to the circus and back again
There’s another post about our NZ trip coming, but I thought I’d catch up on what we’ve been doing since our return to France, a month ago now. It being winter (though not of the polar vortex variety), the temptation is to hide indoors with food and board games and multiple series of television shows…
But! We’ve broken that up a little. We went to the Festival International du cirque de Massy last weekend: three hours of the top circus acts in the world. This included the guy who walked the high wire at the london olympics closing ceremony!
See that bicycle? Yep, he rode it along the metal pole. That contraption looks insane, but the light bulb shaped bit turns around so that they start and finish horizontal. In the middle though, yeesh! Freaky.
There were other acrobatics, including a pair who dangle from a ‘rocket’ which was on a cable and flying around in circles above our heads.
All this took place inside a tent and seemed tiny to begin with. There was an orchestra up above the entrance way and one of the clowns performed out in among the audience, but all the rest was contained in the center.
For the kids, the highlight was the animals. No lions, but there were tigers and bears. And horses and baboons and dogs and monkeys…
Given the level of international acclaim, I would expect the animals are treated really well. I’d hope so. There seemed a nice camaraderie but I guess most adults see this sort of thing and hesitate. I’ve read ‘Water for Elephants’. I’ve heard the horror stories. The dogs and monkeys don’t concern us so much, perhaps because they’re more commonly domesticated and smaller, less dangerous and therefore less restricted. The entire ring was enclosed in a mesh cage for the tiger act but the bears wore muzzles and the humans performing with them seemed a lot less wary of danger.
So that was the circus festival that descends annually on Massy, a suburb just south of us. If we’re still here next year, it’d be hard to resist.
This weekend just gone was more placid. We had plans but most fell by the wayside because the kids were sick and we were all exhausted. My fault, the exhaustion.
On Friday night I had writers’ group in Paris. We ate and talked and caught up, and then the four of us read our work and discussion/critique followed… all good. All good. And then, magically, it was twenty to midnight. It takes me about an hour to get back, two metros and then the RER train. And the last RER trains to Antony leave Chatelet Les Halles after midnight, but still, I marched through the metro stations like my tail was on fire. The platform at Chatelet was busy, the train was arriving. I got a seat, breathed a sigh of relief and settled in to read.
And then, some twenty minutes later, I realised I’d taken the train to Robinson. The line forks south of the city and I was on the wrong fork! On the last train! Stranded, in the burbs, at one in the morning… not so smart. I probably could have taken a taxi, but I didn’t think of that till after Luuk and the kids were on their way to pick me up.
I was wired, the kids weren’t well and didn’t want to go back to sleep, and none of us got many winks before three am. Needless to say, Saturday was all but a right-off. Louis’ school had open day in the morning, so we went to his classroom, saw his artwork and talked to his teacher. Then we popped down to the ludotheque to return a game and borrow another, but didn’t linger long. We were concerned that the kids might have Hand, Foot and Mouth disease. It seems to have come to nothing (either it wasn’t that, or it was a very mild case) but we were careful.
Sunday, the grand plan had been visitors for lunch. I’d bought a giant pumpkin at the market, while with my friend Claudia. And she sent me a recipe for fondue-stuffed pumpkin, so I insisted they join us to try it. But her kids were just recovering from the dreaded H,F&M, so they stayed away and we had the pumpkin to ourselves.
Cut off the top of the pumpkin and scrape out all the seeds, etc. Bake some (old) bread in the oven while it’s heating up. Then make the cream mixture:
1 1/2 cups cream
1 cup stock
salt and pepper and nutmeg
Grate 400 grams of swiss cheese. The recipe said to use half emmental and half gruyere, but I just used gruyere.
stuff the pumpkin with layers of bread, cream, cheese, bread, cream, cheese… and then put the lid on. Paint the outside of the onion with a little oil and then bake for an hour or so.
To serve, make sure you scoop out the pumpkin from the sides and not just the cheese and bread in the middle…