Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sunday 30th April, 2010 to Saturday 5th June, 2010

Saturday, 5th June, 2010
We were very slow this morning. Eventually we went into Chantilly and caught the train to Paris. We walked to Marché aux Tissus, the material market and found some material for the school concert. An incredible place this is with several kilometres of streets full of material stores. We then found a small funicular to take us up to the top of Monmartre. I just love it up there. We had a delicious lunch in a restaurant and then went walking, looking at shops. It was completely full of wall-to-wall tourists. We don’t feel like tourists. We know we are, but don’t feel like them.
We walked down cobblestoned roads looking for a way to the Metro and I kept telling Gray to watch as it was so uneven. We were lost and I was trying to find our way on the map. When I turned back, he was nowhere to be seen. Eventually I found him sitting on a bollard in dreadful pain. He had missed his step. I was more cross than sympathetic as I had just missed telling him about that one. He hobbled on down to the road and I hailed a taxi to take us to the Hotel where we were meeting Glennis and Dennis from Tumbarumba for a coffee. They had emailed weeks ago to say Ros and Bob had told them we were in France. It was good to see them and Glennis looked really well which was a bonus. We found a Bar and had a drink together. They didn’t have much time as they were due to get the bus to dinner and a show. We took ourselves by metro to San Michel and had an early dinner in a Greek Restaurant. We were getting a bit worried as it was very slow and we didn’t want to miss the train. However, we made it and were home by about 8.30pm.

Friday 4th June, 2010
School as usual. It is a much faster trip than this time a month ago. Shell was off to meet Caro in Paris and then on to Bruxelles to stay with Ann. Gray came to do sport at school and I had my 4 Grande Section children to try and get them to read in 4 weeks…ha ha! After school we set off to find gateaux and wine to take to Chateau Chesnae for our Promenade Musicale et Piquenique à Parteger. We also bought plastic plates and glasses and serviettes. We struck Friday afternoon traffic and arrived home in a hurry to get ready and go. I set the Tomtom and off we went heading towards Paris. Ugh! On a Friday night! We were late to start a I couldn’t find the paper with the address and phone numbers on it. Eventually, there it was, safely in my purse where I had stored it.
This was to be a real treat. Evrard, one of my boys had brought in a mini project about himself and his house and on the picture of his chateau was information about this evening. It said to reply by email as places were limited so I sent an email asking if we could please come. The boys’ father is a Prince of Madagasca and the mum is a Countess in her own right. I guess this makes the two boys young Princes!
Anyway, Tomtom led us all the way in and out of traffic jam and we eventually found the castle wall and pulled up to park on the pavement, as you do. Then we had to find the gate so we walked all around the edge of the wall till we came across one. In we went, to find elderly grandmother who lives with them, doing gate duty. We collected our name tags of birds without names and went on in. Wow! As you will see in the photo. There was a 13 piece string group from Paris playing under the trees. We handed over our gateaux and bottle of wine for the fridge. They weren’t “Bio” as we discovered later that everything should be so we didn’t see the gateaux again. The boys’ faces lit up when they saw us which was nice as they could have groaned. They had two friends from school with them, Nicolas and Quentin, our French Vietnamese boys.
We sat on chairs and listened to the music and Marie Caroline came and sat with us too. We had worried we were going to be late, but there were very few people there at this time. We listened for a while as we thought this was the concert. No one clapped at the end of the pieces. I realised that we were hearing the same thing over and over. Eventually, after about an hour, lots more people began to arrive. The string group all stood up and moved their chairs out on to the main part of the lawn looking down to the Chateau. At this time, I had gone for a walk around the garden. It had its own hill like a barrow in it with plants all over it and statues. There was a very large Greek Urn on a plinth as well and masses of places for boys to run and play Hide and Seek. All around this amazing Chateau and garden were busy roads of traffic, hidden by the trees, but still noisy. I guess once upon a time it would have had field and forest all around as it was built in 1770. An amazing place for boys to play in!
We changed chair to more comfortable ones near the Group as people were putting several rows of chairs around the outside of the group. I went to find a loo and Quentin took me inside the Chateau. Marie Caroline spoke very quickly to him in French and he ran off. To me she just said “Attendez”(wait!”) Quentin came rushing back with a roll of loo paper. It was all I could do not to laugh. It had sounded as though we were in trouble, when she spoke so sharply.
The group played a long interesting piece, but by now we were becoming thirsty. None of our Music in the Gardens, sit and drink! At the finish, everyone clapped and then got up and started moving chairs. We just looked. We had no idea what was going on. After a while Leif, the boys’ Dad came over and said time to eat! We took our chairs towards the chateau and suddenly many large round tables appeared and were covered with beautiful folk scene tablecloths. We stood and looked at each other and wondered what to do next, there was another couple looking the same so we approached them and asked should we sit together. They were happy to do that and we had an interesting evening as he, Patrick, spoke no English and she only had a little. We got by in mostly French. Another couple came and sat too and spoke French, but we have a feeling she had good English from a couple of comments. It was time to eat! It was about 9.30 and our stomachs were feeling our throats had been cut as it was a long time since lunch. The buffet table was incredible. There were many kinds of quiche, tarts, terrines, pates, salads etc. What a feast!
We drank wine and had good conversation with our “friends”. Another woman spoke to me and I knew her face, but couldn’t place her at all. Imagine my embarrassment when she turned out to be the mother of one of my Wednesday French boys and I had been speaking to her just two days ago at school.
Dessert came out, but not ours. The prince of Madagasca likes Jacobs Creek Chardonnay as we had picked up a bottle of that for Gray on the way. We told him we would send him a good Australian white wine when we get home. \
We left there about 11 o’clock. We went to find our host and hostess and Humbert said to me, Are you going? Why?” It was 11 o’clock was my reply and we had to find our way home. It was another great experience. A little different from Music in the Gardens, but still the same principle.

Thursday 3rd June,2010
Once again, quite early to school, but the gate was already open so drove in easily. I usually arrive about 10 to 8 and Sharon comes in at 8am or a bit after. Loretta rang to say could I greet the Maternelle parents as Sharon was stuck in a traffic jam somewhere and would be a bit late.
School was an ok day, but Nabil is starting to be noisy and a show off again.
The poppies grow more and more beautiful each day. The yellow Canola paddock is usually yellow with flowers, but the red has taken over. I don’t know what happens at harvest as there are too many poppies mixed in.
Shell walked in along the forest path to Chantilly and then on to school to use the Internet. It is much faster at school and doesn’t seem to use as much as the one at home. We didn’t get home till about 6pm.
Wednesday 2nd June, 200
Set off quite early for school to make ready for my French boys. We had singing which seems to drag on and on each week. After break the boys came in and worked hard today. Shell and Gray eventually arrived having been to the market. Shell had found a handbag she wanted and they had had pain au chocolats and a chocolate and drink at the Chocolatier. They had brought nothing for me. That is the first time since we have been here. Oh well saves a bit more weight. We went home and had lunch and went to Saint Maximin for the weekly shop. Had coffee and pastries afterwards in the cafeteria. It is getting easier each week to buy my Internet time and I don’t have to ask them to put it on for me.
We went home and cooked and spent the night as we do many others.

Tuesday 1st June, 2010
A quiet day. RFF from 11.30 on which is good. The only trouble is that I spend lots of time emailing and skyping that I don’t get all my work done.
We had one more parent/teacher interview left and that was Rochelle. She brought me a pile of books and we had a chat and then went home in the rain.

Monday 31st May, 2010
Rose at 6.30 as usual. Went off to school a bit early to make everything ready to try and have contact with Shaun. He had a busy day and hoped to be home and online by 5 o’clock. It was all set up and the children started work at 8.30am as usual. They were all agog at what was happening and a couple of them went rather silly when we had connection with Shaun. We didn’t have webcam working, but Nabil told me what was wrong and we reconnected and could see each other. Shaun talked to the children and took us on a tour of his home and outside to show them that it was 5 o’clock in the evening and it was almost dark. Charlie came on and had a chat too. It was good to see him and the normality of home.
The day went as planned. The Maternelle lunch is becoming easier, but oh so noisy! I am glad we don’t have hot lunch where everything has to be heated in the microwave. It goes on forever.
Claire and I had parent teacher interviews with my class. At the same time there was a board meeting which Loretta had to go to. It was interesting having French/English interviews, but all seemed to go well. We had an interesting one with Nabil’s mother and brought stepdad in too. We made lots of suggestions, but somehow I feel they will all fall on deaf ears. We managed to finish earlier than expected and I went home about 10 to 6 rather than the predicted 7. Micheline, our landlady, keeps telling me I have to stay. Claire said it was an easy lot of interviews so I am happy.
I went home to Gray and Shell who had had a long afternoon in Senlis organising Shell’s trips to Brussels and Spain. They had found the swimming pool at last.

Sunday 30th May, 2010
Bon Fête des Mères - French Mothers’ Day

I had a lovely new silver necklace from Gray for French Mothers’ Day. We were going to Sharon’s for lunch and thought that as we had so far to go, we should leave about 10.30. We were to be there by 12, but 11.30 would be fine. Shell went out and picked a bunch of poppies from the field and some white things as well and came back and presented them for the second Mothers’ Day flowers of the year. They were beautiful, but sadly don’t last. The fields are becoming thicker and thicker with poppies.
We set the Tom Tom and set off. We finally followed the instructions to turn left at one certain place and found, to our amazement that it was a much quicker way for many directions we had been travelling in lately. It was the first time we had actually managed to pick out the little lane to go left. Usually we went sailing past.
We finally went through Creill which we had been wondering about for many weeks and on towards Beauvais, where there is an airport that Shell might fly back to from Spain. We then followed many Tomtom directions through many small, quaint villages and through beautiful lush green countryside. We saw several really old 12th or 13th century farm buildings in the traditional square in the midst of the green fields. We only disobeyed the Tomtom once when it looked as though the street that continued was too narrow to be one way , but we “turned around as soon as possible!: and did the right thing. I am still waiting for the Tomtom to come out with “You stupid driver, why don’t you listen to me?” Instead, it usually just recalibrates itself and gives the next instruction. The funniest thing about it is when I am trying to set it in the house, it keeps telling me to “Go to the end of the road and turn right” or “Turn around as soon as possible and go back”.
We came across a car rally of very old Citroens and then other types of car going through one place and there must have been a hundred of them. We passed places such as Silly Tillard and Tillard and many others, all with very old houses and quaint narrow streets, often cobblestoned. It was raining rather heavily at times so we thought we would get photos on the way home.
We finally arrived in Valdampierre through a tiny street out of the country and following Sharon’s directions, turned right up the first on the right which was a grass and stony road and led us up a hill and round into a farmyard. The shutters on this farm house were green and as we knew we were looking for blue ones we kept driving through this farm towards a gate back to the original road. A woman looked up from the sink at us, but didn’t react at all so we figured strangers must do it quite regularly.
I remembered the number of the house and as we went to turn Sharon appeared at the gate and waved us round to park right in front.
We had a lovely afternoon. Lotfi, her husband, is jut gorgeous. He is a mischievous Tunisian and full of humour. He had been most worried about us coming to visit, he managed to tell us in his limited English the equivalent of my French. His mother in law is English and he thought Australians would be the same. Wanting the night meal at 5.30 on the dot each time they visit. He also said he was worried because Sharon had been working at the school since September last year and I was the first one she had invited home. She had told him that he mustn’t kiss us when we arrived, he should shake hands, so when I walked in and greeted him in the traditional French manner, kissing on both cheeks and Shell did the same after me, he relaxed, he said!
We had a tour of the house which was 150 years old and had originally been 5 houses joined together in a row back from the street. It was a shell button factory and the workers lived in the houses and the factory was in one. Today they are still finding lots of pieces of shell in the garden beds. When they bought it, it was two houses with a wall right down the middle inside. A couple had bought it and later separated building the wall through the house. Lotfi has renovated lots of it and has done a great job. There are different nooks and crannies going up and down everywhere and an attic that runs the length of the house. Sharon is an artist and there are many beautiful examples of her work though the house. E drank and nibbled while they cooked barbecued ladonne (fatty pork), mergez and chicken. We finally ate after 2 and it was delicious. Alexis and his girlfriend, Caroline, were hungry so tried to hurry things along. We ate rice first and then the meat and then dessert which we took. Beautiful food and great company! We had a lovely afternoon and we left at 4 as we had a long way to go.
The Tomtom spoiled all the chances of taking photos on the way home as it took us a different way home on bigger roads. It took us about 50 minutes and we had had a great day. I had work to do for the net day, so worked quite late.

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