On the 24th July my children started arriving from around the globe for the wedding of my son Grant and his partner Enrica. My eldest, Maxine, was the first to arrive from California, followed by my son Guy, his wife Milou and their daughter, Ona, from New York. And then, the next day, my daughter Jenna, her husband Bear and their children – four-and-a-half-year-old Jack and two-and-a-half-year-old Stella – arrived from Australia. Their destination was our house in Buckinghamshire, which our kids have nicknamed Southfork, as it’s set on three acres and big enough to house them all. Justin, my stepson, is living with us at the moment so he was also in residence with his three boys Sebastian, Fabien and Raphael.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. It’s a common phrase I found myself considering recently. Look up its origins and you’ll find it comes from a Medieval Latin saying attributed to St. Ambrose – which literally translates as “if you should be in Rome, live in the Roman manner; if you should be elsewhere, live as they do there.” For me, this proverb carries a lot of weight and wisdom, and deserves reflection, perhaps even more so now in an age of multiculturalism.
My wife and I have spent a lot of time in the South of France. With a house being renovated here and a mooring for our boat as well, we’ve got plenty of reason to come and go so often. Beaulieu-sur-Mer is where we’ve built ourselves a base, but we often visit other little cities and towns along the coast too. With the boat it’s easy, we just sail down the coastline for a couple of hours and pull up to take a look around.
My one complaint about the South of France, beautiful it may be, is its beaches are awful. The water is clear and warm, but there’s no real sand, just mostly rocks to lay on. Coming from South Africa where I grew up with wide, sandy beaches and waves big enough to surf, a rocky seaside doesn’t quite cut it. But, knowing how much I appreciate a nice beach, a number of people have told me that I better head for Corsica.
With our good friends visiting us in the South of France for a couple of weeks, Lorna and I thought it would be a good time to plan a trip there. It’s only a 4-5 hour journey on the boat, which is quite a pleasant trip when you’re driving over yourself and the sun is shining. Continue reading
Having a second language is an unbelievably valuable asset. I get so envious of people who are able to speak one perfectly, let alone three or four. Some people just have the ear for it – which I definitely don’t – and it’s such an advantageous attribute.
Val Thorens is really an alpine resort for people who love food. The skiing is fantastic, the scenery is remarkable and the atmosphere is extremely friendly, but it’s the restaurants that really make it stand out from other resorts in the French Alps.
With about 60 restaurants across the Three Valleys, there’s plenty of variation, but Lorna and I have a particular taste for French cuisine (which there’s plenty of), so we tend to stick to that a lot. We’re in France after all!
Since our apartment in Val Thorens was finished late last year, we’ve been spending a lot of time here just enjoying it. So, we’ve also had time to dine out at a lot of different restaurants of late. If you’re interested, I’ve come up with my top five places to eat in Val Thorens. Next time you’re there, book a table at one of these! Continue reading
I’m not a huge advocate of Valentine’s Day. I do think it’s nice to show your partner or loved one that you care, but it’s the idea that just one day of the year is dedicated to it that is the part I really don’t like. Surely random gestures to show you appreciate your partner are valued more than giving a gift on the one day of the year we’re all told to.
I like to think I show Lorna how much I appreciate her more than once a year! Continue reading
There’s always a lot of hype surrounding New Year’s celebrations. People put all of their efforts into ensuring the night of the 31st December is the best of the year. But it’s all a bit much for me. As I’ve grown older I’ve moved away from wanting to have one, grand night and have become much more concerned with spending time with my family and friends. Now my favourite thing to do at the end of December is to take a trip somewhere and enjoy a fantastic week-long holiday, rather than focus on just one night.
In other news, Lorna and I would like to introduce another new family member; we are now the proud owners of a beautiful boat named Amazing Grace. After having it surveyed (much like a house), Lorna and I became the official owners of a 51ft Sunseeker yacht as of last Monday. We’ve also acquired a berth in the port in Beaulieu, France, where the boat will be moored, so we’ve set ourselves up a sort of base there.
My favourite restaurants in the South of France
So, it was too good to be true after all – it’s now pouring down with rain in Buckinghamshire! I have to say that Lorna and I aren’t feeling too down about the weather today as it is quite cosy to sit inside with a cup of tea and watch the rain pour outside. However, that’s not to say that we’re planning on sticking around. We’re now planning our next trip to the South of France and we can’t wait. We’ve been working hard on selling the house and doing up the new house recently so we think it’s time for a little break.
Norman Peires on the war in Mali
It’s distressing to hear that Mali has been named and shamed by the UN for the suffering that its children are being exposed to. Mali has a long history of coups and uprisings, but in March 2012 it all came to a head when Al-Qaeda’s Saharan branch took over the north of the country and effectively cut it off from the rest of Mali.
Before the Malian military could make preparations to recapture their land, the Islam extremists in the north started moving south towards the government centre. This is when France was asked to intervene. Alongside the Malian Army, they helped push the extremists back. While the southern third of the country is stable now, the remainder is locked down under serious conflict. And the children there are suffering.