Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Chanson de Noël

Here is some Christmas comedy for you. Odette was trying to teach Roger how to sing the Christmas song that she had learnt at school. We were left wondering whether Roger was trying to sing in Japanese or another, unknown language.

P.S. My first attempt at uploading to You Tube.

Joyeux Noël

Merry Christmas everybody.
We won't have the white Christmas we were hoping for - the last few days the weather has been fine and "warm" (about 9 degrees Celsius) with blue skies.
But we have a turkey, and some presents under our real Christmas tree.
Now we just have to wait and see if le Père Noël finds us here in France...


This sign was a welcome sight as we were walking around Pont-en-Royans, because Bonnie had been saying she wanted to go to the toilet for the last half an hour. It is very hard to find a public toilet in France, and when one is found it is often not very appealing. We thought our luck had changed, until we found the said toilets... They were all locked up!

Bonnie outside the locked toilets.

The facilities are obviously for the use of summer visitors, and we were out of luck. As were the several other visitors who came by looking for the signposted toilets while we were there. And in the absence of toilets, what do you do??? I won't embarrass Bonnie by showing what she ended up doing, but here is how Roger helped Hugh to do what he had to do.

Seeing people peeing in public is something we have become accustomed to. We even saw a car stopped on a round-about on a major road, with the driver standing with his back to the traffic relieving himself. For men it is not such a big deal. For women and girls it is a little more awkward to find a suitable spot.

Two anonymous public pee-ers...

We have one very fussy child in our family, who refuses to use a public toilet unless it is spotlessly clean. As you can see from the pictures below, not many fall into that class.

The public toilet in Sainte Marie d'Alloix.

The bottom photo is the one and only public toilet available to visitors in Sainte Marie d'Alloix. At night there is no light (the globe has been removed so people can't leave it on all night) and there is no washbasin, let alone soap or hand towels.
I think in Australia we are spoilt with public toilet facilities which have separate male and female toilets, facilities for the disabled, mirrors, wash basins, soap, and hand towels or hot-air dryers. Congratulations to the councils which supply such good and clean facilities!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008


The typical view of Pont-en-Royans
shows the old houses perched on rock over the river.

On the weekend we went for a drive and visited the village of Pont-en-Royan, in the Vercors. It has heritage listed buildings which are built into the rock right up the side of the river.

I imagine that in summer these pots would be full of colourful flowers,
and the trees in the background green.

The village is obviously very pretty in the summer time, and there was a playground, well-equipped by French standards, on the banks of the river. However the kids had heaps of fun playing in the deserted car-park where we parked. There were car bays marked with white lines, which made good tracks for running races and another game which Odette and Bonnie invented. There was the tiniest bit of snow left on the ground which gave something for Hugh to kick.
We had a picnic and enjoyed the fine day,then strolled around the village. But we didn't have time to visit the museum of water, which looked like a modern building and the signs showed the promise of an interesting display.
We enjoyed the change of scenery and the sunshine, but didn't stay too long as we knew that it would be dark by 5:30pm. By 5pm on the way home we realised something wasn't right as darkness seemed a long way off. And it was - we had used the clock on TomTom, which was still showing Summer daylight saving time!

A Shopping Centre Somewhere

I braved the shops on Monday, to do some Christmas shopping. Not that I have much to do; basically just a little something for the kids, and le Père Noël (Father Christmas) will take are of the rest...
Can you guess where Sophie and I went shopping? With shops called Foot Locker, New Look, Urban Culture, Go Sport, The Phone House, McDonald's etc. etc. ...

Did you see anything there that looked particularly French? Did it look a bit like where you did your Christmas shopping? It could have been in any one of hundreds of cities throughout the world. But really it was Grand' Place, near Grenoble.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Bonne Anniversaire Hugh

Yesterday was Hugh's third birthday. He had a great day which started early & ended late. He is now allowed to go on the bus to school so in the morning we were down at the bus stop nice & early with Hugh first in line to catch the bus to school. He sat up the front behind the driver & said he really liked going on the bus which is great as it will now save us a fair bit of driving. After school we had a small party for Hugh with 3 families coming for the cake & a drink.

[That was Roger's report from yesterday. Thanks for the contribution Roger.]

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

A Sharp Dressed Man

The girls, little fashion victims that they are, are quite harsh on their father when he ventures out in unfashionable clothes. But what choice does he have, given his wardrobe? It is either that or go naked; which in this weather would be even harsher than the wrath of his young daughters.
The girls are, after all, little models. Oh, and superstars and chic mothers. In these photos they were taking their babies out for a walk.



Odette and Hugh

So it is no wonder Sophie, Bonnie and Odette did not want to be seen with this scruffy looking bloke who went to get their Christmas tree on a recent Saturday morning.

The Christmas tree carrier

In a pair of tracky dacks, a loose tee-shirt and a "United Farmers" green beanie he looked as far from French classic as you can get. But when chastised by the girls the only thing Roger could say was "It's a pity it's too cold to wear thongs!" Yes thongs would certainly have completed the look my dear. And yes, I have decided that some new clothes would make a wonderful Christmas present for my husband. (Don't tell him or you'll ruin the surprise...)

[And now I am wondering what the automatic translation is going to make of "thongs" for those readers who are translating this into French... I am quite sure he didn't mean a g-string, but some flip-flops for his feet!]

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Disco Z

As if the kids hadn't had enough fun for one day, they also went to the "Disco Z" show in the afternoon. Actually we all went, and we had a ball. Disco Z was two guys in weird and funky disco gear, who entertained young and old alike, getting everybody up on the dance floor despite the lack of electrical equipment due to a blown fuse. (Well that's what happens when you run everything off one socket and leave the extension cord rolled up while in use...) They had acoustic guitars, an accordion, trombone, and tambourine which didn't require power, but the disco ball and lights would have added to the atmosphere if they had lasted more than five minutes before the fuse blew.
After the fun of the disco there were refreshments. Soft drinks and fruit juice for the children, and "vin chaud" (mulled wine) for the adults. Have you had mulled wine before? It is basically red wine heated with citrus and spices. The cinnamon and orange flavours were strongest in the vin chaud that we had yesterday and it was very nice indeed. Yes indeed...




Le Petit Train

Roger in the little train with Hugh, Bonnie, Odette and Odette's friend Amandine.

The train ride around the village.

Silly me took photos instead of hopping in the train...

Father Christmas came to Sainte Marie d'Alloix on Saturday morning, in a little train that took people for rides around the village. Unfortunately Santa was not as Jolly as what we are used to. He basically handed out some chocolate "papillotes" to the children and then stood and chatted with some old folks.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Beaucoup de neige

Our first Bonhomme de neige in the back yard.

It snowed overnight and it has snowed all day. There is over five centimetres of snow on the ground and the snow is falling pretty heavily as I write. Odette and I had fun this morning building a bonhomme de neige (snowman) on the back lawn. Now we have a veritable family of snow people. It was so much fun we kept wanting to make another one.
Odette and I had a walk around the village before lunch and saw some other kids and their dog having fun in the snow.

Kids playing in the snow with their dog.

Snowball fights...

Odette in her (big) "combinaison de ski" which we bought at a jumble sale recently.

A council worker putting up Christmas decorations at the Mairie.

We are thinking of making a toboggan track in the paddock out the back. But we'd have to be careful to have a good stopping ramp because the hill is pretty steep.
Soon I will have to go out and pick up Sophie and Bonnie from the Christmas card-making workshop they have been to. I'll take my camera and get some more photos of the snow...

Tuesday, 2 December 2008


I took Sophie and Bonnie to La Buissiere for a kids' Loto (Bingo) afternoon on Sunday. The aim was to win the roller blades, the portable DVD player and the Nintendo DS Lite. They had great prizes. We didn't win any of them, but we had great fun. Bonnie got a consolation prize after finishing a row at the same time as another boy, and he drew the short straw (although I always thought the long one was the best). She won a face painting set, so we might have some funny faces showing up around here soon. (As is there aren't enough already...)

Sophie crossed her fingers, hoping for a big prize.

I don't think I could stand to play Bingo on a regular basis. The suspense is too much for me! Nearly every game there was someone on our table who was very close, only needing one more number to win. I would breathe in and hold my breath waiting for the caller to call the number, and then get disappointed when it wasn't the right one.
And speaking of numbers, it was very good practice for us to learn the French numbers. Bonnie and I would check each other's cards to make sure we were getting them right.