Best Coffee Ever and other short stories

As it appears I have taken to journalising some of the more interesting moments of my holiday, I figured I’d take a moment this evening to jot down some of the bits that perhaps don’t warrant posts of their own.

Given the exceedingly good weather we’ve had over the past few days, the majority of our time has been sent sunning ourselves by the pool, however we have ventured out and about briefly.

French McDonalds and a Hyper-U

Our first short story takes place on the day of our trip to Oradour-ser-Glane, the site of a Nazi massacre during WW2. I’ve previously blogged about it, but didn’t mention our trip to McDonalds en Francais, and the Hyper-U.

The McDonalds is, as you would expect pretty similar to the McDonalds at home, but there were a few different items on the menu, including the 280 Burger (which was my choice) and the California Burger.

One of the most different parts was the table service. In McDonalds at home, you collect your food from the counter, yet in France, they bring it to you.

One of the other things we did that day was a trip to the Hyper-U. The Hyper-U was the biggest french super market I think I’ve ever been to. We plan to find another one tomorrow, so stay tuned for more information on French supermarkets…

Brantome and Not Kayaking

We’ve also recently taken a trip around a traditional French market, and then on to Brantome, where we Kayaked (sp?) and then had lunch.

I say we kayaked, I actually mean the majority of the rest of the group kayaked. I attempted to, but fate conspired against me, and I had to retire early.

This in itself is easier said than done. As it turned out, I had to abandon the kayak at the top of a wear, before casting the kayak down the wear, followed by the paddle, in order for another member of our party to embark the kayak and take it round the rest of the course.

I then had to swim from the wear across the river to climb out the other side of the river.

I’d like it to sound like I’m some kind of intrepid explorer, but in truth, it was a bit of a farce… As you can see below:


Following our exciting kayak adventure, we had lunch at a charming riverside cafe in Brantome. I had ‘Strasbourg Sausage’ which turned out to be a couple of hot dogs with sautéed potatoes and a side salad. It was delicious, but the uncontested highlight of the meal was a cafe au lait, which I have dubbed the BEST COFFEE EVER!!!!

It was genuinely the best coffee I have ever had.

Like ever.

French Fishing

To be honest, I don’t think there was anything particularly french about the fishing, other than the fact we were in France.

The Gite (sp?) we are staying in has its own fishing lake, which apparently holds over 1000 fish. Not that we caught any.

But it was a new experience, and one I enjoyed greatly.

We used peices of bread and old pizza as bait (this may explain why we didn’t catch anything, but the proprietor assured us it was ok!) and after a quick crash course we were casting out.

It may not have been the most exciting of fishing trips, but the company was good, and the weather (a large thunderstorm on the horizon) was incredible.

While nothing was caught, it was a lovely way to spend a couple of hours, and made a nice change from our usual evening routine of chit chat and board games or movies.

This holiday has seen a few new experiences now, for example, trying an Escargot which although not as horrid as first appear, is still an experience I don’t want to repeat too soon; and a growing fondness for red wine, which I am repeating nearly every night!

I sign off with four full holiday days remaining, and while I’m not ready for the inevitable return to work, I do feel more relaxed than I have done in a very long time.

I expect that by saturday morning, when we are setting off, we’ll be glad to be returning home, but also a little sad that our holiday is over.

I may sneak in another diary type entry of a blog post in before the end of the holiday; but if not, I plan on writing a brief review of the three or four books I’ve completed on my trip.

Until then, ta ta.

A Post Script, of sorts.

Technically, anything written digitally (blog posts, emails, and the like) doesn’t really require a post script as we know it, but here’s one anyway.

Below is the definition of a moment, stolen from the internet, that my good friend Matt has asked me to add. There is no real reason for this:

At last, a question to which a precise answer can be given! In the middle ages, an hour was considered to be made up of 40 minutes, with each minute divided into 40 moments. Disregarding the elastic notions of time then prevailing, and allowing 3,600 modern seconds to the hour, that gives us 90 seconds to each minute.

Comic book museum and The Couriers

So yesterday, my friends and I visited the Musée de la bande dessinée, put simply, a comic book museum.

Those of you who know me will know that over the past year I have slowly but surely been getting into reading comic books and graphic novels.

Spurred on be the recent influx of comic book films (your Batmans, Avengers and so on, as well as the likes of Sin City) my comic book readings started with some of the classics of the genre, the likes of Watchmen, as well as some of the more well known Marvel and DC titles, such as Batman: Year One.

So a sunny day in Angouleme saw the twelve of us descending the town’s hill side, down a slightly treacherous path leading to the town’s Paper and Comic book museums. Fortunately, for at least some of the members of our group, the paper museum was shut for lunch, meaning that at least for the day, we missed out on the exciting world of paper manufacturing.

Thankfully the comic book museum remained open and, for the reasonable price of €7 each, we spent an hour or two exploring a pretty awesome museum, which, as you might have guessed, I really rather enjoyed!

The museum started with an exhibit on the Moomin, a comic and TV show I remembered from my youth. I won’t lie to you, the Moomin used to freak me out! However, it was interesting looking at the exhibit, and translating what I could from the French descriptions.

The main area of the museum was a more detailed look at the history of comic books, listing the likes of Mad Magazine, Tin Tin, and of course, given that Angouleme is its birth place, the Asterix comics.

This section was right up my street, and it was even better given that there were cards with English descriptions, rather than French. One section even impressed me so much that, later that evening, I visited and purchased a copy of Maus, a graphic novel  based on the Nazi concentration camps, with Cats playing the Nazis, and Mice playing the Jews.

On the whole, the trip to Anglouleme, and the comic museum, will probably go down as one of my favourite days of the trip, and inspired me to pick up the Graphic novel I brought with me to France, The Couriers.

The story depicts the near-future world of New York City where two gun toting couriers deliver questionable goods by questionable means. Very heavily influenced by the Hong Kong style of cinema and Japanese manga style comics, The Couriers is an action driven graphic novel that returns the artform of comic books to its pulp/action oriented stories, albeit with an updated modern feel.

I pretty much devoured the relatively thick graphic novel, which has four stories from The Couriers time line: The Couriers, Dirtbike Manifesto, The Ballard of Johnny Funwrecker, and Couscous Express.

Ballard was probably my favourite of the four, showing the origins of the two protagonists and showing how an origin story can be done correctly, adding insight to characters you already know, and filling in a couple of blanks in the their histories.

The Couriers is a book I highly recommend. It has a unique art style that, at first, I feared I wouldn’t enjoy, (I tend to stay away from monochrome in favour of a more colourful palette) yet I found myself drawn in to the hustle and bustle of the New York streets, and the action sequences certainly weren’t dampened for want of colour.

The Couriers is a great example of how comic books and graphic novels can thrive, away from the overshadowing Marvel and DC universes. In this case, Image is the publisher, and The Couriers is another reason why they are fast becoming my favourite.

Spurred on by our trip the museum, I intend to blog about/review more comics and graphic novels as soon as I get my hands on them. In fact, if all goes to plan, there will be a list in the side bar of things you can expect to see reviewed very soon.

So, I will sign off this half diary post, half review, and leave you with encouragement to read more, and go to more museums!


Today I visited Oradour-sur-Glane.

Oradour-sur-Glane is the site of one of the worst, if not the worst, Nazi atrocity to take place in France during the Second World War.

On 10th June, 1944, Waffen-SS troops, acting in retaliation of local resistance activities, including the kidnapping of a high ranking SS member entered the village, capturing its inhabitants before brutally murdering 642 men, women, and children.

Today, under the orders of French President Charles De Gaulle, Oradour-ser-Glane stands much the same as it did on that fateful day in 1944; cars are left in the street, the shells of burnt out buildings still stand, and even the tram rails lay in the streets.

The only thing missing, is life.

Despite the building of a new Oradour-sur-Glane but a stones throw away from the site of the massacre, the Villiage Martyr stands quiet. Left as a memorial for all those lost through atrocities carried out by the Nazis, and many others, Oradour-sur-Glane has an ethereal quality to it.

Aside from the tourists, there is no life. There is no sound. Anywhere else in the world, out in the country side, you can hear the birds chirping, or see them soaring through the sky. In Oradour-sur-Glane, there were no such sights.

Oradour-sur-Glane has been left as a time capsule of sorts. A pocket of the 1940s, of war time Europe, left as a reminder for our generation, and the next, of what can happen when the wrong people are given the reigns of power.

Much can, and has, been written about making sure we don’t repeat our mistakes, but if a picture speaks a thousand words, then a walk down the main high street of the Martyred villages shouts volumes.

We must never forget those who fought and died for the freedoms we experience today.

We must never forget those that were persecuted and killed in the Concentrations camps.

We must never forget all of the other innocents, mere bystanders in a world that burst into flames around them. Those who suffered in London, and Sheffield, and all the other cities that were attacked in the blitz; those who suffered in turn in Dresden and the other cities who felt the wrath of Britain and America as the tide began to turn the other way.

We must never forget those in places like Stalingrad, who saw their livelihoods and families decimated, and those in all the other theatres of war, in conflicts and skirmishes, those who have suffered at the hands of dictators and despots, and those that have simply had the misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

We must never forget the 190 men, 247 women, and 205 children who died at Oradour-sur-Glane.

Support your local drama club

Firstly, thanks for taking some time to read this, for my first post, I wanted to talk about something exciting.

Some of you know that I am part of a local amdram group in South Bucks. We’re volunteer run, and the majority of our membership are kids. We run two shows a year, one in the summer, and one just after Christmas.

Our Christmas panto pretty much funds our year, as we get little other income barring subs, and we’re already in full production.

This year we’re doing Robin Hood; I will be playing Little John.

As always, we’re looking for new ways to boost our ticket sales, and we found this site:

Basically, it allows us to post ONCE to your Twitter/Facebook a predetermined message to your friends/followers. If possible, if any of you wanted to sign up, that would be excellent. I know Geographically, most of you aren’t going to be in and around the area, so instead I ask that you find a local group and go to their shows when ever you can.

Our group genuinely helps people, we cater for all ages and abilities from Performing arts students, to people with special needs and so on.

There are groups like this all over the country, so if you can support your local group please do.

If you are local to my area (Iver Heath/Slough/Uxbridge/Buckinghamshire) do sign up to the link I posted above. It’ll help boost ticket sales, and please do buy a ticket or two, especially if you have children/neices and nephews etc.

I’ll leave you with a pic from panto last year, where I played an ugly sister (I’m the taller, better looking one!), just to show you how much this means to me.

Find us on Facebook here: TICKETS GO ON SALE TOMORROW!!

Thanks for reading!