The French have half a dozen names for a 50cl beer and yet none of them work

I'm beginning to suspect that the French don't have small glasses of beer for pacing, temperature, and economy, but because they don't have a reliable word for a 50cl glass.

In the UK a 'half' and a 'pint' are standard. You can walk into any pub and ask for a pint of beer and while you may be queried on what sort of beer you want, there will be no doubt about the quantity.

In France, you can ask for a chope, pinte, grande, double, serieux, demi-litre, and you will always cause a wee frisson of consternation in whoever's serving you, who will then (even if they find it plausible) require confirmation (with sizing gestures). If you ask for a pinte they will ask if you mean a chope, and if you ask for a chope they will ask if you mean a pinte - or any other combo.

Of course, if the establishment is frequented by clientele who often order a 50cl quantity, then there'll rarely be a problem, but away from the tourist zones, out in the sticks, there will be.

I used to think it was a matter of pronunciation, and that one day, like Kwai Chang Caine, I'd have mastered the art of ordering une pinte, but now, in defeat (or zen-like enlightenment), I've resigned myself to 'Une bière' or 'Une pression', and having to put up with having to order them twice as frequently.

Has anyone else come across this issue? Does there exist a way of ordering a 50cl beer that works, sans hésitation, in every bar in France?

I've not been there since my dad's uncle and aunt died way back in the late 80s. Their family are still there but I tend to only see them at births, marriages and funerals (usually the latter!). I'll have to ask Walker (one of the cousins still there) if your name is still there!!

It was one of the Ellie branch who kick started my French affair (along with an 'onion Johnny' from Roscoff who stayed with my grandmother in Stonehaven each year). Zander, one of dad's cousins married a girl from Fountainebleau - and she (and the Breton) used to teach me French age 4+

That's it, Mark must be my friend Clare's brother, I went to a splendid dance there ages ago when we were still at school, in Elie my grandparents had Henderson House not far from the breakwater & in fact my name is on the sea wall, put there in December 1970 when I was 6...) the house I knew has been knocked down, it is an old people's home now. Oh the lovely frozen picnics on Elie beach & finding cowries. I used to like jumping off the breakwater at high tide esp for New Year.

Oggs of Arnhall? Mark?

Another coincidence is Ellie : my family (the Stephen side) have been there since the 40s (a big family who everyone knew, members included the coastguard, policeman and undertaker ........)

Got it in one! I lived there when my parents were in the far east & absolutely loved it. Unfortunately it makes living elsewhere a bit 2nd best... You probably know the family of another schoolfriend of mine, the Oggs who farm at Edzell. I bet my Scottish grandparents would know exactly who you are but alas they are both dead now. I can remember being v impressed by the motor rallies going on on the forestry commission land!

I take it your grandparents had Drumtochty ? Nice place. We used to use the adjoining forests for motor rallying, and I maybe met your g/parents in the early 70s when I worked for the Mearns Leader ?? I certainly met the owners a couple of times.

And my cousin's wifes family farmed all the land next to DC, and still do

V small world.

The only time I was in that hospital was age 5, having my tonsils out. Not a good experience - it turned out I was a "bleeder" and ended up being rushed by ambulance to Aberdeen RI.

Auchenblae - my family are the Nicolls of Drumelzie, Auchenblae. The farm is still run by them, and branches of the family are in farming across that area

Ah. I have misled you - I was born in Stracathro hospital as it was the closest to where my grandparents lived near Auchenblae (my mother who is French was visiting them & had a car crash so I arrived in May rather than July) - I haven't been back in the town since! I went to school in Perthshire & then St Andrews.

So was I - Fetteresso Primary and Mackie Academy.

When were you in Stoney?

I was born in Steenhie, I am a Mearns quine. I was at school with Audrey (pronounced 'Oddri') Baxter.

If you can't get Edzell Blues try red Dukes (of York)

They don't do too badly here in 17

I planted some K Eds but they did not do well. The neighbour said the soil is too poor here, I laughed and said actually too rich but dry. We had a watering ban that year, for farmers too, therefore they were 'doomed, all doomed'.

We are all too far apart, so next 25 January we'll have to do a virtual Burn's Necht! Bring on the Macsween...

Brilliant George, i'll get my order in.

From my bookmarks: who have Macsweens or direct from the source:

Tatties they make be there, patates they are here and spuds because I was writing Ingerlitch.

Most of my lot went off the Canada and have stayed away. The dozen or so I am still in touch with in Aberdeen, Dundee and Elgin go to Torremolinos now and again and anywhere else, south of the Tay especially, simply does not exist. When I last turned up, none of them saying anything other than how grey my hair is, that I have a bit of a pot although they have all gone bald and huge and that was just the women!

Tatties - you need Edzell Blues or King Edwards, which are also great for making stovies.

MacSweens will send you haggis - even their very good veggie version!!

I'd a guy from Paris who took part in our history festival at Chatelherault (the Scottish one) a couple of years ago. He sold tinned haggis alongside all his medieval artefacts (chain, swords etc) at his Paris shop. A strange mix, but he moved haggis.

The highlight of his trip wasn't taking part in one of the UK's largest history festivals but me sorting out a meeting with Ramsays of Carluke, another top haggis producer (and now also exports to France)

Mealie puds: when I worked in Hamilton every time I went back to Stonehaven I'd to bring supplies back to a guy from Crieff who was horrified that no-one south of Stirling made/sold them.

And more recently we've had to take supplies of mealie puds and butteries down to a hotelier neat Chatsworth. He used to be head chef for several N Sea rigs and had been unable to explain what they were to his Baslow chefs.

A couple of weeks ago there was a farmers market outside St Pancras, which included a stall selling Scottish food. Mealie puds were seemingly sold out by 10.30 ... much to my frustration. The stallholder said she'd underestimated the number of Scots in London!

"The actual problem is getting the same quality spuds"

Real jocks call 'em 'tatties' !

I often do clapshot but I just can''t find a live haggis to go with it, any idea if they exist in France ? We used to get them sent down to Norfolk from Bruces in Fraserburgh then transported via a friend to the Limousin but that chain has been sadly broken. In fact the scots side of the marriage have cut off contact with me, funny lot the jocks !

WHAT? Next thing we'll hear that mealie puddens and onion bridies have been abolished.

I remember a very well spoken English chappie with a group of people at the top of the Law Hill in Dundee pointing downhill and saying that that is the Hill Town. A passing man said words to the effect of: 'Thurs nae sich place, tha's the Hull Toon, nae **** aff afore I show ye the Hull Toon nod'.

One of the people, not having understood much asked him to point out the nod because she could not see it!

I got several drinks bought for telling that story over again that evening.

We have one local market fish seller who gets the right type of smoked haddock. My OH had a Finnan haddie made into Cullen skink when we visited friends on Mull whose origins are east coast. She fell in love with it but said that because I am the Scot it is my responsibility. I make it every couple of weeks in season. I made one with a haddock that came in an icepack in a car fridge. Cut off a wee bit for the fish man to taste and kept him a cup of the soup. After a bite and a slurp, he smiled and said he would see what he could find. He has something close enough and sells enough to make it worthwhile. The actual problem is getting the same quality spuds. As for the pint of heavy to accompany it...

In reality Stonehaven is Stoney (if you come from thet own or the immediate NE area), the Stanehive title was awarded by outsiders

Baxters, sadly, are a disappearing sight in Scotland. Their centres in the Borders and Blackford have gone - I'm not sure if the Leith one has survived - which just leave the visitor centre at their main production base