Archive for October, 2012

Christmas is coming.


The Goose is getting fat. Yes we all know the rhyme but we’re not into November yet so why write about Christmas?

Whilst making the journey that was the subject of my last post I came across  the Strasbourg council workmen putting up the Christmas decorations last Friday.

Then when out for a walk on Saturday I came across the pictured decorations in the Petite France area which had already been put up.

I couldn’t help but think that it still being October was too early for the decorations to be put up.

Then on Monday a friend on facebook posted a picture of the fir-tree from the Vosges being erected in Place Kleber.

Strasbourg styles itself as the Christmas capital and with the World famous Christmas Market starting at the end of November I suppose it is necessary to get things ready earlier than it would be for any other city. People are going to be arriving at the end of November and expect to see the decorations all in place. The city has a lot of Christmas decorations so they take time to put up and that’s why they start what I think is rather early.

Here’s the picture of the tree being lifted into place.

I want to ride my bicycle


I guess it should have been obvious. Last weekend I wrote about the bout of good weather we had with temperatures over 20°C during the day. It continued into the week and, as the picture shows the beautiful colour of some trees on the way home in the sunshine on Wednesday. This weekend I woke to sleet and the temperatures last night hit negative. You can also see in the picture there is a cycle path on this quiet, backstreet, road and I have just come on a cycle path in a tunnel under the autoroute, that has lights which come on when you enter it. Strasbourg has over 560km of cycle paths and, together with being on the banks of the Rhine and therefore it is very flat, are probably the reasons the city is the number one city in France for the number of people cycling. Iuse a bike as my main form of transport and I have not experienced such fantastic provision for cyclists before. I wrote in the post one before last about having posted French translation of the title of Johnny Cash songs to my friends on facebook in advance of seeing a great tribute to the singer. I have also posted up on facebook the same map you see here of a journey I have made on Friday morning between two different sites where I work, finishing at 9:50 at the site B and have to cycle the 5.2km to site A to start at 10:00. Obviously It is understood that I cannot possibly make this journey in that time. On the map from the park all the way to the autoroute there is a dedicated cycle path separate from the road then there is the tunnel under the autoroute and then another (pictured above) under the rail line. It comes out into a space next to the off-ramp from the autoroute into the centre of the city which is one-way. To get the cyclist up to the next junction and allow the cars to turn both left and right there is the pictured route with the cars able to turn right and left and cyclists able to travel through the junction. What a marvelous piece of civil engineering. When you get to the junction, as a cyclist you are treated as any other item seeking to get through the junction and, because the cars are going left and right, the cyclists can go straight ahead. Through the junction and you are then on a raised, protected route in the middle of the road past a car park and down onto the route past the main shopping centre. For a cyclist it is a dream. This is nothing special but just one example, from a journey I had to make for work for a few weeks. This is why Strasbourg is so cycleable.

St Luke’s Summer


According to the Oxford Dictionaries website St Luke’s Summer is “a period of fine weather around 18 October (the saint’s feast day).” That is certainly what we’ve been having recently here in Strasbourg. Today the weather was sunny and the temperature reached 23°, it has been warm for the end of the week and it is forecast to last into the beginning of next week. It is wonderful seeing the sun so late in the year, people are sat outside cafes and you can go out without a coat, although being France, every French person is still wearing a scarf although there is no need.

Getting up in the dark is no fun but seeing the dawn break is a consolation, as can be seen from the first photo above. The second picture has the Protestant Seminary on the right and the church of St Thomas, sometimes known as the Protestant Cathedral of Strasbourg since the return of the city to France in 1681, behind it. The building on the left is a block of homes and the people on the foreground are standing on St Thomas’ bridge.

Finally, another picture taken at dusk on the banks of the Ill as the sun sets. Being seen as something of an interloper people are always asking me, do you like living in Strasbourg? Then I just think about these views as part of my daily journey to and from work and there really is only one answer. The sun shining in October is an added bonus. Thank you St Luke. I don’t know what you did to earn the sun and good weather around your day but it is welcome, now time to go to Franchi for the best sea salt caramel ice-cream, the definition of to-die-for.

The Man In Black


Yesterday I bored/puzzled/annoyed my facebook friends and twitter followers by emitting regular tweets containing the tittle of Johnny Cash songs translated into French. What kind of a barmy notion is that? You ask. Why would anyone want to do that? My reasoning was that that evening I was going to the fantastic Au Camioneur to eat with two good friends and then watch Wanted Man – A tribute to Johnny Cash.

Growing up I had only been aware of the novelty songs by Johnny Cash, songs like ‘A Boy Named Sue’ and ‘One Piece At A Time’. That was until I saw the film Walk the Line, when my attitude changed as I learnt the  large body of good work produced by Johnny Cash.

The food, as usual, was very good, the conversation was good and the Riesling provided a trinity of goodness. Then at 21:30 the band warmed up before the entrance of the ‘Wanted Man’. The band were tight and the ‘Wanted Man’ had a voice that sounded similar to Johnny Cash. They played all the well-known songs and a few lesser known ones and were so appreciated that they were called back for an encore three times. They were worthy of the encores and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening. At the final encore I called for ‘The Man In Black’ and it was played and I filmed it. See it:

Up with that sort of thing I will not put


Earlier this week I came out of work to discover these students holding

up these blank banners. What’s it all about? Questioning only revealed that they would be doing this for two days around the University campus. Then the student on the left, who I was talking to, handed me the piece of paper on the left. Ah, it’s to do with some chap called Gaëtan Bulourde and features the French for ‘sign’ and seems to be taken in a Dutch speaking place. Fortunately the back was more revealing. Ah, so it is a piece of perambulatory art by a Belgian artist supported by Strasbourg’s theatre to celebrate 20 years of the Carte Culture, which gives cheap access to cultural activities in Alsace to students. I learn from the facebook page I linked to earlier that also this week there have been a group of Alpen hornists playing at various places around the campus, well I missed them. But, you need not as here they are pretending to be a Didgeridoo:

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