From the monthly archives: juillet 2013

I don’t usually like re-posting an entire article, but this one is both interesting and moving.

My grandparents were very different: on the one hand a « perfect couple », 50 years of marriage and my grandad would still every morning pick flowers in the garden for my grandmother while she was preparing confitures; and on the other hand one of the most innovative and strong women I have ever had the chance to meet (I am currently witting her Wikipedia Page so there will soon be a link here).

I have to admit that when on holiday, I rarely take the time to read the FT, but this headline caught my attention and I thought it was worth the share (and as there was no ‘share’ button on the paper- I cut out the page and kept it in my purse to make sure I wouldn’t forget).

All credentials goes to Alice Fishburn and you can find the original article here.


Alice Fishburn: What my grandfather taught me

« The things your grandparents have seen and done are in your blood and a million miles from your own experience

Last week my grandfather died. He left many things behind: a wife, six children, 14 grandchildren and a huge hole. But in the spirit of not knowing what you’ve got till it’s gone, he also left me with a new awareness: grandparents are everywhere. The elderly get some of the worst press around – castigated as a drain on resources, with a generation of creaky-hipped baby boomers emerging from the wings to make things even more disastrous. But where it counts, grandparents are actually running the show.

Indeed, they are not only running things but taking them over. A MetLife analysis of census data estimates that there are now 25 million more grandparents in the United States than there were in 1980 – some 65 million strong, their number is growing at more than twice the US overall population growth rate. The UK now has around 14 million of them. That’s a powerful presence, not to mention political lobby. And as longevity increases, multigenerational families are becoming more common. It used to be rare to have a great-grandmother still doing the rounds. Now they’re popping up everywhere. »

Exhibit A: the Queen. Quite aside from the imminent acquisition of a new scion in Baby Cambridge Jr, she has soared up the popularity charts since recasting herself in the role of national grandmother: pastel-clad, never missing a family occasion no matter how many Elton John performances she has to sit through. Hillary Clinton has also recognised the sway of the grandparent demographic. She may not be prepared to speak out about 2016 but she is firmly on the record about her grandmotherly aspirations. In one interview she stated there was “no pressure” on Chelsea, before describing her hypothetical grandmothering style with what any daughter would recognise as quite a high-pressure statement: “Oh, my gosh, I’ll take the child, I’ll do whatever you need to get done.”

She won’t be the only one. Grandparents are the not-so-secret weapon of childcare. A recent report for Grandparents Plus by the Institute of Gerontology at King’s showed that over 40 per cent of grandparents in 11 European countries provide childcare. In Britain, that soars to 63 per cent for those with a grandchild under 16. Nor are they just a reliable backstop for juggling parents. They are also the ones who step in when things get tough. In the US, the Pew Research Center suggests that since the recession started, there has been a sharp increase in the number of children raised by a grandparent.

I benefited from 31 glorious years of hands-on grandfathering and if that’s not enough to absorb a few lessons, then, frankly, I’m the one to blame. My grandfather is the one who taught me that the answer to pretty much any question can be found in a book (mon grand père nous disait toujours que la réponse à tout était dans le QUID!). It was from him that I learnt how to write the name of whoever gave you the wine on the bottle (dorénavant je ferais pareil, idée brillante!) so you can thank them later (neatly distilling two of his great philosophies – manners matter above all and let the good wines flow). More and more of us will thrive from such prolonged exposure as our grandparents live longer. Today they are more likely to be working, active and educated than before.

They also have more cash at their disposal: a market that canny companies have not been shy to cash in on. But it is their presence that beats toys, clothes and other bits of plastic. An Oxford university study of teenagers (never the most effusive group) funded by the Economic and Social Research Council shows that children with higher grandparental involvement in their lives have fewer emotional and behavioural problems. They are our cheerleaders, another line of defence in times of difficulty. They weigh in on the really important things. My grandfather again: “Be fair. Be fair. Be fair. Even when life isn’t.”

A new study comes to the unsurprising conclusion that grandparents affect your social standing. More importantly, they give you a sense of your own history. The things they have seen and done are both in your blood and a million miles from your own experience, whether setting off for the front lines or experiencing a new nirvana at Woodstock. At an age when I was still messing around in graduate school, my grandfather, a young colonial officer, was dealing with a small pirate problem in Malaysia. When he used Morse code to appeal to his superiors some 200 miles away, the following came back: “Sort it out yourself.”

Our society is lucky that a swelling generation of grandparents stand ready to sort it out for those who come after them. More children will learn that your ears never stop growing. That however much of a city slicker you fancy yourself to be, you will be embarrassed if you can’t tell the difference between an oak and a beech, a hyacinth and a crocus. (If you can do it in Latin, so much the better.) That tolerance counts above all else. Tolerance and family. Tolerance of family most of all. And, ultimately, that you can never have long enough with your grandparents. »

All credentials goes to Alice Fishburn and you can find the original article here.


« A truly fine meal is enjoyed not once but three times, in anticipation, in consumption, and in remembrance »

Dear followers,

As you might know, I love food, and I love Excel (yes, Excel!), and as such I have a very strong tendency to record, rate and recommend all my favorite restaurants and bars using spreadsheets. (Happy to share them with you, current ‘shareable’ spreadsheets are Paris and London, still working on NY, Dubai and Marrakesh!)

I recently decided that the only missing feature to my little notes was a map, so I could look up what in my favorites or to do list was close by if I was in an area.

Of course, Google having a response to (pretty much) everything, you can create your maps using « My Places » in Google Maps. So here is my Paris Shortlist, in blue are my shortlisted places and in red my to-do list!

Any suggestions please comment on this article and I will gladly add it to my map (even better if you want to go and try it out with me!).


View Ambrouille’s Paris Shortlist in a larger map

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For folks who are either too far from Great Britain or not crazy enough to book tickets two-months in advance and spend an entire day at the Warner Bross Harry Potter Studio (For the reference, I did, the Knight Bus picked us up at Victoria and we left with Thaïs and T.S-H for a magical journey!), Google just added to its Maps a very nice treat!

Whether it is buying a wand in Ollivanders or picking up some extendable ears from Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, I am sure plenty of muggles would love to step into Diagon Alley… So if you can’t find The Leaky Cauldron, there is another way to soak up the atmosphere among those famous cobbles:

View Larger Map

You can now visit Diagon Alley in the window above or click on this link to open in Google Maps.

I am a huge Harry Potter fan, I grew up with these books (when Harry started at Hogwarts, he was 11, and when I read the first book, I was 10,  only one year difference but due to inevitable gaps of time between the books, Harry and I both found ourselves completing last year of high school pretty much at the same time) and waited in line in front of Smith’s bookshop in Paris at 1am on release dates to be the first to lay hands on the newest volume.

The kind of crazy fan who would re-read the books a dozen times and then dream about it. I find it absolutely incredible that Warner has turned this imaginary world into something you can actually walk into. Just for this, today, I love Google. And I will celebrate this by reading a HP chapter tonight!


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