As the new year settles in, so do we for a more regular pace again. We enjoyed a bit more time with visiting friends and family before we had to get down to the business of back to school.
The new year came in mildy though overcast however made a good afternoon for a bike ride along the canal with Helen, Leelah and our girls.
Unfortunately, Mom had come down with a bad stomach virus so couldn't join for the traditional Mariotti New Year's Day king crab legs - a bit more expensive in France than at home - and we added a French surf and turf bit for those who weren't up for more seafood - magret de canard which I've managed to add to my repetoire. If you visit, I will definitely make it for you - it's good stuff.
Shops opened back up on the 2nd so Helen got serious about some French shopping in the morning and then we got rental cars revving to drive south to the Pyrenees again to see how much more snow capped these lovely mountains and take our visitors to our newfound thermal spa/pool escape. Was just as enjoyable as we remembered. We then stopped in Arreau enroute home to try the local cuisine. Helen and I made the beginner's error of both ordering the cassoulet de maison - a traditional white bean stew from the south with duck leg, Toulousian sausage and pork bit. We decided that cassoulet de maison in this restaurant meant the size of bowl you'd serve for the entire house. We took home the huge portions we couldn't finish, had it for another meal side and still had some left over. Hearty, for certain.
The next day brought sun and another day trip - off to Carcassone to enjoy all that this medieval hilltop village/world UNESCO heritage site one hour east of Toulouse can bring. Which one thing we've noted is blustering wind tunnels up the narrow old streets. Very much worth our return, though and the new visitors were all properly impressed. The one exception, however, was trying to find a meal - it was quite busy with tourists of all kinds with most still on holidays so our leisurely pace that day of stopping after 2 p.m. meant we struggled to find a place with room for 8 inside still serving lunch. Still learning the French pacing.
The final day for Helen and Leelah was decidedly shopping - when girls tired, we got them some canvasses and sent them home for a painting party. It was hard core and not for the faint of heart. Helen didn't benefit as much as she'd hoped - think because her style is already so cool, it's hard for French designers to top/please. I, however, am proudly sporting a sharp new Bensimon coat (merci amie!).
We managed to stay healthy through the holidays however on Sunday, we crashed - all four of us. Mild version of the stomach virus but came with fever and/or fatigue and we all just stayed down both Sunday and Monday. So girls' first day back to school became Tuesday, which was fine by them as they weren't so excited to get back. The reminder that our next 2 week vacation is a mere 6 weeks away seemed to help cushion the blow. Plus having Marco's parents here for a couple more days helped keep them moving.
We enjoyed a Wednesday afternoon together and the girls now are zooming around on their early birthday presents of new scooters (trottinettes) - all the kids here have them too.
One more French adventure to be had for Marco's parents - the taxi drivers decided to be on strike for a couple of days so we ventured by metro then navette (shuttle bus) to the airport early Thursday morning - glad I was able to help as it would have been more adventure than Marco's parents needed. Made it slowly but surely and arriving just in time to get through security and board. Whew.
My news is that I've had my proposal to the Montreal wine company accepted to be their English copy adapter for local French wineries. Now I await to see if it's a floodgate, crickets or somewhere in between. More on that when there is news.
Marco's news (if I've not shared) is that he's being offered an internship with Airbus' Airworthiness division - his meeting tonight will give him the details of the offer so we'll see how that nets out. Think it's a good thing. Also it means he will then be sorted for post March, which is coming up quickly.
We've just booked to visit Scotland with my dad and his wife in May then on to east England to celebrate my aunt/his sister's 60th plus 10th wedding anniversary. Following, Dad and Barb will return with us to Toulouse and have a week or so of French life with us. Always good to have trips to look forward to ;)
My interesting development for today is a lunch plan with Canadians (whom I've not yet met - being set up on a blind date of sorts). A mom from Elena's class has an older daughter who did an exchange/internship in Ottawa last summer. As her French is really fast, I'm not certain if these are people her daughter met through this internship or just more Canadians that are now in Toulouse, and whether they are from Ottawa or Montreal. Details to follow - will let you know how I make out.
Alright, think I've caught you up - hoping to get back to weekly updates now that we're back in the swing of things.
Wishing everyone a great weekend and if you're home today with your kids because of the work stoppage in Ontario, enjoy (?).
A la prochaine,