Thursday, 27 March 2014

Cop Porn

My current 'cop porn' of choice

Matilda, arriving home with her haul from the school cake and sweet sale:
Can we have our cop porn?

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

GBBE: We love to loaf

Banana, Coconut and Lemon Loaf

You might think that because I don't write about cake anymore that I don't bake anymore.  But, as my hips will tell you, we bake lots.  And lots and lots.  At least twice a week.  It's great.  At the moment we are big fans of the loaf cake.  Recent triumphs include: Peanut Butter, Banana and Oat Loaf, Raspberry Coconut Loaf, Caramel Apple Loaf and today's new top favourite loaf cake, combining all our favourite ingredients, Banana, Coconut and Lemon.  Sooooo good.  Anyone wants a recipe, just let me know.

Caramel Apple Loaf

Raspberry Coconut Loaf

Owen has decided that he likes decorating but not baking.  So baking has become mine and Matilda's thing.  Nice to have a thing.  She is pretty much self-sufficient now.  This is her doing her lemon squeezy face.  As you can see, she's very good.


Also, we have been having fun coiffing Nell.  

Monday, 24 March 2014

Make-do craft

After several weeks of non-stop shenanigans, yesterday we took a time-out and spent the afternoon at home (after 3 hours at a birthday party in the morning).  I suggested we have a go at some Blue Petering and the minibeasts were up for it.  When I see other people crafting with their kids around the internet what they create always looks amazing.  Now, either my kids are rubbish or the other kids out there are getting a lot of help.  Anyway, as far as I'm concerned it's not about how good it is but how much fun you have making it.  Owen chose to make one of these, which I thought were a lovely simple idea.

From a Little delightful

I never have specific craft materials in the house so I always make do with what we've got (this week I had leftover paper plates from my birthday picnic).  Owen came up with this:

Remember, it's the process.  And actually I think it's pretty cute.

Matilda decided she wanted to make a butterfly.  She came up with this:

Now these creations might be a little rough around the edges but the minibeasts were pretty damn pleased with themselves and were proud to hang their works of art on display.

At the end of the day we sat down and watched Hedgehog in the Fog.  The lovely Alex gave the book to Matilda for her birthday and the film is every bit as dreamy and beautiful.  If you have a spare ten minutes it's well worth a look.

[I don't know why, but I've suddenly come over all bloggy.  I promise it won't last.]

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Lo 30en Carnaval Occitan

It's that time of year again.  Carnaval!  This year the theme was history.  Matilda was an ancient Greek - in wellies.  And Owen was a knight - in wellies.  After weeks of sun we had a grey and grizzly day.  I played along gamely with the grumbling but was quite happy not to have been processing under a blazing southern sun wearing a large black knight's tunic.  

The confetti.  The confetti.  I think that stuff is 2 parts itching powder.  And it gets everywhere.  We even found some in Nell's nappy.

With Zia, AKA Le Chevalier Papillon

Some of these percussionists are real cave people

The judgement of Monsieur Carnaval is performed by the older students.  With enormous gusto.  The minibeasts loved the two clowns.  I didn't understand a word but I was hugely impressed by their commitment.  What a shame drama is not a subject in French schools...  because it's not a "useful" subject, according to one parent.  Now there's an argument I'd like to have with someone.  Learning about human interaction through the process of human interaction required to practise one of the world's oldest art forms.  Nope, can't see how that would be useful at all.

Monsieur Carnaval took rather a long time to catch alight but eventually all the troubles and woes of 2013 went up in flames.

Fascinated by it all

Friday, 21 March 2014

Reading: lots

Bex's Bookshelves is making another comeback.  Purely for my own benefit.  At various points in my life I have kept a record of what I read and I always appreciate it when I do.  I'm currently trying to set up a book club here in Beziers.  I've read some amazing books recently and I'd desperately love to discuss them.  In the absence of other readers, I'm going to discuss them with myself.  I'm not going to write long, insightful reviews. Ideally, I'd like to write the kind of short and pithy critiques to be found on Ju's Reviews.  Realistically, I shall just aim for short.

I have just finished As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner, which was a gripping and profoundly moving experience.  A strange, opaque yet beautiful book that had me straining to understand its deeply flawed and fascinating characters.

Since the beginning of 2014 I have also read:

The Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Garder
Fun, easy but thought-provoking Christmas/New Year holiday read.

The Chemistry of Tears by Peter Carey
Peter Carey is one of my favourite writers.  Meticulous, subtle, humorous and absorbing.  As always

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Weird and wonderful.  Although I was slightly irritated at first by the generous smattering of Spanish slang, the cultural and historical references and the lengthy footnotes, once I had discovered a very helpful website with translations and explanations I was well away.  And in the end, this added to the self-consciousness of the writing and story-telling, one of the things I loved about the book.  I laughed and I learned.

The First Book of Calamity Leek by Paula Lichtarowicz
I whizzed through this book.  A real page turner.  Well-written, original, macarbre and twisted, just how I like them.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
I read Things Fall Apart because I love Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and she often mentions Achebe as one of her inspirations.   I like to think I read quite widely.  But this book made me realize I don't read widely enough.  It was unlike anything else I've read, about a culture completely alien to me.  I think I need to adventure further beyond Anglophone and European writers in future.  Reading this book made me want to start a book club.

She Rises by Kate Worsley
This never quite came alive for me.  Though I did like the unexpected ending.

Ablutions by Patrick deWitt
Rarely have I had such a visceral reaction to a book.  Set in the drug and alcohol-addicted underbelly of Hollywood, reading this made me feel queasy and quite frankly miserable about the depths that humankind is capable of plummeting.  But it's oh so blackly funny and brilliantly written.  I think I liked it even more than The Sisters Brothers, which I read last year.

Current toilet book (everyone should have a toilet book): working through my collection of Calvin and Hobbes albums.

I appreciate Calvin and Hobbes in a whole new way now I'm parent.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Time flies

Out walking with the cousins and les grandparents

Warning: this is a "Look at me and my wonderful life post".  Apologies, but for the last couple of weeks life has been wonderful.

Some time in between the first day and last day of the holidays we had a whole lot of fun.  In fact all the time.  I am ready to collapse but we had fun.  Lots of fun.  When I think of these holidays the word is: fun.  Fun and exhausting.

The first week I was not exhausted.  The minibeasts shipped out for two days to the grandspoilers, then two days to the cousins.  I didn't know what to do with myself.  I knew exactly what to do with myself: read.  Last year, due to the reckless decision to make a third minibeast and the equally reckless decision to wade through Les Misérables, my reading was rather sluggish.  But this year, my inner bookworm has been raring to go.  Any spare moment I get, I reach for my book.  The house is filthy but my mind is expanding.

The second week the kids had circus workshop for two hours every morning and then in the afternoons we went out and about with two of their fellow circus monkeys and their mums.  Parks, picnics, beaches, cafes, cake.  I'm sure my life was not as exciting when I was a pre-schooler.  They performed a show at the end of the week.  Owen's first ever performance.  At the moment, neither of them is self-conscious about performing in front of an audience.  I keep telling them that the most important thing when performing is to enjoy it.  They did.

We celebrated afterwards with yet another picnic in the park.  They played "How many hats can we put on Nell?"....

... and "Who can make the best scary monster face"?  This is Matilda with her amoureux, Alix.

Can you spot O meditating in the background?

In between the two weeks it was my birthday.  I had the loveliest day.  The night before Fanf and I went out for dinner en amoureux and on Saturday we all went to my beloved Peyriac sur Mer for the day.  Sat outside in the sunshine for a lazy 2-hour lunch.  Then went for a walk over the old salt lakes and up a hill.  I was filled with warm feelings of familyness.

I love this photo 

 And a nice man offered to take a family photo for us.  "I have three," he said with compassion.

Last but not least, Nell learnt to move about.  Backwards.  We keep finding her wedged under the furniture.

 Sorry for the splurge.  As you were.

Monday, 3 March 2014

First day of the holidays

Can you tell???

In amongst all the chaos I did find them quietly sitting "reading".  Ahhhh.

I have also discovered a fairly painless method for getting them to tidy up their chaos.  I would like to claim this is my idea, because it's rather brilliant.  But it isn't and I'm not.  A friend of mine told me that her daughter's teacher has a song she plays whenever she wants the class to tidy up.  She doesn't say anything, just plays the music and away they go.  Jolly.  I can tell you, we've tried it and it works a treat.  Our song is "A Spoonful of Sugar".  Obviously.  

In other news, Nell proved that her Vendéen genes are all present and correct by chomping down on her first bit of brioche.

Her Pilbeam "greedy" genes are clearly also present.