Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bonne Année!

I've been back in Bordeaux for a week and a half now, and theres been plenty going on to write about!

Three figurines and one of the crowns
Throughout the month of January, the french celebrate the kings who visited Jesus at his birth. It's really popular, and is most well known for the gâteau des rois (king's cake). These vary across France, but I've of course made sure to sample several types. Tradition dictates that the youngest person has to sit under the table and call out peoples' names. The pieces of cake are distributed in that order. There are little figurines hidden inside the cake, and if you find it in your piece, then you get to wear the king's crown. There are usually 2 or 3 winners per cake, but I'm yet to have won. Perfect excuse to eat more cake?!

The winners with their crowns! I'm not at all jealous.

We made some of these cakes at school with the children as well, but it took about 12thousand hours as they all kept sucking their thumbs or playing with their hair so most the time was spent making them re-wash their hands. I left that class to go to my next class, and alas, they were baking too, cookies this time. Again it was a bit disastrous. Lesson learned: don't trust a 3 year old to crack an egg. He held the egg over the bowl and then crushed it in his hands so the egg and plenty of broken shell went in the mixture. He then proceeded to get raw egg everywhere in the effort to go and clean his hands (yes, even more handwashing) which he wouldn't stop crying throughout cause he thought he ruined the cookies, but after some solid reassurance on my part that it was fine and just a biiiit funny, he was fine! Later came the cinnamon disaster, which meant the 2 batches made in the class in 2 small groups were easily identifiable as one was ALOT darker. One child was asked to add just a  little bit of cinnamon, with a heavy influence on 'little', but of course, he poured nearly half the jar into the mix... It wasn't just the children who made some faux pas...mid kneading i noticed a healthy little flake of nail varnish that had chipped off my nails, and my hair chose this day to malt so we had a few close calls, but as far as I'm aware no children got a lucky lock or a chunk of gold varnish in their cookies. Health and safety at it's finest.

We've had european visitors at school this week as part of a new proposed multi national project to take place between schools from Italy, Romania, Cyprus and Finland. The project is about dance, so the children have been working really hard to get their moves down to a t. Watching their performance was one of the cutest things you can imagine. They loved doing it and it's so nice to see them being so creative and really thinking about things at such a young age. The theme is 'recreation' (playtime) so all their movements are taken from what actions they use in the playground, which is a surprisingly large amount seeing as the 'toys' they have to play with are just ridiculous. It's an absolute warzone. Every day I'm bombarded with children in tears due to injuries from all the various wheeled vehicles they have. Pedal-less bikes, normal bikes, little trucks one child can sit in and get pushed around in, 2 person bikes, skateboard-esque boards where the wheels go in any direction, scooters, and the skateboard things with rope attached to get dragged around in. Combine this with a large hill, and bare in mind the children are aged 2-6, classic recipe for chaos. I can not even describe how ridiculous it is. The toys are bigger than the children. There are also these massive tyres which are again bigger than the children and literally knock kids down when they're rolled from the top of the hill. It's just utter madness. I can't stress enough the sheer danger out there...we wouldn't get anything even close to that in the UK, but i suppose that's not necessarily a bad thing..

I've become a bit of french geek of late, going to watch french cinema with friends, and having dvd nights in french with my french fam etc. Last weekend I spent most my time with the family I live with, as it was a belated celebration for Sophie's birthday. They had family who had come from all over, and her niece, who come over quite a bit, ended up staying over cause she looveesss it here. She's 6, maybe 7, and ended up convincing Marie and I to play some new age classics. This is supposedly twister.....what happened to the good old fashioned mat?! 

I was invited to dinner at one of the teacher's houses this week to help her 15 year old daughter with an english presentation she has to give at school. Apart from a few hiccups, I'd been feeling quite good about my new found language skills recently. This was all until I met Sarah. She studies french, english, spanish and hebrew at school, and only recently dropped latin. Just to reiterate. SHE IS FIFTEEN! One day I'll be like that..

Hopefully in my next entry I can tell you all about the fabulous time I found a figurine in the king's cake and won. I'll leave you on that big cliffhanger there...

Bonne Année to you all!!




  1. It is such a joy to read your updates, one very proud Dad here.

  2. jealous of the crowns! and next time you come to Canada can we make the cakes ? great read, glad that the french is going well:) xx kitty