Friday, 28 October 2016


I get a bit bored of parents rolling their eyes and despairing at the idea of the school holidays.  What?!  Is having your kids around such a chore?  Would you rather they were permanently in school?  I'm sure that certain, maybe most (I hope so) are joking.  But why do we joke about not liking to be with our kids?  I LOVE the holidays.  We get to do stuff, just hang out together, please ourselves.  Few things make me happier than being with my kids.  I'm in a strange transition period at the moment and, well I was about to say, my kids keep me grounded, but actually, it's the exact opposite, they keep me in fairyland, where everything is "fluffly", as Nell would say. I'm all for a bit of "fluffly" every now and again.

What is more, the Toussaint holidays are pretty much the best of the lot.  Too close to the summer hols and Christmas to feel the need to go away, but the most glorious weather down our way.  We celebrated the first day of the holidays by taking a picnic to the beach.  When the sun came out we baked nicely, when the wind started to blow we were refreshed by the nip in the air.

Happy days.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Five go on an adventure

I started writing this at the end of August and then September happened.  But it was so important to me, our little family jaunt, I absolutely wanted to capture a few memories on the blog.

For the first time EVER we went away for the weekend just the five of us.  On Wednesday, we booked a little house on Air BnB in the highest village perché of the Montagne Noire and on Friday we left.  Spontaneity, the older I get the more I live by you.  Fanf gave me free reign to organise whatever I pleased so I pleased myself entirely.  Our village, Pradelles-Cabardès, has its own little lake, which we could see from our house and we set out as soon as we arrived to dip our feet in the water, eat hot chips and drink wine in the friendly little bar by the lake side.

On Saturday we woke to a bright and blustery day and set off for a walk in the surrounding countryside, including visiting the village's famous glacières. Everyone walked well, even Nell, we saw pretty much no one, we had a lovely picnic on a shady log and finished back beside the lake for a dip and an icecream (the promise of which was a good motivator for little legs).

In the evening we had a BBQ back at our little house and watched many, MANY, shows.  The kids were feeling inspired.  Afterwards Matilda declared it had been her favourite night of the year.  All my cockles warmed!

The next day I took the troupes for a pinic lunch at the Cascade de Cubserviès.  Purportedly the highest waterfall in Europe.  Not sure about that but it was a beautiful spot for a picnic. 

Then in the afternoon we visited the Chateaux de Lastours, one of the most beautiful Cathar sites.  Is there anything better than a castle on a hill... Yes, four castles on a hill!!  Four castles nestled in stuning natural surroundings.  I took so many photos.  I loved it! 

Me.  Happy as the proverbial muddy pig.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Super Nell to the rentrée!!!

She's ready for action, go go Nell!!! Today she started school proper and apparently it was "good".  What she liked best was "painting".  All she ever seems to do at school is "painting".  Well, I suppose as the first two have been assigned the future careers of doctor and lawyer I can allow the last one to be an artist.

Owen ran to school this morning, he couldn't wait to get back and indeed they were all happy to start the new year.  I've always been a complete school nerd, I loved the first day of school, glad to see I have passed on my nerd genes.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Everything is awesome

Uncle Dan came and stayed with us for a lovely long weekend.  So lovely, but not long enough!!  It doesn't happen often that people brave our housebarelyholdingtogether and the kids were so excited to have cool Mad Unc D sleeping over.  Owen came down one morning and the first thing he said, before "Good Morning", before "Mother dearest how charmingly fresh you look this many a fine day", was "Where's Uncle Dan?"

We made the most of his stay to do stuff!  Me being a doer of stuff, it's always good to have an excuse.  We went up to visit the Grotte de Labeil in the Larzac region and under cover of a trip to the caves (the kids love caves, actually so do I!) I took them on a beautiful woodland hike with great views over the valley.

Marching with Uncle Dan

Owen took many, many, oh so many rather avant-garde photos of the caves, I will share only his favourite, a pat on the back and a feeling of smug self-satisfaction to anyone who can guess why!

Uncle Dan is not so much a doer of stuff as a lord of the loaf when he's on holiday so I allowed us a rest day on Sunday, but with, nonetheless, a trip to the beach for an apéro plage in the evening.

Kung fu on the beach with Sifu Fanf

Kung fu Nell

Nell and Uncle Dan marching home

Sadly there is only one photo of Uncle Dan (courtesy of Fanf's phone) because I forgot my camera, as I did also when we went for lunch in Narbonne and then for an afternoon's watery fun at the Espace de Liberté.  So here are some photos I took on our day in Larzac to make up for it!

And this is Nell pretending to be Uncle Dan.

Dan is the bestest Uncle and the brilliantest brother.  Laid back and cheeky, he fits right in with our gang.  And the fact that he doesn't have children of his own (wise man) means being with his nephew and nieces is amusing, how fun it is to play with kids if you know you can give them back when their batteries start to go flat or their circuits misfire. He is able to give them a kind of attention you don't get from those who have kids of their own.  For me, being with Dan (and indeed my other brother Ben) makes me feel myself.  The bond is strong with us.  When I see my three minibeasts go into a frenzy of crazy sibling giggles, when everything the others do is hilariously funny, I get nostalgic.  I can only hope, as in the case of Ben, Dan and I, that frenzy will become true lifelong friendship.  

Uncle Dan is awesome.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Six glorious years

Favourite animal of the moment: the owl

Yes, my boy is six.  Six!  A big kid.  But he's such a dreamy innocent, I feel in his heart he'll always be a little kid.

Favourite princess of the moment: Ariel

I've been meaning to write this for ages, the birthday post, but I wasn't sure what to write, and I think that's because Owen doesn't change.  He just becomes more himself, and that's what I love about him.  Owen is an original, he does his own thing, he doesn't care what others think or say, for the moment his principal mode is HAPPY. And his happiness keeps him in a secure little bubble.  His little princess bubble.

I think we can safely say the dress-wearing, princess-loving antics are more than a phase.  For his birthday he got the LEGO Ice palace from Frozen.  Hours of fun!  I love the mini Olaf and Sven.

This is him leaping around on the beach pretending to be Elsa.

Reine de la Sable

And this is him leaping about in the waves pretending to be Elsa.

This year was the first time we organised a little party with his friends.  Mostly girls! 

No surprise that the girls all love him, just look how handsome he is with his surfer dude (princess) hair.  And those enormous blue eyes.

He is enthusiastic about everything.  When his mind doesn't wander he throws himself at any task with gusto.  Last week he did a circus workshop.  We dropped him off bouncing around at the beginning of each class, and picked him up still bouncing around.  When he did his end of workshop presentation he maintained an attitude of delighted concentration throughout.  He wanted to do well and enjoy himself.  I think this means, at the grand old age of 6, that he has life sussed. 

He's also a very fruity little loop.  So full of fun.  Owen, please don't ever change, we love you just the way you are!!!

Saturday, 9 July 2016


He's really rather good that Charlie Chaplin fellow.

At the grand old age of 39, last night I watched my first Charlie Chaplin film, The Kid.  Shame on me.  Not wishing to make the same mistake with the minibeasts, we all watched it together last night.  A most welcome change from the endless Pixar/Disney fare.  I could wax on about how brilliant The Kid is.  But that would seem rather unnecessary.  I do want to record how much all the kids loved it.  Nell giggled whenever she saw the Tramp's trademark shuffling walk, Owen liked the happy ending (you really yearn for it in this film) and Matilda pretty much cried the whole way through.  She proved very sensitive to the expressiveness of the film.  Actually, I cried several times too.  It led into some interesting discussions about what makes a "real" dad, as opposed to what the kids term a "papa de naissance".  It also blew their minds somewhat that the film was made before their great grandmother was born. 

The idea to watch the film came from the BFI's list of the 50 films you should see before the age of 14.  We've done 12, so still a fair way to go!

This morning Matilda fashioned herself a moustache, found a cane and set about creating her own (naked) tramp.  Naked because it's so damn hot the kids are naked all the time at the moment.  But I love that they were so inspired.  And I loved that while I was watching Chaplin and Coogan I was so completely absorbed in their story that I forgot the stifling heat and everything else besides.  Having a good cry can be good for the soul.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016


Yay.  A weekend of walking in the Caroux with the cousins.  Quite tough walking.  But beautiful.  So green and cool and fresh.  The perfect escape from the heat of summer and the buzz of tourists. 

As I was preparing our picnic Nell pitter pattered up to me and announced that she was ready for the mountains.  I suggested she was a tad underdressed...

She returned two minutes later dressed like this:

Having wrangled Nell into more suitable attire we were all good to go.  What I love about the Caroux is how varied the landscape is, from the soaring vistas to the verdant forests and the chestnut groves.

Indigenous wildlife
The gang

It was with complete and utter joy that we all plunged our weary feet into the nicely icy stream running through the chestnut grove during the final leg of our Sunday walk.

Weary feet

Light-dappled Nell

Happiness is...