Monday 19 December, 2005

for mum

Filed under: Claire's Entries — claire @ 12:29 pm

The above photo is for the benefit of my mother, who I asked, if I sent her a copy of the pattern I was wanting to work on, she would help me out with with regular phone knitting dates. My mother loves me, misses me and she knits, so what could be the problem? The problem is she knows me! She feels it could be a bit tricky via the phone and thinks I will find it frustrating and she knows when I get frustrated I get irritable. Irritable is not a euphemism for nasty but it could be for petulant. She also knows I don’t always stick with my knitting, this is an expression used in my family and not just for knitting. “Congratulations, you really stuck with your knitting!” is a cherished compliment and now I’m knitting, one I will cherish even more. So I thought I would show mum a completed project and one Jim saw me make with only joy, well it was very easy and fun to add the button and the crocheted loop.

Friday 16 December, 2005

magic mushrooms

Filed under: Jim's Entries — jim @ 8:55 pm

There are stump ones, thin ones, petite ones, big ones, yellow ones, purple ones, black ones. In fact if there is a mushroom type or shape that exists it can probably be found here. Well, thats probably an exaggeration but we’ve seen more mushroom types at the markets here than any other market we’ve ever been to. And they all each have a distinct flavour and texture.

Its all so difficult when put on the spot. You have to be stern – “no I’ll have those, those and those, thats all” otherwise you are up for a surprise when it comes to pay.

In pasta’s, risottos, or just cooked on their own with a bit of butter they taste great. I cant remember what these ones were destined for, a pasta I think….bon apetite!

Thursday 15 December, 2005

soup & the neighbourhood

Filed under: Claire's Entries — claire @ 7:34 pm

Locals tell us 5 years ago it would not of been entirely safe to walk the streets at night where we live. Now the same people couldn’t afford to buy in the area, Jims colleagues are amazed we found such a nice place at affordable rent. They need not of told us as it is all evident on first walking in the neighbourhood that a change has and is taking place. Completely derelict buildings with nothing but a facade and resident pigeons stand attached to magnificently renovated apartments. One day you pass a familiar store front that’s only indication it was once in trade is a faded frais frite sign and the next its doors are open and an array of french floral bouquets are for sell at prices I can not fathom. It would not be an exaggeration to say each week a new store opens, each more opulent than the last.

Last week however a fruit & veggie store opened just around the corner from us that is a very welcome addition. Even before it opened it was evident it was going to be a boutique kind of store. Although I am at first very attracted to these it is always short lived as they are generally run by staff who behave in such a manner as to make you think there must be a Versace label attached to the aubergine you’re wishing to purchase. In this instances the owners are so very friendly, they are a young couple having a bash at starting their own business and they seem very keen on selling lovely produce at reasonable prices. Im very keen on their produce too, as well as their understanding my French without complaint and the little extras that make their way into the paper bag such as clemetines and a fresh bunch of parsley. The locality also fits in well with my current soup making obsession as I try to avail myself of all the vegetables that are familiar to the French but not to me. Though last week after enthusiastically making a celeriac soup and being so curious as to what the taste would be, I could of cried when I realized I had forgotten to take the bay leaf out before I blended it! I swear that awful taste is still with me, Jim kept saying it was fine and that I wasn’t to throw it out he would eat it. I never felt more loved than when I watched him eat that wretched soup, he just kept saying how good it was as he added more and more salt, pepper, parsley, parmesan in vain attempts to disguise the metallic taste. I wrestled it off him (well not literally as that would of been quite a mess) and threw it down the sink, I dont think he ever felt more loved!

I was going to post a photo of the new veggie store but its a blur so as I was talking soup I thought I would take the opportunity of airing the one above. Love to report that the soup is of my creation, but no I can not. Its from Souplounge in Gent, Belgium, yep those fab Belgium’s just keep spoiling us. This time it’s with a huge bowl of soup selected from their menu that reflects what’s best on the day from what’s in season. Its then complimented with extras like small meatballs, fresh herbs and crunchy croutons. Another bonus is 2 bread rolls, butter and a piece of fruit, again seasonal….all this delicious goodness for 3euro!!

Well Jim’s home and he wants me off the computer, he’s keen to head to a Lebanese restaurant he’s heard good reports on. As the beach riot incident has made news over here might be a good idea if we say we’re English!

Wednesday 14 December, 2005

Lille my way

Filed under: Claire's Entries — claire @ 8:14 pm

On occasions of expressing my delight in discovering the opportunity to speak, read, watch or shop in English in Lille, I get one of two responses. From those who have never lived in a country foreign to their own and in which a different language is spoken to their native tongue, they can barely stop the rolling of the eyes. In their mind if they were given the opportunity to live in a different culture they would immerse themselves 100%, they would recoil from anything familiar and embrace in every moment everything new and foreign. For those that have lived, not travelled, but lived in a foreign speaking country the empathy is palpable, they know that immersion is exhausting without respite. So while most days I cant believe my luck and today as my bike bounced along the cobblestones and my baguette and bottle of Bordeaux threatened to escape my panniers I was painfully aware of just how much I’m going to miss France when the time comes to leave. But other days it is relaxing and very much needed to be in the apartment with a cup of tea and some vegemite on toast listening to Radio National or reading The Age online or watching Claudia Karvan in the fabulous Love My Way on DVD and being totally oblivious to being anywhere foreign at all.

Tuesday 13 December, 2005


Filed under: Claire's Entries — claire @ 2:08 pm

On Sunday Jim and I went for a drive to visit the town of Amiens, home to Frances largest gothic cathedral. Incidentally cathedral is my favourite word to hear spoken in French, don’t know why but it makes me smile, none so queer as folks! The cathedral was indeed awe inspiring, particularly the immense arches of the exterior and the choir stalls, separated by wrought iron gates, inside. It was a very cold day yet with much sunshine and not a cloud in the sky. The light illuminated the cathedral and gave it the most beautiful golden hue, set against the clear blue sky it was superb. And yes superb is my favourite French word to say.

On the way to Amiens we stopped to visit the Australian National WWI Memorial. Of the 60,000 men who lost their lives in WWI, 46,000 died on The Western Front, it extends from the north of France into Belgium. There are many marked and unmarked graves and as well the memorial names the thousands of soldiers who went missing. It is located outside of any towns, amidst fields and is not in an area that would hold much attraction for tourists. Yet looking through the visitors book I could not find a single day that some Aussie hadn’t found their way there. In true Australian fashion actions spoke louder than words and the comments where short, most commonly lest we forget. My favourite, thanks boys. No matter how much we deplore war these individuals who lived and died in unimaginable circumstances deserve not to be forgotten and our thanks for what has and can be learnt. I heard the story that at an Australian memorial, somewhere in Belgium, there is a man who carves small soldiers to give to visiting Australians to take home with them. His wish is to send home the same number of soldiers that died there, that didn’t make it home.

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