A busy… french… week

13 September 2011

Last week we had no choice but to have long French conversations… with few French words. Monday me and Jaco went to subscribe him for drumming lessons. The lady could only speak French, but she was so friendly, laughing about everything. Well, with lots of concentration and her repeating a few times, we understood each other and he was booked to see the teacher this week. As we walked out of there we were thinking that maybe he will go back to find that we entered him for playing the harp in a symphonic orchestra. : ) … but the end of this story is that he decided not to do this as it seemed to be more percussion than drums and I had to go back and explain that again.

The second thing was getting haircuts. I have now learned not to start a conversation with asking them if they can speak English. If the answer is ‘non‘ they get such a fright that they stop talking to you completely and you want them to rather speak french as we do understand a bit. She only asked the other ladies something and then said ‘you wait’. Me and Jaco waited for more than an hour and then he did get a real nice haircut. With Pieter we tried another hairdresser which went better, at least we could make an appointment.

Then there was Mandi and Franci’s doctor’s appointment with a ‘french-only’ doctor. He was kind and sweet with the girls. He asked them all the questions in french: Name – then they had to spell it for him, date of birth, and so on, but they could answer everything – in french. : )

So, maybe our french-understanding is coming on. Speaking is still difficult. I still speak in single words, no sentences.

Oh, I also got library cards (from the french-speaking lady). Now me and Franci are reading a book: ‘Les nouvelles réflexions d’une grenouille..‘ (the new reflections of a frog) with google translate next to us… : )

To colour this ‘french’ post I will add some photo’s of this weekend’s ‘Cergy Soit’, a festival with drama, music and all kinds of funny things. We only went on Sunday evening just to see what it is about.

after me, it’s closed… : )


Just a normal week

28 August 2011

I just spoke to my mother and sisters in Cape Town… while Mandi and Danie watch a whole Jack Sparrow movie. No, it did not cost me a cent. Maybe I should not tell everyone… : )
Our internet, cable TV and telephone comes in one ‘package’. For 45 euros a month we have uncapped internet (…and fast as Pieter tells me), 150 or something TV channels, unlimited calls to landlines and cellphones in France and unlimited calls to almost every country including SA. That is the best thing we could ask for.
Apart from this ‘luxury’ this week was pretty normal…
I buy baquettes fresh from the boulanger every day for lunch. That part is really true: French people walk with baquettes under the arm and break off a piece to eat as they leave the shop.

…trois baguettes s’il vous plaît…

Sunday evening we had boerewors rolls…

…and our golfball basket is almost full…

The players don’t come to look for their balls. I think they are too embarrassed. You see you have to hit really, really skew to let the ball end up in our garden. Probably 45° out… but still we get about 1 every second day. : )

…and yesterday I tried the Mrs. Balls recipe from their site. Its not too bad, almost the real thing, I must say. Maybe a bit less chillies next time…

Un abri de jardin

7 August 2011

That is french for a garden shed. Ok, I only made the title french to make you read on… now it sounds like some french adventure. As this is my diary I had to add the garden shed, because this whole weekend was taken up by this abri de jardin!
Our house is a bit smaller than what we had in Cape Town. At the moment there are a few things packed in the garage, with everything that belongs in a garage. Our plan was to get a garden shed and pack the garage things there and then we can use the garage as an extra room or at least a neat storage room.
Thursday evening we bought the shed at Leroy Merlin. Many shops here also rent out vans or trucks for you to do your own delivery. You rent it for an hour, pay about 10€ and take your things home that can’t fit in your car. So, we also booked one of their small trucks for Friday afternoon as we thought this was something that you need more time for and more space…
Friday afternoon, off we went to Leroy Merlin. We signed all the forms for the truck, after it was checked and explained to us how it all works. Got the keys and drove in to the ‘yard’ to pick up our shed. The young guy who helped us came with a forklift and parked next to us. We looked on the huge shelves but couldn’t see where he was going to find the shed. Then we saw it was already on the forklift… a box of 1,8m by 1m and about 15 cm thick! We were convinced that it couldn’t be! A whole garden shed in that box. The end of the story… we gave the truck back and ‘easily’ fit the box in the back of our Opel Zafira. The young guy said that he told Danie the previous evening that he didn’t need a truck… but that was probably misunderstood with the mix of bits of english and bits of french!

the box…

and here we go…

a short break…

and the rest…

two days, six people, lots of parts from a small box and many screws to make one garden shed.


5 August 2011

If someone in France would ask me where we live, I would say Cergy. If someone in Cergy would ask me where we live, I would say Courdimanche. Cergy is the bigger town, with surrounding smaller villages, like Courdimanche and Vaureal, Jouy le Moutier, Pontoise and more.
Each one of the villages still have their older centre ville. I would think that is where the village started and then they built around it and now it forms one big town.
Courdimanche is a small village, but it has a big golf course. All around the golf course are housing complexes and we stay in one of them. My first thought was that I didn’t want to stay in a ‘complex’, but soon realised the blessing of it.
We are in a cul de sac and surrounded by the friendliest neighbours.They all came to meet us and Cynthia took me around to show me the best boulanger, best boucher, where not to buy meat and everything I need to know. The children all play in our street and the girls have already made friends.

the view on the golf course from our small bedroom balcony…

our street… and tennis court to the left…

the old village of Courdimanche…

Moving in

28 July 2011

Last Friday morning at 9 the truck with the container parked in front of our house. A twelve meter container! It took three hours to carry in all the boxes, etc… and then the house was full…
We were really wondering where we would go with everything! But we saw as we started unpacking that half of the container was filled with packing material. Everything was wrapped in more than enough paper. Just to show you what I mean… I had to photograph this.

But this is what the house looked like after everything was carried inside…

The four guys working for Sterling are all from Algeria. They spoke arabic to each other, we afrikaans, then they speak french to us with a few english words and we spoke english to them with a few french words. That was interesting.
I bought baquettes for lunch, but could not get them to come help themselves. The one guy later said to me that in their country the children eat first, then the women and then the men, so after we all left the table, they had some bread.
They all came to tell me how good the children are, because they were helping all the time. Franci was called the ‘big boss’ of the day. She was told to read the numbers on the boxes as they carried them in to check if all was there.
The language was not really a problem, they were the funniest, friendliest people. Making jokes with the kids. Later on laughing at me! Every piece of furniture they open, they would ask me where they must put it and I could just say: ‘ I don’t know’. I just heard them speaking arabic, laughing, and saying ‘I don’t know’. They even said to the kids: ‘We ask your mom, she says, I don’t know.’
We still don’t know where to put everything, but we are almost there. Danie and the boys finished the kitchen on Saturday and we went from boxes, to chaos to an almost liveable house.

Houses in France

24 July 2011

We do find some things strange in this new house.  When houses are advertised here, it would state whether the kitchen is equipped or not. Well this one is not equipped. That means exactly that there is nothing in the kitchen… only a sink with a two-door cupboard, which was not in yet when we came to look at the house.

the empty house…

The next strange thing is that there are no lights in any of the bedrooms or lounge. The light switch is connected to one of the plugs. We had to buy lamps for each room.

Each room has a cupboard, but it is just an empty box. No shelves or rails.

But… there is IKEA just 10 kilometres away.

We bought the ‘kitchen’ with stand-alone units. Everything comes in flat boxes, so you have to assemble it. Luckily it is designed so perfectly, it takes only a few hours to assemble a whole kitchen.  We are not finished with the kitchen. After our furniture arrives we will see what we still need.

Black and stainless steel… I actually like it… I actually chose it! The units are smaller to fit in our smaller kitchen and not as expensive as the wooden ones would have been.

Our furniture arrived on Friday and we are almost ‘unpacked’! But the fun we had with the removal guys is a story to tell in a next post…

We have a house…

18 July 2011

Last week was the week to get everything ready for the house we are renting. No, rather… get everyone else to get it ready.

Monday we had to sign the lease at an office in the very modern La Défense area. The person we signed with was a very friendly young Frenchman. He could speak some English and explained the contract to us. We are situated next to a golf course and included in the contract is a whole book of what we’re NOT allowed to do there. We are not part of the golf course, so we cannot climb over the fence and play, we cannot hang our washing there and we cannot build anything there.  : ) Things like that is in our contract. I assume we are allowed to keep all the balls. We already found 7 in our back garden!

Tuesday we were at the house for the inspection and to get the keys. Another friendly young man, but he couldn’t speak English. Luckily we still have the friendly lady from ‘A good start in France’ that organise everything for us. They were going through the house for two hours and made a note of every little crack and hole and anything not working properly.

Wednesday I had to be here at 8 am to open for the water people to switch on the water. I was five minutes late and the plumber was not happy at all, and he was an older ‘not-so-friendly’ Frenchman. He could not speak English. They did something for a minute and he told me he will be back ‘dix heure’ and I must be here. He did say ‘sorry’ when he only came after 11 and not at 10 as he said. But then something was wrong and he said ‘quatorze heure’ and I must be here! Well at three ‘A good start’ phoned to say the drain is blocked and I must wait. Then another friendly young Frenchman with no English came.  He asked what’s wrong and I had no French to tell him. So, it worked like this: I phone ‘A good start’ and let them explain to him what’s wrong. This young man worked here in the drains on his own till 6 and then told me ‘c’est bon’, with a thumbs up!

Thursday was Bastille Day, which I will write about in a next post. All I should say here is that we got to bed after 2am and I had to leave before 7 again the next morning…

Friday I had to be at the house again at 8am for the electricity people, who said they will come between 8 and 12! They arrived at 10 and quickly switched the electricity on. I had to ask them if they have replaced the meter, but the one guy just asked his friend ‘tu parles anglais?’, he said ‘non’ and off they went with no answer.

Well the week was over and we had the keys, water, electricity and 7 golf balls in our new house in Courdimanche, part of Cergy-Pontoise! Half an hour from Paris.