Spectacle de fin d'annee!

This week is Reuben's last week at school before the long Summer holiday. I cannot believe he's done a whole year at school! I remember his very first day and everyone feeling a bit nervous, all we could do was hope that he would enjoy himself and I'm happy to report he's had a fantastic year! He's made friends, he's speaking French and he wants to invite his whole class to his birthday in August! All the schools in the area have been holding end of year school performances and this weekend children, parents, friends and family, all packed into the village Salles des Fêtes to watch the school children perform.

Reuben's class was up first (he's at the end on the right.) I could see he was a bit unsure as he walked onto the stage but as soon as his teacher got out the guitar and classmates started singing he got right into it, belting out the French songs he had learnt, dressed up in a sewn-together-by-mummy-two-mins-before(!) apron and hat. We were all so proud and there was lots of waving from us in the audience and him on the stage.

After performances from the whole school the kids and parents descended to the village football pitch where there were games for the children, bouncy castles and of course obligatory bar for the parents. There was a little train that took the children on a short ride around the village. The BBQ was fired up, the stage was ready for musical entertainment, and the Zumba ladies were getting the kids dancing. And then this happened...

The heavens opened with a magnificent hail storm and everyone ran back into the Salle des Fêtes where we continued into the night. Arnaud, Reubens school teacher, got out his guitar again to entertain everyone as we waited for the food to be cooked. At this point we snuck back home to give the kids their dinner but we returned for sausages, cakes, (more beer,) and musical entertainment. Reuben and Jacob sat happily listening to the music until they decided it was their turn to get on the stage and they danced away until we took them home at 11 o'clock.

It was a wonderful afternoon and a great way to mark the end of the school year!

How do your kids celebrate the start of summer?

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Working in France - Gîte Cleaning

If you're one of the many people that holiday in this part of France at some point in the year, you might decide to book a holiday home or gîte to stay in. Many gîtes are owned by people who do not live in France. Owners therefore employ people to look after their gîte during the rental season (from around May/June to September, though some are available all year round.) Many of the expats we have met since arriving here have at some point in their living in France journey taken on a gîte, and many still look after some in the area. We decided that until our Media Man and Mini Monde businesses took off we would take on a gîte for at least our first year. Somehow we now seem to be responsible for three!

One of the gîtes we are responsible for!

Our job throughout the summer will be to thoroughly clean each gîte after staying guests, keep the pools sparkling, maintain the gardens, and deal with any problems guests may have during their stay. All the gîtes we are looking after are fully booked for the summer right up until September.

We recently opened up one house after the winter and let me tell you now, gîte cleaning is hard work. I was so exhausted by the time I got home I was in bed shortly after the kids! This summer will be a very different for us as in previous years coming to France has always been a holiday. This summer will be a working summer but needs must as we intend to stay.

Will you working this summer or are you planning a trip away?

Becky x

Keeping Chickens - Our Breeds

We hadn't really done much research into chicken breeds before we bought our chickens. We'd read the books on chicken keeping and had been given advice from friends and neighbours. But when it came to buying our chickens we went for ones that looked well looked after and that would start laying soon after we bought them. I'm sure that as we become more familiar with our hens we'll learn more about them, but here's a little about the 4 different breeds that we ended up with...

Blacktail - a brown coloured chicken with a black tail. They are easy to look after and lay well. The most interesting information I could find about this breed is that Waitrose use them for their eggs!

Sussex - white in colour with a speckled black neck. These seem to be a popular breed that originate from Sussex. They're good layers that enjoy a free range lifestyle.

Bluebell - a lovely grey colour. A good natured and friendly chicken that is capable of producing a good amount of eggs in their first year. Couldn't find a huge amount of info about this hybrid breed.

Coucou Maran - grey and white speckled all over this is the largest chicken we have. They are apparantly good layers and were originally bred in France. They are not keen on being handled and can become lazy so they need to be kept active!

Please do leave a comment if you know any more about the breeds that we have. If you're looking for info on different chicken breeds there are lots of books and websites such as this one to help you decide which breed might be best for you. Or just take pot luck like we did!

A big THANK YOU to Sara Ward from Hen Corner who helped us to identify our breeds via Twitter!

If you're a chicken keeper what breeds do you have? Which of yours are the best at laying eggs?

Becky x

Keep up to date with all our Chicken Keeping news here!

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Homemade Playdough

If you're a parent and you haven't yet made homemade playdough I thoroughly recommend you do so in the near future as it is so easy, so much fun, and it turns out so much better than the shop bought stuff. (It smells nicer for starters!) Homemade playdough uses only 5 ingredients:
  • flour
  • water
  • salt
  • oil
  • cream of tartar
I had trouble finding cream of tartar in France so we had some brought over from the UK. Our favourite playdough recipe can be found here. We made ours without the jello but used food colouring instead to make different colours. Reuben helped me get all the ingredients together and I took over at the cooking part. It's ready in minutes and can be played with as soon as it's cooled. What do you think of Jacob's masterpiece?!

Next time we make some I'm going to not only add colour but scents like these! It will be a great test to see how good the boys are at recognising different smells!

Have you made homemade playdough before? What's your favourite playdough recipe?

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