Monday, December 27, 2010

The family from snowy Fayl Billot

We had gathered at the fire, for the word had passed around
That the temperature had dropped to minus four.
And the snow had not stopped falling - there were three inches on the ground
With the powder slowly creeping through the door.
All shades of scarves and beanies were adorning us that night
And thermals were the order of the day.
For ne'er had an Aussie seen a winter half this cold
And the Saffa's joined them wholly in the fray.

There was Micheal, whose knees were aching, he was closest to the flame
With his sister, oh so tiny, by his side.
Caroline and Liz, busy cooking in three rooms
Were the hardest of all the party to try to find.
And Charles was always stoking, running madly room to room
In his effort to keep four fires burning bright.
Whilst Christopher sat patiently, conversing with his aunt
As his brother sat alone in laptop-light.

But there was laughter, there was fun, there was more food than we could eat
And a snowball fight the likes we've never seen.
And a very merry Christmas was had by one and all
As we received the crisp, white Christmas of our dreams.
So thanks to Liz and Charles for their kindness and their warmth
For the croissants and wine that made our belly's grow.
For I'm sure we'll ne'er forget the coldest we have been
Nor the merriest of Christmas' in Fayl Billot.

Friday, December 24, 2010


In a week where over a million people have had their Christmas plans delayed, or cancelled completely, due to Heathrow not being able to cope with a bit (30 tonnes roughly?) of snow, after allegedly having spent less than half of what their Chief Executive earns in a year on preparing for this winter, I must admit to feeling all kinds of lucky when not only was my flight not cancelled, but the trains to get me to Heathrow all ran perfectly, my out-of-date Qantas Club card got me into the British Airways Club Lounge, my flight left on time, I got an emergency aisle seat, AND the plane arrived in Basel early!

Of course, I did arrive in Switzerland to find that my brother had parked the car in France but, these things happen!

After a lovely evening spent wandering through the Christmas Market in Mulhouse (sadly, pronounced "Muloose", not "Mull House", which I imagined implied streets flowing with mulled wine, or at least streets filled with houses in which one could drink mulled wine) and admiring the beautiful buildings lit up with beautiful Christmas lights, we filled our stomachs with crepes filled with boeuf before heading back to our cosy hotel for hot cups of good ol'Aussie-style Lipton tea.

Having had a delicious sleep in... until 8:15am... (accordingly to my brother, this is quite a late sleep in!) we managed to cram our five-selves into the car along with our mountainous pile of luggage, and made the short journey to Fayl Billot where my sister-in-law's husband's mother-in-law and her husband were busy trying to cram two days worth of cleaning and preparation into two hours.

Sitting down to local bakery delights for lunch

Liz and Charles (said sister-in-law's husband's mother-in-law and her husband) are the owners of a renovators dream in Fayl Billot - an enormous French house that could easily have been a small hotel in a past life, it's that big. They are determinedly working their way through the three stories they now own, each of which need a lot of work done but each of which will be absolutely lovely once done. I have fallen completely in love with my room, which has three different kinds of wallpaper peeling off the walls and a ceiling mottled by sections of plaster having fallen off, burn marks evidencing a fire from a few decades ago, and the odd glimpse of wooden beams. I have a lamp that looks like a flower, a bed with an electric blanket, and a fan heater that imitates a fire burning over hot coals. I love it!

Since tomorrow and Christmas Day will both be filled with lots of quality kitchen time in order to produce our two-day Christmas food bonanza, tonight for dinner we went out and ate at a gorgeously rustic French restaurant run by a family that lives in the same building. In fact, it was almost like you were sitting in their rather large lounge room (complete with comfy recliner and fleecy blanket in front of the TV), in which they had conveniently placed several tables and chairs, and a bar. I ordered what I thought was pate, and instead enjoyed a delicious liver and red cabbage entree, followed by peppered boeuf steak and frites for main, fromage, rouge wine, and flambéed bananas for dessert. Frites, fromage, boeuf, flambéed, rouge... See, been here less than 48 hours and already sounding like a local. Beauty mate!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Wimbledon winter collection

A few photos from my walk this morning through the winter wonderland of Wimbledon Common...


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Making hay

Today it started snowing again, and, once again, I was grinning like an idiot whilst staring out the window from my work desk.

As such, I thought it was an opportune time to show you some photos from when the last lot of snow started melting away, and the squirrels decided to make one last dash for food before they all ran off to tuck themselves into their cosy trees with their Cath Kidston duvets and hibernate for the winter.

Aren't they the cutest little things? Rat's in a better outfit? I say nay! That is one point on which Miss Bradshaw and I shall just have to differ (because obviously, she and I are identical in every other way...) Look at the little fluff-ball holding onto his precious little nut. Naw...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Knit like a fox

A few months ago I signed up for le cool's weekly email magazine, so that I could keep abreast of the coolest and quirkiest things going on in little old London Town whilst I'm here. Mostly I've browsed through the magazine and wistfully imagined how great it would be to have the money to be able to go and do everything I want to, but this week, I found something that was in my neighbourhood (relatively), and was free!

The ever so lovely and talented Sinead of Galavant is the brain mother (well, where there's a brain child, there'd have to be a brain mother right?) of The Crafty Fox Pop Up Market, which took place today in the Dogstar Bar & Cafe in Brixton.

Brixton, from what I can gather, seems to be London's attempt to merge Harlem with the back streets of Bangkok; with it's street markets filled with electric toys that crawl, walk, bark, and cry, and hunks of meat on display on fold-out tabletops, and it's gospel music shouting from various trailer-vans; I will admit to being slightly confused as to where exactly I was. But, I managed to navigate my way to the Dogstar and immediately fell in love with this market which made me feel like I'd just walked through my computer screen and into a real life version of Etsy! So many amazing stalls were cosily nestled into the pub, it was hard not to try on everything I saw! But, I had gone with a purpose, and that purpose was sitting up by a window on a comfy cushioned bench, surrounded by wool and knitting needles!

Tamsen, from Community Knitting Club, was kind enough to host a free two hour knitting workshop as a part of Crafty Fox. After picking up some cheap wool (hard to find over here!) and a pair of 3mm needles, I settled in and happily spent two hours surrounded by smiling, sharing women (and one man momentarily!), learning a new and speedy way to cast on, how to purl, how to do stocking stitch, and finally, how to create my very own little knitted Christmas decoration - my first ever knitting project that involved a pattern!

So, who else is up for a hot Saturday night in with a bottle of Bailey's and a ball of wool??

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My world in white


Oh my bees and possums I am so freaking excited!!!! I've never seen snow before and it's just amazing - so incredibly beautiful and it just floats and falls from the sky and dances in the air - snow sways and twirls in all different directions at the same time. It brushes up against your face and gets stuck in your eyelashes and on your lips, in your hair and on your coat, making you look like a walking white marshmallow!!

It crunches underfoot and makes you slip and slide your way along the pavement. It lets you leave perfect, crispy footprints all over the place and makes the grass look magical!

Snowflakes come in all different sizes and can be so tiny you think they're rain drops, or so big and fat you spend your time staring out the window or out from the tram stop shelter, watching them lazily twirl and fall to the ground, sticking your tongue out to catch one, and laughing as they coat your hat and scarf with their big, fat, iciness.

Most importantly though, the snow clumps together like a ball of frozen dough, and lets you create retarded looking miniature snow-creatures in your lunch break, with one green smartie eye and one blue one! How freaking awesome is snow?? Seriously!

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