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Posts Tagged ‘French’

January is my time to dream……. The nights are long and the polar cap blows its icy winds. It is all too easy to snuggle up in front of a crackling fire. My mind is preoccupied by my dreamy thoughts where I look forward to the year ahead. There will be no thoughts on New Year’s resolutions either. Oh no, that is not for me! No thoughts on cutting out chocolate or on how I am going to be able to brave the cold for that much needed walk. January is my reprieve and my time to ponder. It is my La La Land month and I visit it with much zest and enthusiasm.
It had been a busy and special Christmas with our house bursting with our family. It was wonderful to have them all home with us and under our roof. Two active toddlers kept us all on our toes as we ran after them and attended to their needs. There was never a dull moment. We dreamed up indoor activities to busy these little tykes. One being a slide around the house on the indoor snow sledge. The kitchen was a hive of activity too. Our table was full and so were our hearts. When the house eventually emptied it seemed to echo. There was less of everything…..less laughter, less music and less food!

 

My kitchen helpers.....

My kitchen helpers…..

Lemon anyone?

Lemon anyone?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
This deprivation made me plunge headlong into dreamland. There were French lanes and intimate coffee shops. In my mind’s eye were quaint shop windows with French bakeries and French delicatessens. That was it, a trip to France! I scolded myself as I thought of the practicality of seeing this dream come to fruition. The brain went into overdrive. There was a plan. What about a trip up to Quebec City? It was only 800 km away instead of 6000 km and it would certainly be kinder on the coffers. A few phone calls were made, an Airbnb booked and we hit the road.
I must add at this point that I do not speak a word of French. We have heard that the Quebecois are understandably fiercely proud of their heritage and their language. Therefore I needed a quick crash course on a few fundamentals. The long car trip was the ideal time to practice and I rolled my tongue around the que’s and the de’s.
Un, deux, trois, quatre…..
This was hard and I just wished that I could make my words sound like my French teacher! It would have to do and I spent the rest of the trip reading up on the places to visit in Quebec City. Chateau Frontenac along the frozen Saint Lawrence River, Place Royale, Basilique Notre Dame de Quebec, La Citadelle and the historical Old City caught my eye. I also found our period house ‘La Victorienne’ in Rue Saint Jean where we would be spending the next 4 days.

 

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It was as I had envisaged it. There were narrow cobble streets to explore, French food to savour and plenty of French culture to soak up. I was in heaven!

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A painted mural in the Old Town.

 

 

 

The Plains of Abraham where the English and French battled it out.

The Plains of Abraham where the English and French battled it out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January is the month to dream and to look forward to the year ahead and the journey within.

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The splendour………

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The joie de vie……..

We rushed down the passage like Lord Cardigan at the ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’…..our mission was not to defeat the Russians but just to get to the park on time for Josh do his morning ablutions. It was early and I quickly slipped on his harness and summoned our lift. Josh had the uncomfortable look on his face and I knew that speed was of the essence. We ran out onto the Rue Jean Levesque and crossed over to the park at the church Marie le Reine. This majestic building towered over the street with its slender columns and intricate marble sculptures. We watch and wait and take in the cacophony of noise. The bleary- eyed commuters scramble out of buses and taxis tear round corners. Dogs are an unusual sight in Montreal and Josh caused many somber faces to crack a wry smile as the words ‘bonjour monami’ tumbled out.

I had a sudden craving for a croissant and a piping hot cappuccino. There were plenty of places in this town where they served this fair but it had to ‘fit the bill’. It had to be an establishment full of character with the French flair. This holiday was about making memories ……French ones! So the search was on….down to the OldTown over the cobbled streets and past the Basillica Notre Dame. The bells chimed out as we ran down the narrow alleyways. There it was, it fitted all the criteria! A charming Parisian café with a patio all decked out with the fragile wrought iron table and chairs. It would serve me well when it needed to be extracted from my memory bank, revisited and savoured. We sheltered under the umbrella as we watched ‘the usuals’ pop in for their preference. A limousine pulled up and well coiffed gentleman jumped out. His trousers were perfectly pressed and his hair slick. He was obviously en route to the airport and was going to indulge in one more cup of ‘his favourite’ before he had to fly off somewhere. Next came a lady all decked out in a sensible but tight fitting grey suit with a swish ‘up style’ hairdo. She carried the telltale pile of legal books and leather portmanteau which gave her profession away. She ‘tickered’ along and just made it up the stairs as a bicycle came swerving around the corner. This was most certainly a young student who was late for lectures!

So the walking, eating and watching continued around the streets of Montreal. There were plenty of opportunities to visit the shops with ‘solde’ emblazoned on the windows. I found some herringbone stockings to add to my collection! We took off our shoes on a hot afternoon and cooled ourselves in a fountain. It started a trend and soon we were joined by many a weary Montrealite. We walked past the magnificent buildings with their Doric columns, curved archways decorated with Fleur de lis and magnificent patterned wrought iron gates. We savoured the splendour of this beautiful city.

On our last morning we chose to walk through a different park. A solid brass statue of a soldier on a horse stood proud and bold. It was elevated on its plinth of rock surrounded by a brilliant display of well manicured red geraniums. The brave soldier was a memorial to the battle of Paardeberg which took place in the Anglo Boer War.  Here I was in the city of Montreal, on the other side of the world and I was reminded yet again…. how small our world really is. We are all connected in some way! You can find the connection if you just look for it!

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What the …… is going on? What is all this noise coming from the kitchen, it is 3.30 am!

 

Now don’t get me wrong, I love my sons but sometimes living with them can get a bit much. The other evening my middle son decided to have, what is commonly known in South Africa, a ‘sitvas’. This is usually when a few men get together and hang out, shoot the breeze and usually consume a bit of alcohol. It was not the usual drink of choice, which is known as ‘brandewyn’, but was some golden old Canadian whiskey. I heard the low voices at about 2am and the churning of the ice crusher in the kitchen. I turned over and went back to sleep as I was not about to spoil their fun. As I struggled to get back to dreamland I tried to imagine the topics of discussions that men cover in these wee hours. By 3.30am they had still not exhausted them so the drinks needed to be recharged. This was so that the conversation could continue to flow and with that the ice machine was kicked back into action. Ice tumbled down on the floor and the crash reverberated through the wooden house. I jumped up and raced downstairs only to be met by a very bewildered male guest standing with his glass at the ice machine. Need I say that my language was far from ladylike and the poor recipient of my wrath went pale around the gills. I somehow don’t think that Canadian mothers go ‘bossies’ here, maybe it is to do with equal rights or some such thing. But this lady threw her toys right out of her cot and onto the kitchen floor.

The wonderful thing about men is they have such short term memories and by the next day, when they had surfaced, all had been forgotten and it was probably just written down in history as one of mom’s bad days.

So lots of patience is required by ‘the lady of this house’ and every now and again I run my bath right up to my neck, pour in loads of bubble bath and just wallow in the glorious warm water. When I jump out I put on lashings of French perfume….just to remind myself that I am a GIRL.

The regmaker does the trick!

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