Paris, Parc des Buttes Chaumont, Canal de l’Ourq,  À Vélo au Bord de l’Eau, Bordeaux, Château Soulac, Château Carbonneau, Saint-Émilion, Endless Vineyards, French Wine, Belgian Beer, Happy Hour, Late Hours, Lunch in Babylone, Dinner in Odéon, Walking, Biking, Wedding, Jazzing, Jamming. Seine, Sex & Sun.

Seeing how I am about 5 Summer trips behind on that ongoing life-cataloguing project of mine, I am just giving up and posting my Europe pics with a bunch of random keywords in lieu of proper commentary.

Many fun random memories in what was supposed to be a very low-key wedding run to the south of France, including the wedding itself: much sunnier than the last one I attended there, filled with delicious wine and awesome friends I do not see often enough (most of which have been purposely excluded from the photo selection to protect the guilty).

Rest of the trip, as these things tend to be, mainly consisted in one long uninterrupted string of drinks and food, consumed at or around an eclectic array of Parisian locales. Among the more momentous episodes, perhaps: Pierre and I celebrating my last night on the continent by making our Happy Hour a tad earlier and happier than reasonable: hostess at Costes restaurant was duly unimpressed by our Arthur Miller/S Thomson duo act, indirectly leading to our sitting on a corner of Odéon, half-an-hour later, at one of the most coveted tables in the Parisian foodie world, serendipitously left empty by some last-minute cancellation a minute before we stumbled our way in. Bacchus was indeed smiling on us that night.

Unfortunately for this page’s needs, I mostly held to my general rule of not photographing the food people put in front of me: you’ll have to take my word when I say it was some of the best food I ever had, on the tail end of an already impressive week culinary-wise.

Yesterday was the first official outing of the Kyoto chapter of the Nomihiking Society of Japan. On that warm and sunny Autumn afternoon, a small group of us headed out to Arashiyama to enjoy the combined pleasures of pristine Nature sights and heavy inebriation.

If the success of a nomihike is to be gauged by the collective amount of hangover on the following day, ours was an unfettered triumph. We did well, even by other metrics, such as the exceedingly low casualty figures, with zero nomihikers falling off the surprisingly tricky trail. Yes, this was essentially the stuff local news drama is made of, minus the bit where drunken idiots crashed to their death on jagged river rocks, 10 metre below.

All hope is not lost for some gruesome nomihiking accident one day, since we shall resolutely repeat the adventure again in some very near future.

Nomihiking trail in ArashiyamaSarah demonstrating her secret skills with the ladies

A selection of random pics from last weekend’s Halloween party (guest photography credits: Aki, Cory & Yanmei).

Prize for creativity goes to Cory, who came as A Shower.

Prize for glamour icons was shared between Sona’s Audrey Hepburn and Anita’s Betty Boop.

On the witch vs. devil front, the battle was fierce: in the end, Tyana, Aki & Maja took Team Witch to victory by a slim margin against Jun & Yanmei’s Team Devil.

Rafa took a break from his busy Colombian import-export business to show his scarred face at the party (later enhanced by some strategically-placed white powder).

Roland and yours truly provided for some much-needed furry fuzziness and important life-lessons to the kids, courtesy of Sesame Hood’s favourites: Elmo and Cookie Monster.

Towering over the festivities and occasionally bringing chills down the spine of all guests present with his lugubrious laugh and transylvanian accent: Count Rei graced us with his presence (and gets extra points for being the only one ballsy enough to ride Japanese transports as is).

Friday, a visit to my favourite supah-cheap shōjin-ryōri bar-restaurant in Shijo and its in-house friendly feline, triggered a chain of increasingly cat-oriented events on Saturday.

After taking Aya and Naomi, her friend visiting from Vancouver, to check out on the Philosopher’s Cats (and Ginkakuji while we were at it), it was decided that the cat quota for the day had not been reached and I followed two increasingly restless cat-addicts to my first ever Neko Kafé.

Actually, the place was pleasantly more like somebody’s living room with a lot of cats, than “café”… The little critters were unsurprisingly adorable, and the range was pretty broad: from disgustingly postcard-cute 1-month old kittens, to aging ojiisan cat, with all stripes and shapes in between (Hitler-moustache included).

All in all, a reasonable deal at ¥500 an hour, if only for countless memorable pictures of Aya and Naomi, in full crazy-cat-ladies mode, playing and cooing at little purring balls of furs.

Accidentally binning a couple old moleskines and losing a few years worth of miscellaneous pointless notes made me realise that I really ought to commit more of these here. Nothing beats the comfort of geographically spread, redundant server mirrors and automated weekly database backups, not even, it turns out, the soft touch of overpriced paper under that mind-boggingly fancy ball-pen birthday gift.

Last friday’s concert had the delayed effect of throwing me into a Bach-obsessed mood for most of the weekend (in addition to their gorgeous take on cantata BWV 156, the cellist played the perennial Cello Suite 1st movement during a solo interlude). Unlike a lot of the noisy music I belatedly got into as a teenager, Bach and the whole pre-20th century crew have always been in the background when growing up. Bach’s music has such a connection to non-music related childhood memories that my emotional response often tends toward diffuse nostalgia rather than actual musical appreciation, particularly if I am not paying active attention. His famously humongous body of work feels designed to cover an improbable spectrum ranging from the universally accessible and uplifting down to some seriously dry stuff (parts of the less crowd-friendly cello suites — movements in #2 and #4, for example — will test the nerves of even the most adept cello lovers). Some even see mathematical beauty in there, but I have never been too sold on that one.