Saturday, November 25, 2017

And Now We Are Four

Pages From Jan's Travel Journal: Monday, June 12 2017

Desmond had left for Paris by the time I awoke. We were all thrilled that Craig would finally be able to join us in France. Even though he is a seasoned traveler, Des wanted to meet his dad at the airport after what that poor guy had been through to obtain his passport renewal. It was with a light heart that I threw open the windows to a fresh, cool morning. I enjoyed my coffee and one of those little blueberry crepes I had grown fond of. Azur kept me company  while I ate. 

My little pal, Azur.
As Janey slept on, I cleaned house and started a load of laundry. After a while, I walked into the kitchen to find a large puddle of water in front of the washing machine! The water had run across the floor and into the bedroom. I was certain I had broken the washer and was just about to send a frantic text to Des when I realized that the spin cycle had caused a large plastic dishpan to vibrate off the top of the machine. I had been rinsing silverware in the dishpan and had not yet poured the water down the drain. I mopped it up with relief!

It was around 11:00 when Janey awoke. She nibbled on leftovers while I ate a light lunch of Swedish bread topped with creamy herbed cheese and fresh tomato slices. I treated myself to dessert of a chocolate-dipped meringue with some fresh cherries on the side. 

A tasty treat for dessert.
Craig and Des made good time and arrived just before noon. It was so good to see Craig again! We had coffee and relaxed for a while before we all boarded the tram to Auchan where we picked up a new TV for Des. We had been using his laptop to watch movies, which is okay for one or two people, but would make it difficult for all four of us to watch a show together. We also picked up a few groceries and some of our favorite beverages.

Craig and Des managed to transport the new TV without much of a struggle. The box had been well-wrapped by a helpful clerk. We had fun rearranging Desmond's living room, which included moving two large bookshelves. It was hard work, so we took a short break for drinks and snacks. When we had finished moving everything around and replacing all the books, it was time for dinner.

We dined at an African restaurant called Le Boloye, where each of us selected a different dish. Des ordered a meal made with tender goat meat. Janey chose grilled salmon, which was served atop colorful vegetables and salad greens. Craig asked for meatballs, which came with a large helping of fried plantains, and I had the poulet yassa with rice. It was a bit spicy, but very good. The little restaurant was warm, but the open door and a fan really helped us cool off. Creole music added a nice ambiance to the meal.

Playing the hand-stacking game
 while waiting for our meal.

Craig shared some fried plantain with me.
 They were very good.
We walked slowly home along river, pausing to enjoy the lovely view from the bridge. How wonderful it was for us to be together again!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Market Day

Pages From Jan's Travel Journal: Sunday, June 11 2017

It was a beautifully cool morning, and as I enjoyed my usual coffee, Desmond prepared a couple of protein smoothies made with chocolate, fresh strawberries, and bananas. As much as I love French pastries, these tasty shakes were a great way to start the day. I had more energy and didn't feel hungry until lunchtime. 

I love waking up to this!
By the time Desmond and I were ready to walk to the Arab market, the weather had warmed considerably. I'm glad Janey had chosen not to accompany us. It would have been too much for her. We walked along the river, admiring the beautiful view while panting in the heat. 

A pretty scene on the Loire in Orleans, France.
We arrived at the busy outdoor market, where cars were streaming into the parking lot adjacent to the large area which had been cordoned off for the weekly sale. Des and I had forgotten to stop at the ATM on our way, so we decided to pool our cash when we were ready to pay for our purchases. The vendors were all very nice. A few of them offered samples of fruit as we strolled by, and we found some beautiful produce. At one large stall, a young man was slicing samples of watermelon and cantaloupe. They were some of the best I had ever tasted, and I selected a small melon and a large chunk of juicy watermelon. We also purchased sweet potatoes, chives, cherries, and garlic. When it was our turn to pay for our items, I discovered that my wallet was gone! After a few heart-stopping moments, I remembered that just before we had left the house I had emptied my wallet of all my American coins and must have forgotten to tuck it back inside my purse!. Des explained our problem to the vendors and them he would go back home to get our money. They said we should just go ahead and take our fruits and vegetables home, put them in the refrigerator, and then bring their money back. It was a kind offer, but we felt strange about doing that, so poor Desmond walked twenty minutes back in the heat, found the money, and then rode his bike back to the market. 

Meanwhile, I wandered around in the hot sun, looking at the various foods being offered, but soon became very warm, so stood in the shade of the the canopy near our packages of produce. The young man who had given me a taste of melon earlier was standing nearby. Every now and then, he would come over and hand me a slice of mango or melon. He would wait as I tasted it, and he seemed pleased at my reactions to those tasty tidbits. At one point he placed a plump cherry into the palm of my hand. I was thinking of something else and didn't respond. Suddenly, in a joking voice, he said "Thank You! You're Welcome!" I laughed, came to my senses, and properly thanked him. We attempted talk to each other, and actually managed to converse. He was from Morocco and had a hard time understanding my toddler-level French. When Desmond arrived, we paid for our goodies and then went to another stand for olives, red peppers, dates, figs, and plums. On the way out, I thanked my Moroccan friend for his kindness.

 On the long walk back, Desmond pushed his bike, wearing a loaded backpack in the heat. Once home, we sat in front of the fan and began munching on olives and fresh fruit. Des brought out a tin of sardines, some cream cheese, and whole grain crackers. That made a great lunch, and it was funny watching Janey's reaction to a sardine sandwich!. 

We made quite a haul on market day!

Well, at least she tried a sardine sandwich!
Later that day, we talked to Craig, who was getting ready to drop the dog at Jennifer's house, go to lunch, then head to the airport. We cleaned house and did some laundry, then had snacks of beer, chips, olives, and sausage. We were simply too warm to think of cooking anything. Our day ended with a fun game of Scattergories. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

A Warm Day of Shopping

Pages From Jan's Travel Journal:  Saturday, June 10 2017

Since it was weekend, we slept late. In fact, Janey was still asleep when Desmond and I went out for coffee. We walked over to the French Coffee shop, where I breakfasted on a trio of mini beignets - chocolate, apple,and raspberry. We relaxed while listening to the bluesy notes of a saxophone, drifting down from an apartment window. 

When we were able to rouse Janey, the three of us headed into town to a thrift shop. There, we had fun buying lots baby clothes for Chris and Mathilde's unborn son. All of the items were of excellent quality. I also picked out two tops for myself. Janey is at that awkward in-between stage and was unable to find anything she liked (that fit) in either the children's or the women's section. Des got several great shirts and some jeans. 

The thrift shop is on this pretty street
 in Orleans, France.
At home, we snacked for lunch on sausage, cheese, chips, cashews. And we heard good news from Craig! He had received his passport and would be arriving on Monday! That really gave a boost to our spirits.

That afternoon, the three of us took the long tram ride to Auchan, where we picked up some new pillows and a few other things for the house. We were very hot and tired by then. What could be better than a stop at Autour de la Terre? We each enjoyed a glass of iced green tea as we lingered in the cool, calm interior of the tearoom.

The calm interior of Autour de la Terre.
In the evening, Desmond made noodle bowls for supper. The soup was delightful, full of grilled zucchini, spinach, lardons, kimchi, sesame oil, and curry paste. Yum! We ended the day with a game of Racko. The weather forecast was for a 90 degree day on Sunday, so we made plans to go to the Arab market in morning and stay in the rest of the day, cleaning house and preparing for Craig's arrival. 

Tasty and colorful noodle bowls
 made a wonderful meal.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Another Walk in the Park

Pages From Jan's Travel Journal: Friday, June 9 2017

Ahhh, I was able to sleep late! I had hung a towel across the top of the window, which effectively blocked the bright morning sun. Desmond had already left for work, so I sipped my coffee, nibbled a blueberry crepe, and then took care of some household chores until Janey awoke.

A beautiful day at Parc Floral
 in Orleans France

We had planned to meet Desmond at Parc Floral for a picnic lunch. I packed a baguette, along with cans of chicken and pork rillettes, potato chips (grilled steak flavor), and fresh fruit. It had rained during the night and the air was fresh and cool. After lunch, we had some time to explore the grounds. We meandered over to the children's section, where we viewed the animals, including a peacock that was perched on a low tree branch. Janey tried the huge slide, and liked it so much that she went down several times. There were many children in the park, obviously there on school trips. They seemed to be having a great day, as were we.

Des captures a posing peacock.

Janey on the climbing frame at Parc Floral.

Now, that's a slide!

A lovely scene at Parc Floral.

Soon it was time for Des to go back to work. Janey and I headed home, with the tram becoming more crowded at each stop. Even though we had stationed ourselves fairly close to the doors, we still had to fight our way through to disembark at our stop. We barely managed it!

I called Craig as soon as we got home and learned that there was still no news regarding his passport. The lack of information was depressing. We were missing him, and were very eager to have him with us in France. 

When Desmond arrived home, he and I made a quick run to Carrefour. We took the groceries home, grabbed Janey, and hurried into town to meet Erica for drinks at  le Paxton's Head, an English style pub on the Rue de Borgogne.. It was good to see Erica again. She and Des ordered beer and I enjoyed a tall, refreshing Monaco. Janey had a complimentary drink of water sweetened with mint syrup.

We were famished by the time Erica left to catch her train. We ate kebab sandwiches and crisp, hot fries at the nearby Grec Gourmand, sitting at a table outside. Janey and Desmond were facing the cobblestone street, and they kept up a hilarious running commentary regarding the pedestrians. They would place bets as to which ones would fail to notice the  pile of dog doo which had somehow been deposited in the middle of the busy street. Disgusting and yet somehow quite funny. 

Janey at the Grec Gourmand, Orleans France

As the evening drew to a close, we walked slowly home beside the river. A movie was a fun and relaxing way to end the day. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Disappointed Trio

Pages From Jan's Travel Journal: Thursday, June 8 2017

I awoke at 7:30 with the sun in my eyes. I loved having the window open at night to allow the cool air to circulate, but I wasn't quite ready to get up! I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep, but then the construction noise began and there was just no way. I'm not exactly sure what the workers were doing in the square, but it certainly made a lot of racket!

Des had the day off and we made plans to visit a flea market in a neighboring town. Desmond had been there before and described it to me, so I was looking forward to finding some bargains. We had a quick breakfast of chocolate chip brioche, which was very good. After checking the website to be sure the flea market was open, we rode the tram to the other side of town and then we boarded a bus for the long ride to the warehouse where the market was held. Poor Janey had motion sickness, but once we arrived at the bus stop, she began to perk up and was soon skipping along quite happily.

There was quite a bit of traffic on the road which the sidewalk bordered, and we noticed many cars and some pedestrians that were headed in the same direction as the three of us. After a ten minute walk, we reached the flea market and were soon disappointed to discover that they were preparing for a big sale over the weekend! Well, that would have a nice thing to put on their website! We turned away and trudged in the heat back to the bus stop.

Walking to the bus stop after an unsuccessful journey.

Janey tried not to complain as her motion sickness returned. She sat quietly, slumped next to me, and I felt bad for her. Des and I decided to stop at the pharmacy on the way home to purchase some medicine for Janey. When we reached Orléans, we treated ourselves to tea at Autour de la Terre. Janey fell in love with the place, as we knew she would. This peaceful little tearoom is a peaceful oasis near the cathedral. Actually, it's not so little. There is a cozy front room, a sunroom, and a garden. Each area is charming in its own way. Janey took her time choosing a tea while she paged through the menu/sketchbook. Sadly, none of us had a pen or pencil for her to sketch with.

Janey's tea was served in a lovely iron teapot. Des had chosen hot chocolate. The shop has offerings of coffee, tea, and chocolate from around the world, and I know how wonderful their coffee is, but I chose an iced green tea that was delicious and very refreshing. We promised my granddaughter that we would return another day so that she could add a drawing to the sketchbook.

This tea room is a pleasant place to linger.

Des and Janey at Autour de la Terre, Orleans France.

On the way home, we purchased ice cream cones and ate them as we walked slowly along the beautiful streets near the Loire. That evening, we treated ourselves to Chez Ming for dinner. We invited Mathieu, whom Janey hadn't seen in years. It was a fun meal and we all enjoyed the food and the conversation. 

Can you spot the kitty?
We saw this on the way to the restaurant.

A beautiful view of the Loire and Orleans, France.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

I Get By (with a little help from my French)

Pages From Jan's Travel Journal: Wednesday, June 7 2017

I awoke at 7:30, leaving Janey to sleep in. She had not rested well during the night. Desmond was also sleeping late, which was a treat for him. I leisurely sipped my coffee while checking email and messages from home. Craig was still diligently working on his expedited passport renewal, which was a frustrating activity. It seemed he was usually on the phone for hours and often received conflicting information.

Desmond woke at 9:00 and we talked for about an hour before waking Janey for a breakfast of pain au chocolat. It was a type I had never eaten before, made from a tube of refrigerated dough! We had fun assembling the pastries by placing two little logs of dark chocolate onto each rectangle of the buttery dough, and then rolling them gently into shape with our fingers. We enjoyed them fresh from the oven. Janey was still exhausted and soon crawled back into bed. Des left for work while I busied myself with household chores.

I woke Janey again at 1:30, so that we could go shopping. She had earlier expressed concern that we wouldn't be able to do much without Desmond along to translate. Des had assured Janey that her grandma knew enough French to get by quite well, but Janey still had some doubt.

Pain au chocolat from a tube! It was pretty tasty.
The two of us had fun wandering through the stores in and around Halles Chatelet. Janey wanted to purchase some bulk tea, so we went to Duo Thé et Chocolat, a shop that Desmond had recommended. The proprietor was as nice as Des had said, and even though he spoke only a bit of English we were able to communicate quite well. I noticed that he kept looking at Janey, seeming to study her features. At last he hesitantly asked me if she was Asian. When I replied that my granddaughter was half Chinese, the gentleman became quite animated and began searching through photos on his cell phone. Soon he proudly showed us an adorable picture of his own granddaughter, who is also half Chinese. By the time we left the tea shop, I felt that I had made a new friend. As we walked out into the street, Janey exclaimed, "Wow, grandma! You DO know how to speak French."

Janey was becoming tired and hungry, so we headed toward home while looking for a place to have a snack. We chose Garden Ice because it had a nice view of the Loire. After looking at the menu, I realized that there was really nothing snack-sized from which to choose. Janey ordered a plate of pasta carbonara, and we both had a coke. She dug into the pasta with eagerness, while I nibbled on a small piece of the accompanying bread. We were able to take the leftovers with us, which is something that is becoming more common in France.

A "snack" at the Garden Ice Cafe, Orleans.
On the way home, we stopped by the hardware store to purchase a fan. I'm glad the store wasn't far from home, because poor Janey was worn out. She kept apologizing for slowing me down, but I told her not to worry and that this was her vacation, too, and I wanted her to enjoy it. When Desmond returned from work, we relaxed over some cherry beer and nibbled on veggie chips. Janey had a glass of water with a splash of flavored syrup in it, and she really enjoyed those chips. For dinner, we ate the delicious lemon cream chicken that Des prepared. After that wonderful meal, we watched a movie and went to bed rather late. Janey didn't feel well, and cried and said she should have not have come to France. I comforted her as best I could, saying that she was still a bit jet-lagged and reminded her that she was not used to so much walking. Even so, she didn't fall asleep until 3:00. Still, it had been a good day.

Lemon cream chicken
 with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Crepes for Breakfast

Pages From Jan's Travel Journal: Tuesday, June 6 2017

How good it was to awaken in one of my favorite places on earth! The night had been wonderfully cool, and after a sound sleep, I felt alert and ready to enjoy the lovely day ahead. I was able to chat for a few minutes with Desmond as I drank my morning coffee, but soon he was out the door to go to work.  Janey slept on, curled beneath the blankets and looking very cozy. 

I was reluctant to leave, even just to cross the square for pastries. Concerned that Janey might awaken and feel disoriented and frightened, I settled on a breakfast of packaged blueberry crepes that were surprisingly tasty. Janey slept late and crawled out of bed feeling groggy. It took a while for her to become awake enough to want to go out. 

Packaged crepes.
Who knew they could be so good?
We rode the tram to the university and had lunch with Desmond. We had wanted to grab a bite at a nearby restaurant, but found it was closed, so we picked up sandwiches and chips at a local supermarket and took them back to Desmond's office.  It was Janey's first time there, and she was interested in everything. We were able to talk with a couple of Desmond's coworkers while we ate.

Later, we all shopped at Carrefour to pick up ingredients for dinner. Before going in to the market, we enjoyed coffee and pastries at Paul. When we returned home and were prepping the vegetables for dinner, Jeff called. He was immediately invited to stop by for drinks and we all had an enjoyable time together while we nibbled on cheese, sausage, and chips. We had purchased some non-alcoholic beer for Janey, which made her feel a part of the fun. 

Azur seems to be waiting for his share!

Jeff was unable to stay for dinner, but after he left we weren't very hungry, so we ate rillettes, spread on a fresh baguette. For dessert, we savored our own French version of strawberry shortcake, made by spooning sliced berries over some mini Tropezienne. Yum!