15th February 2009

There was thick frost last night in the Tarn et Garonne, but this morning the sky is blue and the quality of light is breath-taking. It lifts the spirits and reminds us why we moved here. We're also nicely placed for visiting either Biarritz, 2 hours due west, or the Cote d'Azur, a couple of hours south-east.
There's an amazing carnival which takes place in Nice this month. It's the biggest in Europe, reminding me of that other parade which dances down Main Street in Florida. The Nice Deputy Mayor Rudy Salles stressed that he wants the carnival to have a truly international dimension and see its reputation and influence grow throughout the world. Certainly the links are there. A spokesman for the world's carnival capital in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil recently said that 2009 is officially 'the year of France' in Brazil and extra special efforts have been made to ensure the Nice carnival will be represented in Rio.
This year's theme in Nice is Roi des Mascarades (King of Masquerades), which is all about transforming yourself. Looking at all the cartoons in Europe's financial papers, there is plenty of transformation going on. The fall in the pound has incurred the wrath of Mr Darling's continental counterparts, with French finance minister Christine Lagarde urging the bank to intervene in foreign exchange markets and the Germans pledging to put the issue of currencies high on the agenda. I've also seen spectacular caricatures of Carla and Nicolas Sarkozy doing a Punch-and-Judy-like spat over who should get all the media attention.
Wish I could make one of the floats at this month's carnival in Nice! There's no lack of puppets on the world stage - wonder if I could make one of Tony Blair?


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