petite anglaise

October 26, 2005


Filed under: parting ways — petiteanglaiseparis @ 12:49 pm

Last night I finally got around to sticking pictures from our holiday in Corsica into the photo album. Tadpole, Mr Frog and I spent a week there in April 2004, when our daughter was at her not-quite-walking stage. Cue lots of pictures of a swollen cheeked, bald creature cruising around the furniture in our holiday flat, and of us walking her, with varying degrees of patience, up and down a number of beaches, holding her outstretched arms.

Sifting through the memories was a bitter sweet way to spend an evening. As I turned the pages, it occurred to me that our pictures plotted the evolution of our relationship with eerie accuracy. In the first flush of romance, Mr Frog and I took many portrait shots of each other. Of ourselves in our first flat, of our friends. Mr Frog’s particular speciality was the arm’s length shot, spurning the timer function built into the camera for something a little more rough and ready, and often endearingly badly framed. These pictures are suffused with a warmth, with a feeling of togetherness. Looking at them filled me with nostalgia.

After a year or two, the portraits gradually give way to impersonal, picture postcard type holiday photos, and shots of other people’s weddings, from which we tend to be conspicuously absent. No longer caught in the glare of the flash, but hiding behind the camera. Our focus had shifted from each other to the outside world, the places we visited, the people we saw.

From Tadpole’s birth in June 2003 onwards, the spotlight naturally shifted to our daughter. There are pages and pages of near identical pictures of the apple of our eye. Sleeping. Yawning. Smiling. Crawling. Walking. At the time, I sincerely believed that every picture of her was a minor miracle, and coudn’t bear to discard a single one. Every sneeze was documented. Now, with hindsight, I see that really she just looked like a baby, and we definitely got carried away. In the nicest possible way.

Occasionally Tadpole is pictured in her daddy’s arms. As for me, I wasn’t over enamoured of my post-partum silhouette, and tended to take refuge behind the lens to avoid being caught on film. I sometimes joke, ruefully, that because of my misplaced vanity, Tadpole will look at these albums one day and wonder whether I was ever there.

The stream of photos slows to a mere trickle from ages one to two. Not because we tired of photographing our daughter’s every move, but simply because Tadpole was now a moving target. Not to mention an unwilling one. Her first instinct on seeing the glint of the camera is to dash towards it at top speed and attempt to grab it, making her almost impossible to capture on film.

Shortly before Mr Frog moved out, on Tadpole’s second birthday, he took one last arm’s length photo, of the three of us together. Ironically, it is the only picture of our little family in existence. Last night I stuck it in the album, ceremoniously, on the very last page.

Today I’ll buy a new album. Let the next chapter begin.


  1. And who is this lovely lady in the photo that we see??

    Comment by Kirsty — October 26, 2005 @ 1:26 pm

  2. Bet it’s petite, shortly after arriving in France and meeting Mr Frog.

    Comment by suziboo — October 26, 2005 @ 1:30 pm

  3. Beautiful!

    Comment by christina — October 26, 2005 @ 1:35 pm

  4. That sounds spot on suziboo!

    Comment by Kirsty — October 26, 2005 @ 2:02 pm

  5. I hope that tadpole is still at the “cute/unaware of the camera stage” because my son puts on a totally false smile the minute anyone whips out a camera.

    I would put my money on that being Petite, and if it’s not this is just I imagine in her in my minds eye !

    Comment by P in France — October 26, 2005 @ 2:19 pm

  6. I have been reading your blog for sometime now, and I just wanted to tell you that I think the way you write of you,Mr Frog, and Tadpole is beautiful, especially your writings post separation.

    The 3 of you will always be a family in an indirect type of way!!

    I wish you all the best on your new journey….

    Comment by anne — October 26, 2005 @ 2:44 pm

  7. That has to be Mme Petite on her trip to Corsica.
    Am I wrong?
    You’re very photogenic and I’m jeolous of your gorgeous blond hair! All the calcaire in the water here in Burgundy is turning mine icky-colored. : )

    Comment by Anna — October 26, 2005 @ 4:35 pm

  8. The end of a chapter today, the beginning of another tomorrow. This is life! And happy are those who have to buy lots of albums, cause it means they have memories…

    Comment by Lurdes — October 26, 2005 @ 6:59 pm

  9. Oh gosh, that’s brought a lump to my throat…but here’s to new chapters.

    Comment by Emma — October 26, 2005 @ 7:40 pm

  10. Petite, if that is you, you are one dammned beautiful woman. What the hell was Mr. Frog thinking?

    It is funny how you mention that the photo album charts the course of your relationship with Mr. Frog. It seems that my albums do the same thing with my wife and I. I refer to it as “signposting” one’s life.

    Comment by Dave of the Lake — October 26, 2005 @ 9:19 pm

  11. Lovely and true. I now have the urge to go home and look for the stories of past relationships in my photo stacks.

    Comment by Quinn — October 26, 2005 @ 9:25 pm

  12. Is that Petite I see before me? If so, it confirms the image I always had… which comes from associating your blogs with the lines of one of my favourite numbers, which I play in the car often when travelling. I think the number may be called ‘Love really hurts without you’ … which is how we would all feel, of course, if we could not read your blog! And the line which particularly comes to mind, in linking this song to Petite, is “You’re really something to see!” So, lucky man , Jim in Rennes, and I’m hoping someone out there can identify the artist of this great number for me. I have it on, of all things, a Daily Express (Ugh!!) All Time favourites V1 CD, if I can confess to such poor taste!

    Comment by fella — October 26, 2005 @ 10:13 pm

  13. That’s a beautiful picture. I’ve been really moved by many of your posts, but this one brought a big lump to my throat. I’m so pleased your enjoying the new phase of your life.

    Comment by birdy — October 26, 2005 @ 10:44 pm

  14. Petite, I’m a very recent reader of your blog. One night, full with nostalgia (my Lover à moi is living abroad this year), I “bumped into” Petite anglaise, through i know with other blog.
    And I read it almost entirely. You really know how to write… I’m so touched by every word you write, everyhting seems so right, exactly as I’d say it… This piece on pictures couldn’t go without a comment… I’ve spent my afternoon filing pictures on my computer and I thought about the same with pictures of my ex.
    But I’m joining l’homme de ma vie in two days, thanks Rynanair!
    I’ll definitely come back again and again, Petite, i love to be moved the way you do it.
    Thank you.

    Comment by SaraKa — October 26, 2005 @ 11:18 pm

  15. Lovely picture, even lovelier entry. It’s sad, the way relationships die, and you express it so well. I love your blog.

    My son’s friend’s parents are divorced, but very amicable, sharing holidays and vacations, with the mom’s new partner included. My son said one day, “If you get divorced and you have kids, you’re still a family.” I hope it works out that way for all of you. I hope if I ever divorce, it works that way for us.

    Comment by Ingrid — October 26, 2005 @ 11:54 pm

  16. You’re beautiful.
    I was stunned – not only by your loveliness, but equally at the fact that you posted a pic of yourself. Having read all through the blog recently, I had rather formed the impression that you strongly desired to preserve your anonymity. Of course, a photo does not completely remove your anonymity, but nevertheless, for some reason it was the very last thing I ever expected to see on here.
    Still, as a blog reader, I always find it adds a nice touch, to be able to “put a face to” the words one reads. Heavens, you’ll be telling us your name next! Please don’t do that, especially not if it’s “Karen Dent” or something. “petite anglaise” sounds just fine.

    Comment by Tom — October 27, 2005 @ 12:46 am

  17. there has been a photo of Petite on her ‘About’ section for ages. ;)

    Comment by isabel — October 27, 2005 @ 1:35 am

  18. What! When did you become a hair model?

    BTW, your post-partum silhouette is bumpalicious. Embrace the J-Lo! I don’t want to hear anymore about your body, since we all love you for your mind.

    Comment by nardac — October 27, 2005 @ 2:22 am

  19. Beautiful post. I was surprised by the picture, because to me you look too much like a nice school girl on it and I’ve always pictured you as pretty as this but in a more sexy or rather more assertive way… Silly of me probably ;-)

    Comment by Maurine au bout du monde — October 27, 2005 @ 5:02 am

  20. Is that you? Not quite what I imagined but 75% there. I imagined you with brown hair and more of a chick lit face (I don’t know what that is but it’s the one I always give the heroine in the chick lit novels I read.)

    Comment by Aeogae — October 27, 2005 @ 6:00 am

  21. So if this is you, does that mean that your eyes aren’t “Union Jack” coloured !!!!

    Comment by p in france — October 27, 2005 @ 7:13 am

  22. I’m sure the new photo album will have lots of pictures of Tadpole performing delightfully for the camera. My two little troopers ‘have’ to be in every photo we take.

    Comment by Universal Soldier — October 27, 2005 @ 8:46 am

  23. If the photo is really you Petite, I have to say you are not at all as I imagined, much nicer!!

    Do put us out of our misery and say it is or is not you??

    Comment by Keith — October 27, 2005 @ 9:03 am

  24. Hi. Your blog is fantastic. I’m also trying to find my way in a new country (Holland) so I can relate to many of your posts. Good luck.

    Comment by Suze — October 27, 2005 @ 11:02 am

  25. Am yet again left agape and full of admiration for Petite’s writing. Wow.

    Comment by Lucy-Jane in Rennes — October 27, 2005 @ 11:02 am

  26. It’s you!

    Hello you!

    Comment by anna — October 27, 2005 @ 12:30 pm

  27. Petite, stop ignoring us ….is that you?

    Comment by Soooooo — October 27, 2005 @ 12:55 pm

  28. Sorry, was too busy at work to even look at comments this morning.

    It is me, but it dates from about 6 years ago, and that dress was very demure at the front, but backless nonetheless.

    And I don’t think many people would recognise me as usually I wear very sexy gucci glasses.

    Comment by petite — October 27, 2005 @ 1:10 pm

  29. You were actually busy at work? Busy as in not blogging busy? Oooh, now the world’s gone strange!
    That’s nearly as strange as ‘too busy to look at PA’ busy! ;)

    Comment by Lucy-Jane in Rennes — October 27, 2005 @ 1:46 pm

  30. You just have to get one of those t-shirts La Coquette has on her blog.
    PS looking good mate

    Comment by Flighty — October 27, 2005 @ 4:07 pm

  31. How funny that I see another blogger that I link to in the comments of a blog that I link to. Haha! Hiyas Suze!

    It’s funny I read these two blogs. I can’t help but think it’s vicarious experience.

    I think it’s lovely you still take film photos, though having all mine digital is convienient as well. They certainly carry much more easily!

    Comment by Beltane — October 27, 2005 @ 4:13 pm

  32. I prefer the Petite I met, she is even cuter.

    Comment by stephan — October 27, 2005 @ 4:23 pm

  33. If the dress is backless, how come the front doesn’t simply fall off? I mean, it’s certainly not in anyone’s interests, but surely that’s against the laws of physics, or tailoring, or something.

    Comment by anna — October 27, 2005 @ 5:23 pm

  34. pedantic anna – I’m not very good at using proper fashion terminology, am I? I meant that it tied with a cord behind my neck and then was cut away down to just above my bottom. But it did have a 360° skirt, for which I am truly thankful.

    Comment by petite — October 27, 2005 @ 5:56 pm

  35. We demand a photo of that !

    Comment by p in france — October 27, 2005 @ 6:25 pm

  36. I would have to agree with the votes on the attractiveness of the model. And it looks nothing like the girl on the ‘about’ page. But she looks more French than English – Probably even more so now with fancy glasses.

    Comment by joeinvegas — October 27, 2005 @ 10:00 pm

  37. what a sad and lovely image, that final ironic photo of the three of you.

    Comment by brando — October 28, 2005 @ 5:32 am

  38. Great blog… You have another fan…


    Comment by Alaska — October 28, 2005 @ 7:21 am

  39. Um, is anyone else doing the auditions for the Nouvelle Star in Paris on Dec.19th? I’m coming from Rennes to do it…..(says in very small voice as is rather sad thing to do but necessary for personal evolution) Would be good to meet up with some of you!

    Comment by Lucy-Jane in Rennes — October 28, 2005 @ 10:31 am

  40. Something about that post brought tears to my eyes. I wish you all the best Petite in your new chapter :)

    Comment by Kasey — October 28, 2005 @ 10:37 am

  41. Lucy-Jane. No but I’d like you to wear “I am a blogger T-Shirt” so we know that it’s you when they show it on the TV.

    Comment by P in France — October 28, 2005 @ 1:21 pm

  42. P – a good idea! Where does one obtain such an item?

    Comment by Lucy-Jane in Rennes — October 28, 2005 @ 1:26 pm

  43. Like, where ja get one then?

    Comment by Lucy-Jane in Rennes — October 28, 2005 @ 1:27 pm

  44. Sorry- third in a row!
    For anyone who watches Nouvelle Star, when they show the auditions in Rennes look out for the very trendy young woman in black boots and raincoat – that’s not me. I’m not far from her though- I’m the very rained-upon weird woman with traditional teacher’s satchel and scarf worn around head grand-mother style in vain attempt to keep dry. It RAINED that day. 4 HOURS we waited. In the rain. Rainy wet rain.

    Comment by Lucy-Jane in Rennes — October 28, 2005 @ 1:30 pm

  45. Lucy R- I’ve no idea where you get one, I was thinking that you could do something with a plain white T-Shirt and a few blow pens !! I love “Nouvelle Star” – or at least the audition bit !

    Comment by P in France — October 28, 2005 @ 2:23 pm

  46. On the subject of baby photos:

    There are hundreds of photos and cine films of my big brother, my parents’ first child.

    There are a handful of me, the youngest of four children…

    I think by the time I came along, my parents had realised, like you, that we just “looked like babies”. In the nicest possible way ;)

    Comment by anxious — October 28, 2005 @ 3:48 pm

  47. lovely words

    Comment by andré — October 28, 2005 @ 4:37 pm

  48. I, the undersigned, hereby confirm that Petite’s Gucci glasses are indeed extremely sexy, even painfully so.

    Comment by Antipo Déesse — October 29, 2005 @ 10:06 am

  49. Photos are strange things. We have been doing the family history, and often find ourselves peering at pictures of events a hundred years ago, wondering “who were they? what did they worry about? what was their life like?”.

    Make sure photos are looked after.

    Comment by WellyBog — October 29, 2005 @ 2:48 pm

  50. Such a sad story and so recognisable.

    We discussed separation just before I became pregnant. Great timing, I know.
    It became even better when I found out I was expecting twins.

    I have two pictures of me with our twins in the first year of their lives. I have no pictures of us as a family. It is almost as if they were orphans, no pictures with parents…

    We divorced when they were 2 years old and the first family pictures didn’t appear until they were 4.

    I never thought about it until I read your post. All of a sudden, 6 years later, it makes me very sad.

    Beautiful post but one with a tear.

    Comment by Laura — October 30, 2005 @ 7:25 pm

  51. petite, superb girl+entry.. i really wonder what made you decide to be “seen” now? after all i mean..


    Comment by hera — October 31, 2005 @ 10:36 am

  52. Well I’m a first-time visitor here, and that penultimate par knocked me sideways. How bravely you bear it! “Love is just a prelude to sorrow” — Patricia Barber (the jazz singer).

    Comment by Dave F — October 31, 2005 @ 8:28 pm

  53. Petite where are you? It’s not like you to not post for a whole week!

    Comment by Maurine au bout du monde — November 1, 2005 @ 11:07 pm

  54. My thoughts too, Maurine. Please don’t say all that stuff about ‘parting ways’ and ‘new chapter’ means you’ve stopped blogging? I know there has been trouble in Paris over the last few days – are you OK?

    Comment by Zinnia Cyclamen — November 2, 2005 @ 10:55 am

  55. I can reveal that Petite is absolutely fine, despite the curry last night. Remember, it was also a bank holiday in France yesterday…

    Comment by Jim in Rennes — November 2, 2005 @ 11:10 am

  56. ‘Faire le pont’ – magic words!
    For non-Frenchie residents, ‘to do the bridge’ – this is when, as the public holiday is a Tuesday, loads of people take Monday off as well to have a nice big break…typically French really. But one that should definitely be exported!

    Comment by Lucy-Jane in Rennes — November 2, 2005 @ 11:43 am

  57. Yes, worry not, I’m only slacking. Nothing bad has happened, and I have not stopped blogging!

    Comment by petite — November 2, 2005 @ 12:26 pm

  58. Glad to hear that you are slacking! You deserve it, even though your fans are getting restless waiting for your next blog posting.

    Comment by Elle — November 2, 2005 @ 1:12 pm

  59. Beautiful blogging …

    Comment by Richard — November 3, 2005 @ 12:30 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: