Thursday, 28 May 2020

So Slime DIY Slimelicious Sweet Shop review


One of the upsides of the long confinement has been that the kids have had lots of time to rediscover the numerous toys, books and craft kits that they have lying around in their rooms. They've been looking back at things that they used to love and that they had stopped playing with and rediscovering things that used to be big crazes that have gone out of fashion. One such past obsession was slime - you may remember they even had a go at trying different recipes for making edible slime - so Pierre was very happy to receive a So Slime DIY Slimelicious Sweet Shop to review.


We love the packaging. As well as looking cool and successfully resembling a sweet shop, the little windows allow you to see what's inside the box. Here it is unpacked - you get a box of six scented slime powders, two mini shakers (that look like a pot of Nutella and an ice cream), 3 bags of slime decorations and two mystery charms.


Here you can see the two charms that we got - a doughnut and an ice cream sundae - and the different colours (and scents) of slime powder.


Making the slime couldn't be simpler. You just add water to the slime powder, mix it up and decorate it with whichever of the slime decorations you want.


Give it a good shake and within minutes, you'll have a thick, gooey, fragrant slime to get your mitts into !

The kids had great fun creating and playing with their slime. The back of the box shows you the different charms and shakers that can be collected. The slime can be displayed in the shop packaging and younger children may enjoy acting out being a shopkeeper, creating personalised slimes as ordered by their friends.

The Slimelicious Sweet Shop has an RRP of £7.99 and you can also buy a Slimelicious Soda Shop (£7.99) and Slimelicious Ice Cream Shop (£9.99). If your kids want a cheaper toy to buy with their pocket money, you may prefer the Blindpacks, which retail for £2.79 and contain one mini scented slime with one decoration, one charm and a bespoke shaker. Watch out for the 6 ultra-rare and valuable pots !

Disclosure : We received the product in order to share our honest review.

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Book review : Just One Look - Harlan Coben


Harlan Coben has made a huge name for himself, both in written fiction and also on screen, as several of his books have been made into films and series. I've recently been watching Safe and The Stranger on Netflix, which were both really good. I have also already reviewed three of his other novels : The Woods, Fool Me Once and Long Lost. (Click through to read those reviews.) Each of these titles can be enjoyed as a one-off thriller, rather than part of a series, so you don't have to worry about missing out on things from previous books. 

Just One Look focuses on Grace Lawson, a mum-of-two, living a totally happy, normal and uneventful life in the suburbs with her husband Jack. Picking up a packet of photos from a high street shop, Grace comes across a strange, faded photo that appears to feature her husband in the days before she knew him. She asks him about it, but then he mysteriously disappears.

Unsure what is going on but convinced that something bad has happened to him, she calls on a murky figure from her past. As a young woman, she attended a concert which ended in tragedy when, following a gunshot, the crowds surged forward, desperate to get outside. Grace was crushed and trampled but ended up with nothing more than a bad limp. Some others lost their lives and the parents of the victims, in particular this father, look on Grace as a representative of their lost children. But can he really be trusted or is his input just making things worse?

Grace doesn't know who to trust or who to view as the latest suspect. Even her best friend ends up being considered with suspicion and wariness. She is eventually threatened but still doesn't know who is trying to get at her or even why. Can she put everything right, find her husband and keep her children safe?

The end of the novel, which nicely ties up all the loose ends and makes sense of everything, came as a total shock, but it did make sense, in a very sad way. While the mysterious paternal figure certainly helps Grace out, providing protection for her and her children, I didn't like him at all and he seemed less believable than most of the other characters. The police department seemed totally useless in this book too, totally unwilling to help out in the early stages of the disappearance. 

It's an enjoyable read and I raced through it, eager to find out what was behind all the mysterious goings-on.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £8.99

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (27 Feb. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1409150488
  • ISBN-13: 978-1409150480
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.8 x 19.6 cm


Monday, 25 May 2020

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 22


This week could end up being our last week at home. Pierre is going back to school on Mondays and Tuesdays as from next week (although next Monday is a bank holiday) and, in theory, I'll be back in the classroom on the 2nd June. We'll see what happens. This week, I'm planning on carrying on emptying out the freezer box. It's lovely to have a bit more space in there !

Monday

lunch- leftover spaghetti bolognese

dinner - pork & mushroom casserole with potatoes

Tuesday

lunch- leftover pork casserole with potatoes (or mash if there's none left)

dinner- Basque-style chicken & chorizo with rice & salad

Wednesday

lunch- fricadelles (spicy sausages) with mash & salad

dinner-  pan-fried trout with Asian veg / leftovers for the kids


Thursday

lunch- beefburgers  & mushroom risotto

dinner- spaghetti with sauce or maybe a pasta bake

Friday

lunch- fishfingers with ... I'm thinking there will be leftover pasta, risotto and/or Asian veg

dinner -   sausage casserole with baked potatoes


Saturday

lunch-  fresh pasta

dinner- I have discovered some pitta pockets in the freezer so I think this might be a good way to get something resembling tacos on the menu - woohoo :)

Sunday 

lunch-  whatever I picked up shopping yesterday - quite possibly a roast dinner

dinner- pizza

***Click on my Menu Plans tag to see all my other weekly menu plan blogposts.***

Katykicker

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Project 366 : Photo diary week 21

This week has been almost a week off. On Monday, I sat down with Pierre and we worked through all of his Monday and Tuesday work. I'd already sorted out my work for the week and uploaded the lesson plan on Sunday. Wednesday was our day off, Thursday was a bank holiday and Friday was the great French tradition of "faire le pont" (making the bridge - taking the Monday or Friday off if the bank holiday is a Tuesday or Thursday). I still had a bit of work coming in to mark, but it was a much more chilled out week this week :)


Sunday 17th May - As it was such a lovely day, we went for a long walk/scooter ride along the canal. This "green way" was opened a couple of years ago and is actually really clever. The middle lane, where we are, is the pedestrian/bike part, then, to the left and slightly higher, is the bus lane. The cars are much further and higher to the left and on the other side of the canal to the right, so you can't even see or hear them really. You're walking along what used to be a really busy main road and feel like you're in the middle of the countryside !


Monday - After doing all his schoolwork for the week, Pierre settled down for a game of Fortnite (or ten !). Towards the start of confinement, when everyone was feeling a bit down, I told each of the kids that they could spend some money that we wouldn't be spending on takeaways. Juliette bought some clothes, Sophie bought some home furnishings (getting ready for having a flat-share next year) and Pierre still hadn't spent his. Well, he finally decided to buy the Fortnite Save The World add-on game and he absolutely loves it ! He's been getting loads of extra items and keeps swapping things with people so he's totally chilled out about lockdown going on for another couple of months at least !


Tuesday - The postman knocked at the door and told me had a recommended letter for me, but I wouldn't be allowed to sign for it - he'd have to sign ! I said OK and received a letter from the court. Finally ! Over two years after Madhouse Daddy died, they have finally dealt with his case. The letter doesn't actually mean anything, it's all legal jargon, so I emailed the sollicitor who said that now, we can make an appointment to sort out the next part: putting some money into a bank account for each of the kids, to be held until they turn 18, and for Sophie to come and sign some paperwork. Well, I have no idea when she'll manage to make it back across the Channel so we'll see ! Seeing how long this has taken for the simplest of cases, I feel sorry for families who have been through divorce and remarriage - it must be a total nightmare to sort out !


Wednesday - Today was such a hot day, we even had to get the fans out to cool down the bedrooms ! We went for a long walk and came back with aching legs, but it was lovely. We managed to find a route that was pretty much free of people too. Having seen how many people are at the beach, I think we made the right decision !


Thursday - Well, it looks like we won't be doing much travelling this year. We'd booked a fortnight in the Dominican Republic and the kids were so excited about going on such an exotic holiday, but I can't see it happening now. I'm sure the prices will be much higher once we're back to travelling, so that will pretty much wipe out any dreams of going there another year. We'll see what happens. In the meantime, I've been travelling mentally by reading the Stephen Fry in America book that I picked up in a charity shop.



Friday - This week's baking was to use up the last of the cherries, in some delicious fresh cherry muffins. I used up a pack of coconut sugar that was lurking in the back of the cupboard. Apart from giving them a distinct brown colour, it didn't change the taste at all.


Saturday - This coming week could well be the last week working from home. In theory, collèges (lower secondary schools) are reopening on the 2nd June in our red zone, but we'll see what happens. I offered a trip into town for the kids, but they weren't keen (too many people, didn't want to wear a mask on the bus) so I went for another walk with Pierre. We were saying that this trunk looked (very vaguely) like a duck when Pierre asked why all the bark had come off on the lower section. Well, that's a very good question. Anyone have an idea ?!

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Saturday, 23 May 2020

Fab freebies of the week 23/5


Welcome to the weekend ! The weather's looking good so we might go out for a walk later. Otherwise, we'll stay in and make cakes. Hope you have something nice planned. If you haven't, well ... stay right here and check out this week's freebie offers !

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I thought these would have all gone already but the form is still open, so be very quick ! Free YSL foundation sample from Sopost

Win one of 40 Kitchenaid stand mixers from Baking Mad

Apply for the Powermop campaign on Super Savvy Me

If you're pregnant, grab a free "give me space" car sticker

Try your luck to win a Crynx Ascend face-lift spray

Agree to their facebook ads and you should see one go by for Olay Retinol24 Cream

Win one of 201 Apple iPhone 11s (I don't like the way the t&c's don't come up when you click - make sure you keep the email for the free entry, it says)


Enter the kids' colouring competition and you can even request free pencils

Weleda is inviting 40 people to trial our brand-new Purifying skincare products - Purifying Gel Cleanser, Refining Lotion and S.O.S Spot Treatment. These products provide a complete natural care system to cleanse, soothe, hydrate, mattify and treat skin which is prone to break-outs. We simply ask that you try these products for 28 days, then tell us how they’ve worked for you.

Innocent are still giving away home-growing kits, which should keep the kids busy for a while!

Nicky Defend disposable paper hand towels with #antibacterial to dry your hands are available for testing over on facebook

Sign up for news of the Cat City game and get a free book

Win a growing kit from Sudocrem

You can see previous weeks' freebie roundups by clicking here but be warned, many of the offers are only valid for a short time. Let me know if any have expired and I'll remove them from the roundup.

You may also like to enter my current giveaways :

Coming soon

Friday, 22 May 2020

Teapigs Cold Brew review


What with the pandemic and our long period of confinement, I haven't really been paying attention to the calendar, but suddenly, out of nowhere, summer appears to be here ! It's been really hot for the last couple of weeks and we have been constantly guzzling cold drinks. Fruit juice, fizzy drinks and squash are all great solutions once in a while, but firstly, they're too heavy on the sugar to feel good about drinking them too often and, secondly, they weigh a ton when I have to bring the shopping home ! Just plain water isn't much fun though. Luckily, Teapigs sent us through a selection of their Cold Brew drinks to try out.


The Cold Brew range comes in funky tea temples - pyramid shaped bags containing all manner of petals, herbs and spices. I love the way you can see and recognise the different ingredients. They are totally simple to use - just drop one in a glass of cold water or put one in your water bottle. Leave them for about five minutes or so and that's it - one glass of delicious, naturally flavoured water ready to be savoured !

We started with the Lychee & Rose Tea, which contains apple pieces, white hibiscus, hibiscus, natural flavouring (rose lychee flavouring), turmeric, citric acid, red rose petals and natural lychee flavouring. As you can guess from the ingredients list, this has a distinctive floral flavour, with some sweetness and fruitiness coming through from the lychees and apple. This wasn't a huge hit with the the kids, but it's nice as a refreshing drink for grown-ups.


Next, we sampled the Peach & Mango Tea, which was our favourite. I love watching the flavour filter out of the bag as it sits in the water ! This one contains white hibiscus, apple, sweet blackberry leaves, chicory root, natural flavourings, citric acid, beetroot, peach and mango. We found that this one tasted better if you leave it to filter for slightly longer. It's a subtle fruity flavour that gets a thumbs-up from us.


The final flavour, Cucumber & Apple, is another hit with the grown-ups. It has a light, cooling and totally refreshing flavour that is perfect on a hot day. It contains apple pomace, citric acid, white hibiscus, spirulina, cucumber extract (natural cucumber flavouring), cucumber, natural flavouring (watermelon flavouring). 

Whichever flavour you choose, they are all almost calorie-free and contain no caffeine. They are ready to drink after five minutes or so, but will develop a stronger flavour if you leave them for longer. Add ice cubes for a refreshing drink that is perfect for quenching your thirst over the summer.


Disclosure : We received the products in order to share our honest opinion.

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Dr.PAWPAW Balms review


If you ask my teenaged daughter, she will tell you that Dr.PAWPAW is really cool because loads of celebs and big make-up artists use it. If you ask me, I'll tell you that it's cool because it was created by a couple who needed a multipurpose balm for their daughter who had been diagnosed with eczema. They created a product that could be used on lips, skin and hair and appeal to everyone from babies to grandmas. Two completely different takes on the company, but both fully justified !

Dr.PAWPAW have recently launched 10ml versions of all of their balms, giving you the chance to try out more of the different options available. Each of the pocket-friendly tubes is perfect for keeping in your handbag and prices start at a very reasonable £3.95.


Starting off with the Original Clear Balm (RRP £3.95), the packaging tells you that it can be used to moisturise, nourish and protect very dry lips, cuticles, elbows and cracked heels. That's just the start though ! It can be used on the face as a primer for dry skin, as a hydrating soothing evening mask, to give a dewy finish, separate eyelashes and smooth eyebrows. On the body, it is good for cuticles, dry skin patches, elbows, knees, as a foot treatment or an evening hand treatment. You can use it on your hair to style short hair, seal ends, tame frizz and add texture. Finally, on skin, it protects sensitive skin, soothes sore irritated skin, can relieve eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis, heals burns, insect bites and blemishes, repairs cuts and prevents scarring. The balm contains a trio of plant-based ingredients - Pawpaw fruit for long-lasting nourishment of hair and skin, Aloe Vera to soothe sore, sensitive skin and repair hair, and Olive Oil, to deeply moisturise stubborn dry cracked skin. I love the way it feels, instantly soothing and moisturising skin (I've been using it to sort out my hands, which aren't enjoying the non-stop washing and hand gel that has become a part of normal life during the pandemic) and my daughter loves the taste when she uses it on her lips, saying that it reminds her of peanut butter !

 

The green tube is the Shea Butter Balm (RRP £4.95). It contains all of the same ingredients and offers all of the same benefits as the yellow tube, with the addition of Shea Butter, which is great for smoothing and softening tough skin. I've been rubbing this into the rough skin on my heels and I have to say, it does seem to be helping.



The Tinted Peach Pink Balm (RRP £3.95) again offers all the same benefits as the original yellow one, but this one can also be used as a lip or cheek tint. I think it's great for protecting dry or chapped lips, but I called on my daughter for testing it out on her cheeks.


She loves the look and feel of it as a blusher. It adds a subtle, natural-looking tint, which can be layered up for a bolder dash of colour. There are other colours available too : Rich Mocha, Outrageous Orange, Hot Pink and Tinted Ultimate Red.

I have to say, we were all really impressed. If there's one thing I love, it's a multi-tasking product and this one deals with whatever the summer can throw at us - sore lips, mosquito bites, cut fingers, rashes, ... As well as the lovely natural ingredients, the products are vegan approved, cruelty free and ethically sourced, use recyclable packaging and are made in the UK. Even bigger bonus points for the company as they have recently donated over 50,000 balms to front line workers.

For more information, head over to www.drpawpaw.com.

Disclosure : We received the products in order to share our honest review.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Book review : Never Tell - Claire Seeber


Never Tell is a novel told in two different time periods about twenty years apart, relating the past and present of a seemingly ordinary couple, Rose and James. Rose used to be a journalist - a fairly highly powered one, it would appear - but these days, since having kids, she's pretty much stopped working, just writing the odd article for the local paper while bringing up her children. Her husband  James is a successful businessman, but a less successful husband. He has little time for Rose, shuts her out of his "business meetings" with his friend and basically seems to want to spend as little time with his wife and kids as possible.

Going back in time twenty years, we see the young Rose and James in their student years at Oxford. Rose seems quite naive and unprepared as she heads off to university and, as her path soon crosses that of the debonair Dalziel, my motherly feelings made me want to reach out and protect her. As an eighteen-year-old, she's just interested in getting drunk, having fun and making new friends though. She soon ends up as a new guest of the Society X, which very much reminds me of the sordid American college fraternities often presented in teen films.

Dalziel is a complex character and his presentation isn't really sufficiently detailed to explain his multi-sided personality. He is rich, throwing money around like water, and he seems to have inherited the power of his family name. (Twenty years later, his father is pretty much in the running to become the next prime minister.) But he also seems to act like a little boy lost, unaware of what to do with all the new choices that he has at his disposal. His Society X parties, where he showers his followers with lavish surroundings, copious drugs and shocking sexual acts, all appear to me to be a big sign screaming "look at me and see how important I am". Unsurprisingly, he goes completely off the rails and pretty much self-destructs.

Rose and James were both caught up in the aftershock and, after a chance meeting a few years later, they got together as a pair of survivors. Then things start to get complicated. At a similarly lavish but slightly more grown-up party at their home, a trapeze artist is killed, then, as if things couldn't get any worse, James is arrested. Stunned, Rose starts to investigate her life, trying to work out if she really knows her husband at all or whether her life was all based on flimsy unrealities.

The book is quite slow to get into and there are numerous characters who vaguely fit into the storyline, while seeming to lurk in the half-shadows of the sidelines. I frequently had to stop and flick back to an earlier chapter to double-check how people and events fitted together. I unfortunately didn't really like any of the characters - while Rose seemed to be one of life's "takers", just dealing with whatever life throws at her without doing anything to make it better, pretty much all of the male characters completely annoyed me for being self-important, arrogant and misogynistic.

It took me a while to get into the book, maybe because I often read in bed at the end of the day and the tiny print in this version of the book soon gave me a headache. (I picked up a version that was given away for free with a newspaper in a charity shop.) Maybe, the fact that I disliked all of the characters means that I didn't really care what happened to any of them. I don't really know, but something about it made me less receptive to the story.

star rating : 3.5/5

RRP : £6.99

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Avon (15 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007334672
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007334674
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Madhouse recipe : Mashed Potato Croquettes


During lockdown, I've been looking around online for new recipes that would appeal to the whole family, as well as working through my long list of bookmarked recipes. The Love Potatoes website recently shared a recipe for Ham & Cheese Potato Croquettes, which sounded perfect. Fun to put together (Pierre even joined in), using nothing but store cupboard basics and great for using up excess mashed potatoes too. Definitely one that we'll be making again !

Mashed Potato Croquettes

ingredients : 

leftover mashed potato (or a pan full of boiled potatoes + butter, milk, salt)
50g butter
50g flour
220ml semi skimmed milk
grated cheese (cheddar, parmesan, etc)
chopped ham (or similar - bacon, chorizo, ...)
breadcrumbs 


Start off by preparing your mash, unless you have leftover cooked mash ready to use up. Add milk, butter and salt and smash the potatoes to pieces with a masher. (This is a great way to relieve tension. Alternatively, it's a great way of keeping the kids entertained, which will also relieve tension !)


In a pan, melt the butter and mix in the flour.


Add the milk and stir.

 

Whisk it up if it starts going too lumpy !


Add the potatoes to the pan and mix them in. Add chopped ham and cheese. (We left out the cheese, as Pierre isn't keen, and they were still lovely.)


Tip the mash out onto a baking tray. Flatten it with a spoon then cut it into about 16 squares (or more, depending on how much mash you used).


Scoop up one square of mash in your hands and shape it into a croquette. Roll each croquette in breadcrumbs.


Put the finished croquettes back on to the tray. Give them a spray with some cooking oil if you want them to go brown - we didn't bother, which is why they stayed very pale.


Put them in the oven for 8-10 minutes. The website warns not to leave them for too long or they will start to spread and collapse but ours seemed very solid - maybe because we made big ones ? 

The kids absolutely loved these ! They're soft and squishy with a hint of crispiness on the outside. We served ours with sausages, but they would also be great with eggs, beans, pork chops, ... - they make a great side dish with all manner of things !


This is a great recipe for using up leftover mash, as well as ends of cheese and salami or ham, so I'm adding it to the #KitchenClearout linky.

Monday, 18 May 2020

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 21


Last week's plan worked well, but some things lasted for two meals so a few things ended up in the freezer box of the fridge. I'll probably use them this week. We'll be eating loads of fruit salad this week as I hit the newly reopened fruit & veg market this weekend with a vengeance. Deconfinement does have some upsides ! :) This week, I'm going to start working through the freezer box of the fridge - there's way too much stuff in there and no room for ice creams and chips, when I go shopping !

Monday

lunch- breaded chicken, boiled potatoes & coleslaw

dinner - pork chops with mushrooms & cream, carrots, rice

Tuesday

lunch- paprika chicken with ebly & cucumber salad

dinner- spaghetti carbonara (with added leeks & mushrooms)

Wednesday

lunch- fishfingers with boiled potatoes (or mash) & beans

dinner- pork casserole with baked potatoes

Thursday

lunch-  fricadelles (sausages) with cheesy pasta (or maybe a pasta bake)

dinner- I have some mince, so some kind of chilli con carne with extra veg (mushrooms, red pepper, onions, carrots) & rice

Friday

lunch- sausage sandwiches

dinner -  stuffed round courgettes for me / leftovers for the kids


Saturday

lunch-  sausages in tomato sauce (with onions, mushrooms, red pepper) with pasta

dinner- I'll be shopping today so potato wedges with burgers, or whatever I find that takes our fancy !


Sunday 

lunch-  chicken, roast potatoes, stuffing, veggies, gravy (as requested by the kids !)

dinner- pizza

***Click on my Menu Plans tag to see all my other weekly menu plan blogposts.***

Katykicker

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Project 366 :Photo diary week 20

So this week was the beginning of the end of confinement. Primary schools reopened (for three class levels out of five) on a voluntary basis, we no longer need a filled-out form to be allowed to leave the house (for one hour within a 1km radius and yes, the police were checking and dishing out fines) and we can actually travel anywhere now up to 100km within the French borders. The beaches reopened (with rules - one way directions on the promenade and not allowed to sit or lay on the beach) and I think, from what I hear, many of the shops in town reopened too. As I write, I can hear people at the newly reopened market, just opposite our house (with restrictions and just food stalls). But it's all been so busy everywhere, we still haven't been anywhere more than before !


Sunday 10th May - Nothing much going on today. Some marking, some catching up on Netflix, some talking to my parents and Sophie on video chat, ... Someone pointed out to me that that is what confinement has been all about for weeks now, but I've been working every day, so it's still nice to have a lazy weekend !


Monday - The teachers went back to primary school today to get everything ready for the pupils. It will be Pierre's turn tomorrow - eeek ! I used up the leftovers from the roast chicken in a Yellow Rice & Chicken dish which was rather tasty. I do like throwing turmeric in rice to make it look nice and yellow. I'll share the recipe as soon as I get a chance.


Tuesday - We set the alarm, for the first time in absolutely ages, then set off for school. Each class had a different time to start and Pierre's level were the last, going in from 8.40-8.50. This worked perfectly as I had to be back home and logged into a video conference at 9am. This had replaced our meeting at school, as our reopening has been put back (as we're still in a red zone). I listened to the headmaster and learnt about what will change when we go back. The pupils will stay in one classroom per class and the teachers will have to move around, so we need to make sure we have everything we need from our classrooms before we go back. We're still not sure how many pupils will go back to school but are assuming we'll do 2 days per half class per week. Focus is on welcoming pupils back into a school environment and dealing with any issues, rather than worrying too much about the content of what we teach (as there's only a month until the holidays by the time we go back ... if we go back). I made some quick cakes to welcome Pierre home from school !


Wednesday - You might think these look familiar, and you'd be right. I posted a photo of these same cookies last week, but Pierre wanted to make more ! I'd run out of soft brown sugar so tried them with banana sugar and they worked perfectly. This is the third batch of these cookies that we've made in about the last two weeks !


Thursday - A boring day of marking and emailing pupils to check they're all doing ok. At bedtime, went to let the dog out and - woohoo ! - the clock tower opposite our house was all lit up again ! Just before confinement started, the tourist office (in the building that the tower is attached to) appeared to close down - all the posters, the sign with opening times above the door, the big plastic banner on the clock tower, everything just disappeared. At the same time, the clock tower was switched off so the windows and figurines weren't lit up and the bells stopped chiming. Well, apparently, now it's back - but the bells still aren't chiming. Hmmm !


Friday - After chatting to Pierre, he'd mentioned that he preferred being at home with me to going to school and, as I'd signed him back up as I was supposed to be heading back to school, I emailed his teacher to say that, if she was in agreement, we'd go back to homeschooling for two weeks while I'm still off. There were only 5 people in his half-class anyway so about 50% of the pupils had gone back. We'll see how things go from here. Juliette also got some post - all the paperwork for her change of schools, from collège to lycée, as she's 15. I didn't take any photos, so you can have a shot of our dinner - Chinese chicken with cashews. Pretty tasty.


Saturday - Today was the day - the beach was opened and our local market was reopened, on the big car park just opposite our house. We were inside the restricted access zone (with a policeman only letting a set number of people in, when others had already left). I looked at the big queue, wondered whether I was supposed to go and join the end, then skipped over the grass verge and just did my shopping - oops ! For once, I could buy all the fruit and veg that they haven't had at the local Lidl or that I couldn't carry home, along with everything else we needed. All the summer fruit was there - I ended up filling up my bag with everything I could see : melons, watermelon, round courgettes, red pepper (still really expensive but slightly cheaper than at Lidl), oranges, peaches and nectarines, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, new potatoes, cherries, apricots, ... For lunch, we had melon, sausages with new potatoes, then a giant fruit salad. I've never seen the kids so excited about eating fruit !


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