Tuesday, 31 July 2007

La bibliothèque

I went to the library today. Alone! I got to stroll around the adults' section in peace rather than run around the kids' section, alternatively reading to Lily and making sure Jasper doesnt damage the books. The library is a block away from our house. They have a good collection of french policiers (detective stories - my favourites!) and 5 whole shelves of english books. I was surprised to see so many. If I keep alternating between reading french and english books, it will be years before I run out of english books to read. And surely by that time, reading books in french will not be such hard work.

After leaving the kids to their own devices on Sunday so I could finish Harry Potter, I am now ready to embark on my next french book, another american policier. Actually I started it already this afternoon, at a quiet café in the vielle ville, while eating gaufres (waffles) and having a chocolat chaud. It started with a sex scene - lots of new and interesting vocabulary there!

Friday, 27 July 2007

I've just finished...

my first book in french. It was only a Mary Higgins-Clark thriller translated into french but I read the whole thing. It took me about 5 weeks, given that I only get to read at night after the kids are asleep. I love to read but I've set myself a groundrule. I have to alternate between french and english. So having read a french book, I now get to read an english one. The last Harry Potter book is calling my name...

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Thanks for nothing, Dora!

Walking past the hardware store today, with Jasper peacefully asleep for once, I decided to pop in and try to find a bike lock. I'd been wanting one so I could take our running pram downstairs and chain it to the bikeracks in the bike room where we plan to store it (and get it out of the hallway!). I did my usual trick of explaining what I was looking for to an assistant - it went a bit like "I'm looking for a thing to put around the wheel of a bike to attach it to something so someone doesnt steal it". But instead of using voler, to steal, I used chiper, to pinch. Not the right word - she immediately corrected me (in a nice way) and told me it was voler or piquer. When I told David, he said that chiper is slang and not really appropriate in that situation.

Its all Dora's fault, of course. You know, Dora, the Explorer, or rather Dora, l'exploratrice as she is called here. We've bought Lily a few of her books as they are cheap and cheerful and have good basic french in them. But she's always saying "arrête de chiper, Chipeur" to this little raccoon-like thieving character. I guess she knows him well, but she's lead me astray!

And, of course, being a boy David had to try and break my combination as soon as I got it home. It took him about 3 minutes - apparently new locks are harder!

Tuesday, 24 July 2007


I've started running again. Well, I went this morning and I've got that post-exercise buzz happening. I've been making excuses lately not to go, so I've set a goal of once a week - every Tuesday. I need to make sure David gets to bed early enough to look after the kids in the morning as often he works into the wee hours. I'm not aiming for the 10k run in October this year. I just dont think I'll be ready and I dont want any injuries. There's always next year.

It was blustery this morning as I ran along the lake. The water was really choppy instead of the calm surface I'm used to. It made me wonder how cold its going to be in winter. I'm going to have to invest in some cold weather running gear - my cotton Lorna Jane running shorts just arent going to cut it!

Sunday, 22 July 2007


We've got it. Lots of it. Eight cubic metres of stuff from Australia that I am trying to put away in our new home. I've done the kitchen and the kid's room. The cupboards are pretty much full and I've still got six boxes left to unpack tomorrow and about 20 boxes of books to unpack once we've been to Ikea in Lyon to buy some shelving. Still, we're all happy - I've got my soup pot, my Le Creusset casserole and my red teapot, David has his Herman Miller chair and the kids have a room full of toys they havent seen in 3 months. Here's the before photo of their room.

And here's a few more cause they're so cute!

A photo of my monkey boy, sitting in his favourite spot - the fireplace

Two rabbits re-united

Best buddies in a beanbag

And a hint for anyone who doesnt know, click on the photos to see a larger image!

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Les Noctibules

Another week, another festival in Annecy! This town really knows how to throw a party. After celebrating the arrival of our boxes from Australia with pizzas at Le Napoli (the same restaurant we went to a month ago for Lily's birthday - they even remembered us - must have been something about the cake!), Jasper refused to go to bed. So at 10pm, we headed down to the Pâquier to see Pêcheur de Lune. It was an amazing performance, set to music with huge helium ballons floating just overhead, lit by spotlights and carried around by teams on the ground, running through the crowd. A truly unique experience but sadly not one that was easy to photograph. But we tried anyway...

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

I did it!

I answered my first telemarketing phonecall! I've been really nervous since the phone line got connected as when the phone rings...you have to answer it and who knows who it could be. Also, I feel like some kind of Faulty Towers reject when I try and say "allô" in french. And we'd only had it connected about an hour when the first telemarketer rang. Fortunately David got that one. But today I got my own and managed to understand the whole thing. She was trying to sell us an internet connection so it was a pretty quick call. But at least I knew what it was about....

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Fête Nationale

We had a nice evening out on the Pâquier last night to celebrate la Fête Nationale or what we'd call in Australia, Bastille Day. After watching some clowns doing magic tricks, we wandered over to the canal. I'm not sure what it was called but they had a large pole extending out into the canal and some prizes/toys hanging from a frame near the end of it. People would try to walk out to the end to grab the toys, but it was not easy. If you made it to the end, a guy with a rope would move the toys up and down just out of your reach, usually until you lost your balance and fell in!

Next up, was a ride on the horses. Not real ones, but these little pedal ones that you hire for 10 minutes. Lily absolutely loves them. She rides along calmly with an expression of pure delight on her face while other kids are racing along overtaking and almost having collisions.

And then we stayed up to watch the fireworks. We had an amazing view from our balcony. They were quite spectacular. I'd love to include a few pictures but my photography skills are somewhat lacking when it comes to photograghing fireworks and I gave up quickly and just enjoyed the show. I'll have to learn how to take photos before the next fireworks on 4 August for the Fête du Lac.

Friday, 13 July 2007

Nooks and crannies

One thing I love about moving into a new home is discovering all its little secret spots and idiosyncracies. Lily has found most of them here - like the second cutlery drawer that is inside a cupboard in the kitchen. And that old tea towel she found on the kitchen heater when we had been here a week - ewww! Then there are the funny little shelves built into the side of the built-in robes in her bedroom - great for putting toys just out of Jasper's reach! One of my favourites is the fact that all the power to the bathroom is controlled by the lightswitch so if I turn it off when I leave the room, the washing machine stops. I'll come back hours later to get the washing out, only to hear the machine click on to start as soon as I enter the room and turn on the light.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

A surprise on the Pâquier

I woke up this morning to our first sunny day in a week and as usual went straight to the windows to look at the view. There on the Pâquier (which, apparently, is an old swiss word for paddock) were two hot air balloons filling up and almost ready to take off. I debated quickly getting myself and the kids dressed and rushing down as it is only a minute's walk away, but before we had a chance, they took off. As I ran for the camera, we had another surprise. Two more balloons appeared from behind some trees and we watched all four rise into the sky and disappear out of view. But one of the best things about our apartment is that it is "traversant" - it runs the whole width of the building. So we rushed to the kitchen window and watched them until they were out of sight.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

I'm living in chocolate heaven!

I used to laugh when David would tell us stories of how, when growing up in Switzerland, they would have a slab of chocolate in a bread roll for breakfast. But I was really unprepared for just what a big part of the diet it is here. In Australia, for me at least, chocolate was a bit of a treat, not to be eaten everyday and I would never dream of eating it at breakfast. Well, the other day I was looking for a pack of cocoa. After traipsing all over the Monoprix dragging two grouchy kids behind me, I gave up and sent David in. He found it quickly - of course, it was in the breakfast cereal aisle, because that's what you do with it, sprinkle it all over your cereal. Even the healthy cereals, like Weetabix, have as a serving suggestion to sprinkle cocoa on it. But that's not even necessary if you buy one of the dozens of brands that actually have pieces of chocolate already in it. I kid you not - even the Special K has a chocolate version! Its nice on occasion (and I'm rather partial to a bowl at night after the kids are in bed) but for now I'm sticking to plain old porridge for breakfast.

And dont even get me started on the chocolate formula they have for babies!

This one is for a certain chocolate loving friend of mine - she knows who she is!

Monday, 9 July 2007

I have a récépissé

Not a Carte de Séjour, but a receipt of my request for a CDS. And given how the appointment started out, I feel pretty lucky to have it. We all turned up for my appointment, but it was with a different person. I had barely handed over my passport when she started searching for the visa. Oh, but I dont need a visa, I said confidently. But everyone needs one, she replied, EVERYONE. I started to get a bit nervous and told her that her colleague who we saw last time had said I dont need one, as had the Sydney Consulate - in fact, I even had a letter. No, no, no - she was adamant everyone needs one. Fortunately Dav piped up and gave a bit of background and she finally remembered that spouses of EU citizens are a special catagory, and are, I think, probably the only people who dont need a long stay visa to get a CDS. So with that obstacle out of the way she went through the check-list provided to us by her colleague.

By this time, I was really wishing he was there with us instead of off on holidays, probably sunbaking on a beach at Ibiza or something. He'd only checked about 6 items on the list of about 40 potential documents needed for a CDS. She added another three! But at least I now have a récépissé, which is valid until October, and which she said they will extend if necessary as she wont be able to issue my CDS until they get the code for my special situation and of course, they wont get any codes until the rentrée in September (which by the way, is a whole other post, but in short, I thought the rentrée was just about school but its just one big holiday now and nobody is going to do anything important, like fix our parquetry, until September). At least we have a few months to sort out how Dav is going to set up his business and to work out if we will be getting french social security or expat health insurance (as I will need one or the other when I go back for another appointment).

Interestingly, my récépissé allows me to get a job - like I have time for that, right now! But its good to know for the future.

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Have I said how much I love my new kitchen?

The only thing missing (apart from all my kitchen things that will arrive in 2 weeks) was a kettle so I set off to buy one today. Once again, I forgot to look up the word for kettle in the dictionary before I went out so I found myself in shops trying to describe how a kettle functions (it came out a bit like "I'm looking for a thing like a teapot that you put on the gas to heat the water for a cup of tea!"). There was lovely blue Le Creusset one which would have looked so nice with my new casserole dish but at €59, it was a bit out of my price range. Fortunately a very nice man in an electrical appliance shop told me to go to the local hardware store (which I had forgotten about as it sells much more than an aussie hardware shop) and I am now the proud owner of a "bouilloire". As we will need some new lights installed, I asked him if he did electrical work (or so I thought). When I told Dav about it, it appears I might just have asked him if he was electric! He's probably still scratching his head wondering who was that strange woman trying to chat him up?

Friday, 6 July 2007

A new home, at last!

We've just moved in. Our boxes from Australia are coming in 2 weeks but we have a new fridge, washer/drier and a mattress for us all to sleep on in the meantime. I really love the new place especially my little kitchen. I think its taking a little longer to grow on David but we'll get there. We have a lovely view, a lift and almost best of all, an internet connection!

And that lovely building, over behind the trees in the first photo, is the Préfecture, where I have to go on Monday for my next CDS appointment - wish me luck.