Sunday, 17 June 2012

I am home in Calgary, for now, and for once I have no trips or plans or moves planned for the near future at all. And that is somehow making me a little bit claustrophobic. So, to avoid the dreaded inertia of becoming a go-to-work-go-home-sleep-repeat-er, I've made a summer wish list of a whole lot of things that I want to get accomplished this summer. Now, just to get busy doing.

Ps. This weekend my family made the drive up to Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan for my cousin's wedding. Lots of fun to be part of such a special day! Congratulations Craig and Shalayn! 

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

home sweet home

The last couple of weeks have been full of travel and endings and new beginnings and I feel as though I haven't had a chance to download my photos or write anything here or even (horrors) completely unpack my bags. After our trip to Copenhagen and Stockholm I packed up my tiny apartment in Paris a week and a half ago and came back home to the now excessively spacious house I live in with Steve. So sad to say goodbye to the beautiful city, but in many ways, exciting to come home as well. On my first weekend back we had two barbeques, one of which (in the pictures below) was to celebrate my Grandma's birthday and came complete with chalk drawing and frisbee playing and a three-layer chocolate cake, the filling of which was extremely delicious, but we are quite suspicious that the source of said deliciousness was simply pure, unadulterated butter (Mom had quite conveniently forgotten the ingredients). 
Last Monday I started work at a new job, and I'm happy to say that I am finding it incredibly interesting and challenging and full of learning so far. Then, this past weekend we spent with Steve's family at the cabin - eating too much, as usual, playing chess and pool inside while it rained, and doing outside chores on Sunday when it finally dried out a bit. The plants and animals must have been loving soaking up the water as the lawn was a jungle and all the blooming plants were heavy with flowers. On the drive there and back we saw lots of wildlife - five bears alone! Welcome back to Canada. 

Monday, 21 May 2012


We did it - my mom, sister and I all finished the Copenhagen marathon yesterday! No need to discuss our times, or the fact that we spent the remainder of the day in a zombie like state, the important thing is that we all got it done. Both Mom and Keeley were running with significant injuries so I am so proud of their perseverance! Now very glad to have that over with so we can focus on more important things, like Danishes, ice creams, and relaxing in beautiful parks. This evening while doing post-marathon research I came across the story of Team Hoyt - the father/son duo who have to this date competed in over 69 marathons and six Ironman triathlons. Dick pushes, pulls, and carries his son Rick, who has cerebral palsy, over the entirety of the competitions. Not only that, but he does it hella fast (their fastest marathon time was 2h40min - that is a really, really fast time for any individual, but while pushing another human being for the entire 42 km that is unbelievably amazing)and they only started when Dick was 37 after Rick told him that he felt like his disabilities disappeared when they ran together. Definitely one of the most inspiring pairs I've ever heard of. If you're interested, look them up on YouTube (I can't seem to share the link because I'm inept with this iPad). We are all absolutely in love with Copenhagen so far, the weather is beautiful, the people, lovely, and the bikes are fabulous. When can I move here?

Thursday, 17 May 2012

visitors and a last week in paris

This week I've been trying to cram in all those things that I've been meaning, planning, trying to do and just haven't gotten around to yet. I visited Centre Pompidou and loved the Matisse exhibit showing his pairs and series of paintings (not so much the modern art), the Maison Européenne de la Photographie for contemporary photography and was enthralled by Paulo Pellegrin's photos of seemingly every modern crisis, sipped mint tea at the Grand Mosque of Paris and checked out the fascinating photosensitive façade at the Institut du Monde Arabe, finally made it into  Notre Dame, and spent an afternoon in the lovely and newly renovated Musée d'Orsay. Today, a morning visit to my local market and an evening at the Bastille Opera house for Romeo and Juliet and like that, my time to myself here in Paris is at an end. Tomorrow morning my Mom and Sister will be here and we'll be going to Copenhagen, Stockholm and back to Paris before I head home to Calgary on June 1st. So excited for their visit and our trip but I can't help but think that time is flying by a bit too quickly! It seems it's going to take me a while to get caught up on photos...

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Normandy II

We stayed overnight at a gîte in a traditional farmhouse, and visited Honfleur in the morning before the tourists were in force. Honfleur has a really gorgeous central harbour, with slate-shingled houses and cafes all around, and a beautiful hundred-year-old carousel. This is the place from which Samuel de Champlain set out for Canada in 1603. 
After visiting Honfleur we went to a brocante (flea market) where we did some shopping and found a few treasures to take home in my overstuffed luggage. Then we went for a walk in the countryside to see the traditional farmhouses with thatched roofs, and of course, see all the farm animals as well.
Geese in France are not at all friendly. Maybe something to do with foie gras?
On the top of the thatched roofs they plant irises whose roots help keep the roof tightly woven. They were just starting to bloom, but I bet in a few weeks the rooftops will all be covered with flowers.
Such a white little calf! Must have been very new.
These cows were flirting with a bull in a pasture on the other side of the road. Too funny to see them eyeing each other across their fences.

We drove back on Sunday afternoon in time for Michel to vote in the final day of the election. Even though the weather was overcast and cloudy for the most part, I loved seeing the countryside and towns of Normandy, definitely a place I'd like to visit again. 

I just arrived home this evening from a weekend trip to Edinburgh to meet a friend. Such a beautiful city! I left this afternoon with very windblown hair and a newfound appreciation for whiskey - pictures to come.  

Friday, 11 May 2012

Normandy I

Over the past weekend I had the chance to go to Normandy and visit Rouen, Deauville, Trouville, and Honfleur over two busy days with the family friends who hosted me during my search for housing at the start of the semester. It was so nice to see another part of France, learn something of its history, and ride in a car (of course, I couldn't help but fall asleep and miss some scenery). We started out early on Saturday and drove to Rouen through cloudy skies and the threat of rain. Rouen is famous for its hand-painted faïence pottery, is the site of Joan of Arc's execution, and the birthplace of France's newest president, François Hollande.

After wandering the streets of Rouen, we drove to Trouville and Deauville on the coast. I became a little bit obsessed with Trouville, and I'm already saving for my future summer home... such a beautiful location, long pristine beaches, interesting architecture, lots of great restaurants around the harbour, and only a short drive from Paris.

The beach houses were amazing, all lined up along the coast with a mix of French and English architectural styles - I wish I could have spied inside them all to see the interior. Seriously, I'd take any one of these. Attainable, right?

These long, slender shells are called couteau (knife) in French. Michel told me that to catch them, you spot their breathing holes in the wet sand when the tide is out. Then you put a bunch of salt at the entrance of the hole, which makes the creature think that the tide is coming back in and it literally jumps out of the hole. I wanted to try it, but we didn't have salt. Also, they're apparently not that delicious. Walking on a big pile of their shells did, however, give a very satisfying crunch.

I think someone was planning to vote for Sarko.
The fresh seafood market was fantastic and filled with all sorts of interesting shell fish. Now I know what a scallop (coquille Saint-Jacques in French - what a great name!) really looks like. 
Fresh seafood at Les Vapeurs along the harbour. Fried river fish and mayonnaise to start (I don't really know what these are called), and then freshly caught sole in a whole lot of butter, and tarte tatin (a kind of caramelized upside down apple tart) with an entire pot of thick cream for dessert. Probably the most fattening meal of my life. But so delicious.