Being newbies to France we don’t know a lot of people, and those we do know we don’t know well. So it is a rare week when there is a social event on our calendar. And this week we have three!
A fourth of july barbecue.
One of the ways I’ve got to know a few people is through Message – an online community of english-speaking parents in Paris and the surrounding areas. I have made a few friends and enjoy going to coffee groups and play groups (essentially the same thing but there are a surprising number of non-coffee-drinkers).
Most of the mums are not french, though many have french partners, and several are American. One of my good American friends hosted a barbecue – apparently the quintessential way to commemorate Independence Day.
We were actually in Florida last 4th of July, and I’d say that this year’s BBQ was pretty French in comparison. We had a salad course first, and then the meat came out, a few pieces at a time.
Living in small apartments as opposed to large houses, the French are less likely to have gargantuan outdoor kitchens like shiny silver spaceships on every back porch. Barbecues here are smaller and so the pace at which dinner is cooked and eaten is completely different.
But the dessert was very american: chocolate brownie with peanut butter chunks, and Ben and Jerry’s ‘Oh My Apple Pie’ ice cream. The party was hosted at a house, with a yard, rather than an apartment, so the kids ran around and had a blast. The adults sat around and nibbled and talked, occasionally pushing a swing or feeding a child.
It was a lovely evening (so good, in fact, that I forgot to take photos). The rain threatened, but stayed away. I hadn’t seen many people since Elena’s birth so I really enjoyed catching up with some of the mums I’d been getting to know beforehand. It feels really good to be ‘in’ with some people and less isolated than we were not so long ago.
A Star Trek themed surprise party.
We’ve been going along, most weeks, to an english-speaking Anglican church. It’s affiliated with a much larger church in Versailles. For a while now the vicar of our church has been responsible for both congregations: a full-on load! But she’s finished up her time at the larger church and will be back to her original role: the vicar of one church.
To thank her and her family, to bid them a tentative (hope we still see you occasionally) farewell, they organised a surprise party in her honour. Being a dedicated trekkie, the theme was set.
We all donned our primary-coloured shirts and black pants. A few even wore pointy ears. The church hall was all decked out in flashing lights and the food was re-named in sci-fi theme. I drank blue cool-aid for the first time ever, and ate far too much dessert… not the first time ever.
There was a sci-fi quiz (not limited to trekkie questions but my team still lost) and we walked away with quite a few of the prizes because Luuk was in the winning team and the prizes were toys Louis would enjoy – is enjoying. It was a fantastic night and a real testament to everyone involved, especially Elaine (our vicar).
I’m even considering giving Star Trek another chance.
Meeting up with other Euro-dwelling Kiwi friends in Paris.
Kiwis are always off on O.E.s. The Overseas Experience is like a rite of passage or something. Perhaps its because NZ is so far away from much of the world, we don’t just do a week or two holiday, we go for a year or three and work or study, travel, explore… and half the time end up staying away.
Loads of our friends have done this and are now spread around the world. Luuk and I were exceptions – we both traveled but not for more than a few months, and then returned home. Well, till now.
Some of our long-lost friends are in Europe and we’ve been looking forward to catching up with them over the summer. This weekend three of them were in Paris, and a couple of new additions – three babies and a girlfriend.
We did the top-billing sights of Paris and talked about babies too much, basically. Apologised for all the parent-talk, but kept falling back into it. Nasty habit, that.
Elena turned 1 month old yesterday. What a way to celebrate!
We walked around Paris and then hid from the rain at a cafe. Realising it was after five we had some afternoon tea/dinner or sorts…
The kids coped pretty well with all this. Louis skipped his morning sleep at home (rascal) and then we were out all afternoon, so he had no nap at all yesterday. Come six o’clock he sat up at a table in a restaurant and ate apple pie without much fuss. Miracle. Towards the end he got down from his chair and played in the puddles, going so far as to dunk his baguette in the puddle. Luuk grabbed it but not till after Louis had put it in his mouth. Oops. Actually, Louis was a mess. We let him jump in a couple of puddles and then it was all he wanted to do. He brought home quite a lot of water.
He was happy. Soggy and exhausted, but happy.
We were exhausted too. A day in Paris always takes it out of me: all those stairs in all those subway stations…
So now we’re having a lazy sunday of the big breakfast, too much television, really-should-nap variety. The weather is lousy, but I don’t mind rain as long as we get a bit of thunder occasionally – lends some drama to the dreary outlook.
I definitely plan on writing a little novel today – or a lot of novel. It could happen. The next scene is an important one: the main characters mend their fences (figuratively) and discover something buried (literally) in the garden. Just thinking about it makes me want to start writing. Unfortunately my head is all blurry from being awake for a couple of hours in the middle of the night. I’ve already had two cups of coffee. Next stop: jus d’orange.