If I've found out one thing since being in France, it's that the French know how to eat! ...and I have more than happily entered into the spirit of it!
On Saturday lunchtime, before heading off to Colonie, I was sent off to the boulangerie to get some cakes for our desert.
I came back with these...
Needless to say, they were delicious!
After yet another fantastic Saturday lunch, we all set off in the car towards the Vosges. (Hilly/mountainous region to the South East of Nancy.) And everyone fell asleep - peace!
We arrived there to this big house set in farmland and next to woods. The countryside was so beautiful, and after seven weeks in the city, I just stood and breathed in the fresh air and smell of the grass and trees and felt so happy.
There were about 10 other families at the weekend - around 50 people in total. When everyone arrived, we had a 'gouter' - lots of cake - and the leaders got us to all introduce ourselves. There was a slightly awkward, but hilarious moment when one man looked a bit confused as to why F had two women with him, but we quickly established that S was his wifre and I was the 'fille au pair'! One of the leader guys, Laurent, got out his guitar and started teaching us some songs - very camp-esque!
We then played this crazy game in family teams. It was a bit like monopoly but we had to claim rooms in the house and get money that way! it was good to find our way around the house and to meet the other people, and we actually won!
Afterwards, we all found our little dorm rooms and I was sharing with Alice. Then there were arty activities and helping to prepare for dinner. We all sat down on a long table to eat - very French - and sung grace. It was about 8pm by the time we started eating and the children were almost falling asleep in their plates! It was lovely to be there with the family, though. It made me feel more a part of it, and it was just great to spend some quality time with the five of them in such a relaxed, community atmosphere.
For dinner, we had: (for those who care to know!)
Celery soup with fresh bread. Loads of homemade pizza, quiche and this amzing pizza bread from Alsace with onions, lardons and creme fraiche with a great salad all finished off - thankfully - with a fruit salad.
Afterwards, S took the boys to bed, and I stayed with Alice and F for the evening 'activities'...
...which turned out to be hilarious! We all sat on chairs in a big circle and some of the leaders taught us songs, dances and games. Difficult to describe what was going on as it was all in French, but it was great fun with lots of laughs! Helped me to put my french to the test too, and I learned lots of new words, including the names of the suits in a pack of cards!
Later, a time of prayer was introduced. It was rather Catholic (I refuse to pray to 'Santa Maria'), but they also pray to Jesus, and it was nice to see Alice joining in and listening. She really has grown up the last couple of weeks, and especially over this weekend. She has been so helpful at ho Careme me, with Toby, and has been really very considerate. A lady came round and told all the children about 'Careme' - Lent, on Monday at school, and Alice has decided to be kinder to her brothers, and help with clearing the table. Even 4-year-old Stanley has decided that for lent he would like to be kinder and share more. This has opened up some good discussions in the family. F and I want to pray and read the bible more and S is giving up coffee and chocolate.
Anyway, after the prayer time, it was nearly 11, so I took Alice to bed, as I was also tired, while others stayed for dancing.
In the morning, there was an informal breakfast which included lots of cake! We got to talk to more people, and the children played together. After 2 weeks of sunshine, it was raining, but S, Alice and I donned our walking boots and waterproof coats and joined some of the others for a walk in the woods. It was quite warm despite the rain, which eased off, and it was a great time to talk and enjoy the countryside.
When we got back, there was the morning service, which was, again, fairly Catholic, but some good songs and I even understood the sermon! I think the children enjoyed it too!
Afterwards we had an 'apero' (drinks and nibbles in our family!) where we had a kir, and the children had coca cola. I chatted to lots of people, and some were very eager to practice their English, but it was great for me to speak French!
Lunch was something else...
We again sat on a big long table, but this went on for over 3 hours! It was amazing, so relaxed, lots of chatting between each course, and songs and everything!
I felt like I had never eaten so much, but spread over such a long time, it felt ok! The children all went off to play and the adults could linger over the courses!
We had a starter, main, then cheese, desert, ice cream, coffee and cake! It was crazy! ...but one of the reasons I love France!
When this was over, it was pretty much time to go home...! Took so long to say goodbye to everyone as the French love to kiss everyone individually!
All in all, a great weekend!
Back to school this week, and I must say I'm glad... it's good to get back into the swing of things!