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Greetings…

9 Jun
Paris postcard found at a 'vide-grenier' - 'Place de la Republique'

old Paris postcard found at a ‘vide-grenier’ – ‘Place de la Republique’

Up early this morning and dashed out to a village ‘vide-grenier’…  it’s a type of garage sale, but instead of just one household selling their wares on the street, it’s a whole village full!   If you’ve never been to one, they are just brilliant and full of potential treasure – and trash (as many would say!).

I’ve got to say I’m a little hooked and it’s one of those rare mornings where I’m ready to spring out of bed at 6am.  There’s even get a slight adrenaline rush as I jostle for a car park close to the sectioned-off streets and head towards the first stand displaying its wares.  I’m on a mission –  my purse is heavy with coins and my chest is literally bursting with excitement.  Sicko, you might say.  But really!  Vide-greniers (this translates as ’empty the attic’) offer all sorts of wonderful objects. And hey it’s in France, so for me that makes it totally exotic (mind you, being far from home, kangaroos and gums are also completely exotic for me now).  It’s not everyday you can buy the old scribbled-in picture books from the elderly monsieur’s childhood collection, or the 60s flowery frock from Madame’s hand-me -downs.  I’ve even picked up a whopping Le Creuset cast iron pot  for 8 Euros (now this find was in the half-dark it was so early and I had a torch!).   Mmmn, a post on vide grenier treasures will follow!

These ‘village garage sales’ are held on weekends (Sunday is the big day for our region)and start from around 8am, with people beginning to pack up around 4pm.  But if you want to find the ‘better’ stuff and real bargains, it’s best to head out as early as 7am (ie 8 Euro cookpot) – the time where you’ll rub shoulders with the ‘professionals’ already out for the hunt.

Here’s a few pics of some local vide greniers to whet the appetite for some…

vg 8

aaargh!!! this is a sight that sends me CRAZY

vg 2

vg 1

vg 10-11

vg 9

vide grenier 7

vg 7

I just loved this lady’s pricing for her old linen

vg 12

Lilas’ already an old hand at these things

vg 5

…that’s her with the Viewfinder

Today the weather has been pretty dire, so I headed out early and came home early (it has been raining much of this weekend – not something we’re needing when it is already difficult to access the vineyards by tractor, we’re hoping the forecast for heat for this week dries everything up).

I came home with a few postcards amongst my finds.

Goutez nos olives

This first one, above, was actually written (from the 60s?) on today’s date!?!  Woh!

Reading over the cards from this mornng over a coffee, I noticed the date marked was today's

Reading over the cards from this mornng over a coffee, I noticed the date marked was today’s

But have a look at these beauties…

'Babyface'

‘Babyface’

'Rond Point'

‘Rond Point’ (the guy on the far right side is to blame for this purchase)

...not much to be said

…not much to be said

guitar chick

You go girl, stroke those strings…

st eloi

this guy’s a fave

frenchie loveeers

check those fellas (mounds of muscle)

…and on the above theme,

...love an old recipe postcard

…love an old recipe postcard

But I do love a pretty card too.

sailboat postcard

another old Paris postcard:  'Marche aux Fleurs de la Cite'

another old Paris postcard: ‘Marche aux Fleurs de la Cite’

Oz

26 Jan

So how idid it feel to be home?  Wonderful.

One minute you’re here, in a flash you’re there and suddenly and wonderfully, it feels like you’ve never left.  The brown grass is the same, the clean grid of houses is the same, Mum and Dad are at the airport to pick us up and cruise us home, their dog is at the door, all the smells are the same, the beautiful trees are the same, the coffee is a lot better than you know where…  A lot of things have never changed and I love it.

But there is a weird part to coming back and this part is where you fit in with people.  Being away for most of the year means you have to step back and accept the distance from these loved people on an everyday level.  Sure, I make calls home and speak to my parents often, but it isn’t the same and I’ve had to sort of ‘train’ myself to endure the distance by allowing myself to let go.  It’s too hard for me to keep it up 100% in two places at once.  My heart is in both, but I take a step back and act less wherever I am not. Then suddenly, I come back and have to get a handle on my excitement – near-hysteria –  over seeing all these adored people in person again.  This can be really strange.  I act either overwhelmed and vague or like a babbling idiot, wanting to toast every moment with everyone with gallons of bubbles.  Not good for the head.

Look, sorry for the blah it’s hard to explain.  I’ll try and explain it better later.

For now I want to celebrate having new eyes on home.  Images and places I always took for granted seem to be so exotic now!  Australia can be so tres chic – and oh so wonderfully tres kitsch.  I always knew this I guess about home, but now I love it even more.

flying in to Adelaide

flying in to Adelaide

one of many signs around Aldinga beach - a favourite beach of ours

around Aldinga beach – a favourite place

Yellow Flowering Gum

Yellow Flowering Gum

accommodation on a friend's farm, New Year's Eve

accommodation on a friend’s farm, New Year’s Eve

New Year's day 2013, beach car park

New Year’s day 2013

yeah, yeah, a kangaroon crossing.  yawn yawn!

yeah, yeah, a kangaroon crossing. yawn yawn!

class

class

sheep shed

sheep shed

bbq'd sausages and sauce on bread (Lilas consumes a 1000 each Christmas)

bbq’d sausages and sauce on bread (Lilas consumes a couple of hundred each Christmas)

...and this is what Mum consumes

…and Mum consumes this

...and this

…and this (next time K and H!!)

spooky

spooky

oh what the hell, I love this so here it is again...

oh what the hell, I love this so here it is again

road to nowhere

road to nowhere

heading to some of my favourite beaches in South Australia

heading to some of my favourite places in South Australia

Aldinga Beach

Aldinga Beach

could do with this back in France

could do with this in France

The Capri - a much-loved movie theatre around the corner from where I used to live.  'The Mighty Wurlitzer' is played live, each Friday and Saturday night

The Capri – a much-loved movie theatre around the corner from where I used to live. Each Friday and Saturday night, ‘The Mighty Wurlitzer’ makes its appearance.  As the ads finish, an oompah loompah of noise begins and there, rising up through the floor before the screen, emerges the mighty organ with its pianist banging waywardly on the keys with his legs flying across the foot pedals, providing the pre-movie entertainment.

interior at the Capri

interior at the Capri

still cruisin’ in Adelaide

6 Jan
cruising in Adelaide

cruising in Adelaide

A big Hip hip to this New Year, 2013!  May it be a good one for all and a happy and healthy one.

Just thought I’d say I haven’t forgotten about the blog, just busy cruising the streets in S.A. (South Australia) and lapping up as much quality time as possible, before the annually dreaded departure.  Gotta make the most of it!

But somehow there’s those petite ‘mon Dieu’ surprises that always bring France back to mind…

les geants...

les geants… as seen at the Adelaide Central Market

Back soon…

la vie en rose

19 Nov
papier cul

dunny paper, loo paper, bog roll, papier toilette, PQ… in PINK

Dunny paperloo paper, bog roll,toilet paper, toilet tissue, papier toilette, PQ (this one is good – it’s French and so tres elegant – it’s pronounced ‘pai-cue’, short for papier cul,’arse paper’)…  So many glorious ways to label a roll of perforated paper that wipes your bits.  But whatever the name, there is a fashion here in France that never goes out of fashion – your PQ in pretty old pink.

Forget baguettes, 2CVs, the Eiffel Tower… Yes, when I think of a recurring image over here, I think of pink PQ.  In almost every home you visit, you help yourself to, pink.  In any cafe, bar or restaurant toilet, pink.  Have a stroll down any supermarket toilet tissue aisle and you goggle over mountains of… pink.  Good luck if you’re searching for non-bleached, non-patterned or basic white.  They’ll be the few small piles hidden amidst the enormous volumes of joli rose – or once in a while spotted in a public loo!

mountains of lush pink dunny paper

mountains of lush, pink dunny paper

Why?  In fifteen years of frequent pondering (nearly always whilst sitting on someone else’s loo, reaching over for their dainty pink squares) – and asking most French people I know – I still don’t have an answer for it.  I’m by no means the first person to be asking either – I have friends!  Loads of them.  There are millions of internet search engine results concerning this very discussion in both French and English.  Some bloody funny theories too.  But still no answers!

It doesn’t explain the pink, but here’s a bit of trivia – correct me if I’m wrong! – about the French and their PQ, found in my search for THE answer:  it is said toilet paper was introduced in this country at the beginning of the 20th Century, but as it was long considered a luxury item, it was only from the 1960s its use became widespread.

And in shades of pink at that.

Chic.

some sights #5 – images from the Minervois

21 Sep
the view from Chateau Maris
a view from Chateau Maris
Vendanges

HARVEST!

the eggs!

Now this is crazy (but beautiful) …LES OUEFS! – these are the egg-shaped tanks used to age wine in the Maris winery.
I keep thinking Mork from Ork is going to crack out of one…

inside the new Chateau Maris cellar

Jean-Pierre in the Chateau Maris winery yesterday (the walls are made of hemp!)

harvest in La Liviniere

harvest in La Liviniere

la liviniere

driving from La Liviniere

oncoming 2CV in Rieux

oncoming 2CV in Rieux

DANGER!!  Blonde behind the wheel

DANGER!! Blonde behind the wheel

Homps

Homps

Mauzac Nature 2011

Now this was hard, parting with this bottle today to throw it into the recycling bin.  It was SO delicious!! A sparkling white that almost tasted like a very dry cider. Lucky the bottle was big, it went down so quickly!
(Merci Isabelle et Vincent)

last night's tomatoes

Last night’s tomatoes.
Got to make the most of these babies before the season is out.

Saint Chinian flags

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge in Saint Chinian

pooch parade

pooch parade

carca wine shop

wine shop in Carcassonne

door handle

‘une poignee’ (door handle)

hanging the laundry

hanging out the laundry

European Carpenter Bees

European Carpenter bees in the garden

thongs, flip-flops, claquettes

‘thongs’ in my home (yes, not the ones on your butt), ‘flip-flops’ in the UK and the US, ‘Jandals’ in NZ, ‘slops’ in South Africa, ‘schlapfen’ in Austria… ‘tongs’ or ‘claquettes’ in France. I like this one – Lilas said the name comes from the sound they make as you walk? Anyone know if this is right?

window in Saint Chinian

window with ‘fresh’ flowers

Rebecca's curry

Rebecca’s Kerala Prawn Curry, mmmmmn. The onion bahjis were a knock-out too, but my photo didn’t work out

a house inside a building

a house in a house

Grandma's Pussy

‘Grandma’s Pussy’ – from Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories, Series B, Volume 10
…Really!

velo in Rieux

velo in Rieux

sunset

sunset in the garden

Les Vendanges – La Rentree

14 Sep
Lilas in the vines
Checking the grapes, the night before school goes back
lilas with a bunch

a bunch ready for the picking

It only seems like yesterday that Lilas broke up from school and started the Summer holidays at the beginning of July.

And then before I knew it, we’d been on the Naked tour, my family had come and gone, the Olympics and Paralympics ended with a bang, the Fetes de Villages had packed up for the year, our Summer friends had all been and gone…

Summer 2012

Summer 2012

…and suddenly the grapes got ripe for the picking! (‘Les Vendanges’):

VENDANGES EN LANGUEDOC, Societe des Cartes Postales APA-POUX, ALBI - 'AS DE COUER'

‘Vendanges en Languedoc’ (AS DE COEUR)

– and the new school year (‘La Rentree’) 2012-2013 started.

la classe

la classe

Come September, a different kind of ambience sets in around here.  The tourists (or most of them!) have left en masse, the weather softens and jumpers come out for nights on the terrace, the markets no longer have ‘bouchons’ (traffic jams):

Carcassonne market

Carcassonne market, August

…the local pools have shut their gates:

– and tanned bodies (just not ours) post ‘les vacances’:

skin!

Lola and Lilas

…get ready for some WORK!

following a tractor during the harvest

You often get stuck behind these people during the harvest!  Time to slow down and have some respect…

Les Vendanges a La Liviniere

‘Les Vendanges’ in La Liviniere

Les Vendanges is one of the most important events on our local calendar (most people in our village own or have some family connection/ investment in grape vines) – and each year, come September, there is the most wonderful buzz in the air.  The village hums with expectation and excitement over the ‘recolte’ (harvest) – it’s time to pick the ‘fruits’ of a long year’s labour.

Lilas and a bunch

check it out

And harvest always coincides with the kiddies going back to school after two months’ of holidays.  I still can’t quite get my head around this school ‘year’ here.  In Australia our school ‘year’ begins around the beginning of the calendar year, in February – after Xmas and at the end of Summer.  Here, each school year ends in what I would call the middle of the year, July, and then recommences in September.  And because of this schoolbooks, labels etc name the school ‘year’ as ‘2000-2001’ etc.  This year for example, is ‘2012-2013’.  I know I’m rambling.  Maybe it’s because I’m from ‘down there’ that I’m confused.

picking an apple for school

Picking an apple for tomorrow’s ‘gouter’ (afternoon snack) on the first day back at school

Anyway, back to the grapes.  The reds are just getting under way, but Benji has been picking for a couple weeks’ now as the whites here ripened earlier.  As for how this year’s harvest will be?  It’s looking good so far – relief!  The weather has been almost perfect for the grapes these last few weeks – a lot of sun and no rain – and so it all needs to come in NOW!

It will be the biggest week yet – 4am starts, working through until 6pm, 7/7.   Another couple of weeks of this, then it’s finished for the pickers and machine harvesters in the vines, but full-steam ahead in the wine cellar – managing the tanks and their juice.  Benji will maintain this crazy routine for a few more weeks yet – until the end of October.  And then it will be time to think about HIS holiday!…

a Naked tour

7 Sep

extraordinary-naked-people-metamorphoses25 from Haokuhu (from '4Shared')

Time for a bit of a plug.  Mmn, maybe not the right word here(!)- time for a little update on a little adventure Benji and I enjoyed this Summer…

We hit the road and joined the Naked Wines Tasting Tour of the UK.

But sorry to disappoint, no further naked bodies to follow – we didn’t get down and dirty with grapes and wine – but some pics of the many wonderful people we met and re-met and chinked glasses with, from all corners of the wine-making world, as we travelled the countryside in a tour bus driven by the lovely Bob, in late June, to show our wares.

the bus in Cardiff

our bus parked out the front of Cardiff City Hall

in the bus!

on the road

the Naked Tour

a bit of spilt red…

Norwich, Cambridge, London, Southampton, Bristol, Cardiff, Manchester, Edinburgh, Leeds, Birmingham – nearly each stop on the 2012 tour (Benji and I could only make half of it) was sold-out and each tasting event held in a beautiful venue of each town.  It’s an impressive sight seeing the doors open to hundreds of wine enthusiasts ready, with ther glasses poised, to try over 140 wines!

glasses to go

glasses to go

tasting in Manchester

tasting in Manchester

tasting Manchester

France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Austria, Germany, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, New Zealand, the U.S. and bien sur, Australia! – these are the countries that the winemakers selling their wines with Naked Wines hail from and what a bunch a great people they are!

It was brilliant to finally meet all the people behind the names I’ve only, until now, seen and admired from the website – and get to try their wines for the first time and to enjoy some time talking on the bus, over a breakfast table, behind a tasting table, over a take-away pizza, watching the Australian cricket warming-up in the nets at Lord’s, on a walk trying to find the nearest public loo, disco-ing on a dancefloor until the early hours…  You know, quality times like that.  It’s not often I get out of my hamlet and get to bond with people from all over the world in such a short time, having so much fun!

And then of course, there were the tasters!  A thriving mass of curious, enthusiastic, incredibly friendly people who came out to our tastings and worked their way through the hundreds of bottles.  Benji and I loved the atmosphere of each tasting and picked up good feedback, first-hand, on his wines.  It was hard not to soak up the fun – obligatory tasting required for quality checks.  And then there were all those wines from everyone else that we hadn’t even tried yet….

All in all a great tour and LOTS of fun.  I kinda like being the Vigneron’s helper.

Ryan does London

Ryan does London

Naked people

what a lovely bunch

the dudes outside at Lord's

out the back at Lord’s

uk tour 2102

a UK tour

some of the wines on show

just some of the wines on show…

And after every good wine tasting, there comes a delicious all five food groups breakfast…

next morning's helpers

…next morning’s helpers: pain killers in a vending machine and a full English breakfast – the lady serving our breakfast in Southampton spied my Vegemite and plonked a whopping jar of Marmite on the table – she insisited I eat ‘their’ stuff while in their country

And they all (well, apart from the couple we saw having a tiff under the tree in Cardiff) went home happy.

going home

going home

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