Thursday, June 28, 2007

Sweet Tip

I was in Paris yesterday for some meetings. I had completely forgotten that it was the first day of the sales, so my 'quick dash' to Haussmann, to look for a jacket that fits, turned into a Parisian bargain hunter nightmare. There is no comparison to the craziness of Paris Sales.

So, empty handed, feet aching, I headed back to Gare de l'Est to get the train home (45 mins on the TGV, woo-hoo!). Whilst on the métro I remembered that between Gare du Nord and Gare de l'Est ( a 5 min cut through by foot) I had often passed an Indian Sweet shop. Never having had the time to stop before, this time I got off the métro early at Gare du Nord.

I went inside and selected several (alright, eight) different sweets to go into a box and a couple of vegetable samosas in a paper bag. The shop specialises in Pakistani/Indian sweets and whilst there wasn't the range of the Bangladeshi sweets I used to buy when I lived on Brick Lane in London, it was full of Indian/Pakistanis so I figured that had to be a good sign. What I tasted when I got home were wonderful. Juicy Gulab Jamans and Carrot Halwa, so sweet they make your teeth ache. The samosas were finished before I got on the train! A great new find. I wish they'd start supplying our dodgy Indian restaurants in Reims who, conversely, have the worst samosas I've ever experienced.

Bhai Bhai Sweets
4, rue de Deux Gares
75010 Paris

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


The last week has been a bit of a blur. Within the space of five nights, I'd stayed in three different hotels in different countries. All rather lovely hotels, so I'm not complaining there and we had a great weekend in Amsterdam for a surprise birthday party. Frog and I splashed out on a fancy shmancy hotel and lived the high life for a couple of nights.

Yesterday, this lovely lady came for the afternoon, so that was like another mini-holiday showing the sights. And then today I had to get back down to some work.

I had a little break later this afternoon for my five month check up at the doctors. Apart from the fact that my doctor has the limpest hand shake I've ever experienced, I really like her. She's gentle but a little 'business like' at times but I prefer that and to be honest needed it with the miscarriages last year.

So, this time, for the first time I headed off without Frog for my check up. "Did I tell you the sex last time?", she asked. "Yes, you said you were 90% sure that it was a girl". Frog had been a little disappointed as he was hoping for a little boy to play football with. However, he'd been on the phone to his best mate in Lyon who had a baby girl last year who raved about being the 'hero dad' to his little girl.

"Ahh, well I hope you haven't put the wallpaper up yet - because it's a boy. Definitely a boy."

I actually feel a little thrown by this! We had a lovely girl's name all picked out and I've been referring to "she" who kicks a lot at the moment. It's all the same to me in the end - I'm happy if it's healthy - but I don't know a thing about little boys. We were all girls in my family!! I know girls get sulky and tantrummy and are supposed to be harder. But I consider myself an expert on 'little madam' type behaviour!

So, it's now on with the thinking caps for a boys name that works in English and French. I'm going to have to spend the next day or so adjusting!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Champagne Roses

I'm currently in Hamburg before flying off for a weekend away with Frog. We're treating ourselves to a fancy hotel in a European city - of which more next week.

I'd thought I'd just post a quick link to a few photos that I took a couple of weeks ago. Veuve Clicquot had an open weekend at their Manoir in Verzy. It's not their main house (which is situated in Reims) but in a village about fifteen minutes south of the city. I imagine LVMH (who own Veuve) use the house for corporate events and trainings.

However, they have a stunning rose garden in the grounds which was opened for the unwashed public for one weekend only. I just took a few photos and I'm not a great rose or gardening expert (unlike some who were there) but it was a pleasant afternoon out.

The set of photos can be seen here.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Saturday Night's Alright...

We were expecting friends round for drinks last night. Frog called during the day to invite them over for an apéro before heading somewhere for dinner together.

Since Frog caught the husband on his own, he said he'd call back to confirm after he'd spoken to his wife but yes, he said, that sounded like a great plan.

So, 7:30pm still no call... we watched the clock and as my hunger level rose so did my impatience. I stomped a little in the kitchen and grilled a couple of chops to eat with some roasted veg that I'd cooked the night before.

By now it was 9pm and Frog and I found ourselves installed at the window that overlooks one of the city's main streets. We caught ourselves acting like an old couple as we people watched and passed judgement on those who passed below our flat. It was quickly decided that this kind of behaviour couldn't continue whilst we were still carefree (read baby free) and young(ish).

We quickly left the flat and headed to our favourite hotel bar, the only place in Reims where you can pretend that you're an international jet setter and sip cocktails.
Me: The waitress thought the champagne one was for me. She must just think I'm fat.
Frog: You've been in France too long. You're starting to sound like a French woman.
Me: You think French women have the monopoly on insecurities?
Frog: Well, English women don't care what they look like.
Me: You really want to continue this conversation?
Frog: Ummm... No..... So, what do you think would be best. Being a famous international sports star or musician?

And so the coconut and mango cocktail didn't leave me giddy but we ended up having a fun evening that didn't revolve around discussing work, babies or family. In fact I think date night might need to become a more regular occurance over the next few months.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Not So Domestic Goddess

Frog came home yesterday with a couple of kilos of cherries from our plumber (and Frog Father friend). I do now see some sense in the guest list I was dead armed into agreeing for the wedding when they have fruit trees that they like to donate the harvest of.

So, having stoned a good kilo of them, the kitchen looks like someone has been stabbed and I have just put a clafoutis into the oven. I've never made calfoutis before but I like to bake once a week and they're s'posed to be easy. I say "I like to" because it's far from a strict rule and more to do with when the mood takes me.

I haven't had a major culinary disaster. Even the chocolate fondant cake which broke could be cut into mini cakes using a biscuit cutter. That is until Sunday. On Sunday I got together the ingredients for a Lemon and Poppyseed Cake that I'd seen in Good Housekeeping magazine. (Yes, I'm getting old). I had looked for poppyseeds in Carrefour that weekend and not found any but had been pleasantly surprised when home and digging in the herbs and spice cupboard to find a clear, unlabelled jar of seeds. I smelt them. No odour. "Great", thought I. "I must have bought them for a recipe a while ago".

So, I made the lemon cake mixture, then added the seeds that had been soaked in milk for an hour. Before I poured the golden mixture into cake tin I took a sneaky fingerful. I'm not supposed to eat raw eggs but a fingerful doesn't count. It tasted lemony but there was a rather odd aftertaste. I took another fingerful.

With a groan, I identified the intrusive taste. Mustard. I had added mustard seeds to the cake mixture. What a waste, as I poured away the four eggs, cream, sugar, lemon and mustard into the bin. Frog thought it pretty funny. Personally, I think it would have been more amusing if I'd baked it and only once he, being piggy and as usual sneaking a slice before it's ready, had tasted it have discovered the truth.

Now, she puts me to shame!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Gender Politics

This evening we were watching the first results from the elections when I felt the little one moving.
Oiseau: Ooohh, moving about again...
Frog: Maybe she's* interested in politics
Oiseau: French politics? I don't think so
Frog: You know she's half French
Oiseau: No, whilst the baby's still inside me possession is 9/10ths of the law. Until the day it decides to make a break for freedom there is no claim to be made.
Frog: Ummmm...... ok

* At the last scan the doctor said she's 90% sure that it's a girl but will confirm next month. Strangely, despite being the only one of us with a preference for a boy (I don't mind either way as long it arrives healthy!) Frog is the one who now talks about the "girl", "she" whereas I'm still rather neutral on the "it".

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Have you guessed yet?

Today is a huge relief for me. I can finally share the news that I'm expecting a little mini-Oiseau/Froglet in November!

Not only did I have to keep my mouth and thoughts shut for the first three months, until we'd reached a safe confirmation from the doctor but I had also recently started a maternity cover freelance job. So, a rather embrassing conversation with my, surprisingly understanding, director meant that I had to sit on the news for a while longer so that my other colleagues kept a credible opinion of me for as long as possible!

However, at 18 weeks and 3 days the little (not so neat) bump, who has started to kick, is becoming obvious and I have begun to announce the news to the rest of my colleagues.
I'll keep on working for as long as possible, travelling until the beginning of September, then working from home until B-Day when it's a whole new world for Frog and me.

I can't explain what an odd double life I've been living and how exciting it is to get used to talking about the news. I don't want to become a pregnancy bore but I fear that once I start now, you might never get me to shut up!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Backwards Association

Hamburg - Tired - Big Bed - Book Room Service Breakfast - Banana Bread Baking - Greedy - Frog - Weekend - Mumm Tastings - Rose Gardens - Veuve Clicquot - Lawn - Red Beetle - Sore Feet - Sandwiches on Bench - Open Day TGV Station - Disappointing Timetables - Drive - Le Gaulois - Vittel Grenadine - Sunshine - Library Books - DVDs - Home made Lemon Chicken Couscous - Try New Restaurant - Disappointed - Procrastination - Long Distance Calls to Germany - Budget Sheets - Corrections - Powerpoint - Procrastination - Doctor's Appointment - Clicky Jaw - Laundry - VAT Returns - Moan about Sweaty Squash Kit on Floor - Work Lists - Shopping Research - Budget Sheets - Weekly To Do List - Sleep - Hot Chocolate with Nutmeg - Space NK Bath Oil - Frog at Door - Raining - Taxi - Baggage Claim - Rush to Loo - Scramble to get off Plane - Delays - Tchuss