vendredi, juillet 17, 2009

Sam's second visit

It had been a year since Sam's visit. This year, he came again during Bastille Day. We met up for lunch on 14 July and for tea, we stopped by La Durée. It seems that we are keeping up with tradition.

This time round, Sam brought along his friend Ian who was visiting him from Australia. We had a delightful time chatting and Ian took some beautiful photos of baby A.

The next day, history repeated itself when Sam missed his flight. This time round, there were problems on a few train lines including RER B which goes to the airport. I myself was affected on the way home after work. Due to the hot summer, there was bush fire along the rail line. Sam was stuck at Gare du Nord and the taxi queue was way too long. He came over to our place for the night. I actually remembered teasing him just the day before "Hey, don't miss your flight this time round, ok?" Guess Paris loves him too much.

Full time working mom

I am back at work this week. My friends in Facebook thought that was fast. Indeed, it is fast. Well, in France, maternity leave is 16 weeks. 6 weeks pre-natal followed by 10 weeks post-natal. A preggie can choose to go on leave just 3 weeks before the estimated delivery date. I was given 2 weeks sick leave before the start of my 6 weeks pre-natal leave. Baby A arrived 2 weeks earlier. Hence I start work when he is 13 weeks old.
I do enjoy my job and I have great colleagues. So it is not too difficult to leave baby A at home. At the moment, Seb is taking care of baby A. He took 4 weeks of leave with the 11 days paternity leave included. He is enjoying his time with his "mini me". After which, I will be on 7 weeks leave. It is very kind of my company to allow this exception. I still have 3 weeks of unused leave from last year. This year, I still have 6 weeks of leave. I am taking this opportunity to spend 3 weeks in Singapore. I am looking forward to this trip on SQ A380. I just hope that baby A will take it easy on his maiden flight.
By late September, baby A will join the child care center nearby our place. We are very fortunate to have a place there as the waiting list is very long. However, it closes by 6.15pm which is really early. Seb and I will have to organise our working hours. He will drop baby A at the child care center and I will go pick him up after work.
So far, we are doing fine with our new family addition. He is a good boy and we really enjoy his presence though we wish we could sleep more.

vendredi, juillet 10, 2009

We went Champagne to buy champagne

Reims is the city in Champagne and is accessible from Paris in 45mins by TGV. Since we would like to visit the countryside, we decided to drive over. For the first part of the day, we visited the uptown of Reims.
The Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Reims is famous as the place where kings were traditionally crowned. While having lunch, Seb called up some Champagne Houses to check if we could visit the cellar. We made an appointment with the champagne house, Ployez-Jacquemart.

During the hour guided visit of the cellar that was 25 meters underground, we learnt the process of making champagne. In the cool cellar, there were tens of thousands of champagne bottles waiting to be appreciated. I was carrying baby A on the baby carrier and he must be the youngest person to ever visit the cellar. After the visit, we were invited to drink some champagne. I bought half a dozen of bottles as I am doing a "pot de naissance" at my office.

The countryside of Champagne was very green. There was vineyards everywhere. As it was spring, the grapes were still small.
If you are planning to visit champagne but has no car, there is always tour bus leaving from Reims to bring you on the champagne winegrowers route. Just check out this site.

lundi, juillet 06, 2009

Plane crashes

Recently, France was hit by two sad aviation news.

About a month ago, an Air France plane flying from Brazil to France fell into Atlantic Ocean. The 200 plus people on board all perished. It seems that the speed sensors for the Airbus 330 was at fault during the stormy weather. Air France had since then replaced all the speed sensors of this airbus. A brother of an acquaintance we knew was among the passengers. Though we do not know the person, we felt sorry for the man's family.

And when we were sending my mom off at CDG airport last tuesday, there was a crowd forming at the information counter. Airport officials were present too. Seb was already guessing that there was another crash. In the car on the way home, we heard from the radio that a plane heading to the Comoros Islands had crashed into the sea. Only one teenager girl had survived. There is a huge comoros community in France and the people are upset. The Yemenia Airbus 310 is banned from France as it fails in the routine maintenance checks. What happened was that the passengers boarded on a Yemenia Airbus A330-200 from France and at the Yemen airport, they were transferred to the Airbus 310 heading for Comoro. I bumped into the guardian of our residence today and during our greetings, he shared with me that his younger brother was on that fateful flight. He left behind his wife and a 18 month old baby. I felt so sad for him. He added that since 8 years, the Comoro people has constantly requested the authority to do something about this "avion poubelle" (rubbish plane). Originally from Comoro, he had took this plane once to visit his family. He prayed very hard during the flight from Yemen to Comoro as the state of the plane made him scared. Now, he travels only with Air France to go Comoro.

In France, a black list of airline companies exist. Usually these blacklisted companies offer low-cost flights. As people travels more frequently, it is hard to resist to such offers.

And as usual, as I dwell into these tragedies, my husband has a way of breaking the ambiance. He mentioned that these losses are just a tiny fraction of the number of road victims in France each year. Well, he is right. Good thing that news casters only sensationalize plane crashes. If they do that on road accidents too, I had to throw the television away to avoid being depressive.