Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Of Lavatories, Leisure and a Luscious Red

It has been a while since my last post due to school holidays and as usual, we have all had colds. We have managed to get out to a few places though. There is a fair in the Place des Quinconces here in Bordeaux at the moment (Foire aux plaisirs). We were limited to the bumper cars, log ride and some candy floss with the kids in tow. We couldn't convince Mr 6 to go in one of the many 'fun houses'.
We have also discovered the delights of the Jardin Public in Bordeaux. There is a large kids playground, grassed areas for picnics and running around, a large café (bonus) and a library in one corner. Ticks all the boxes for school holiday fun.

Jardin Public
It is a fact of life with small children, that no matter the preparation before you leave the house, you will need to find a public toilet when out and about. For us, it is usually at the worst moment ie when we are about to board a tram or in the middle of supermarket shopping. We were warned before we came that here in France, you have to pay for most public toilets in tourist areas, (50 cents - 1 euro). There are also a lot of free self-cleaning types. You press the button, then wait for it to go through its cleaning cycle before you can open the door. To be honest though, I am not sure what the cleaning cycle does. The average toilet has no toilet seat, unidentified marks all over the floor and walls, no soap or handtowels and a smell of the Stygian depths. My son and I are definitely becoming adept at hovering - a useful skill. Of course we take hand sterilizer and tissues everywhere.


Seesaw in Jardin Public

Avoiding Faux Pas #2
- The word drogue is only used to mean illegal drugs and not for medicine ie when discussing your son's asthma medication with school officials
- The word for thankyou, merci, can also mean 'no thankyou'. It pays to avoid using it to answer questions. Instead use 'oui, s'il vous plait'







 
Highlight of the week: we took a train to St Emilion for a day trip. The kids would have been happy with just the train trip. However there were plenty of delights for grown-ups too. St Emilion is a famous wine growing region. There is a medieval village surrounded by vineyards as far as the eye can see. We walked from the train station all around the winding streets, climbed the tower Tour du Roy, posed by the gate in the city wall and marvelled at the huge cathedral. By this time, we had worked up a healthy appetite so we stopped for a lengthy french-style lunch at a restaurant. We were sittiing outside under a huge arch with our wines to taste (degustation) when suddenly a group of 30 or so other diners start singing. Yes they did. Awesome - an impromptu flash song mob. One of the songs was that old french class favourite "Alouette".



Barrels of wine in the cellars
Afterwards we took the tourist train around the 18 most famous vineyards in the area. We stopped at one, Chateau Rochebelle, for a tour of the monolithic cellars dating from the 1700s and which house 63,000 bottles of wine. There was also a quick wine tasting lesson of the 2012 vintage with a very enthusiastic man involving smelling, looking and slurping and no spitting. ("in France we say the wine should cry"). This was a great afternoon with the train, cellar and tasting costing just 9 euros ($13) per adult.

"Quickly, bring me a beaker of wine, so that I may wet my mind and say something clever."
 
Aristophanes

View from the top of the tower in St Emilion

Lost in translation moment of the week: I picked up an automated phone call which mentioned something about a courier parcel. We were waiting for a parcel from home and thought someone had tried to deliver one, so we visited two post offices and registered with some courier companies online, asked the landlady of the apartment and checked out who NZ post would use on this end. After three days of stress, we found the package sitting in our mailbox. The upshot of all this was we have been feasting on luscious Marmite direct from Christchurch, New Zealand. Tastes sooo good on baguettes!
 
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