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.


and this:


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:


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).

And talking of ships…

Talking of ships, SilentUK have infiltrated the ex-French Navy:

They’ve got some really great photos of the “Atlantic Ghost Fleet”: a collection of decommissioned vessels permanently moored in a bay near the Brest naval yard in France.

The fleet was moored in three clusters, two containing smaller ships, with the main, larger ships surrounding the cruiser Colbert. Given it was clearly the largest and most equipped, the Colbert was our obvious target. Laid down in 1953 and launched three years later, the Colbert (C611), was a De Grasse class, anti-aircraft cruiser. The second of its kind, she was designed with power in mind, fitted with sixteen 127 mm AA and twenty 57 mm mod 51 guns.

As we quietly rowed off into the darkness, our vessel roughly aimed at the silhouetted hulks, a strong emotion came over me. Fear. I was terrified, unjustifiably so. In recent years, myself and others I know have pushed what we feel is possible to accomplish and sometimes, not all, this would place us in situations that could be classed as fear enduing. Being somewhere high, enclosed or unpredictable, locations that have genuine risks to be mindful of.

More great photos here. And more SilentUK and Urbex related posts here.

Heads up!

No big announcement, as you may have expected from the title of this post, merely this from the very same weekend a year ago.

That’s France’s Jeremy Toulalan and Uruguay’s Alvaro Pereira challenging for a ball which I comprehensively failed to get in shot. This was the second game of the tournament after the Bafana Bafana v Mexico game which we watched with a couple of hundred thousand others at the Waterfront. This one ended 0-0, meaning that I had watched a total of 3½ hours of football at the Cape Town Stadium without seeing a goal.

Fortunately, 39 minutes into the next game in Cape Town (a bitterly cold affair between Italy and Paraguay), Antolín Alcaraz scored for the South Americans and the duck was broken, only to return for the utterly dismal England v Algeria game a few days later.

Expect more quota photos loosely tied around a World Cup 2010 theme this month and every other June for ever and ever.