Monday, 27 April 2009

Anzac in the sun

Anzac Day's a busy time for Charlie.  On the 24th he took off early in the morning in a French military Puma helicopter to go up to Bourail for one of two commemorations.

The first was in Plaine des Gailacs, which sounded small and lovely and the second was in Bourail where the NZ war cemetery is.  I think that both were very moving things to have been involved in.  I didn't go - not being too keen on the 2-hour drive to get up there...lucky for some to get flown around New Caledonia in a heli!

I did go to the actual Anzac Day dawn service.  This year it was organised by the Australians and they decided to do a proper dawn service for the first time here in New Caledonia.  It was great - with lots of kids getting involved and a good spine-tingling last post. 

We took Max down and he was extremely well-behaved - led on by his good mate Murphy (who's got 5 months on him!).  We had an interesting chat with a lovely old French war veteran who's 88 and he got out his photos of the batallions he had fought with - he's now the last remaining man in the photos.

Let's hope these two little boys never have to fight in a war like he did...

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

What's left of the old...

There's not much of the old colonial architecture left in Noumea.  Most of us live in newish, not very attractive (let's say 60s and 70s) houses and apartments.  Not everyone though.

Some little treasures remain, tucked into the valleys of Noumea and in the old part of town, the latin quarter - so named as it used to be a swamp - which had to be crossed to reach the more salubrious houses in Mont Coffyn.  So it was in Paris that you had to cross the Seine to get to the Quartier Latin on the Left Bank.  Hmmm - the link seems a little tenuous to me, but nevertheless the old area is still referred to as the Quartier Latin.

I enjoy a stroll around this little area because it's a mishmash of different styles and shops and the home of some great boulangeries!  I also like to check out some of the lovely old places that have survived here.  There aren't many places like these left in Noumea and I hope those that are left are protected.  They're just gorgeous.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Raining cords at Easter

Well,  I remember Easters in Dunedin when I was growing up being wet, wet, wet.  And here's it's monster wet, wet, wet!   It is the rainy season so it's to be expected, but we have quickly realised that without our no-fail amusement park for Max - the beach - we need to suss out some alternatives...pronto!

We took off this morning to check out the open day at a little farm called 'Le bonheur est dans le pre'  just outside Noumea.  There's a great network of farms, little B&Bs, cafes and restaurants here - that's an extension of the French network 'Bienvenue a la ferme'.  The one we went to today was very cute, with lots of animals to check out, a playground and a little tearoom.  Perfect.  Except for the rain!  We'll be back.  Max made me laugh when he spied a cow from the car and exclaimed 'Pig, pig'.  

Happy Easter everyone, enjoy the holiday and all the good food.  We just tore into a delicious poulet roti - Yum!

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Escaping the Caillou

Finally, eight months after we arrived here, we left the Caillou for ten days of laxing and shopping on the Gold Coast.  We have family over there and although I have enjoyed previous visits, the most recent one was one of the best.  Why? Because it was cheap, cooler than here and taking a 2 year old to fun parks is absolutely hilarious.

We also giggled at ourselves and our fellow passengers as we checked in.  All the bags going onto the plane were curiously soft, light and clearly empty.  People head over to the Gold Coast from Noumea just to go shopping.  When we were doing the rounds of the shopping malls we were somewhat surprised by the amount of French we heard spoken.  Clearly a lot of New Caledonians shop over there...and that might explain the abysmal shopping here.  I guess that no matter how hard you try to protect your economy by taxing imports, people will just do the sensible thing and shop elsewhere - even if tickets for air travel are exorbitant.  I can assure you that we had to sit on our cases and wrestle with the zips on the way home!

But - aside from all that - the trip was great.  We loved Seaworld and Max is still asking for ELMOOO.  A few days chilling in Byron Bay were just lovely and I revelled in walking along a pristine beach with waves crashing beside me and a cool sea breeze in my hair.

So now we're home again.  It's been an interesting week with our first cyclone warning and a car that wouldn't start when we arrived at the airport at midnight and is still 'en panne'.  I have to admit that I'm loving driving the Subaru we're currently renting.  This will be the first and the very last Renault we own... vive les Japonais!