December 2004

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Rush hour. Gers style.

Life's a beach in South Africa.

Welcome Tom! The latest addition to the Karthaus family.

Merry Christmas.
(No trees were destroyed in the making of this photograph.)

A drawing made by a young survivor of the tsunami.

The view from our 'office'. December and January have been very mild. Sunshine, blue skies and cold, star-lit nights.

Rush hour culture shock
The first week of December we are back in Holland and Caroline found herself waving goodbye to Perry each morning as he headed out of Abcoude, (home to Caroline's parents) to an industrial zone just north of Amsterdam. The romance of it all! It was a shock, driving in heavy, bad-tempered, aggressive traffic around Amsterdam's ring road. Sales reps impatiently dog-fighting across all three lanes in their executive projectiles. The 'out-of-my-way-you-peasants' attitude of the SUVs, bullying their way along the fast lane, mobile in hand and all going way too fast...hmmm. So that's why we left!

We managed to arrange one evening with a few friends at a brown cafe in Amsterdam. It was great to be back and catch up on each other's lives.

Perry was asked to art direct two brochures by a Dutch client with an international company selling promotional gadgets. The photo shoot was supposed to happen in Holland, but given the number of photos to be made outside, the photographer, Han Lans, suggested going to South Africa. 14 hours of good light each day, landscapes to die for and the value of the Rand make Cape Town a mecca for film, commercials and photography teams during the European winter. Within a few days Perry was flying with Han, for six very long days on the other side of the world.

Table Mountain is ever present wherever you go in Cape Town. And Perry, Han and a local crew went everywhere. Each day, photographing models on mountain bikes, on beaches, in high rise offices, on street corners and in cars. From sunrise to sunset, the schedule was relentless. But fun.

Films developed, shots selected, Perry was waved off and started the long flight back to Amsterdam. On arrival, after several hours delay at Heathrow, Perry was greeted by the client and driven directly to the lithographer, where the selected photos were scanned and cropped to size. Finally, he arrived in Abcoude to a very warm welcome and a much needed glass of wine, or two. The next day he directed the page makeup of the brochures and gained a very happy client. You can see some of the results on their site at

In the meantime, Caroline had been visiting family and friends, buying in the goods that we cannot find in France and managed to visit the pre-Christmas sales. Our Renault Laguna also went in for a simple service and came out ten days later with a new gearbox! Under guarantee, thankfully.

Two days after Perry's return, we drove south via Caroline's family's house in Picardy, near Amiens. Here we enjoyed a day with a few cousins and Perry got to see his favourite cheese lady at the Intermarché in Perronne. Caroline has been using our greetings cards as good will presents wherever we go and they have been going down very well. Our Cheese lady, Corinne, sent us a new year's email to thank us.

Tired from the long drive, we decided not to do the Christmas market at Marciac the following day. A good decision considering the weather. Picking up Elwood from Nieke's, we tried to get back into the rhythm again. Not too difficult!

A week earlier than expected, Caroline's sister-in-law, Lilian, gave birth to Tom Karthaus on December 24th. So the family name is saved! All are well and the sleepless nights begin. We helped Diederick and Lilian make the announcement card via internet and Skype.

We spent christmas quietly and with only a few baubles that Caroline had smuggled in from her parents, hanging from ivy strands she had found near the pavilion. With the da Vinci code, a log fire, internet radio and some smoked salmon on crackers, we were happy as Harry. Whoever he is!

The next day's news became the centre of our world for the next week. Each time we checked the BBC news site, the death toll rose. Alarmingly. And then the footage as the tsunami came in. Places we have both visited in the past, would have been washed away. Thankfully all our friends who were holidaying there have reported in, safe and well.

New year's eve was a simple dinner for two. Perry had a nickel allergy attack (oysters? chocolate? fatigue?) and had gone all blotchy, so we turned down an invitation for dinner with friends. We turned on the old TV we had been given and saw a load of Frenchmen prancing about on stage in kilts. Turn it off!!!!

We wish you all a very happy, healthy new year. And look forward to you visiting our site and maybe our home, during the years to come.

much love,

Caroline and Perry

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© 2005 Perry Taylor and Two Can Productions, France.