So much happens these days, we almost need to start keeping a diary!

The week kicked off with the completion of the ‘pantry’ project with painting, changing colours, painting and then the re-assembly stage.

Another trip to the Gypsies and and another overload of the poor Touran, and the library/bookcase project came together. A repository for the special cook books, placed near to the desk and operations hub.

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and the pantry (please note the professionally painted shelf):

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On Wednesday morning, we popped up to a lovely little bistro, Cafe de la Poste (virtually every Provencal village has one called this) for a quick cup of coffee and a chat.

SEVEN hours, several roses, lunch and much hilarity later we wended our way back over the hill to home. The reason for the lateness was that we met a wonderful lady, Alma Taft whom we had been dying to meet – she works for the BBC and is really one of the local characters. Her dog Charlie loves a piece of cheese. Alma is English, Charlie only speaks French.

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The autumn colours never cease to amaze us. The valley changes colour each day.

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The high level of DIY activity has meant wearing a path to the local bricolage Weldon for nails, paint, brushes etc etc.

And, Mrs Fox has taken delivery of a brand newly renovated de Chevaux (Citroen 2-stroke) 1964 vintage. Here friends Peter, Peter and Michael drove it down from Switzerland where it had been living for the past twenty years on a trailer behind a zebra painted Land Rover Discovery (rather incongruous).

As the Fox-Duncans are off the Copenhagen soon, and the Peters x2 had to get back to Switzerland, registration/roadworthy/insurance/number plates etc has been added to our job descriptions.

We’ve organised the roadworthy for next Wednesday – more about that when we tell the full story! Suffice to sat it’s going to add another chapter to our experiences with French bureaucracy.

Saturday night we took time out to pop down to La Bergerie a restaurant in nearby Maubec where the owner gathers jazz musicians together once a month to jam and enjoy some great music.

With the tourists gone, it was strictly locals only. You sit at long tables all together and eat what is put in front of you – in this case, we kicked off with foie gras, waded through roast duck and then finished off with a selection of French diet desserts.

We met Uncle Albert at our table. A quintessential Frenchie, Albert (our name so-called because of his likeness to Albert Einstein) is 85 and was rocking away, singing along and then nodding off as the red wine took hold.

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[Uncle Albert – didn’t Paul Mc Cartney write a song about him?]

Then, the girls could not resist a cuddle:

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Au bientot

Lovonne and Simon xx

                         Not sure if it’s the economy, a harkening back to the ‘good old days’ or someone has been busy digitising old pics, but there are swarms of old Cape Town pics sweeping through the Internet these days.

Here’s two which should bring back a few memories – how many pennies were popped into this little train at the ‘old’ station? A highlight of a trip to town with Mother to Stuttafords tea room.

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Or the building where we spent many hours losing our youth and getting our livers in shape, dodging lectures. Anyone for a pink Pig ‘n Whistle t-shirt or rugby jersey?

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Football’s romantics might wish for a long-awaited Spanish victory in the 2010 World Cup, or a historic African triumph, but it looks like it will be Brazil all the way.

Brazil’s coach, Dunga, may have alienated some fans with pragmatism rather than Brazilian flamboyance, but the tournament should end with a sixth success for the World Cup’s most successful team.

England under Fabio Capello have their strongest hopes of a win since 1966. Argentina hope the Diego Maradona magic will rub off on their talented, but under-achieving, players. And two-time European champions Netherlands want to show they have the ability to win a world title.

While the final appears likely to be between Brazil and European champions Spain, joint 9-2 favourites with British bookmaker William Hill, World Cups frequently have surprises.

Remember North Korea knocking out star-studded Italy in 1966, Cameroon beating defending champions Argentina in 1990 and Senegal’s victory over 1998 champions France?

In the past three decades only one host, France in 1998, has won the title and that run doesn’t look as if it will change, especially with Bafana Bafana in disarray after poor results over the past few years.

But talented Ivory Coast, who have stars Didier Drogba and Kolo Toure in their line-up, are the leading African contenders to win in Africa.

For Brazil and Spain, anything less than reaching the final will be considered a failure. Brazil now have strength throughout the team, and are far more than just a jumble of attacking superstars.

Though Ronaldinho is struggling to get back into the team, Dunga has Kaka, Luis Fabiano and Robinho to unlock defences and provide the goals in front of hard-working midfielders and solid defenders.

Spain have their best squad ever, with stand-out goalkeepers and experienced and hugely talented stars, such as Xavi Hernandez, Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta, Fernando Torres and David Villa all playing on the same wavelength.

Michael Ballack remains the solid core of Germany’s line-up as they chase their fourth World Cup win, but first since 1990. But the team lacks guile, while the Dutch, twice runners-up, will hope to shrug off their brittle form in major championships and rely on forwards Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben to bring home their first title.

Under disciplinarian Capello, England won nine of their 10 qualifiers, look solid and probably have their best chance for decades.

Though England have the experience and talent of David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney and John Terry, the team has a weakness at goalkeeper and Rio Ferdinand’s fitness is now suspect.

With Maradona unable to transfer his greatness as a player to the team, Argentina looked in danger of failing to qualifying and only just made it.

Maradona, should he keep the coach’s job going into the finals, now has to get the best out of undoubted talents such as Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero to make an impact in South Africa.

With the squad still filled with ageing stars, Italy will struggle to hold on to the title and become the first back-to-back winners since Brazil in 1962. The flip side of that is that Fabio Cannavaro, Gianluca Zambrotta, Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Pirlo all know how to win the World Cup.

Declining under coach Raymond Domenech, France needed a blatant handball by Thierry Henry against Ireland to make it through the play-offs, while Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz seems unable to get the best out of stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Deco and Ricardo Carvalho.

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Susan Boyle, a 48-year-old unemployed charity worker who became an international sensation after her audition for “Britain’s Got Talent” in April, can now lay claim to a new achievement.

Her debut CD, set to come out on November 23, has become the most pre-ordered CD in the history of Amazon.com, according to the online retailer.

Eager fans began ordering copies of the CD, “I Dreamed a Dream,” as soon as its release was announced late summer, pushing it to the top of the online retail chart ahead of Whitney Houston’s much-anticipated comeback CD.

“One of the things that is so unique about Susan Boyle is her ability to touch people around the world,” said Steve Barnett, the chairman of Columbia Records, in a statement.

Before she sang during her audition in April, the unassuming single woman with a loose mop of curly hair drew snickers from the audience, including notoriously hard-to-please judge Simon Cowell.

The scowls and eye-rolling were replaced by wild cheers as soon as she sang the first line of “I Dreamed a Dream.”

Even though she eventually lost out to a dance troupe in the TV competition, her pitch-perfect rendition of the “Les Miserables” number catapulted her into an overnight sensation with a string of global television appearances.

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The floodgates in daytime TV are officially open. After 25 years, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” will end its run on Sept. 9, 2011, Winfrey announced to staffers at her Chicago-based Harpo production company on Thursday. She’ll officially announce her exit on today’s episode of the show.

Whether that means Winfrey will launch a new talker on her burgeoning cable partnership with Discovery Communications, OWN, remains to be announced — but Winfrey is expected to have a major presence on the cabler.

Winfrey’s departure will make for an unprecedented shift in syndicated daytime TV in a manner similar to what happened in morning radio after Howard Stern split for satellite radio.

In one scenario, Warner Bros. Domestic TV Distribution may make a play to grab those ABC station slots for “Ellen.” The “Ellen” show’s deal with NBC stations happens to be up in 2011 as well — and execs there see Ellen DeGeneres as the heir to Winfrey’s talk queen crown. Winfrey, who just put DeGeneres on the cover of her magazine, even appears to have an affinity for her rival.

Of course, DeGeneres could make a play for that crown even if “Ellen” sticks with the NBC stations, particularly if the ABC outlets opt to replace Winfrey with local news rather than another talkshow.

In a less likely scenario, Disney could see an opportunity to finally claim that news lead-in timeslot for its own firstrun syndicated strip. But given the company’s dismal track record in that arena, such a move is unlikely.

The ever-changing media landscape is giving us lots to talk about.

[original source- Variety]

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It’s not possible to comment on this one….

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This is an example of most of the Aussie tabloids this morning.

Except, of course, the Northern Territory News:

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Marylebone Cricket Club will consider selling the naming rights to Lord’s, the sport’s most famous ground, as part of a £400 million redevelopment revealed in The Times (www.thetimes.co.uk) today.

The most radical scheme in the 195-year history of the home of cricket will see it transformed into a 21st-century super-stadium.

Vision for Lord’s, as the proposals are titled, will be funded partly by luxury flats around the periphery that estate agents estimate could sell for £1.2 million each. The redevelopment is designed to increase seating by about 7,500, create an underground cricket academy, a brasserie and a bigger museum.

It is the idea of a sponsor-backed Lord’s, however, that will divide fans. MCC committee members know that they must move fast because of competition from the Football Association and the Rugby Football Union, understood to be seeking £1 million-a-year naming rights deals for Wembley Stadium and Twickenham. Chelsea Football Club are also looking at a deal for Stamford Bridge.

Keith Bradshaw, MCC chief executive, told The Times that he hoped to sell sponsorship packages to India before exploiting naming rights. He conceded: “That is obviously an option but you reach a point at which you do not want to sell your soul.”

Sponsoring arenas is not new but is still fraught with risk because fans are creatures of habit. Tim Crow, of Synergy Sponsorship, said: “They have to be very careful about the brand they choose. Even then, I think there would be a negative reaction. The disadvantages outweigh the gains.”

The revamp would also offer naming rights for the seven stands. Gone would be the testimonials to such legends of the game as Denis Compton, Bill Edrich, Sir Pelham Warner and Sir Gubby Allen, whose names grace the ground alongside the Investec media centre — the one incongruous nod to commercialism to date.

The plans, to be submitted to Westminster City Council after approval by MCC members, will even open the exclusive club to prying eyes by demolishing the high perimeter wall and creating a more inviting exterior.

The new design is in the hands of the architects Herzog & de Meuron, whose work includes the Tate Modern and the “Bird’s Nest” stadium in Beijing, the centrepiece of last year’s Olympics. The Swiss firm was also responsible for the Allianz Arena, the home of Bayern Munich football club, named after the insurance company that paid £4 million a year under the biggest naming rights deal in Europe.

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This spectacular image of a hippo biting a crocodile was captured by wildlife photographer Vaclav Silha. The 45 -year-old Czech got the shock of his life after setting up his camera on the banks of the Nile river in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, to take snaps of a huge group of 50 hippos bathing in the river.

A colossal fight broke out between the group and a sneaky crocodile that strayed too close to a mother with calves. The unlucky crocodile’s armoured body was no match for the raging hippos – one of the most aggressive creatures in the animal kingdom that can apply several tons of pressure in a single bite.

[pic: The Times]

When the White Bwanas designed and constructed the Mfuwe Game Lodge in the South Luangwa National Park in Zambia, they built it (unwittingly, we’re told) on a traditional elephant path to some wild mango trees on the property.

When the fruit is ripe, the herd of a dozen or so elephants walk through the lodge’s reception area at least twice a day for about 4 weeks and then sporadically for about another 3 weeks to feed on the trees. No incidents reported to date! However, no prizes for guessing who gets to check in first.

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[thanks John]

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