Sunday, 29 January 2017

SNOW AND SCHOOL


Snow was forecast for the beginning of the month but it didn't fall here in the village. We tried to head to one of the nearest places to ski for some snow shoeing but roads weren't accessible without snow tyres or chains. I'd naively imagined that the roads toward a ski resort would be gritted but apparently that doesn't always happen. We were so painfully aware of how we are definitely still tourists, as we chugged along an icey road, gratefully following the municipal snow plough. The bus got us far enough to play in some snow which made the girls very happy until they were very unhappy! Despite my best efforts to layer them up so much that I thought it impossible to get cold I think the freezing gusts of wind penetrated the gloves and their hands got them before they had chance to sledge. The drive was incredibly beautiful. The Plateau de Sault, as it's name suggests, is a large flat expanse, quite bare and surrounded by hills and mountains. There was a strong wind whipping up the powder snow and sending it blowing, like advancing waves across the fields and roads. Banks had transformed into mountaneous snow drifts and trees were blanketed with a weighty covering of white.






Some days have been crisp and cold, overseen by a spotless blue sky and others have been days of sleet, freezing winds and rain and on these days getting out for the daily dose of fresh air is a battle. A battle, that, at best, seems to reward us with a five minute walk before someone is crying and it's time to return. I'm beginning to question the wisdom in this, perhaps winter really is just for hybernating after all. It's just that living in the single room, all four of us, is definitely claustraphobic if you don't ever get to leave it... I wonder if other parents face this battle. If when, I see other children happily playing outside it took their parents as long as it did me to coax them out of the house, if there were as many tears and bribes through gritted teeth?
 



Little L started school this month.

'How do you feel about starting school?' I asked Little L a couple of days before she was due to start. 'I feel happy and bit nervous' she replied. I felt my heart might break.
When I dropped her off on the first day I knelt down by her and explained that I'd now leave. She looked away from me, waving vigourosly, holding herself together. I stood up and left before she could see that I could not hold myself together. My beautiful, strong minded and caring little girl had just bravely taken one more step away from home toward independence and a whole new thing that I will only see from the periphary.

Each day when we've left for school the moon has still been in the sky, smoke drifting up from chimneys and the snow on the mountains stained pink by the sunrise. It's a beautiful quiet moment we share, pointing out the shapes of clouds or looking to see if there is ice lining the edge of the stream as we walk along beside it. By the time I make the solo, return journey the mountains are yellowing and the moon is a little fainter and for a few minutes it feels incredibly lonely without Little L's small hand in mine or her interested chatter at the world around her.

 
 
THE HOUSE

We were taken down by a flu bug and sadly the thyme tea and rosehip syrup we tried to soothe the symptoms with just didn't cut it. However much we wanted it to we still spent the best part of a week feeling awful and nursing the girls through some pretty high spiking temperatures. It's all over now though and has certainly left us with fresh eyes on everything aound us. Very determined to catch up on everything that we had to pause on. 
The flu has meant we have very little to update on the house. Little has changed although the attic now had a floor and will soon have insulated walls up there. Another leak in the roof declared itself and so we will definitelty have to redo the roof this summer which is not good news but was maybe always inevitable. Onwards and upwards!

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

CHRISTMAS AND A BRAND NEW YEAR


We left for the UK via Normandy in the middle of December. Driving up through France under an overcast sky and spending one very chilly night, sleeping in the van in a carpark lit too brightly for comfort by it's Christmas lights.
 
 

We first celebrated with family in Normandy and then again in Somerset. We caught up with as many friends as possible, sung carols, drank port and enjoyed precious time with family.



The day before we left back for home, a new nephew was born and at the same time in France, a neice also came into the world. The best Christmas presents of all for everyone.





 
 
 
Then, after meeting the new additions to the family, it was back down through a frozen France, this time with a stay in a roadside hotel. 'We're in a ho-tail, we're in a ho-tail' chanted Little L, diving from one bed to the other. This time we used the autoroutes to avoid any un-gritted roads and crossed the Garonne covered in frozen fog, three small fishermen huts on stilts ('carrelets') peeping out from the bank. Finally we were home to a freezing house and the underwhelming room we were to spend that night cowering in, as the heater slowly did it's work. Over sixteen hundred miles of driving and entertaining the girls had left us exhausted but pleased to be home.

So a New Year and back to work. As has been said by many, 2016 brought quite a few disapointments poltically (celebrations for those with different persepctives of course). These momentous events can leave me feeling helpless or hopeless and sometimes frightened for our futures. However, instead of holing up and hiding from the world, I think it has to be a call for us all to act out more bravely. So 'Be Brave' is my resolution for 2017 (a long with less sugar for the children, less Facebook and all the usual ones): Less of worrying about what other people think and more of acting out of love in the face of fear, seeking to connect even with those I might struggle to find connection and sharing what we have; time, food and a half-built house.

Florent is levelling the beams in the attic floor, laying electricity cables and insulation and laying the floor. Once finished we can use this space for storing tools and the belongings that don't fit in the room and finish the bathroom.

Whilst he toils above me, I find myself cast into the role of referee more and more as the girls respective personalities evolve in increasingly opposite directions. Little L wants no more than to curl up with books and colouring pencils. Little I is increasingly boistrous and seems to be constantly seeking out her next adrenaline rush or new method of best provoking her sister. Fortunately snow is forecast for the end of the week which we are waiting for with baited breaths with a plan to trip into the mountains for some snow shoeing with friends … Some time out of the house and fresh mountain air for the girls might just save us all from insanity.
 
Happy New Year!