jeudi 29 novembre 2007

Radiance - suite et fin, en photos

Je vous en parlais la semaine dernière, je suis allée voir le festival Radiance ce weekend.
Je suis d’accord avec Mathilde qui en parlait aussi dans son Alba Blog, la contribution la plus intéressante était « Tale of a Tree City » par Xavier de Richemont avec la diffusion sur la Cathédrale de Glasgow d’un spectacle sons et lumières illustrant l’histoire de la cathédrale et du patron de Glasgow, St Mungo. Je vous renvoie au billet de Mathilde pour les photos de la Cathédrale et de sa petite balade dans la Nécropole derrière la Cathédrale – les miennes sont toutes floues …

J’ai aussi beaucoup aimé « Wee Devils », un petit film d’animation projeté sur un mur du Provan Lordship Building (la plus ancienne maison de Glasgow). Ce petit film a été réalisé à partir de dessins d’enfants produits dans des écoles et centres aérés de Glasgow mis en musique, très réussi !

Et puis le cercle de la spiritualité (je ne retrouve plus le véritable titre!) projeté en face du St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art

Ensuite, mon appareil photo a rendu l’âme alors que l’on faisait le tour des animations autour de Strathclyde Uni et dans la Merchant City (ancien quartier industriel de Glasgow en pleine période de réhabilitation, tout à coté du city center proper), il a commencé à faire très froid et j’ai un peu perdu de mon enthousiasme !

mardi 27 novembre 2007

Bye bye to the "best small country in the world"...

Non rassurez vous, je ne quitte pas l'Ecosse - quoiqu'un jour comme aujourd'hui, je suis tentée! Mais notre premier ministre a décidé de mettre au rencart ce slogan qui accueillait les touristes dans tous les aéroports d'Ecosse.

A la place, de nouveaux posters mettront en image ce que la ville du coin a d'intéressant : par exemple, "literature for Edinburgh, the Commonwealth Games for Glasgow and the oil industry for Aberdeen ". J'ai hate de voir les posters sur l'industrie du pétrole .

Et aujourd'hui, le nouveau slogan publicitaire qui ornera ces posters vient d'être dévoilé - attention roulement de tambour .................................................... "Welcome to Scotland"!

Ben voyons, ça c'est original, dites moi. Et ça coute £100 000 ? Encore une fois, de l'argent public bien dépensé ...

vendredi 23 novembre 2007

Radiance 2007

As part of Winterfest – Glasgow’s festive celebration programme - Radiance, the International Festival of Light returns to Glasgow this weekend to transform the city in a celebration of light, architecture, history and art. The Merchant City and the Cathedral area will be turned into an open air gallery as shimmering light displays are projected on many buildings and city’s landmarks. I will definetely go and take a stroll around the different festival locations and enjoy the light artworks. I’m particularly looking forward to admire the work of French artist Xavier De Richemont who will use the walls of Glasgow Cathedral as a canvas for a light and music mural.
You can find the full programme here and for those of you who won’t be in Glasgow this weekend, the website has webcams which should allow you to admire the displays from the comfort (and warmth!) of your own home.

Picture: Xavier de Richemont's light mural on the walls of Glasgow Cathedral (only visible at night obviously)

Edit (friday night): after looking at the webcams earlier tonight it appears they are only pointing at the Christmas lights on George Square. So no Radiance highlights there then ... Will try and take pictures this weekend but night pictures are not my speciality!

lundi 19 novembre 2007

Sunday afternoon stroll ...

... somewhere in Lancashire

For more, it's here.

vendredi 16 novembre 2007

The "Not so United Anymore" Kingdom? Life in the UK after the independence ...

So apparently, our First Minister Alex Salmond reckons that Scotland will have gained independance by 2017.

I have yet to make up my mind about the Scottish independence (and I wonder if I ever will) but I'm getting bored of the broken promises and the SNP "propaganda" already.

However, I really enjoyed reading the Guardian's take on what the UK would be like if Scotland did indeed decide to go it alone. It's here and I think it makes for a funny, light hearted and actually rather instructive read.

On a different note ... Whilst discussing this article with one of my friend, I learnt a new word: smarmy. Apparently this is one way to to describe our First Minister but it would most certainly apply to many British and French politicians!

jeudi 15 novembre 2007

Of stereotypes

Since yesterday and the move from Waterloo to St Pancras, London and Paris are now only 2h15 apart. This has been a great opportunity for many papers and magazines to write about life in both countries and the experience of French and British expatriates.

In The Times, I read those 2 mirroring articles: one written by a British woman about her experience of living in Paris and an earlier one, written by a (very posh) French woman in London. I first got thoroughly annoyed by these two women for writing so predictable and prejudiced articles - French people always complain and think about sex all the time apparently, and British people live in small and dirty houses and have no sense of style. But these articles are so full of the usual stereotypes that I ended up laughing out loud reading them. See what you think....

lundi 12 novembre 2007

A frosty Monday morning

Glasgow in ABBA

(And not ABBA in Glasgow. Now, that would be awesome but frankly we all know it’s not going to happen).

I have a confession to make: I love ABBA. I know they are terribly kitsch but that’s all part of the appeal really – that and the glitter, the sequins, the outrageous outfits and the cheesy lyrics. Listening to ABBA always puts me in a good mood and the Swedish foursome has often given me a much needed boost when I was feeling low or tired - the depressing Sunday evenings in smelly trains taking me back to an empty house, the lonely weekends in the lab at the end of my PhD, editing and printing the same PhD thesis and the last kilometres of my two 10K last spring. It’s no surprise then that ABBA is back on my iPod now that I have started running again in preparation for this.

You’d think by now I would know all their songs inside out but I was very surprised to discover that Glasgow features in one of them and I had never realised until Friday morning. Do you know which one I’m talking about?

vendredi 9 novembre 2007

And the winner is ....

Silence falls on the factory. Even the loud machines are temporarily turned off. The phones have been diverted to the answering machines. People have even stopped chewing their lunch. You could hear a pin drop.

And then:

"The host of the 2014 Commonwealth Games will be .... Glasgow!"

Cheers erupt everywhere, cars are bipping their horns outside and the Proclaimers' hit "I'm Gonna be (500 Miles)" is blaring on the radio. This is such an exciting moment for Scotland!

Cynics will say that the Commonwealth Games are nowhere near as exciting or interesting as the Olympic Games. I take the point but as First Minister Alex Salmond said: "The Commonwealth Games really do matter to Scotland. They matter because they are the only multi-sport games in which our nation competes, as ourselves, 'as Scotland'."

There's a chance I won't be living in Glasgow anymore in 2014 but I'm looking forward to seeing the changes in the city in the next few years, and the big regeneration game starting in the East End. And I'm loving the current feeling of general euphoria.

Well done Glasgow!

Decision Day

Today at about 12:45pm, Glasgow will find out if it will hold the Commonwealth Games in 2014. The city waits with baited breath ....

If you are in Glasgow today, this is where you can share the excitement. For me, it will be live update from here or the good old BBC ...

jeudi 8 novembre 2007


The nights are drawing in and it’s the time of the year when I really need a nice comforting hot drink when I get back from work cold and wet. And nothing goes better with a steaming hot cup of tea than a lovely scone …

Scones are quintessentially British and I’m pleased to report of Scottish origin, although the word scones itself could apparently originates from the Dutch schoonbrood (fine white bread), from schoon (pure, clean) and brood (bread). Thanks Wikipedia for enlightening me! No afternoon tea would be complete without a big pile of scones with clotted cream and jam!

I have tried many recipes, regular, griddle, sweet, savoury, wholemeal, with or without fruits … there are so many of them! This is the basic recipe I prefer, never fails and you can easily adapt it! I have “borrowed” it from Gary Rhodes’ “New British Classics” – I thought I’d let you know, that book is brilliant for, well you’ve guessed it, British classics!

Gary Rhodes Home-made Scones

Ingredients: (makes 8-10 scones)

225g (8 oz) self rising flour

1 tsp baking powder

pinch salt

25g (1 oz) caster sugar

50g (2 oz) unsalted butter
[Note: An extra 50g (2 oz) butter can be added to give a richer finish.]

150ml (1/4 pint) milk 1 egg, beaten, or plain flour, for brushing or dusting


1. Preheat oven to 220oC (425oF).

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Stir in the sugar, add the slightly softened butter and rub quickly into the flour, creating a fine breadcrumb consistency. Add the milk, a little at a time, working to a smooth dough. This is now best left to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before rolling.

3. Roll on a lightly floured work surface until 2 cm (3/4 of an inch) thick. Using a 5 cm (2 inches) pastry cutter, cut the dough, using one sharp tap and not twisting the dough as you cut. Twisting the scone mix will result in an uneven rise. Once the scones have been cut, any trimmings can be worked together and re-cut until all of the mix has been used.

Note: I often use another technique - I roll the dough like a big sausage, 5 cm in diameter, and with a sharp knife, cut out 2 cm slices. This technique avoids doing all the re-mixing of the trimmings, re-rolling and re-cutting as above. You need a sharp knife though to cut neat slices, otherwise, they will not rise evenly.

4. Once cut, the scones can either be brushed with the beaten egg for a shiny glaze, or dusted with flour for a matt finish. Be careful not to let any of the egg mixture drip down the sides of the scones.

Note: You can also brush them with a bit of milk (less messy!).

5. Place the scones on a greased baking tray and bake in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly and serve while still warm.

Gary's suggestions: 50g (2 oz) of mixed sultanas and currants can be added for fruity scones. The sugar can be omitted for plain savoury scones, 50g (2 oz) of grated parmesan cheese or cheddar cheese can be added, with a good pinch of english mustard, for homemade cheese scones. Freshly chopped thyme can also be added to the savoury scones.

Pepette's suggestions: You can use half and half wholemeal and plain flour for wholemeal scones, but do not use too much wholemeal flour (max 3/4) as the dough becomes really crumbly and impossibly difficult to roll out.

Bon appétit!

mardi 6 novembre 2007

Customer service à la française

Imaginez la scène: jeudi matin, 1er Novembre, je débarque à Paris, bright and early.

Je m’apprête à prendre le métro pour Gare de Lyon depuis Porte Maillot en compagnie de nombreux écossais, hongrois et suédois arrivés comme moi à Beauvais.

Or il se trouve que le métro est fermé pour cause de travaux. Merci le comité d’accueil. Aucune explication pour cette fermeture et pas d’autre solution offerte (j’apprendrais plus tard – par hasard et trop tard – qu’il y a des travaux sur la ligne et qu’un service de remplacement par bus est assuré un peu plus loin). Plan A, mon seul et unique plan, tombe à l’eau et je regrette amèrement d’avoir laissé mon plan de métro sur ma table de nuit à Glasgow. Nous échangeons des regards paniqués avec mes compagnons de voyage …

N’étant pas une grande experte des transports en commun parisiens, je décide de me rabattre sur la station RER la plus proche – à ce moment là, mes compagnons de voyage qui ont maintenant deviné que je suis française me suivent comme le messie, s’imaginant certainement que je vais les tirer d’affaire.

Grosse erreur : je n’ai aucune idée de ce que je vais faire une fois arrivée au RER et surtout j’ai oublié qu’on est un jour férié. Les jours fériés au Royaume Uni, tout fonctionne comme d’habitude ou presque. Mais mon histoire se passe en France et l’effectif très réduit de la billetterie est sur le point de devenir inexistant : lorsque l’unique agent de la RATP voit débarquer l’équivalent de 3 bus de touristes, elle décide de fermer son guichet. « Bienvenue en France messieurs dames mais moi, je prends ma pause et je n’ai absolument aucune intention de vous aider ou de faire le travail pour lequel je suis pourtant payée. »

Exactement le genre de comportement qui fait dire aux étrangers que les français sont grossiers, pas aimables, pas serviables etc. Et là vraiment je ne peux pas leur donner tort – la moutarde me monte au nez et la dame a de la chance que je n’arrive pas à l’attraper à temps avant qu’elle disparaisse…

L’unique borne de billetterie automatique est prise d’assaut et rend l’âme très vite, n’acceptant plus ni billets, ni pièces et surtout pas les cartes étrangères. Plan B ayant échoué de façon spectaculaire et n’étant pas madame patience, je préfère à ce moment prendre la poudre d’escampette !

Heureusement, mon air désemparé m’attire la sympathie d’un gentil monsieur qui me propose un Plan C – marcher jusqu'à Etoile et prendre le métro ou le RER.

Réconciliée avec Paris, rassurée sur la bonne nature humaine et ma bonne humeur retrouvée, je descends l’avenue de la Grande Armée jusqu'à l’Arc de Triomphe… puis ayant encore du temps à perdre avant mon train je décide de continuer ma randonnée urbaine, descendant les Champs Elysées jusqu'à la place de la Concorde et les Tuileries. Une balade bien sympa au cours de laquelle j’ai pu absorber l’atmosphère parisienne, admirer les façades des grands immeubles et des vitrines des Champs Elysées, jouer à la touriste et redécouvrir avec plaisir les Tuileries …

Je voudrais donc ici remercier publiquement la RATP pour traiter leurs usagés de façon déplorable – sans vous j’aurais raté une promenade bien agréable.