Thursday, 29 November 2012

jeudi de paris

The girls wanted me to do a fashion blog.  I had to break it to them that supermum wasn't so super, and that they would just have to accept a post on vol de vie.

Getting the girls to wear warm clothes was a challenge.  They want to wear whatever strikes their fancy, and never consider the weather.  I now have Anais look at the weather report every morning and they are a little more conscious of dressing appropriately for the cold.

Towards the end of summer, my friend Ouzrie was here.  See Tea, still in her light summer dress.

Leggings, stockings are making their debut here but shorts and summer skirts still rule the playground.

Tea, impatient to grow up...

Anais in her favourite mustard cardigan.

My cousin Karen was just here recently.  A cold grey day calling for warm boots, and furry jackets.

Keeping warm...a cuddle always helps.

The girls are almost similar in height, and I often get asked if they are twins.  Being so close in age and size means they can share their clothes.  Here Anais has her sister's coat on, but adds her own grey woollen top and a necklace she bought in Africa.

Being fashionable in Paris means having the right accessory. Here Anais has the ultimate: her scooter.

Tea dreams of one day having a horse in her back yard.  For now, she has to pretend that her scooter is one.  Notice how she dresses the part.  She just forgot her cravache (riding whip) today.

Have a good weekend dear friends, see you back here next week!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

jeudi de paris

Before we left Sturget, I just had to take a few more photos.  Its just one of those places where you want to carry your camera with you all the time as you want to capture all these beautiful images; the vineyards, the pigeonnier, the house, the garden...

This was the foggy morning we left which put me in a melancholic mood.

When we returned to Paris, I had something to do (will tell you soon what it is...) near the famous avenue of Champs Elysees. The girls were thrilled to come with me, loving and having heard the song  by Joe Dassin a million times...

Au soleil, sous la pluie
a midi ou a minuit
Il ya tout ce que vous voulez aux Champs Elysees

One of the most familiar landmarks of Paris is the Arc de Triomphe.  Completed in 1836, it stands at the heart of Place Charles de Gaulle which was originally known as Place de l'Etoile, or Star Square, as twelve avenues converge upon it (one of them of course being Champs Elysees).  The Tour de France competition ends at the Arc de Triomphe every year.  More significantly, it honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars.  Beneath it also lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.  

The cityscape of Paris is dramatically different from Sturget.  The trees along the Seine, all bare, brave themselves for the winter fast approaching.  

Over the weekend, we went to a watch the movie version of The Gruffalo's Child and then went walkabout in the Marais.  There is always a little playground we chance upon and always some photo opportunities...

I don't always remember to bring my camera with me when I go out.  But when I do, its always worth it.

Friday, 16 November 2012

horse mad

What, its Friday already?  Quite right.  Its been a crazy busy few days so it will just be this short little post today.  But hey, great things come in small packages.  And these drawings are GREAT.  I may be biased but I think these drawings that Tea did are amazing.  Don't you?  Don't you?

Monday, 12 November 2012

autumn continues

Its still autumn.  Could have fooled me.  The other day we woke up to the grass covered in white frost. At 8.30 in the morning I had to drive the girls to their riding club.  It was zero degrees.  Well, could have been worse.  When I was living in Toronto, zero degrees was a reason to cheer and bring out the flip flops.

We have a dovecote, or pigeonnier  as it is known in French, at the end of the garden.  Meant for pigeons to roust in, they have a special significance in France, maybe because the pigeon acquired an important place in French cuisine!  Prior to the Revolution,  only the nobility had the privilege of constrcuting pigeonniers on their property.  They were a status symbol.  So like other status symbols, the bigger and the more elaborately decorated they were, the more wealthy and powerful its owner was.  By the 19th century, keeping of pigeons became universally permitted in France.  They were then built into domestic dwellings, often at the end of a compound.  Pigeons are still eaten today, but they are bought at the market and our pigeonnier now has a stash of chopped wood.  

The living room has a new piece of furniture - our couch from Kuala Lumpur!  Two actually, count the coffee table too.
The all-time favourite activity for the girls in St Gervais is riding.  Here they are all ready and rearing to go!
Chateau Sirac is our closest neighbour.  They are practically family.  We all feel the loss of Annick, who passed away early this year. Andre continues to host friends and family with great hospitality and warmth.  We walk through the vineyards for a chat, or to pick some fruits.  Not seeing Annick in her apron standing at the door waiting to greet us takes some getting used to.
The little cabane in the garden that Andre built for his granddaughter.
We left Sturget yesterday.  Alternating between foggy and clear weather, the landscape was often beautiful with bursts of autumn colours.  I was overcome by gratitude.  For this beauty, and for the life we have and for the people we have the privilege to know, whose kindness and generosity touch our lives in countless meaningful ways.  Thank you.

This morning I am in Paris, sitting down with a cup of coffee and an almond croissant, a scrumptious treat that I really try to abstain from.  But this morning I deserve it, having walked to the supermarket and done my grocery by 9am and walked back to a dozen load of laundry waiting.  Well, it can wait a little more while I add some inches to my waist with this croissant.  Have a great week ahead and I will try to be more disciplined about my Thursday postings!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

autumn in sturget

This is our first autumn in Sturget.  Well, in France in fact.  As it is the Vacances de Toussaint (the first term break following All Saints Day), we decided to head to Sturget, my father-in-law's holiday property near Bordeaux.  The weather during the 5 hour's drive (5 hours for JB, would have been 6 if I were driving) was dreary, a preview of what awaited us in St Gervais (the name of the village) for the next few days.  We had a 15 minute respite when the sun shone through the glass roof of our new car...err new company car that is. Gone were the blooming giant sunflowers we are used to seeing and upon arrival in the Bordeaux region, the vineyards were all a little more somber than in the summertime. 

Despite the rain and the cold, we are happy to be here.  The changing colours are for us a wonderful re-introduction to seasons (for the girls of course, its all totally new - they have been talking about autumn in school though, bringing autumn fruits for show and tell etc).  We are equipped with rubber boots, rain coats, warm bedding and radiators. We are making fires in the chimney, roasting chestnuts over the open fire and hearty soups are on the menu in the evenings.

Its also the season to plant.  After much debate and discussion, it was decided that a prune tree would be best seeing as it bears fruit during the time of year we are most likely to be here.  So an excursion was made and a tree was acquired.  With much ceremony, we planted our tree.

In the summer, I love how the quince trees in the garden hang heavy with an abundance of fruits.  Totally organic, they often have internal inhabitants (of the wormy kind), so we don't get to appreciate them much.  And they are quite inedible raw; it is tart and has an astringent flavour, often dry and gritty as well.  They are difficult to peel and cut, but once cooked, is seriously yummy.  I made a quince crumble the other day with the pickings that my father-in-law saved for me.  Cooked in a sugar syrup with some sliced fresh ginger and mandarin skin thrown in, it took about an hour for the quince to become tender.  I then topped it with the usual butter-sugar-flour crumble topping (with some chocolate chips scattered over) and baked it in the oven. The kitchen smelled like heaven.    In fact, the fragrance of quince is so strong that it was used as a deodoriser.  The Romans used it as a perfume.  Leave them to ripen in a room, and the smell that pervades is just like, wow nature attack.  I didn't even have time to take a picture of the crumble, it got eaten that fast. 

Here in Sturget, our activities are often weather-dictated.  But our friends remain steadfast, come rain or shine.  Even when we see them once in a year (now that we are in France, perhaps a little more often).  

I am getting rather chilly sitting still for such a long time, so am off to make some hot soup for lunch!  Hoping you have better weather where you are!