Monday, June 27, 2011

The School Spectacle in Rural France (Yawn)

What I would like to say is "I've just seen my children in their end of year show and was so proud". But, unfortunately, if truth be known, it's more accurate to say, "I’ve just spent 2 hours of my life being bored stupid".

It goes like this, about 200 parents pour into the Salle de Fete with their child/children dressed in a hotchpotch bright colours as requested. The parents all sit there chatting to their friends, while the kids all take it in turns, class by class, to stand on stage and sing songs they don’t know or wave their arms about and look bored.

I was fortunate enough to have 3 children in the show so at least I could look at them and smile encouragingly. I pity the parents who had only 1 child, (unless of course they were chatting with their neighbour to while the time).

Thursday, June 23, 2011

No Peeing Outside Please, We’re British!

Sorry if I’m lowering the tone, but it’s something I can ignore no longer. Why do French men have to pee everywhere? Coming from England where toilets are separate and everyone always uses them, it’s one of those niggling things about living in France that you have to learn to live with. Are the French alone in this pastime or are the Brits the only ones with an aversion to peeing in public?

It seems wherever you go there’s always some man peeing at the side of the road, in his garden, in your garden, whenever the feeling takes him, he’ll just pee with no attempt to disguise it. There was an old man at the market the other day, who lodged his baguette against the wall and then promptly peed right next to it (I hope he wasn’t planning on sharing that bread).

Some friends of mine were sitting on their terrace enjoying a spot of lunch, when their neighbour came out from his kitchen, waved “Bonjour”, then promptly took a leak not more than 10m from where they were sitting. Well really! They were quite put off their cucumber sandwiches.

My husband and our 2 youngest sons aren’t so bothered. They even seem to be taking on this French tradition. But I really had to draw the line the other day when my 3 year old daughter came in with wee all over her trousers. “You can’t wee outside Frankie, you must use the toilet”, “But Luc did!”, she replied. “Well, you’re a girl and girls don’t wee outside – it’s not practical!”, I said firmly. I then turned to her brother. “Luc, don’t wee outside please, it’s not nice.” His sullen response was, “Well, Dad does.”. What more can I say!

Family Life in France – Is it Really Any Better?

I’ve been thinking about what it means to me to be a Family in France, what makes it different from being a Family in the UK. What’s changed – is it better, worse or the same?

Some things haven’t changed – Gary and I still both work relentlessly to make ends meet! But then, we have a huge property, several businesses and 5 kids! What do we expect?

So, if nothings changed there, what’s the deal? Why did we bother to make the move in the first place. Why don’t we just pack it all in and go back to England? After stopping and thinking for a while, it didn’t take me long to figure why.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

French Rural Village Schools – shouldn’t we be able to choose what’s best for our children?

In France when your children start at school you have to get a Certificate d’Inscription from your local Mayor (Maire).  Mayors play a much larger role in France than they do in the UK and even the tiniest village with a couple of hundred inhabitants has one.   We had originally wanted our children to attend the school in our nearest town, but when we went to see our local mayor we were told that they HAD to go to the local village schools.  I can understand that they are trying to keep the village schools open for the benefit of the small communities.  We didn’t want to alienate ourselves from the start so we agreed to place our children in the village schools.  

The eldest was 10 at the time and the village school he went to had the grand total of 14 students with age range from 9 - 11 and 1 teacher.  The teacher was lovely and extremely sympathetic towards our son who had very little French at the time.  He was the first English student to attend this school.  She helped him enormously and by the end of the year his French was sufficient enough for him to move on to the College.  So, in this case it was an advantage that there were so few students because it enabled his teacher to give him the extra help he needed.  

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Problem with English Teachers in France

Of course there isn't a problem with "all" English Teachers in France, just some.  Our 17 year old recently had some trouble with his English teacher and I know he's not the only one.  The problem is that she has been consistently marking him harder than the other native French speakers in the class.  She seems to think it's not fair to mark him the same, as English is his mother tongue.  This would be fine if he is given extra marks in all the other subjects he takes in French (which is not his native language), but no, he is marked exactly the same as everyone else in these subjects (which is as it should be).

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Welcome to my world

This is my first attempt at blogging and I'm not really sure where to start.  Firstly, I thought I'd just give you a bit of background about me, my family and what you can expect to discover from my blogs.

In the UK I was a mother of 3 and an IT trainer, my husband Gary was a Lecturer in Horticulture and between us we ran a Guest House on the Kent Coast.  We moved to France 7 years ago and now I am a mother of 5 and we live in a watermill which we will be renovating for the rest of our lives.  To try and make ends meet, we rent out 3 holiday apartments and run a Garden Centre and Landscape Gardening Business.  In our spare time (huh what's that!), we run a Gardening Club which meets monthly and we occasionally host French students to help them learn English.