Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


August 12, 2012. Sunday.
We get up and take the train from Montparnasse at 9:12 AM to Lannion (1:21 PM) and then car to Tregastel by 1:30 PM. Simon didn't get his nap at the usual time due to the travel and then as soon as we arrived at Grandmere's he was so excited to see the jardin (yard) there was just no slowing him down. He slept for an hour in the car, later as we drove around to sightsee a little bit. 

August 13, 2012. Monday.
Simon is LOVING the jardin. And, our neighbors have 2 sets of grandchildren visiting so Simon has playmates his age and a little older. He is running over to their house all the time, asking to play...and having a great time! I am so happy he's enjoying himself and that he is so outgoing and friendly. Hope he keeps this great characteristic.

Emmanuel starts his Fun-Board lessons where he is recapturing his fun-board skills from 20 years ago. As he proved to the instructor when he said, "it's like getting on a bike," he passed from the Intermediate to Advanced group immediately. All his "classmates" are young teenagers and he's wowing them already! He's taking classes all week, and probably next week as well.

August 14, 2012. Tuesday. 
I took a horse-back riding lesson. I am trying a new Stable. Last year I tried one and it was a little too "laissez-faire" in the approach. The 2nd one I looked into resembled a farm from the wild West and was really unsettling for taking a class. The 3rd stable we looked at last year were clean, big and appeared organized. Mostly they were really clean looking. So this year I decided to try the 3rd one. It was okay. They still get high points on cleanliness, but it was still quite disorganized. Fortunately they have many "stagieres" (students interning/training for the summer) and they prepared the horse for me.

[I grew up riding horses but they were always our own so we knew them and it was in fields around our house and farmland my father owned.] Taking group lessons, in French, with a different style riding and on a strange horse was really intimidating for me.

Initially I was put on a horse that just wouldn't follow my commands and, frustrated to spend my lesson trying to control the horse rather than the actual exercises, I decided this just isn't for me and I'll try it again under different circumstances. I pulled the horse into the center ring and stammered in broken French "I am going to leave the lesson. This just isn't working for me." Finally this got the instructors attention, because before this they just treated me like everyone else, which isn't bad, but I really was/AM a novice at this point. And I, too, was in a group of tweens who were more experienced than me. They took some time to find out the problem; I explained the goal of this lesson isn't to struggle with a horse. They asked if I would like to try with a different horse. I didn't. But I agreed to try it. So they gave me an older, more calm horse and so I continued in the lesson.

After getting a horse better suited for me the lesson wasn't so bad. I actually was able to learn a bit, and see how different the French style of riding is, even if it is the same saddle. [Americans have two styles of riding: "English style" or "Western style" with the knob. The French don't have Western style. They just have one (English), but they don't call it that obviously. And, as I learned in my lesson, the commands with the reins are opposite what the American "English style" are.] Regardless, there even were a few moments were I could break out in a smile and enjoy myself for actually Riding, as opposed to clinging on for dear life with completely incorrect technique. I have to say I haven't done something that required 100% of my body AND brain at the same time in a LONG LONG time! That was nice too.

August 15, 2012. Wednesday. Assomption Day. 
Oh my gosh I am swollen and black and blue and have a rash in parts I'd rather not write about! Thank you Horse-Back Riding lesson! I have a 1 1/2 days to recuperate before the next lesson. (Yes, we decided to take a "Package" and I signed up for 5 hours of horse-back riding lessons! Today I went swimming in the town's heated salt-water pool, to stretch my muscles a bit and relax. It didn't go too bad. There are no lanes in this pool and since it's heated everyone goes there to just goof-off and paddle around. Normally it feels like just chaos to me and is always frustrating as people keep getting in the way of my obvious attempt at just swimming some laps. ;) 

Emmanuel's cousin came over with her three children. Simon was still napping and the three children came into his room to wake him up with me. I told him they were there and he was fast asleep. He squinted his eyes and began to sit up. Then he sees three strange people in his room. I was worried he would be upset or freaked out but I kept saying "they are your cousins." He then sat bolt upright and started waving at them, then he stuck out his left to shake each one's hand. They were used to giving "bises" (the French kiss on both cheeks) but he just kept his hand out for them to shake it. So funny. And so cute. 

Simon had a great big full day. The beach this morning to watch Papa on his Fun-board and play in the sand and sea. And then 3 cousins and their dog. And then the neighbors came home and he invited their children over to play. Of course he was a little too wound-up to sit down and eat a proper dinner but we gave him a bath and then he ate something afterwards.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Courtney's Summer of Museums: Arenes de Lutece

Good morning! Well, it was...until I tried to Velib' my way around the city... The Velib' is such a good idea, in concept, and I really do like it. But the problem for me is that I am a New York City gal and I am used to a grid. Take me off the grid and all sorts of "adventures" happen.

The problems today were:
1st bike: flat tire
2nd bike was okay but I got distracted and went down a route I didn't want so had a longer journey than I needed to make. argh.
Then I couldn't figure out where the Velib' station was to drop-off the bike. (Maybe the bus would've been easier?)

After the Arenes de Lutece (more on that later), I waited 7 minutes for a bus trip that was only 3 minutes long and could've walked there in the same time. Then I couldn't find where the next bus station was for the transfer. And I was right in front of a Velib' station. So... do I dare attempt this for my next journey? I hesitated because the next trip meant going on the Quai, which is a busy street with a lot of city buses, trucks and fast drivers trying to cross Paris. Plus, would I know where my turn was so I could finish the trip on a quieter street? (No)

I decided since I was right in front of a Velib' station I should go for it. The first bike didn't seem right. Back into the gate. Next bike was okay but I crossed the street like a pedestrian and realized I just needed to shoot straight across to get into the right direction. TERROR! Cars were honking at me because a large portion of the street (like much of Paris this summer) is under construction so it was just a one-lane street. I'm sorry but I wasn't going to risk my life just for these cars...but they honked and yelled at me anyway. So of course I yelled back at them as I was clutching the handbars for dear life.

It was not a relaxing journey. I need a GPS I can attach to my bike so I don't have to stop at red lights to look at my iPhone.

The Arenes de Lutece were interesting, albeit a brief. It is a former (1st century) arena ala Greek and Roman era. It was interesting to stand in it and think about the beasts vs. man tournaments held there "back in the day." The arena is still used to this day for various concerts and performances. It was surrounded by a nice neighborhood and a beautiful garden and playground on one side.

I'm off on two vacation trips for the rest of August but will resume my Museum tours in September!