Lessons are not just for kids

As regular readers will know, Moo and I are off to Macau in a couple of weeks, I may have mentioned it in passing, once or twice…., and in my infinite wisdom I offered to prepare a little project for her school so her friends could learn a little about where she was going. I allowed the guilt of her missing a couple of weeks of school to consume me one day and quite clearly took leave of my senses without fully understanding the implications of my suggestion. Maitress Marion welcomed this with open arms and I set about my task. Well actually I ignored my task almost entirely until I suddenly realised I have till the end of this week to hand the project in to Maitress, fully written up and translated into French with some Chinese characters and a guide to Cantonese pronunciation thrown in, for her suggestions and, hopefully, approval. I am thinking that perhaps I should have made a start a little sooner.
It was the same when I was at school, and there was many a homework page handed in ever so slightly damp with the milk from my morning cornflakes.

Whilst doing a little research for the ‘animals’ section, I stumbled across many interesting facts.

The first of which being that there are no indigenous species from the island of Macau.

I very quickly widened the scope of the project to include the animals of China and was richly rewarded.
I am happy to report that due to conservation efforts there are now somewhere close to 3000 giant panda’s in the wild and there is talk of their ‘Endangered’ status being downgraded to ‘Vulnerable’ in the near future. Whatever will the World Wildlife Fund use for a logo now? Perhaps they could consider the South China Tiger as there are as few as 20 left in the wild today. Sobering statistics for the majestic beast. It is profoundly sad that it is already too late for them to consider the Yangtze River dolphin. I stumbled across this distressing tale when looking for a ‘wet’ animal to use in the project. It hadn’t occurred to me to look for dolphins, and certainly not to look for them inhabiting a river.

The Yangtze is however no ordinary river.
At 6,300 km (3,900 miles) is the longest river in Asia and the third longest in the world. It flows from its source in Qinghai Province, eastwards into the East China Sea at Shanghai and acts as a dividing line between North and South China. The river is one of the world’s busiest waterways and by 2005 Cargo transportation reached 795 million tons a year. It boasts 3 dams, one of which, The Three Gorges Dam, is the largest hydro-electric power station in the world. The ever increasing shipping and construction have rendered vast stretches of the Yangtze heavily polluted and have changed the ecology of the river forever.
It is home to many creatures including the finless porpoise, the Chinese paddlefish, and the Chinese alligator, which is the only species of alligator that is not native to the United States. The first animal is on the ‘vulnerable’ list and the following are on the ‘endangered’ list. Which should tell you a lot about the erosion of natural habitat and overzealous fishing methods on the river.
However I will admit to being a big softie and getting a real lump in my throat when I read about the Baiji.
It is sometimes known as the “goddess of the Yangtze” or the “white princess”. The first recorded sightings of these beautiful creatures were documented as far back as the 3rd century BC, and as recently as the late1950’s the population was said to be stable around the 6000 mark. The dolphins could live up to 24 years in the wild and grew to an average length of 2.4 meters. At their top speed they have been clocked at an impressive 65 km per hour, but due to their poor hearing and eyesight they would normally swim at a more sedate 15-20 kmph. As the industrialization of the river began to grow so the population declined, but this decline was far more rapid than anyone could have predicted, and during a conservation survey in 1986 there was estimated to be only 300 surviving dolphins in the whole river. Whilst efforts were made to halt this decline it proved to be too little too late. A subsequent survey in 2006 made no sightings at the beautiful Baiji was declared by the International Conservation Union, (ICU), to be ‘functionally extinct’ (which means fewer are likely to be alive than are needed to propagate the species).
In 2007 video footage was shot that appears to show a single Baiji, but dolphin experts have concluded that it was extremely old and frail and this does not alter the animals conservation status.

So in just 60 years an entire species has been erased from the planet and the blame lies squarely at the feet of the human race. The ICU have stated that the causes of extinction are due to the increased traffic, and therefore pollution, on the river, the barbaric and outlawed, although still widely practiced, method of ‘electric fishing’, and the erosion of the natural habitat caused by construction on and around the river. Whilst steps are being taken to reverse some of the damage that has been caused to try and safeguard the habitat for the remaining endangers species in the river, it is far, far too late for the Baiji.

I have no answers to the global problems of conservation and pollution, but I will continue in my small ways to be as environmentally friendly as I can, and hopefully when the children hear a, highly edited, version of this tale it will have some impact on the way they view the world around them and how they treat their fellow creatures.

A Bientot.

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Chalk and cheese

I can’t believe it has been a week since I wrote here. Must do better!

JJ arrived unexpectedly early on Monday morning having taken the decision to drive through the night after disembarking at Dieppe, rather than stop for a sleep. She was greeted by two rather dishevelled but delighted pyjama wearing occupants. After a brief struggle getting Moo off to school we unpacked the goodies from her car and proceeded to fill my cupboards with exciting treats. After an exchange of late Christmas and birthday presents we were off to the supermarket to fill my cupboards with boring essentials and cheese. Lots of cheese. JJ struggled woman-fully on till after lunch then succumbed to the comfy sofa and duvet.

The rest of the week has been occupied, in the main, by the pursuit of relaxation mixed with a light flurry of spring cleaning. The best house guest you can have is one who openly declares a love of cleaning fridges. Wednesday blessed us with gorgeous spring weather and we spent the afternoon drawing chalk pictures on the path and feeding our local donkey friends. Marvellous.

Since then the clouds have closed ranks and decided that we have had quite enough sunshine for the moment, and what we really need is a few good storms to further the springtime growth. Ah well you can’t have everything.

JJ and I decided that as Moo stays at school for lunch on Fridays, it would be the perfect day for a shopping trip to Le Mans. I managed to fit in a coffee and a long overdue catch up with my wonderfully large friend Mme. W before we set off. (Just to clarify I’m not being rude about her figure, but she is 7 and a bit months pregnant and looks quite spectacular!).
After a satisfying bimble, we headed to our favourite bargain shop, and were in sight of it when the heavens opened and unleashed a furious storm of hail upon us. Realising that even if we ran the remaining 100 or so meters we would be drenched, we took shelter under the canopy of a local shop exchanging weather related exclamations with the owner until it had passed over.
When we finally made it to the shop I was rewarded with the prize of a lovely little silk dress jacket which will do a grand job of turning my smart-ish holiday clothes into outfits worthy of an evening out. If only I could have found some shoes then my day would have been complete, but there are still 2 shopping weeks till Macau!
The week has ended with more storms and rain, and it looks set to continue. We have managed a few shower dodging excursions to the park, but have been mainly engaged in indoor pursuits. JJ has introduced Moo to a new computer game in which she has to ‘dive’ for sunken treasure in order to stock her empty fish-tanks, and I find myself fortunate if I get to snatch the odd few minutes in front of the PC. ‘Luckily’ I have been blighted by yet another bout of insomnia this week so I have been able to catch up with most things in the wee small hours while most sensible have been under the duvet. But it has left me a little weary and a teensy bit on the grouchy side, so I am once again happy to have a house guest who can keep Moo diverted during our indoor confinement. I can also report that my insomnia has a silver lining as I now have a wonderfully clean and, apparently, nourished 3 piece suite.

A Bientot.

Tears, smiles and puddings

It has been a weekend with little activity to report form the land of Hillywilly.

Whilst I’m sure you will all be pleased to hear that Moo is feeling much better, I hope to garner a little sympathy when I tell you I am not. The past 2 nights have been marred by lack of sleep and coughing on my part. Yes my caring sharing daughter has passed on her germs and I feel lousy. Ah well.

Our stars crossed at some point on Saturday afternoon Moo was starting to perk up whilst I felt a distinct dip approaching. We had spent most of the day trapped indoors by the rain, but when Moo uttered a heartfelt plea I felt it my duty as a parent to oblige. You see parenting is all about sacrifice and despite feeling under the weather we braved the rainstorm, got in the car and drove 12 miles just to see a smile on my darling child’s face. Of course if the plea had not been centred around the sudden desire for a mint magnum ice-cream I may have felt a little less benevolent to her request.
After ice cream and ratatouille, the movie not the meal, we were both shattered and when I informed Moo it was bedtime, the floodgates burst and she wailed. Whilst bed time usually entails a little drama, this was at rather unusually high levels, so as we cuddled together on her bed I tried to get to the root of the problem.

Through her sobs she managed to explain that the last time we had watched ratatouille we had been with daddy, and it made her realise just how much she missed him. With my heart in my mouth, holding back my own tears, I told her I missed him too, so very much, but it was only a really short time now till we would be with him again. She cried herself to sleep, and not for the first time I wondered at the wisdom of our chosen path.

Sleep did not come easily to me as my mind wandered back and forth, dissecting every decision we have made and wondering at the outcomes if we had made different choices.
In the cold clear light of day I know it is worthless to think these thoughts. Our choices were made and we do what we can to make things as good as we can for us all. The benefits we have had, and continue to have, far outweigh the negatives. If only in the dark depths of night things could seem so clear.

It was a very groggy mummy that awoke this morning and summoning the energy to entertain a child with cabin fever was just about all I could manage. Moo was an angel, and kept herself entertained this morning as I supervised from behind an almost constant mug of coffee. Whilst she still undoubtedly missed her dad, the angst of the evening was gone, and she soothed me through a tough day. We had a couple of lovely long chats with ‘flat daddy’, and all the dark thoughts disappeared as we began to look forward in earnest to our trip to the beautiful island of Macau. 3 weeks 2 days and counting.

I decided that we should take a nice walk around the plage, (beach), and dismissed the approaching grey clouds with a cursory wave of the hand, they had been passing over all morning after all. As we arrived at the lake the first few spots of rain fell on the windscreen, closely followed by what can only be described as a deluge, so much for our walk. We returned home and did some colouring instead which was, as far as Moo was concerned, a much better way to pass the afternoon.
As afternoon turned into evening and bath-time gave way to bed-time Moo decided that what was needed was a warm pudding for supper. But not just any pudding, oh no, something exceptional was required. The hints for bread-and-butter pudding were rebuffed, largely due to time constraints, but Moo came up with something not entirely divorced from the idea, but a whole lot quicker. She rolled up her sleeves and it the spirit of ‘chef Gusteau’ himself instructed her commis, that would be me, with precision. What we needed was jam, cream, a little vanilla sugar, and some bread. I was to mix the cream and jam in a bowl then soak small pieces of bread in the mixture. I was then told to put the pieces on a tray, sprinkle lightly with the sugar, and place under the grill till the sugar had melted. I have to say the result was rather magnificent and as we munched our way through it we even came up with a name. ‘Pain crémfiture’. (bread with cream and jam just sounds so much better in French). It was comforting to see Moo going off to bed tonight with a big smile on her face. It is also nice to know that she she seems to have inherited the family ‘pudding gene’.

Tonight,although physically I still feel lousy, mentally I feel snug as a bug in a rug.
And at the very time of writing another quite splendid event is occurring. My very dear friend JJ is on her way to the ferry, and will be here some-time tomorrow to start her holiday. The next few weeks will fly by, and I’m sure sleep will come a lot easier tonight.

A bientot.

Papillon de nuit and the petite souris

‘Maman, Maman que le papillon de nuit mangent?’
The urgency of the question, coupled with some vigorous shoulder shaking, roused me from my deep slumber. In my dormant haze I was almost certain I had understood the meaning of the words, but I was profoundly confused as to why they were being spoken.
At that moment all I could muster in response was a dull
‘Uh?’.
‘MUMMY, what do moths eat?’
Small one was sitting bolt upright in bed next to me, eyes wide and awaiting a more coherent response.
‘Errm, I think they eat the same as butterflies, fruit and nectar and….stuff’.
‘Are you sure?’
‘I think so.’
‘Oh, OK. I was having a dream about moths and I couldn’t dream what they were eating.’
‘So now you can.’
‘Yes’
‘Super,. Night then’
‘Night’
‘Moo, do you dream in French?’
‘Of course I do.’
‘Oh. All the time?’
‘Mostly.’
‘OK.’
‘Mummy I’m very tired now, could you please stop talking so I can finish my dream?’
I opened my mouth to begin my indignant riposte that is was she who had wakened me, but as the church bells struck 3 I realised that not only was it far to late to begin one of those kind of arguments, but also it would also be entirely wasted as I could already hear a gentle snore from my right

It had been a strange day.
Moo had spent most of the previous night coughing and spluttering at my side having fallen victim to the latest bout of ‘cold’ doing the rounds in school. I dropped her off at school with advice to Maitress Marion that Moo was a little on the fatigued side, and if she needed to be sent home, then just to call me. I rushed to the pharmacy to restock the medicine drawer and pick up some essential supplies in case we needed to ‘bed in’ for a couple of day. I was a little surprised not to receive a call, but when I went to pick up Moo for lunch she was looking very pale and had a little bit of a temperature. Maitress and I discussed the matter and it was concluded that if, after lunch, she was still a bit ‘peaky’ it would be fine for Moo to stay at home. At home, Moo went upstairs for a little play while I prepared lunch. 5 minutes later I called her, but receiving no response I went to get her, only to find her sprawled on my bed in deep, deep sleep. Having removed her coat and shoes I placed a duvet on top of her and left her to it.
About an hour and a half later she appeared downstairs looking slightly less pale, but still very hot. More medicine was administered and although a late lunch was refused, she did manage to eat a couple of biscuits. We spent a pleasant afternoon making Easter cards then talking to ‘flat daddy’ in Macau, and then grandma and grandpa in America. I love the internet. It was during the conversation with grandma about yet another thing I couldn’t find, that Moo came out with the statement the ‘probably mummy needed brain surgery as she suffers from short term memory loss’. I don’t know where she gets that idea from, now where did I put those keys….She may have a point.
After that it was time for a visit from one of our small neighbours, (he goes to the ‘big school’ in our village and comes here sometimes till his mum has finished work), and an hours rigorous play-time. By the time he left she was exhausted and barely managed a light tea of some soup and bread. We snuggled in on the sofa with our blankets and watched Dumbo, which has to be one of the strangest Disney films ever made.
When the end credits rolled I carried a very sleep Moo back up to bed, and although it was still very early I decided, in anticipation of another wakeful night, to join her. I am very happy to say that aside form the aforementioned ‘moth musings’ sleep was uninterrupted and long. Moo woke with a start this morning and with all thoughts of coughs and colds forgotten, demanded I take her to school. Not used to such enthusiasm I checked her temperature and found it to be normal. The reason for her desire to be up and out this morning was soon revealed as she proudly showed of two wobbly front teeth and she couldn’t wait to inform her classmates that the petite souris would soon be making a return visit.
I must ensure ‘he’ has the required change in ‘his’ purse for the next week or so.

After a little research I am pleased to report that (most) moths do indeed eat the same as butterflies.
A Bientot

Driving in France, part 2

Here is part 2 of my ‘guide to driving in France’. This section deals with the practicalities of everyday driving in these parts, and offers what I hope will be some useful advice.

Hints and tips

Navigation

When navigating your way around France you can’t beat a good map. Now having tried many and various ‘get directions’ websites I still find it is essential to have a proper map book in the car. It’s all very well having precision directions with street names and road numbers, but you will find them of little use when confronted by an actual road. The numbers in particular, can be confusing at best. There is one stretch of road between here and Dinard that is a magnificent case in point. One day I travelled around 150 km on one road. I did not turn left nor did I turn right, I did not have any nasty junctions to negotiate, there wasn’t even a roundabout to cloud the issue. That one long, relatively straight piece of road has 17 different numerical classifications. 17. On one road, and that’s just the bit of it I drove on. This is not an uncommon feature.
So how about just looking for your destination on the road signs? Well up to a point that works well. Up to the point when your destination mysteriously vanishes from sight and leaves you wondering where on earth you went so wrong. The truth is you probably didn’t and you are more than likely still going in the right direction. Have faith. I find that helps enormously. The road signs in France are actually incredibly good, as long as you know what to look for. The only sure-fire way to navigate your way round France is to not only know where you are going to, but also know where you are going through. If you have a list of all the towns and villages that you will pass through en route to your destination and follow the signposts, you will not get lost. It’s a bold statement, but speaking as someone who has absolutely no sense of direction I can assure you it works.
One ‘sign’ that its good to be aware of is the sign that denotes an approaching bend. It is composed of blue and white chevrons, and 90% of the time, they really, really mean it. If you see one of these it is best to slow down to a speed from which it is easy to slow down even further. It may well be that the corner is just a little bit tighter than you think it looks, or it may be a hair-pin bend. You have been warned.

I will just take a moment to mention my two favourite road signs. The first of which is ‘Toutes (all) Directions’ and the second is ‘Autres (other) Directions’.

It can be a little confusing when you first come across these signs but once it is explained it’s really quite easy. Toutes directions quite simply means that you should go that way, (unless you are trying to find a devious shortcut, but that almost never works). And as for the ‘Autres’, unless you see your particular destination name on an adjacent post you should really go the other way. Simple. But they still make me laugh.
.

Overtaking

Overtaking is a national pastime.
When travelling at the speed limit you will be overtaken numerous times, particularly on stretches of highly unsuitable road preferably with oncoming traffic. When glancing in your rear view mirror you will see a car advancing at an alarming rate, but do not panic , it will do one of two things. Either it will drive up to your bumper then veer wildly around you and then slot neatly back into place just in front of you before disappearing into the distance. Or, it will drive up to your bumper then slam the brakes on if there is really really not enough room to get past. It will then proceed to bob in and out across the central reservation at roughly 2-3 second intervals until such time as it is deemed suitable to finish the manoeuver as outlined above.
If you adhere to the speed limit, you will probably find you do not need to participate in too much overtaking yourself, but if the occasion arises, say if you happen to get stuck behind one of the numerous and frustratingly slow electric cars* that are on the road, whatever else you do, do it fast.
Of course things are further complicated if you happen to be driving a right hand drive car, and you will have to allow a larger gap behind the vehicle you are overtaking and be sure of the power of acceleration of your vehicle. Either that or have a trusted ‘wingman’ in the passenger seat to give you the all clear.
*(the reason that there are so many electric cars on the road is not from any sense of morally righteous environmental concern, but simply that you do not need to have a driving licence to drive one. No really, that’s true.)

Tractors

On the whole tractors drivers are extremely considerate, and will pull over often when they realise there is traffic behind them. However be aware that although most of them are fully fitted with indicators very few of them appear to function, and if it does not pull over to let you pass chances are it will be turning quite soon, so it’s probably best not to attempt the overtaking strategy outlined above unless you are completely sure there is no chance of them doing so.

Traffic lights

Just to be aware that the traffic lights do not follow the same pattern as in the UK. And when you are waiting for the lights to change they will go directly from red to green, so be vigilant as patience is not a widely held virtue in the French driver. A small note on amber. If you happen to see traffic lights flashing amber that signifies that it is perfectly fine to cross the junction, however all of the other traffic light in this set will be doing exactly the same, so there is absolutely no guarantee whatsoever that there will not be vehicles doing exactly the same thing. Proceed with extreme caution.

I will just leave you with one last word of warning that is particular to rural areas, and the seasons of spring and autumn.

Hawks

There are birds of prey of all shaped and sizes around these parts, and they seem to have a fondness for lying in wait in the hedgerows until you are just passing then fly up from out of nowhere. The first couple of times this happens it is nerve jangling to say the least, particularly when it is a fully grown adult with a wingspan the size of your windscreen, but you soon learn not to swerve. They are pretty good at getting out of the way, and I’ve only had to pick a few feathers out of the grille.

I could probably go on forever with a list of odd laws and strange habits, but not only have I gone on far too long already, but I don’t want to take all the fun out of it. Safe journeys and happy motoring.

safe motoring

Oh and if you are coming over from the UK, we drive on the other side.

A bientot.

Driving in France. *

As this is alledgedly a blog about ‘life in France’, I thought it was about time I actually wrote something on the subject so here is the first instalment.

*this started out as an attempt at a sensible guide to driving in and around France for my friends who are coming to stay, but by the time I was done it felt like it should have ended up here.

There are may websites that will give you a full run-down the ‘code de la route’ (highway code) and all the various obscure traffic laws, of which there are many that I am sure I am still unaware of. Below are a few ‘high priority rules’ and I will give you a few of my very own hints and tips tomorrow.

The legalities:

You must have in your car; a red warning triangle and enough Hi-vis jackets/gilets for every passenger travelling in the car.
This law came into force in July 2008 and if you do not comply you are liable for a fine for EACH item that is missing.
There is an ongoing discussion about the number of jackets required in a vehicle, not even the police seem to be able to provide a definative answer. People I know have been told It’s OK just to have one, and others I know have been fined for every person in the car who does not have one, so for the sake of a few Euro I err on the side of caution on this one and we all have our own.
The police seem particularly strict at enforcing this law in the vicinity of ferry ports and train terminals.
You will see many hi-vis vests draped over the back of car seats when you are driving around, and whilst this is not technically against the law it has been known for a particularly mean-spirited brand of policeman to fine a person for this as it ‘could’ be a danger to other drivers if they happen to catch the glare from your jacket when driving at night. It has also been said (although this may be an urban myth) that you can be fined for keeping your Hi-vis in the back of your car as, in the event of an accident, you would have to get out of your car without one on to retrieve it from the boot. So probably best keep them in your glove-box or door pockets then.

It is also a requirement to have beam deflector stickers on your headlights, (unless of course you have a very fancy car which has a little button inside to automatically adjust your beams), BEFORE your tyres touch French soil. Hence the reason you normally see lots of headlight action in the departure point car parks or on ferry decks. These stickers can be purchased for a couple of pounds at any reputable ‘car-parts’ shop. Or if you do happen to forget you can pay about a tenner for them at your departure station. Again this is a very popular ‘ferry port fine’. Do not forget to take them off again when you leave.
Your car must also sport a GB sticker, (unless you have a fancy EU licence plate with the circle of stars on it).

You must carry at all times; your driving licence and your car registration documents. Proof of insurance, (a minimum of third party is compulsory), and a valid Controlé Technique (MOT) must be on display at all times. It is also advisable to take your passport.
These documents MUST be originals or you could be liable for an on the spot fine.
Most policemen in France are well aware of the differences in UK and French documentation, but be prepared for a lot of chin-stroking and shrugging if you are asked to produce your documents in some of the more rural areas. And if you are coming here from outside of Europe the chin stroking will be multiplied according to the distance away from France you normally reside.

Speed Limits

Autoroute (A) ; 130 KM per hour, this is reduced to 110 KM when the roads are wet.
Route National (N) or dual carriageway; 110 K Mph, reduced to 100 KM when wet
Open road (B, C or D); 90 K Mph, reduced to 80 KM when wet
Towns or villages; (whenever you pass the town/village name sign) 50 K Mph
In periods where visibility is less than 50m ALL limits are reduced to 50 K Mph

When driving in France you will notice that these speed limits are largely ignored, and an average speed on the open road seems to be around 130km. There are MANY speed cameras in France, but these are all clearly signposted .(”controles automatique.”).contoles automatiques It is also possible to ascertain the position of speed cameras in .France by the rapid and sometimes terrifying application of brakes of the car in front of you.
There are also a VAST number of mobile radar traps, (policemen with speed guns.), employed throughout the country. Particularly on nice warm sunny days. Whilst it is impossible to tell where these will be set up, (although most of the locations do tend to be in the immediate vicinity of a boulangerie or cafe), the French drivers have a unique warning system. If you pass a radar post it is customary to flash your headlights at any cars you may pass coming in the opposite direction for a distance of up to 5km. So if you see a car wildly flashing its headlights at you, make sure you are going at the correct speed, and once you have passed the radar point, extend the courtesy in the opposite direction.
Flashing headlights can also indicate that there is an accident or incident further on, so it is best to reduce your speed and take extra care.
Whilst most drivers seem to treat the speed limits as a minimum rather than a maximum, I would urge you to be cautious as the speeding fines and penalties are very large and can be demanded on the spot. (Full details can be found HERE)

Drinking and driving

The legal blood/alcohol limit in France is very Low, much lower than in the UK. (0.5 mg – about two small glasses of wine or a small beer. And the penalties for being under the influence while driving are extremely severe. (a full list can be found here ).

The absolute best advice I can give is just don’t. You will nearly always find a cafe or bar within walking distance or take it in turns to be designated driver or enjoy some local vintage in the comfort of your own home.
Sadly a lot of people treat these laws much as they do the laws for speeding, and it is very common to see folk staggering from bar to car to embark on their journey home on mostly unlit country roads. Please do not follow local custom on this.

Stop

It may seem a little obvious to tell you to stop at a stop sign, but you really must be stationary or once again you could get an on the spot fine, even if your wheels are only moving a tiny bit. This is an extremely popular ‘summertime fine’ for the police and they often wait in the vicinity of stop signs waiting for the person who just slows down a bit.

Priorité á droite

This is a crazy, crazy French law that, although largely ignored, is still the law and can be enforced.
When driving through towns or villages you must give priority to to traffic coming from the right even if they are joining from a smaller side road.
However if you pass a yellow diamond road sign this means you have priority and do not have to give way to the right, but look out for the sign that tells you that you once more do not have priority. priority to the right
Its absolutely bonkers, but in the case of an accident priorité á droit will be enforced.

Here is a link to a good site with some useful translations definitions , there are plenty more at your fingertips!

Tomorrow I will post a more personal take on driving with some essential ‘survival’ tips!

A bientot.

A quiet but busy week-end

After the length of the last 2 epic posts I shall keep this one brief. Well I’ll try.

After the drama of the last couple of days I am extremely pleased to report that all in Hillywillys world have had a very quiet couple of days, with very little to report and, as yet, no repeat viewings of BOD have been required. Friday is the day that Moo stays at school for lunch and with a head thick with fatigue, I was having trouble concentrating. At around 11 o’clock I decided that the most sensible course of action was to have a little ‘Nana nap’ of ’40 winks’ or so . My body quite obviously decided that 40 was nowhere near enough winks and it was around 3pm when I finally awoke. Oops. When there was a knock at the back door my heart sunk a little as I know it is only my next door neighbours who have access to the back of the house, but at least a knock was progress. Mr. A was there looking, in all honesty, pretty dreadful and extremely vacant. I guess he managed to get a clinic appointment today as he always gets that far-away but happy look after they dose him up on whatever concoction of pharmaceuticals they are ‘treating’ him with this time. I just hope this time the chemicals are not the only solution they offer him He was handing me a plate of freshly baked muffins and an apology, both of which I accepted.

With barely enough time to eat one of the aforementioned muffins, (although I womanfully struggled to make the required amount), it was off to pick up an exhausted Moo from school. Today had been their day for ‘Nature walks’ at the school and by the look of her they had taken in a lot of nature. With her clothes stripped and in the washing machine she could barely keep her eyes open through tea and went to bed early with none of the usual fuss. At the next school council meeting I will most defiantly be putting my hand up for more of these ‘nature days’. Despite my rather lengthy ‘nap’ earlier in the day it wasn’t too long before I was ready to reconnect with my electric blanket and I drifted off into a heavy dreamless sleep. Bliss.

Saturday arrived with a wonderful surprise waiting for me at the front door. A beautiful bouquet of 3 dozen white roses from my wonderful Hubby. What a fantastic way to start the day.

With heavy skies full of impending rain, the pop-up tunnel and play tent were hastily erected in the living room, and we had a day of indoor exploring fun. When not discovering the hidden secrets places that lay in the land behind the sofa, I was desperately trying to finish my latest sewing project. Moo had decided that George, her most beloved bear, really needed some clothes for his impending trip with us to see Hubs, but not just any clothes, what he really needed was a suit. We managed to reach a compromise of trousers and a waistcoat, and I reached for the remnants of the pinstripe fabric I had used to make some curtains with last week. Now that George’s suit was all finished and he was looking very dapper, Moo decided that really Travel Bear should have some clothes too as he was also coming with us to Macau. Travel Bear has already been across the globe without the need for much in the way of fashion accessories, but apparently now it was a necessity, (to read all about the adventures of Mr T Bear click HERE – and you will find him near the bottom of the page.). Hmm, I think I’m being taken for a bit of a mug you know. I made preparations for another suit, but Yves St L’Moo decided he should have something a bit ‘younger looking and funkier than George’. Living in France seems to be having a profound effect on that young lady. One fleecy leisure suit later and I was sure I was done, as the clouds had passed we took ‘the boys’ out for a stroll round the village to show off their new duds.

When I was tucking Moo up into bed tonight she just happened to mention that ‘wasn’t it a shame that the boys didn’t have any pyjamas of their own….’. I cant wait to see the look on her face when she comes downstairs in the morning to find 2 brand new bear sized nightshirts.

A bientôt.