In some ways it is hard to believe that we've been here for six months already but when I think that we have experienced the tail end of summer, Autumn and experienced a northern winter it does feel like half a year. It is wonderful to see the signs of spring in the air, daffodils in the park, buds on our trees and temperatures rising. Although like New Zealand, Spring is never a reliable thing and it snowed today, just a flutter but it never got above 0c. I am looking forward to a warm spring and a hot summer and vow never to do back to back winters again! We have decided to escape the cold and have booked a trip to Portugal in April. Chances are it will be warmer here by then but it is still something nice to look forward to. In my head I love the idea of sitting by the beach for two weeks but the reality with three children and finding it difficult to sit still for very long I knew it wouldn't work. Instead we are going to fly into Lisbon and stay there for a few nights then have a few nights in Ericeria (thanks to our friends Suzi and Coen for the recommendation) then carry on to Porto. Our idea is to have a mix of sightseeing and relaxing so hopefully it works!
I have thought alot about home this week and especially Christchurch, firstly with the great news that the government has decided not to close the school that our children went to. What a great relief it was to wake up on Monday morning and read that it has been decided to keep it open. The children were delighted to learn that they would have a school to go back to if we end up back in Christchurch. My heart goes out to those whose local schools are going to close, such a harsh result and surely there could have been a better way? Christchurch was once again in our thoughts on the 22nd of February as the two year anniversary of the earthquakes. It was strange not to be there but even though it was an event that changed our lives forever it is really encouraging to hear of friends in new homes and others with new businesses as well as new homes being built. I watched two different videos about the earthquake. The first was a tribute to all those that died and showed the harrowing day with collapsed buildings, liquefaction waist deep and huge cracks in the roads, as well as the despair and sorrow on peoples faces. The second was a news item from Campbell live that was titled "The best things about Christchurch". It was so encouraging to hear people saying all the things they love about our beautiful city and how it is rebuilding, yet another reason to return to Christchurch.
Meanwhile our life in France continues. The children are now on school holidays and I am looking forward to an opportunity for them to rest, have some adventures in Toulouse and further afield as we are going to Nimes next weekend. The last week of school was much better for Hannah. She was more settled and was listening and doing what she was asked. The school educational psychologist is putting together some strategies to facilitate better inclusion so hopefully next term will start off positively and stay that way. Our next step is for her to start staying for lunchtimes and some longer days so here's hoping.
Since it has been six months since we have been here I have put together a list of some of the things I love about France (I especially need to remember these things when it is so freezing cold outside!!!)
- The food. Pastries, bread, all things yummy with pastry, chocolate, custard and almonds. Even the gluten free products are great foccacia bread, baguettes and wraps. We even had yummy gluten free burgers for tea. Also the cheese is fantastic and cheap and so many different types. Not so sure about the skinned rabbits with the eyes still on sitting in the fridge in the supermarket though!!!
- The people. The French are so lovely, kind and patient - especially with my very bad French. I love the way when you go out for dinner often the waiter will sit down and have a glass of wine and a chat with you and then bring out the liqueurs after the bill has been paid.
- Being able to drive to different countries in just a few hours.
- The gorgeous villages and castles.
- No Sunday trading, instead all the shops are closed and Sunday is viewed as a family day.
- Great cycleways so you don't need to cycle on the road which is just as well since the roads are very narrow.
- The shops. I discovered Sephora today which is a cosmetic store selling all sorts of lovely beauty products - a great place for birthday and Christmas presents for NZ friends and family!
Finally I love that I can be out for a walk listening to Christchurch more FM on my ipod and pass men wearing berets, walking their dogs with their baguette under their arm. Viva la France.