Sunday, 31 May 2009

I'm not panicking - yet!

As a sort of "payback" to the French government for providing us with free French lessons, (see Greta, here) I've been volunteered (with the rest of our class) to take a class of 14 year old's to practise their English with them next week. Because I'm a soft touch, I've "volunteered" twice and then found out that we have to give them a TWO HOUR English lesson! This is a first for me, so I'm racking my brains for activities this age group (I live with one, so I know what I'm dealing with!) won't find boring. My initiative is being stretched to the limits. I've got till Thursday morning and it might take till then to think of four times half hour activities. Help me God!

Thursday, 28 May 2009

I promise I'll never take you for granted again! and food ramblings!

My internet connection, I mean! It's a bit unreliable at the moment, so when I can get it to work, I'm going as fast as I can. I've never been so focused, usually I just surf the web, browsing and looking at jobs to apply for, now I've got it down to a fine art - put the website address in, scan quickly, send the application or click to another page!

A lovely sight I saw today - the baby class at Dear Daughter (10)'s school had been on a trip out to a local farm, and they'd come back with a little present - every child (around 25 or so) had been given a punnet of fresh, new season strawberries! Some of them were eating them like sweets, passing them around the grown ups, they start to appreciate their food young in this country. I'll never forget when I went on a trip out with the maternelle when Dear Son (14) was in that class, and all the kids were given a picnic that included a hard boiled egg. They tucked in with a vengeance, I never saw 3 year old kids enjoy hard boiled eggs like that - without salt! It was a real eye-opener. Another time, Dear Son (15)'s friend, when aged about 4 was tucking into a bucket of whelks somebody had dropped off at his house. He had a pin in one hand and a frown of concentration as he picked the whelks out of their shells, and tucked in!

The closest I've ever come to that was at a recent rugby club bash when the bloke sitting next to me, 80 if a day, kept feeding me shellfish on a pin which tasted exactly like bogies. I tried not to think too much about what I was eating - three chews and a swallow, as my friend Alison says! Plenty of bread to get rid of the bits. I'm still not sure what I was eating - better not to know!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Have you seen Matthieu?

We had a bit of excitement yesterday tea time when two gendarmes (complete with guns) knocked on the door. Dear Daughter (10) - actually nearly 11, answered the door and they showed her a photograph of a boy aged around 14 and asked her if she knew him! You should have seen her little face! She came racing through (I was clearing the backlog of being without my internet connection) to tell me. When I arrived, Dear Son (14) was being questioned, as apparently he knew the little boy from school. It turned out that he lives in a foster home and the two boys were together at the weekend at a funfair in our local village (within a larger group). The boy who was missing, Matthieu, had won a cap gun and taken it to school where it had been confiscated by a teacher. He'd taken umbrage at this and run out of the classroom, jumped the (low) wall and hasn't been seen since. Apparently, he's run away three times this year already. Cry for help? Doesn't seem as if anybody's listening. I feel for his mother (although she's a useless article) as this must be a dreadful time for her. Dear Son (14) seems convinced he'll be back at school this morning. Kids - eh?

Oh, by the way, the technician left his tool bag behind and had to come back for it this morning at 7.30 am. Luckily, I get up early to get the kids off to school. Shows I'm not the only incompetent one out there!

Gotta get on, there are at least six jobs I want to apply for! Oh joy!

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

What a flippin palaver!

I've been forcibly evicted from blogland because I lost my internet connection almost a week ago following a power cut! Just at the worst possible time, I might add. "That" phone call never arrived (don't care - sniff!) but on top of that, we had a sudden rush of enquiries for the gites. I had to keep traipsing into town to use the computers in the library in Saujon. It costs €15 to join our local library - no wonder it's quiet down there - I expected it to be free - shows how behind the times I must be! Anyway, the technician came this afternoon (a day earlier than he said - good) so I'm busy catching up again - 600 messages in total, all but 37 of them spam! Good job I didn't get offered "the job" - what stress that would have been - it was bad enough, believe me!

One good thing - we were going to reduce the prices of the gites (again) but no need to now, I took 8 weeks bookings in the last two days! Don't understand why, but bring it on!

Here's a picture of the pool, so you know what you're missing!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Waiting for the phone to ring

I had a telephone interview yesterday with a bloke I 'met' on He's in Altrincham of all places, and needs help with customer support - could mean anything! I spoke to him for about 20 minutes or so yesterday, feeling extremely self-conscious and at the end of the conversation, he said he'd like to have a more "formal and structured" telephone interview with me today, in fact, now, in fact he should have rung an hour ago!

Is he stuck somewhere? Has he died? Is his phone on the blink?

Should I wait? How long for?

I've got all three kids plus a friend at home (the usual Wednesday afternoon scenario) and notes everywhere saying SILENCE and all the doors closed and I have to say that they have been extremely quiet this last hour - NOT normal!

I've got to go out to get some shopping as it's a Bank Holiday here tomorrow again - typical! Also, there are some French people due in the gites.

Stress, I wrote the book.

I probably wouldn't want to work for him anyway! His site is at lee hyphen mcintyre dot com, have a look, you'll see what I mean! (Take out the spaces, and put a full stop where the dot is!) I'd hate him to read this one day! I mean, it might all end happily! I could certainly use the money.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Minor Miracles

A minor miracle took place at the Palais de Congres in Royan (click link for piccies) on Saturday, in that 20-odd teenage rugby players (inc Dear Son (15)) set up, served and cleared away a four course meal with rum punch, red and rosé wine and children's/adults menus for 200 people, whilst also entertaining us with sketches, dance routines and a comedy routine. The meal consisted of foie gras, confit de canard with new potatoes and veg, (kids had chicken nuggets) rum baba and fruit salad and cheese. They had a chef to cook it, but they did the rest, including the washing up!

The memory of the champagne fountains with indoor fireworks will stay in Dear Daughter (10)'s mind for a long time to come. The French certainly know how to "let go", no shrinking violets present, no wallflowers! I felt like I'd landed from another planet. Glad I happened to have my earplugs in my bag. The reason for all this is that they were raising money for a trip to England next weekend to play rugby in Gosport. They raised enough for the trip and the evening was a brilliant success. Dear Son (15) was up until 3 am clearing all the tables away. He's well knackered now for his trip away - he'll need early nights for the rest of this week - fat chance!

Friday, 15 May 2009

Peace and quiet? Not!

I kept wondering whether the hunting season had started up again. Every few minutes, I could distinctly hear somebody firing a gun. I didn't find out what was going on until Woody's next walk, when I discovered a bird scaring contraption, set up to make a noise every 10 minutes. The farmer has just planted his sunflowers, and didn't want the birds to get the impression that lunch (and dinner and tea) were on him. I love the sunflowers in July, but it isn't half annoying living with this constant boom, bloody boom! Hurry up and germinate!

Above is a photo of the sunflowers taken last July - I loved this photo so much, I had it on my desktop until last week when I changed it to one of the garden

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Stormy weather

We've had a couple of days of really heavy, muggy weather here in SW France, typically followed by the most tremendous thunder storms in the evenings. I always turn the computer off and leave it off during thunderstorms, since it's not unusual to lose the power, and as we all know, computers don't like sudden power cuts.

I turned it on (very) early this morning to get the emails and had the following:

6 pm Does the gite I've been enquiring about (for the past three weeks) have a full sized bath, since my toddler doesn't like showers?

6.25 pm I can't make a decision about the gite until you tell me whether there is a full sized bath (it's on the website).

6.45 pm I'm still waiting for an answer to my earlier emails.

6.55 pm Okay, I'll have it then!

Goes to show, sometimes it's better not to add fuel to the fire of the question and answer routine that I'm constantly indulging in just to rent out the bloody gites!

I bet she changes her mind! By the way, it does have a full sized bath!

Monday, 11 May 2009

Quick, get a photo before it starts raining again!

At least all the rain we've had lately has been good for the garden. I took these piccies yesterday and couldn't wait to get them on here. I was inspired by my friend Lesley's blog, where she puts some beautiful photographs up regularly, much nicer than these. Of course, she is a professional photographer!

Things have been hectic this week. (Last week now). The kids have only been back at school 4 days (Friday was yet another bank holiday) and I'm knackered already!

I went to the doctor's on Tuesday, since I've had a very sore (left) shoulder for weeks now, and it was slowly getting worse. He gave me some anti- inflammatories and pain killers (standard treatment, I guess) and I've been astonished at my capacity for sleep since I started taking these tablets. I can fall asleep anywhere, at any time. A deep, dreaming, healing sleep. Within seconds! I've been struggling to wake up before 10 am (good job it was a bank holiday weekend!) Totally NOT like myself. I suppose it's the tablets I'm taking, but I don't ever want it to stop! Is it possible to get addicted to sleep?

I've got to dash now, I've got my French lesson at half past twelve at Royan, so I've got to have my lunch now, or I don't get fed till 3 pm! Can't last that long.

More later, if I can stay awake!

Saturday, 2 May 2009

I almost cried

My "full body massage" was this morning, 10 am at Royan. This was my birthday present from the kids and as a full body massage virgin, I had to search the net to find out what, if anything, you should wear! Apparently, not your best undies or even best clothes, since you will come out of there covered in aromatic oils. I was up early, showered thoroughly, hairwashed and all dressed in my full body massage gear, the sun was shining and all was well with the world, or so I thought. We were due to leave at 9.15 am as the traffic can be heavy this time of the year. Dear Daughter (10) was coming with us to keep her daddy company whilst I was full body massaged. The phone rang at 9.10 am, just before we were going out the door. Basically "Jennyfer" my full body massag-ist was in hospital and wouldn't be able to full body massage me until the 10th May. That's a Sunday! The first available appointment that we could both make was 23rd May. I reluctantly booked it on the calendar. Then, suddenly, my blood started to boil. It was the idea of the three kids clubbing together and paying a total of €70 between them in cash for something that was a planned surprise for a particular date. As a side issue, one of the gold heart earrings they bought me had fallen in bits in my hand when I tried to put it in. Off we went to do battle.

All was well that ended well, though, the shop gave us back the money in cash without any arguments (rare for France) and we changed the earrings for a much nicer (and more expensive) pair and bought a bracelet to match. So, I'm now a happy bunny (again) and the full body massage will have to wait. So there!

At least I've got a head start on tonight's rugby club bash.