Wine country

I have quite a restricted diet.  Not by choice, but because there are foods that don't agree with me.

Chateau de Chassagne Montrachet

I have to largely avoid sugar, rich foods, alcohol, bread or dairy.  When I overindulge the symptoms can range from aching joints, heart palpitations, blurred vision, a fuzzy brain or hayfever-like itchy nose and eyes.  The joys of food intolerances.  

View from the room

While this is good for maintaining one's weight, it is a little dreary when visiting places where food is such a large part of the travel experience.  I can get away with the odd gelato in Italy or the occasional breakfast croissant in France, or a glass of wine at dinner here and there, but certainly not every day.

In the village 1

So after four days of failing to resist baguette with insanely good home-made strawberry jam at breakfast each morning and a few sips of wine at lunch and dinner each day with our friends I am feeling the effects.

We are now en route to Paris from the Alps and have stopped for the night in the village of Chassagne-Montrachet in Burgundy.  This might mean something to wine lovers.  It is the home of the world's best chardonnay.  We are staying in the Chateau de Chassagne-Montrachet (first image).

It's rather unusual to go wine tasting and decline the offer to taste the world's best wines I'm sure. Will tells people I'm a recovering alcoholic.  It's a long way from the truth.  The last time I drank too much was in 1997.

In the village 2

Anyhoo, we are in this pretty little village and feeling very relaxed.  Staying at the chateau is rather fun.  We are the only guests and there is no staff here overnight.  We have the run of the house.  Currently we are enjoying an open fire in the sitting room and will soon venture out to dinner.  I jokingly asked if the chateau was haunted, "Yes", said the woman who showed us to our room, "But the ghosts are friendly".  She then gave us her mobile number, "In case the ghosts bother you."  I'm not sure, but I think she was joking.

In the village 3

While Will enjoyed the wines, I turned my attention to the sights of the village.  It is a rather grey day today so the colour palette is muted but very much to my taste.  The second photo shows the view from our room.  The landscape will look very different when the vines and trees have their foliage.  

Look at that pretty roof of one of the houses in the village with the gorgeous dormer windows.  The next photo is of the village school. It's a beautifully maintained village and so neat.  Even the weathered old shutters look handsome.


The weather has been very kind to us in the French Alps.  We have just enjoyed three picture perfect days of blue skies and no wind.

I had a breakthrough with my skiing on the second day, under Will's tutelage.  All in all, it was definitely the most fun I've ever had on a holiday.  Here we are on top of the mountain with our friends.

Top of the slopes

I think I've said it here before that Will is brilliant to travel with.  He has a photographic memory for airport terminals, freeway routes and city layouts.  This, I learned, extends to mountain trails.  The area we skied in has over 250 kms of ski runs.  You can imagine that is a lot of possible ways to get lost.  Not with Will.  I just let him lead me all over the mountain.  Brilliant.

Cafe break


Ski Happy

I'm not much of a skier. I've only ever skied in Australia. So to be here in the French Alps is a really amazing experience.

Les Carroz

It was quite incredible to take the gondola to the slopes above the village we are staying in.  To look around and take in the astounding views.  We have skied for about 6 hours today in the most perfect sunny conditions and I am happy and exhausted.

Les Servages d'Armelle

Our hotel is in the village of Les Carroz.  Will found the accommodation on Mr and Mrs Smith.  It's a beautiful challet at the top of the village - just where the ski run comes into town.

We came off the slopes at about 4 and are now enjoying a few quiet hours before dinner.  I think the thing I appreciate most about holidaying as a couple is the time off at what is normally the busiest time of the day with the children.  It's an absolute luxury to lounge around, snooze, read, take a bath, chat or do nothing at all.

From where I sit

As I type I've just grabbed my camera and taken the above photo.  The room has the cutest little glass enclosed fireplace.  The door to the balcony is slightly ajar so we can hear all the skiers swooshing past on their way off the slopes.

Australian friends who are currently based in Florence have joined us here.  We skied with them today and they are joining us at our challet for dinner.  I'm glad I don't have to walk far to dinner because my tired legs are feeling the effects of an energetic day.  Best I take a bath.

A breather

Since the boys went back to school at the beginning of February I feel I haven't had a moment to spare.  I don't think I have sat still for more than 30 minutes.


So it was an absolute delight today to get on the plane, headed for Paris.  I'm now in transit in Singapore.  It was heaven to sit in one place - where I promptly watched three films in a row.  Hereafter: enjoyable; Love and Other Drugs: not so; The King's Speech: Outstanding.  For the next leg of the trip I'll catch Black Swan.

Coat profile

I'm looking forward to real cold, so I can wear my new coat.  When I spotted this coat in a Sydney store in November I wanted to squeal with delight, I loved it so.  Always a sucker for a beautiful natural fibre, this coat had me swooning.  And look at those diagonal seam details - heaven.

Having such a bright coat makes the rest of my packing very simple.  I'm sticking to black and grey and I've packed light.  Ballet flats and boots, a pair of boots for the snow and I'm all set.

Packing for Paris

I've even put a block from my current applique project in my luggage.  A little apres-ski hand sewing will be just the ticket.

Island inhabitants

Being on Three Hummock Island is all about being immersed in nature.  The wildlife comes to the back door - literally.


These kangaroos are very relaxed around us, as they've never had any reason to fear the few humans who visit the island.  It means we wander within a few metres of them.

Tandem grazing

How cute is this: tandem grazing.  See the joey in the pouch?  This was taken through the homestead living room window.

A short boat ride found us amongst the dolphins.


At one point 4 or 5 of them were jumping out of the water just under the bow of the boat.

Dolphin spotting

This place is paradise for young boys.

Perfect island getaway

Tomorrow is the day our whole family has been eagerly anticipating.  We are heading down to Three Hummock Island off the coast of Tasmania.

This year we are staying there for 10 days - our longest visit yet.  We have been looking forward to this since we were last there over Easter.

Golden Beach

I have been very busy organising travel itineraries for friends who will join us.  We have four groups of friends who will fly in for a few days each to stay with us.  By coordinating flights we can fly from Melbourne to the island at much the same price as a discount airline fare to Tasmania.

Every three days or so a plane will come in with one group, and depart with another.  Meanwhile we'll be busy in the homestead changing bedlinen and catering for our guests.

One friend has just sent a text to say she's thinking of organising an island 'Survivor style' treasure hunt with hidden immunity idols, clues and physical challenges for the adults and children to participate in.  Sounds like fun.  The boys will absolutely love that.

In preparation, today was a cooking marathon.  I have made:

  • mayonnaise
  • béarnaise
  • tuna dip
  • bolognese
  • Jamie Oliver's meatballs
  • ANZAC slice
  • chocolate brownie
  • meringues (or 'remangs' as Henri calls them)
  • a topping for fruit crumble
  • several marinades and sauces

I don't think we'll starve.


And a first for me - I've baked a few loaves of bread this year.  This is a Tuscan style breadmix that has a wonderful crunchy crust.  As soon as it was out of the oven I had that end piece covered in lashings of butter.  Yumm.  The boys have been devouring it hot from the oven after morning sessions at Little Nippers.

Children's wear shopping in Paris

Looking back over all my photos, I realise I never posted as intended about rue Vavin in the 6th arrondissement.


Rue Vavin can be found adjacent to the Jardin du Luxembourg.  The street is a mecca for shoppers of children's wear.  Many well known French children's wear brands can be found in this single street.


Unlike the craft shopping itinerary I posted, this children's wear list can be covered in one short stroll.  Within walking distance is the flagship Bonpoint store I posted about previously.  I would suggest including this in the same outing - and you can enjoy a stroll through the beautiful Jardin du Luxembourg on the way to rue Vavin.

Rue vavin map

Then you can ponder, like I did, about who lives or once lived here inside the perimeter of the garden:

In the Jardin du Luxembourg

Not a care in the world

Our greatest concern today was getting some fun action shots in the pool.

gif animator
Gif animator

We have come to Bali to celebrate my father's 70th birthday.  We are staying in a villa amongst the rice paddies that can accommodate us all.  The boys are loving having all their favourite adults on holiday with them - it makes for better games of backyard cricket and Marco Polo.

Oh, and I managed to make only one pair of shorts for Max yesterday.  Thanks for the animation tips Cintia.

The most curious shop in all of Paris

I first stumbled on this shop on my previous visit to Paris, when some botanical stationery in the window drew me inside.  Little did I know what I was about to find.

Elk Deyrolle is a taxidermy specialist, preserving animal species for zoos, museums, teaching institutions, and even private individuals.

Their display of large animals, birds, insects, butterflies is utterly amazing. 

It is like stepping inside a fairytale.  As you wind your way through the rooms on the upper level you come face to face with all sorts of exotic creatures.


Sadly there was a bad fire in the building a year or so ago.  According to their website much of it has been restored which is wonderful.  It really is a very special place.


This was their window display in May.  So incredible, but one that also brings mixed emotions, because of the animals who have lost their lives to create these displays.


It's worth a trip across town to visit Deyrolle if you are in Paris.  It's in one of my favourite streets - rue du Bac.

Savouring things French

After a trip to a wonderful destination I like to hold on to the feeling of the place for as long as possible.


My first trip to Europe coincided with the launch of Christian Dior's perfume, "Poison".  We were in Germany and France over Christmas and the department stores, or literally the whole continent, smelt of Poison.  A few weeks later when I was back in Melbourne I got a hint of Poison as someone walked past in a crowded bar.  It was the most amazing moment - to be completely transported back to Europe by my sense of smell.  As soon as the perfume launched in Australia I handed over my hard earned pocket money for the smallest bottle - simply in order to travel in my mind back to a magical place.

Baking my own macaroons doesn't have quite the same immediate effect, but the boys were grateful for my efforts at least.

Macaroons recipe book I made them while I was jetlagged so did really silly things like adding the icing sugar without sifting it; which meant that all the air was mashed out of the whipped egg whites as I hunted for rocks of icing sugar with my spoon! 

For a first attempt they passed, but could certainly be improved upon.

The recipe was from this book.  There are quite a few other yummy looking recipes in it too.

Craft shopping in Paris

Put on your walking shoes please.  I'd like to take you on a tour of my favourite craft shops in Paris.

Paris map

It seems that craft is primarily a right bank thing. 
I didn't visit all these stores on foot.  I got between B and C by metro, and E on a velib with Will.  But here is what I found. (Click for a larger view of the map.)

A: Le Bonheur des Dames, Le Viaduc des Arts, 17 avenue Daumesnil, 75012 Paris
(Metro Bastille or Ledru Rollin)

Le Bonheur des Dames

This shop is worth a visit for its shop fittings alone.  The lovely big display tables are full of all things to do with embroidery and cross stitch.  This was the shop recommended to me by Shannon of Petits Details.  If you enjoy cross stitch, this is your mecca.

About 20 minutes walk from here is point B on my map:

Entrée des Fournisseurs, 8 rue des Francs Bourgeois, 75003 Paris
(Metro Saint Paul)

Fournisseurs exterior

This shop is easy to miss if you're not looking for it, because it is off the street in a pretty courtyard.  It's just moments from the beautiful Place des Vosges though, so lots to see and do in the area.

Fournisseurs buttons

This pretty store is worth seeking out.  There is a lovely array of braids and buttons, as well as fabrics (including Liberty of course) and books.  The thing I love about the Parisian craft stores is that the trims are all natural fibres.  100% cotton ric rac and grosgrain and Swiss cotton entres-deux and other lovely items.

Fournisseurs threads

At this point you will probably be weighed down by a parcel of lovely craft books (stay tuned and I'll show you mine in a future post), so you might want to jump on the metro. Take the metro to Les Halles.

C: La Droguerie
11 rue du Jour, 75001 Paris
(Metro Les Halles)  

This is not one of my favourite craft shops, but if you're into knitting or crochet, I think you'd best swing by.  It's very popular judging by the number of people in the store.  I think it is somewhat of a Paris institution as it has been around for many years and is quite well known.  But as it is quite close to point D, you may as well take a look.

D: Des Fils et une Aiguille
1 rue Chabanais, 75002 Paris
(metro Pyramides or Palais Royal)

Des Fils

I do like this shop and have visited it on each trip to Paris.  It has a pretty selection of cross stitch braids and canvases, lovely ribbons and trims, and a good bookshelf of craft books (which I emptied somewhat).  There is a velib station just outside this store if your feet are getting sore.

E: Marché St Pierre
2 rue Charles Nodier, 75018 Paris
(metro Anvers - prepare to walk uphill from the metro)

This little area at the heart of Montmartre has a grouping of fabric and haberdashery stores.  Described as the "kingdom of tissues" on its website, Marché St Pierre has many floors of fabric.

Toiles at Marche St Pierre

Their table of toiles was rather enticing.  I made a few purchases on their linen floor.

In rue Charles Nodier you can wander from store to store to find more fabric, trims and all things craft.  Reine, a few doors away, has an extensive Liberty selection at about 60% the price we pay for it in Australia.  This store had half sized mannequins above all the display tables of fabric.  Each mannequin was outfitted in a dress made up of the fabrics on that table.  Someone has been very busy sewing mini clothes.  It was worth a look.

On the left bank, you can visit the top floor of the beautiful and upmarket department store, Le Bon Marche, for their haberdashery section.  It's busy and stocked with lovely things.   Further down rive gauche near Notre Dame is Le Rouvray.  This is a patchwork store owned by an American woman.  I haven't been there in about 10 years so can't say what it is like now.  It was quite American in style from memory, but did have some pretty French toiles.

So there you have it.  I hope you find this post useful.  Does anyone have any other favourite craft stores in Paris?

Seeking sunshine

Paris was cold, cold, cold.  Temperatures were well below average for May; it was coat and scarf weather; almost glove weather.

After 6 days in wintry France we weren't so keen on more cold in Copenhagen.  So we jumped on a plane in another direction and arrived in Istanbul, where we caught up with 4 friends whose holiday coincided with ours.

Blue Mosque

We spent 2 days touring the sites and eating incredibly well.


The decorative detail in St Sophia, the Blue Mosque and the Topkapi Palace were just lovely.  Everywhere I looked there were wonderful colour combinations, floral details and pretty shapes.  Plenty of quilt design inspiration there.

Will has been to Istanbul a number of times for work and has always suggested I would really love it.  Again, he was right - he knows what I like.


A boat ride acrossthe Bosphorus took us from lunch to our hotel one afternoon.  It was a great way to see the city and admire all the varied architecture.  I loved all the mosques - so pretty with their minarets reaching to the sky.  The call to prayer was so enchanting.

Blue Mosque silhouette

We had an exceptional dinner at 360 on our first night.  On our last night we went to Sunset- a phenomenal spot overlooking the city and the Bosphorus - it was quite an incredible evening and a wonderful way to finish our holiday.

(Better photos from here.)