A series of anecdotes with or without any connection to the running of a restaurant.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Today, I got in the car to go to a refrigeration company nearby to have a look a new undercounter fridge. Just about five miles away. My friend, Didier gave me the instructions. Off I went...

And, guess what? Yes, I got lost...

After 15 minutes of looking around for my final destination, I gave up, left my car at the entrance of a woodland park and followed a sign...

(Click on the photos to enlarge them.)

And tomorrow afternoon, I will be on one of those heading for the Spanish sun, food and wine...

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Saturday, May 19, 2007


Today, a friend of mine sent me the above photo.

It was taken when we were eight years old, which in old money makes it forty-six years ago!!

Being the inquisitive kind, I am sitting third from the right, leaning forward trying to fathom out how the camera worked.

Most of the kids in the class were French but for 7 of us. Well, it is not scritcly true because, Algeria at the time was considered another département français, so we too were "French".
The only difference was that our ancestors were Algerians and the others Europeans, mainly French.

It was taken during the Algerian war of independence from France which ended in July 1962. In the seven years it raged, one and half million people lost their lives and many were left maimed. Papa, who is now 86 suffered a great deal. He was arrested in 1956 for supporting the freedom fighters, sent to various concentration camps on the edge of the Sahara, then exiled from our home département for three years.

A school photo should bring back happy memories. The friend who sent me this one lives near Marseille (France).
Despite the hard times, all I can really remember is a totally idyllic childhood thanks to a wonderful mother.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Favourite subject...

Don't you love it when the weather forecast goes wrong!

I am sure that most of you remember when Michael Fish, in his now infamous broadcast told viewers: "Earlier on today apparently a lady rang the BBC and said she heard that there was a hurricane on the way. Well, don’t worry if you’re watching, there isn’t."
And guess what? A hurricane uproots trees and causes havoc in the South!

April was so warm most of my winter clothes got stowed away by the thirtieth. Every night before I go to bed I feel like fishing out some of my woolly jumpers just in case we wake up to ten inches of snow...

Last night I went to see "Next" a Nicholas Cage film where he can see the future, well just ten minutes ahead.
But ten minutes are ten minutes!
In the UK, they are the difference between getting soaking wet or dying of dehydration! (Yeah, right... dream on... Slight exaggeration...)

Now, where am I going with this post?
I haven't got the foggiest!
I just wanted to waffle a little, just long enough so you don't wear out your monitors looking at my beautiful photo taken with my beautiful new camera...

More of the same coming up in my Arty Farty blog...

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

New camera...

This morning, I received my new camera. A Sony Cybershot like the one used by Merisi.
Merisi takes beautiful photos of Viennese life.

Taking great photos is not just about owning a good camera. Anyone can point and shoot. It takes great taste, skill and art to take photos that stand out from the rest.
Sometimes one can enhance dull but interesting photos using various programs. I took the above photo just to test the new camera. The reflection of clouds on the water. I was about to delete it when I decided to doctor it using Corel Painter.
I love the sea. The incessant movement of the water, the boats, the sounds of seagulls.
Most of our customers ask for window tables to watch the yachts bob up and down while dining.
Al fresco dining is a luxury that does not occur very often up North and it is understandable that one ray of sunshine brings diners flocking to the tapas bar terrace.

Is al fresco dining something you like doing?

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Monday, May 14, 2007

A storm in a teacup...

A friend of mine insists on making tea the old fashioned way.


-Boils the kettle once

-Pours some boiling water into the teapot

-Tops up the kettle and boils it again

-Places the teabags into the emptied pot

-Pours the boiled water over the teabags

-Places a tea cosy over the teapot

-Wait for a certain amount of time before serving the tea...

According to him, I do it the "heathen way" because I don't come from a tea-loving country. Hah!

Little does he know that I was weaned on mint tea...

Moi, on the other hand...

-Boil the kettle

-Place a teabag into my mug

-Pour the boiled water over the bag

-Add the milk

-Stir until I get the right colour (This tells me it is exactly how I like it.)

-Squeeze and discard the bag...

Last week he challenged me to try the two methods side by side just to see his was the best.

I did and I was happier with mine. His son and wife agreed.

He moaned that I had used one of his better Yorkshire teabags. I honestly think I have shattered one of his long-held traditions but am sure that he will never give up his ritual. How can an ignorant camel herd know better!

How do you make your cuppa?

Any other rituals?

The drawing shows what I may have looked like at 21...


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Friday, May 11, 2007

Illustration Friday...

I am enjoying Illustration Friday so much that I would like to share with you this week's contribution in my Arty Farty Blog "Just Another Peace Artist" ...
This digital "painting" was done using Corel Painter and a Wacom Tablet.
The subject was CITRUS.

"When fate hands you a lemon, make lemonade."
Dale Carnegie

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Seeds of change...

I have been playing truant from work…
Actually, Wednesday evenings, I do not usually go down to the restaurants. My bookkeeper hogs my office so I often venture in later. But for the last two weeks, I have been skiving.
And I have discovered The Apprentice!

It is such a good laugh! It started about six weeks ago with sixteen hopefuls. The purpose of the program is to end up with one Apprentice who is given a job in Alan Sugar’s business. At the end of each episode, Alan Sugar sacks one of the young contestants.

Last week the task was to sell British produce in Arras Market (France). The guy who got the sack, an ex-army lieutenant had made the stupidest decision of buying massive slabs of Cheddar cheese from a cash and carry and trying to flog it in France, a country that boasts more than 400 regional cheeses. He then tried to cook some sausages on a hopeless scout contraption he made out of a tin of beans.

This week, the task was to buy ten items for less than the asking price. Among other things to purchase were Nigella seeds. I do agree that these may not be the most obvious things to know. None of the contestants had any idea what they were.
They ended up running around London streets, scouring ethnic shops and cash and carries for these elusive seeds.

I may sound a bit smug but could they not have used the internet to find out what the bloody things were before they even got into the car?

A little common sense goes a long way!

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Seven random things about me...

Spanish Goth has tagged me even though he knows that, just like him I am not that keen on these memes...

1-I have been trying to learn to play the guitar since the age of 12. I am still crap! I try for a little while and then give up because my fingers hurt. The only thing I can "play" very badly is a little bit of El Concierto de Aranjuez.

2-I can live on salads for weeks on end. A massive bowlful of lettuce, fennel, celery, apple, tomatoes, grilled peppers, olives, radish, etc... with grilled chicken, smoked mackerel, or tuna...

3-I cannot do just one thing at a time. I have to be active because I worry I am wasting time even when I am wasting time. I can watch the telly, doodle, listen to music and drink tea all at the same time. When I go to the loo, I always read something or do a sudoku... Tick-tock-tick-tock....

4-Although I hate cleaning my car, I did just that for the first time in two years this Sunday because I was bored out my brains. I found £4.75 in change, 7 pens, a packet of chewing gum and 4 pairs of sunglasses...

5-I am forever daydreaming. Even at very important meetings I doodle and look out of the window in the same way I used to do when I was at school.

6- I celebrated 22 years in business last Friday. "May the fourth be with you!" has always been my motto since 1985.

7-I would love to sell the lot and head back to the Med, buy a country house in France, become a real artist (rather than the "peace artist" I am) and learn to play the guitar properly.

As per usual, I do not tag people so, anyone who wants to reveal seven random things about themselves, please feel free to be tagged.

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Saturday, May 05, 2007


When I went to France in January to help my friend Didier in his search for a French home, we viewed a dozen or so potential properties.

One was a renovated castle owned by a couple of Irishmen in their sixties. The place was immaculate inside and out with many rooms that looked like film sets.

Another was a half renovated house put up for sale by its English owners unable to finish it after running out of money.

Each of the houses we visited, from the quaint to the grandiose had its own charm, its own story to tell.

One had a sad look about it.

It was located in a small village in the Lot.

The owner, a retired solicitor who now lived in Paris, used it as his summer home. The accompanying estate agent explained that the old man, now in his nineties had been born and grown up in that house.

After boarding school he spent his military service in Africa. When he returned he practiced law, first in the village and then later, having married a Parisian woman, in the French capital.

He insisted on spending the summers in his native village. His butler always came a few days ahead, opened up the house and prepared it for his master's arrival. Everything had to be exactly where it had been left at the end of the previous August.

As we walked from room to room we marvelled at the exquisite antiques furnishing them. Some of the ornate wallpaper peeled off the walls in many of the rooms.

One room, the lawyer’s childhood bedroom oozed sorrow.

It had remained untouched for over sixty years, set exactly as it was when he left for boarding school.

Dusty books, toys, African artefacts…
An old wooden high chair…
A single bed with a greying wrought iron headboard.
A marble hand basin.
A room with so much history it transported me back to my own childhood and the farmhouse we left for the town.

It stirred up forgotten memories. Happy and sad. A wave of nostalgia enveloped me.

The whole house exuded sadness, longing, emptiness.

Memories past.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Cry Freedom...

At seventeen, I became what the French call "Un moniteur de colonies de vacances" something like a summer camp supervisor.
Most companies usually sent their employees young children free of charge to summer camp for three weeks at a time.
I, among other students of my age went on a two-week "moniteur" course, passed the exam and was awarded a diploma allowing me to supervise children in these camps.

My first camp was in a beautiful seaside town, El Kala in North East Algeria.
We were housed in a school. The classrooms had been turned into dormitories each housing seven or eight children and their Moniteur. The sponsor being a nationalised mining company could only offer a no-frill package for its employees children. Just the bare minimum. The food was just passable but none of us minded. We were happy to go to the beach at least once a day, long walks in late afternoon and play games and sing around camp fires in the evening.

Those were some of the best, carefree holidays I have ever had.

I played moniteurs three summers on the trot. Not a worry in the world and I was getting paid to have a good time!

Why Ché?
At the time, Algeria's socialist authorities did not allow foreign goods into the country and though a healthy contreband thrived, designer clothes still cost an arm and a leg.
That summer while at camp, I made my own designer t-shirt by drawing him with black felt tip pen.

Have you ever had a budget holiday that turned out to be memorable?

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Doodling away...

Akelamalu tagged me to do a Jackson Pollock doodle.

So I decided to give it the Cream treatment and turn out something complicated. Only because I have a very complicated mind.
I will not tag anyone but go on have half an hour of fun.

When you've finished your masterpiece, print the screen then paste it on a painting program. I messed about with mine then uploaded it.

Can you see what it represents?

HINT: I think it comes from my student days.

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