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Cracks in the Edifice

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Being here in French Polynesia, aka Paradise, takes some beating. There’s the emerald mountains, the boundless ocean, the oodles of tropical fish swimming around, and the perfect sunsets. Read More…

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On the other side of the world

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It was with some horror that I read today about President Nicolas Sarkozy collapsing in Paris after jogging alongside his amour, Carla Bruni. I’m fast becoming a Sarko groupie, frankly. Travelling around his vast overseas domains has made me something of a haplessly smitten fan. Not only do I fancy him, but I feel rather sorry for him – I mean, who would want to have a country as terrifying and sad as French Guyana on your in-tray of a morning? And as expensive? Read More…

Night in a prison cell

And so when it came to it, I couldn’t face it. Sleeping all night in a former prison cell of France’s infamous ‘bagne’, the prison of the penal colony for which French Guiana was renowned. Our room was a) windowless, b)airless and c) very haunted. There was a huge pit outside in which various caimen and iguana lurked. Alright, there was also a toucan there but even its bright blue feet couldn’t dispel the sure knowledge that all human rights had ended, for sure, right here in the Isles de Salut. Read More…

The sun never sets on the Tricoleur

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The head of tourism for St Pierre, Martinique, pauses in his tour of the fomer capital city, largely levelled thanks to the eruption of Mt Pele, a nearby volcano, in 1902. We are going up the ‘Stairway to Heaven’ – or Rue de Ciel, so-called because there was a religious seminary at the top of the flight of stone steps. “And a lot of prostitutes too,” he jokes, “for a different type of heaven.”

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Why working with children is a nightmare

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“When can we go and play at Restaurants, Mum?”

No, I love our children. And OF COURSE I’m delighted that they are here with us. As I said to Mr Millard “just think – we have three months unlimited time with our children, how lovely, no nannies, no aupairs”…and then REALITY hit. Read More…

Rosie Trying to Speak French on TV

The kids sabotage the filming (off stage). See how annoyed Mr Millard gets!

One down, five to go

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Examine the two photos below. The first is us leaving St Pierre et Miquelon in the freezing, wet and thick fog. The second is taken some 40 hours later (after a stop over in Halifax, Nova Scotia) and shows us arriving in Martinique, also a French overseas territory (actually a Department) in the sweltering heat. Read More…

Having a lovely time in the fog

Well, they said it would come, and it has. No sooner had we checked into the wonderful Hotel Iris in tiny St Pierre (loads of room, little kitchen, tres comfy beds) than the fog rolled in off the coast and even the lighthouse at the bottom of the street was obscured. It’s no wonder they call this the graveyard of the North Atlantic – over 600 shipwrecks are dotted around the treacherous coastline of around this island. Read More…

Rosie and family getting at one with nature

Hoorah! Out of the cubby hole under the stairs in St Pierre and off on a speeding ferry to sister island Miquelon. On the way, the hardy family saw two whales and experienced one instantaneous vomiting, so I think that makes us slightly ahead. Visiting Miquelon, population 600, is like being at the end of the world. Or the beginning. Either way, its like a pioneer village with the ocean lapping at either side of the strip on which it is built, and seals popping out to say hello.
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How to get around the world without spending MUCH money

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Blimey, but it’s tres cher here in St Pierre et Miquelon. Because everything is imported, but even so. The salaries of the employees here are as inflated as the cost of living, but what do the tourists do? Only gaze in envious awe as the St Pierre townsfolk drive around their tiny city in brand new 4×4′s, doubtless planning extensions to their brightly coloured clapboarded houses or thinking of when they will next visit the brand new hospital- or maybe the vast, heated and under used swimming pool, or perhaps the sparkling Francoforum for language studies. Read More…