September 25th, 2009

This IS me (by schwitters)Default

So Damn Lonely

I was listening to Radio 2 the other night (it was Paul Jones, whom I only really half-listen to and think of as 'that guy who does for blues what Bob Harris does for country and Mike Harding does for folk') when I heard something I liked so much I Listened Again the next morning to get the name of the artist, which I'd failed to catch.

I was hooked by the title, then by the opening, which made me think of the intro to 'Still Crazy After All These Years' with a touch of Dire Straits pasted over the top, then by the way it goes from blues to full-on power ballad.

It turned out to be 'Sloe Gin' by Joe Bonamassa. Enjoy.

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This IS me (by schwitters)Default

Normandy 4: La Route du Cidre

I spent my birthday on the Cider Trail.

This is a 40-kilometre route through the area around Cambremer, the Cider Capital of Cider Country. It's really meant for cycling and was a rather quick tour on motorbikes, but we enjoyed the dusty little roads as they jogged along through apple orchards and quaintly-named villages like Bonnebosq and St. Ouen-Le-Pin. Acting on a tip from cider-loving friends, we chose the criminally pretty Beuvron-en-Auge for a lunch of galettes.

A leaflet from the tourist information centre lists cider makers along the route. Wherever you see the 'Cru de Cambremer' sign (the appellation d'origine contrôlée which guarantees quality), you are encouraged to stop off, sample the cider, Calvados and pommeau (an aperitif made by blending Calvados and apple juice), and, at certain farms, inspect the manufacturing equipment.

We rode past several of these establishments, spotting the signs too late, so when we spied one directing us up a farm track we seized upon it. At the top we found a perfectly ordinary-looking house and waited in the garage looking at a display of cider bottles until the owner shuffled in to check us out.

I'm going to assume for the sake of my ego that he was deaf, because he couldn't understand a word I said. We could taste, he told us, but we couldn't visit; in our excitement we had forgotten to check whether his place was one of those offering a tour.

Attempts to communicate became more and more awkward until we bought a bottle of cider out of shame, and fled.

"Merci," I said as we left.

"Comment?"

We made certain that the next stop on the trail was visitable, and followed the sign with some trepidation. We came to a half-timbered farmhouse with a gleaming pond, a riot of flowers scrambling over an old cider press, and a cream Labrador who wheezed cheerfully at us around the bone he refused to put down.

The owner was a brisk lady who didn't speak English but whose French was very clear and who - hurrah! - understood mine too. I asked several pointless questions for the sheer joy of interaction. Along with a Swedish couple, we examined the old machinery, inspected the Calvados distillery, sampled everything in the shop and walked away with drinkable souvenirs.

I somehow forgot to take any photos, but the first picture on this page is the one.