Tuesday 14 March 2017

One sip at a time. Learning to live in Provence - Book review

At 192 pages, this is a quick read that will be appreciated by all who live a French life, dream of French living or who are intending to travel to France. Interspersed with pretty line drawings, the chapters could stand alone as short tales or blog entries from three of Keith's visits to France. The anecdotes are told as they were lived and will draw a wry smile from those who have experienced the rigidity of French rules and the mountains of paperwork that accompany their application, the insouciant flaunting of road speed limits in France and the uncomfortable transformation of sleepy Proven├žal villages into tourist nests in July and August. 

No barn is bought and no marriage break-down is lamented, which in itself is slightly unusual in this genre, but it is clear that Keith has an affinity with the French lifestyle and is determined to make a success of his visits. As a French language teacher myself, it was lovely to read both of Keith's determination to learn French and the way he went about this. The last section of the book is a set of resources for learners of the French language and includes how to find language partners and helpful websites, newspapers and television programs.

 "Voyager, ce n'est pas seulement changer de pays ; c'est changer de voyageur, se transformer" (R. Sabatier). I like this and I think Keith would recognise himself in this quote. On a more frivolous note,  I really like the dedication that Keith's wife Val received and about which he wrote. 

 To find out more, you'll just have to go to Amazon here to read the book!
Keith's blog can be found here

Friday 10 February 2017

My husband cycles. I don’t...

February 10 was a big day last year too. After a bit of persuasion to go down the ebook route, I succumbed and listed on Amazon. This year, it was the hottest February day on record in Sydney and France Today published an article that I had written. It was my birthday, too...but that's an annual, less unpredictable event.

Thanks for reading and sharing!

Thursday 2 February 2017

We made it back to France

It is hard when you live in two countries. It is harder still when they happen to be nearly 17000 km apart, require on average 30 hours of travel time and several months salary to pay for the family to get there, knowing all the while that you are setting yourself up for certain mind-numbing jet lag and seasonal confusion. Without careful thought, what you wear to board your plane at one end can severely compromise your comfort at the other (think stepping out into negative temperatures in shorts and t-shirts or stripping off jumpers, coats and scarves to combat 35-degree heat). Living in Australia, that's what French love is all about.

We had planned our long-awaited family return to France for the beginning of December, taking a few indulgences regarding the school calendar (which officially released the children on Dec 17) in an attempt to prolong our time away and escape the harshness of peak peak-period Christmas tickets. We nearly didn't make it to the airport.

Bags on the side of the road. Car smoking.

Fortunately (used somewhat advisedly) we noticed the smoke drifting from the car bonnet before we hit the traffic on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. If you have never visited Australia, I'm sure that you will; nonetheless, empathise with being in this predicament and creating chaos and discontent from the middle of such an iconic structure. Again fortunately, we had found ourselves a lovely housesitter who had kindly offered to drive us to the airport (a good hour-and-a-half drive from home). In an extraordinary display of good humour, our housesitter, having calmly alerted us to the smoke, offered to wait for roadside assist alone and waved us onwards in the back of a family sized taxi. 

Strangely, after a few casual pleasantries, the taxi driver smiled and told us that we had been lucky. What did he know that we didn't? How does breaking down on the way to the airport, where time is of the essence, constitute 'lucky'? When we nervously asked him to elaborate, he just smiled again, nodded his head slightly and said, "You'll see... in about 10 minutes." Yikes!

And ten minutes later as we sailed past cars rooted to the spot in our free-to-go-like-the-wind taxi and bus lane, we grinned back at him.

A lesson? What appears to be a curved ball can sometimes be a blessing in disguise. I must moralise with myself more often...

PS For two years now, I have seen reference to the All About France links and have at times tried to paste the image to my post in order to be able to join in. Clearly, I haven't managed or simply haven't tried hard enough. Trying again now.

Friday 13 January 2017

A long-overdue post

En route to the Christmas markets in Annecy. Wild, striking sunset.

We returned to France at a time of year when festivities are in full swing, evenings can be spent around an open fire or strolling the Christmas markets, where weather app reading becomes a daily addiction and snow watching, when it does decide to oblige the amateur weather forecaster, can last for hours. I had thought that this would give me plenty of inspiration for writing happy, uplifting blog posts.  I've been inspired, no doubt about that. I've also been way too inclined to enjoy whatever celebratory cheer has been on offer, which has meant no writing at all. Zilch, zero. Nothing to show. 

Fortunately, Jacqui from French Village Diaries had something up her sleeve that might just get me off the hook. Please enjoy my interview with her here

Backyard bliss. Snow, sun and mountains.