Friday, 28 September 2012

Part VII - Leisure vs Labor

This is part of a series about The Theory of the Leisure Class, by Thorstein Veblen.  His third chapter is Conspicuous Leisure.

I’ll recap Veblen’s view that the effort to amass wealth is not about subsistence or physical comfort.  It’s to emulate, to have as much or more that one’s fellows, or to create an invidious distinction, to make others envious.   He describes the problem of the ever increasing level of wealth required for satisfaction. 

For those who must labor to accumulate, the struggle for ‘pecuniary reputability’ will result in an increase of diligence and parsimony.  These lower classes cannot avoid labor and so, within their class, it’s not so derogatory to them.  In fact, they take emulative pride in having a ‘reputation for efficiency’, this being their only available line of emulation.

For the superior class, there is also the incentive for diligence and thrift, but the demands of pecuniary emulation override it.  The most imperative demand of emulation is the requirement to abstain from productive work.  In the predatory culture labor is associated with weakness and subjection to a master,  so it is seen as a mark of inferiority, debasement and therefore unworthy of ‘men in their best estate’.    

So, in addition to possessing wealth or power – and, in order to gain and hold the esteem of men - one must demonstrate that they are above work.  The evidence of wealth is needed not just to impress others with one's importance, but is necessary to 'preserve one’s self-complacency.’  The average man is 'comforted and upheld in his self-respect by decent surroundings and by exemption from menial offices'.  Departure from this is felt to be a ‘slight on his human dignity;’  Refined persons feel there is a 'spiritual contamination inseparable from certain offices that are conventionally required of servants'. Vulgar surroundings, mean (that is to say, inexpensive) habitations, and vulgarly productive occupations are condemned as incompatible with life on a satisfactory spiritual plane with 'high thinking'.

“Conspicuous abstention from labor therefore becomes the conventional mark of superior pecuniary achievement and the conventional index of reputability; and conversely, since application to productive labor is a mark of poverty and subjection, it becomes inconsistent with a reputable standing in the community.”
Labor is considered dishonourable and indecorous; Veblen even uses the term ‘indecent’. 

The ‘consummate form’ of the leisure class is found in the quasi-peaceable stage, initially characterised by chattel slavery, herds of cattle and a servile class of herdsmen and shepherds.  The community is no longer dependent upon the chase or any other activity that can be classed as exploit. 

“From this point on, the characteristic feature of leisure class life is a conspicuous exemption from all useful employment.” 

The appropriate occupations of the class in this mature phase are much the same as in its earlier days:  government, war, sports, and devout observances.

In the next post on this topic, I will share more of Veblen’s ideas about suitable occupations.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Bourdeaux Village

I have been at pains to differentiate Bordeaux (pop. 1 million+, in western France) from Bourdeax (pop. 570, in SE France), but of course you'll have noticed the names are spelled differently, so not be at all confused (I've just caught on to that).

We visited this village several times, as it was a pleasant 30 minute hike down / up a winding trail surrounded by wild flowers / nettles and nice views.  There are two castles in the immediate vicinity, both ruined, dating from around 1200.  One terrace of houses looks to have been built into a wall of one of the old castles.   

The mountains all have names...Bill seemed to soak up that information.
A tourist website indicates that the main business around here is agriculture:  wine, no doubt, but the coeur de boeuf (beef heart) tomatoes here were to die for.
The Roubion River runs through the village.  There was a white-haired gentleman standing on the bridge for the whole of our visit, so far as I could tell.  He seemed to enjoy watching the birds on the river, tossing stones and watching the people pass.

Had there only been a train station nearby to connect the village to the rest of the world, I would have seriously considered moving, in spite of the fact that I only have maybe 100 words of French I can shyly stutter. 

Not a handicapped-friendly place, this.

 Had there been a train nearby, no doubt a lot more than 570 people would live here. 

Salle des Fetes - Celebration Rooms, maybe like the English Assembly Rooms?
See second ruined castle at the top.

I suspect the village thrives in large part because of the caravan camping site bringing tourist trade, though given its long history, perhaps it would do fine without. 

We were quite taken with this lovely memorial for WWI (I re-wrote that sentence, to avoid putting 'lovely' and 'war' next to one another).  Two things were very interesting:  one is an added plaque concerning a soldier involved in France's war with Algeria in the 1960s.  We couldn't decide which side he was on.  I've tried reading about this, but haven't got my head around it yet.  The other thing was looking at the names of WWI casualties:  many losses had the same surname - an observation we made on every WWI memorial we saw.  The war must have not only decimated the male population of this small village, it may well have wiped out entire families.  It's impossible for me to imagine what living at that time must have been like.

We came here several times, exploring a bit further each time.  So don't think you've seen the last of Bourdeax on this blog...

Monday, 24 September 2012

Very Berry

I can't believe September is nearly done.  Then again, I can't believe 2012 is so far advanced.... 

Vivien, Lucy and I attended the WI meeting together, which was about jam making.  Well, mostly.  

Here in Britain they do it completely differently to how it's done in the US.  I've only made apricot preserves the once, when the rental house in Salt Lake City had an enormous apricot tree.  It took all day to make and the next day to finish cleaning up the mess, but I was really proud of the product!  I'm sure I spent a small fortune on the big pot to do the processing and all those jars and lids, the sieve, the funnel, etc.  I've never used them since, of course. 

Here in Britain I watched a professional chef - Vicky Turnbull - make a batch of raspberry jam in about 20 minutes.  Here's the recipe she used:

Raspberry Jam

1 kg raspberries (that's 2.2 lbs)
1 kg preserving/jam sugar (which supplies the pectin)
Juice of 1 lemon

Makes approximately 1.6 kg

First sterilise your jars by washing them in hot soapy water, rinse and dry in a low oven.  Sterilise lids by putting them in a pan or container and pouring boiling water over them.  (Vivien and I debated whether this would actually 'sterilise' the jars, but apparently it is sufficient...).

Put the raspberries and lemon juice in a pan, add the sugar, heat gently stirring until sugar dissolves.

Bring to boil and boil for 5 minutes.  Drop a little of the mixture onto a chilled plate, push your finger through it, the jam should wrinkle.  If not, cook another 2 minutes and test again.

Pour into warm jars.  Put lids on immediately.

Keeps for up to a year, but loses colour over time.
While she stirred, Vicky had stories to tell about preparing food for various TV productions, as in food that would be displayed in the story.  She was also asked to play a doctor in a scene but, as her part was cut out altogether, it would appear her future lies in cooking rather than acting.  She does catering, dinner parties and cookery lessons.   If you were interested, she can be reached at personalchef (at)

One of the WI members bakes bread and we had some of this delicious jam on some of her incredible bread, with real butter.  Makes me think I should start warming my jam in the mornings...
The other recipe Vicky gave us was for Raspberry Vodka, and she had some she'd made previously poured into little cups.  This was also delicious.   Aren't raspberries a glorious colour?
Raspberry Vodka
500 grams raspberries (that's just over a lb)
300 g sugar (this is a minimum, if you have a sweet tooth you can add more)
1 litre medium quality vodka (save the bottle for later)
1 x 2 litre le parfait jar, sterilised (or can use a large plastic water bottle from the supermarket, with the wide mouth top).
Put all ingredients into the jar/bottle, shake every day (for a couple of weeks) until the sugar is dissolved, then store in a cool dark place for at least 3 months.
When ready to drink, strain the liquid through muslin and bottle in the vodka bottle.  Or if giving as gifts decant into smaller bottles. 
Can be left for a year to mature.
She said the same recipe would work substituting whiskey for the vodka and blackberries for raspberries.  It was just about blackberry picking season then.  
So guess what Vivien and I did the next time we got together?

Friday, 21 September 2012

Part VI - How Much is Enough?

This is part of a series discussing The Theory of the Leisure Class, by Thorstein Veblen.  His second chapter is titled Pecuniary Emulation. 

In the last post, we ended with Veblen’s view that there is a certain/indefinite standard of wealth that is required to have the respect of one’s neighbours and therefore any self-esteem. 

In order to have self-respect one must have as much as others with whom he classes himself and it is ‘gratifying’ to have more.  Sadly, as fast has a person acquires new things and gets used to the new standard of wealth, the new standard soon ceases to give noticeably greater satisfaction than the earlier standard did.  Each new financial standard demands a yet higher one, all for the purpose of maintaining a high rank in comparison with the rest of the community.  So long as a person feels at a disadvantage, he will ‘live in chronic dissatisfaction with his present lot’.  When he reaches the normal pecuniary standard of the community, he won’t just be chronically dissatisfied, he’ll have a ‘restless straining to place a wider and ever-widening pecuniary interval between himself and this average standard.’  

“The invidious comparison can never become so favourable to the individual making it that he would not gladly rate himself still higher relatively to his competitors in the struggle for pecuniary reputability”. 

This desire for wealth cannot be satiated for the community as a whole either.  However widely, equally or fairly it may be distributed, no general increase of the community’s wealth can make any approach to satiating this need because of this desire of every one to excel everyone else in the accumulation of goods.  If, Veblen argues, the incentive to accumulate were about subsistence or physical comfort, then the community might reach a point of satisfactory  industrial efficiency, but since the struggle is a race for reputability and invidious comparison, no such position can be attained.

Veblen doesn’t deny that there is a desire for comfort and security, only that what is considered sufficient for these is continually upgraded in the modern community.  What is considered a decent livelihood, what objects are thought necessary for comfort, are influenced by pecuniary emulation.  Also, the power conferred by wealth gives motive for accumulation, as well as the propensity for purposeful activity as an agent, a cause of change. 

As individual ownership unfolds, accumulation of goods becomes the obvious purposeful activity, aimed at straining to excel others in pecuniary achievement.  Relative success is the legitimate end of effort.  Purposeful effort comes to result in a more creditable showing of accumulated wealth.

Veblen claims that the term ‘invidious’ is not used to commend or deplore any characteristic the word is used to describe.  It

“…is used in a technical sense as describing a comparison of persons with a view to rating and grading them in respect of relative worth or value — in an aesthetic or moral sense — and so awarding and defining the relative degrees of complacency with which they may legitimately be contemplated by themselves and by others. An invidious comparison is a process of valuation of persons in respect of worth.” 

Sounds fairly deporable to me.

In the next post, I will begin discussing ideas in Veblen’s third chapter, titled Conspicuous Leisure.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Life at Bourdeaux

I believe I could just about live at the campsite at Bourdeaux.  Being near the mountains, it was cool at night even though warm during the day.  I 'let' Bill do all the running and cycling he wished.  Every direction was either straight up or down...

I sat and sewed patchwork pieces and read books.  We ate dinner in the tent, closed off for privacy, but with windows for the breeze.  The food at the campsite shop was shockingly good quality and reasonable price.  Not that we needed much.  I must have been in siege mode when I packed food. 


My view while sewing - we were at the bottom corner of the site.

There were loads of organised activities up at the centre, like zumba classes or quizzes and once there was an all-night camping trip for the kids (which made it very quiet the next day).  I didn't care for any of them, but it was nice that others could enjoy the fun.  I was loving my sewing and reading.

The Belgians' mansion

For the most part our neighbours were French, Belgian and German.  We were amused by the folks across from us, who had at least three chambers for their living quarters and a fridge with its own umbrella.  They later added a hammock for the teenaged boy.  When they packed and left, we discovered that the fridge was rented from the centre.  Who knew?

Did I mention there was a pool - actually several, with a million loungers.  For all that European women are supposed to all be so slim and chic, the ones at the pool - in my age bracket anyhow - looked fairly ordinary to me.  True, I had a week of holding in my stomach; but otherwise I was reasonably comfortable wearing my swimsuit. 

We fell into the routine of visiting the pool for an hour or so and then catching up with the Tour de France, happening as we watched not very far away. 

One man must have got so excited he had a heart attack or something.  Everyone was panicking because he was unconscious and completely grey; I was certain he was dead.  Then he sort of woke up and his colour returned.  He was back the next day, beer in hand as usual...

Monday, 17 September 2012

A "Join In" Day

When we got back from France and got caught up with emails, I learned that one of our running club committee members had gone all enthusiastic about putting on an event as suggested by the national sports people.  I'll spare you the rant about how I feel our club is being taken over and skip to the part where I felt compelled to help organise this day (at least make sure he'd thought some things through) and to ensure we had first aide cover to keep the insurance people happy. 

Bill and I ended up taking our tent and I worked the registration desk.  It was hard to remain cynical when people started actually showing up and having a pretty darned good time.  The 'events' included a mile race, a team effort at 800 metres, a back-and-forth shuttle race and a throwing event:  something called howlers.  Kids were invited to particpate if they had adults with them. 

The guy that made this happen said he was aiming for 'organised chaos'.  There was plenty of the latter, but it all seemed to turn out OK.  I don't think we drafted anyone new into the fitness world, but our running club may gain a couple of members, [whispering: so it was probably worth it].  

One lady was very excited to find a club to join.  Look at this woman and tell me you believe she's 62 years old. 

She started running something like 18 months ago and is all set to do the Great North Run.  Worse, she can do 5k in 24 minutes.  That's not just respectable, it's disgusting.  I look forward to her coming along.  I'll enjoy watching her put some noses out of joint!  I'm definitely getting meaner in my old age.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Today's News

All going to plan, Bill will be off doing the Great North Run today, with about 40,000 other runners.  He didn't actually enter, his son-in-law, Martin, had the entry.  However, owing to the birth of Bill's granddaughter, Charlotte, it turns out Martin wasn't able to come over here to do the race.  I think we all sort of predicted this, but Martin's enthusiasm makes him forget that he doesn't really run his own life any more...  Anyhow, Martin offered up his number and Bill snapped it.  I'd worry about Bill just haring off to do a half-marathon (13.1 miles), but he cycles, walks, runs or races most days of the week and so I expect he'll finish comfortably, if not with a PB.

The other big news is that Downton Abbey's third season starts tonight.  I'm allowed to be a bit goofy about a TV programme, given that I rarely watch anything at all.  The only other show Bill and I put ourselves out for is Who Do You Think You are.  Which leads me to my next topic.


I've been trying to track down details about my Mom's cousin Tom, the only cousin on her father's side she ever used to talk about.  I have the impression that she liked him or that he was good looking, or maybe both.  I've never met him and I have no photos of him.  The evidence suggests Tom was married three times.  This lady was his wife at the time of his death. 

 Doesn't she look incredible at 73?

She, too, is now deceased, but - frustratingly - her obituary says nothing about her husband or his family; it was written by her daughter, from a previous marriage.  (I fit right in here with all these marriages!)

Said daughter had an unusual name and when I Googled it, came up with this man (now deceased), a former Republican U.S. Senator from Wyoming with a unique ancestry. 

Said daughter was one of his four wives; I'll not burden you with the details, but he's worth reading about if only for the pleasure/ horror, depending upon your politics. 

My point - and I do have one, Beryl - is that this man's sister is the Dowager Countess of Carnarvon, being the mother of the present Earl of Carnarvon.  (She has only been married once, in 1956).


Said Earl lives at Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey is filmed.  So, I'm related to Lord Grantham -  I mean Lord Carnarvon - by marriage...and divorce...sort of.  He was born - as it happens - the same year as I was. 

I've not yet added all these people to my family tree, mind.  I thought I'd wait until Bill and I were invited round for a weekend in the country and all that. 


I'm sure the invitation will be in the post just as soon as he and his lovely wife read this post.  When we go, I'll be sure to take loads of pictures to share with you, OK?

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Charlotte Poppadum

Allow me to introduce you to Bill's grand-daughter, his first grandchild, born a week ago today.   She was 57cm (22 inches), 6 lbs 12 oz (3.06 kg).   I don't know what it means to have length announced in metric and weight in imperial, but Bill says that's the longest skinniest baby in the family. 

When we last saw Helen and Martin, the dad-to-be was telling us how the baby would be Lottie, then Charley and then as a young professional woman, Charlotte; he has her life planned, including the fact that there will be no boys around before she's 40.  I think he was kidding....

Yes, that's orange hair, just like her mom.

It's also sort of an old custom here that while the mother is still in hospital, the dad goes out and celebrates.  It's his job to register the birth and if he's under the influence the child's name may be other than originally agreed (this is the story behind the fictional character Phryne's name).  He was teasing Helen that Charlotte's middle name was going to be Poppadum.  Just in case you've not had Indian food, you can read about these horribly delicious things here.

I think that's a great middle name, don't you!?

Friday, 14 September 2012

Part V - Invidious Distinction and Self Esteem

This is part of a series discussing The Theory of the Leisure Class, written by an American economist named Thorstein Veblen and published in 1899.  His second chapter was titled Pecuniary Emulation.

Economists have argued that man’s struggle to possess goods is about a struggle for subsistence.  In the age of technology this need changed to competition for an increase in the physical comforts afforded by the consumption of goods.  Some even claim that possession of goods is about satisfying spiritual, intellectual or aesthetic wants.  Veblen believed instead that the motive for ownership was emulation:  to equal or surpass what others have.

“The possession of wealth confers honor; it is an invidious distinction.  Nothing equally cogent can be said for the consumption of goods, nor for any other conceivable incentive to acquisition, and especially not for any incentive to accumulation of wealth.”


Of course, in a community where nearly all goods are private property, the poorer members of that community still need to earn their livelihood and so subsistence and physical comfort may for a while be their main motivations.  However, Veblen says, even in the case of the impecunious classes the motive of physical want is not as predominant as has been assumed. In contrast, for those members of the community chiefly concerned with the accumulation of wealth - the leisure class - the incentive of subsistence or physical comfort never plays a considerable part. 

According to Veblen, it’s all about the ‘invidious distinction attaching to wealth’:  making others envious.  Initially this invidious comparison was between the possessor of booty and the enemy group from which it had been taken.   The possessor’s prowess was still his group’s prowess and he may have felt himself to be keeping the honor of his group.  Veblen points out that

“This appreciation of exploit from the communal point of view is met with also at later stages of social growth, especially as regards the laurels of war.”

Over time, the invidious distinction begins to be made between the owner of the booty and other members of his own group, particularly under the ‘quasi-peaceable methods of nomadic life.’  Eventually in this quasi-peaceable stage accumulated property is less a trophy of predatory exploit and more a promotion of the owner’s success and predominance.  With development of the society, the possession of wealth gains in relative importance as the basis of repute and esteem.  Predatory aggression and warlike exploit are still admirable, but the opportunities for these means of distinction become less frequent and less grand.  At the same time there becomes more opportunities for industrial aggression and property is the more easily recognised evidence of repute and success rather than heroic achievement. 

As property becomes the conventional basis of esteem, its possession in some amount becomes necessary in order to have any reputable standing in the community.  One must accumulate property in order to retain one’s good name.  Getting property through exploit to demonstrate one’s efficiency was no longer the main criterion.  Simply having wealth, by exertion or inheritance, was now itself meritorious and conferred honor on its possessor.  Wealth became the basis of common place reputability and of a 'blameless social standing'. 

High honor and reward could still come from predatory efficiency in war or quasi-predatory efficiency in statecraft but what if one isn't by nature predatory or statesman-like?  The everyday person in the community still had to find the means come up to a certain, somewhat indefinite, conventional standard of wealth, much like when a tribe had a standard of physical endurance and skill at arms in order to have any esteem.  Persons with greater wealth/skill were deemed meritorious.  Those with less wealth or prowess

‘…suffer in the esteem of their fellow-men; and consequently they suffer also in their own esteem, since the usual basis of self-respect is the respect accorded by one’s neighbours.’ 

In the next post, I will finish discussing the ideas in Veblen’s chapter on Pecuniary Emulation.


Thursday, 13 September 2012

Happy Birthday, Grandma

Grandma was the 8th of twelve children, eleven of whom grew to adulthood.  I've clipped her out of a family photo from about 1918-19.  She'll have been about 28.  Her two youngest brothers, Walter and Sidney, are in uniform.  They are about to go fight in WWI, against the Germans, which must have been rather strange given that their father was born in Germany.  I think Grandma grew up thinking he was born in Indiana.  It was not uncommon for immigrants to change their names, etc. to disassociate themselves from Germany.
Since learning that my dad was adopted, I've not been as keen to research that side of the family history.  I do, however, keep working on Grandma's and Grandpa's siblings' descendants.  I grew up hearing their names and I know that family meant a lot to Grandma, so I keep up with them as a way of thanking her.  I recently was able to identify how a wedding photo from 1919 fit into the family tree, which was very satisfying.  It was the wedding of her niece, the daughter of the eldest sister, only a few years younger than Grandma.  I've added that to my family tree in hopes that one day a direct descent will find it and get some pleasure from it.
Happy Birthday, Grandma.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Rita's Birthday


Today is my Aunt Rita's birthday; she would have been 68.  I did a lot of hand sewing when we were in France this summer.  Since then I've been doing more, finishing projects, here at home on my machine.  The sound of my sewing machine is one I associate strongly with both Rita and my Mom.  I use Rita's good scissors only for cutting fabric and of all the pin cushions I have, my favourite is one she made, trimmed with a beaded fringe. 

It's been five years since she died and I still miss her a lot.  I guess I always will.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Car Boot Sale - Not

Lately I have been thinking about selling stuff at a car boot sale.  That's the British version of a 'yard sale'.  I've not specifically checked, but I suspect 'yard sales' aren't permitted by the local authority (town council).  Since it's not part of the culture and since your usual Brit isn't the adventurous type, I'm thinking it's no good me trying to buck the trend.

On the other hand, the memory of my one experience of selling at Blaydon car boot sale puts me off: it was wet and very windy.  If I am going to try that again it will be at least under cover.  Tynemouth Flea Market is an obvious choice, but they want £17 to rent half a table and you have to come up with public liability insurance.  Life has to be simpler than that.

So I went to check out Bilton Market AKA Fish Quay Fair; the cafe on site has a different name, I forget what.  I've walked past this place many times when it was open, but the charging of an admission fee (50p) put me off.  In my experience this means there isn't enough good things inside for sale and the site is making money off the buyers instead of the sellers.  Turns out, however, that the 50p gets you a 'free' cup of coffee or tea, so can't say fairer. 

And this place. is. enormous.  There are 'permanent' stalls around the outside, with spaces for let in the centre.  And the whole thing is repeated upstairs, though without quite as much stuff.  I saw a woman in a corner using a sewing machine and I really wanted to ask her what she was making, but the way she was tucked in behind a screen made me think she didn't want to be interrupted. 


If I had a square inch to spare in my house I saw loads of furniture I would love to buy.  I'm not convinced they have enough traffic to make it worth my while (assuming I have sellable goods), but this was on a pleasant summer's day.  A place with parking, out of the wind and rain, come winter may be another kettle of fish altogether (get it?  fish quay...sorry).

When I'd finished looking I went to the cafe for my tea.  They have a juke box you can play for free.  I can't tell you which Elvis song was on when I was in there, but I'm sure I would have enjoyed many of the other artists:  Everly Brothers, Sam Cooke, Gene Pitney, The Animals, The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Thin Lizzie, Crystal Gayle and (of course) Cliff Richard.  (I don't think I ever heard of him before I came to Britain, but he made it pretty big here.)

So, I could go set up on Wednesday, leave my stuff til Saturday and again on Sunday, have free coffee and tea and listen to a bunch of golden oldie music.  I just might be talking myself into this.

In a shop called 'Den of Antiquities'...

Annnddd they have a crafters' market the last Sunday of every month!  Must go back and check that out!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Happy Birthday, Grandpa

I remember being amazed when I learned that Grandpa had once smoked.  I never saw him do it.  Apparently he quit before I was born.  Smart man, eh? 

Friday, 7 September 2012

Part IV - The Leisure Class and Ownership

This is part of a series discussing The Theory of the Leisure Class, written by an American economist named Thorstein Veblen and published in 1899.  He calls his second chapter Pecuniary Emulation.   

Veblen says the emergence of a leisure class coincides with the beginning of ownership.  Before this cultural stage, individuals use or consume goods without specifically owning them.  As discussed in an earlier post, the distinctions between a leisure and a working class begin to appear in the lower stages of barbarism, the distinction being between the work of men and that of women. 

Likewise, Veblen claims the earliest form of ownership was ownership of the women by the able bodied men of the community, or more specifically a woman owned by a man.  This custom began with the seizure of female captives, initially as trophies, but this gave rise to a form of ownership-marriage, resulting in a household with a male head. 

Following on from this was an extension of slavery to other captives and inferiors besides women, and an extension of ownership-marriage to women other than those seized from the enemy.  The outcome of emulation under a predatory lifestyle has been therefore, a form of marriage based on coercion and the custom of ownership.
"Both arise from the desire of the successful men to put their prowess in evidence by exhibiting some durable result of their exploits.”
From owning women, then comes the idea to include owning other products of their exploits.
In the next post, we’ll talk about envy and self-esteem according to Veblen.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Views from the Road

No idea how to make this the 'right' size; I can live with this if you can...

The early days of the holiday were taken up with driving.  Our ultimate aim was to visit Simon at his new flat in the south of France.  This being our first journey to France in the motorhome, we had loads to learn. 

Lesson number one was not to be too ambitious about distances in an older motorhome. 

Lesson two was that the smaller roads are quite scenic, but there are roundabouts every few miles and the few places one can stop are not well marked.  What is saved in toll fares is probably lost in fuel efficiency.   Mind, you all probably watched the Tour de France and won't be at all surprised that France is scenic.

Lesson three:  the large highways are pretty boring.  You could be driving anywhere, they are so modernly non-descript.  However, there are well marked  rest areas (aires de repos) which are most welcome.


We only stayed one night at Châlons-en-Champagne and another at Port de Lyon before heading to our first long stay near the small village (about 600 pop.) of Bourdeaux in the Rhône-Alpes region. 

If Châlons was convenient for a bread shop, the site at Lyon gave access to a Hypermarche Auchan - looked like Wal-Mart to me, only without Wal-Mart People. 

Lesson four:  bread from a supermarket is not nearly as nice as from a boulangerie.