Cherry Picking

Our neighbour across the road has a cherry tree. I'll be honest, I don't actually think I've ever seen a cherry tree before, as really, where are you going to find one in the middle of London? Reuben and Jacob definitely haven't and as soon as Reuben was shown the ripe red fruits dangling from the branches all he wanted to do was go and pick them. So at the weekend our neighbour let the boys loose on the tree and helped them collect a fair amount of fruit.


The boys took it in turns to climb the ladder and pick the cherries. At one point Reuben ran off to his bedroom to gather all his toy kitchen pots and pans to fill! We decided to collect enough to make a batch of jam and the following day I de-stoned 1kg of cherries which then got boiled to a pulp along with jam sugar. The first try failed as the jam didn't set. So it was back to the pan, this time with the juice of a lemon which worked a treat. We made five pots which we shared with our neighbours.


Are you growing any fruit or veg this year? What have you been picking recently?

Becky x
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Spring in France

Spring in France is turning out to be my favourite time of year. The landscape is turning every shade of green and the wildflowers growing are just as pretty as any flowers you'll find in the markets. Poppies are everywhere at the moment, the delicate red petals complimenting the bowl of seasonal cherries we have and that Jacob can't get enough of (Reuben...not a fan.) Every weekend there are local vide greniers, brocantes and plant fairs. The shops and market stalls that disappeared in the towns after the summer tourists left last year are slowly beginning to return.


The tractors are out in the fields and everywhere there are baby animals running about which leads to interesting conversations with the boys when out on our walks. They're become experts on mummy and daddy cows and animal poo! Our very own chickens are starting to lay eggs as they have relaxed well and truely into their surroundings and take advantage of the longer lighter days.


When the sun shines it's hot! We've had some lovely sunny days which along with the rainfall is helping our vegetable patch to grow. We've had picnics by the lake, and Reuben and Jacob have had their first taste of fishing with daddy. They have yet to catch anything but Jacob is more than happy dipping his rod into the water before getting it tangled around the branches of a tree or himself! The shorts and t-shirts have found their way back into the bedroom drawers and I'm inspired to start sewing my summer wardrobe.

It's so nice to be able to spend more time outside and start planning trips around the local area.
What do you like about Spring?

Becky x

Take a look at our Spring 2014 photo album on our Facebook page for more pictures of this wonderful time of year!
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Keeping Chickens - Buying Our Hens

Last month our Keeping Chickens adventure started for real as we bought our very first set of chickens! The coop was built, the fence was up, and our neighbours had a bag of corn ready to feed our new arrivals. We had asked around as to where the best place was to buy chickens and most people came back with the same answer...Caussade.


Every Monday morning in Caussade there is a market where you can get your fruit, veg, and just about everything else(!) and there is also a poultry market. Andrew, Jacob and our neighbours headed off early and were greeted at the market by lots and lots of chickens! They decided to go to the stall with the most well looked after hens. We were after 6 chickens of varying breeds, who would be at point of lay soon. Some of them were handled pretty roughly and when your French isn't great and you haven't bought chickens before it's tricky to know what to look out for and what questions to ask. Yes I was gutted at missing out on the chicken buying experience as I had to take Reuben to school and a music class to teach, but I was just excited to greet them as they arrived back home!


They were transported home in cardboard boxes in the back of the car. When they were let out in their new garden home they had an almightly fight as they got to know one another and started to establish their pecking order. This resulted in a few bloodied feet, who knew chickens could be so vicious! They spent the rest of the day exploring their new surroundings and as we weren't sure if they would find their own way to bed in their 'chicken palace', we had fun trying to catch them and put them in for the first couple of nights.

Next time we'll introduce you to our 4 different breeds. Have you got chickens at home? Where did you buy your chickens from? Did they fight when you first got them? We'd love to hear your chicken tales!

Becky x

Don't forget you can keep up to date with all our Keeping Chickens posts here!

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Worldwide Culture Swap - Spain & South Africa

In the last post of our very first Worldwide Culture Swap experience we're going to show you what we received in our last two packages. We've shown you what we sent in our package, and what our first two packages from America contained. Our last parcels came all the way from South Africa and just next door to us from Spain.

From South Africa we received the South African flag, a postcard with some coins attached, wooden stickers that the boys promptly stuck all over their faces! Some Redbush, or Rooibos, tea and an information sheet with traditional recipes. I'm a fan of Redbush tea especially when its combined with other things. I miss my Redbush and vanilla tea that I used to get from Marks and Spencer but here I found it combined with banana and caramel from a local market that was a great alternative.


In the parcel from Spain we were sent pictures of the family and a postcard showing where they lived in Barcelona. There were pictures of their local beach and shells, a brochure and CD all about flamenco, Spanish player football stickers, a Tapas recipe book, drawings from the children, and a book on Picasso (it's never too early to introduce kids to art!) With Spain now just a drive away for us it's great to introduce the boys to a country that we will one day travel to with them. 


I would love for us to take part in this programme again at some point. It is such a fun way to get kids exploring the country they live in and learn about other places around the world. Reuben really enjoyed receiving and discovering the packages. He still carries around with him a little tube of sand from California beach that he received in the very first package!

Let us know if you've taken part in the programme we'd love to hear what you sent and received. If you would like to sign up to the Worldwide Culture Swap programme you can do so here!

Becky x

Culture Swapper
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Work in France - Teaching Piano

One afternoon I was stood at the school gate waiting for Reuben and I was introduced to a mum who had two children wanting to learn piano. The word was out that I played the piano and so I was asked if I would teach these two children. Teaching piano was not something I had in mind when moving to France but the opportunity had presented itself. We seem to be adopting the phrase of 'why not' for when work finds its way to our door and so I took on my first piano students!


The great thing about Mini Monde is that it has scope to include anything that involves working with children and we can pick up and drop things as we figure out what works and what doesn't. I decided to advertise piano lessons for children on TAG and picked up another student. A fellow choir member who had bought an electric keyboard but never really played it expressed her interest in learning to play, and so I took on my first adult student. I now have 4 children and 2 adults learning, all of varying beginner standards and I love teaching them all!


With the kids I've been using the Faber Piano Adventures and John Thompson's 'Easiest Piano Course'. I also use the Faber books with the adults. I find it a really good programme with books that start at a level suitable for young learners, and work through learning the piano basics systematically, clearly, and in a fun way to keep learners motivated. It's American so some of the musical terms used are slightly different but that's not a problem.


My next challenge is to try and get into schools teaching music for which I have lots of ideas! This will force me to improve my French as well as spread the Mini Monde word, and perhaps encourage some French children to start private lessons.

If you're in the area and interested in learning the piano get in touch!


Expat Life with a Double Buggy
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Keeping Chickens - Building them a home

When we lived in London we had a dream that one day we would keep chickens. We had a small back garden that would have been sufficient for 2 or 3, and I spent far too much time lusting after Omlet chicken houses (I'm still lusting!) and looking at chicken keeping courses. For some reason we never bit the bullet and turned our dream into a reality. Now we're in France however there's no excuse, and last month our 'Keeping Chickens' adventure started with Andrew building a chicken house.


We are sharing the responsibility of keeping chickens with our neighbours. Designs had been drawn on paper, materials sourced and bought, but it was clear when building started there was a slight 'make it up as you go along' approach! The house was built to fit the roof, two pieces of corrugated iron. 4 nesting boxes with a flap were incorporated so we can access the eggs, a perch installed for them to sleep on, and the door doubles up as a ramp so the chickens can make their own way to bed. The floor is removable so that we can access the inside for cleaning. The whole house is raised off the floor on stilts giving them a completely dry area where their food can be kept and where they can shelter when it rains. Andrew has now painted the outside green so it blends in a bit more with the garden. Overall it's a pretty good design and really well built!


The first time I saw it, it was clear that this was not a chicken house, but a chicken palace! It's far bigger than it needs to be as we are only intending on getting 6 chickens. But too much space is always better than too little so we knew at least it would be comfortable for them all. They have a good amount of space to exercise their legs in which is shaded by trees and fenced off from the rest of the garden.

Look out for our next 'Keeping Chickens' post soon when we finally get some chickens!

Have you built your own chicken house? We'd love to see pictures of any chickens homes you might have!

Becky x

Keep up to date with all our chicken news on our new Keeping Chickens page and on Facebook!

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Cariadon Eco-Friendly Bath & Beauty Products

I recently came across a new blog called This Enchanted Pixie written by Polly, a home-schooling mother of three living in North Wales. Whilst browsing her blog I discovered that Polly has created Cariadon, a lovely line of eco-friendly bath and body products. I was unable to resist the delicious sounding products and placed an order for the Coconut and Cherry Almond lip balms, and the Vanilla, Rose & Patchouli solid perfume stick.


Jacob and I eagerly await the arrival of the post lady on many a morning. I have discovered the joys of online shopping as shops around here are just not the same as the endless choice of London, so little parcels (along with much larger ones...usually satellite dishes!) are often delivered to the door. The Cherry Almond lip balm is by far my favourite and I look pretty ridiculous after putting it on as I scrunch my lips up to my nose because it just smells divine! The Coconut lip balm has been stolen by Andrew and I am yet still to find it! I'm not usually a perfume person but the solid perfume stick is so handy to carry around in my bag. I just need to make sure I read the label first so as not to mistake it for lip balm (which yes I have already done a few times!)

Do check out the lovely Cariadon store and Polly's blog and let us know if you're a fan of any eco-friendly products too!

Becky x

(I have not been paid to say any of this stuff...I just really like the products!)
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