February 28, 2008

Bilbao

We’re going here, and staying here

Have a great weekend!

filles at 10:30 am

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February 26, 2008

the Travel Trade

Anyone know of a “GOOD” travel agent in Australia that can help us with a ticket? Come to think of it, if you know of a “GOOD” travel agent anywhere in the world, and by “GOOD” I mean, returns phone calls, can answer the phone, and look at various airlines simultaneously or one by one – please get in touch! Alternatively if you have an sites that you trust, that can handle multi-itinerary’s or at least stopovers – we’d be interested, that may work too…

It’s urgent.

filles at 7:39 pm

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February 25, 2008

European lives

I’ve been to the movies, we’ve watched the rugby, I’m re-establishing my gym habit, cooked a curry, a fantastic fish dish, almost finished the ironing, set-up my new computer, transferred most of my absolutely necessary files, had a haircut, braved the new world of dvd rentals and tried a couple of new coffee shops this weekend. It’s what we would call a nice and quiet and relaxing weekend, we had people for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights, but Sunday was all about us.

It was one of those weekends where we keep turning corners and go “wow! we live in Paris!”

Next stop Bilbao for the Guggenheim Museum…

filles at 2:25 pm

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February 23, 2008

update

The (old) computer is working(!) so I figured I’d give you an update. We stopped for a bottle of wine and a plate of charcuterie at Le Garde du Robe, which was fun. The bar was full, the atmosphere was good, a couple of Aussies in the crowd and great service. We tried a bottle from Jura which was quite extraordinary, under the conseil of JD, then we came back here for pizza and tea to save a little money for our big computer expense.

The computer by the way, wasn’t ready. I arrived with help and a trolley, but was told with a typical raised shoulder shrug “but Madame, it’s not ready, perhaps tomorrow….”

filles at 12:43 am

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February 22, 2008

perfect timing

This week my computer died. Not a cough and a splutter kind of die with a little warning, nope just a drop dead kind of die – here one minute, gone the next. I tried to resuscitate it but no go. Eventually a couple of days later, I can get it up and running for short periods. It’s been struggling for a couple of weeks, months, years, I knew it wasn’t doing very well, but I never expected it to just die. Very in-opportune moment too, just before a private lesson here on the computer.

I dashed around like a loser for a couple of days trying to sort out priorities, pricing, software, hardware etc and rearranged my entire schedule, and eventually after a lot of heartburn and downright fear (“am I doing the right thing?” kind of fear) I’m getting a computer built and it’s going to be ready to bring home tonight. Again, unfortunate timing… now I have to borrow a trolley, borrow JD and walk 40 minutes down the road at peak hour to pick it up, before bringing it home, climbing the stairs and dumping it on the floor so I can meet Michelle and some friends at a wine bar around the corner. I’ll have to leave the daunting task of transferring stuff from one machine to the next for the weekend. I have no idea how I’m going to proceed, I’m paying an extra €200 for the privilege of having the operating software in English (“but we’re in France Mme…”) and I’m not even sure if all my other pirated and licensed software will run – not to mention the re installation of our internet connection(!). It might be a little while before I get back on here. Have a nice weekend….

Nothing a glass of wine or two can’t fix. Priorities everyone, priorities.

filles at 5:04 pm

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February 19, 2008

something fishy…

We were going to buy razor clams at the market last Sunday but by the time we got there, there were none left. Instead we asked the fishmonger for 500gms of sardines, cleaned and no heads. He laughed and negotiated that we could have whatever was left in the presentation tray for €4. We didn’t know any better, it seemed like a good idea at the time, so we accepted. We walked home with 1.5kgs of whole, uncleaned sardines, heads intact.

Now if you cook fish yourself you probaby know that sardines are not that big, that they are not that difficult to gut and clean, and that they stink, and subsequentially wherever you gut and clean and cook the said sardines ends up smelling too. Unfortunately we didn’t, but we soon found out. I had a recipe and the afternoon on my hands. Michelle went off to the cinema to see a depressing film with Claire, I attacked the sardines. After gutting no less than 75 of them, I decided that I was not up to doing this again in a hurry so my original plan of preparing 1/3 of them, freezing the balance for another night wasn’t looking so bright and shiny anymore. I had to think of a Plan B and thanks to the willingness of several partners in crime, we were 5 around the table that night licking our fingers with mounds of sardines in front of us.

The recipe was good, sardines marinated in mint & lemon & olive oil, then dusted in flour and quickly fried and served with a salad. Very simple, very nice, and more than enough for the 5 of us.

Next week, we’re going to try and get up early to see if we can’t get us some of those elusive razor clams…

filles at 1:54 pm

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February 18, 2008

Hockey night in Paris

It’s been really cold here in Paris, the sun’s out, but it’s freezing. We had a lovely weekend, thanks for asking. Saturday night we took a trip out to the ‘burbs ‘en groupe’. Claire, Anne, Olivier, Michelle & I started our evening here with fois gras and onion confit on toast and a bottle of Jurancon. We all piled into Claire’s brand new, midnight blue, Renault Megane convertible (Claire works for Renault and gets a new car every 6 mths!) and followed the tourist route, along the rue du Rivoli, around Place de la Concorde, up the Champs Elysee, passing the Arc de Triomphe, Neuilly & La Defence before getting onto the highway and heading out to Colombes. We were all wintered up to go see JD play hockey… Saturday night hockey in Paris.

It was a blast. There weren’t many supporters and we had no expectations that they might win, but we took our fan status seriously, and Michelle kept up her side of the bargain shouting encouragement and insults almost simultaneously. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a game of ice hockey, but it was as much fun as I remembered, and JD impressed us all with his talent. Sadly the visitors from Montpellier were taller and meaner and better and they won. It was a great Saturday night, it felt like we were out in the country somewhere, back to basics.

The reverse trip took us back through all the sights only later and with more poupouns dressed up on the Champs Elysee. We got back to our neighbourhood around Les Halles and hightailed it for a midnight dinner in the local bistro, just us and half the hockey team. The game review lasted about 2 minutes, but we did promise to do it again sometime when Michelle gets her voice back…

filles at 5:15 pm

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February 15, 2008

war + photographer

Today I went along on the recommendation of my photography mentor, Nathalie, to see a new exhibition of photos by James Nachtwey. Arguably the best documentary photographer in the world, this exhibition was a series of photos of people in Asia & Africa suffering from AIDS and/or TB. The images were so powerful I had tears streaming down my face after only 10 minutes or so. The exhibition was so far removed from a gallery exhibition it was obscene to be regarding the images from an aesthetic point of view, they hit you in the gut, I’m hoping this is the effect he was after, like a slap in the face to wake us up from our cushy lives and remind us how the other half lives. What can we do, each one of us, to help end these horrific injustices that are affecting the worlds poor. I had tears for the victims, but also tears for all the amazing people that give up all sorts of things to give aid and assistance – just by being there in some instances. How is it that some people are so selfless while there are others, myself included, who just don’t know and don’t really think about how we can help?

This is the role of a documentary photographer. Make us see what’s going on under our noses, make the invisible, visible.

In 2001, a documentary was made about James Nachtwey called War Photographer. The film went on to win 12 international film festivals and received an Oscar nomination. You can see a trailer here.

filles at 5:03 pm

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February 14, 2008

the new me

I’m feeling more and more myself these days. Since I finished my french courses at the end of January I’m started to feel normal. Each day something new happens where I’m remembering what I used to do, what I used to enjoy doing, and what I want to start doing again. It’s like walking around with my head in two modes, the Elissa before french lessons (ebfl), and the Elissa during french lessons (edfl). Today I jumped out of bed, did the stuff that has to be done, grabbed a yoghurt, made a sandwich out of leftover baguette and promite and dashed off to catch the 9h10 screening of Juno at the cinema. I love going to the cinema early in the morning. There is no queue, although surprisingly there are quite a few people – about 50 of us today – and you come out, it’s still only 11am and you have the whole day ahead of you. It was a good imitation of ebfl.

And although the french lessons did me a lot of good, there was something in the whole discipline thing that didn’t fit well, so right now it feels like I’m shaking off a shadow.

I like the feeling.
Maybe next week I’lll return to the gym?

filles at 6:29 pm

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February 11, 2008

The chocolate expert

Friday morning, me along with 20 odd other english speakers took a wander around the 1st and 2nd arrondisements tasting chocolate. This was no loosely planned affair, no no no. This was a well planned, well executed, guided tour of no less than 2 boulangeries for chocolate specialties and 3 high end chocalatiers – in the space of around 2 hours. And, it was great.

I have to admit that by the end of the tour, I was quite happy to consider a break from the savouring and swallowing of chocolate, so we high-tailed it back to our local Comptoir de la Gastronomie where us three aussies sat down to a meal of Foie Gras cru with honey, ginger and fleur de sel, followed by a parmentier du canard* accompanied by a good bottle of red.

By the end of the meal, we were back on track and what could be better than a little dark chocolate served with the coffee!

*essentially shepherds pie with duck confit

filles at 9:15 pm

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February 6, 2008

Are women stronger?

I started my course. I have loads to do this month… new directions to face, new directions to take, plus I have to get my book together, and connect with another teacher for processing techniques. So far I love it.

filles at 1:29 am

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February 4, 2008

SMH captures SBS

If you live on this side of the world, and you didn’t get an invitation to the usual Super Bowl Sunday party at Maries house this year(!), you probably missed the big game seeing as the entertainment didn’t kick off before midnight… not to worry, here are some highlights courtesy of the SMH… SuperBowl 2008

Post edit: Hey! lighten up, I don’t even know if you had a party…

filles at 10:45 am

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February 1, 2008

Le Chateaubriand

So I’m back in the swing of things. Nothing much happening. Printing photos daily for my course next week, ophtamologist this morning, podiatrist next week, dentist whenever I get brave enough to make an appointment. February is the worst month but we’ve started now, and since it’s only short we’ll be finished before you know it and then it’s a hop, skip and a jump to springtime. And then from there its only steps away from all the summer holidays we’ve planned…

Last night our favorite neighbour took us out for dinner to his latest find of a restaurant. No reason, other than he’s a nice guy. It was a fabulous dinner, a small’ish restaurant nearby Metro Goncourt, ie. no-where special, but it’s a tasting menu, 5 courses, you don’t choose anything, and it was great. Basque’ish in style, original in cuisine, with very handsome waiters, we had a lovely evening.

A huge step away from last nights haute cuisine, tonight we’re having a “Taco Night”. It doesn’t happen very often, it’s not Michelle’s favorite, but once in awhile it’s fun to eat with your hands with friends around the table. I’m looking forward to it.

Have a great weekend, and don’t be shy, you can send me some news once in awhile by email…

filles at 5:36 pm

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