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sunny 15 °C

Nadine & Frederic:
Great parents to the kids and we get on great as friends also. Relatively laid back, love a few glasses of wine with meals and not afraid to give the kids a kick up the backside! They work very hard and then most nights after we've eaten (late) Nadine and I chat for a while. They have a good sense of humour (even erring on the Aussie/English kind) and it shows even though their english is not quite 100%. Nadine lived in Germany for a little while, and travelled independently quite a lot before they met (at around 33 or 34). She is a big fan of Egypt and her experiences there sound very similar to mine in India.

Kids - Antonin, boy, 11.5 and Amarine, girl, 9.5
Sweet, cute and lovely, when they’re in a good mood or want something. At the moment this is about 50% of the time. Other 50% of the time frequently resisting all requests to do anything they don’t want to do and throwing what I consider to be extreme whinging/crying tantrums when told ‘no.’ We’ll see how normal this is. Hopefully it’s not all the time, perhaps just depending on their mood at the time. Otherwise I suppose pretty normal but quite the handful.
Amarine can be just as stubborn (plus manipulative) when she wants to be, but i think is a bit more easily distracted and more inclined to redeem herself after getting in trouble.
Understand some english but won't speak it. I know they understand more than they let on and Nadine assures me they know what i'm telling them.

Nadine’s Parents: Marie-Phone (pron. Marie-von) and Bernard
Lovely, friendly, both have the patience of a saint. Spoil the kids a bit. That’s ok, if the kids are getting chocolate from them then I won’t feel guilty about rarely allowing treats hahhaa. Bernard speaks some English, Marie has none but I can spend hours with her and we understand each other and I’m really learning a heap. She is very good at re-phrasing something or using gestures until I can guess or make the connection to what she means. She is an excellent cook. Any meal with them is a 3 or 4 course one, always with a cheese-board!

Posted by Madeline84 09:03 Archived in France Comments (0)

Real First Week - in brief

sunny 14 °C

Ok for those that can't be arsed reading the essay that i'm sure will follow, here's a very short summary:

I'm eating very well. Far too well, especially when Marie-Phone cooks. Could do with a little less butter though.

The kiddies are i suppose your normal 9.5 and 11.5 year olds. Mostly lovely, also stubborn and temperamental. Very temperamental. And seem to forget incidents within 1 hour of getting in trouble, and misbehave again. Frustrating.

The weather has been 80% good, not too cold, the days are long (in both senses of the word, daylight savings commenced last Sunday so sundown is well after 8pm) and very full with plenty of variety, hence no time to add anything til now. And i'm exhausted by the time i get into bed but that's good. So far i'm pretty happy with it all, i'm just wishing i didn't have uni assignments to worry about :(

Posted by Madeline84 08:45 Archived in France Comments (0)

First Impressions

sunny 14 °C

I'll start at Perth Airport because i nearly hit a hiccup there trying to leave. Turns out if you leave on a brand new UK passport there is nothing to show that you are an Aussie citizen and even though you're exiting i suppose they like to know that you haven't been here illegally. On presenting my UK pp and departure card the nice lady asked me for my Aussie pp. Which i didn't have. I think my heart actually stopped for a few seconds there. Brief discussion and it wasn't too much of a problem, once she called over a nice pom from the immigration department to look at it (i have no idea exactly what he was checking) and declare i was allowed to leave.
And there i was thinking that travelling with 2 pports would be more of a problem.

Flight was fine and my neighbours were happy to keep to themselves so there were no declarations of love or marriage proposals.
And I managed to get from Paris Airport to my TGV train that would take me into burgundy without having to confront the streets of Paris. Every single person i spoke to on the way was very nice and polite, they really don't deserve to still have the reputation of being unfriendly and arrogant.

Nadine and the kids, Amarine and Antonin met me at the train st. All very excited, "bonjours" and bisous (the term for the double cheek to cheek air kiss) all round. The kids are truly cute, don't have much english and so far seem too shy to speak any, but in the car they ask questions in french which i either semi-understand or Nadine translates.

Nadine's parents Bernard and Marie-Phone (pron. Marie-von) live in the main town Chalon, also where Nadine and Frederic's business is and the kids schools. For the remainder of the the week Amarine and Antonin are staying with their Grandparents so i can settle in, they can maintain their routine for the week and I suppose I technically start work on Monday. We go straight to Marie's apartment to drop the kids off, and I meet Marie-von (is it only anglophones who abbreviate names?), also lovely. She has almost no english but i'm surprised how much i think i understand or can work out from picking up a few words in a sentence. I know she is asking Nadine what the weather is like in Australia, and in french i'm able to tell her that in Perth it's 38 degrees, and here "I'm cold."

We drive to my new house in Laive, about 16km from Chalon. It is a village but a decent size, about 1500 people. The house is GOOOORGEOUS ! Most of the houses round here are similar, old stone ex-farm houses built a few hundred years ago. From the outside they look worn and huge, about 3 storys high with steeply pitched uneven slate roofs. But inside the rooms have been re-arranged and some mod-cons installed. I'll get pics and maybe a video tour up soon.

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Its about 7.30 when we get in, once the sun is down the temperature drops from about 12 to 5 so even though the house is warm enough it's into trackies and uggboots for me and then a quick tour.

I just love the house - It's mainly 2 levels inside, with kitchen and a large open lounge downstairs that looks all the way up to the top ceiling, beautiful old and big wooden furniture, giant fireplace and double-height doors. Stone walls and exposed beams, mismatched chairs and pieces they have collected on travels to Egypt and Africa.

Upstairs is the bedrooms and bathrooms and a multi-level mezzanine, one part for the study and another for a cosy lounge where the tele is. It's like a cubby house up there :)

My bedroom is average size with a desk. Not a suite like in Germany but i don't need my own living area. Bathroom is great, pretty much brand new (my seperate toilet isn't in yet but there are 2 others in the house). In the shower theres one dial for the temperature, with 38 marked then turn either way for hotter or colder, and another dial for the water flow. No bit-of-hot, bit-cold taps. Smart.
There are radiators (doubles as heated towel rack in the bathroom) in every room, on about 3/4 of the way and I tried to turn them down during the day but anything less than half emits almost no heat. Nadine told me it's fine to leave them on all the time so hopefully they're designed for 24/7 use.

Frederic arrives home from work and dinner is a quick pasta with tomato sauce. Then bed! I'm waking at 7.30am still and even though i have an entire nights sleep deficit i don't feel it. Next morning N & F leave around 6.30am for work and i am told to just look around and find whatever i need.

N was telling me they shop at the supermarket but like to buy certain fruit and veg (ones with thin skins) organic so they sound somewhat health-concious. For certain things. Open pantry, only cereal is Special K with chocolate bits. That won't quite do. There is little in the fridge as the kids have been at grandparents for a few weeks but i find a supply of natural yoghurt and whole walnuts and with some toast so voila breakfast taken care of. Old old apples and some carrots. Lots of jams, a bag of all different cheeses (there's one cliche` correct) and in the freezer bread and lots of packets frozen veg.


I did imagine that i would be having wonderful fresh dairy stuff. Well that idea has been put straight. I discovered the milk in the fridge is UHT and with the stunning strawberries they serve whipped cream from a can. Again maybe its because the house has been almost deserted of late they opened emergency UHT instead of buying fresh and having it go off. Anyway somewhat redeemed today, I had some stun-ning soft goats cheese. If i could post you all some i would :(
And there is a nice surprise on the kitchen bench...

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Ooh lala - I see a Nespresso machine! [and thanks to Mel i know how to use it :) ]

Ok next thing is to suss out the car. The suspense has been killing me but i haven't got my hopes up. Is it going to be a cute little citroen or renault, or something more sleek like my sexy purple ford cougar in Germany?? I spot keys with a silver convertible keyring....
Out to the barn/carport and...
Oh.

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Second job as a postie maybe??
Well it is a citroen. And i am moving kids. So of course a mini-mini-van.

Does this at least count as a convertible?

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Ok so i was actually prepared for ugly to avoid disappointment so i can laugh.
I do feel this is a car that needs a name, to feel loved. Suggestions please!
I can only come up with 'the little silver flat arsed whale' and thats a mouthful.
or 'the grey kangaroo' too obvious?

I was watching Nadine and the other cars when she picked me up and it seems yes stick to the speed limit, or there-abouts (there ARE limits here and the police will stop you). Many roundabouts but don't worry about giving way to cars in the roundabout, they do have priority of course but if there's a space then take it. Off the highway some of the roads around the villages are narrow, so ok to drive in the middle until someone comes the other way.

Thursday arvo I take it for a spin. All ok, i just can't see the front of the car so my judgement is going to have to be good. I'm alright with sticking to the right. And indicating not flicking the windscreen wipers ok cos i'm used to mum's citroen. Changing gear right handed feels a lot more strange than i'd expected. Actually really odd. Then i know why. My cougar last time was automatic. Shit. No it's ok really, just an extra element of co-ordination required while i'm not crossing the road, keeping an eye on the speed and looking at the correct mirrors. Lets hope Amarine and Antonin behave in the car cos i don't think i can turn to yell while all this is going on. Mon Dieu !

So I've covered a couple of days here and i'll try to get more up to date soon. Time seems to pass quick here so I'll post this before another day goes by.

Au revoir

Posted by Madeline84 12:04 Archived in France Tagged laives Comments (1)

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