Monday, 26 April 2010


Spring has well and truely sprung around here.

We have so many trees and plants blossoming that it has become a hayfever sufferer's nightmare.

It looks so beautiful though. The new growth is fresh and tender and green, and full of the promise of a cool shady resting place for the following summer.

I say break out the antihistamines and enjoy it while it lasts!

Friday, 23 April 2010

Fun in the Sun

What more could you want?

Sun, sea and archaeology. A perfect mix.

The IfA conference was held in Southport this year. A place I had never visited before, but was curious to see.

It did not disappoint. A melange of tacky seaside carnival, a high street to rival any other, majestic Victorian architecture, and excellent restaurants. With an enormous statue of good old Vicky presiding over all.

She is always portrayed as old and grumpy, but her young married life was full of sex, lust and joie de vivre. Never fails to amuse me that this most prudish era was named after a girl who was "hot to trot" - although it must be added that this was only within the confines of marriage and she was totally faithful to her Albert.

Enough of that.

I will write a separate post on the food and restaurants, but let me say now that it was a good food trip. A brief teaser..... I did eat fish and chips and mushy peas. Obligatory really, but that will not be the highlight.

The weather was glorious and it was a joy to walk around exploring in brilliant sunshine.

Of course I shopped a little..... ok, a lot.

I went over with an A4 list of things I needed to buy for both of us. Managed to get all of the list barr one item. Pretty good going I thought. I was especially pleased with my cashmere cardigan reduced from 175pounds to 20 pounds. My Mum taught me well.

To business.

The speakers at the conference were great. The problem was deciding which ones to attend! I was disappointed that one of my favourite speakers was only given 20 minutes to talk. She is so entertaining and interesting that you go away wanting more. I did make a point of requesting a longer session next time though.

We attended a formal dinner on the first night. Met some really interesting people and had a delicious meal (warmed goat cheese with salad for entree, herb crusted rack of lamb with veg for plat and pavlova with strawberries for dessert). One of the best formal dinners I have attended.

The informal dinner and party the next night was not so good unfortunately. The meal was a bit disappointing and everyone seemed to disappear to the pub immediately after eating. So no dancing or mingling. Luckily I was at a table with good company and we sat and chatted for a while till the (really!) bad disco music drove us away.

Friday we had an excursion to the beach...... but you will have to watch this space for more on that!

Lastly, you would not believe the fabulous little shop I discovered just off Lord Street. It was a magical place of rocks, fossils and books. More and varied collections you have never seen before. I could quite happily have moved in and never left.

I spent probably about the better part of an hour chatting with the owner and admiring the wonderful selection on his shelves.

No, I did not buy any books. By this stage my suitcase was nearing dangerously overloaded.... sigh. Of course this just means that I have to visit another time to explore the titles on the 3 floors (yes 3 whole floors!!!!) of books.

Simply heaven.

Thursday, 22 April 2010


This is one of the most fabulous photos of a volcano erupting that you will ever see.

It comes from the site Astronomy Picture of The Day.

The cause of all the flight disruptions in its full glory. I really can't be angry or annoyed at being inconvenienced. This is so spectacular, and scientists are learning so much from this eruption, that you can only be in awe of the power and force behind this image.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Back on board

I know, it has been longer than anticipated since I last posted..... apologies.

After having to stay in the UK due to the airline closures I have finally arrived back home via eurostar.

I am exhausted and trying to catch up on everything, so remain patient and I will post in a few days time.

The pic above is from the beach near Southport where we went looking at prehistoric footprints at the lowtide mark. Fascinating!

Monday, 12 April 2010

Fly away with me.....

Well, just a quick post to say that I am off to an archaeology conference for the next week in England.

Not sure if I will be able to post on the run, so will leave you with this lovely picture of a magnolia tree that I spotted near Parc Monceau. Not only was the tree beautiful, but it was in front of a lovely brick and stone building. Just looked perfect together.

Have a good week.
A bit blurry, and too bright... but not bad for an iphone camera.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Sac a Puce

Isn't he gorgeous!

This fiery ginger puss used to live next door to us in our other appartement. It was on the ground floor and so the cat would just invite itself in through the windows and make itself at home.

Well, it is a cat, so of course it does what it wants.

We didn't know its name, so we named it Sac a Puce, which means fleabag. The first few times it came to see us it was smothered in fleas and starving hungry. Its owners had gone away for the summer and pushed the cat out the window to fend for itself whilst they were away.

I know. Don't even get me started! Deep breathing, calm counting..... and continue

I deflea-ed the cat and fed it, and of course, it decided to move in with us whilst we lived on rue Lepic. No objection from us as it was such a funny little character and very vocal. It used to follow me around the corner when I went out, howling that I was leaving it. When I came home it would be sitting at the corner building and would follow me back home.... once again howling all the way. He learnt to put his front paws on the front door and help me push it open, to curl up on my feet and purr (a good way of guaranteeing that I would not move and he could cuddle for a while), and to be as cute as possible at every opportunity ensuring that everyone thought he was wonderful. His conversational skills were always at the ready and the slightest noise or movement would have him sitting up and ready for a meowing chat.

He kept me company during the day and developed a rather refined palate. His favourites were jambon blanc from Madame Langlois, and Scottish smoked salmon. An egg whipped up with a dash of creme fraisch was also a nice meal, alongside croquettes and the occasional morsel of steak or chicken.

One night in winter it was snowing rather heavily and all our windows and shutters were closed. The cat had gone out earlier and I thought maybe gone to visit it's owners. Wrong. At 3am we awoke to the most horrendous howling noises coming from our buildings foyer (alongside our bedroom wall) and when Wayne put his head out to investigate, there was sac a puce all wet and bedraggled.

You see he knew how to get into our appartement through the front door as well as the windows. Someone had obviously come home in the early hours and he had slipped in the front door with them - but was not quick enough to get through the second glass door into the building proper. Hence the howls for us to save him.

Once rescued and brought inside he proceeded to wiggle in between Wayne and I in bed and stick his frozen paws on us to warm them. Horrible. We felt so sorry for him that we didn't kick him out, and from that night onwards he would try to sleep with us. Needless to say I kept up the flea treatments and worm treatments because of this.

For the first year after we moved to our new place, every time I walked past the old one he would see me and meow out this pathetic story about how I had abandoned him and would I please take him inside and feed him now. All the while trying to get me to open the door of the building.

Even now I still get told an extraordinary tale of woe every time I see him, and am nearly smooged to within an inch of my life. The affection is mutual.

I felt so guilty when we moved..

We had talked ourselves hoarse trying to decide whether to take him with us when we went. The only reason we didn't is that he really didn't belong to us and it wouldn't have been morally right to steal him. I felt terrible and worried about sac a puce constantly.

Now we have our own furbaby and I wouldn't be without him..... but it would be nice to have a fur brother or sister for Guy one day.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Delectable Delights

There is a new cake shop on rue Lepic..... and it is a feast for the eyes - let alone the tastebuds!

They specialise in cheesecakes (unbaked) and cupcakes, as well as custom made decorated cakes.

The cheesecakes all sound delicious. Flavours like key lime, raspberry and white choc, speculoos (my weakness - dammit), salted butter caramel. The list goes on and on. Each more mouthwatering than the last.

The cupcakes come in similar types of flavours and they are all so beautiful it seems almost a shame to eat them..... almost.

What I love is their window display. They have this huge multi layer chocolate cake decorated with outsize sugar paste flowers in vibrant colours. Incredible. I only had my iphone with me, so the photo quality is not the best. Will go back and take proper photos at a later date.

The handbag cake is gorgeous. Wayne thought it was a real handbag. It actually has a pearlescent effect painted all over the surface which did not come out in the photos. What looks like the chocolate blooming is actually the edible paint. Every bit of it is edible, but it is such a work of art that you would have to force yourself to cut it up.

Confession time.......... I actually had a slice of their key lime cheesecake. Divine!

I am too scared to try their speculoos or salted butter caramel delicacies as, if they are good, I know I will be unable to stay away from them.

The staff are so nice and are very willing to let you ask questions and take ages to decide on what you will eventually take away with you. Apparently they do a lunch menu with quiche or salad and a cake (cheese or cupcake) and a drink...... but lets be honest here, this is one place where I think you can safely skip the healthy part of the meal and go straight for dessert. I know I did!

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Le Metro

The Paris metro is generally quick, convenient and easy to use. The downside is that frequently it stinks and is dirty, and seems to be full of beggars.

I hate being hit up for money etc on the metro. The beggars really make me angry. Especially considering we live in a socialist country and they have access to anything they want when they want it. I really hate that they are begging, but manage to wear better brands of clothing than I can ever afford.

When you get them busking on the metro generally they are not so good. Too loud, and they all seem to play the same tunes. I get angry also that they have their children with them in the hope of squeezing that extra few centimes out of people.

I have nothing against charity. As all of you know I have always actively supported charities and perform charity work whenever I can. I just prefer for the people to be in actual need and to not be begging wearing nike trainers, or levi jeans, etc etc and to reek of cigarette smoke.

Rant over.

However, occasionally you see some really hot buskers (or should that be cool?) in the metro. This was the case on friday when a group of students from the music conservatory were practising in the passageways of the metro at Charles de Gaulle Etoile.

They were not asking for money, they were simply playing to gain audience experience and to have fun.

The atmosphere was electric, and the usual annoyance at an obstacle that the commuters would normally show did not exist. In fact people actually slowed down and stopped to listen and watch for a minute or two before walking off with smiles on their faces.

A fabulous diversion after a hectic and stressful week.