Posts Tagged ‘parents’

How Could I Forget?

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Those who know me well will understand the complete and utter absurdity of what I am about to tell you. Believe it or not, I have forgotten to count down to my birthday. Most years I would have assembled a count down calendar with the days, hours, and seconds until the big day. Not this year. I’m not sure why – perhaps it is the water, perhaps it is the polluted Parisian air, perhaps it is because I have too many other things to look forward to – but my birthday has slipped to the side relatively unnoticed. However…

2 weeks until my birthday!

Yesterday I received two packages in the mail from my parents and brother and they were full of presents! As I still have two weeks to go I wasn’t allowed to open them, but I will also be in New York for my birthday which means presents will need to be packed into my suit case to be opened on my birthday morning. One of the presents was particularly weighty, so via skype I opened my present with my family. It was…

Brown rice

Brown Rice!

I was excited! Finding brown rice in Paris is like looking for pork in a vegetarian restaurant. So it was the perfect birthday present, although I am glad I didn’t have to cart it to New York. So now my excitement for my birthday is increasing and I am needing to find a nice place to go for dinner in New York. Any suggestions are more than welcome. In the mean time, I am having enough difficulty finding a restaurant that is open on a Monday during August in Paris for Tom’s birthday. He is getting old (yes, old.) this Monday. I have spent the last three or so weeks hunting for the perfect restaurant to take him to and I am failing miserably. Everything is closed or I don’t know if it is going to be nice. It’s impossible.

Presents and skype

Presents, Skype and Magyver

Three Highlights

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

I am well and truly back in Paris and have said farewell to my parents. I am now officially living independently (well, plus Tom) in France with no parental guidance, job or direction. Sounds fun! Pity it is currently raining. Actually, I’m going to go and watch the rain. Be right back.

Back. A reasonably heavy downpour just happened and instead of taking cover like most Australians would, the French people who were hanging out in the park just continued to chat and put up some umbrellas. Water doesn’t seem to melt them as much as it does to Australians.

Anyway, back on track. So I am back in Paris after three weeks away in Holland, Germany and Crete and I feel I haven’t written much lately and I probably should. The problem is, a lot happens in three weeks so I am going to choose one highlight from each country and the rest you can decipher from looking at my photos that are now all up on my Flickr site. Sounds like a plan, Stan.

Holland

Ahh, Holland. Or should I say, The Netherlands. Apparently there is a clear difference but it is a bit like the capital city of Australia – is it Canberra or is it really Sydney? No one from outside Australia really knows or cares. Having Dutch family, I have always enjoyed pretending I am ‘Dutcher’ than I am. There’s something exotic and romantic about being from European decent as opposed to being the great-great-great-great granddaughter of a convict. I believe I am a mix of both. But it still amazes me how everytime I arrive in Holland I feel an instant recognition and connection with the locals. I can see myself in their faces, their rosy cheeks, their longer limbs and larger builds. On this visit it really hit me how a large percentage of Dutch women have stronger, more ‘solid’ builds than other nationalities. French women are tiny and ‘petite’ and would be crushed to death if a Dutch person sat on them. I certainly not saying that Dutch women are fat – they are very healthy and fit despite eating a lot of pancakes and cream. However they are tall and well structured and for once I actually felt like my own body shape fit in. Kind of relieving, really!

My ultimate highlight from Holland was most likely the mudwalking but as I have already written about that I shall write about my second highlight – Bike riding to Hoorn. Dad had hired bikes from a local bike shop and as he and Mum are now expert bike riders we decided they should teach Tom and me the secrets of the dutch bike paths. The night before we set off, Dad and I looked at maps and planned a route from Medemblik (the small town where we were staying) to Hoorn (a larger town nearby) – a 50km return trip past two windmills, through lots of little towns and across many dijks. Holland is covered in cycle paths that are all linked together and numbered. All you have to do is look at a map, see what number bike paths will connect you with where ever you are going and then jump on your bike and follow the numbered signs. It’s that easy!

Bike path map
It’s a netwerk of fietsroutes

It is a wonderful system – you can get slightly lost if you go off track or miss a sign but Holland isn’t really big enough for this to be a major problem. You only have to ride for a few minutes and you are in another town – there isn’t much chance of getting lost in the woods/desert/ocean etc. We rode past some really interesting scenery and along bike paths of various descriptions. Sometimes we were on the road side with cars and trucks giving way to us, other times we rode along the top of dijks with sheep farms and fields of flowers on either side. No matter where we were riding I always felt safe and the cars on the road knew exactly how to deal with bikes. That I think is the main problem with riding in Australia – drivers in cars become nervous about bikes and accelerate to get past instead of just waiting for a safe moment to overtake. Idiots.

Bike ride

Riding along on a dijk

Another things I discovered while riding was that my Grandma wasn’t lying when she told me that the wind in Holland is always in your face, no matter what direction you are riding and how many times you try and ride in the opposite direction. You cannot escape it and it can have quite an impact on your peddling abilities. We did choose a remarkably beautiful day to go on our ride to Hoorn so the wind wasn’t a huge issue, but I did wonder how my parents managed to ride for 100km in rain and strong winds a week or so before on their cycle tour of Holland. They’re clearly insane.

Anyway, the ride was wonderful as it was such an easy and enjoyable mode of transport. I think I received severe bruising to my rear end by the end of the day but otherwise no injuries sustained. Tom punctured his tyre so we had an emergency stop at a bike repair shop. And we ate fresh gevulde koek from a bakery which was probably the ULTIMATE highlight of the day. Much better than packet versions that have spent three months on a ship to Australia.

Gevulde koek

Mmm... deliciousness filled with almond goodness

Now I am hungry and I am going to go and buy a baguette but I will return later to write about Germany and Crete. Fear not!

Here’s the News

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Three weeks of holiday eating = 1.5 kilogram weight gain. Not as bad as I thought but I think a lot of my muscle is turning into floppy flab so numbers are deceiving. Hopefully my 7km run this morning will get things back in shape soon.

Hint of the day = job interviews in French aren’t fun if you can’t speak French. Let’s just say my nerves got to me and my French speaking ability is no where near as good as I hoped it was. I haven’t received an official “You failed” but I’m prepared for it. Shame really… the office looked really cool with dark wood panelled floors and open work spaces. Noisy though. I couldn’t concentrate and write under such conditions.

Weather in Paris = rainy, humid, cloudy and warm.

Tomorrow = Mum and Dad arrive back in Paris for the final leg of their holiday before heading back to Perth on Friday. Will be hard to say goodbye, me thinks.

Flight Update

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Well, we’re back in Paris, I have done a load of washing and we have been to the supermarket and restocked the fridge. We’re on ‘healthy eating’ diets for the next while so we bought lots of vegetables and we’re replacing wine with sparkling water. I’d like to put a specific period of time on our new eating plan but we all know it won’t actually last long. I haven’t done the big weigh in yet and don’t plan on doing so until tomorrow morning, although discovering that I am 10 kilograms heavier thanks to Dutch poffetjes, German beer and Greek olive oil is maybe not the best self-esteem booster before going to a job interview. ANYHOO. We’ll have hot bods to go with our sexy tans before you know it.

So I promised to let you know who sat next to me on the flight from Athens to Paris. The answer: no one. It was great! But I do want to tell you about the family who were sitting in the row behind us. It was a couple in their late 30s with their 4-ish year old son. The man was German and I’m not entirely sure what the woman was but either Spanish or French. Anyway, the little boy is who caught my attention as he happily kicked the back of my chair and sang songs and talked loudly in German, French, English and Spanish. Fluently. He moved slickly between the languages, turning to his Dad and speaking German and then back to his Mum in French. Clearly every family member spoke every language as they all chopped and changed between them. It was just AMAZING. I was so jealous – I wanted to turn around and congratulate the parents and shake the boy’s hand for being so brilliant. Being that young and having so many languages is just wonderful. Sure, I think he needs to learn some manners and he was never disciplined for kicking the seat or banging the tray table, but he can travel the world and communicate easily. I’m going to have to have severe words with my parents now. This just isn’t fair.

Meanwhile, Paris is just as crazy and noisy as when we left. Apparently we went on a holiday… I’m not sure. I don’t remember.

A Quick Aside

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

On a side note, my parents have started their two-week bike tour of Holland. They are riding around on Gazelle dutch-style bicycles with a group of Australians with the main aim of discovering how those Dutch manage to make such good bike paths. Yesterday I used my new Velib card to hire the free bikes in Paris to ride around the city and it was one of the scariest moments on my time here. The bike paths in Paris aren’t quite as well planned as those in Holland and yet I know the paths in Australian cities are even worse. So I think we all need to get behind this team of bike-riders and get them to bring home the secret to a good path. Plus it’s just amusing to watch my folks riding around on bikes for two weeks, living out of panniers. Will my mother survive not being able to wash her clothes every day? Will my father drop his camera? All will be revealed on the Cycling Dutch Style website.

The Letters of Paris

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

At the end of this week the Mairie de Paris is hosting a writing festival with conferences, discussions, performances and talks called Paris en Toutes Lettres. It looks like it would be an amazing event if I could understand what was being said AND if I wasn’t going to Madrid tomorrow. TYPICAL. Something interesting happens as I am leaving. Of course, this would be more of a problem if going to Madrid wasn’t going to be a fantastically amazing experience! Madrid sits high on my list of “must visits” largely due to the rumours I have heard about amazing art galleries and delicious food. Tom and I are spending five days there and our friends Rom and Coup are joining us. It is going to be much fun and we are preparing ourselves for the Spanish lifestyle of long sleep ins, late lunches, afternoon naps and then tapas, drinks and dinner until the wee hours of the morn. Sounds all a bit exhausting really… I’ll let you know how I go.

The last week has been a lot of fun – Mum and Dad came to visit and I showed them around my favourite Parisian haunts. We avoided most of the tourist sites and instead explored the outer areas where most tourists dare not venture. A highlight was discovering (thanks to Tom’s current obsession of markets) a world food market that is held in Belleville twice a week. It is HUGE. It stretched at least three blocks down the main road of Belleville and there was stall after stall selling fruit and vegetables, spices, cheap clothes and even toiletries. Bargain prices and plenty of “ALLEZ! ALLEZ! ALLEZ! KILO DE TOMATES! UN EURO! UN EURO! UN EURO!” By the end it was all a bit exhausting and I was quite pleased to get out of there. Tom and I have purchased a wheelie trolley to take to the markets so we’re now true blue market goers.

How Embarrassment

Friday, April 29th, 2011

My folks have been in town since Monday and it has been wonderful having them around. Free food, lots of hugs, and some presents. What more could a daughter want? Seriously, I have always had a good relationship with my family and it is a joy being able to show them where I live and all of my favourite places of Paris. That said, I clearly need to keep a better record of where my ‘favourite places’ are because when I try to return to them they can be hard to find! My parents have already been to Paris a few times and have ticked off most of the main tourist attractions so we have been walking the back streets and visiting areas not usually highlighted on the map. We often end up walking past a major must-see and ducking our way through the crowd and finding the closest side street to escape to. I am so glad to be living in a less popular area of Paris – I don’t know if I could handle the tourist crush and the never ending camera flashes all-day-every-day.

Anyway, I want to go to bed but I thought I would write a quick entry about our evening last night. My third or fourth cousin (She’s my mum’s cousin’s daughter so I don’t really know what the relation is. I call everyone my third cousin – I have many of these distant relatives that don’t have an easy title) lives in Paris and I met her for the first time last night when she invited my parents, Tom and me over for dinner. It was a lovely evening with great food and lots of easy conversation. It always amazes me how family members, no matter how distant, can still find a strong bond or connection. I’ve felt this with various distant relatives of mine and I love it. Family ties are very long.

The reason for the title of this entry is based on the fact that my cousin lives with her boyfriend who is an American who has lived in France for most of his life and has gained a lot of knowledge of French food and wine. He cooked an amazing meal of pintard (guinea fowl) with asparagus and was quite the host. He also provided us with some delicious wines which he produced from his wine fridge, chilled to the optimum temperature and explained what we were drinking and why we should be eating a certain food with it. Of course, being guests and wanting to provide something to the meal, I bought a bottle of wine to go with our dinner. I soon realised the mistake I had made choosing a bottle of wine from my local supermarket when we were drinking some quality wines that don’t cost 3 Euros like mine had. It was the equivalent of bringing cask wine to a dinner party in Australia. Our hosts were very polite and even served the bottle as a second drink with dinner. But how the Australians laughed when we realised what we had done. Further thought and perhaps a few more Euros will need to be spent for the next dinner gathering.