Friday 30 July 2010

Paris en Famille

Paris makes my family happy, whatever the season. But Paris in summer has its own special charms.

Can you spot us in this sidewalk cafe?

Here, in Place des Vosges, Parisians and tourists take it easy on the grass ...

 ... and we meet up with Cape Town cuzzies!

Here comes Jill ...!

At Le Loir dans la Theiere, nearby in the Marais ...

(the Dormouse in the Teapot, rue des Rosiers)

we reconnect while comfortably managing to put away a few of these ...

and Pierre and Nich get cosy with a Kindle.

I think I'll move in to this apartment next door

You can send me a postcard just like this ...

Thursday 29 July 2010

I heart Eurostar

Can there be any better way of getting to Paris? We leave home at 8.30 am to be in the heart of St Germain in perfect time for lunch.

A 35 minute drive from home gets us to the wonderfully refurbished St Pancras - a thing of beauty with Victorian façade, vaulted glass ceilings, polished hardwood floors and colonnades with fab shops and cafes. 

Oh and how’s this for capturing the old-fashioned romance of train travel ...

(Paul Day’s bronze statue, The Meeting Place, under the station clock)

 A coffee stop at Le Pain Quotidien gets us in the mood for France ...

And then we’re on board and set to go

Curl up for a read and a very decent brunch and, before you know it, two hours 15 minutes has disappeared in a silent high speed flash across countryside and the tunnel, and you are tipped out with a bienvenue and a bientot … and oh dear, if only they would give the seedy Gare du Nord a badly needed makeover the picture would be perfect ... 
but never mind, because at the end of a quick taxi ride you see this picture instead ...

(the tiny but perfectly and exotically furnished hotel Bellechasse)

... and across the road a large place filled with many more beautiful pictures

 (Musee d'Orsay)

and your weekend in Paris has just begun.

Friday 23 July 2010


Andalucia is red




and some stone, to calm the senses.

This is what it sounds like ...

(with apologies for my frightful camera-work there)

Thursday 22 July 2010

Summer eating in Spain

Spain is no place for a vegetarian.

Or a teetotaller.

The day starts agreeably late, with chocolate con churros: freshly made, lightly fried doughnutty strips, to be dunked in dense, dark drinking chocolate the consistency of swamp mud - the latter in espresso-sized coffee cups, presumably to reduce the chances of keeling over and dying of a combined caffeine, sugar and fat overdose ... the perfect breakfast. (Note: un hombre churro = a hottie!)

Summer lunches are leisurely, at outdoor cafes under the shade of umbrellas

or under trees in a leafy square with a fountain.

Shall we go sophisticated ...

or simple and rustic?

Solo is fine ...

or even while reading books companionably.

Sometimes we stayed home where Nich worked on perfecting the ultimate gazpacho (recipe to follow), in the shaded inner courtyard (absolutely my top favourite design feature of the Spanish house), with chilled sangria and white wine.

Siesta time is a serious business. Shops close from 2.00 to 6 or 7.00 pm; the streets empty. By 8.00pm-ish, with the edge off the heat, the bars and restaurants are just starting to prepare for dinner...

... crisp white cloths and menus ready...

... maybe a spectacular view thrown in for free ...

What's on the menu?

We could tapear (yes, that is an actual verb, to eat tapas) with garlic and tomato soup

gambas a la plancha ( grilled prawns)

crisp-fried aubergines in sweet balsamic glaze

pimientos asados (roasted sweet peppers).

Specialities of the region in Andalucia would be: rabo de toro (ox-tail)

sea bass

or a hearty seafood paella.

And walking home around 11 or 12.00 pm on any night of the week, the restaurants and bars are crowded still with families and their small children - drinking, eating, talking or doing the paseo, the evening stroll.

At Restaurante Pedro Romero in Ronda, Plaza de Toros, with our friend Amanda from London.
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