Fiction Friday

You would be forgiven for thinking

  

That Armageddon, or at least a small tornado combined with an earthquake, had passed through Leamington on Wednesday

  

But no.

It was nine 8 year old girls, over for an Easter/Spring Arts and Crafts and baking day.

My ears are still bleeding from the screaming.

Oldest child locked himself in his bedroom but eventually gave up, got on his bike and went to seek sanctuary at a friends house.

He may have broken the land speed record in his haste to get away.

But, out of chaos came forth order.

Of a sort

   

      

This Week I Have Mostly Been Reading

 

 Alif the Unseen by G Willow Wilson.

Absolutely fabulous!

 It is described on Amazon as  techno thriller.  But really that does not go anywhere near capturing the depth and breadth of this book.

Set in an unspecified Arab state, it deals with censorship and control, social structures, hacking and the cyber world and mixes these uber secular themes with Djinn, fables and myths, and ideas on the power and evolution of language. Language as a power source to knowledge and to magical realms and ultimately heaven. Language and books, in particular holy  books such as the Koran,  offering a source code whose sophistication evolves with mankinds ability to decode and use it. 

Throw in elements of the Arab Spring, a love story and the Thousand and One Nights and there you have it.

Magical Realism at its best.

Next Week I shall Mostly Be reading

   Clovenhoof by Heide Goody and Iain Grant.

What if the devil was fired from hell for gross negligence and had to forge a new life trying to quietly fit in in suburban Britain?

Hmm, thinking about it I’m sure that would explain a lot about Tescos on a Tuesday morning….

Hope Your Easter is a happy and chocolatey one

Bud dha Boom

Sunday was our last day in Paris.

It had to be done.

A short Metro hop to the Ile 

  

Notre Dame

Beautiful French Gothic.

And even better?

  

Yay, a bit of dead person.

Still not sure who is in here, but I have several books on relics (bien sur) so hopefully I will be able to track them down.

Then a quick wander around the old and quirky Ile

   

 

A sombre moment en route to the Metro

 

A very brief stop in possibly the most expensive tea shop in the world 

 

One look at the menu (cups of tea starting at 10€ each) and we were running out of the door like we’d just robbed the place.

I was quite impressed by how fast we could run.

Must be all that yoga strengthening the leg muscles.

And then?

A very long and very leisurely lunch at

 

The Buddha Bar.

A place full of the young, stylish and beautiful of Paris.

Chiselled cheekbones, designer labels, effortless style and sophisticated conversation. 

 

 Hello Tracey, hello Julie :-)

The food was ok.

A buffet style set up featuring an unusual mix with pastries at one end, continental breakfast at the other and curry and noodles in the middle.

Most dishes running out very quickly and being replenished in a very leisurely manner.

I think the whole concept of buffet dining /instant food is anathema to the Parisian dining ethos.

But!

You don’t go to the Buddha Bar for the food.

You go to see and be seen.

Or in my case, just gawp at the beautiful people.

Au revoir.

  

Oh la la

So, Saturday night in Paris.

So, three child free Mums on the loose.

So, three child free Mums being sensible and cultured and grown up and sophisticated.

Ha!

Saturday night we hit  

 

Yep, The Moulin Rouge in all it’s flamboyant, kitsch glory.

We didn’t book for the meal before the show, so when we arrived the place was absolutely packed.

Expecting to be crammed on to a shared table somewhere behind a pillar we were amazed to be shown to a tiny table for three, right beside the stage.

Two bottles of champagne later and the pre-show warm-up crooner, singing American Rat Pack toons in a strong French accent, sounded uncannily like This, though fortunately he was not that shade of yellow.

Just a shade of Leo Sayer circa 1976.

Then the show.

Oh my God.

I knew the Moulin Rouge was famous for the CanCan.

I hadn’t realised it was famous for the dancers dancing, erm, topless.

But after spending an afternoon similarly exposed in the Hammam, we were hardened, in a distinctly unBritish way, to such things.

We could greet them with a Gallic shrug.

And lots of eye contact.

But.

The show is good fun.

It isn’t intellectual

Or high culture.

It’s a laugh

It’s pure entertainment

And it is distinctly and unmistakably French.

The theatre itself is slightly battered, slightly worn, but a wonderful example of fin de siècle architecture and interior design.

An architectural Grand Dame.

Afterwards?

A stroll through the, erm, colourful Pigalle area 

 

Ending up at a small bar 

Listening to a budding Edith Piaf singing in the corner and drinking absinthe.

Tres Parisienne. 

Je ne regrette rien

Day two in Paris.

Definitely a day of contrasts.

A morning spent browsing the vintage markets at Porte de Clignancourt.

An eclectic mix of everything from stuffed zebras to the finest silverware.  

And everything you can think of in between!

Then a mad dash across to a distinctly un touristy part of Paris to try to find a Hammam we had booked in to for the afternoon.

A nice man stopped to help us find our way.

“You want to go there?” he said when he saw the street we were pointing to on the map.  

In a tone that said “why on earth do you want to go there?”

Fills you full of confidence.

But the Hammam was lovely.

Two us had the gommage.

Which basically involved being scrubbed down with a Brillo pad.

One of us had the massage.

Which involved wearing a pair of small tiny plastic pants.

And being vigorously pummelled by a nice young man.

Naming no names but Julie definitely left with a smile on her face ;-)

   

 

Will post about our evening later!

Bonjour Tristesse

Can’t quite believe we’re here.

Here being  a bijoux apartment in the Montmartre region of Paris.

You get off the plane and you are immediately hit by the sense of being in France.

It hits all the senses.

Sight 

 

Sound

Touch

Sound and taste

 

Hello Julie, hello Tracey.  Bon Appetit!

An afternoon scouting the streets around the Sacre Coeur

Early evening by the tower

   

   

An evening meal in the heart of the Pigalle.  

Couscous and red wine.

Perfect.

A bientot.

Vroom

Happy Mothering Sunday!

Yesterday oldest child finally had his first driving lesson.

At 13.

They grow up so quickly these days don’t they?  :-)

But this was a birthday present.

Yep, the chance to hurtle through woods, plunge into bogs and scare passing paintballers.

In a 4×4 automatic LandRover.

Possibly the best present a 13year old boy could receive.  Ever.

Or so he said afterwards.

Before hand?



Slightly nervous.  :-)

The cars are all less than 18months old





Because that’s their life expectancy with 11-17 years old screaming around the track in first gear.

I didn’t ask about the life expectancy of the driving instructors.

I also didn’t realise that Andrew, Rosie and myself would be shoehorned into the back of the 4×4 to experience the drive with Jacob.

Otherwise I might have looked for a knitting experience for him instead.



See how nervous he looks there?  That’s nothing compared to how nervous the three of us in the back were looking.



But it was great fun.

Really.

And Jacob was remarkably self-possessed and good at handling the car.

Not distracted at all by the screams from the back.



He’s still not driving my mini though.

Bhuja schmuja

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Yoga tonight.

A Mysore style “self practice” session.

Which means working through a series of postures in your own time, receiving help and adjustments from the teacher as and when you need them.

Which means furtively keeping an eye on where the teacher is and then rushing through the more difficult and uncomfortable poses when their attention is on another student.

Or perhaps that’s just me.

I struggle with a lot most of the poses, but there is one in particular which has become my nemesis.

Bhujapadasana.

Which basically involves squatting, tucking your shoulders under your legs, leaning forward and nonchalantly lifting your legs up off the floor, balancing on your hands.

Or, as happened to me tonight, squatting, tucking your shoulders under your legs, inching your feet painfully closer together until you can cross them and then finding you are completely and unmistakably wedged and stuck in this position.

The feet would not lift up.

Nor would they undo.

The arms were unable to help as they were happily wedged in place supporting the increasingly panic stricken body.

The choices?

A) shout “help” thus disturbing the real yogis who were deep in their practice and drawing attention to the fact there is a, rather rubbish, impostor in their midst.

B) stay in that position for the rest of the class, and possibly the class after that, pretending to have been overcome by a sudden spurt of advanced meditation.  Possibly staying in that position for the foreseeable future as Leamingtons answer to the mad stylite pillar hermits.

C) hoping that the teacher would become psychically aware of my predicament by virtue of the waves of panic emanating from my psyche coupled with frantic eyebrow wiggling.

Never been so relieved to have a psychic for a teacher :-)

Reprieve

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It feels like spring is just about here.

Without winter really having shown its face at all.

A few frosty mornings.

A sprinkling of snow.

But already bulbs are staring to push through, and curling leaf buds appearing on some of the hardier (foolhardy) trees.

A dry day on Friday and we took our chance to explore close to home.

The beautiful Warwickshire countryside

Along country lanes

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Picking up a companion for part of the way

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Stopping at Chesterton church

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And pondering a “fixer-upper”

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A good day.