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going home

14 Dec

I’m starting to get the jitters about the plane flight – but HEY, I’m heading home!

I can’t get there fast enough, with everything that’s been going on…  Just can’t wait to hit the ground, feel and smell the dry air and see all those beautiful eucalyptus trees and give my family and friends a hug (sorry for that cringe, but I mean it).

my favourite tree - a Eucalyptus (gum)

my favourite tree – a Eucalyptus (gum)

It’s a long long way to get there – a huge, bon voyage – and I’ve been revving myself up with some tunes that remind me so much of home (and hey, don’t get stuck into me that they’re not new – my finger’s not on the pulse anymore out here).

These songs are giving me a great buzz right now… but I’ve gotta say that sometimes some Aussie songs reduce me to a sobbing mess! (as well as all the others: Natalie Merchant, Antony and the Johnsons, Adele et al…).  I can be driving in my car, playing the music real loud and suddenly I find myself choking with huge, involuntary sobs – a blithering wreck trying to see the road with tear-filled cloudy eyes.  And I love it.  I think of home, think of my family and have a great, big, cry.  It feels SO good.  I’m almost joyous.  I’m sort of between happy, ecstatic, thankful and sad, all at once.  And would you believe it, I’ve cried to Kylie Minogue and Tina Arena.  Eeeewww.  Better stop there.

Do songs remind you of home?

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My dear uncle – the other ‘King’

2 Dec

I’ve been reminded today of how hard it is to lose someone you love.  I lost my wonderful, funny, larger than life uncle.

I was out in my car and receieved a text from my brother in Australia – it said our uncle had died half an hour earlier.

There I was, sitting alone in my car, on a country road in the middle of nowhere, reading a simple, clear message that suddenly altered a part of my life forever .

I felt so far away from home.  And I still do.  I can’t be with my family and the people I love over there – and give my Mum and Dad and my brothers a hug and say how much I love them.  I wasn’t able to tell my Uncle that either.  I can’t cry and laugh about him with my cousins.  I can’t go to his funeral and be there for my dad, his big brother.

It sucks being so far from home sometimes.  You try to get on with your life, you accept the distance (even though it’s still hard), you enjoy where you are and try to make the most of each day and then wham, something like this happens.

Thank you Uncle Leigh for everything we shared:  the loud LOUD music, your cooking, the laughs, your humour, letting me stay up late, fish and chips at the beach for our lunch breaks when I was your chauffeur; and of course Elvis – watching re-runs of nearly every live Elvis performance on video together, paying me to edit the commercials out for your recordings of Elvis tv midday movies, telling me the King was possibly still alive; you saying your tongue-in-cheek ‘bonjours’ to me over the phone from Australia, telling Dad to stop pissing with him when he didn’t understand my new married name really was ‘Dunno’ after I’d eloped; the widened eyes in mock horror at cheeky jokes, letting me house-sit for you and Marilyn all those times (my girlfriends and I thank you), showing me amazing jazz performances on the tele until all hours, re-enacting for me the first swimming scene from Jaws in our pool (you playing that woman) over and over again with me watching and squealing with excitement, when I was still ‘too young’ to watch the actual film; coming home late at night to see you lying on the couch at Mum and Dad’s watching a movie with them (you always got the best seat in the house); and not to ever forget, Uncle Leigh, your enthusiasm and positivity – your happiness at being alive.  You were always so much fun to be around and we all, your many nieces and nephews (you were the youngest of 10), knew how much you loved us all – as we do you.

Thanks for everything Uncle Leigh.  I am going to miss you so much.

Elvis from the 1968 Comeback Special

Elvis in the 1968 Comeback Special – one of Uncle Leigh’s favourites

some sights #6 – the Pumpkin Festival

25 Oct

At the Pumpkin Festival last Sunday.

pumpkin festival rieux

gorgeous gold heels

10th annual pumpkin festival

a “Chaud Show!”(quoted from “L’Independant”)

So where are the pumpkins at Rieux’s 10th annual “Fete de la Citrouille”?

My battery went on the blink before I got to that (believe me, they were big)

…we’d been distracted by the rocking drum beats and dancing ladies of “Bresil en Catalogne”.

whole lotta love

23 Sep

And now for a little ROCK AND ROLL!!!!!!!!!!

Leaving the vino and the vineyards aside for a moment, the wannabe groupie in me enjoyed a night of bliss this Summer, standing 15 metres away from this man and hearing him sing!…

it's him!!!!!

So close yet so far away.  Pine…  And those pants are pretty roomy compared to what he used to get around in. I guess he is in his 60’s…

Yes, I’m in love.

It was euphoric listening to Robert Plant do his thing and yes I want to yell about it out loud!!

I have two big brothers who introduced me to all sorts of music when I was little – The Rolling Stones, Kate Bush, Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Lou Reed, Simon and Garfunkel, and one of the big ones for me, Led Zeppelin.  I’ll never forget the first time one of them played me ‘Stairway to Heaven’ on the tape recorder and made me listen to it the whole way through…  My brother wanted me to fully appreciate the beauty of this track, talking me through it, wanting me to understand that a heavy rock group could play such gentle, melodic music.  I think I was about seven?  But the look of despair on the ballet teacher’s face when I asked her to hit play and ‘Stairway’ accompanied my choreographed piece for the annual ballet concert.   I don’t think she appreciated Led Zeppelin’s melody and I had her scurrying to hit pause as the track started cranking up.  Mmm, not quite the family with mountains of classical recordings to choose from really.  The ballet didn’t last long either.

Anyway, even if it wasn’t Led Zeppelin playing, this was pretty damn cool!

Robert Plant may be in his mid-sixties, and he might not strutt his stuff (in those incredibly, impossibly tight jeans) with the same force, but the hair flick was there, the clapping of silver-jewelled hands along with his musicians was there… elegant, humble and generous.  I always thought that he sang and moved in perfect unsion with his musicians – like he himself was a fine instrument – and yes, he still ROCKS!  Daggy I know, but tears were streaming down my face as – quelle bonne surprise! – he sang a few of my favourite Led Zep songs (‘Ramble On’ would you believe it, Soir!).  Heaven.  The deranged music fan in me had me struggling to get up the front, elbowing blokes 4foot taller than me, so I could be as close to Him as possible… So I could imagine he was singing only for me, would let me get up there and bang on a tambourine for him (I would be so cool and discreet) and invite me back later for a beer…  Dream on.  In fact I was stuck behind a painful dude in a baseball cap who refused to budge, so that he could film the entire event on his puny mobile phone (so that pathetic fans like me can then look up our favourite concert moments on YouTube).

The evening was gloriously warm and the setting for the concert was perfect.  It was held in the ancient ‘Les Arenes de Nimes’ – one of the best-preserved Roman ampitheatres in the world, dating from the 1st century A.D. – smack-bang in the middle of Nimes, a beautiful town one hour’s drive north-east of Montpellier.  It felt surreal taking in all the old stone forms circling us, while watching Robert Plant and the Band of Joy in action – the figures of the security guards walking along the very top perimeter of the arena looked like guards patrolling a gladiator scene.

the spectacular les arenes de Nimes

outside the concert at les Arenes de Nimes

les arenes de Nimes

old postcard of Les Arenes of Nimes

But like all your favourite concerts, it was over in an instant and I screamed like I was 18 again with my hands in the air, begging for more (and my last chance for that beer).

No chance.  I was going home with Benji and our friends afterall, but there was still cause for a celebration!  The beers went down swimmingly well and the next morning another couple of old friends joined me at the table outside the hotel.

a moring fix

a morning fix: un cafe creme and Berocca

Before we left Nimes, we wanted to take in just a little bit more Kulture (we’re deprived out here in the sticks!) and headed to the ‘Carre d’Art’, the contemporary art gallery whose building was conceived by Norman Foster.  It’s well worth a look – for its small collections as well as its architectural form.

I fell in love with these two paintings (funnily enough, both painted in 1961):

'Dans la rue', Mimmo Rotella, 1961

‘Dans la rue’, Mimmo Rotella, 1961

'Bleu d'aout', Jacques Villegle, 1961

‘Bleu d’aout’, Jacques Villegle, 1961

The gallery is a brilliant visual contrast to the ‘Maison Carree’ across the road – an incredibly beautiful Roman temple, thought to be the only temple in the world so well-preserved (sorry for the lack of good images! – my camera had gone on the blink and I was using the phone!??!!).

my crappy mobile phone pic and an old postcard found at a 'vide-grenier' here (a gargae sale in the village) - 'La Rome Francaise'

an old postcard found at a ‘vide-grenier’ here (a garage sale in the village) – ‘La Rome Francaise’

Amidst all the culture, Nimes still had a little rock n’roll left in it.

schwing!

schwing!

…at least some people are still wearing the tight pants.

And I can’t help it, here’s a reminder of the rockstar version:

whoah look at those pants!!

not a bad fit Monsieur Plant

It rocks in the Minervois #2

27 Jul

Minervois Night Fever!

What was that?!?

Am I seeing things or is that a disco ball strung up in the middle of the village??

It’s still rockin’ in the Minervois.

It rocks in the Minervois!

4 May

Spied this in our village.

Very tempted.

So just who are the vigneron and his wife?

10 Feb

Let’s get going and invite you in!

You’ve found us!

I’m Australian, Benjamin is French and we live in a remote, rural area in the south of France.  He is the vigneron, I am his wife and he makes wine that I love to drink.

Our daughter attends school in the local village (we call her the ‘Aussie frog’) and it almost feels like Little House on the Prairie except she wears jeans!

We’ve been living here for the most part since 1998, making and working in wine.  It is wine that led us here and wine that keeps us here.  Our life is inextricably linked to it and why I’ll probably be talking a lot about it here!  …And I guess living where we are, food may get a mention too!!

To outsiders it’s a quiet and very isolated life, if you compare it to the razzle dazzle of a city but delve deeper and, like anywhere, you’ll find a lovely hum of people busy in all sorts of interesting actvities.  People from all walks of life – the locals born and bred here, French people from other parts seeking change and a  growing community of ‘etrangers’  are all enjoying the wonderful landscape and quality of life that this region offers.

Influences and arguments fly in all directions.  In this mix, food and wine are two major elements of the day and what connects us.   There is an almost ritual-like approach to making or serving food and wine that I hadn’t encountered before living with a Frenchie in this area.  I can’t think of a better way of getting to know all these people either!  A few good wines and good food always seems to help my fledgling French.

I may not be sharing any images of the Eiffel tower, baguettes in hand, candlelight dinners overlooking the Seine – or frilly French knickers for that matter (who said all Frenchman were romantics?)… but a no-frills account of what we get up to here in this part of France. I’m not going to spend 365 days eating only foie gras and camembert either, but I will make a good go of drinking Benjamin’s wine – and a lot of others,  cooking and sampling foods  and sharing these experiences with you.

first blog collage - the wonders of La France

The jolie things I see around here…

Welcome to our home, warts and all, happy that you might visit!

Kat

p.s.  I know I promised no snowdome scenes of idyllic life, but  there are some beautiful sights around here that I’d love to share that are unmistakably ‘French’. Sometimes you do actually get those ‘ooh la la ‘ moments that take your breath away .  This occurs almost daily for me here and it helps keep the homesickness at bay!

…and I do LOVE the Eiffel Tower.

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