Saturday, 9 April 2011

Belfast Telegraph's "Society" section new comedy hit of 2011

I have not laughed so much is such a long time. This page is in the Belfast Telegraph Entertainment section and oh my word, it would not be more entertaining, In true Hicksville fashion, the "Tele" invites readers to send in the picture of their Big Nite Out, and indeed must send out their photographer to some of the Provinces big social events. I am sure the editors of the Belfast Telegraph are well aware of how hilarious the results are. The page features some of the beautiful people of NI out drinking. It seems that the obligatory shot is of 2 young (ish) girls so close to each other they seem like Siamese twins, joined at the head, or if it's a full length shot, wrapped around each other, joined at the hip. Or maybe everyone is jsut so drunk they need so hold each other up? The jury is out. Or, are we so insecure in NI and worried about our reputation that we feel we have to prove to the wider world that we are actually quite freindly, with these full body contact photos? "Look folks, come to Belfast! You don't need to worry about which bar to go into any more, because we're all so damn friendly!" What you do need to worry about though is having your head fused to that of a perma-taneed, heavily made-up, flat-ironed-blonde-haired, slightly podgy 25 yr old, who just should have kept those orthodontist appointments. Bitter, moi? So, the next time you are down in the dumps head to the Tele for some really upliftings photos. Though in fairness, they do look as though they're having fun, so, fair play (as they'd say in Belfast).

Sunday, 6 March 2011

festival du livre culinaire

I came across this poster yesterday in the Métro advertising the Festival du Livre Culinaire, which stopped me in my tracks. Well, it didn't actually, I went back through the turnstiles to look at it again, layer upon layer of cookbooks, food stuffs inbetween. Their atrocious website failed to give much in the way of information but I was able to glean that the county of honour was Italy, the theme was "Street Food" and the Produit de l'exposition was FROMAGE.

What was it De Gualle said about France and cheese...?

When we turned up at the exhibtion centre, it looked as though it might be a solo mission for me, as Pat looked wistfully out at the courtyard and his paperback (though the book was on the financial crisis, so I would have been loooking wistfully at a cyanide pill if that was my only reading option).

Anyhow. We wandered round
Italy's offerings which were slim pickings. I suspect the French included them only to advertise their culinary superiority. The only thing I tasted off their stall was a small slice of bread and some lard. Why I ate this is anyone's guess. Unable to say no to a free thing?

It appears that not one of France's 246 cheeses were on offer (or not that I could find) but instead we came across some guys with 5 huge wheels of swedish cheese. Those crafty Scandinavians get everywhere. Whilst at all the other stands there were people carefully paring off bits of this, slivers of that, and handing it over with a smile, Torsten and Georg laid an ice cream scoop on top of these cheese wheels and it was every man, women and billy bookcase for itself.

However, we did touch lucky when we happened to be walking past the Spanish wine tasting crew. Once a day they had their free wine tasting, which was really more like a game, and certainly designed to be a lot of fun. There were 6 bottles of red to taste at the beginning, and we had to note the 2 we liked the best. Then there were 3 wines in black glasses and we had to identify whether they were red or white. Next up was the Twins round - 2 out of 3 wines were the same, could we pick them (E = yes, P =no). Then, we had to pick the Malbec. We were both totally confident after getting a run down on the qualities of a malbec from the lady (violet colour and nose, light soft tannins, plum taste and medium body). Off the mark. We then returned to the first six wines we tasted to try and find the 2 we originally liked. It was superb craic, and would be a good fun way to do a wine tasting at home. We even won some things to put round the neck of the wine to stop it dripping on the table cover. These Spaniards know what they're doing.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Roses, singing and suchlike

I have been enjoying going to the Scots Kirk in Paris. It has a homely and chaotic feel about it, and the itinerant congregation is definintely a bit different to your average CoS gathering. However, given that we are small in number, my high volume singing has been noted and now my chickens have come home to roost.

I have been asked to sing not one, but TWO solos on Sunday morning, on the theme of The Rose. Thus, I am chanelling Dame Joan Sutherland with the Irish song 'Tis the last rose of the summer, and then following that with a Bete Midler hit - The Rose. I was over at the kirk pracising tonight at 21h45. Only rock and roll bands start their practice at that time of night, and only then after a good few snakebites. I am in the wrong game.

I actually did a few recordings of myself with my guitar singing somthing when we were back home. Embarrasingly, I also recorded a few takes with me wearing my sunglassses. Frankly my guitar playing is duff and my pop song singing not a lot better ("Venus" I think was the hit I was hitting) and I need all the visual help I can get. My chords are not better with sunnies on.

Recording oneself is an interesting thing to do sometimes.

I heard a story at the weekend about someone I know very well. The first time he got drunk was when he was in his late teens and his parents were not in town, having accompanied his younger sister to Dublin for a ballet exam. Armed with a bottle of Martini, a piano, a tape recorder and some Brahms, the evening panned out something like this

- drink some Martini
- play and record a Brahms tune
-drink some more Martini
-play that Brhams tune again...and so on, with each subsequent rendition of Brahms, presumably getting a little bit worse.
How I would love to get my hands on that tape.

Before I start looking too closely, I think there are a few files of my own I need to delete- featuring me, my guitar, my mumsy M&S jumper and my sunnies.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Brussels Sprouts

We've been seeing a bit more of Paris recently and even ventured out on the Thalys train to Brussels at the weekend!

We went to the bakers at the top of our street to pick up our pain au chocolat before going underground and heading the Belgian way. I love the bakers window. I am amazed that at 10am on a Saturday morning in February, all manner of buns, cakes, tarts, fruit pies are available. In Paris it is entirely acceptable to buy all your desserts from the bakers. If you are having people round for dinner, I imagine the guests would be slightly disappointed if you attempted to make it yourself, and having seen what is for offer in the Patisserie window I can undertand their bias. I have cooked practically nothing in the last 3.5 months. Never mind any fruit tarts!

SO, purpose of this post...we went to Brussels at the weekend!

Belgium is famous for a few things.

Hervé's adventures of Tintin being one of them, beer being the other. We briefly spotted Tintin and Snowy on the side of a building, but took it upon ourselves to find out a bit more about the beer of Belgium. Happily, you can get a Dégustation menu of beer! I particularly liked the cherry beer. Slightly sweet but not too like alcoholic cherry aid. Second from the left, I think!

We had a good wander around, and benefitted from catching up on lots of sleep in our lovely B&B. Run by a gay couple, when I asked for a map he told us that he only had the Gay Map of Brussels. I am still not too sure what the main sites in Brussels are, or indeed where they are, but I do know where to get a good sauna and some lubes.

Some of my favourite people in the world were in Brussels at the weekend...the Scouts. I have a very fond affection for the Scouts, I think because I enjoyed being a guide, read the guide handbook a lot and am overly influenced by the writings of Enid Blyton. I think there must have been some sort of rally - or jamboree, prompting the following pic! Incidentally, the crazy French pronounce scouts as "scoots", with a very tight oooo sound. Nut jobs.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Day 85 (or thereabouts)

I have been remiss in my blogging over the last year. There has been so very much to write about, but yet, I have committed so little of it to paper (virtual or otherwise!). Anyhow, by now you know I am in Paris. Roughly day 85, or 12 weeks in. We are nearly a quarter of the way there, but I certainly haven't done a quarter of the things yet that I want to do!

We went out tonight to Al Taglio, a nice little pizza place in the 11th arronidissement. We had 3 slices of pizza each, individually cut and weighed and heated up. It was a nice, neighbourly kind of place, with quite a lot of coming and going of people coming in, buying their slices and heading out.

We set out to go to a bar in the 5th arr round the corner from our flat, and were in the early stages of a slight arguement / discussion about the best way to go home when we saw a bus go past that would serve our purposes very well. We started running for it in a halfhearted kind of way, thinking we would miss it, but then we gathered speed when we saw we might be in with a chance. P started hitting the side of the bus, but coming at the bus from the opposite direction was a small French dwarf. Well, he was about my height, but about twice as wide, who had managaed to flag the bus down as it was pulling off, and then in a beautiful act of chivarly, insidted we get on first. He may well have just been getting his breath back as his physiognomy was not that of an olympic athelete, but I like to think it was good old politesse.

I know, my avid readership, that I have abandoned you over the past few weeks. However, I can promise you a new and improved blog over the coming months. Honest. Hopefully, our new fancy pants camera will be arriving soon to replace the features-obliterator that we have been toting for the past 12 weeks. The pictures it has taken have been so crap it is not even funny. Paris is too beautiful a city for it to be documented over the next 9 months through photographs with either bleached out details or orange fuzz. Hopefully I can embellish future posts with a little glimpse of Paris- fewer words, more pics, that's the way ahead.