Saturday, April 29, 2006

A rarity - a quiet day!!

Today has been lovely. The weather has been absolutely gorgeous, really sunny and warm. My next door neighbour decided to walk her children to the beach and took my youngest, too. I'm very proud of her, in fact, she's only 6 and managed what must have been a 4 mile walk without complaining. She hasn't complained since she's been back, either. She's a very grown up little girl in many ways, and some of the things she says are really funny, especially coming from one so young. Apparently, my youngest two, along with Marias two, had been discussing which combination of parents would be best to take on holiday - they settled on Maria with my OH - this is because Marias OH and myself are too strict!! According to Maddi, the walk they went on today was nearly as good as our holiday in France, but France was better because it had Disneyland Paris! If only we'd known, we could have saved ourselves a small fortune and stayed here last year instead!! In fact, our holiday to France last year was the first holiday abroad that we've had as a family.
Many years ago I won a weekend in Cannes for myself and OH, but until last year, that was the total extent of my foreign travels. In April last year I went with my mum and my aunt to stay in Sicily for 3 weeks - what a totally amazing place. I would truly love to live there at some point in the not-too-distant future.. I could so cope with being warm all the time, and having to cope with sunshine, oranges, lemons and grapefruit growing in my garden etc, etc, etc. I really loved Sicily, the people, the island itself - there is so much history and archaeology there to explore. I particularly loved the island of Ortigia, which is part of Syracusa, one of the main cities on Sicily. Ortigia is beautiful - masses of baroque architecture, much of which is being restored to its former glory, lots of twisty, turny little alleyways with hidden courtyards, art galleries and artist studios. Amazing place.
About 2 weeks after I got back from Sicily, we went, as a family, to France. We travelled about quite a bit - started off in Paris, so we could visit Disneyland - which was brilliant. I think I loved it as much as the kids did! I couldn't quite believe I was actually there! We then made our way down to the south of France, to Marseillan Plage, which is not too far from Montpelier and Bezier - we stayed there for 8 nights. One of the days, we decided to take a trip to Andorra, only 250k, not far at all, not considering the distances we had been covering. A couple of hours, and we'd be there. Wrong!! So wrong! What we hadn't taken into account was that for every kilometre forward, we had to travel about 8 upwards! The journey eventually took us a little over 5 hours, but it was well worth the travelling. Andorra is a unique sort of place - only problem was, it was first language Spanish. I had gotten used to speaking in French, enough to get by, anyway, and suddenly here I was having to speak Spanish - not a clue! I've never spoken spanish, (other than tapas, sangria etc!) Fortunately, it is not dissimilar to Italian, and I'd managed to pick up a reasonable smattering of that during my stay in Sicily. Anyway, we got by - a mixture of Italian, French and some language previously unknown to humankind! I would definitely like to return to Andorra, but perhaps we'll fly next time! One thing I really was impressed with in France was the motorway service stations - they were excellent - clean, well equipped and very reasonably priced.

Anyway, enough rambling, back to today. Whilst Maddi was out with Maria, we pottered around, did a bit of shopping, a (very little) bit of housework etc. After that, I finally sat down and did my first scrapbooking layout. It's taken weeks for me to pluck up the courage to actually try it! How daft is that? I don't quite know why it was so daunting, but daunting it was! In reality, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and am reasonably pleased with the result. I chose to do a layout using pictures of Maddi looking rather pensive. Normally, she's very bouncy and bright, but in these photos she's looking decidedly serious. I started with a junkitz paper, then matted and layered the photos using papers which I printed from a cd. I added a title, again matted and layered with the same papers, and finished off with some hidden journalling tied with a ribbon, and some buttons. All in all, not a bad first effort!

This evening Maria, her OH and two children came round to watch some films - in fact they watched the films and Maria and I chatted! We shared some Pasta salad and some wine, and generally just chilled - lovely. It's not that often any of us get the chance to just relax and enjoy each others' company, so I've really enjoyed the evening. Lots of giggling, the kids were great - no arguing etc. At one point Maria's daughter, Maya, was dressed up as a dog - which was hysterical - I got some brilliant photos which I intend to scrap at some point in the near future. The boys, including Maria's OH were outside building a go-cart. Where were we? Inside, chatting and making a fuss of the cats! Where else? Thank you Maria and Jason for a great evening!

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