Thursday, 25 June 2015

Nature's craft cupboard

Last weekend we were looking after our friends' children, Juliette (5) and Benjamin (2).  For all those people who are always saying to us, "Oh, go on, you'll have another one", no, definitively, no - we won't.  Five is very many children.  At least two too many.  Fanf and I opted for a strategy of divide and conquer (or divide and survive) so in the afternoon while the little ones slept, I took the three big'uns to the park and we made some beautiful art together.  One of the things that always stops me in my crafting tracks (and my tracks are just not that crafty naturally) is my lack of money and time to stock a proper supply of craft materials.  As I have made clear in previous crafting posts, I like to make do with old tat.  And as we discovered last weekend, nature is very generous with her old tat.  And how much more agreeable as a parent to turn that old tat into lovely but ephemeral artwork... rather than carting random bits of old rock, rotting leaves and mouldy acorns home in your bag to continue rotting and moulding around the house.

So here I give you....

1.  The Leaf Lion

Lion faces.

2.  Princesse Elsa de feuilles belles aux pétales et aux fleurs jaunes

Note the high heels.

Princess faces... apparently.

p.s. This photo makes me laugh.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Happy Papa Daddy Day// Bonne Fête Papa Daddy*

A weekend packed with friends, and activities, and other peoples' children, finished perfectly with just us, on our favourite terrasse, eating ice cream (the kids), drinking beer (us), after a day at the beach.  Sometimes I hate living in the south of France, and sometimes it's just wonderful.  Today it's wonderful.


Ok, so capturing my beloved tribe all looking normal is just not to be reasonably expected.  But at least there's only one weirdie in my fathers' day photos.... (oh Nell).

Just looking at these pictures makes me a bit teary (I suspect a day in the sun and a couple of beers have something to do with that).  Fanf is what the French call a "papa poule", and I wouldn't have him any other way.  He is a hands-on, all-in kind of dad.  The minibeasts reckon he's the best dad in the entire world.  And I reckon they're right.  My partner in crime - we have committed three beautifully executed crimes together.

* Nell frequently refers to Fanf as papa daddy.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Now she is 2

Nell, oh Nell, sweet Nell, you are a card.  On the rare occasions that we have to have stern words you are heartbroken.  You can't bear to think that someone doesn't like you, thankfully not something you really have to worry about.  You are, in fact, well aware of your charms and take great joy in exercising them.  But your trump card is your sense of humour.  You 'eat clown for breakfast' every morning, as the French say, and you have the most cheeky range of "comedy" eye expressions.  One look can have your audience in fits of giggles.  If you stick with this winning combination of charm and laughter, I'm sure you will go far in life.

So here are some of the things Nell loves at 2:

1.  Tildaowen

Always said as one word, Tildaowen is her mantra.  She adores them.

2.  Peppa Pig

A lot of kissing goes on in Nell's Peppa Pig games.  She kisses them, they kiss each other.  In this instance it is Granny Pig who is receiving some love.

3. Diddybirds

My absolute favourite mispronunciation of Nell's, she is obsessed with diddybirds.  And the way she says it is just impossibly cute, I never want her to pronounce it correctly.  So if we could all agree please, from now on those little spotty insects are to be known as diddybirds.  Thank you.

4. Félix

Proud as punch with her man right where she wants him ;)

5.  Reading

Reading her new Emilie birthday book

Favourite books of the moment:
The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson
I want my hat back by Jon Klassen
Stanley's Stick by John Hegley

And Nell has also started to join us for the bedtime read.  She snuggles up with Matilda and half listens, half pokes and prods Matilda.  Last week when she had to go to bed without Matilda and Owen she still insisted on having a book read to her while she snuggled up in Matilda's bed.  I tried to read Winnie-the-Pooh but she made it very clear to me (by thrusting the book in my face) that I was to continue with Moomin Midsummer Madness.

6. Sticking out her tongue (still!)

I think it's pathological.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Twinkle Toes

During the curtain call

Owen had his dance gala last Friday and Saturday night.  That's two nights folks. And two dances, both of which were quite long (I've stuck films at the end of the post - hats off to anyone who manages to watch either to the end).  I have to admit I felt my heart pinch when his tiny little body appeared on stage at the beginning of his first dance.  The students perform in a large theatre in front of lots of people, Owen's group are the youngest and they were exceedingly cute, and exceedingly brave.  I was so impressed.  Owen has always danced to the rhythm in his own head and (as you might or might not be able to tell from the videos) is not always completely on the ball, but he enjoys himself, which I think is the most important thing at his age. I'm so proud of him.

We went to see the show on Saturday night with a full complement of tontons, tantines and cousins.  Everyone had great fun.  When I went to fetch Owen after the show I tried to scoop him up in my arms and congratulate him but he wriggled away saying "Can I go and join the cousins?".  Sigh.  I really got the feeling that the show was no big deal for him (and of course cousin love comes before everything else).  He wasn't nervous at any point or phased by performing in front of a theatreful of people.  He told me afterwards, "I liked being on stage, même I adored it!"  Ah, the lure of the limelight, it's hard to resist.  And I hope he won't!!

!! Word of warning, we were sat right by the speakers and the music is very loud !!

La valse d'Amélie:

Le Sampa:

Thursday, 4 June 2015


I have no idea why, but when you ask Nell to smile she does this:

Here she is doing it again:

She odd.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Béziers School for the Young and Gifted: Advanced social greetings

With visiting lecturer (and adored cousin) Monsieur Pierrot Plaire:

We had Pierrot and his brother Emile over for a sleepover last week.  I am amazed by their endless patience with my three little screeching banshees, who are all besotted with their big cousins.  I have never been close to my cousins, and never particularly felt I had missed out, but the joy, love and laughter my three experience with their cousins makes me see how special cousin love can be.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

There's something about Katie

Life seems to be getting away from me at the moment, stopping my new blogging flurry in its tracks.  But I couldn't let a visit from Katie pass without mention, when it comes to RTBCs, my friendship with Katie is right up there.  Spending time with kindred spirits is like an eternal first sip of beer after a hot day in the sun - refreshing, reviving and conducive to instant merriment.

The highlight of her visit was a tour around the Noilly Prat factory in Marseillan.  Noilly Prat make and sell Noilly Prat white and red around the world but only in Marseillan can you get Noilly Prat ambré, the finest of the lot and that much more special because you can only get it there.  In actual fact, each of the three versions is made using the same three wines but the different colours and flavours are created using herbs and spices.  The other great thing we learned from the tour was that the enormous success of Noilly Prat was pretty much down to a woman, Anne-Rosine, who in the 19th century ran the company for nearly 40 years and expanded the business to export Noilly Prat sec worldwide.  I'm always impressed when I come across these women who simply got on with leading the lives they wanted to lead, without fanfare, before women's lib was even invented.

Of course, we got to taste everything at the end.
Cheers Auntie Katie!

Other than our alco-jolly, we spent most of our time chatting and eating and drinking.  Much as I do like to take visitors out and about, with old friends, whatever you do is simply a background to the chatting, reminiscing about the past, dreaming about the future and putting the world to rights.  So cheers again from me Katie, like a bottle of ambré, the only way to get the good stuff is to go to the source.  A Katie by any other name would certainly not be as sweet.