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Friday, August 28, 2009

This was the week that was : TGV UPDATE

Phew! As the feud - can it be a feud when only one party is actively taking part, perhaps a vendetta then? - continues and suspicions of possible poisoning emerge the hounds are back chez nous not only for their own safety but also because they have so much more space here. The Bopes have signed for a new house! Not a moment too soon either. Sooooo much nicer than their place in Bauvin. It is bigger, brighter, quieter - unless the octagenarian next door is into rap - and there is an ideally sized garden for them and the dogs.

Only fly in the ointment is their decision to move on the weekend we are in Paris. What to do? Tickets non-exchangeable nor refundable. Guilt stricken. Watch this space!
Max found a fantastic internet site on which you can sell otherwise non-reimbursable or exchangeable TGV tix! We managed to sell all four ie they were singles each way for the full face value and can now help out with the move AND we're booked in to go to Paris first weekend in October. Check out the website Troc Des Trains
à plus!

In the meantime the yearned for flower on the lily has arrived, and how!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hotter than July

It has been "non-stop" since my last blog entry. I love the way that French shops advertise their lack of lunchtime closure with that anglo-saxon description aptly of course as taking a break for lunch is quintessentially French though a custom which, in many countries, has been eroded over time. It also implies a sense of activity as if those working in establishments that work through the midday pause are buzzing around like bees, or more likely, wasps, of which we have had plenty. That's when they are not being horseflies or maybe hornet. They appear whenever we sit down to enjoy an alfresco meal just as if someone somewhere has banged the insect world dinner gong!

Two whole weeks have been spent enjoying a "staycation" in other words a holiday at home. That isn't strictly true as it isn't our home but it is in Lille so, technically, we haven't left town. We were loft sitting again for les Vaksmann. Better weather than last year and two lots of visitors albeit only one who stayed over at the loft.

I wonder what the word is for people who like Belgium. It hasn't the best reputation and is often joked about. They are one nation divided by at least two languages with a capital situated in a flemish speaking area but whose official language is French. No wonder they don't get on! Belgophile? I suppose that must be it. Looks and sounds less than lovely - so I suppose it covers the country's reputation. So it is a pleasure to report that Belgium is a delight. Having sampled De Panne we weren't put off by the price of moule-frites and drove via the outskirts of Bruges to De Haan, or Coq sur Mer as it used to be called. I found this enticing description on the internet: "With its many picture postcard villas in the renowned Belle Epoque style, with literally hundreds of little balconies, balcony and oriel windows, verandas with colonnades, turrets and dormers, De Haan is home to that genuine holiday atmosphere. The pink, yellow and cream-coloured pastels of the myriad villas and hotels, the winding paths and the verdure on offer give you that blissful sense of relaxation you are looking for. The coastal resort not only owes its charm to the architectural style, it was also spared from joyless high-rise block developments"

We arrived to find the arts and crafts seaside town enjoying its annual Trammelant festival. This involved a flea market, music, processions and the sunshine helped to make this celebration of La Belle Epoque fun. We did spend rather too much time worrying where the pier was only to discover that it wasn't De Haan but Blankenberge which is thus endowed. Maybe that's where we'll head on our next outing. Suprisingly the nearest pleasant French beaches are almost two hours drive away whilst if we drive via Bruges we can be on the lovely Belgian coast in just over an hour on clear, well metalled fast roads. Simples!

And the weather! Yesterday hit 33C and today it was 32C just after lunch though we have been promised rain this evening and tonight and lower temperatures tomorrow. We'll see. I was thrilled to see that the copiously leaved - or should that be padded? - lily in our little pond has indeed produced buds, three of them, and now I am anxiously awaiting the blooms.

Next on the agenda la Braderie over the first weekend in September when Lille turns into a giant flea market and then a long weekend in Paris. Watch this space. If you've nothing better to do!