petite anglaise

August 26, 2008


Filed under: misc — petiteanglaiseparis @ 11:02 am

       As our TGV hurtles towards Paris, Tadpole, who has been dozing on my knee for the past two hours, begins to stir. ‘That was a big sleep,’ I murmur softly, smoothing her hair out of her eyes. When she lifts her head, I see the imprint of my trouser seam on her left cheek. Ignoring my protesting bladder (two hours, two coffees = pain), I savour the delicious moments between sleep and wakefulness, drawing her up into my arms so that her warm face rests on my bare shoulder.

Opposite me, The Boy is engrossed in his magazine. The stranger sitting next to him – a slightly nerdy-looking thirtysomething with round glasses and a striped nautical t-shirt – is staring somewhere south of my chin. I pretend not to notice.

‘I did dream that I was a sirène, mummy’ my daughter mumbles into my neck. Her mermaid obsession shows no sign of abating. Of the fifty or so sketches she drew in her notepad during our week away in Belle Ile, over half depict mermaid princesses. The high point of her holiday was undoubtedly the half hour she spent with her legs buried under a mountain of wet sand, while I carefully sculpted a her fish tail. On the ferry from Le Palais to Quiberon, her eyes were riveted to the sea, searching for evidence of mer-activity.

The Boy spent many a summer holiday in Sauzon as a child. Going away together – all three of us – was his initiative. He first floated the idea back in December, and I think his willingness to envisage a ‘family’ trip away was one of the things which sealed the deal, spurring me to make my clumsy proposal. I’d assumed The Boy would prefer to spend his precious holiday time on an adult getaway for just the two of us, in the same vein as our Greek Island escapade last summer. (In an ideal world, we’d have done both, but with the wedding and apartment move, something had to give…)

And so we found a tiny, functional apartment overlooking the picture-postcard port of Sauzon, rented bicycles for us and a cariole to tow Tadpole and our beach bags behind us, and set out to explore the surrounding villages, countryside and beaches. We fished in rockpools, built sandcastles, jumped in the waves and picnicked outdoors. Each day we pedalled a little further from our base camp, as our confidence in our calf muscles grew, graduating from Donnant to Baluden and finally to Les Galères, a full fifteen kilometres away.

Belle Ile was breathtakingly pretty, unusually quiet for the season and the slow pace of the holidays suited me perfectly. In the train, with Tadpole yawning into my shoulder and The Boy’s tanned calf brushing against mine under the table, I feel more relaxed than I have in months.

August 12, 2008


Filed under: misc — petiteanglaiseparis @ 10:06 am

For our first dinner ‘party’ in our new place, to which I’d invited a couple of good friends met in the blogosphere, I spent a blissfully happy morning preparing food in my small but extremely practical ‘control centre’ kitchen. The Boy was perched on his stool by the bar, reading a BD and sipping coffee. The pages didn’t turn very often though. I suspect this might have had something to do with the fact that I was wearing only an apron.

I made a spinach and salmon quiche, a broad bean, mint and feta salad and a potato salad, and spent ages finely chopping the ingredients for a dip I’d stumbled across on facebook, of all places. I had plans that afternoon, so the emphasis was on simple dishes I could prepare in advance.

Once I’d dirtied almost every utensil in the kitchen, including the dreaded presse-agrumes, I took a childish pleasure in filling my dishwasher (a parting gift from the former occupants). ‘It’s magic!’ I exclaimed to the Boy, who was still having some trouble looking me in the eye. ‘We can go visit your grandma and when we get back again… Ta da! Everything will be clean. Ah là là, je suis en sur-kiffe, là…’

It struck me suddenly that, only now, with my thirty-sixth birthday rapidly approaching, have I managed to attain the level of domestic comfort that I took for granted back home throughout my childhood.

Space is at such a premium in Paris that having a dishwasher in your kitchen is a luxury. The Boy, born and raised in Paris, has never lived in an apartment that boasted one. The kitchens in my last two apartments could best be described as glorified corridors. Once I’d crammed in the obligatory fridge, washing machine and cooker, I was left with little in the way of work surfaces. Adding another appliance would have been unthinkable. The reason behind this is simple: many Parisian buildings were built around the turn of the last century, when apartments were not built to contain bathrooms. When bathrooms were added, later, as an afterthought, kitchens often had to be sliced in two to accommodate them.

Our new place is in such a building, but suffers from none of the usual period drawbacks. The previous occupants bought two poky, run-down apartments and re-thought the space entirely, knocking down walls, tearing up the floors and re-doing everything from scratch. Which is why it now has so many of the features I love: invisible electrical wiring (electricity being another add-on in many apartments, the wiring often concealed by ‘baguettes‘ which run along the surface of the walls), speaker wire which emerges at four strategic points in the main room, and tons and tons of built-in storage (our whole bedroom floor is raised and currently contains about six cubic metres of BD, records, Tadpole’s baby clothes and other random items.) The original wood floors were re-laid once the work was finished, albeit in a different configuration, meaning that the much prized charme de l’ancien was kept intact.

‘The only thing is,’ sid the Boy, gesturing at the dishwasher, ‘that now you have all this, I’m in danger of becoming superfluous…’ Washing the dishes used to be his job, you see. I think he’s getting withdrawal symptoms.

‘Don’t worry, my dear, I can think of all kinds of ways to put you to work,’ I replied, putting my hands to my apron strings. ‘Everything will be alright, you’ll see…’

August 5, 2008


Filed under: misc — petiteanglaiseparis @ 10:35 am

Hi folks – just to let you know that I have no internets this week as we moved to the new apartment on Friday and these things take a little time. So please bear with me (or stick me on your RSS reader so you don’t have to keep checking back…)

(I’m sure you are all on holiday anyway.)

Photos now up!

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