Wednesday, July 27, 2011

16 hour road trip alone with 3 young children, Help!

I need help - I’m trying to plan a 16 hour car journey with my 3 youngest children (9, 6 and 3).  In 3 weeks I’ll be setting off on the nearly 1200km journey from our home in South West France to visit family in South East England.  My husband is staying here to hold the fort and so I’m journeying as the sole driver with James 9 – who’s incredibly good unless he’s bored, when he turns into the biggest teaser and tormentor of his younger brother Luc who needs no encouragement whatsoever.  Luc is the cheekiest, liveliest, most hot tempered, noisiest, “boy-est”, lovable, toothless 6 year old you could ever wish to meet.  The youngest, Frankie, is 3 going on 13 and she is the stubbornest, sweetest, winiest, cutest, tallest, girliest child I know.  Individually they are brilliant kids, but together they spell BIG TROUBLE. 

What am I thinking of?  Even 10 minute journeys to the supermarket turn into major battlefields.  Luc’s kicking James, James is hitting Luc over the head, Frankies trying to avoid the blows.  Or, Frankie’s singing the most annoying made up song in the world and Luc’s joining in, James is screaming at them to stop and the more he screams the louder they sing.  I start off with “Come on, stop it now please”, progressing to a slightly firmer “That’s enough now”, to a more irritated “Will you pack it in”, to a slightly crazed “If you don’t stop it I’m going to turn round and go home”, to a final crescendo of “SHUUUUUUT UPPPPPP!”  Sometimes my screams do the trick, but rarely for long and I’m sure they’re doing me no good at all. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

The French Rural Village “En Fête”

Our local village has just spent 5 days “En Fête” and what an enjoyable and exhausting time we’ve had.  For those of you who haven’t experienced a “Fete” in SW France, it’s nothing like the local fetes in England.  Here in France every village (no matter how small) has a long weekend during the summer months where they celebrate together in various ways.  Our village usually has 4 days of fete, but this year, because the Tour de France was passing by on 14th July (Bastille Day), we had an extra day.

Le Passage du Tour de France
It started off on the Thursday 14th July (Bastille Day) with a “Buvette” (a bar serving beer and soft drinks) and grillades set up in a field on a country road at the edge of our village where the Tour de France passed by.  We all arrived at 11h and watched about 30 minutes or so of advertisers in various cars, motorbikes and floats passing by (rather speedily) throwing out freebies.  This was in fact the most exciting bit for the kids who all scrambled to get their caps, key rings, sweets, papers, pamphlets and washing liquid samples!  Luc my 6 year old wisely chose to wear his long shorts with loads of deep pockets (he’s not stupid, he saw it last year!), which were bulging at the seams by the end.  We then waited for maybe another hour before the actual bikes passed by.  Frankie my 3 year old was screaming through boredom and thirst by this time, so I was getting her a drink at the buvette when the actual “Tour de France” passed by!  Never mind, I didn’t miss much - it was all over in less than 3 minutes.  However it was nice to be part of the general atmosphere of the day.
On the Friday night there was a “Bal Musette” which is old time dancing for the older members of the community (or so I’m told) – we decided to give this one a miss.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What it is to have a little girl after 4 boys!

I came across an article the other day – apparently someone quite famous has had a little girl recently after 3 boys.  I had no idea that Victoria Beckham was even pregnant again! "Where have you been?", I hear you scream.  Rural France, that’s where!

It got me thinking though about how I felt when I found out I was going to have a daughter after having 4 sons.  It was a really special moment, and something I have covered in the book I’m currently writing about our experiences as a family here in France.  So, I thought I’d give you a sneak preview of part of the chapter entitled “Having Babies in France”, which shares my feelings and the events leading up to when I first found out I was carrying a girl.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Expat Children in France - Education is only Part of the Equation

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It seems that Education is the number one concern of parents with children considering moving to France.  On many expat forums there are countless discussions stressing about the minuscules of education in France to the exclusion of all else.   Yes of course the schooling of our children is a primary concern and we all want what’s best for them, but education is only one part of the equation - an important part it’s true, but not the only part.

It would be unwise (perhaps) to take your children to a country with a very poor standard of education, but this is France we’re talking about, not the third world,  There are many criticisms that can be made of education standards here, but there are plenty of successful people out there who have gone through the system and managed to succeed either despite or because of it. 

Once we’ve accepted that by going through the French education system our children are not going to become gibbering idiots, we can embrace all the other considerations that form part in the equation.       

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Mother in France

Many people when they hear that I have 5 children and work full time running several business, say to me “How on earth do you it”. My usual response is “I don’t know, I just do”, but I thought it might be good for those of you who are remotely interested to take a peak into 24 hours in my life. It’s not the busiest day I’ve had, but it’s fairly typical (apart from the Interview bit).

So, here goes:

Sunday, July 3, 2011

7 Characteristics that define being British

When living abroad, big cultural differences between our home country and our host nation become more apparent. We live in France – it’s not that far from the UK, just separated by the English Channel, but the longer I live here the more I realise I’m probably more British than I ever thought I was.

I find it interesting that when we arrived in France from Britain we didn't feel particularly proud to be British and were keen to distance ourselves from the fact. However, there are many things that become deeply embedded into your psyche, that you don't become aware of until you are placed in a culture that thinks and behaves very differently.

So here’s a few characteristics that define being British to me: