Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The simplest Peter-Pan collar necklace ever! - Le collier simple de Peter-Pan jamais!

Following on from my post yesterday, I made a go at a Peter-Pan collar style necklace for my sister, Petit Pomme.
This particular attempt turned out to be the simplest version ever!

1) I took a length of chain long enough to sit on the collar bone or just below on the neck (42cm/19" in my case) and attached a spring fastener and D-loop fastening.

2) Took 2 lengths of the same chain and attached them to the central point of the first 'base' chain using two (for security) jump rings. 

3) Measured and cut one chain to a length where the end could be attached to the base chain at a point that would form a 'swoosh'. (This point is about on the collar bone) (Approx 22cm/9" in my case). Cut both chains to the same length, then attach the ends to the base chain on opposite sides, using jump rings. These chains then represent the lower edge of the 'collar'.

Et voila! Simplest Peter-Pan necklace ever...

And just like my image from yesterday:

Chain Collar Necklace

Of course I couldn't let anything leave my studio looking quite so simple - especially for a gift. 
So I jazzed up the base chain with some cute dragonfly charms and shell discs. 
I think from a distance it looks a little like lace.....what do you think?

Would look better with a simpler top I think - a plain white fitted T would be ideal. 

So there it is....simplest Peter Pan style necklace ever....have a go and let me know!

Mlle Peche x

Monday, 25 March 2013

Monday motivation (my twisted arm!) - Motivation lundi (mon bras tordu)

I've previously posted how I usually get a big burst of motivation on Mondays - spurred on by the fresh, new week. In fact, so much so that it was a Monday that inspired me to start A.L.P.

Hmm...sadly it seems not so for every Monday. Some just wimp out on inspiration in favour of freezing cold arctic winds (yes, we very luckily avoided the crazy snow here but it's baltic all the same!) and some just come off the back of a lacklustre weekend, where Mr Peach has had to work his little socks off all weekend, I had a very quiet cold Saturday in the shop, then pretty much felt confined to the house all Sunday, for fear of freezing my fingers off if I ventured out!
Where, oh where is that Spring we so desperately need and long for, so we can go for walks and socialise in the open air? Even the spring flowers and blossoms are finding it too chilly to peep out their pretty heads to cheer us up.

Taken last weekend in Chorley Lancashire - as I told Mr P I could easily walk there in a day (normally)!
Photo Credit: Chris Newman via flickr

So, in place of spontaneous inspiration, today's post will be fuelled by somewhat forced inspiration.
See to me this week means more than the hopeful onset of Spring, as the 28th is my Mad March Hare of a little sister's birthday.
Petit Pomme is only a few years younger than me, which felt like a great gulf when we were little, but now we're grown ups seems hardly anything at all. When it comes to gift giving we both now have the approach of buying pretty much what we want for ourselves, then (reluctantly) gifting it to each other. It's a strategy that we've found works out pretty well.
Style wise we're quite similar, though I'm a little more quirky/boho and she's a little more labely/classic.....though both only a little, not a great sway of difference either way.

Over the past three years when money's been seriously lacking, but time for crafty projects has been more plentiful, she's thankfully embraced my home-made gifts. I usually try to make her something to open on the day and buy her a little something when I next happen to be shopping with her (which is not more than twice a year).

Petit Pomme embracing the twisted cowl I made her for Xmas 2 years ago - one of her favourites
(the pose is courtesy of her (kinda) photographer partner - no she's not trying to smother herself.)

Now I have left it rather a tad tight timewise, but hopefully I can get this mini-project sorted just in time for wrapping and posting by Wednesday....hmm.

I've been meaning to have a go at making a collar necklace for some time now, as I think they can really make a plain outfit look super-cool and can be super-chique too. I definitely think Petit Pomme would approve. So, I headed for some Pinspiration, made a board, but here are a few of my faves for her....

Chain Collar Necklace

This would be really easy to do - I have some chain like this already and it seems just to be attached with small rings. My instinct is to jazz it up a bit - using a heavier chain and weaving some bright ribbon through - but I'm not sure if Petit Pomme would prefer the simplicity and verstility (could be a good work 'go-to' piece).

Delusions of Grandeur - update a tee with a collar necklace

Again I think this would be quite easy, but a step up from the previous piece. I have some small silver/grey glass pearls that I could see working well here, maybe with brighter beads mid-chain or at the ends.

Handmade pearl collar, necklace vintage style

I really want to have a go at making a proper Peter Pan style collar necklace for her though. I love the bow on this one as it could be worn at the front 'Pussy Bow' style or at the back for a simpler line. 

Two-Toned Beaded Collar Necklace - Pink and Grey #shoplately
But I think an injection of spring colour is called for. The beadwork on this is actually similar to some bib-necklaces I made years ago, but I love the colours and the shiny beads on this one.
I have some flat, white and mint green glass beads that I think could look great worked up into this kind of dense polka-dot effect, though I'd have to get sewing fast!

Phew, after that Peter-Pan Pinspiration I feel a tad more motivated now!

Time to raid my craft-stash and make a start or poor Petit Pomme will be missing out. 

Mlle Peche xx

Friday, 22 March 2013

Five for Friday - Cinq pour Vendredi

Sumartin, Brac Island, Croatia - (aka paradise!) 2008

Right there - that's where I want to be right now!

Instead I'm hovering over a heater in a drafty shop, trying not to think about the miserable SNOW outside.

Time for a Coffee and Five for Friday to cheer us up!

+ Ten best stories about Bears.....my vote goes to 'Whatever Next' - one of my little sister's favourites when we were growing up.

++ Three great books for grown ups to add to my list....The Newlyweds, Beautiful Ruins & The Chemistry of Tears. (Found via Cup of Jo)

++++ A cautionary tale....look after your ears ladies. (WARNING: not for the squeemish)

+++++ I am SO making us some of these for our wedding!!


Hope that did the trick. Happy Friday peeps!

Mlle Peche xx

Thursday, 21 March 2013

My Easter Cactus - Mon Cactus de Pâques

Rumour has it that the snow is on its way back here with full force.
It's mid March for Pete's sake!

So, thinking I might be able to do something to re-dress the karma balance, I decided to get on and tackle a mini-project that's been sitting on our kitchen table staring at me for weeks now. It's a project with a pleasant Spring air.

See this little fella:

This is my Easter Cactus. He's actually quite an old wee fella and a family heirloom!
I inherited him via a chain of events around a year after Mr Peach and I moved in together. 
I believe he originally belonged to my Auntie Barbara (my Mum's sister) who sadly died when I was a toddler. He and I are both now in our 30's. 
For the 4 or so years I've been in charge of his care Mr Easter Cactus has lived in our bathroom, in his original pot, which I've long since thought he finds a bit of a squeeze. 

I'm not sure he totally enjoyed living in the bathroom. 
Whilst there was lots of water around, which meant he got a drink far more often than his fellow house friends (who I generally tend to starve), being a north-facing bathroom it was often a bit damp and fuggy. 
He tried his best and made beautiful flowers at least three times in that damp spot. Eventually though, despite having nice looking leaves, the damp just got a bit too much for him and he developed some mould issues:

So, I've decided it's high time this old fella got a spruce up and a new home. 

Equipment was grabbed:

Mr Easter's new coat was half-filled with special cactus compost.

He was unceremoniously stripped of his old orange plastic jacket 
(fortunately keeping most of his roots that had long since outgrown his clothes). 

Settled into his snug new ceramic pot. 
Snuggled up with more special compost in all the gaps. 
And given a nice drink:


And here is Mr Easter Cactus in his temporary new home, where he'll live for a few weeks whilst he gets used to his new clothes.

After he's got settled he'll have a nice drink with some extra feed in there and then will be moved to his permanent home, nice and sunny and bright, to hopefully fix those damp roots.

Hope you like your new outfit Mr Easter Cactus. 
Please do your best to usher some suitably warmer weather in our direction!

Mlle Peche x

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Five things... - Cinq choses...

I don't always wear sunnies in photos. I do usually have a glass in hand though!


So, I've been having a little scoot around some amazing blogs on my 'day off' today and came across this...

Since we're pretty brand spanking new here we don't know each other all that well yet do we....so here's my attempt at 'five things' to let you know more about me.

Five things you don't yet know about me...


I'm a Gemini (and yes, I fully believe in the whole star sign thing). Represented by the twins - it means I have a split personality (check) but am also really adaptable (double-check) and super-sociable (check...I hate being alone!). I did a quick search on Gemini personalities and here's some interesting & spookily true stuff you can apply to moi....

Their brains are subtle and brilliant but they usually "lack continuity of purpose". (tick)
It is difficult even for them to understand what they want to achieve. They will no doubt spend ages chatting to anyone about every subject under the sun, just to keep feeding their ever active and inquisitive mind. (Yup...Mr Peach will testify to this one!)
One must not attempt to hold them or to expect them to be constant to their ideas or plans. (kind of true - I am reliable but if nobody is actually depending on me for something, I might not always stick to it to the word!)
(they are) kind-hearted and generous to the person who fills their thoughts at the moment, but "out of sight, out of mind" explains their fits of "forgetfulness" as nothing else can. (This is so true it's scarey!)
The good qualities which people born under the sign Gemini possess are: ease-going ,cheerful, helpful ,self-confident and calm. (Yup...thank goodness)

I DETEST tinned tuna and aniseed. Not a whole lot more to say on that matter - other than that the former smells like dog food and, once open, there is literally NOWHERE the scummy stuff doesn't get to. The latter I put down to the fact that all the sickness medicines they feed children are made to taste like aniseed - thus by association I retch every time I even get a whiff of the stuff.

If I won the lottery I'd buy a boat and a campervan. Yep, that's the nomad in me. Mr Peach is the homebody in our relationship and it's my life challenge to bring him round to my way of thinking. A luxury campervan (the kind with a satellite TV) would seriously help me in that...so come on Mr Fate...pleeeeease?! And I'm not talking a luxury yacht....no, a caravan on water would suit me just fine. Just so long as Mr P and I can float around the med at will, sipping wine and sampling our favourite Calimari as we go.

When I was little I had an imaginary friend called Colin Juck. I'm not ashamed...in fact I'm quite proud of my young imagination. He had a whole back story too. His sister was called Laura-Lara. His mum 'Dennis' sadly died in a car accident before I 'met' him. He went everywhere with me - on holiday to Minorca, to visit my grand parents and even one memorable shopping trip in Manchester, where I made my dad go back to the car half way through as we'd left Colin in there! I think he left my life soon after my little sister was old enough to play with - but hey Colin, thanks for the memories!

In evolution terms I'm part of the next generation. I'm genetically missing two teeth. Yep, that's the one I usually pull out of the bag in 'ice breaker' or 'get to know you' sessions - but it's 100% true. My dad and I share a genetic feature whereby we ditched two pesky teeth (the ones next to the canines) that you really don't need. We both have too many teeth for our small jaws anyway, so it'd be pretty crammed in there if we hadn't have evolved that extra step. But we did. My mum and sister didn't, so if i'm lucky enough to have children I'm going to be right in there at teething time to see how many they grow!

Thanks for reading.

Please pass it on! I'd love to know 5 things about you too....

Mlle Peche x

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Progres - Progrès

Bonjour mes petits pèches!

And what a great morning it is as....we have progress!

After the predicted stall in any movement on the scales - this morning when I hopped on I was thrilled to see a slight downward swing - a 2lb loss!
This means I've broken the 14st barrier and am now in the 13's. 13st 12lbs - which makes 12lbs loss from the start. I'm still 5lbs off my 28th March target (13st 7lbs), which will be a bit of a push, but I will do my best. 
As per the above, progress is progress you can't deny. As I like to say - you have to make a start somewhere!

I have to admit I've been a bit naughty too. Saturday night was drinkies watching a potential wedding band - blip number 1. Sunday was a write off as we had a huge spread of amazing sandwiches, crisps, sweets, cakes, biscuits and pastries at the marriage-care course, which it would have been rude to decline - then we figured we might as well go all out and have pizza for tea - BIG blip! I didn't make the 4 gym sessions or 2 runs either - I just felt a bit ropey towards the end of the week and there was a bit too much else going on, so I fell one short of each of those targets. 
No matter though, because this is still a new week and I can set new targets......

This week I WILL gym 4 times and do at least 2 runs  3 runs. So there. 
Diet wise I'm going to try really hard until Friday, when the weekend will inevitably take hold. But, I'm going to make sure I excercise at least a bit this weekend.

I have just over a week to lose 5lbs....eep. To be anywhere near that I'll need to smarten up my act and get a lot stricter with myself. Maybe up those gym sessions by an extra 10 mins and put in an extra run or two....yep, that's what I'll do. 

In other news though my favourite belt is down a notch and the button at my hips on my puffy coat no longer pops open due to my fatness....so yes, not perfection, but progress indeed.

Back soon,

Mlle Pèche x

Monday, 18 March 2013

A roomful of lobsters - Une salle de homards.

Anyone, like myself, who grew up in the 'Friends' generation will know exactly what I mean when I say that Mr Peach is my lobster. I'm his lobster too - we lobster around together.

And what do lobsters do on Sundays?....well the ones getting married (some of them) go on a course all about preparing for marriage - learning what each other want and expect out of marriage and how they're going to step into it together. Our course was run through our Church - not technically compulsory, but we didn't think wise to risk not attending!

Honestly, I was a bit nervous as I'd heard a few scare stories before that it was all heavy religious stuff, that you have to discuss your sex life & other intimate details, but it was really nothing like that. In fact it was a far more practical day about working through the 'pinches' you might be likely to come across in marriage. As the course leader put it, a 'prevention is better than cure' attitude!

The best thing about the whole day was the other couples attending too - we were so lucky to get such a friendly, talkative and at times hilariously funny group. There were six couple in total. At a rough guess I'd say most were about our age (somewhere around the 30 mark) - one couple seemed a bit younger and one I'd have guessed were a bit older. One of Mr Peach's oldest friends and his fiancee were there too - which was lovely (we'll call them Mr & Mrs Cruise...because they work in cruise ships). In fact, Mr Cruise is somewhat responsible for me and Mr Peach ever being together at all, as it was his fault Mr Peach was there on the night we met....but that's a story for another time.

In the breaks we chatted a little to the other couples. Those sat either side of us, we found out, are also having two best men, which was funny. It was really touching and reassuring to hear all the family problems and things the other couples have had over their weddings. Family fall outs, people interfering and other people stressing out unnecessarily are, it seems, not just unique to mine and Mr Peach's wedding planning lives. It was a great relief to be reminded of this - sometimes you just get sucked into a wedding world where anything a bit problematic seems like such a big deal....you end up thinking 'why me?' and forget everyone has the same kind of problems!

Back to the lobsters - I'm a complete sucker for fate and observing other couples, learning about how they met and what got them together....I was in my element! It was just so adorable to see all of the the couples bouncing off each other, joking about all those little things as couples do. But every couple also seemed to have that kind of balance and synchronicity that you learn when you're in that kind of lasting relationship.We even said that if all the boys and all the girls had been in two separate rooms we could have pretty much guessed the pairings, straight up!
You see, they got their lobsters! It was so lovely to feel a part of that with Mr Peach too. Sometimes in the daily grind and the everyday, when you socialise with the same groups and rarely meet new people as a couple, you forget what a force (of humour in our case) you can be stepping out into something new together.

Now look away if you dislike the cheesy.....It reminded me just how much, now I've found my lobster, I know that, good or bad, so long as we have each other we'll always be a force to be reckoned with!

OK - cheese over.
But back to those lobsters - I love so much reading stories all over the blogosphere of how others met their partners and started their lives together.

If you got your lobster, go give them a little pinch to remind them how much you love them....go on!


Mlle Peche x

Saturday, 16 March 2013

My little blue heart - Mon petit couer bleu

Bon Samedi mes petits peches!

I've always had a thing for electric blue. My first car, Sidney Saxo was an electric blue little dynamo. We had a great time. He looked pretty much like this...

A few years back I went to a night at the Deaf Society in Manchester, where the AMAZING lady DJ was wearing a fantastic asymmetric shoulder dress with a big 80's style ruffle, in gorgeous electric blue. It was love at first sight. I spent years trying to find that exact dress. Then last year I found it!...whilst shopping with my sister in Bristol. Mr Peach, the little darling, obviously spotted how crazy in love I was and bought it for me. Something like this....except the ruffle is bigger, there's no strap, the bodice is a bit more fitted and the blue is brighter....

Well, you get the idea.

You can just about see it in this photo here....(though what's in the foreground is responsible for me not being able to show you any of the other photos of this night....oh and my hand is not really that big!)

Imagine then, my excitement when I stumbled across these en route to collect a bridesmaid dress the other day....

Product Image

In my EXACT size and even LONG length for my super-tall pins!
(though I have to say they look a lot tighter and a bit more turquoisy in this photo.)

So, since they were also in the sale at a mighty £12 I excused myself with the argument I wouldn't even find a pair in Primark for that price and snapped the lovelies right up. 

This morning I decided it was about time to tackle my increasingly shabby looking nails. Then I came up with a magic idea in honour of my favourite new Electric Blue skinnies.

Mon Petit Coeur Bleu!

Base colour: Mavala 164 'Rose Dust'
Heart colour: Rimmel Lasting Finish 198 'Azure'

Cute isn't it!

I initially wanted the base colour to be a pale grey I have in the same set of Mavala colours. Couldn't find it so I settled for the beigy flesh colour - which I think works better as the heart really stands out.

I'm still looking for my 'something blue' for my wedding and thought this might actually be really quirky and cute - maybe in a paler blue on my right (non-ring) hand.

So there's my little blue heart!

Hope you're having an ELECTRIC weekend!

Mlle Peche xx

Friday, 15 March 2013

Five for Friday... - Cinq pour Vendredi...

A little link love for your Friday coffee break.....

1) A beautiful love story that will make your heart melt even more than seeing an elderly couple holding hands.

2) Wedding scent advice I'm definitely following.

3) Exploring French blogs as promised myself - Stop By the Corner

4) Wallpapering is a challenge. Fake it! (Via One Happy Mess)

5) No need for that dye!

Friday training update - Vendredi formation mise à jour

Bonjour mes petits peches!

Doesn't that just make you want to run!?!

Look at that beautiful view - that was my morning run yesterday...lucky me! It was just such a beautiful start to the day and inspired me to put on my running shoes and get out there before breakfast for my first pavement pounding. This is the sea front in Lytham - about half a mile stretch of grass called 'Lytham Green' running along the beach edge. It's 100% flat, perfect for beginners running and luckily for me, just a stone's throw from my back door! You can just about see Lytham's famous windmill in the distance and the lifeboat launch is the building in this photo, with a jetty running out into the estuary that I love to wander out along. I usually start at this point and either run towards Preston (the direction seen in this photo) or the other way towards Blackpool. There are circular routes I add on in both directions - the Blackpool direction having the longer routes I usually enjoy.

My phone-camera decided all on its own to record my first few steps of this training programme - pretty cool hey!

So, for a training update.

So far this week I've done 3 gym sessions of 1 hour or more. 

Each session I'm currently doing 30 mins on the cross trainer - which is just over 5k. 
Then I do either 10 mins on the treadmill building up walking/running and 10-15 minutes on the excercise bike - which is again about 5k, or 20 on the excercise bike alone, if I've already done an outside run. 
Then I've been pushing myself and my bingo wings to do 10 minutes & 2000m beat the clock on the rowing machine to finish off. 
If the weights machines are free I've also been trying at three sets of 12 lifting 10kilos on the 'bingo wing' weight machine and the 'boob squeeze' machine. (I still haven't learned their proper names!) 

As you can see I've also started at running outside. My run yesterday morning took me 20 minutes, of which I reckon I ran about 12-15 mins interspersed with catch-my-breath walking. 

I'm taking today off. Partly because with my double training yesterday (run & gym) I think I should give to give my body a rest and partly because it's that day of the month that, as a lady, I feel a bit too delicate for leaping around anywhere, if you know what I mean.

But, I shall be back tomorrow with a post-work gym session (squeezed in before going out to see a friend's band) and Sunday morning I intend to complete my planned activity for the week with a second outside run.

So, that's where we're up to. 
Most importantly, it's getting much easier (might be time to up the resistance on those machines next week). Everything about me is feeling tighter, a bit more toned and a bit less wibbly. Yesterday evening I got a MASSIVE boost of post-gym endorphins. That was the first real time this training cycle. I just wish I could bottle that feeling to remind myself how worthwhile it is putting in the effort, for when I'm feeling lazy and wimp out on it!

Diet wise I'm still being pretty good. 
I stuck to the no alcohol all week rule until last night, when I have to admit I had a little slip. In part I blame Samantha Sans Dosage for my craving for a nice glass of red wine (luckily I managed to avoid the cheese accompaniment!). And of course, because I'm not a one glass kind of girl, I ended up satisfying the craving by polishing off a bottle. *Cough, cough*...small wobble that's all. 
I also sneaked in a couple of potato cakes at lunch earlier in the week. Having felt so much more energised that evening in the gym I've decided to allow myself a small portion of carbs at lunch time. I figure that's ok so long as I keep it small and it doesn't stray past around 3pm. I'm still only having a small breakfast with my beloved oatbran & 0% fat greek yoghurt combo. 

On the scales I've plateaued this week at very slightly under 14 stone. But i'm not getting too upset about that as I'm feeling so much better. Plus, i'm hoping once I've got rid of monthly water retention, that might tip down a couple of pounds.

...here's hoping!

Mlle Peche xx

P.S. Very interesting article about whether we actually need carbohydrates at all in our diets - looking at Gwyneth Paltrow's statement that she doesn't feed carbs to her kids. 

Thursday, 14 March 2013

...as we were sleeping - ...que nous dormions

Something oh so very peachy to make you smile....

They hold hands as they're sleeping so they don't drift apart. Aaaahhhhhhh.......

Which is pretty much how Mr Peach and I sleep!

That looks otterly comfortable!

....until it gets too hot or one of us knees the other somewhere painful.

Still, it starts well.

How do you and your other half share your sleeping space?
(no rudies!)

Mlle Peche x

Habemus Papam! - We Have a Pope! - Nous avons un Pape!

Dearest Peaches,

Great news X 2!

The last time I posted, two days ago, was a rather lengthy discussion around the selection of a new Pope. 
Well excitingly, at around 6pm (UK time) yesterday evening, Vatican watchers witnessed telling white smoke emit  from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. Just over an hour later it was proclaimed 'Habemus Papam!' (we have a Pope!). Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, becoming Pope Francis I, appeared to rapturous applause on the balcony of St Peter's Basilica.

Pope Francis
Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images - via Guardian.co.uk
I have to say, for a non-catholic, I was totally gripped, as I have been to the whole mysterious process.
In a moment, my thoughts on this appointment.

But first, exciting news #2!!
I have my first follower! (Hello!!)
I quietly made this blog live a couple of days ago and spent most of yesterday working out how to add the 'followers' button, since Blogger (in conjunction with Google +) has now removed the easy way to do this that I've used on my previous blog. Honestly Google, have you heard the saying "If it ain't broke"?....obviously not!

Anyway, that now resolved, I have added every method of following that I could possibly find to ALP and am told I have TWO followers! I had to add myself in order to figure out Google+ but it looks as if I have another follower too....so Bonjour et Bienvenue à 'Avoir la Peche'!

Now, back to this fella.....

Pope Francis first day: Newly elected Pope Francis, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio

Well he certainly seems like a happy chappie...and I was completely sold on the humble, modest and personable way in which he greeted thousands of people who had come to welcome him in St Peter's square  yesterday evening.
But how does he shape up to my thoughts, during the Conclave, on what would (and should) win 'Pope Idol'? 
Let's see....

I said: It is thought that the cardinals might go for someone who is younger, since Pope Benedict retired citing heath issues of old age.
Well, Benedict was 78 when elected, Pope Francis is 76. So, not correct on that one - since he was one of the older cardinals.
Though, Pope Francis is apparently in fine health for his age, despite having lived for over 50 years with only one functioning lung!

Pope Francis is embroiled in neither the Vatileaks scandal nor the abuse scandals that have rocked the Catholic church.
I said: The Cardinals will need to choose a louder, more charismatic figure - someone who is able to use their popularity to dig the Catholic church out of both of these scandals with its head held high.

Whilst serving as Archbishop of Buenos Aries, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio turned down the formal, palatial Bishop's residence in favour of a modest apartment  cooking his own food and travelling to 'work' on the bus. This smacks to me of charisma, but not of the in your face, celebrity kind. A more modest kind that might ingratiate him with his people and seemingly one which he might impress upon the doctrine of the church. He is not a 'Vatican insider' (not holding many positions within the powerful 'Curia' of the church) - which hopefully will bring more benefits than troubles for him. Although he might not be familiar with the traditions and politics of the Curia, it is hoped that this might actually be beneficial and lead to his constructive reform of the Curia as a priority.

Of course, this is all not to say that there is no scandal in the new Pope's past, which the media have spent at least the past ten hours desperately trying to scrape up. So far they have patched together an argument with Argentina's prime minister over gay rights and something in the past regarding the keeping of prisoners under the military junta....but honestly, who that has spoken up and put themselves in a position of any authority is without stories that might excite this world's crazy modern media?

Scholarly or Pastoral?
It looks to me that Pope Francis would perfectly fit what I had suggested, since on balance his strengths lie in the pastoral. Of course, he has the necessary knowledge and scholarship to hold this position. But, what clearly makes him stand out from his predecessor already is his pastoral experience, the like of which enabled him to introduce himself so humbly and personally yesterday evening. His rejection of the trappings of Archbishopdome exemplifies his ability for pastoral management. Through this gesture he has shown his humility and aligned himself more to the poor who make up such a percentage of his congregation and indeed the catholic church worldwide.

Argentinian, of Italian heritage.
I am so pleased that the largest catholic population in the world have found their representation. It also bodes well for other nations outside of Europe. In my eyes this is both a just and encouraging gesture by the Catholic church.
Of course, the fact that Bergoglio is of Italian heritage would also sit comfortably for the Italian cardinals who, as well as knowing they are electing a Pope, would also be aware that they are appointing the 'Bishop of Rome'.

Conservative or Moderate?
Pope Francis ultimately falls under the umbrella of 'Conservative'. He is a Jesuit and believes in true, pure Catholic doctrine - taking the church back to its simple roots.
However, he does advocate the use of contraception to prevent disease so this is a big tick against my request for a Pope who would permit the use of contraception to curb deaths from HIV and Aids.

He has also said these encouraging words on unmarried mothers, which although do not cast him as a moderate, imply that there is room for discussion and a different take on such matters:

"In our ecclesiastical region there are priests who don't baptise the children of single mothers because they weren't conceived in the sanctity of marriage. These are today's hypocrites. Those who clericalise the church. Those who separate the people of God from salvation. And this poor girl who, rather than returning the child to sender, had the courage to carry it into the world, must wander from parish to parish so that it's baptised!"

And, of course, the most important question. Will I still be able to show people the time when I met 'The Pope' on the steps of this church?

Well, YES!...I'd say so!

But, more fabulously than that...this very church 'Santa Maria Maggiore' was where Pope Francis chose to take his first private prayer this morning. Here he is leaving by a different door:

Pope Francis first day: Pope Francis waves as he leaves Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica
If he is a humble and modest as he appears to be so far then this was an absolutely perfect choice. The Santa Maria Maggiore is outside of the walls of the Vatican, in Rome itself. It was opposite our hotel and such a magnificent building, but in a totally meek way. A million miles away from the gilt and marble encrusted St Peter's Basilica. I wrote a report on Trip Adviser encouraging people to visit this beautiful church, with its stunning ceiling mosaiics and open, clean central space - but most of all to enjoy the serene atmosphere of what is clearly still a daily working church. I doubt it will be quite so easy to visit next time we are in Rome!

So, everything seems to be working out great so far. 

Pope Francis I wish you all the luck you deserve in your mammoth new job.
Oh, and your wedding invitation is in the post!

Mlle Peche x

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Pope Idol - Pape Idol

Bon après-midi à nouveau

(Good afternoon again)

Me with the Pope in Rome 2011

After the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI last month, today marks the beginning of the 'Papal Conclave' where 115 cardinals will be locked into the Sistine Chapel, Rome, to elect the next Pope in complete secrecy.

Mr Peach and I laughed this morning when we wondered if the Cardinals' experience in the chapel will be somewhat different from our own. Will they have to dodge endless gangs of Cruise ship passengers with their lollypop guides, on their way in? If they avoid that obstacle will they be told to "get back in line", after trying to skip a room on the three hour tour through endless, tedious rooms of religious iconography, that precedes the chapel? And, once in the chapel will they be crammed up against thousands of others, most of whom are filming (filming??) the stationary frescoes, whilst being shouted at by aggressive Vatican guards to 'Respect the Church!', 'No Photo!'?....hmm,....obviously not (but humour me).

Mr Peach & I about to start 'the longest museum visit on earth'...to reach the Sistine Chapel!

This time the 'competition' is a wide open field, with no outstanding candidates - my two favourite news websites seem unable to agree on 'Papabile' (Cardinals likely to be chosen for Pope) . The BBC have listed their choice ten 'Runners & Riders' here, with a brief outline of their CV, strengths & weaknesses. The Guardian have provided a much more detailed guide with all 115 Cardinals listed and their 'Papabile' highlighted. It can take months for a Pope to be elected, but by the time you've got through all 115 there may already be one!

I'm not Catholic myself, but Mr Peach is and in July we'll be marrying in his Catholic Church in St Annes. So, as a good wife-of-a-Catholic to be, I am very interested. Mr Peach has also been taking a teaching course called the Catholic Certificate in Education, this past two years - of which I have also had a read and found interesting, so I have more idea of Catholic doctrine than I once did.

On top of this - I hear that if you invite the Pope or the Queen to your wedding, they always send a reply (even if they can't come) - so I wonder who we're going to be writing to???

Here are some of the things the Cardinals will be thinking about:

It is thought that the cardinals might go for someone who is younger, since Pope Benedict retired citing heath issues of old age.

There are two enormous scandals engulfing the Catholic Church at the moment. The 'Vatileaks' scandal concerning financial cover-ups at the Vatican and (several) sexual abuse scandals involving Priests and their superiors. Any involvement in either might (and really should!) hinder a Candidate's chances. The Cardinals will need to choose a louder, more charismatic figure - someone who is able to use their popularity to dig the Catholic church out of both of these scandals with its head held high.

Scholarly or pastoral?
The CV's show various amounts of work in the scholarly field, in the doctorate of the Church, versus time spent in pastoral work, in amongst the congregations. Personally I believe that, whilst they will obviously need an excellent knowledge of the teachings and the Catechism of the church, knowledge is only valuable up to a point. Like all heads or managers, which at the end of the day is what the Pope is, having a connection with those who they lead will be their greatest asset. For the Cardinals a great connection to 'the people' gained through working in the field would be an asset.

There are no British candidates. It's thought that the Cardinals might shy away from another native German speaker, their last choice, Pope Benedict having been German speaking.
The majority of Cardinals (60% I think) are European - the majority of these being Italian, so the chances of an Italian Pope are mathematically quite high. The greatest Catholic population in the world at the moment is in South America. Then Europe. The next greatest, but by far the fastest growing Catholic population is in Africa.
In my eyes the cardinals will need to make a choice between pushing the rejuvenation of a waning following in Europe, or taking the opportunity to use Catholicism for the greater good in South America and Africa, by choosing one of their candidates as a figurehead.

Conservative or moderate? 
I am pleased to see so many of the Cardinals are on Twitter and other social media - connecting with the world in a very sensibly modern way - since this is where the majority go to now for information and to connect on a global scale. However, as one of the more conservative 'Twitterati' candidates put it, being modern and using social media, does not make you a moderate.
Personally I think that if the Catholic church wants to remain an important world power they need to embrace some elements that would be considered moderate. The issues of allowing abortion and ordaining of female Priests are obviously high on that agenda. But, as reform issues go, for me these pale into insignificance versus the allowing of contraception, namely condoms. This is such an important issue both in South America, for the largest Catholic population in the world, but vitally in Africa, with its growing Catholic following, where BILLIONS die each year from HIV & Aids. If a Pope were elected who advocated the use of Condoms to prevent spread of disease, and maybe even to curb population growth, which would ease poverty of the type so prominent in South America, this could begin to benefit a huge swath of the worldwide population within our lifetime. So, for me this is the biggest Pope-factor of all, that he have a firm belief in the reform of Catholic teaching on contraception.

So, there we are. I'm not going to get into candidates, or really ask how relevant the change in Pope will be to my own life.
But it's interesting to learn a little isn't it. I guess we'll just have to wait for that white smoke out of the chimney at the Sistine Chapel!

Oh I missed one final characteristic.....he'll need to be small and white haired....so I can continue to convince people that really is me with the Pope in that first picture! Tee hee!

Mlle Peche xx

Hula-Hooping in the Gym? - Hula-Hooping dans la gymnase?

Bonjour mes petits peches!

So, last Friday I was nearing the end of my post-work workout, having dragged myself there despite it being a Friday evening when I only want to slob in front of the TV with a nice glass of vin blanc!
Picture me, perched atop of the upright excercise-bike, sweat dripping from my beetroot face, huffing and puffing. I turned around and directly behind me, in the walkway between the bikes & the treadmills, a girl was Hula Hooping!

Now, don't get me wrong, I know it's great for your abs. But, the style in which she was performing said Hula-Hooping was really just so inappropriate.
She might have got away with it, except for two things.

1) She was taking herself far, far, far too seriously. Like basically she was J Lo or Beyonce in concert in the gym.

2) She then began to rise up and down, whilst hula-ing, sticking out her derrier in a style I've termed 'Bump and Grind Hula Hooping'. 

Less like this.....

And more like this....

So, what did I do?

Well what every out of weight thirty year old would of course....
I turned to the girl on the bike next to me, rolled my eyes and sniggered in a 'whatever next?' fashion. 
Then happily got back to sweating to my 90's dance music!

Would you have the gall to perform bump & grind hula in the Gym?

A bientot, Mlle Peche x

Monday, 11 March 2013

Monday Motivation! - Motivation Lundi!

Well good morning & welcome to the start of a brand new week!

Back when I used to have the stability of a standard Monday-Friday, 9-5 job I used to find Mondays a little bit depressing. When you work like that it's all about the weekends and on a Monday morning that just seems so far away.
Now, running our family boutique there is a lot less stability (& currently a lot less ££s!), but one of the advantages is that I have more control over how I choose to use my time each day. Maybe also because I usually work Saturdays, life isn't all as much about the weekend and Monday just doesn't have that same depressing ring to it.

Having said that Mondays are still the start of a brand new week. I usually come leaping and bounding at them with a bucket full of idea and lists of things I want/need to achieve that week. It's no coincidence that this blog was born on a Monday, exactly one week ago!

Today is just as sunny - which I find instantly motivational - just a LOT colder. We hit 13 degrees C last Monday and right now it's just warmed up to 3 degrees...the little puddle by our front gate was even frozen. Come on now Spring....it's Mid-March, let's get warmed up some!
(Update: Mother nature is obviously not listening. As I write it's now snowing!)

Here's a sneaky peak of the view we wake up to in the morning:

Taken this morning, you can see the low light of an early Spring morning. 
Can you see the sea? It's just there over the top of that garage roof. We live in a converted old fisherman's cottage and our bedroom window isn't huge, but the fact that you can see the sea was a big coo for me when we viewed the house. In the Summer those trees there are big leafy fellas who block the view, but I don't mind because they remind me that it's Summer! 
See that white house on the left? We used to drive past it every morning on the way to school. It used to be really run-down and I dreamt of buying it one day when I was rich and doing it up. The people who own it now have just as much love for it though. We can see right into the back garden and have watched the guy who owns it working tirelessly on it all year round. 
See the flats on the right? That used to be Lytham's beautiful old Victorian baths. But, as is sadly often the case here, some developer must have seen pound signs in his eyes, knocked them down and replaced them with immensely lucrative, but rather ugly Grannie flats. Another planning marvel, well done Fylde Council!

Anyway - So that's the view from my bedroom - not maybe as glamourous as some, but I like it. 

So, I've digressed again. Back to some Monday motivation!

Six things I'm going to achieve this week:

1) Complete our hand made Wedding Invitations.
2) Start back on the Running Programme - alongside keeping up Gym going (mainly for arm toning)
3) Bake a practice Wedding Cake, which I'm gifting to the Happy House charity's 3rd Birthday.
4) Finish the Infinity scarves I've been making for our shop.
5) Source what I need for the chalkboard hearts & signs for Wedding.
6) Start making the Limoncello that I bought the lemons for last week.

And I'll be updating you every step of the way!

So, what's your Monday motivation?
I'd love to hear just what are you determined to complete or achieve this week too!

Have a wonderful start to the week,
Mlle Peche x

(Fitness/weightloss update: No gym over weekend (which isn't unusual). Monday morning weigh-in back to 14st2lbs. Up 3 lbs. Weight gained might include water retention from eating salty food (cristps & chinese) plus monthly water retention time. Target this week - at least 2 runs. At least 4 gym sessions. No alcohol till at least Fri)