Thursday 28 June 2012

The List, Revisited

You could say that being born on a Thursday fated me to become a Lady Traveller.  After all, according to the rhyme, Thursday's child has far to go.  I also have a habit of spending my birthdays far from my birthplace - perhaps something deep inside needs to reaffirm the travelling spirit on this day.

Today is a Thursday and also my birthday and also I am on my way to Helsinki.  Visiting a new country every year is #49 on my Life List and this will be my first time in Finland: good way to start a new year of my life.

In honour of the day, I've updated The List.  Updates in red - I realised I forgot a few the first time round.

I don’t remember 1 or 2 but I think they were in Dublin.
3 might have been in Yugoslavia, when it was still Yugoslavia.
4 was probably in Dublin, so was 5.
6 was in Andorra: I got a toy sewing machine. It was awesome.
7 was, I think, in the Lake District. I had a yellow gingham dress. It was divine.
8 was in Co. Galway. The sun shone, I remember that.
9 was, let’s see, in Ireland again, but 10 was in France. [9 was actually on the Isle of Skye.]
11 was in Ireland [no, 11 was in England, near Hartlepool, of all the glamorous places]; 12 was almost in the car (or sleeping on the beach) but ended up in St Tropez.
13 was in Claralaragh adventure centre, Co. Wicklow.
14 was in Germany, on a German exchange.
15 was in Italy.
16 was in Lake Tahoe, California (or was it Nevada?) and dinner in Carlos Murphy’s Mexican-Irish Café.
17 was partly in Norway, partly on a Norwegian boat. I remember a smorgasbord.
18 was in Dublin but 19 was a return to Lake Tahoe. All-you-can-eat gourmet brunch with a pancake station.
20 was in Hampshire.
21 was in Oxford: a garden party with a hats-must-be-worn dress code.
22 was in France with a ‘famous couples from history’ party.
23 was almost in the car (again) reading Mills and Boon, but thanks to a piece of breaking and entering ended up being in a sweet hotel in the Loire Valley.
24 was in Dublin, reading Harry Potter.
25 was in London, with an epic thunderstorm.
26 was somewhere on the Belgian/German border – I think perhaps we got the ferry to Germany for lunch.
27 and 28 were in London, 29 back in Dublin.
30 was London, fancy dress, karaoke, red velvet cupcakes, champagne.
31 was in Tokyo: tempura and (oddly?) Moscow Mules.
32 was in Provence, on the slopes (more or less) of Mont Sainte Victoire.
33 is in Helsinki.

Thursday 21 June 2012


So let's see, I was in Australia until the end of May, then I was in Ireland, then I was in France, then I was in Ireland and now I'm BACK in France, but will return to Ireland next week and then go on to Finland.  I think that's right.  (Incidentally, woo!  Finland is a new country for me and I'm very excited to visit Helsinki.)

The first trip to France at the beginning of June was booked months ago: I had promised to accompany my sister and her menagerie to the island of Porquerolles for a long weekend.  I would be the resident au pair while my sister and George attended a conference.  I jumped at the chance of spending time with two of the adorable nephews (there is a third; he lives in Canada - but I don't want him to feel left out) and going to an island (islands are among my many obsessions.)

Porquerolles lies just a few kilometres off the Cote d'Azur and is itself only a few kilometres long and is mostly owned by the state and preserved as a national park.  You get to it by ferry from Hyeres, where you have to leave your car as the island is a no-car zone (except for the few permitted to locals).  Gregory was absolutely beside himself to take the ferry boat (or did he mean fairy boat?) though slightly nervous when he asked about pirates and the captain looked at him seriously and said, 'but I'm a pirate, you know.'

There is a village on the island, some vineyards, a fort, many beautiful beaches and some private houses.  All you need for a weekend holiday.

We rented bicycles (I love Alex's expression in this photo: 'I'm kinda nervous about this, but I trust you ... I think)

and rode along pretty paths under leafy canopies, stopping every now and then to look at the sea (or nap.)

We ate delicious glaces.  (Some of us are just learning about ice cream and make funny faces when we take a bite.  Doesn't stop us from consuming with gusto, however.)

We went to the beach.  (Some of us swam.  Some of us ate sand.)

Liberated from au-pair duties, we drank wine in the village square.

I walked up to the fort at sunset: incredible views -

AND went running first thing in the morning.  Here's Plage Notre Dame where I sat in perfect peace watching the sun over the water.

Such a beautiful place - I highly recommend, though be warned: accommodation is scarce and can be expensive.

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Les Petits Sucres

Dear readers, I have not been kidnapped, nor am I in witness protection, nor am I suffering from amnesia and therefore don't realise I have a blog.

Things just caught up with me a little, is all. In an effort to revive myself, I made the spur of the moment decision to decamp to the South of France on Friday, and yesterday flew to Marseille for some sunshine and time to reawaken my creative energies. Which includes blogging, of course.

So far though, the most creative thing I've done is contemplate the delights of a land where they bring you just the right-sized sweetie to have with your coffee which, of course, is made even more delightful by its appearing in a bowl (and of course being enjoyed outside in the sun.) I love France.

More soon. Xxx