Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Around Lourdes - La colline aux Marmottes

The marmot hill is an animal parc where you see many of the animals that live in the mountains. My children loved giving carrots to the marmots!

The only negative thing was the amount of wasps at the pic nic place.... we ran away and ended up having our pic nic next to the Jer cable train!


Around Lourdes - Donjon des Aigles

 The Eagle Fortress is really that, the beautiful remains of a real fortress, surrounded by mountains and the home for over 45 different species of birds of prey. We spent two magical hours there. The site is close to Beaucens, a little bit outside Aquitaine in the Hautes Pyrénées.

The setting is beautiful

The prey birds are imposing

Here you see it attack....

... a bait to show us how they hunt

The vultures were mighty and flew so low they touched my head twice!
This intelligent bird used stones to break an egg

And this one knows how to kill snakes by stomping their head
By the end came the smaller birds and the parrots

I loved watching the children; smiling but impressed


 This one talked alot!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Picking blackberries

We went to see if there were any blackberries to pick... a bit early; but we still found heaps. Along the small roads here, among the pine trees, it is easy to find the bushes. I love standing there in the sun, listening to the crickets and concentrating to avoid the thorns...

We ate most of them straight away but I made a simple jam of the rest, just add the equivalent of the berries in sugar, some lemon zest and a vanilla stick and boil for 30 min. Lovely with vanilla icecream....

Thursday, August 26, 2010

41, everything is still fine

A happy birthday is simple. Retrieving old friends that just moved closer to us, sipping champagne in the pool and hearing the children playing without bothering us....

Eating artichokes with salted butter and nothing else...

Sharing a Swedish dessert....

... and some flowers!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Nintendo for a five year old

He has been looking at his sisters' Nintendo since she got it about two years ago... and now, for his five year birthday, he finally got one for himself. No need to guess, he was overwhelmed with emotion... next to this, the birthday cake was just something getting in the way between he and his new toy...

I can't believe that my baby five years ago is now this big...

Classic Swedish cake. No butter but half flour, half potato flour to make it real light. Cut in two, bananas and custard cream in the middle; real whipped cream and strawberries on top!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Vacation with Armelle

Spending time together, talking about all and nothing, picking fruit from the tree and enjoying their new pool... I left with tomatoes, figs and plums! And only one question, when can I come back?

Modern kids, playing Mario connected by wifi

And an evening out at restaurant l'Emulation

Café gourmand.... pannacotta with mint, fig sabayone and something raspberry and something chocolat...!! (Food was excellent but the photos bad)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Back from summer camp Camieta in Urrugne

Camieta main building

Dearest Clara is back after a whole week away at her first summer camp.... she said she missed her mother and her family, but I really missed her too!

She had a good time with different activites, most related to the sea, and a good lesson in autonomy. Let's see if she wants to go again next summer.

(She came back with lice, but to be honest I don't know if they are from Camieta or elsewhere. I am just disappointed they didn't detect them at the camp....)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My little philosophers

French school - maybe school in general - is tough and does not allow for the children to follow their own rhythm much... hang around, be curious, do nothing or invent things... which makes the summer vacation such a good opportunity to do just that.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Things we ate in July

July was time off. No photos, hardly no blog. But we kept eating. First all kinds of meat. Duck and Boeuf de Chalosse have a special place in our hearts, but we also do red wine marinated porc ribs occasionnally...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Bayonne Festival with the children

One of the four days of the Bayonne Festival is dedicated to the children. Heaps of acitivites! We decided to give it a try this year with our friends and their three children (ages 5, 6, 8, 11 and 11).

I am happy to write this post and emphasize one of the things I love about this festival - everybody can go there. Not only the young and foolish, but the grandma's and grandpa's go there... and the children. Daytime festival is great!

The children loved it and it was fun to show them the Festival atmosphere, but the area dedicated to the children activities was just too crowed and the waiting times for each activity too long.

The weather was a bit grey, but I think the pictures still convey some of the happiness of Bayonne and the red and white festayres!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Sunday lunch at the Viella castle in Madiran

We've been a lot into castles lately. Kind of easy to get used to that kind of environment! This time we went to the Viella castle in Madiran. Every Sunday they serve a gourmet lunch accompanied by four different wines from their own wine production. Excellent idea! I believe it is always easier to fully appreciate a wine when served with food and the extraordinary setting for this meal, in the castle itself, could only make things better.

Viella is considered one of the top domains in the Madiran area. They produce red wine, red dessert wine, dry and sweet white wine. They belong simultanously to the Madiran and Pacherenc Vic Bilh wine classification.

PS It is actually situated in the Gers region; but very close to the border of Landes....
PS 2 The visit, lunch and wines were 30 euros per person...

Friday, August 6, 2010

Secret beach at the Socoa Fort

A couple of photos from the Socoa Fort. We discovered a small, calm beach just beneath it, not far from the crowded Socoa beach.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

JF goes surfing

Last year his two twin girls went surfing two days with Clara. Apparently the girls had loved it and even made their father want to try. So here we are, at one of the most beautiful beaches of the Basque coast, with a huge sun and small waves around one metre... perfect for a beginner!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Parador Castle in Fuentarrabie

The excuse was to celebrate the 40ieth birthday of my sister's husband - as if we needed an excuse to spend a night in this incredible place. The Parador in Fuentarrabie used to be the castle for Carlos V and has since been renovated by the Spanish government. Its two metre thick walls are very impressive even though you can't say it looks pretty from the outside and the view over the Bidassoa Bay is no less than astounding...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Toropiscine in Léon

Cows and bulls are a huge subject in the Southwest of France, with corridas in different formats, course landaise and of course the hugely popular games with cows and a pool.... they are called toropiscine; toroball or intervilles and they all draw both families and mad young men who want to face the rapid and angry cows in a - relatively - securised environment. (No, I would never do it).

Spanish ham from our friends

We live less than one hour from the Spanish border. Our friends, who came through Spain from Barcelona, gave us a beautiful ham. The best if you ask me.

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