POTDC January 05

The kids and I decided a few days of fun in the sun with my parents was just what we needed. And what an amazingly beautiful place it is. My kids are blessed to spend their summers amongst the rocks, searching for shells, swimming, kayaking. Hours melt in to days here so easily.

Here Declan paddles in the shallows, a small figure barely noticeable against the spectacular backdrop, makes the most of the last minutes before bedtime.

And one more I love from the day…..

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POTDC January 4

Shane has been subjected to all manner of punishments today. He’s had his hair filled with glitter and gel, his stubble snipped and shaved, and finally, his face painted like a clown. Priceless.

He was somewhat uncooperative when it came to being photographed though. Completely unwilling to step outside, and harder to pose than a child. No respect for my need to have an uncluttered background at all. Either take it now or don’t take it at all…..so here it is. Now, nobody mention to him that you saw him on the blog, OK?? I mean, he knows I’m doing the challenge, he knows I took photos of him, I’m kind of assuming he knows what will happen to them, but lets just not mention it.

EDITED TO ADD:

I couldn’t resist, he just appeared looking like this. A new tatoo. Way cool.

Just a little forewarning that the next few days will be a bit late. The kids and I are heading down to Clareville tomorrow for a few days of beachside fun with Mum & Dad. I will catch it all up when I return.

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POTDC January 3

The girls got new bikes from us for Christmas. Unbelievably, today is the first day they’ve had them out in the paddock for a really good go. Truthfully, they were a bit scared by the size of them. They tried them in the shops and were all brave about having big bikes. When they actually got them and realised they were on tippy-toes to reach the floor it was a little more daunting!

Once they got over their trepidation both girls were wizzing off down the paddock on them in no time.

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POTDC 2 January 2009

Still the best of friends, still the worst of enemies. These two are so lucky to have each other. Having a great Summer holiday is so much easier when you have someone to share it with. Someone who likes the things you do. Someone who gets your sense of humour. Someone who is always willing to swim, dance, sing, ride with you. It’s hard to remember sometimes that there’s 2 years between them.

We arrived home from a day of fun (read: driving over an hour to the other side of the city to exchange Erin’s iPod she got from Mum for her birthday that doesn’t work) to find our Koi pond almost entirely drained! Not good, though thankfully there was just enough water left for the fish to still be alive. What we did discover is that we appear to have 11 new baby fish! And not all that tiny either, so they must have been in there a while.

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POTDC 1 January 2009

It’s that time of year again to join in the January Photo a Day Challenge. One photo, every day. I did this last year, and it’s a wonderful record of our summer holiday.

Today was one of those humid summer days, so very JANUARY. We swam, we rested, we pottered around home.

Shane isn’t swimming due to a bit of a nasty he had cut out of his hand a day or two ago (squamous cell carcinoma :O ). Techinically he’s allowed to get it wet today, but we thought best not to immerse it in the swimming pool. Perhaps tomorrow. He goes back next Friday for stitch removal.

I thought it was the perfect opportunity to get the girls outside for a few photos in the new pettiskirts, but we were doomed. I got a couple of shots, then asked Erin to crouch down next to a tree. Bad move. She was bitten by a HUGE ant. Huge. End of shoot.

Declan came to the rescue for today’s shot. He’d been pottering around minding his own business, as he does. Very little rough and tumble behaviour from this serious little fellow. I am so deeply in love with this boy. He’s really growing into himself at the moment, and endlessly amazes us.

My baby, now 4. So much more mature and grown up than he was just a month or two ago. So lookiing forward to his start at Prep this year. He’s so excited about going to school with the girls, and I’m so happy the school decided to add the Prep program for this year. Just what we need!

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Day 9 – La Roque Gageac

We woke to a room that was fairly dark , as the chateau was shrouded in a heavy fog. A fog that was to be there every morning of our stay.

Opening the beautiful, big windows, I was greeted with a sight that merely alluded to the view that was to be revealed later in the day.

And as the fog started to lift, it was just so amazingly beautiful. Oh, how much I love this place!!! It is certainly a most stunning location. The village itself is nestled in front of enormous rock faces, facing the river Dordogne. Across the river, rolling green hills dotted with vineyards.

Our home for the week, the Chateau de la Malatrie sits in a commanding position on the village outskirts. During our stay there was a constant stream of tourists down on the road below the castle taking photos. We began to feel like quasi-royalty under the ever present eye of the paparazzi!

Chris took Erin and Miranda for an ealy morning walk to the Boulangerie where they bought croissants and pain au chocolat for us all. Yum 🙂 Here are Holly, Elissa, Miranda & Erin scoffing in to their breakfast at the big kitchen table.

And here is Declan back from a walk exploring the vegetable gardens with Shane.

And Holly, the fair maiden in the castle….

Following breakfast we all drove in convoy to the local town of Sarlat. Unfortunately we were a little late for the Sunday markets, but still enjoyed wandering around the narrow streets of this pictureque little town.

So many shops offering local delicacies, souvenirs and the like. Lots selling Pate de Foies Gras, something I was looking forward to having a taste of (without thinking of its origins). I loved the narrow cobblestone streets, quaint little houses, all the Frenchness really!

I was even lucky enough to stumble acroos a small gallery featuring an exhibition of works from the local Photographic Club.

We lunched on a long table at this outdoors restaurant, soaking up the atmosphere with some food and a glass or two of wine.

Little Miss Elissa, enjoying her book…

Declan tucks into a very French choice….Hamburger… and frites of course!

Miranda, looking oh so very Madeleine with her hair all specially cut for the trip!

Walking off our meal we came across this lady singing a tune. I must find the little video I took of this.

Elissa doing a spot of window shopping…

We returned to the Chateau, where the kids were quite keen to try out the pool. Icy cold by all accounts, though it didn’t seem to stop them. Or Kellie!

Miller proved herself to be quite the water baby! And how cute is she in the little spotty outfit????

And just to prove once again how beautiful this location is, here is a shot of the view upstream from the pool.

Mum and Dad offered to watch all of the children so us “big kids” could head in to the village. We found ourselves a table at the outdoor cafe and had a few quiet drinks. The Pina Coladas were horrible. Holly, Kellie and I have vowed to travel the world in search of the best Pina Colada. La Roque Gageac does not get our vote! If was a fun afternoon, but of course we had to head back to get the kids dinner and bed routine set in motion. Luckily it’s a 2 minute walk from the centre of the village to our chateau.

Here are two fairly terrible pics taken with the P&S on our walk back home. The first in particular shows the location of the chateau in relation to the village.

We all headed down into the kitchen garden with Jacques to collect eggs and vegetable for our meals. Once again excuse the quality of these shots, this little camera does not deal with tricky situations at all well (and has NO manual controls at all……why oh why was I such a cheapskate??)

The kids fed and into bed we headed into the dining room for another fine meal prepared for us by our hosts. This time it was fish in butter sauce followed by Creme Brulee. Magnifique! Dad gave us a little presentation of their trip prior to arriving here at the chateau which was very interesting. Poor dears spent a bit of time up in the Champagne area. Too bad. Luckily they brought lots of samples with them for us to taste 🙂

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Day 8 – London to France

Today was all about travelling. We caught the tube to Victoria Station dragging along our masses of luggage and excited children, and boarded a train to Gatwick for our flight to Bordeaux. Gatwick was a little odd. We waited for what seemed like forever in the main shopping area, before receiving a gate number about 5 minutes before the flight was ready to depart. Crazy. My diligent planning had us there WAY early, so the kids were going a little nuts by that time… (warning, P&S shots coming up)…..

Erin took this one (great panning Erin!):

The flight was quick. It wasn’t long before we had crossed the English Channel and were over France. The plane was really old, not exactly great. The onboard snack was birdseed (I kid you not, a wee little bag of nuts and seeds), not all that great when we were all completely ravenous. Considering it cost under $500 for the 5 of us though, I won’t complain!

Landing in France was so exciting for me. I was seriously teary and emotional. Last time I was in France was in the school holidays between years 11 and 12. So, some 20 years ago (eek). I have ALWAYS wanted to return, and to be able to bring the kids was just so wonderful and amazing, and well, great. Couldn’t wait to get off the plane.

Bordeaux was larger than I had expected, a real city where I guess I had imagined a regional town. We quickly got ourselves set up in the hire car, and set out to La Roque Gageac, where everyone else had already arrived and was waiting for us. Speaking to Mum along the way we were told it was “even better than we could have imagined”. Talk about building us up for some excitement!! Let me tell you now, totally warranted.

Let me just warn you at this point that this blog is about to become even more “image-heavy” than before. I was in serious photographers heaven!!

Unfotunately because we had flown in late and everyone was waiting for us for a special dinner we had to stick with the motorways instead of taking the backroads. Still, the scenery on the drive was just beautiful. And once we got off the autoroutes and onto the back roads it was nothing short of stunning.

With the sun low in the sky, we passed through lots of beautiful little towns:

We did make a few wrong turns on the drive too, the directions we’d downloaded from Via Michelin were less than fantastic.

By the time we were getting close to our destination the light was failing, revealing the most beautiful colours.

We arrived to the Chateau de la Malatrie at La Roque Gageac in complete darkness. The castle was perched above the river, and promised to provide us with majestic views come morning. Approaching it by car I was overwhelmed by it’s size, impressed by it’s beauty. One word – magnificent! It was a pity we couldn’t get much of an idea of the location.

The family were all waiting for us, having arrived earlier in the day.

Stepping through the big, heavy entrance doors we found ourselves in a large foyer, stone walls, a stone staircase curling upward to the floors above. Beautiful. A fabulous meal had been prepared for us by our hosts Jaques and Marys (sp?, and was about to be served in the beautiful dining room.

Miller and the kids perched around Miller’s DVD player

After dinner was over Erin decided to put together a quiz for everyone. Fun, but I think we were all pretty much exhausted and ready for sleep by then. Why do the kids have so much more energy than us adults??

It certainly was a relief to head to bed after such a long day. We were on the the third floor of the chateau (about a gazillion steps up). The girls in the end room, Declan in his own little room in the middle, then Shane & I in a huge room with ensuite. Our room we lovingly nicknamed the “flower vomit room”. It had seriously hideous green & orange flower wallpaper all over the walls & ceilings. Not pretty flowers either. They were pretty damn ugly. I wonder if I took a photo of that?

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