jeudi, mai 31, 2007

Christmas came early

Today is my last day with Exact Software. In accordance to tradition here,I did my pot de départ (farewell party) with everyone in office. I brought champagne and tibits.

In return, I was pampered with gifts. It was like christmas except that I was the only one getting the presents.
I got a lovely pot of plants. A big red heart shape cushion to remind me of Exact's corporate colour. Some scented perfume bottles and pot pourri. And to remind me of the pizza lunch we had so often in the office, I received a pizza cutter. It was so sweet of my colleagues and boss. I guess they really appreciated me and it made leaving a little bit harder.
Tomorrow, I will embark on a new journey. One that avoids the metro line 13. Yipee! And for encouraging me, Seb bought me some flowers and a nice card. I hope I can sleep well tonight.

mardi, mai 29, 2007

Counting down to the end of the month

I am finally counting down to my last work day with Exact. This is my first job in France and I have been working here since 3 years and 3 months. The longest period I ever stayed in a job. My new job starts on 1 June and I am slowly feeling the anxiety of having to know a new company, new colleagues, new boss and new environment.
I will definitely miss this company. I had learnt a great deal about french society, french culture, french people, french humour and french working style.
One thing I will not miss though is Metro Line 13. Au revoir la ligne 13!

vendredi, mai 25, 2007

Lovely pineapple entrée

We celebrated my mom-in-law’s birthday last weekend. As the weather was fine, we had lunch at the terrace.
Lunch was catered and as entrée, we had this lovely pineapple, crab and avocado salad. It was nicely presented and the portion was big. After this, I was no longer hungry for the rest to come.

mardi, mai 22, 2007

Château d'Amboise

There are many castles dotting along the banks of the river Loire. I had already visited a few like Chambord, Chenonceau and Chaumont over the years. Last Friday, Seb and I decided to visit Château d'Amboise.

This royal castle was an important place for French kings from mid-15th to mid-16th centuries. On the terraces, we could see the Loire valley below. It was a first where Italian tastes were introduced into the Loire Valley.

I find the entrance fee expensive at 8.50€. The castle used to be bigger but a huge portion was demolished when Louis-Philippe received it.

The photo on the left is the bedchamber of Louis Philippe with Empire-style furnitures. Coincidentally, this is the "in" color for this season and I do like it. However, I doubt Seb allows wall-paper of this color on our new walls.

The whole visit took us about an hour.

In the Saint Hubert Chapel on the castle's ground lied Leonardo da Vinci. He was invited to stay at Amboise by François I. The king was a great patron of Renaissance arts. Da Vinci died in 1519 in the Manor of Cloux (Close Lucé) and was interred, according to his wishes, at the château.

After the castle visit, we drove down to Mont-Louis where we visited the wine yards and wine producers. Mont-Louis produces wine on a small scale. My father-in-law used to get his supplies of Mont-Louis wine from one of these producers. However, the wine yard was passed on to the son and the standard of the wine dropped. We were armed with a mission to buy from different producers each a bottle of 2005 white sec (dry) wine in order to find the right wine to his taste. We only managed to get three different bottles since most of them were closed.

In the evening, the family of 5 became wine tasters and finished the three bottles. Verdict: None pleased the family.

For the next blog, I will try to find old photos of the other castles that I have been to. I find them more impressive than this one.

vendredi, mai 11, 2007


Seb and I spent 4 days in Brittany last week. Tuesday was a holiday so we took leave on Monday to enjoy a long weekend.

Our family has a summer house there and we tried to go to Ploumoguer at least once a year. Usually, we try to arrive before Saturday so that we can visit the saturday market in Saint Renan. It is really peaceful here and there are more farm animals than humans.

When I first stayed in the house in Ploumoguer, I did not dare to go to the toilet at night. The house faced the village church. On the first floor, we were on the same level as the cetemery. Walking to the toilet required passing through the windows looking out to these tombs. But now, I am used to the sight. The cemetery is always well kept and tidy.

Beginning from 7am in the morning, the church bells will ring. It tells the time with a 30 mins interval. That needs a bit of getting used to. In the old days, this must have been really helpful for the villagers.

During this trip, we visited Morlaix and Roscoff. They are two towns that are about 60km from Brest and we always try to visit new places when we are in Ploumoguer.

The photo on the left was taken at Morlaix.

As we were returning from Roscoff, we passed by a beach and there were a lot of activites going on. Kite surfing, kite boarding, kite landboarding , kite buggying, horse riding. This small town is pretty lively with kids.

Brittany is known for its pig farms, potatoes fields, califlower fields and artichokes fields. I love to eat artichoke. So I was really happy when I saw artichokes fields for the first time.

And this is how an artichoke looks like when it is cooked and ready to eat.

Before leaving, we dropped by Le Conquet to enjoy the view of this pretty town. We tried to spot Seb's father boat to let him know that his little boat was safe at port.

In France, there are three public holidays in May alone. The next one is on the 17 May which is on a thursday. We took leave on friday and this time we will spend 4 days in Chartres. It feels good to have such short holiday trips; especially when the weather is fine at this moment.

mercredi, mai 09, 2007

Please take Note

We are finally the proud owner of a new car. It is the Nissan Note. We planned to have a car around this time and had been changing our minds over which car to take. This car is our weekend car. As I wrote before in this blog, there is no point driving in Paris. Taking public transport is faster than driving provided there is no strike.

There are too many choices even in the category we wanted. Seb wanted the Roomster from Skoda but I really did not like the shape. I liked Honda Jazz but in the end, we took Note for its compact size and spacious interior.

We have an automatic gear as I am not used to driving on the right side of the road. I don't think that this car is available in Singapore.

Our real road test was last weekend when we drove all the way to Bretagny for a long weekend. That's a total of 1200++km there and back. I was glad cos' this is the first time I drove long distance in France. Seb and I shared driving.
Verdict: Stable car even at 130 km/h but the motor is a bit noisy. Loud music helps to overcome this.

Some cool features included:
- wipers start automatically when it detects rain;
- lights start automatically when the car is in a tunnel or when it is dark.

The rest of the features are pretty much the same as the others. One good thing, there is no beep while reversing. I just can't stand it in my mom's car which is a Nissan too. Each time I tried to park, I felt as though the car was going to explode with its increasing urgent 'beep' as the car neared the wall.

mercredi, mai 02, 2007

Le poisson bar

On Labour day, Anne-Sophie invited us for lunch. She is the queen of tarts. She makes great tarts and though I am not a tart person, I do look forward to lunch at Anne-Sophie's. I love her tarts.

The sun was shining and we had lunch in the garden. We did a lot of catching up as we had not met since a couple of months. On top of the good food and company, I had an incentive. Anne-Sophie's parents just returned from Normandy and her dad caught some fish that morning. She asked if I would like to bring one back as dinner.

So, I took one. It was a bar. I have no idea what is the name in English. Maybe someone can advise me on that. I had to remove the scales and the innards and boy was that hard work.

As I had no oven, I could only steam the fish. I had to chop off the head and the tail so that it could fit my plate and steaming pot.

I put in some slices ginger, garlic and tomatoes. Also some dried chillis and crepes. Basically, I put in anything available in my kitchen.

After 15 minutes of steaming, dinner was ready. It was tasty and thinking back, the disgusting task of cleaning the fish was worth it.

Mom, if you read this, tell me if they sell this fish in Singapore.

ps: got the name of the fish. It is a sea brass.