Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Bye Bye Island Life!

We've been quiet here on the blog over the last months and that is due to fact that we after more than five years on reunion we have moved from our island home to metropolitan France (Toulouse to be exact).

Aurelie headed to France for work without the kids and I leaving us at home to prepare for the move following her to Europe and our new home.  Before we moved though the kids and I made the best of our time and spent lots of time with friends and had a last taste of the island life (for now) - parapente/paragliding, adventures in the trees, picnics and of course fun at the beach and in the sea.

Still our new home called and a few weeks before Christmas we got rid of the last of our stuff, did our final packing and boarded a flight to France, Aurelie and new adventures! 

Sam flying high...

...and Ela!

Our new home in Toulouse

The winter wood pile

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Telling a story!

This is my favourite photo from my recent trip to Armenia. It may not seem so interesting but it tells a really cool story.

What you are seeing is the core from a borehole we drilled recently and it is fab!

So at the top of the photo is the core from nearest the surface moving down through the ground, just like reading a book (left to right, line by line).

At the top we have soil underlain weathered material (stuff that was rock initially but that has been altered to clay) lying on top of basalt rock, nothing strange there! However after about 12 metres of basalt we start to get into weathered material again including what appears to be river gravel!  So what you are seeing in the photo is the soil and weathered material overlying an ancient lava flow (the basalt) which in itself is overlying an ancient landscape that the lava flowed over.  Pretty great, reading the story of history from the core like a book (a very very fuzzy book where you have to fill in most of the details yourself but a book nonetheless.

When I close my eyes I can picture the lava flowing over a stream and the clouds of steam rising up as a result all those millions of years ago, all from reading the core, how cool is that!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Drilling in Armenia

I love to travel and one of the big benefits of being a professional geologist is that in my line of work I have to go where the geology is to do my work.  Last week I got back from a month working in the south of Armenia, near the mountain spa town of Jermuk for a proposed gold mine near there. A beautiful country with wonderful friendly people!

In one of those crazy co-incidents that happen from time to time I was listening to an Irish history podcast while I was in the country and while discussing the vikings in Ireland it detailed the story of the Dunmore cave massacre mentioning that one of the coins found in the cave (dating from about 970CE) was from Armenia, even back then the world was a smaller place than we sometimes think!


The drilling team!

I guessing a Soviet era drilling rig!

Lunch at the rig, no need not to be civilised!

Being savaged by one of the mine dogs!

Mt Ararat in the distance from Yerevan airport!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The winter holidays are over!

Last week was the rentrée or back to school week on Reunion.  This winter I have been lucky enough to be home for the holidays so we have lots of time to do stuff together as a family during the holidays.  We have been on walks in the woods and along the coast, spent lots of time at the beach and in the sea (even if it is not the hottest part of the year), started making meals from around the world with the kids and generally lazed about the place.  All in all a pretty wonderful winter/summer holiday in a pretty wonderful place and how lucky we were to have it!

Picking wild berries on a family walk, very tasty!
Sam and Ela enjoying the sea at L'Hermitage
Ela in the Saint Pierre Bastille day parade
Sam at the Bastille day parade

Sushi night!
Hundreds and hundreds of little cairns that people have built along a few hundred meter section of the coast at Le Gouffre, very creepy if you ask me!
Aurelie at the mini blow up water park!

And Ela too!

Interestingly (at least if you live here and have kids in school!) the school year is a bit different here compared to mainland France (and Ireland), rather than a main summer holiday and a shorter winter/Christmas holiday the kids here get two similar length holidays of six weeks for winter and summer/Christmas. So we poor parents don't get overwhelmed by months of holidays all at once but rather two more manageable chunks.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Lemons (and other citrus fruits)

It is lemon season in Reunion at the moment and for me that is heaven, my go two drink in the fridge at home is the juice of a couple of lemons in mixed with water.  So just before I headed away for work (to Armenia this time) we took the chance to go to a lemon orchard and pick as much fruit as we wanted for the low low price of €1.50 a kilo!

Aurelie and the kids among the trees
As a result we had plenty of fresh lemons (and some other orange citrus fruits that I don't care about) resulting in a fabulous lemon tart and lots of fresh lemon juice.  It's the simple pleasures!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Playing in the sea at Etang Sale

Not much to say, just me and the kids enjoying playing in the ocean at Etang Sale (while Aurelie reads on the beach)!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

I don't like Mondays

I sing a lot, just generally for no specific reason, and sometimes the kids pick up on some song and sing it too.  So for the last few days the kids have been singing the Boomtown Rats song "I don't like Mondays" after hearing me sing it to myself a few times, first Ela, then Sam.  Tonight I wondered to Aurelie "why did they pick up on that particular song" and she looked at me deadpan and said "because they don't like Mondays"!  Well consider me told!  Plus school is out for the holidays on Tuesdays so no more Monday blues in this house for a while.

Ela rocking to the Rats!

I don't like Mondays

I sing a lot, just generally for no specific reason, and sometimes the kids pick up on some song and sing it too.  So for the last few days the kids have been singing the Boomtown Rats song "I don't like Mondays" after hearing me sing it to myself a few times, first Ela, then Sam.  Tonight I wondered to Aurelie "why did they pick up on that particular song" and she looked at me deadpan and said "because they don't like Mondays"!  Well consider me told!  Plus school is out for the holidays on Tuesdays so no more Monday blues in this house for a while.

Ela rocking to the Rats!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Sam's first dive!

A little while ago during one of the mid term breaks from school it was time for Sam's first try dive or bapteme!  As I had recently started diving with Neptune diving association we arranged for Sam to have his dive during the week along with a few other first timers.

So early one Wednesday morning Sam and I headed to the West of the island to Cap L'Houssaye to meet up with David from Neptune who was the instructor who was going to take Sam on his dive (I was just going along to watch and take photos)

Cap L'Houssaye
As it was a shore dive we got our equipment together and headed down through the woods to the sea shore where David took each of the try divers down for their dive (in each case accompanied by another diver (parent or friend) who went along for the ride and taking photos etc. while the others waited on the shore.

Wetsuit on (not sure that it had much effect as it was hanging off him!)

First breaths underwater!

Sam and I

On the surface


Identifying the fish that he had seen after the dive!
Living where we do Sam is well used to snorkelling but breathing underwater was a whole new (exciting) experience!  All went well and Sam enjoyed the dive and seeing the life beneath the waves so now we just have to wait a year before Sam can get certified as a junior diver so we can go off diving together.  

Mauritian Rugby Tour!

From  the Journal de l'île de la Réunion, Sam and the Saint Pierre rugby club U10's were in Mauritius for five days for a rugby tour.

A successful tour all round on and off the pitch with everyone having a great time and the Saint Pierre boy and girls winning 5 and drawing 1 out of their 6 matches against three of the Mauritian U11 teams.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Saint Patrick's day in Reunion

Today is our fifth Saint Patrick's day (the Irish national holiday) on the Island so Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh/Happy Saint Patrick's day!

Coincidently it also mid-term break for the kids so this year they are off school for the day so we decided to run a kids board gaming morning in association with our local Association "Les Coeurs de Mont Vert".

The entrance to our local hall (or Caz)
There was lots of fun with the kids playing Forbidden IslandCarcassonneDobble (known as "Spot it" in the US), Croc (know as "Get bit" in the English speaking world and is a game of sharks eating swimmers, hmmm, perhaps a bit close to the bone here on Reunion!), they played with Kapla blocks and giant pick up sticks as well as couple of other games that I unfortunately didn't get the name of.  

Ela flying the flag(s)
Plus there was face painting with shamrocks among other design and me trying to explain the history of Saint Patrick and why Cuchulain or Fionn Mac Cumhaill would make far better symbols for the Irish national day in my broken French (thank you Ela for being my reluctant translator)!

Gaming time!
Carcassonne with Aurelie caught in the act of "fait la bise"

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Home again!

After well over a month in France and Ireland we got back home just over a week ago, we were quickly reminded that 1, it's the rainy season, it rained pretty much non stop for the first week and 2, plants grow like crazy given warm weather and rain!

Our view on arrival

Looking out from the house
The rain let up a couple of days ago apart from the occasional shower and for a couple of days we were busy getting the garden shipshape once again.

And a week later (tidied up after after the rain!)

This is Vetiver, I cut it back three days before taking this photo, the green shoots have grown since then!

Of course this time of year is also when we get the most fruit from the garden!  While the lychee season finished while we were in Europe we are still getting plenty of passion fruit and goyave and soon we will have bananas and avocados again.  

One of the nice things about having so much fruit about is that people are so casual about sharing the bounty.  As we were leaving for town today our neighbour stopped us to give us a bag of mangos from the trees in their garden (that sort of thing isn't unusual), similarly when our current batch bananas and avacados are ripe no visitor to our house will escape without a bag full!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Beasties from Guinea!

While in our remote camp in Guinea it wasn't all work, work work so I took the chance to use my Moto G to take some pictures of the local beasties at the camp and out onsite.  I was amazed at both the wonderful variety of beasties and at how far phone camera technology has come on in recent years!  While we did hear bigger animals and birds off in the bush I didn't get close enough to photograph any of them so it's mostly bugs below. 

Dragon Fly
And again.
Butterfly in the ladies loo
Another bug in the ladies loo but no idea what it was!
I wasn't the only one taking pictures of bugs in the ladies loo!
Another type of Mantis?
Friendly spider
This frog was a lot smaller than it looks in this photo!
Not the best photo but I found this not so little fellow crawling over my head on the inside of my mosquito met one night about midnight!