mercredi, décembre 31, 2008

Happy Recessionista Year

Despite what I wrote on my previous post, I couldn't help having a look at Topshop during my visit to Scotland over the holiday period. The temptation was to hard to resist : in the recession-hit UK economy, you would have difficulties finding an item that was not reduced. In most shops, you get discounts at no less than 50 %.

Poor old Woolworths, which is to close for good on January 5th, is even selling its display shelves. (For an update on the UK retail stores troubles, check this article in The Guardian.)

And with a pound sterling dropping in value, Euroland consumers are in for some great deals.

So on December 22nd, I bought boots and a bag at Topshop for 75.70 euros (you have the opportunity to choose your currency there) at a rate of 1.1 euro to the pound, instead of 1.5 euro until recently.

Does that make me a recessionista or what ?

Au Royaume-Uni, la récession n'est pas un vain mot. Les magasins massacrent leurs prix jusqu'à -75% et le pauvre Woolworths, condamné à fermer le 5 janvier, vend même ses étagères. Quant à la livre, elle est tombée à parité avec l'euro, contre 1,5 euro jusqu'à récemment.

Bonne année quand même !

jeudi, décembre 18, 2008

I hope you won't be too credit-crunched this Christmas...

Well, it's that time of the year again. I'm off to Scotland for a week of mince pies, mulled wine, spiced apple herbal tea and much more... I'll see how the financial crisis is affecting my friends across the Channel but one thing's for sure : if the credit crunch could be the opportunity to stop the mad British shopping sprees as soon as the turkey is digested, it wouldn't be so bad. There's more to life than consuming, guys.

Have a lovely time over Christmas everybody, whether you believe in it or not.

mercredi, décembre 17, 2008

10 great bedtime stories

After the top 10 DVDs for kids, here's my list of recommended books for bilingual toddlers. Quite handy before Xmas, isn't ? (Pepette, they might come in handy very soon !)

1- The complete works of Beatrix Potter. A friend gave me the collector box for the birth of my first child. A requisite in any baby's bedroom.

2- Petit Ours Brun. Little Brown Bear on the potty, Little Brown Bear doesn't want to have a nap, Little Brown Bear says no... All kids under three will identify to these neat square books.

3- Katie Morag. Charming stories set in the Hebrides.

4- Winnie the Pooh. Before I had kids, I thought Winnie the Pooh was only a naff bed cover pattern. But it's originally a very nice set of stories written by A.A. Milne back in 1926.

5- Pat the Bunny. An American vintage classic that kids can touch and play with.

6- Maisy. Or Mimi in French : the perfect companion to learn colours or shapes.

7- Les aventures de Tintin. Even if they can't read, children love the adventures of the Belgian reporter, thanks to the realistic drawings and all the animals, countries and means of transport that fill the pages.

8- Le livre des bruits. L'âne fait hi han, le rhume fait atchoum. Et l'escargot ? Il ne fait rien. Soledad Bravi's minimalist design is a must.

9- Shhhh ! Don't speak loud or you will wake up the giant. A superbly drawn album and a great suspense too.

10-Sock Monkey goes to Hollywood. The woolly puppet is invited to an award ceremony. But it has to have a bath !

Feel free to add your suggestions.

samedi, décembre 13, 2008

Journalistes de tous les pays, unissez-vous

Les hommes du président d'Alan J. Pakula, 1976. Aujourd'hui, Carl Bernstein et Bob Woodward auraient-ils le temps d'enquêter pendant des semaines sur un scandale d'Etat ?

Les temps sont durs pour tout le monde et loin de moi l'idée de faire pleurer dans les chaumières sur le sort des journalistes sous prétexte que je fais partie de cette corporation.

Mais lorsque j'ai lu cette information la semaine dernière, je n'en ai pas cru mes yeux : Newsquest, le groupe qui édite trois journaux de Glasgow, The Herald, The Evening Times et The Sunday Herald, a licencié TOUS ses 230 journalistes en les invitant à postuler à de nouvelles offres d'emplois, moins nombreuses, et communes aux publications papier et internet.

La mutualisation des contenus est une tendance de fond de la presse. Alain Weill, le patron de La Tribune, RMC et BFM en France, en a fait le coeur de sa stratégie d'entreprise. Les journalistes de presse écrite sont désormais censés écrire pour les sites internet de leurs publications, voire produire des vidéos etc... Mais cette mesure autoritaire de Newsquest est en outre destinée à briser la résistance du syndicat, le National Union of Journalists, opposé aux changements.

Alex Salmond, le premier ministre écossais, est lui-même intervenu pour protester contre ce coup de force.

Désormais, il ne faut plus parler de journalistes mais de producteurs de contenus... Times they are a'changin'.

Le prochain post sera plus léger, promis !

dimanche, novembre 30, 2008

Keeping warm in the Kibble Palace

Enough fantasizing about Mediterranean islands. Back to gloomy Northern Europe. How about a visit to the stylish Kibble Palace in the Glasgow Botanic gardens ? The 19th century glasshouse underwent a costly restoration between 2003 and 2006 but it was well worth the effort.

In the tropical atmosphere of the palace, you can see all kinds of carnivorous plants.

The marble statue is usually photographed like this.

But you can also look at it this way (cheeky !).

Kibble Palace is a nice place to keep warm when the weather's bad. And it's set in the most pleasant area of Glasgow, the "boho" West End (plus, it's free !).

samedi, novembre 22, 2008

Malta on my mind

Cher blog,
Je ne vais pas te mentir, tu l'auras remarqué de toi-même, j'ai peu de temps à te consacrer actuellement. Alors, puisque l'on rentre dans l'hiver et que le compte à rebours vers Noël a commencé, je me replonge dans mes photos de vacances. Direction Malte, un concentré de Grande-Bretagne, de Sicile et de Tunisie sur 320 km².

Dear blog,
I know I've let you down a bit lately. How about flicking through pictures of my summer holidays in Malta, a concentrate of Britishness, Sicilian laidback atmosphere and Tunisian climate in the middle of the Mediterranean ? I don't feel like thinking about Christmas just now.

Kitsch pubs galore in the tiny English-speaking island.

The Maltese transport system is reliable and fun.

Clichéed but nice.

Malta is serious about religion.

And door knobs.
As for the Scottish connection : Sir Walter Scott has been there !

mercredi, novembre 12, 2008

Can he fix the White House ?

Did you notice Barack Obama borrowed his slogan from Bob the Builder ? "Can we fix it ? Yes we can !"

"Peut-on le faire ? Oui on peut !" Bob le bricoleur l'a dit avant Barack Obama.

Note to self : Pascale, get a life !

samedi, novembre 08, 2008

The Lighthouse, Glasgow

Funny signs in the Lighthouse in Glasgow.

This tower was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and has become a gallery devoted to architecture.

It's worth going to the top floor to have a look at Glasgow from above.

dimanche, novembre 02, 2008

Expos Paris-Glasgow

Le musée de Cluny, alias le musée du Moyen-âge de Paris, consacre une exposition aux Celtes et aux Scandinaves jusqu'au 12 janvier 2009. On y voit plein de chouettes objets anciens écossais, comme cette fibule du VIIIème siècle.

Meanwhile, in Glasgow, the Burrell Collection holds an exhibition about silk embroideries in
Uzbekiztan until January 4th.
Si ça, c'est pas du bon conseil culturel...

lundi, octobre 27, 2008

10 must-see DVDs for kids

With all these bicultural children being brought into the world this year (including Perrine's expected twins in a few weeks !), I thought it would be a good idea to share my list of favourite films and books for pre-school years.

Let's start with the DVDs that have kept my two sons (now five and two) happy for the last couple of years. Obviously, they are all at their best in their original language, although the French versions are usually very well made (except for Wallace & Gromit).

1- Wallace & Gromit. From their debut in the short film A Grand Day Out to The Curse of the Ware Rabbit, there's no beating the lovable plasticine duo.
2- Chicken Run. Created by the same studio as Wallace & Gromit, a hilarious remake of The Great Escape, with a distinct Scottish-friendly tone to it (hey, there's Mel Gibson in the cast).
3- The Jungle Book. Disney is supposed to be ancient history, but this classic has it all : great graphics, catchy tunes, unforgettable characters.
4- Shrek 1, 2 & 3. Dreamworks' answer to Disney became an instant hit seven years ago. The first film was good, the second one was okay, the third one was phenomenal. Can't wait for Number four in 2010.

Stuart Little 1 & 2. A mouse is adopted by a New York family. Voiced by Michael J. Fox, this cool rodent will win your heart, especially in the sequel (his dad is played by Hugh "Dr House" Laurie !).
6- Fantasia. More Disney but a great excuse to introduce your child to classical music.
7- Kirikou et la Sorcière. A French film at last ! You couldn't get more different from Hollywood blockbusters, but this African tale is universal.
8- Thomas the Tank Engine. Choo choo ! Two-year-olds still love to board this chubby locomotive.
9- Enchanted. Disney again ! But this time the Dream Factory has decided to have a laugh at itself. Definitely designed for seven-year-old girls, but my boys were enchanted too.

And also : Toy Story 1 & 2, Ice Age 1 & 2, Bob the Builder, Jay Jay the Jet Plane, Balamory (a Scottish TV series recommended by Mo)... I couldn't choose a number 10. The great news is, most kiddies films are catered for adults as well, so you're bound to have a good time with your wee one(s).

Spéciale dédicace à Perrine, qui va bientôt découvrir les joies des DVD pour enfants avec la naissance prochaine de ses jumeaux. La bonne nouvelle, c'est que le cinéma pour les petits est souvent excellent, un vrai plaisir pour les grands aussi.