these Light Hat Torch. I bought one before for my wife, a pink one which she seldom uses. I found one in the neighbourhood, in a sorry state. I called them a torch tuque, because tuque is how we call beanie hats in Québec. Now last Christmas my wife decided to buy me one. I am not sure why. Maybe because I said we always need good torches (I seem to be using them faster than umbrellas), maybe because I like to keep my head warm, but anyway, she bought me one. It has a charger as well for the battery, pretty neat. Now, it does not look so good when you wear it, in fact it looks a bit silly, but it is oh so practical when you need to see and you want your hands free. So yes, great I love it, the great useful present this year.

Plus de Passion Café?

Triste nouvelle apprise par mes parents: le Passion Café de Chicoutimi est fermé de manière définitive. À chacun de nos séjours à Chicoutimi, on s'y rendait à pied ma femme et moi, puis petit loup aussi. Nous aimions l'atmosphère, le service, la sélection de cafés (pour elle) et de thés (pour moi), enfin tout. Le stationnement sur le Boulevard Talbot ne payait pas des mines, mais le café lui-même était très bien. Pour ma mère, c'était aussi un endroit où trouver des cadeaux pour Noël et pour les anniversaires. Enfin bref, c'est une bien triste nouvelle.

Monday 1 January 2024

Auld Lang Syne (as always)

Happy new year everyone! As it is a tradition on this blog, I am sharing again the classic Auld Lang Syne. Which also reminds me that I have Scottish blood, so there might be something of me in this song, in a way. You tell me.

Mafalda et la nouvelle année

Bonne année à tous! Je la commence avec un gag de Mafalda. Elle a fait beaucoup d'observations très justes sur le nouvel an, celle-ci en est une autre, que je me devais de partager.