Monday, 14 July 2008

Jolie Jouy

Today Jack slept in. He was still asleep when S left for work at 9am, which is unprecedented. Our schedule was out of wack. When the cleaning lady turned up to mop the floors we were still having breakfast and as she doesn't speak english and I don't speak french a pantomime of sorts followed while we worked out when she should come back, at least I think that's what we were doing. Her imminent arrival was at the forefront of my mind as I got Jack undressed for his shower. And, same old story, I turned my back for one second and I turned around and there was Jack and three poos on the floor. I told him to stand still and not move so he took a big step and trod right in it. I was madly wiping him with wipes and trying to pick everything up and thinking that this would be when the woman would come back (thank god we don't have carpet here). With his now clean foot a clearly delighted Jack went prancing into the kitchen, leaving a trail behind him.....
So it was a good start to the day. We both managed to clean ourselves up and went out to investigate Jouy in the rain (yes it's still raining). We went to the supermarche again then toodled around and crossed the railway tracks to the other side of Jouy and saw the Biblioteque (library) and some very nice looking cafes and houses. I think this is like the french equivalent of the village we were in in England though without the yummy mummy shopping opportunities and with better bread. There are some very nice houses with beautiful gardens here. I keep on getting whiffs of honeysuckle as I walk along. In Edinburgh I saw some jasmine flowering, which seemed so wrong because it didn't seem warm enough for jasmine.
Then after carrying the shopping and Jack up the three flights of stairs we waited for S to arrive to escort us to lunch. JL had mentioned the canteen and said it wasn't very good but obviously he hasn't eaten at the manor or the institute's canteen. In spite of this I received an invitation to dine there and was quietly excited. I guess it's all relative but really I was amazed. There were salads and hot meals (today there was quiche with an assortment of vegetables or fish or sausage) as well as burgers or pizzas which are cooked while you wait. Then there was yoghurt and pastries and chocolate. And lots of fresh fruit. And alcohol in proper glasses for those who wanted it. All very civilised. But then I remember when I was working for Louis that the lunch hour was sacrosanct. The shop was closed and we all sat down for a proper hot meal and always had a baguette or two as well. S was amazed the day before at how much people would eat and we thought maybe this is the main meal of the day. He is also very taken with the conveyor belt that whisks away the dirty plates and trays.I spoke to a man who is an expert on horse breeding for racing and for (gulp) eating. I was going to ask him what horse tastes like (I'm thinking not like chicken) but I couldn't do it. Especially after he mentioned the kind of horses that they eat (not ponies). He asked me how old Jack was, was he two or three years old and when I told him that Jack was only sixteen months old he said, "Oh but he is so...strong!"There was also a visiting scientist from Chile and when I met him I said,"Hola." He asked me if I spoke spanish and I said only hola. I could've said I also know dinosaurio but he might've thought that was odd.
After lunch, JL and the gang retired to the lounge area for un cafe(!) and Jack and I walked through Jouy to look for the Musee de la Toile de Jouy. Toile de Jouy is that very famous french fabric that has scenes of french life or fruit or flowers painted on it. I think originally it was handpainted and then they came up with wooden blocks to place on the fabric, which was painstaking when at least four or five colours were being applied and each different block had to be lined up with the last. Finally someone came up with a way of engraving brass rolls and using these to print the fabric.It was manufactured here by a man called Monsieur Oberkampf and his many workers. They did such a fine job that Napoleon came to visit them twice. I've included photos seeing that my description is not up to much. (and it turned out we were staying right near his house, which is being turned into units!) The museum was very nice with lots of beautiful fabric on display and a video in french showing the wooden block method that I still enjoyed watching. And there was a lovely shop with beautiful things made out of Toile that were unfortunately very expensive. I reasoned with myself that S must have got the conversion rate for euros wrong and these beautiful things wouldn't be that much but I was wrong. sigh. Toile espadrilles for 80 euros anyone?
Jack and I headed back to the apartment for a nap because we had been invited to a colleague of JL's for an aperitif. Originally it was going to be 6pm then it changed to 7pm. I was getting a bit stressed about Jack getting tired but it's craziness really that after all this time travelling that I still try to stick to a 'strict' routine for Jack. We decided to feed Jack first so he wouldn't be too feral (and we had a snack too). Florence picked us up at 7 and we went to her lovely house nearby. She has two boys who are three and five and they didn't seem very thrilled about a small australian person sharing their toys. There were tears and unusually they were not Jacks. So we had some wine and some canapes and had a chat to Florence and her husband Pascal. I didn't take any photos because I didn't think that would be a good idea with the two boys not being very happy. By nine Jack started getting feral so we decided to come home.
We think that this must be how french women stay slim. They have a larger meal during the day but not at night. We were wondering what time french children normally eat and go to bed. I know that we got into the habit of eating earlier with Jack because we are up earlier but a lot of people here eat dinner much later. They must find it so strange at the manor. Eating so many potatoes at six o'clock at night.

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