I hate being presumptuous, but people have been asking if we're registered with a baby list. Please do not think this means we expect gifts... but with so many of our family and friends abroad, this is an easy way to communicate our needs.
With baby coming in just 4 months, we don't really know where to begin. We thought knowing the sex would help, but that plan went out the window when the little one played shy during the ultrasound. Now we've got the nursery cleared and ready to paint, but absolutely NOTHING to go in it.
Apart from the usual gender-neutral clothing (in a range of sizes) that is easy to buy because it's oh-so-cute, we do have a few suggestions. We have yet to decide on a furniture set, and considering the expense, I think that's one thing we'll definitely plan to tackle ourselves. The room, I think, will be painted white with a white, black and red ladybug/bird bedding and decor set, so anything for the nursery should, hopefully, be within that colour range, please. Otherwise, toys are a good idea, and books, especially German-language ones!
For more ideas, I have created a registry with www.babiesrus.co.uk. The wish list is entitled, Baby Weber, and is not private. Just in case though, my list code is: 12128913368435024 and password is the estimated due date of Baby Weber, 18122010.
Please do not buy us a baby book, a diaper bag or any maternity clothes. We'd like to pick these out ourselves and have not yet found the right ones. :)
NO PRESSURE!! We are more than happy to outfit ourselves with baby stuff. But just in case, HUGE thanks in advance. xx
Yesterday we had our 20 week scan. What fun! The scan took nearly half an hour though... and why? Because little Grape Weber was being a naughty baby! First, baby wouldn't sit still: twisting, turning and being generally difficult. I felt bad for the sonographer who had to fill a list of about 25 sights and had trouble finding ONE! Then, once baby tired itself out, it proceeded to curl up into a tight ball, legs firmly together and prevent all views. The sonographer, who at this point was trying to view baby's organ development, couldn't see a thing because baby's spine was throwing a shadow over all its insides! Of course, this doesn't account for the hilarity that ensued when we tried to figure out if baby is a boy or a girl! No dice. I guess it's meant to be a surprise... at least for another 7 weeks until our next scan!
In other news, Riccardo and I have decided to put a hold on selling our house. The market still hasn't recovered completely here, which means that we'd likely have to sell at a loss, considering the money we've put into updates and renovations over the last 2.5 years, at least that's the forecast received through 4 different appraisals. Besides our crackhead neighbour, it's not immediately necessary that we move anyway, so we'll just see how things look again next year. Admittedly, I am disappointed about passing on the fabulous house we found, but banks aren't making things any easier by requiring huge deposits and marking up the Bank of England interest rate by about 6.5%. They're happy to approve us for a mortgage that's double what we need, but require a downpayment of tens of thousands of pounds. Not realistic for first time buyers or up-graders. No wonder the market is still at a halt. Money grubbers. Anyway, I think 6 or 8 months in this house, with baby and all his/her baby things will drive us crazy enough to relight the fire under our *behinds*.
Summer holidays are going by waaay too quickly. I still have a long list of work to do - household stuff and job stuff! Just 2 weeks left! Wish me luck!
The past week involved a pregnancy milestone: 20 weeks, or the halfway point! Because of this, Riccardo and I decided we shouldn't venture too far away for our summer holiday this year. So we got cheap hour-and-a-half flights to Carcassonne, in the South of France!
We didn't arrive into Carcassonne until about 6pm on Sunday, so considering we had a 3 hour drive ahead of us, we picked up our rental car and hit the road. We arrived at the gite we rented after dark, and were warmly welcomed. We can whole-heartedly recommend Gite du Mas de Font Dame: it was comfortable, clean, spacious, quiet and close to many attractions. Not to mention it offers use of a private pool!
Monday was our first full day in France, and after all our hard work both in our jobs and around the house, we were eager to start things off slowly. We found the local Carrefour supermarket, stocked up on groceries for the remainder of the vacation, and then spent the rest of the day by the pool. The weather was consistently fabulous during our stay: it was sunny and around 33 degrees every day!
Tuesday we drove to Avignon, which was about 30 kms away. Avignon is famous for its bridge, which, as commemorated in the french nursery rhyme, fell down. There is also a large church there; I think Riccardo said that this was the base of a controversial second Pope at one time in history. Maybe he'll comment to explain all that in a little more detail... I thought Avignon was a little too touristy considering what it had to offer. I wasn't overly impressed.
From Avignon, we drove about 15 kms north to Orange. Riccardo's sister, Sylvia, recommended this town because it features an ancient Roman amphitheatre. The amphitheatre is the only one in the world with an intact back wall. We didn't pay to enter the theatre, but rather took La Petite Train tour of the town, which included a drive up the mountainside where we could view the theatre scenically from above. I highly recommend this - especially for those who are pregnant or mobility-challenged.
Wednesday was market day in Uzes. Our gite was located just outside the village of Blauzac, which is roughly halfway between Nimes and Uzes in the Languedoc-Roussillon province of France (bordering Provence / the Cote d'Azur; together these two provinces make up the 'South of France'). So we drove to Uzes, which was about 15 minutes away and recommended hugely over Nimes (which is a much bigger, dirtier, scruffier city as far as I could see), and meandered through the city centre. In the Place de Herbes we found a medium-sized market, which I found slightly overwhelming, considering my lack of French. I did manage to buy some strawberries and a huge handful of green beans. If we had more luggage space, this also would have been a great place to buy homemade perfumes, soaps, preserves, etc. Lovely! To finish our afternoon, we stopped in a cafe boarding the square for cappuccinos, and then headed back to our pool.
Thursday I convinced Riccardo to take me to Marseilles. He wasn't very enthusiastic about this at first, as Marseilles is quite far away (about 2 hours drive into Provence) and is known to be a huge city. Since it was top of my list, however, he agreed. Actually, Marseilles was beautiful. We visited the Old Port, which is like a marina to hundreds of sailboats. The port is surrounded by tons of cafes and restaurants and overlooked by a magnificent cathedral on the mountainside. Already knowing the value of La Petite Train, we journeyed up the hill to view the church and overlook the Old Port - spectacular views! After a late lunch, we looked into going our the tiny island of If, which was formerly a high security prison, famous for incarcerating the Count of Monte Cristo. Unfortunately it was quite expensive and we missed the last sailing, so that didn't work out.
Friday we stayed close to base again, traveling about 15 minutes to the famous, Pont du Gard. The Pont du Gard is a massive, 2,000 year old Roman aqueduct. Since it's a World Heritage Site, the grounds were immaculately kept. In addition to a fantastic (air conditioned) museum, and a couple restaurants, one could swim or kayak under the Pont in the fresh water river, or hike up the sides of the valley for a range of majestic views. A great day trip! By night, apparently there is a light show on the Pont and occasionally live music as well. I highly recommend visiting the Pont.
Saturday Riccardo and I spent the whole day by the pool, knowing that all the tourist traps would be even more chaotic than during the week. In the evening we walked the 2.5 kms or so into the village of Blauzac and dined at the only restaurant in town. What a great walk through the vineyards under the huge French sky.
Sunday I chose to go to the beach: the Mediterranean!! We drove about an hour to Saintes Maries sur la Mer, a small tourist town in the heart of the Camargue, a wetland region in the South known for its small white horses, large black bulls, rice paddies and flamingos. We saw them all, and I got my first experience swimming in the Med, which was lovely, clean and refreshing. Before we left, we had to experience some fresh seafood (Riccardo loved the garlic-butter-covered mini-mussels) and have ice cream cones while walking down the pier.
Monday we drove back to Carcassonne in order to finally enjoy La Cite, which was the reason for our trip to the South. Riccardo has read a book called 'Carcassonne', has the board game, and is somewhat obsessed with the Medieval city; I knew, when propositioning him with ideas for our summer holiday, that including a visit to Carcassonne would seal the deal! La Cite is a lovely walled-in, fully-restored Medieval city with tons of picture-perfect views. It was, admittedly, very touristy, and access to the castle itself was very expensive, but it was a great way to spend an afternoon. To finish off the day, Riccardo suggested we veer about 20 kms off-course to the coastal town of Sete. Sete is situated on a small mountain overlooking the sea, and is known for being a large fishing port. It wasn't nearly as touristy as some of the other places we visited. While there, we happily enjoyed another seafood dinner along the Grand Canal and noticed a boat tour company directly across from our restaurant. After dinner, we hopped on-board for a very inexpensive sunset cruise. What a wonderful end to our time in France!
Finally, on Tuesday, to ensure we were properly rested to return to England, and that we soaked up the sunshine we were certain to never see again upon our arrival back home, we spent the day by the pool. We finished off the last of our immense watermelon, packed, tidied the gite and savoured our last hours.
After saying our goodbyes to the gite owners, Christine and Alain Boschi and wishing them the best of luck with their soon-to-arrive baby (their third!), we headed back to Carcassonne on Wednesday morning to catch our flight home. Of course, upon picking up our car at the airport we were promptly greeted with a downpour of good ole British rain!
Ah, holidays! :D
*** Dont' forget to hover your mouse over the pictures for some details.