What’s New In The World Of Gwen And Blaise?

Since our last post in May there have been a few major developments in our little family. Watch this little video of our bookworms to see the kids in action.

Lazing on a sunny afternoon

20140608_170659

20140626_182643

Biscuits and Pixar. Sweet together.

20140710_175641

20140703_205831

20140720_175228

20140727_174712

20140726_175921

20140804_111032

20140830_182312

20140803_182603

20140813_201647

20140814_180733

E-I-E-I-O

20140810_150756

20140811_093727

Gwen’s News

In September 2014 Gwen started at the local Ecole Maternelle, which is technically school but is a lot like Kindergarten. They have a proper classroom, but they spend a lot of time playing in their cafe, drawing, playing games and the like. She LOVES it so much. Every morning she acts shy, but by the afternoon she’s running around like a crazy thing playing with all the other little kids. Also, she’s becoming less fussy about food as she’s at school all day with a proper school lunch. They eat really well (and there’s no alternative food), so I’m sure that’s why she’s trying lots of new things at home now.

20140615_140613

20140615_144256

Pretty and ready for a birthday lunch

20140823_094748

20140711_131340

Summer nights!

She is gorgeous.

A postcard? For ME?!?!?!

20140729_104009

20140810_163552

20140803_181042

Gwen’s in a class with older kids, which is probably good for her in terms of learning French. The class of kids her own age are a bit less talkative. Why is she with older kids? Well, for starters she’s one of the youngest kids in the school (there were about 40 kids in our town bumped up from creche to school early because there wasn’t enough room for them in the new creche). There are two classes of Petit Section at this school, and they tried to make the older kids go in one class and the younger ones in the other. But the numbers didn’t add up, so 5 lucky kids got chosen to go up to the next class. By surname. Me, I would have chosen the oldest kids, but whatever. As I said, I think it’s actually doing her some good.

First Day Of School (Maternelle/Kindy)

She’s started talking in French more often to us, and it’s clear from a few conversations that she understands what’s going on at school. When she speaks French to us, it’s usually a full sentence, then she switches back to English. So, she’ll say “J’ai fini!” or “Qu’est-ce qu’on fait?” randomly, with a sprinkling of “Alors” when she’s trying to think of something to draw.

The latest development is that Gwen turned three (see the video of her blowing out candles)! She’s currently obsessed with her new kitchen from her great Nanny. Blaise is too – that thing rocks. Gwen’s also big on dinosaurs and books, so she got lots of them for her birthday too.

20141014_203508

Bruce took Gwen on a special birthday adventure the day after her birthday (because in France there is no school on Wednesday afternoons), but he hasn’t uploaded the pictures yet. It will have to wait for another post.

Blaise’s News

Blaise finally started walking pretty much on the dot of turning 18 months. That was also a big turning point for teeth and talking too. He got four new teeth (for a total of 8) the week of turning 18 months. Then a week later he got another 4 molars coming through. So much teething pain!

20140619_090448

20140615_101548

Yes?

20140620_203620

20140803_181438

LOVES his bike.

20140621_075027

Nee Nor, Nee Nor

20140621_143016

On the talking front, he mostly said “Oh dear!” and made animal noises before 18 months. Since then he’s taken up a couple of new words every day or so, both in French and English. Blaise has also started at a new creche, which is bigger than the other one so he gets to hang out with kids his own age. I think that helps.

Blaise is totally obsessed with cars (and Pocoyo). He has piles of toy cars and trucks which are the best things ever. Also, the steering wheel toy rocks, and he lives for the times when papa takes him for a drive in the real car. He LOVES Top Gear, but gets angry when they stop driving their cars. He starts yelling at them, going “Broom BROOM!” and “No. Ready steady GO!”

20140926_133626

He has also grown quite a bit since our last post. Check out this cute little smile. 🙂

20141015_093041

Holiday In Cahors

At the end of August we went on a camping trip in Cahors (Reflets de Quercy), which was more like Glamping than camping, but without the glam (if that makes sense). The tent was furnished and had all the kitchen things we’d need, like a fridge, cooker, crockery and cutlery. Most importantly, the tent was in a campground that had an awesome pool and play area, which we made good use of.

Reflets de Quercy Pool

Kitted out tent

20140824_105218

Hello!

20140827_083138

Bouncing!

We went on a couple of great daytrips in the area. The big trip was to Padirac Cave (see the official site and some tourist info) and then Rocamadour (more tourist info). The campsite organised a bus tour, which we realised later was the best way to see the caves as you didn’t have to wait in the MASSIVE line. Anyway, those caves were amazing – the best I’ve ever seen and probably the best I will ever see in my life. Photography wasn’t allowed, so check out the websites to see how impressive it is (the official site has a brilliant virtual tour). Also, we got one official photo taken (on a gondola in the cave), but I don’t have the digital version of that just now. I’ll add it later [Edit: Added]. Rocomadour was also pretty amazing. It’s a castle and a cathedral on the side of a cliff. We spent a few hours there and got a tour of some parts of it.

GouffreDePadiracPhoto_better

Rocomadour

20140828_115958

The other big daytrip was a road-train ride around Cahors. We were right in thinking the kids would love the train, and we’d love seeing the sights without having to carry the kids. It was about an hour and a half of sight-seeing, and I swear they hadn’t run out of interesting stuff to show us by the end of it. Quite a fascinating town, really. Wouldn’t mind living there!

It’s now months since the holiday. Gwen still asks when we’re going back to our tent. 🙂

Singing

Bruce and I are both still singing with the local choir, and I’m still singing with the Lotelles Trio, as well as branching out alone.

20140830_200344

20140830_222344

Family Mailing List

If you’re part of the Alcorn family, sign up to hear about all of our endeavours. You’ll get a post once per week (or no post if no-one’s written anything) with any personal blog posts any of us made, including Jennie’s dogs. And if you’ve got a blog that should be included, bug Ange.

If you’re a friend of Ange (or family that’s not from the Alcorn side) sign up to this one instead. 🙂

Poisson d’Avril!

So, just like that it’s April.

Time in France is sort of like lunchtime. As in, not merely an illusion, but doubly so. Today, left to go to the market at 10am, got invited to lunch and suddenly it was 3pm. I’m sure this disappearing day syndrome is far better in summer – and for people without work to be done.

But nevermind. Today’s lunch introduced us to the French variety of April Fool’s Day. Our favourite french kiddies drew fish and stuck the pictures on our backs. Bruce wasn’t at all surprised, but I found myself faced with a kid looking sneaky and holding something behind her back, innocently saying “Quoi?” (never a good sign). Anyway, when I finally realised they were trying to stick something to my back (and let them) there was much screaming of “Poisson d’Avril!” and giggling. I have to say, it sure beats glad-wrapping the toilet bowl.

Well, March then. It’s hard to say what happened in March since it passed in a haze of lunchtime. Well, except the first bit. March began on a hectic note for me as I was handing in the final assignments for my degree. Done now. Mostly marked. One can only assume I am allowed to apply for my degree soon – then it’s all just admin.

Minutes after handing my last assignment in we lost internet access (I’m not kidding here. Half an hour later I couldn’t access net banking and it never came back). Since it’s our landlord’s account we kind of had to sit tight until they sorted it out. They’re not very geeky, so it took some effort to sort it out. Two weeks later, internet was returned.

In the meantime, I did a lot of resting and a little sightseeing. I was stuck at home for days waiting for the shipping to arrive as it kept getting delayed. It was a bit of a drama, but it’s all here now.

Bruce was away most of the time we had no internet. In fact, he’s away on trips once a week, really. He’s seeing quite a bit of the countryside by car and train, plus the occasional plane trip. The theory is that I’ll go with him on occasion, but convenient occasions are more difficult to come by than we’d hoped. Tomorrow he’s leaving on a train at 5am for some place in the far north. I was invited, but to join him would mean paying 120 € for trains just to spend one night in a hotel and not have much time to spend sight-seeing anyway. Maybe next time.

We did manage one daytrip drive together, which gained us a nice collection of photos. In other photos, there was a trip into town where I was taking a photo every hour. Another big photo day was when we had friends around for a lunch. All the pics from March are here.

We’ve had a few people recently tell us they want to visit in the next few months, so I wrote a page for this blog dedicated to helping people plan the trip to Agen. So, if you’re thinking of visiting, take a look.

For those of you who are wanting news from us more often, take a look at my flickr as pictures do tend to make it there occasionally. Or click on all the links in these posts (they all lead somewhere). For the more adventurous, here is an rss feed which pulls selected posts, pictures and video from things both Bruce and I write around the internet (well, it will have Bruce’s stuff when he writes something).

Also, if you want us to call you, please give us your landline number. Better still, if you’re on Skype then add me (smange) and we can do video chats.

Finally, we have a video hello to show you. A lot of Facebook people have already seen this. But just for those of you who haven’t, here is a video hello from us.

Getting from December to March

Sheesh. I can’t believe January and February flew by like that. Sorry for failing to update! Hi all. It’s Ange writing again – Bruce promises to start writing sometime soon.

We left Lyon on early January and drove over to Agen, where we’re now living and settling in properly. The drive over was a saga, which nearly left us with a car that didn’t quite fit all of our gear. We spent two hours re-packing the car until it all finally fit in.

We spent January living with a lovely family who helped us to organise our French paperwork, taught us some French, fed us lots of awesome French food and generally made us very welcome. These people are also Bruce’s bosses, so he’s pretty happy that he’s working with nice people.

Bruce wasn’t able to start work straight away, despite EU legislation being clear that he could, French authorities want things to be done their way and we had to get him a titre de sejour first. So, January became one big saga to get Bruce a titre de sejour. We would have had to do this anyway, but it was nice to have a native French person helping me to work out what was what. To get it, we eventually collated around 200 bits of paper with French explanations as to what it all meant, official French translations of birth certificates, proof of French housing, bank details, passports, proof of entering the country, proof of employment, proof that we plan to pay French tax, insurances, Australian tax returns, payslips going back half a year, proof of housing in Australia etc etc. Luckily, you don’t have to pay to apply for the titre de sejour, but you do have to pay for the official translations ($50 per birth certificate/wedding certificate) and spend hours and hours chasing up bits of paper and collating them ready for submission. By the end of the month, we had a titre de sejour, so now he can work. Woo!

So, Bruce now works at Agralis, troubleshooting and fixing soil moisture monitoring probes (Some from Sentek, some from competitors). He has a 6 month contract, which will be renewed if his French has improved, presuming Agralis has enough work for him. He’s also on the website. He seems to be doing a lot of travelling for work at the moment, since he helps people to set up their probes correctly and goes to conferences. He went to Vienna for a conference but I haven’t uploaded the photos yet (Bruce took about 400 photos of a couple of swans and I have no idea which ones to keep – seriously).

Oh – I forgot the big news of January. Bruce got a haircut for this job. The head of the company thought Bruce looked like a hippy (and didn’t approve) so it’s gone now.

So, that was January in a nutshell. The picture version of January is here, although I still need to add some photos.

February saw us moving into our own place-ish. We’re renting part of a mansion from a couple known to our previous hosts. It’s a very nice house and we have heaps of space. Downside is that it’s not permanent, since the owners are trying to sell. But, we can unpack as much as we can be bothered and the rest can live downstairs in storage. If we’re still here when it warms up we can make use of the pool out the back, too.

Our new landlords are also a lovely couple, who I’ve now had a meal with (while Bruce was away at the SIMA agricultural exhibition in Paris) and gone for a nice wander around a forest.

Bruce also got sent to Biarritz for a work thing, so I tagged along and we made a weekend of it. We managed to stay in a hotel run by an English guy who had lived in Adelaide for a few years. We had to leave before we found out that we’d been to school with his family or whatever other Adelaide effect was in store for us.

I guess this is a good a time as any to mention that the Grillies got their own blog. Silliness ensues.

So, February was mainly settling into the new place and Bruce settling into the job. I’m finishing up the last of my degree and hunting a few more bits of elusive paper which will ensure more permanent titre de sejour. The picture version of February is here.