Monday, April 29, 2013

I have a dream... lucky Moi!


seattletimes.com

When do people stop dreaming? When did I?

Somewhere along the way, life happens, and we start confusing short- or mid-term plans with dreams. Worse, we adopt other people's dreams as our own, convincing ourselves that if they are good enough for someone we love, they are good enough for us. Somewhere along the way, we forget who we are. 

Les renoncements. We settle.

Dreams are harder to achieve than plans. Dreams require a good dose of imagination. Enthusiasm. Some craziness. Ambition. Patience. And a little bit of selfishness too. But folks, making a dream come true is the ultimate reward, one that will be appreciated only if it took a lot of hard work and sacrifices to get there. 

I just turned a big birthday this spring, and as I looked back at the person I used to be, in my 20s or 30s, I realized somewhere along the way, I stopped dreaming. 

This year has been a challenging one for our family. In more ways than one. Curve balls have been thrown at us, as life has a tendency to do, and in our attempts to catch them, there has been no time to dream - or even to think about dreaming. 

No matter. This ends now. Oh, I know there will be more rough months ahead, more trials; and I will look at them squarely in the face. But this does not mean life has to stop just now. 

I want to keep on dreaming. I want to feel inspired, and excited, once again.

This week, the funniest thing happened. And all because of a little car I met at a local museum. If you are French, or even European, you will know why I had to have my photo taken in front of that particular car... It was not the fastest, the most beautiful, the most famous car there... but it is the only one I remember from my visit.


Le May American Car Museum, Tacoma, WA
Two French girls meet...

La Deux-Chevaux. La Deuche, or, as it is known in the United States, the 2CV.

If you want to understand why this little car occupies such as an important place in the French psyche, you may want to pause and read the story I wrote about it last year. Then come back here and find out how this French Girl started dreaming again...

When I posted this innocent photo on the Facebook page for the French Girl in Seattle blog, a funny thing happened. A French man named Sylvain, another blogger and expat, enjoyed my 2CV story so much, he immediately shared it with the readers of his popular blog, My French Neighbor (merci Sylvain!) Within two hours, the numbers of subscribers to my page had increased by 75%, and visitors left enthusiastic comments about the 2CV, and the page in general. This tickled me pink (no, I will not attempt a translation here.) 

It was clear La Deuche still has many fans around the world, and if my story was good enough for Sylvain and other French people (a notorious tough crowd,) then I had reasons to be happy and proud.


La Deux Chevaux: More French than la baguette or le béret!
Still a beloved sight in the French countryside...

An iconic French car on an iconic French road
(nationale7.com)

Just looking at la Deuche makes me smile. That is the truth. I see one go by in France (not a very common occurrence anymore,) and I smile. I can't help it. 

As I was researching old photos and stories about the 2CV online, I found a company offering sightseeing tours of Paris in refurbished 2CVs, Quatre Roues sous un Parapluie (Four wheels under an umbrella, one of the 2CV's old nicknames...) 

I immediately decided to book a short tour for Junior (the car enthusiast) and me, while we visit relatives in Paris this summer. A 30-mn ride along les Champs-Elysées and around l'Arc de Triomphe in crazy Parisian trafic is a [good] start.. This was a plan, not quite a dream yet... but a fun plan all the same!

Then I looked at the website some more, and I found information about a rally, organized every spring by Quatre Roues sous un Parapluie and the Most Beautiful French Villages of France Association. Imagine that: Seven days. From Paris to Cannes (French Riviera.) Driving your own 2CV with your crew; experiencing some of my homeland's most scenic roads and villages, surrounded by other 2CV and France enthusiasts; all the while competing in a rally; sleeping in comfortable country hotels  and interacting with locals every evening; discovering why La Deuche always was so much more than a car... a true lifestyle...


"I like the good life..."


Lucky buggers. I like them all already...

I had found it. My dream. A dream that would take some time to finalize (and a lot of saving up...) but that would be so satisfying, so fun, so... perfect. 

Of course, I will have to start working on it soon. First I will need a dedicated crew. Three people max. 2CV enthusiasts and francophiles need apply. What do you say? Are you interested? 

What car will we get? We don't need to own one. Quatre Roues sous un Parapluie will find one for us for the duration of the rally...

A rugged Sahara model?

A convertible Charleston model (my favorite?!)

Never mind.  This ain't the Pacific Northwest!

Finally. Some sun on the horizon. Something to look forward to. 

Ahhhh... The freedom to dream. It can be mine. It can be yours, once again.




Life can be good, people, for the Dreamers, the Motivated, the Brave! 

What about you? Do you have a dream?

A bientôt.


  • Interested in the 2 CV Rally? More info here.
  • Interested in the incredible story of La Deuche? Read more here

  • More Deux Chevaux (2CV) photos, just because... These are a bit of a private joke for French readers. Do you get it? :-) 






Merci, chère Deuche, for reminding me of the intoxicating power of dreams...





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51 comments:

  1. I think i told you..my friend Nancy had a 2 chevaux in France:)
    In Bonnieux..I took a photo of a beauty and made a card for her~
    You must watch Anthony Bourdain..he took that tour in Paris..

    My dreams are simple..they always have been.
    But then again ..I have been blessed.

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    Replies
    1. SImple (or at least attainable) dreams are the wisest way to go, but sometimes, simple does not cut it, if you see what I mean :-)

      Your friend Nancy was a lucky woman: A 2CV and Bonnieux... That would be an irresistible combination :-)

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  2. Dreaming is good for the soul. Sounds like a fun dream. I just got back from Monument Valley and it feels like I'm still dreaming. I will upload on my blog in a few days. One of my dreams is to retire in South of France.xx
    S.

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    1. Retiring to the South of France, now you are talking, Sandy!

      I won't forget you offered to drive my Deuche during the rally, a few days ago on Facebook, you know! :-)

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  3. Oh how I LOVE this car, and your dream! When I was 14 or 15 and knew absolutely nothing about cars - except that as a teenager growing up in Los Angeles I assumed I would have to get myself one - I wanted THAT car! I had no idea of its history, how rare they are, or the love affair so many have with the little cutie. Thank you so much for sharing so much about it. I went back and read your other post also. I feel so informed now. But also, alas, will my young teenage dream ever come true now? Knowing how scarce they are... sigh... I will keep dreaming... And will cheer you on through your dream this summer as well, it will be such a great adventure!

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    1. I am so happy you now understand better why you loved that little car so much when you were a teenager. It is a very special car indeed. One that fueled many dreams, and still does. This summer will be the beginning of the adventure. Patience, patience... :-)

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  4. I say dream on.........what a fun idea for you and Max. You have to do this, French Girl. You absolutely must do this!
    ~ Sarah

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    1. Dream on I will, Sarah. By Max I assume you mean Alec, aka "Junior?" -- I forgive you. I hardly ever use his first name on the blog. Thank you for stopping by, as always.

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  5. Ma chère amie, comme il me plairait, si j'avais encore ma 2CV, faire ce circuit !
    Cela doit être grisant, comme vivre une deuxième jeunesse!
    Donc un doux rêve !...
    Je me suis aussi pincer en lisant ton blog ! Peut-être était-ce aussi un rêve ! Non, une bien belle réalité en ouvrant aujourd'hui ta page...
    Peut-être sera-t-elle un élément déclencheur ?... Un chevalet, mes pinceaux, mes peintures et une toile dans la deudeuche! et hop ! c'est parti pour l'aventure !
    vas-tu réaliser ton rêve ?... Je pars avec toi !
    Gros bisous

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    1. Martine,
      J'adorerais faire ce rally avec toi, et te voir illustrer toutes nos aventures avec tes pinceaux! Après tout, la malle de la Deuche n'est pas si petite que ça... On pourrait bien y trouver un peu de place pour ton chevalet (et les organisateurs du rally ont du prévoir quelque chose pour les bagages encombrants...) On reste en contact, alors? :-)

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  6. Love that! So charming. Bonne chance with getting your 2CV ASAP!

    Yes, I have lots of dreams. On the top of the heap. Getting my book published and relocating to France.

    Fortunately you have a husband and parents that make challenges easier just because they are there. Hugs.

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    1. Dear Suzanne. I am not getting a 2CV. I could not afford one, and would not be able to repair it if something happened. But I will happily drive one (loaned to me and my team by the rally organizers) for the duration of the event...

      I wish you good luck with both your dreams. I find them wonderful. :-)

      I agree it is somewhat easier to chase a dream when people you love cheer you on. But that is not always possible, and you still have to go out there and "stick to the plan..." -- Bonne chance, friend.

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  7. Quand tu dis qu'elle a marqué l'imaginaire français, c'est vrai jusqu'à notre génération, car on a tous , peu ou prou, appris à conduire avec. Mais pour les jeunes aujourd'hui, elle n'a pas la même image, elle manque de vécu . Et c'est dommage! Car elle etait partout, reconnaissable entre mille, facile à conduire et à entretenir, inusable, increvable et tous terrains!
    Les rêves , j'en ai réalisé quelques-uns; C'est vrai que j'en ai perdu beaucoup en route, mais il m'en reste encore dans un coin.
    J'espère que tu réaliseras les tiens, au moins celui-là!
    Grosses bises!

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    1. Les jeunes d'aujourd'hui ne savent pas ce qu'ils manquent. La 2CV a été remplacée par les téléphones portables, les textos, les jeux vidéo. Les pauvres. :-)

      Ce n'est pas grave de perdre des rêves en route. On en retrouve certains en chemin, un peu plus tard, quand on pensait les avoir oubliés. Ou on en fait de nouveaux. "The sky is the limit," comme disent les Américains, qui, ils faut le reconnaître, n'ont jamais peur de rêver...

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  8. You've got to dream. I think that the 2CV love affair is very widely shared. I recall a previous post in which you said that you'd once again live in the sunshine (Nice) so I think the combined dream of a 2CV convertible (you're right that's the best one) toodling Nice is what to aim for!
    I like your photo by the 2CV - it's a great photo of you Veronique.
    For me... I've always wanted a town house in Cape Town, South Africa. I have the development (on the beach) all picked out so I can spend summers in Europe and winters in the South African summer. Dream on...

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    1. Ah. Nice and a 2CV. Tempting, I must say, Craig. But I know Nice well enough by now to realize owning and driving a car down there is pure folly (a little bit like Paris in that respect.) The city - the area, really - has one of the best public transportation systems in France. Nah. I probably won't own a 2CV, but as I mentioned above, riding in one for a week with my friends during the rally would fill all my 2CV dreams... :-)

      Let me know how that house in Cape Town works out for you. I would not mind paying you a visit one day... And talking about the 2CV, I bet there are quite a few hidden here and there, still, in Africa. Wouldn't that be fun? (or am I trying to push my dream on you?! ;-)

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    2. Last time I was in Nice Clive and I were in our convertible and a moron on a pizza delivery scooter went into the back of us and then had the nerve to chastise us for stopping to let an old gentleman cross the road at a pedestrian crossing! So I think I'd prefer public transport next time too!
      A 2CV for me? I'm more of an Audi guy I'm afraid.

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    3. Ah. I thought only Parisians did that (bump into you in the street then chastising you for not watching where you are going :-) I guess not... I tell you Craig. I watch all the people driving in Nice, and it does not appeal to me in the least. And the parking, Ah! the parking!!! Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

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  9. Even Tin-Tin liked the 2CV! http://2cvhobby.free.fr/bdtintinpub.jpg He was featured in Citroën 2CV sales literature.

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    1. That is correct. How much fun too! Tintin and la Deuche. Perfect (even though most Frenchmen forget Tintin is actually Belgian, not French, but who cares, right?! :-)

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  10. OMG, ma chère Véro, this was such a delicious post. The first time Dan saw a 2CV was on our honeymoon in Paris, and he went absolutely crazy over it. Every time he spotted one on the street, he had the same reaction, and still does, 35 years later. Several years ago, I actually found a Lalique 2CV and he keeps it on the table by his side of the bed.

    I can't wait to share this with him. Will you and Junior be on the May rally? Can't wait to see the pictorial of your travels.

    As to my youthful dreams, only one of them came true - a happy marriage. As my British Grandmum would have said, "Musn't grumble; musn't be greedy."

    As to other matters, I have been meaning to contact you "hors blog" and will do so very soon.

    Big bisous, M-T

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    1. My dear M-T. I knew you had picked the right man. Now I am even more certain. A Lalique 2CV? That is fancy. I have a small model at home (in the original drab, grey color.) It is in my French language teaching studio and stares down at me and my students from the top of a shelf. :-)

      No, Alec and I will not be joining the rally quite yet. We will start (modestly) with a short ride in downtown Paris this summer, which is something. The rally will take more planning and saving up, but will stay at the top of my list of fun things to do in France until I am able to sign up. You know me. I am très déterminée... :-)

      Best to you and 2CV-loving Dan.

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  11. Bonjour Veronique. We love the 2CV and take pictures of them everytime we see one during our visits throughout the South of France. We have blown them up (big)and framed them to hang on our family room walls in Northern CA. Citroen made ownership of cars possible for the French starting back in the late 1940s, fulfilling dreams back then. Have a great day.

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    1. Ah, un connaisseur. Bravo, Cher Michel!

      A framed Deuche photo. What a great idea. I may have to work on that myself at some point this summer.

      You are correct. Citroën was a big deal back then. I have heard the company is in big financial trouble right now. Quel dommage.

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  12. Bonjour, nous sommes contents si nous avons participer un peu à votre rêve retrouvé ! Merci pour ce post émouvant. C'est agréable de lire "Merci", c'est rare. Nous essayons de promouvoir les gens qui écrivent bien à propos de notre beau pays. Bientôt 15000 fans, nous n'en revenons pas. Nous avons conscience aussi maintenant d'avoir une responsabilité dans ce que nous postons. C'est pourquoi nous sommes contents quand nous trouvons du contenu informatif, de qualité, non polémique. En plus, la Deuche, on adore !
    Amitiés.
    Daphné et Sylvain - My French neighbor - Mon Oncle d'Amérique

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    1. Chère Daphné. Encore merci (vous avez raison,) on ne le dit plus assez souvent. Votre soutien est arrivé à point nommé, ainsi que l'intérêt montré par tous vos lecteurs dont j'ai adoré les messages d'amitié. Bravo pour vos 15.000 fans! C'est une belle performance ma foi, et cela mérite d'être souligné. A très bientôt, chers admirateurs de la Deuche, ici, chez French Girl in Seattle, ou chez vous, sur My French Neighbor. :-)

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  13. Not to quash anyone's dream, but the unrestored low milage 1965 Citroen Sahara pictured above sold at auction in October 2012 for $142,500. Twin 425cc engines (one front and back) and four wheel drive is perhaps more than a dream requires for a relaxed rally.

    One still sees the occasional 2CV - battered or nice, but not quite pristine on the streets of Paris from the Marais to the 16th.

    Currently there are approximately 400 plus 2CVs advertised in the voitures section of www.leboncoin.fr with about 20 plus in the Ile-de-France - the good, the bad (oh, my), and the beautiful.

    Do live your dream, James

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    1. Thank you for the input James. You are obviously a connaisseur. I will keep living my dream, as it does not involve investing in a Deuche, but simply renting one for the duration of the rally. I will be happy with whatever they give me, as long as it bounces along on 4 wheels, like my uncle's used to do.

      I am afraid my travel budget (and driving skills) could not handle a $142,000, twin 425cc engine model. Now, if I DO, one day, write the next big American novel, I might actually start shopping for a Charleston model - but even then, ONLY if it comes with a handsome mechanic to fine tune it whenever it catches a cold. Now THAT makes a great dream, wouldn't you say? :-)

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  14. I think you would look very charming and cute driving one of those down to Public Market

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    1. Merci beaucoup. I can already see the HUGE crowd of tourists and locals gathering around la Deuche after it broke down in front of the original Starbucks store :-)

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  15. Marceline of Whidbey IslandMay 1, 2013 at 11:15 AM

    Bonjour Veronique,
    I found your delightful blog only recently, while looking for information on Paris cafes. Oh, what a coincidence, a French girl in Seattle...not too far away. Then I read more and more et quelle coincidence! She lives in Woodinville! I lived there for 20 years and moved to Whidbey Island 18 mos. ago.

    And as for your post today about holding fast to dreams...or finding them again...one of my dreams is to return to Paris. I was there only once 30 years ago. And...this fall I will return with my mother, my sister, and a friend of my mom's who is a retired French teacher. The tickets are purchased, the apartment is rented, and the dream will never die.

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    1. Bienvenue, Marceline de Whidbey Island... It is a small world, they say, and they are right! :-)

      How do you like Whidbey after living in Woodinville? Langley is such a charming little town... and Coupeville isn't that bad either.

      Long live to your dream, and all dreams! I can't wait to hear details about your upcoming trip next fall. Do stay in touch!

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    2. Marceline of Whidbey IslandMay 2, 2013 at 10:26 AM

      Whidbey definitely has its charms, as you know since you like to explore the island. We live in between Langley and Coupeville. Wonderful fresh air, half the rain of the Seattle area, snow on the mountains that I can see from my windows, our boat moored on our own dock. My husband grew up on a farm and he adores the more peaceful life here. I miss the conveniences of Woodinville, but life is a compromise, n'est-ce pas?

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    3. HALF THE RAIN OF THE SEATTLE AREA??? How come nobody has EVER said that to me??? :-)

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    4. Marceline of Whidbey IslandMay 2, 2013 at 10:57 PM

      Oh, we have our secrets over here on Whidbey. We are in the "rain shadow" of the Olympic Mountains, as they say. So, many storms swoosh past Whidbey and sail right on over to Woodinville! Many more clear days here, not that gray you know so well for weeks on end.
      average rainfall Woodinville: 36"
      average rainfall central Whidbey Island: 19"
      And about 10 degrees cooler in the summer too.

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  16. Although my love for them has only been realized in photos taken at every opportunity, they make me think about the French countryside and great French movies. Now, I will always think of "dreams" and Veronique when I see one. I took some photos last October when a little caravan of them crossed our path in the Marais. I think that they were the tour-Paris 2CVs.

    Keep dreaming. I am living mine.

    Bises,
    Genie

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    1. Living the dream, eh, Genie? Good for you!

      I am so happy you love La Deuche too. What a charmer she is, the little car that could. Hugs to you, Alabama friend.

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  17. Love that little car...I reminded me of a dream vacation....We all need dreams...

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  18. CHÈRE Véro! OH....let me first say that when I was in France, I fell in love with these cars. I came back here to Minneapolis and was disgusted by all the big cars, and I was longing to get back to where small cars rule! And I believe in never letting our dreams die away. I recently was living someone elses' dream, but I quickly figured out it was not for me. I am back on my own journey and I am happy again.

    YOU are going to be perfect for the France link party! Please keep AU COURANT in the next several weeks as I will be putting your name on my list, and also adding your link for that first day of the party. YOU ARE FRENCH, and your sensibilities, passions and photos are all I want to make this party great.

    OK, BISOUS MA BELLE! Anita

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    1. Bisous à toi Anita. I will be looking forward to the "big party!" :-) Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

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  19. I think we should meet up in France and take us a little tour around in a ROUGE one!
    V

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    1. Wouldn't that be great? You should join me during the rally when I finally do it... I know we would have the BEST photos of the whole group :-)

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  20. Dearest Véronique,
    Hah, that brings back fond memories of one of my colleagues that had a Deux Chevaux or 'Lelijk Eendje' (ugly duckling) as we called it in Dutch. Funny shift stick and the noise and everything about it was SO different! One of my elementary school teachers also drove one... So many memories as there were numerous 'Lelijke Eendjes' in my area.
    Thanks for always telling a great story and sharing it with your readers!
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Ugly Duckling. Poor little Deuche. The shift stick is certainly "different!" -- and the bouncing, ah, the bouncing! :-) Sweet memories. Best part about la Deuche if you ask me: No cup holder!!! Ha!

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  21. Firstly, the rally is a wonderful dream/plan and your ride along les Champs Elysées sounds like so much fun! The Deux Chevaux is as iconic as the baguette or the Eiffel Tower and it's a shame that each time we visit France now there are fewer and fewer on the roads. I love to see the really old ones in the countryside. Many years ago we actually had a new red and white Dolly version and it was always admired up here in the North of England as it was, as you can imagine, quite a novelty! Once again you have me reminiscing! Another brilliant post, Véronique - definitely one of my favourites!
    http://missbbobochic.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Bonjour miss b. Thank you for stopping by!

      I am glad you enjoy the cute little French car too. I would love to see a photo of your old red and white Dolly. Could you send one to me privately? :-)

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    2. I would love to send you a photo but this was pre digital cameras and many of our photos from that era are packed away in boxes in the loft! When we last moved house, we didn't unpack all of them!! When I get chance, I'll do my best to see if I can find one up there.

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  22. Readers, Vero has already helped make one of my dreams come true...grace a Veronique j'ai l'opportunite de vivre la reve...I get the opportunity to converse in another language, la belle langue francaise, on a regular basis....something I always wished I could do, and now can! A drive from village to village with two classics, deuxdeuche and Vero...now it may be someone else's dream, but I could get behind that 😊

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    1. Merci Robin. We will talk when the moment comes :-)

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Bonjour! I love hearing from you, my readers. To quote a fellow blogger, my friend Owen, "Comments are the icing on blogcake... Comments are the UFO in the twilight sky bearing news from other planets... Comments are raspberry vinegar in salad dressing... Comments are the cool balm of after-sun moisturizing lotion... Comments are the moment the band comes back out onstage to play an encore... Comments are the gleam in the eye across the room in a smoky bar... Comments are the rainbow after the rainstorm..." Merci for your comments! French Girl in Seattle