Lost in France, a homage to some old European notes dearly departed – will Lazarus have his day?

It’s coming up to the silly season now, and we even seem to be having some hot weather. Hopefully it won’t lead to an actual hot summer of rage on the streets, but the markets have got that sort of lazy, hazy indolence that gave rise to such opportunity a couple of years ago, and I have a shitload of wedge looking for a home even if I don’t have any ISA allowance left.

It was time to shoot some pictures in sunny France in return for accommodation, fine wine and cheese, then later on meeting up with an expat pal of old. We fought the Calvados, and the Calvados won.

no slag-heaps round here, just fertile countryside
no slag-heaps round here, just fertile countryside
Whimsical church, in Rue I seem to recall
Whimsical church, in Rue I seem to recall


I was pleasantly surprised by the French region of Picardy, I had anticipated it all to be slag-heaps and post-industrial devastation of the sort that happens if you turn left on arriving at Calais, but in fact it was very pleasant indeed. If this is really what Suffolk is going to be like after climate change then it’s not too bad at all… There is the usual whimsical Gallic architecture, and the French retain a more local form of government. The County council is probably our smallest effective district authority, but in France it seems to go down to the village mairie, who take on some quite localised duties. In some ways there’s something comforting-ish that the Mairie has the capacity to rouse the town from its post-prandial verre du vin with a universal signal that some Really Bad Shit is going down. Yeah, I know everybody’s meant to have a smartphone always on these days, but the performance of the mobile network has a lot of dependencies, and I like the gonzo analogue simplicity and low-cost always with you always on receiving equipment.

A universal signalling device. Receiving equipment is stuck to either side of everybody's head
A universal signalling device. Receiving equipment is stuck to either side of everybody’s head. That sparrow might crap itself though…
the strawberries were divine
the strawberries were divine

You can’t go to France without sampling some of the local produce, particularly since Mrs Ermine was researching what we could learn from their approach if we experience an increase in average temperature. Florent’s strawberries were fabulous, an opinion shared by the local merles (blackbirds) hence the netting. I was surprised the problem wasn’t starlings!

The Ermine, as befits a creature of cold climates, really, really hates the classic British summer holiday destination of sun, sea and sand. I’ve only ever been to Spain for work, Madrid in November was quite agreeable 😉

So I’ve had a bias to Northern European destinations, though I haven’t been averse to the the US and one day fancy a long trip to see some small part of Canada. You always end up with some foreign currency when you come back. There’s no point at all in keeping coins but you do end up with some notes, and every so often you forget where the heck you put them. These ones I inherited, but they probably date back twenty years or so

Wonder how many of these old friends will return to grace our wallets in years to come
Wonder how many of these old friends will return to grace our wallets in years to come

It’s disturbing to think that at the start of my career one of the greenies would be a perfectly serviceable beer token – in London! Some Germans must be feeling a fond memory of those stable Deutschemarks that slowly and steadily dragged Germany’s post-war economy out the shit through Konrad Adenauer’s Wirtschaftswunder and the French may feel a twinge for the old FFr. It feels like the Euro crisis is limbering up for another rumble – it seems to be a summer thing, a bit like the screaming of swifts in the hot city nights.

It was also a time to lay to rest the question of just how much horse I had been eating. I really don’t have any problem eating horse, as long as the supplier tells me that it is. Which you can’t really accuse the Richelieu Corporation of avoiding. The price probably tells me it isn’t the idyllic pastoral scene on the top of the packet, but it was all horse. Maybe the copywriter was feeling the bad rap of horsegate when he put 100% musclemeat on the packet,

Horse. As it says on the packet. Tesco, take note.
Cheval (Horse). As it says on the packet. Tesco, Findus et al take note.

but I couldn’t argue with the result, a decent horseburger with the classic large-herbivore-but-not-beef-though-there-is-significant-similarity sort of taste. Horse is distinctive and good. I can see how you might be able to pass it off as beef in something that’s only 30% meat as it is, but I’m of the view that less is more as long as it’s of a decent quality.

Horse cooked expertly by Mrs Ermine
Horse cooked expertly by Mrs Ermine

I’d be happy to see more horse on the menu. Just cut the crap and tell us what it is 😉



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