Friday, 9 December 2011

C'est horrible! It's horrible!


I have not forgotten you all so I'm back. I know I know and about time too after all it's been a month! Hand slapped officially...

So i will start by being English/British (this argument bores me so theres both for you, either way I'm still from the Midlands which is in England/Great Britain/the UK) and here goes with my being terribly British with my first topic:

Weather here... C'est horrible.

Hail in Paris this week

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Now whilst my franglais is exceptional ("no gliséeing on the genous children" or "tu est walk comme ça?" being two of my finer moments) c'est horrible is in fact French and not franglais and means exactly what it sounds like. En Français 'horrible' is the same word as the English 'horrible' only without the 'h'.

To say horrible in French you merely remove the 'h' and instead add it to an English word such as 'apple' (so you get 'happle' something the French do all the time e.g 'this apple is hard' would become 'theeees happle eeees ard')

Anyway i digress (when don't i) so to pronounce 'horrible' in French, you remove the 'h' stick it somewhere abstract, the 'o' bit is the same, then the 'rib' part you have to sound like you are saying 'reeeb'. and then say 'le' quietly at the end. So it's barely audible. In fact scrap the 'le' altogether the French rarely pronounce the last letter of any word anyway. So what you get phonetically from c'est horrible is 'say o-reeeeeee-b-(le)' remember sssssssh at the end.

I LOVE phonetics, try saying 'beer can' without sounding like your ripping into someone with a Jamaican accent saying 'bacon' (bet you're trying it right now aren't you...?! You just can't do it!!!)

However I'm picking up what Michelle calls a 'pavement special' accent. I'm getting super confused living with a saffer, the day I start asking for 'mulk' in my coffee or saying I had 'fush' for tea. I'm going to enroll in elocution lessons. Probably should have done that years ago anyway it's not til you live abroad and people are focussing on what you say as a language for communication rather than just understanding your idle gossip does your accent officially come under the spotlight, because to someone learning English, HOW you say it makes all the difference.

Mind you, back to 'horrible' I can't rip into the French too much because that pronunciation is opposed to the English version of the word and we may also drop the 'h' and make the end 'ul' as in it's 'ori-bull'.

I love the French language, even asking 'where the bin is' sounds like some seductive invitation to dinner.

But then they say Paris is the city of love and who am I to argue with that. It's the whole reason I have been so slack with my blog of late as all my spare time (the time left when I'm not teaching, marking, report writing or lesson planning) is currently taken up by hours of Skype time with 'the bloke'.

So I apologise, even he started complaining saying I needed to get on and write a new blog (I told him this would involve sacrificing some of his talk time, which in the event I'm not as right now he's on a coach on his way here so I am free to type away as he's probably sleeping)

I also had writers block and when I mentioned I was writing reports I wasn't kidding. 100+ children in the school and I had to write reports and grade every single one of them giving them marks for various points raised per class I teach plus write individual notes on each child and how they're doing. Add to this marking recently carried out test papers, lesson planning and preparing their devoir (homework) for the Christmas holidays (they love homework out here the more you give the children the better apparently!) doesn't leave much time for anything else. Least of all at this most busiest time of year and this year it's a bit different for me too.

I have been busy preparing for my first Christmas in Paris and I can honestly say I haven't felt this christmassy in years. Mum always told me that if you work in a school you get a way more exciting build up to Christmas and I'm inclined to agree! Christmas is very much for children and I understand that with the right spirit even without them you can go on to have a merry Christmas indeed, I myself have had plenty over the years! but I'm pretty sure for the adults that do have them... Nothing can beat the excitement of letting them build up and share a little magic for a few weeks. If you do have kids and you don't do this. Shame on you I say. Or maybe more fool you. What's life without a little fun.

Have only heard rumour of a couple of children questioning santa. With adults then asking how they should respond. I mean like you even have to ask that question because Santa totally exists!!! Silly people.

Of course political correctness also prevails at this time of year and during one Christmas card making session when the children were sorting through glittery snowflakes and stars for decorative purposes one child came across an ANGEL!!! GOD FORBID!!! well actually no god wouldn't forbid but maybe Allah or Shivah or Jehovah or someone else might... Like the parents. Sigh. I carefully slid it off his table whilst he wasn't looking so no trace of religion escaped the school Walls!

But then unless you are at a specific religious school this is true of all schools, they just can't risk it. What a mad world we live in.

So we have tip toed our way round all religious intonations and even made a festive Christmas show 'Le Spectacle de Noel' without having the 'christ' in mas. The children are singing songs in French and then in English. It's hilarious. Upon hearing the running order I told Chris giving the french children 'Rudolph the red nosed reindeer' to learn was just plain cruel. Also slightly funny. I may take an umbrella if im sat on the front row.

I'm allowed to say this because my French friends at the school loved to make me say 'ronronner! To hear me struggling with the hacking and gagging 'rrrrrrrr' sound they make so well. For them its a purr, to me I sounded like I was being garrotted so in some small way this is my revenge. My other revenge was learning how to say it, really well.

However to get round some of the more complicated words (rudolph is pretty involved) there's a lot of babbling rather than singing going on so I think maybe based on what I heard today, their song sheets look something like this:

'RUDOLPH wewaaawawaaaaaa mmmmmmmmmm REINDEER had a shiny SHIIIIIIIIIINNNYYYY NOSE!'

I was informed by someone who heard one child practising that they were singing 'Rudolph the wa wa window...'

Watching the final rehearsal today was hilarious! You can tell which bits in the songs they all know by the decibel level.

At the very end the whole school sings "We wish you a merry Christmas" and I'd like to say that they have the same problem here that primary school teachers teaching this song have been having for as long as this song has been done. Hell I even remember the teachers pulling us up on this from my childhood way back when so altogether now:

"we WISSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHH you a merry christmas, we WISSSSSSSHHHHHHHH you ...."

Yup this song was written to be phonetically butchered by children no matter what the country or what the language. Bravo. I was meant to be stern but all I could do was giggle not helped by one of the other French teachers stood next to me who was also giggling because I had been telling her not 5 minutes before that "in England when we were little we used to do this thing on the 'wisssshhhhhh' that we always got told off for..."

good to see some thing's never change.

Mind you there was no keeping a straight face today, I even saw the usually stern headmistress spectacularly dissolve in hysterical laughter, as is the joy of working with small children there is ALWAYS something funny to write home about. However I wasn't especially laughing at my little dance groups performance of Jingle Bell Rock. So a 45 minute rehearsal, post spectacle rehearsal later, it is safe to say I have drilled that dance into their heads this evening.

Everything we set last week (like their places, you know, nothing major) just went out of the window when they got on stage.

Now there's something about theatres I know this only too well, to me they're a place of wonder, magic, where anything can (and does happen) and the children got in there for their for the first time today and you could physically watch their heads empty and their mouths fall open the second they stepped over the threshold. That's pretty much how it stayed. Awesome. All those weeks of rehearsals, here they are representing me, the new dance teacher so the parents can see what it is I've been doing with them these past few weeks and they decide to take their minds out the day before the show.

I got on the stage with my dance group who all stood their gazing round the theatre then looking at me.

All I could do was point and hiss 'la ba!' to remind them they were supposed to start from side stage.

They merely looked at me. Blankly. Very reminiscent of a scene from children of the corn.

So I took one half of my group and shooed them (for want of a better word) to the side of the stage where they were supposed to come on from, then turned my attention to the other equally vacant looking group and shooed them to the opposite side where they were supposed to enter from.

No sooner had I shooed group number two in the right direction and turned back around to continue with the next pressing issue (the music) were group number 1 tripping back across the stage towards me like I'd just buried them in pet semetary and they'd dug their way out and were heading home.

I promptly bent myself down to their level and all but clapping my hands at them literally shooed them back and as I was doing that so were group 2 returning back from their little zombie like trip to god knows where, but if we shuffle back into the centre of the stage Karen will tell us what to do. I literally chased them back into their corner too.

Honestly it looked like I was chasing chickens. It FELT like i was chasing chickens.

As I explained to one teacher in French, I used to work on a farm so "cows, sheep, chickens, children....they're the same thing" We laughed so hard I am surprised the headmistress didn't banish us. Mind you at least chickens don't ask questions and at least they do that squatting down thing so you can catch them easier.

All I can do now is cross my fingers for tomorrow.

Anyway life hasn't all been about school this last 3 weeks we had a house party, I've had lots of visits from the boyfriend (seriously it would be cheaper if he just moved here..) I've also had more flowers from the boyfriend, Matt please continue a girl can never have too. much of this ;)

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These were actually delivered to the school so the women were all a giggle especially when they found out the boyfriend had sent them 'parçe-que' (just because...) and all the kids thought it was my birthday. When I explained it wasn't and who had sent them the girls got especially girly and the boys screwed up their noses and wondered why. I told them one day when they were older and didn't find girls so annoying they'd get it and if not they'd be wise to...

Matt did actually come to the school the one Friday and stayed for my after school dance class. Of course the children were fascinated by him and as I drop the t sound from my words (Coventry accent) they all think he is called 'Max'. He sat in the corner out the way but it didn't stop the girls absolutely harassing him but they were pretty good and under strict warning he didn't encourage them too much. He was under threat of death if he did.

Anyway his visit went down well and at tonight's rehearsal all the children started to ask if Max was coming tomorrow to see the show, backed up (just in case I didn't know who Max was) with them pointing furiously at the corner where he had sat to watch.

I was pleased to tell them he will be. They are super excited but I've warned him he's not allowed to keep any of them ;)

Anyway I'm going to not prattle so much and instead I'm going to start filling my blog space with pretty pictures instead. Sometimes a picture paints a thousand words. Or something like that. Famous quote butchered. Yes I did just do that.

Well the house is still fine and lovely and the Fairy landlords have struck again and this time they have given us Christmas.

Always nice to come home to and always nice to have workload reduced by fairy landlords:

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Also of course we had our house party which went on til silly o clock and much alcohol was consumed from the first bottle of champagne to the last few drops of homemade mojito and vin chaud not to mention we were eating the food for a week!

It's not a party unless EVERYONE is in the kitchen

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Aaah yes the fire starters. What is it with men and fire?

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Just some of the food

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Bubble bubble toil amd trouble... Homemade vin chaud and mojito mix

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A French party treat known as 'pain surprise' looks like a loaf...

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Until you take the top of and reveal layers of sandwiches like a big bready jigsaw!

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(obviously no one ate the top bit so I did my bit for nature and gave it to the birds for breakfast before I left for school. When I returned from school that afternoon and found two large piles of feathers in the garden, I realised with great sadness I had inadvertently provided the local cat with breakfast that morning also...)

What else.... Oh yes have been to Disney more! (of course...)

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Whipped Matt at buzz lightyears laser blast (yup that there big score be mine!!!)

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Sooo just a few piccies because the place is horrendously photogenic

Mickeys winter wonderland show

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Main street

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The castle

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Fantillusion parade

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Matt had never been to Disney before so it was great to haul him round, silly ear wearing compulsory! However tis the season so it was extremely busy in the Park which meant we didn't get lots of rides done. However he has bought an annual pass so will be returning shortly as he's here for the whole of Christmas, I'm pretty sure at some point during our 2 weeks off we will do the rest.

Anyway. What else have I been up to? Oh yes had my first thanksgiving for which I went to my friend Shawns house! Wow the Americans do food right indeed, a massive thanksgiving spread was laid on complete with mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing and turkey plus we had the NFL game on the sky it was just a great night! 5 frenchies, 2 new Mexicans, 1 Oklahoman (who was also a stunt rider in the Will Smith movie Wild Wild West and splits his time between here and LA) and me! Oh and a jack russell, can't forget him! Party Time. Yes that's really his name. "Where's Party?" um I thought it was right here? "nope party's in the bedroom..." huh??? Oh you mean the DOG!!! anyway It was a great evening and a pleasure to be a part of. I'm very blessed with the people I meet throughout my life.

Of course the past few weeks haven't been complete without adventures with the Paris massive and I ventured into Paris again recently to the Stade de France as once again I had been given free tickets to the rugby so went to watch Racing Metro vs Stade Francias. An awesome experience!

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We were super fortunate as the hairy one was playing. Not playing well, but playing.

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Never let it be said that the French don't wear berets

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We had decided to make a bit of an afternoon/evening/as our nights out always go; early hours of the morning of it...

So post match the plan was karaoke. I was thinking standard bar, have a few drinks, wait your turn get up and sing badly and so we headed to the karaoke bar in Opera. Have to say after an amazing spectacle at the Rugby to get off the metro and head above ground to see this view was pretty something

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it's these moments that make me realise that my life is pretty special so do not fear, I'm not taking it for granted, not a chance in hell.

We walked down the road and headed into this dodgy looking closed down restaurant. The manager had a personality to match. We ordered a bottle of wine and then eventually he lead us downstairs through what I noted was also loosely sound proofed doors to a corridor which I have to say was vaguely reminiscent of something out of hostel. My faith was entirely in my boss's hands as we were lead to a door that was open

So what's behind door no. 2

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A soundproof room with a karaoke machine apparently!

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It was hilarious! You Hire the room for a per person charge by the hour, choose your songs (quickly, time is money!!!) and then just....sing! Sounds really simple and it is! If you need to exit the room at any point opening the door automatically turns the sound down too so as not to upset the neighbours. Oh my god did we laugh and most of us had throat. Issues the next day:

So pick a song

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Add friends

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Air guitar is optional

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We ended up in here for 3 hours, we had only booked an hour and ended up pleading a lot. 3 hours later... A bar in opera, some mojitos and a stand off in the commoners taxi line which wasn't as popular as the line of suits waiting for cabs outside the opera house it was 3am and I was in a taxi heading along the champs élysées towards the arc de triumph at place d'etoile.

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All good nights out should end like this.

I love my life.

Karen x

Saturday, 19 November 2011

D'accord dansons! (Okay let's dance)

So it's been a busy week and a cold week! Its also been very misty with the mist Pt ting on the school grounds early doors and late evening prompting Michelle and I to note the striking resemblance school can bear to sleepy hollow.

Has anyone checked the timetable to see if the headless horseman rides tonight...?!

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It was also a BUSY week which saw us holding blind English tests (sorry kids) plus having to change my lesson plans at the last minute for the entire month plus the suggestion I choreograph a dance for the school Christmas show which then became '2' dances for the Christmas show (known as a spectacle here) which then became 'Karen my class have to do a song in the Christmas spectacle can you please help with the choreography also' so all in all I suddenly found myself planning an extra 6 hours of dance lessons a week on top of the 2 I already teach, plus choreographing no less than 6 dance routines! This was just on Monday night.

It's okay I like these little challenges and it also meant whilst skimming through my music collection I discovered some hidden gems I never knew I had! So when I was supposed to be choreographing these extra routines I mostly found myself having a bit of a disco in my dance studio to the tunes I kept finding I had forgotten About. Proper trip back to the 80's with a school disco for 1.

Actually this is also good distraction as I'm having a particularly hard time at the moment missing my cats, there's a lot of cats out here and it's really catching up with me at the minute. I'd love to get my own but I can't guarantee anything right now so it wouldn't be fair to take a cat in sadly (and sensibly, oh I'm such a grown up; sometimes) meanwhile in the last week I made 2 new feline friends:

Meet Diego

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The friendliest puss ever who lives by the school and I found him in the playground. When he'd finished hurling himself round my ankles with a particularly deep and lovely 'wooooow' sound, I advised him he may want to clear off before playtime!

Then there's this beauty who lives in my village. This cat who looks like Fizzgig from the dark crystal is indeed a beautiful piece of fluff who will happily spend hours winding round your legs for some spoiling.

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However I do miss having my own cat and even though it's been 2 years without my boys now it doesn't mean it hurts any less to not have them in my life anymore. It's sad they were my boys for 10 years and I adored them. I am fully aware I have missed out on the last 2 years of their life (not for want of trying though) and at 12 years old next May they aren't getting any younger and I'm desperate to know how they are. Here's hoping one day I'll hear something.

Anywho back to school and dance lessons.

Often the children in the dance workshops don't particularly want to dance so getting them to focus let alone learn anything routine wise can feel a near impossible task somedays, so I was now faced with a class of up to 22 children ... which also included a lot of boys who mostly would just like to play football every sports lesson. So as plans had to change literally overnight and with no time to burn anything onto CD (as no time to go and buy blank CDs) I knew my iPad wouldn't cut it volume wise so I dove into my sparse CD collection with everything crossed (who has CDs now anyway, downloading saw to the end of that). Armed only with lady gaga, britney spears and glee vol. 1 (don't judge me) I felt like a lamb heading to the slaughter.

Both classes loved it!

Lady Gaga is actually pretty child friendly, who knew! Her lyrics are mostly nonsensical and nothing as blatant as Katie Perry and her "i want to see your peacock cock cock cock" (even my big bro things she should be shot for that and had to heavily edit the album accordingly when my little niece asked for it...) so I wasn't feeling too disturbed when all the little girls started singing along to poker face. Success indeed.

Mind you I kind of wish I could say I had the same level of calm in my drama class. This week when I asked the boys and girls to come up with a short play each based around being in a shopping Market and to use as much English dialogue as possible (I was on hand to consult and dictionaries were used where necessary). As is usual the girls poured through the dictionaries, asked me for help on words they were stuck on and quietly devised their little scenario in the corner. The boys you could tell were going to sandwich an armed robbery in their play somewhere.

So when it came time to view these short pieces imagine my shock when even the girls play involved someone being tazered and as for the boys, well, I could have paused the scene at any moment and it would have looked like a still from the primary school version of Reservoir Dogs.

I understood the girls little play, normal day in the shop, one of the normally sweetest girls of cycle 3 steals something, police get called, she bashes shopkeeper over the head (really???) ends up tazered by the police (and to think at one point in our lives Tom and Jerry were shouldering the blame for this) the end.

The boys however, it, had to be witnessed to be believed, or rather - not understood. I got that it was a shop and someone bought a jacket, but from then on it descended into such an imaginary bloodbath I almost felt the need to get imaginary cloths to wipe up all the imaginary blood and guts that was being spilled all over the Walls (which incidentally were real and luckily imaginary bullet proof and wipe clean)

Of course the boys were indestructible I mean these kids had an arson of everything from glocks to machine guns in their minds with which they were massacring each other at point blank range before suddenly whipping out tazers (whats with the tazers what are these kids watching???) even the 2 boys that had their throats slit were able to continue (yep you read that right; throat slitting) all I know is no one seemed to die (they kept reincarnating it seemed) it reminded me very much of an old Alan Ahlberg poem about a primary school production of Robin Hood, my mum, most teachers and primary school children from the 80's will know what I'm on about, the book was called 'please sir' and contained poems such as 'there's a dog in the playground' anyway once again I digress.

I called time on the boys play in the end as let's face it, like a game with a cheat code that means you have unlimited life ups's gotta end somewhere else it just gets boring and my poor morals were shaken and I was also thankful for the fact I've not had a tv with channels since June of this year so have obviously been spared the horrors the rest of this world are clearly watching (like X Factor...)

Its strange the children have been pretty fractious this week and for the first time since I started teaching I lost my rag. I don't like shouting, I kind of feel if you are shouting you have lost. But I'd tried everything from turning the lights out, to whispering, to adding time on post lesson to the naughty corner, to hands on head, to notes to the parents... But there is one class that just weren't having any of it this one day.

I had already had to raise my voice once (and little did I know it was actually loud enough that the headmistress who was just down the corridor with one of the pupils mums could hear me...) so the class had calmed down suitably and I thought it was safe to move on and give them something a bit more active to do. Could not have been more wrong.

I was teaching conjunctives such as 'on' and 'under' so as they weren't getting it visually and they were getting restless I thought it was time to put words into actions.

"okay class, UNDER your desks"


'yes really, tout le classe, everyone under your desks'

One child tentatively slid off their chair and looked at me suspiciously waiting for the lecture.

"oui, comme ça"

Pointing at the bewildered child peaking at me from this usually 'forbidden place' I gave them permission to follow suite and in disbelief one by one they slid under their desks, giggling and possibly thinking I'd gone slightly mad.

"okay class ON your chairs"

They returned to their chairs, the noise levels slowly creeping up and up and UP reaching a crescendo just as I repeated the command

"now UNDER your desks"

At this point it all went horribly wrong and a couple of the children actually climbed ON to their desks.

That was enough, I'd had enough, I promptly slapped my hand down on the desk and above the shouting yelled for them to stop and gave them a lecture on their unacceptable behaviour.

So now picture the scene

I'm mid yell, I have one hand attached to the desk, some of the class are under their tables, some are sat on their chairs and some are ON their desks...

Enter the head mistress.

Christian said when the headmistress turned round to him later that day and said she had walked into my class to find the kids on and under their desks Christian said he had to try not to laugh as he said "oh she was probably teaching prepositions".

Its okay apparently Mishy has used this approach also. Its official they probably now think the entire English department is insane.

Which would be right.

Probably why us living together works so well; thats a whole lot of craziness under one roof.

Its ahrd to stay mad with them though, there's never a dull moment working with children, a short while back for art Mishy covered drawing tapestries thus presenting the class with the opportunity to let their childish imaginations run wild in fantasy land and draw castles and unicorns and dragons and knights in shining armour. Which one boy promptly did. A knight in shining armour complete with flowing cape... and mini electric fan built in to keep the cape constantly flowing. When Mishy pointed out that they didn't have electrical equipment in those days the boy promptly drew a potted plant over the top of the fan and proudly announced that 'he'd disguised it'

This was mild though compared to the boy who was guarding his castle against...women! (hmmmmm I see problems when he's older) all round the base of the castle were dead and dying women, one woman was hanging from the castle walls as a warning to other women and on the battlements was a knight who was seated....on the toilet. Below the toilet was falling debris so to show an interest and to find something relatively 'ok' with the picture, Michelle asked if those were bombs? To which the boy promptly replied

"no it's poo"

Still desperate to find some good in the picture Michelle spotted that the boy had drawn a woman at the foot of the castle directly underneath the knight on the crapper and she was smiling. Pointing to it Michelle told me she said to him "well what about this woman? she's smiling she looks pretty!" to which he replied

"that's because she hasn't looked up yet"

Got to love them

So I have no idea what's in the air at the moment I was hoping it would freeze the kids into submission as it's so cold here right now but apparently not! Maybe snow is due, I have been warned that just before snow the children get really fractious! Even one of my classes who are usually absolute angels I could have happily individually lynched the one afternoon.

It didn't get any better as the week went on Thursday was another challenging day with the children retaining their yampiness and ending in the dance workshop for which 2 of the children couldn't dance due to leg injuries (I don't know what they are doing but they are running around the playground ok....) one of the children decided to spend the entire workshop doing NOTHING but standing there glaring at me as they were only there because there parents said "sat I 'ave to do the dance" and another came to class with a nose bleed which just would not stop. I was meant to be starting their dance for the Christmas show on this night too! Only 3 weeks to teach them the routine and rehearse it with 2 children down, one who point blank didn't want to be there and one bleeder.. I'm not worried "a 5,6,7,8...."

so it is fair to say I was dreading Friday... On Fridays I have the youngest children in school in the afternoon. 21 fidgety end of week children, all ready for the weekend and 99% of whom speak little English. Dance and mime was on the agenda for their lesson. Mime??!! These little ones couldn't be silent if their lives depended on it! My confidence wasn't off to the best start Friday after Thursday's dance class and not wanting a repeat of this I headed into the class with some trepidation. However I was well prepared right down to the order of the music on the (by now) newly burnt CD specially made for this occasion.

Worries were totally unfounded, somehow I managed to do an entire 30 minutes of mime where the children said next to nothing! Mesmerised and following my every move we collected stars from the sky and bagged them up, we fought battles as pirates, did mirror work and acted out their entire day. I used classical music quietly in the background which also seemed to do the trick in keeping them calm (bit of Rhapsody in Blue on a friday afternoon is good for the nerves) and it was just the loveliest lesson ever! Not to also bear in mind these kids barely speak english yet mostly and so somehow i managed to explain the exercises and get them to do it! Lesson 101 in mime, you don't need words to tell a story, least of all when you all speak different languages but have to do the same thing.

We then moved on from mime to dance, fingers still firmly crossed and I did some country dancing with them and somehow successfully taught and completed the 'Virginia reel' with most of the children getting it, also this gave the children their new word for the week... Dosey doe. Apologies to the parents :) Im trying to do world themes with the dance lessons so it'll be line dancing next week, bangrha the week after... Etc etc. Hopefully it's as good an idea as it sounds but certainly a good start. They were all very excited when I told them it was a danse de la campagne (country dance) from England and one boy who had lived in England for a few years was able to put his hand up and proudly tell the rest of the class he had in fact learned that dance before when he attended school in the UK so brownie point for my britishness and authentic English stuff.

After 2 hours of this delight I wondered how the end of the day dance workshop would fair in comparison. With 3 weeks to the spectacle du Noel (Christmas show) it was time for the younger children to begun their routine. I chose Jingle Bell rock and waited for chaos to ensue. So I was delighted when not only did they all start singing along and knew it and LIKED it but they all listened intently and learned the moves I had set to the first verse really well. Result!!!

Work asides this week on Thursday the Paris massive all gathered together at Chez moi et Mishy who cooked a lovely stew (we have an agreement she cooks I clean!) in France you usually bring wine to the table but as no one had checked with anyone else what was what we ended up looking like total winos...

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Nothing compared to this guys shop in Auchan, let it never be said the French are alcoholics. After all alcoholics attend meetings.

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That was a lovely chilled evening, our new house is beautiful and we feel right at home. I have a feeling our landlords are new to this game though as every day they have bought us something new for the house, or done the gardening, or been and dusted. We got home Tuesday night to find the house felt warmer than normal. We found out why when we went into the dining room and realised the heat was rising up from the cave...

They had lit us a fire!

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We have decided we don't have landlords we have fairies. I'm sure Peeves is delighted.

Well fairies aside I still gave the house a good clean this evening as it's now the weekend and 1. I have the bloke coming to spend the weekend with me (it's been a month and now I get to see him this weekend and the next!) and 2. It's P-A-R-T-Y time! Housewarming this weekend so it's all fun after a challenging week, but being paid to spend the week pretending to dance in the snow, collect stars, do battle with pirates and play games really can't be all bad; I love my job!

On that note, I've earned my weekend

Bon weekend everyone make the most of it!

Karen xxx

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Ça commence á ressembler beaucoup Noel; it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Well everyone will be pleased (or perhaps not) to know after my minor depressive episode illustrated by the tone of my last blog i am now back to being happy as a pig in muck as is usual.

Okay so my bank account isn't terribly healthy and due to being ill it's set to look a heck of a lot worse next month but hey, hopefully I also start another new job next month ( yep was supposed to have started work at job 2 the other weekend, your memory does serve you correctly but dear god have they messed me around so....NEXT I can't hang on any longer so fingers crossed this next one seems more hopeful for start of December).

I think it has a lot to do with the beautiful sunshine that's finally re appeared!

Soooo what's happened since last blog...not loads, Peeves has been pretty good, last week I started to teach football which went really well! Not bad considering I know next to nothing about it, I can train football players for fitness, hell I can even advise on their diet and exercise for the season, but rules of the game itself and my own ability to play? Nil.

So when demonstrating passing the ball and stopping I felt a bit of a fraud really but somehow I seem to have developed football skills overnight! To the point the children were in awe of the range of my kick, ball control when demonstrating dribbling (no jokes please), my ability to aim and pass... I guess age and experience and general sheer luck play a massive role in this. So outwardly when I demonstrated dribbling the ball skilfully around the cones before lining it up to score a goal some metres away and did so in a perfect straight line, I had the distinction of standing there while the kids all went "wooooahhhh" and now think I'm some seriously talented sports person (I mean I'm a GIRL and I kicked it in a Straight line, what boy under the age of 11 has ever seen THAT done before!) with my wry smile and self appreciating 'yes kids keep practising and one day you could be this skilled too' nod I stood there like I'd been born with that ball attached to my foot. Inside however I had already done 3 laps of the gym with my shirt pulled over my head and finished my final lap by sliding on to my knees, arms out and the crowd go wiiiiiiild yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

As some clever person once said

The secret to teaching is to make it look like you've known your whole life what you may have just learned that morning.

Too true somedays says I as I sit here latching on to the free wifi at val d'europe and desperately researching lesson plans and ideas...

Anyway asides school we were treated to a lovely 4 day week as here in France Armistice day is a public holiday. Yes that's right, the French and their lovely 'why work if we don't have to let's take a day off' I'm all for it.

So I had Friday off and rescued my anglophone angel Zoe from her boys for a few hours whilst she got some work done. It's safe to say I walked their feet off so they were a lot quieter by the afternoon!

As we walked through the town centre (I think you can call Esbly a town, it's questionable size wise but technically it is) I heard the bells ring at the Eglise and realised it was 11am! I made the boys note the time and told them it was especially important this year as it was the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month in the year 2011! Something that would never happen again (not in this lifetime anyway). I felt very pleased I could contribute to teaching them something new that day until a voice piped up:

"yes but what about next year when it's the 12th of the 12th of the 12th 2012"

You cannot argue with the logic of any child under 10 years old. Actually you can't argue with little boys full stop.

We went to visit the local donkey who shares his field with two anti social Pygmy goats so we could do the usual thing you always do; offer them handfuls of something that they are stood in an entire field of, but obviously the grass is always greener so the donkey was happy with his offerings and extra happy at some salvaged dandelion leaves. I was then offered the very difficult task of dispelling this little gem of an issue that one of the boys raised;

"he's a nice donkey, it's a shame he's going to be killed and eaten one day"

I was quick to explain that 'no the donkey wasn't for eating he was just a pet',

"how do you know?"

Well the difficulty here, is like so many people in rural areas these boys have chickens in their back garden which sometimes end up on the dinner table (I had lots of friends in Devon with cows and pigs in their back garden for the same purpose), so I then had to explain why as a rule people don't generally eat 'donkey'. Difficult, especially given that I'm in a country that is renowned for eating horse...

No logic there and they weren't buying it either but I think I convinced them this donkey was quite safe!

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Anti social Pygmy being less anti social...

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Following on from this discussion we got on to talking about horses and I was explaining to the boys that horses generally graze for 18 hours a day, snooze for 4 hours (when you see them standing up dozing) and up to 2 hours deep sleep (when they lie down) which was met with

"so a horse has 26 hours in it's day?"

Um now I know my maths isn't great but 18+4+2=24 but they still tried to find a loophole in it somewhere ;)

After dropping them back I stayed for dinner, fussed the dogs who were certainly cosy on this cold grey day

Ah contentment personified (or should that be dogified?)

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Then headed home. It was a quiet weekend, just me and Peeves (who has also been very quiet) as the wife (Mishy) has abandoned me for her blokes house in Paris for a few days. Not before she'd left me a note to return home to though.

Most houses people use dry erase pen boards (think joey and chandlers on the back of their door) however we aren't most people

She is after all the art teacher... Very creative Mishy.

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So even breakfast was a solo affair the next day and i headed to the boulangerie and treated myself to a Torsade;

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Rescued a pigeon on the way home which I promptly named Pierre which I thought might die on me but didn't (after I threw a load of water down it's neck and then left it quietly for a few hours, seemed he'd just taken a knock) and happily flew off later...

Looking super sorry for himself

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I then tried to persuade the neighbours cat some more that it WILL learn to love me... Actual true first time Michelle saw it she forgot what country she was in and apparently thought 'Christ it's a wombat, there's a wombat in the garden!!!'

So michelle for your reference


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Neighbours cat

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Mind you also discovered a cat that would make Aslan cry!!!

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Yup plans to lure him to my garden are under foot...

Anyway this was all before heading off to get some supplies, some for the week and some bits ahead of next weekends housewarming party! They sell some strange things out here I mean....

Foie gras ice cream anyone? (yup that's really ducks liver ice cream, Heston Blumenthal must be so jealous)

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There was also pesto ice cream and balsamic vinegar ice cream if that was more your taste. Nice.

I've managed to get out and about a fair bit as it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas round these here parts. Normally the French don't celebrate Christmas until the last minute almost like they suddenly absolutely have to! I've been here in late and early November a few times over the years and there's usually not even a hint the festive season is but a mere few weeks away, but this year.... They're going for it! Everyone is just as suprised as me, though apparently they have finally cottoned on they make more money this way by starting early but bizarrely even though there's a good 5/6 weeks to go everyone is out panic buying Christmas decorations and presents like it's suddenly the last week of Christmas and they only just found out about it. Val d'Europe was hell when I popped in to do my usual, buy a coffee and hide in the corner on Skype for a couple of hours. But it also looks really pretty!

Val at Christmas

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For the record they probably think I'm super crazy at Val d'Europe as I'm only usually ever spotted in there talking to my iPad or iPhone, not into it you understand but AT it. Ah the wonders of modern technology means my relationshipmcan continue in this fashion...

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He probably won't thank me for that I'm not sure he knows I took it haha. This can sometimes lead to confusion during conversations such as;

Me: ah are you stroking my face/picture?
Him: no I'm cleaning the screen...

Feeling suitably christmassy I decided not to go straight home but to whip out my Disney dream pass, make the most of it and pop in the park to finally check out the Christmas decorations and maybe watch the castle lighting ceremony. I forget how amazing it is at this time of year, I walked in to the sounds of Christmas carols playing on main street and hordes of people. Normally there are only hordes of people after...the parade! Sure enough I looked up towards the castle in time to see Santa in his sleigh being pulled by a team of reindeer. Now there's magic for you!

As I was wandering round absorbing the atmosphere on this cold evening, looking at the Christmas decorations which were starting to glow as the sky grew darker showing up the illuminations more, I remember how choked I used to get when I used to come here with the family. Sounds silly but it's so magical and you get to feel like a child again. What a great time of your life that was, back when money troubles mainly consisted of how much pocket money you got, cleaning and household issues were confined to how unfair it was at having to keep your room tidy, boyfriend troubles stemmed from kiss chase, you never had to worry about meals because your parents always had them ready for you, you were only really wronged or hurt by the school bully (and what did they know) clothes were bought for you and generally your life took care of itself whilst you played.

Ah good times, so to be transported back to those times when issues were in short supply and innocence prevailed even to forget your role as an adult for a few seconds, can really catch in your throat.

Put me and mum together in Disneyland and we'd clear a box of Kleenex between us in the first day.

"ooooh it's so magical!" sob sob sob.... "oooooooooh look at that!!!" sob sob sob " Jack Sparrow!!!!" sob sob sob... (haha)

I was in the park on my own a couple of years ago when I had my Annie Oakley audition here and I thought ah I'll just pop into the park and look at the Christmas stuff, it's okay that I'm on my own I don't mind really, it winter be strange at all without the family. About 30 seconds later I phoned mum to say "hey guess where I am hahaha" then suddenly hearing her voice, seeing all the beautiful decorations hearing the Christmas music... "mum why aren't you hear with me??!!" sniff sniff.

Honestly we are pathetic :)

So I'm in the park on my own, I'm looking around and thinking wow. Once upon a time I'd have been feeling all emotional. Where's the lump in my throat? Why am I not even slightly Teary? Uh oh am I growing out of all this? (please god no...)

Oh well it's probably a good thing, ah it's so christmassy, the music, wow I have a pass I can come again tomorrow if I want, oh my gosh it only takes me 25 minutes to get here from my house, this is what I always wanted, I made it, I'm here, I'm living down the road finally, I'm ....

I stood watching all the mini Belles and snow whites and Peter pans and pirates passing me by.

Then it started; the snow. Several times a day it snows on main street throughout the Christmas season.

Well that was me finished. Why don't I have any tissues on me?????

What a wonderful legacy Walt Disney left behind, the power of one man eh? I'm sorry that Steve Jobs passed away recently what a great man too. I still had to google his name when I heard the news though to save me going...who?

Find me someone who doesn't know about Walt Disney that hasn't been living up a mountain for the past 50 years at least.

I don't know what it is about Disney but some people love football, some people love shoes, some people like making model aeroplanes...I love Disney. Maybe it's good food for my massive inner child either way it's magic all the same. We all need a little magic in our lives.

I decided to be brave and stay to watch the lighting ceremonies of the Christmas tree and the castle. I had a good giggle on my own leaning against a lamppost, I hoped I didn't look too strange, listened to the French conversations around me and picked out words I recognised and sentences I understood so was giving myself a language lesson whilst waiting, a family came over as the little girl was gesturing madly in my direction they held their camera up and I realised there was a picture of Rapunzel on the lamppost so I went to apparently the little girl thought I looked like her so they wanted to photograph me standing under 'my picture' which made me giggle. Add to this the little girl next to me that kept looking at me and pointing whilst tugging her mums coat and squeaking "fee clochette, fee clochette!!!" I was feeling pretty good about myself, who doesn't want to be taken for 2 Disney girls in one evening!

I stood and watched the two shows which were stunning but I have no photos as this time I was filming, maybe some other time... In fact any night of the week :D

So here's a selection of christmassy photos from the park itself.

The entrance

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Pretty trees...

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The main tree

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Santas sleigh

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I'm pretty sure there were pumpkins and flowerbeds here the other week...

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The tree all lit up

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Main street

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On that note I'm now off to chill for the evening, wife is due back in a bit and I have a busy week ahead!

A bientot