Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Jessica's Party

Jessica's class (3ème) finished their end of school exams (Brevet) and, as promised, Jessica had a party for most of the class at our place in the garage.

A group of about 40 teenagers arrived, bit by bit throughout the afternoon, to party and dance in the garage. We had spent weeks cleaning out the garage and then installing a sound system and getting food and drinks for everyone.

The party went quite well and the kids all left on time (before 23:00).

Jessica had a few girlfriends sleep over (about 5) and they probably talked to each other all night long...

All went well...

Saturday, June 25, 2005

A day of Alex school parties

Woke up early to start the day off with helping with the preparations for Alexandra's Kermesse (end of year party at school). I went back and forth to home to get a wireless drill only to find that another parent had brought one in between...

The kermesse went well as it didn't rain this year and everyone seemed to have a great time... especially Alex.

I worked the basketball stand this year which involved a lot of running around in the hot sun and bending down and picking up balls all morning. The person who was supposed to replace me never showed up so I spent longer than usual, as usual, at the stand.

We finally left at about 13:00, an hour or two before the end, and headed back home to prepare for the rest of the day...

In the evening we headed off to Anne's place for the end of the year party of Alexandra's (Wednesdays) English class group. We had a lovely dinner outside in her garden with all of the other parents, many of whom we had not met before, and chatted until the wee hours...

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Fête de la Musique

Yesterday was June 21st also known as the Summer Solstice. This therefore was the 24th Fête de la Musique here in France.

The longest day of the year so musicians are out in the streets, in restaurants and bars, in clubs... all over... playing for free and legally all over France. People roam the streets listening to music and dancing with complete strangers.

Public transport runs all night (normally it closes at 00:30) and with an unlimited ticket for 2.50 € (as many trips as you want on whatever transport (bus, métro, RER, ...) all throughout the system).

It usually is a wonderful night for us and we wait for it all year.

Last year was our first Fête de la Musique in Asnières so we (Desney, Alexandra and I) went to the Asnières City Hall (Mairie) to see what they had to offer and ended up listening to some pretty mediocre local pop-rack bands in the rain. Danced a bit and sang a bit and had a pretty good time.

The year before Jessica and I went out in Paris and spent some time dancing salsa in front of the Brasilian embassy for a while, roamed a bit in the Marais and ended up at Place de la République completely by accident and Simply Red was in concert. I stared in shock and sang the rest of the evening and Jessica was amazed I knew all the words to this group she'd never heard before. It was an excellent evening and we'll probably never forget it.

This year was, unfortunately, forgettable. It was the first time Alexandra came out with us. The girls took forever to get ready and we didn't leave the house until about 19:30. Jessica, Alexandra and I took the car to Porte des Lilas to take a quicker métro to Bastille where we would walk to République. We got to Bastille after 20:30 and had a junk food dinner (Qwick --- long waits in long queues for disgusting pseudo-McDo food). We finally hit the streets after 21:00 and Bastille looked like it was preparing for a huge concert.

We strolled towards République and checked out a young group playing a mixture of jazz, funk, reggae amongst others. They were actually quite good and the ambiance was great. They went from one style to the next, song by song, to see what would happen. A reasonably large group with horns (trumpet and trombone) and woodwinds (flute and sax) as well as the standard electric guitar, electric bass and drums.

A lot of the other groups or musicians were not worth mentioning and there was one singer on a platform stage in front of a café that looked like a stereotypical hooker gone uptown. She had a pseudo-Marilyn Monroe sound to her voice which was most annoying.

As we were walking towards République we eventually realised that everyone was walking towards us and no one was walking in the same direction as us. That meant everyone was leaving République and heading for Bastille rather than the contrary. When we finally got to République we realised why... it was practically dead. There were the odd groups playing in front of the bars but that was the same as we found on the side streets on the way up. Well...

We jumped back on the métro and went back to Bastille which we found was now in full boom with a rock concert going on the stage. The group wasn't bad but Jessica definitely did not want to listen to rock and desperately wanted to find some soul, R&B, rap or regga around somewhere.

As it was already 22:30 we started walking back towards République, again, but this time up a different street. We found an interesting setup with a group of DJs and two phonographs and a group of rappers. The music was a lot of fun and the crowd was amazing. We were dancing in the street for quite some time and everyone was really getting in to it. But the DJs were extremely, extremely annoying in that they never played more than 30 seconds of any given tune. They would talk about what they were going to play, play 30 seconds of it, stop, talk about what they just played, talk about what they were going to play, play 30 seconds of it and start all over again. It got to the point where I couldn't stand it and we strolled on down...

Next we found a trio of ragga hopefuls who were rapping to a DJ who couldn't get his sound system to work...

We hit a bar and got some drinks (it was very hot --- maybe 28) and played some pinball and finally made it to République where we took the métro back to the car. We found the car next to a large reggae concert at Porte des Lilas, got in and got home at about 00:45.

It was fun, enjoyable and a bit of an adventure for Alexandra but it did not live up to our previous Fêtes de la Musique. It also is probably going to be Jessica's last Fête with her Papa as a large number of her friends went out on their own this year and she will most likely be allowed out with her friends next year...

Saturday, June 11, 2005

An anniversary dinner worth forgetting

Our 17th wedding anniversary.

Amazing how this many years later and not only do I love her as much but I just can't imagine living without her...

We spent a normal Saturday of doing errands and chores around the house (door closer for her door, mow the lawn, ...).

Then we went out for dinner. I had called 'round to lots of nice and/or 1-star Michelin restaurants but no one was open on a Saturday. There was no way I was going to afford a 3-star this year as well as Club Med. I therefore settled for a seemingly nice reastaurant in Levallois-Perret which is only about 7 minutes drive from home. Unfortunately I was looking in the 2003 editions of Gault-Millau and Michelin.

The restaurant (La Villa) is definitely the worst we've ever been to for our anniversary and possibly in the list of the worst restaurants we've ever been to (right up there with 'Uitr which got the entire family sick twice).

The food was mediocre, the choice was lousy, the wine list consisted of 8 different wines (all under 5 years old) and the service was probably worse. We tried a Jacquart rosé Champagne apéritif and we're not even 100% sure it was Champagne! I had foie gras as a started. We ordered the best wine they had on their list which was an over-priced (50 euros) Savigny (Burgundy) 1999. It was good... but certainly not better than good. I had a steak for my main course which I ordered medium rare (à point). I would not have been surprised if the animal actually squirmed under my knife it was so rare. Desney kept telling me I shouldn't eat it and so, of course, I did. Dessert was a moelleux au chocolat which was about as good as Picard (frozen) gets.

We arrived early for our 20:30 reservation (around 20:10) and we were back home by 22:00!

Enough said...

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Paris 2012

Alexandra had seen a poster and an advert on television as regards the creation of a pseudo-olympics stadium on the Champs-Elyées and had to go.

We spent the day on the Champs-Elysées, with literally thousands of other people, supporting the Paris 2012 campaign. An absolutely exhausing day on our feet walking from stand to stand for about 4 hours. If Paris wins we should be able to rent our house out for a fortune and get the hell out of France as it is going to be an absolute madhouse! But also if Paris wins it means that all of the infrastructure around our neighbourhood (métros, buses, etc.) will be fixed up much faster and better as we live in between the country's biggest stadiums...

We got back to Neuilly where we had parked the car. I couldn't find it. Alex and I walked around for half an hour and still couldn't find it. I called both Police departments and the car pound and no one had heard of my car and it had not been towed away. Finally accepting the fact that it was stolen I called a cab to take us home. The cab took off and I realised that the road we were on was going towards La Défense and not towards Paris. We had parked the car on the road going towards Paris... I asked the cab to turn around and slowly drive up the main road towards Paris... and... there it was! We got out of the cab, got in our car and drove home. Unfortunately I had already told home that the car was stolen so they gave me shit for quite some time about losing my own car... The important point being simply that we still have the car!