Sunday 6 April 2008


The scan on Friday indicated that there is a small leak in OG’s plumbing. This is listed as a 5% chance of happening, so it’s a bit unfortunate. So….back home again for a couple of weeks and then another scan. There is a chance that the leak might self- seal, if not it may require a small repair operation.

In the meantime life moves on. Our French family are settling in and sent the following communication:

As the McDonalds slogan goes ‘We’re loving it’ even as the euro hits an all time high against the £, and we now only get about 1.239 euros for our good old £ (last year it was at about 1.50 euros to the £) and it hasn’t stopped raining for the whole of March. Although we did have a fabulous February so we can’t complain and we are now starting to get sunnier, warm days rather than wet and cool ones.

We have been to, seen lots and accomplished many things in such a short space of time, and we now know this part of the country intimately. It really feels like home. Even our rented, boxy bungalow with paper-thin walls is a safe little haven that we have come to know and like. It is on a small estate of similar bungalows all filled with many races and creeds, we have French neighbours on one side, Germans on the other and a Thai gentleman opposite.

The little people are all settling into their respective schools well and have adapted to their new routines and learning techniques well. Alex comes home everyday and bores us with the Spanish he has learnt. He is in a small class of about 15 pupils, they are treated much more like adults and he really seems to be thriving on it.
We bought him a bike a few weeks ago and he uses it to go to schL. It gives him a little bit of independence, which hopefully he will benefit from.

Finty is the star of the class and one of the French mothers who was talking to her class teacher said that she has never met a child quite like her because she has settled in so quickly and so well. She even said that she was a very bright child and helps the French children with their maths when she has finished hers. She continues to love it here and her best friend is still Clements, who lives a few doors away in a slightly smaller boxy bungalow. They are inseparable and are always scheming how to get to go round each other’s houses (when they have finished their homework of course)!

Bastie has moved on from the trees, the whale and the drains and has progressed onto real live human beings. He has made friends with Toune, Valentine & Baryon. They are his regular friends now but Toune seems to lead him into mischief. He still has his moments when he says he doesn’t like school, doesn’t like school dinners and doesn’t want to go but when he gets there he seems fine and comes home having loved his school dinner, enjoyed his day and saying a few French words.

They seem to have a very varied school dinner menu with lots of fish dishes. They even had LOMBSTER (as Bastie called it) the other week. He is slowly learning a few French words and is getting more comfortable with saying them instead of the English equivalent. Finty, by the way, couldn’t think what the shelter at school was called in English but knew what it was in French, now that’s progress.

For the last month I have been having French lessons. I have been going every morning from 9-12.30 into the centre of Toulouse to my beginner’s French class. Seth drops me off at the station in Colomiers where I catch the train to the outskirts of Toulouse, I then hop on the metro for 4 stops, which gets me into the heart of the Capitole.

It is incredible really how easy and cheap the journey is, it takes about 20 minutes and it costs me 11 euros for the full week. That self same trip in the UK would probably cost me at least £11 per day. Anyway, I have now finished my beginners French and it was hard, really hard learning all about conjugations, verbs, and liaisons. I still can’t speak French though apart from ‘je ne comprend pas’, which means ‘I don’t understand’, this seems to get me out of most situations or will force the French person to speak English, which most of them do, a little.

I was talking to Clements mum about how I wasn’t sure if it was the best way to learn French for me because it was so focused on the verbs and the spelling of them and the sentence structure, and we didn’t do enough practical talking exercises. That’s really what I wanted to learn, more so than the written word. She was saying that they are so hung up on academia in France that this is they way the teach it unfortunately.

This bears out what we read about the French and their education etc. which school or University you went to is so important to the French that even as a 40’s something person this appears at the top of your CV, even above all of your years and years of work experience. And we think the English are snobs. If the truth be known this is why I haven’t sent an update for a while as I have been so totally consumed with my French lessons and homework. Seth has been very patient with me and taken up the slack with my shortcomings for the whole of March.

We popped back to England just before the Easter weekend to say high to the folks back home (makes it sound like we travelled back from Australia)! and especially to see Davy who was going into hospital for a major operation. He has since had the operation and is coming out the other side with a few little hiccups along the way
We have been getting regular phone calls, texts and emails from kind friends and family with updates and progress reports, for which we are really appreciative of and thank you very much.

The French seem to have an awful lot of stray dogs and the merde is something else, you have to watch every step you take. Talking of merde the public toilets are pretty disgusting here too.

Seth is still his usual jolly self who stumbles into situations where fools fear to tread, not the dog shit obviously. He first of all checks to find out if the person he wants to speak to speaks English and then when he discovers they don’t he continues asking questions in English (with a very heavy French accent of course) that you just know the French person hasn’t understand and then he is surprised when they respond in French and he can’t understand them. He just carries on though speaking with a French accent and by the end of it he has made himself understood and got what he wanted. He is a real survivor and to Seth ‘nothing is impossible’ or is it ‘impossible is nothing’?

We are going to watch a well-deserved film now ‘Blood Diamonds’ and will catch up with you all a lot sooner next time. We would love to hear from you.
Love and miss you all
A bientotxxx


aims said...

I'm hoping for the self-seal as well! Too many little operations set one back almost further....

That was a great letter and I felt like I too was learning how to live in France...very interesting indeed!

A Mother's Place is in the Wrong said...

Aah, how lovely for you to have all that news from them. I'm sure you must miss them all dreadfully. Love and thoughts. Margot xx

Carolyn said...

Hope OG heals-up quickly. There's an award over at my place for you...

A Mother's Place is in the Wrong said...

A late PS, please come and collect an Award from me too!! This is your lucky day! Margot xx

Maggie May said...

Hope the leak seals itself too! Glad the french family are doing well. said...

Good morning aims, how are you? The self-seal theory is being tested on 18th. Fingers crossed then he can get shot of those dreadful drains. said...

I do miss my French family Mother, especially now. said...

Oh and thanks for the award Mother and Carolyn, truly uundeserved because I do't actually do chat! said...

I have great faith in the leak sealing MaggieMay, I think another operation, albeit a small one, would really be unkind to him.