Saturday, July 24, 2010

Birthdays and traveling

Oh, I have so much catching up to do with my blog. First things first, we’ve been celebrating birthdays around here. Today was Remi’s. I bought him a session at the same beauty salon where he gave me the facial, but his is for a relaxing massage. Will make him some chocolate chip cookies tomorrow (with Tollhouse chips and American brown sugar).

And Thursday was Juliette’s second birthday. We gave her a rocking crib for her baby doll and she shrieked with delight when she saw it in the living room. She also tried to climb in it, and I think we’ll need to dissuade her a few times again. She had Skype sessions with Grandpa (Baca) and also Mameelin and Grandma the Great. Then there was cake and attempts to blow out her big number two candle. She smiled as I sang Happy Birthday and then dug in heartily into that cake. Didn’t finish it all but this could also be because it was time for her evening bottle.

Our little two-year-old knows so many things about the world already. She sings along with some of the commercial jingles on TV, tries to say “bonjour” and “ça va? (how are you?) to strangers in the grocery store. She sticks her little hand in the cabinet whenever I have it open and looks for cookies. Will take the camembert to her daddy when I tell her so. Shouts out “doggy” or “chien” when she sees one out and about. Her vocabulary is increasing by leaps and bounds, but she still says a lot of things that sound like jibberish, but serious jibberish, mind you. There are a good number of English words and phrases, like “get down”, “plee” for “please”, “where are you?” all slurred together as we play peek-a-boo with the chair, “nap”, “leg”, “mouse”… But there are also lots of French phrases, which at times still seem to be “winning”. As long as she can still understand me and my family and speak some English, I suppose we’re doing well.

Speaking of Shakespeare’s tongue, we visited his homeland during our week off. After much hemming and hawing, Remi and I decided to do a two-day trip to Dover and Canterbury. We drove over a little more than an hour to Calais, then took the ferry to Dover. It was such a breath of fresh air for me to be in my own language again and there are definitely lots of similarities between English and American cultures. I’m admittedly prejudiced but sometimes the British did seem more open and casual. Like the teens who were happily making faces and sticking out their tongues playfully at Juliette. That’s never happened to me in France. The French like to say the English are so reserved, but sometimes I find it the opposite. No offense to any Frenchies reading. It was kind of liberating to know I could go into any shop and make myself totally understood. And what fun to see some of the brands I know from the US also on the British shelves.

So here are a few of the trip highlights in words and pictures:

Canterbury Cathedral, duh! Can’t go to Canterbury without seeing it. History tidbit: this is where Thomas Beckett was assasinated. The pilgrims of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales came to this place, too (flashback to British Lit class). But on the day we went they were doing the graduation ceremony for the University of Kent students. You can see a few in their gowns at the bottom of the pic. They were even giving an honorary diploma to Orlando Bloom (no, we didn’t see him). Unfortunately we couldn’t go into some parts of the cathedral because of the ceremony.

But before we visited the cathedral we just had to make a stop at Starbucks for a mocha frappuccino and carrot cake. Here’s the view from said coffee house, which is right next to the cathedral.

Posing with the cute post box.

I think this sign says it all.

The gardens along the river were quite lovely, too.

What English town would be complete without a pub or two?

Dover is less picturesque than Canterbury but still quite fun to go into little shops and experience that English touch. We had an English breakfast complete with divine mild sausages, bacon, hash browns, eggs, boiled tomatoes ( it was that or baked beans) and toast.

Beachfront buildings there. This area was nice but some parts of the town were a bit on the shabby side.

British schoolkids visiting Dover Castle. They all had some touch of teal in their uniforms. They were all carrying their sack lunches and more or less listening to the middle-aged guide who seemed a bit exasperated.

One last view of Dover taken from the castle.

Tea time, so divine. Little biscuits with butter and jam. I had to squeeze it in before our ferry ride home.

Brilliant sun on the English Channel as we came home (reluctantly in my case). We ate overpriced fish and chips on the boat. Strangely it came with Ben and Jerry’s ice cream for dessert.

Some great memories, and once our bank accounts recover from the exchange rate, maybe we’ll think about another trip next year.


Crystal said...

First, HAPPY BIRTHDAY JULIETTE! I feel so bad for forgetting...strange to think 2 years ago almost to the day, I came to visit you in the hospital :) I remember thinking Juliette was so perfect, like a little doll and for a split second I wanted one lol. It must be so interesting for you to see her language evolve..I wonder if she'll have an accent that is a mix of French and English? Will she be completely bilingual by 5 or 6? Very interesting indeed!

And I love the pictures from England! You know, the whole time I lived in the north I wanted to take that ferry to Dover, but I never ended up doing so. Your explanations and photos are great and I feel like I saw all the sites along with you. And the food! Glad you got a little trip away and it seemed like a lot of fun.

Give Juliette a big birthday kiss from me!!

Lindle said...

Again, "Happy Birthday" to the July babies we love. Juliette looks delighted with her yummy chocolate cake!
I wish I could crawl into those food pictures and sample them all--you are becoming quite the accomplished food photographer.
England does look and sound lovely. And just how charming is it when you see English school children in colorful uniforms against the backdrop of an old castle?? Too quaint!
Love the setting sun on the water too. It does look like you packed a lot of special experiences into a short trip over the channel. Next time, I'm going! (No matter HOW seasick I get.)
Love, Mum

Jenenz said...

What a delicious chocolate birthday cake for the birthday girl! The decorations are so colorful. My mouth is watering.

Baby can say, "get down"???? Like, "get down tonight" boogie disco "get down"?

I'm so glad you shared your photos of Dover and Canterbury Cathedral. Friends just went there and weren't impressed. But, seeing Canterbury and Dover through your eyes makes the place magical! The photo of the cathedral makes it larger than life! What a wonderful trip you had.

Happy Birthday Remi and Juliette. Happy day Milam!