I finally got 5 charms (a mix of presents and ones I bought on my travels) soldered on to my bracelet, so after not wearing it since before I left NZ, I can finally rock it again :) Will have to re-accustom myself to having a constant jingly accompaniment to my daily tasks. It's not cheap maintaining a charm bracelet, let me tell you! Cost 30 euros for this round of soldering, the bracelet itself cost about 50 euros, and then each charm usually runs about 10-15. I have 12 now, so that's over 200 euros it's worth now. But of course it's irreplaceable really.
Charm bracelet in situ:
For anyone who doesn't know, I try to buy a charm for each country I visit. I say try, because it can be surprisingly difficult. The idea is to get a charm that represents the country somehow, not just any tat I happened to buy there. I looked EVERYWHERE in the Czech Republic and came up empty, so no charm for there despite having spent about 3 months there, also couldn't find anything for Poland or Monaco. Can't remember why I don't have anything for Belgium, presumably couldn't find anything appropriate (what symbolises Belgium anyway - beer? frites?) I've also ended up with some that don't quite fit with the theme.
From left to right:
A gumboot, for New Zealand - a Christmas present from my brother.
A buzzy bee, also for NZ - leaving present from my last job in NZ. For non-New Zealanders, a buzzy bee is a wooden toy on wheels that's become something of a NZ icon. Prince William was famously photographed playing with one when he came to NZ as a toddler.
A kiwi - also NZ. This was one of the first charms I bought, before I left NZ in 2006. I don't mind having 3 for NZ since it's my home country after all.
The crowned heart is for Scotland. I visited Edinburgh in August 2006. It's the emblem of Mary, Queen of Scots. I wanted a thistle, that being more iconic for Scotland, but I couldn't find one. I'm happy with this though - no-one knows what it is, but it's pretty.
A J - this is for me (initial of my first name). Bought this before leaving NZ as well.
A harp - from my trip to Ireland in August 2006. This was the first charm I bought overseas. Again, I wanted a shamrock but the shop I went into had every single thing to do with Ireland - dancing shoes, pints of Guinness, you name it - but no shamrock. I'm pretty annoyed that it's on backwards. When I first got them soldered I thought they'd be smart enough to figure these things out, but these days I'm very specific.
A fleur de lys - for France, of course! I bought this the first time I lived here, in 2007. I'm really glad to have found a fleur de lys, I was determined not to get the Eiffel Tower. Yes, it is probably the most recognisable symbol of France, but it really rips my nightie when I say to people back home or whatever that I live(d) in France and they go "blah blah Paris blah". France is a huge country (well, by NZ standards) and I've lived in 4 different regions, none of which include Paris!
A book - this is the only one that opens, and there's a worm inside. Another present from my workmates. This doesn't fit with the theme, but represents my literature degree and being a librarian.
An icon - this is for Russia, where I lived from November to January 2006-2007. This is the only one that I don't think is real silver, considering I bought it at a market in Moscow. Have just noticed that it's bent, I suspect that might have suffered from the soldering going on next to it, not being silver and all. Doesn't really matter. It's on backwards, which is irritating because the sides are so different - the back has writing in Old Church Slavonic, the front is what appears to be the Virgin Mary holding some arrows, but I'm not 100% on that.
A lion - for England, my ancestral home and the other of my two nationalities. Bought this in 2007, but I've been to England a bunch of times. It's technically on backwards too, because the hallmark shows, but I suppose it's not a big deal...
The leaning tower of Pisa - Italy, obviously. I didn't go to Pisa, but I thought this was the most recognisable symbol for a charm bracelet, despite the fact that it doesn't really lean as such. I was in Italy for a couple of weeks in September last year.
One of Raphael's putti - for the Vatican City. Much as I like Raphael, I don't actually like the putti (as seen here), they're a bit sickly kitch really. That said, an appropriate symbol for the Vatican City (there wasn't much choice anyway), and not *that* cheesy in a tiny metallic format.
In other 'news', I finally remembered to take my camera on what is a practically daily excursion to the park, in order to take pictures of the cool terrace houses that line the street the park's on. Tours was apparently bombed quite a bit (by the Allies I think) in WWII, and so you have the old town, with medieval buildings, and some 19th century bits, like where I live, and then there's plenty of ugly post-war stuff as well, particularly as you go down towards the Loire. But (as I think I may have said already), around here was the chi-chi area in the 19th century, and while my house isn't quite as pretty as these, it's a pretty nice quartier.
Street of 19th C terrace houses
A cool wooden door
This church is a bit incongruous on this street. Not in love with it, but it's at least interesting, especially the bell tower.
Two houses I like.
The much-talked about Cheesewatch returns. Basically I made a Cheesewatch of this because it's called 'crottins de chèvre' which translates as 'goat droppings'. Mmm, tempting. Of course, that's got nothing on 'pets de nonne' - nun farts, which are a type of pastry I haven't tried. Will update if and when I do... Anyway, I don't often meet a goat's cheese I don't like, and the crottins were pretty good - salty and strong-flavoured, but with a much drier and firmer texture than something like feta.