Monday, 21 September 2009

One Whole Year

So we've now been here one whole year. Any regrets? Nope not one. I absolutely love it here and so does the rest of the family. I miss two things though - speaking in English, and Tesco (or other UK supermarket). There are just so many things that I can't get here - babycorn, muscovado sugar, Rooibosh tea, jelly, Marmite to name but a few. And other things we can get but that are exorbitantly priced in the "World Speciality" section - peanut butter, fajitas, and fish sauce come to mind immediately. Oddly, mangetout aren't very often available and yet you'd think with a French name that France would be its home.

Life here is very seasonal - everything from the obvious of what everyone's doing in a day (like at the moment it's harvesting and preserving), down to the fruit and veg that's available. Now that I'm used to this seasonality in availability of foodstuffs, I have to say that I quite like it. I've had to change from "oh this recipe looks good, what do I need, now let's go and buy this or that" to "what's available right now, ok we'll have ..." In other words, the available ingredients drive what's on the menu rather than the ideas coming first. I've found that it leads to a lot less wastefulness for us as we used to have a fridge stocked with just-in-case veg that we often found gone off.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Caution - Men At Work

Some women would say that that's something *always* to be cautious of - men at work, but in this instance it really does mean what the building site warning says. The Boyz (except S) happily spent today hammering out the walls along the corridor.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Adieu Blue Loo

Hooray, it's finally happening - the hideous blue bathroom and separate (very French) blue loo is due for rip out on Monday and the boys are looking forward to demolishing the walls over the weekend.

Today's task however, was to buy all the sanitaryware, lights, glass blocks, mirrors etc. We had already been to make our choices and to see which were stock items and which were orderable - fortunately all of our choices were all stock items - so you would think that it would be a relatively easy breeze round the store with a trolley just popping stuff in, paying for it, and pushing off. Ho no. The boys demanded one of the trolley cars - tiny small area for collecting merchandise, great big enormous childrens' car on the front that they can get in and 'drive', absolute devil to manoeuvre. Even more difficult to move as B was driving with R sitting on the roof (more on that later). Needless to say we then needed a second trolley of decent size to actually do the shopping. Fortunately there was one with a baby seat on the top so we opted for that and off we set.

All started off well but then B wouldn't give R a go at driving so a squabble broke out and that set the scene for the rest of the trip - we'd collected about half of what we needed and the car trolley was taking on the shape and handling abilities of a large whale with squawking occupants. S then decided he didn't actually like being in the baby seat on the trolley and wanted to be carried, expressed in no uncertain terms by loud screams. Ok, not easy to carry him and steer the trolley but needs must. Next on the list was the loo. A very kind assistant surveyed our predicament and loaded the non-car trolley for us with all the bits that we'd need and the baby seat became holder for the basin. Now I couldn't even see over the top of the trolley but had to steer one-handed peering round the side occasionally. S poops his nappy. Oh great - we still need waste connections - he's yelling, the boys are arguing and now running about misbehaving, I'm trying my best to get what we need but my French is woefully lacking, and my brain feels as though it's bleeding out of my ears. Ben looks like a man that's been pushed over the edge. Waste connections located - MASSES of them and not a scooby as to what we need nor the peace in our mind to even try to work it out. Another kind assistant appeared as if by magic, established what we needed and, I'm sure, thrust it hurriedly into our hands so that we'd take the awful noise away from his department.

At last we're heading for the checkouts. Even this was fraught with difficulty as I had S in my arms and Ben was trying to keep the other two from racing off or harming each other (can you put children on leads???). Then an unhelpful lady checkout person tells R that he's not allowed to climb on the trolley so he throws a massive sulk on the floor - one of the ones where he lies completely prostrate on the ground, whimpering and sticking to the floor like tiles.

It was with great relief that we finally reached the car, having bought muffins and brownies on the way out as bribery and mood-enhancers - funny how chocolate seems to calm things down. So, children cleaned up and strapped into their carseats, we set about loading up the trailer. It was packed... unpacked... repacked... unpacked... and packed again, with various helpful comments being chucked in by passing customers. Oh how I wished I'd had a camera!

But we're home now and everything is decanted and all is peaceful. Funny, looking at the small pile it really doesn't seem as though its aquisition could have caused SO much stress.