Saturday, April 4, 2009

April 4, 2009: It's Spring and We Need a Break






April 4, 2009:

It's hard to believe that it is already April.  Yesterday at the end of school marked the beginning of spring break for our school "zone" here in France.  Now begins two weeks (yep, not one but two!) of vacation for the girls.  I welcome this vacation for many reasons.  It marks 2 months of living here in Caen.  Though it has been rough at times and easier than expected at others, the whole experience has been a huge change for all of us - school, work, socially, you know.  I feel like we have passed the "test" for the time being, maybe with a B-.  The whole family is ready to recharge, rethink, reflect and unwind.  Andrew has to work during this next week so the girls and I will be on our own, trying to find new places to visit, new adventures to go on around Normandy.  But the second week the whole family is heading to Antalya, Turkey for a nice and hopefully warm vacation at Club Med.  My body is not ready for a swimsuit, but my brain sure is....

Today we kicked off spring break with a short outing to a local farm.  It is called La Ferme de Billy in Rots, France.  At this farm they grow apples for making apple juice, apple cider (alcohol-containing) and calvados.  They also make apple vinegar and have bees which make honey.   The building where you enter has a porch with many tables and chairs.  We enjoyed a nice picnic there and I could also imagine lovely evenings on this porch, with their heat lamps lit and enjoying local cuisine with crickets chirping in the background.  When you enter the visitor's building, it is very nicely decorated -  modern and warm.  The tasting area was really cute and there was a very long dining table that I imagine seats up to 20 people.  There was also a kitchen off to the right so they probably host some wonderful dinners at this farm.  I'll have to get some info about that...

We were given a map and off we set to see the farm. We were greeted by a friendly donkey and a walking path that took you to the apple orchards.  Along the way we saw flowers sporadically blooming here and there, more donkeys and a very old church that was beautiful, both inside and outside.  When we arrived at the apple orchards, after a 10 minute walk, the girls had a blast running up and down the empty lanes between the rows of trees.  The trees just now have very small buds.  We all decided to come back every few weeks to track the progress of the trees and take pictures of how they change over time.  The best will be when we can actually pick an apple off the ground and eat it!  

One of the farm owners was gracious enough to give us our own tasting session when we arrived back at the main house.  The girls were deciphering between a dark and a light apple juice while Andrew and I debated between the cidre or calvados.  We ended up buying some honey, some calvados and some apple juice and cidre to accompany our picnic on the front porch.

The day was gloomy and drizzly so it was hard to decide what the family should do for their adventure today.  The farm proved to be a great choice.  We have already learned to dress for the weather (overdress, actually) and bring lots of extra clothes so we are always prepared for whatever rain or sun might invade.  The front porch being under a roof was great, as we quickly shifted our picnic from exposure to the rain to being sheltered.  And the man who was helping us during the tasting couldn't have been nicer.  Best of all, we have an outing we can go on every few weeks, that is just 10 minutes from our apartment, so we can track the progress of the apple tree growth.

Tonight, Andrew is out on the town.  He is at a tribute concert for AC/DC, Kiss and Led Zepplin with a friend and her husband.  I hope they are having a blast.  If you know Andrew very well, you know that one thing in life that makes him ecstatic is a concert - of almost any kind. Now, the Neil Diamond concert I dragged him to a few years back, not so ecstatic..but I digress.  I can't wait to hear from him how the music sounded and if the Grateful Dead t-shirt he wore fit in with the crowd's attire.

Not sure what we will do tomorrow.  The weather is going to be much of the same - cloudy, rainy and chilly.  I have had many requests for crepes for breakfast, so I guess we will start there!  

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