Monday, September 24, 2012

Weekend in Photos - Ballet shoes & Parc Bordelais

This Weekend - A little ballet shoe shopping, catch up 
and Parc Bordelais

I don't usually write about the weekends...but this past weekend was in some ways ordinary and in other ways...pretty, what I would say French....just a reminder of where we live and how things are similar yet different.

I'll start back on Friday...I have to share these two wonderful delicacies...The first photo was my entree at a wonderful restaurant for lunch.  I met a good friend at  BU Baravin  in centre-city Bordeaux.  They are only open for lunches and have a limited but delicious daily menu.  This little duo was chilled beet soup served with a chilled pumpkin puree. Everything there is made daily and fresh.  I didn't take a picture of dessert - but the creme brulee with essence of lavender was heavenly!  I felt like it was very French and also so yummy!!  Need to find a recipe for this soup and try it at home.

After my lunch, as I was headed back to the tram, I decided to stop and get a wonderful treat for my girls. They miss American cupcakes and I just recently found a cute little cafe near the  Hotel de Ville tram stop that sells - American cupcakes.  They are actually made by Sophisticakes Bordeaux -  2 American women who have started a wonderful cupcake business.  As they say on their website:

We are two American girls living, working and playing in Bordeaux. Coming from culinary backgrounds and being cupcakes biggest fans, starting a cupcake business in France just felt right. We bake using only fresh local all-natural products and have adapted this American classic to the French tastes. We find true inspiration in the kitchen and are always developing new recipes and flavor combinations that result in delightful-looking and mouth-watering treats. Currently we operate as a catering and delivery company, but we hope to welcome you to our shop very soon! *Quote taken from Sophisticakes Bordeaux website

So I picked up 3 Oreo-Cookies & Creme cupcakes and brought them home...all three cupcakes disappeared in a matter of seconds after the girls arrived home from school...I got one little nibble - and I would say between my lunch and was a four star cuisine afternoon!!

On Saturday, my husband took my oldest daughter to get her pointe shoes.  She was so excited!  Now, she has danced for years, and two years ago, got her first pair of pre-pointe shoes as she started exercises to strengthen her ankles.  But last year, due to our move in October, there was no room in the ballet (classique) class here at the local dance school.  She was able to start modern jazz.  So she restarted this year...and she gets to start right where she left off....on off they went on Saturday, into Bordeaux to buy her pointe shoes.  Have to say, she was a bit excited as the shoes came from a Parisian store that has a branch here in cool is that?  

So after an hour of sewing - yes, for those of you who don't have dancers, one has to sew the elastic and the ribbons onto the shoe!  Viola - French pointe shoes!!

and the American-French dancer who will be enjoying these beauties....

Now, I said earlier that my weekend was a bit ordinary...that part was the normal routine of laundry.  With 5 of us in the house, it's a never ending job - just like back home...but there are a few differences here in France.  First of all the French washing machines are smaller than one's in the States - and secondly, they take a long time to wash!  About 2 hours or more depending on the cycle!  Needless to say, it just means we are always doing laundry!  Another difference is that my dryer is a steam dryer (like most of them) and also takes a long time to cycle through...therefore, we now tend to air dry most of our clothes on drying racks.  (Very European!) When I first moved here, I used my dryer a bit more, but I was never happy with the results, with the exception of bath towels that were always nice and as they say if you can't beat them, join them...

So as I was hanging my laundry outside - I glanced over to look at my beautiful impatient plant which is still in FULL bloom. This plant was given to me last Mother's Day by my youngest from her school - it was just a wee bitty seedling...and just bloomed this summer into this gorgeous beauty.   It just reminded me how warm it still is even though the nights are beginning to cool off- the days are still hot....last week was in the eighties all week and this weekend - even though it was the first day of Autumn was 93!  Have to say, I'm enjoying this French weather.

So on Sunday, in the spirit of being in France, and knowing everything is closed here on Sunday afternoons - I took two of my daughters to Parc Bordelais for a nice walk and was a beautiful afternoon to be out..and as you can tell from the was half of  Bordeaux.

We enjoy this park a lot - there is lots of wildlife to look at - a few ponds, other animals, a snack bar , rides and a fun little train.  All makes for a picturesque stroll on a Sunday afternoon.

Another reason I picked a big park to venture around was to give my almost 5 year old daughter a chance to practice riding her bike.  She just learned at the beginning of the summer how to balance without training wheels but our driveway is a bit small.    You can see below, she had lots of fun but definitely had to dodge the mobs of people...good practice!  We had a few near misses but most people understood she was a new rider and gave way.  Maybe it's the look on her face as she concentrates.

As here she is with her big sister leading us through the park...It turned out to be the perfect place to practice riding.

I wrote an earlier post about Parc Bordelais - You can read it here:  Blog Post
This time I continued to be fascinated by all the unique things in the park - the trees, the wooden railings and of course, the flowers - still in bloom!!  Also being a different time of year, it's nice to see the difference and similarities.

So that was our weekend, a combination of normal family life  just mixing it in with the love of things and life that is French!  

Friday, September 21, 2012

L' Accrobranche/Ropes Course - Le Porge/Lacaneau

Le Peuple Des Cimes  - 
Parc Accrobranche
 Awesome fun for kids of all ages!

A few years ago when we were vacationing in the Basque area of France, when my older 2 girls were 8 1/2 and 5 1/2, we stumbled on a rope's course designed for families.  The girls begged to try it and they had a ball.  I watched my middle daughter gain so much confidence in climbing, stepping and maneuvering the various stations on the course and my oldest was way up in the trees.  Since then, the girls have begged to try other Parks like that one - and more seem to be popping up all over France.

Now, I know rope's courses have been around in the States for a long time, but what's wonderful about these courses - called Parc Accrobranche in France - is that they have multiple levels and loops- often for as young as 3 years old.  It's so fun to find a place where all of my girls can have fun.  (Did you catch that - my girls, I choose to take the photos - thank you very much!).

So this past weekend - we headed off toward the ocean - toward Le Porge - just south of  Lacaneau to try out another park - Les Peuple Des Cimes.

Here are my oldest and youngest getting fit for their harnesses.  The staff at this park were very helpful and great with instructions and assistance.

All three of them get a safety lesson and instructions before they depart.  They are shown how to work their clips, where to attach at each station, and for my oldest - how to attach her own zip line slider.  (For the younger girls, the sliders are already attached on the course.)

The Park is set up with multiple loops at various levels - There's a course for under 5 year olds, another course for ages 6 to 12 and then a couple of adult loops.  Each loop increasingly longer, higher and more challenging.  This park is located in Porge Ocean - just a mere 2 Km from the beach - it's on the edge of a campground and they hope to continue to expand further into the trees.

For my youngest daughter who will be 5 very soon.  This is the second time she has done one of these courses. ( I wrote about her first time  - here ).  It was amazing to watch that this time she was more confident, willing to try more on her own and definitely was more relaxed.  Her course was about 4 feet off the ground.  High enough to help her feel like a big kid- but low enough that an adult could easily help their child.

At the end of her course was a small zip line where she attached her clips to a slider and then sits in her harness and slides.  I loved her face when she headed down the line!  She was actually having a great time - I know in the photo she looks somewhere between terror and excitement.

As she got closer to the end, she needed to lift her feet to catch against the padding on the tree.  It was neat to see her focus change from take off to concentration.  She loved this course. As we went in the Fall and there was no one else waiting to do her loop - she chose to redo it 3 times!  Each time she got more confident and had more fun!  So fun to she what she can accomplish at not quite 5 years old!

My middle daughter did the course designed for kids ages 6 to 12.  This course is about 6 feet off the ground.  You can see in the photo below - my husband, who is 6 feet standing below her.  

She had a lot of fun with each new challenge...

The swinging logs took a bit of concentration and time -
And then the wide steps which almost meant a split.....

And finally the zip line...taking it all in...
Looking a bit nervous.....
Talking it out with Papa....not too sure she's ready to sit and slide.
then decided it was better to have a little assistance ....
But then got to the last zip line......
and did it herself!
She was so proud of herself - completing the course, so then she does what every kid would want to do...she started again!

And this time - she did both the zip lines all by herself...such a confidence builder!!

And then there is my oldest daughter - the monkey!!  She's been a climber and daredevil all her life.  Even the first time she did a rope's course at 8 1/2 years old, she did a high one.  As I was helping the my 2 younger daughters, she was mostly on her own...but we did get some fun photos.

She enjoyed the part where she needed to swing into the net...

She actually missed catching the net a couple of times - so was giving the knotted rope to pull herself in with. As she said it's harder than it looks!

Then she had to climb up the net, to the platform on top, and then go further up the ladder next to it...She did it - but boy, it was a good work out!!  So wish I did some of that when I was her age...oh, but then again, I have this thing with a herd of wild horses wouldn't have been able to drag me there to try it!  I really enjoy watching my kids do it though...and they so enjoy it!

So this was our adventure afternoon at Le Peuple Des Cimes (translates to the People of the treetops!) - In the summer they are open everyday in July and August.   In September they were open on weekends through mid-September - but after - by appointment or reservation. They are also open on school vacations. Check them out - we rate it as one of our favorite courses - especially since they had something for everyone!

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