Saturday, 21 April 2007

Look who has come to live with us

Yesterday we came back from a short paragliding holiday at the Atlantic coast (Dune du Pyla) and today, what do I see? A turteldove right in front of our terrace, sitting on a branch of the Japanese Sherry tree in full bloom. And then I see Ms. Turteldove busy working on a nest. And all that not three meters from where I am standing!

Behind the house is a giant Atlantic cedar and I always thought our couple of turtledoves would dwell there, high up somewhere at a top branch. Could be, however, that this couple is a new one. I know those birds for years though they come and go without clear pattern. They disappear in Summer for some weeks, I think.

For those who are interested in photography: I simply took my binoculars, put them on a chair and held the numerical camera - zoom out - against it. In order to obtain some sharpness, I turned the middle wheel of the binoculars.

Our two cats are prowling around, on the ground. But they are lazy, don't climb trees, both have have specialized on mice. Let's hope the birds know what they are doing. Once my wife saw our lady cat jump more than one meter in the air in order to catch a bat whizzing by.

Sunday, 15 April 2007

The village - our village

This is our village, right in the center of France. Small place, nowadays, about 200 people live there and some more during the summer months. Last year, I read in a tourist guide printed
150 years ago that the village had 1200 people living in it!

Old people told me that after the war and up to the sixties (last century) Rouffiac had about 600 inhabitants and could boast one grocer, two butchers, two bakers and one wine merchant who sold coal at the same time.

Now, these businesses are all gone and even the post office has closed. However, we still have
a café/restaurant that sells some foodstuffs and takes your mail. Especially the café is of the highest importance. Sure you can have an espresso there, but they sell all kinds of alcoholics, too. We have some steadfast swillers over here. As the saying goes "to be drunk every day, means also to lead a regular life".

Rouffiac is a real farmers' village. They run the place and they work hard. I do not know if they are rich but they are certainly affluent, judging by the huge tractors they drive. The Auvergne people are the Scots of France, tight fisted, "un sou est un sou", one cent is one cent and the coin is being turned around several times before it is spent.

More next time.

Sunday, 8 April 2007

The fall of an Empire - WHY?

Some years ago, I have been in Egypt, as a tourist, looking at the sights and leading the good life on a Nile steamer. But there was one question, never asked: why and how did this important civilization wither away. The people living now in this country have absolutely nothing to do with this great civilization.

To find out a bit more of this, I am reading now "The Fall of the Roman Empire" by Peter Heather. This mighty empire, stretching from Scotland to the Arabian Deserts vanished in some years.

And not twenty years ago, the Soviet Union disappeared in some months, like a drop of water on a hot plate. Why did this happen? I do not know really and nobody seems to care, anyway.

And what about us? Here in Europe, we are not living in an empire, the European Union is far from that. But we have certainly a special way of living that now seems to be threatened. Already in 1917, nearly hundred years ago, the German Oswald Spengler published "The Decline of the West", a great and important book and what he wrote 90 years ago still makes sens.

However, though all this looks a bit pessimistic, it is clear that I never led a better life. And lots of people around me are in the same position. So what?

What about a little trip into the near future, let's say into 2084? Could be, people of that time
don't pay taxes anymore, the cars run without petrol, you are living 110 years in excellent health, and it rains only at night, when you are sleeping. Could be however that there are only some wretched survivors of some stupid war struggling through ruins, like in Mad Max.

Interesting times ahead.

Monday, 2 April 2007

Winter is receding

The new barbarians ante portas

These days, the videos of those captured British soldiers can be seen on the tellies, worldwide.
They are eating and puffing cigarettes, the woman changed her battledress against this strange black Muslim cloak, looking like a Sicilian char woman.

Some of those soldiers offer excuses for having crossed the maritime border into Iran and urge Tony Blair to order his troops back.

Everybody knows that a soldier is not a politician. He has to go where his government tells him to go. He is no hero and no martyr, just doing his duty. When captured, he has to give his name and the number of his company and that's it. This is common practice for over hundred years now and has been laid down in the Geneva Convention.

I hate to see what I see on the telly, because those who ordered this kind of display stray away from civilized practice that took centuries to establish. Unfortunately, the Iranian government is by no means alone in throwing away civilized procedures. A government that orders to invade a country like entering a supermarket, just to make a quick buck, is certainly not better.

Here we see the new barbarians squatting on top of the nations who do not know what to do, how to get rid of them. In the West, at least, we can vote them out of office at next elections and I hope the people of the countries concerned will do so. That is our strength right in the middle of this misery.