Tag Archives: Christmas

Journey to a New Life – Part Eight (The Christmas Market)

Well ahead of time, this event was publicised around the village and on the roads to the nearest two centres of habitation, both reasonable sized towns.? The March? de No?l could have been anything – we are a relatively small village of something over six hundred inhabitants and I have memories of other such events in England that it wasn’t worth putting your coat on for.? We walked down to the meeting room, which is attached to the mairie, where we had been for the Over-60s meal a couple of weeks ago.? As we entered, it was clear that they took this event very seriously.? There were already some stalls in the entrance hall as you entered and?? everything was tastefully decorated. The hall was laid out with some dozen or more stalls, all covered in beautifully made goods.

Looking out from the hall into the entrance hall and towards the exit.


Our attention was immediately taken by the table laden with food across the hall from the entrance.? On it, there were large and small examples of a selection of regional dishes, some very local indeed.? We decided to buy a tartiflette, a simple but filling dish comprising potatoes, lardons, white wine, onions, various other seasonings and a particular cheese called reblochon. Naturally, many people will tell you that their region/town/village makes the only traditional dish.? That’s normal.

One side of the meeting room …
… and the other.

We did a circuit of the room, stopping a number of times and buying one or two items between us.? It was an interesting experience.? A number of people came up and greeted us, introducing themselves and saying ‘we all know about you’.? One lady – at the food stall – even said we are famous in the village.? She didn’t expand on that but we wonder if it is because we have moved in and settled, rather than just using our property as a holiday retreat.? Either way, it is clear that they (collectively) know a great deal more about us than we know about them.? We intend to remedy that situation.? I wonder if there is a ‘Who’s Who’ of Boubers?

Auld Lang Syne

Spinning, once again, towards a new year makes you think.? Well, it does me, so I decided to review my 2015.? Boring, I hear you say.? Everyone does that.? Yes, they do, but I intend to focus on the positive – if I can.

Last January hove into view with my decision to retire firmly sealed in an envelope, ready to hand to my head teacher.? The next few months were a flurry of putting paperwork in order, reassigning jobs (which may not have always been strictly in my job spec but? I had been doing anyway) to other people and, of course, teaching.? Clearing my desk drawers was a challenge.? The most important question I had to ask myself was “Do I need this?”? My brain kept trying to substitute ‘want’ for ‘need’ but I won in the end.? I re-purposed some items by donating them to colleagues and simply disposed of most of the rest.? (There is one zip-top, plastic folder snuggling in a corner of the lounge that contains things I just had to bring home – mainly small items of stationery!)

There was ‘Poldark’, of course, about which I was in two minds, having seen the original, but enjoyed very much in the end.

In April we celebrated the 94th birthday of my crazy, wonderful dad.? Brilliant to still have him making those awful jokes and, sometimes, even more awful faces!? After a major operation and the addition of a pacemaker in the last few years, he is still going strong and is surprisingly independent for his age.

Dad proving that a splitting headache usually has a reason

Later, we had an election which, in my opinion, was a travesty.? No more on that – I was going to be positive!

On July 9th, 2015 (let it be recorded) I retired.? It was a smooth transition and I can honestly say that the only things I will miss are?? some great colleagues – who, I hope, will stay friends! – and imparting knowledge.? Two days after that I attending the wedding of my son and, in one, fell swoop, gained a daughter and a whole new family!

Start as you mean to go on

Now, ever since deciding that I would definitely retire people have been asking one question – what will you do?? My first answer has always been ‘Nothing’, followed by ‘take the opportunity to go on breaks in term time!’? Well, first I did a lot of not-planning and not-marking throughout what was still, for me, the summer holidays.? That was the only sign, at that point, that something was different.? In September, when I did not return to work, we visited friends in the East of England and the Midlands; in November, we took an overnight trip to France.

The view down into the lobby from the first floor of our lovely little hotel

This December we were lucky enough to share Christmas dinner with the best newly-married couple and had a wonderful, relaxing day with good food and good company.

So much for 2015.? Next year will prove to be a challenge, but more of that later.? May I wish all who have read any of my ramblings a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.

A Christmas Story

No – not that one.? I have been musing over the time of year (as we all have) and the fact that this is my first Christmas in over twenty years that I have not spent the last term in a school.? The Autumn Term in a primary school in the UK is like running the gauntlet – first hurdle is the Harvest Festival, followed by the lead up and execution (in the nicest possible way) of the Christmas celebrations.? Frazzled music teachers attempting to instil the words to a ridiculous number of carols into children aged five to eleven so that they can sing sweetly in front of their parents, at the one time of the year when some non-teaching adults actually set foot inside the building.? The furious making of Christmas cards for the littler ones to take home, with a smattering of other faith and simple ‘I love you’ cards to show sensitivity of the fact that not everyone nowadays, in a UK school, is Christian.? Year 6 teachers trying to keep the balance between continuing to prepare their classes for the SATs in May of the next (calendar) year, whilst helping them to learn and practise the readings for the telling of The Christmas Story – yes, that one!? The decision whether to send all your colleagues – the ones you see every day or few days – a card to tell them how much you hope they will enjoy the coming holiday season (emphasis on the word ‘holiday’!) – or put all the money you would have spent into an envelope and send it off to buy a goat for a family in Sudan.

That I do not, and will never, miss.? However, there are other aspects to Christmas in a primary school.? Our house will be noticeably shorter of wine this year – some parents are very generous!? Seriously though, the kids still love it so much that it rubs off on you.? The pride when they finally get the words to that carol right; the joy at decorating the classroom – I always used to give them almost free rein – with some guidance, of course – so the final effect, whatever it was, belonged to them; the anticipation of what they will find under the tree on Christmas morning; receiving cards from children you don’t even teach!

The Christmas holidays period is not just one to drive yourself mad thinking of yet another present for those elderly relatives that they will actually use.? Nor is it working out a menu that will leave you bloated and groaning after three hours of eating, just so that you can say what a fabulous dinner you had.? Or forcing sprouts down someone because – well – it’s Christmas!? A wise friend once asked why Brussel sprouts are traditional at a UK Christmas dinner.? I don’t know that she has yet received a satisfactory answer.

I will not miss the insanity that is a primary school Christmas but I will miss the camaraderie amongst the staff, the happiness amongst the children and the joy on the parents’ faces as they watched their little angels belt out ‘Silent Night’ and ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’.? I invited myself to the junior school Christmas Celebration and loved it.? As an outsider.? Long may it continue.? Merry Christmas.