French for neighbours, builders and dogs
Alpes-Maritimes, 24th of October
We have a new addition to the family: a Siberian Husky named Akila. She has been brilliant for helping us to meet the pooch-loving French, and has meant that we have a great opportunity to use the language and chat. Most of the time though, we have only understood one or two words, but it helps us get the gist of it. At the ski resort up the road, there are a team of Huskies who take people for rides all year round. Their owner has said that he'll train Akila and I to sleigh - Mush Mush! Mind you, I need to train her in French instead of English!
French and English tenants
We've rented out our apartments. I decided to rent one of them full-time to a French couple. This way I have someone around when Ashley travels abroad, and I'm also able to chat with them on a daily basis. This is one of the problems when you are both English - we're not talking in French to one another. Now I'm learning all sorts of basic French words for around the house, shopping etc.The other apartment has been busy with English people, which is nice for us as we can have a relaxed chat when meeting them in the garden. Sometimes you just get a headache from all that thinking!
Our builders have been with us for two months now. We're very impressed as they're great workers. There is none of the usual "Here love, make us a cuppa", just a good 35-hour week's work. I hope they finish in time for Christmas, but being in France one never knows. I find that I have calmed down a lot. Well, it's a case of having to!
The telephone is the hardest thing to use, as I can't see who I'm talking to, and their face and expressions. It is so easy to get it wrong and to offend. But saying all this, when it does go right, which is about 8 out of 10 times (with a lot of patience on their part), it is a great feeling of accomplishment. I met up with an English couple recently, and they hang out with ex-pats. In two years they have learned hardly any French - unbelievable! We certainly don't want to get like that. We came out here to be French!
And the band played on
A band turned up in our driveway the other Saturday, sitting in the back of a truck. We were'nt sure what they wanted, but as one of them carried a tin we felt obliged to give them some money. I found out later that they were part of our village's yearly party, and we were also meant to give them all a drink of Pastis or whisky. It is a tradition called "Aubade" and they play at every house they can get to. That is what I like about this place; it is so different from anything I could have imagined, and always a surprise.
Sent by: Janie