Thursday, 27 September 2012

jeudi de paris

Christmas is here?  Not yet, but it sure felt like it for the girls when our shipment arrived.  We opened some cartons that we marked urgent (coffee machine, toys, shoes... we know our priorities).  Looking at these photos, I wonder how we will fit our furniture (and shoes) in a typical Parisian apartment (they're in storage at the moment).  I've just started contacting property agents to visit some apartments; the notorious reputation of property in Paris being monstrously expensive and absurdly small is all true. 

Thursday, 20 September 2012

jeudi de paris

If you are in Paris on a Sunday morning, head out to a market.  We went to Rue Mouffetard not far from where we live.  Don't forget to make a list, see if it looks like mine:

1  some fresh flowers for your amour (after all, this is the city of love)

(if no flowers catch your fancy, pick out a cabbage)

2  a bottle of champagne for your sunday brunch

3 have a break and enjoy some live music

4 quick, some summer fruits before summer leaves us altogether

5 have a peek into someone's courtyard

6 satisfy a craving for mussels in a garlic wine broth (or cockles to add in a comforting home made    
   curry laksa?)

7 stop and say a little prayer

8 aah, now that you've offloaded all your worries and your guilt, and are light-hearted and light-footed,   
  dance a little (pick up a melon on the way to the dance floor)

 9 if you have some extra energy to burn, and the waltz is not your thing...

10 have a sit down and watch the world sing and dance by

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

what's a window for

Anais had her first swimming class today.  There is no pool at the school so the class was to walk to the nearest public pool about 10 minutes away.  We can see the school from our apartment.  I knew what time they were supposed to leave.  Like a psychotic mother, I hung out the window, hoping to see her.  I thought it would be fun to take photos of her walking past our apartment (the thought did strike me that I may get into trouble with French privacy laws what with the recent Kate photos brouhaha).  They went the other way.  I was disappointed.  Similarly the other day, like a pyschotic wife, I hung out the window, hoping to see JB down on the street, arriving from the metro. I didn't spot him cross the road and come onto our side of the street. Ah well. I took these photos instead:

Sunday, 16 September 2012

le gourmand

My current favourite thing to eat is soba noodle salad.  When we were in NY, my friend Kay made this for dinner one evening. Thank you Kay and Nicolas.  I was hooked.  There is a little Japanese grocer very near to where we live, so I headed there last week.  I made this for dinner two nights in a row.  

What's great is you can prepare everything in advance and everyone can create his/her own version.  This is our self-serve assembly line.  

Some can't wait and sneak a pre-taste at the assembly line.

Of the same pod, but never liking the same things!

Anais made hers with edamame beans, sweet corn, cucumber and a generous sprinkle of sesame seeds.

Gourmand translates roughly to being greedy.  In context: "Je n'ai plus faim mais je suis un gourmand!"

Thursday, 13 September 2012

jeudi de paris

You all know by now that we have a great view of the Notre Dame from our apartment.  Yes, I have been bragging about it.  A little.  Just one problem.  I feel compelled to take photos of it all the time.  In the morning.  At mealtimes.  When it rains.  When its lit up.  Here are a few faces of the grand dame; see how her mood changes!

Construction of the cathedral began in 1163 under the reign of Louis VII.  It was completed really only in 1345.  Over the years, its been vandalised, plundered and altered.  At one stage during the French Revolution, it was even used as a warehouse for food storage.

Victor Hugo wrote The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1829.   It has been adapted in film and theatre, musicals and ballets.  When I sit on my terrace and the bells toll, I imagine it is Quasimodo,  shunned and hideous in his deformity, deaf from ringing the bells.  

I can't promise that these are the last photos you'll see of the Notre Dame.  But I haven't taken any new ones in the last 24 hours...

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

a foggy upstairs

I don't think I know anyone as forgetful as me.  Sometimes I make myself a cup of tea and forget to drink it.  Then I heat it up in the microwave and discover it three days later when I'm heating up another cup of tea.  I now live in an apartment on the fifth floor with no lift (the perks of Paris living), so really, the thought of forgetting to turn the iron off or leaving the chicken curry cooking on the stove (not unknown to happen before) strikes my heart with fear.  

As long a I can remember (haha, I contradict myself), I've always been forgetful.  My mum used to despair at my forgetfulness and prescribed fish roe to boost my memory.  I love fish and fish roe but my memory over the years never improved in the least bit.    

When Anais was a baby, I called for an appointment with the paediatrician.  I was asked to give her date of birth.  When I struggled with it, the receptionist asked "How many children do you have?"  I wanted to lie and said eight, but being much much too young (and still am...) to have had eight children, I couldn't have passed it off. For someone who works in a pediatrician's clinic, you'd think she would know that pregnancy causes memory loss.  And that it continues even until after childbirth.

But my friends, I digress.  The other day I thought I remembered having taken some nice photos of our short stay at my father-in law's-house in St Gervais near Bordeaux.  And I thought I had downloaded them all on the computer.  But no, I had forgotten. This I can attribute to jetlag, which is now recognised as a clinical condition.  So a little bit delayed, but nevertheless, here are some photos from when we first arrived.

Always a sight for sore eyes, this house.

Pony riding is the main activity for the girls in St Gervais.

Although I haven't forgotten how to ride a bicycle, it gets very foggy up there on a lot of things.

Tea is not yet so at ease on the bicycle but if there is a Tour de France via cartwheels, she is ready.  Grandpere is the one who teaches the kids to ride.

These people seem to have forgotten that at their age (or at any age in my case), performing cartwheels is no easy feat. 

Fish and fish roe aside, there does seem to be a consensus that the kitchen is a great place to start boosting your memory. Here are some other suggestions.

We had cousin Benedicte for dinner (and well deserved too after her cartwheel performance); a summer meal of radishes, barbecued pork cutlets, haricots verts and potatoes, under the big tilleul (linden tree) overlooking the vineyards.  Darn, we're not eating any of the brain boosting foods listed above...

And a prune tart to finish off the evening on a sweet note as the sun sets over us.

Well, that's done.  Excuse me while I go put my feet up and do some memory and brainpower boosting Sudoku and snack on some almonds.

Friday, 7 September 2012


If we didn't take all these photos, it would be almost hard to believe that we went to all these amazing places.  If we could do it all over again, we would, and there is not much we would change.  To JB, who is responsible for all the organising, bravo! He planned the trip, booked the tickets, read the maps, drove the vehicles, organised the photos, taught the children, (don't ask what I did... important things obviously, organising the visas and clothing, feeding and loving your family cannot be undervalued) and he also compiled these statistics:

Le tour du monde en chiffres
  • 107 jours de voyage depuis Kuala Lumpur
  • 18 vols enavion et pres de 100 heures de vol
  • 9 pays visites sur 5 continents
  • plus de 6,000 km parcourus, dans 2 camping cars et 6 voitures de location
  • 13 familles ou amis rencontres autour du monde ou qui nous ont accueillis
  • 23 hotels ou maisons en location
  • 4 semaines dans 2 camping cars et 21 sites de camping
  • 60 kg de bagages, repartis dans 4 valises
  • et aussi du cheval, du mule, de la luge, du telesiege ou télécabine, ferry, canoe, pédalo, métro, bus, train, jeep, camion safari, vélo, tandem, tram ...
Here is the translation for those who ne comprendre pas francais: The world trip in numbers
  • 107 days starting from Kuala Lumpur
  • 18 flights, almost 100 hours of flying 
  • 9 countries over 5 continents
  • driving over 6,000 kms in 2 camper vans and 6 cars
  • 13 families/friends around the world who hosted/welcomed us
  • 23 hotels/apartments/houses
  • 4 weeks in 2 camper vans
  • 21 camping sites
  • 60 kg of luggage in four suitcases (2 large and 2 small)
  • other modes of transport: horses, mules, luge, ski lifts, ferry, canoe, pedalling boat, metro, bus, train jeep, safari truck, bicycle, tandem bikes, tram ...
I think he forgot the donkey cart ride the girls did in SA.  The man isn't perfect after all!

Easily the best part of our travels was seeing friends and family.  Thanks for helping make our trip so very special and memorable!  We can't wait to see you again, and to return your hospitality!

Liz and Rupert, Auckland (a bitch, as in a dog, as in Milly, to remember us by)
Margaret and Thomas, Wellington (are the girls writing new poetry?)
Dawn and Shane, Kaikoura (what's a mail run without two underaged helpers?)
Norma and Colin, Christchurch (hugs and camper van supply support)
Kathy and Richard, Singapore (our stopover support)
Madam Luo, Beijing (responsible for our most delicious memories of Beijing)
Ezlyn, Tokyo (and our other delicious memories of Tokyo)
Jeanette, Tokyo (the little baby in my mum's care all grown up)
Jenny and Will, San Francisco (four kids, fresh baked muffins, morning run, and no chaos...)
Tiffany and Jean-David, California (kudos for the impromptu in-house entertainment)
Leila and Emmanuel, Montreal (didn't matter that we didn't see any bit of Montreal!)
Kay and Nicolas, New York (congratulations on your new baby!)
Jill and Francois-Xavier, New York (remembering a lemonade stand and our new friendships)

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

jeudi de paris

I can see you looking rather perplexed.  What are my girls doing?  Bowing to an ancestral altar in our apartment in Paris??? Actually, they are just showing off their new schoolbags... (they must think I'm too tall to get a good shot and bent down to give a better view of their bags...don't laugh so hard).

You would not believe how excited and impatient they were to start school.  They hardly slept a wink the night before.  I had to stay in their room to keep them in their beds.  They must have asked me every hour if it was time to get up and get ready for school.  Wednesday is an off day for schools here in France, the girls thought this was nul (translation: lame, rubbish, crap). Otherwise school starts at 830 am and ends at 430 pm.  The system is working-parents friendly and allow for children to stay in school till 6 pm for assisted homework or other activities.  Parents may choose to have their children eat at the canteen in school or go home for lunch.  I may have to offer some pretty tempting selections for the girls to come home for lunch two times a week (sushi, asam laksa and grandma's pork in soya sauce are their favourites, tall order).  

Of course I stressed over what the girls would wear on their first day of school.  Anais often comes up with some pretty original coordinations, so I had to tone down her creativity a little. Tea declared that she should not look too countryside-ish.  What do you think of their final ensembles?

for whom the bell tolls

We arrived in Paris on a grey rainy afternoon.  Even so, it was beautiful.  Our apartment is in the Latin Quarter and we are surrounded by churches.  Our bedroom windows open out to Eglise St Severin.
School for the girls is literally 2 minutes' walk, next to St Severin.  What a change from KL!

And the prize view?  The Notre Dame from our roof top terrace.

And here you can see the street behind our building and a small part of another church, Eglise St Julien le pauvre, with Notre Dame across the Seine.  Yes, we hear church bells all the time.  Its not at all intrusive.  On the contrary, its quite lovely.