Saturday, 31 July 2010


More and more often the local newspaper goes on about D-day, the day that France will go digital. On D-day “someone” will turn a switch somewhere, and from that day on the broadcasting of analogue TV signals will stop and will be replaced by the broadcasting of digital TV signals only. If your TV is older than a couple of years, tough. Most expats here have a satellite dish, so they will not have a problem. However, we, old-fashioned as we are, have an aerial in the attic as old as Methusalem, and an analogue TV. In order not to be deprived of France 1, 2 and 3 in the future, we went to “Boulanger”, asked for information, and went home with a decoding box of € 30 under our arm. At home we installed the box, and yes, as we had feared, no more signal.
Through the grape vine we had heard, that there was a shop in Cluny specialised in digitalisation. The same grape vine had told us, that there were various possibilities : a) our aerial was too old, b) that it was pointed at the wrong transmitter, and c) that there was too much interference of hills or forests to receive a digital signal. We made an appointment in the shop, discussed the possibilities of old or new aerials or a satellite dish, and went home. The engineer of the shop turned up on the day of the appointment, and it turned out that the guy did not even have to see the aerial. He only switched on the TV to see which channels we received, and from that he could deduce that we were pointed at Mont Saint-Vincent. They presently transmit digital and analogue; however, the digital signal is not (yet) transmitted in our direction. His advice was : wait till around D-day; if the box does not work by that time, obviously there is too much interference or too few people this way to start broadcasting in our direction. In that case Sarkozy will most likely take care, that we will get a subsidy either to have a new higher aerial or a satellite dish. So with a bit of luck, the French state might pay (partially) for our satellite dish!

The website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Practice makes perfect

After the last ceremony on the eight of May, where the Marseillaise played a prominent part, it was time for a new episode on the fourteenth of July. Everybody was gathered around the mairie, waiting for marching orders, when the flag carrier Monsieur N. whispered something in Monsieur P.’s ear. He in turn opened the boot of his car, got the new amplifier out and started prodding and poking at the back of the thing, following the whispered instructions of Monsieur N. After a short while we heard the beginning of the Marseillaise at an acceptable volume. In one word, Monsieur P. was ready for the challenge! Although ten minutes later than usual, we were ready to face the music in front of the monument, at quarter past eleven. The wreath was laid, and it was time for the obligatory speech dictated by Paris. However, this bit was skipped, and Monsieur P. asked for attention. He read out a letter he and some of his friends had written to FNAC. FNAC is a big French chain, which recently had written out a photo competitition. The winning photograph in the catagory “Politically incorrect” had been one of a young guy, trousers down on his ankles, wiping his behind with the French Tricolore. This sort of thing does not go down very well in Sarko’s France, and it certainly did not go down well with Monsier P. He ended his speech with the words “And I am curious to read their answer”, after which we indulged in a shortened version of the Marseillaise.
In the mean time the "Journal Officiel" has published a decree instigated by Michèle Alliot-Marie (Minister of justice), whereby an insult of the French flag is punishable with a fine of max. € 1500. Monsieur P. should be a bit more careful in the future; before you know it, fooling around with the Marseillaise could become a crime as well!

For our own website click here.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Say cheese, please

What could possibly be wrong with French cheese, to invoke me to write a Blog about Dutch cheese? There is certainly nothing wrong with French cheese, even better, I love it, but what they sell in the supermarkets as Dutch cheese here (Gouda, Edam, Leerdam) resembles putty, or at best plastic. Everybody has sometimes, all of a sudden, a craving for a good strong cheese, in case of the British a nice hard cheddar.
One day we were having lunch in Cluny, in our favourite hang-out, when the lady who ran the show came to us, told us about two Dutch women who had set up shop in Cluny’s Saturday market, and gave us a flyer.
The next Saturday, not 100 % convinced yet, we went looking for these two women. Opposite the ticket office for the abbey, on a little square, we found them.
Suus en Paula van der Linden are living in France for some time now, sell on various markets around here, sell cheese from their place as well, and from the look of it, they are doing quite well. Their cheeses are selling like hot buns, and even the Brits are impressed with the variety of cheeses they are selling. And the sell not only cow’s cheese, no, they also sell sheep’s and goat’s cheeses.
Not just to support Suus and Paula, but also to help our French, Dutch and Anglophone friends, we have picked up a handful of flyers from Suus and Paula, and we are distributing those among them. We have also put flyers in the information folders we use for the gîtes and the campsite. That this sort of publicity works, may be deduced from the piece of cheese we got off them the other day when we went to buy some cheese. And really, believe me or not, that is not why we are doing it!

For our own website click here.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Back to the future

Since I started this blog I have already written so many articles about the various ceremonies around here, that I have created a separate label for those pieces. Those interested in the continuing story of Monsieur P. and our mayor, and the struggle with modern technology of those two, can click on the label “Ceremony” in the right hand menu.
The call to arms of General de Gaulle in which he ordered the French to take up arms against the Germans in stead of collaborating with Pétain and his gang 70 years ago was celebrated big time this year in France. We were rather curious how the ceremony at Bois Dernier would go this year. Would Monsieur P. be able to handle the brand new amplifier, or would he again require the assistance of the flag carrier Monsieur N.?
Around six thirty in the evening an extremely small group had gathered near the Mairie. It was really only a handful of people, which surprised us in view of the 70 years celebration of the event. Even the thriving force behind it, Monsieur P. was not there. Anyway, what had to be done had to be done, Monsieur P. or no Monsieur P. We were spread over fewer cars than normal, and the co-voiturage equippe drove off to Bois Dernier. To our relief we saw that Monsieur P. was already there, his car parked near the monument. After the wreath laying was done and after the mayor had read the speech from “Paris”, Monsieur P. asked one of the youngest pompiers, a girl in her early teens, to read out De Gaulle’s words. After this had been accomplished, it was time for the musical closure of the ceremony.

We were completely baffled when Monsieur P. walked to his car, opened the boot, and revealed to us his pre-historic cassette player. As if it had never been away, it churned out a shrieking, howling and crackling rendition of General de Gaulle’s speech (very authentic!), a ditto version of the Chant des Partisans and the best version of the Marseillaise ever played (apart from the one in Casablanca of course).
May we draw the conclusion that Monsieur P. has given up when it comes to modern technology? Time will tell....

For our own website click here.