Back Home at last!

After 6 weeks away wandering in Thailand, London and Paris we are back on the land and in the swing of things… and loving it. Mind you the times spent with the family were of course the best moments. I won’t go into details the fabulous food we had in London and Paris with J and G. Bangkok is in itself an exploration into some great restaurants that we thoroughly savoured with Tum and Sulma.

Towards the end of our stay in Thailand in spite of the lovely time with the family and being treated to spend some time in a superb resort by Tum, we had enough of Bangkok. We felt more assailed, besieged by the publicity everywhere. On the sky train for instance they have now erected huge televisions set on both side of the quays that blast add loudly. There is not a square inch of the train itself that is not plastered with adds and even smaller screens that do not give you a minute of respite. Even the announcement of the next station is overpowered by them. Not a minute a silence and the streets are even worse. Every wall, every post, every billboard invades you and wherever you happen to cast your eyes you are being reminded to buy this products or that. You are being reminded to look like this model, use this face whitening cream to resemble a westerner.  The cacophony of cars and the endless traffic jams was reaching saturation point. Enough of that! Let me go home now to the serenity of the land, to the songs of the birds, the bellowing of the cows and the sounds of water as it splashes in the ponds, the crowing of the rooster and the site of the newly established swamp hens in the large dam below.

As we approached the road and the farm, the air so crisp and fresh hit our nostrils and lungs. It felt invigorating. In the middle of winter that is what one would expect. Fortifying and biting. Another layer of clothes is definitely warranted during the chilly nights.The land was dry and almost brown.  The grass was very low. It is usually low in winter but this time there was nothing growing. Given the fact that the rain was scarce this summer there was very little growth that could be sustained in the leaner months of winter. The cows looked scrawny so I hurried to give them some good lucerne/hay. The one they love most. That was my first task. I took the wheelbarrow and filled with the good hay. They bellowed and I took off the electric fence and fed them. They chomped through it in no time at all. I reminded myself to give them some decent feed everyday. They need it!

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Scrawny cows

Magali and Mereki came to pick us up at the station after a sleepless night on the plane from Bangkok. What a treat to be so welcomed. She had prepared a succulent lasagna, cleaned the house and everything looked so spick and span. What a delight to be home. Elsi the dog was beside herself. It was hard to know if she was wagging her tail or her tail was wagging her whole plump body. Fripouille,  the cat looked scared and bewildered at first scampering away at the site of the car with people in it, but upon hearing my voice  he darted toward me rubbing himself against my leg and I am sure I could hear him purr.

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Fripouille

After finally a good night sleep in your own bed away from the noise and chaos of the cities, I wondered in the vegetable garden and was surprised to see so many goodies still growing. Heaps of cabbages, lettuces, carrots, peas, leeks, fennel, and sweet potatoes and much more. I hardly  bought any vegetable since we got back. What a treat! Fresh salads from the garden. roasted sweet potatoes, and I even made some Kimchi with the daikon (white radish) carrots, cabbage, ginger and turmeric and chillies, yes all from the garden!

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Sweet Potatoes and Fennel

I decided to spend some time redoing the garden beds and already I am weeding and cleaning. Out of  the 8 beds that we use I replanted the leeks and the carrots in two new ones and carried on weeding the others. What a lovely task to be in contact with the earth and the mild winter sun!

Sulma and Tum came 5 days after us from Bangkok and are spending 10days enjoying the calm and the fresh air of the countryside. Lots of good cooking and sharing some good wines and company as usual. Magali treated us to some of her delicious crepes last night and a good yarn. Mereki found a good playmate in Sulma that evening and could not believe his luck. The dishes were done and the kitchen tidied ready for the next day’s feast…..which will be lamb cutlets with fresh garden peas.

Till next time.

PS: 2 photos courtesy of Sulma. Cows and cat.

In Paris

In Paris.
Paris would be my favourite City after all. Especially after being in a big Metropolis like London. At this stage I have to say that Paris is much nicer than London. Tho, I did say the opposite to my son J a few weeks ago. There was a certain vibrance that I do not find here.
London is a younger city than Paris, more happening I suppose for whatever that means. Younger meaning that to my eyes there was a percentage of the population that was younger.
While walking in Paris today I was quite surprised by the mix of old people , middle aged and younger.

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Classic Montmartre
Classic Montmartre

But I found Paris much prettier than London. It was the aesthetic that struck me when I got back. One might say that because I am French. I was pleasantly attracted again by the beauty and the elegance of buildings in Paris itself. I did not find that elegance and charm in London. Subjective one might say…I’ll accept that and I am sure that someone will contradict me quite vehemently.

Nevertheless, I’ll never tire of The Galeries Lafayette or le Printemps next to the majestic Opera and Le cafe de la Paix. Their architecture surpassing in my view again that of Harrods or Selfridges. The beggars are still there but in less numbers than before. I am sure that they have been allocated in some obscured corner so that the town appears aseptic. I know, so that the tourists and the rich crowds never encounter the other side of life and keep spending oblivious to other’s misery and plight. Every great city has its share of destitution.
Then, we have the young red hair, well groomed man with brand new runners, smart T shirt, and checked short who suddenly bends down in front of us and finds a ring. Look, says he amused…a gold ring. The unaware tourist might fall for it. Wow! How much would that be worth? And would start bargaining for a fake piece of rubbish. I have encountered that for quite a few years now and just smiled at the guy and sent him on his way. These people I was told are romans…..Gypsies, just working in gangs. Like the guys sitting in front of les Galeries Lafayette with his child laying on a blanket all day, his head 3 times too big and looking dazed. The father sits there in front of him begging, looking destitute. I am sure he is. But he has been there for years now. People go by immune to it all. He looked so well fed with a large abdomen.

Parisians are not a happy lot, grim and not many smiling or being courteous. A young woman of 20 max was sitting down in the metro and did not offer her place to my friend of 70 years old too absorbed with her Iphone. I was quite shocked. I should not be really. This would not happen in London. Every time I was offered a sit so did my husband! Yes, I am getting on.

But having said this, I did find the Parisians this year on the whole very charming, polite and ready to land a hand.