May 2007 Archives

Of Kath and of Kim

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So, when we came back from Australia in January, we brought back the full series of Kath & Kim.

Bit by bit, episode by episode, we managed to draw it out over about two months. Whenever we needed a little pick-me-up, we would throw an episode on, and find ourselves laughing, from the moment the music comes on, right down to Wine Time.

Everything about it is just hilarious, because it's true. And so very very very wrong. Forget Neighbours. Kath & Kim is fair dinkum.

After finishing all the episodes about two months ago, tonight we popped the last dvd of the lot on, Live in London - the perfect end to a long day at work. After downing an entire glass of "Car-donnay", Kim said something super classy, like "I'm gonna spew", and I laughed so hard that I nearly choked on my dinner, when I turned to Sylvain, to see him wiping the tears of laughter from his eyes.

He can often be heard saying things like, "Look at moiye," and "It's noyce. It's different. It's unus-ull." Just because he can. And he finds himself hilarious.

I love it that he gets it. Although I'm not sure what that says about moiye. And I'm not so impressed when he picks on my accent, or when he listens to other Australians speak (we just saw Rove on a behind the scenes episode) and says, "he sounds so Aussie", and laughs.

Despite the fact that my French husband now thinks that all Aussies are like that, a little bit of Kath & Kim makes for a very satisfying dose of Australia when I miss it.

Although it inevitably gives me an unnatural craving for footy franks.

Normal? It's subjective.

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I count myself incredibly lucky to have friends in high places (Belgium is higher than France, right? at least, geographically), who can get me all sorts of things.

Like normal m&ms. Not the stupid peanut or crispy ones.

The things a girl has to do...

L'amour, c'est douleureux. Love is painful.

Especially when it involves Symphony kneading my bare chest blissfully (also known as a boobie massage*), her little paws extending and contracting slowly as she purr. Oh, and her claws that need clipping. Did I mention that?

Of course, I could just fetch the clippers and do the job, but she's so darn happy, in the zone, that I'd rather let her knead away until she's done rather than interrupt her. Even if it is ouchy.

*she is available for chest-massaging services, with our without claws being clipped. Whatever floats your boat. As long as you're ok with her happily drooling on you whilst it's going on.

Of channel hopping and perfection

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Sylvain has this really annoying habit of turning the tv on, switching to a channel which is showing a really bad movie, then leaving the room. I am left on the couch, wondering if he's going to come back and watch the really bad movie, or if he's left for good.

A number of times I've seized the remote and changed the channel (my argument is that if you leave, you give up your right to watching what you just put on), only to have him come back 10 minutes later and insist he was watching said really bad movie.

Of course, I have my own bad habits. Like drinking orange juice really loudly through my front teeth. And forgetting about things cooking on the stove and getting cranky that Sylvain goes and stops them from burning. And picking bits of apple out of my teeth with business cards at the movies. And eating too many pieces of smoked mussels on toast and complaining that my belly hurts afterwards. And being extremely fussy to the point of neuroticism about the type of pasta that I eat with Bolognaise Sauce. And only being able to eat with a certain type of cutlery in our apartment (the round-edged ones, and certainly not the hard-edged ones or the horrible red plastic ones), and I cannot stop myself from getting up and changing my cutlery if someone happens to give me the wrong one. And taking my socks off as soon as I get in the lounge room and leaving them in little piles on the floor, or, even worse, shoving them under the couch. And having to recite the entire scripts of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Waynes World out loud whenever they're on the tv.

Nobody's perfect, I guess.

But all I want to know is if I can stop watching Black Dog. It's really bad.

Of course, I could have just gotten up off the couch, gone into the study and asked him, but where's the fun in that? It's much more interesting to complain to the internet and reflect on my own bad habits.

Oh, and if it strikes your fancy, perhaps you'd like to listen to the latest episodes of the podcast?

Of weekends and wiis

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As Sylvain settles down to play the Wii, I pick up the phone, and spend over 3 hours talking to friends and family in Australia - with free international phone calls, I can talk as much as I want (do I sound like an ad for some internet company?). Of course, I feel a little like a circus freak as I get passed around to talk to what seems like 300 million people when I call my parents house in the middle of a party... I just wish I could be there in person, stealing garlic and chilli prawns off the sizzling barbecue.

But I'm always very productive when I talk on the phone to Australia. I fold washing, sort socks, unpack the diswasher, tidy the fridge, clean the bathroom. It's the only time I'm really ever very domestic, mostly because I can't stand simply sitting there, doing nothing with my hands when I'm on the phone. Three hours is a long time and you can get a lot done if you wedge the phone between your ear and your shoulder.

Eventually, I hang up the phone and walk into the lounge room, ready to recount to Sylvain Every Single Minute Detail of the Two Very Long Phone Calls I Made This Morning, including Who I Spoke To And What Is Happening In Their Life Including Who Got A Haircut When and What Other People Ate For Dinner, whether he likes it or not.

Before I can open my mouth, he looks at me and holds his hand up, accustomed to the After-A-Phone-Call-To-Australia Ritual, "wait! I have to give forest water to the pansy!"

Three hours later, and he's still on the Wii.

I can't say I blame him. It's more interesting than folding socks.

In all honesty, I spent most of the time on the phone wishing I could steal a prawn off the barbie. Thinking about doing the same sort of thing on our little grill that we have to sit underneath the kitchen window, having made sure that Symphony is securely locked in the bedroom so she doesn't jump out said open window, just isn't quite so appetising.

I can't wait for our trip back to the land of Oz in two months.

Different

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This afternoon we came home from a weeks holiday at Sylvain's parents house. A week of eating French food - maybe a bit of saucisson or ham before the meal, one vegetable with one sort of meat for the main course, salad between the main course and cheese, different wines for different food items, and so on. Thank goodness I was being hauled, albeit unwillingly, up mountains, so I could work off some of what I ate.

A thought occured to me as I was stirring dinner on the stove tonight, "Sylvain?"

He came into the kitchen and started munching on a carrot.

"Does it bother you that we never actually eat French food at home?" I throw the yakiudon around the wok, a handful of kumquats and a passionfruit each for dessert draining in the sieve in the sink.

He looked at me and smiled, "the fact that we're just a bit different is what I love about us."

I think that pretty much sums it up.

That said, I might have to chop up my kumquats and scoop out the flesh from my passionfruit and add it all to a bowl of fromage frais au lait de montagne. Fromage frais can be bought in just about any supermarket in France, but this particular stuff is homemade, and can only be found in a little market near Sylvain's parents house, and is so good that we brought back three massive pots of it.

The best of both worlds.

Of walking... and walking

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Note to self :

Do not believe your (otherwise adorable) father-in-law when he says, "we're going to go for a short and only-very-slightly hilly walk".

Next time he says such a thing : remember your screaming calves, 400 metres higher than where we started, then 4 hours after we set off, hearing him chuckle as he gleefully said, "you're ready to go walking in the Alps now!"

Of course, he didn't hear me mutter curses under my breath the whole way. If he did, he might wonder what sort of girl his son married.

A roman road
A roman road

The edges of a roman road
Edges of a roman road

Fields of flowers
I took a few photos of mildly-interesting things - any excuse to stop and catch my breath!

The muffin man and his dad, walking along a country lane
The people who enjoyed watching me suffer. Yes, this is quite flat. Thank goodness there were a few spots like that so my trembling legs could recover!

I like walking. For the last few months we have been escaping the city most weekends, finding ourselves in the middle of the countryside and going for a long walk. Every day this week we've been going out into the mountains and walking, just not entirely uphill for hours on end like we did yesterday.

I'm a casual walker, not a hiker. My family-in-law are all hikers, not casual walkers. They've been trying, since the end of 2001, to get me to go walking with them the mountains. So yesterday? I was tricked into this crazy walk, just so that they could say at the end, "see? you CAN do it!". They're all cunning plotters, and my husband is the worst of them.

Now, don't get me wrong, the idea of walking in the Alps is terribly romantic - with plaits in my hair, I would sing Eidelweiss and dance happily through fields of wildflowers, then exclaim with wonder and delight as a baby deer comes and nuzzles my hand and becomes my new best friend. Then at the end of the day, feeling refreshed and energetic, we'd sit by the fire, chatting and playing cards until the early hours of the morning.

But the reality is because it's hard walking, with a lot of it uphill and with no cafés nearby at which I can have a Perrier with a slice of lemon when I'm a little fatigued, I'd be horribly hot and sweaty all day, hobbling around with a twisted ankle from falling over a pile of stones, and I'd probably get attacked by one of the five remaining bears in France before pitching a tent on an anthill and licking my wounds until I cry myself to sleep. The only positive thing is that I'd be so far away from civilisation that only Sylvain would hear me curse like a sailor.

Chicken little

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Now, I don't want anyone to panic or anything, but I think the sky might be falling.

Although given The Coriander Incident, one might have to wonder if there is not something a little more sinister going on.

Last night, I ate asparagus.

And liked it.

Wish you were here

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Backlit by bright bursts of sunshine until the moon came up, Saturday was sandwiched between heavy rainfalls on Friday and Sunday, and it was a very nice way of enjoying Spring. I suspect that such picnics by the Seine should be done more often. The cheese was smelly, the wine was smooth, the chocolate-covered marshmallow bears were stretchy, and the view spectacular from the tippy-tip of the Île de la Cité. Oh, and the company wasn't that bad either. Could do a lot worse, actually.

I do have to acknowledge that sometimes, after a little bit of red wine, I throw my arms around quite a bit and sing Xanadu songs (in preparation for a certain wedding) and get huggy and have deep and meaningful conversations about the titles of anglo programs that have been badly translated into French. Then I fall asleep in the train on the way home and Sylvain has to poke me awake when we arrive at our station.

Perhaps it was the red wine, perhaps it was all that fresh air, perhaps it was just the excitement, perhaps I need to get out more. Or perhaps this is what it's normally like in the world of this Aussie Lass and I just get terribly excited at anything and everything.

Seen on the streets of Paris...

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... leggings on a young woman. Worn OVER a pair of knee-high boots. It would have been one thing (but still not all that classy) if they reached over her knees or something, but they were still worn around her calves. And did I mention that they went over the boots?

... a man in an orange vest, with an orange beret, with an orange guitar slung over his back.

... a man running past me, wearing a tinfoil hat. He looked quite frantic. I wonder what he knows that I don't.

Of whirlwinds and weekends

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Lately, I've been working 12-13 hour days*. My head is spinning, but it seems that the best way of keeping a grasp of my sanity is by doing things outside my working hours that keep me just as busy as when I'm inside my working hours.

It's all about balance, apparently.

Which is how I found myself, last weekend, in the middle of the French countryside, chez the marvellous Doc, accompanied by Sylvain and my partner in podcasting crime, Kyliemac, as well as Vivi and Antipo and a whole bunch of other fantastic people. A whirlwind visit, punctuated by sugar highs and champagne testing and lots of laughter. You can hear all about it on the podcast, in fact. Then, as usual, I crawled out of bed at 5am on Monday morning, blurry-eyed but ready to tackle my week. The cycle continues.

I have found that it is easier to handle early mornings when one is munching on a freshly baked pain au chocolat on the way to the train station. Not the best for ones waistline, but certainly helpful for the morale.

Balance, indeed.

Whilst we have no real responsibilities other than having to remember to feed Symphony, this is probably the best place for us to be right now. We don't know where our path will take us, next week, next month or next year... So we're happy to sit, one on either end of the see-saw and keep things steady like this for now.

So now, after all this work, we're on holidays, and it's time for more adventures. A couple of days wandering around the Loire Valley. A trip to the South. And a picnic on Saturday afternoon. In Paris. By the Seine. With cheese. Anyone up for it? Let us know!

* thus explaining why I am late in responding to about sixty thousand emails. It's not because I don't love you that I haven't gotten back to you, it's just the long days. I will get back to you. I promise. And blow you butterfly kisses next time I see you. Does that make it better?

Hanging on

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I race through the week, looking forward to my days and lunchtimes and weeknights and weekends and excursions and shenanigans. Sometimes I flee the city, sometimes I stay at home with good friends, sometimes I flee the country, sometimes I get to meet bloggers who come to town, and sometimes I even get to meet blogless people who read about my adventures (and with whom I have memories of Monkey Magic and The Goodies in common).

I become submerged in the everyday whirlwind, and I am often so overwhelmed with the things around me, that sometimes it's all I can do to hold on.

Then sometimes you just stop and take stock of what is important and think about the road you need to take.

Five years ago I made a choice about the path that would take me to the place where my heart would be happy, and found myself here in France... but it is a winding track and who knows where the next bend will take me, take us.

I wonder what it would feel like to let go. I've done it once. Surely I can do it again?

I hope she doesn't fall off

That said, I also wonder what it would be like to drink Monkey-Picked Tea. Don't think it's all about deep reflections chez this Aussie Lass.

Tea picked by monkeys

On that note, go listen to the podcast. Shenanigans galore.

Flight plan

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Last week we bought our tickets to go to Australia at the end of July - it seems there is a wedding being planned and some partying must be done. So who are we to argue? 3,000 euros later (*makes strangled noise*) and we're definitely ready to party.

And again, I am already working on the list of things I have to bring back. It's just a pity that I can't pack the whole country into my suitcase.

Of poppies and introspection

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The 11th of November is Rememberance Day - a day when we remember the people who lost their lives and fought for the freedom of our country in the various world wars. In Australia, the importance of such days in our history and in our future is drilled into us from when we were very young.

Plastic poppies are sold throughout Australia by war veterans in the weeks leading up to the event, and schoolchildren are encouraged to buy them and pin them to their school uniforms. Adults too, but what sticks in my mind the most was the rows of my schoolmates, at 11am on the 11th November, heads bowed in reflection, a red poppy pinned to their school jumpers.

Poppies are not native to Australia, and although you can find them in some gardens there, it has been a true joy in our various excursions over the last few weeks to find them growing randomly in fields and on the sides of the road here in France.

As I knelt down to breathe in the scent and take a photo last weekend, I felt a moment of syncronicity in my life - of the paths of my past and my future crossing and converging. I bowed my head and thought about the lives lost and the wars continuing to rage around the world.

Lest we forget.

a study in coquelicots 3

a study in coquelicots 2

a study in coquelicots 1

Election results

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La France has made a decision. For better or worse. At least for five years.

This has been interesting to watch. But I'll be damned if I sit back quietly and watch it all unfold next time around, without making my voice heard. Time to submit my application for a double nationality. Before this new administration changes the rules and it's too late.

I wonder what will happen next and where this will take us.

I wonder if we'll smell smoke over here.

I'm only half joking.

Of sleeping in and... not...

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This weekend has been a glorious four day weekend - thanks to the French tradition of "bridging" public holidays that fall in the middle of the week with an additional day off, which attaches it to the weekend. What's more, there is another one next weekend (although I won't be bridging it due to too much work, the Muffin Man will be enjoying his second long weekend in a row), and another one in a couple of weeks! I love May in France...

We've been incredible busy, but our plans got slightly modified when thunderstorms arrived over our heads on Sunday and we got stuck indoors for the afternoon. We were basically crawling up the walls with frustration, and Sylvain decided we needed to make up for it on Monday by getting up early (6am!), to make the most of the day.

Through my sleepy eyes, the morning light, accompanied by a soft mist in the Rambouillet forest, gives another aspect to otherwise ordinary photos.

Early morning light in the forest

With the rain the day before, we came across about seventeen million six hundred thousand and twenty-five snails. Seriously. There were that many. Really.

Little snail comes out after the rain

There were loads of tiny little snails, heaps of medium-sized ones and quite a few big ones, otherwise known as escargots de bourgogne. Although he spent most of the day shouting, "watch out! snail crossing!" whenever he spotted one on the forest paths, my frenchman, doing what frenchmen do, thought about eating one. I really can't take him anywhere.

The muffin man threatens to eat a massive snail... ew!

We then found ourselves in a forest beside one of the plus beaux villages de France, La Roche-Guyon, where we followed our instincts and managed to get ourselves completely lost. So much for our instincts.

follow the path
Photo taken by Sylvain

As usual, I was drawn to little bugs that fly.

Speckled yellow (pseudopanthera macularia)
Speckled yellow (pseudopanthera macularia) : he was about 3 cm long.

Green hairstreak (callophrys rubi)
Green hairstreak (callophrys rubi) : he was about 2 cm long!

Scarce swallowtail (iphiclides podalirius)

On the last leg of our walk (we thought we could spy sun glinting off the car windows at the end of the path), we bumped into a lovely elderly couple sitting beside the road. They asked us if we had seen any deer or hares - we replied that we had seen the latter, but had no luck with the former. Obviously in a chatty mood, they spent a good ten minutes talking to us about the forest and its wonderful inhabitants. Then the lady handed me some lilies of the valley from an ample bouquet she held in her hands, and told me it was for good luck. Since we managed to find our way back to the car (albeit four hours after we set out) before the rain came, I think it might have brought us a little luck.

Brin de muguet
Photo taken by Sylvain

Saturday, 2am

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I woke up on Saturday morning, wondering if I had dreamed being woken up at 2am by a phone call from a friend in Australia. When I asked, Sylvain confirmed that I had, in fact, spoken to her for 10 minutes, as well as with her 2 1/2 year old daughter. I have no recollection of what we actually discussed.

Is it a national sickness, forgetting that there is a time difference?

Nevertheless, it's a nice feeling, knowing that people are thinking of little old me, all the way over here. I just think that I might have to give them all international clocks for Christmas.

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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