Saturday, April 30, 2011

Back in France

Safe and sound ... and with all our bags!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Karlův most (Charles bridge)

More news from Prague: Raph writes, "The bridge is 516 meters long and nearly 10 meters wide, resting on 16 arches shielded by ice guards.  It is protected by three bridge towers, two of them on the Lesser Quarter side and the third one on the Old Town side.

"The Old Town bridge tower is often considered to be one of the most astonishing civil gothic-style buildings in the world.  The bridge is decorated by a continuous alley of 30 statues and statuaries, most of them baroque-style, originally erected around 1700.

"During the night the Charles Bridge is a quiet place. But during the day it changes its face into a very busy place, with painters, owners of kiosks and other traders alongside numerous tourists crossing the bridge."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tasting some Trdelnik

Am I the only one having trouble with these place names? :-)

Like a mini Eiffel tower on top of the Mala Straba parc overlooking the old city of Prague ! Platforms at 20m and 60m that give a stunning view of the city.  Me and Roo were here in November 2006 and I remember climbing to the top, but (correct me if I'm wrong) I think Roo was either too "petrified" (pun intended) to come up, or went part way up then came down.  It's true there was a bit of wind and the thing was swaying a bit !

The Petřín tower

Zrcadlové Bludiště
Visit the mirror maze and see dioramatic painting "Prague citizens fighting the Swedes on Charles Bridge" painted on a canvas of 85m2.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mikulov and Lednice castles


The kids

Mikulov (Nicolsburg) castle
Lednice castle

The whole area (280 km2) called Lednice-Valtice complex is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage register.

It has over 30 buildings made in different styles (neo-classic, neo-gothic, etc).  It's known as the "garden of Europe".  See Wikipedia for more information.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


If you'd asked me even last week to locate the site of this battle I would have put it in Germany somewhere.  But no, not really—at least, not nearly accurate enough!

The Battle of Austerlitz (1805, Napoleon's greatest victory) is near the town of Slavkov u Brna in the Czech Republic.  Now you can guess why we're talking about it today, can't you?

Our intrepid adventurers have just send us back a couple of pictures showing a memorial of some kind at the site.

The only comment I have concerning this monument is the inscription, which Raph tells us reads:

"Pardonnez-leur, Ô Dieu de Miséricorde !  Seigneur Jésus, plein de bonté, donnez-leur le repos éternel!"

Slavkov - Austerlitz


Sunday, April 24, 2011

News from south Moravia

Raph writes, "Everything is going well here, the weather is nice and sunny.  Yesterday Kripper and Becky went on a hike up a mountain near a lake with Honza and a whole group of young people from the church — they enjoyed it!

I think Jonathan & Debbie know the place.  We went on a walk around the village with the small children.  Today we left for church at 7:30, the service was from 8:30 to 10:30, then a bit of fellowship and we were back at Karel's place before noon.  We all had lunch together; Ivana making the famous dumplings with gravy which was quite nice.

Now Camille is taking a nap with Amos and I am watching the kids at a playground (see photo, below).  Becky is taking a nap at Karel's.  Her and Krip are staying at Karel's house and Camille and the kids are at his parent's place just a few hundred meters down the road.

They have a really lovely garden with lots of fruit trees and plants.  The region is famous apparently for vines and apricots.

Tomorrow there is a sort of informal church picnic and we'll meet lots of people we know (already saw some today).  There's also the Austerlitz battfield we're going to visit on Tuesday.

Hope all is well.  Lots of love from us all!"

Friday, April 22, 2011

Off to the Czech Republic

Well, the long awaited return visit to our friends in the Czech Republic has finally come!  Up at dawn and off by ... eight-thirty ... were Raphael & Camille, Rebecca, Christopher, Christine, David, Susanne, and Amos.

The plan was to drive to Roissy, park the Jumper, fly to Prague, then take a local flight south to the town where Karel is waiting for them all!

As usual, we only had to wait an hour or so before Raph started sending in photos of their progress.  I pass them on to those of you who (I know!) are following this news.

So far, so good! (At Charles de Gaulle)

Ready for departure

Boarding the plane

Next photo will be from Prague

Then, a little while later ...

Made it off the plane alive

God bless and keep them all!

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

An old newsletter

While cleaning up my affairs (including my hard drive) I ran across this old end-of-year newsletter written by Sarah at the end of 1997.

I thought you might find it interesting now, thirteen years later.  How times change us!

December, 1997

Dear Family and Friends,

  Just a few lines to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a full and prosperous New Year 1998 and to keep you up on the news of our family this past year!  We hope you're all well and we look forward to hearing from all our loved ones from all around the world.
  As for an update of this year's happenings I'll start out by saying that all the children have grown and advanced in every way and are continuing to make Mummy and Daddy happy and proud of them.
  Claire became one year old in October and was able to walk across the room on her own little feet to mark the occasion.  Mummy rewarded her by putting little bells on her shoes and she jingles around the house in her happy exploration of her cosy little world.
  Christopher became 3 in August.  Through contact with his little friends he's become bilingual it seems over night and it's really cute to hear him chattering away while they're playing together.
  Becky has been attending kindergarten part-time at a Catholic School in a local village and we're very happy with the caring, community environment we find there.
  Jonathan is in his last year at the junior high-school nearby and is continuing to excel in his studies.  He seems to have a particular knack for languages and leads the class in German, Latin, French and English.
  Elisabeth is now taking the train every day 25 kilometers away to her high-school "Lycée Descartes".  She's finding it really quite hard but has been persevering and is full of conviction that she should make a success of it.  She's also enjoying quite a nice social life there.  During her break time she haunts the nearby Bible book store "Evangile pour Tous" and exhausts her store of pocket money on books for her friends and family.
  Raphael is still working with his dad and gaining valuable work experience and computer skills.  His main function is programming. In his spare time he does painting and has revealed a hidden talent!
  Besides the fulfillment our family life brings us our lives have been enriched by the friendship of two local families.  One has six children like we do and the other, three, providing counterparts for all our kids.
  The three moms are absolutely impassioned by sewing for their kids and spend time planning, buying cloth, sewing and putting their heads together designing children's clothes.  I'm teaching them English as well and we are about to embark on Lady's English singing mornings and will be singing whatever may suit our fancies!  What a fun way to learn and practice a language!
  As for Microtec Communications (Derrick's baby) after an uphill struggle towards the middle of the year, October, November and December have all been record-breaking months which shines a positive light on the future.  He hired a new English teacher in December, from Pittsburgh, and envisages hiring someone for the computer side too.
  There was a darker side to this year which we must mention and which overshadows the events of the past year.  Our mother and grandmother Brenda Neve, left us to be with the Lord on the 4th of November after a battle with cancer.
  Derrick went back to Canada and joined his brothers and sisters at her side where they spent a meaningful and emotive time together before her passing the day after he and Bryan left Edmonton for France and North Carolina.  It's a great loss for all of us.
  So I'll conclude that 1997 has been a full year for us all.  The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.
  We send our love to all of you and look forward to the time that we may see or hear from you again.
Much love, Merry Christmas and Happy New year!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Anglophones en France?

When we decided to make France our home some thirty-four years ago (my old carte de séjour lists my first entry into France as janvier 1977—a long time ago!) we were not trying to start a trend; it just seemed to me the best place to raise a family the way we wanted while preserving a high standard of living that we'd been brought up to be used to.

Over the past ten years or so we've heard a lot of people speak of the influx of "English" people (that word is in quotes because if you're a white foreigner and speak English, you are English—no matter where you came from!) but have seldom run into many.  They, like us, tend to melt into the crowd and keep their origins tucked into their back pocket.

But lately this influx has started to be far more prominent to the point where you could almost classify it as a migration.

A few years ago a notary in Château-du-Loir, commenting on just how many English-speaking people are moving to the area and buying houses here told me, as way of illustration, that he'd had nine purchases by English people that very week!

I could scarcely believe it, Château being a fairly small town (population, four thousand, last census) right in the middle of nowhere!  Then we started to bump into English families in the supermarkets and downtown and we knew it must be true.

If I were to start a blog today, I don't think I would put "Anglophones en France" as a byline, as I did years ago.  At the time it seemed somehow different.  Now it doesn't.

Last week I found out that the country has a BBC-World-Service-type of television news channel that was started in 2007 called France24 and it broadcasts in English!

Last year I subscribed to an on-line newspaper called French News Online and enjoy it a lot.  The blurb on their home page says,

French News Online is a newspaper with a totally different approach to its readers – the industry pundits tell us print media is dying so we choose to serve the hundreds of thousands of English-speaking residents in and visitors to France, with a useful news resource on modern electronic platforms.

In today’s 24-hour global, digital environment our view is that real value lies in delivering our paper to you in the same way as more and more TV does, using 21st century technology.  France has rolled out broadband very widely and leads Europe in high speed take-up, so welcome to France and to digital, interactive French news delivered on-line by mobile, Ipod, Kindle Reader and the web among others…

Digital French News Online caters for all foreign residents in and visitors to France, students of the English language and readers with a hankering for things French.  We open this door through the medium of English because globally it is so widely used.

We seek out and publish the news, views, fame, fortune, fun and foibles of France and offer this in an interactive fashion to readers.

Your opinions and contributions are most welcome – email us or use the handy forms to send pictures, articles and letters for publication. Comment on all the material published in our Newsroom and on our blog.

I suggest you take a look at them: who knows,  you might like it!

Monday, April 04, 2011

He's in the paper again!

Well, the reporter from the local paper got his money's worth visiting our place a few weeks ago—this week the area got treated to some publicity on the company!

Articles like this don't make me feel any younger but it's wonderful that I've got something vital and vibrant to pass on to the younger ones.  Seventeen years have passed now since the company was officially formed on January 14th 1994 so I guess that means we're in our eighteenth year!

Friday, April 01, 2011

May You Be Blessed

[I ran across this little titbit today and thought it was good so I'm passing it on to you.]

Even those experiences we deem calamitous can carry the seeds of a great blessing.  It is often only in retrospect, however, that the benefit reveals itself.  And whether or not it reveals itself and how quickly it does so, is dependent upon only one thing: our own individual perspective.

We determine whether something will be a blessing or a curse by the way we choose to see it.

Life is an ongoing process, and most of us meet something at almost every turn we wish were different.  But just because something is not turning out the way we want, doesn't mean it won't.   And when we insist on calling it good, when we make up our minds that no matter what, we're going to see it as a blessing, then our minds start working overtime to prove us right.  Magical things tend to happen and that which we labelled a blessing, more often than not, turns out to be one...

You have a mind that always tries to be right about everything so you might as well use it to your advantage.  Become a hunter of blessings, actively seeking them out in every experience and person you encounter.  No matter how bad a situation or person might seem, say to yourself and mean it, "There's a blessing in this, and I will find it!"

Your subconscious will accept this statement as a direct order and, if necessary, move heaven and earth to make certain the blessing is found.  Follow this regimen for a while and you may very well discover that you've poked a hole in every problem and send every misery packing.  Problems and miseries don't tend to stay in an atmosphere of blessings for very long.

When the apostle James wrote to the members of the early Christian church that they should "count it all joy," he had a good reason for doing so.  He understood, as did Benjamin Franklin nearly 2000 years later, that life is ten percent what you make it and ninety percent how you take it.  And when you take life as a blessing, it tends to become one.

So the next time a difficulty arises, don't let yourself get tied up in knots.  Take a keep breath and relax.  You have nothing to worry about.  That difficulty is nothing more than a signal that a blessing is on its way.  And as you start looking for the blessing, everything else will fade away.