Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Champagne Harvest

Champagne Harvest
Originally uploaded by oiseau.

Yes, it's over!

Of the six and a half days spent harvesting nine hectares of vines, I spent half of that working in the house. I know that grape picking is back breaking work but so is helping to feed 50 plus workers twice a day and clean up around them. I now have to sleep some....

You can see the set of photos here.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Originally uploaded by oiseau.

Yes, it's that time of year again. The period when my day begins with a 6am alarm and I cover my head with a pillow to muffle the noises of Frog disappearing out of the flat. He usually reappears at about 8pm and manages a couple of sentences before collapsing comatose for the rest of the night.

I've popped backwards and forwards to the family house over the last couple of days. My freelance work has piled up over the last week, so I've needed focus on that. Although it's nice to be at the house during what is an exciting time, after a couple of hours I start to feel the family tensions and am happy to escape again!

There are over fifty workers (tenfold the usual employee number) that descend for the vendanges. A good fifteen of whom are housed in spare rooms. This year we have a couple of Polish families who have driven over to work . Only one of them speaks (excellent) French and I amuse myself by overhearing the other French and Poles attempt to communicate in broken English. A lot of the French guys seem to be motivated to practice their English by a rather stunning 6ft blonde Polish girl!

I joined everyone last night for dinner, during which we toasted the wedding anniversary of one of the Polish couples and were taught a Polish drinking/celebration song. Needing no excuses, the French began to reply with their own songs. Yes, I am enjoying the ability to drink champagne again!

So far the quality of the grapes is very good, with several of the larger vines producing high natural sugar contents. I'm told that we may be looking at a vintage.

I'll spend time in the next couple of days taking some photos to record Harvest 2006. In the meantime, 2005's images can be found here.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The hardest part...

... of living is giving back what's been given.

I heard this lyric today on a Radio 4 interview with Billy Bragg and it struck a chord, for reasons that will become clearer. I quickly grabbed a post it note and scribbled those words down. Lying in the bath I then thought about the flip side of this and how I've spent a large part of the last few days looking at a view from my sofa and thinking how happy I am with my life.

So, these are a few of my favourite things:

Frog and I bought this map in Argentina last year. We had just visited the Missiones in the north of the country, before going to a best friend's wedding in Buenos Aires. I found the old map of the region in a handmade paper shop in the capital and framed it upon our return to Reims. We still haven't got around to hanging any of our frames so it sits propped up on the mantelpiece.

There are two photo frames here. Frog doesn't seem to want photos of his family around (I guess we see more than enough of them!) but I like to have mine around. The silver frame shows two older photos, one of me and my little half-brother in 1994. We're in a pool in Majorca and I was teaching him to swim. I think it's the only time we've been on holiday together. Next to it is a photo of me, my Grandma, my Mum and my sister. It was my Grandma's 80th birthday and her cousins were visiting. We're sat on my Grandma's sofa and it captures the moment after the main photo flash had gone off. My Grandma is looking at my sister and my Mum is looking at me, whilst my sister and I look ahead. We're all smiling and there's a beautful symmetry to the picture.

The second photo frame is a recent purchase, taken at our wedding by my friend Aaron. The photo is my sister, me, Frog and my half-brother. I know that everyone was feeling the chill from the wind that afternoon, but adrenaline and champagne are a potent mix and I felt fine!

Art Postcards
If this were a photo in our study, you would strain to see the books past the postcards that I hoard and prop up on the shelves. The ones that have made it to the living room are a picture of cherry blossom trees, that was an Easter card from Mum, and a Christmas card showing the work of this man.

Singing Bear
Frog and I fell in love with this bear on our honeymoon. He was made by an Inuit sculptor from Cape Dorset. He looks drunk and happy and, even if it broke the bank a little, there was no way we could leave him behind.

Pink Lilies
I bought these on Monday, two days after I miscarried at nearly ten weeks of pregnancy. It was a missed miscarriage and the heart had stopped beating a couple of weeks earlier. I can't explain how I feel because by the time I finish writing this sentence it'll have changed again. I do know that today I feel physically stronger than two days ago and emotionally stronger than yesterday. I love these lilies, they were all in bud at the beginning of the week and have now flowered, filling the flat with a strong fragrance.

I hadn't blogged for a while as I was desparately trying to keep the wonderful news that we received at the beginning of the summer to ourselves, until we reached the twelve weeks mark. There are many friends I haven't told yet, and I hope they forgive me if they find out through this post. I might not blog for a while, unless harvest next week throws up inspiration.