On the 16th April, Ada was 10 years old.


17th April is totally different - she is 11. Here is her birthday celebration, Norwegian Style.

Preparations begin early morning - well, at least by 7.30am.

                 pressies 2

                     Pressies wrapped 


                 fruit salad

                                 Fruit salad and chocolate is prepared, tray loaded. 


                        light the candles

                         Candles are lit. Flags are ready. 

                      get the flags

                       Balloons are blown up.


                          Let the noisy procession begin -  

                      start procession

                         Ada wakes up in total surprise (we all pretend)

                      here it comes

                         Happy birthday never sounded so good.

Time now to pile onto the bed, eat the fruit salad, more singing, more noise, while Ada opens her pressies.

                      buried in pressies

                          OOOOPs too many - so big brother Anders will have to help.

               big brother helps better

                  pressie mix

(translate, please, into Norwegian)  " Mumma did I really need a handmade koala from Australia with big ears ?? Oh yes, ok, it is just what I have always wanted !!"

                 Ada's Grandparents watch from above -


                       While Simba joins in -

                  simba 1

                  Next pressie, please. Then the next, then the next and the next.


             unpack pressies 2

           So much food, so many pressies, so much excitement - sshh exhaustion time.


             tired now

                             In the afternoon, the cake is prepared. 

                   decorating the cake

                 The dinner is made ready before the guests arrive.

            dinner mix

            The feast is eaten, toasts are made to Ada, and then -

             dinner mix 2

The women bring the cake, candles lit, and with a special birthday song and dance for  a very special girl

Would you like your next birthday to be in Norway ? - sorry, I'm first in all this.

Comments on birthday celebrations - yes, please. 

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 Take a fabulous view in St. Mandrier (near Toulon) -

                  st m best view 2

Mix it well with a glamorous magic wand devotee plus a cheeky master chef -

                 st mandrier family

And stir well in a Provencal Home straight out of a French magazine.  

                       st m home

What do you get ?? A BLOODY good holiday - that's what !!

Start your day typically with a stroll past the fishing boats in the harbour to the Boulangerie to buy croissants for breakfast  - not before 10 am please, and be careful of all the fishing nets from the guys working hard all night !!

                st m boulongerie 

Approx.1.5 hrs late and too replete (good word - aka stuffed full of croissants) to move. Okay lets just roll out the front door where our personal assistant, Fritz, is waiting, and go find a hill top village or a beach resort to explore.

                             a cassis map

CASSIS - an extremely ancient fishing resort now morphed into part of the rich and famous playground of the Mediterranean, and what's more, is only approx 1.5 hours from St Mandrier - bonus. Check out the red star above.

                               a cassis street better

Wander down the hillside through any of the fascinating small streets, and come to the most charming waterfront I have encountered EVER. 

                     a cassis 22

And everyone was here for Sunday lunch - can you see any film stars ??

                     a cassis all eating best

Hmmmmmm - I can definitely see Robert de Nero and over there is Elle, oh and don't tell my brother Murray, but one of the glitterati has stolen his dog.

                  a cassis mixture

Just to be here was a delight. The colours, the beauty, the food, the people, the ancientness of the old town, the boats, the statues even on top of buildings, and the old old streets - it all adds up to an ambience that takes your heart and gives it a sweet little nudge that places like this exist.

                          a cassis dinner

But then, as is our want, trusty Fritz sped back along the roads, and round all the curves, and delivered us safely back to St Mandrier for a delicious dinner by our cheeky master chef in our own piece of heaven.

OOH LA LA life can be damn fine !!

And just wait - there will be more. More escapades of a wand waving celebrity, more food by a cheeky master chef, more ancient towns - coming to a blog near you.


Comments ? yes, please, as long as it is on the beauty of this place, and on facebook -- https://www.facebook.com/jeanette.blake2

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Stroll across  the waterfront, breathe in the French air, glory in the French sunshine -

                   6 agnes 2

And come to the Saturday markets. 

What would be your pleasure Madame ? Flowers -

                         6 flowers 24

                               Oui, Oui - bouquet pour nous.

                                              6 flowers 40

Pisces ?? -

                             6 fish 10

                                                      Non non not that one - evil eye -

                             6 fish 20

                                                          S'il-vous-plait - THAT one.

Garlic ?

                                      6 garlic 61

Fresh White Asparagus ?

                          6 asparagus 60

Cranberries, Golden Raisins, Goji berries ????

                                  6 cranberries 10

Tomatoes ??

                                  6 tomatoes10

Lavender Honey ??

                                 6 honey10

Cheese, Madame, -  (we took the big piece on top - yumbo !!)

                                 6 cheese 10

Saucisson (low fat) ?? -

                                6 low fat sausage10

or maybe fashion ?

                                         6 fashion10

or a Headband, Parisian-style -         

                                6 headband 20

Ce chien n'est pas un pouf, vraiment! - Straight comme un die.

                                6 dog 2

 Peut-être un peu de flirtation?

                                         6 flirting 10

Oui, Oui, soak up the Gallic atmosphere, enjoy the sounds and the smells (oooh the SMELLS), eat every smelly cheese in sight, sample a sausage or 2, buy a bucket of strawberries, take the fresh white asparagus home and eat it for dinner with a mound of Hollandaise sauce , and / or large dish of the best asparagus soup EVER ( all made by Micha) - groan gr-o-a-n- I am NEVER ever going home !!!


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Remember this ?

                       900 manoora 001

The 900 class locomotive Malkie was building.  He has used his computer to convert blueprint drawings of this train, precisely and accurately, into 3D drawings ready for the 3D printer.

                  train 002 

And this is as far as he got in my last "train tragic" post. The plastic model was excellent, but the sides were not quite detailed enough, so it was covered with a piece of brass etched accurately into doors, windows etc.

All he has to do now, is paint the little model, right ? W-e-e-l-l-l is a bit more than "just" painting.

                    nerve centre 1

Firstly, check out the nerve centre, where the detailed building occurs. Actually very well organised.

                    paint booth

                          And this is the paint booth with its extractor fan at the back. 

                    malkie 2

                 And this is what I have to cope with to get these piccies - lots of cheek !!

                  after silver and red paint

                  At this stage, the red has been sprayed on, and the silver trim as well.

OOPs Malkie - you missed the silver trim on the grill bits - so back to masking and respraying.

            masked 2

           The little guy after masking - very detailed job. Needs more patience than I ever would have.

            masked and silvered

           The silver is resprayed round the grills.

            silver grill

                  When the paint is dry, the masking is peeled off - and voila! Silver grills.

            the decals

               Next, attaching the numbers as a decal. 900 class, remember.

                     cutting the decal best

                        Malkie uses a scalpel to get a fine accurate cut.

                     decal with scissors

                    Then snip the tiny weeny "900" away from the rest with surgical scissors.

                              decal in water

                   Use a fine brush to get the minute decal into water - don't blink !!


Use that fine brush to get the wet decal onto the train, and then use a tiny blob of "solvaset" to make the decal snuggle down, and look as if it has always been there.

     900 with numbers

Getting there - now for the "X" on the front.

                      newby 4   

                     The "900" class rides again, perfect in every detail.  

                     newby other side    


              newby 5  

                     Congratulations, Malcolm. Mission accomplished successfully.  

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