Bilingualism and the language of love

Bilingualism on a blackboard | More on www.diywoman.netPanos Athanasopoulos wrote beautifully about bilingualism in April 2015 in The Guardian Weekly, a piece that moved me to write my first public love-letter and reflect on the language of love.

I spent six months in France to immerse myself in a culture I have loved forever and a language I haven’t spoken for 35 years. The mental workout your brain derives from travelling back and forth between two languages can be likened to the beneficial physical effects of regular visits to the gym: increased flexibility, stamina and occasionally the overwhelming desire to have a lie down and a sleep afterwards.

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Settling into la vie ligérienne

Chèr Édouard,

My morning coffee
My morning coffee

Took the van for a spin yesterday pour faire des courses. My need for fresh milk to make myself a coffee outweighed my terror at having to drive a manual car on the wrong side of the road, so that will give you an idea of my desperate need for a decent coffee. To my surprise and disappointment the French don’t do a weak flat white extra-hot. You can tell Alice I have not only given up on asking for my ridiculous, adjective laden, politically-incorrect coffee, I’ve actually given up buying coffee at a cafe altogether unless I’m prepared to drink a heart starter sans lait. And occasionally I am, for the sake of good Franco-Ausso relations. You just say “un café” – that’s pretty much it for choice. I made the mistake in Paris of asking for some hot milk. It’s all UHT here! Dégoutant! So the plunger chez nous is working overtime.

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Touchdown in the Loire

Dear Mum and Dad,

The view from chez nous
The view from chez nous

It’s 10.30am Wednesday morning and the sun is shining, the birds are singing (even a cuckoo I’m pretty sure) and all’s right with the world. I have found my spiritual home there’s no doubt about that.

My hosts left yesterday for Budapest and a river cruise for 3 weeks. I needed every bit of the 2 days with them to learn the ropes of caring for my menagerie. Toby is my faithful companion, and even Bijou the cat seems fond of me but they DESPISE each other. They’re like cartoon characters. Each has his own half of the house and never the twain shall meet. Continue reading

Taking on technology – the saga continues

DIY Woman has now fixed her internet problems…and this time it’s personal.

Wifi extender and friend

With a little (a very little help) from Orange France, a wi-fi extender (not at all like seafood extender) and the National Australia Bank, your intrepid correspondent has prevailed over the technology that’s been out to get her from Day One. Not that she’s paranoid: she’s just very, very tired.

Here’s your step-by-step guide to tackling internet connection problems in a foreign country (and we all know which one): Continue reading

Tom’s Story

Today marks the second anniversary of the death of my nephew Tom.

Tom aged around 7
Tom aged around 8

There are no road maps to tell us how to manage our grief (both public and private) and our feelings of guilt as we start the slow and painful journey towards ‘recovery’ from the acute and unsustainable feelings of devastation that Tom’s untimely passing has raised.

The death of a loved one is never easy for those left behind. When the loved one is a beautiful young man in the prime of his life, it is very difficult to make sense of what has happened. And so we look to rituals to honour them and to mark their passing through and from this world with the ceremony and reverence they deserve.

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10 Things I’ve Learned About France in No Particular Order

OK – DIY Woman has only been in France for a month but she’s already made a list. Here are 10 things she’s learned so far:

DIY and BYO - the hardware place at Chinon
DIY and BYO – the hardware place at Chinon

1. France and wine go together like drill bits and champagne. In rural France you can buy local wine at the hardware place. A marriage made in heaven for your average DIY Woman. Continue reading

DIY woman takes on technology…and wins

It’s once more into the breach for DIY head girl. And here is my absolute most brilliant bit of DIY ever. The neighbours at Seuilly

It happened just this afternoon in Seuilly. Yes that’s Seuilly. France. Two days ago I moved from one slice of French paradise to another just five minutes down the road. My current abode is a light-filled self-contained apartment off the beaten track with a view to die for and a cute little bakery van that drops in twice a week with a fresh baguette.It is the perfect setting for a runaway writer except for just one thing: no wifi…

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Tools of the trade

For the chef it’s his Sabatier, for a musician his instrument, for an artist his brush. So what is the tool of the writer?

My beautiful fountain pen
My beautiful fountain pen

Is it the latest slimline, impossibly light i-notebook? Or the hard-drive that stores the words for posterity?

Non, non et non.

For this écrivain, it’s her fountain pen. Continue reading