|Emilie [left], and Louisa [right]|
Yesterday was a brilliant day. Here's why yesterday was a brilliant day.
[Warning: there now follows an unexpurgated barrage of words and the usual shoddy photos. Yesterday was packed with fun and thoughts, all of which I want to record. And as I have had zero thoughts of late I shall make the most of it!]
1. Swimming at Fleury d'Aude in the morning. Always fun, but especially so now that Owen wears armbands and swims on his own. He is utterly fearless. He and Matilda both tried goggles for the first time and Matilda, who had been afraid to put her head under the water, discovered the delights of underwater face-pulling. She also managed a few strokes completely unaided.
2. A picnic by the Canal de Midi en famille. The minibeasts enjoyed hailing passing boats.
3. An afternoon at FêtonCirque in Ginestas, organised by Cirque Mycélium. A word of explanation. Ever since Matilda first started careering about I have had visions of her as a clown acrobat (or an acrobat clown, if you will). Do you know the kind I mean? They bumble into the ring, falling over, knocking into things, but then gradually you realise, as their pratfalls become ever more elaborate, that in fact they are highly-skilled acrobats. That is how I imagine my daughter growing up. I would love it if she ran away with the circus. Anyway, when our friends, Stéphane and Helke, mentioned that their girls were going to circus school I did a mental backflip of joy. Yesterday Mycélium held a festival during which the students performed and there were opportunities to have a go at various different circus acts. We went along with Stéphane, Helke, Louisa and Emilie. It was so well organised and friendly. Small, but jam-packed with activities accessible to all.
Cirus is a wonderful art form, combining physical strength and agility with artistic expression. Plus a measure of the magical and a soupçon of the strange. Matilda was over the moon when we offered to sign her up for a a week of circus summer school.
4. Barbecue at Stéphane and Helke's in the evening.
We bumped into a friend of Stéphane and Helke's and a friend of my sister outlaw, Anne's at the swimming pool (one and the same person). Béziers is a small, small world. We know her socially. She's nice, but the encounter was empty. This set me on a train of thought as I showered after our swim (the only time during the week that I get to shower in peace, and thus have trains of thought!). I felt as if I had no real friends in Béziers. That the "friends" we have made are merely social acquaintances. My relationships lack depth. I have never had lots of friends, but the friendships I do have are lovingly cultivated and meaningful. I left the swimming pool feeling slightly melancholic.
And then that very same evening we went out and for the first time I felt a real connection with our new friends and an instant connection to another couple they invited. We had never met Florence and Romain before, but as we left we promised to stay in touch. And I believe we will. I sometimes think that making friends is a bit like learning languages; it's incredibly easy when you're little and gets increasingly difficult with age. Adult life is so time-consuming, with jobs and family and hobbies and other friendships to maintain and whatnot, but making friends, forging real friendship, takes time. Happily we are starting to reap the benefits of nearly four years of notre vie Biterroise.
5. French parenting
As we all ate, drank and were merry, the kids (6 minibeasts in total) roamed around us. Every now and again there were tears and kisses were required, but generally apart from a background of happy giggling, we were in essence two separate parties. My impression, and I know you'll correct me if I'm wrong, is that in Britain and perhaps elsewhere, children are sent to bed early (by my standards...) and the evening is adult time. The French don't seem to separate adult time and kid time in quite the same way. The French are much more into family time. The kids are there. Just around. I like this approach. It suits me. We stayed until gone midnight (hooray, how I miss late nights), and the kids happily entertained themselves until then. All except Owen, who crawled into my lap at about 11pm, snuggled up and fell asleep. Good parenting? Bad parenting? The kids had a whale of a time and I had a lovely cuddle. My kind of parenting.
6. And just when I thought things couldn't get any better, we woke up this morning to a miserable grey day. So we were all able to vegetate at home without guilt. Hooray.