185 – Weather Update (revised), James Dean and Gauloises Cigarettes.

Sitting outside a café this morning sipping an espresso, I wished I still smoked. The figure of a James Dean look-a-like opposite me smoking a Gauloises, reading a book and sipping an early morning brandy almost got me rushing to the Tabac next door.

I resisted. My lungs were wheezing anyway from my first cold in years. The last thing I need was a fag. Continue reading “185 – Weather Update (revised), James Dean and Gauloises Cigarettes.”

171 – Gare de Bordeaux Saint Jean

gare jean

Bordeaux’s main train station built in 1898 at the south end of the city symbolizes how opulent and exciting rail travel once was. The old arrival and departure halls alone are as big and as grand as any art gallery or museum I’ve seen. A full scale exhibition of Dutch Masters or T-Rex skeletons wouldn’t look out of place in the slightest.

In the evenings I often go down there to admire the architecture and twenty metre neoclassical colonnades of the main halls. The marbled floors, wood panelled ticket halls, old fashioned patisseries, newspaper stands, silver service restaurants, rustic waiting rooms make me feel like I’m walking back in time. To a time when taking a train to Paris was as luxurious as taking Concorde. Continue reading “171 – Gare de Bordeaux Saint Jean”

170 – Saint Émilion

Yesterday I bought the most expensive bottle of wine I’ve ever bought. A Château Labatut Saint Émilion at €9.50. Three hundred percent more than I normally pay. But I had no choice. It was the cheapest in the shop. I was in Saint Émilion.

Famous Saint Émilion: a roadshow of geriatric Americans plugged into their tour guide headsets like they were life support machines. Tiptoeing down the steep cobbled paths cautious in the knowledge that one misplaced step could be their last. All desperate to drink a bottle of 1996 Clos de Menuts at €350 a bottle before they expire and their sons and daughters gobble up their cash to spend on Hummers, Botox and Dr. Pepper. Continue reading “170 – Saint Émilion”

168 – Job Centre Interview

For thirteen months I saw the same view every morning from my hideout in Queaux. While incredibly beautiful and pleasing to the eye, the physical contours of the image never changed from day to day. Month to month.

Now in Bordeaux every step throws up new scenes. Every corner awash with right angles and curves. Every street exhibiting a new set of uprights and horizontals for my mind to gorge on. There’s so much information. So much data. I feel like a computer plugged into the internet for the very first time.

And that’s just the architecture. Throw into the equation a quarter of a million people walking, running, fighting, drinking, smoking, thinking, laughing, dying, burping, shouting, crying. And it’s no wonder my mind is having a sensory overload and my blog is running out of paper.

On top of all of that I’ve burdened myself with looking for work. Or rather my bank has burdened me. My balance popping up on the screen last week saying OGGERS OLD FRIEND, YOU’VE RUN OUT OF MONEY – JOB TIME!!!! Continue reading “168 – Job Centre Interview”

167 – Victor Hugo, Ice Creams, and Lyonnais Waiters

The Bordeaux tourist guide quotes Victor Hugo on its front page:

‘Take Versailles, mix it with Anvers. You have Bordeaux.’

I know nothing about either town but from what I’ve seen here there seems enough good cheer and sparkle to go round both of them with some to spare. Furnish Lyon with a bit perhaps? Continue reading “167 – Victor Hugo, Ice Creams, and Lyonnais Waiters”

166 – Velos, Homelessness and The Great Escape

What’s the first thing I did in Bordeaux?

Drink a glass of wine? See the sights? Take a coffee in a leafy square? A small beer in a courtyard bar? Eat a Charolais steak?

No. I hunted out places to sleep in the unlikely event of being made homeless. It’s an odd obsession of mine and stems from a childhood dream of escaping from boarding school and becoming a fugitive. Steve McQueen from the Great Escape, only in this version it’s Oggers on a 30 year old Peugeot cycle haring up the Welsh Hills being pursued by Potter the housemaster in his 1970s Citroen waving his walking stick in the air like a demented general. Continue reading “166 – Velos, Homelessness and The Great Escape”

165 – Blogley in Bordeaux

After 13 months in the countryside I’ve finally returned to the city. I was reminded of this yesterday when somebody in the street asked me where I was from, thinking I was a tourist. I said Bordeaux.

It’s been a funny few days moving from Queaux to Bordeaux. Moving from a hamlet of 124 people to a city of a quarter of a million. It’s a lot smaller than Lyon, yet it feels bigger. Lyon sprawled up and down and around and over the Rhone valley like a big puddle after a heavy storm. Bordeaux feels more compact and rounded. Like a chocolate biscuit that’s begging to be dipped in a cup of freshly brewed tea and then eaten up in one mouthful. Continue reading “165 – Blogley in Bordeaux”

162 – Blogley in Bordeaux…almost

The book sale went well. I sold three copies. But that was before The Cement Manufacturers of Great Britain nominated me for their Annual Blog award – third category, second division.

Luckily you can still buy The Ridiculous Ramblings of a Man in France – The Book! at £3.18 by clicking on the picture to the right of this post. Of course, once I’ve won the award I’ll have to increase it to £40, so best buy now and get yourself a bargain. Plus I won’t be here for much longer. Soon it’ll be Blogley in Bordeaux and I’ll have to release another book, so you better get cracking. Continue reading “162 – Blogley in Bordeaux…almost”

160 – Blogley, Technology and Bordeaux

It’s 4th September and I’m sitting in the same spot I was a year ago. Outside on the stone steps of the farmhouse drinking coffee thinking and watching. Watching the finches land on the telegraph line that runs parallel to the driveway and then out into the open world. Continue reading “160 – Blogley, Technology and Bordeaux”

159 – Blogley in the UK: Analysis

I spent a total of 452 hours in the UK. For 400 of those it rained. Or was blowing a gale. Or was covered in slate grey cloud. Or was just downright miserable.

I know what you’re thinking. ‘Oh and France is so damn great is it?’ Continue reading “159 – Blogley in the UK: Analysis”

152 – Blogley in Bordeaux?

When I first started this blog back in 2011 it was called Blogley in Lyon. It’s aim if you recall was ‘to chart my progress in Lyon over the coming months.’

And for the next two years it did. Then I moved here to Queaux and renamed it Blogley: The Ridiculous Ramblings of a Man in France. Queaux with a population of 232 seemed too small at the time to give it a platform on my precious blog. Continue reading “152 – Blogley in Bordeaux?”