The ‘Children’ category:

A winter walk

February 12th, 2014

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Although it was windy and cold today, it wasn’t raining and there was actually a bit of blue sky, so we thought we’d make the most of our Wednesday-off-school to go out for a walk. It’s been a while because it’s just been so grotty out there recently.

The gang of explorers

Soren & Milo looking through their binoculars

A squirrel’s store

Gosh, what a polite fellow!

Splashing through a stream.


October 12th, 2012

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Our eldest goes to school – he’s a few weeks into his second year. Here’s how it works….

School’s obligatory from age 6, but most children go from age 3, some even younger if the school will accept them. Soren’s school has two sides; the little ones (maternelle 3-6) and the big ones (primaire 6-9). There are 30 children in his school.

So we drop Soren off between 09:05 and 09:15 and he hangs his coat and bag up on his little hook, takes his shoes off and puts on his slippers (chaussons). He goes through into the classroom and puts his name tag on the board then sits at one of the tables to do a puzzle or some drawing for a bit before the structured part of the day begins. Parents can help their child with the slippers bit but once the children have gone into the classroom we have to go; there were too many instances of children screaming and clinging to their parents so the teachers decided a clean break was the answer.

There’s a break mid-morning when they play outside in the courtyard, but only when it’s not raining or cold. When the weather’s even slightly unpleasant the teachers keep them indoors. They never get to play on the grass because (apparently) in the winter the ground’s too wet and in the summer the ground’s too hard. Given they’re only in their 20s, the teachers have old lady attitudes to children and the outdoors!

Lunch break is at 12:15. They go off hand in hand with one of their friends in a neat line to the cantine where they have, for example,

Bœuf bourguignon avec pommes de terre
Crêpe à la confiture.

After lunch the younger ones (3, 4 and sometimes 5 year olds) have a nap. Then more school stuff, a mid-afternoon break, then we go and pick Soren up at 16:45. Regardless of the weather he’ll be wearing everything in his bag – coat, hat, gloves, scarf, even if it’s hot and sunny!

School is Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; they get Wednesday off.

He’s my brother

April 13th, 2012

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Milo parking his bike next to Soren's

Soren grabs onto his brakes, jumps off his bike and lets it fall wherever he happens to be before sprinting off to the next thing.

Milo rolls up beside his big brother’s discarded bike, carefully climbs off his bike, then with great effort pushes it so it’s also lying sideways on the floor.

I think Soren might be Milo’s hero.

Bike rides with Soren

January 6th, 2012

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I bought a Weeride Co-Pilot last April and Soren and I quickly clocked up hundreds of miles on the little lanes and woodland tracks.

He was too small back then to reach both pedals so couldn’t contribute, but that was OK: I was fat and needed the exercise. It was hard work as the trailer bike is quite heavy, and with a wobbling Soren on top even more so, but it was a delight to be whooshing through the French countryside with him. He has since grown enough to pedal, which is nice, but he’s also developed an extreme ‘Why?’ habit  (for example, “Why are ditches made of long?”) so we haven’t been out that much recently: having him directly behind me CONSTANTLY asking ‘Why?’ drove me mad! ‘

Soren’s school is in the local village 4 1/2 miles away, close enough to cycle, so I always planned to drop him off or pick him up on what he calls the ‘mini bike’. For some reason though we never actually did this… until today. It was very cold but sunny, so perhaps not idyllic, but Soren loved the novelty and I loved being back on the bike. And because he was having fun there weren’t too many questions. In fact he pointed things out to me rather than ask me about them, such as, “When we ride forwards the trees go backwards!”

He can ride his own bike very competently now so I don’t know whether he’ll start to ask to go on that rather than the Co-Pilot in future, but hopefully we’ll be able to carry on going out for rides together like this for a while longer; without the constant questioning it’s absolutely lush.


CHiPs (La Chaume Highway Patrol)

September 26th, 2011

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Our boys are quite inventive little players, coming up with all sorts of funny games. They invariably involve gravel, sharp rusty pieces of metal, and jumping from great heights, so we sometimes like to steer them towards less dangerous pursuits.

Today I came up with the ‘flags on your bikes’ game. I’m usually useless at activities, especially if they involve paint – I can’t stand the potential for utter messy mayhem – but today I had the brainwave of putting flags on their bikes.

I admit it doesn’t seem like much, and it certainly didn’t require a lot of input from me, but it was a success! They loved them and rode round the courtyard for hours, turning every now and then to admire their flags as they trundled over the bumps.

I’m saving the ‘flags on your shoes’ game for another day.

First day in a French school

September 5th, 2011

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Soren went to school today, his first ever time. He did really well, had a lovely time, and we’re very proud. And given that it’s a French school and he doesn’t speak French yet, we were both rather relieved!

Our intention when embarking on our adventure here was to spend more time together, to develop and grow as individuals and as a family. The plan for education was therefore to home school.

There were three problems though. Firstly, neither of us is very organised. Secondly, Soren reacts quite strongly when he gets the faintest hint that we’re doing ‘teaching’. And thirdly, there are no French kids anywhere except in school.

Given these challenges, the most significant of which was getting him exposed to as much French as possible, and the fact that we thought Soren would actually quite like to go to school, we signed him up. It’s not quite as big a deal as we originally feared since up to the age of 6 it’s all games and painting and stories and singing and so on.

There are a total of 16 children in his class: a couple of 3 year olds, half a dozen 4 year olds and a several 5 year olds. They hang their little rucksacks up on their hook, take their shoes off and put their slippers on, then go through into the classroom with tiny tables and chairs and various collections of toys and things to do. There’s a walled courtyard/playground out the back with some heavy-duty trikes. The teacher seems nice, the classroom assistant wears what looks like butcher’s overalls. It all seems sort of cute, slightly run down, but overall what you might imagine a typical little French school to be like. Hopefully Soren will continue to enjoy it there, make lots of friends, and learn lots!

A trailer for Murray

August 7th, 2011

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I made a little trailer for Murray the tractor today.

There wasn’t a great deal to do and it took me about 1 1/2 hours. I found an old trailer frame in a barn (this step significantly reduces the amount of time and effort required to make a trailer) and simply built a box, stapled some foam on the inside, and attached a pole that bolts onto the back of Murray.

I took the boys for a spin this evening and they liked it!