Rohan picnic

Nerf Vortex HowlerNice evening picnic today on Jesus Green with some of Michael’s colleagues from Rohan in Cambridge. The idea was to have the night for Mike F’s 18th birthday, but in the end he went home as his family had arranged an evening for him. Michael made some, lovely potato salad, and we took some nice wine. Rachel and Adam brought a massive picnic, a disposable BBQ (with bricks to stand it on) and pineapple to BBQ (which was great). Jay brought lots of beer and sausages, and a frisbee and Nerf Vortex, which were great fun. Mike A, came along for a drink, and a nerf.

Jay Nerfs Nerfed
Michael Frisbee Man

Ended up in the pub afterwards!

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

This took less than 24 hours to read—it’s the book for the next Free Press Book Club evening. I disliked the opening a lot, and almost didn’t bother to read past the first ten pages. But Michael persuaded me to persevere and although I still don’t like the way the book is written, I think there is a lot to discuss for the book club. More later then (on the 2nd September in the Free Press.) In the mean time there is a bit of info on Wikipedia.

“Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” (John Boyne)

A Cultural History of the Penis

When I started reading this I feared it may be a PhD thesis and end up being quite academic. IN fact it’s not. The chapters have strange titles, such as ‘The Cigar’ and ‘The Gear Stick’ which make perfect sense once you red the book. I liked the way the story was told with different emphasis. Roughly following historical periods where the penis was worshiped, studied, demonised, racialiased, politicised, and then medically mastered.

Lots of fascinating facts: Particularly the effect of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas on demonising the penis through religion: page 31;

Viewed in a modern light, Augustine’s victory seems a triumph of medical marketing with a splash of proto-Freudianism. He taught that man is diseased by lust and semen, then established the Church as the Great Spiritual Physician.

The discussion then leads on to the veneration of the Holy Prepuce, and how at one stage there were so many of these and other bits of saints that there were official authenticators who could tell whether the leathery things were genuine by giving them a quick chew!

It’s all in here: feminism, female eunuchs, Bobbit …

“A Mind of Its Own: A Cultural History of the Penis” (David M. Friedman)

On our way home

Started with a little breakfast ina self service place off Place Plumereau, and the Adam and Barry had time for a quick shop. Tours was a great place to end the holiday. There is a good lively culture, and lots to do, but it isn’t packed with tourists looking at big sites. I could image being happy there for a longer holiday. Walked the the train station becasue we couldn’t work ou how to geta taxi—it was an ok walk! TGV and Eurostar were both good and before we knew it we were back in the UK. We managed to get straight on a train at King’s Cross, which was handy.

Went to the Free Press book club in the evening to discuss In Cold Blood. It was a great book to discuss, as it was quite controversial and there was a lot of information about Capote that could be brought into the discussion.

Lots (and lots) of Photo’s on Flickr Loire July 08 photoset.

Loire Photo Set

Bastille Day in Tours

Rough night, and skipped breakfast. The hotel breakfast wasn’t great anyway, and we ended up buying breakfast from a boulangerie and having it along with a coffee from a cafe. There were long queues at the boulangerie as not many were open on Bastille Day. Walked through quiet streets to visit the Jardin des Prébendes d’Oè, which is a lovely tranquil park in the middle of the city. Lots of people picnicing there and we spent a couple of hours in the sun, reading and chatting on the grass and on the benches.

Jardin des Prébendes d’Oè Jardin des Prébendes d’Oè

Nice sandwich lunch in a place off Place Plumereau. On the way back visited the Charlemagne Tower close to St Martin Basilica, where we had a quick stop.

Tour de Charlemagne and the Basilique de St-Martin

Shop, tours

Had our last evening meal in Tour at a very busy little restaurant called Le Zinc, on the place du Grand Marché. The place was so busy because it was firework night and we were the last table to get served (slowly). Luckily the staff all wanted to go and look at the Bastille Day fireworks too, and so were managed to leave on time. I had a lovely freshwater fish and Michael had a lovely steak. The fireworks were by the town bridge, close to our hotel. The river was lined with people and we had a great view over the water to the fireworks that were fired form an island in the middle of the river.

Bastille Day Fireworks, Tours

Bastille Day Fireworks, Tours Bastille Day Fireworks, Tours Bastille Day Fireworks, Tours

Exploring Tours (on a Sunday)

Had a lovely late breakfast, which was lazy. Then explored the city on foot with Michael, Barry and Adam. Started with a tour of the old parts of the city and some stunning, old buildings at Rue Briçonnet.

Outdoor staircase, Rue Briçonnet, Tours Rue Briçonnet Carved doorway, Tours

Then on to St Gatien Cathedral, which has fantastic butresses and gargoyles. The stained glass was lovely, and I was really impressed by the explanation under each (in French) of what each panel showed so that you could follow the whole story of the window. My translation was slow, and there are lots of large windows, so I could have stayed here another hour enjoying this. The panel below is an image of St Martin exorcising a devil and it coming out of the person’s mouth. (I was reading The Devil in Amber, a Lucifer Box, novel that day with a similar theme).

St Gatien, Tours Exorscising the devil, stained glass, St Gatien, Tours

Wandered around the cathedral precinct, which was pleasant. Had lunch in a Lebanese restaurant on Rue Colbert, which was good. then headed over to the river to head back to the hotel. I tried a great composting toilet (strange to be excited by this I know). Solar panels to draw air through the chimney, so there was always a downdraft through the toilet bowl, and ots of composting underneath—it makes such sense. My Tour of Loos became Le Trek: (humour courtesy of Adam)

Eco Loo, Tours Tours bridge

Back to the hotel for a rest and to read for a bit and finished my book. Started to feel rather unwell in the evening and by 7pm had fairly nasty upset tummy.I’m blaming last night’s meal of wok-cooked rare beef (that did seem rather ripe and well hung), rather than the Lebanese lunch. Wandered out for a drink in Place Plumereau and then headed of for a Pizza close to Rue Colbert. This place was clearly gay run: and they sent out a lovely waiter to take out order! It was fun. I had to leave before the bill came and go back to the hotel to have a rest. Michael walked me home and then looked after me! I missed out on the trip to the 5th Birthday party at the La P’tite Chose, but Michael, Adam and Barry were able to go. I’ll draw a veil over the rest of my unpleasant night.

Rest day in Tours

Quiet need in the hotel until the 7:30 traffic started for the (disappointing) Saturday market. Maybe we missed the best of it by getting up too late! We were 34th for breakfast! Adam drove us back to Tours, and we handed the car back in at the train station, and got a taxi to our third hotel: Hôtel L’addresse, in Rue de la Rôtisserie, close to Place Plumereau.

Hotel l'Adresse, Tours Tours Railway Station

Place Plumereau, Tours

It’s a Hôtel de Charme, and yes, it was quite charming, although the staff were a bit surly. Left our bags there and went to explore Tours until our room was ready, and quickly discovered that Tours is full of gay boys, which was a very pleasant surprise. It’s difficult to get any information on Tours form the web, because any search brings up lots of junk, so we hadn’t picked up this on our preparation for the holiday. Went to the tourist information and got a list of the bars and restaurants, so last us the few days.

Had lunch at a nice chocolatier, where we managed to find a small lunch, which was a relief and wandered some more until 3pm, when we could get into our rooms. Our rooms were lovely and light, with balconies overlooking the narrow, pedestrian, Rue de la Rôtisserie, which is full of busy, lively restaurants with seating on the street. Decided to have a rest for the afternoon, and Michael and I had a little wander around Tour later in the afternoon. Visited the tomb of St Martin in one of the baroque churches, but it was pretty ghastly. Cunningly, to see into the glass-sided crypt you had to kneel on a kneeling stand to get a good look in, so all the tourists looked like they were praying!

We started the evening with a drink a gay bar in rue de la Grosse Tour, called La P’tite Chose which has a lovely barman in a little white vest who was getting ready for a fifth birthday party the next night. Everyone had mojitos, whilst I celebrated with a Lady Man cocktail, which was champagne with lychee liqueur and violette syrup (It was a pretty lurid colour!) and very tasty. Went in search of a restaurant, and kind of got talked into eating at french, smart, and very camp restaurant, called Rococo, where we had a fried meal. We didn’t realise it was a wok restaurant. We are in some tufa cellars, whcih was atmopsheric and there were lots of mirrors, glitter and camp acrylic chairs, and gilt. The decor was better than the food (more about that tomorrow). Went back to our room and played a game of uno with Barry and Adam, drinking red wine, with the balcony doors open onto the buzzing Rue de la Rôtisserie. It was a late night!