dimanche 14 juin 2015


Today we want to paint the portrait of a wonderful country with multiple facets and fascinating culture (and delicious food, let’s not get distracted): Thailand. 

I lived there for four months during an internship at the United Nations 6 years ago, and there is just no other way of saying it, I fell in love with Thailand. It is one of these difficult things to explain rationally. There is the food of course. The FOOD! Tasty, varied, spicy, sour, balanced, unstructured, imaginative, surprising, incongruous, hair-raising… And it’s everywhere, you can eat in the streets, in nice restaurants, local stalls, lunch cantines, mingle with the workers or the Sunday shoppers. We just could not get enough of it. 

Then there is the culture, the temples, the history of the country, the attachment to traditions with the vertiginous rush to modernity, the smiles, the kindness… There is also the language. I don’t know why, but Thai is just my favourite language to listen to and to learn (right up there with Italian). It just meanders in and out of your ears with surprising intonations, strong consonances followed by low and smooth tones; it’s poetic and melodic, albeit impossible to pronounce for foreigners.

We even met Yoda!

There is also the nature, the weather, the smells… There are all these rational explanations to why I love this country, but really there is also something which is more difficult to explain, a feeling of well-being and belonging, the vibrations of Bangkok, the heat and humidity like a protective envelop, the sense that everything is possible, including taking your time and enjoying life, while doing business and taking opportunities. 

I wanted to introduce my second half to this country and so we planned our first long trip abroad together.
We did a 2 week trip which started in Bangkok where we met with a long-time friend who introduced me to his country 6 years ago. 

We exclusively travelled by public transport (except once), which contributed to making our trip unique, staying close to Thais: boats on the klongs (canals) of Bangkok, sky train, metro, buses, trains, plane, boats, local mini buses…

We first took a bus to Tong Pha Phung (impossible to pronounce, the lady from the train station initially thought we were going to a town in the South, indicating it was the wrong bus station, when we were actually going North…). Tong Pha Phung  turned out to be a small village and we were left by the side of the road to a local café/restaurant. There we waited for François, to come and pick us up. We were going to spend a full day with the elephants (more on this in a next post!).

Then we came back to Kanchanaburi and spent a day there, enjoying the local food, the slow rhythm of a provincial town and a lovely vegetarian cooking class.

We took our only private car to join Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of the Siam empire, for the cultural 2 days of our trip among the temple ruins scattered around the entire city.


From there we took a train to Don Muang airport to fly to Krabi in order to rally Koh Jum, a pirate like island still preserved from mass tourism and full moon parties (nothing against the latter, just not our thing). It has a very slow and smooth feeling, living at the rhythm of the air, the sea, and sunrise. We were under the impression that we were going to cross the path of Jim Hawkins and Long John Silver lurking behind a palm tree.

Finally, we left for Rai Leh. Now this was not the best part of our trip. True the peninsula is set in a breath-taking natural environment, and true the water is transparent and the wooden Thai house we stayed in was full of charm, BUT, Rai Leh was unfortunately too touristy. The food was really bad, as in bad, and expensive. The long tail boats (which are so nice when you only hear them from afar and not all day long), roam the bay from dawn to dusk, bringing in tourists from nearby towns. It’s like being near a motorway, no exaggeration. We made the most of it by waking up very early with the sun and the birds chipping, and going for a swim in the sea before the crowd arrived. Or in the evenings once everyone left, we went to the south side beach, and enjoyed a magical dinner (only good restaurant of the peninsula is in the 5 star hotel there) and romantic evening walking along the sea shore by moonlight. I know it sounds cliché, but the clichés actually come from somewhere and Thailand is one such place ;)


And then back to Bangkok for an afternoon of shopping at Chattuchak, a Thai massage and back to London (that was a difficult transition). 

Anyways, because it was so lovely and so interesting, I thought it would be nice to have a bit of a Thailand series of articles. We will be back soon with some delightful treats and hopefully interesting stories, so watch this space!

R and M.

mardi 16 décembre 2014

DIY Planet Friendly Christmas Tree

Last year we bought a Christmas tree. I couldn’t resist it, no matter how not-environmentally friendly it was, Christmas without a Christmas tree was not really Christmas. We bought a small tree in a pot though, in the hope of keeping it alive until the next Christmas, and the one after. Unfortunately, and predictably, after a few months, and despite our best efforts, our tree died. What a waste.

The traditional Christmas song in France sings about how beautiful the tree is in the forest, all lush and green and tall and proud :

Mon beau sapin
Mon beau sapin, roi des forêts
Que j'aime ta verdure
Quand par l'hiver, bois et guérets
Sont dépouillés de leurs attraits
Mon beau sapin, roi des forêts
Tu gardes ta parure
Toi que Noël
Planta chez nous
Au saint-anniversaire
Joli sapin, comme ils sont doux
Et tes bonbons et tes joujoux
Toi que Noël
Planta chez nous
Tout brillant de lumière
Mon beau sapin
Tes verts sommets
Et leur fidèle ombrage
De la foi qui ne ment jamais
De la constance et de la paix
Mon beau sapin
Tes verts sommets
M'offrent la douce image

I think we all know through experience that our Christmas trees don't stay lush and green and proud very long once they are in our living rooms!

So, this year, we made it ourselves. From scrtach. And it looks lovely and just as Christmassy as the real thing, while the trees can peacefully live outside where they belong.

You can find tons of ideas of crafted and home-made Christmas trees all over the internet: here and here for example. Ours is one option in a million.

  • Cylinders of any kind (from posters, woodsticks…). Ours came from a bin right outside a theatre, where they get sets and discard the packages.
  • Paint with any colour (we already had white and gold at home so used those but be as creative as you care to be!).
  • Solid strings
  • Lights and decorations

  • Measure and cut the cylinders with a saw to obtain a pyramid when you pile them up (ours get smaller by 5 cm on each sides).
  • Paint the cylinders as you wish. We haven't done it but you can create stencils and add patterns on the cylinders.
  • Wait patiently while it all dries.
  • Set up your cylinders on the floor in the right order and pass through the strings. Start by passing one end through the longest cylinder. Just like for a necklace. Then you need to cross them over in the next cylinder, passing the string ending on the right of the cylinder to the left of the next one and vice versa. In case my fantastic explanations are not very clear (hum), there is a sketch below.
  •  (You’ve just got to admire my drawing skills!)
  • If your cylinders are heavy, make sure you keep the strings tights, they will space themselves out automatically with their weight. If you are using pieces of wood, you might want to tie the strings to the ends of each woodstick separately on each side.

Hang it up and add on your decorations and lights !


lundi 1 décembre 2014

A quick cake : the banana bread

With my friend A. we decided to meet for dinner at the last minute. We have to plan a party in a few months and the best moment to discus for us is around a meal.

A. got the idea to bake a cake which is very popular in Australia and he already had old bananas in the kitchen.

His kitchen is nice but missing the weighting scale. With this important piece missing we arranged to make our own weighting. Needless to say this was very approximation. The cake was delicious however so there you go, easy AND no particular cooking skills needed.


200 g of white flour
1 tsp of baking soda (we used a sachet)
1/3 tsp of salt (a big pinch)
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3 ripped bananas
1/2 pack of butter (125 g) unsalted, melted
150 g of sugar
2 eggs
A pinch of Vanilla

Pre-heat the oven at 180C /gas 6.

First in a bowl reduce to a pulp the bananas, add the butter, eggs and vanilla.
Time to add the dry ingredients: the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

We blended everything together and it was looking good to us. We poured the dough in a backing dish.

Place in the oven for 60 minutes.

Check after 45 min just in case. It is ready when the knife comes clean after being inserted in the middle of the cake.

We added a scoop of ice cream.

With such a desert you can only take good decisions when planning your next party.


ps : The original recipe Classic-banana-bread