Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Two months in a nutshell

I've been feeling a bit guilty about not writing. Every two weeks a calendar alert tells me it's time to write a post and I do something else. I bet that after the last post, in May, I was thinking that I'd wait until we got back from England when I'd have something more interesting to say.
Westminster from the London Eye
It's true, the trip to England was wonderful. I'll be putting up the pictures for family to see and will send them the link. C. had asked us to come for a longer visit than usual this time. The purpose was to keep A. company during the school holiday. We were asked to come early, in the middle of the preceding week -- mystery. The mystery was lifted on my birthday, when C. announced we were going to the Laurent Voulzy/Alain Souchon concert in London on that Thursday. My birthday was in February and all I had to do was wait. As soon as she got home from work, we set out by train to London and got to the concert hall early enough to have a light dinner at one of the many fast food places in the neighborhood. We made the good choice of Lebanese.
Those who really know me know that I've been a fan of both Voulzy and Souchon for years, probably more of Voulzy than Souchon. They have collaborated since the beginning of their successful careers: Voulzy composing the music for both and Souchon writing the lyrics. Occasionally, they have each gone solo, but most of their hits are the fruit of their collaboration. They manage to maintain their uniqueness; the music Voulzy writes for Souchon is not the same as for himself and the same holds for Souchon's lyrics. I'm not really too familiar with the joint album that came out in 2014 and was a tiny bit apprehensive about that being the concert content, but no, there were some takes from that album, but the rest of the concert was the hits we could all sing along to. The house was not quite full and we were able to slide over to seats with a better view. And we sang. There were lots of parent/child pairings at this concert and they comments between songs were specific to the London audience of French expats. It was a perfect birthday present! This clip is from the concert in Geneva; it happens to be a song Souchon wrote on his own.
We then went camping for the weekend. Well, WE didn't go camping; we stayed at the pub next door to the campground. The rest of the family stayed at their new (used) trailer (or caravan, if you are British). The campground is like a little city; I don't know how many lots there are -- lots. It's on an old quarry site with several lakes for boating and fishing and swans and geese. Geese! Thousands of geese! It's great for the kids, as the speed limit is 10mph, so they can scoot and bike and walk more freely than around home. There's a very large playground with areas set off for the little ones. There's a café with a good Sunday roast and there's a little fish & chips take out place. There's a swimming pool and more. It's not far from "French school", the Saturday morning activity for them, so they can go on Friday, spend the night and not have to get up so early to go there, and they can have lunch at the caravan. If the weather is nice, they can spend the weekend, or if it's not nice, then just go home.
I had arranged to see one of my old high school mates who came to Paris last summer for the reunion. We met her at the National Space Center in Leicester. It was good to see her and I hope we manage to keep it up. The Space Center was a bit disappointing. A. is in year 2. That's 2nd grade in the US and CE1 in France. The center is organized by theme, but it was very difficult to figure out what age the exhibits were aimed at. We felt the whole thing was rather disorganized. The planetarium show was really just a film -- could have been shown on a regular screen rather than having us crane our necks in the planetarium. I was happy to see my friend; A. was happy to be out with us.
On Thursday, we took her to London. This was planned, and it turned out that she had a research project on William the Conqueror, so we made a point to go to the Tower of London, originally built under his reign. The adventure started with taking the train to London and then the tube to Tower Hill. Getting out at Tower Hill, the first thing to see is the remnant of the Roman wall, then on to the Tower of London, where we took a picture of the Tower Bridge before going in. We visited the crown jewels and then had lunch. We had our tickets for the London Eye, so we went on to that. The weather was cold and cloudy, but at least it didn't rain that day. We got some nice photos from the Eye.
We came home and did our regular things. I knit a sweater for myself on the knitting machine I restored last year. I also finished off some socks for the girls, by hand. There was a get together of ex-KDS staff. It wasn't a big to-do, but was just a very pleasant evening among friends who, for the most part, haven't seen one another since they left the company.
Chagall at the Carrières de Lumières, photo from the website
Last week we went on what has become our annual visit to Six-Fours, passing through Avignon to see a friend and then a stop at Les-Baux-de-Provence to see the show at the Carrières de Lumière. It's Chagall this year. The music accompanying each segment of the show tells a story. It's a good show and I recommend it. I also recommend getting there early (opens at 9:30) in order to park in the lot at the entrance. Also, be sure to take a sweater; the temperature inside is 15°C. You can take pictures, but no flash. This was our third show. We then meandered down to Six-Fours for our family visit and relaxation. It's always a good visit and we really should go down more often.

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