Sunday, 9 August 2009

Berry Picking

Thanks for your guesses folks! It is actually blackberry season here in the 77th department, and there is a huge bramble patch at the end of our road which was untouched by human hand.... until I arrived! This village seems to be full of people who spend their time driving to and fro everywhere (usually Paris) or in their beautiful house/garden so there are very few people wandering the streets and doing such mundane things as picking berries. No problem, all the more for us!
I picked nearly a kilo last week but somehow we managed to eat them all before they got into a pie....oops! So this time I enrolled Bertie to help as we streeeetched for all the higher ones.
Look at those delicious berries, who could resist them?Well, we exerted all our self'-discipline (helped by Tatie's stern eye!) and here is the result that she threw together. I am off to enjoy it now!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Guess What I Was Up To Today....?

Popping Into Paris

Talk about a shock to the system! From the quiet of Guadeloupe to the peace and tranquility of the Marne Valley to....the hustle and bustle of Paris - ouch! Cars, roads everywhere, people dashing and rushing all over the place. It was all very overwhelming to us small towners!

Still, it was nice to wander around Paris on a summer's evening, with the realms of people sitting on the pavement (well not literally!) outside of cafés and bistros enjoying the beautiful hot weather that we have been blessed with ever since our return. I'm always glad I don't live in Paris but it does have its charms and beauty, especially at this time of year.

Something that caught our eyes was the relatively new bicycle scheme here. You get a card, take a bike for half an hour (free) or longer (a euro or two) and putter around to wherever you happen to be going, then park the bike at the nearest bike point. Simple! And according to the number of empty spaces and all the people we saw on their bike, very popular. Helmets appear not to be so in favour though.

Our actual purpose in town was an evening bowling with the family. Unfortunately an earlier puncture meant the spare wheel was in operation as was an 80 kph speed limit even on the motorway, so a very lengthy journey in. Probably the longest car journey the kids have had in over a year!
Next we struggled with the intricacies of the Parisian parking system. Pay at the machine? Oh no, far too simple! Go and visit all the neighbouring tabacs to try and purchase a ticket only to find they are either closed down or no longer selling any. We gave up in the end - it would seem that the Parisian ticket attendants are not quite as fervent as their Londonian counterparts!
Bowling was great fun. Bertie smashed us all, with a stunning 145 and several strikes. I, ehem, came gloriously last with about the same score as my age and the humilation of several gutter balls (nul points!). The girls had a great time running around, tidying the balls for us and taking the occasional shot. Thier joy was complete with a late-night trip to McDo afterwards and the lengthy journey home saw them all blissfully fast asleep!

Behind Our House

We went for an evening stroll up the hill behind Bertie's sister's house (Evs might remember having taken much of the same walk with us a few years ago). Not a bad view really!

It was a much longer walk than we had thought so quite a lot of complaining from one LissaLou on the way up, but a bread and nutella stop improved things vastly! JoJo was particularly excited by the cows below - animals are definitely his thing right now.We decided to take a short cut over the above field, only to be met by a wire fence between us and the path. Uh oh! Nothing for it but to squeeeeeeeeze on through! Then we met another one! This time we caught Bertie in the act of squeezing!

Two hours later we made it back - 8pm and the sun still high in the sky. Can't get used to this northern hemisphere! (Nor can the girls, they are convinced they shouldn't be going to bed until it is dark....)

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Photo Time!

Cousins Siblings
Siblings amongst the corn Helping Daddy
Looking beautiful in her new dress from Tatie
More Cousins

Saturday, 1 August 2009

In The Marne Vallée

It really is so beautiful and peaceful here (except for our kids of course!). Out the window we look down onto fields of corn that are being harvested, further beyond is the Marne river weaving its way along, and beyond that the occasional train coming to or from Paris.
Bertie's sister and BIL moved here the summer we got married, and in 8 years it has been lovely to come and see what changes have taken place in their home and garden, which were pretty much a new-build shell to start with.
(taken by CassCass)
This time it was the guest room that changed, with a very comfortable bunk bed, the lower part acting as a couch in the day which is a great space saver. The walls are now yellow and green and the bouquet of lavendar and mint my SIL kindly left for us are a wonderful finishing touch.

In the garden, Bertie has been hard at work ever since his arrival. The most important thing he has done (in our opinion!) is put up the remaining parts of the swing set. For two years there has been one sole swing, now there are also two different boat swings, meaning five cousins can have the time of their life swinging away! Very useful when you have as many small nieces and nephews as this family!
We visited Meaux a few days ago by bus - the girls almost exploded in excitement boarding the bus, much to the amusement of a little old lady waiting there! We wandered around (accompanied by much complaining from LissaLou - she does not do wandering!) and visited the cathedral. The girls were very taken with the stain glass windows and statues - LissaLou expressed shock at the latter, telling me they weren't allowed. On further investigation, she had remembered our recent reading of the Golden Calf episode in the OT. So good to know some of what she hears sticks! One thing we loved in Guadeloupe was picking and eating fruit for free, and we have been delighted to carry on this tradition here. We have enjoyed little plums from by the river and pears from the nearby wood, and shocked the SIL by eating elderberries by the dozen! (Are you sure they are edible??!) Today has been Party Day, with all the family here en masse, celebrating a nephew's birthday. Food and drink in abondance, sun sun and a little bit of rain, and little girls running excitedly all over the place with their cousins. Topped off by a very late night - good job we all still all on Guadeloupe time!

Back On Line

Wayhey, we have a new computer! Bertie's BIL works in a computer place and had an ex store model offered to him at a discount so he kindly kept it for us.

It is hp compact and on the downside has a French AZERTY keyboard, all the programmes are in French, and it is a laptop when I was intending to get a desktop, but paying a quarter less is nice! Plus I will never have problems putting in my accents!

Bertie's other BIL has just connected it to the web so here I am in my bedroom feeding JoJo and blogging! I just need to work out how to put Picassa and upload all my photos - watch this space....

And now back to the big family party happening next door!