School Holiday!

The holidays have begun which can only mean one thing...we have two weeks to entertain two little boys who have way more energy than us grown ups will ever have!! Here in France the holiday breaks (apart from the loooong summer break) are all two weeks long, unlike in the UK where half terms are only one week. The weather has been a bit wet recently and if it continues it will mean lots of indoor activities. I will be relying heavily on all the great ideas I've found on Pinterest, recipe books for baking, and empty cardboard boxes that seem to be delivered almost daily containing Andrew's satellite bits! But we will also be getting out and about as we have a chicken coop to build in the garden, an indoor play centre to visit in Montauban, and as we've had such a mild winter we quite fancy a day trip to find some snow! We'll let you know all that we get up to here, and we'll be posting pictures of what we make on our Instagram and Facebook pages.

How do you keep your kids entertained in the holidays?

Becky x

Book Launch and Repas at Sautou

It's been a while since I've had a Saturday night out so I jumped at the chance to attend this book launch with a neighbour at the weekend. (Someone had to babysit and this time round it was Andrew!) It was held at Domaine de Sautou where we have been previously for the Christmas market. We arrived to a packed room with tables laid out restaurant style and 'bar snacks' and wine to keep us going until the repas.

Suzanne Ghersenzon-Spénale, the author, gave a short talk about her book which is based on the life of her father. I just about understood what was said but listening in French is still a challenge for me. Unlike listening to English where I can dip in and out and still understand what is going on, in French, if I stop concentrating for any length of time I totally lose what is being talked about and it can take a while to catch up again. Suzanne was introduced by Jean-Marie Nosal (the host) who gave a very brief talk about his recent trip to Mali for his charity Via Sahel Enfants D'Afrique. A silent video was projected onto the wall for us to watch throughout the evening with clips from his trip, including a make shift school that is trying to teach 700 children, and the wonderful people trying to make a difference to these children's lives. The charity work Jean-Marie and his wife Winnie do is inspiring, and it was lovely to be in the company of people who make a difference but in such a gentle way.

A repas followed the talks, a four course feast of charcuterie and carrot salad, cassoulet, cheese, cake and coffee. There was music by Jean Luc Ribes and Olivier Spénale who played the guitar and double bass and sang traditional French songs. They both roused some of the guests into singing and dancing along. It was a lovely evening and we're planning to return soon as Jean-Marie and Winnie insist we go round for dinner!

Becky x

Where's the BBC gone?

There's been a dramatic change in Andrew's working life the past couple of weeks. Thanks to recent satellite changes, the majority of the English population in our area (and believe me when I say there are a lot of English expats living in this corner of France!) have lost their BBC channels, and Andrew is helping them to get them back. As far as I understand it all, UK channels are being switched over to a new satellite with a narrower range more focused over the UK. For those of us in France it means unless you have the right sized dish (over 80cm) pointing in exactly the right direction, chances are you will have lost some of your BBC channels, with more channels to be lost at a later date as they switch over too.

Andrew has gone from being sat in front of the computer and jobs on the ground to climbing people's roofs to realign or reinstall satellite dishes. I didn't think too much about it until I accompanied him on a job yesterday. There he climbed onto a ladder perched on some stairs and on reaching the top exclaimed 'the tiles are a bit slippery.' At this point I of course said he should come down but he carried on and shuffled himself across the roof to the satellite dish perched on the corner. I had to sit in the car at this point. I know he knows what he is doing but that doesn't make it easier to watch! My heart skipped beats as he started the climb down, legs dangling off the roof as he couldn't see the top of the ladder as a guide. The picture above shows Andrew working in the glorious sunshine, but recently we have had far more rain than sun, and he has been working just as hard in the rain as in the cool February sunshine!

All this extra work may be taking him away from family life but it's the best kind of publicity he can get for his Media Man business. It's getting his name out there and he's picking up other jobs along the way from building websites to piano students for me.

So if you're local and in need of having your satellite checked, check out Andrew's website and give him a call!

Becky x

Winter walks with Jacob

One of the great things about living here is that when we decide to go for a walk we're spoilt for choice by the beautiful countryside we're surrounded by. It may still be winter but when you have kids it's important to get them outside whatever the weather. Today the sun was trying to make an appearance through the grey rainclouds and after a morning of playing, reading, and stopping Jacob from pouring his drinks all over the floor and smearing lip balm all over his legs (I wondered why he was so quiet!) I decided to get us out for a walk.

I may find walks in the warm spring/summer sun more appealing, but Jacob is at an age where he still enjoys jumping in puddles, sticking sticks into mud, and pointing out every cow/sheep/chicken that we come across. We were recently shown a walk by a neighbour which takes us out and around the village, through a dirt track, past a stream, up a hill, and ends up by the car garage at the entrance to the village. Here Jacob enjoys a stop to look at the battered old cars used for parts or awaiting a little love.

At each point along the route you can turn and look back on the village, which you realise is actually quite high. Unfortunately on this occasion the sun failed and we were caught in a hail storm which resulted in me having to carry Jacob back home. We were offered a lift as we entered the village but I assured them we were 'pas loin'. The kindness of French strangers!

Where do you like to go for a walk?

Becky x

Worldwide Culture Swap

Culture SwapperAt times it can feel quite isolating living in a small village. It's so easy to forget that there is a big wide world out there. At this time of year it can even be a struggle to leave the house. Cold wet mud and wellies, or a cup of tea and slippers by the fire? (Fire every time!) However, we want our boys to grow up knowing that there are other people out there, with different lives and experiences. Which is why in the past I signed us up for the Show Me Your Neighbourhood project, and why I recently got us involved in the Worldwide Culture Swap programme. The idea of the programme is for you to put together little parcels full of information about the country that you live in. You are teamed up with four other families from around the world and you swap parcels with each other. Your parcel could include recipes, crafts, a flag, or an insight into your day-to-day life in your country.

I'm so excited to put together the packages with Reuben and see what his idea of France is. It might be interesting for us to include a bit about our home town and country, London UK, and maybe a map to show the other families where we have moved from and to.

If you're interested in joining the programme you can do so here. There are Worldwide Swaps and US State Swaps. We've been teamed up with families living in Germany, North Dakota, South Africa and Southern California. We'll let you know what we put in our packages and when we start to receive some in return!

Becky x


Upcycling Tin Cans

I'm at the point where I'm starting to think more about what we use and throw away as a family. I'm a huge fan of Pinterest and enjoy browsing through ideas of crafts we can do with the boys. Before placing things in the recycle bin my mind is wondering...could that water bottle be a rocket? Can we make something other than dragons with egg boxes? Could that glass jar be turned into a candle holder? (The answer is yes to all of those questions!)

We have pens, crayons and pencils floating all over the house. So for my latest crafty project I decided to upcycle some tin cans into holders using nothing more than glue and scrap fabric. This project was inspired by this post on the fantastic new blog Wonderthrift. An inspiring site for all things thrifty and eco that I thoroughly recommend checking out.

I had some fabric from a bundle bought from Fabric Rehab, used decopatch glue to stick it to the can, et voilà! Another simple but oh so useful craft that took minutes!

Have you upcycled anything recently? We'd love to see pictures!

Becky x
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