Friday, October 28, 2011

This Moment. Eighteen Months Today!

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Joining in with Amanda and friends at SouleMama


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Paris to the Moon

Paris to the Moon
We're on vacation at the moment so I'm getting the chance to READ! With all the busyness of a family of six (and dog!) I complete books very slowly these days, but my latest book was worth savouring. Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik was one of those things I found whilst we were packing up that seemed to foretell our eventual move to Paris. I have a vague memory of buying this book in an airport years ago and for some reason never quite getting into it. Rediscovering it now, the book has become like a handbook for life in Paris - because of this book, I knew we would be spending much of our time on arrival in the City of Lights, not visiting museums and taking romantic walks, but at BHV buying household appliances to replace the US ones that don't work on French voltage!

The book covers many aspects of Parisian life, but it is Gopnik's descriptions of bringing up his young son, just a baby when they first moved to the city in 1995 that really resonante and have inspired our own family outings.

Boating Lake
The Jardin du Luxembourg was one of the first places we visited. We watched other children sail the toy boats, deciding to leave that activity for another day. It was the carousel that we were headed for.

Carousel Horse
The girls have always loved the little carousels that you find in so many French town centres and this carousel is a classic that I have often read about. It was much, much smaller than I had imagined but full of faded charm.

Carousel. Georgia
Rings 1
Rings 2
Carousel. Savannah
Gopnik describes in the book how his son graduated from merely watching bigger kids spin on the carousel, to riding his own horse to partaking in the game to catch metal rings on a little wooden stick. In our family, Florence is still at the watching stage while the others jumped straight onto the waiting animals, stick in hand. That game is hard! The trick is to be the first horse to reach the wooden gourd that dispenses the rings. This time Savannah was victorious, but I'm sure we will be back!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Harvest time

Jack O' Lantern
We found Jack O' Lantern's in France! On moving here, I had been told that the kind of pumpkins you see stacked high outside every supermarket in the U.S. at this time of year would be almost impossible to find and outrageously expensive, but then I found out about Les Fermes de Gally, a pick your own farm just a ten minute drive into the countryside from where we live. This weekend the sun was shining and the skies were blue so we abandoned unpacking plans once again and headed to the farm.

Pumpkin 2
The pumpkins sat on bleachers, basking in the sun. Not quite the pumpkin patch experience that has become a family tradition since India was a baby, but Florence was mesmerized by the choice all the same and after some intense debate amongst the older girls this year's perfect pumpkin was chosen.

Pumpkin 1
Pumpkin 3

Pick Your Own
Even better than picking a pumpkin off the bleachers was the opportunity for all of us to walk around the farm and harvest the ingredients for that night's dinner.

Carrot 4
The thrill of pulling carrots out of the ground was quite something...

Carrot 1 Carrot 2 Carrot 3
...and harder to do than you'd think!

Apple 6
The best part was the apples.

Apple 2 Apple 1 Apple 3 Apple 5
A few were eaten along the way, but we stocked up for several weeks worth of lunch boxes.

Apple 4 Barrow

1, 2, 3, Whee!
A fun day out for all the family!

Dandelion Walking

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Escaping the crowds at Versailles

Well, normal weather service has been resumed and we are back to grey skies and cooler temperatures. A bit of gilded stone work brightens everything up though!

Last week my Mum came to visit and I finally got to do some sightseeing instead of unpacking and furniture rearranging. Top of the list was a trip to the Chateau de Versailles, residence of France's last monarchs and just a short distance from our own French residence!

If you visit, plan to spend a large part of your day standing in line, then standing in another line and then another - we were not the only people who thought of visiting that day! We got lucky though - as we were standing in line waiting for information about which ticket to buy, before getting into another line to buy the ticket and then moving onto another line to actually get in - there was a request for two more English speakers to join a guided tour starting straight away! We jumped at the chance, abandoned Florence's push chair with the woman at the information desk (thereby avoiding another line to check forbidden strollers) rushed across the courtyard and joined a group being taken straight into the King's interior apartments.  All of a sudden we had left the crowds behind and spent the next hour peacefully touring the rooms where the Louis XIV, XV and XVI actually lived.

Louis XV's Astronomical Clock, over two hundred and fifty years old and still showing the correct time and date!

Chapel. Altar
The greatest privilege of being on the guided tour was having the chance to go right inside the Chapel...

...everyone else had to stay behind the rope!

Small Chapel
This is a small chapel behind the main altar that you can't see from the main doorway.

Chapel. Ceiling
The painted ceiling is stunning.

Hall of Mirrors
After we had visited the chapel our tour ended and we were back with the crowds to explore the public apartments and the famous Hall of Mirrors.

For all its lack of planning, our visit couldn't have worked out better. Florence was happy being carried around in the sling and Mum and I got our history fix while the older girls were at school. There are so many people visiting the public apartments that I think they would have been overwhelmed by the experience. I would like to visit the Petit Trianon - Marie Antoinette's Estate - with them though. I'll let you know how that goes. More furniture to build and boxes to unpack first though!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sunshine Love

Blue skies
It seems my farewell to summer post was premature as Autumn in Paris has so far brought us the most glorious California Blue Sky days - and temperatures - for the last twelve days! The summer clothes have been welcomed out of storage and my boots banished once more to the back of the newly built Ikea wardrobe. The knowledge that we would almost certainly wake up to warm temperatures and cloudless blue skies from May to October was one of the things we most loved about living in California and it is so far at the top of our What We Miss list after experiencing a cold and rainy Paris Summer.

Al Fresco
However, although you can't beat the perfect climate of Northern California all those sunny days don't quite have the power to lift the spirit as an unexpected warm and sunny day will do in Northern Europe. We have so appreciated each and every day of this glorious Indian Summer (although not without a twinge of worry about the global implications of this unseasonal weather). Enjoying our meals outside, wearing mama made sundresses just one more time and making the most of our walks to the weekend market.

Weekend Walk
In this weather you can't even be mad when after making the hot, steep walk down to the market you discover that the baby took all your Euros and your Carte Bleu out of your wallet and you are going to have to walk all the way back up to the house to retrieve them!

Sunny berries
Today, the trees in our garden were raining leaves all day long - much to the consternation of the dog - and I suspect that this post will herald a return to the weather's business as usual but we will enjoy the sight of holly berries basking in the sunshine as long as we can!
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