Thursday, February 28, 2013

Paris encore

Munson at Saint-Eustache
And so to Paris. Funny that I’ve been living in France since 2010 and this is my first time here since my two months with Bondi in Feb-April 2006. However it is Gustav’s very first time and a delightful way to close this French chapter.

I’ve booked two nights at a little hotel off Rue Montmartre, close to the Folies Bergere and thus just around the corner from where I studied French every morning at l’ Atelier 9. I pre-booked parking at a garage a few blocks away – that was a bit more confusing, but I think that’s a local art-form (the confusion, not the parking itself).
Once we’ve dropped everything off, the natural thing to do is to wander south down Rue Montmartre, past my old flat and around Les Halles. Once past the familiar street market and in front of L’ Eglise St-Eustache where Bondi played with other dogs of an evening, the Les Halles underground mall is now a big pit in the ground, being redeveloped from the brutal ugliness that was my ‘hood to this vision of green:

There’s also something going on at Notre Dame: a large temporary display building and viewing area sits immediately in front of the cathedral.

Shakespeare and Company P1120803
We try a Starbucks on the left bank for coffee – a manager comes down and tells me off for having Munson in the entrance, and that dogs are prohibited from all cafes in France. I tell him that’s quite hilarious – you’d think he’d never stepped foot in another cafe or restaurant – I mean there are dogs everywhere.GustavMunson-sur-SeineDoes this one taste minty?P1120817
We rested a bit at the hotel in the afternoon – it had been a very tiring few days. In the evening we found a fun pop-art exhibition opening.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Last of Laspeyreres.

Another last day. So many last days in one’s life, but  then so many exciting next days, next adventures. I’ve been lucky to have had so many of those, so lucky with my companions.

Bondi and I spent 30 months travelling around Europe. Surely an adventure of a lifetime. Who would have imagined that I’d repeat that with Munson in another 30 months of this idyll on a French farm? I certainly haven’t planned such time-frames on these excursions; the compass points itself hither and then one day, there’s a change of direction. Fortune has its own compass.
IMG_4148IMG_4146IMG_4149P2271897-99_stitch [ice 2015]
Back in the moment: tears, hugs, last acknowledgments of furry friends, last nose rubs between furry friends.

The car had spent the night in the barn so it wouldn’t be frozen to immobility. Just after 9am we move so slowly down the white driveway, through white fog. It’s like some shroud of time opening for us to move away from our time-locked island.

Indulge me for these frames from the wheel as we approach the main road.

P2271901 P2271900

P2271902 P2271903

Bookending Gustav’s stay in France, is a night in Saint-Aignan with Walt and Ken, where exactly eighteen months ago we’d camped in their back yard as I brought Gustav to live with me. This time we had a more cosy night indoors.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Goodnight moo

Last Gersois moon
The evening was a time for more words. Nothing serious, just table banter at the big house. I shared out a few trinkets among the kids, we tried to think of names for the next generation of calves – which that year would have to start with letter “I”. My initial suggestions of Inedible, Indigestible, Inconceivable, Irradiated, Inorganic and Ingredient … were passed over quickly in favour of more palatable offerings: iCow, Ice ice baby, IHOP, Ixnay and Iron Chef.

Gustav and MintyP2261893

Munson’s Snow Day

P2261857It’s a day more for images than words. Let the senses roam on our last full day on the farm. Skid in the snow on the terrace … it’s a snow day holiday.

P2261866 icy web
P2261860-64_stitch snow around pond [ice 2015]
P2261880 P2261876P2261856

Monday, February 25, 2013

In which Munson has mixed feelings about haulage

Munson supervisesOur moving vans – plural – arrived at about 11.15am, just as I was sealing the last boxes. I had been expecting one trailer with the container for efficient loading, but the movers changed their plans without consulting me, and everything will be taken back to their depot in Devon for final wrap and shipment.

It didn’t take long to get everything onto the vans, even with time out for a hearty lunch provided by Mme Jean at the big house. The piano took a little bit of shuffling between vans but otherwise everything went smoothly.

The  funniest moment of the exercise was when Munson discovered that his beloved sofa was now sitting high up in the front of one of the vans. Having sniffed it out, it was essential that he resume his accustomed position on it:
Munsons hunts for the sofa
Unfortunately poor Muffin got stuck a little bit further up and in than shown above and couldn’t back out, so had to be rescued.

By mid-afternoon the vans had gone, and we retreated to the fireplace, in front of which I’d stationed some of the furniture which wouldn’t be journeying with us. The chaise longue had never found a room in my Sydney home that was expansive enough to accommodate it, so it deserved to stay out its days here with its fellow meubles, enjoying views through les fenêtres françaises. The vacuum cleaner, for obvious reasons was going to enjoy not accompanying Munson’s hair back to Australia.
Everyone is sad: Gustav, Munson and the vacuum cleaner
Why the long chair?Tonight would be spent with excess linen in the guest room, whose furniture had also been donated to the maison. We took some final out of focus pictures of us before the fire. It’s all I have to share, so please squint and treat them as hazy memories of a long ago adventure.
P2251854 P2251853

Snowy memories

Snow on pond
The mild weather didn’t hold for this final moving day, but I felt secretly glad that we got some more beautiful memories of white this morning.
Snow view from terrace
Inside it’s busy busy busy – our bed has to be taken apart and the pieces bundled, larger items of furniture get a final wipe down, and Munson wanders through the wreckage trying to make sense of it all. The little bundle of jars inset top left is my collection of IKEA screws, wooden pins and shelf holders – that goes into a special box of the things to be opened first at our destination.
Zero at 7.18am   Final operations

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Lucy’s art

Lucy draws Munson

While we sit in the dining of the big farmhouse, surfing the net and tying up so many of the loose ends that come with moving house and shifting countries, we get to keep company with the four Munsoneers. Lucy (caught playing football yesterday with Gustav) is recording her final artistic thoughts about Munson and Gustav.  Unfortunately she didn’t get around to drawing me, but she’s undoubtedly saving that for the ceiling of some local chapel.

Lucy draws Gustav

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Between a football and a hard place

Munson's worn out from packing
Packing is the main order of the day, but while Munson makes it looks like that is what has tired him out, I suspect it’s more the running around the yard with Gustav and Lucy as they kick a ball about.

Gustav and Lucy foot the ball (1)Gustav and Lucy foot the ball (2)
However … Munson still gives the impression that he’s checking out the grounds carefully for any disgusting treasures that should not be left behind.
Munson and Tosca investigate Munson looks for things he's forgotten to pack