Sunday, 18 December 2011

Hubble Bubble Puddle Trouble




He's been and done it again. The piddler on the floor. We saw him go to the toilets but weren't quick enough to get to him. He returned and whispered to J that all was ok but he lied!!
The next customer reported a yellow pool

Any advice would be gratefully accepted. We don't want to ban him but are fed up of cleaning the floor


Saturday, 17 December 2011

Simple Christmas


I believe I commented last year how Christmas here is more simple, less hyped and certainly less sophisticated. Villages are decorated with simple sprigs of conifer, trees and a few lights, not a copy of Picadilly Circus.
Some houses have decorations but it is certainly the minority and not the majority. The standard decoration is a rope light or two and a santa climbing a rope or a ladder.
The shops are festive but nowhere is decorated before 1st December, what a pleasant change from crackers being in stores in August!!
Christmas Day here is of course a bank holiday but as it is Sunday the banks are closed anyway. Bank Holidays do not get held over here so it's Sunday and then back to work on Monday 26th ( just like MFI days)

The photos show the village being decorated by the children. The tree has been up a week, but today is the decoration day and parents will bring their children to the village square to help out.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Xmas Bazaar


It's nearly Christmas according to the calendar although nature isnt so sure. We still have flies annoying us, leaves on the trees and temperatures that enable you to sit outside during sunny periods.
Anyway, yesterday we hosted a Christmas bazaar / brik a brac. We were approached by Lynne and Chris to use the back room to sell toys, which is their hobby. The idea once discussed was enlarged and Lynne agreed that she would organise a bazaar, and get other people involved, and advertise it, in exchange for the use of the room.
She was as good as her word and we had stalls selling clothes, toys, christmas decorations, sweets, cakes, general rubbish, homespun alpaca goods, bookcases etc etc.
She also organised a raffle to take place for the very worthy cause of Help 4 Heroes.
Stallholders were a 50/50 mix of French and English and were very keen, arriving before 7am to set up, for a start time of 10.
Trade was brisk, with most stalls reporting good interest and reasonable sales, and the raffle did ok as well, albeit it is difficult to see tickets for a British charity to the French, with €165 being raised

For us, it was good to see a buzz around the place with a very good mix of French and British.

we also had one very unexpected visitor as can be seen below.



Sunday, 13 November 2011

My French part 2

I am sorry to report that my french let me down again the other day. I had gone to the hairdressers for a trim and had hoped that either the mother or daughter who work in the salon would remember how I have it.
Unfortunately the daughter was off and the mother was busy painting some white haired lady a rather fetching shade of maroon, so I got the lady who speaks no english.
I knew the word for thinning but that was about it. So I pointed at the ad next to the chair at the suave looking frenchman and said "comme ca" like that. "Tondeuse" came the reply, which I knew was clippers. "Oui" I said, "trois,s'il vous plait"
As the clippers made their first cut, I knew I was in the merde. Either she didnt understand trois and thought I said un or number 3 on french clippers is a hell of a lot shorter than in the UK.
But what can you say when the first thrust is complete. " oh, I've changed my mind, please stick it back" or " thanks that will do, I fancy a reverse mohican" (not that i could have said either or not in a language she understood?)
I said nothing, sat still while my hair made piles on the floor and then smiled paid my €10 and left to rush across the road to the supermarket to buy a bobble hat

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Website

We have just recently changed our website. Please have a look and perhaps sign up for our newsletter by clicking the box

www.champniersbar.fr

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

French Life Toussaint


Toussaint is the french for All Saints. The date is the first of November and it is a bank holiday.

Whereas in the UK we are obsessed with the previous night, Halloween, fortunately the hype and doorway robbery of trick or treat, give us some money or we'll flour and water your windows, has not reached Champniers in a big way. We did have two small girls who arrived at fish and chip night dressed as ghouls who were regally treated by other customers to sweets and a few cents but that was it, thankfully.

To the French Toussaint, which is a Catholic commemoration of all saints is amalgamated with the Festival of the Departed, originally celebrated on the 2nd November.
This is a time when people visit their departed family and leave candles and chrysanthemums on graves making the cemetries a mass of colour.
Stores are full of chrysanths for a couple of weeks beforehand and huge quantities are sold to be placed on 1st November.

A word of warning One of our clients thinking how nice the flowers were, bought one for a french couple who had invited him to dinner. He got the same reaction as if he had taken a bouquet made into the words MUM or NAN to an english lady

the moral of the story, take a bottle of wine, it's safer!

Friday, 28 October 2011

That's what friends are for

On Monday we were asked by a customer if we knew of any local accommodation. It appears they were working on a renovation and the electrician had turned up from England. He was a "friend" of the owner and had driven down from the UK as a favour.
The favour was returned by being told he could stay in the house being rewired. He duly arrived after a 10 hour journey armed with his sleeping bag to find that the house had no windows, no toilet and no kitchen.
Fortunately we keep business cards of all sorts of businesses in the area and were able to find him a room for the 10 days he is due to be here.
I would imagine he will be spending the time thinking how he can best thank his friend for the experience.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Salle de Fete

I have mentioned in the past the small size of the village but that it is very much alive. Last week was a fine example with 3 events in the Salle de Fete ( Village Hall)
On Wednesday there was the annual meal for the Over 65's. This is a meal laid on by the village for everyone who lives in the commune and is 65 or over. They have upwards of 50 people at this event and whilst the feedback was that a good time was had by all and that they played cards and games for a good few hours after the meal, neither J or I were invited so we cant say first hand!

Thursday evening, the Salle de Fete was in use again, a man from a local family Bernard Lucquiaud, was giving a talk on Columbia. This was to promote his book, written about his life in Columbia when he working for the Alliance Francais in Columbia. This was attended by about 80 people, 79 of whom enjoyed the anecdotes, the history and general discussion about the South American country normally only related to drugs and coffee.

The eightieth person was yours truly who sat for the hour and a half wishing he was speaking English and understanding only a little.


I was back again Saturday night for the third event of the week, a Music Event organised by Daniel, local poet, sculpture, radio presenter and owner of the Grange de Chanson in the village.





When we arrived at just past 10pm, (we don't close until 10), the evening was in full swing with all 100 or so seats taken. The meal had been served but we had advised them we would be late so were ushered to our seats where our Kir awaited. The meal we had come for was the autumn special, black puddings, cooked apples and chestnuts.
I will not go into detail about how a "boudin" is made, or what parts of the pig are used, suffice to say they are delicious and served with local cooked apples were exceptional. If you haven't tried boudin they differ from UK black pudding in that they are much finer ground and when eaten tend to be more like a mince than a sausage. picture below



The music played until midnight or so, then the remains of the wine were drunk up and it was time to go home whilst the salle de fete was readied for the next weeks usage in the sleepy village of Champniers

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Thinking of Chili



Erl made it to Champniers yesterday evening, cycling 130 kms on the final day in 30 degree sunshine.
His journey was 1394 kms in total and a group of friends were here to meet him, even though he arrived earlier than expected

He explained that one of the things that he thought about for the last few days was a bowl of our chili with plenty of tortilla chips and melted cheese so for his meal he ha the biggest bowl of chili we have ever served!!!

well done Erl, superb effort

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Harvest Festival


We are very fortunate that we frequently are given produce from our neighbours in the village and our customers. The 90 year old lady who lives next door keeps us in flowers for the bar, bringing a bunch over every few days. The neighbours on the other side of the bar both have large potages and sometimes drop in excess, tomatoes, courgettes, beetroot, apples, plums, peaches etc.
Recently customers have dropped us in raspberries, plums, grapes,squash,walnuts and chestnuts but the "oddest" gift has to be last week when Les delivered us a puffball.

Les is knowledgeable about mushrooms and what can and can't be eaten. The fact he is still alive and in good health means he must have got it right so far and of course he is a fun guy.
The puffball had been found near his house and was about 25cms across.
He assured us that as long as we ate it when it was still bright white it was fine. We cooked it for breakfast, cut into slices of about 2cms and then flash fried in a pan. Once fried we poured beaten egg into the pan and within a couple of minutes had puff ball omelette. The taste was like a mushroom steak and was excellent.

Regretfully we will not be adding them to the menu as our wholesaler cant supply.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

what people do to get to us


One of our "regulars" and neighbour Erl Wilkie is on his way to the bar. He has decided that he should cycle here from Glasgow!!

If you would like to know more please have a look at www.justgiving.com/Erl-Wilkie/

we knew when we met Erl that he was an exceptional man, he is Glaswegian and teetotal!!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Frelons




Frelons, or hornets in english are large wasps. They are about double the size of a normal wasp, with a sting to match. The sting is very painful and if the person shows an allergic reaction has been known to be fatal.
Therefore when the number of frelons around the bar started to increase we were concerned. We found that there was what appeared to be a colony living nesting above the ceiling of the customer toilets. Fortunately none were entering the building but we still needed to get them sorted.
Help was at hand with the wonderfully named Deratisation man (pest controller).
For only €80 he would come and sort out out nest.
He arrived yesterday evening, dressed himself up like Stig's blue cousin and off up onto the roof. Ripping tiles up he was soon surrounded by frelons as he exposed the nest. Flashing the lance of his spray tank like a fencer in full flow, he sprayed the air and frelons crashed to the ground


The nest he broke up and it filled a standard size bucket. An amazing piece of engineering, perfectly formed and almost symmetrical made by the hornets collecting wood and bark which they chew, mix with saliva and then form into the honeycomb shaped nest. It is a work of art and shows what a community can do when working.
together.


The nest contained larvea and also pods from which baby frelons were part emerging. Watching a "birth" was amazing as a "baby" about 3 cms long emerged complete with sting. It seemed only fair to stamp on it!!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

My French


I was sitting outside the bar the other morning when a lady came over and started talking, in French. She asked about the bar and I tried to explain that we had been here for a year and that previously the bar had been closed for three years. She seemed to understand and then asked about "Anne". Anne was the previous occupant of the bar who left in unfortunate circumstances after her husband died.
I told the lady that "Desole Anne et mort" . The lady seemed very shocked by the news and went off to find her sister in law and tell her, I thought it a bit of an over reaction considering the lady had left Champniers 3 years ago but who am I to say.
About a quarter of an hour later a local gent, Daniel, arrived to join the ladies for lunch. They sat down and whispered for a couple of minutes. I went over to the table with the menu ( Jeanne was away at the airport dropping the kids off) and Daniel looked at me in a very strange way and said " jeanne - mort? "
Non Non I said, Anne et mort, the vieux commercant, Jeanne est a la areoport

The look of relief was instant. Jeanne was ok. I am glad we got it sorted so quickly. We had seen Daniel on Sunday evening and he must have been shocked that not only had Jeanne died so quickly but that the bar was still open and I was outside reading a book as if nothing had happened.

I am sure that the lady said "Anne" and not "Jeanne" but who knows. I think in future I will stick to desole je ne parle pas francais

Brocante


I wrote last year about the importance to the village associations of the annual brocante. This is the village boot fair, meal and fireworks that happens in Champniers on the second Sunday in August. The expectation is that the weather will be favourable.
This year was a disaster. Despite warm and dry weather last week and hot and dry weather forecast for this week, the Sunday in the middle was forecast as rain all day.
We had hoped that this was a forecast in the Michael Fish tradition but it wasn't and rain it did.
The brocante, about 80 stalls last year had about 10 this year. The stalls themselves, manned by people sitting in steamed up cars and vans were covered over to protect the stock so nobody could see what was for sale anyway ( about as much use as a stripper with their clothes on)
As there were few stalls, although plenty of visitors came, they didn't stay around to drink and eat at the association funding buvette.
At the bar we had a busy day. After being overrun on brocante day last year, we elected to pass the catering over to our caterer partner and she roasted a whole pig in the courtyard and then sold Hog Roast with salads and dessert whilst we sold the drinks to go with it. This had been fairly widely advertised and despite the weather all of the pig was sold between 1pm and 4pm.

After the downpours and thunder of the afternoon, thankfully the weather cleared late in the afternoon and the evening events of moules frites followed by fireworks were able to go ahead. About 200 people ate the moules in the school yard and this at least gave the associations some income so their day wasn't a complete washout.

Again a village of only 350 people put on a superb firework display

We hope next year the weather supports the hard work done by the team and they get their financial rewards.

We had help over the last week from two sons, James and Greg and a friend Craig. Thank you guys for your help, we hope you enjoyed yourselves as well

Saturday, 6 August 2011

French Life The Sans Permis



For those of you who live or have travelled in France, you will know the Sans Permis. The name translates as Without Permit and is a type of mini car that can be driven by anyone over the age of 16 with no licence. This includes those people that have had a licence and lost it by drink driving, dangerous driving etc. ( Drivers born after 1988 have to have 3 hours instruction but no test)
These cars are small, slow and unbelievably annoying if you happen to be driving behind one. They also seem about as safe as walking down the middle of the road in the dark dressed all in black




The only advantage they seem to have is that they are so small you can park them almost anywhere, if that is, you can drive fast enough to get "anywhere"


The cars are mainly made by 3 manufactures, Aixam, Ligier and Microcar. They are all two seaters, can only weigh 300lbs, have a maximum speed of 28mph (45kms) and an engine of 5.6 hp.
They are kitted out as proper cars and can be fitted with alloys, cd plyers, electric windows and of course go faster stripes. They have names such as GTO, sport and RS.
The cars range in price from €9990 to €14990 which is unbelievable considering a Renault Twingo can be yours for €6990. They also make san permis vans and pick ups
You can hire one of these cars, providing you haven't got far to go for only €29.90 a day.
We had a call last week booking 3 for lunch. A san permis drew up and one man got out leaving the driver to go back and collect the 3rd person from their house 3 miles away. It took 25 minutes before they were all here! When they left the same happened with one of the party waiting over half an hour to be collected

Me, I'd rather walk



Sunday, 31 July 2011

Visiteurs

In the past week we have had people from the following places in the bar

Russia
England
Germany
France
Latvia
Jersey
Belgium
Holland
Scotland
Wales
Guernsey

we had 0.01% of the population of Lichenstein ( hello Helmut, Shirley and Nina)

and a suprise visit from Barry the Brit who found his way here on the way to the south of France ( see post August 10)

One Year


Today is the 31st July 2011. We opened this day last year.
It has been a wonderful year as we have learned our new trade and met new people.

By far the most important is the fact that if you have the desire you will succeed. I have sat in many meetings where motivation, change and attitude were discussed repeatedly. The task was always to lead others. It works to a degree but needs inspirational leaders, but it works much better if the desire comes from the person themselves. Desire to succeed makes things work. Belief in yourself and in our case our business is the key. Don't worry about what you can't change, just make sure that what you can do you do well. If you make a mistake, learn from it and move on and don't ever forget that the customer is your income.


We had a small party on Thursday with our neighbours, some close friends and the key players in the community. The mayor asked to speak and very kindly thanked us for taking the risk to come to Champniers and for bringing life back to the village.

We hope as we enter year two that we can continue to make a difference

Friday, 15 July 2011

Flies


I blogged last year about the flies. I will say no more except that this year they are worse. I hate them with a vengeance!!!
I know they can't be helped and they are everywhere but I can't see what purpose they serve. Why do we have flies?
We have even resorted this year to the ghastly sticky tapes that are seen everywhere in France hanging from ceilings, covered with dead flies, like the inside of a garibaldi biscuit.
We have placed Red Tops outside and they are harvesting flies in their hundreds, but you have to be very careful to not get downwind of them

But we have a new weapon. I have just taken receipt of a fly screen, made for us by CIC screens in Isleworth. Whilst I have sat and typed this, no fly has landed on my nose, my ear or balanced along the top of the laptop. I haven't even had to stop to pick up the smiley face swatter.
It looks like we may finally be fighting back
Let battle begin!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The Blog goes worldwide

I started the blog back in May last year as a way of communicating with friends and family in one go, rather than write the same stuff on numerous emails. People said they liked to read it and so I carried on. I realise that some of the postings are of more interest to some than others ( or should that be mildly less boring than others).
I also realise that I started writing about French life because it was new to me and so different and that I haven't added to this for a while as perhaps I am becoming more used to the peculiarities of life here.

The blog is also my diary, a written record of what we did and when.
In the year we have had almost 6000 hits, (not bad as the kids have all forgotten the address) and this grows daily. Karen Wheeler the local author whose second book features some events that took place in the bar, linked the blog to hers toutsweet.net whilst writing a blog about fish and chips.
We also receive hits from a blog http://alohahawaii-toula.blogspot.com/ which is a blog described as The story of Toula and Big Boy's excellent adventure as they plan their move from California to Hawaii.
I have no idea why they read the blog about a small bar in a very small village but I hope they enjoy it.
I even had an email from Australia asking if we will be showing the cricket next year. Yes we will and England are going to win again!!

However the thing that really bought the blog and it's impact home to us was when a couple walked into the bar a few days ago and said they were staying 100 miles away and just had to drive up and see the bar that they read about. It was a little spooky and if I acted oddly Rebecca, I apologise. They ordered cheeseburger and chips with the comment "if your chip fryer is now repaired"

So the blog will continue but I will be a little more cautious as to what I put on it now I know that I don't know who is reading it.
To the readers, I hope you can live with the boring bits and stick with us. Thank you for taking time to keep coming back and if you are in Champniers do drop in.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

MFI Deja Vu








Homeform the company that runs Moben, Dolphin and Sharps are appointing an administrator
They have closed their stores and sent the staff home, and customers deliveries have stopped.
The CEO is Chris Pavlosky and the Managing Director is Richard Lee.
Chris was the COO at MFI and Richard was the Sales Director.
When MFI went bust, both of these were involved in touting the MFI stock around with a view to striking a deal in which the stock was sold by the administrator for next to nothing and then both being personally involved in the buying company with of course a stake in the profits.

It is a pity that any business goes down the pan and of course we must all feel sorry for the people that lose their jobs and for the customers that lose their deposits, or don't get their rooms completed. However it must be asked why these guys were given the chance to run another business

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Club des Ainés outing

Champniers has a suprising amount of associations for so small a village. The Club des Ainés is the club for the Troisieme Age, ( the retired). We were invited to join them for a day out which had been arranged for a Thursday, our one day off, to a rural museum.
The coach pick up was 10.30 in the cafe car park, not 50 yds from home, but "we" were still nearly late.
The 30 or so people were driven for an hour to a village named Blond for lunch. I was amazed that we managed to drive for an hour with 29 old people and not one loo stop, old age seems a little more welcoming (unless of course they all have bags)
Half hour in Blond was enough time to see the church and find the bar where we were having lunch. As the bells chimed noon we took our places at the seats



We were sitting at the English speaking table with two English ladies and a Dutch couple from the village. I know three things about the dutch, their language is impossible, they all speak good english and they like to have a good time.


Lunch was "tout compris" with four courses, a kir to start, wine with the meal and a coffee to finish. Most bars that give wine included offer the basic vin ordinaire which is the stuff in plastic bottles or 5 litre casks, not the best wine to say the least but if you drink enough it does get to taste a little better. The taste of the first glass is best summed up by the photo of Karen below




Lunch lasted until 4pm!!!!! and then we were back to the coach for a ten minute drive to the village containing the rural museum. You walk round the village and at various points there are buildings either as they were previously or containing displays of the life and times of people in the village. There is an old school, the lavoir(photo below) where the women did their washing, a mill, an old bar etc etc


The village was very interesting but of course because lunch was 4 hours we were limited on time and only had an hour to see it all. Jeanne coming from a farming background particually enjoyed the trip, even going back to her childhood and climbing the biggest tree on the village green before we were called back to the bus for our return journey



The BBC news is reporting today that the over 65's should cut their alcohol intake to half of an adult allowance. It wont be happening in France, I can tell you

A year in Champniers

On June 17th we celebrated one year at the bar. This was the day we moved here and started the hard work of getting the place clean after nearly three years of being empty and ready to start serving beer and food on July 31st.
It has been a great year and whilst we have not always found it easy in a number of ways expected and unexpected, we can honestly say we made the right decision.
Home is here now and we are very happy with our choice.
We have learned many things, perhaps the most important that the previously empty bar can keep us ticking over even if it wont ever make us rich.
Pour moi, le francais c'est tres difficile but Jeanne seems to have adapted to speaking French quite well. She is forever being complimented on her language skills as it is assumed that she is British. This is not considered a compliment!!
May I take this opportunity to thank all those who have helped us during the past year, too many to mention but you know who you are.

Monday, 6 June 2011

at last

we have finally had some rain just in time for fish and chips. At least it will be more like England video

A Quick Update

Just a quick update on some of the previous blogs.
Our fryer is now repaired and back in use. Metro staff training obviously does not include offering any apology as the return of the appliance came with a stare and a grunt.
Our panini machine is now back in action as well. They worked hard to find a reason why not to repair it and have now said that no future repairs will be made as it looks as though it is being used too frequently.
The toilet floor is now dry.
Our internet user has been back, to shout at us complaining that we have "written nasty things" on the blog. J asked him if it was all true to which he left, got in his car, revved it and then flashed his lights half a dozen times into the front windows.
This could become a saga,I tell you he has been here, he comes again to complain and I tell you he's been back to complain.

Lastly, we have had lots of new readers from Karen's blog, Tout Sweet. welcome and thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy my ramblings

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

A lesson learned

We had a lunch party today, 27 people. As is usual with any group of French they arrived over a period of time with the agreed time about in the middle.
We cooked them an individual quiche with green salad for starters, chicken basquaise with cubed potatoes and a vegetable mix for main dish and an ice cream dessert for dessert. They had a small glass of wine, or coke or orange juice for the non drinkers.
For this we charged €9.90 a head (£8.60 at today's exchange rate)We also allowed them use of the large room for an hour or so after the meal so they could chat together.

We believe a good time was had by all, plates were cleaned and everybody was happy. Until that was it was time to pay the bill. Madame queried the coffees, "I thought they were included". J pointed out that what we had agreed was to substitute the wine we include for lunch for soft drinks, something we would not normally do.
They begrudging paid up but it left a bitter taste. Did they forget? Were they trying to get one over on us? We ended up being made to feel guilty for charging them when we were within the agreement to do so.
The lesson we learned today is to do a quote. Get it on paper and get it signed. It may be tedious but at least both sides will know where they stand and neither will have any nasty suprises.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Promotional Prices

Went to a supermarket the other day to buy some starters. They were advertised as a major promotion €5.30 reduced by €2.65 to half price.
When I got there they were pre-priced at €3.80 but went through the till at €5.30.

It gave me a warm feeling inside, putting prices up to bring them down in a promotion, it was just like being back at MFI

You've had your chips


In general the service in stores here is ok if not quite what we were used to in the UK. However we have recently had 2 instances where customer service is nowhere near acceptable. We have a panini oven which recently broke. We had to take it the 50kms to Poitier, to be met by a barrage of questions from the repairers. Is this the original box? ( you have to keep boxes in France as they form part of the guarantee apparently)
They then queried our receipt as it was from an internet electrical store and not from DeLongi themselves.All this was aimed at rejecting the repair. Eventually agreeing to do the repair they had no idea how long it would take. We rang them yesterday at 10am as we had to go to Poitiers and could collect it without a special journey. This was two weeks after they had taken it. Their answer, we are waiting for parts no idea when they will be received or when the oven will be ready. They rang at 3pm to say the oven was repaired and could be collected. Are they taking the piss or just unorganised?
The second example was at METRO (Makro in the UK). We bought a chip fryer from them last year as they sell professional equipment, not cheap but specifically for professionals. The machine broke down in March, the on off switch was faulty. We took it back, 100kms round trip, they mended it and two days later did the 100kms round trip again and collected it.
This week it broke again same problem, J rang them.We asked for the chipper to be changed, no chance! Bring it back. we take it back, another 100kms, no idea when it can be repaired, lots of shrugs and questions. they wanted to know how many chips we fry and if they are fresh or frozen. Again, all of the questioning is aimed at rejecting the need to do a repair.
There is never an apology, no sign of sympathy or understanding of the problems the lack of a machine can cause. J asked why they didn't suggest we buy two machines in the first place so we had a spare when the machine broke down again. This was met with silence. When we asked how we are supposed to cook our chips for the next few days, we were told that he had worked in a restaurant and they had alternative plans to allow for product failure.
it was a good job that my french is not up to interjecting!!!

My task today is look at where we could place a new front door as an alternative plan to allow for product failure!!!

Ps we have a spare fryer but that's not the point

Friday, 29 April 2011

The Blog gets Blogged


When we opened the bar we were suprised to learn that a book had been recently published which was partially set here. The book was Toute Allure, the second book documenting the trials and tribulations of the author, Karen, and here new life in France.
By a quirk of fate, we had met Karen at the Earls Court France show a few months before we left the UK and had purchased a copy of her first book, Tout Sweet, and had it signed and dedicated to our friend Pat.
The book details Karen's line dancing times in the bar and some anecdotes about life in the bar under the previous owner.
Karen is now once again a regular for the Friday morning line dancing (cancelled today as people want to watch a couple getting married somewhere) as well as the Monday evening fish and chips.
Karen has a very well read blog www.toutsweet.net and has written about the bar on it. ( nice things thankfully!!)
She also mentions this blog so as in the title of the post, the blog has been blogged

Thursday, 21 April 2011

An awkward conversation

We have a regular old french gent who it transpires has a little problem. It is either that he cant reach the urinal or he cant get his bits out quick enough once he has decided he needs relief
Either way the puddles after his visits are not very pleasant to deal with nor hygenic.
J has promised that she will have a word when he next comes in but my concern is that he will arrive when I am here by myself and whilst my french is getting a little better, it is not up to having a conversation of this kind
Voulez vous pisser dans le urinals sil vouz plait is not going to get the message across.
However help is at hand, two weeks ago we attended an Entente meeting in Civray in which the basic steps of drawing were explained by local artist Angela Berry.
Using my new found skills, I have come up with this



Hopefully it will get the message across!!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

He's been watching too many ads!!


We have just introduced wifi into the bar as a service to our customers. Most people are grateful and use it for half an hour or so whilst having a drink. All except one, a French gent who has modelled himself on the Paul Whitehouse character in the Aviva (?) ad.
Yesterday he was here for nearly three hours and spent the princly sum of €1.20. He had his laptop plugged in to our electricity, asked for assistance with a DVD and even asked if it could be played on our tele. J decided after 3 hours that enough was enough and suggested to him politely that we were a business and that one petite cafe in 3 hours was not a fair exchange. Monsieur got the hump and said but he was the customer and he felt it was ok. J told him that he would be better served in an internet cafe rather than our bar. I don't think he will be back and if he is he better be thirstier!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The New Table





We decided that our terrace could do with a large communal table. Buying was easy, putting together a little bit more difficult. Our neighbours Anne and Erl came over to have lunch and with Anne reading the instructions ( it's a female thing!!!) and Erl and I building we eventually got it up and stable

MG and OMG



Last night we had the local MG Owners club meet at the bar for fish and chips. The car park became a temporary MG showroom. The evening was busy with the bar full of people either eating or waiting for their meals.
Whilst walking through the kitchen I noticed a strange smell, checked that I hadn't left nothing turned on and thought no more of it. We found out what it was ten minutes later when "OMG" ( sorry I know its tacky language) the power went off in the whole building. The smell in the kitchen was one of burning coming from a cupboard which houses the main electrical imput into the cafe.
we had about 60 people in the bar, the fish and chip van had 25-30 orders still to fulfil and no power. We asked for hush and then called "Is there and electrician in the house?". Kevin stepped forward, came and had a look and diagnosed major surgery. The input box had grossly overheated and it was likely that major damage had been done. OMG!! J got on the phone to the local electrical suppliers emergency line, and then distributed candles around the tables. It doesn't get dark here until about 8.30 so we were able to trade on and hope.
Soregies, the electrical company were superb. They had an emergency engineer here within 45 minutes and he had changed the input fuse and power was back on a further half hour later.
Whilst it was a stressful couple of hours, on reflection it could have been a lot worse. Had we been cooking we would have been stuck, had it been during the quiz we would have had to cancel the evening. As it was we managed to carry on trading and just couldn't cook desserts or make coffees

Friday, 1 April 2011

Crime wave


We have suffered our first crime in the bar. Today I caught the 12 year old son of a frequent French visitor stealing sweets from the display on the bar. He is of the habit of standing very close to the sweets when he is in with his dad and we have thought for a while we are feeding his habit so to speak.
Silly boy didn't realise that there is a two way mirror behind the bar, as he slipped the bar of Toblerone into his sleeve.
I followed him outside and found the bar in his father's car.

The kid is now banned and was last seen running away as his father drove off. Let's hope dad was cross because he stole and not because he was caught.

( I should add the person in the picture is not person involved nor do we sell bars quite that big)

Friday, 25 March 2011

Bugs (caution picture of a sexual nature)

The weather is warming up, 22 degrees yesterday and I am reminded of the flies of last summer!!
We have only moved 400 miles south but the Fauna is different. We see plenty of lizards, red squirrels, hear stories of sanglier (wild boar) whilst we hardly ever see rabbits and have yet to see a fox.
What we do have however is BUGS. So far this year there are three worth mentioning.
Gendarme bugs, red and black bugs that scuttle about. Apparently they are named after the gendarme uniform from the end of the 17th Century. The colouring is to dissuade birds from eating them
As can be seen in the picture below they mate by one dragging the other around!!



Shield Bugs
Green bugs about 1.5cms long these bugs fly about and buzz as they fly. They are also known as stink bugs as they smell when squashed.


The third and perhaps the strangest "bug" is the processional caterpillar. A number of pine trees in the area have what look like nest

The nests are the home of the processional caterpillars who live in these nests, destroying the tree as they go, until such time as the food run outs. They then drop from the tree and move en masse to a new location. When they move they link together end to end and look from a distance like a long twig. We recently had a procession from the tree opposite the bar and it looked like three twigs about a metre or so long moving across the road. That was until cars came and squashed the lot!!. These caterpillars are a pest in that they spoil the trees they live in. Each caterpillar is covered with up to 60,000 hairs that are urticating ( they come off easily if attacked) which can cause skin rashes, and eye and mouth irritation.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Spring


I realise that I haven't added to the blog for a good few weeks but rest assured we are still here. Spring has arrived in the Vienne in a big way. The hedgerows and trees are beginning to green up, there are masses of trees full of pink and white blossom, the magnolia trees are in bloom and of course the sun has been shining. We have also seen the returning V formation of geese, a local sign that winter is past, as well as red squirrels and lizards both of which hibernate. Another sign for us is the return of the Brits with maison secondaires or those that have been away for the winter. The "velos" made a welcome return albeit metro powered rather than pedalling.
We have new neighbours Erl and Anne from Glasgow who have purchased the house opposite and intend to be here half of the year. We welcome them to Champniers and thank them for the €10 that Erl bet on the England Scotland rugby match!! National pride is one thing but betting on the rugby team seemed a little excessive. No matter Erl, I will try and find an Italian for you to recoup your money from next year.

Life in the bar has been busy. We have just started breakfasts, added free wifi to our services and increased our draught beer offer by introducing Stella. We are tinkering with our offer rather than wholesale changes, the darts and quiz machines have gone and this gave us the space to introduce 2 sofas with a coffee table into the bar.
We have also offered space on a Wednesday to a group that teach English kids English. There are lots of children here who speak English at home but are taught in French so need extra tuition on writing English, grammar, spelling etc.

The bar has two more ornaments as can be seen in the picture, a Christmas present from Laurie. They are very different, the red one is indecisive, and keeps moving sideways, hides when spanish is spoken but looks very pretty. The blue one in contrast is more workmanlike, has come through a difficult spell but now is heading for his goal

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Fish and chips


Monday was the return of the Fish and Chips van. They had been on holiday for 6 weeks so their return was eagerly anticipated by the expat community and some of the French.

They arrived at 6pm and were quickly followed by car after car some people coming into the bar for eat in and other for take away.
We were very pleased with the way the evening was progressing, the bar was filling nicely. But then it changed, murmurs of discontent, the chippie had run out of chips and fish!! They had calculated their requirements based on previous years and then loaded the van with double what they thought they would need. They ran at out 7.15 which was earlier than they would previously have even been here.
Fortunately we carry plenty of stock so my evening of no cooking very quickly changed and we ended up cooking 15 meals. Everyone that was in the bar was fed but we know that some people turned up and were dissapointed and didnt even get into the bar as they tried to order, failed and went home

whilst this meant we had a good day, it is a pity that people who came out couldn't get their dinner. Last year the customers could only queue in a cold car park and buy take away, this year they have a warm bar to eat in at no extra charge. It is bound to change the demand but working how much is required each week is going to be a learning process for the guys.

I hope they get it right next week as i too missed out on my large cod and chips with mushy peas!!