Sunday 9th May, 2010
Climbed out of bed at a quarter to 8 to a text from Nic wishing me a Happy Mothers’ Day. Also heard from Sian by internet with a card and Sammi by phone. For the first time in 32 years Gray did nothing! He has a chance on the 30th to redeem himself as it is French Mothers Day. He spoke to his mum by phone, but it ran out of credit so we shall have to buy some more this week. I was talking to mum and I ran out of credit, I recharged and had given her my number so we eventually got to talk to each other once the recharge had gone through. Nic and I tried all ways to get Skype and Google chat going, with no success and she eventually put money on Skype and rang on that. She wasn’t very happy.
I seem to go to sleep quite a lot when I work on the computer so went off to have a sleep in the afternoon. Not successfully as noise travels up from down below here as well as through our own part. They are not noisy but you can hear feet etc. some times. We went for a walk along the back laneway and came across a sports complex where there was a very loud, active game of soccer in progress and at the side of the field outside the fence was a large cleared area of dirt where there were many games of petanque being played. We wandered along and had a look at several of the games. There was beer for sale in the old shed and some kind of a BBQ, but we hadn’t taken any money. We continued our walk along the road and then down through the forest path. I took photos of many interesting different types of wild flowers. We walked back through Avilly and saw some beautiful houses and gardens and some very old parts. We then had to walk along the road I drive each day and it is very narrow so we walked on the edge of the canola crop eventually. The ground is full of small rocks, but the canola grows up through it. There are many fields of it around the Oise area.
We watched the big horse carrier return the beautiful horses it had taken out this morning. It pulls up outside the gate right next to where we live so I like to go out on the balcony and watch them when I am here. They are the most magnificent animals and well looked after. Michelline said I should ask Martine to take us in to see them one day and I shall.
I cooked dinner and then sat down to try and get the Blog writing up to date. Another week has gone. Time is going too fast.
Saturday, 8th May, 2010
We woke quite late again. My back isn’t great and doesn’t do too well in the mornings. It does tend to settle during the day. We emailed a bit and found one from Deb saying she had been talking to Pierre Eric. We set the Tomtom and set off. It was happy because we followed most of its directions to Senlis. When we arrived we went around the roundabout and off down the road we had come back in on Wednesday. Well I thought we did! We kept hearing Tomtom say take the next left, over ad over again and then we came to a town we didn’t know at all. Wrong road again! We did see some lovely countryside and old, old villages. Back we went and Tomtom led us to the right road. This was a pretty good road and I had looked on the map the night before and written down all the places we were likely to see on signs. This worked for some of the way and out Tomtom didn’t like the way we were going and kept trying to get us to turn around and go left or right. Useful if we didn’t know where we were going! We turned too early and I have to say that the tomtom led us back on to the right road. Now we had a bit more faith in it and we listened to it. It eventually led us right to the front door of Isabelle and Pierre Eric’s house.
They are delightful people and they made us very welcome. Marine was there and she just wants to go back to Australia. She is so different from when we first met her in Orange. She is working in childcare madly saving to return. I told Isabelle that we could do a swap. Nicky could live with them and Marine could come with us. She thought that was a great idea. It could happen tomorrow! We also met Valentin who is studying at University to be a Maths teacher.
The weather was beautiful so we sat outside and had aperitifs. I had red wine and we ate cashews, tiny cheese profiteroles and other snacks. We managed our conversations well. Pierre Eric, Marine and Valentin all wanted to speak English and I wanted to speak French, but Isabelle’s English wasn’t keeping up and neither was Gray’s French so we mixed both and translated in between. Mine is coming slowly. Marine was surprised at how much I have now.
We moved inside for the main dinner. The house is a few centuries old and just amazing. There are beams close together in the ceilings and the floor is made of hexagonal terra cotta tiles. It is a very uneven floor as old ones are and must be a nightmare to clean.
First course was homemade duck pâté de foie gras. They had been to a duck farm in November and today was the first time they were trying the pâté. It was simply amazing! No words could really describe its taste. We ate this with salad and balsamic vinegar. The second course was really good too. We had small potato squares well cooked, a bit like chips, but nicer and some duck. It was delicious and we were filling up. Next came the cheese! Brie and goat and something that looked blue, but wasn’t and some fake cheese Isabelle called it, made on crème frais. It was nice too, with bread to accompany the cheese. Then came desert! It was superb! Raspberries and cream and some soaked sponge and more fruit. The whole lunch was a gastronomic delight. We had coffee/tea outside in the sun and were surprised to find it was 4o’clock! Isabelle took me on a tour of the second and third storey of the house. It is so old. The bedrooms are on the second storey and then there is a little door in Valentin’s room and some worn away stairs that go up to the attic. The attic has 4 rooms in it and it incredible. It hasn’t been restored, but one day when they have some money they want to do it. It is an old house that you would dream about to restore, but it would take a fortune.
We left shortly afterwards with Pierre Eric’s instructions in our ears. It was much easier than coming, but Tomtom digressed at one stage ands we followed him. He led us most of the way properly. We arrived home quite late and just sat and talked about the day. I made a light plate because we had eaten so much and we sat and wrote journal and blog and I am ready for bed.
Friday 7th May,2010
Up at 6.30am again, arrived at school about a quarter to 8. Fortunately the gate was open and all was well. Margot was there already so I didn’t have to cope with locks and alarms. We worked hard in the morning and finished many things. At recess time I spoke only French with the staff outside. I have decided to do this as I really need to improve. Still waiting for the light. I spent my time off trying to fix Claire’s computer. It has masses of space, no viruses and is slower than a wet weekend. I had conversations on Skype with Sian to see if we can fix it. It is difficult trying to do it in French and the dictionary came into good use. I also listened to my class’s French lesson and decided I should go with them every day as I learned a lot. Claire did my lunch supervision and I kept on it. It all finished the scanning and I thought all would be well, but it is still slow. The school has no antivirus on most of its computers and no wireless security. It is a hackers and viruses dream. I have a lot to do in the few weeks left! The afternoon was sport and we ran around the chateau and then did stretches, dodge ball and some hockey skills out on the grass. Loretta talked after school and I left almost at 5. She has a difficult job as some people are very hard to get on with. Went home to Gray. He had caught the bus to Chantilly and gone to the market. He is a consummate shopper and had bought all sorts of things, some we needed and some we really didn’t, like 2 tiny cucumbers when we had a whole long one in the fridge drawer. Let him loose near cheese etc and he just has to buy!!! I am going to limit him soon as the fridge doesn’t hold it all and things go bad.
At 6.30pm we headed off into Chantilly for dinner at the Brasserie. It is always very nice. We know we have to find other places as well, but it is good to know we will always get good food and wine.
Thursday 6th May,2010
Off to school once more. I felt a bit dizzy when I got up and for most of the morning, but I think it was my neck from all the rope turning. I desperately need to look on the net for more skipping rhymes as the only one I could remember was Teddy bear, teddy bear and I am heartily sick of that one. Nabil came in with a tiny bit of a hair cut and a vastly different attitude. He worked very well for most of the day. He is on a behaviour contract which I hate, but I had tried everything else. So far so good.
I had kinder lunch supervision and some of the complete babies are beginning to let me help. They have no English and I was very strange, but they are coming around. There are children of so many Nationalities and mixed Nationalities. The food they bring in is amazing. Today we had sushi, salmon cutlet, lentils and chicken, plain green beans, all kind of Pasta, and lots of other exotic dishes.
We had a good morning and have almost finished the newspaper and they were working on the blog and their museum work. They love to do interesting work. Quentin brought in a cake that he and his mum had made for the homework a couple of weeks ago. I had brought an orange and we cut the orange up first and wrote all the fractions on the table in pencil. This was a novelty. They have gone from worksheets all the time to discovering and in a much more relaxed atmosphere. It amuses me when Nabil is naughty or talking and as one you can hear “Shoosh Nabil, we are working!” We skipped again today and they love it. Humbert is so tall and he does really well to get his feet over the bar in time.
After lunch we did some more on our projects and art.
Gray in the meantime had waited in all day for the builder who was supposed to be coming, but didn’t ever arrive.
We had liver for dinner. Most enjoyable.
Wednesday 5th May, 2010
Another cold and gloomy morning, but I am always warm enough. I suspect Gray goes back to bed when it is cold after he has let me out. My early time at school is precious as this is when I get my emailing done properly. My home connection is much better but still very slow so I do most things at school. We had assembly and then I had all the primary kids for music, the Wednesday children were there as well. We sang songs and did some rhythm patterns and drama while Loretta had a meeting. We went way over time and made it out to break at 20 to 11. It amuses me how it is such a big thing to have extra children sometimes. I am used to far more than 7, but evidently many teachers over here have to have a few days warning before they will take extra children. There is stress because one teacher will be away for a day next week and that will only leave a teacher, a full time aide and a prac student on class for 23 kids in the morning and 16 in the afternoon. I am afraid I laughed. I have 7 French speaking children after music on Wednesdays while mine go to French lessons. These children have no school in their own schools on Wednesdays so they come to the Bilingual School to learn English once a week. The children skipped all Break again. I asked one teacher to come and turn rope with me but was told no, she didn’t want to!!! School finished at 12 o’clock. Gray caught the bus to the Chantilly Markets on Wednesday morning under strict instructions not to buy anything. He is a compulsive buyer and just loves all the cheeses and patés around. He came to school and we went home together to have lunch and then to try and follow the Tomtom to Senlis and on the way to Annett sur Marne so that we will know where to go on Saturday. We started out all right and followed the tomtoms instructions until it wanted us to go left and we wanted to go straight on. We did! It recalibrated itself and then kept giving us weird instructions. As we drove in to Senlis Gray kept working out where he had been in the bus. He managed to get me to a roundabout and then was so busy telling me that was the pub he had had lunch in that we missed the turn off that the Tomtom said we should take. Eventually we found ourselves a way to turn around and set off on a road and somehow found the road we were looking for. We went down a certain way and turned off following a sign back to Senlis as we thought we would be right on Saturday. The road that took us back into Senlis was better so we thought we would follow this out on Saturday. The Tomtom didn’t like any of this and eventually I turned off the constant voice of take the next left, etc. It is a wonder we don’t hear it say , you are a silly driver! We came back through Courteuil and saw Gigi’s brother Harrison coming down the road. That was funny in the middle of nowhere! We were almost home and then I cooked. Another one of my gastronomic delights coming up! Among the delicious smells wafting though the room was another strange odour. We ate dinner amidst lots of laughter again. Who ever puts a large plastic sticker on the base of a frying pan? I hadn’t looked at the bottom of the pan and so had melted and melded a great plastic label. We got the stove clean quite easily, but there are still bits of plastic stuck in bits at the bottom of the pan. Gray had bought milk in Chantilly in the morning and was quite amazed later on that it only had one day until it ran out of date. No, he said, he hadn’t looked at the date. He will in future I think. We certainly do a lot of laughing in France.
Tuesday 4th May, 2010
World was gloomy, grey and cold this morning. A cool 5 degrees this morning. I arrived at school and the gate to the street was open. This is my fear now. One morning I watched a woman struggle to open the old green gate on to the street. It was extremely heavy and awkward so I hope each day it will be open when I get there. I had left my phone at school by accident and was horrified to find three missed calls and two messages from Loretta who had wanted to stay the night before. I felt awful as it was ringing away in the classroom not at home. The meeting she had finished after 10 and the next train back to Paris was at 11.40. She stayed with one of the parents in the end when she couldn’t reach us. I taught for the two hour morning period and Nabil was a little better behaved. Some better comments on his report today, but still a long way to go before I am satisfied. I was on RFF from 11.30 for the rest of the day except for some Playground supervision. I asked the girls if they had a long skipping rope and they dragged out a very old rope one which had several knots tied in along the way. I asked Loretta to turn rope with me and they skipped for a long time. Some could already and some had no idea. The best one was a 6 year old French/Vietnamese boy who mastered it and then couldn’t stop his grin. It went from one ear all the way round to the other with his mouth open. It was hilarious. After school, I went home and collected Gray so we could go shopping. He hadn’t walked as the day was too cold and almost raining. We went to San Maximin with ease and stopped in the Cora shopping area. We found a key cutting place, so that we could get extra keys cut for the flat and a battery for Gray’s watch. 9 euros11 for a key cut and we wanted two!! We didn’t! We just bought the battery. We then found a Pharmacie and I tried to buy some Swedish Bitters for Gray as his were running out. First I looked, then I queued, and a long time later when I eventually got to the front of the queue, the assistant had no English and sent me to a man on the other side. I queued again and waited and waited while he served someone. When I finally reached him, he had about the same amount of English as I had French. We bumbled around and around and eventually we were successful and I walked out triumphantly to Gray with my bottle of Elixir du Suédois. Mind you it was 31 Euros for a much smaller Australian bottle that I bought for $19 on the internet! Then we tackled Cora again. Gray had the fruit weighing lady chuckling as he went back again and again with bags to be weighed. We bought a double blow up mattress and pump for those who would like to come and stay. You are welcome! We also bought another huge amount of food. It really isn’t so much when packed away into the small fridge. We also bought a small frying pan as the one in the cupboard is so large that it takes up both hotplates.
We decided to eat there and not have to cook when we reached home. We unpacked after 9 and I felt a bit too tired to do any work. I am really good at sitting down and falling asleep, usually about 6pm, but it was later this night. Tomorrow was an easy day so it was all right.