Various bits of art…

The verse from Proverbs that kicked off 40 Acts:

On Sunday I enjoyed playing with tissue paper and glue, creating this piece. I was planning to calligraph the words, but felt that this was a more harmonious way of adding them to the piece. I’m quite pleased with it.

This is a card I made for someone in Mr FD’s office. It was her birthday and Mr FD wanted to arrange something special for her. The “C” is because her name starts with a C, not for any random reason to do with crocodiles. I was a bit annoyed to find that my expensive white calligraphy felt pen had been left open, and so had dried up. The “Joyeux Anniversaire” is on a little blackboard, but unfortunately the writing was horrid, due to the aforementioned dried up state of the pen. So I had to do something different…

This is a piece I drew for friends from church who are going back to the States. Tom & Sheryl have been utter stalwarts and have really demonstrated Christianity in action. They will be surely missed. I wanted to give them something that was “of” Clermont Ferrand, and there is nothing more iconic of the area than Puy de Dome, the mountain that can be seen from almost anywhere in the city.

So that’s what I drew.

Work Experience

Every year, the young people who are in troisième – the last year before they go to Lycée – have to do a stage, which is basically a week of work experience, in a shop, a business, an office, or wherever they can find. Most schools have them doing this round about the same time, so you can imagine that it’s sometimes quite hard to find somebody who is willing to take on a stagiaire, who hasn’t been already metaphorically reserved by someone else!

A few year’s ago, my friend’s son, Flynn, (bi-lingual) was able to go to the UK (his parents paid for flights, obviously!) to spend a week with his uncle, who is a plumber. He then did his oral report (which counts as part of the Brevet – GCSE equivalent) in French & English. He got 100% in his grade. The hope was that his sister, India, would be able to do the same, but to follow her Aunt, who works in sales. Unfortunately, due to business trips & prior engagements, this didn’t work out, so she asked if she could follow me instead. I agreed, and so it was all planned. Last week, she was “my” stagiaire, and this was the planned timetable:

MONDAY 5 hours
 
09.00 – 12.00 Group lesson

(Bonjour World)

12.15-12.45 Yves (BW)
12.45-13;30 LUNCH!!
13.30-14.00 Olivier (BW)
14.00-16.00 PAUSE
16.00 – 17.00 Paul (BW)
TUESDAY 5.5 hours
 
09.00-10.30 Jean Luc (BW)
10.30-12.00 Cedric (BW)
12.00 – 13.30 PAUSE
13.30-15.00 Roman (MF)
16.00_17.00 Pascal (BW)
WEDNESDAY 7 hours
 
10.15 – 11.45 Yvalda
11.45-12.30 PAUSE
12.30- 13.15 Valentin
13.20-14.20 Adam
14.20-15.20 Yannis
15.20- 16.35 PAUSE
16.35-17.20 Maelan
17.30- 18.30 Lilou
THURSDAY 4 hours
 
10.00-11.00 Charlene (BW)
11.00 – 14.00 PAUSE
14.00-15.30 Audrey (MF)
15.30- 17.30 PAUSE
17.30 – 19.00 Aicha (MF)
FRIDAY 5.5 hours (or 4.5)
8.30 – 10.00 Rachele (MF)
10.00- 11.30 Sylvain (MF)
11.30-12.15 PAUSE
12.15 – 13.15 Conversation Class (MF)
13.15- 14.45 Lionel (MF)

It all started quite well… She would see how an English teacher worked and how I buzzed about to different companies for my lessons.

Monday was fine, as the pause gave her a chance to ask me questions, and to have a look round Bonjour World.It started to fall apart on Tuesday – we had the two lessons in the morning, but the student at 13.30 wasn’t starting until the following week, so we had a 4 hour gap to fill! We visited the Metaform main office, so she could compare the two, and we ate our lunch there…Then what to do? Finally we went to Noz, and wandered round as slowly as we could, then we sat in the car park and watched half of the movie “Ghostbusters” on Indie’s phone   until it was 16h and time for the next lesson. We arrived in the company, only to find the student had forgotten the lesson (or couldn’t be bothered cancelling it) and was out on business…We’d hung around aimlessly for 4 hours, when we could have gone home. OK, I’m getting paid for the 1.5 hours of lesson, but not for the four hours of wasted time.

On Wednesday, I had two students cancel too – in good time, so there’s no penalty for them – so again, we had 3 hours to kill. So my stagiaire on “work experience” came to Lidl with me to do the shopping, then we went to the hospital to make my appointment for a check up, and then to McDonald’s for an ice cream!!

The day did have its compensations though, as India was rather taken with one of the young men I teach! I think he rather liked her too, as there was some mutual blushing going on!! As India is trying to decide which Lycée to go to, I think that Adam may be a draw to one in particular!!

On Thursday plans went awry too – the afternoon student had to cancel (in good time) for an important meeting, so we were left with 6.5 hours to kill. So I took her for lunch…

Burgers in the Garden Ice Café (which were very delicious!) and then we went shopping…

By 16h we were both flagging so we went to the Metaform Centre Ville office, where my next lesson was, and relaxed on a sofa with a cup of tea and a book. India fell asleep, but I failed to get a photo of that! My student arrived promptly, so we had the lesson and then went home.

Friday went according to plan (save for no Conversation Class) and as we had finished by 14.45 we decided to go to the pictures! We went to see Jojo Rabbit, which we both really enjoyed. Mark Kermode, whose opinion I trust, was, however, less of a fan. In my opinion, his description of the imaginary Hitler as “more like a petulant schoolboy than a murderous dictator” misses the point; I think the Imaginary Hitler was voicing Jojo’s thoughts and so when Imaginary Hitler was questioning Jojo’s reasos for doing something (in a petulant manner) it was Jojo himself questioning his own motives. And when Jojo finaly turned on Imaginary Hitler, he was turning on his own Nazi beliefs… But maybe I’m wrong. I found it balanced the tragic with the comic well, and made us sympathise with the young boys and girls brainwashed by the Nazi propaganda. I’d recommend it.

The film had just finished, and the credits were rolling, as I turned my phone on – immediately I got a call. It was one of India’s teachers calling to see how her stage had gone. I almost answered by saying “Excuse me, we’re in the cinema…” but luckily didn’t! I answered the questions with a good report – after all, she had done well, helping with games and answering/asking questions, so there was nothing negative to say.

I finished the week popping into see India’s mum for a glass of wine!

 

Support a new kid on the blogging block

Some of us have been blogging for ages – I started in 2009 OOOH! I’ve just realised I passed my 10 years’ Blogiversary on 24th August. What a shame I didn’t realise on the day. It would have made for a blog post!!

Anyway…some of us have been blogging for a long time, some of us not so long.

My nephew-in-law has started his blog “The Stay Abroad Dad” He & my niece, Ruth, and their two Littlies are living in Malaysia at the moment. Ruth is working in a new school, and Dave is the Stay At Home Abroad Dad. He writes quite engagingly, so please trot over to say Hello and encourage him in his blogging efforts. I look forward to reading more about their adventures.

Hello!

I’m here! I’m fine! But just uninspired about what to post about!

But I’m fine.

Here’s a recipe I’m going to try this weekend – Mr FD is trying to lose weight but is missing biscuits and sweet treats a bit. This sounded like a reasonable substitute…

INGREDIENTS:

 

  • 175g dried apricots, chopped
  • 100g light muscovado sugar 
  • 420g tin apricot halves in juice, puréed in a blender
  • 30g low-fat spread
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 125g wholemeal flour
  • 125g self-raising flour

METHOD:

  1. Heat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin with baking paper.
  2. Put the apricots, sugar, apricot purée and low-fat spread in a medium pan and bring to the boil. Set aside to cool.
  3. Add all the dry ingredients to the cooled apricot mixture, spoon into the tin and bake for 40–50 min until a skewer pushed into the middle comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 min, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

PICTURE:

We will see. I also have to re-boil (and maybe add pectin to) my Tomato and Chilli jam. It’s more like tomato and chilli gloopy liquid at the moment.

And if you are of the praying nature, please remember a “virtual” friend of mine, who goes by the moniker Piglet. Her husband suffered a stroke after surgery for bowel cancer, and has died. Another person who a fortnight before was reasonably fit and healthy, but who succumbed quickly to cancer and its related evils. May D rest in peace and rise in glory, and may God hold Piglet in the palm of his hand.

 

The cards you never want to make…

Last week we heard on Tuesday that the wife of one of Mr FD’s oldest friends had been diagnosed with aggressive liver cancer. On Thursday evening we heard that she had died. What can one say or do in a situation like that?

We had only re-made contact with H – the friend – a few years back, and so had only met T a handful of times, but she was lovely: down to earth, fun, and kind hearted. We had loked forward to getting to know her better, but it was not to be.

On Saturday I made two condolence cards (as always, click on the photos to get a better view). This was my first effort:

I quite like this one – although the gel glue I used wasn’t my usual brand, and it didn’t stick as well, leaving some bumps and marks. The flowered paper was from the front of a free magazine (which I snaffled purely for the front cover!) and the butterfly was die-cut from some shiny blue wrapping paper. But I wasn’t happy with it. Partly because of the glue, but partly because it seemed a bit “meh”. And T wasn’t “meh”.

So I tried again

I chose daffodils, as both T and H are Welsh. I much preferred this one – using paper from a co-ordinated paper pad (from Noz) and yellow ribbon (Noz) The stick-on gold is also from either Noz or another discount store! I also used my usual glue, so there was no glue-related complaints!

As you can see, I used the same sentiment in both – I found it on t’internet and thought it was eminently suitable.

Although Mr FD iniatially chose the first card, when I pointed out the daffodils (he’s not always that observant about fine details) he changed his mind!

While I wonder if the second is a bit too brightly coloured, I still prefer it. What do you think?

Woop-woop!

My friend arrives today! We’ve been friends since primary school, but she’s not been out here to see us before now. She’s coming to stay for a few days!

Jane is the friend that I’ve been to the Christmas Markets with the past couple of years. Let’s hope that we have a good time together!!

Jane enjoying some mulled wine at the Strasbourg Christmas market last year.

Here she is in the indoor market in Budapest

Day 6: A Happy Accident

We were coming to the end of our holiday – it was now Friday – but we had had a great time so far (mostly, give or take a few grumps!) Today we were going to see the Cirque du Navacelles. The what?! you may ask.

Well, remember in geography you learned about ox-bow-lakes? (Having discussed this with an English couple we met, we decided that ox-bow-lakes and the water cycle were the two things everybody remembers from their geography lessons! At least, everybody in the UK) The Cirque du Navacelles is like an Ox bow lake on steroids (without the lake.)

We parked the car near the Visitors’ Centre and strode off to the viewpoint. There were a few people there when we arrived, and they appeared to be having a guided tour, as one woman was explaining the geology of the area.

So we started listening, and when the group moved over to the model of the area, and the guide asked more questions, we joined in! We learned about the rock, and identified different varieties: chalk, limestone, granite, “others”. It was really interesting and fun.

Then, as the group set off we asked if we could join in. The guide said Yes, but it was 6.5 km of walking, and our feet might get a bit wet. Did we have other shoes? Oh, it’s OK, I said. And so we joined in! We paused, so the guide (whose name I didn’t get. Let’s call her Mireille) could point out a cave, somewhere on the cliff face to the left

This cave was used by Protestant worshippers, during the Religious Wars in France – they had to lower themselves on a rope, or follow a dangerous, tortuous path, to reach the place where they could worship in secret. It made me fleetingly wonder if I’d be willing to do that, if I had to…

We then all piled into cars to drive to where the walk “proper” began. This was a descent down to a group of mills, which had been in place for over 900 years. They were built at the point where the river burst out from its underground flow, so these mills harnessed the power behind the water.

It was a real clamber down, and I was grateful for the help of Fiona and Charles, a British couple from Yorkshire (Mr FD was behind us as he and a couple of others had been parking the cars) who helped me down the steepest parts. We paused beside the river to have lunch and then we continued. It was a fairly brisk pace, and I did struggle to keep up at times, but Mireille stopped regularly, to instruct us on different trees and leaf forms, so I had time for a breather.

Then we came to the edge of the river and everyone started changing their shoes.

“Do you not have other shoes?” Mireille demanded.

“No…” I then realised that I had probably misunderstood when she said our feet “might” get wet…!! Finally I waded through the river in my trainers, without socks, and Mr FD started off barefoot. As it was very pebbly, he gave in halfway across, and rather wobbly, he put on his trainers. Mireille was concerned we’d get blisters, if we continued the walk in wet trainers, but actually it was fine.

When we arrived back at the cars, Mr FD, Fiona and Charles and I decided to pause for a beer and an ice cream in a delightfully eccentric little bar. It was good to sit and rehydrate – but I felt inordinately proud of myself! I hadn’t fallen/slipped/given up! Huzzah for me!

We dropped Fiona and Charles at their car and then we paused briefly to pick up something for our dinner. We had salad, a ready meal of Parmentier de Canard, and a lemon cheesecake. Again, sitting outside, enjoying the peace and quiet of our little place!