Leaving on a jet plane…

If we don’t get lost, we’ll never find a new route

The new Vanessa is trying not to snort inelegantly at the quote. Breathe in, breathe out. We’re going to get to France and have a great time, even if it kills me.

And thanks for all the lovely comments yesterday. I’m trying to think positively about all the farewells and not wonder (too hard) if it’s just relief (“Thank heavens she has no WiFi for two weeks!”)…it’s not relief, right? You like my blog, right? Hey, where you going? No, don’t shut that browser window! 

Switching to Flight Mode and away we go…..

Just as Long as we’re Together

Most of you know that my Breton Bestie has been re-patriated to France last week. There was a tearful farewell on four sides (BB’s daughter is DD’s bestie). But the first moment that it really sunk in was when I had to put down an emergency contact a few days later for DD, and automatically put down Breton Bestie’s name. Which I then had to cross out. Boy, that hurt. I actually had to take a moment to compose myself.

In the five days she’s been gone, we’ve had a Skype chat and I’ve drooled over her beautiful Parisian Haussmann apartment. We’ve used messaging apps. But it’s finally sinking in that she’s gone. She’s really gone.

We both know what it’s like to be expats, to raise expats, and the extra effort that goes into maintaining ties and bonds. We’re both working mothers, corporate wives, raising hormonal tweens… but you know what, I think we’re going to do it. For two years, she has been my reality check, my irreverent partner in crime and my sounding board. She was my first blog follower, my champion and the slap upside my head when I needed it. That, my friends, is gold dust.

#bestie #best #friend

So today, I am grateful for social media, and messaging apps, and Skype, and everything else that is going to keep me connected to BB. I’m so grateful I have a BB.

Who’s your BB? Send them a text. Or an email. Or an inappropriate meme. Something to make them remember that they’re loved and important.

Feels like Friday

And whaddya know? It IS Friday! I dropped my favourite child off at the Breton Bestie’s house this morning. (Fine, she’s my only child, but let’s not digress). BB has been bribing her with breakfast all week – today it was pancakes. My fluffy American pancakes are just not as good as the bestie’s crepes, probably more so because the supply is going to dry up in ten days’ time when they expat their way back to France.

The expat life giveth some good stuff, and taketh some good stuff. 

The hammer has taken a while to fall – my husband jokes that I “think slowly and it’s true. Usually because I’m denial. But today I couldn’t deny that it would be the last time for a little while that I’d be hugging the BB’s seven-year-old son, since he’s off to France later today, in advance of the others. But I’m still in denial that next weekend I’ll be saying good-bye to one of the bestest friends I’ve ever had. We had dinner and cocktails last weekend and had a good giggle, which was bittersweet, because it was just a reminder of what’s being taken away.

IMG_20140417_135412_editA part of me realises this is completely ridiculous; she’s moving back to Paris, which is a 2.5 hour train ride away. Not the end of the earth by any stretch of the imagination. But for two years, she’s been at the other end of my road. Our daughters have more often than not had their heads bent together, gossiping and giggling. Yes, the grief is compounded because my daughter is losing HER Breton Bestie. I have a feeling DD and I are going to be clutching each other and howling over pints of ice-cream in ten days.

I’m going to focus on the amazing reports the girls have brought home, and the fact that they’re getting awards (which they know nothing about) on Tuesday. I’ll save the tears for then. Now pass me that ice-cream!!

Sunday Funday

It’s been a quiet old Sunday. I spent a good chunk of today reading The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks. I loved it. I loved the fallibility of all the characters, the back and forth, the tough choices, the different sides – so many stories, so many forks in the road to end up where they did. I needed a break from all the heavy stuff I’ve been reading recently, and this was perfect. Like a tall glass of sweet tea on a sticky, humid day.

Speaking of sticky and humid, I’m starting to worry about the holiday next month. Although the Breton Bestie has convinced me that there will be sea breezes, I am not convinced. One afternoon in London sunshine is enough to give me a raging case of heat rash; ten days in proper French sunshine? Lobster-red with tiny bumps of angry skin. Sod the Vitamin D, I will be SPF 50’d the whole way and spritzing myself in Evian.

bread-399286_1280The other worry – it’ll be my first trip to France since the coeliac death knell on all glutinous goods. What am I going to eat? Half the joy in going to France is all the bread and patisserie! It’s going to be odd eating cheese, meat and cornichons with no bread. No brioche or croissants for breakfast. No patisserie AT ALL. Never mind the supercilious looks I am going to get when I try to say, “Je suis allergique au blé”. Thank heavens for macarons. I can still eat those!

Which brings us round to to ‘beach body ready’ question. There seems to be a resurgence of the original posts from a couple of months ago, totally slamming the whole concept of the beach body premise. I have to admit, I am entertained. Mostly because in Europe as a whole, the concept of the ‘beach body’ is a whole lot more open to interpretation. I’ve seen old Sardinian men playing chess in the piazza in budgie smugglers (that’s banana hammocks to some folk), no worry about the sagging or hirsuteness. I’ve seen their wives in bikinis on the beach, their bodies testament to the many children they’ve borne and raised. Their main concern is if there’s enough to ‘mangia’ all day, and that the bambini are out of the worst of the sun. That’s not to say there aren’t stunning specimens in skimpy beachwear on European beaches, it’s just that on the whole, they appear to be in the minority and everyone just gets on with the sun-worshipping. 

Given what I said earlier about heat rash, I am clearly NOT going to be sun-worshipping. I will, however, be hanging out on the beach in the cooler hours, or going down the waterslides with my daughter (that’s a lie, but we’re going to pretend it’s a possibility). And for this, I will need to clad myself in something appropriate – enter all the amazing retro swimsuits I have been admiring, for women with curves. I’m going to pick some lovely jewel tones, channel Dior, slap on some large sunnies, and enjoy my vacay. My life is too darn short and bread-free to worry about what someone I might more than likely never see again thinks about the size of my derrière.

How has your weekend been? Read any good books lately? What do I need to have on my Kindle?

Plage du Sillon, St-Malo

Following the sea wall along the golden Plage du Sillon takes you from the Paramé quarter to Intra-Muros (the old city fortress). The beach is bounded by the Digue (dyke), which was built between 1883 and 1913, and along the Digue stand the most beautiful villas, mostly built at the end of the 19th century. All these photographs were taken on my morning walk, when I was hoping to run across the sea rescue teams in training. All those buff, bronzed bodies….swoon….

Portals

Anyone who dares quibble that portals are really doors won’t get the recipe for koign aman, or butter cake!

The Plage du Sillon is 3km long, very family-friendly, safe for swimming and also popular with kite surfers, sand yachters and wind surfers. Both the Digue & the Plage make wonderful running tracks. Who wouldn’t want to huff & puff at this view? Just remember, if you come over all faint in the heat, those lovely sea rescue people are at hand all summer long 😉

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Plage du Sillon, overcast… still gorgeous!

Oddities in the scenery

I always find fun in the differences, the unusual, the in-my-opinion weird. It’s what makes travelling enjoyable. Actually, the singing (male) trolley dolly started this trip on the right note (yes, I’m punny). But on y va, as my friend A-S says.  Let’s go!

oyster shells

Slurp the oysters and discard the shells, where they wait to turn into sand

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A discarded crab catch. One CAN have too many!

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Random stairway? No! Diving platform to tide pool. Amazing!

Off to have more fun today; a long walk along the seafront will have me cross paths with the sea rescue lifeguards in training, if we time it right! See you later!

Nothing to see except scenery!

Sant-Kouloum

The view from Sant-Kouloum

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Sunshine, seafood, warm sea air, scenery – I have S covered, but nothing for N! We drove from St Malo to Cancale today, stopping along the way to admire these views. Mont St Michel was the omnipresent ‘rock of ages’ on this drive, visible from every lookout.

I am quite in love with this new part of France we’ve discovered, thanks to A-S and her family. As the Terminator said, I’ll be back!

Reading Maine in St-Malo!

I’m on a short holiday with daughter and our French besties, taking advantage of their hospitality. I’ve scheduled this post in advance of all the fun I anticipate, eating Bretonne galettes & other delicacies. Follow me on Twitter to see my updates, or have a look at TJ’s post on St Malo and hope I haven’t met the same fate as the lady with the camera 😉

I also bought Maine, by Courtney Sullivan, to read on my holiday. Review to follow – here’s the blurb: 

The Kelleher clan’s beachfront holiday house creaks under a weight of secrets. It’s a place where cocktails follow morning mass, children eavesdrop, and ancient grudges fester. One summer, three generations of Kelleher women descend on the shore. Kathleen, finally sober, hoped never to set foot there again. Maggie, pregnant, has left her useless boyfriend. Ann-Marie, bound to the family by marriage, fantasizes about an extra-marital affair. In the middle of all this is matriarch Alice, who drinks to forget her failings as a parent and the events of a single night, decades before. These mothers and daughters are by turns fierce and loving, cruel and unforgiving, and through their shared history and private dreams, Maine lays bare the paradoxical nature of family and the love that we are bound to, no matter how savage the storm.