Archive for June, 2016

Inside The Cauldron

I share Paul’s disappointment at England not winning the game and with it the group. Paul seems relatively happy that he will be heading back to the south of France. It works out for me too, I will performing best man duties at a wedding, so am pleased to be playing Monday. Every cloud!


The day of the game and England can decide where they finish in this group and travel to for the knock out phase. Win and it’s a Saturday afternoon game in Paris. The best option for all concerned. Of course though this is England and we don’t do things the easy way. A chilled out morning getting ready, dinner in the apartment and a tootle on the bus into town to meet some of the other England boys. Enough time to grab a few beers before heading via a short tram ride to the stadium a few KM north of the city centre.

The centre of town was now buzzing pretty much taken over by the English spilling out into the streets all singing and in good spirits. I’m guessing most have been on it all day. The tram was rammed and was turned into a rocking singing carriage the…

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Concrete Culture


The day before the game. It’s Sunday and what to do. Figure out the transport system and thankfully that was simple enough. Saint-Étienne seems to be the most forward and planned city to host the Euros so far. They have really got into the spirit with bunting and signs everywhere. They have produced maps and guide books and have a transport app that you can download that allows you to buy tickets at a special euro2016 price on your phone. €3 a day for full travel on the bus and tram network. This city is a winner already.

We ventured out to the west of the city to Firminy home to Site Le Corbusier a famous architect who was given the space of an old mining town and allowed to produce his largest urban complex. And boy did he like concrete. It reminds me of our once beloved central Birmingham…

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Paul has made it to Saint-Étienne in preparation for Englands final group game. The name Saint-Étienne brings back memories of the 90’s: the good, the band Saint-Étienne, the bad, England’s penalties defeat to Argentina in the ’98 world cup. Let’s hope Monday’s final group game is more rewarding.


No blog yesterday as to be honest nothing much happened. After a full day of rain on our last day in Tourcoing this was my highlight.

This was followed by one final night at the drop out bar called Le Dof featuring all our favourite characters from the last three nights. Mo the bar lady, Sasha the owner, Ahmed the bouncer, Pepe the Portugese dwarf, Mickey the Pirate, Luigi the Milan fan, Lionel the Richie, Greg the crazy Frenchman and Ricky the Rentboy. Along with a smattering of English fans it was if nothing else a most entertaining evening.

Time to leave Tourcoing and head back South for our next journey. Up bright and early today for another travel day with three trains to catch to Lille, Lyon and eventually Saint-Etienne home to our final group game on Monday. And I can surprisingly report that for the first time this…

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Life through a Lens

Paul is surprisingly coherent after a night celebrating Englands victory over Wales:


It’s just past 3am and this is usual fodder for me. Shit. Can’t go to bed. Need to write the blog before I sleep. Yes it’s a late night. England won. And it’s been some night. Yes it’s a blog about football again.

It started off with a morning trip via the trains from Tourcoing to Lille and then onto Lens. It was raining outside and via the joys of another Stan Collymore Periscope video pissing it down in Lens. So raincoats on and no shorts and shades today we realised we were no longer in the south of France. For once all our planned trains ran according to times and we arrived in little ole Lens.

The train station modelled on a locomotive. Step back and you can see it. I’m sure many an England fan will have missed that. We got off the train to lots of the…

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I was asked earlier this week how to make Martini, given the three other Bond posts this week, it seemed like a good time to revisit the Vesper recipe.   Thanks to the movies James Bond is always associated with Vodka Martinis, in fact the Bond of Ian Fleming’s novels drank many different drinks.  In Casino Royale he did however drink a Vodka Martini that he eventually named “Vesper” after the character Vesper Lynd.

The Vesper recipe is:

  1. Three measures of Gordon’s Gin
  2. One of vodka
  3. Half a measure of Kina Lillet
  4. Shake over ice until it’s ice-cold and strain into a martini glass.
  5. Then add a large thin slice of lemon peel

Casino RoyaleAs described by Bond in the novel:    ‘A dry martini,’ he said. ‘One. In a deep champagne goblet.’
‘Oui, monsieur.’
Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon-peel. Got it?’
‘Certainly, monsieur.’ The barman seemed pleased with the idea.

He goes on to say:  This drink’s my own invention. I’m going to patent it when I can think of a good name.’      



This is how it appears in the movie when Casino Royale was finally made into an official Bond film in 2006. 

A note on the ingredients:  

  • Although not bad Gordon’s is far from the best Gin I would recommend Bombay Sapphire.
  • Kina Lillet is not actually a vermouth (as pointed out by the barman on the plane in Quantum of Solace).  It is a wine based drink flavoured with quinine (also found in tonic water and a perfect accompaniment to vodka or gin).  It performs the same job in a martini as Vermouth (a fortified wine flavoured with herbs and spices).  Sadly it isn’t possible to make a genuine Vesper as Ian Fleming conceived it as the recipe for Kina Lillet was changed about twenty years ago making it less bitter.
  • Any good quality grain vodka will work.
  • Felix Leiter tells the barman to “keep the fruit” I would recommend replacing the lemon peel with a pimento stuffed green olive or three.
  • Finally, I have never tried it myself so don’t know if it is true but it has been suggested to me that to get the authentic taste as originally conceived Vesper add a dash of Angostura bitters to composite for the change in Kina Lillet formula.

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Up North

So I said I was reblogging two of pauls posts today. Make that three, Paul is posting them quicker than I can read them.


Another day of travel and battling with the French travel authorities beckoned and of course it did not go to plan. We leave Dijon today and head up north close to where England play their next game in Lens. This in itself is only a short distance away from the host city of Lilles. Lens is not supposed to have much in the way of tourism, accommodation or bars. Because of that most are staying in Lille. Wanting to be different I have chosen a town a few more train stops away called Tourcoing.

The train journey here of course went tits up because we are in France and it would appear to be someone’s mission to cancel every train that I have booked a reservation for. Still a very kind man in the ticket office has sorted us out for a train to Paris in a few hours and…

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I have been going to the cinema with Pau,l the author of this blog most weeks for the best part of 20 years. We hust have seen well over a thousand films together. Anyone who follows either of us on twitter will know that Paul learned this week that I have never seen Cyrano De Bergerac, a revelation surprised him. I guess thats one for for my blindspot list.


Another day of no football today and a full day left free to explore the city of Dijon. A lazy morning in the apartment before heading out into the town on foot. The number one thing to do is to apparently buy a guide from the tourist shop and follow the owl trail.

Dijon is a very compact city and all its main architectural sights can be visited on foot. To make this easier the city have created a trail covering all the main points of interest with markers on the pavement of owl arrows. The owl is a symbol of good luck here especially if you rub the stone owl carving with your left hand. You just follow the Owls around the city in a few hours and in all fairness that’s Dijon done. This of course wouldn’t be complete with out taking in the mustard shop.

All the…

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