|Tranquil gardens in Vaison-la-Romaine, Provence, France. June 2011|
|Our garden here in England. June 2011|
It began as I wanted to improve my spoken French and have some insights into the culture and traditions.
The first time it was a total shock to my system to have 2 hours each morning and the same again in the afternoons, of "Immersion" French.
We used to laughingly call it "French Boot Camp"
As not only are there (extremely good) lessons, there is also the homework!
Surprisingly enough, I found my French, and my confidence to converse, had improved after the first year.
So passing on, I eventually met another lady, who travelled on my flight a few years ago, who was taking the same course. We became friends, and up to this year, have gone together. As we lived, then, fairly close to each other, we began to have lessons with a French tutor during the weeks we were back at home. This still continues for me, as Cecilia has moved an hour or so's drive away
(I can recommend Thierry to anyone wishing to further their studies.)
Timelord then was home alone.........................however this year, he accompanied me, as my friend could not go, having had to reschedule due to having an operation the week we were booked to stay. I have enjoyed showing him all the places I have come to know and love, and he has enjoyed meeting the people there.
I was still doing some French, mainly this time, a continuation of work begun with Thierry, of translating my father's "Journal of the Blitz", into French. Danièle said to me at the end of the week, " I feel as though I have spent a week with your father as well as you. "
Something Thierry has often said.
Then when "lessons" were ended we would go out either to the old town, or Danièle and Mike would take us to places of interest.
There are a few English people living in the area, who come to Danièle for French lessons, so she has formed a very informal anglo-french club where there are mutual discussions in both languages, in order to benefit both nationalities!
Last year Cecilia and I were co-opted to the anglo-french match of pétanque, (like boules, or maybe the same!)
This becomes very competitive and the rules very strictly observed! Measuring tapes are used to adjudicate whose boule is closest to the, (what the English would call the "jack")
It is a bit like watching the English explain the rules of cricket to the French!!
However, my husband found he had a propensity for dropping the boule close to the cochonnet! And so began a very enjoyable match! Lots of French swear words were heard muttered under the breath when Timelord's boule could not be dislodged from its pride of place!
Expressive French gestures, like shoulder shrugging and colloquial phrases appeared!
But I have to say, no thanks to my puny efforts...........!
I loved the blue skies, the scents of the lavender, the rustle of light in the olive groves and the pastel coloured walls of the provençale houses with their lovely tiled roofs.
The luminosity of the heat...........................
Some of the French people I have come to know ask me now " When are you going to come and live here?"
That is a good question...................it is always good to be under sunny skies, warmth and beautiful scenery, but as we began our descent into Birmingham airport yesterday evening, after a journey involving a coach, the TGV, and two flights, via Zurich from Lyons to Birmingham, I looked down at the patchwork quilt of English fields far below. And during the short drive from the airport, with the cow parsley white in the hedges and the lush greenness all around, I thought, "This is home".
And when I toured the garden all the roses had come into bloom alongside the poppies and the geraniums.
Of course we arrived to sunshine and warmth........................and there isn't much difference in the temperatures today. It is 28C.
The patio door stands open, and Timelord is in the summerhouse reading, " comme d'habitude" as the French would say.
But he has incorporated some French into his vocabulary, not I hasten to add, the "Zut alors " type!
So, who knows, he may return with Teapot encore une fois!!
At the very least for another match of Pétanque......................." La Revanche!"