Posts Tagged ‘w*rk’

Is there anybody out there…?!

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

If you ARE here, and you DO read this blog – hello.

I don’t really know if there’s anyone left reading my blog after the Wibsite was down for so long, and then I was forced to take a couple of weeks off blogging as we didn’t have Internet/phone access for two weeks. SFR and France Telecom finally worked out what was wrong with the line, but in the interim I was left toting my bag full of folder round to various friends who let me use their telephone for my phone lessons. I also used my mobile quite a lot, but because the connections weren’t good – I couldn’t find a very good signal – the lessons involved quite a lot of loudly spoken, very clearly ar-tic-u-lat-ed repetitions.

“In the weekend, I work in the country” “No, Pierre, be careful with the pronunciation and tense.” “Uh? I didn’t hear” “Be careful with the tense.” “Uh?” “The TENSE – it’s in the past. I WALKED in the country” “I WORKED…” “No, WALKED” “WALK in the country” “Good pronunciation; but the tense? This is in the past, remember.” “Ah yes, I WORKED in the country”  (And breathe)

Of course, without internet access I couldn’t blog, or catch up with those blogs I like, or go aboard The Ship  – it was a revelation to me how much I do actually use the computer, when I would have said I didn’t use it much at all!! I certainly read more in the fortnight when we didn’t have the internet. Oddly, I’d have thought I would have crafted more, but no. Maybe I’ll do a little bit this afternoon – it will be my last chance for a while .

You see, I mightn’t be around much for the next few weeks as I’m going away to the UK to work during the summer. Readers who have managed to cling onto this leaky vessel of a blog might remember that I went to the UK to work last year, and wrote a couple of plaintive posts from Downe House, in the midst of the beautiful countryside around Newbury.

Certainly at the beginning, I found it really difficult, as the whole setup seemed maddeningly disorganised, with so much being dumped on the teachers who were just expected to cope. Now, I CAN teach “on-the-hoof” if necessary, but never feel comfortable doing so, especially in an unknown set-up, with students that are unfamiliar, where expectations are unclear and where I feel nervous anyway. I prefer to have everything very well planned and to know what I’m doing. Or at least have a vague idea. By the end of the five weeks, I sort-of knew what I was supposed to be doing, I was able to get stuff prepared and I felt infinitely better about the experience.

So much so that – hey! Look! I’m going back again! It is, I will admit, partly for the filthy lucre, as I won’t have much other work during the summer, and MrD hasn’t yet been able to find a job. But it’s an opportunity to do something a little different and to stretch myself a bit. I feel slightly better about it this year, because I know how the set up works: we won’t know until Monday what level we’ll be teaching, so there’s no point worrying about it. At the moment, I don’t even know what age group I’ll be teaching: either 7-10 year olds, or 10-13 year olds. Last year I taught the older ones, so there’s stuff already prepared that I could use; however, I think I would prefer the younger ones. But I guess it depends on how many children of each age range there are, so it’s wait and see.

I will have to keep reminding myself:

This was where my problems lay last year. I got worked up about stuff that, eventually, in the long run, didn’t matter. So, the kids ate their packed lunch when they got onto the bus. Well, they’re old enough to make the decision themselves, and if they are a bit peckish mid afternoon they won’t die from it. I don’t have to check up and tell them not to eat until lunch time. Over and over again. So, they swop with their friends and have four bags of crisps and three chocolate bars for lunch. Well, again, they won’t die from it. I’m not their parents; I’m actually not that responsible for checking up on their diets for a fortnight… So, they get a bit rowdy at times – I do not need to wade in with my size 7s and yell at them as though they were in school. Yes, I need to quieten them down, but try to be more gentle and humourous about it. I was far too strict, far too disciplinarian: they need boundaries, but they also need to be able to enjoy what they’re doing and StormTrooper-Teacher Dormouse isn’t necessarily the way.

Whether I will be able to go from wound up to laid back I don’t know. But I’m going to try.

I’ve already planned the Gastronomy workshops for the whole five weeks – I’m hoping that I’ll be able to lead the Gastronomy workshops again which I enjoyed very much. (Although the first week was rather chaotic and terrible, I think I got the hang of it quite quickly!) Last year, I knew before going that I would be leading the Gastronomy workshop for the 10-13 year olds, and I’d be there for 5 weeks. This year I don’t know which workshop I’ll be leading, I don’t know the age group and I don’t know how long I’ll be there. Ho-hum.

I’ve also packed all my resources for 7 – 10 year olds, so I do feel at least VAGUELY prepared…which makes me feel less panicky. I’m even taking my popcorn maker. I reckon that if I am taking Gastronomy it will be useful; and if I’m not, I’m sure that I can use it in the less frenetic afternoon sessions with my class – we can make popcorn, make bags or boxes (following instructions! Working collaboratively!) and then eat it! Maybe design a poster on the computers as well. If nothing else, I can bribe them with popcorn, in a similar manner to Pavlov’s dogs!

or alternatively:

Just as a little reminder for me, of the sweet kiddies from last year, here they are at Warwick Castle

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Goodness me!

Friday, March 8th, 2013

I’ve got MORE work! The company I had an interview with a few weeks back phoned last week and asked if I was interested in telephone lessons. Yes please! So I’ve got 3 hours a week with them, and that, I’m guessing, might rise if they’re happy with what I do. They’re paying me 6€ an hour more than the other company too, so I hope I get more work with them!

I’ve also got another 30 minutes a week with the first company, taking me up to 22 hours a week WHEN everyone is having lessons, although there’s one guy who does a lot of travelling, and so isn’t around very often. But when he is he has 2 hours a week. I’ve also got a couple of 7-hour days booked with ILS, my old company, for whom I’m already doing 3 hours a week. So generally, we’re doing OK.

MrD has applied for a few jobs too, and is waiting to hear from them. Fingers crossed we may be a fully employed family again soon.

It does mean I need to be very disciplined in keeping my lesson preparation up-to-date (although it’s easier to blag a phone lesson for half an hour than a 2-hour face-to-face lesson!) and I am going to have to timetable in some exercise on the days I’m at home, even if it’s a quick 30 minute walk around the village.  Otherwise I could find myself glued to my chair all day. I’ve been sitting on my fat a*se without doing anything for too long – although, to be fair, the last couple of weeks were because I couldn’t do anything with my back problems.

Oh, I haven’t told you how these nigh-on-miraculously disappeared! Last Monday I was in a great deal of pain; I managed to drive to Clermont for my lesson, I managed to teach and to be taught (French lesson), but by hometime, I could hardly lift my feet to walk, so was almost shuffling. I reached home and was practically weeping with pain, as I’d run out of major painkillers and was existing on paracetemol and ibuprofen. I went to bed fairly early, and went to sleep, waking from time to time to shift position. On Tuesday morning I woke up, got carefully out of bed and realised I was painfree. Absolutely pain free. A little stiff, but no pain.  I still can’t quite believe it, how comprehensively I was healed, but I was. So (no excuses) I really do need to keep this back moving.

That’s not me. I don’t think I could jump that high!

News about work…

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

…a bit of boasting, and news of a Giveaway!

First, the News About Work

As I reported last time, I’ve been taken on by a company to give English lessons by telephone – they’re not too bad, although, TBH, I’m not a great fan of the telephone and avoid it where possible, as I sometimes find it a little difficult to hear. I have one student who mumbles – or, at least, doesn’t enunciate clearly – so it’s quite tricky correcting his pronunciation, or even his grammar, as I don’t always hear him properly! Still, it pays the (metaphorical) rent.

I have an interview on Monday with another English Language Teaching Company, over in Lyon. I contacted them back in November, and they said that when/if they had any work in Clermont they’d contact me. I thought it was a polite brush-off, but no. They have some work, and want to interview me on Monday. I have to “teach” a lesson to the interviewers (aargh) and explain my reasons for teaching what I taught. I’ve done my lesson plan – which isn’t the most inspiring thing I’ve ever done, but I’m reasonably pleased with it – all I need do now is ask MrD to help me download the podcast that I want to use onto my tablet. I’m not very tech-minded so need all the help I can get.

I also have a Skype interview on Monday for the same Summer School that I worked for last year. I’ve already sent them my lesson plan, so I guess we’ll have to discuss that (at least I won’t have to teach it to the interviewer.) and so on. Of course I’ll be nervous, but with both of these, I think that they need me almost as much as I need them. Obviously the Lyon Company don’t already have a teacher in the Clermont area, and are looking for one; the Summer School needs lots of teachers – and one as experienced as me, who’s done it before and is willing to return, must be fairly high on the list. And if I don’t get either job…well. Never mind!

Last weekend,  MrD installed Windows8 on my computer. The poor dear was pulling his hair out because my files were in such a mess. The problem was that, as previously mentioned, I’m not techie, and don’t really know what I’m doing, so I’d saved everything in very random ways. There were so many various levels that required clicking on before you reached anything: name (click) name.name (click) name (click) dormouse (click) oh, look! A document! So, thanks to Mr D it’s now a lot easier. However, I do seem to have lost all my bookmarked blogs/ websites (which includes the new ones I’d bookmarked from the Grow Your Blog Party. A bit of a pain, but never mind. I can start creating a shiny, new list of bookmarked sites.

While he was doing this, I was emptying a badly utilised bookcase in his study and moving it down to mine, to hold my craft stash, so I could use my craft-stash bookcase to hold my teaching/everyday stuff. It’s meant my desk is clearer (I do like to have my “bits” (Mr D would say “crap”!) around me!) but everything is still to hand.

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(Oh, dear. Sorry. You’ll have to put your head on one side until I’ve re-worked out what to do) This is my “craft stash” bookcase. And yes, I do call this organised!

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Moving round the room, I put the old craft bookcase on top of a chest of drawers, to make a kind of “dresser” affair. This is my keeping-everyday-stuff-to-hand bookcase.

IMG_1400Moving round, we come to  my fairly clear desk. As you can see by the wall in front, my “bits” include various photos of my family, plus other pictures that mean something to me.

IMG_1401Then finally we reach my TEFL bookcase with various folders etc and the escape hatch!

I’m quite happy with the state of the place at the moment.

Second, the Boasting

When I was sorting through stuff, I came across my folder of things-I-want-to-keep: mostly cards from special occasions. There were cards from my adult baptism (which was something which I now acknowledge wasn’t done at the right time or for the right reasons. But that’s another story), from my confirmation (oh, yes! I’ve been through several rites-of-passage in the church!), my Licensing as an LLM, from after my dad’s death, and from my last day of teaching.

I don’t know if this is boasting (I think it might be!) but I want to share something one of the parents wrote to me. The background is that her son, Ben, was a child with special needs. He couldn’t concentrate, he didn’t work well, he was a pain to the other children, he had a low level of ability. He drove all the staff mad. I had him in my last year, and the deal I made with him (and his mum) was that if he didn’t finish his work, I would give it to his mum at the end of the day and he’d have to do it at home. If he did well, I would go and tell his mum at the end of the day. …

Last year I’d just heard of your name and the fact that you’re really quite tough/ But little did I know of the person who, as yet, hasn’t said “That’sit! I give up”/ You took my son in your classroom, and within a week, he’d admitted you shout/ And he even admitted its causing, of which that was never in doubt.

Your visits to the playground I’ll miss; when other Mothers said “What, not again?”/Well, I hadn’t been sumoned since Friday,would  this time be pleasure or pain?/ He might have been caught misbehaving, or just sitting, staring into space/ You can always tell when he’s guilty, by the puppy dog look on his face.

He’s always been classed a challenge, but to me this year he’s done well/ So much so he has proof – certificates two, not just green, but a blue one as well*/Until this year he’s had none, just tales, one after another/ The sort that cause me to shout “Son, there’s a limit to what I can do as your mother!”

To the teacher who can still shout just as loud as his mum: Well Done!/ Dear Mrs Mouse who still has hair, not pulled out one by one: Well Done!!/ Best wishes and thanks, for not giving up on my son/ You’ve managed to teach a delightful young man, so..I’m biased. I’m Mum!

*The certificate reference was that at the school the children received points towards certificates for extra good work, or for extra good behaviour. First a green, then a blue and then possibly a gold certificate. While I didn’t give points willy-nilly, I tried to recognise “extra-good” work/behaviour for the child, recognising the efforts that the individual put in.

I’d forgotten Ben, and his mum (who as a single mum, tried so hard to get it right – but sometimes got things so terribly wrong) until I came across this, and the poem that Ben wrote for me:

Mrs Mouse likes pomes poems and cats / She also likes to shout a lot./ Mrs Mouse lets me go out to play/ at the right time/ Mrs Mouse makes me want to be nice to you  her/ and is okay when I forget/ Mrs Mouse is a nice person/ She lets me go to the toilet a lot/ Mrs Mouse your kind to me/ I will miss you when your gone to work with the council.

I hated teaching by the end of my time, but looking back at things like this, I can be proud of what I managed to do for some quite challenging children. A round of applause and a virtual chocolate cake for those of you who are still working with challenging, difficult or downright naughty children every day of your working life. I admire you for sticking it out!

And now, the Giveaway!

I had 35 comments left on my GYB post, so, in an effort to be fair, but not to resort to writing names on bits of paper or having to use a random number generator (more techie stuff!), I yelled up the stairs to Mr D “Give me a number between 1 and 35!” He yelled back, “26!”

Comment Number 26 was from Susan, at Fruitful Words So Susan has won the Giveaway of 3 handmade cards & a bookmark. I hope you like them, Susan!

Thank you to everyone who commented and read my blog and who have maybe returned for second helpings!

I have work!

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Just before Christmas, I had a mail from the Pole Emploi telling me of a possible job. You have to apply for the posts that you are sent, or else you can lose your unemployment benefit (not that I’ve actually received any yet!). I was leaving for the UK the following day, so I dashed off a quick response in terrible French, saying I was interested but wouldn’t be available until January.

Imagine my surprise when, with no interview at all, I was being sent contracts for telephone lessons with five people…Jolly good. The pay is reasonable (20€ an hour, before tax – 2€ less than I charge normally, but this has no overheads like travel) so I accepted. Then another contract popped into my inbox…and another…and then another! Suddenly I’ve got another 4 hours a week (each lesson is 30 minutes long) – a bit spread out, which makes it a bit tricky to settle to other tasks (any excuse to avoid cleaning the bathroom!) but it’s bringing in another 80€ a week. Not to be sniffed at!

Unlike another offer of work, which would involve 30 minutes drive each way, to teach people “without much money” at 10€ an hour. Take away the 20% tax and that’s 8€ for an hours work. Plus paying for the diesel. You must be joking…!

So, with my other private lessons, that means I now have 14 hours a week teaching. Getting better and better.

Internet down!

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

This morning, for some reason best known to itself, my computer dongle wasn’t picking up the WiFi signal. So I had to find other things to do rather than spend vast amounts of time reading blogs, the Ship etc.

So I planned all next week’s lessons, wrote loads of emails (to send when the internet connection was back up), wrote a letter to my mum, sorted out some overdue paperwork, and did a bit of job research. I made a delicious Chorizo and vegetable clafoutis for lunch, and cleared the kitchen.

Then Mr D came home from work. We had lunch, and I swear that the computer knows when its Master is in the house, as I tried (for the umpteenth time) to connect to the internet, and, why lookee here, I’m connected! So I immediately spend the rest of the afternoon wasting time reading blogs, the Ship etc. And fighting off Bib-the-evil-kitten, and (let’s be fair) applying for a job (or rather, asking a company if they have any jobs.)

I really think I should stop turning on the computer as a matter of course in the morning. I find all those lovely, interesting bookmarked blogs too irresistable! I might find I get other things done if I leave the screen blank!

Oh well. Thanks to my IT technician: Mr D, psychically mending computers since 2005

Here’s a photo of Bib when she was tiny, so everone can go “Aaaaaah!”

Two Weeks In…

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

Well, the first week was the worst week ever since I was on teaching practice! (and that was when I was young and full of energy…!) There were some of the teachers up planning until 2 or 3 am because of the crazy way the school is set up…We didn’t know our groups that we were teaching until Monday noon, and were teaching them Monday at 1 o’clock! Thus we were planning on the hop from the very beginning. My Gastronomy was a complete disaster (although the making of ice-cream-in-a-bag worked beter than I expected ~ so maybe not a complete disaster!) and come Friday evening we were all wiped out. There was a Teachers’ Meeting that ended badly (shouting/ crying and other OT&E outbursts) but then we went down the pub and had a really chilled evening.

Over the weekend I spent time by myself, chilling, reading, walking, planning…and I went to church. I honestly didn’t realise how much I had missed the familiar Anglican liturgy, until the words rolled over me and I found myself feeling as though I was wrapped in a cosy, well loved blanket. It was so what I needed.

The las week has been much, much better because of the advance planning. Instead of trying to plan for 4 hour-and-a-half lessons every evening, I was planning for two, because over the weekend I’d been able to plan the Gastronomy workshops and my “tutorials” (these are class lessons about the trips out and a revision/finishing off lesson) . I was able to knock off before 8.30 most evenings and felt so much more relaxed. I’ve been reading more, and chatting more, and been able to support colleagues more.

The girls (sorry, women) I’ve become most friendly with are brilliant ~ really laid back and chilled. It’s been a great help to have people here who are on the same wave length to moan to and to laugh with. Some of the other teachers are more immature and giggly, so to have the friends I have is a great relief. I couldn’t have stood it had everyone been like them!!! They’re fine on a day-to-day working basis, but not to relax with…They even managed to set the fire alarm off last weekend. Not the students – the teachers!!!!

So, there you are. If you’d asked me last weekend if I’d ever come back, the answer would have been a resounding NO! Now…well, let’s say it’s more of a possibility! Thanks for all your supportive comments etc. They have helped keep me going.

First Day Chaos

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

So here I am at the Induction weekend for this Summer School. I think they want us to think they’re organised…not exactly. We seemed to have a lot of aimless waiting around and quite a lot of pointless wandering round in the rain. I’m a tad worried as the children arrive tomorrow afternoon, and we still haven’t been told what age group/ level we’re teaching, or who our partner teacher is.    …And breathe, Dormouse!

Still, everyone seems very pleasant and friendly, and my fears of being older than everyone else is nowhere near the truth. There are several older, and possibly much wiser than I! I’ve sort of linked up with a group of five others who are in the same boarding house as me, and we all get on well: two from London, a Greek, and two Eastern Europeans (one Hungary, but I don’t know the other) We’re already saving each other seats in the dining hall (which will all change when the kids arrive and we have to eat with them!)

So. Report from the Front: all calm on the surface, at least, but several concerns and worries have yet to be addressed.

Can’t Think Of An Appropriate Title

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Just wanted to say how happy I am (I’m easily pleased!) I was in the Salle de Profs (Teachers’ Room) at Michelin today. They’vve been doing some sorting out and I found two bins stuffed full of card. Pristine. unused card.

“They can’t be throwing this out,” I thought. But also considered it wise to check.

“Yes,” said Sylvie. “It’s all going.” And she shrugged her shoulders.

So I dived in my schoolbag, pulled out a strong carrier bag and helped myself ! I’ve got 6 kg of card – pink, green, blue – plus some file dividers (used but easily recyclable) and some paper. And that wasn’t even half of what was going out! I felt greedy taking it, but kept thinking: if no-one else takes it, it’ll just go out! I can’t let that happen!!!

There were also some plastic filing trays going spare – cracked but usable – but really I don’t have any use for them. I thought I’d leave them for someone else.

So I can now make cards till the cows come home, have a snooze, go out again and come home for the second time! And when I make bookmarks for the Artisans’ events they really will cost me nothing! Big smiley face. 🙂

Lucky Me! Part 2

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

I received my other OWOH “door prize” at the weekend… Lynne, over at this site, has sent me some beautiful beads. My photography isn’t good, so I shall direct you to my earlier post where you can see a photograph of the Star of the show. But that wasn’t all I received from Lynne. Oh no! I also received enough matching/coordinating beads to add to my necklace, plus a delightful fish bead. He is all googly eyes with a splendid tail. How talented Lynne is to make such gorgeous things. I am so grateful to Lisa who organised OWOH, as I met some interesting Bloggers and received two fab prizes. I still haven’t decided how to spend my vouchers yet…

I’m in the process of making two “Thank You” cards, for Lynne and Amanda, but my Sunday crafting was interrupted. I’d forgotten I’d agreed to go to the Loto afternoon at the local collège. There’s 4 hours of my life I won’t get back! Not exactly the most scinitillating of afternoons, although it was good to spend time with friends I’d not seen for a while – during the winter we do tend to hibernate a little, but with the coming of Spring, we’re beginning to emerge, a little crumpled and still sleepy…Things will liven up soon, I’m sure! Anyway, I’ll finish the cards next weekend (no time before then, I’m afraid. I just have this window of this morning to do my ironing, prepare for a meeting of the Artisans on Thursday, catch up on my blogging & emails, then off to work I go.  Otherwise this week’s a little bit full.)

What other news? None, really. Our friends, Cathy & Steve, will be out here soon for Easter – and a bit longer. That’ll be nice. We tend to be a bit more sociable when they’re here, simply because they’re sort-of on holiday. (Only sort-of, as they’re renovating their house and have to work on it. But they’re a little less pressured than us what live ‘ere all the time…and this rubs off on us a bit too. ) Richard has left for the UK and Zambia. He is also renovating a house near St Just, but is the link between us and Chisomo – the school I’m supporting with my 1K km 4 1K€ challenge . So friends are coming and going. ..and helpfully bring us goodies from the UK when they come back! We don’t really miss, or need, many of the things they bring, but it is nice to have little tastes of home. For me, it includes Tunnock’s Caramel wafers

and Branston Baked Beans, plus a couple of English glossies – Good Housekeeping, She, Olive, Good Food…that sort of thing. I like some good curry sauces & naan breads too: not quite as good as a takeaway, but almost. For Mr D it’s Assam tea, English beer (damn, I forgot to ask Cathy for that! Must remember to ask Richard instead!), and maybe a Saturday Guardian. For Gerome, who is French but lived in the UK for many years, it’s definitely Custard Creams!

Pomme is happy, sitting on the Z-Bed in the sunshine – somewhere where George is unlikely to mither her – while Millie is snoozing on the back of the sofa downstairs. George, typical adolescent, is mooching around, looking for trouble.

And I am not really looking forward to work. I’m teaching a Module at the moment – 1.5 hours every day, same time, same place, same students. I’m not really enjoying it, but I don’t know why: maybe it’s the regularity, or the method I’m using, or maybe the fact that with one student way better than the other two, and obviously a bit bored, I don’t feel I’m doing the best for him. The other two are OK, because the method is about the right level for them, reviewing & revising stuff they need to practice, but for the 3rd student it’s stuff he’s very confident with, and so he’s a bit grumpy and not engaged in the lessons. But there’s not much I can do: I’ve been instructed to teach to the level of the weaker students, so C. has to lump it, really. I console myself with the fact he’s learning vocabulary, as he busily writes down the idiomatic phrases and business language that they’re learning. But I still feel he’s in the wrong group – but it’s up to him to speak to the Language Centre and change groups, not me.

So that’s where we are. Sunshiney and bright today as well. Spring is On It’s Way!

Poor Cats

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

I’ve mentioned before that I feed the “Poor Cats” of the village. It started when we had the really cold weather and I felt sorry for the group of cats that appear to hang out around the Post Office. I now feed them pasta and some cheap cat food every day. Often their meal includes remains from Pomme’s dinner, or some grated cheese, or some bits from our plates. Today they had a tin of tuna cat food mixed in – it was an absolute success! They went wild for it, each cat hunched over its plate (I use 7 or 8 different plates, so that the more timid cats don’t have to worry) and scarfing the food like there was no tomorrow. Then , when the quick eaters had finished and started prowling round for extras, there was quite a bit of hissing and paw-lashing.

There’s another woman who arrives sometimes to feed them as well, so they’re probably doing reasonably well. I don’t know where they all sleep though.

When I go to feed them I call ‘Minou! Minou!” (French for “Puss!”) and often four or five come running to meet me. Others start congregating at the side of the Post Office, with a chorus of mews and meeps. I have taken a few photos, but the cable to download them onto the PC is playing up, so you’ll have to wait. But we have:

Tiny Lil, Baby and Tabs – these are three tabby cats, all quite young. It’s very hard telling them apart, but I think Tiny Lil is the most timid, who will often hang back and doesn’t always get any food. Baby gets quite possessive of his/her food, and is usually the last to finish, as s/he cleans up everyone’s leftovers. Tiny Lil will sometimes come quite close to me, but shoots off if I look at her for too long.

Jetty and Tilly – two black cats, named after two black cats belonging to my mum’s neighbour. They are timid too, and scoot about like two shadows.

Ginger Pudding – he’s an enormous fat ginger cat. I don’t think he’s really a stray – his long fur is too tidy and clean. And he’s too well fed. I only give him a little food and shoo him away when he tries to muscle in on the other plates.

Minou and Minette are two grey-tabby-&-white cats. Minou is shyer than Minette, but has started rubbing him/herself against me when I arrive. Minette is very friendly and although s/he loves his/her food, s/he also enjoys a stroke and a scratch.

*****

Back to school today. It was okay, I suppose. I have learned that L., the rather disturbed young man in the class, is not being quite as helpful as I had hoped. One of the other students has told the son of a friend that, when I’m struggling for a word in French, which L helpfully supplies,  he is, in fact, supplying me with a rude word rather than the word I’m searching for. Ho, ho. What jolly japes. Still, maybe this should encourage me to learn more French!

I have finally got round to writing the dates for the terms in my diary. Imagine my horror when I discovered that, because we had a 2-week half term in February (so tout le monde could go ski-ing) there’s no half term in May. We have a 10 week term, no break. Usually there would be at least a few Bank holidays in May (both 1st and 8th) but in France, if the Bank Holiday falls on a Saturday, then it’s tant pis – You don’t get another day off instead. And guess what! They’re both on Saturday this year. The only saving grace is that we finish on 3rd July rather than struggling on for another 2 weeks like our English compatriots.

*****

I wish I could write thoughtful comments, or describe my spiritual journey, or make pithy observations about the World. But somehow I don’t do that kind of thing very well. So you get me bimbling on about stray cats and school. Sorry!