Monday, August 29, 2005

Disorientation

Have you noticed that more and more blog sites recognise who you are and greet you with cosy messages in the side bar?
"Welcome Ashley Megral, You can help the marketing drive/ war effort / eliminate poverty, click here to donate."
The other day I clicked on a blog that not only knew my name but also told me how I could meet other singles in Pessac-sur-Dordogne.
Pessac-sur-Dordogne? I have no idea where that is, probably not very far from here because I'm quite near Pessac and I'm not too far from the Dordogne (river and département). I'm sure the village must exist.... Oh, okay then hold on and I'll google it. .............
Just as I thought. Village about 75km from here with a population of 475. ( I suspect that most single people in Pessac-sur-Dordogne are octogenarians and certainly nothing like the fictitious, nubile young things in the photographs I was invited to click on, but that's another issue.)
My question is: how did the blog get the idea that that is where I live? My computer is obviously sending out the wrong message, and the wrong longitude and latitude to boot. To check this, I went to someone else's sitemeter and looked for myself. Yup, the rest of the blogging world thinks I live in a village I had never heard of until yesterday. Can anyone tell me how to rectify this? Is this info set by my ISP or by me?
If you'd like to know whether or not your computer is disoriented too, click on the N° of visitors in my sidebar, then click on details and then click on the first in the list (that should be you).


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Friday, August 26, 2005

The end is nigh.


Monkey boy
Monkey boy, originally uploaded by Lezzles.

This is our last weekend of relative freedom. The children go back to nursery school, or in E's case start nursery school, next week. I don't think I'm ready.

How on earth will we manage to get two comatose bodies up washed and dressed at 7H30 when they wake up naturally at 9H30? I can't find the indelible pen I need to write their names in their clothes. I haven't bought anything to give them for their mid-morning snack - what they call their goüter and what kids in Scotland call (used to call?) their playpiece.

My own Mum was pretty health conscious for her time and our playpiece was often a couple of digestive bisuits or a piece of bread spread with some Dairylea cheese, or maybe a shiny apple. My brother and I ate these wholesome offerings surreptitiously in a corner while our luckier classmates scoffed packets of crips and curly wurlies (remember them?) washed down with cremola foam. So now, for my own children, I try to go for the healthy, but not conspiciously healthy, snack - not an easy task.

In France, nursery school is called "La Maternelle", undoubtedly because getting little children there in a presentable state is so much work and worry for their mummies.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Secret reading

Conversation at the park.

S: Did you do any reading over the summer?
Me: Yes, loads.
[My mind goes completely blank and I can't remember the titles or authors of any of the many books I've read over the past couple of months. All I can remember is the title of a book I vaguely remember reading last year]
Me: I read "Le Secret" by that author, you know...... it's the story of a Jewish boy growing up during the war, and there's a secret in his past.
[I realise that I can't remember a single thing about the plot or the characters in "Le Secret"].
Me: Maybe the author's name was Levy. Not Marc Levy but another Levy.
S: Maybe.
Silence.
S. returns to reading the latest Le Clézio.

The book I was grasping for is actually entitled "Un Secret" and it was written by Philippe Grimbert. I thoroughly recommend it but I have no recollection of why, as unfortunately although Amazon.fr was able to provide the title and author, it doesn't provide a synopsis that might similarly jog my memory.

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Alter Ego

If ...when...I change the url of this blog I'm going to call myself Ashely Megral. Why? Because it's an anagram of my real name. If you'd like to create your own nom de plume, pop over to Jean Véronis' Technologies du Langage: Récré: Générez vos noms de plume. On second thoughts, maybe Hally Greesam is more me, or should that be less me? What about Sheryl Lagame then?

Monday, August 22, 2005

Another nifty thing to do with Flickr


magazine-image, originally uploaded by Lezzles.

Make your own Magazine Cover

PS. I lied about the "to do" list. I can do that because I am still on holiday.

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Sunday, August 21, 2005

Done, doing, to do.

My brain is still in holiday mode so you're not going to get anything more than a glorified list for this post (who am I kidding, my brain is always in holiday mode). Okay then, maybe two glorified lists.

Things I forgot to tell you I'd done on holiday:
1. Went to Gretna Green for the very first time - a bit like Las Vegas but with pipers and tartan and without the fun.
2. Happened upon the Gala Day in Gatehouse of Fleet and listened to a one-man band play some rocking Proclaimers, Status Quo etc. covers
3. Went to Edinburgh for the day ON MY OWN to consult a 19th Century manuscript for a paper I'm giving in October. Phoned the library the day before to make sure it would be open and they didn't need advance notice for the MS. No problem on either count said the wee man who answered. Arrived at the library around 12H30 the next day to discover that the librarian was just leaving: she only works mornings and yes, you do need to give advance notice to consult MSs. It felt just like being back in France.
4. Spent the rest of the day wandering around Edinburgh through Fringe acts handing out fliers (am I getting old or are they getting more puerile?), saw the Scottish Parliament for the first time and was impressed. Popped into the gift shop at Holyrood Palace and was nauseated by the array of oh-so-tasteful royal memorabilia with names like "The Clarence House Collection". Walked up the Royal Mile and past the High Church of St Giles
5. Watched the TV coverage of Robin Cook's funeral in St Giles two days later. Another good one gone.

Things I've done since we got back:
1. Been to Ikea twice. Once to buy a new "princess" bed for E. and once for the obligatory taking back and waiting in long queue to change the bit that was the wrong size.
2. Had a "family menu" in MacDonald’s. That's a Big Mac meal for Daddy, a salad and a diet coke for Mummy, and two Happy meals for the children. Have you ever felt demographically bog standard?
3. Shivered on the beach at Sanguinet: it turned out to be not such a beautiful day.
4. Caught up on a lot of blogs and left several comments. Why isn't there a blog tool for following comments one has left elsewhere?
5. Had friends round to dinner and made Thai chicken in coconut sauce.
6. Cut back drastically on alcohol consumption in a desperate bid to shake off the 4kg (yes 4kg) I put on over the holidays. Have also foregone all chocolate.
7. Took Z. to the ENT specialist who now recommends surgically inserting permanent grommets for his chronic glue ear. He's only four but has already had three minor ops for the same thing over the past 18 months. The only problem is that the permanent grommets have to be surgically removed in 2/3 years' time and that there is a 20% risk of the ear drum not healing spontaneously after this. What a dilemma. I kind of lost faith in the ENT man when, in the next breath, he recommended a 3-week stay in a health spa in the Pyrenees as also being very effective (this just after he had re-explained that it's basically an anatomical problem involving immature Eustachian tubes not working properly). Oh yes, and he's not only the specialist, he's the surgeon too and he picks up the cheque after each operation. Paradoxically, despite living in a country with reputedly the world's best public health care system but I think we're going to do what the cash-strapped NHS recommends — watchful waiting.
8. Watched the Magic Roundabout on DVD with the children. When I was wee, I lived on an island in the Inner Hebrides where we only got one TV channel (BBC1) and it was all snowy and in black and white. One of my favourite programmes then was the Magic Roundabout with Dougal, Zebedee, Dylan and all their little puppet friends whose threads you could clearly see even through the interference. Well even in those conditions, I can honestly say that the old version was a thousand times better than this new digital travesty. The characters all look as if they've had face lifts and the actual content beggars belief, with three characters coming back from the dead and skeletons with purple laser eyes being blasted to smithereens. Perfect nightmare material. (And the French names aren't nearly as nice as the English a names, Dougal is Pollux, Florence is Margot, Dylan is Floppy and Ermentrude is something I can't even remember and certainly a lot less apt than Ermentrude)
9. Went to the town hall with several official papers to sign the children up for the nursery school canteen and after-school "garderie". E. starts nursery on 30th August. Another milestone.

Tomorrow you get the to-do list.

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Beginning of the end?

Oh no, I've just received my first spam comment (see last post). Help! Does anyone have any solutions?

On a brighter note, it's a beautiful day here and we're off to the beach.

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Flowers

There's a lot of Great Willow Herb in the Scottish countryside. But there are some more delicate wild flowers too. What's this one called, I wonder?



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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Dumfries and Galloway


Castle loch
Originally uploaded by Lezzles.
10 things we did on holiday in Dumfries and Galloway



1. Fed the ducks (and geese and swans) on the lochs in and around Lochmaben
2. Visited Caerlaverock Castle — great for aspiring knights
3. Spent time with family
4. Went to Dumfries Agricultural Show
5. Saw the Monet Exhibition in Kirkudbright
6. Discoverd Wigtown, Scotland's book village
7. Ate (a lot, thanks to Mum)
8. Relaxed (a lot, thanks to Mum)
9. Filmed the children, took tons of photos. (See more at Scotland Aug 2005 - a photoset on Flickr)
10. Did a bit of shopping (got a nifty suede jacket)


So now it's home to "auld claes and porridge". While we were on holiday I read in the Scotsman that research show the beneficial effects of a holiday have worn off withing 24 hours of coming home.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Home


Thistle
Originally uploaded by Lezzles.
Just back from Scotland. We had a wonderful time. Sunny Scottish weather (yes, yes) and lots of fresh air. More soon.