Why You Need to Know about Processionary Caterpillars

It’s Spring, at last (at least it was a few days ago – it’s raining again today and feeling more like Autumn again, but hey ho.) At this time of year everything comes alive and the ground starts crawling with critters. Most of these are harmless, friendly even, but then there are a few others we have to watch out for. One of the most prolific of these is the pine processionary caterpillar which, after having spent months in their fluffy-looking nests high up in the pine trees, make their way down to earth for the final stage of their life cycle (as caterpillars) where they then burrow into the ground in order to pupate, hatching a short time later as the Pine Processionary Moth (Thaumetopoea Pityocampa).

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The Distinctive Pine Processionary Caterpillar

I first saw these on a walk with DS and DD last year. At the time we didn’t know what they were but luckily I knew better than to touch an unidentified furry crawly and rightly too, as it turns out. Because as harmless as they appear – how much damage can a small fluffy looking caterpillar do? – they are in fact quite toxic. Not so bad to healthy humans;  we can expect a rash, which can be pretty nasty – the picture on Google images don’t look all that appealing but, risk of anaphylactic shock aside, it’s usually a localised reaction somewhere on the body and eventually clears up.  As with all things of this nature it’s best to keep your kids from picking them up or rolling around on the ground anywhere where they’re likely to be found. For dogs (and sometimes cats – although cats apparently keep their distance more often than not) they can be fatal, as a friend living in Spain, so a few weeks ahead in the life-cycle, discovered just a few weeks earlier. Her dogs made it, luckily, but it was a close shave and one she could have avoided if she’d known more about the dangers beforehand.

Personally, while I’m usually quite nervous of pests (and general pestilence) in this instance I’m mostly just relieved they’re not spiders – which is what I thought they were when I first saw the giant cocoons on the tips of the tree branches. But then I don’t have dogs. For any doggy owners, there’s some really useful information on this website and a very thorough write up of a doggy encounter with them on this other blog, ouiinfrance.com. In short, to protect your animals you need to prevent them from having any contact, not only with the caterpillars themselves but also with the spines, which are the cause of the problems. If they have an encounter with any caterpillars the advice is to get them to the emergency vet, so if this is you – go now. Go!!

The question I have though is how to get rid of them and what is being done about it because they really are prolific and I can see that if no action is taken this problem is only going to get worse. In future we may end up in closer proximity to them – while they’re around now there aren’t any particularly close by so unless my cats wander off into the woods, which are about 1/4 of a mile up the road, they’re unlikely to come into direct contact with them.

While these are common across much of Western Europe, different countries have different policies, as you’d expect. In France there’s a directive which places the onus on the land owner but requires action at the local level to be enforced. All good with the obvious problem that unless it’s enforced – and I’d say from the number of nests around here that it isn’t –  it’s unlikely to make the least bit of difference. Plus there’s so much land and so many owners, many of whom are scattered over the entirety of the globe, which means and not all land has an obvious owner, or at least not an owner on hand to actively manage it. Since the pesticides that were used to eradicate them are now banned (good) the best methods involve removing the nests and burning them (not good since fires can easily get out of hand and the act of removing the branches/nest can spread the dangerous hairs) or traps, which are the most ecological solution. The basic principle of the trap exploits a weakness in the caterpillars programming. You see these creatures, once they leave the nest, head to tail, seem to have no compulsion to go around anything, so as soon as they hit the barrier they just go round and round. Or rather, the first one goes round and round and the rest just follow! This discovery was thanks to a French naturalist, Jean Henri Fabre, who wrote a book entitled The Life of the Caterpillar (which is available to read online) about them. One day while studying them he managed to coerce them into forming a loop, so they were all equally following and leading, walking in circle. To his surprise them they continued this way for the best part of four days. Fast forward to today and four days is ample time for a trap to be set up and emptied. Game on.

The traps are designed so that a small tube leads out of the barrier into a collection bag, which you can then dispose of safely. There’s an official product, called Eco Piège, which you can pay upwards of 35 euros for (yeah, right), or you can go DIY.  Some cheap and cheerful DIY barrier ideas include using pipe lagging, some pipe and a bin bag, as in the picture below, posted by Linda Garnett to Facebook.

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DIY Processionary Caterpillar Trap using Pipe Lagging

Another simple idea used recycled water bottles – but of course now I can’t find the photograph to share. Also I’ve seen pictures of clear plastic gaffer-taped to the trunk of the tree, kind of like a large buster collar (the kind you put on your dog or cat to stop them scratching their stitches out). However you do it, the best approach seems to be one that involves funneling them into a container that you can easily seal in order to limit your contact with them.

As an alternative to catching the live caterpillars and then having to dispose of them, Farber recommends checking the tips of the trees for eggs and removing the branch tips before they hatch, so no cocoons or dangerous fibres to have to deal with. That might be a worthwhile approach if you’ve only got a few trees in a fairly small area and can easily keep a close eye on them but on the scale of the problem as it seems to be around here, that would be a lot of work!

So there you have it. You have been warned! Personally I hope I never have to put up with these on my doorstep but, if I do, at least I’ll have some ideas about how to get rid of them. And in the meantime I’ll be keeping myself, my pets and my kids well out of their way!

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Another Side Project: What’s On?

It’s Easter. In the UK this means a long 4-day weekend and the start of the school holidays. In France it means a long weekend (3-day) and the start of many activities, with the school holidays coming later.

There really is an awakening this weekend. There are so many activities on but as myself and others have noticed, finding out about any of them is near on impossible unless you either know someone who is going and who passes the information onto you or you happen upon a poster pinned on a tree, a post, or outside a local mairie’s office. And so the side project is to set up a Facebook group and website that will enable us to share information about the many great family-friendly activities in the area. I have a couple of motivated friends so now all we need is to carve out time to make it happen. Watch this space!

Until that’s up and running I wanted to make sure the full list of everything going on this Easter weekend (that I know about anyway) is all in one place. So here’s a post about it.

Friday 30th March / Vendredi 30éme Mars

16h-20h Mask-making Workshop / Atelier Masques – Puivert 11230

In advance of the Bal Mâsque event tomorrow, the second mask-making workshop is on in the afternoon. Everything supplied free of charge. See below (Samedi 31eme á 16h) for the details. See also pics of the 2016 event on the MJC website.

Saturday 31st March / Samedi 31éme Mars 

10h “Vibes” info here – Chez Adeline & Yoan, Puivert 11230

10h á 17h Big Air Session – Monts d’Olmes, Montferrier 09300

For bigger kids who like chucking themselves around in the snow, there’s an airbag up at Monts D’Olmes all day. Free of charge – just pay for your lift pass (it looks like it’s in the park so not accessible from the lower slopes. More info on the Monts D’Olmes website.

15h Fundraiser for the Twilight Dog’s Home – Moulin de L’evêque, Rivel 11230

There’s nothing on their Facebook or web pages but the signs are on the streets and I know a few people are going along, so it’s definitely on.

18h á 22h Bal Masqué, salle de la Mairie – Puivert 11230

Sunday April 1st (Easter Sunday) / Dimânche 1ere Avril (Jour de Pâques)

14h a 18h Easter Carnival / Kermesse Déguisée de Pâques – Quillan 11500

Date/time info (and description, in French) on the Facebook page.

Monday April 2nd (Easter Monday) / Lundi 2éme Avril (Lundi de Pâques)

11h Easter Egg Hunt / Pâques chasse aux oeufs gratuit – Les arpents verts Km 14, Belvèze-du-Razès 11240

An Easter egg hunt, followed by petanque competition – buvette on site. Advertised as a family event.

See the full event details on Facebook.

12h Omelette de Pâques – au Lac á Puivert 11230

Details of this one are to be confirmed (keep an eye on the MJC Facebook page) but it’s a French tradition to meet on the Monday, a public holiday, and cook/share omelettes. No chocolate eggs here!

Other Events

27th March to 2nd April / 27éme Mars á 2éme Avril – Escale á Sete 34200

Further afield (Sete) but it looks like a very nice event for anyone into boats! Info on the Escale á Sete website.

And that’s not all. I’ll update this post when I have more info.

Five Online English-French Translation Tools

Life is most certainly getting the way of my good blogging intentions, so here’s a quick post with links to some useful French translation sites. It’s by no means exhaustive – more a way of me keeping track of the list I have so far – and I’ll update it in future, when I have more time.

My Top Five English-French Translation Tools

Stabouli

https://www.stabouli.com

This is a new one to me but it looks interesting as it’s just an English-French translation tool. I haven’t had much chance to use it yet but I know that will change. With a few months of use behind me I hope to have some idea how it compares to other tools I’ve been using, nameley:

Reverso

http://www.reverso.net/text_translation.aspx?lang=EN

This is an excellent translation tool, far superior to Google, which really does come up with some dubious translations at times. Reverso also has an excellent dictionary, which gives context-based translations.

Google Translate

https://translate.google.fr

Google Translate is probably the least accurate but also the most convenient. Perhaps this is most useful in the web browser, allowing you to quickly translate a page from French (or any other language) into English. It’s not perfect but you can get the idea. If you’re using this for translation from English to French I recommend running your text through another translation tool as well and then cross-checking any differences. Google seems to simplify translation and doesn’t account for nuance. It’s the quick and dirty option.

Linguee

https://www.linguee.com/english-frenchL

Linguee is fantastic dictionary and als very useful for translating short phrases – definitely one of the best translation tools that’s out there given it takes context into account. There’s now a mobile app, which I’m yet to try out.

Cambridge Dictionary

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/translate/

Whenever James sees me using Google Translate he berates me for forgetting about the Cambridge Dictionary translation tool. This is his favourite. I use it as one of my go-tos for double-checking Google’s efforts.

 

 

 

Vocab post about coughs and colds hijacked by coughs and colds! Splutter.

I had planned to get a post written and scheduled for tomorrow about coughs and colds but – wouldn’t you know – this week has been hobbled by them! Not all week. I’ve been a little distracted from my French learning this week thanks to an exciting new venture in the form of my new business, Languedoc 121 Tech, which will offer personalised home and small-business computer services and training. Most spare moments have been dedicated to that. The site’s not quite done but it’s getting there. If you hop over to take a look, please let me know what you think – both of the site and the concept.

But back to the cold. Actually, it’s a cough. Knowing I was in for a busy week I planned to work on this new post at some point today and then this evening. That was before my gorgeous little DS was up for a good few hours coughing his little lungs up. It was a wet, sticky cough in the night that had turned into a dry hack by the morning. He was a bit wheezy too and obviously, feeling under the weather, a proper little cling-on. No free time for me then.

What I have discovered though – and this is definitely something of a cultural inauguration – is the power of the suppository. We just don’t do those in the UK, except as a last resort but here and in most other countries in mainland Europe they’re just another method of administering medicine, no big deal. At the chemist to source something for DS’s cough – wanting to avoid another disrupted night, if possible – the dispenser persuaded me to buy a suppository called Coquelusédal. That’s what we normally use, she said. I wasn’t 100% sure I’d use them but for 4 euros, why not? I bought them. Then at ludothèque shortly after a couple of the mums commented on DS’s chestiness, prompting a recommendation the very same stuff: Coquelusédal. Oh yes, they agreed, it worked very well. I was on about 90% persuaded now. If it worked, why not. Better than a trip to A&E at 1am, right?

DS was shattered after a busy morning after his restless night the night before, so fell asleep on the way home. An hour later he woke up in a pretty bad way. His chest sounded really bad and he couldn’t stop coughing. He kept saying “poorly poorly” in the saddest little voice you’ve ever heard. I was thinking we’d be off to the doctor shortly. Time to try the Coquelusédal? James wasn’t keen but I’d done research while DS was asleep and discovered a few things about this particular medicine and suppositories in general.

One, it is an old herbal remedy typically administered for bronchial problems and asthma. The two active ingredients are Grindelia and Gelsemium. I’m a big fan of “old” remedies like this: two of the most effective medicines we use are J Collis Brownes and Gees Linctus. Sadly the latter is becoming harder to come by, which is a shame because it’s incredibly effective. (If you do ask over the counter for them, expect a sideways gaze from the pharmacist before they are handed over.)

Two, the reason it’s given anally not orally is because the compounds are harsh on the digestive system, so it’s not safe to give it orally, especially not to a child.

Three, suppositories are an incredibly effective way to get medicine into the system at home. Especially with a small child who will often resist. They work quickly as they are designed to melt at body temperature and are then rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. A mum online, whose child refuse oral medication, reckons a paracetamol suppository can bring a fever down in 15 minutes.

Armed with these factoids I informed James that I thought we should try it, despite his reservations (which concerned bodily autonomy, which I agreed with.) He agreed I could give one and if it made no difference, we’d bin the rest. So I administered my first ever suppository to a screaming, sobbing toddler. Following the instructions I’d read online, once I had some light on the situation it was pretty quick and easy (definitely not something to try and do in the dark!)

The result? Not 20 minutes later (and after one enormous poo) DS was transformed – an entirely different child. He was riding his bike again, talking, running around the room. And not coughing at all. Nothing. I was expecting it to work and was just happy that he was obviously feeling better again. James was surprised that it had worked so well – conceding that we would not be throwing them away after all.

And today, after giving him another before bed last night, he’s totally back to normal. There was some coughing in the night. We were awake for a while but today he’s got some colour again, no coughing, his breathing is fine. I’m sold.

So far winter is a hygge-fuelled knit fest

December was a busy month for me. With the run up to the Christmas there was extra shopping, crafting, and multiple trips to La Poste, in addition to a bunch of admin tasks I was determined to clear from my to-do list by the end of the year. Getting things done was in some ways greatly aided by a run of fairly bad weather – Manchester weather, by all accounts! Grey, windy, pretty cold, more often than not rain, plus a few days of snow. Because we’ve been cooped up a lot this month, I’m extra grateful to be in this warm and spacious house in this quiet and friendly hameau: this would have been a terrible year to come to France and rent that draughty little gite where we spent the winter last year. If we had, I think we’d be seriously considering coming back! Having a warm home for winter is so important here.

I think it’s because I’ve been feeling all cosy and hygge, that one of the many things that’s kept me busy this month has been knitting. I picked up my needles a few months ago, inspired to knit presents for some of Holly’s friends, starting with a hat pattern I thought would suit one of them. I decided to knit a test hat first using a spool of yarn I’d picked up for a song (£2) in a bargain bucket several years ago. I’ve always liked the colour of it but never really knew what I wanted to do with it but I thought it would work nicely with the Capucine pattern. And I’m sure it would have if only I was still capable of following a pattern correctly. I swear, something has happened to my brain since I last sat down to do some knitting and I lay the blame entirely on lack of sleep and general parenting fug, because somehow I managed to knit using both the wrong number of stitches and the wrong size of needles for the yarn resulting, not surprisingly, in a hat that was not quite the desired size. In fact it was considerably smaller; only just big enough for DS!

Undeterred (it’s powerful stuff this hygge) and feeling confident that I had figured out (albeit too late) what I’d done wrong I embarked on a second attempt. This time using the right number of stitches on the right sized needles. Except I managed to muck it up again. Introducing a hat suited only for the largest of heads. It’s huge! I haven’t bothered sewing the ends in as it’s I will repurposed it at some point.

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Capucine done badly: one too small, one too big!

But unlike the overwhelming urge to never ever make anything ever again that occurs after making mistakes with sewing, for some reason it just made me want to knit something else. Next came the bumblebee hat – a yellow and black version of the Luuk pattern, which had been on my to-do list for a while. Cute and pretty much to the pattern but sadly almost too small for DS. I did consider gifting it to a friend but I’m not sure I like it enough – plus the yarn’s not great for a baby, being of unknown origin from said bargain bin. So I keep putting it on DS. And he keeps taking it off. I the long run, that’s one for the Magasin Gratuit, I think.

KnittedLuukHat

A Luuk Hat for Sam – “Bumblebee”

Still not ready to quit, my mum and I reached for the needles to knit socks. It was snowing. We had no Internet. My kids only had thin socks for their wellies. So we sat by the fire and knitted. It was very hygge but, sadly, not very productive. As I didn’t have the right sized needles I made mine on slightly smaller ones and my mum made hers on slightly larger ones than the pattern stated were needed. Sadly, this did not turn out well. We each finished one then tested them on DS who, without shame, screamed when I tried to put them on him. So that was that.

Then I realised that DD didn’t have a scarf or any mittens. I started on the mittens, got distracted, and – having stumbled across a nice pattern on Make And Do Crew – decided to also make her a cowl. Following the easy pattern would be too simple though, so I went off piste creatively and used the 4 rows knit, 4 rows purl method from the Luuk hat, as I figured that might sit better. The result is a super-bright and super-snuggly cowl. I thought it was too big for her when it was done and was all ready to frog it and start again but she loves it. At last, a wearable product! I definitely want one of these for myself and James has requested one too, although probably in a more subdued yarn than the one DD has (it’s Cygnet Seriously Chunky in Macaw.)

Colourful Child's Cowl

A MakeAndDoCrew/Wurm hybrid design – very snuggly

After that, back to the mittens. They’re made with some really very natural, which translates as itchy, wool from Cornish Organic Wool recycled from the failed sock experiment. I originally bought it to knit a soaker for DD when she was small and I was experimenting with night-time reusable nappy solutions. It does soften nicely over time so I figured it’d be perfect for mittens given my intention is to shrink them a bit and then lanolise them so they can be worn in the snow and keep small hands warm. I found this pattern but of course impatience got the better of me to so I decided to make a start on slightly smaller needles than recommended since I didn’t have the right size. I made the 4-8 year old size, which have turned out to be just right for DD. I hand-felted them a bit (I got bored after 10 minutes) and haven’t found my old, stiff tube of Lansinoh yet, so they’re yet to be lanolised. There’s no rush since DD was given several pairs of stretchy gloves and some super-soft mittens for Christmas (thank you, Grandma) so refused to wear the pair I made because they’re too itchy. DS is happy to wear them though, bless him. They’re huge on him, of course, but can be made to fit if I sew some synthetic fleece liners inside. He needs mittens anyway so it’s worked out quite nicely.

A picture of some child's mittens in cream wool with an orange stripe across the palm

First attempt at slightly-felted mittens

 

I think once they’re done that’s it, I’ll be all knitted out for a while. Then it’s back to the sewing machine for a bit.

Real Life Bullet Journal: Monthly Planner

Ah, the bullet journal. This discovery has truly changed my life because it enables me to be organised at the same time as being wildly disorganised! I’ve tried to convert those around me to the system but to no avail so it’s a lonely endeavour. My only gripe with it is that there’s something of a cult for beautifying them, for primping them, for showcasing creativity and your commitment to self-reflection and self-improvement. Is that because it’s attracted a lot of scrapbookers? I have no idea. But for me it’s not all that. I don’t have time and I’m not sure I have the interest. If I find myself with more time I will be sure to do something more interesting (to me) with it than primping my bullet journal! It sometimes feels a bit competitive and I think much of the prettiness may put people off from using what is in fact a simple but brilliant way of reorganising your thoughts, ideas, and tasks into one place. It doesn’t need to be beautiful to be practical! Just search Google for “bullet journal” or search for it in Pinterest or Instagram you’ll see what I mean. All those BJ posts; so beautiful, so thoughtful, so colourful! And then there’s mine; practical, functional, and not pretty at all. But actually, that’s how I like it. I figured I can’t be the only one using it this way so I thought I’d be part of the counter-revolution in normalising bullet journal. This is BJ for pragmatists rather than dreamers, for nerds rather than creatives. That is not my current phase of life. When I first drafted this post (it’s taken me over a week to get if finished so it was started before Christmas) I had a to-do list of about 50 things and bullet journal got me through. I’d still be staring at the wall feeling overwhelmed by it all if I had to worry about the looks of the thing!

So here’s my first proper BJ share: my (current) favourite monthly planning layout. When I first started with BJ I used the “classic” vertical list, like the one on the main bullet journal page, but it wasn’t working for me. I like to be able to quickly see what day it is an I like a more visual layout and a more traditional calendar-style layout makes more sense to me. I’m almost at the end of a notebook and I’ve been using this approach the entire time. I like the at a glance organisation into weeks. No colour coding, no fancy key, no pre-formatted lists for tasks.

This is it. Warts and all.

BulletJournalDec2017

Because I’m busy trying to learn French I’m writing days of the week and most other headings in French. It didn’t take long for me to get the hang of the months and days of the week – and numbers up to 31 – by doing this. Now it’s second nature to use French for the labels and headings.

In a few days I’m starting a new book as there are only a few pages left in this one. Happily that will coincide with the start of the new year. I couldn’t have planned it better if I’d tried to! Starting afresh gives me a chance to think about what worked and what didn’t in the old book, like the key, the index, list pages, etc. I am also thinking about any templates I can create to save time moving from book to book in future. I have a few favourite pages that I return to again and again that will need to be carried over and I’ll write a post about that once it’s done, but I think most of it can be archived or copied onto a digital list for future maintenance (I use Wunderlist.) Plus I’ll be setting up my year-ahead planner and other reference pages.

So that’s me and my bullet journal. I hope you like it and that by sharing my shabby scribbles you’re inspired to use the system as a tool and get organised. If you’re living a busy life short on time you really don’t need to about whether it looks pretty or not, if that’s not your thing. And if you are one of those people who does manage one of this Instagram worthy notebooks, I salute you! I’m sure in days gone by (pre-kids, maybe) I’d have put more time into mine. I love looking at the beautiful sketches, the calligraphy, the carefully crafted layout – but this system is too good to be all about looks. At the end of the day it’s a tool, a method, of organising every aspect of your life. The beauty of it, I think, is that there is something for everyone. Make it look pretty, if you want to, but remember – looks really aren’t everything!

A Quiet Christmas in France

It’s Christmas! It’s the first year that DD has really grasped the concept and for the last two weeks she’s talked of little else than Père Noël (Father Christmas) – when will he come, how does he get in, will she hear or see him, etc. It’s wonderful.

This time last year we were crammed into a tiny gite that was barely habitable during the winter. In hindsight we were stupid to stay there at all. DD had only started at the school a few weeks before so although we went along to the Fête de Noël (a band and a buvette) and the party for the children (lots of cake and an incredibly tedious story teller!) our language skills weren’t all that and it was difficult to know what was going on. We didn’t really have the internet and we weren’t feeling all that Christmassy. Plus the weather was better.

This year we’re much more settled into daily life – and with worse weather it somehow feels more like Christmas. Maybe that’s how it will always be for the Brit abroad at this time of year. Christmas just doesn’t happen here like in the UK, not out here in the sticks anyway. Yes, there’s a Christmas aisle at the supermarche, but it’s nothing like the barrage of festivity that you get in the UK. If you go to a Christmas market of course, Christmas is on, obviously, but otherwise, apart from the appearance of the Christmas markets, the brass bands that play there, there’s not much to know it was Christmas. It’s quite nice. I get the impression that Christmas here is much less about shopping and more about spending time with family and friends. I may be wrong, but I’m not feeling any of that sense of pressure to spend, to shop, to provide, that I used to get in England. And because we generally have less to do anyway we’ve been able to make time (and in doing so, save money) making presents and cards when maybe in the UK we’d have just bought them without thinking so much. I made mince pies for the teachers and then, because I couldn’t find a way to package them (or anything to package them in that didn’t cost a bomb) we made some pretty gift boxes using some fabulous card and the instructions on this other blog. They came our really well! Likewise, cards. A charity pack of five cards was going to cost 8 euros, so we made those too.

Handmade Gift Boxes


As far as lunch goes, we’re staying at home, cooking a chicken big enough to feed the four of us, going out for a walk while it cooks, then curling up by the fire to watch a film. Simple. And no Christmas TV, which is the scourge of Christmases at my parent’s house! James took DD to the park while DS slept and I managed to get everything wrapped and ready. That worked really well, much better than leaving it to the last minute then sitting up until 1am, trying to stealth wrap, because DD won’t go to sleep – which is what happened last year. We’re ready!

So that’s the practicalities.

For the children I’m trying to keep presents to a minimum, following the rhyme:

Something you need, Something to read,
Something to wear, Something to share.

This is a bit of a get out when it comes to Christmas as it means we are mostly buying things that would be bought and provided anyway. When I first heard this rhyme, it was:

Something you want, something to wear,
Something to read, something you need.

But then what would Santa bring? So I’ve outsourced the Something You Want to Santa, who they’ve been told brings only one present. That works fine. I like the idea of them having a shared present. I like that they’re not expecting Santa to fill the house to the rooftop with everything they want (DD has quite a list!) Otherwise we buy something they want and then Santa brings something else on top. That’s just too many presents in terms of both expense and clutter. 

Then there’s a stocking each, of which the contents looks like this:

  • A handful of nuts and a mandarin (satsuma)
  • A few chocolate coins
  • A Schleich animal
  • A tube of bubbles
  • Some socks and gloves
  • A new lunch box (for DD) and a harmonica (for DS)

I had planned to put a tub of Playdoh or something crafty in each one too but I ran out of time. I think they have enough stuff anyway so am happy that I didn’t manage to get more.

They also get new pyjamas. I would have given them those this evening, by way of encouraging them into bed, but DS had been running a temperature for the last two nights so sending him to bed in super-fluffy winter jammies was not the best idea! Luckily DD didn’t need any encouraging. They can have them tomorrow instead.

On the festivities front, DD has been learning some French Christmas songs at school so we’ve been listening to them on Spotify so she can teach us and so we can learn a few more. Our favourite album (of the weekend, at least) is French Christmas Carols (The Best Christmas Songs) by the French Young Singers.

Our top three songs, which coincidentally are the ones DD has been learning at school to perform at last Sunday’s Fête de Noël last Sunday afternoon – are:

It’s really fun trying to sing along and to learn the lyrics of these new songs. Even if the tune is familiar because the language moves differently, they’re not so easy to sing!

It’s interesting just how different the songs are despite having identical tunes. For example, vive le vent, which is sung to the tune of Jingle Bells (learn the lyrics here), is all about the wind and the weather – no bells or reindeer anywhere! I suppose the other way around the French will be surprised to know that we don’t have sing about the wind in our version 🙂 Most of the traditional English carols and Christmas songs have French equivalents – so there are many to learn. As far as that one goes, I rather like the French version: it’s romantic than. I like the idea of generations connected by memories carried on the winter wind.

And with that thought it’s time for bed. Night night. And Joyeux Noël !