December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

We went to the Opera Bastille Friday night to see Coppelia, the ballet. It was wonderful. Dinner at one of the grand dames of Paris restaurants the Brasserie Bofinger. We were there to celebrate Claire’s new single homeowner status! A glass of champagne, oysters, lobster, sauerkraut & a variety of fresh fish. It was a magnificent meal, a magnificent evening.

Last night the 30th, we had some new friends for dinner, JD is Quebecois and manages our local Repaire de Bacchus wine store, his girlfriend is French and had a very strong backbone, having to incur all our generalisations on “the French” all night long. It was a lot of fun. We opened a bottle of Coppola wine, amongst many others, I made a cauliflower and cheese soup (the cauliflowers are beautiful this time of year) followed by a rack of lamb with roasted potato’s and baby leeks, then pan fried pears in a maple syrup and orange sauce with vanilla ice-cream. There was some cheese in there somewhere as well as some whisky and sortilege. We were just about done by 1.15am when our guests had to leave to take the last metro home.

Tonight will be much the same, only it’s oysters, smoked salmon, lamb mechoui, chocolate mousse, and St Antoine cheese on the menu. Not forgetting champagne and a bottle of Chateau Pape Clement 1986 (Grand Cru Classe de Graves)!

Bonne Annee!

filles at 6:26 pm

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December 28, 2006

Calendar 2007

Today was not terribly exciting…

I wrote my first cheque.
Had a cap put on a tooth by the kindest dentiste ever.
Visited Le Bon Marche. Wandered through the food hall looking wistfully at all the wonderful creations.
And now I’m home, trying to drink a cup of tea through a mouth that’s still half numb, waiting for Michelle to return from her game of golf. I know, it’s freezing, but she wanted to be able to say she played in 2006. A little thing, but somehow important.

Some good news. My parents booked their trip to Paris today via Hong Kong and Japan. It’s going to be a whirlwind trip, we’ll try and fit in as much visiting in France as we can, as well as a return to Amalfi, and maybe even Morocco. If you have any inkling of coming to visit you should talk to us soon. So far our bookings for 2007 have us full the last three weeks of January, a week in February, all of May, first two weeks of June, last week of June, first week of July, first three weeks of August and the first two weeks of October. It seems a lounge room floor never seemed so popular!

filles at 5:49 pm

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December 27, 2006

Another check

We are now officially ‘les amis du louvre’. Joined today.

Michelle has never been to the Louvre before. Ever. So once we joined, we followed the hoards of tourists towards the Italian Painters and visited the most famous of all paintings in the Louvre, the madam herself the ‘Mona Lisa’. She has a new home, her own wall, a centrepiece. And the crowds still come. You can see all sorts of emotions on the faces of the people crushing together to get a glimpse from the front of the crowd, mostly you can see the reality flash across their faces. “She’s so small!” But she is spectacular.

Then we wound our way out. Because we can. We can go back whenever we like. No need to spend hours getting all arted out…. Stumbling across a couple of Caravaggio’s, Raphael’s, the Venus di Milo and the Borghese Gladiator (unbelievably from the 1st century BC).

Sometimes I just can’t believe we live in Paris. And now we can visit the Louvre any day, any time, for free. We can even invite guests, for free, Wednesday & Friday evenings!

filles at 9:04 pm

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December 26, 2006

NYE

The show was wonderful. The evening was wonderful. We met a host of characters during & after the show, and made it home in time to catch the sunrise (or just about!). Since it was a few days ago now, and since James Bond 007 is playing on tv in the background (with the same french voices as everything else) I can’t concentrate enough to tell you all the details, suffice to say the show was fantastic. Truly. I enjoyed every minute. It was in French, but I sang along in English. We were sitting right up the front, in the Kit Kat club, drinking champagne, followed by chablis and then some ‘grignotins’ (I love that word) – munchies, miniature pretzels and ‘bonbons de saucisson’ (translated as sausage lollies) but which were really bits of salami in the shape of candy. Yum. Dinner at a restaurant nearby afterwards where we met a group of people celebrating the closing of their photo agency and who ensured the champagne kept flowing ’till the early hours, then another Quebecois (a famous one at that!), drinks in Montmartre, before coming home to wind down with a bottle of port.

It was like having New Years Eve a week early.

filles at 10:31 pm

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December 22, 2006

for those of you finishing up tonight…

Christmas is so close!
We’re going to London for christmas again this year (again for me, first time for Michelle). It’s going to be good to see the kids, that should put us head first into the christmas spirit. I have to admit it’s a bit lacking this year.

Things are looking up. My friend Francis came into town last night and shouted us dinner at the local Thai. Francis is so laid back, he righted all the wrongs and explained away all the cultural differences, and there I was ready to re-enter life with a positive attitude.

Tonight we’re getting all glammed up and going to see Cabaret at the Folies Bergere. We have tickets in the Kit Kat Club where we can sit back and sip champagne throughout the show, with a dinner reservation nearby for 22h45. So very Parisian. I’ve been looking forward to it for months. My step-dad Peter is having a significant birthday this year, and with any luck he’ll be spending it in Paris, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed the show will be extended till then… it’s just been extended by 3 months, running ’till March 31st instead of finishing up about now, so there’s still a possibility.

So, I’m off to finish the ‘glamming’ up. Have a merry christmas, happy holidays, and all the best for the new year!

filles at 6:40 pm

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December 21, 2006

My lost voice

What happens when you lose your sense of self?

This move has been more difficult than I could have imagined. I’m finding it very difficult to get on. And yet, it doesn’t make any sense. I’ve done this before, many times.

Yesterday I was cold. I was fed up with the heating system which works, then doesn’t, then we have to call the syndic, then they come the next day, then it works for 2 days, then it doesn’t, then we have to call the syndic etc. It’s a week long process and it’s been repeated continually for the 3 weeks I’ve been back. The first time the guy was here he showed me how the unit in the lounge had to be adjusted with pliers. I ignored him thinking that doesn’t seem right, us having to do that. The third time someone came, he showed us how to take the air out of the system for the bathroom heater with a screwdriver. That looked a little easier, but I still had the doubts. A week later (yesterday afternoon) I was fed up. I found a screwdriver, got a glass, and proceeded to remove the air, and 3 inches of dirty water from the system. It was a little tricky, but I did it with no major damage. Next. I went into the lounge with my pliers and figured since I’d managed the bathroom, I’ll give the living room a go.

Mistake.

I had water pouring out of the heating system within about 2 minutes. The power shorted in the apartment, there was 2 inches of water throughout the entire living room and I was running screaming down the stairs for help. Three guys on the 1st floor followed me back. One spoke with Michelle on the phone. Another controlled the flow of water. And yet another mopped up as best he could hoping it wouldn’t flow downstairs. I just stood in the corner swearing. I’m now sitting amidst a disaster area. The carpet is hanging up in the kitchen trying to dry. The CD’s are covering the floor, all the booklets standing up drying, all our ‘white’ towels are now black, in a pile in the kitchen waiting to be washed, and I’m here typing on the net, answering questions like, “why didn’t you call me and ask to do that?” and “why didn’t you call me and ask me to call the syndic?” and why? why? why?

And wouldn’t you know it, the heating is still only half working.

filles at 9:40 am

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December 19, 2006

Landscape

This is my Australia. When I think of home, this is what I see. Funny really, since I never grew up in the country, I guess that’s what 20 odd years away will do….

filles at 3:44 pm

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Moselle & Jonathon

filles at 3:26 pm

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December 16, 2006

A day in the life of….

Coffee at home. Discussion with the florist re: borrowing a trolley. Walk to Galleries Lafayette. Curtain & cushion shoping and quoting. Au Printemps – meme chose. Galleries Lafayette Gourmet wine shop, (christmas present). RER back to Chatelet. Walk home via UGC Orient to buy tickets for ‘Babel‘. Pasta at home for lunch. Au Clair de la Lune to borrow the trolley. Chez Habitat to pick up our kitchen bookshelf. Lug 50kgs up 3 flights of stairs. Cafe at Le Comptoir du Commerce, reading the Guardian. ‘Babel’ au cinema (very, very good). Rue Montorgueil for grocery shopping. Fennel, potatoes, tomatoes. Fish shop for Sea Bream or Dorade Gris as it’s called here. Repaire du Bacchus – white wine from Aix en Provence. Home to cook. Dinner.

Bream baked with fennel, potatoes and vine tomatoes.
BEFORE:

AFTER:

So all in all, a very productive day.

A marathon run of Absolutely Fabulous on BBC Prime from now until 3.30am this morning…. we’ll probably manage the first one or two!
more »

filles at 10:16 pm

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December 14, 2006

Excerpt from: The Diary

The Herald, Tuesday 30 May – by Ken Smith

Whether you are a Glaswegian:
– Somebody you know used his football club’s fixtures to plan his wedding date
– You’ve been at a wedding where football scores have been announced in the church
– You aren’t surprised to find curries, pizzas, kebabs, fish and chips, Irn Bru, fags & nappies all sold in the one shop
– You measure distance in minutes
-You can make whole sentences just with swear words
– You actually use words such as: boggin, amurny, ba’-heid, peely-wally, humphey-balkit, and double nuggit

this was scribbled on a piece of paper I’ve just come across while I’m tidying my desk…. (3 months is a long time to be away)

filles at 7:41 pm

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Swiss Ball

Exercise. That thing you do, you know, sometimes, to make you feel better. I have to get me some of that…. 8 weeks in Australia, exercising fairly regularly, 2 weeks back in Paris, eating croissants & patisseries fairly regularly. Something’s got to give. I blew up our christmas present from my mum this morning. A swiss ball. I know it’s early, but I already knew what it was, and I’m desperate. Just the exercise of pumping air into the ball has me hot & sweaty. That’s today. Tomorrow I’ll start to use it!

filles at 9:35 am

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December 12, 2006

Todays lesson

Today I ate lunch in a little chinese style canteen. I was just passing on the Rue St Honore, on my way back from the Post Office when I saw a long queue of people outside this little restaurant. There was a sign attached showing the menu of the day. Entree: a choice of 3 or 4 things, Main: Salt & Pepper Prawns, Dessert: a choice of 2 or 3 chinese biscuity things plus a drink, plus a coffee for €6.50. I joined the queue thinking if there was this many people in a city where little chinese style canteens are everywhere, it must be good.

It wasn’t.

Everyone was chowing in. Chatting & laughing, struggling with chopsticks, and generally having a good time, while I was pushing around some very dry prawns, avoiding the microwave soggy nems amidst a lump of steamed rice with bits of veges vaguely dispersed. I pocketed the bottle of water, the sesame biscuit and bolted, freeing up my table for some more happy customers.

Moral of the story. Don’t ever trust a queue for chinese food in Paris. Either all the restaurants are terrible, or too expensive – that’s the only way I can justify how come so many Parisiens decided to part with €6.50 and an hour of their time. Get a recommendation. I’m sure there are nice Chinese restaurants, even canteens, but get someone to vouch for it before you go ahead and try it.

filles at 1:20 pm

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December 11, 2006

les fleurs

I’ve been rediscovering Paris. It’s almost a different place to what I left at the end of August. There are more shops open, for sure, the food looks better, the people are better dressed, all the Christmas lights give it a charm all of it’s own. I don’t know what it is, but I would tend to say it’s prettier than the summer time. Whatever it is, I’m warming to Paris.

This afternoon I went on a tour of florists in the 1st & 2nd arrondisements. I was looking for Holly. I bought some on the weekend, in fact we split a bunch with an American we met on the street to be exact (that’s a whole other story), because we didn’t think we’d need the whole bunch. I used a bit to decorate the individual cake bags that I packaged my Christmas cakes in, I made a display for our front door, and I’ve kept a few branches for emergencies, even though they’re the sad leftover ones. I was on a mission because our neighbours expressed some interest in having some for a display on their front door, and since they are the best neighbours in the world (another story) I went out of my way today to try and track some down.

Apparently it’s too early for ‘houx’. Vous etes trop tôt madame, peut-être la semaine prochaine…. one after another after another. I don’t know how come we managed to find some Saturday but today no-one’s selling. It’s too early. Perhaps next week. What I did learn on my travels was that we have about 25 florists within about a 6 block radius from our house. And most of them are gorgeous. Some of them are spectacular. One was absolutely amazing.

I had a flower ‘habit’ before. I think it’s just about to get worse….

filles at 6:58 pm

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Cake & conversation

I’ve been baking this weekend. Pretty much all weekend. I have had 2 dozen miniature christmas cakes all baked, marzipaned, iced and ready to be eaten & shared. There are still quite a few left, but I have to tell you they go very well with a good cup of tea, or coffee, or even on their own. There was a lesson in the exercise. Never assume you can use an Australian (or any English) recipe in France. What I discovered in the midst of the baking frenzy is that ‘cream of tartar’ & ‘baking powder’ are like gold dust here in Paris – there are whole websites written by expats on the stuff – definitely articles to be included in any care packages you want to send this way….

In the afternoon yesterday we went along to an ‘expat’ afternoon at the local English bookstore. The afternoon was billed as a discussion on literary Paris with DIANE JOHNSON, author of Into a Paris Quartier, and JOHN BAXTER, author of We’ll Always Have Paris. It was full. Quite civilised. Wine was served, chairs set out, and 50 or 60 anglos, mostly from the US waited patiently to hear some words from these two. It was quite interesting, but also quite depressing. Francophiles (those that don’t live here) generally have such a rose tinted view of Paris, real life can be difficult to live up to.

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filles at 2:57 pm

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December 8, 2006

Ste Germain des Pres

I never really understood the fascination with St-Germain-des-Pres. Lots of students. So. Grand boulevards. So. Proximity to lots. So…..

Fast forward to today. On my way to the dentist in the 7eme arrondisement, fighting gale force winds, and horizontal rain, I walked down Rue du Bac and it finally became clear. Amazing boutiques. Design stores. Well dressed jeunes. Quaint cafes. Beautiful galleries. I must have been walking about with my eyes closed. It’s all going to change now. We still have a couple of pieces of furniture to procure to finish our relocation and tomorrow, I’ve decided, we’re going to wander in and out of all the fab shops in St Germain des Pres. I did a fair bit today, now I have to convince Michelle that it will be worthwhile to go instead of staying in and resting after her full-on two days in Strasbourg and Germany this week.

That is, before her big night out to see Pierre Lapointe. Oui, Vive le Québec, right here in Paris.

filles at 9:00 pm

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