samedi 28 juillet 2012

Massif Central with a donkey called Chocolat

Massif Central avec nos enfants (10 et 8 ans) et un âne by marialedoux78 at Garmin Connect - Details

We're back, after spending five days of six with a donkey called Chocolat.  We picked him up at Pessade and he walked with us, carrying our bags (two backpacks for four, 18kg), and around a part of the Massif Central.  
The holiday was organized through Terres d'Aventures, which I can't recommend more highly, it was just perfect.  We stayed in three different hotels/gites (more later) half board, ate some great food and some not so good, but how we loved this region of France and its chesse, especially the Saint Nectaire.
Without Chocolat, our donkey, I don't thing Marie-Kate would have managed, she looked after him well and it took her mind off the walking.  
I haven't downloaded our photos yet, so for now, you can click on the above link and see where we walked, how far, how fast and even how many calories we burnt, now that's technology for you.

This holiday was good training for Alain and I, as very soon, we are going to do the GR5 between Thonon Les Bains and Chamonix which is about 110km with 8000 meters in height overall to climb and four days to do it, well that's our goal.  

mercredi 18 juillet 2012

Siblings at war..

Oliver had an x-box.  He used to play a lot with it, mostly the same game, a football one, rather boring in my opinion.  Anyhow it got damaged some how and after that, the X box was hidden away in a cupboard.  Then one day, Oliver had this idea, one to sell it to his brothers and sisters, which he did.
Everything was fine till a couple of weeks ago when Oliver bought another football 2013 (probably 9th or 10th one, just the year changes), and guess what?  Yes, he wanted his toy back and said without a contract, one he signed, there wasn't any proof.  Oliver kept teasing Gaby about this, which wasn't the thing to do.  Gaby devised a plan all on her own, the idea being, to get Oliver to resign a contract.  Yesterday that plan was put into action.  Oliver received this letter. He thought it was from the business school he's going to, this year.

 I had been wondering what Gaby was up to, now I know.   She had cut and pasted a false letter and added in very small print (see under) the clause that by signing this, he would give Gaby the X-Box.
Upon receiving the letter and barely reading it, he signed.  I couldn't believe that it worked to easily.
Anyhow, just before dinner, Gaby announced the news.  How did Oliver take it?  Well to put it mildly, he went crazy, tried to rip up the letter, then went to Gaby's room, tried to take back the X-Box, didn't manage that either.  I told him to calm down and we'd resolve this problem over dinner.  He banged a few doors (after throwing various wires and x box parts across the room) and retired to his room.
Dinner was ready, Oliver was called, he said he wasn't eating.  
Fifteen hours later, Oliver is still in his room sulking, but as he never gets up before 13h, perhaps I'm being pessimist, but I reckon I'm going to have a hell of a day with them both.
One thing I have learnt, is that Gaby, when pushed, is capable of being a formidable adversary and she's only twelve years old!

vendredi 13 juillet 2012

Bye Bye Old Friend

Yesterday I said goodbye to an old friend, one I will never see again, but it's for the best, my car has served me well, bought it in 2001 aged one year old and now aged twelve it was time to part.  
Since moving here, my children haven't required my services at a taxi driver (primary school a stones throw away and school buses for older children) and Alain rides his bicycle to local train station and catches a high-speed bus...yes bus, not train, to work.  If he goes away, which is usually often, apart from at the moment, his company pay for taxis for airport runs et cetera.  
We were keeping my little car for either Oliver or Charlotte, the first to pass their driving test, however, it seems the chance of Oliver passing his test in the next six months is highly unlikely and in the meantime the 206 hasn't been feeling so well.  The speed counter broke a couple of months ago, there has been a oil leak (tiny) for ages and the final straw came last week, when I noticed the exhaust pipe nearly touching the floor!  The exhaust was fine, good condition in fact, it's just that the brackets holding in place had snapped.  I managed to get under the car and fix it to the frame with a heavy duty elastic cord with hooks on the end, our old neighbour Robert, would have thought this a crazy idea, but it worked.
The car has gone to "troc" (they sell and we split the sale price, not sure if it's 50/50).  My car needs fixing first but then should sell quickly.  I just hope it goes to a good home, and if we can get a couple of hundred euros back, now that would be wonderful.
Now we are a one car household. We are looking into the idea of either buying an electric bicycle or small scooter/ motorbike but there's no rush.  One car less, means a saving of 400 euros per year in insurance, we're happy with that. Finger-crossed it sells fast.

jeudi 12 juillet 2012

Bedroom Switch and my trials and tribulations with Farrow & Ball


 Charlotte and Gaby have switched bedrooms, well I switched them around after blowing a fuse with the state of Charlotte's room.  Unfortunately for her, her old room is just next to ours on the first floor, and it's the one that I saw before any other, mainly because, she''s leave her door wide open, or have the music so loud (yes even at 7am) that I had to go in and get her to turn it down.
That fatal day, the day I found her room looking like this

I blew it, luckily for her that she wasn't there.  I spent an entire Wednesday, hauling things up and down two flights of stairs.

At the end of the day Charlotte's room became Gaby's at looked like this. Poor Gaby got stuck with Alexis' bed and he got her Ikea one (I really didn't want to dismantle that bed, I dreaded that it would never be solid after) .  The idea was, that I find a vintage metal bed, paint the room using Farrow and Ball and make it all dreamy and girly.
This didn't happen.  My husband went to F & B in Paris and was sold (for the second time) paint, the wrong paint. Alain didn't question the sales person who served him (who turned out to be the manger), but I noticed straight way. When he asked for "Calluna" for the walls and the same colour for the skirting boards, she gave him a tin and said that it was for both.
He came home with paint for wood and metalwork instead of modern state emulsion and another tin for the woodwork.   Of course, he took the paint back, and as this had already happened before, we decided to opt for a full refund.  Now I still love F & B paints, but I will never by from this boutique again.  I contacted the head office, complained and asked why they'd sell paint destined for wood and metal for walls.  I received some polite, apologetic emails, but no answers.   
I was still left with bubblegum pink walls that had to go and ended up with Tollens. Gaby chose Petale de Violette and Douce Eglantine, and they go perfectly together.



There are still pictures to hang and the floor to varnish again one day, but for now it's fine by me and it's tidy.  I took these photos this morning, never moved a thing, Gaby was busy playing on the xbox so I had to be quick.  
I made the stripy curtains using some fabric bought from Ikea

 The vintage bed I had hoped for, became a Ikea bed with a pull-out bed for friends that slides out under it. Even the book case is on castors and can be rolled into the head of the bed.
 She's adopted MK's book case for her manga's, she kept the Brinjal colour (F & B) and it works well in the room
She put her London map print above her bed (Famille Summerbelle), just need to hang some posters and pictures on the wall behind her bed.


To finish, this is her desk, Mr H's old kitchen table (Charlotte's got G's old one).  Along with two tam tams, that's want Gaby's room looked like  this morning. A computer is planned at Christmas if she keeps up the hard work, but for now she's got O's x box sometimes and my sewing machine, and she's one happy twelve year old.

mercredi 11 juillet 2012

Welcome to Bug Land

 Back again.  Alexis and Marie-Kate broke up for the school holidays last Thursday, long after Charlotte, who finished in the second week in June and Gaby the 26th of the same month (mental reminder, I have some great footage from end of school Abba musical she starred in)
whilst, Oliver, of course, sat his exams.   
The first week is already halfway through, the weather is dismal, I've even got a thick fleece on today.  No plans for this week, just cool and relaxed, it that's not too much to ask.
Alexis has been busy as you know with his pyrography and Marie-Kate has been drilling.
She screwed this entire bug hotel together,I cut the wood and she did the rest.  MK chose Bug and Alexis, Land, for the name of this insect residence.  
They are hoping that some bugs will move in soon.  Our garden is full of earwigs, so I bet there'll be some in there soon.  There's even a pile of leaves for a hedgehog or two. In Sanary we had a family of these prickly things that took up home in our enormous  compost.


Next up, we are going to make a refuge for ladybirds, but not today.  Today, I have to help a rather disorganized sixteen year old pack her bag for three weeks, I've even blocked her internet until she gets something done...things one has to done to get results these days.

Checking in

Still here, just busy, end of school year hectic.  Oliver has his bac, didn't work much if at all this year for it, but still got it, no "mention" quite rightly.  He is happy because he passed some competitive entrance exams for Sesame at came out in the top ten in the country for all for schools (second for Rouen and seventh for Essec), go figure! He's going to Essec in Cergy, happy for him, but not so proud because he just moved his butt for these exams and I worry that he will have problems in September to get down and work with method and some rigor.
Charlotte's going to a new lycee, she's going into STL, which really will suit her, just fingers crossed that she'll think about studying more and certain friends less....complicated to bring up teenagers, small children small problems, big children, big problems, enormous ones when it comes to one of ours in particular.   Charlotte is off for three weeks to America'a West Coast, she'll be visiting Los Angeles, two national parks, a couple of lakes and canyons and San Francisco too, lucky her, hopefully this holiday will help Charlotte break out of the downward spiral she's in.

Gaby finished her year on a high with very high praise from all her teachers.  Proud of her, she deserves to switch off a little, and she has, she's even played a football game on Oliver's X box and this very moment



She had friends to stay over the weekend, went to the cinema, swimming et cetera and had a whale of a time.  Gaby's off to Corsica for two weeks next week, she's less shy now and has grown in maturity and confidence, so she hopefully won't get too homesick this time.



Alexis finished his year like Gaby, with a glowing report, straight A's and he was sad to finish school and said he's going to miss Mr B, who has been awesome, but apparently Mr L is a brilliant teacher too, so I'm not worried in the least.





Alexis found Charlotte's old pyrography pen, this is becoming his new summertime passion. The above sign, for their tree platform is the first thing he did with it.


Hate to repeat myself, but MK did it again, perfect school year, need I say more.  
We are getting set to go to the Auvergne region to trek with a donkey for a week..more later, I have lunch to make.