Posts Tagged ‘language’

Wales for the Day

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

As part of my extensive social calendar thanks to my cousin Lesley, I was invited to go to Wales for the day to visit one of Les’s friends. I hadn’t quite realised how close I was to the Welsh border but after only 30 minutes in the car I couldn’t understand any of the street signs. Welsh is amazing! Any language that can string that many consonants together should be strongly encouraged.

Looking for chocolate in the Pethau melys aisle

Looking for chocolate in the Pethau melys aisle

Thanks to Les’s friend, I was taken on the scenic route through the Snowdonia mountains where there was indeed snow. The countryside was spectacular – snow covered mountains and forests and then rocky outcrops of grey and green and purple slate. I didn’t even know you could get purple slate, but now I do! My excitement for the word “sea” meant we went home via a coastal road and I was allowed out of the car to inhale salty air. Oh how my lungs sang with joy! And lambs. Did I mention the lambs? For this Paris-ified city-girl it was a massive country hit and I spent most of the journey staring out the window saying, “WOW! LOOK AT THAT!” I now really want to buy a car and just drive. Or live in a tiny town in Wales, learn to speak Welsh, work at the local pub and marry a local farmer boy. Yep. Good plan.

A llyn.

A llyn.

Mountains! Snow!

Mountains! Snow!

The Irish Sea

The Irish Sea

I Had a Dream

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

For many people who go to a new country and learn a new language, there is a point in time when you are clearly comfortable enough with the language that you start dreaming in it. I am not a huge dreamer, and if I do dream I never remember it in the morning, so I’m not entirely sure whether or not I dream in French. I would like to say I do because I know many people who have been learning French for a much shorter period of time than me and yet they have been able to dream in French. That’s not fair.

However, last night I had a dream that was half in English and half in French AND it would make a fantastic television game show. It would have been entirely in French, however I was in it and I was stumbling along with my not-quite-perfect speaking ability. Essentially the dream involved me partaking in a competition where I had to run around a supermarket putting items into a trolley. Yes, it was essentially Supermarket Sweep, however it was in French and we were given little electronic note pads that listed an item we had to find. Once we had found it in the supermarket and put it in our trolley, the note pad then changed to show a different item which we had to find. It was great fun!

However, I was at a slight disadvantage as the other competitors were French and therefore didn’t have to translate the item they were being told to search for. However, they were both male and therefore didn’t think like a supermarket aisle, something I am particularly skilled at. So when the next item was a ‘measuring tape’, the boys had all gone to general homewares section, where as I knew it would be in the sewing department. HA HA! Winner!

Actually, I don’t know if I won because I woke up before the competition had finished. But I felt like I was doing ok. I have high hopes for coming back next week to play on for more great prizes!

Café de Diable

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

It was Tuesday Lunch Club Day yesterday and Tom, Josh and I were kicked out of our apartments by the cleaning lady (ooh-la-di-da, Jess) at around 11.30am and we headed off on a weird trail set by Josh. It is interesting to see how other people visualise how streets connect in Paris – I don’t think anyone really knows the most efficient way of getting from one place to the next. The streets are far too confusing and diagonal here. No Perth-like grid systems for Paris!

We eventually arrived at Rue de la Roquette, a street full of restaurants and bars frequented by locals. The street eventually arrives at Place de la Bastille and then you will discover the phenomenon of “tourists” but for most part the street is tourist-free. Bliss. I had been recommended a restaurant called Café des Anges, which is French for cafe of the angels. Such a name suggests good things and so we decided to give it a go.

Considering there are no Parisians in Paris at the moment, the cafe was relatively busy, clearly with people who go there every lunch time during their two-hour break. We managed to secure an outdoor table “à la terrasse” – something that is apparently very important in France during summer. You’re low life scum if you choose to sit in the shade or inside during summer – unfortunately, outdoor eating in Paris also means passive smoking so I am often that low life scum, hiding away from the toxic fumes. So we had a table and then we waited for something to happen. And we waited.

Cafe des Anges

Our view from the terrace

Eventually a waitress arrived, looked at us with a puzzled look on her face and when I eventually said “Can we have a menu please?” she said “Oh! You want to eat? Ok.” and ran away. About five minutes later we saw her walking off down the street having just finished her shift. So we waited again. By this time we had decided to stretch our necks out of their sockets and read one of the blackboard menus and decided what we wanted to eat. But another waitress eventually spotted us and declared she would bring us menus as we helplessly said “No, we know what we want!” to her disappearing back. It took three waitresses and a lot of “Excusez-moi”s to finally get the waitresses to realise we wanted to order our food. It also took as much effort to get a bottle of water.

Luckily the sun was shining, we were at lunch club and we were all generally content so we weren’t that fussed by the strange behaviour. What amused and confused us greatly was when Josh (a vegetarian) asked if it was possible to exchange the chicken on the salad he wanted for smoked salmon. There was another salad on the menu that had smoked salmon in it but the other ingredients weren’t so great so we were at least certain that salmon existed in the kitchen. Here was the conversation (translated from French):

Josh: Can I have the Cob salad but with salmon instead of chicken?
Waitress: No. It’s too hard.
Josh: Really? But I don’t eat chicken.
Waitress: No, no, it’s not possible. The kitchen staff would get too confused and it would take a long time to make.
Josh: Ok… well I will just have the Cob salad with no chicken.
Waitress: Really? Are you sure?
Josh: Yes… it’s fine.
Waitress: Ok.
*Waitress walks away, turns around and comes back to the table.
Waitress: You can have potatoes in the salad if you like.

What is the difference between changing the chicken for potato instead of salmon? Apparently that wasn’t going to be an issue for the chefs in the kitchen and they would be able to handle it. ANYWAY.

Considering the speed of the waitresses, the chefs were clearly miles ahead and it didn’t take long for our food to arrive. And it was goooood. Tom was excited about his cheeseburger which had about five different sorts of cheese in it, all of which he declared were ‘real’. No plastic hamburger cheese here.

Cheese burger

Tom's burger

The bun was still full of sugar and out of a packet. I really don’t understand why the French think it is ok to serve such awful bread with their burgers considering how pedantic they are about bread normally. Tom still managed to make all sort of moaning noises while eating it so I believe it was good.

Josh’s salad was quite impressive including an entire sliced avocado and the magic potatoes. I didn’t photograph his food so I can’t show you but think salad, think olives, think green, think yum. It was worth the chicken/salmon/potato discussion.

I ordered a vegetarian lasagna and it was fan-awesomely-tastic. It was rustic, cheesy, and full of delicious vegetables, plus it was topped with a heap of rocket and parmesan cheese. What more could a vegetable and cheese loving girl want?

Vegetarian lasagna

Look at it! I want more.

The food was great and very reasonably priced so we certainly weren’t disappointed. However, we then wanted to pay and we had to rely on slow and incompetent waitstaff to deliver us our bill. The waitress who had been serving us the most (we’re fairly certain she was also the manager of the cafe) had to walk past us at least six times, each time saying “Oh yes! The bill! I will bring it!”, until she finally managed to print it off and bring it to the table. By this time we had looked at the menu, worked out how much we needed to pay and had scrounged together some money. My lasagna was 11.80Euros and I managed to put together the exact amount with a few small coins. I went off to the bathroom while we were still waiting for the bill to arrive and left the boys in charge of paying. When I came back, the waitress was rolling her eyes and grumbling because I was paying with ‘les petites pièces” and she wasn’t impressed that I had dared pay her the exact amount. So we left. If she expected a tip for her excellent service it would have been “Learn how to serve clients”.

It’s a shame when a cafe offers great food but is let down in another department. I can’t say I will rush back to Café des Anges but I did really enjoy my lasagna. So far the Tuesday Lunch Club has had some up and down experiences but I can’t wait for our next exciting adventure.

Cartwheel

I was so excited about lunch club that I did a cartwheel. Or at least pretended to.

Handy News

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

Apparently I’m not the only person who needs help conjugating French verbs. I was reading the Le Monde newspaper online this morning and discovered that they have a section next to the classifieds and job opportunities that shows you how to conjugate verbs! Brilliant. I think The West Australian should pick that idea up because plenty of Australians need help with the English language. They may need to extend it beyond verb endings though. It’s about time people became aware that “Can I help youse?” is NOT a sentence.

I did particularly enough learning how to conjugate the verb “Estérifier,” which, according to my French/English dictionary, means to esterify. According to my English dictionary, to Esterify means to create an organic compound by replacing the hydrogen of an acid by analkyl or other organic group. Many naturally occurring fats and essential oils are esters of fatty acids. Now that’s a handy verb! You, too, can learn such verbs and how to conjugate them in French! Won’t that be fun.

And the Arrogant Frenchman Award Goes to…

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

… the over confident waiter who destroyed a perfectly nice evening at Hotel du Nord last night! Congratulations!

Congratulations

Not.

It was Harald and Heather’s (Tom’s parents) last night in Paris and they treated us to dinner at Hotel du Nord. Previous visits to this restaurant had proven positive and I spent the day looking forward to my meal. The first disappointment was the discovery that they have recently changed their menu so everything I had been planning on eating was no longer available. However, it is always good to try something new so I got over this quickly enough.

We were served by a friendly and efficient girl who took our orders and we waited with anticipation for our meals to arrive. My dinner arrived first, delivered by a guy who has been at the restaurant every time we’ve been there and who has a generally grumpy disposition. As he handed me my plate, he said something to me in French which I didn’t quite get the first time so I asked him to repeat himself. And so he said exactly the same thing again, which I understood to be, “There aren’t any other dishes ready.” to which I looked surprised and said “Ok.” and he walked away.

And so I waited for a few minutes for everyone else’s food to arrive but it didn’t and so I started eating to avoid my food getting cold. And I ate. And ate. I had about a fifth of my food left on my plate when the original waitress looked at our table and noticed that I was the only one with food. She frowned, we said, “Where’s the rest of the food?” and she went off to the kitchen to look for it. She returned to apologise and say that it was on its way (so it hadn’t been cooked yet), and I finished my meal. And then he appeared. Monsieur Grumpy came over to the table with a disapproving look on his face and said to me (in French), “Do you speak French?” to which I responded with “Oui.” He then proceeded to tell me that when he had brought me my meal he had asked me whether the dish had been ordered “separatement” (separately) and therefore it was my fault that no one else had their meal. This was said in a very accusatory tone and I sat dumbfounded as I was told that it was my fault that their communication systems between waiters and kitchen had clearly broken down. Of course, less than perfect French speaking skills failed me and I sat saying “Errr…” and shaking my head as he screwed up his nose at me and sauntered off.

I don’t think I have ever been so blatantly blamed for something that was out of my control in such a public venue before. It took me by surprise and my frustration and being unable to explain myself resulted in me getting over emotional and then came the tears. This, of course, led to outrage from Tom who then called the guy over and started pointing at the whimpering girl and trying his best to tell the guy off in French and English. The waiter just shrugged and made fun of Tom’s attempted at French and walked off again. Harald made the the final call saying “Ein arsch” potentially slightly too loudly. Anyway, the NICE waitress tried her best to calm the situation and gave us free dessert (hooray!) but the waiter seriously needed to be taught a lesson in what-not-to-do-to-your-clients. He could have just given me a dirty look and mumbled under his breath how annoying foreigners are, but he didn’t need to come and tell me it was my fault when 1. it wasn’t and 2. he never asked me if the dish had been ordered separately. One thing about listening to second languages is that you listen very careful to each word that is said in the sentence and he DID NOT say ‘separately’.

Anyway, Tom came home and wrote scathing comments about the waiter on La Fourchette. We all agreed that the food was great and the waitress who actually served us was lovely so other than the ‘arse’ we had a good time. Just a pity about arrogant waiters, I guess.

Time to Recap

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Once again I have to write a catch up report on what we have been up to. It has been a very busy week and a half involving visits to two cities, lots of train trips, visitors, funerals, family, food, fun and frantic searches for short sleeved tops. Paris is experiencing some sort of heat wave. By that, I mean it has been above 23 degrees most days and for some reason that feels more like 30 degrees. I have made a few exasperated visits into clothing stores in search of short sleeves and summer skirts but it has been quite disappointing. Plus, lots of the shops aren’t airconditioned and so I enter and leave in a “I’m hot and grumpy” mood. Those of you who know me well will know that I’m not the most approachable person when I am hot and bothered. Anyway, I have managed to find a few tops in Monoprix (a supermarket that also sells cheap basic clothes) so I felt somewhat cooler yesterday. Today my parents are arriving and bringing me shorts! IMAGINE THAT! Shorts… so cooling.

So! Travel adventures. After returning home from Lyon, we unpacked and repacked our bag and the next morning headed off to Koblenz on two separate trains. This was due to pricing and getting the best possible bargains. The train ride to Koblenz is particularly beautiful – first you catch a train to Saarbrucken which is just over the French/German border and then you change trains and follow the Moselle river all the way to Koblenz. The views are spectacular and what you could describe as “typical German countryside”. Green rolling hills, cute little villages with wooden houses and the picturesque tranquility of the winding river. No matter how hard I tried to read my book, I couldn’t helping looking out the window every second line.

Rhein

The Rhein in Koblenz

It was great seeing Tom’s Dad (he had flown over from Perth early in order to attend his father’s funeral) and Oma. Pity it was for such a sad occasion but it was nice to have family around. Tom’s Opa’s funeral was a nice simple service at a beautiful local church on an island floating in the middle of the Rhein. Tom’s Opa is now surrounded by asparagus mounds and other vegetable gardens that produce some of the best known vegetables in Koblenz. The service was entirely in German, for obvious reasons, which made it somewhat difficult to understand. However, as a lover of languages I found it particularly interesting to listen to hymns being sung in German and I could pick up the odd phrase such as, “In the name of the father, the son…” Now I have been to a German funeral and a Dutch church service. I appear to be converting in foreign countries.

Church

A lovely church

My friend Marina is in town with her parents and it has been great catching up with her. It is nice to have a friend around who I have known for a long time. Conversations are easy and we already know so much about each other. Mazz is in a wheelchair and so we have been discovering the pros and cons of Parisian disabled access (or lack of.) The footpaths aren’t bad but most restaurants put their toilets at the bottom of steep staircases and there are generally steps everywhere. She has been able to get into museums for free AND skip queues, which, in my opinion, is some sort of wonderful. I told her she can’t leave because she needs to be my “Get into Museums for Free” pass. I’m such a nice friend.

In other news, I apparently had my hair cut this weekend. By that I mean I went to a hairdresser, sat in the chair and there were scissors around. However, usually post-hair-chop my head feels as light as a feather and I worry that it is too short. This time I left feeling like my hair hadn’t changed at all. Basically the girl decided that I shouldn’t cut my hair too much and therefore just made a few adjustments. I managed to talk her into thinning it a little bit at the top as my hair gets very thick as it grows, but really I’m not sure what I spent 40 Euros on. At least she chopped my fringe, although she just cut it in a straight line and decided I should have a front fringe, rather than one to the side. Maybe this is a sign that I should grow my hair. I’ve never had long hair – maybe Paris is the place to give it a go.

Hair cut

Waiting for nothing.

As previously mentioned, my parentals are arriving today. They are on a ten week trip through Europe and will be in Paris for the next week. I am very excited. I am a very family-oriented person so I can’t wait to have them around and show them my new life. However, the restaurant I had booked for this evening has just cancelled on me so I have to find somewhere else for us to eat. So I shall be off.

Learning Can Be Fun

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Following my last entry, I have returned home from French class feeling as if I have actually gained something from the experience. Remarkable! Today we covered the subjunctif (a verb tense that I have never learnt) and another pronoun, dont. I love learning new things! It is far more enjoyable to go to a class and to come away feeling like you have learnt something rather than not. Also, I am on double-kissing terms with a Venezuelan girl in my class who is lovely and intelligent and a few of the annoying class members appear to have left (or at least haven’t been there for the last two classes). So I may be sticking with the class for a bit longer. Tomorrow we’re covering another verb tense that I have never officially learnt – the plus-que-parfait.

I love verbs.

Sunny Weekend in Paris

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Ahh sunshine… I think I have prattled on about the wonders of the sun a fair bit, but it is amazing how much sunshine affects the general feeling of Paris. Everyone comes out of their grey coats and lies half naked in parks soaking up the rays. People drink beer, play guitars, and sit around chatting with friends, making the most of the weather. In Australia I think we take our weather for granted and know that tomorrow we’ll probably have a fine day once again. Whereas here you make the most of what you have because it may not happen again for awhile.

The days are getting much longer and the change into summer time really spurred the long evenings along. The sun sets around 8.45pm so we have been finding ourselves eating dinner very late and staying up until past midnight most nights. Considering I used to be a 6pm-dinner and 10pm-sleep person, this is just strange. I have had a few stomach aches in the last few nights thanks to going to bed with a very full tummy, but it is an enjoyable lifestyle. On Saturday night, Tom and I had a picnic with our friends Rom and Coup down by the canal Saint Martin. The canal edges were full of Parisians doing exactly the same thing and it was one of the most enjoyable things we have done while in Paris. But imagine doing this in Perth – at 8pm we went to the supermarket and bought two types of cheese, vegies, chips, dips, beer and wine; went to the bakery and bought two fresh baguettes and by 8.30pm we were sitting by the canal setting out our picnic. It wouldn’t have been possible to do that at that hour in Perth and if we’d bought all of that food during opening hours it would have cost us around $100. Here we bought all of that for less than 30 Euros. Oh, I love Paris.

Friday night we went and saw the Australian band Architecture in Helsinki at a new venue just down the road from me. It was such a great night – the venue was amazing. It is a new, contemporary art gallery/performance space that has been inserted into a beautiful ye-olde building. The performance space was a big box in the middle of what could have once been a ballroom. The bar was in another room which had frescoes with gold trim on the ceiling and red velvet puff seats scattered throughout the room. The band was great and once again I was amazed at how few people we had to watch them with. Despite being in such a densely populated city, most of the music gigs that we have been to haven’t been sold out and have been in relatively small venues with a moderately sized crowd. Perhaps I’m going to un-cool music but still. It’s great!!

Anyway I have to go to my French class. It has improved slightly as I have learnt some new verb tenses that I wasn’t sure about before (when I say “I have learnt”, I mean I have been given the idea to go home and look up what they are myself) and the teacher is cracking down on slack students. Hopefully it’ll continue to improve and I will actually get something out of this experience.

Tower Time

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Today the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and Tom was in the mood to climb a tower. And so he took me on a hot date to the top of the Eiffel Tower. If that isn’t cheesey romance, I don’t know what is.

Eiffel Tower

The tower of love

We had put off going up the Eiffel Tower until the weather improved and today was glorious – clear blue skies and sunshine. Tom has a habit of making off-the-cuff decisions and so I was unprepared for the trip up the tower and chose to go for a run in the morning. I also chose to push myself on the run and came home to discover Tom ready to climb 600-plus stairs. My legs are a tad sore but I will sleep well tonight and wake tomorrow with buns of steel.

Paris

I live in this city.

At the top of the tower, Tom gave me the inspirational idea of writing a book on the theme of “Stupid Things American Tourists Say”. Joining the quote we heard at the Vatican on our last trip when an exasperated girl looked at the continuing stairs in front of her and said, “More stairs? You’ve got to be kidding me!”, today I overheard many American tourists gravely concerned that they had been separated from members of their group. Clearly they had buddies and were all supposed to stick together, but I really wanted to reassure them that the levels on the Eiffel Tower aren’t actually that big and the person they had ‘lost’ could only be within 100 metres of them. The problem with writing a book on this subject is that you lose the accent. Perhaps it could come with a tape.

In other great Parisian news, it is currently Printemps du Cinema – three days where all movies in all cinemas are just 3.50 Euros. Wonderful. You would think the cinemas would be impenetrable but we have just returned home from seeing True Grit and there were lots of seats left in the cinema. Tom went and saw some alien invasion movie yesterday and tomorrow night we’ll probably go and see something else. Have to make the most of a bargain!

Six Days Later…

Monday, March 14th, 2011

I need to write a list of “need to write about”s so that I don’t forget anything. So much to write about… It has been six days since my last confession and lots of things seem to happen in very short periods of time here. Just crazy. Ok, here’s the list:

  1. New members of the family
  2. Internet speeds
  3. The night of the toilet
  4. The return to Custines
  5. Tom speaks French
  6. A parcel in the post

Ok, I hope you have a nice cup of tea and are sitting comfortably because this will be a long one. Ready? LET’S GO!

1. New members of the family

Tom and my ‘family’ is continually extending – first there was Seb the oven and now we have Gerome the pig. Last week we were excited to welcome a brand new addition to the household – Serge, my sewing machine.

Singer sewing machine

Welcome home, Serge!

Serge is a Singer 1507 and he’s very handsome. I am actually yet to use him because when he arrived I was too tired and fell asleep (see discussion point 3) and then we went away (discussion point 4) and then we went for a walk yesterday. So if I manage to write this fast enough I might whip him out before meeting Pip this afternoon. Otherwise tomorrow is sewing day. Soon our house will be full of material scraps and lint. Excitement plus.

Singer sewing machine

Serge with two new sock creatures I prepared earlier

2. Internet speeds

Our internet appears to be slightly faster than it was previously which is bringing much excitement and happiness to our lives. Last night I even managed to upload photos to Flickr AND look at websites! That’s some sort of miracle. Sadly, it isn’t as lightning fast as it could be and it is still generally terrible, but web pages actually load now which is a great start.

3. The Night of the Toilet

Warning: The following discussion point contains graphic details that may induce nausea.

So Tuesday was a lovely sunny day and Tom and I walked around Montmartre and visited Sacre Coeur and then had lunch at a cafe near our house. We both had salads which were tasty and then we had a light dinner of a roast vegetable salad prepared by me. We were excited about our impending trip (the next morning we were heading to Nancy) and yet Tom started to feel a bit queazy at around 11pm. I ignored him and went to bed but couldn’t help but notice the sounds of regurgitation coming from the bathroom at around 12.30am.

After cleaning up Tom’s mess, I started feeling what I presumed was sympathetic nausea but which very quickly turned into full on gastro and I spent from 1am until 4am sitting on the floor in the bathroom next to the toilet, waiting for the next wave. I haven’t thrown up since I was about 12 and I was quite happy about this fact. It is NOT fun. Never again will I roll my eyes when someone tells me they had gastro. I’m a generally unsympathetic nurse and for once I could see why people complain.

Anyway at 6am I rolled and groaned out of bed and cancelled our train tickets to Nancy. So sad. Luckily we could get a refund on one of the tickets and we rebooked for the next day. Despite having a nickname of “rabbit” due to my excess love for green leafy food, I have suddenly been turned off salads. Give me meat.

4. The Return to Custines

Once we eventually made it onto the train early Thursday morning (it was great! Our train left at 8.12am and all we had to do was cross the road and walk 100m to get there!) we headed towards my old hangout of Nancy. I spent 7 months living and teaching English in a small country town near Nancy called Custines and it is an area of France that is very close to my heart. People tease me and wonder why I am so obsessed with it but it is where I grew to love this country. Custines may be a hole but it’s a nice hole.

We spent a day with my friend Christelle, one of the english teachers that I worked with, and her family and visited the new Pompidou Centre in Metz. A wonderful art gallery with amazing architecture – definitely worth the visit.

Pompidou Centre Metz

The Pompidou Centre in Metz

I love spending time with families when I am in a foreign country. Already we have managed to get an invite into a few French family homes and it is so nice to see how they function and to be a part of it. Meal times are especially great – particularly the cheese course which arrives between the main meal and dessert. This is the best way to sample French cheeses – they’ve been selected by French people so they must be good.

I took Tom to Custines on Friday to see where I spent seven months of my life. Custines isn’t exciting (although there is a new kebab restaurant and cycle paths!) and it isn’t big but in my eyes it is beautiful. Tom made comparisons to Bridgetown where he grew up as Custines is located at the bottom of sweeping valleys and green hills. Bridgetown is slightly bigger but still, a fair comparison. I didn’t manage to bump into any of my old students except for one who I pretended I didn’t see because he was a rude brat and he wouldn’t have wanted to speak to me anyway. The saddest thing I saw was that my dodgy Champion supermarket had been taken over by the bigger Carrefour chain and it is now open during lunchtimes AND Sunday mornings! That is an outrage! That is family time and church time not shopping time! How dare Carrefour bring consumerism to Custines. Unimpressed.

Custines

I'm back!

Friday evening and Saturday Tom and I spent with Melany (one of my ex-students (she was 12 when I first knew her and now she is reading Great Expectations and has a better level of English than me…) and her family. We felt so welcome in their home and were fed like royalty. Melany was the only one who could speak english so I am losing my voice from speaking lots of French and translating for Tom. That said, Tom did remarkably well and impressed our guests with his effort at speaking French. I was just as impressed – he had conversations on his own and managed to understand a few things. Such a clever boy.

It was a fantastic weekend and I was sad to leave. We have new friends with Melany’s family now so we will hopefully go back and visit again at the end of the year to show everyone how much Tom’s french has improved.

Place Stanislas

Place Stanislas in Nancy

5. Tom Speaks French

I have already talked about this… Tom spoke french. It was impressive. Hooray for him!

6. Parcel in the Post

My parents sent me a parcel which was very exciting because a. I love getting mail and b. it had stuff in it. They sent me a copy of the local Post newspaper, two tubes of pawpaw gel which is the cure for everything and very much needed in these evil cold French temperatures, 2 pairs of socks to make sock creatures with, my delicious magazine which had arrived in the mail and my incomplete sock creature who I left at home. It’s amazing how exciting receiving socks in the mail can be.

Sock creature
Please make me into something beautiful

Phew! Well I think that is enough for today. I have to go and catch a train to Saint Germain now to meet my friend Pip. We’re going to have lunch and explore. We do this often and usually end up buying things. It’s great! Tom starts his French classes this afternoon and is supposed to be studying but has spent the morning grooming himself to look beautiful for class.

For more photos, please visit my flickr site.