Happy Birthday

Dear Julio,

Happy Birthday!

I imagine that you are at a road side cafe sipping a hot chocolate, munching on a baguette and cheese and listening to tales of the last war; or doing a boat tour round Ha Long Bay. Anyhow, have a nice day!

Here, Spring came last month with hot days; the blue tits, chaffinches and robins are in a jolly mood, singing and flitting from one tree to another. The primroses, daffodils, snowdrops and even bluebells are out, giving a bit of life to the sleepy garden. I am frantically cleaning the house, cupboards, windows, etc, now that I have more or less got rid of my cold. Nicky cut a lot of the hedges, lowering them by by a good threee metres. He was like a big machine cutting those enormous branches and piling them on the lawn. There was such an enormous amount that we had to burn it in the end. The bay leaves crackled and exploded like fireworks due to their oil content so the flames were leaping several feet into the air.

Today a gale is blowing from the North bringing the temperature down from 15c to 8c; but it won’t last, I don’t think. Nicky and Olivier and I went to the beach to fly the kite but the wind tore it from their grasp.

It’s all quiet here without Tanya and Geofff and Rio. They were having a good time in Seychelles until today. Tanya has got Chitigunia (headache, joint pain, unable to walk). Oh dear! There is nothing one can do: it lasts 3 to 5 days.

There is a new addition to the family. Aurelia had a boy last night called Elliot. Christophe must be very proud.

Thank you so much for your messages.

Love Mama

White morning

Dear Julio,

We woke up on wednesday to a glorious white day. The snow was at least 10 cm deep. I rushed outside. It was peacefully quiet with only a few birds chirping about. Every leaf was supporting a big bonnet of powdery snow. I threw a few snowballs around and then went down Church Lane to see further afield. It was so beautiful. The snow was balanced on every little twig, blade of grass, bushes, trees, roofs. I could not see the Downs as everything was enveloped in a powdery mist.

I met a few people going to work or walking their dogs. They gave me a beaming smile, a ‘good morning’ that had a definite gleeful tonality, and a friendly wave. But I could feel on the way that this happiness was beginning to melt with the snow. I hurried back to rescue the magical moment and met an oldish man juggling a big snowball and looking, with a glint of malice perhaps, for an easy target.

I wish you were here. We could have built a snowman.

Love Mama

Letter from Barnham

Dear Julio,

Here we are back home now for 2 weeks and we are still recovering from some tiredness or may be we got the dreaded “chicoungonia “. I woke up this morning thinking it was 8.30 a.m. but it was in fact 10.00 o’clock! It is a big difference from my 6.30a.m. rise before going to visit Mamie. Not that it will worry you very much as I have been told that you don’t surface until 1.00 p.m.!

We had a great time. When I say we I mean I as daddy seemed to be suffering all the time from one thing or another: barking dogs, heat, sweat, insect bites, lack of chocolate, lack of cheese, loud music, sea, either too bright, too low, too high, too murky after the rain or full of seaweed…. The litany could go on for days as it did indeed go on for days! Luckily at some point I dived too fast and I was partially deaf for a while. As we arrived, daddy wrote a slightly demented blog entry. I will have to ask Olivier to erase it.

The days went by with the same sort of pattern. Daddy was chopping wood and cooking lunch on the fire outside. Mamie and I, we occupied our time by going to church, visiting friends, swimming twice a day (great) and cleaning (not so great!) We went there armed with quite a few devices to ward off the mosquitoes but we got bitten still. We took the bus now and then to go to a different beach. They are still using their rackety buses on those treacherous roads bending up and down the hills. Daddy and I gripped tightly on the bar in front of us in the manner of a rollercoaster and only letting it go on the flat. I must say the drivers were very skilled. There are a lot more houses on the coast but the interior is just as wild as it used to be with lush and mysterious vegetation. We did a very pleasant walk over the hills to Anse Boudin and Cote d’Or.

We spent Christmas with Miette, Pat and family ( they are Mamie’s friends). We had plenty of delicious food but no fish. We had less of it this time due to over fishing or bad weather I am not sure.

Our stay was spoilt by the cancelled flight. We got to the airport at 7.30 am on the small island to be told that there were some problems with the small planes as well as with the flight to Paris. We eventually got to the main island at 9.30 and our plane hadn’t arrived yet. So with a couple of hours before checking in, I went on a hunt for fruit and I arrived laden with some green ones: papaws, guavas, caramboles, one breadfruit and two cocos to drink.

They let us through the departure lounge and we waited 1, 2 ,3 hrs…, when tiredness, starvation and panic started to grip the passengers. Mothers with children and babies demanded food and we were given a few rupees for a sandwich and a drink. Needless to say, the tiny bar was depleted in no time. Some 20 ferocious Italians (they had been there since 4 o’clock having missed their flight) were complaining about missing their connecting flight, working the next day, never again will they fly Air France. Yay, yeah, ye said everyone, shouting: wild gestures ensued with the arrival of the police. The Swiss were trying to appease everyone. The Germans were getting redder and redder in the face trying to conceal their violent feelings. Groups were forming and attacking any passing airport employee and bombarding them with questions and demanding explanations but on the whole the rest of the group behaved quite well with some even playing cards and reading.

At 7h30 we were given our luggage and sent to different hotels. We arrived at ours at 8h.30 to find closed doors and no one in sight. As we saw our bus disappearing down a drive, I asked Nicky to stop the driver when he comes back. After a phone call the owner appeared, unconcerned: ‘no there will be no supper it is too late’. What are we to do on this remote part of the island? We decided to walk down the drive to the mammoth hotel where they agreed to give us some food. What an amazing place it was! A palatial restaurant had a vast buffet, a Creole orchestra was playing, a few dancers were pirouetting joyfully. We calmed down a little while gawping around. We rushed to the multitude of scrumptious dishes and took a little with the intention of having some more later but I could not eat due to the tiredness (it was 9h30 by then), the stomach shrinkage and the emotion of the day and our companions felt just the same. Nicky was the only one who polished his plate. We walked around the beautiful grounds, the beach, the other restaurants and the 600+ rooms and back to our place for a restful night. I refused to eat breakfast: stale bread when the smell of fresh bread was wafting by, probably from the smart hotel with an infect beverage that they try to pass as coffee. No, no, surely not, who do they think we are!

We got back to the airport for another long morning. We had lunch at two o’clock and we arrived at home in the early hours of the following morning. Next time I will make sure I have a good supply of biscuits just in case.

Love Mama.

Ahoy there

Dear Julio and Flo,

I was beginning to think that you had gone to Kashmir too! It was nice to receive some news. How was the train journey?
Give my regards to everyone at Antoinette’s (I am the one who spend one afternoon gutting small fishes with them)
Have you seen any kingfishers yet? They sit on the line by the side of the road on the way to the beach.
Daddy made a strong stew yesterday and instead of putting in the recommended five cloves, he threw in vaguely a dozen and acted in the same willy-nilly manner with the cinnamon, allspices, cumin etc…with the result that he nearly blew our heads off. We are not going to have any colds this year or the next, I reckon, thanks to this medicinal concoction!

Enjoy your walks and bike rides around.

Love Mama.