Thursday, 23 August 2007


This was our final stop on this trip. We have travelled from Marseilles to Orange to Perpignan and Barcelona. Then to Valencia where we stayed for nearly 2 weeks, from there we took a train to Madrid. The train passes through agricultural areas mainly where they grow oranges and olives. Some of the land is used for environmental purposes with wind farms and solar panel farms. We particularly enjoyed it because we travelled 1st class with champagne and wine and a very good meal, time flies.
We booked accomodation through Ryanair and were amazed at how good value it was. The apartment was massive and in a very chic area near the Prado museum. Less than 60 euros per night for 2. We had a suite with a huge balcony with its own plunge pool too. Downstairs there was a restaurant with lots of tapas and lunch time meal for 10 euros. We visited the Prado to see the Goya paintings.

We found a fantastic place to eat at the cultural centre. It is very grandiose with excellent service. 3 courses there including a very good bottle of red just 24 euros.

I dont know if they made a mistake!

We really loved Madrid and will be going back soon to watch Real Madrid play if possible.

Some exotic features of the cultural centre.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Rabah Bitouche

We found this photo of Hamid's Father 'Rabah'. It was taken around 1954 when he was 21. He was born in a town around 150 miles from Algiers and his father owned a hotel there. He started out in business as a Salt trader going out into the Saharah desert and bringing back salt to Algiers, he must have been successful at this as in 1958 he started a furniture manufacturing company in the city.

During this period Algieria was still being occupied by the French (The colons) and they owned most of the land and businesses of any value in the country. Their policies did not allow the indigenous people of the country to be educated past the age of 14 years so it was hugely difficult for Algerians to prosper. Rabah joined the Front de Liberation National (FLN) and from 1954 until 1962 they fought against the ruling French and eventually expelled them from the country. He was imprisoned for a time for transporting documents by motorcycle between towns, it is said that he was tortured whilst in prison. Hamid was born at the time of his imprisonment.

After the successful liberation of Algeria he continued to flourish in business and the company is still in operation being run by 2 of his sons.

I have been reading an old book from the 1930s and it has some very interesting old b & w photos such as this one of The Tuareg in Algeria where the men veil themselves instead of the women

49th Birthday

Shiny macs are very fashionable in Spain for the Autumn. I tried a few different ones on but really liked this electric blue colour. As I couldnt make up my mind at the time I didnt get it and now regret that. Very Belle de Jour I think. Here is another example from Mango

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

The Kite Runner The film

The film of the Kite Runner was due out in November and I was really looking forward to its release but it seems it will be delayed now until December due to the actors involved in the rape scene being afraid to continue to live in Afghanistan. Luckily for them Paramount is taking them away from Afghanistan and they will be supported until they reach adulthood at a cost to them of half a million dollars. As the boys only received about $10 000 for their acting part and the film has cost millions and no doubt will reap an absolute fortune I think that Paramount is doing the decent thing in this case. I can't wait to see it.

The latest book by Khaled Houssani is remarkable too.
I have finished reading this book which is really amazing. It is the story of 2 boys growing up in Afghanistan, one the master´s son and the other the servant´s boy. The story is very sad and moving and I would really recommend reading it. If you want to borrow the book just let me know.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

At the apartment

I am struggling to find anywhere I can download my photos from my camera so cannot add too much to the blog at the moment.
This week I had my 49th Birthday which comes as a bit of a shock. No more 40´s after this year. We celebrated by having a massive fish dinner in Calpe along the coast -somewhere Helena knows very well as she used to live there. The next day I had a go on the big elastic bouncy thing by the beach. You have to be strapped in as with a parachute, going up is great, bouncing on the trampoline as high as possible, saute sally saute the girls were shouting. Coming down is another thing though as my stomach stayed at the top and the higher you bounce the worse the feeling. I begged them to let me off and found to my dismay that a small crowd had gathered to watch!

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

La balade du linda

Linda has been quite enterprising and is advertising her dog walking service - just in case the locals cant speak french here in spain she has kindly drawn a dog picture - we are waiting now for results from the marketing campaign

Monday, 13 August 2007


We are staying with madjid and his family in a lovely apartment in Callera

Trousers too tight

The rules of this sport are incomprehensible and i dont know how the bull understands whats going on . The white outfits get ruined with all the blood - motion replays are laughable

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Barcelona to valencia

After the ordeal at the migrant hotel we took the 1st class for the last bit of the trip

Blog by mobile

All of these blogs are from my mobile - it is a pleasure to be on a spanish train after the very dirty french ones like so much in france hygiene is not a priority bad experience in hotel in perpignon last night - worst place ever but no choice -cannot say how awful it was -people cooking cous cous in the rooms tellys on full blast all night ,praying in the hallways-one toilet for the whole hotel-grotty shower for 3 euros extra, 3rd world! In 3 hours will be in barcelona.


Taken one day to get from marseilles to the spanish border and still more delays because of accident on track hope to be in valencia by tonight- scenic views

Friday, 10 August 2007


Missed the avignon stop so spent 2 hours in orange which is quite nice delayed the arrival at the spanish border by a few hours

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Do you think any one saw me riding the cow?

La vache de marseille

Dont know why there are so many of these here this is on a roundabout - havent had that much to drink


Have arrived in marseilles in time for fish lunch vive la marsellaise

Monday, 6 August 2007


300 is beautifully filmed. The story is of the first battle of the Persian war led by Xerxes against the Athenians. The Persians win this battle against the spartans but go on to lose the war in the end. The battle at Thermopylae is famous for the brave attempt by the Spartans to hold off 100s of thousands of Persian soldiers with just an army of 300 men. According to Herodotus, the grandfather of history, Xerxes army consisted of 2 500 000 soldiers plus another 2 500 000 people in tow. No wonder some of the Greek rivers ran dry on the way.

The lead of Xerxes in this film is a tribute to some fantastic make up technicians who transform the incredibly handsome Rodrigo Santoris into the campest most gold pierced man that has ever walked this earth and according to the history books dating back 2 500 years Xerxes was indeed the tallest and most good looking of all men.

Reading the histories of Herodotus and the film makers are very accurate in their portrayals. A story not included in the film is of one of his slaves, Pythian, begs Xerxes to allow one of his 5 sons to stay behind and look after his land. Xerxes flies into a rage and berates the old man. He then asks that the oldest son is sent to him, he is then killed and his body cut in half down the middle. One half is positioned on one side of the road and likewise with the other half. The whole army are then led through, no doubt as a lesson to any would be deserters.
Reflecting on human life Xerxes cries that it is so short. Artabanus replies 'It is not just that life is short, but also that there's no one on earth, whose happiness is such that he won't sometimes wish he were dead rather than alive - and this is a thought that occurs frequently during one's lifetime, not just once . We are all overwhelmed by tragic accidents and illness that, however short life actually is, it seems long. So people look forward to dying as an excellent way to escape from life with all its troubles, all we get is a taste of how sweet life may be'.

Voyager 1

Voyager 1 has been up in space now for 30 years. It has been all around this solar system and is now heading off towards our nearest star. It travels at a speed of 1 000 000 miles a day - yes it really is a million but will still take 40 000 years to get to the next star. The concept of distance is truly amazing. It seems quite unlikely that it will reach that destination due to possible shortage of fuel I think. But we will never know anyway.
Voyager is fuelled by radioactiveisotope thermoelectric generators so is completely independant. Each day Voyager reports back with information and photographs.
Now that Voyager is entering interstellar space it will be coming under fire of all sorts of debris and it is likely to be damaged, but it has done well to have lasted 30 years in the Solar System.

Boscombe market

I rarely go to supermarkets and cannot think of many more boring things than going there with a list.

Much better to shop locally and I really like Boscombe market where you can get:

Blatant rip off designer sunglasses for a Fiver

Kalamata olives and other mediteranean delicacies

Cheery Dean on the old Fruit and Veg stall. Get 4big bags of fresh things for a tenner.

I also bought a fresh crab and we had Crab salad, pasta with fresh tomato and garlic sauce, rice with mushroom and prawns in a creamy sauce, avocado and olive salad, loads of plums and melon.

Boscombe also has some lovely cafes to go to, the new opera house and an art gallery has just opened.

Friday, 3 August 2007

All join in now

Edith Piaf - Non Je Ne Regrette Rien LyricsNon Je Ne Regrette RienNon, Rien De Rien, Non, Je Ne Regrette RienNi Le Bien Qu`on M`a Fait, Ni Le MalTout Ca M`est Bien EgalNon, Rien De Rien, Non, Je Ne Regrette RienC`est Paye, Balaye, Oublie, Je Me Fous Du PasseAvec Mes Souvenirs J`ai Allume Le FeuMes Shagrins, Mes Plaisirs,Je N`ai Plus Besoin D`euxBalaye Les Amours Avec Leurs TremolosBalaye Pour ToujoursJe Reparas A ZeroNon, Rien De Rien, Non, Je Ne Regrette RienNi Le Bien Qu`on M`a Fait, Ni Le MalTout Ca M`est Bien EgalNon, Rien De Rien, Non, Je Ne Regrette RienCar Ma Vie, Car Me JoiesAujourd`hui Ca Commence Avec ToiNon Je Ne Regrette Rien

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Jose Feliciano - Che Sera (Que Sera)

The song is about someone leaving his village. All his friends have gone and there are just a few old people left. He is going to the city not knowing what will happen. He has happy memories of his life there but it is over. He is taking his guitar for company when he is lonely.

Perspex shoes

I love shoes and these are fab. Might be uncomfortable but what a good look from Top Shop

Jose Feliciano - Flight of The Bumble Bee - Guitar

Isn't he amazing?

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Another day at the office

Just off to work today.