Monday, July 24, 2006

Match Report

Friday was hot. Thirty-six degrees kind of hot and the only question was not, will there be a storm but when will there be a storm.

Frog called me during the afternoon and asked if I wanted to go to the stade tonight. Father Frog had just got his annual abonnement and the first match of the season was kicking off in a friendly derby against Sedan.

Now, I don't know much about football. Of course, I follow the international matches but that's not the same as following a Ligue. Especially a Ligue 2 team. Stade de Reims was once a mighty side. That was in the days when Father Frog would cycle the 20 kms from the village to the stade to watch the games. Yes, that'll be over 40 years ago. Having gone bankrupt in the early 90's, the red and whites now languish in the lower end of the second division and the times I've seen a match covered on TV, even I can recognise the low, painful standard of football.

But with one free ticket and the cost of an accompanying ticket priced at €5 (yes, five euros) who's going to pass that one up?

It ended up being one of the best evenings out we've had in a while, and certainly one of the cheapest! The new stadium is half built and we had seats right next to the pitch. Reims' opponents are local rivals who were promoted to the First Division last year, so there was some tension at this derby. But imagine everyone's surprise when the new signings showed some real mettle and at one point Reims was leading 2-1!

By the final whistle it was a draw 2-2 and everyone was thrilled with the result. Even me. Yeah, I know, shocking.

We'd sat watching with Father Frog's friend who recounted the glory days of the club and said he felt that there might be a chance again in the future. For my part, I was very happy to sit in an open stadium on a sweltering hot evening but trust me, I won't be out there once the winter begins. That's for the passionés!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

As Far As The Eye Can See

Originally uploaded by oiseau.

Yes, it's hot here too. 36° yesterday, but I'm not finding it too hard this year. Reims is a small city and the flat seems to be bearable if you keep the shutters down . Of course, venturing outside is like someone turned the hairdryer on you. But at least there aren't the pollution levels of a larger city. Having survived summers in Paris 2003 and Manhattan with no aircon, Reims seems like a doddle.

They say if you want something done, ask someone who's busy. I'll go along with that. My key accomplishment this last week was the weekend's walks with the Frog. We took an evening stroll late Friday afternoon and then on Sunday night took the 4 x 4 out into the vines. All the local villages are linked up through stony tracks that run alongside the parcels of vines. We visited the various vines that are Frog Family's to see how they're doing. If 2003's summer is anything to go by, the heat will mean a slighly lower volume harvest but an excellent quality. Well that's what I'm told anyway.

The set of photos can be seen here.

My only other news is of my afternoons spent locked in a classroom with a bunch of French teenagers, all taking classes in the highway code. It's becoming unbearable. And having started with decent marks, I have to be the only student who's seeing a deterioration in their scores. 35 degree heat, no ventillation and French pedantry. Yes, that seems like a decent enough excuse.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Qui ne saute pas...

Since England went out, I have been standing beside my husband and supporting France. I wouldn't if England were playing against them - but ummm they're not - and it seems the right thing to do. The way I see it is if the French keep me up until 2am with their celebrations, I might as well join in. And I have experience in supporting a non-winning side to draw from should everything go wrong.

I've also come to understand why the first summer I met Frog he woke up one morning, beaming to tell me that he'd had the most wonderful dream. He had been playing football and he was Zinedine Zidane being cheered on by the stadium. That is every Frenchman's fantasy.

However, whilst les bleus have my support tomorrow there are some limits.

Frog (chanting): Qui ne saute pas n'est pas Français, -ais!
Qui ne saute pas n'est pas Français, -ais!

Do you understand what that means?

Oiseau: Do you see me getting out of my chair?
Frog: No, do you understand what that means?*

Oiseau raises eyebrows

Frog: Oh.

* Whoever isn't jumping, isn't French

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


I have lived long enough now in this country to stop getting wound up about everytime French customer service is lacking. There are so many other benefits to living here, you just have to live with the fact that the customer is very, very rarely right in the minds of those employed in the French service industry.

However, I do have to share with you a couple of pieces of recent communication courtesy of Air France and American Airlines. A perfect case study, some might say, in the extremes of these two nations.

I had contacted both companies to request a name change on their frequent flier programmes that I belong to. The American Airlines process was completed online. Air France, having failed to reply to my intial online query of what documentation was required, are replying to a letter that I sent along with a copy of my marriage certificate.

Both replies were received on the same day.


Nous avons bien reçu votre demande.

Pour nous permettre d'effectuer cette mise à jour, nous vous invitons à nous retourner un justicatif d'identité.

Nous vous remercions de votre fidélité et vous prions d'agréer, Madame, nos
salutations distinguées.

(Quick translation: Thanks for your request, in order to complete this update please send us a piece of identification. Yours sincerely.... )

Good Morning Mrs. Lxxxx,

Thank you for your e-mail. I'm delighted to help.

Congratulations on your marriage.

As requested, I have changed the name on your account.

Again, thank you for giving me the opportunity to respond. I look forward to assisting you in the future.

Have a great day and nice holiday.

Regards, Ms. P. Lee AAdvantage Customer Service American Airlines

P.S. I noticed that you're not earning AAdvantage® miles for your creditcardpurchases, which is so easy to do. For a limited time, with the Citi® PlatinumSelect® /AAdvantage® World MasterCard, you will earn 25,000 bonus miles after you make $250 in purchases with the card. And you will earn 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on purchases up to 100,000 miles per year towards award travel on American Airlines flightsor with AAdvantage® program participants. To speak with a Citi representative about enrolling, please call 800-640-1517 (be sure to have your AAdvantage number handy). Or use this link to visit the Web site:

Oh, how I chortled... then cursed as I had to trot off to the Post Office and send another letter and photocopy to Air France.