Voodoo dolls and balsa wood

(Catharine Higginson) #1

Sunday afternoon in ex-pat land and we’re still ‘Living the dream’…We’d planned to do a car boot sale today in a desperate attempt to fill the family coffers and allow us to proceed with the next stage of the renovation project from hell. So yesterday saw us loading most of our household contents into the transit. Its amazing what you don’t really need…

We’d just finished when the heavens opened and the torrential rain, which now seems to be a fixed part of life in south west France, started. Several hours later, even I had to admit that there was no way that we’d be going to the vide-grenier today.

So we’re spending another soggy Sunday in rural squalor. In a desperate attempt to be seen as ‘good’ parents for once (I’m permanently worried about what our offspring are going to write in their memoirs) we took the small son out for a bike ride this morning. In the space of twenty minutes, I discovered that he has less road sense than a goat, braking is an alien concept when you’re under ten and that rain makes you really, really wet. We retreated back home sharpish.

The excursion resulted in another load of wet, muddy clothing for the washing machine. I seem to spend my life playing Mrs Tiggywinkle, with armloads of wet laundry steaming by the fire. Even if we could afford a tumble dryer, the electricity supply couldn’t cope with it, so I have rigged up a highly complicated and effective drying system which involves constant attention but guaranties speedy results. Although the washing can become rather crispy if left unattended…

Meanwhile the girls and their friend who is here for the weekend are making voodoo dolls. I’ve always wanted creative children but I’d imagined them stitching away at patchwork quilts rather than trying to wreak destruction on the Latin teacher. Still, they take after their mother when it comes to sewing, so I’m not too concerned about the Latin teachers well being. These are less like dolls and more like shapeless bundles of rags.

We ran out of firewood a couple of days back. When we ordered the winters supply, we’d assumed that we wouldn’t still be lighting fires in May…The husband has refused to buy any more so he is burning packing crates to keep us warm. Apparently if you shut the fire down, this works well and they don’t burn too fast. Hmm. Remind me to mention that handy tip next time I’m writing a feature entitled ‘Heating your home with balsa wood.’

Still on the upside, we’re now nit free. This is a relief to one and all. The return of the nits sparked some fond family memories of previous infestations. The kids favourite was the time we were out of anti-nit products, so the husband ‘water-boarded’ himself in an attempt to drown the beasts. This was surprisingly effective but probably not the best method for dealing with nits on your children. Especially if the kids have access to a phone and know the number for ‘Allo Enfance.’

My favourite was the time the small son had returned home from school one Friday with a note, announcing the arrival of ‘les poux’ and exhorting us to ‘faire le necessaire.’ As it so happened, SS got his hair cut that weekend by our ex-SAS buddy, Bruno. I had the clippers out when he came round and Bruno insisted on taking over, airily telling me that, “In the regiment, I used to cut all the guys hair.” The small son looked like a squaddie by the time Bruno had finished so when I took him into school on Monday, I thought I’d make a joke. ‘Look,’ I said, pointing at the small son, ‘I’ve done the necessary as you asked in the note.’ ‘Oh Madame’ gasped his teacher, ‘ I meant that you should use some special shampoo.’

(Suzanne Fitzgerald) #2

wow I need to empty my garage! Oh and I need to pray for sunshine!

(Catharine Higginson) #3

Just staggered in from the second attempt. 230€ richer and a whole van load of tat has gone! About to celebrate with a very large glass of wine. And best of all - it didn’t rain!!

(Suzanne Fitzgerald) #4

Our Vide Grenier was cancelled on Sunday too, no chance for me to pick up some nick nacks I don’t really need. Gutted!

(Helen Aurelius-Haddock) #5

Hang on in there - the sun is on its way!