The French Secondary School Experience. Part 2.

Both Audrey and Liam have what they call a ‘cahier de correspondence’ from their respective schools. Basically, it’s a small book that enables teachers and parents to communicate in a simple manner. We need to sign it on a regular basis, maybe twice a week, and so we keep up with what is happening and when.

A couple of weeks ago Audrey’s teacher asked if one or both of the parents would like to attend a school lunch and if so which day would be preferable.  I volunteered for a Friday which was a stupid choice in a catholic country as that would mean fish as the main course and I don’t like fish too much.

Anyway. Leading up to the Friday Audrey was all excited over the fact that I would be having lunch with her and her school friends. The actually morning however she was a bit more reluctant: she was pretty sure that others in the school would laugh at my ears. (Now as an aside my ears have become a focal point of the family at the moment. When we went to the zoo and saw all the different animals, my ears would invariable come up in the conversation about elephants {no surprise there} but equally giraffes, bison wolves {no I didn’t get it either} hippopotami {?} etc.]

As it turned out the school dinner was excellent. After the disgraceful scenario at the middle school [if you remember it was the day before left-overs from the other school heated up for a second time and served to Audrey and her mates in the new school] it was good to have a decent school meal. Audrey had amassed all her friends to eat with us as parents get to jump the queue and get to eat first. Starter of fresh salad or fresh quiche followed by a choice of battered or grilled fish with a side order of freshly made ratatouille. Dessert was a choice of fresh fruit, cheese or yoghurt.  There was also fresh bread and jugs of water. It made me think of the Jamie Oliver programme where he tried to have better quality in schools and how lucky we are in comparison : no ‘rubbish’ food in this canteen [or at least not on the day that I went].

In France there are no teachers patrolling the refectory but public servants who look after both the canteen and the playground. They, too, did a very good job of keeping order and getting the different services in and out of the canteen in time for the next group to come and eat.

All in all it was good fun to go back to the school canteen after so many years and both Audrey and her friends enjoyed my being there.


Kitchen Ceiling – last chance

The kitchen ceiling has always been a problem. When we moved in in 2003 it was covered with wooden planks and there was a sort of outdoor render on the walls.

We took the planks of wood off and could see why they guy had put them up to begin with. It looked as though the builder hadn’t really finished the ceiling and he had put on some sort of greasy rendering that couldn’t be painted over. Over the years we’ve tried to paint, put up wallpaper, paint, put up another type of wallpaper and nothing sticks – everything we’ve tried has come ‘unstuck’!

So Rudy’s back with us for another week. We came up with an idea as to lower one part of the ceiling without it looking like an after-thought and here are the fruits of three days labor:

Taken from the sofa
Sunday night before the Tuesday start


So, as you can see there is no visible join between the kitchen and the old dining room.

Tuesday Evening :

Tuesday Night 1st day
Tuesday Night 1st day.


Rudy’s fixed straight onto the ceiling joists so it’s pretty solid.


Friday night Day 4:

Friday night and it's looking about right
Friday night and it’s looking about right

In all there will be 7 spots on two different switches: two above the bar area and the other five above the sink, oven and one in the centre of the kitchen. According to Rudy if we were to have all 7 at the same time it would like like the “Palais de Verseilles” (Think Ally Pally)


More to follow