|Our typical breakfast in Montrondo|
|"Madreñas" (wooden clogs) worn in Montrondo|
|Wearing my new jump suit and colourful shoes and feeling like a girl again.|
|Churros and porras with coffee on Wednesday with Eladio|
|Zuka's house and garden, a part of it actually as it's enormous.|
|My Grandfather Andrei (looking at his mother) with his siblings in Russia probably before 1910. What a great photo.|
|Princess Dorothea Lieven, our most famous ancestor (b1785 d1857)|
On Friday I was up at 6.15 as my body clock is so stubborn. We didn't leave until 9.45 and would be driving all across France to the village of Lully in Haute Savoie where we would be staying at a lovely Swiss type chalet called Zelie run by an Airbnb host. It would be interesting to see how he fared as a host compared to me hahaha. Lully is on the border of Switzerland and is over 600km from La Teilée. The drive would be mostly on country roads as there is hardly any motorway. Our journey would be very slow (9 hours) as, apart from the not particularly good roads it was the start of the 15th August bank holiday and it seemed that all of France was going somewhere too.
But first we had to drive to Poitiers to go to a shoe shop (Halle) at a big shopping centre to get some comfortable shoes for poor Zuka's feet for the wedding. While there, both Marie Helene and I bought some great gold sandals which we would both wear and I love even more than the coloured flat shoes above.
|The gold sandals my cousin and I bought in Poitiers|
|Mare Helene (left) and Zuka outside the shoe shop in Poitiers.|
|Our beautiful chalet in Lully in Haute Savoie near the border of Switzerland|
On Saturday again I was awake at 6.15. Soon I was joined by Zuka who wakes up early too. First things first and I got my caffeine fix followed by a very French breakfast of croissants and "pain au chocolate". I would have the croissants nearly every day here and am seriously worried about my weight which I shall fix, I promise, when I get home.
We had the whole morning to get ready for the wedding which wasn't starting until 14h. It was lovely getting ready together with my cousins as there was such camaraderie and a sort of "girly together" feel. I had brought my Queen Letizia black Zara outfit which in the end I didn't really like to tell you the truth and only wished I had brought my turquoise dress I got at Stanley Market in Hong Kong. I could have killed myself when later at the wedding nearly all the women were in blue which is apparently Marie's favourite colour. That was a bit of a mistake. This is what I looked like. Nothing special really.
|My outfit for the wedding.|
|Marie being given the final touches to her sari before the Muslim blessing.|
|Marie and Anas at the Muslim wedding ceremony.|
The next part of the wedding would be the Russian Orthodox blessing, reception and dinner which took place at the Château d'Avully, a restored 15th century castle belonging to the Duchy of Savoy, over the border in France in Brenthonne and very near our chalet in Lully. It would start at 5.30 so we had time to go back to our chalet, freshen up and get a bite to eat as we hadn't had any lunch and my breakfast croissant and pain au chocolat were long forgotten.
We were stunned by the beautiful castle as we parked and walked in over the portcullis.
|The beautiful château|
|The bride arriving|
The wedding was truly multicultural, because of the mixture of Muslim and Orthodox traditions but also there were people from all over the world, including some of Anas' family who had come from Canada. They were all dressed in traditional outfits and I was happy to catch them on camera looking very colourful indeed and happy too.
|Some of the Muslim guests in traditional outfits. Anas' father is on the far left.|
|The giving of the bread and salt|
|The Tcharishka before and during accompanied by raucous singing.|
|The cousins with the bride and groom.|
|The Hindi entry ceremony|
After the dinner and the cutting of the incredible cake, dancing commenced and here Katty and I joined in very enthusiastically. However, by about 1.30 in the morning after a very long day, we were shattered again and with a heavy heart left the wedding party to take the short drive back to our chalet in Lully. I have to say it was the most multicultural and exotic wedding I have ever been to and that it was organised with lots of detail and love, not to mention lots of fun and emotional moments throughout. Marie, of course, organised it all and got her lovely sisters and friends to help make everything perfect.
The wedding didn't finish on Saturday. There was to be a brunch for everyone at Anas' brother's house very near Lake Geneva. Again we had lots of time to get ready and here are my two cousins, Zuka and Katty, Mother and daughter reunited after a year, here ready to go.
|Zuka and Katty, Mother and daughter together for the wedding|
|Me by Lake Geneva the day after the wedding.|
|Anas' brother's house where the brunch took place the day after the wedding.|
|Flowers in Yvoire|
In the end we had dinner at Les Terrasses again. There were 14 of us and I was happy to sit next to my dear cousin Masha who is known as Mashenka. I am known as Baby Masha and that is to distinguish us. In fact at home I was always called Baby Masha to distinguish myself from my Mother's younger sister also called Masha. There were and are many Mashas in my family hahah. And here we are sitting round the table that night.
|Cousins and friends at the dinner on Sunday night, the night after the wedding.|
That night Eladio and Pippa arrived in Montrondo and our English Airbnb guests left. They later wrote a beautiful review and promised to come again.
On Monday 14th August, I was up early again and amazed I had no headache after all the wine at the dinner the night before. After a leisurely breakfast, we packed and left our lovely chalet to take the road again to Poitiers. It would be a long drive again but thankfully there was very little traffic. We set off at 10 am, stopping for lunch on the way. Again it was difficult to find anywhere and I was surprised to learn that in France restaurants close at 2 pm at lunchtime. So we were lucky to get a meal at the Hotel Du Commerce in a small and sleepy town called Tronget somewhere in the Massif Central where we devoured their cold salads it being too late to get a hot meal as the kitchen was closed. Here are my 3 travel partners and cousins enjoying their meal.
|Lunch on the way back from the wedding|
Tuesday 15th August came and I spent the day together with my cousins. Zuka took us to Lezay, a village nearby, where there was an open market. Here we bought all sorts of lovely local produce and even Spanish cold cuts. We also bought baklava, a great favourite with the family as my Mother used to make it having eaten it in her adopted country Bulgaria. In the photo you can see Katty and the baklava seller.
|Katty at the stall in the market where we bought baklava|
I have been following the news everyday here and on Tuesday evening was happy to hear that Rafa Nadal, the Spanish tennis player had returned to the number one spot in the tennis rankings, overtaking Andrew Murray. Well done Rafa!
Wednesday came and finally I got a proper walk. Katty and I set out for a 1.5h walk that morning before breakfast. I loved the paths and the flowers and trees and we even picked a very French sunflower as you can see in the photo. Katty got it for her grandmother.
|Katty with the sunflower|
That night I was happy to hear Real Madrid had beaten Barcelona in the Super Cup (5-1 agg). They are now the winners of the Champions League, La Liga, the Uefa Super Cup as well as the Spanish Super Cup!
On Thursday morning, Katty I went for our early morning walk again and enjoyed it tremendously. The day was spent cleaning and Katty was a whirlwind clearing out and cleaning the old barn belonging to her grandmother. They chucked so much stuff out it was amazing. I did the cooking that day and made fish and chips which everyone loved. As we were eating, Oli was having lunch with my Father in Madrid and sent us a selfie. I immediately responded sending a photo of my cousins and Aunt at lunch for my Father who knows them all.
|Zuka, Katty and my Aunt sending their love to my Father|
|On our walk on Friday morning|
|Cooking for the Cousinade yesterday|
|One of the layers of my Victoria sponge cake|
|The cracked and melting cake|
|Katty picking blackberries on our walk this morning.|