Lost-Luggage-Found-20-Years-Later-Video

 

The New York Times reports that passengers who suffer from airlines losing their luggage may be getting their rights back.

Buried in the new bill reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration are a few sections addressing the fees that many of us pay to fly. And while the Senate and the House bills still differ a bit, one likely result is going to be this: The carriers are going to have to refund the fees you pay when your luggage isn’t on your flight and you have to wait a long time to get it.

Refunding those fees may not seem like a big deal, but airlines in the United States took in about $3 billion in fees for checked luggage last year. So plenty is at stake. And if you’ve ever tried to get your money back after an airline botched its baggage delivery, as I did recently, you’re acutely aware of the following facts:

■ Any attempt to reason with the airline begins with the discovery that it may have declared all baggage fees nonrefundable in nearly every circumstance.

■ A refund, if you get one, may come in the form of a voucher that requires you to fly that carrier again — and to remember to use it.

■ If you dispute the charge with your credit card company, you may run into resistance.

While the bill contains other improvements for traveling families, people in wheelchairs and others, those baggage fees are the ones that airlines have been charging for a longer time and are particularly noxious. If the bag doesn’t come spinning around the carousel, you shouldn’t have to pay, right?

 

il_fullxfull_208581816

As you get to know French culture better, you might wonder what the customs and history of French Valentine’s Day are. Actually, you might be surprised to find out that Valentine’s Day might possibly have started in France.

To some it will be no surprise that a country regarded as one of the most romantic in the world (France) should have invented Valentine’s Day. On the other hand, the history of the holiday is not clear enough to say with certainty that the holiday originated in France.

History of French Valentine’s Day
There are two reasons why many people link Valentine’s Day with France. One is that it was commonly known, in both England and France, that birds and other animals paired off and mated ‘in the middle of February’. Coincidence? Most likely not, since February 14 is exactly the middle of February. It is thought that people began celebrating this as the special day for lovers because of this association with ‘love’ in nature.

In addition, a Frenchman, the Duke of Orléans, is thought to have written the first love letters that later became Valentine’s Day cards. The Duke of Orléans, Charles, was captured in 1415 and taken as a prisoner to London; while imprisoned in the Tower, he is thought to have written love letters to his wife back in France. These are thought to be what became cartes d’amitiés, now known as French Valentine’s Day cards.

St-Valentin, France
In France, in the department of Indre (Central France), there is a village called St-Valentin. Although nobody really knows anymore who St. Valentine was historically, there’s no doubt that the village of St-Valentin has capitalized on its name and marketed itself as le village des amoureux! Of course, with a name like that, one can’t help but make the association.

Create a Valentines Day à la française
Looking for a new way to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Create a French theme for your special day and surprise your loved one with a French evening. Use the opportunity to try out a delicious French dessert, serve French bread and cheese between the dinner and your delectable dessert, and have some romantic French music playing in the background all evening. Don’t forget to set the table in a French way, which is to say that the table should look like art: complete with a tablecloth, cloth napkins, a tasteful centerpiece, and an array of cutlery and glasses suitable for each course you will serve. Your valentine will never forget the year you made the most romantic day of the year even more romantic!

Have a great day with your loved one!

 

27th December is Madame’s birdie.

Bon Anniversaire…

The joy of her life

The joy of her life

 

IMG_8778

ExchangingLettersWithSanta

The French like to believe that they invented Christmas. Their belief is that they did this shortly after discovering the secret of fire (Prometheus was from Marseille) and a little before they invented reggae music (which Bob Marley copied from Serge Gainsbourg). But we do admit grudgingly Christmas couldn’t have been invented by any other nation. The details of the nativity are unmistakably French: a family undergoing extraordinary inconvenience for the sake of a massive bureaucratic exercise; a leading lady who may or may not have been sleeping with her husband; and of course the Christ child himself, who grows up and promptly turns water into the national beverage. (The gospels don’t specify which kind of wine was produced at Cana, but locals assure me it was at the very least a  Château Latour or Miraval).

runner-up

Children love a French Christmas because the French really do it right. In many countries, there is occasional loose talk to the effect that Father Christmas may not exist. In France, they do not permit this heresy. Since 1962, there has been a law that any French child posting a letter addressed simply to “Le Père Noël” must receive a postcard in return. Adults who break the spell are shunned. On the other hand, the French have found a way to make the Christmas magic work for parents, too: they have provided Le Père Noël with an evil sidekick. The terrifying Père Fouettard – literally “whipping father” – rides on the tailgate of the sleigh, delivering beatings to naughty children as Father Christmas delivers presents to the good. When you’re trying to get children to sleep on Christmas Eve, the Anglo-American song exhorting children to “be good for goodness sake” is not nearly so effective as “be good or Le Père Fouettard will come down that chimney and thrash you”. You have to hand it to the French.

Bon Noel to everyone! And, as the French say, Bon Fetes!

#prayforparis

#prayforparis

 

o-FRENCH-SHOP-CLOSED-570

 

Another chapter in our self-help saga..

Golden rule number THREE: DON’T COME ON HOLIDAY IF THE FRENCH PISS YOU OFF

HEY HO, it’s off on holiday we go. To France. The South of France to be more accurate – Provence. Land of sunshine, grapes, olives, blue skies and a relaxed way of life.

The problem is, the French piss you off!

Why go? Why put yourself through the trauma of living side by side with Provençal French, as well as holidaying Parisians (quelle horreur!)? Some things the French WILL do that WILL upset you, unless you really WANT to be there:

  • Lunch will be from 12h00 to at least 14h30. Shops will close and for the 15 minutes before 12h00, the roads will be mayhem as the locals all go home for lunch – quickly.
  • You will most likely not be allowed to enter a restaurant after 13h15 for lunch; the chef and staff like to be out of the restaurant as soon as you have wiped the last drop of coffee off your lips. So must you – no linger longer here.
  • The Supermarkets will close at 13h00 on a Sunday.
  • Many shops will be closed on a Monday – sorry for you.
  • The vehicle behind you will ride as close to your rear number plate as possible. They say that within the skeleton of a Frenchman beats the heart of a Formula 1 driver. The French are a frugal bunch; don’t expect them to waste the space between you and their car.
  • Your car might break down. Drag out as much patience out of your body as you can – the mechanic will arrive eventually; everything will be very difficult; everything will take time; and, you will wince at the invoice. Live with it.
  • The French are not very good at roundabouts, nor at roads that enter a major road. Both are relatively new concepts – roundabouts are from England which puts them at a distinct disadvantage, and the rule that you had to at least yield when you enter a major road has only been around for about 15 years. Not long enough to sink in.
  • Waitrons and bar staff are experts at ignoring people. Especially if they do not know you, and that is even not a certainty for service. Wait patiently, smile, know what you want and wait patiently. Don’t forget to say thank you! Tipping is a rarity in France ‘service’ staff are not incentivised to deliver service rapide.
  • Occupational Health and Safety is a relatively new concept in France, and not easily understood. Your rental may have a few plug plates dangling from the wall; the electricity connections in all the villages are precarious to say the least; telegraph posts are often down on the side of the road. However, find a man beavering away on the side of the road doing some weeding and you’ll find two little moveable traffic lights perched 100 metres down the road stopping the traffic. Be patient, they will change – eventually.
  • France has some of the most obscure and incomprehensible regulations and laws on earth. Often there is no logic in the local by-laws; parking rules; opening and closing times. Live with it. All in all, you’re visiting their country. Embrace the culture and enjoy it!

DON’T ALLOW THE FRENCH TO PISS YOU OFF AND MAKE YOU MISERABLE

DISCLAIMER: All the stories and anecdotes told in this Quick Read are true, but for obvious reasons names and locations have been changed. If any incident scratches a nerve, the hurt is purely unintentional and told in the interest of harmless, satirical fun. The author apologises in advance if any reader feels affronted by some of the comments made.

 

 

yulelog-fire_lg

Another chapter in our tongue-in-cheek look at life in Provence……

Golden Rule number TWO: DON’T COME ON HOLIDAY AND BE MISERABLE BECAUSE YOU’RE TOO COLD (OR TOO HOT)

The French love statistics, and are pretty good at it. There is no excuse for being ignorant about what the rainfall, temperatures, humidity, thunder activity, frost density etc. has been for the past 20 or so years. It’s all documented. Hundreds of websites give you the information. In addition, your hosts will know. The South of France has 300 days of sunshine a year, but this does not mean that you prance off British Airways in November wearing Bermuda shorts, a Royal and Ancient polo shirt and loafers, expecting to sun yourself next to the pool.

No!

Pools are closed in September, except where they are heated and then your hosts will probably have closed them in any case because electricity is expensive. You check into your self-catering holiday rental. Most caring owners would have pre-heated the house for you. However, that is pre-heating to a comfortable 20 degrees C. Not a raging 35 degrees C so that you can stay in your shorts and polo shirt.

What happens? Calamity. The heaters are all turned up to the maximum at once; the towels rails turned from heated to radiator and the carefully laid fire lit. The house’s power trips. Frustration. The Guest Information Book gives some information but you end up scrabbling around for a torch with a flat battery and spend the rest of your first night flicking the trip switch up and down. Cursing the owners, your spouse and life in general. Not a good start.

It gets worse. You have no warm clothing; you don’t know how to light a fire after the pre-laid wood had been used up; now you’re miserable and take it out on the owners. They roll their eyes and think “why come on holiday so unprepared and be miserable”.

That’s the cold, now what about when the mercury goes way over the 30sC?

Once again, refer back to the statistics. They will tell you that the average temperature in August is in the upper 30s C and can go into the 40s. That’s  hot.

No sunscreen. Long pants, woolly socks and sandals. Why does it seem to get hotter at 16h00 and stay hot until midnight? Because it is the South of France and because of daylight saving, darling.

However, it’s better to whinge and whine than enjoy the warmth.

Oh my Gosh! What about the insects, the flies, and the scorpions!

Some friends live next door to their renters and were phoned at midnight – “we are being invaded! Help!” They rushed next-door expecting to see blood on the floor. What did they see? They saw a nest of tiny beetles, which had hatched up in the beams of the bedroom. About as dangerous as a floor mop on an armed drone.

A regular gripe is the preponderance of insects near to the swimming pool. Sorry, this is rural France and we have insects, we have flies and we have scorpions.

(Household tip: Put a sprig of lavender on the windowsill if you are terrified of scorpions – that scares them away).

Another tale was the guests who wanted their money back because there were ten earthworms in the pool. They counted them! Earthworms are good for the garden, but sometimes they get thirsty and go for a swim. Their fate is far worse than yours if you swim with them. They died, you won’t.

The ultimate anecdote is the one of some tourists (origin classified), who demanded their money back and were leaving – the weather was lousy!

It takes all kinds.

DON’T COME ON HOLIDAY AND MAKE EVERYONE MISERABLE BECAUSE YOU ARE COLD/HOT.

DISCLAIMER: All the stories and anecdotes told in this Quick Read are true, but for obvious reasons names and locations have been changed. If any incident scratches a nerve, the hurt is purely unintentional and told in the interest of harmless, satirical fun. The author apologises in advance if any reader feels affronted by some of the comments made.

empty-wine-glass

 

We’ve lived in Provence for nearly six years now and have had some of the most amazing adventures way beyond our wildest expectations. We’ve also met some incredible people. However, as one of the most visited places on earth, Provence sometimes cannot meet some tourists’ expectations for a variety of reasons.

Inspired by the new trend for Quick Reads by many authors and, particularly,  self-publishing authors, we are bust compiling some material into what will become a Quick Read, available on Amazon, entitled Don’t Come to Provence and be Miserable. It’s designed to be a tongue in cheek look at many of the issues which we have seen and experienced. There is a bit of a self-help guide too : follow the tips and you’ll not be miserable on your long awaited trip!

We kick-off…..

 

Golden rule number One: DON’T COME ON HOLIDAY AND BE MISERABLE WHEN YOU’RE SICK

You know the story. You spend a month really looking forward to your visitors’ arrival. The schedule has been prepared, markets arranged, table reservations made. The property is pimped and prepared – the garden is immaculate, the pool chlorinated to an inch of its life, and off you go to Marignane Airport in the outskirts of Marseille.

They arrive. And, the first words are, “we need a doctor, Dennis has such a head cold. He has been working so hard you know and they don’t seem to clean the planes like they used to.”

Instead of an excited buzz in the car for the 98km journey to your home, where the rosé is sitting prettily on ice, you have the sounds of sniffling, snorting, wheezing and you watch through your rear view mirror as your precious stock of car tissues becomes depleted. The doctor. He or she should probably speak English. That narrows down the field somewhat. The doctor’s secretary only works in the morning for giving you an appointment, it is mid-afternoon on a Tuesday. On Wednesdays, he only does house visits to the really ill, not a wheezing tourist.

We’ll have to grin and bear it. Wait until Wednesday morning to get an appointment for Friday. Now, wasn’t that the planned trip to Lourmarin market with a lunch at the newly Michelin-starred La Closerie in Ansouis? “Yes, but one’s health must come first”, bleats dear Deidre. Dennis is parceled off to bed having swallowed some of France’s cure-all medication – Daffalglan (the French description for these little white tablets is that they are for ‘intense symptoms of pain’; our doctor, Dr Jean-Luc says that they are for Frenchmen in the morning with their croissants and café after a long night on the red wine).

We sip our rosé with Deidre. The subject matter of conversation is now firmly centred on the possibility of Daffalglan having an adverse reaction to Dennis’ heart, uric acid, and blood pressure medication. Not a thought about touring, lavender fields or tasting a succulent poulet roti from a market.

What we’re going to do over the next 10 days? Forget it, tear up the schedule.

DON’T COME ON HOLIDAY AND BE SICK – YOU’LL MAKE EVERYONE MISERABLE*

(Or perhaps, bring a broad-spectrum antibiotic with you, in case you get sick on holiday)

DISCLAIMER: All the stories and anecdotes told in this Quick Read are true, but for obvious reasons names and locations have been changed. If any incident scratches a nerve, the hurt is purely unintentional and told in the interest of harmless, satirical fun. The author apologises in advance if any reader feels affronted by some of the comments made.

The roundabout at Oppede

The roundabout at Oppede

Continuing our story from yesterday when we speculated that the Shell Bridge near Buoux was created by the Freemasons as an inverted ‘Masonic Eye’, the Roundabouts story.

Originally invented by the British, it took the French a long time to embrace the concept but now we have thousands sprinkled across the countryside – wags say that there is a roundabout for every 5 members of the population. Each roundabout is individually designed and well maintained. Why?

As with all things French, in particular politics, there is a story – or, allegedly, a story.

It all started with the election to the presidency of François Mitterand who was the fourth President of France elected under the Fifth Republic serving from 1981 until 1995. As leader of the Socialist Party, he is the only figure from the left so far elected under the Fifth Republic.

Originally he came from a far right leaning family and the story goes that Mitterand was a closet Freemason. On his election as President, The Freemasons ‘apparently’ approached him and asked him to do something significant for them and to help the movement in France.

Quietly, he handed over the creation and design of roundabouts to the Freemason community. Funded by government money, the Freemasons were able (and are still able) to earn euros by designing and overseeing production of the many roundabouts being created. Consequently, each community takes great pride in their own roundabouts, each of which is themed and has a story behind it. In the absence of any legend on the roundabouts, the Freemasons leave you to your own conclusions!

For visitors to the Luberon, here are some roundabouts to look out for –

  • Oppede – at the exit from the ‘new’ Oppede and moving towards Oppede le Vieux, there is a magnificent roundabout commemorating the stone masons of the area (legend has it that a Freemasons Lodge in South Africa provided the design and donation for this one)
  • The D900 between Coustellet and Apt has a variety of designs and themes: Via Domitia (the old Roman road connecting Africa and Spain to Rome); lavender; Roussillon soil colours; vines; decorative Provençal walls
  • Isle sur la Sorgue – at the entrance to the village the Rondpoint de Gaulle always shows the result of the gardeners’ labours

 This is a reproduction of a story in our book, Footsteps. The Luberon and Surrounds. Provençal Paradise. To find out more, click here.

 

 

 

A misty start to 2015

A misty start to 2015

← Previous PageNext Page →

  • Blog Roll

    • 2 Oceans Vibe - South Africa’s premier news site for the upwardly mobile.
    • 2Oceansvibe Radio - South Africa’s premier internet radio station – great tunes, good banter and setting the pace
    • Crikey - what they don’t publish in Oz, in the mainstream printed news. Concise comment.
    • Getaway Guru - Great travel site with many hints and tips
    • Popyacollar - A leading edge look at fashions and trends by a leading fashionista
    • Provence Villa Rental - the ultimate property rental in France. Provençal Paradise.
    • Thought Leadership Strategy – Craig Badings - Craig is one of Australia’s leading PR practitioners. His views on Thought Leadership and Strategy are always worth reading
    • Wrestling Possums - The doyen of PR, Chris Savage, gives this site his unique brand of incisiveness. A must read if you’re interested in communications.
  • Other Links



  •   

       

    LSW Twitter

    white spacer

    radio

    white spacer

    white spacer

    white spacer