Monthly Archives: January 2010

Bottle Shock

To truth is that I would very happily pay to watch Alan Rickman change his socks.

So imagine how I felt when Franck and I sat down on the couch the other night to watch a movie about wine starring Alan Rickman. Needless to say, on l’a degusté (there is just no equivalent in English) with exquisite pleasure.

Wine. Alan Rickman. France. Alan Rickman. California. Alan Rickman. The legendary blind tasting where Chateau Montelena beat out the French Chardonnays. Alan Rickman. Grapes. Alan Rickman.

Go and rent it from your library for concrete proof that frugality can go hand in hand with pleasure, not to mention Alan Rickman.

Saint Vincent Tournante – 2010 Edition!

I have still been nursing sick children over here on my rock in Canada, while vicariously living through Lisa’s blog about her family’s French sabbatical.

However, I would be very remiss if I didn’t holler the fact that the 2010 Saint Vincent Wine Festival is taking place next weekend (30th and 31st of Januray) in the lovely Burgundian village of Chassagne-Montrachet.

Read about Villers‘ and Magny’s very own edition of this venerable Burgundian tradition here.

Chassagne-Montrachet has done up a very informative website that can actually be read in English.

In Vino Veritas!

Off To The Islands But Have Left Correspondent in Burgundy…

No. Not Clem.

While I go away for 48 hours of “potching around” with my Mom and sisters on Saltspring Island, I strongly suggest that you visit Lisa’s wonderful (and updated with impressive frequency) blog about her family’s adventures in Burgundy on their French sabbatical.

Tomorrow they are meeting with French school administrators…

Nuff said.

Read This Blog!

I just finished reading and laughing my head off at Lisa’s fabulous blog posts about their epic journey to La Maison des Chaumes. She is not only a great writer, but I was right, her blog IS better than “Survivor” or “The Bachelor”; ripe with bloody noses, scenes of seduction (the SNCF agent), and exotic locales.

Join in the fun by clicking here.

Sabbatical Stories

Lisa K. and her family of five will be arriving at La Maison des Chaumes tomorrow for a five month French sabbatical.

We have had guests do two and three month stays before, but this is the first one where we have helped a guest get settled into true Burgundian life; enrolling children in school, arranging for a car, etc. etc…

This is not only a new venture for Lisa and her family, but for us as well. So far I have enjoyed it immensely. Lisa and her family have an adventurous, easy-going spirit that makes them a pleasure to work with.

Of course, none of us has bargained that they would be arriving smack in the middle of one of Europe’s coldest cold snaps of the past few decades.

But then again, they ARE from Lethbridge, so I suppose they are better equipped to handle the cold weather than most of us (certainly me!).

Lisa has started a delightful blog charting their adventure. I am already a devoted reader, and I thought you too may be interested in following the ups and downs of her family’s French sabbatical.

Just click here to go to Lisa’s “Village Vignettes”.

It’s better than any reality TV show.

Doctors Without Borders

The horrible news from Haiti keeps flowing in, and makes most of us wonder (and it is one of my most firmly held beliefs that the huge majority of people are innately philanthropic) what we can do to help.

So today I am going to highlight the work of Doctors Without Borders, or “Médecins Sans Frontières in French – a truly incredible organization that Franck and I have chosen as our charity of choice.

As you can read here and here this organization can be found time and time again as one of the first to arrive in places devastated by natural disasters, wars, or political tyranny, and one of the last to leave.

It goes without saying that they are already in Haiti, and they are also bringing in a massive inflatable operating theatre (as well as the volunteer medical personnel to staff it) within the next 24 hours.

The NGO was created by French politician and doctor Bernard Couchner (who I am, incidentally, in love with and have been for quite some time – sorry Franck)

Several years ago, Franck and I researched different charities and found that Doctors Without Borders has one of the very lowest administration costs of any NGO. We set up a fixed monthly donation so that the organization can count on our money (even though it isn’t, at this point, very much) and be poised to get to places like Haiti and be of use when the situation is at its most critical.

There are many wonderful aid organizations out there – The Red Cross being one that definitely springs to mind – and any help is a good thing.

However, if you are considering different charitable donations at this point, do take a look at the work of Doctors Without Borders, and also consider a fixed, monthly donation instead (or better yet, as well as) a one-off.

We’re all in this together.

New Year’s…Ideas

I’m not a big one for New Year’s resolutions. Vowing to lose ten (or twenty) pounds or go to a boot camp every morning at 5:00am is the kind of Puritan self-punishment that my five years in France beat out of me for good.

However, even I can’t help but reflect on this brand new and shiningly fresh year that extends out in front of me in January. My mind is percolating with ideas of projects I would like to work on in the months to come. In no particular order, here is a sample;

1. Plant roses and lavender in the garden of La Maison des Chaumes;

2. Figure out how to make albums with my digital photos on blurb.com and do a few;

3. Start writing down the story of how we came to buy and renovate our houses in France (which is full of love, drama, and the occasional swear word) for my girls;

4. Figure out how to make puff pastry;

5. Institute a tradition of taking my girls on a short trip for their 10th B-days with only Franck and myself – first is taking Charlotte to Vancouver to show her where she was born and the bagel place (Solley’s) that I ate from every day while I was pregnant with her;

6. Borrow someone’s video camera and take some videos of Clem who is truly hilarious at the the moment;

7. Have the look and functionality of this blog revamped, and start adding tips for people going to France on sabbatical as well as just on vacation;

8. Enjoy long evenings at on the deck of La Maison des Chaumes with my French friends this summer;

9. Find and / or build a house here in Victoria that would allow me to host all manner of visiting friends and family;

10. Remind myself how lucky I am to be surrounded and loved by so many truly wonderful people.

Et voilà. It’s a beginning…