still cruisin’ in Adelaide

cruising in Adelaide
cruising in Adelaide

A big Hip hip to this New Year, 2013!  May it be a good one for all and a happy and healthy one.

Just thought I’d say I haven’t forgotten about the blog, just busy cruising the streets in S.A. (South Australia) and lapping up as much quality time as possible, before the annually dreaded departure.  Gotta make the most of it!

But somehow there’s those petite ‘mon Dieu’ surprises that always bring France back to mind…

les geants...
les geants… as seen at the Adelaide Central Market

Back soon…

My dear uncle – the other ‘King’

I’ve been reminded today of how hard it is to lose someone you love.  I lost my wonderful, funny, larger than life uncle.

I was out in my car and receieved a text from my brother in Australia – it said our uncle had died half an hour earlier.

There I was, sitting alone in my car, on a country road in the middle of nowhere, reading a simple, clear message that suddenly altered a part of my life forever .

I felt so far away from home.  And I still do.  I can’t be with my family and the people I love over there – and give my Mum and Dad and my brothers a hug and say how much I love them.  I wasn’t able to tell my Uncle that either.  I can’t cry and laugh about him with my cousins.  I can’t go to his funeral and be there for my dad, his big brother.

It sucks being so far from home sometimes.  You try to get on with your life, you accept the distance (even though it’s still hard), you enjoy where you are and try to make the most of each day and then wham, something like this happens.

Thank you Uncle Leigh for everything we shared:  the loud LOUD music, your cooking, the laughs, your humour, letting me stay up late, fish and chips at the beach for our lunch breaks when I was your chauffeur; and of course Elvis – watching re-runs of nearly every live Elvis performance on video together, paying me to edit the commercials out for your recordings of Elvis tv midday movies, telling me the King was possibly still alive; you saying your tongue-in-cheek ‘bonjours’ to me over the phone from Australia, telling Dad to stop pissing with him when he didn’t understand my new married name really was ‘Dunno’ after I’d eloped; the widened eyes in mock horror at cheeky jokes, letting me house-sit for you and Marilyn all those times (my girlfriends and I thank you), showing me amazing jazz performances on the tele until all hours, re-enacting for me the first swimming scene from Jaws in our pool (you playing that woman) over and over again with me watching and squealing with excitement, when I was still ‘too young’ to watch the actual film; coming home late at night to see you lying on the couch at Mum and Dad’s watching a movie with them (you always got the best seat in the house); and not to ever forget, Uncle Leigh, your enthusiasm and positivity – your happiness at being alive.  You were always so much fun to be around and we all, your many nieces and nephews (you were the youngest of 10), knew how much you loved us all – as we do you.

Thanks for everything Uncle Leigh.  I am going to miss you so much.

Elvis from the 1968 Comeback Special
Elvis in the 1968 Comeback Special – one of Uncle Leigh’s favourites

Les Vendanges – La Rentree

Lilas in the vines
Checking the grapes, the night before school goes back
lilas with a bunch
a bunch ready for the picking

It only seems like yesterday that Lilas broke up from school and started the Summer holidays at the beginning of July.

And then before I knew it, we’d been on the Naked tour, my family had come and gone, the Olympics and Paralympics ended with a bang, the Fetes de Villages had packed up for the year, our Summer friends had all been and gone…

Summer 2012
Summer 2012

…and suddenly the grapes got ripe for the picking! (‘Les Vendanges’):

VENDANGES EN LANGUEDOC, Societe des Cartes Postales APA-POUX, ALBI - 'AS DE COUER'
‘Vendanges en Languedoc’ (AS DE COEUR)

– and the new school year (‘La Rentree’) 2012-2013 started.

la classe
la classe

Come September, a different kind of ambience sets in around here.  The tourists (or most of them!) have left en masse, the weather softens and jumpers come out for nights on the terrace, the markets no longer have ‘bouchons’ (traffic jams):

Carcassonne market
Carcassonne market, August

…the local pools have shut their gates:

our pool
our pool
(thanks Vincent)

– and tanned bodies (just not ours) post ‘les vacances’:

skin!
Lola and Lilas

…get ready for some WORK!

following a tractor during the harvest
You often get stuck behind these people during the harvest!  Time to slow down and have some respect…
Les Vendanges a La Liviniere
‘Les Vendanges’ in La Liviniere

Les Vendanges is one of the most important events on our local calendar (most people in our village own or have some family connection/ investment in grape vines) – and each year, come September, there is the most wonderful buzz in the air.  The village hums with expectation and excitement over the ‘recolte’ (harvest) – it’s time to pick the ‘fruits’ of a long year’s labour.

Lilas and a bunch
check it out

And harvest always coincides with the kiddies going back to school after two months’ of holidays.  I still can’t quite get my head around this school ‘year’ here.  In Australia our school ‘year’ begins around the beginning of the calendar year, in February – after Xmas and at the end of Summer.  Here, each school year ends in what I would call the middle of the year, July, and then recommences in September.  And because of this schoolbooks, labels etc name the school ‘year’ as ‘2000-2001’ etc.  This year for example, is ‘2012-2013’.  I know I’m rambling.  Maybe it’s because I’m from ‘down there’ that I’m confused.

picking an apple for school
Picking an apple for tomorrow’s ‘gouter’ (afternoon snack) on the first day back at school

Anyway, back to the grapes.  The reds are just getting under way, but Benji has been picking for a couple weeks’ now as the whites here ripened earlier.  As for how this year’s harvest will be?  It’s looking good so far – relief!  The weather has been almost perfect for the grapes these last few weeks – a lot of sun and no rain – and so it all needs to come in NOW!

It will be the biggest week yet – 4am starts, working through until 6pm, 7/7.   Another couple of weeks of this, then it’s finished for the pickers and machine harvesters in the vines, but full-steam ahead in the wine cellar – managing the tanks and their juice.  Benji will maintain this crazy routine for a few more weeks yet – until the end of October.  And then it will be time to think about HIS holiday!…

Happy Birthday Jan

Hey Mum, the shot on the left could have been taken in our garrigues (bushland) only yesterday!  Incredible how the landscapes in South Australia and the Minervois can look so similar…

mum, it's your birthday!

Happy Birthday to you!! – I swear your face hasn’t changed a bit since then.

Here’s to a great year, more reunions and please, come back SOON xoxo

Happy Birthday Pete

Before I get started after all this time away,  distracted by a Summer full of time with loved ones in all this delicious heat, I have to say (is it one year already!??)

Happy Birthday Pop!

It’s a biggie, but as you know, it’s only as much as you feel.  And that deserves a toast!

Have a good one and here’s to more voyages across the sea!

pete's birthday pic