Bonjour from France

We biked into France yesterday and were so excited to be able to read all the signs and have detailed conversations with folks we meet. Anna Sierra hopped off her bike and did a spontaneous happy dance when she found the tourist information (by reading the sign).

While we were travelling in the Netherlands and Belgium, we could usually make out the signs, but were often making up some of the details. We were always trying out our limited Dutch but would have to use English for longer conversations. Still, we found Duolingo, a language learning app, really helpful in teaching ourselves basic Dutch. At one grocery store the kids were even able to figure out that if we purchased a kilo of bananas, they could get a Chiquita Banana board game kit.

We have had rain almost every day at some point for the last 10 days or so. It didn’t slow us down too much as it was often at night or during a time when we were happy to wander in and out of shops in a beautiful town or to visit a museum. And I was expecting that kind of weather, especially when our friend Hans, just back from a 3 week visit to the Netherlands, suggested an app which tells you if it’s going to rain in the next two hours.

But yesterday, when it started raining heavily at 10:30, just when we were arriving in Lille and having first lunch, we got fed up and decided to stay in a hotel.

Thanks to a very friendly agent at the tourist information, Derek managed to book us into a hotel right downtown that even had secure and covered bike parking. We discovered when we arrived that this meant the super friendly guy at the front desk was happy to carry my bike and Anna Sierra’s bike downstairs into the basement and equally happy to ‘conveniently’ store Derek and Jasper’s tandem right in the lobby as it didn’t fit down the basement stairs! The same guy also offered to wash our clothes in the hotel machine. Pretty luxurious!

A few minutes later we were warm and dry and cozy in our room, watching French TV.

Today we’re back in our tent (which Jasper, assisted by Anna Sierra set up!), under a willow tree and are enjoying our usual space to play and cook.

Hope everyone who is going back to school soon has a smooth transition. We’re especially thinking of Anna Sierra’s friends starting grade seven at a new middle school.

The kids will be downloading their math books on Sept 8 when school starts up, but for now their focus is speaking French.image

XO

Kathleen

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