Showing posts with label Avignon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Avignon. Show all posts

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

View of the Olympics from France - and David Walliams's new book

The south of France is usually heaving with UK visitors at this time of year. But in sun-baked Avignon I didn’t spot any British tourists at all (apart from us, that is). The newsagents’ stack of English newspapers looked untouched and there wasn't a whisper of an English accent at the historic Palais des Papes.

I suspect most people are at home glued to the Olympics. And come to think of it, maybe the French are too. 

Our neighbours at the House With No Name popped across the field to say hello yesterday and told us they’d been watching the Games avidly.

“What did you think of the opening ceremony?" my daughter asked them, wondering what on earth they’d made of Mr Bean, Mary Poppins, the Queen apparently parachuting out of a helicopter and hundreds of children jumping up and down on luminous hospital beds. Serge, our neighbour smiled benignly. ‘C’etait bon, mais très bizarre,’ he said.

Good, but strange. Hmmm. I reckon that just about sums it up.

PS. My review of David Walliams’s wonderful Gangsta Granny is one of the best-read House With No Name posts. So loads of readers will be thrilled to hear that Walliams’s fifth children’s novel will be published on September 19. Ratburger, illustrated by the inimitable Tony Ross, promises to be a treat. It’s the tale of a lonely little girl called Zoe and her ice cream loving father who battle to save Zoe’s newly adopted rat, Armitage, from the clutches of a villain called Burt. Walliams is the fastest growing children’s author in the UK and publisher HarperCollins describes his new story as “packed full of zest, jeopardy and classic Walliams wit.” Walliams himself says it’s his “scariest and funniest book yet.” Watch this space for a House With No Name review.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Dreaming of a second-hand 2CV

Slowly, slowly, the French farmhouse I bought on a mad whim back in 2006 is coming back to life. My husband and children always promised it would but, being a wimp, I had my doubts. We still haven’t managed to sleep a night there yet, but the tumbledown six-bedroom wreck with half a roof, terrible damp problem and bathroom inhabited by a plague of rats is looking – and I never thought I’d say this – well, rather beautiful.

The rats are long gone and the clever architect friends who are renovating the house have replaced the hotch-potch of windows with elegant pale grey ones. They’ve designed a new roof, built steps from the terrace to the front door, restored the stone staircase from the ground to the first floor and transformed the dingy downstairs kitchen and salon into stunning, light-filled rooms with domed ceilings.

Instead of wanting to run a mile from the place, I now want to spend as much time there as possible. My student daughter, keen to perfect her French, is even making plans to buy a second-hand 2CV and decamp there for the whole summer.

Progress is coming along at such a pace that when we visited the house last week, we decided to brave the new Avignon branch of IKEA to buy a kitchen and bathroom. I can report, by the way, that shopping in a French IKEA is just as horrendous as visiting a UK one. The upside is that we’ve added an impressive number of new words, from poignets and robinets to lave-vaisselle, to our French vocabulary. The downside is that we've got to go back again in the summer to buy a fridge.
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