To Horizons Unknown, 2016

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Opetuary

A month ago we said goodbye to Tess. Our beloved Italian-born lab, 15 years of age, now rests in peace at the bottom of our garden. I like to think she’s reunited with Weaver, her foster mother and sister-in-tomfoolery.

Tessie-Belle

Tessie-Belle

Yesterday it was another beloved pet who left us – this time most unexpectedly and very suddenly. Bob (previously featured here) seemed a bit under the weather on Saturday, and yesterday went from sickly to going to gone, in just a few hours. Claire was with him the whole time. The vet came, and Henry was there for his last breaths. Julie, the young woman who rides Bob and Inco, came to give him a last hug in the evening. Poor Bob. Poor Inco.

Necking

Necking

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Majestic Bob

Thank you Tess, you were a guddog. We will miss you Bob, you left too soon. Your brother neighs for you.

Manchester, England, England*

I heart visitors! We’ve just had a series of them, the last in date being Joe Gunn. You might know him; he was a finalist at the Commonwealth Games this summer. Well, he has since retired from competitive swimming and moved to London where he is living the high life. In one move he has gone from one of the ten cheapest postcodes of the UK (you know how the Brits love measuring people’s worth by their postcode), to one of the top ten expensive ones. How’s that for social ascension? He’s living with our favorite one and only Hélène and working with his mate Charlie in their company Agon Sports Management. His latest news: he’ll be in Rio next week, on business. La classe à Dallas, moi j’dis.

He’s not the only one of our Crew to cross the Atlantic Sea, as Hanoushka is already on the South American continent (if I could remember which country, I’d tell you – but baby brain has interfered)**. Mom and Calum are also outside of their country of residence as they’re in Edinburgh at the moment for Calum’s International Baccalaureate November session. Go Calum!

Dad, I presume, is happily Ralphing away (of the Lauren variety, not the vom variety) somewhere in Italy. His schedule and mine unfortunately mean we have to rely on other members of the tribe to pass on news. But, Dad, if you’re reading this, my phone is up and running again and I’d love to hear from you 😉

Life continues (more or less) smoothly and as I’ve already managed to write 260 words uninterrupted with only a zillion or so interruptions***, I’ll be thankful for that, not ask for more, and leave you with a photographic summary of the past few weeks.

Grandma on the stoop

Grandma on the stoop

Oh, hi there!

Oh, hi there!

Siblings

Siblings

Autumn

Autumn

Hanging out on the football pitch

Hanging out on the football pitch

Dans le vent avec Grand'maman

Dans le vent avec Grand’maman

Who's this dude?

Who’s this dude?

"Wanna ride?"

“Wanna ride?”

"I will give you a ride! Hop on my dragon."

“I’ll give you a ride! Hop on my dragon.”

Marloushka

Beautiful Marloushka

Friends for generations

Friends since generations

Heading home, now.

Heading home, now.

And back out again, this time with Uncle Joey.

And back out again, this time with Uncle Joey.

Dude.

Dude.

Holding his own.

Holding his own.

Yup.

Yup.

Babbling at breakfast

Babbling at breakfast

"A TANGERINE!!! WOW!!!"

“A TANGERINE? WOW!!!”

Who's the champion?

Who’s the champion of the cardboard box?

* Reference included within.
** Information retrieved: Columbia.
*** OK, it took me 5 hours total to write this. Efficiency = me, impersonated.

Allegro!

Drinks before music

Drinks before music

Every year, my mother-in-law Bernadette and her partner Jacques organize a classical music concert in her home in the South of France. Last Saturday we were treated to an amazing performance by David Castro-Balbi (violin) and Lucas Debargue (piano). Eighty guests from our mountains and the valley came to enjoy the music and mingle with friends and relatives. Bernadette’s is one of the old, prominent families of the area, and even though many have moved on to Paris, Marseilles or abroad, almost everybody returns for the sacred month of August. The concert is the first large gathering of the season and allows everyone to exchange news and greetings.

Handsome Hubby

Handsome Hubby

The sun setting

The sun setting

Not too bad for photos taken with 5 olive pits, a champagne glass and a toddler in my arms*.

The music was spectacular. I don’t know much about classical music, but the piano and violin on Saturday had me fluttering through a range of emotions. Just before the musicians’ break, a Tzigane piece by Maurice Ravel had us all merry and smiling at the conversation between the instruments – and just after the break, Allegro Molto from Sonate n°3 en do miner (Edvard Grieg) moved me to tears.

Music!

Music!

Zaz was there until the break and loved her first concert. I just love seeing the effect of music on small children. Magic!

Once the “official” music bit was over, there were nibbles, drinks and mingling, and then the fun began. The musicians, their friends and partners, and anyone who wanted to, played and sang til late. Champagne flowed, notes got sloppy, and yours truly “a filé à l’anglaise”.

Mom, Dad, I should tell you – the musicians (who remembered Dad fondly from last year) took their nightcap at Les Galignés with Calum and I hear a trip to the bottle bank was very necessary the next morning 😉

 

* I was drinking San Pellegrino. Twice during pre-music drinks, I was caught pouring fizzy water from my champagne glass into Zazzie’s mouth. Twice the comments were along the lines of “Oh she likes champagne, how chic!”. I guess they didn’t notice the 9-month preggo belly on me. Or maybe they did. Ah, France.

Bartered Art

I’ve already mentioned my awesome friend Tosha on here – what I haven’t said is that she is an amazing artist as well as being a very cool and inspiring person. I went to visit her and her wee family recently and came back with some of her art – I’m so excited!

Thanks to friends’ and family’s generosity and someone’s (Mom’s?) great idea, we received some money for our wedding which we turned into our very own Art Kitty. This has been dipped into just once, to buy a beautiful rug in the south of Morocco. I didn’t even have to use it this time, because Tosh and I came up with a swap of goods (of which I am the clear winner, as you will judge for yourself). In exchange for the pieces of art pictured below, I let her keep the electric breast pump and sterilizer I had lent her a few months back. Plus 500dh (a pitiful sum). Does this sound like a fair exchange? No. I’m pretty sure I ripped her off. I’d feel bad but I’m too busy feeling excited about these:

These might be shown upside down. Forgot to ask.

These might be shown upside down. Forgot to ask.

Don't know what the real title is, but I call it Earth Cycle

Don’t know what the real title is, but I call it Earth Cycle.

My fave.

My fave. Bird of the World.

My amateur photography does not do these justice, but you get the idea of the level of cool.

Bernadette, my fab mother-in-law and contemporary art connoisseur, has given her seal of approval, but told me off for not checking that they were signed and dated. Tosha! When you guys get up here we have to remember to do this! 🙂

See more of Tosha’s work (and better pictures) at www.toshaalbor.com.

Missing Morocco

I’m slowly starting to accept the fact that we’ll be leaving Morocco shortly to go back to France. I might even be managing to get excited about it from time to time – family close by? yes please! – but in my head I’m constantly listing all the things I’m going to miss.

The fruit n veg – the fresh, in-season, dirt cheap produce has become such a staple in our lives here that it is going to be very tough going back to European markets. Even though it’s better in the south of France than further north in Europe, the difference will still hit us hard. A few weeks ago we were getting deliciously tasty strawberries for 8 dirhams a kilo. That’s 0,71€ or £0.58 or 98 cents of a US dollar. Dirt cheap, I tell you.

Souk

  Souk

Fridge

Fridge

The love Moroccans have for babies. Seriously, wherever I go, everybody coos and smiles at Zaz. Male, female, old, young, makes no difference. When you’re walking along with the push chair and a bunch of tough dudes go all melty-eyed at your 10-month-old, that’s kind of cool. When you’re packing your groceries at the store and the woman behind the till picks up your fussing baby to kiss and cuddle her, that’s awesome.

The gorgeous weather. That doesn’t need much explaining.

The great friends I have here. Not only have I met some amazing and inspiring women here, I’ve felt for the first time a widespread and mutual understanding of what life is when it’s made up of cross-culture marriages, living far from family, and never feeling quite like you belong anywhere – so you belong everywhere. I love it!

Living a 5-minute walk from the beach, being able to hire a cleaning lady for a fraction of European prices, cheap cheap rent, our tiny duplex house, having neighbour kids who all run up to kiss and play with Zaz as soon as we step outside, the friendly sisterhood feeling that exists between women here, hammams, haloua, food in general, afternoons spent chilling with the gangsta mammas and their babes, the medina, getting furniture made, the parking gardiens, driving in Casa (Rabat’s too tame to be fun), the wonderful colourful flowers all year round, having friends and family come to visit, and so much more.

One month to go before my flight back, and I’ll be packing in as much of all this as I possibly can, every day until departure day.

Zaz and the neighbours

Zaz and the neighbours

As the crew flew

Funny that Mom posted that image today, because I’ve been meaning to write an explanation of the blog title. I’m visiting my friends Tosha and Adam and baby Cos so it will be short n sweet.

Here’s the list of title ideas we had:

Galignola
Banter Craic
A World Awhirl with Wels
Take An Aspirin
9:30 At The Latest
A Nowt of Love
As The Crew Flew
Wild Tales of Jacques Chirac

They are all inside jokettes, of course. Banter craic is what you would get if you Google translated French into English and then back again a few times – add some fine humour and you’ve got it – it’s the special language we speak when we’re together, invented by Joe and Calum. “Take an aspirin” is what Mom would say if there was anything wrong with us, from a headache to a heartache, a twisted ankle or a bout of the ‘flu. “9:30 at the latest” is Dad‘s catch phrase – every night he’d aim to be in bed by 9:30 but would never ever make it. Hannah is the one who coined the classic A Nowt of Love, misunderstanding the lyrics “falling in and out of love” as a child and asking Mom, “What’s a nowt? because this woman’s always falling in a nowt of love”. As The Crew Flew is Joe: when he was 8 or thereabouts, he was trying to describe the distance from point A to point B as the crow flies, but kept getting the vowels and the syllabubbles all wrong. As for Calum, he had an imaginary friend when he was little, and that friend was Jacques Chirac. Jacques Chirac got up to all sorts of fantastic adventures and he had an opinion about everything.

So that explains things for you. We decided on As The Crew Flew by democratic vote (we’re a communist family by modus operandi if not by conviction – the possibility of dictatorship by unnamed members is always present, but democracy is the official system – more about communist pizza at a later date).

Here’s a picture of my super duper friend Tosha and me, taken today:

Tosh and Meg at a weird angle

Tosh and Meg at a weird angle