Saturday, 29 November 2008


Noémie's grandfather puts balloons out for the party.

Bonnie had a sleep-over at her friend Noémie's place last night, for a "soirée pyjama" for her birthday party. It is the second soirée pyjama she has been to this month. Odette has also been socialising. She had a sleep-over at her best friend's house last weekend, and Amandine slept over at our house on Tuesday night.
Now that the girls speak French really well they are much more autonomous. I remember when we first came I had to go with them to help translate all the time. Now they correct me when I make a mistake in French grammar or pronunciation!

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Autumn Leaves

The children made the most of the autumn leaves. I started to rake up the leaves that fell off the trees in the yard, but the piles were soon spread out again. Here is how it happened...

Autumn and Winter

Autumn colours in the landscape.

A multi-coloured mountainside.



I have never experienced a northern hemisphere autumn before. I have never been where the trees change colour and then all the leaves fall off. Our eucalyptus at home don't do that.
Over a period of weeks the landscape changed colour from the lush green of summer through oranges, reds, yellows and browns. Now, mostly it is grey. And earlier in the week it was white, with the first snows for the season.

When we took Hugh and Odette to school it was easy to see which cars had slept outside the night before: they were covered in snow. Our cars here stay outside, despite the house having two garages. The garages are full of other things, as tends to happen with garages...
Which reminds me that Roger always harped on at me if I ever left the car outside on the farm in Australia. His argument was that the sun would fade the upholstery, or fade the paint (the car is white!), or maybe a hail storm could come and damage the car. The fact is that I DID leave the car outside for a few days once when the kids commandeered the garage for a beauty parlour. And do you know what happened? The parrots started to eat it! Those nasty birds (28-parrots) actually bit chunks of rubber off around the windows and where rails go on the roof!

The view from our balcony on Monday morning.

Cars at the school at La Flachere.

Friday, 21 November 2008


Odette can say Sainte, she can say Marie, and she can say Alloix. But when she tries to say the name of the village where we live it comes out like Sangcra-Mie-d'Alloix, not Sainte Marie d'Alloix. Maybe if she just slowed down a little it would help.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

60, 70, 80, 90...

Counting in French is pretty confusing for an English speaker. Last night Bonnie's homework was to learn the numbers upwards of sixty in the written form.
Up to sixty nine it is straight forward, but then the French do a funny thing that reminds me of the old English "four score and ten" type of counting. Instead of going to seventy they go to sixty-ten (soixante-dix), sixty-eleven (soixante-onze), sixty-twelve (soixante-douze)... up to sixty-nineteen (soixante-dix-neuf) for 79. Then eighty is four twenties (quatre-vingt), so eighty-one is four twenties and one, or "quatre-vingt-et-un"; and ninety is four twenties and ten, or "quatre-vingt-dix, and ninety-nine is "quatre-vingt-dix-neuf".
When I am reading in my head and there are numbers printed as digits I still read the numbers in English. And in conversation I need to halt when people talk of large numbers because it doesn't come naturally to me to think in French numbers. In French "soixante-seize euros et quatre-vingt-quinze" would not have me immediately think of 76.95 euros. I would hear the "soixante" and think of sixty, but then the "seize" means sixteen, so I have to backtrack and change the sixty to a seventy and add six. And "quatre-vingt" always confuses me because "vingt-quatre" means twenty four. Once I had that sorted out I would think of eighty, but then "quinze" means fifteen so I would have to backtrack again and add fifteen to eighty to make ninety-five! Needless to say I always look at the cash register display to find out how much I need to pay at the supermarket...
If I were to stay in France this is certainly something I would need to practise.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Our Daily Bread

The characteristic twist of the paper that wraps the bread.

This is one of those posts that I have been thinking of for ages, but could be written any time. Today's (yesterday's) events have triggered the writing of it now.
The "kiosque" in the village is our local deli, with fresh bread and croissants every morning, the newspaper, magazines, lollies, cigarettes (essential to some) and a small collection of packaged foods and other necessities. Veronique who runs the place is a super woman who always has a smile and a chirpy voice. And she tries to help Roger with his French pronunciation. The kiosque makes a difference to the village. Villages without a boulangerie or a deli lack a heart - the people have to go elsewhere to get their bread, newspaper and cigarettes.
After I have put the kids on the bus in the morning I usually grab a baguette (the kids love to make a "tartine" with Vegemite!) and maybe a croissant or a pain au chocolat (depending on how devilish I am feeling).

Veronique handing Bread to Bonnie at the kiosque.

Several times a week I buy the local newspaper, and on Saturday mornings I like to buy Le Monde with the New York Times supplement in English for Roger. I don't have to worry about having the cash on me because Veronique has an exercise book in which she writes down our account, which she tallies up every now and again so I can write out a cheque.
And so it was this morning that Bonnie and I walked into the kiosque to be greeted by the familiar cheery voice and smile from Veronique. There were a couple of customers in the shop and they were talking a lot, but we didn't take much notice. Then I realised they were talking about a robbery and I asked if the kiosque had been broken into. But no, it was worse than that. Veronique made a gun shape with her hand and held it up, describing how she had been the victim of an armed robbery on Friday evening. Apparently it was about 7pm, closing time, when the robbery occurred. Obviously someone was very desperate for money, and they knew what time closing time was; a single male, who left on foot, after threatening Veronique and her father, plus a customer who happened to be in there at the time. Luckily Veronique was calm and collected and handed the man the money from her till and a couple of cartons of cigarettes and nobody was hurt.
And we thought this was a peaceful little village...

Still I give thanks for our daily bread; and for Veronique, who is a bit of a hero.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Confessions of a Scrabble Addict

I have got into the habit of spending too much time playing, instead of working, on the computer. At night after the kids are in bed I will sit down to write on my blog, but will open up the Internet Scrabble Club scrabble program too. Just for one game. But I like the quick games, so maybe just another one, and then I'll shut it down... Maybe.
Facebook is addictive too. I had requests from people to join Facebook at the beginning of the year, so I did. And now I feel the need to check up every day to see what everyone on my list is doing. It is great! My mother called the other day with some exciting news. My cousin Jane is engaged? Yes I know already - I read it on her Facebook!! I get to see all the latest pictures of Michael and Anna's kids (whom I have never seen in real life) as well as their videos posted on You Tube. And I know that Charmiane is pregnant with her fifth (and last) child, and that it is a boy. When he is born I'll get to see the baby pictures on her Facebook. I know which horse Dave backed in the Melbourne cup, what time Dana got home from the 40th birthday party, that Ronice drank too much "cat piss wine", that the weather has been grey on the cote d'azur, and that Philippa is moving to Perth at the end of the year. Alison's interview went well, Jacquie has a new pool (and wants a pool boy), Kathy wants to go on a cruise, Guillaume was salesman of the month, Benoit has been to the USA and Ulla is starting at a new school. None of which I would have known if it were not for Facebook.
So now it must be time for another game of Scrabble I think. I might be able to improve my ranking...

And now you know why I don't do as much as I should on the blog!

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Girls Games

The girls love having their friend Laurine come over to play, or going to her house to play. Laurine has real life-sized baby dolls, that can fit real baby clothes, and she has prams and all the accessories. They have heaps of fun playing mothers and babies, and even took their babies for a walk when we went out last weekend.

Odette with her baby, last weekend.

A walk with the babies.

And we all know where babies come from, don't we? That's right: in their mother's tummy. One of the teachers at Sophie's and Laurine's school is extremely pregnant, and another left at the end of last school year to have a baby.
It seems that Sophie and Laurine aren't content with just one baby - they have another one on the way!!

Sophie and Laurine - what are they expecting?
(One was an air-filled balloon, and the other a soft toy!)

Roger will have enough worries when his daughters reach their teenage years, but pregnancy at age ten???