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Showing posts from July, 2012

The "What-is-a-condom?" place, a trip to the North Atlantic and abandoning children in Foreign climes

Son, who is currently running a hotel for his friends, might recall a visit several years ago to a French restaurant, where seated at a round table, set with wine glasses, fluted, linen napkins and immaculate table cloth, he announced to the dimly candle-lit room, in an unfortunately clear, resonant, high-pitched voice, "What is a condom?" He was probably seven years old. We ate at the same restaurant last night – same table settings, same atmospheric lighting, same owner whose gentle politeness is unchanged, but whose English is better (or maybe our French is worse) – this time ‘sans enfants’ to mark our wedding anniversary. The food “with zee sauces made by my ‘usband” was unchanged in its fabulousness: I do not like tuna, but the unordered hors-d'oeuvre of triangles of thin toast and shot-glasses half filled with a rich tuna paste topped with a cream sauce and chives, was utterly amazing. This was followed by a hot millefeuille filled with a melting slice of foie

Holiday homework and fishing boats

Littlest’s latest diary entry – We have also been on many cycle rides and that was also very fun and because I am not particularly great at cycling I go on a trailer bike at the back of my daddy’s bicycle. We also drove to some towns and we went to lots of shops and millions of art galleries. There were lots of beautiful paintings including pictures of waves, sea, pretty gardens and things. In the gallories one of my favorite pictures looked a bit like this: Punctuation and spellings all her own. Our afternoon was spent catching pictures of the boats that caught our supper Sadly, Littlest only likes salmon ...

Of Mediaeval towns and crepes

When in Paris ... eat chicken nuggets and chips When in Diagon Alley-like Mediaeval town ... eat crepes And if into monetary matters i.e. male, speculate on the cost of making said crepes, and the immense profits made by Creperies that sell about 10 cents of raw ingredients for over 2 euros. 

Holiday plans by Littlest

France shuts for Bastille Day. We on the other hand are very much open for holiday: shopping (the big supermarkets don’t shut on national holidays); eating; swimming, playing tennis; eating; reading; swimming; and eating! Littlest made a holiday plan before we left home – it included “swimming – at least two times every day” (Littlest, being Littlest in her year group at school is not the strongest swimmer, and in school swimming lessons and at the annual swimming gala tends to get rather overwhelmed and over-swum by her friends; improving on holiday is therefore rather essential, especially as she discovered that ‘forgetting your swimming kit’ i.e. leaving it in the car, is no excuse, does not get you out of swimming and means that you borrow an over-large costume from school making the swimming bit even more embarrassing); “do at least eight pages of my holiday homework in France” – lots of maths in a folder titled ‘Four operations’ (this clearly needs some attention – long

Wedding anniversary and artistry

A day of sunshine (yeah!!!), light showers ( L !!) and art galleries Following the Gaugin trail through the Bois de L’Amour Tres appropriate given the day Littlest goes off piste as per usual Flowers around here are given the art gallery treatment After coffee, chocolat-chaud, or ice creams, we wander from one art gallery to another. Littlest trots in – chooses a favourite, waits to show us all which it is and then happily trots back out and on to the next gallery, probably next door. We on the other hand, trot in, choose favourite(s), realise we can’t afford any of them and sadly trot back out again and on to the next gallery, ever hopeful that we might stumble upon an up and coming artist whose work is cheaper. Were we rich of pocket however, I suspect the dilemma might have been more difficult – there were a couple of galleries where it would have been hard to know where to start, such was the quality of the paintings: check out  www.belaven.c

En vacances sous la pluie

Beaucoup de l’eau – il pluie et pluie et pluie. Okay, so I neither speak nor write much in French that would make any sense to a Frenchman. I suspect there should be a fait in there somewhere. But I think I could gesticulate at the sky, pull a hood over my head, empty the puddles out of my shoes, shake the drips out of my hair and make him understand. It rains ... and it rains . Mother Nature must have a sense of humour. It was only a few months ago that we were rushing to the garden centre and buying the last remaining, and because they were the last remaining, rather expensive, water butts to connect to the drain pipes around the house. Before a drought was officially declared and the water companies imposed hose pipe bans. Less than a month later and parts of England were flooded. Now we come on holiday and ... there is spray so thick on the roads that the car ahead disappears into a foggy haze; windscreen wipers set on max; sunglasses ... !!! ... cowering in t

Paris highs and lows

The Paris metro is hot, crowded, stinks, is full of people who jump the barriers (these being the same people who bundle up their tat in blankets at the first sight of the police and scarper like a suddenly appeared flock of sheep), and it runs precisely to time. Ever a country bumpkin – or more accurately, an entire family of country bumpkins – we tired of Littlest’s excitement at riding the Paris ‘tube’, as quickly as the French mozzies, who on entering our holiday abode, smell blood – and that’s quick! When not underground, walking was the preferred alternative – a cruise on the Seine being the equivalent of a dinner out for a family of 5 (something we plan to do later in the week). So saving our pennies, we paced the Paris pavements, fast, where we skirted the tourist routes, and at the pace of the slowest, fattest, most camera, handbag and map laden visitor in front of us, when approaching the major sites. But this scenario is the same in every city ... Proble

There and back again ... I LOVE my bike!

Update on mid-life fitness crises - I made it - there ... coffee and a third of a mille feuille overlooking the square in Rebais ... and back again! Yes we stopped - about four times in total - but the pauses were not all at my behest. I cycled up all the hills - aren't gears great? I managed to avoid the potholes - somewhat reassuring to find that French roads are as pock-marked as the ones at home. And I remembered the joy of free-wheeling down-hill with a bike that rolls on the road rather than digging itself a thick sticky furrow into it. I know I exaggerate, but I am certain that I would have failed at the first hill, had I been on my old mountain bike. Fitness regime tentatively started then ... ? As is probably obvious, I was pretty pleased with myself - Love my new bike! - and relieved that I survived (may sound overly-dramatic but exceedingly unfit Scots are rather prone to heart attacks). And ... I am resolved to buy a new saddle at the earliest opportu

Mid-life fitness crisis

We grow up with our children – or should that be grow old?  In my case, the latter feels depressingly true. Perhaps though, I have been working too much recently, comfort eating (mostly chocolate), and exercising little more than my fingers and wrists when writing. Overall personal fitness levels are at an all time low. I reckon I could still walk up a Scottish mountain – second wind would kick in – it always did in the past ... however, keeping up with the kids, who are probably as fit as they will ever be, is increasingly hard. It was so much easier when they were little, with little legs that matched, very neatly, my little energy. Now though, they are varyingly like gazelles, cheetahs or hares, even Littlest can keep going, long after I have poured the first glass of wine. Hmmm ... wine? Anyway ... in an attempt to redress the energy or fitness balance, I have bought myself a new toy. Balance is, I admit, probably a little optimistic – raising the fulcrum a millimetre or

Long time, no blog ... far, far too long.

Parlez vous Francais? Littlest and French friend. Long time, no blog ... far too long. Too busy with other things - other writing, other distractions. However – while other distractions have not all gone – check out My Name is Luca  on Jottify, a new story, now hurtling towards a conclusion ... which conclusion? – not totally decided yet; might try out a couple and see what the lovely jottifying community think - I now have a bit of time to resurrect Walking The Dog. Anyway, enough of that – as you have probably gathered, we are back en France, en vacances, a bit too far north for sunny weather, but just far enough, and not too far south to have succeeded in driving-awake after the normal frantic packing exploits of Sunday and the normal far too late collapsing into bed.How I hate packing! But that is probably a subject for a separate blog. Time to catch up on all things Walking The Dog – what have Littlest, Four-legged-friend and the rest of the family been u