24th April, 2010
I slept until 7.30 which was a luxury. We sat around for quite while and then headed off to Saint Maximin to do some shopping. We had a long list of things to buy to make us even more comfortable. We weren’t quite sure how to get there and asked the lady who lived downstairs where we should go. Haven’t quite got the Tomtom working yet. She told us where to go and then said she would lead us. That was very kind of her and she took us most of the way there. It is an amazing place. Absolutely huge! Acre upon acre of shops. They are set out in roads and are roughly grouped in the same sort of businesses. We found But and bought a microwave, an iron, a kettle and an ironing board. We put them in the car and went off to find another place for a broom and other things. That one was shutting up and we had great fun and games as I had arrived at the checkout with a very colourful broom head and a different coloured handle. This was a no no and they asked loudly who spoke English and a customer came across and explained. She said I had time to run and get another one, which I did, one covered in ladybirds. We were the last to leave, being glared at by the security guard. We moved on to Fnac where we bought a new SIM card and an internet USB. Then we found another shop to buy a tea thing, coffee plunger and sharp knife.
We then drove to Cora, a supermarket/Big W type shop in a large mall. We first had lunch, a baguette and a pastry and then went into Cora. It is a massive place with a supermarket at one end of it and everything else you would want to buy at the other end. We had lots of fun. When you buy fruit or vegetables you must put them in a bag and line up to have them weighed if they cost per kilo. The assistant weighs them and puts a sticker on them before you get to the checkout. The array of magnificent cheeses and pates and sausages etc was just simply mouthwatering. We found a huge drying stand and sheets etc and all we wanted. I was coming back in triumph with some things when I slipped on a pile of something on the floor and went down on my knee. We finished shopping and found a security guard and reported my fall in case it turned nasty later. This was a feat as they had no English whatsoever. My French is limited, but we managed and I found I could make myself understood quite well. We eventually went home after many hours and many purchases. More fun, we followed the road we had come in on and found ourselves heading in the wrong direction up a main road. We came to a round about and back we went and managed to get ourselves home with only a slight detour in one part.
Putting everything away was fun as we have a tiny fridge and did an Australian type shop!
25th April, 2010
Anzc Day! Happy Birthday Dad! We slept in and lazed around. I tried out my internet USB again and it is so slow it isn’t funny. It times out before it brings the mail through. We went downstairs to give Suzanne some chocolates for being so kind the day before and she invited us in for a drink. She was the wife of the stable owner who had died, before Micheline’s family had owned it. She talked on in French and we understood some of it. We then went for a walk to St Leonard. We looked in the walled cemetery and looked at some of the very old graves and crypts. I said the Ode in front of the war memorial as it was Anzac Day. St Léonard is where the Town Hall (the Mairie) is and there is road a couple of kilometers long between the two villages. Some of the buildings are really ancient and some are very modern. Most are in walled compounds with gates that need codes to open them.
We walked back and had lunch and I did some hand washing and cleaned up.
I slept for a couple of hours and Gray did stamps and the journal. We cooked and enjoyed our meal. The end of another day and school tomorrow!
26th to 29th April, 2010
School, school, school!
Gray became adventurous this week and took himself off on his usual walks and then one day on the bus to Senlis to the markets. This was an interesting one as the first bus was going the wrong way and so he waited for the other one which happened to be the same driver. When they arrived in Senlis, the driver told the shuttle bus driver to look after him and get him off at the right stop. He bought some great cheese at the Senlis markets and it has lived out on the verandah since then. Good cheese, but shocking smell! We have a half day Wednesday so we went off to San Maximin again to try and fix the Internet and to get food and other small things we still needed. For someone who doesn’t like shopping, I have done an awful lot lately.
On Thursday morning the horse transport pulled up outside the gate. One horse was taken off and then the truck went off up the road. Great! I thought I can get out; but it had gone up to turn around and load horses in the other side. I fled down quickly and when he saw me coming out he kindly shut the doors and pulled up the ramp so I could get out. I don’t see how Hire Car companies can expect cars to come back unscratched, when every other car has scrapes and bangs on them. This is why I think I worry so much about it.
30th April, 2010
Up at 6.30 as usual and was ready to leave by 7.30. I didn’t want to be hemmed in by the horse van if it came again.
I went to school and unlocked everything as I was the first by quite a while to arrive. I hooked up the computers and one was making gurgling noises. I went to investigate and it was Mum on Skype. We had a good talk and then I did some mail. The children arrived and we started work at 8.30. There are so few of them that I can give individual Spelling tests.
I taught them for 2 hours and then it was time for Break. Nabil had brought in some Pizza pieces for his homework task. I had them for 2 hours in the morning. Then they had their time for French. I did 2 lots of supervision and after lunch we had sport for two hours from 2.00pm to 4.00pm. Ugh!
I spoke to Nabil’s Dad and said he was on a work contract to try and get his behaviour to improve. I also asked him to cut the hair. We shall see.
I went home after school to Gray. I didn’t have any passengers so we had time for a sit, a chat and a cup of coffee. We were going to Rochelle’s for an Aussie Barbeque
We drove to Montgrasin and looked for the green gate. We had stopped to ask, funny French was coming out of me, but the guy spoke a bit of English so I said “Rochelle” and he said “English lady” and I said “Australian”, but we found the green gate which had a number code that I eventually got it right. Well! What an amazing house. Original parts of it go back as far as the 1600s. I had a tour and the boys have their own huge space upstairs, with old beams going through all the length of the house. Gigi has her own room in an area and the main bedroom has a king sized four poster complete with all the curtains above. This was an amazing feat to get into the house and the men carrying it kept saying no way and Rochelle kept telling them they would do it. The house is in a courtyard and the family who own it all live in one bit and Rochelle and family live in another building. We had a great night with Loretta, Grace, a friend of Loretta’s and Nic’s, Frances, a parent from Wednesday school, Rochelle, children and Claire, the primary French teacher from school. We ate and ate and drank good wine and went home about 10.30pm. First time driving with lights! but we managed.
1st May, 2010
We slept till 9.30! Unheard of! We ate breakfast and I managed to get on to the internet and skyped with Shell and Sian and paid some bills and read and answered emails. We managed to contact Maeve eventually, but she was in Aix en Provence and we will probably meet up with her next weekend.
We caught the 13.15 TER train to Paris to Gare du Norde. We wandered around, bought a map and went to a café to have lunch and study the map. We had decided to go to the river and look around and then go to San Michel for dinner.
We discovered the pink line 4 that we used to catch with Nic was the one we wanted. We caught it to the Cité and went up to road level. We crossed on the bridge and discovered we were going the wrong way so we looked a bit on the right bank and then crossed on the Pont Neuf. We had great fun trying to find Nic’s good eating places in the narrow streets. I texted Loretta and she put us on the right track. There was a convoy of about 10 Police cars and wagons, all with sirens blaring, touring around the city and everywhere we went, they would suddenly appear. There were people everywhere selling Lily of the Valley plants for May Day. We stopped to have a drink at one stage and chuckled at two English girls who asked did they serve bear. The waiter latched on to this with a great laugh as he flirted with them. He set us on the right way to find the street.
One thing I love about Paris is the entertainment in the streets. It is the 1st May which is Labour Day so there was a lot going on. In one street there was a woman with a beautiful Operatic voice singing in the midst of the crowd who had all just stopped to listen. A few corners later, there was a Space suited band of 6 with various instruments just setting up. We stopped to listen before trying to find the restaurant streets. We had been going in the wrong direction to find the street I had eaten in with Nic, but we were a lot closer now and just happened to stumble across the restaurant eventually. We had a very nice dinner of snails, duck and beef etc Gray says the snails were a waste of effort and he won’t bother again, but the taste was nice. When the bill came I was horrified to find we had been charged for double the wine I had had. They changed it very quickly and were most apologetic. I wasn’t fooled though as many people never check their bills before paying.
We found our way back to the station of Saint Michel and caught the metro back to Gare du Nord. We arrived there and hurried to get a ticket for Chantilly as the train was due to go. We rushed along the platform and jumped into a door as the whistle blew. There we sat! They made an announcement of which we understood just a tiny bit and we eventually were moving about half an hour later. Once again we were home before dark which was good.
We had a nice day and it was good to be in Paris again.
Sunday 2nd May, 2010
Once again we slept rather late and had a very lazy day. I did skyping and emails and caught up with lots of bits and pieces. I did the washing by hand and we will take the sheets and towels to Rochelle’s. It isn’t hard and we do a little each day so it is mainly shirts on the weekend.
It was very cool and rained on and off so we just stayed in and did journal, blog,work and ate. A nice relaxing day.
I broke the corkscrew trying to remove the cork on anew bottle so once again, fun and games before I could get some wine.
It was quite late before we eventually retired.
Monday 3rd May
Alarm at 6.30! I climbed out of bed to find a world of grey, cold, gloom. It had obviously rained a lot in the night as there were puddles everywhere. There were no horse noses poking out of their horse boxes so it must have been cold. I left at 10 to 8 and the car temperature was 6 degrees. It is just like home.
We had a busy day and the newspaper is doing better and the children blogged and have gone home to look at it. I am amazed at the size of some of their homes. Two families in my room live in Chateaux and have no idea how many rooms there are in their houses.
I am hearing lots of French each day, but so far the light hasn’t gone on where I understand everything. I had a 3 year old correct me the other day when I used the masculine word for naughty to a little girl. It is great, they are all trying to help. Hopefully one day it will all come together.
Gray didn’t go out today as it was too yuck and we don’t have umbrellas. Tomorrow we will have to go shopping again as we are running out of food. Small fridges don’t hold a lot of food and I don’t think the food is bred to last a whole week without going off. We also need umbrellas and a new corkscrew. They haven’t believed in screwtop wines yet.