September 26, 2008

our Wedding Present

Thanks to all our generous friends in Quebec, we bought a piece of art this week that we saw while we were down south in St Remy de Provence. Kamil Vojner is the artist and you can see more of his work here.

The picture we bought (see below) is called ‘Red’. It started as a colour photo, varnished with wax and then oils and we love it. Very, very much. I have big plans to have it framed in an old antique french style frame, once we save up…

kamil.jpg

Thank you so much Marie & Rafik, Jackie, Sandy & Francoise, Irene & Alan, Angie & Perry, Roberta & Dave, Julie & Mario, Sonia & Alain, Doris & Dan and Arline & Gregoire – please forgive me if I forgot someone. You were all so kind to donate generously towards our wedding gift and it’s entirely thanks to you we could purchase this piece of art. Thank you.

filles at 3:26 pm

Comments Off on our Wedding Present

September 23, 2008

a belgium wedding

We had a wonderful weekend away in Belgium. Jo & Dirk, our friends we made in Glasgow, finally decided to tie the knot this month in Belgium after 10 years together. Joanne is Scottish and Dirk is Flemish and the wedding was a cool mix of both. We left a little early, took Friday off and visited Antwerp which turns out to be a very cool & hip city. We stayed here and loved it and had some fabulous meals, but the trip was too short, we’ll go back. The wedding was held at a beautiful old priory. As usual in France & Belgium the real wedding is at the city hall, the church wedding is a beautiful option, and in Jo & Dirks case, even more beautiful than normal. Sadly I’ve gone through my photos and they’re all out of focus, save a few.

0809-wedding_mg_51662.jpg

The reception was lovely, the company hilarious, and the Scottish Ceilidh dancing exhausting! When it was all over with and Jo & Dirk were beaming with happiness – we jumped back on a train and made our way to Brussels along with almost everyone else in Belgium. It was ‘car free’ day in Brussels on Sunday and everyone was there, and I mean everyone. We ate mussels, fries, drank beer, and window shopped for chocolate.

0809-wedding_mg_5195.jpg

A perfect ending to a wonderful weekend away.

filles at 2:17 pm

Comments Off on a belgium wedding

September 15, 2008

Fitness Plus

Here is one half of the super hillwalking team, who took a day off from the swimming pool, the garden and the sunshine we were enjoying in Puyvert to go climb the Mont Ventoux. They left at 6am, all chatty and excited and got home at 9pm exhausted with blisters to a fabulous meal of mackerel & rosemary….
0808-provence_0687.jpg

filles at 3:17 pm

Comments (1)

Arles

From the 16th – 22nd of August, we rented a house in Arles with Mum & Pete, and were joined for the weekend by Anne & Olivier. It’s the second time I’d been to Arles, the first time was just a brief day visit in the spring. Arles is a very tiny town, it’s got loads of character and it hasn’t been all shishy’d up. There are still daggy buildings, dirty back lanes but it’s beautiful all the same. I loved it. Top it off, Les Rencontres d’Arles was still on at the time of our visit. Michelle and I bought unlimited passes and we went from one exhibition to the next over 3 full days. I saw some brilliant work, and really enjoyed the entire exhibition, the way it was organised, the way it was presented, the content and the enthusiasm of everyone involved. If we’re still here next year we’ll try and go during the opening week to see all the evening projections and walks with the artists themselves.

0808-provence_0062.jpg
Christian Lacroix was the guest curator of Arles 2008

_____________

And if you ever plan to go to Arles, we came across this lovely looking hotel with a swimming pool in the centre of town, Hotel D’Arlatan – and while I’m giving plugs we came across this great store, where we bought years of supply of table runners, not to mention drawer stuffers, and a christmas present for my mum, and a handbag for Jo’s wedding next weekend… La Poule Blanche

filles at 2:55 pm

Comments Off on Arles

September 8, 2008

Languedoc

On our last 2 nights away this summer we travelled to Uzes which is technically in Languedoc not Provence. The town is lovely, lots of nice interior design stores, a ravishing market on Saturdays, plenty of great restaurants and a great small town home away from home feel. We stayed in two different ‘chambres d’hotes’ the first was a last minute pick and the owner, M. Fagot was very kind and very accommodating and the rooms were perfect. He sent us off to his favorite restaurant which was a good pick and he helped equip us for a picnic at the Pont du Gard on Saturday afternoon with a cooler bag, glasses, knives etc etc. Everything we needed for a picnic by the river.

The second night we were staying at the Maison de la Bourgade. This was planned in advance and specifically chosen for the pool and the tasteful decor. We weren’t disappointed. The rooms were gorgeous, as was the entire house and the garden was something you can only dream about. By this time, the last day of our holidays, Michelle and I decided to forego the tourist thing and take our book, a bottle of rose, and sit beside and in the pool all afternoon. It was fabulous. As was the breakfast the following morning, the charming hosts and everything else about the place. We have plans already to return….

0808-provence_0022.jpg

filles at 4:32 pm

Comments Off on Languedoc

May 23, 2008

Tahitien Dance Class

I bet you couldn’t picture Michelle taking a dance class before?

0805n-evjf_0491.jpg

filles at 7:27 pm

Comments Off on Tahitien Dance Class

May 20, 2008

Pictures

Here are most of our pictures from our holidays, there are still some missing from the days that I didn’t have a camera – I borrowed Claires – only I just haven’t got a copy of the pictures yet. Soon….

filles at 10:40 pm

Comments (1)

October 31, 2007

Central Asia

So… Uzbekistan

It was an amazing trip. We bitched and complained while we were there about all the French (sorry!) tourists who were making our trip miserable, but after a couple of weeks, all that negative stuff has faded away and we’re left with all the positive stuff. The sheer beauty of all the monuments we visited, the images of children working in the cotton fields, the blue domes of the mosques against a piercing blue sky – every day. The Uzbek people were very kind, extremely generous and always smiling. They are not particularly poor, there are very few beggars, people have a little bit of land, they grow some food, they go to school, they work a little, it looks like a nice balance.

There are many reminders of their past, both the opulance and importance of the silk road trading period – Samarkand, Bukhara, battles with Ghengis Khan as well as from the more recent past, the period of Soviet occupation. In a surprising twist, there are some very nice things to say about the soviets in that period, they started the restoration of a lot of the mausoleums, the mosques and monuments which is a good thing, because had they not they would all be destroyed today. 1 point to the Soviets. On the other hand, some of their fashions remain and that truly is to the detriment of the Uzbeks, the gold teeth. In soviet times the women would have their teeth plated with gold to show their wealth, today amongst women of a certain age, it’s quite common to be dazzled by a beautiful smile containing a mouth full of gold. Gaudy, definitely off-putting, but the smile itself is generous and freely distributed – so I guess that brings the points back to 0 for the Soviets.

Foodwise, it was not so pretty. It started ok, there was mince meat in cabbage and a kind of watery stew thing. Then some shashliks which were good, if not too greasy, plov – rice with mince, and watermelon, lots and lots of watermelon. Then we had the same. And the same again. It wasn’t that it tasted bad, it just started to all smell the same. Lucky for me, I managed to lose some pounds while we were away….

And now for the photos. This is an advanced preview, I haven’t edited them, there not even all of them are there yet. Once we get back from Jordan (!) I’ll finish uploading, putting captions and editing the crap ones out. Enjoy the preview – bonnes vacances!

filles at 5:58 pm

Comments Off on Central Asia

October 22, 2007

Amiens

Thursday 4 October
We took a side trip to visit Picardy, Amiens and a day remembering the aussies who fought in the battle of the Somme during WW1. Amiens was a lovely city, we had enough time to visit the Notre Dame Cathedral of Amiens which is Frances largest Gothic cathedral, able to hold two cathedrals the size of Notre Dame de Paris – and very beautiful. Amongst all the great art, the other treasure is the real, dead head of St Jean the Baptiste behind glass… or so the legend goes. We also took a traditional boat to explore the “Hortillonnages” (the floating gardens) which cover 300 hectares of small islands and are criss-crossed by 65km of canals and the quarter of Saint-Leu, described as the little Venice of the North, full of small colourful houses and cafes and restaurants with outdoor terraces where we could enjoy the sunshine that was here (and not in Paris).

The following day we took a private tour of the aussie battlefields, and the numerous memorials and museums dedicated to the bravest of brave Australians who came from so far to fight for France and her allies. It was really moving. Very sad. But a wonderful day, I felt so proud of our nation, so proud of our contribution – I’m now quite ready to tell anybody who’ll listen that we won the war – it was us, a big contribution was because of us. If you’re interested in booking something similiar, Sylvestre from Terres de Memoire was brilliant.

From Amiens we headed north along the River Somme up to Boulogne sur Mer via Le Touquet where we stopped to watch the devastating defeat of the aussies in the quarter final of the rugby world cup. We were 3 Australians and a Quebecer in an English pub surrounded by jock english, shouting and hissing and singing that most annoying of songs, sweet chariot whatever… we walked out heads high, and crumpled into the car. What a disappointment…

Oh well, dinner in the michelin starred restaurant Le Matelote that night in Boulogne sur Mer revived our spirits, and then we watched the French send NZ on the same flight home as us Aussies. Not a bad end to a pretty bad day. Boulogne sur Mer was a nice port kind of town, we didn’t do it justice, just spending most of our waking time searching for somewhere to watch each and every one of the quarter finals, we’ll have to go back again at least to visit Nausicaa… Pictures are here.

filles at 2:44 pm

Comments Off on Amiens

June 23, 2007

Columbia Rd Flower Markets

a family effort…. my mum, Gabriel, Jonathon, Michelle, Moselle & Milene

filles at 4:06 pm

Comments Off on Columbia Rd Flower Markets

May 21, 2007

Alsace and back

We’re just back from 4 nights in Alsace staying in Strasbourg and Colmar. Michelle was in Strasbourg last December for a business meeting and came home raving about how beautiful it was, how the cathedral was gorgeous, how the people were fantastic, how amazing the sauerkraut was, how good this was, how good that was and so on and so on – so we decided to go with mum in May. May is such a pretty month, the only problem being the TGV to Strasbourg doesn’t start running until June, so instead of the new fantastic speed of 2.5 hours it took us approximately 4.5 hours Paris/Strasbourg which comes under the ‘just becoming too long for rail journey’ headings for me. But it wasn’t too bad. In fact the going part of the trip was relatively quick. We arrived in Strasbourg around 10pm, dumped our belongings at our small but quaint hotel just beside the cathedral and headed off to a restaurant in the historical centre recommended by our taxi driver on his bit out of the way route between the train station and our hotel. Sauerkraut, sausage, pork and bits being the staples we tucked into that first night accompanied by a bottle of Alsatian Gewurztraminer.

Thursday morning in Strasbourg it rained. Thursday afternoon in Strasbourg it rained. Thursday evening it rained in Strasbourg. We didn’t let it bother us really. We took a boat cruise on the river Ill in the morning and rented a walking tour around the historical centre in the afternoon. We stopped for lunch, more hearty fare, coffee and beer off and on all afternoon. Strasbourg is a beautiful city even in the rain. Thursday night we went to a typical Winstub for dinner, with singing and dancing and ate tarte flambee which is like a white sauce pizza till we could eat no more….

The next morning, with the weather looking like it would clear up we rented a car and set off for the first in our day of wine tasting set up again by the wonderful JD. First stop, mad dash down to the house of F.E. Trimbach in Ribeauville at 10am… we were a bit late, we missed the tour of the cellars but made it in time for the tasting where we were offered some great Gewurztraminer, pinot gris, rieslings and vendange tardives and where we of course bought some of the great bottles sampled. Next was lunch in Ribeauville. A very beautiful, but very touristy little town where mum & Michelle chose the restaurant in the centre of the main street of town. Truly, the centre of the street. The cars were coming straight for us as we were quietly perusing our menus, there was a car rally on so we got to see a variety of old cars, most with exhaust problems.

Next stop on the wine trail was one of our favorites from Hunawihr, Domaine Mittnacht Freres. It was the most pleasurable experience so far, we had a price list, we had the attention of one of their knowledgeable staff and we tried a selection of Alsace Cepages and grand crus along with late harvested sweet wines and even a bubbly before walking out of there with a couple of cases of our favorites.

Another pretty voyage through gorgeous little villages and we headed north again back towards Strasbourg where we stopped in Andlau to taste some wines from the domaine Marc Kreydenweiss. Another fan of Quebec his son led us through the Alsace whites and also offered us some reds from their domain in the Cote du Rhone which we really enjoyed. It was a long day. Lots of good wine – we turned around, took the freeway and headed south to Colmar… (to be continued…)

filles at 7:54 am

Comments Off on Alsace and back

May 14, 2007

Burgandy = Bourgogne = Good

Before I forget I want to tell you about our adventures in Burgandy. It was the first of our mini weekend breaks we had planned to take with mum & Pete on their 6 week stay in Paris. The organisation to accommodate our combined interests – theirs to visit France and Europe and ours – to take a break from the comfort(!) of our living floor meant that we have planned a long weekend in Bourgogne, 4 days in Alsace, 5 days it Italy and 4 days in Marrakesh finishing with a weekend in London before they get back on the plane for the 24hour flight home.

Bourgogne was the first trip away. We left Paris Friday afternoon from Gare de Lyon heading south-east to Dijon. We planned to spend 2 nights in Beaune and, before anyone asks – I didn’t know the TGV went directly to Beaune! From Dijon we hired a car and drove along the Cote d’Or to Beaune where we checked into a lovely little hotel just outside the historic centre of the town. With the help of our local Montorgeuil wine expert and friend, who set up appointments with 3 different winemakers in the region, we spent Saturday in and out of little villages surrounded by vines – Grand cru, 1ere cru and the rest. It was wonderful.

1st stop was the Domaine Amiot-Servelle where we were given a small lesson in the layout of Burgandy, the designation of the land into packets of grand cru, premier cru and village, the basics of Pinot Noir and most importantly when you’re planning on tasting a few dozen wines in one day, how to spit. A bio wine, we tasted Chambole Musigny 2005 down to 2000 in their premier cru Les Charmes and Les Plantes as well as their Grand Cru Clos Vougeot and walked out of their cellar a couple of hours later with a case of various vintages, all spectacular and a head full of new information to digest.

Next stop was the Domaine Pavelot in Savigny les Beaune. Again we tasted a range of premier cru and walked away with another case of some very fine wines most of which would be best kept for a few more years if we’re disciplined enough, or drunk right away if we’re not.

The highlight of the day was our third and last stop at the Domaine du Chateau du Chorey. With M. Germain we tasted a mix of premier cru pinot noir and chardonnays that were all delightful. We spent the afternoon deep in conversation on the wonders and joys of Montreal and doing business with the SAQ, winemaking in Australia compared to France while we tasted one after another after another. By this stage late in the afternoon Michelle and I were quite adept at our spitting, shame that it was, but Mum & Pete, as our guests and as back seat passengers didn’t let a drop go astray. No spitting this wine for them, they drank every last drop that was offered. We left with a couple of cases under our arms, a recommendation or two for restaurants for the evening and a promise to return in the fall to stay in the castle. It was superb.

Back in Beaune we wandered about the village, stopped for an aperitif (beer if you must know…) and then had a fabulous meal at another fantastic restaurant where the local specialties are everything that makes the french food so wonderful – boeuf bourguignon, coq au vin, jambon persill√ɬ©, and epoisses de Bourgogne. We managed some tourist sites as well. The petit train around the village, the Hospices du Beaune with its gorgeous tiled roof and then we spent the rest of Sunday afternoon driving from one picture perfect village to another celebrating the Australian version of Mothers Day in a very posh, but very good restaurant in the Chateau de Ste Sabine.

The dash back into Dijon, the inevitable getting lost to return the hire car and then the hour and a half return trip to Paris by train with two noisy tired children in the seats beside us just about finished us off, in fact did finish Pete off, the rest of us sauntered out for a Thai meal on rue Tiquetonne, the perfect foil after a weekend of wine and the full rich food of Bourgogne.

filles at 2:55 pm

Comments (1)

April 16, 2007

Marathon…

Yesterday the Paris marathon was being run by close to 37,000 competitors (with 31,000 finishes). Our neighbour was one of them…. I went along the quai de Seine to see him pass around 10.30am and was surprised by how fit and how laid back he appeared after 2 hours of running.
Loic came in around 750th place, at just under three hours for the full 42km. Well worth the celebration to which I was invited to – lunch in the sun on their terrace.

While I was relaxing, drinking a light red in the sun eating Stohrer specialties, Michelle was on a day trip to Versailles with our guests. At 28 degrees it was a warm day perfect for visiting such a beautiful castle and gardens – and they returned home around 19h00 all red faced and ‘castled out’ but brimming with news and photos and tips for my trip with Mum & Pete next month.

filles at 5:54 am

Comments (1)

December 19, 2006

Moselle & Jonathon

filles at 3:26 pm

Comments Off on Moselle & Jonathon

August 10, 2006

the Grand Mosque

Built in 1926, this is the oldest mosque in Paris, and like most, it’s beautiful.

What did you do today?

filles at 2:10 pm

Comments Off on the Grand Mosque