Monday 31 March 2008

Au revoir for now

We're home again, safe and sound, after a splendid week in France. I did Finn a disservice at the end of the last entry. Not only did he fly down the slope on the sledge, he finished the week with a two hour lesson at ski-school alongside his big brother! I'll let Sharon do the ski piece as it was a real delight for her to get back on the piste after 7 or 8 years.

On the Tuesday the snow was melting away at Corenc round about the Harrisons house (about 350m) but there was still enough on the mountain above so we drove up to 700m or so and had another sledging session. It was a great sledging slope, probably about 80-100m long and with a drop of about 20-30m. Sean wanted to go right to the top but we persuaded him to start about halfway down. He could fairly whizz down on the plastic sledges and almost overshot the upslope and flew into the car park at one point.

Finn surprised us by giving it a go too and was equally adept at bombing down and steering between people, possibly more by luck than design. After one wipeout he had snow stuck behind his glasses and requested that they be put in the car. He fairly enjoyed himself. Even Rowan had fun getting towed about and had a few free runs himself; a blond-headed figure strapped in, one mitt in the air with a receding cry of "wheee!" as he travelled 20m on his own.

On the Wednesday we drove up to Annecy to meet Andie and Andy who are enjoying life in France with their two chalets in Chamonix. Their two boys are either side of Rowan so we walked briefly by the lake, let the boys play in a playpark then had a snack in the Vielle Ville by the pretty jumble of buildings along the rivers that drain out of the lake. It hasn't changed much since I was last there in 1989. That evening we dined at Niamh and Manu's house back in Grenoble. It was relaxing to be away from the children for a spell!

On Thursday we repeated the trip north east, passing Annecy to visit Ruth for lunch. Stef's parents arrived for dessert while I played with the boys indoors and out. Friday was our day in Annecy, the highlight being a trip up to the Bastille in the "boules", little round cable cars into which we all just squeezed. The views from the Bastille over the city and to the surrounding mountains were quite spectacular. Our restaurant lunch was decidedly average (the best food we had on the trip was all home-cooked) and, after Rowan had a sleep and the boys had another playpark play, we returned on the tram to Grand Sabon where we had parked the car. Unfortunately Sharon didn't really get a chance to show me some of her old haunts.

It wasn't the most relaxing week, with the six children all up early and very lively from the start of the day, which led to some rather tired and fractious behviour by the end of the day and tumultuous mealtimes, but the company was excellent (further visitors, Andy and Sue, arrived from the Thursday to the Saturday) and the location and views fantastic. Andrew and Alison were extremely generous hosts and the boys had a fantastic time playing with the girls. Finn and Sean were chipping in with their "merci beaucoups" and, given another couple of weeks, Rowan would have been trotting out a "bonjour". His gibberish was starting to sound French by the time we left!

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