One thing summer does not offer, is much opportunity to visit Quinn, especially since he's been traveling around Europe with his parents over the last three weeks. We are lucky enough to get some virtual views and lots of photographs of his ongoing adventures. Phone conversations go something like this:
Quinn! How are you?
Yes Quinn, it's Nana and Bobo! We miss you.
Did you see a doggie today? What does a dog say Quinn?
What does a rooster say?
This same conversation can be repeated over and over and none of us ever seems to get bored. Such is the goofiness of grandparenthood. Here are a few images from Quinn's summer vacation which ends next week.
The first week of vacation was spent on a working farm in Austria which caters to children. There are lots of animals (thus the animal sounds). Quinn, who lives in Paris, hasn't met many animals before and apparently he is quite enthralled with furry and feathered creatures of every sort. He even dreams about them and repeats animal noises in his sleep.
Mighty Quinn, the swimmer
Quinn helps plan the itinerary
The second week brought him to the beautiful city of Ljubljana (Slovenia), where the setting is urban. When Quinn got to the hotel he pointed out the window and said "Moo?" in other words, "Can we go see the cows now." There aren't too many barnyard animals in the city, so Emily and Jos took him to the zoo. His favorite creature was an owl in a big cage.
Here he's pointing and saying "gar!" which he says frequently. Quinn is 19 months and beginning to talk three languages at once. He understands what his father says to him in Flemish, he understands English which Emily speaks with him and he also can respond to French, as this is the language of his neighbors and nanny in Paris. "Gar" is one of the first things he learned to say and it is meant to be "Regard!" French for "Look!"
'Look at the owl!"
His last vacation week was spent on the Island of Cres in Croatia enjoying the sea, the sun and the wonderful sea food. There is a donkey next to their bungalow and Quinn visits him every day.
Quinn meets Mr. Donkey
We visited another Loire Valley garden this week. In contrast to the whimsicality of the gardens of Chaumont-sur-Loire, Villandry is formal to a fault. The gardens are historically accurate representations of royal French gardens of the Renaissance, which clearly are meant to be observed from above. I prefer wild garden excess myself, but certainly one can appreciate the discipline required to maintain these precise gardens whose shapes and colors represent specific ideas and feelings. For instance, one garden represents different experiences of love, the four quadrants speak of tender love, passionate love, fickle love and tragic love.
Surrounding the castle and gardens of Villandry are woods with pleasant paths for strolling. The views through the trees are lovely.
My favorite garden was called the water garden. I have a recurring dream about a place like this. To me it's like looking into another world.
What a wonderful way to grow vegetables, although how could you ever pick any of the produce?
I love the purple basil. It would take quite a few people to consume this much. We did lunch at the Villandry restaurant where they specialize in salads and greens fresh from the gardens.
September brings visits from journalists. This week we had Laura and Gilles from the Derby Telegraph in the Midlands, England. Our regional tourist office hosts British journalists quite often who write articles about our area of France, which is very convenient to England. Generally the itinerary includes a stay at Maison Conti as we are one of only two four-star establishments in the region. This is the first time, however, that a journalist has requested an etching course as well as a night's stay and dinner. They were enthusiastic students.
Laura's print. This is the symbol of Liverpool, where Laura was born
This week the moon is waning and rising quite late at night which allows for some spectacular star gazing on crystal clear evenings. Night falls much earlier these days, and by 9:30 it's already dark. Last night Rick and I sat at the window with the telescope, looking southeast at Jupiter. We could see four of it's moons clearly lined up, one on the left three on the right of the bright planet. We could even see some of the striping as we looked with our highest magnification lens. Out the back windows the dipper blazes above the castle; there is little light pollution in Montmirail, so we can enjoy the entire canopy of the sky and bright stars on a clear night.
If you're lucky enough to live somewhere that allows you to enjoy the night sky, there are good opportunities to view Jupiter this month. It's at it's closest now. A good calendar of celestial events can be helpful in knowing where to look and what to look for.
Late summer picnic