Tuesday, 30 September 2008

School Lunch Menu

Quite a bit of interest in the old school lunch menu's - so here are this weeks.  Jack on left, Henry & James 2 right.
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Monday, 29 September 2008

Sacrificial Lamb

ClaimedForrest  GuessWhoClimbedTheTree JustUs OurDune
Lamb2Slaughter  

By Sunday we were sorted: a quick breakfast and we raced down to the dune to catch the sun and miss the crowds.  Not that the crowds were ever that thick - we just fancied having the dune to ourselves.

The Sun god had been very kind to us and so it was only fitting to make some sort of sacrifice. Henry was chosen (naturally) and was buried vertically up to his neck and left for the crows.  The gods speared him (again!) and he managed to worm his way home.

The kids and I gathered up enough sand in our pockets and shoes to keep mum busy at home on the vacuum cleaner for at least a week or two. Lunch at the cabin and then a lazy swim before climbing in the car to drive home. 

RoyalThrone SnailTrail Watchourforfallingcones Forrest

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Sunset

SunSet InTheWest TheWarrior

This evening we watched the most beautiful sunset over Arcachon bay.  The family wanted to claim one of the many park benches along the cliff at the front of the campground.. but I resisted (we are not geriatrics) and force marched the grumpy bunch around the corner and up into the dunes.

Once we got there the grumbling subsided and the fun started: it was the best spot everyone conceded.

Henry AngeSunSet Thereitgoes

Henry is a rotten egg!

This video should be self-explanatory!

Saturday, 27 September 2008

MUST VISIT

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OldBugger ViewFromTop TheDune Skyward
DropOff HillClimb KingJames MonkeysInTree
Dune du Pyla, the largest sand dune in Europe, can  be found at the head of Arcachon bay around 40km from Bordeaux.  It is around 500m wide by 3km long, its height varies from 100 to 117 metres. The dune is encroaching the surrounding woodlands at a rate of 4 meters each year.
We had heard good things.. as you do.. and had marked this destination down as a must visit. We had tried to visit in August but all the good places appeared to be booked out.  The weather forecast for the weekend looked good and so it became one of those now or never decisions that seem to always turn out for the best.
We stayed in a small bungalow at Camping Panorama which is right next to the dune and was pretty good value at €40 a night.  The campground had great facilities, which were made even more so because it wasn't that busy. There was a great pool complex which included a water-slide..  lots of smiling faces!!
Our cabin looked out on the dune through the trees.. it was just perfect.  The boys walked around for half the day debating how many stars the campground should have.
Ange and I entertained the idea of a jog along the top of the dune on Sunday morning but that idea was quickly dispatched after our first ascent - sorry Runners World no photo entry this month.
It seemed every other tourist had brought there own paragliding gear to the beach.  It was runway central! We spent half the day dodging shadows. Guess who now wants to learn how to paraglide.
Yes. Dune du Pyla is definitely a must visit.  
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The Great Downhill Dune Race

All the boys (especially the big one) had great fun on the dunes. It is hard to get a sense from the video or photo's just how steep the leeward side of the dune is.

Downhill was great fun.. uphill was well, hard work, especially pulling a couple of 25kg sacks. Fortunately the sacks in question eventually figured this out and were able to resist the urge to "can we run down again, ah - please Dad"

My camera took a real beating from all the fine sand - I was worried I had ruined the retractable lens. It seems to be ok now.. touch wood.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Dune du Pyla

The Biscuit Bunch are off to the beach today.. just as soon as we pick the kids up after school.  We head due west to the motorway which will take us on a dogleg up to Bordeaux before swinging back south towards the coast. 

Our destination is the famous Dune du Pyla on the Atlantic coast - here are some pictures to temp you.

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la photo du jour

BeynacOverWater  

Yep - I posted this picture before but it is one of my favourites. It is a great shot of Château de Beynac dominating the north bank of the Dordogne river.

Beynac Castle
The castle was built in the early 12th century by the barons of Beynac.

It was home to King Richard I of England (Richard the Lionheart). He was essentially a Frenchman who spoke very little English and spent most his life in France (the frontier of his kingdom). He lead the 3rd Crusade which ended in an agreement allowing Christian access to and presence in Jerusalem.  It seems he didn't mind a bit of rape and plunder and he left a trail of conquests all across Southern Europe. He was eventually killed by a "lucky shot" from a crossbow arrow in Châlus, France.

During the hundreds year war (1337 to 1453) the fortress was in French hands and the Dordogne river was the border between France and England.

The castle and village below have been used as locations in a number of films, including Les Visiteurs (1993), La Fille de d'Artagnan (1994), Ever After (1998), Jeanne d'Arc (1999) and Chocolat (2000).

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Briggs & Stratton Update

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You asked for an update on le mouton and here it is.

They have bulked up considerably on the ol' front lawn diet. It is interesting that they seem to prefer this paddock (i.e. left) and come right up near the pool deck or fence whenever we are around (or even the dogs). Otherwise they are still very shy though.

Not sure about my french grammar.. i.e. "les", "le" or "la". I am pretty sure that sheep are considered masculine (le mouton) even though these ones are ewes but should I write "les" (plural) or "le"?

Sean thanks for the advice and help with videos. I am now using MM-HD but plan to give Ulead a trial run.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

She Works Hard for the Money

AngeAtWork   And here she is....  
Breakfast - tick
Kids ready -tick
School drop off - tick
Coffee - tick

Right must be time to check out her favorite blog: Tongue in Cheek

Tuesday Tune-Up

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HailStorm HailStorm2
Bread2Go DordogneRiverLunch
Berries AnotherHouse Tunnel
 

Welcome to the Tuesday ramble:

  • Autumn is on the way.  Leaves are starting to change colour and the pool temperature is hovering around 21ºC. We hope to hang on to this warm weather for another month before getting all the winter gear out. Clocks go forward this weekend!
  • We had a spectacular hail storm last week, a bit of flooding and lots of excitement.  Sun came out soon after, a bit like Auckland weather really.
  • Had a great time last week with Lorraine and Ed. It has been good to have Kiwi visitors to help remind us that our roots are deeply buried down in Aotearoa.
  • Jack has started up football again and has a couple of practices under his belt.  Not sure when the first game is as that would involve asking someone - too hard.  I'll get Ange onto it.
  • The French air force have been really busy today, not sure what they are practicing for but it certainly involves lots of low flying at high speed. Maybe they are also out looking for mushrooms?
  • The effects of the global economic meltdown are starting to sink in down here in the south west. Our favourite wine has gone up from €1.79 to €1.99 a bottle, I'm not sure how much of this inflationary pressure our budget can withstand. We might have to switch to drinking the cheap stuff:)
  • Went for a solo bike ride today.. Ange sprung a flat just as we were about to leave.  I have to fix it tomorrow so we can get out on Thursday.
  • This last photo was taken looking through an artillery turret at Castelnaud la Chapelle.
  • Well - I  need to sign off. Kids want to watch a movie on this computer and Ange is calling me to open the wine.  Cheers.

Taking Aim

ClosingIn4TheKill OnTheHunt  

I spotted these ladies while out cycling on the back roads. Don't they know it is hunting season? 

I approached slowly to see how close I could get.. not very. This second picture was zoomed in (10x) and was taken just before they scampered.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Rail Crossings

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It is hard to resist jumping onto my soapbox to raise issues that really irritate me.. after all there are soo many of them:) Just as well this is a blog about our family adventures and not a political commentary.

I think it is still interesting to contrast elements of our life in France with the old one back in New Zealand.   One of these differences that fascinates me is the extent to which the French still rely on rail, specifically as commuters. It is by far the quickest and cheapest way for a single person to get around France. 

LEVEL CROSSINGS:  We have a railway line that runs past our tiny village on the route between Le Buisson and Fumel. This line is well off the main commuter routes and we only hear around four trains per day.  Rural roads intersect this railway line about every other kilometre and yet every intersection has barrier arms along with bells and lights.  One of these crossings is a single residential driveway!  I have yet to see a train crossing in France which is not controlled by barrier arms. These pictures (above) are of some of the crossings that we pass every day on the way to take the kids to school.

This post was inspired by the story of Cricketer Chris Cairns, who has just completed a 1001km rail safety awareness walk in memory of his sister who was killed in a rail crossing accident 15 years ago.