Thursday, 11 February 2016
After a short stint as a Frenchman in my first print edition, Julius Caesar has regained his rightful nationality in the newly released Kindle version of my book !
Please check out the link below.
Monday, 1 February 2016
Christmas finally! What a long wait – and, sadly for my son, the wait will start all over again in a few hours. We’ve reached that point in the afternoon when, feeling rather like the stuffed turkey, we’ve all retreated to the various parts of the house to rest our inflated stomachs and have some time-out. My daughters are happily watching the first of the five seasons of ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ which came tucked in their Santa sacks. Their arrival today explains why the girls, through my husband’s ebay account, were never the lucky final bidders on all the auctions selling the series that they had repeatedly asked him to bid on. My son started building his Ninjago Lego temple and dragon at nine o’clock this morning and, apart from lunch and a short walk, he has not moved from his room all day, so intent is he on his construction. The adults are either sleeping, reading or sleeping while reading.
In fact, we didn’t even make it through lunch. We had to pause after main course leaving the wonderfully aged Vacherin des Bauges cheese course, the Christmas pudding made in Australia and flown over in my parents’ luggage and the beautifully crafted and decorated gingerbread house and papillottes that were to finish the meal. Little wonder given the amount that we had already eaten.
To accompany the drink, my husband had made various delicately presented blinis and, on the recommendation of our French friends, had prepared the foie gras, a Christmas delicacy, on top of a slice of ginger cake, all topped with an onion jam. It was an unusual sweet and sour combination, which masked the taste of the foie gras. I couldn’t help thinking that if you were going to consume all the calories in the foie gras, it would be better to actually be able to taste them.
The second year here, we bought snails in their shells, frozen and ready to heat in the oven. This time, naturally enough, the snail shells were inedible, so the still clearly identifiable, curled snail bodies needed to be hooked out of the shell with a small fork. They came out with a faintly audible sucking noise looking very green and smelling very strong. This presented too much of a challenge for my sister’s children, who were here visiting from Australia. As the hosts, we were obliged to lead by example and so I had to put on a brave face and resist the overwhelming spontaneous gagging reflex.
And still they come to visit…
Friday, 15 January 2016
He had found an IPhone application that asked a series of questions of children and on the basis of their answers put them onto Santa’s naughty or nice list. He came out with a B+, which placed him on the nice list, although the final application message was a warning to remain on his guard, as Santa’s elves would continue to check up on him. He was chuffed about this and got his older two sisters to do the same test to see if they would be lucky enough be put on the right list with him.
A week or so later he came home and said that he didn’t believe any more as he had been called a ‘baby’ for still believing. He looked crestfallen and unsure about whether he had made the right choice. After all, he had written a beautiful letter to Santa, had included pictures cut out of magazines, of the toys that he wanted, and had wrapped it all carefully in a special piece of fabric. Independently, he had found an envelope for his offering. The envelope had simply been addressed, on the back, in his childish handwriting to Le Père Noël. It broke my heart to think of him sadly having to turn the page into a logical rational world instead of being allowed to remain in his magical fantasy one.
Of course, she never would have said such a thing and I would have been most upset if she had, but occasionally it did them good to get rid of some of the inevitable antagonism of the schoolyard by speaking about it. A program on French television called ‘Fais pas ci, fais pas ça,’ centered on the daily lives of a few families. In one episode, a family was attempting to work out a date for a birthday party for the teenage daughter. Unexpectedly, the birthday girl had flounced out of the room and it was left to her older sister to explain to the mother that the date that she had proposed coincided with the party of the most popular girl in the class. No one would choose to come to her sister’s party.
Later in the same show the sisters sat the mother down and went through with her the different categories of students at the school; the popular ones, the semi-popular ones (the dangerous ones) and the bozos (stupid, not popular). Once a bozo always a bozo, they went on to explain to her, and unfortunately that was where the younger daughter had placed herself. She was still to learn that some of the most interesting people fitted comfortably into that last category and usually the most intelligent were those that simply did not care about being there.
Monday, 4 January 2016
Saturday, 2 January 2016
We slowed occasionally to watch as the cows, straddling the main highway and unaware of their priority status, crossed in front of us to paddocks more desirable, unconcerned about timelines, variable property prices, drought-affected incomes or our need to 'just be there'.
Changing speed limits marked our entry and exit to the small, and getting smaller, towns; one of which I used to call home. It was hot, too...but that, opening the car door from our air-conditioned comfort and stepping into a veritable furnace, we expected.
It was all coming back to me, how, divorced from the distractions of city living, I used to feel. If I was lucky, being there, in the Australian outback, brought with it a calmness, a sense of peace. But, that sentiment floated, as it always had, dangerously close to a darker push and pull - attraction and dissatisfaction. If I had had the choice would I have loved the land, happily lived the entwined lifestyle of land and farmer, oblivious to the bigger world out there? Or, would I have known that, despite sincerely wishing that it was, that it would never have been enough?