Friday, July 9, 2010

Tuesday 15th June to Friday 18th June, 2010

Friday 18th June, 2010
Off to school as usual. The trip is easy now, but I still get a thrill each time I come around the corner to see the roundabout and the Chateau Chantilly just there.
I had a headache during the day today so didn’t turn rope as I usually did. The children didn’t seem to understand that the rope turner just couldn’t do it for that day.
Gray came in for sport and I had the Grande Section children for reading. Catriona keeps asking me how I am going with the scripting for the book she wants. I grow closer to telling her to do it herself as I have been doing reports and writing the concert and these days trying to organise the music. I have resisted so far and tell her that she will have it before I leave.
I went home quite early after school as I had such a headache. Michelle went for a walk to the bottle disposal unit along the back lane. While she was there Loretta rang to say she had lost her wallet. I looked in the car and there it was. It must have fallen out the previous night so we all took it in to her and came home to have our aperitif and make dinner.
It is getting dark very late these nights and it is strange to be still in broad daylight at 11.30pm.

Thursday 17th June, 2010
Another tired start to the day. We practised songs and words in class time. We had to shop today as we hadn’t yesterday and were running out of food again. Shell wanted to go early to St Maximin by bus so that they would have been nearly finished by the time I got there, but Gray wasn’t keen. I whizzed home and picked them up. We went to Cultura first for blue face paint for the concert and to see if we could get tickets to Les Mis in Paris to take Loretta. The days we could go were pretty well fully booked so we didn’t get tickets. We went on to Cora and shopped and then had to hurry as I was going to the Parents Dinner at Le Conde de la Ferme. shell and i had popped various bits of chocolate into the trolley for Bonne Fête de Papa's day on Sunday. I took them home, changed and then went to school to pick up Loretta and off to dinner. Poor Stephanie had organised it and 4 people had cancelled in the last half an hour before we arrived. There were only about ten, but it was an interesting night with great food. Loretta assured me that we paid for ourselves so I had a lobster dish for entrée and steak and dessert and a couple of glasses of wine. Glorious food! Imagine my horror when they said the bill would be split amongst us all! I protested, but lost and ended up paying 37 euros for my 70 euro dinner. Embarrassing, but nobody seemed to care!
I drove Loretta to Rochelle’s and on the way saw an animal out of the corner of my eye in amongst the trees. “Cow!” I said automatically! “No” said Loretta, ”Deer!” It was an enormous stag, as it was the size of a cow on its rump. We had texted Rochelle who was going to meet us at the Avilly turnoff, but when Loretta checked, the message hadn’t gone through so we just kept driving to Montgressin. Rochelle had a houseful as there was world Cup Soccer on.
I drove home carefully in case there were more deer around.

Wednesday 16th June, 2010
I climbed out of bed early as usual while they both slept on. We had French children and we practised their concert singing items. They are singing all Aussie Campfire songs and it is a scream when we get into lesson time after the break and these French voices are still singing the catchy tunes of a Ram Sam Sam and John Jacob quietly almost under their breath. Loretta says that in the French traditional schools there is not much freedom; it is still very traditional sitting in desks learning by rote and copying notes so these kids loved the freedom of the music and one of their favourite games in music was Musical Bumps. They also learned to play heads down and thumbs up.
Micheline had given us tickets for the races that day; so after school at 12 o’clock I went home to have lunch and to go to the races. We didn’t have to dress up as it was a weekday. She told me that on the two previous Sundays when we had been busy, there were 35,000 people for the big Chantilly Race Days, but on the Wednesday there would only be about 500 people. Sounded much better to us.
As usual, with anything we went to do for the first time, we had no idea of protocol or where to go etc. I spoke to Martine and she was horrified to know that we weren’t ready to go yet as it started at 2 o’clock and she was rushing off. Micheline couldn’t go as the girls had dental appointments.
We eventually set off and I was just exhausted and thinking it was really the last thing I wanted to do. I needed to experience it, but not right then. We found a parking area and were surprised to find that parking was really expensive!!!! Ha ha! 1 euro, bit different from home. We found our way through the forest tracks to the gate and showed our France Galop invitation tickets. Through we went and then had no idea so I had to go back and ask him where we should go as we had never been before. We had a programme now and saw that a Collet horse was running in the second race that was due to run very soon so we hurriedly went to a Betting booth and Gray put a bet on it. We watched the horses parade around and then went into the Pavilion and through to the course itself. It was an amazing site with the Castle on one end and the Horse Museum and a beautiful green track. It was awfully windy and unpleasant and there wasn’t really anywhere to sit, so I wasn’t feeling very good as I was still so tired. Shell had never been to the races before so she was quite excited and interested in everything around her. The horse lost!
We chose something each for the next race and then went through the Pavilion to get a seat for me, watch the parade and then to see if we could get upstairs to the Restaurant we could see from the bottom. Eventually we found our way to the lift and right up the top had the most magnificent view of the whole track and Castle from a window seat. A very snooty waiter explained that if we wanted to eat something in the dessert line, the kitchen was closing in 10 minutes. As he tried to take our order, the race was on and we were barracking for Shell’s horse that won. He took our orders and we discovered that there was a betting booth right next to where we were sitting. The afternoon improved rapidly for me with a comfortable chair, out of the wind right up high where we could see everything, a betting booth and red wine and coffee. The waiter discovered we were Australian and the snoot disappeared at once. His best friend had gone to Australia 35 years ago and had only been back to France once. We were suddenly his best friends. It is amazing how people’s attitudes change immediately when they discover we are Australian and not British or American. It was a funny afternoon. I, who am such a large punter with my $1 each way bet on the Melbourne Cup once a year, was handing over 2 euros each way to have a bet on each race. After Shell’s win, she and I shared a bet in the next race and it won and we collected 15 euros something each for our win. In the next race I chose the horse being trained by the Giselle’s husband, A Royer Dupre. He had trained the winner of the Prix du Diane and one of the Arc de Triomphe races, but that information didn’t help my cause and it lost!
For the next race, I chose something for its name. I wavered a bit between a couple of things, but in the end went for California Dreams. It won and I collected 67 euros for my 2 each way! I was shellshocked and so was the betting lady. Meanwhile we drank good red wine and ate interesting cheese and then dessert. Gray wasn’t very happy by this stage as he is the won who knows about horses and races and he hadn’t won a thing. He shared the next horse with Shell and it won too. We had won well over 100 euros and for people who bet once a year, this was a lot of fun.
We went home to dinner and a reasonably early night.

Tuesday, 15th June, 2010
Off to school as usual. Had some time off as usual on a Tuesday. We had a staff meeting and Gray was coming in so that we could leave at a reasonable time to collect Shell. We wanted to go to Beauvais in plenty of time as we hadn’t been there before. As we were just starting the meeting my phone messaged so I crept out to read it and found that Shell was still sitting in Barcelona, delayed for at least an hour. I tried to call Gray, but he didn’t answer of course. I went back to the meeting and he eventually arrived and waited in my room till the meeting was finished. We were still waiting for a message from Shell so we decided to go home and have a coffee. She messaged and said it would be about a quarter to 8 before she arrived. We decided to go anyway so that we were there on time. The Tomtom did a good job and we followed its directions carefully this time. It didn’t however tell us that we were good that time. On the way to Creil we came across massive fields of spinach, epinard! None of the fields are fenced and I was thinking it would be good to return at night and pick some. We didn’t of course, but it is extremely expensive in the shops and the first time we saw it, it was 2 euros something a piece! Needless to say we didn’t eat much while we were there. We reached Beauvais with plenty of time to spare. The problem was French Air Traffic Control. Some of them were on strike again. Each time Shell travels there seems to be a strike!
It was a funny countrified sort of airport, but had lots of international flights. We parked the car and had a coffee while we waited. The board said the plane had landed so we duly stood by the door, peering in each time it opened. No Shell! I then heard an official tell someone else there was another terminal! We were in the wrong place! It was only out the door and round the corner and as we went out we met Shell coming towards us, wondering where on earth we were because she knew we had arrived quite a while before.
Parking was cheap! Three euros for all the time we were there! We headed off again on Tomtoms directions until we had to find petrol in a hurry. This we did and had difficulty getting out of the garage. None of them ever have clear signs and we creep carefully out hoping nothing is going to come flying at us. Tomtom led us back and we went into Chantilly and had dinner at the Tomassi Pizzeria about 10 o’clock. The food was very nice and the waiter was a scream. I thought it was Carla and Faustine’s Dad who used to pick them up at the gate. Turned out to be the Julia’s uncle, but he had never been to the school, it was his twin brother who did the picking up! I was very sceptical but it turned out to be true.
We were all exhausted and drove home very carefully to bed.

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