02 février 2015

Brugge

      On my last day in Lille, H had to work all day, so I dropped him off at his school, planning to go back down to Lille and across to Roubaix, where I'd heard there was an interesting exhibition about Camille Claudel as well as 500 or so wool soldiers that local artists had made. The enormous traffic jams going into Lille made me change my mind, so I drove up to Dunkirk instead. Please bear in mind that it was 8 or 9 a.m., not fully light yet, and -1°C. Drove through Dunkirk, making a royal mess of the traffic... [Lire la suite]

26 janvier 2015

Brussel

                  The original plan was to spend New Year's Eve in Brussels with a friend of H's. However, they hadn't managed to contact each other in time, and she was working that day, so we went up on New Year's Day, a public holiday, without warning the friend beforehand. Brussels is about an hour's drive from Lille, very easily done. H called his friend when we arrived in the city, she got herself ready, we parked in front of her flat and the three of us went off to discover... [Lire la suite]
19 janvier 2015

Lille

                   Two British Rail trains, four Underground trains and two Eurostar trains. I don't mind travelling, really. I'm not keen on all the waiting around that has to be done in airports and train stations, and I'd rather not have to justify my identity and defend my presence every ten seconds, but the actual act of travelling - the sitting down, eating, reading, playing silly games or watching incomprehensible films - is fine. I also very much enjoy the arrival at... [Lire la suite]
29 décembre 2014

A Family Christmas

               This year, the Cooper Christmas commenced, continued and ceased in a rather categorical fashion.              We had moments of present-giving and new clothes...                                Smiles and silly hats...                           Moments of intense concentration... ... [Lire la suite]
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27 octobre 2014

Ngazidja

        "Salam aleikoum." "Aleikoum salam. Gawamnono?" "Ndjema, hamdulillah!"   I've just got back from a week's holiday in Ngazidja, the largest of the four Comoros islands. They are known as Ngazidja (Grande Comore), Mwali (Mohéli), Ndzuani (Anjouan) and Maoré (Mayotte). The last one is the subject of quite a lot of debate, as Mayotte belongs geographically to the Comoros archipel, but is administratively claimed by France. The Mahorese have taken this opportunity to lord it over the other... [Lire la suite]
04 septembre 2014

The Malagasy Highway Code

The Malagasy Highway Code for Motorbikers           When you see a lorry coming your way, take a big breath and hold it. It's going to stink.         A full helmet is great for safety if you fall and hit your head, but it does mean you can't scratch your ears.              Even after 1500 kilometres of practice, you still can't scratch your ears. Stop trying, you're in the middle of the road.          You'll... [Lire la suite]

25 août 2014

Alefa Madagascar! Part 1 of 2.

           I enjoyed hiking in Reunion Island and liked the country very much, it has an interesting history and it's extremely beautiful. However, I don't think I'll be back, unless I can manage to get a transfer to live and work there. Madagascar, though, was a different kettle of fish. I fell in love with the place when I went there for the first time in May this year, to the point that the day after I got back, I had already booked my next flight to Antananarivo. The first time had been a... [Lire la suite]
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18 août 2014

Réunion mon amour, part 2 of 2.

                                      We spent a total of four days and three nights in Mafate. There are no roads, the area is only accessible on foot or by helicopter. The name comes from a wizard who used to live in the cirque, and whose speciality was killing people, using just a piece of the person's hair to enchant them. It's all up and down in there: we went down to the river twice, then right back up to the top... [Lire la suite]
11 août 2014

Réunion mon amour, part 1 of 2.

               The original plan for July's holiday was a safari in Tanzania. That fell through because it turned out to be extremely expensive and rather difficult to organize. Plan B was a trip to South Africa with P, visiting Johannesburg, Kruger National Park and hopefully the Drakensburg mountains. No luck there either, as P changed his mind and cancelled the tickets at the last minute. So I looked around for something interesting to do, and found a cheapish plane ticket to Reunion... [Lire la suite]
19 mai 2014

Repoblikan'i Madagasikara : a visiting vazaha.

                   Just spent a week in Madagascar, and absolutely fell in love with the place. It's beautiful. It started off with a rather strange idea of going to Antsiranana - more pronounceably known as Diego Suarez - to learn to kitesurf. One of those all-inclusive holidays where you have a bed, food and kitesurfing lessons all rolled into one package, and they even send a taxi to fetch you at the airport. The airline company for Madagascar is Air Madagascar.... [Lire la suite]