Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Conversations with the Monster

Matilda: Walk gently to not wake up the floor.
Me: Ok. What will happen if I wake up the floor?
Matilda: It will eat you.
Me: Ok.
Matilda: Don't wake up the stairs either.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Hurricane Nico

We were hit Friday evening, swept up, and left to sink back into the hum drum last night. I'm not sure if my RTBC should be that he was here, or that he's gone.

Nico is the fella's closest childhood friend. The way they explain it, Fanf was the son Nico's parents never had and Nico was the son Fanf's parents never had. Although as far as I can tell all parents enjoyed/ survived the experience of both.

Nico is a bit chatty/ a force of nature/ the boy who never grew up/ a raving egotist/ all of the above, depending on how many hours you've had to spend in his inimitable company. I have seen him twice in which short time I have heard his entire life story. Twice. I suspect he knows nothing about me beyond the fact that I am English.

All that said, he loves Fanf with a passion that is at times frightening, his heart is very definitely, as they say, in the right place, and he can be extremely sweet.

He came with his lovely girlfriend Audrey, who is a wonder herself. Brave brave lady. They don't have kids so we offloaded ours and had a bit of a knees up, courtesy of Nico, who is also very generous. Is it wrong that eating out at a swanky restaurant, having drinks on a barge on the canal du midi and staying out until 3am didn't give me as much pleasure as being able to lie around on the sofa on Sunday morning reading my book, drinking tea and eating chocolate?

Friday, 26 August 2011

My mini red me

I have just ordered Matilda a new pair of shoes for the start of school. They are red, they are Camper, they are cool. Most importantly, they were half price. I want a pair. They come in my size and if I had the money... I would have gone there. So probably a good thing I'm impoverished.

It was something of a trial finding the shoes. They had to be red. Everything Matilda wants, she wants in red. If I ask her what flavour icecream she wants, she asks for red. I am not a big fan of pink so this is all to the good. Except, locating any given item in red for a little girl is not easy. Especially in France. I should probably enjoy it while it lasts, no doubt pink will be the order of the day once she starts school and comes into contact with others of her kind.

In other mini me news, Matilda has decided that her favourite CD is Candide by Leonard Bernstein, the 1999 National Theatre cast recording. I had the great good fortune to see this production, it was an amazing show. Matilda and I love singing and dancing along to such wonderful music. I do sometimes wonder if it is appropriate lyrically, especially when I'm gleefully belting out Dear Boy along with Simon Russell Beale, which is about syphilis. A song about venereal disease, the sign of a truly great musical comedy.

This is from the 2005 Live on Broadway version with the New York Philharmonic. It's not as good as the NT version with SRB but at least you can hear the lyrics, which are brilliant.

Thursday, 25 August 2011


I've been meaning to sit down and tap out a post dedicated to the wonder that is O for a while. He gives me oodles of RTBCs every day, as well as quite a few RTBMs by night, but is generally an all-round good egg. He is irresistable. He is a hoot. I would have liked to capture some of the many weird and wonderful ways he spreads his happiness on film but I'm afraid, sans camera, words is all I got*.

The thing about O, the main thing, is that he's funny. I can't really say why or how (way to go with the words Bex) but he is. He doesn't try but he's a natural comedian. Watching him hare around, listening to his piping expressive baby patter and melting in the full force of his big wonky smile, make me laugh. Everything he does makes me laugh. And until you've seen O point you don't know what comedy is. O is an hilarious pointer. A most imperious pointer.

The other thing about O, the other main thing, is that he's charming. He smiles at everybody. Frequently when I am out and about I suddenly sense eyes on me. Although of course they're not on me. I now know to look straight to my son who will be merrily grinning away. O loves to be loved. The other day we were all piling out of the car when he started waving randomly. I looked behind me and realised he was waving goodbye to a man who had just climbed into his car. The man waved at O as he pulled away.

O's current favourite activity is sitting. On steps, on stools, on his cousins but for absolute preference, on his sister. The joy of sitting on Matilda is to wait until the end of the day, when she is tired and taking a bit of time out in front of the old gogglebox while the mother slave prepares tea. This is when O likes to strike. No matter how many times she pushes him away, no matter how many times I bodily unclasp him from Matilda, he goes back, giggling, for more.

O loves a giggle, loves mucking about with his cousins, loves throwing himself at all life has to offer.

*Ok, I cheated a bit. I went back and dug out some archive footage from the holidays. I don't suppose anybody will mind ;)

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The best things in life are... books

We had a parcel from the ever lovely Alex today containing, amongst other things, three new books for Matilda. Hooray. Ever since she delved into the selection of Toby's travel literature that Alex brought with her to the house, Matilda has been clamouring for new books. So Alex's thoughtful gift was extremely welcome. Not least because O has decided, yet again, that sleep is for the weak. He's right. I feel incredibly weak and I need some sleep. As he snoozed the afternoon away Matilda and I curled up on the sofa and read. Reading was about all either of us could manage. And that was just fine.

My favourite from Alex's relief parcel was The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers, which in my weakened state, I have to admit, made me a little teary. I'm a great believer in books which explore and help children to understand difficult emotions. In this case, grief. Matilda loved The Gruffalo's Child by Julia Donaldson. Mainly because she knows The Gruffalo off by heart. It lacks the originality and the ideas of The Gruffalo but it makes up for it by giving its loyal little readers the feeling that they are in the know. When you're little and everything is new and everything has to learnt, it must be quite satisfying to feel you're in the know sometimes.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Berceuse Créole

At 10pm last night as both the mini-beasts were running riot and I was desperately singing lullabies, this one caught my attention. Gruesome yes, but I have to admit I sang it with a rather unwholesome conviction.

Dodo fillette
Sainte Elizabeth
Endormez-moi cette enfant
Jusqu'à l'âge de vingt ans
Si elle se réveille
Coupez-lui l'oreille
Et les p'tits oiseaux viendront
Pour manger tous les morceaux
Do oui dodo, c'est mama, qui l'a dit
Do oui dodo, c'est papa qui l'a dit
Dodo, mon petit
Si mon petit ne veut pas faire dodo
Le gros diable va l'emporter

Sleep little girl
Saint Elisabeth
Send this child to sleep (so far, so sweet)
Until the age of twenty (would settle for until tomorrow morning but ok...)
If she wakes
Cut off her ear (yikes, no warning, no time out, no naughty shelf, bam, you lose a body part)
And the little birds will come (aaaaahhhh)
To eat all the pieces (oh)
Sleep yes sleep, mummy has said so (said, screamed, begged)
Sleep yes sleep, daddy has said so (ditto, ditto, ditto)
Sleep my little one
If my little one doesn't want to sleep (some hot milk? a little cuddle? a bedtime story?)
The big devil will take her away (suddenly merely losing a body part doesn't seem so bad, still, nothing like giving kids a bit of incentive)

Friday, 19 August 2011

Friday in words: Monsterisms Part le Ducks

pooter = computer

kwiwi = kiwi (Although kiwi is easier to say)

paper = paper, or pavement

apent = elephant

nana's tompot = caramel or coffee cream dessert (See what she did there? Remember tompot means compote)

Pas like it = I don't like it, or I'm full. (Half way through an apple she will hand it over claiming she doesn't like it.)

Say-ray-aaahl = cereal (in the manner of Margot from The Good Life, and if you don't get the reference, then you have my sincerest sympathies)

bi-hiccle = bicycle

Mummy happy for Matilda do caloo = Mummy is happy that Matilda gave her a cuddle.

It makes me funny = It makes me laugh.

I'm sad par que I lost my daddy = Daddy is not here and I miss him.

Don't worry mummy, it's not your fault = Misinterpreting my displeasure when she breaks/spills/rips/completely destroys something.

gallok gallok = like a horse

dod = dog (still)

Thursday, 18 August 2011


No, I am not suffering from a lingerie-fixated strain of Tourette syndrome. My mum, bless her, arrived yesterday with some new knickers for me. I have not bought myself any new knickers since... erm. Most of my knickers have holes. That's to say, at least one more than the requisite pair for the legs. Mum delicately pointed out that she had noticed this while we were at their house and I was sitting in a less than lady-like fashion.

I have not yet quite adapted to my new sartorial regime. Trouser-legged was I this many a long year. Note to self: when wearing skirts and dresses, be careful not to show my fess-es.

I'm slightly perturbed at the thought that other people might also have noticed my rather unsavoury fashion blunder. Please, if any of you did notice something but politely refrained from comment, let's keep it that way.

[Bottom shown not author's own.]

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

O wonderful Bex that can so astonish herself

I've said it before, I shall say it again, sorry if you're bored of me saying it, I am always amazed by how much I can get done when I am without mini-beast. The first part of the day was devoted to cleaning and sorting (I was spurred on by the flies hovering round our sink). I also managed trips to the bank, the post office and the market. Drooping in the early afternoon heat I thought I would abandon plans to get creative and fall asleep over my book. But no! I did indeed astonish myself by digging out my writing notebook and thinking about ideas for a book for O. And I thunk of one I like. About happiness. A subject which fascinates me at the moment. So now I'm on my way to becoming a twice unpublished author.

I am no less proud of the fact that I finally got out the blu-tack and stuck up all the pictures my nieces and nephews have given me over the last couple of years in the mini-beasts' bedroom. Their artwork had been languishing in a folder. No more. I hope my mini-beasts will go to sleep feeling inspired tonight.

I also bought MEAT for my man. I am housewife, hear me pour.

(Current tipple of choice: Noilly Prat Ambré. You can only get the Ambré from Marseillan, where Noilly Prat is produced. Marseillan just so happens to be a stone's throw from Béziers. There's a RTBC to be living in Béziers if ever there was one.)

Monday, 15 August 2011

Messing about on the canal

Today we finally did what we've been promising to do all summer and hired a little electric boat to take the mini-beasts pootling down the Canal du Midi. It was beautiful. The mini-beasts loved it.

But our camera (the one that replaced the one that broke before) is broken. So I have no photos, good or otherwise to show for our little excursion.

Ordinarily this wouldn't bother me in the slightest. Prior to being a little blogkeeper I wasn't that interested in photos. I had a theory about mental snapshots, which I took whenever I wanted to remember a moment, being more magical and more meaningful. Since blogging I have become a bit of a manic snapper. All those other blogs out there have such lovely pictures. Apart from one of my favourites. Ju's blog is all writing. All Ju. And it's brilliant. I'm under no illusions that quite a lot of my "readers" tune in to see photos of the mini-beasts but surely it is no bad thing for a would-be writer to have to rely on words for a change.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Greedy Bird Baking* Enterprise # 20 Christmas Chinese Chocolate Cookies

The iron was hot. I struck.

The cookies were yum. We feasted.

Even O got a nibble.

Sticky chocolate fingered thanks to Jen :q

*No actual baking was involved in the production of these cookies. Yay.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

All good things

A lovely parcel from the lovely Jen, long-awaited (Canada Post were on strike), with a birthday book for O and some crispy chow mein noodles for me. Food and books. My two favourite things. Now I can finally make the Chinese Christmas Cookies Jen sent me the recipe for. It is a recipe that speaks to my heart, and my stomach. There are only four ingredients (I start to feel faint when faced with a recipe that goes beyond four) and those ingredients are: chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, crispy chow mein noodles and, the clincher, peanuts. I am currently checking out house prices in Ottawa, in anticipation of instant addiction.

Bois de Bourbaki

Today we went to... the Bois de Bourbaki, with Uncle Ben. I love Bourbaki. The path through the woods is not very long but has lots of fun objects to climb, jump off, balance on, crawl over along the way. Matilda, who declared herself tired and needing to return home within a couple of minutes of our arrival, managed to hop, skip and jump her way around the entire parcours with gusto. With a little help here and there from the sturdy shoulders of Uncle Ben. There is also an odd assortment of animals, including currently baby austriches. Matilda eagerly handed over bread and desperately tried to stroke anything she could reach. Owen shouted at them.

[All photos courtesy of Uncle Ben. Hence they're actually good.]

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Sunshine and showers

Hello, hello. And may I just say, thank you, it's nice to be missed :)

So, three weeks of fun and games. Ten days in the Vendée. A visit from Alex and Toby. A week of hanging out with my fella and the mini-beasts. And the return of Uncle Ben.

Where to start? In honour of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue I am going to give you the Good news/Bad news version of events.

Bad news: Much as I hate being a cliché I'll start by embracing the cliché that I am. What was it I said, "comfortable and comforting"... Yup. I said it. Tis not true. Me'n'the belle maman, we're just not destined to be best buds. I tried. I failed. We had a fairly serious falling out. I don't feel like rehashing it here, suffice to say il fait un froid de canard entre moi et la belle maman.
Good news: The beau papa still labours happily under the misapprehension that I am the very bees knees of a daughter-in-law.

Bad news: The day after we arrived in the Vendée Matilda got good and poxed.
Good news: It rained and it rained. And it rained. And it was cold (under 20 degrees, glacial... or maybe I'm adjusting to the south of France better than I think). So we didn't feel too bad about sitting about indoors watching Cars with a grumpy itchy mini-beast until Flash McQueen was scorched onto our retinas.

Bad news: It rained and it rained. And it rained.
Good news: I quite like the rain. Matilda was delighted with her new wellies, we enjoyed a grey, soulful, isolated beach and we managed to escape to la forêt de Mervent in between showers, which was that much more beautiful for being freshly watered.

Bad news: Jen, Simon and Margot did not make it over to see us.
Good news: Agnès, Sylvain and Suzon popped over while we were in La Faute and Alex and Toby came and stayed with us when we arrived back in Béziers. Agnès and Alex are two of my comrades-in-arms, and two more adorable comrades-in-arms I could not wish for. It was most life-affirming to sit around and agree on all the wonderful things about being a stay-at-home mum. Suzon and Toby are both gorgeous children. Matilda rather took to Toby (jolly good, as they are already promised to each other) and Alex (she's wisely getting her mother-in-law onside early). Alex frequently addressed Toby as darling and rather hilariously Matilda followed suit: "Come downstairs darling", I heard her raucously bark at him one morning.

Bad news: We took Matilda to the cinema for the first time to see Cars 2, in 3D. It was rubbish.
Good news: Matilda thought it was great and keeps asking when we can go and see Cars again on the "big television". I managed to amuse myself by looking at Matilda in her mini Eric Morecambe glasses.

Bad news: We heard that all the plane trees along the Canal du Midi have to be chopped down because they are diseased. Great sadness.
Good news: We met up with the grandspoilers and Uncle Ben to do a bike ride along the canal and enjoyed the 300 year-old water way in all its shaded leafy glory.

Bad news: I tried and failed to take a family photo.
Good news: I look fairly presentable in both of them ;)