Thursday, September 29, 2011

Zis is ow to speek english

We were talking at the dinner table this evening about accents and the fact that the French find it difficult to pronounce the sound ‘th’.  I asked my 9 year old son if his teacher ever got him to speak during their English lessons to help the others know how to pronounce the words properly.

'No, the teacher tells us what to say.'
            ‘Well at least when you repeat it they’ll hear how to say it properly.’ I reasoned.
            ‘No, I say it with the same accent as the teacher.’
            I found this quite funny, well really funny actually.  Sorry but imagining him ‘speeeking like zis’ in class just tickled me. When I stopped laughing I asked ‘Why on earth do you do that?’ 
            ‘Because that’s the way they teach us to speak English.’

Although I did find it funny, there is a more serious side.  This simple answer speaks volumes about a fundamental flaw with teaching practices in many French schools.  Children generally are not encouraged to think for themselves or question what they are taught.  It explains a lot about some attitudes in France.  Many times I’ve been frustrated when confronted by situations where functionaries seem unable to think outside the box.  It’s done this way, because it is, and that’s the way it’s always been done!  Or am I putting 2 and 2 together and making 5?

Anyway, now I'm off to make a chocolate cake for my little girl who's 4 years old tomorrow :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Losing Weight in France

Losing weight in France
Come on, admit it.  How many of us spend much of our time either thinking of losing weight, talking about losing weight, dieting or thinking we should be dieting or saying “Oh I really shouldn’t”, but then eat it anyway. Well, I recently lost over 2 stone and as many people have been asking me how I did, I thought I'd share my secrets with you

I haven’t been slim since I had my first child over 21 years ago.  I’ve sort of hovered around size 14 – 16. In England I felt about average and even positively slim sometimes, but here I felt fat.  The first time I went into a women’s clothes shop in France, I was horrified to find that my size (which was 44 – 46 European) was put with the ‘Grande taille Femme’ (big ladies section).  Quelle horreur!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

And then there were 5

I always know when Summer's over - not because I have to dig out the jumpers or the days are getting shorter, but by the number of settings around the dinner table.  The heady days of average table settings of 14 are becoming a distant memory. Our maximum this summer hit 50 catering for our Gardening Club barbecue, a one off yes, but we never had less than 9 for dinner.

Now family have gone back to England, the gites are empty, my eldest is back at Uni, 2nd eldest is back to weekly boarding and our au pair's gone back to her studies in Romania.  Today, for the first time since June, there were only 5 settings to lay at the dinner table.  How normal - it doesn't feel right.  I can't wait till next Summer.

What signifies the end of Summer for you?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Help, medical emergency with kids on board!

Following on from my last Post Road Trip to England with little ones on Board,  On the way back to SW France, we decided to pay a visit to our cousins in Brittany.  After all, it’s sort of on the way home isn’t it?  WRONG! It was actually more than 600km detour.  Still, my parents were traveling with us with my brother and cousin – it would be fun.

I was traveling with the 3 little ones in the back (James 9, Luc 6 and Frankie 3) and my second eldest Ryan (17) in the front.  We followed the camper van – it was a bit slow but we’d decided to stick together until lunchtime and then I’d speed off in my car and get there quicker.  Within about 45 minutes my Dad pulled over into an aire and I followed.  My cousin Ginny was feeling sick.  They thought it was the fumes from the hydrogen converting contraption my Dad had set up in the back of the camper to reduce fuel consumption (don’t ask).  It was decided that it was better that Ginny travel with me, and Ryan (my very capable and sensible son) travel with them in the Camper.  The reasoning was it would be a more comfortable ride for Ginny (reclining leather seats, air con etc) and we could get her home quicker.  It has to be said at this point that Ginny had a serious operation earlier this year and was still recovering from the affects of it.  

Monday, September 12, 2011

Road trip to England with Littles Ones on board

For those of you who followed my plea for help with 16 hour Road Trip alone with 3 young children, here’s how I got on.

Well, our 16 hour road trip turned into 2 days.  Following some good advice, I decided to break the trip up and stop over night about half way.  Also, I wasn’t totally alone – I had Elena our au pair with me, but I was the only driver.

Largely the journey there went well – better than I had anticipated.  The journey home, well that’s another story, (Coming soon....”My nightmare journey from England to Brittany” or “Make way for harassed Mum – this is an medical emergency!”).  But, going back to the journey there... the first day they were all excited, they watched a DVD, had a sleep.  Packing up a bag with snacks and drinks was a good idea as it stopped the inevitable “I’m hungry/thirsty” - I made sure to pack it with healthy snacks as we didn’t need any sugary things to make them more hyper than they naturally already were.  The Road Trip Bingo game went down well.  I’d printed off some forms off the internet with pictures of things you might see on a journey and the kids had to cross them off as they saw them.  Well that is until the 2 boys got overly competitive towards the end of the game.  They were both waiting on seeing a jogger (you don’t see many on the motorway).  Finally Elena saw one and pointed it out to Luc.  “Yes, I’ve seen a jogger, I’ve won, I've won!” shouted Luc.  “No, that’s not fair” said James, “it wasn’t you, it was Elena”.  Oh well, it did keep them quiet for a while.

Monday, September 5, 2011

La Rentree – Back to School “French Style”

I’m exhausted!  I’ve spent the last week or so preparing 4 of my children for “La Rentree”  (or “Back to School” as we call it in England).  When we lived in England I remember having long lists of clothing for going back to school – school uniform, blazers, school ties and badges and an even longer list of sports kit – shorts, teeshirts, sports socks, tracksuits, trainers, gym shoes, rugby boots, football boots, running shoes, hockey sticks – sound familiar??  Apart from the uniform and sports kit though, there wasn’t really much else to get – a new bag of course, maybe some pens etc and a geometry kit and a calculator. 

There is no uniform in France – hurray!  There’s also no formal sports kit either – just a tracksuit, t-shirt and trainers seem to suffice.  So what’s been keeping me occupied for the past week or so then you may wonder.  Well we have the “Liste de Fournitures scolaires” which is basically an A4 sheet listing all the different stationery items needed for your child's return to school.  I could not believe the amount of things we have to buy the first time I saw one 7 years ago.  Here’s a copy of my 6 year old son’s “Liste de Fournitures” for his first year at the Primaire translated into English: