Wednesday, 25 July 2012

school's out for summer

Kind of an excuse for not writing, but the last couple of months have been a whirlwind. Honestly, I have no idea how we jump from day to day so damn quickly.    

At the end of May, the kids went on their class trips - Eli to London, Graydon to Paris and Esmée to Interlaken.  Jeff and I took advantage and travelled to Ticino, the Italian region of Switzerland for a few days where we wandered around without any real plan, stayed in beautiful hotels, ate delicious Italian food, slept in and enjoyed the quiet.  

Lake Lugano

In early June, we met Jimpy (my mother) in Paris to take in the sights and a few matches at Roland Garros.  We rented an apartment in the 6th Arr., a great location in terms of its proximity to all the places we wanted to go.  Coming from the serene mountain life of the Saanenland, however, it was possibly the noisiest place on earth.  Thank god for the Parisien bakery downstairs.  Without its fresh pain au chocolats, croissants and it's piping hot café, we wouldn’t have survived the sleepless nights marked by the incessant sounds of traffic and people in the City of Lights.

rue de vaugirard et raspail

Roland Garros was a real highlight.  Thanks to my mum's great friend at NBC Sports, we were able to see three matches: Nadal-Almago in the Quarters, the Sharapova-Errani final and the Sunday portion of the Nadal-Djokovic final.  I love watching tennis on TV, the analysis and commentary is of real benefit.  However, the energy and excitement in the stands at the French during those matches was incredible.  It was such a treat to be a part of the action. We watched Rafa's precision and focus in placing his water bottles in exactly the same spot on the clay in front of his bench at each changeover.  His ritualistic bum picking, sweat wiping, hair tucking, nose wiping before each point was all the more poignant from a mere 25 m away.  Sharapova clenches her fist and walks to the back of the court between each point, a moment to focus and prepare.  It was thrilling to see her win her first French Open title and to cheer Nadal on to winning his seventh.

Giverny and a day in Monet's garden was a hit.  Graydon had been there with his class a few weeks earlier and he relished in being our tour guide and noting all the changes in the garden.

We also did lots of walking and sight-seeing and had a great day with The Beatty-Walter family who, by chance, were staying two blocks away from our apartment.  A highlight for the kids was The Catacombs, an underground labyrinth of skulls and bones, the burial grounds for 6 million Parisiens around the end of the 18th century.

the artfully created catacombs
Esmée was determined to see the Mona Lisa, so we weaved our way through the Louvre crowds one afternoon in search of DaVinci's masterpiece.  It had been pouring rain all morning, but the sun had emerged just enough to generate steam off the backs of every tourists' raincoat.  Every last one of us in that museum brought the wet heat indoors, virtually turning the place into a crowded steam room.  Once Esmée successfully wormed her way to the front of the crowd to get a few pictures of the famous lady, we quickly escaped back outside and headed for our favourite spot, the Luxembourg Gardens...  

One of my fave pic of Paris - a drive by....

After paris, we were into the last stretch of school days with all of that inherent craziness – play dates and musical dress rehearsals, cleaning out of desks and the resultant piles of notebooks, artwork and stuff at home, assemblies, good byes and the excitement and anticipation of a couple of months without tests and homework.  In amongst this madness, I snuck in a glorious 5 day tennis clinic here in Gstaad lead by Aussie legend, Roy Emerson.  Fresh off my spectator experience at the French Open, I was in heaven. 

The end of school is a time of real emotional conflict. From my own school days, I remember the feelings of relief and excitement mixed with sadness as everyone scatters and goes their separate ways.    It’s a time of goodbyes and see ya later's, some intended for a couple of months, but some for longer.  We've had a fantastic year.  We've all met wonderful people and made great new friends and thankfully, we are able to put off our own longer term good bye's for now.