A Bit of Warmth

I know that some of you readers have reached the warmth of summer (enjoy!) and some of you perhaps never leave it, but here in the UK it has turned cold all of a sudden.  After a disturbingly mild Christmas (didn’t feel right singing “on a cold and crispy morning”…), the ice alert has started to flash on the car dashboard and the snow has arrived!

So as a change of scenery for my fellow Brits, I thought this was as good a time as any to (finally) post some photos from our month in Guadeloupe last summer.  Certainly a cheaper way of warming up than all these holidays to Australia that the radio keeps advertising!

Our first week there was pretty calm, mostly spent at home or in Bertie’s local town as we were car-less, so we were very excited to get an invitation to stay that first weekend in a holiday apartment by the sea with his sister and her friends. Highlights – being right by the sea with an air conditioned bedroom, not to mention a tv to watch the opening ceremony of the Olympics back at home. Lowlights – I got my first (and only!) really bad sunburn, sigh, and practically fainted – I was very glad for that air con! The sea was a bit rough for my liking although it didn’t put the kids off! And why did French tv not show the home nation during the opening parade?? I sat through two hours of other countries….for nothing!


Birthday Girl!

This dear girl turned 7 (SEVEN??!!) today and it was a great day of rejoicing indeed.  Out came the ‘throne’ as she excitedly opened her various presents.  I was very impressed that her list was so short – a Barbie VW car, a new quilt, a colouring book and an activity book – either she is learning restraint, or she is learning that her mother is quite frugal!


We also honoured another special tradition that CassCass herself started a few years ago – a bouquet of flowers from Daddy! How nice that they even match her princess dress!


CassCass exceptionally enjoyed snow for her birthday (as a friend commented, you can’t order that from Amazon!) and the three of them spent the morning in and out trying out their new sledge and throwing snowballs at the windows (my job was to look cold and horrified on the other side of the glass!).

Bertie treated us to crepes for our lunch followed by his highly reputed galette des rois in place of a birthday cake (his fourth and final one of the year!).  He thoughtfully ensured that the birthday girl got the feve, making her Queen for the year. Grandma and Grandpa braved the snow and popped in to join the celebrations then the day finished with CassCass’ choice of tagliatelle carbonara for tea.

Tomorrow we are having a small party of 8 girls here (our house doesn’t do big, and besides, the party plates come in packs of 8!) so we are looking forward to more joy and merriment then!

In Pursuit of the Normans

October half term saw us back in France for family duties so I was delighted to combine it with a bit of history and homeschool!  Unfortunately, during the trip both my camera and Bertie’s mobile decided not to work at the same time and my phone with its pictures was stolen a few days later, sigh.  Still, as someone remarked, it is a good reason to go back!  In the meantime, I have included a few photos from other sources whose web pages are very interesting to visit.

Our route took us via Normandy from where dates the start of Bertie and my belle histoire d’amour all those many years ago!  After catching up with old friends in Caen and Falaise, we made our way to Paris via Rouen.  I remember passing through very briefly in the rain on a school trip, but it was a much more enjoyable visit this time.  We walked for a while around the town before finally finding Rouen Cathedral whose first point of interest for us was being the place where our Little Duke was consecrated, although it would have been an earlier building on the site of the present  one.

We were also looking for the tomb of William Longsword, the father of our Little Duke (otherwise known as Richard the Fearless) as well as William’s father Rollo, who sailed from Norway down the river Seine to invade Paris and was given the section of land known as Normandy (named after these Viking “Northmen”) to get him out of the French king’s way.  Despite my year studying in Normandy, I had never realised before how separate the Normans were from the French, with very different roots and a distinct identity, and it has been fascinating tracing their origins. – you can find Rollo and Richard Lionheart there too

We saw plenty of other interesting tombs in the cathedral, including one of our own kings, Richard the Lionheart, whose story we are reading just now.  It was a real test of my Latin to work out what each tomb said, but Richard handily had his feet resting on a lion!  One photo I am sorry not to have was of rows of various statues, many of them well-known figures such as the apostles and the prophets, but also some rather scary looking ones who looked just like The Silence from Dr Who!  No idea what that was all about…!

Chronologically earlier in our trip but historically later was our visit to the home town of the more well-known descendant of Rollo, William and Richard: William the Conqueror.  Chateau Guillaume-le-Conquerant Falaise was a great place to visit, with a lot of the castle intact and an interesting theme of chess running through it (for LissaLou), a display of types of weapons (for JoJo) and of course the sight of medieval toilets to bring many chuckles!  There is a bit of a biais towards William and against poor Harold that we staunch English folk did not appreciate (!) but I guess allowances must be made…

In the town there is also a statue of William on his horse flanked by the six Dukes of Normandy who preceded him: Rollo, William Longsword, Richard the Fearless, Richard the Good, Richard the Third (didn’t last long enough to get himself a fine name!)and Robert the Magnificent.  Little surprise that such a terrifying looking man caused such havoc and distress for my unfortunate countrymen all those years ago.

And Finally – Books We Are All Enjoying

Nothing beats sitting down together on the sofa and reading a book that grips or enchants each of us, on different levels.  We have tried to bring more French into our days and these two fairy tale collections were much appreciated.  The Book of Heroes has some marvellous stories in it, especially one at the end with two brothers who…, you will need to read it yourself!  But I think the all time favourite is possibly Little Pilgrim’s Progress.   This is a particularly special book as it just comes out on Sunday evenings when we usually read one (or possibly two if they are very lucky!) of the short chapters.  The children just love this time and are always clamouring for more, and it has led to so many deep and fascinating discussions on life, faith, the universe…. Highly recommended!

This Term’s Reading For …CassCass

Again, a bit of French reading, a few books that I read and she narrates, and then Six by Seuss which she is enjoying reading to me (JoJo loves sneaking next to us to listen!).  Can I just say how much we love the Fables (and the illustrations in this book add to our pleasure)?  All three look at them over and over again, even JoJo narrates them as they are so simple, and so often does someone comment that a particular situation is “just like that fable”.  Go ahead and savour them!


This Term’s Reading…For LissaLou

Here are the main books that LissaLou has been listening to and narrating, except for Babar which she reads (not easy, as it is all written in the French swirly whirly cursive writing that we are trying to learn!) and translates.  We have both enjoyed them all, but LissaLou’s favourite was undoubtedly Understood Betsy, a great tale about a young girl who leaves a life of being fussed over in town for a very different one of responsibility and challenges in a small farming village.

There has definitely been a Viking theme going on, with the Vikings covered in Discovery of New Worlds, then their arrival in Britain in Our Island Story, and finally the story of the third generation Viking Richard the Fearless and his early life in Normandy in Little Duke.  Now our conversations are full of mead and Valhalla!