Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Weeee're all go-ing on a...

Yes yes, tomorrow we pile everything into the car and set off up north (cunningly, in the opposite direction to most of the other holiday makers) for the Vendée. When Fanf first suggested going up to the Vendée for our summer holiday, and consequently staying with his parents, I didn't exactly jump for joy. But I smiled pleasantly and said yes. For two reasons.

1. We will be staying much of the time at Fanf's grandmother's holiday house by the sea at La Faute sur Mer. Fanf's favourite childhood memories are of his summers at La Faute with his cousins. Last summer Mamie Jane died and the house is likely to be sold. This will possibly be the last summer that Fanf can share his beloved La Faute with his children. This is really important to him. And thus to me.

2. We have no money.

However, as the year has rolled on over the rough and the smooth I have found myself increasingly looking forward to our little séjour familial. I love the Vendée. It's quite like England. It's old-fashioned (the Vendée was one of the only regions to support the monarchy when the rest of the French decided to off with their heads). They have brioche. And salted butter caramel.

I am also looking forward to seeing my beau père and belle maman, with whom I have developed a comfortable and comforting relationship. This year has been quite tough in places. We're all knackered. It'll be nice to be looked after. Staying with the beaux parents will mean no cooking, no cleaning, no washing. No having to think and plan. It will also mean that Fanf and I can sneak off every now and again for a romantic rendez-vous.

I'm sure when the mini-beasts are a bit older (and Fanf/Clyde and Bex/Bonnie have perfected the noble art of robbing banks... without the tragic ending) we'll enjoy a more hands-on, up'n'at'em holiday, just the four of us. But right now, as I said to Fanf, I can't actually think of anything I'd rather do tomorrow than hop in the car knowing that when we arrive at our destination there will be yummy food, a lovely clean made bed and copious amounts of alcohol.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Bex's Bookshelves: the Wellsathon

Courtesy of the bountiful MiK, I have just read The Time Machine, The Invisible Man and The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. All thought-provoking reads. Wells is a lot funnier than I thought he'd be (especially The Invisible Man) and I liked his non-sentimental, even disdainful, approach to the human race. All three books are a lesson in humility. My favourite was The War of the Worlds. A genuinely frightening read.

Wells is not really a quotable writer but the following quote from The War of the Worlds gave me a bit of a giggle.

"She had never been out of England before, she would rather die than trust herself friendless in a foreign country, and so forth. She seemed, poor woman, to imagine that the French and the Martians might prove very similar."

I know I have given Wells rather short shrift in this post given the way his books burst with ideas. But I am very much looking forward to discussing him with the far more erudite than I, MiK.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Nana knits

My mum is a bit handy with a pair of knitting needles. She has knitted some beautiful things for both the mini-beasts. While we were in exile at their place she presented Matilda with this cute little blue cardi. I'm incredibly impressed by anyone who can knit and I love hand-knitted clothes. Comfy, unique and with the love of the person who knitted it for you in every stitch. I'm doubly impressed by my mum's amazing creations because she has Parkinson's disease so fiddly hand gestures are not always very easy. It gives me a RTBC every time I see Matilda and Owen all snuggled up in a Nana Wendy knit.

Matilda's approach to modelling is mildly eccentric. Kate Moss she ain't.*

*Is my reference to Kate Moss hopelessly out of date? I know absolutely nothing about modelling and fashion.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Poxed by the chicken and other irritants

O is all spotty, my laptop has shuffled off its mortal coil (I am writing this from the grandspoilers, where we are in self-imposed quarantine) and the car is in the garage with a broken ventilation system that will cost us 260 euros to repair. We suspect that Matilda will be poxed just in time for our holiday chez les grandparents in the Vendée next week. Indeed, my life is not always beautiful.

On the upside, O remains cheerful despite constant smearing, bathing, and daubing with all manner of lotions and potions. He even found the energy to sweep up the patio.

Monday, 4 July 2011

From me to you

Inspired, and a little shamed, by Jen's post last week about letter-writing I sat myself down and wrote her a letter. Which just goes to show, you can always find the time to do something if you really want to. Some other things might have slipped down, or off, the To Do List but no one died. Clearly there was nothing so important that I couldn't take a couple of hours out to share my thoughts and feelings with Jen.

I love writing letters. For me it is the most intimate form of communication. I will pour out my heart in a letter, perhaps even more so than face to face, because (as I already said to Jen) writing a letter to a dear friend almost feels like writing to yourself. After reading Jen's post I vowed (vowed, who am I? D'Artagnan??) to make an effort to start corresponding through letters again. I like blogging, I love chatting on the phone, I adore having hugs after sharing a cup of tea, a piece of cake or a glass of wine. But none of these things replaces letters, the excitement of recognising the handwriting as the envelope plops through my door and my sense of connection as I snuggle up on the sofa to devour and then reread and savour the thoughts and feelings of my fellow epistolarian.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

For they are jolly good fellows

I have a natural (English?) aversion to the "Look at me and my beautiful life" post. So, apologies to any like-minded readers. My life is not always beautiful but yesterday it was. Yesterday we gathered together our family to celebrate Owen's and Fanf's birthdays at La Plantade (our local park). First things first, there was cake. I made some caramel shortbread for Fanf and to my great surprise the caramel behaved itself and did not run amok, as is its wont. For Owen I made a vanilla cake which, like all my cakes, domed and cracked in the middle. Mary Berry tells me this problem has two possible causes: either the oven is too hot or the cake is on too high a shelf. As Mary Berry is not among my acquaintance she neglected the third possible reason: you are Bex. Anyway, I slathered it in strawberry buttercream and all was well. I chose strawberry buttercream because Matilda, who was in charge of decoration, wanted a red cake. However, no matter how much dye I poured into the mixture, it remained resolutely pink. So my son had a pink cake for his first birthday. The irony. Matilda did rather a fine job of the decoration.

Down at the park it was a glorious sunny day, refreshed by the wind that makes the heat just bearable down here. There was fizz, there were presents, there was cycling, running, tumbling and frantic searching because one of the seven children had managed to wander out of eyesight. I discreetly licked off all the strawberry buttercream from the plates when I tidied up. Don't judge me, you didn't taste it.

(I think of this one as the Tic Tac shot.)

We then decided to head down to the Guingette next to the river for an aperitif. More chinks, more runnning. We then decided to stay and have dinner (huge thanks to the grandspoilers for treating us). Steph ordered the most gigantic lobster any of us had ever seen.

The mini-beasts did more running, Benny Hill style, and then grabbed sticks and started chanting "On va à la chasse" ("We're going hunting"). I don't know what they were hunting but the amount of noise they were making, whatever it was cannot have been in much fear for its life.

The sun set, the rosé was drunk, a lovely day was had by all.