Thursday, 21 June 2007

We're on a roll

Gosh, we are making progress this week. Maybe its that we've been here a month and things are starting to fall into place. Today we went to visit a doctor to get another attestation. Seems you cant do much here without an attestation about something. We wanted to get the kids BCG shots done so they can go to the activity centres and for school for Lily. But to get the shots you need a blood test and to get the blood test, you need an attestation that there are no contra-indications to getting the shot. So off we went to the french equivalent of a GP recommended by a friend.

She was really great - very approachable and patient. She gave us lots of interesting information about the BCG shot and explained that she can provide us with a waiver for the school if we decide not to do it - food for thought. In any event, its good to know a good GP and she was excellent with the kids as they both had to be examined. Also she was very patient with me as I explained Jasper's medical history while David listened. It gave me the confidence that for a minor complaint, I could take the kids on my own. And best of all, we left with not only the name of a pediatric dentist but also, the pediatric orthopedic surgeon who treated her daughter for turned in feet and who Jasper will see for follow-up in October.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

A lease!

We signed our lease today - it was a big moment. Lots of initialling and signing while juggling the "enfants terribles." We can move in from 3 July which gives us a couple of weeks to sort out the phone and internet connection and to find out how far away all our boxes from Brisbane are.

We seem to be having a good week - at least in respect of french paperwork. I wish the same could be said for the Dept of Births Deaths and Marriages in WA who seem incapable of receiving any emails from me. I have exactly 2 1/2 weeks to receive the birth certificate I ordered from them weeks ago and have it translated in time for my next appointment at the Préfecture for my CDS. I just cant see it happening but at least we will have a lease to show them.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007


We had one of those days today where things just seem to fall into place. First up, we went to see the real estate agents. There is a lovely woman there who helped convince our landlord not to ask for the stricter CB. She confirmed today that we are to inspect the apartment on 3 July in the afternoon and then we can move in! As we have not yet signed our lease we asked her for an attestation of the fact that we WILL be signing one. And with this magic piece of paper in hand we trotted off to the Mairie (town hall) to finally try to enrol Lily in school.

We also needed an attestation of her vaccinations from the health section of the Mairie (which we already had) and her birth certificate. David handed it all over, gave our intended address and mentioned that we were here to enrol in the rue Carnot school as the school in our catchment area (which we really preferred) was full. As we'd never even been able to put her name on the waiting list (as we didnt have the magic piece of paper) we were stunned to hear there had been cancellations and there might be one or two spots in our preferred school. We held our breath as the clerk made a quick call to the Director of the school and then raced over there with an enrolment form for an appointment. We sat and waited nervously outside her office unable to quite believe that we were almost in. We talked with the Director for about half an hour and what we saw of the school felt right. Although all of the schools here are good, a number of people we have spoken to have expressed a preference for this school. So Lily is enrolled to start in September. All we need to organize is her BCG shot (for tuberculosis) and her school insurance - no I'm not kidding!

We celebrated our success with another visit from Toci and Sergio and my first attempt at making tartiflette (without a recipe). It was really quite good.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Joyeux anniversaire Lily!

It was a gorgeous sunny Annecy day for Lily's fourth birthday today. And it was a happy day for all, because, as well as opening presents, going out for lunch, eating cake, having a boat ride and eating Lily's choice for birthday dinner (lamb chops and chips), we moved from Sevrier back to our saisonniere in the vielle ville in Annecy. It felt like coming home and, at all of 70 metres, it feels so spacious compared to a hotel room.

We took the cake with us to lunch and ate it with a big bowl of icecream. The people at the table next to us even joined us in singing Joyeux Anniversaire to Lily. We did the 1 hour boat trip as far south as Duingt Castle, which was enough with Jasper trying to ring the ship's bell and startling all the oldies. We had lots of e-cards and phone calls of birthday wishes from Australia and it was a really great day.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Our first visitors!

Today we had a visit from David's uncle and aunt, Sergio and Toci. We met up with them in Annecy on what was a very rainy, cool day. Over a lunch of crêpes, they got to know Lily again (who they had not seen since she was 18 months old) and they got to meet Jasper for the first time. We took a walk through the rain to show them the outside of our new home. It was really great to catch up with some family here and I look forward to the day I can show them some real hospitality in our own home.

I returned home to the task of making the birthday cake. I've never cooked a cake in a microwave before and I doubt I ever will again. I gave Lily the option of tossing it and making another tomorrow night when we are back in our saisonierre in Annecy but she was happy with what we produced - a pink cat cake, that we will be taking on the boat tomorrow. I cant believe my baby is going to be FOUR.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Finally some photos!

Almost 4!

Enjoying a traditional savoyard meal

At Sévrier

Sévrier again

Le Pont des Amours

Shelling petit pois in rue St Claire

Chair pushing

Lunch at le Semnoz

Le Pâquier

Le Pâquier

On the carousel

At the Palais Impérial

One month in

We've been in Annecy one month today so I've been taking stock of how my french is going. While I certainly have a long way to go, I think I've made a bit of progress. Today I had a long conversation with a woman in rue Carnot (actually she had the conversation with me) and while I didnt understand that much of it, I got the gist of a long sad tale about her cat.

I made my first phone call in french the other day. I've been pretty slack about the phone and tend to have David make all the calls. Its easy enough to plan what I want to say but people on the other end of the phone can say very unpredictable things! But in the midst of the joy that is bedtime at the Giorgi's, when everyone is hyper and no one wants to go to sleep, David suggested I call our host here to book us in for breakfast today. Maybe I was just keen to escape for a few seconds but I quickly picked up the phone and successfully made it through (although it wasnt until after I got off the phone that I managed to decipher something he'd said to me).

And today I managed to buy all the necessary ingredients for Lily's birthday cake - I even asked a couple of women about ingredients. It's fun trying to describe what icing sugar and baking powder do when you dont know their names! Now, all I've got to do is manage to cook this cake in a microwave - something I've never even attempted. Still, how hard can it be, right?

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Things are looking up!

We spent a lovely day on Sunday at the home of some new Aussie friends who rent a beautiful house right on the lake here. It was a really pleasant afternoon and helped us both to switch off a bit and relax.

Late yesterday we got a call from the bank that our landlord will now accept a less stringent form of CB than he had originally requested (and which the bank did not offer). David has a meeting at the bank on Thursday and it looks like things will go from there. Finally I feel reasonably confident that we will get our home in July.

In the meantime, Lily and I have some important decisions to make. Its her birthday on Saturday and she is trying to decide between a chocolate cat cake and an icecream Barbie cake - its hard being almost 4!

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Stressed out in Sévrier

We've moved to Sévrier for a week because our apartment in the vielle ville was booked due to the animation festival. Its good and bad - I was looking forward to a change but I've been spoiled by staying in a furnished apartment so the little room we have here with a kitchenette and a loft bedroom (reached by a scary flight of stairs) feels very small. On the upside, we have wi-fi access for a week.

Things are moving slowly with the apartment and not without hiccups. The agency wants a type of caution bancaire that our bank doesnt offer so unless the bank can accomodate us then we will have to change banks. Meantime, the agent seems relatively happy to wait for things to be sorted out but I hope he stays that way.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

I can't stop loving it!

That's what Lily has to say about Annecy and I think we all feel the same way. Today we took a trip up into the mountains to celebrate the fête des mères (lucky me - I get the 2 mother's days this year!)

In keeping with our new no-car lifestyle, we took a bus up to the Semnoz which stands at about 1700m and on a clear day has a lovely view of Lake Annecy, La Tournette, one of the mountains we can see from Annecy and which has lately been snow capped and Mont Blanc which, of course, is the highest mountain in Europe.

There was a fair bit of cloud when we arrived but we could see La Tournette and got some glimpses of Mont Blanc. We also said hello to some cows feasting on the alpine pastures, wearing their cow bells!

We had a fabulous lunch of entrecôte aux forestières (yummy steak with mushroom sauce) and tartiflette (the local speciality - calling it potato bake does it a grave injustice but it is similar with cream, réblochon cheese and bacon). [Gen, we were on the same wavelength - I was probably eating it just as you were writing to tell me to try it!]. Served with a salad, crunchy bread and charcuterie (cold meats), it was really tasty and by far the best meal we have had here so far. (Mind you, with our currently high maintenance baby, we've only eaten out a couple of times).

After lunch, and just as I finished saying one of my typically long-winded and rather tortureous french sentences, the lady at the next table turned to us and congratulated us on teaching our children french so they become bilingual. It was a nice compliment to receive given that that's one of the main reasons we are here.

By the time we caught our return bus, the cloud had cleared and we could see glimpses of the lake on our decent. Once again, I almost had to pinch myself to believe that the beautiful town we could see below us is now our home.

Friday, 1 June 2007

Good News!

The landlord will accept our CB. We will have a new home in early July subject to lots of paperwork being completed. We celebrated with a crêpe citron and a chocolat viennois as we watched the rain and the raging canal.

On a side note, the canals seem to be quite calm when it hasnt rained but they become very fast and full after a bit of rain.