Saturday 24 December, 2005

tout le monde

Filed under: Uncategorized — jim @ 7:37 pm

Joyeux Noel
Bonne Annee

Friday 23 December, 2005

australian xmas

Filed under: Claire's Entries — claire @ 10:56 am

I just got back from the local market where everyone is busy, including me, buying special xmas fare. The xmas vibe on the streets of Lille is lovely, devoid of that frenetic air that is so permeable in bigger cities. Lille is one of the bigger cities of France, however I think by living in vieux Lille and sticking to the cobblestones, my European rule, no cobblestones no charm, Lille appears much smaller to me than it is. This is a loose truth so no accusations of cloistering please! Anyway I have no idea what im doing on the internet when I have all the joys of baking and other xmas preparations ahead of me. Including last minute dashes for important items like selected cheeses and wines etc. I’ll take the opportunity to acknowledge women(yes it is predominately women) the world over who go to great lengths to make a special Christmas for their loved ones whilst juggling jobs and children and a thousand other things. My hat goes off to you!

I just wanted to share a particularly lovely and very Australian Christmas card we received from our dear friends Heidi & John. I love flowering gum and who doesn’t love a ringtail possum.

Thursday 22 December, 2005


Filed under: Claire's Entries — claire @ 10:57 pm

A very welcome early Christmas present, my carte de sejour! Jim and I hadn’t ruled out another trip home for me, but it arrived in the nick of time, a visa that gives me health cover and permission to work!!! After all the difficulties we’ve had we cant believe we have it in our hot little hands. And the best part is this time there was no lining up at the Prefecture from 4am to secure a place, yes this is true, things are pretty desperate here in the North(of France) with regard to dealing with visa administration. We were assisted by the very friendly and helpful people from the Kastler Foundation.

So already I have made contact on two fronts for job possibilities, though I am limited for options due to my poor French. I still have my current casual teaching work, with it looking like that may increase next year, however it would be nice to have a proper job with a with a proper income, so think positive thoughts for me.

P.S So what can I say about the photo, I know, it looks like I’ve been caught in headlights! I have no excuse either as the photo booths here in France are very considerate and ask if you approve of the photo taken or if you like another attempt at a more appealing shot. How very French. I always take the first shot regardless as I figure if I head down the track of wanting one I’m happy with I’ll be there all day. I have worse, you should see the photos for my French drivers license.

Wednesday 21 December, 2005

a festive xmas for two

Filed under: Claire's Entries — claire @ 12:25 pm

Jim and I have finalised our holidays and secured accommodation in Barcelona, Zaragoza and Bilbao and on the way home we’ll visit Sans Sebastian and then break the journey overnight about half way up France at Poitiers. I am VERY excited to be going to Spain, particularly my taste buds, I cant think the word Spain without salivating! I was last in Spain as a 4 or 5year old and Jim went in the late 90’s for a conference…..his memory may be a bit clearer then than mine! Jim’s visit to Spain included Barcelona, but as it was for a conference he said he didn’t get to enjoy the best it has to offer. Jim has expressed a desire to visit cities he’s already been to before but hadn’t thought much of and when I’ve asked him why then he would want to head back his reply is that he knows he would enjoy them much more with me. It’s nice to hear that stuff.

We have decided to delay leaving until Boxing Day so we can have a festive Xmas in our own home. So the Xmas tree is beautifully decorated, including may I add, home made edible decorations, thank you Nigella! Thanks to Peta, a welcome regular here in the comments box, ok pretty much our only commenter, we know you pop by but its ok you’re shy, we understand. As I was saying a big thank you to Peta for the Xmas crackers, she tells me they are the ones with the good gifts inside. In my family you have to get the ones that give you a chance of scoring the usable mini screwdriver set, perfect for fiddly jobs like repairing the arm of your sunglasses. Last year I scored a tape measure and a nail clipper, yep Xmas it’s all about the giving. Under the tree are lovingly wrapped gifts sent from family that every time I look at I feel blessed and excited. The fridge is getting fuller each day as I gather an array of festive fare. A detailed menu has been written and the city sourced for all requirements, the new “The Best of British” supermarket that’s opened up here in Lille has come in handy for a few items I wouldn’t find stocked on the shelves in the local supermarkets. But it wouldn’t be Xmas without the mini chocolate covered puddings, again thanks Peta you are amazing, they are the most sublime treat ever! And Jim’s mum knows how much he likes the traditional Greek Easter biscuits so she sent some over adapted for xmas into the shape of a star.

So Christmas Eve we will head out for a typical French Christmas meal, how Jim will manage with fois gras I don’t know. Then at about 11pm we’ll head to the Catholic Church for Carols and midnight mass and then home for a Xmas supper and maybe the opening of 1 present. Christmas morning we’ll have crepes, ring family and then go to the Orthodox Church, yep a bit of church hopping goes on at this time of year. When we get home there will be presents and the pork, Jims request, should be ready and hopefully the crackling crackly! I found a fabulous recipe here, that includes whole stuffed apples. I am used to a seafood meal, lobster, prawns etc for xmas, it being hot in Australia at Christmas, but it’s lovely to embrace the traditional, well sort of, but a turkey for just 2 would of been ridiculous especialy when we are going away. We are both looking forward to it and as well the unique opportunity to spend it on our own doing as we please, but of course we will miss everyone. There is the possibility we may go skiing in the afternoon, just over the border in Belgium they have an indoor snow piste and they are open Xmas afternoon and evening. Though I have gone a bit over the top with the Xmas menu so we might be unable to move let alone ski!

And then the next day Spain!!!!

Tuesday 20 December, 2005

Must love…..

Filed under: Claire's Entries — claire @ 10:09 am

On Sunday Jim and I set off on our bikes to explore the canal paths leading out of and around Lille. It was another gorgeous winters day, sun shining, but very cold, about 2deg max. Having all the right gear we were as toasty as could be, I do so love Icebreaker.

As we were riding along I was thinking how very lucky we are and how very happy too. I was thinking how much I love being married and how nice it will be when the time comes to add to our happy home. It’s something I’ve always wanted and now we’re married it can be more than just a dream. I know at the moment it is not possible but I need to know we have some concrete plans for the future, after all time is ticking on. So I decided the time had come to pin Jim down to a commitment on this issue!

“Well sweetheart you have a choice. It’s either a Hungarian Vizula, Standard Poodle or a Jack Russell. What’s it going to be?”

When Jim asked me to marry him he knew I came with a yet to be adopted dog. I made that clear from the start, I love dogs, I grew up with dogs and I have always planned on getting a dog when settled. Jim is, or was, not a dog person, I am highly suspicious of non dog people! Im sorry but they are not to be trusted, I just did a mental check list of all my family and friends and can not come up with a single person who does not love dogs. In my book people who own a dog but keep them outside do not love dogs, this is cruel, dogs are pack animals!!!

Jims attitude to dogs has changed over the course of our relationship and he now smiles just as much as I do when meeting a new canine friend. He came how from the post office the other day with a huge grin on his face and reported with much delight on his encounter with a French bulldog puppy(they are exceptionally cute). He no longer has to ask me the breeds of different dogs and has given up trying to promote the merits of having a goldfish for a pet(they don’t moult!) and has agreed on possibilities for names when the happy occasion arrives. We’re quite keen on Allez(silent z) a reference to a joke I made that when I first came to France I thought all dogs were called Allez. In French, allez as a command, kinda translates to come on.

Living in France has helped Jim get to know dogs and what a joy they are, it is unavoidable as they are such a popular companion here. In France dogs are allowed pretty much anywhere, any shops, bars and even restaurants. The only problem is the dog shit on the footpaths, that certainly hasn’t appealled to Jim, it really is everywhere, but that’s another story.

I’ll leave you with my favourite joke….

A man is walking his dogs when another bloke passes and says

“Oh, they’re Jack Russells!”

the man replies

“no, they’re mine!”

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