Phew. It's certainly nice to be back home after a week away in France, somewhere down near the banks of the river Loire.
I'll do a proper post at some point, but in the meantime here are a few thoughts / observations from the last seven days:
-> New St. Pancras looks great, but service at the champagne bar (Europe's longest, apparently) is very slow. (I also harbour suspicions that it was their roast beef sandwich that gave me the tummy bug that has followed me around for much of the last week. Grr.)
-> nice uniforms on the staff though, even if they do look like the coldest people on earth
-> Eurostar is a great way to travel and far less hassle than flying
-> (not very insightful this) Paris is a beautiful city
-> (nor this one) The French sure do know how to cook. Our restaurant ("L'AOC") is superb
-> not impressed by the Impressionists at the Musee d'Orsay
-> ....but very taken with a huge sculpture of a polar bear
-> the countryside between Paris and the Loire is flat and almost entirely featureless
-> ....but their train service is fantastic. East Midland trains this is not.
-> oysters may look like snot, but they taste great
-> cellared wine is sometimes absolutely delicious, but sometimes it's a bit too much. Perhaps my palate has been ruined by £3.99 bottles from the Coop?
-> Seasonal beer from a trappist monastery? Now we're talking
-> C's mum is an ace cook...
-> ...but Xmas dinner is done by C's dad and is superb
-> Christmas pudding made from brioche is very rich but also surprisingly light
-> I really need some exercise
-> The banks of the Loire are a great place for a run
-> or four....
-> I don't know what this says about the relative fitness of people in Orleans and people in Nottingham, but I see more people out running on the Loire on Christmas day than I ever do down by the Trent
-> The French have a strange fetish for small dolls of Father Christmas that they hang outside their houses. They're all a bit Stephen King, to be honest....
-> "Das Boot" by Lothar-Gunther Bucheim is a gripping and claustrophobic novel. I really must watch the film sometime
-> "Time for Bed" by David Baddiel is still quite funny, 10 years after I first read it
-> ....but neither can hold a candle to "Moon Palace" by Paul Auster
-> family are great, but I think I'd rather spend Christmas with my friends
-> She's in excellent hands, I know, but I miss my cat
-> Doctor Who is really awful. The Xmas special this year is (in my opinion) derivative rubbish. The Emperor isn't wearing any clothes. It's only 70 minutes long and it still feels like they're spinning it out
-> Flash's new album is actually really good. Properly good. Seriously. Give it a listen.
-> proper headphones are brilliant. What a great prezzie
-> I like getting presents, but I genuinely prefer giving them than receiving them
-> I don't expect gratitude either - it's just nice to pick something out for someone and then see them (hopefully) get a kick out of receiving it.
-> ...that said, there are some ungrateful sods out there, family included.... especially family
-> French radio is weird - every second song has to be French, and they seem stuck in a musical timewarp where all that cod-rock guitar from the 80s is still cool
-> They're also obsessed with James Blunt
-> although, to be fair, Telephone are quite good
-> I must have needed to catch up on my sleep. I'm getting about 12 hours a night
-> It's cold
-> Open wood fires in massive grates are very, very soothing
-> ...so is vin chaud
-> cutting a wedge of goat's cheese across the middle to take all of the cheese and leave everyone else the rind is rude, selfish and ignorant. Don't think I didn't notice
-> I really shouldn't have watched the news. Very depressing - I'm not sure why Fiona Bruce is smirking at the news of Bhutto's assassination, for starters
-> time to go home. The trains in France are painless, but there are no direct trains from London to Nottingham, so we return via Grantham. Sigh.
-> Sleeping in your own bed is ace
I could go on.
But I won't.
If I get time, I'm going to try and put the Earworms of the Year up on Friday this week. Thanks for all the nominations so far.... but it's not too late to cast your votes. Details are here, and emails to the address in my profile please.
If I don't see you before, Happy New Year to one and all. Let's hope 2008 is a good one, eh?
War is over if you want it.
My A to Z of cycling
5 days ago