Grève situation

I was just running through a few of the train times for our upcoming Europe trip. Google was full of warnings.

Information: En raison d’une grève nationale SNCF, la circulation des trains sera perturbée. La liste des trains sera disponible chaque jour à 17h sur le site SNCF pour vos trajets du lendemain.

Une grève is a strike.
Une grève nationale is a national strike.
Une grève nationale SNCF is a national railway strike. 

You can see that circulating trains will be perturbed. Understandably.

Basically, if we were trying to make this journey today, we probably wouldn’t be able to. So why are the unions so furieux?

Well:

Nine public-sector unions representing 5.7 million public service agents have called for strike action and demonstrations to protest reforms and voice salary and staffing concerns in the face of a government that has pledged to cut 120,000 public-sector positions by the time President Emmanuel Macron’s term ends in 2022.

More than 130 demonstrations are scheduled nationwide on Tuesday, with the Paris march due to set off from the Place de la République at 2pm and head southeast for the Place de la Nation.

..and this is, apparently, day 1 of the eleventh! 2 day strike by rail workers.

Given the exorbitant price of tickets (even when you book them in advance), I’d much prefer the Japanese bus strike version of things.

But I guess we can only hope that there’s some breakthrough in the talks this week – or at least before we get there. I’ve been researching some alternative methods of getting to where we need to get to and firstly, there aren’t any, and secondly, that means inventing our own way of getting to the middle of nowhere and it’s going to be ridiculously pricey.

Sacré bleu!

Drone homework

I’ve been planning ahead for our trip to Europe later in the year. Part of that planning is working out where I can safely and legally fly my Mavic.

It’s reasonable to say that there are differences in the approach to drone rules and regulations between differing countries.

Take, for example, the Isle of Man:

Basically, with a few provisos here and there, together with a dollop of common sense and a healthy respect for other people, you can fly your drone up to 120m high anywhere outside that red circle.

You need to employ those same provisos, that common sense and respect in France too. But it’s a bit more complex than the IOM.
Here’s a map of the bit of France we’re going to:

Right.

Easy stuff first: no flying in the red bits; but yes flying (up to 150m, nogal) in the uncoloured bits. No problem.
From there though, it gets complicated. Pink areas allow flight to 30m altitude. You can fly up to 50m up in the orange (or is it peach?) areas. Even better, in the peach (or is it orange?) areas, you’re permitted to fly at 60m up from your takeoff spot. I’m not sure why they have this 10m difference. Presumably, something important happens (or is likely to happen) in this narrow strip of airspace in orange areas that doesn’t happen in the peach areas. Oh, and then in the yellow areas, you can fly up to a height of 100m.

I’m happy to comply with all of this, of course. It’s just that it’s massively complicated given that we go through a constantly changing kaleidoscope of colour as we wend our way downstream, so I’m going to have to keep a digital, zoomable copy of this map to hand.

The other thing is that for a lot of these restricted areas, it’s not very clear why there are restrictions. That doesn’t matter, of course – if it says not to fly, you don’t fly. It would just be nice to know what that bizarre mirror image of a question mark is bottom right. And why there’s that huge, weirdly shaped peach (orange?) swathe right across the middle of the map.

Obviously, I’m going to follow all the rules and regulations. There’s more than enough opportunity to get some decent shots and video in between all the bureaucracy.

But it’s going to be much more simple to chuck Florence the Mavic up once we get over to the Isle of Man.

Sorry, I’m busy

While I’m stuck at home mending my leg, I thought I’d finish off the organisation of our trip away in June/July. It’s “only” 102 days away and I’m hoping to be mobile again by then.
There are a couple of overnight hotels to book, a train journey here (and back again) to organise, seats to choose on the flights – the details.

And then there’s the boat.

We’re going for to live on a boat for a week in the French region of Burgundy. They do wine there. It’s going to be great. Part of living on the boat will be taking the boat along a canal there. A leisurely trip along a waterway, from pretty point A to picturesque point B. It sounds heavenly, and I’m sure it will be, but there’s a bit more to it than I thought.

Their Captain’s Handbook PDF is FORTY pages long. There are Youtube videos on how to tie up your boat, how to steer your boat, how to get on and off your boat, how to approach locks, how not to approach locks, “waterway etiquette” etc etc etc. There are waterway signs, several different kinds of traffic lights and I’ll be honest, it’s got me a little panicky.

The section of “How To Start Your Engine” is five paragraphs long.

I have plenty to read and plenty to learn.

Normal service here may be mildly truncated in the run up to our trip.

Sorry, I’m busy.

Wine Whine

French Farmers are at it again. Only bettered in the violent protest stakes by South African Students and Turkish Taxi drivers (I just made that last one up for alliterative purposes really), they’re not happy about the alleged “unfair competition” from their Spanish counterparts over the Pyrenees.

And they are protesting by hijacking tankers full of imported Spanish vino, before doing… well, before doing this:

Sensitive viewers may want to look away now.

redwine

and this:

witwyn

Ninety Thousand Bottles Full…. Ninety Thousand! That would have made for an awesome weekend…
Sweet jesus – will somebody please think of the children?

They’re annoyed that the regulations governing the Spanish winemakers from just over the border apparently aren’t as strict as those imposed on the local Frenchies.

“If a French wine maker produced wine with Spanish rules, he simply wouldn’t be able to sell it,” said Frédéric Rouanet, the president of the Aude winemakers’ union. “Europe’s all very well, but with the same rules for all.”

Sounds very much like the Namibian Sand Protests of 1997.
And the governments in question had better watch out, because first off, there’s history here:

Wine makers in southwestern France are notoriously hot-blooded and even have a shadowy “armed wing” called le Crav – the Comité Régional d’Action Viticole –  that has conducted various commando operations over the years [including terrifyingly recently], even laying explosives at “enemy” wine distributors it feels are not supporting local produce.

Outrage over such fraud led to the region’s first and most deadly wine riots in 1907, when hundreds of thousands took to the streets in Narbonne, and six people were killed when the army opened fire on the protesters.

And second off, this is just the start of their planned action:

Rouanet said the tanker hijack was “just the beginning” unless their demands were met, threatening action in the nearby port of Sète against the import of Italian wines.

“We will continue until we’ve proved that the illegal traffic of wine is going on. We are going to protect our consumers. You can trace our wine from the vineyards to the bottle and those same rules should apply to all.”

Because Italian winemakers are seemingly up to the same sort of dirty tricks as their Iberian counterparts.
And, while the French guys’ actions may be horribly depressing to watch, if what he says is true, then you can kind of understand the anger and frustration.

Still though… No. Just no. There must be some other way.

Clever xenophobic bar chart of the day

I know it’s wrong (because there are some really nice places in France as well), but I couldn’t help laughing at this:

image

I’m still computerless and indeed now internetless as well (this post is being uploaded letter by letter by helpful pixies), but given just how shockingly bad yesterday was, today feels like a breeze. This is, however, being written before the guys servicing my car give me that call that the guys servicing your car always give you. So things could change.

When I get in tonight, and before the football, I intend to do things with weekend photos and a proper blog post. Watch this space (or at least the one just above it).