Thursday, May 30, 2013

10 Things I Like About Trains in Europe


1. No emptying your pockets for the TSA x-ray bins
2. You can schedule a connection for 20 minutes or less and still make the next train because they run pretty close to schedule and the connection is not a 5-mile walk or shuttle ride through the terminal
3. No holding your arms over your head like a criminal in the TSA body scanner (and for me lately, worrying that my pants are going to fall down)
4. You get to see mountains, marshes, lakes, rivers, streams, trees, houses, people, and other pleasant things up close instead of just endless clouds
5. You don't get violated by a TSA groper because the rivet in your jeans flashed hot on the body scanner
6. There's actually enough leg room to cross your legs
7. You don't get nickel, dimed and hundred-dollared to carry your luggage on board
8. You can arrive mere minutes before your scheduled departure
9. No taking your computer out of your carry-on ... and your tablet, and your camera, and your computer power cords, and and and
10. I can leave my boots on ... and my belt, and my jacket, and my coat, and my hat .... and not have to get re-dressed while the TSA-in-charge-of-the-plastic-trays guy/gal glares at me to hurry up
11. They don't lose your luggage

Okay, so I can't count. It was a good ride down to Argeles-sur-mer ... home.



Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Comfortably Early or Just in Time?


I am a procrastinator, emphasis on the 'pro.' I generally get to meetings, doctor's appointments, and airports just in time. Part of the reason is I tend to try to cram as much as I can into the time preceding - just one or two more emails that need to go out, one more quick phone call .. oh, forgot to pack this.

Yes, I did once miss a flight to Montreal - not because I was late but because I didn't know checked bags needed to be dropped off 45 minutes in advance, and I was there 40 minutes before the flight. And because they could only re-book me on a direct flight for some reason, and the next direct flight was not until the next day, it complicated things a bit.

Yes, I have run through plenty of airports, dragging and carrying too much luggage, gasping for breath when I finally plopped into my seat.

Donna-Lane could not be more opposite in style. She likes to plan well in advance, book as soon as she knows her trip itinerary, and get to the airport hours in advance (almost said days in advance, but that wouldn't be fair).

I must admit, there's less anxiety her way. No worries about missing one bus because there's still plenty of time to catch the next one. No worries about getting stuck in an unexpected traffic jam and trying to find an alternate route through an unfamiliar city. No worries about long security lines, and wondering if you will get pulled aside by the TSA gropers, wasting even more time.

On our last day in Amsterdam, our flight was at 5:20 pm, but by 11:30 am D-L was already hinting at the museum that it might be time to wrap up our browsing and retrieve our luggage from the hotel.

We almost missed the bus to the airport because we were standing at the wrong kiosk, but we didn't need to run half a block to try to catch  it, wheezing all the way, because there would be another in 15 minutes. Kindly, the driver waited for us to arrive before closing the doors.

We arrived at Schipol airport with a mere 3 and 1/2 hours to spare.

Even though I seized the opportunity to jerk her chain (more than once, of course) about being sooooo early, I've decided I like D-L's approach better. We were able to check out all the available restaurants, then had a leisurely pancake lunch at the allegedly Dutch cafe. We sailed through security - since there were all of 3 people in line ahead of us for the EasyJet M gates. I had time to purchase an IHT, a James Patterson novel, a bottle of water and some Swiss chocolate. She had time to read one of the three library books she had brought. (She almost always has something to read with her ... one of the ways she stole my heart.)

Oh, we almost missed our flight. We were both absorbed in reading, waiting for the signboard to announce which M gate for the flight to Geneva. The gentleman seated nearby, having heard some of our banter, asked, "Are you going to Geneva? They've just announced it as gate M1."

We quickly packed up, hastened down to M1, and got in the Southwest Airlines-type queue for boarding (first come, first seated).

Once our seatmate on the window was in place, we buckled in and resumed reading ... all the way to Geneva.

No worries.
 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hans Brinker and the Silver 10-Speed

I have never seen so many bicycles in my life as in Amsterdam. The Dutch must be in great shape - at least their leg muscles and lungs - because it seems at least half or more of them are cycling to and from work and everywhere else.

The photo is of a bike 'parking lot' near 'The Eye' inner harbor near Central Station where the ferry boats, trains, trams and buses all converge. There must be at least 1000 bikes in this 100x50-foot area, and there are a number of these lots all around downtown Amsterdam.

As you walk around the city, it's not enough to watch for cars, trucks, etc. as you cross the street. You need to be cautious - on both sides of the street - for a near-constant stream of cyclists as well as mopeds and motorcycles, which are apparently allowed to use the bike lanes.

When in Argeles, our main home, I'm thinking of getting a two-seat moped so we can pop over to Spain or up to Perpignan or up into the mountains without renting a car. Donna-Lane spotted a Barbie-pink Vespa yesterday on our way back from the canal cruise, but I'm leaning to bright red.

Amsterdam is a marvelous place. We are wondering if we might do some house-sitting here for someone for a couple of weeks or three. I had been here 3-4 times on business previously but never saw much more than the airport, hotel and conference rooms. So yesterday's no-agenda exploring was a great way to soak up both the sunshine and the culture.

We met up with D-L's cousin Sandy and her professional photographer husband Kevin, who were over from Cape Cod on a working vacation. Gorgeous sunny day, so we did the hop on / hop off canal boat tour, enjoying the variety of old world and euro modern architecture, the people along the canals who were finally getting a break in the weather (including a 'Hi Mom' from the female boat driver as we drifted past her mother's balcony).

Took a bunch of photos, the better ones of which are on my Facebook page -- rick.adams.39589.

Had some good food and drink along the way, topped off with pizza milanese last night (since we had gone to Milano last week and never once had pizza nor spaghetti sauce).

Gonna check out one of the dozens of museums in the area this morning - Sandy and Kevin chose a great little hotel right on the edge of the museum district and the Vondelpark - then EasyJet back to Geneva.


Friday, May 24, 2013

EBACE from a Different View

I've spent the last three years at EBACE in Geneva tethered to an exhibit booth as a corporate communicator. If I left the booth to meet someone briefly, there'd be 10 messages waiting for me from people who stopped by the booth while I was gone. I'd generally tour the rest of the displays and the aircraft static on the last afternoon of the event after most attendees had departed. At least you could walk the aisles relatively unimpeded.

This year, as an independent journalist, I've cut the cord and roamed as I wished - catching up with old friends, making new contacts for stories I want to write, appreciating the effort (and the money) that goes into the show-and-sell which caters to billionaires, their poor-cousin millionaires and C-level execs.

On the final day, D-L joined me at the show, and she got a glimpse of my aviation world. She also met some of my friends such as Claire, who did a fantastic job presenting Aerion's supersonic business jet concept (as well as another stellar CAE customer dinner). And Kelly, Daniel, Muriel, Jill, Ian, Grant, Cameron, Diana, Paul, and and and ...

She also got to see some of the aircraft up close, like the new PC24 jet  from Pilatus, a Swiss company, and therefore dear to her Swiss heart.

Missed seeing a couple of friends who couldn't make it over from the States. Given the cost of trans-oceanic travel, the shows are becoming more and more regionalised in terms of attendees. Perhaps they'll make it to the Paris Airshow in 3 weeks.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Milano on a Budget

video 

After a couple of pleasant, if wet, days at the chalet in the Alps, we drove down through the mountains to northern Italy. Destination: the Milano area, specifically Sesto Calende, near Lago Maggiore.

More marvelous scenery as went up and down the steep slopes, through tunnels, across snow-fed streams.

We had Sunday afternoon free before the AgustaWestland-CAE Rotorsim media event kicked off in the evening with a fabulous dinner at a local pub. So we got directions from Antonio in hotel reception and drove into central Milan in quest of the Castello Sforzesco, a restored castle complete with moat (dry now) and drawbridge. The castle houses multiple museums, a good option in case it rained again. Cost for a day pass - 3 Euros each.

After checking out intricately carved coffin stones and other ancient Roman statues, then some of the knights' armor, we wandered into the enormous open courtyard - perhaps four football/futbol fields in size, maybe more. Along the centre spine of the courtyard there were tents; they were having a farmers' market with cheese, sausages, wine, confections, and the like.

One tent at the end was selling sandwiches, so I got prosciutto on a huge roll and Donna-Lane got the salami. Think it was my first prosciutto, and it tasted great. Ended up sharing some of D-L's salami as well. Cost us 7 euros (for both), which was better than wandering the streets of downtown Milan to try to find a restaurant open on a Sunday afternoon.

We sat on a stone bench in front of several ancient gravestones and people-watched. About halfway through the sandwich, D-L tore off some bread crumbs and tossed them toward a nearby pigeon. Within seconds, a flock of pigeons was swarming right in front of us -- it looked like something out of a Hitchcock movie. We managed to divert them by throwing more breadcrumbs, but further away. A little boy, about 3, and a couple of pre-teen girls were chasing the pigeons, trying to catch one of them by hand but never coming close. The girls, winded, ended up sitting next to D-L at one point.

Later, as we drifted in search of the musical instruments museum, we came across another open courtyard, this one considerably smaller, maybe 100 feet square, but filled with children and adults flying kites!

On the way back to the car, we strolled through a huge park, where they were cleaning up from a women's 10K run that was in the final stages when we first arrived. Then I spotted something I'd been wanting all day - gelatto! I got a chocolate cone and D-L took a chance on a flavor she'd not had before, hazelnut. Delicioso! Only 2 Euros each.

Oh, the video. On the far side of the castle, we could see a massive fountain through the archway. Outside the castle gate there were street vendors, a traveling truck selling drinks and italian ices, and a living statue dressed in a period costume. Maybe 18th century?

When Donna-Lane tossed a coin in the statue's tip box, the young man beckoned D-L to join him on the podium. He gracefully kissed her hand, and posed for pictures.

Tough way to make a living.

After finding our way back to the hotel, we drove around for about an hour exploring the lake district. Decided we want to go back to Milano some day, maybe more than once. And maybe with more than about 20 Euros in change in our pockets.

(Realized as we left the city that all we had to do was hit an ATM machine for plenty of Euros. But it was fun nonetheless, sightseeing on the cheap.)

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Ogre on the Mountain




“Hey! Get outta my face!”

I jumped about 20 feet, or so it seemed, and quickly swiveled my head around to see where the gruff voice was coming from.

Didn’t see a soul, except for Donna-Lane, who was back down the mountain walking path a ways, picking some lovely yellow wildflowers, probably wondering what they were called and how she might work their description into her next novel. She hadn’t seen my reaction to the voice out of nowhere, and she clearly had not heard it either.

I scanned the branches of the trees around me, but they were dense. Someone could be hiding up there. Or maybe there was a hidden microphone, and a resident of one of the remote mountain chalets thought scaring the bejeebers out of hikers was a way to ensure privacy.

I decided to test my theory of the electronic ventriloquist, and so returned to where I was sitting at the base of a gnarly knotted tree. As I sat and leaned against the tree, which wasn’t all that comfortable, The Voice growled at me again, this time louder and more irritated. “I told you to take a hike!” Except this time, I felt something pushing against my back.

Scrambling to my feet and turning around, I stared at the base of the tree for wires or wireless lavaliers. “What do you think you’re looking at, fuzz face?” The Voice asked. This time, I could have sworn I saw the base of the tree move. Maybe too much wine for lunch? Wait, we didn’t have wine for lunch.

I leaned in for a closer examination. Then the tree sneezed! “Chooooo! … I mean, shoo! Get lost! I’m allergic to your aftershave … or something!” Then I saw it. The bulbous nose twitching slightly. The beady little eyes. The goatee. And the tree, or whatever it was, was sticking its tongue out! It even had a hand, or maybe it was a foot, on which the chin rested – probably what I felt pushing me.

“A talking tree? A tree that sneezes?” I was incredulous. "And, by the way, I don't wear after shave."

“Not a tree,” the base of the tree said. “I’m the Ogre of La Creusaz.”

“Ohhhh-kayy,” I responded suspiciously.

“Yes. I was imprisoned in the base of this tree by the Magician of Les Marecottes because I was scaring away the skiers and tourists. I’ve been trapped like this for almost 25 years and have only spoken to one other soul in all that time. Only the kiss of a Swiss citizen on my nose can free me.”

About then, my Swiss fiancée walked up beside me, holding a single buttercup and eyeing my chin.

“Who are you talking to?” Donna-Lane asked.

“You’re never going to believe this,” I said to her breathlessly. “See the base of that tree?”

“Yes,” she calmly responded. “It’s the  Ogre. I blogged about him yesterday. You’re a little slow. No, I’m not going to kiss his moss-covered nose. Ready to walk home?”


[You can read Donna-Lane’s blog at http://theexpatwriter.blogspot.ch/.  When we spotted the tree in the photo, we decided to have a little fun, each writing separate blogs about the tree - without showing the other before posting. We often see things a bit differently; perhaps the blog posts will show some of that.]

Treacherous Road to a Wonderful Lunch

  
Auberge Vallon du Van is only about five miles away from the chalet, but when that five miles is across the face of the mountain on roads so narrow that the car’s proximity sensors are constantly raising alarm and the grades so steep you rarely get out of first gear, the short trip is nonetheless harrowing – considering the drop off is maybe 5,000 feet almost straight down (and, most of the way, no guardrails).

Even on a rainy day, the views are spectacular, and occasionally D-L had to remind me, “Watch the road, Rick. Please.”

And these are not one-way paths. The local rule is the driver coming up the hill has the right of way, so if you are going downhill you need to back up to one of the many little cutouts in the rock face that is wide enough for two vehicles to pass. Some turns are 90 degrees or more around the rock, so it’s helpful to tap the horn so someone coming in the other direction knows you are approaching. Occasionally there’s a complete 180-degree hairpin turn.

As we got near our destination, not even certain we were on the correct treacherous road, we passed through a couple of tunnels cut right through the rock, apparently with jackhammers (maybe pickaxes) because the walls were as jagged as a natural cavern.

Beyond the second tunnel, there was a magnificent mountain stream rushing to tumble over the precipice as a waterfall, and as we followed upstream to the small, isolated plateau we came to the destination restaurant.

This is one of Donna-Lane’s favorite places to dine when in the mountains, and we had a sumptuous salad of dandelion greens with tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and bacon, accompanied by a traditional two-cheese fondue. We were delighted, too, that they had some of their trademark dessert – cooked mountain blueberries on a bed of chocolate over a pastry crust. (Can never go wrong with chocolate.)

After a very leisurely lunch we crept down the mountain trail, foot constantly on the brake, to Salvan in search of a store which turned out not to be there. Instead of reversing course back to the chalet, I chose to explore the opposite road out of town which, after passing under the train tunnel, quickly turned into a steep climb. “Just what I wanted,” D-L intoned, “another mountain road.”

Lots more photos on my Facebook page:rick.adams.39589


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

C'est Magnifique!

View from the Front Door of the Chalet, Les Marecottes, Alps, Switzerland

I am in awe of the majesty and grandeur of Les Alpes.

I’ve flown over the peaks, but until you’ve seen them up close, looking nearly straight up 10,000 feet or more of rock and trees and snow, I don’t think you can truly appreciate the beauty of these mountains.

Donna-Lane and I are taking a working break for a few days, and her friend graciously offered the use of her chalet in Les Marecottes, a tiny mountain village (actually referred to as a commune, year-round population perhaps 100) about halfway up La Creusnaz in the Swiss Alps, not far from Chamonix, France. 

The chalet was built 226 years ago in 1787 - the year the Federalist Papers were published and the US Constitution sent to the states for ratification, Shay's Rebellion highlighted the plight of debt-ridden farmers in Massachusetts, Austrian emperor Jozef II banned from labor children under 8, Mozart completed his "Eine small Nachtmusik,"and Geneva's Horace-Bénédict de Saussure reached the top of Mont Blanc.

You can ascend to the village by train, but we drove the narrow, barely one-lane road which twists and turns and hairpins up the side of the mountain, hugging the cliff nearly the entire way. D-L insisted I watch the road the entire climb – no sightseeing – and both hands on the steering wheel.

The views, as you can see from the photos on my Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/rick.adams.39589), are spectacular!

Enroute, we paused for lunch in Evian, France, where the women professional golfers hold a major tournament every year, sponsored by the Evian l'eau naturelle folks. Charming narrow streets and shops up the hill … parks and promenades along the Lake Geneva  waterfront. A huge casino.

As we strolled by the lake, we met a man from Sri Lanka who asked us to take his photo. He was visiting a friend with whom he went to school -- at, of all places, the University of Texas at Austin. Hook ‘em, Horns!

Halfway up the mountain, we passed through Salvan, where Guglielmo Marconi carried out some major experiments in wireless telegraphy. I worked at Marconi Communications when we launched the company into the telecom market, practically blanketing downtown Atlanta and the convention center with Guglielmo’s sage face.

My frequent stops along the way to jump out of the car and take photos turned a normally one-hour drive into more than three hours. But how could I not try to capture some semblance of these wonderful views?

For more photos, see my Facebook page: rick.adams.39589


Monday, May 13, 2013

Cafe Des Marronnieres


Aka 'Marro.' Favored lunch restaurant of the house. About a 15-25 minute walk to the next village, Collogne. Excellent food, engaging staff. Spring returned today, so warm enough to sit on the terrace.

http://www.cafedesmarronniers.ch/


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Another First

Last night, Donna-Lane and I watched the French version of "The Voice" and had caviar, champagne ... and popcorn. You might call it a Robin Leach "Lifestyles ..." evening.
First time I've ever had caviar.

She had told me the story of a time she bought caviar, thinking she was spending about $25 but she was in Belgium paying in Belgian francs, with which she was not familiar at the time, and ended up spending about $250 -- only to eventually spill the delicacy on the floor, much to the delight of her Japanese Chin, Mika, who quickly devoured it.

I casually mentioned I had never had caviar, but perhaps I would someday at a party when someone else was paying for it. (Some corporate hospitality at a conference is what I meant.)

D-L decided the party was last night.

Those who know me know I have been a very finicky eater all my life. I tend to stick to a few things I know. I've always attributed my simple habits to my mother. We'd joke that every Sunday growing up we'd had roast beef and burnt potatoes. Then for two or three nights after, hot roast beef sandwiches with gravy. Truth is, I was the one afraid to try unknown dishes. If I didn't like something new, I might starve that night, right?

Donna-Lane, on the other hand, does not just enjoy food - she savors it. Selecting it fresh, preparing it, arranging the table, and of course eating the result. She loves experimenting with different dishes, sharing with her like-minded friends. She'll talk about the aroma of basil or oregano or garlic or dozens of other spices as they simmer on the stove. And she's keen on having at least five fruits and vegetables every day.

Since I trust her implicitly, I have eaten just about everything she's suggested I try these past several months.

The list of things I've eaten for the first time (and liked) includes: artichoke, asparagus, avocados, broccoli, carpaccio (raw beef), cherry tomatoes, cucumber, fettucini alfredo, lobster, mushrooms, nectarines, olives, plums, shrimp, tapas, zucchini, several authentic Indian dishes at a friend's home, and more ...

At the same time, I pretty much eliminated fast food, especially french fries, and other habits which a year ago had me at my highest weight ever.

Last fall I dropped 30 pounds, and I've consistently kept it off. When I was back in the States for a stretch, I'd tend to put on 5-10 pounds, but then I'd lose it again almost immediately when returning to Europe and healthier eating habits.

We still indulge from time to time. I love the boulangeries, and have appointed myself the unofficial chocolate eclair critic for Argeles-sur-mer, which means I must regularly sample each bakery. We both love mini-Oreos, which are not always easy to get in Europe (hint to Stateside friends who may visit us and wonder what gift to bring). And D-L can stick a chunk of dark chocolate in my mouth any time she's so inclined.

Friday, May 10, 2013

In Search of a Broomstick


My long, long putter would not fit in my travel golf bag, so I am in search of one in Europe. Today I discovered a bit of international confusion on the proposed USGA and Royal & Ancient rule (14-1B) about future use of "belly" and "broomstick" putters. Adam Scott used a broomstick putter to win the 2013 Masters.

Found a golf equipment store in downtown Geneva in the Eaux-Vives area. Colin and Patrick, proprietors. Nice chaps from Scotland, so we all spoke a variant of English. 

They had one TaylorMade Ghost belly putter in stock but no broomsticks. Said they could order one for me - however, was I aware the long putters were going to be "illegal"?

Technically, not illegal. They can still be used. But the rule change, effective 2016, says a player cannot "anchor" the putter against his or her body. I've already experimented, and it's quite feasible to hold the grip of the broomstick putter an inch or so away from my chest and make a good stroke.

Nonetheless, manufacturers are already cutting back or phasing out broomsticks - there never were that many on the market, and they're going to get more scarce. Legal or not. I may just buy up every broomstick I can find in the coming months and start a little business catering to golfers like me who have given up on the traditional short stick.

Or I may, as I did for several years, quite successfully, go back to putting with my one-iron.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Happy Birthday, Honey


My mother turned 90 yesterday, and she's still going strong.
We've always called her 'Honey.' Not Mom or Mother. Every since I can remember - Honey. I'm told Doug, my oldest brother, called her Honey one day when he was young - probably thinking he was being smart aleck - and it stuck. Probably because it fits. Honey.

On her birthday, I made the dish she taught me. Spanish Rice. Or in this case, since I am in Geneva, I'll call it Rice Swiss, or Riz Suisse. When I made it in Argeles, I called it Catalan Rice. In Montreal, I guess it would have been Lachine Rice since I lived by the canal and the river. I've now made my favorite dish in five different countries - Canada, France, Switzerland, Texas and the US.

When we called to wish her Happy Birthday and Happy Mother's Day, Honey and I had a good laugh remembering the time I tried to cook it in Florida. I was a teenager, playing in the Orange Bowl golf tournament, staying at my friend Teddy Salveson's on Miami Beach. I did not know then there was a difference between Minute Rice and regular rice that expands when you cook it. We had rice everywhere! Teddy's mother was not impressed with my culinary skills.

In Honey's honor, here's probably the only recipe you'll ever get from me:

Note: I cook mostly by "feel," not by measurement. Good thing this is a dish you can easily adjust in many directions. 

Honey's Spanish Rice, as modified by me
(If you like it credit her; if you don't blame moi)

Serves 3-4.

1. Boil 2-3 cups of rice. The original recipe is long grain Minute Rice, but I cannot get that in Europe so I use the regular rice.
2. Dice half an onion - lightly grill in oil over low heat.
3. Brown about 1 lb of hamburger / ground beef (boeuf haché) in a 10 or 12-inch fry pan - ideally one with a top (to keep the steam in). I prefer the 75-80% version with plenty of fat, which helps create more juice for the rice to soak up.
4. Add a little Worcester sauce (you can add more when served, depending on your personal preference)
5. Stir the grilled onions into the hamburger. (You might substitute onion bits.)
6. Pour in a can of diced tomatoes in juice and stir into the hamburger. I like the versions that include oregano, basil and garlic or are fire-grilled, sometimes both. The amount of tomatoes depends on how juicy you like the dish. (I tried chopping up whole tomatoes, but there's just not enough juice that way.)
7. Mix in the rice and stir. I start by sprinkling a light 'layer' of rice on top, then add more gradually. Too much Minute Rice will dry out the dish.
8. Add basil, oregano, garlic and other spices to suit your taste. I particularly like Salamida's 'Pinch' seasoning from Binghamton NY or Schwartz's french fry seasoning from Montreal. Something like Mrs. Dash would probably do as well.
9. If Minute Rice, simmer on low to medium heat for about 12-15 minutes. (If regular rice, a few minutes are plenty for the rice to absorb the sauce.) Stir every few minutes. Taste test to see if the rice is soft enough to your taste. You can use this phase to adjust the taste - more Worcestershire, more Pinch ...
10. Serve warm/hot. Sprinkle on some Parmesan cheese. Fresh-grated is best.11. Add Worcestershire sauce, Pinch, salt, pepper to personal taste.

You can add other veggies as well. I've thrown in steamed broccoli and carrots at different times. Could also add red and green peppers, I guess (Honey said she didn't like them so I've never had it that way).

If you have leftover, when you heat it up the next day, add a little spaghetti sauce for moistness.

Thanks, Honey. For Spanish Rice. For giving me life. And so much more. Love you.

To the Manor Borne





No mega grocery stores here. But there are a couple of well-stocked local chains with quite amiable folks - Migros, a coop, and Manor. Both are in Vesenaz, a couple miles from Corsier Port toward Geneva. Easy to get to and back via the E bus, which runs every 10-15 minutes, or walking.
Needed to find a flourescent light bulb replacement for the bathroom, select some flowers for the evening's dinner hostess, mail a package for D-L, etc. Found the bulb at Manor, though the UPC code was partially torn and it was the only one in the correct size, so a bit of a challenge with my very limited French to complete the transaction, but a lovely manager tracked down the number. To spread the wealth around the village, purchased the flowers at Migros.

There's wisteria blossoming everywhere this week. It's not only beautiful but très parfumées as well.