Saturday, 31 October 2009

Bulbs are in...

Well, the geraniums are still in full bloom and are very happy with our cold nights and sunny days. I tossed the last tomato plant and we finally got the bulbs in. We have four tubs of bulbs that will hopefully bloom in spring. I'm a little concerned that the cover I have had to put on them to keep the cat from digging them up will keep them a little warm. I also don't have a spot out of the sun on the balcony as it gets a lot of sun in winter. Hopefully they wont sprout early! But still, everyone had fun getting dirty and surely they will be more successful than my dismal attempt at growing bulbs in Brisbane....

Peau d'Ane

I could have sworn I'd blogged about this story after first borrowing the book from the library about a year ago. But, obviously, I filed it away in my mind under the heading of "interesting blog posts that never get written". So, we were recently lent the DVD of the 1970 film starring Catherine Deneuve (merci Françoise!). Never heard of it? Probably because its never been Disneyfied. I wonder what it is about the story of a young princess who escapes her father who wants to marry her by running off in the skin of his favourite gold-crapping donkey, that Disney didn't like?

I have to say, that once you get over the father bit, its a great fairytale, with a fairy godmother, three beautiful dresses, a lovestruck prince, great songs and a Cinderella-like "whose finger fits the ring?" ending. Lily and I loved it!

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Annecy on TV

This TV program aired on TF1 last night (I think) for anyone who wants to have a look at Annecy and practice their french. I cant imbed the link, so copy and paste it into your browser!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

And as for Lily...

She has been bringing home her cahiers each Friday so we knew she was going well at school. For now, they pretty much concentrate on reading, writing, maths and a little bit of spelling. But I have to brag that we were really proud to see the results of the first two tests they have done, in french and maths. I don't think she's quite old enough to appreciate how good it is to bring home perfect test results (or maybe its just that the grading squares weren't coloured in green this year!) but we were really proud and also happy to see her teacher had noted that she has had a very good start to CP.

Soon, I must write a post about how they teach them to read here, its very interesting. But for now we are going to enjoy our 10 days of school holidays together!

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Cahier day

It seems like a long time ago now that Lily brought home her cahiers at the end of her first term of maternelle here. With the school holidays starting on Saturday, it was Jasper's turn to bring home his first set. And it was with the same eagerness (and perhaps more trepidation given that he is a year younger) that we opened up Jasper's and he showed us what he has been doing. It seems that he's been having a great time and has been understanding all the activities they have to do. He earned lots of smiley faces and only one flat line smiley face for not knowing all his colours in french. He also got a couple of red dots for his throwing technique but, come on, he's only three! What's best is that he likes going to school and he's really proud of all the work he's been doing there.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Le Retour des Alpages 2009

Being in our new apartment, we were right in the thick of things today. Which was lucky as it started off as a rather wet morning. After a quick tour of rue Saint-Claire, we went home for a raclette lunch on the balcony. I think the numbers were down this year because of the rain and we easily got a spot to watch the parade on rue Filaterie. It was a great parade as always and we were close enough that Lily stroked the sides of many of the animals that passed us!

Eating some apple beignet things (the real word for these escapes me!)

A walk down from the castle (just before I slipped ungracefully down some wet marble steps - aïe, les fesses!)

Jasper's favourite

My favourite - the geese!

Glad to see the bellringers back in the parade this year. They're loud!

Les vaches

On the balcony

We did quite well with parts of our little garden over summer. We've had a quite a few cherry tomatoes and had some nice little lettuces until Puddy decided to start using the pots for a litter tray. That was the end of the lettuces and carrots but I took evasive action with some alfoil and saved the tomatoes. Our geraniums did not like the full summer sun and had a bad patch until I realized that fertilizer could help. I think they were also lacking in iron. They are now really happy with the cooler weather and will last a bit longer I think. I've already bought some bulbs which we will plant once the last of the tomatoes dies. And I finally got a nice big pot for a mixture of herbs. I'm hoping that they will last a bit given that the balcony gets a lot of winter sun.

Hanging up we have a big thing of pink garlic which David bought at the markets. I sent him out for a bulb of garlic and he came back with a dozen which, if kept cool, will supposedly last all winter. I just break off a clove at a time as I need it. Unfortunately I cant keep them out of the sun but it seems the weather is starting to cool down now after a warm start to autumn.

The tomatoes that havent quite worked out its autumn!

Thank you Women's Weekly

One of my favourite presents as a child was a cookbook I was given at about 9. It was from my english grandmother and so was full of strange recipes for things like "Toad in the Hole". I have fond memories of my brother and I making cheese wrapped hot dogs and other delights during the school holidays.

I've been looking for a good kid's cookbook for Lily but specifically an australian one so it was in english and with all the measurements we're used to. So I was pleased to see an extract of a new cook book called Little Kitchen in this month's WW. We tried a few of the recipes together with Lily doing most of the work. Their little egg and bacon breakfast pies were a huge hit as were the crunchy chicken fingers. Not so keen on the pancakes - they needed sugar! But the recipes are nicely illustrated and simple to follow. One for the Christmas list!

Making crunchy chicken fingers

A weekend with Léon

Jasper has settled in really well to his mornings at school. He seems to understand everything well but doesn't speak much. His teacher is new to the school and seems very enthusiastic. One of her projects involves the class doudou (cuddly toy) called Léon. Each weekend a different child takes Léon and his cahier home for the weekend and brings him back on Monday with the cahier completed with a couple of photos and a description of what he and Léon have been doing so he can tell the class.

Jasper was really pleased to bring Léon home last weekend. We took him out to sushi at a new restaurant that has just opened in the Old Town. Jasper was sorry to have to hand him back on Monday, and despite our best efforts at priming him, didn't have anything to say to the class about what they did!

Monday, 5 October 2009

What I did last summer....

I've been a bit quiet here about my summer project as lets face it, I'm not renown for my follow though (knitting, Flylady anyone?).

But I am pleased to announce that over summer I completed the Couch to 5k running program. For those who've never heard of it, its a 9 week program designed to get almost anyone up and running 30 minutes or 5ks 3 times a week. As its been about 7 years since I've run regularly, I decided to start at the beginning and take it really slowly. And it worked really well. I'm now running 30 minutes 3 times a week. Its probably not quite 5k as I know what it feels like to run 5ks in 22.5 minutes (oh, those were the days!) and it doesn't feel much like that. But at least I am out there.

With winter coming up, I may have to invest in some new gear but so far so good. And I'll take a gamble and announce I'm following another new program called the One Hour Runner, designed to, surprise surprise, build up to running for an hour. I'm not sure if I'll continue it. That will depend on my knees and I doubt I'll be running the Annecy Marathon next April but it feels good to be running again.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Telemarketing french-style

When we first arrived here, I used to be seized with panic every time the phone rang. As it was rarely for me, I used to hand it over quickly to David, no matter who it was. He'd often get off the phone quickly telling me it was just a telemarketer. After a while, I was able to understand enough to realize it was a telemarketer and could play up the foreigner aspect enough to get them off the phone quickly.

These days, I'll listen to them just for the practice as I still find the phone hard. The other day I got sucked in by someone selling frozen foods. I agreed they could send me their catalogue. They miraculously rang me seconds after I walked in the door with the catalogue when I was getting lunch for the kids and I fobbed them off, promising to have a good look at it over the weekend and agreeing they would call me Monday. Well, over the weekend I did look at the catalogue and there were some tempting things there, but given the size of our freezer I decided it was just as easy to keep shopping at Monop.

So Monday rolled around and she called me back. This was our third call and in hindsight I realized it was probably the same person. Which made it all the worse, when I launched into my spiel of thank you very much but I've changed my mind and don't want anything. Stunned silence followed. Then in a shocked voice she asked me why, like I'd just announced I was leaving her after 30 years of marriage. I gave my reasons, thanked her for the catalogue and for her calls, wished her a nice day and said goodbye. When she didn't say goodbye in the two second silence that followed I hung up!

Now all this is a perfectly reasonable way to treat a telemarketer in Australia. In fact, in australian terms, I had been incredibly polite as most telemarketers are well used to receiving gratuitous verbal abuse. But after I hung up, I was immediately wracked with guilt. Had I been rude in hanging up? Should I have waited for her to say goodbye, all the while giving her the opportunity to talk me around. In fact, was it my fault, had I strung her along with my initial enthusiasm? How do french people treat telemarketers? Does the everyday politeness that pervades life here extend to unsolicited calls? Anyone know?