A Fortnight in France – Part 3
If you’d like to read Part 2 you can find it HERE and if you want to go even further back (you glutton for punishment you!) Part 1 is HERE
In this Part, I write about our children’s divine table manners and etiquette and extol the virtues of gravel as a plaything.
Darlek loves it here, I heard her saying the other day – ‘Can we stay here for ever and ever and ever’ I have to agree. It’s beautiful. We’re in three separate ‘Gits’ each with their own facilities, all the amenties we could need are in each property, although I think one of us is lacking a washing machine. I can’t remember who in the party that is, but I suspect my nose may tell me towards the end of next week. (not really, nobody stinks, honest!) ….actually having said that Darlek seems to have terrible wind! Anyone would think we’d been feeding her dead rats for the month prior to the holiday. It is funny when she does her ‘Farticus’ impression as it has been christened, but it stinks to high heaven! Thank heavens for light breezes and that we’re mostly outside.
Son is still burping like a bullfrog at every meal. I suspect our family is now notorious for blowing off in one way or another now.
Tantrums and Rocket Lollies
Darlek had a minor meltdown over a ice-cream yesterday which was a bit traumatic. There was only one left and as Sausage is younger and often misses out on things because of this, he was given the ice-cream. Poor Darlek thought that this was unfair and sobbed in a heap in a chair indoors for what must have been an hour. No amount of cajoling could persuade her to rejoin the rest of the party and I sat there feeling like an absolute cow. But really, have you ever tried splitting a rocket shaped ice-lolly in two? Not gonna happen. She got over it eventualy, but I suspect the emotional scarring may be permanent.
Gangdad has been reading Matilda by Roal Dahl to her every evening. She is spellbound! Gangdad does all the different voices and really gets into the spirit of the book. I suspect the voices get more muddled as more red wine is consumed towards the end of the evening where most of the reading is done. I’m not allowed to read the book now as it’s Gangdad’s special book and he wants to know what happens. I read a chapter the other day and he re-read it to Darlek as he wanted to keep tabs on the plot. I know my place!
Saucy and Saucisson
Sausage has been rechristened Saucisson, which is French for Sausage we have been told. Speaking of funny names, Horace came back from a trip out with two huge cones of cardboard, sealed at the end with ‘Surprise!’ written across them. I think they were the french equivalent of lucky dip bags. Inside were random little tatty gifts for kids, one for a girl and one for a boy. I think the real surprise was the pretend silver tiara, necklace and earrings that held the brand name ‘Saucy’. We all decided that this little gift set was probably made in Hong Kong where no-one could speak english, so consequently they’d asked some random translation package on the internet for a translation of the chinese word for ‘Cheeky’ and had ended up with ‘Saucy’ as a suggestion. With all the erm…’dodgy’ associations with the word, it was generally agreed that the goods had probably been politely refused in the UK and had been shipped over to none-english speaking countries where they could be sold without raised eyebrows.
Darlek thought they were a bit young for her I think and refused to wear them, not ungraciously though. Grandma Sweara sat beautifully bedecked in plastic jewellery for a while instead until she got bored of them and Saucisson adopted the necklace for a while. Parading them up and down over his ‘Monster’s’ T’shirt. Darlek has suddenly become very grown up, and a lot more self aware than she was. She now refuses to have her hair in pigtails because she says they laugh at girls at school who wear them. It won’t be long until she starts with a passion for Prada and posh hair straighteners. I know it’s a cliche to say they grow up so quickly but they really do. I looked at her the other day and noticed how long her legs have become, and how tall and lithe she is. I’m not saying she wasn’t beautiful before, but it was a slightly chubby little girl beauty before, with the slightly dimpled elbows and filled out face. These days she seems built like a racing grayhound as my dad would say, and I can see her running ahead towards her girlhood and away from her babyhood. Ah, my gorgeous girl! The most gorgeous girl in the world if you ask me, but then I’m biased.
The gits we are staying in are really like home from homes, complete with sitting rooms with leatherette chairs, well- equipped kitchens, bedrooms with little bunches of lavender tied with ribbons on bedside tables, handy bedside lamps; quirky little paintings on the walls. The little touches such as the hairdrier in every house is much appreciated too. I forgot mine, along with Sausage’s specially bought swim pants, the toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo and conditioner and the bottom half of my new bikini. Thankfully I also bought an all in one costume too so I shall not have to go swimming whilst completely indecent.
I suspect the favourite facility is the outside swimming pool. there are two, one in the grounds of the house and one raised up further up the hill. Both are beautifully maintained (no chips or cracks in the masonry, loungers that all work and look new), and are heated by the sun throughout the day. Around the pool there’s baby doll pink, red and white roses so it is framed very picturesquely. It may not be an infinity pool, but it’ll do nicely for us. They’ve even provided a baby floation belt and two floatation tubes so the kids have something to play with in the pool if visitors have forgotten to bring inflatables (which we did!). The best thing about the swimming pool is that it is completely fenced off with a reasonably tall wooden picket fence, gated with a chidproof lock to ensure there’s no unattended children in there. My daughter in true precocious style has mastered the lock but thankfully has the common sense (usually) not to go in there by herself. She did once and was right royally told off, she’s not done it since! Anyway she can swim quite well now. Saucisson cannot swim and is less precocious so cannot get in there, which is a great relief. I can’t imagine anything worse than having an acessible swimming pool in the grounds of a holiday home.
Who Needs Toys When You’ve Got Gravel?
The younger kids seem fascinated with gravel and stones. The trip to the river resulted in a medium sized basket of stones of varying sizes, the most prized being the lovely amber rose coloured quartz which seems endemic to this area. The plaza in St John is cobbled with the stuff. The other stones which have proved as substitute toys are the gravel that covers the pathways from the houses to the roadway. Endless hours have been spent with the kids shovelling stones from the pathway onto the seated area, and then back again ad infinitum. Sausage has been taught to use the smaller brush to brush the stuff back on to the path in a vain attempt to stop the path invading underneath our outside dining table. Unsucessfully of course. Someone has organised a bowl of water with stones in for the kids to play with, because of course they always look prettier under water and kids love wet stuff. I’ve just heard the parent of the youngest child shout ‘Stop chewing rocks!’ at her, something you just don’t expect to hear shouted whilst in the midst of a civilised sitting-in-the-garden-drinking-vodka-and-tonics afternoon.
This reminded me of when Darlek was a ‘littly.’ I was once memorably heard to yell ‘Stop waving that penguin in such a threatening manner!!!’ Another usually unheard of phrase. Daughter was in the posession of a wooden penguin on a stick and was waving it like she was going to bray someone with it.
The Day France was Closed.
We had a disasterous trip out for the second generation, ie, the older kids, leaving their brethren behind for the first generation to look after them. The plan was to find the local caves, and then find somewhere for lunch. As it was we decided to visit a chateau on the way, which was like a huge dramatic building on the outside, complete with gargoyles and towers, inside it looked like it had very little furnishings left apart from some elaborate tapestries and inexplicable, expensive looking paintings of rhinos. And no, I’m not making that up.
We then went on to the caves where they had some ancient cave drawings on display – which was closed. So we decided to go and get some lunch and stopped off at a roadside garage / cafe – which was closed too. After a couple of soft drinks we headed off to a larger town to find food – every single solitary place that sold food was closed. We laughed it off and starved quietly.
This is so completely alien to me! I didn’t realise, but France is known for ‘closing’ mid-day for a sort of siesta, and you have to time things around their routine. In Britain you can find a butty at Greggs almost any time of the day! The starving bit wasn’t so much fun, so we went to another restaurant – which was, guess what, closed. In absolute desperation we went to a shop to buy a packet of crisps to share - it was closed! I have vivid memories of Annabel in the back of the car saying ‘I’ve got some chewing gum, there’s only one piece, but does anyone want it?’ and I think at that point we thought enough was enough. About ready to chew our own arms off we all sheepishly returned to the git and devoured bread and cheese and then called it a day. The day of freedom didn’t quite work out, although I still enjoyed it because we were child free for once. We could have driven round aimlessly in circles for 2 hours and I’d have been fine about it – wait on…..we did.
Sausage’s potty training has gone to pot, I’m not sure if it is because of the casual french used here and there. We all say ‘Oui!’ (wee!) at regular intervals and he seems happy to oblige. I am so sick of wet pants. It has been suggested that we send him to Africa because they are short of water there. He apparently has the abilty to wee more than he actually drinks, a valuable resource over there maybe.
To be continued……are you bored yet?……or are you booking a flight to France this very second. I know what I wish I was doing……. *sighs*
If you’d like to read Part 4 – please click HERE!