Summer Edition

Posted by on July 28, 2014

Bonjour mes Amies.  Round Robin Summer edition. 2014.

Undercarriage failure, Sardinia, Shipman’s overdose and Colin’s syringe.

Buzz, one of our long standing friends arrived here for a well-earned weeks rest. Exhausted from creating five star menus for the Lord and lady of Hagley Hall, and too many Indian weddings for 1000 guests, found it difficult to relax. I suggested a massage, but was told physio’s can’t massage. Skyped Tess, who suggested the lotus position and a few Zennings. Buzz thought this may either cause a hip dislocation or he wasn’t sure he wanted to find his inner peace! then the master of all forms of relaxation, Shipman, suggested a concoction of sleeping draughts.


The sad thing is that JS and I can convince almost anyone to swallow anything; we have this sort of “believe us” “we know what we are talking about!!” aura. So Buzz quite happily popped whatever we suggested down the hatch with a small glass of the finest whiskey and slept like a baby. But, come 9am the next morning he was still very much asleep, possibly dreaming of Bridget Bardot (in her earlier days!) but definitely not thinking of waking up.” “No problem” Shipman reassures me, he needs his sleep. 11am, and still no sign of life! A slightly concerned Olif discusses with Shipman our plan of action.

Now, concentrate everyone,

If we call the Pompiers, we may get Cedric, Tash’s ex-boyfriend, then we will need Franklin (Tasha’s current boyfriend and living in our apartment) to assist us to remove the body. This could create a domestic with Tash and Franklin; meanwhile Buzz will still be deeply asleep, or worse!! Then of course we would have to explain why we have this comatose body in our house!

“Deny we gave him anything Vanessa, if he pops his clogs we will put it down to exhaustion, cooking too many vol au vents or whatever!” (This is our best friend!)

12.30 pm Buzz wakes up, tells us it’s the best sleep ever, so we just creep around as though nothing has happened!!


Undercarriage failure.

Colin and Val, remember Colin, he is the one who insisted that his wife Val, repair the crack on the floor of the swimming pool in January, with the water temperature at minus 4 degrees, and I feel we have another trainee Shipman developing.

These guys are owners of a fourseater plane, based at Cannes Mandelieu (previously recorded in Olif’s dispatches) they take off for a jolly around the cote D’Azure, planning to land at Aix en Provence, quick bowl of moules and frites and then return to HQ.

“Good morning air traffic control, we require permission to land”.

“Join the circuit downwind and then report”

Captain Val in the pilot’s seat, “landing gear down Colin”

“I repeat, landing gear down Colin, now!”

“It won’t budge Val”

“It’s jammed”

They didn’t teach me this emergency at air school, so as calmly as she could she asks Colin what he suggests.

“Captain Colin reassures the newly qualified Val that this problem can be resolved, whilst deep inside I feel he is sh…… himself!

“No problem darling, we will abandon the moules and frites, turnaround (sounds like a sailing boat command!) and head back to Cannes.”

“Then what do we do Darling???”

“Manual out, read the small print, in the emergency section I propose,, and at all costs keep calm!

With no exaggeration (which I am prone to occasionally!) the fire engines, ambulances and air traffic control are on full alert, Colin manually lowers the undercarriage prior to their assent to the airport, and between them they land their baby successfully.


Talking of a malfunction with the undercarriage, my man Mr J. Suggested quite out of the blue, that I may be in need of a small tweaking, as it were!
Me, a young active 22 year old, what’s wrong with this man?
Very apprehensive, but always in agreement with whatever Mr J. suggests, I spend a couple of days in my working life’s hospital, the Priory.
An excellent experience, full board and lodging, wine sneaked in by the surviving Buzz, daily visits by several extremely good looking gynae’s, a veterinary surgeon, my best girlfriend, Buzz, saw all my old working colleges whom I worked with 10 years ago, and the result, 100% fully operational undercarriage!!!!

Thank you Mr J. xxx how could I ever have doubted you??


You may all be aware of the BBC’s decision to move the footprint, supposedly to give the Brit’s a better reception, in England that is. .. Consequently ex.pats south of the channel no longer receive most of their beloved programmes, I mean how can one live without Holby City, Wimbledon, Monty Don, or even the Simpsons??

A huge debate amongst the British started. A larger sat dish, if so what size, a petition sent to Cameron, or at the absolute worse, learn French and watch their TV…who suggested that idea.

In comes the 12.50 club….. Headed by our electrician Colin, once again! I think he is so relieved he and Val survived their near death experience, the world is their oyster. So they can now supply all these sad brits with normal TV reception once more, I can see a knighthood on the cards Val?

He busily contacts another sparks in the UK, who has a massive warehouse overflowing with 1.25 satellite dishes, which no one really wants until NOW. Orders come flying in from the Var; Colin is nothing but an absolute hero.

Questions come in their hundreds to his secretary, Val, will we get the satnav fixed in time for the new series of Downton Abbey, gardeners world and obviously the world cup.

The business is flourishing, the dishes arrive, Colin has bought a state of the arc satellite locator, and it’s all go.

The Speers accept Colin’s offer to act as a dummy run for the first installation. Arriving with this massive dish, JS selects the part of the roof that will possibly tolerate this eyesore, and pick up a good reception. Ladders in place, tracking device working well, up onto the roof the guys go, and I act as the go between, the TV and the men on the roof, (why is it I always get the boring job?) all going well, when out of the blue, the biggest clap of thunder hits us directly overhead.

Checking the number for the French fire service (get your priorities right Nessie!) I then check the men are ok.Colin has just admitted to JS that he is terrified of heights, and JS has admitted to Colin the same alarming truth! I am not kidding you, perched precariously on the roof; holding onto a metal dish (and probably each other), lightening all around, and neither of them can move a muscle!

“Come on chaps get down here, its dangerous up there”

Well, you have never heard so much abuse, neither of them willing to admit their phobia to this weaker specimen, but glued to the spot.

“We’re stuck Nessie” yells JS.

“What do you mean you’re stuck?”

“We’re just stuck, that’s all” shouts Colin.

“Well I’m not staying out here whilst you two muck about”

In chorus “Just don’t leave us!”

It must have taken half an hour to get them down, step by step, encouraging words, reassurance and the occasional pull in the right direction.

Moral of the story, use a woman to do dangerous jobs.

We do get Holby City however, but the reception for the world cup was awful, there is a God you know.

Brave and a sense of humour.


We recently had dinner with a couple of friends, of which the lady is recovering from chemotherapy.
Loss of hair resulted in her wearing a very posh wig. She visited Le Muy market on a particularly windy day, and it was absolutely packed. Shielding her face from the sun she also wore a larger than life hat, a bit like my pink saucer I wore for Tessa’s wedding. About to purchase a kg of Provence grapes, and whoosh, away went her hat along with her wig!

It was gathering such speed, hurtling down the market way, tourists dodging this strange object, Richard, her partner, only just managed to catch it in time as wig and hat made a beeline straight for the chickens on the spit!

I can honestly tell you that Sue was almost crying with laughter as she related the tale, now this has to be some exceptional lady, in her circumstances.


French Info.

I have once told you that in France it is possible to buy almost anything from your pharmacy at a price of course, and the more desperate a tourist looks for a certain drug the more likely the pharmacienne will supply it and charge you whatever they want. Chemists here are independently run, self-employed and if an item is not possible to buy using your carte Vital… often used in conjunction with your “top up” insurance, they can charge whatever they wish.

So, to ask for as many syringes as you want is really no problem. With or without needles, large medium or small, no questions asked.
As our mate found out the other day.

“May I ask you Monsieur, the reason you need so many syringes?”.

“To mix peroxide hardener with polyester, for the swimming pool”.

“So you will need the medium size” responded the pharmacist. Without even a blink.

It is a very profitable business to be in.

However, when it comes to animals, more readily available drugs, lotions and potions are possible to buy over the counter, without seeing a vet. Just as an extra, did you know British vets can treat  a human  but a doctor cannot treat an animal!.

Watch out St Blaise visitors.


Don’t read this if you are an animal lover. Be warned!!

Le Detaupeur!

JS has recently been asked to purchase some mole explosive devices. Reduced from 80euros to 25, for some unknown reason, and literally when popped down the mole hole, attracts the mole, which then touches the detonator, and bang, goodbye Mr Moly. How sad is that!



TJ made a flying visit with Keith to visit their rich friends in Monaco, bypassed St Blaise, were entertained like royalty, wined and dined in the very finest of restaurants then flew back to Birmingham. Sometimes Mummies really don’t pull as hard as the electric lights of Monaco.



Tash is still working very hard, which is difficult in temperatures of 32 degrees, but is employed at least, which is a very rare opportunity in these parts.


A week in Sardinia in May.
25 euros from Nice with EasyJet, too good to miss, school girl reunion, and finally a visit to see the Fairford tattoo to meet the brietling jet aerobatic team absolutely magnificent.



The last photo is of Jeff, our beloved friend, husband to Chantal, and quite a remarkable man, who died just a month ago, aged 93.
The heart is a small tribute from me to remind him of some his loves in his life. Whiskey, cigarettes and wild wild women!

Jeff RIP - You were loved

Jeff we love you.


PS: This is where I (Mike Speer) hijack Olif’s blog.

This story is Maudie’s and mine favourite recollection of Jeff.
Maudie and I often repeat this dialogue whenever we are planning a holiday or a day out…

I told Jeff that we were going to stay in Paris for the weekend (our first ever).
I asked “If there was only one place to visit in Paris, where would it be?”.

He stopped, thought for a second and replied in that deep, rich, gravelly, sexy voice of his…

” For ze women, for ze whisky,… ze Pigalle”.

I replied “Errr.. what about Maudie?”

Jeff – “Don’t take Maudie”

We will miss you Jeff and all our love to Chantal.
Mike and Maudie XX


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