Sunday, 6 March 2011

New beginnings for 2011

What a busy weekend it's been. It began when I rushed home on Friday evening to start preparing for my mini studio-warming. I had invited Camille and Claire from work over for a meal. Despite the limitations of my habitation I managed to come up with an appetiser, main and desert and then chockies etc.This sort of thing is quite tricky with the size of my fridge and lack of appliances so I just have to work with what I've got and not try for a dinner party. I'm also still frustrated with my language progress because I don't understand most of what the ladies are talking about together. Roll on the day I can understand everything around me but that could be a year away.

Saturday morning was flat out getting shopping and washing done as well as the inevitable housework. Well, the housework isn't a lot but it still takes time as I have few mod cons. So different to my life in Auckland where I lived in a 3 bedroom house and garden. I so miss my garden. I looked at all the space Jean-Claude has at his place, trees, grass, a little stream, front and back gardens- not exciting gardens: half empty and few flowers though it has potential. With some effort and ideas it could be even nicer than it is.

Jean-Claude (my retired dentist friend) collected me and took me to Parly 2 a big shopping centre near le Chesnay which is near Versailles. He likes shopping. Quite a few french guys do, not necessarily to buy much. Most kiwi guys hate it. I wonder what causes this cultural difference. He bought me a CD of Etienne Daho I've wanted for a long time- that was very kind and we played it later in the day. I have almost nothing in the way of french CDs, partly because I can't afford them and partly because i don't know who's around that I would like. Etienne's been around decades, I prefer his later stuff. We also managed to fit in a quick drive past an old chateau which is now a private hotel for the very well heeled who arrive for clandestine hookups from Paris via helicopter.

Dinner was some well-cooked (for me) steak and potatoes dauphinois - always a good bet, and JC had thoughtfully bought some milk so I could have a cup of tea. Today we drove to the nearby Chateau de Maintenant which is famous partly because Madame de Maintenon was the mistress and secret wife of Louis XIV. There was a chateau in Maintenon in the 13th century which went through various owners until it was purchased by the widow Scarron (Fran├žoise d'Aubigne) who received generous financial support from the king and it was extended and famous landscape gardener le Notre designed the gardens. Fran├žoise became Madame de Maintenon but had no descendents and so the castle went to her niece. More remodelling occured in the 19th century and the castle was severely damaged by allied bombing raids. Restoration is fairly recent and took 15 years. It is now the responsibility of the regional council Eure-et-Loire. Not all of it is open to the public but it is definitely worth a visit. I found it quite beautiful and the artworks are impressive. Naturally Louis XIV (the sun king of Versailles) features prominently.I loved it: the romantic exterior details, the beautiful interiors, the furniture ( though some is in poor condition), It's quite ornate and intimate. I wasn't allowed to photograph indoors, alas.

Photos include the chateau and also a medieval tower at Galladon village. It's a wonder it still stands but it's all that remains of several towers and a wall surrounding the village during the hundred years war with England. 

Seeing this stuff is where I get my bliss. I'm thinking of attending a meeting of amateur photographers in Paris tomorrow night. Maybe I'll get some pointers on using other features on my Nikon.


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