Gastronomy: The River Café – Issy-les-Moulineaux

La Rentrée is almost upon us yet again, which means the restaurants are reopening, the local boulangeries are reverting to their normal hours, and the streets are once again bustling as people prepare for their start of yet another year post their summer holidays.
It has been a pleasure during the last couple of weeks being able to just turn up at restaurants – for those that remained open – and get a table. The River Café was one such treat. We made reservations, but on arrival it was clear that there was no real need to have bothered.

Books: INDIGO by Catherine McKinley

Title: Indigo:  In search of the colour that seduced the world
Author: Catherine McKinley
Published: 2011
Genre: Memoir

Catherine McKinley writes of her Scottish heritage, and the use of the colour indigo in the tartans of her people. She deftly links it to her African heritage and the indigo in fabrics that she’d seen, namely her introduction to the indigo-dyed fabrics of West Africa.

Monumenta 2014: The Strange City

This year The Grand Palais has invited Russian artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov to exhibit at the annual Monumenta exhibition. The nave of the Grand Palais is an enormous space to work with and to curate an exhibition that can effectively make use of its grand volumes. Previous artists have done it fairly well. This year’s ‘Strange City’ installation has been partitioned off into various parts, taking the visitor through a journey of differently-themed sections, each meant to inspire introspection into the human condition.

Places: Parc Zoologique de Paris

After renovations that lasted four years, the Paris Zoo finally re-opened its doors again last month. I took my son and a friend last Friday.
We had pre-booked our tickets online to avoid long queues but it was a surprisingly quiet day.
The zoo has undergone a €164 million overhaul which has turned it into a theme park-like space that’s been sub-divided into five biozones: Madagascar, Amazon-Guyana, Europe, Patagonia and the Sahel-Sudan – the single largest area in the zoo, and home to the animals of the African Savannah. We saw all of the big cats but missed out on the white rhino though – which was of particular interest to the boys because of it endangered status.
The zoo has been completely rebuilt and now looks less like your average zoo, and more “like Jurassic Park”, as my son put it.

Books: RED INK by Angela Makholwa

Title: Red Ink
Author: Angela Makholwa
Published: 2007
Genre: Fiction

In a word: gripping. I love watching the TV show Criminal Minds, and reading Red Ink was like watching an extended show of it. Angela Makholwa writes boldly about the violence that is at the centre of her crime novel. She’s descriptive and does not shy away from the details of the blood and gore. In the same way that I cannot turn away from Criminal Minds, I could not stop reading.

Books: THE HAPPINESS PROJECT by Gretchen Rubin

Title: The Happiness Project
Author: Gretchen Rubin
Published: 2009
Genre: Memoir

I finally read Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project. It has been on my kindle for a while, but I felt that it would have been a better read in paperback – but in the same breath I could not bring myself to pay for a paperback copy having already downloaded the ebook. It is one one of the most useful and enjoyable books I have read this year.

# Bring Back Our Girls

The tweet that started the online campaign for Nigeria’s government to take action, and bring home the more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram militants on April 14 finally has the World talking. In praise of social media, the petition has now overshadowed reports on the wars in Central Africa and Syria, and the crisis…

Books: AMERICANAH by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Title: Americanah
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Published: 2013
Genre: Fiction

I have been sitting on this review for a while. Writing it feels like being unfaithful in some way. Here goes: I was disappointed. I loved every single one of Chimamanda Ngozi’s books. A friend gave me a copy of Purple Hibiscus when it was first published, and since then I have read and re-read the stories in The Thing Around Your Neck; have sunk my teeth into Half of a Yellow Sun – eagerly waiting for its release now that Biyi Bandele has had the genius to make a movie of it; and like everyone else that is a fan of Adichie, I eagerly anticipated the release of Americanah – especially since it promised to also tackle that ‘hair issue’.

French May Day Blues

61157-lilyvalley-300x300My muguet and a single rose are on the dining room table in water, thanks to hubby. He was out early this morning and came back bearing gifts and bonheur – happiness. The selling of flowers, without a permit, is permitted to the general public only on this day. It is a tradition, along with the marches around the world on this International Worker’s Day.

Solitude for Gabríel Garcia Márquez

I have yet to meet anyone that does not profess to loving One Hundred Years of Solitude, and to follow it up with how ‘Márquez’s magic realism brought Latin American to the world.’ It was,  when I was in my 20s, a literary rite of passage for those that aspired to be well read. Well, I confess: I still have to read it.