Hello there! Well it’s been a long time hasn’t it? I’ve been busy as you can imagine. It’s been 5 weeks since we moved into our lovely French house and I can’t quite believe it! I keep rethinking and recalculating but it’s definitely 5 weeks. We are getting to know our way around and learning the dos and don’ts of living in France and there are some pit falls, it can tell you. Sometimes it’s language issues and others just being in a different culture.
- The French like paperwork – there is a form for everything and then a form for that form or at least that’s how it feels. So I’ve been using my translation app and some people we’ve met and online resources to help me and make sure I fill in the forms correctly and put the date of birth for the right person in the right box.
- They like it when you try – I don’t speak French, at least not yet. I’m learning but a lesson once a week is nothing like being exposed to the language as much as I’ve been in the last 5 weeks. Often I ask something in my mispronounced way and either get corrected (which I like) or answered in English. I apologies a lot for my bad French but I’ve been told by more than one person in an official capacity that’s it good I’m trying and it’s appreciated. I quite like this. I’d assumed I’d be told off for murdering their language but they really are being very kind. This is very reassuring.
- They want to educate the kids – when we arrived I diligently went to the local mairie (which I still mispronounce) to register for home-schooling and simultaneously see how long it would take to get the kids into the education system. Well I discovered that they really don’t want me to educate my kids but they want to do it and teach them French at the same time. So now the kids start school next week, not the local school but a local enough one that has the resources to teach them French with other kids in similar positions.
- Home-schooling is bloody hard – I have to say that I’d never had my heart set on home-schooling and for me it was always a means to an end. I had decided to home-school the kids until we found a school for them. We only had a house in the 3 weeks before moving and so I didn’t know where the local school was or if the bilingual school would be best or if anyone would find a school place for them. I launched into home-schooling full of enthusiasm and vigor only to be met with staunch resistance from the kids. It took a few days to work it out and lots of posts on Facebook (the world schoolers community have been so helpful to me) but we got there. Basically I was acting too much like a teacher and they were settling in to their new home. So we changed tack, we worked in the garden and played games (maths games but don’t let them know that) and explored the area. I kept them happy and their minds active (which was my main aim) and we all relaxed and settled into it. The workbooks still get looked at but only for 20 minutes at a time and we’re all more sane for it.
- You need your raincoat and wellies more then you think – the day we moved into our house it was raining. Since then it’s rained a lot. We were told this was vey unusual for this time of year. That was almost reassuring. However, it’s helped us feel a bit more like home. But we’ve had days of sunshine too. We’ve eaten outside (even though we have no outdoor furniture yet and just drag the dining table through the sliding doors), swam in an outdoors pool, gotten sunburnt and relaxed in our deckchairs. So some rain and some sun. The weather has certainly kept us on our toes. Which leads in to my next point…
- You can get cold – yesterday we went out for my daughter’s second birthday, we went to the local zoo. We had a lovely day. Although we were all cold. My mum had made Rose a knitted cardigan for her birthday and probably didn’t expect her to wear it straight away but she did, all day. So one day we were eating lunch in the glorious sunshine of Carcassonne, then shivering in our raincoats in the zoo and today we are basking in glorious sunshine and have just applied the sun cream!
- The dogs don’t care where they are as long as they’re with you – the dogs hated the ferry because they were in kennels and away from us. Next time we’ll take a crossing where they can stay in the car. They loved sleeping at the foot of our bed, something they’ve never done before, when we stayed in a cabin on the way down through France. When we arrived in our new home we put one of their beds in our bedroom. This was more to reassure them and give them somewhere to hide whilst the furniture came in but they’ve stayed there. They love sleeping in our room and in I’m convinced it’s really helped them to settle. A small price to pay.
- Readjustment is really, really hard but lovely people help – we’ve been too busy to be really homesick but we’ve all felt the change. We miss our friends and family but they’ve contacted us and sent cards for our little girl’s birthday and let us know we are still loved and very much missed. We’ve really been helped by some lovely people, who speak English, and they have helped us feel at home, especially our new neighbours. My parents are visiting and we’ve seen some sights and had a break from the daily trawl of filling in forms and getting lost.
Basically life is good. We’re exhausted, apprehensive about the kids starting school, drinking lots of cheap booze and learning something new everyday. Whilst it’s been a massive learning curve we’ve been using our climbing ropes and are making it to the top. I’m sure we’ll be climbing for a little while yet but that’s ok. We are, on the whole, enjoying our time here. Eventually I hope to stop enough to crochet as well. The kids are quietly playing and I’m enjoying some time in the sunshine. Maybe now is as good a time as any. Now, a cup of tea or some rosé?