Friday, 25 September 2009

Holiday Miscellany

Yes, this is the staggeringly photogenic village we stayed in for a week. Stunning, old-world charm, all that Guide Verte palaver. And, much to my surprise, at no point did we stumble across a Boden photo-shoot complete with toothily beaming blondes in casual slouchy moleskin trousers and jaunty Fair-Isle tanktop playing boules with toothless old men ("Amelia: My favourite colour is : The colour of my boyfriend's wallet!").
HOWEVER there are several drawbacks to the exquisite charms of a mediaeval village that the cautious traveller should know about. Firstly, I defy you to try manoeuvring any vehicle larger than a skateboard through those picturesque arches. I spent many a happy hour leaning out of the passenger side of our hired Renault Sardine-Tin tucking the wing-mirror in and yelling "You're fine... you're fine... seriously, you've got at least two inches here...". And this is a left-hand drive hire-car, so I'm feeling strangely empowered by sitting on the side I always think of (at home) as The Seat Of Power, and getting all bossy as a result. At one point as we went the giddyingly "wrong" way round a roundabout (yes, of course it was the right way for France, it just felt wrong) I said "Mind the kerb!" once too often, prompting Mr F to say (for the first time ever) "Oh please just leave me alone" in a tone of utter exhaustion.
Another drawback was the fact that, while it did indeed boast (yes, boast) two boulangeries, a butcher and a general store, all of these were MASSIVELY overpriced, because they were well aware that any and all visitors to their bijou hamlet were going to be not only well-heeled but also unable to get anywhere else in a hurry. We cheated our way round it by heading for the gigantic LeClerc supermarket every morning to stock up on reasonably priced loo-roll etc (I swear, around £1.25 in the supermarket, somewhere around £4 for four rolls of basic in the shop. For that price I'd want it hand-hemmed in lace by Belgian nuns).
I should point out we did, in fact, have a lovely time. Apart from the two days where it rained nearly horizontally, forcing us indoors off the sunny grapevine-bedecked terrace and into the tiny sitting-room, where the only TV channels were English (which in itself tells you a lot about the main holiday lets they do), and found ourselves watching "The Hairy Bikers Do Wales" or something similar. But apart from those two days of strangely deja-vu British-style cottage holiday-ness, it was fantastic. Our main concern (apart from the extraordinary muscularity of the Euro; HOW MUCH?????) was how to get through a bottle of Calvados in a week so as not to leave any behind or to make the concierge think we were alcoholics by leaving an empty bottle (we snuck it out and hid it in a bin).

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Turn on, tune in, get tetchy

Technology is very unforgiving to the sizeable proportion of the population who can't afford to upgrade to a widescreen TV, or HD TV, or Blu-Ray, etc etc etc. I was watching something or other last night and realised, at a vital point in the plot where a RELEVANT PIECE OF INFORMATION was shown, I could only see the middle section because the picture was cut off at the sides. I got unreasonably grumpy about this, and actually found myself making "Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells" noises out loud - along the lines of "Well! They'd better not think I'm going to rush out and buy some vastly expensive piece of widescreen kit just because they're bullying me into it, oh no."... more or less what I was saying 15-20 years ago (my memory is hazy) about upgrading from vinyl/cassette to CD. However. It does have some diverting side-effects, such as the fact that the onscreen guide can't fit long programme titles side by side, so overlaps them. Curious hybrids we have sadly been unable to to watch include:

Real Housewives Of The Bill
Britain's Sexiest Newsnight
The X-Files: I Want To Meet The Fockers
Three Men And a Little Taxi Driver
I Know What You Did In Bruges
Slap Her, She's Being John Malkovitch
The Lion, The Witch, And Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Shrek (an all-star cast in that one!)

And, doubtless, many many more. (late addition: here are some of them)
Sleeping With Dirt
Churchill's Antiques Roadshow
Unseen Russia For God's Sake
Masterchef The Hairy Gary Rhodes
Holy Warriors: Richard The Disappearing
Oblivion: The Ten Biggest Hits Of The 90s
Liar Liar The Bachelor
I Now Pronounce You Chuck And The Breakfast Club

Unfortunately since the remote (or, as we and many millions of others call it, "the doofer") has pretty much ceased to work, we may be forced into buying a giant flat slab of LCD and hang it on the wall as if it's some kind of artwork. Sigh.