Thursday, July 2, 2009

Life's a beach

First of all, a photo of me and my best schoolfriend Jackie, who came to stay last weekend with her boyfriend Chris and son Louie. We had a fab weekend, catching up, eating and drinking and laughing. We've been friends for 30 years now and I love her!
I must admit, before we moved here, I used to dream of spending the odd weekday on the beach in early summer, away from the madding weekend and holiday crowds. It's that naughty I-should-be-working-but-I'm-playing-truant feeling that makes it all the more enjoyable. I know my friends back home have this image of me shooting down to the coast at every available opportunity to soak up the rays while they sweat and toil in London. With the girls both off school yesterday and my mum here for a week from the UK, I thought we should put the plan into action.

We arrived at Theoule, still my fave beach within easy reach, to find there were no parking spaces left so I stopped to offload the girls, mum and all the beach stuff (minus the bucket and spade and fishing nets) before trawling around for half an hour in 90 degrees looking for a space. By the time I walked to the beach, sweating and desperate for a swim, Livvy had stormed off in a huff after a massive shouting match on the beach with Issy, mum was threatening to go to Ibiza next time and Issy had a face like thunder. All caused by the girls sharing a parasol - Issy's idea of sharing was to set it up on the rocks four feet away from her sister so that she could hog the lot. Then the clincher - 'I wanted to phone you to bring my bucket and spade with you?' 'Well why didn't you take them out of the car when we unloaded?' 'Because I didn't want to carry them, I wanted you to carry them.'

Two minutes after I sit down comes the cry 'I'm starving, when are we going for lunch?' Well, just as soon as I have had a chance to sit down, catch my breath and enjoy 20 minutes sunshine perhaps. I get out last week's Grazia that my ma-in-law sweetly sends me only to hear 'Mum, you've read that magazine already, why can't we just go now, we're all STARVING!' No-one pipes up differently, so we pack up again and trot to the beach bar for lunch. Moodiness and hunger seem to go hand in hand in our house and thankfully the girls are in a better mood and even talking to each other after lunch so we head back to the beach whereupon I realise that we have to replace the parking ticket because the limit is 90 minutes in that part of town.

The girls reluctantly agree to go and do it together when I offer them 5 euros as a bribe but take off in such a rush that they forget to take the car keys with them. I ring Livvy's mobile, which I can hear going off in her bag beside me so wait for Issy to reappear red-faced and sweating 10 minutes later to grab the keys and sprint back. Ticket replaced, no parking fine imposed and girls back, I settle down for a relaxing nap in the sunshine but there are now black clouds rolling in and the first big fat spots of rain start to fall. So we pack up again, laden with mats, parasol, towels and beach bags and stagger back to the car to drive home. Next time, I am going on my own.

On a happy note, Issy got an amazing school report, full of bravos, and a line from her teacher talking about the magnificent progress she has made in the last year in French. And Livvy has been told she will move up to Troisieme in September at Fenelon, along with all her friends. There was a very real risk that she might not move up but redouble the year again - something that is very common in France - because she is still struggling with the language but her head of International was so impressed with her marks in English that she has let her move up. So it's extra French lessons through the summer hols each weekend to show her teachers that she really is trying. Much harder as a 14 year-old than a 10 year-old to master the language but she has worked hard this year and I have noticed she is much more motivated than she was in England.