Saturday, 24 March 2007

Packing has begun

Its still five weeks till we uplift all our stuff but I've packed three boxes already. Its stuff we dont need in the meantime and I figure we have a lot coming up with Easter, Jasper's birthday and his next lot of medical appointments that it cant hurt if I'm a bit ahead of myself. I'm just ready to go now. I think I could have this place packed and leave in about two days. I might have to slow down a bit!

Monday, 19 March 2007

On the subject of the subjunctive

I've spent what spare time I've had the last few days really trying to revise my french. David says I just need to get there and practice but I need to be able to spell the word that I'm saying - its just how my mind works. I studied french at high school for 5 years and then didnt really speak it at all until we went to Italy (where strangely, the language we had in common with a lot of family was french - so much for all that traveller's italian I studied). After we came home, I did two semesters at the Alliance Française but stopped when I started having problems in my pregnancy with Jasper.

So I've dragged out my old french textbook. My goal was to try and master the most common tenses. The présent indicatif (I go etc...) and the passé composé (I went...) are pretty well engrained in my memory. I've been working on the imparfait (I used to go, I was going...), the plus-que-parfait (I had gone...), the futur simple (I will go...) and the conditionnel (I would go...). And I feel like I'm making progress. But I've hit a stumbling block with the subjonctif. Its a tense we dont really use often in english and maybe that's why my only memory of learning it before is a hazy recollection of "oh no, the subjunctive, it's so hard". Still the evidence is there in the pencil-scrawled notes of my 17 year old self. I really did understand the subjonctif once... and if I've done it before, I can do it again!

Saturday, 17 March 2007

Two months out

This time in two months, I will be arriving in Annecy for the first time. I'm starting to feel a little nervous. Not about Annecy - even though I've never been there, I have a really good feeling about the place. I'm nervous, though, about my french and my ability to get along in life the way I want to. Today, I had haircut - my last one with a great hairdresser that its taken me all these years to finally find. I asked her to cut it a bit shorter than normal just in case it takes me a while to get up the nerve to ask for a haircut in french. I'm pretty fussy about my hair - I like it cut on a side part, I like the layers chunky not feathery and I dont like it too short. Until I can master how to discuss all these issues confidently I think I'll be growing my hair for a bit.

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Visa Disaster Averted!

Late last year, I finally sorted out that I did not require a visa to enter France, or so I thought. As the wife of an EU citizen, I have a statutory right to live anywhere in the EU that David lives. It took me a while to get a straight answer about this as the visa section of the French Consulate in Sydney does not take phone calls and despite their announcement to the contrary, they dont answer emails either, or certainly not any of mine. Eventually I located a friendly staffer of the Brisbane Honourary French Consul who assured me no visa was required.

On my to-do list was a big note to re-check this closer to our departure. Last night I pulled up their website to start checking before calling them today and noticed some changes - not what I wanted to see. So first thing today I had David call my friendly staffer. He was told that not only should I "probably" have a visa but that it should be an italian one as he is an italian citizen. Hmmm? A bit more hold time and he finally gets through to someone in the Italian Consulate who confirms it should be a french visa and we should contact the Consulate in Sydney. What? The people who are absolutely uncontactable? Who wont even talk to you unless you've already lodged an application? The problem is that the only type of application that even seemed remotely relevant on their website (which contains ALL the relevant information, they assure us) is a long stay visa application - which is a complicated apllication and requires documents we dont even have and which as the wife of an EU citizen I shouldnt have to provide. The EU has even issued a thingy saying that countries cant make the visa process too hard for spouses, if they do require visas.

So I suggest David rings Sydney - this was funny. He rang at 1pm and got a message stating they were open between 2pm and 5pm. Then he confidently rings them at 2pm only to get a message stating that they closed at 1pm! By the end of all this I was in a state. I packed the kids up and went to the Brisbane office, bolding stating to David that if I couldnt solve an issue like this in Brisbane in english then how the hell would I do anything like it in Annecy in french. Fortunately I was met by our friendly staffer (the same one who set this all in motion this morning by giving us not quite right information). She agreed to email Sydney there and then to sort out what I needed (even she wasnt able to ring them directly - who are these people? God?). And at the end of it all, I left the office with a relatively official looking email, signed and stamped and most importantly, stating that I DO NOT require a visa. Phew!

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Operation Piano

Yesterday, I said good-bye to my piano as two strong men wheeled it (rather recklessly I thought) down the stairs. Its going off to live on my parents' farm as there is no way we can afford to take it with us. Now, dont get the idea that I am particularly good at it - in recent years my repertoire has been limited to Für Elise and the first few bars of Moonlight Sonata - but I miss my piano already. I taught myself to play it one afternoon at my grandmother's house when I was about 7 out of a learn-to-play book. Later, it came to live at the family home and I did lessons for a few years, but never made it past the 3rd grade.

When I was about 25 and my parents made one of their many moves, it was put into storage until I moved somewhere more suitable than the second-storey flat I was living in. And one of the first things I did when I bought my renovator's delight, was to move it in up the rather rickety timbers stairs. I moved it out again when I sold up 7 years later - the house was still unrenovated but I put in a new set of stairs just to make sure the piano got down the stairs safely. And it went back into storage for a few months before we moved here. The last few years of babyland havent left a lot of time for playing but I did play every now and then and Lily liked to have a bash around. I just wish I'd made a point to sit down and play for five minutes before it was gone...but then again when do I ever get five minutes alone to do anything?

Sunday, 4 March 2007

Bookings and inquiries

I feel like I've done nothing all week but send emails about hotel rooms! We've made a lot of progress. We have found our location saisonnière but we can only have it for five out of the six weeks we need. We have to vacate for a week in the middle due to a previous booking. Thanks to the Animation Festival in Annecy that week, it has been really hard to find accomodation for the week of Lily's birthday but I think (fingers crossed) that we have a two-star hotel room booked for that week now. Our location saisonnière is right in the middle of the vielle ville and looks really nice. Of course, we cant stay there for our first two nights in Annecy, so I've booked us a little hotel room right in the vielle ville in a very quaint looking hotel - after all, someone told me you can never have too much quaint!

I've learned an interesting lesson about being a family of four - its not as easy to find a hotel room as it is for three! I am used to just booking one room and we all share the bed. Well, not any more. Lily now sleeps mostly in her bed so we need a double and a single but it seems hotels have occupancy limits for rooms - who'd have thought? In fact, near Tokyo airport where we are staying overnight to break our journey, only one of the hotels even has a "family room" which allows 4 people. It looks like we will probably just book 2 rooms. I guess this is the way of the future for us.