What kind of house do you live in - are you and the kids happy here, or is there anything you find lacking or would like to change?
We live in a 200 year old house in a tiny hamlet consisting of 5 houses (all vacation homes except ours), a chateau and a chapel. We overlook a stunning valley on the border with Spain.
The view from any window in the house and every direction you look while in the hamlet is absolutely breathtaking. It’s the reason we bought the house and it never stops amazing me.
Do you like to spend time decorating your home and the children’s room?
Our home is decorated mostly with items from Scotland. I love the designer ANTA who’s headquarters are in the village next to where my parents live in the Scottish Highlands. This spring I plan to redecorate my children’s room. They share a room now and I’m planning themes which will work for both boys and girls. Peter Pan seems to have it all with pirates, fairies and Indians. I’m currently making a Teepee using my own Native American Indian designs so that’s my starting point.
Do you keep your children’s play areas separate or do you believe they should have a space in every part of the house?
We are extremely lucky to have an extra room off the kitchen which I use as my sewing room and the children’s play area. It works well most of the time but when boredom of their own toys set in, I do tend to loose important sewing items….they turn up eventually in strange places.
What places in your new neighborhood do you like to shop at?
We have a beautiful local shop selling mountain inspired homewares. Lots of chunks of wood, carved hearts and gingham. I call it “The Bonnie shop” for obvious reasons. I don’t know it’s real name. They have fabulous Christmas decorations in there and every year since the children have been born, I have bought a tree decoration for each of them from there.
Apart from “The Bonnie shop”, the shopping experience here is a throwback to the 1950’s. I shop online or wait until we visit Barcelona usually which is only a 4 hour car journey away. We just love it there and go a few times during the year.
If you are living in a foreign country, how do you feel about it? How do you meet new people, or make new friends? What is it that you miss most about 'home'?
This is the 3rd foreign country I’ve lived in the last 15 years so I’m used to being an “outsider”. Apart from family and friends, the things I used to miss like food from home, favourite shops etc. get less and less until you find an alternative for most everything. The things I miss now are really conveniences of a city, though when I had them, I didn’t use them. The grass is always greener…
People here are very friendly. It’s really a French version of the village I grew up in Scotland. I don’t think you can ever replace the connection you have with people from your own country. You share a whole social culture.
How have your children adapted to the language, food and cultural differences?
My daughter is in her second year of nursery school and this year with extra help from her teacher, her French has come on leaps and bounds. We eat a lot earlier than French families and our children go to bed earlier. Everything else is just normal life to her. This is where she was born and it’s her home. My son is only 2. He will go to nursery in September and then we’ll see how the language hits him.
Tell us a funny story, quote or remark one of your children recently made.
“I can’t come for a walk with you Mama, my legs are actually still quite short”.
Can you mention some of your ‘how-to-raise-your-kid’ advice?
Make clear boundaries, given them as much of your time as you can, and encourage their imagination. But really I think if Children know they are loved enough and are given enough confidence, they will go out into the world happily being themselves.
Are you a crafter or DIY person?
Both. My husband is the brains of the operation, I’m the DIYer. I’ve laid floors, pointed walls, tiled, roofed landscaped the garden. Crafting is my latest passion and I would love it to be my full time day job.
How do you like to celebrate birthdays and other special days in your house?
The garden is used for most special occasions (weather permitting). I love nothing more than bunting around the trees, the hammock up and the kids tucking into a little party tea.
What are your all time favorite books for children?
My favourite children's book of all time is Peter Pan. It’s timeless. I also have a beautiful book bought for me by a dear aunt called “The Tyger voyage” by Richard Adams. It has the most spectacular illustrations and tells the story of 2 tigers who travel the world. The story is told in rhyme.
As a child I loved a series by Enid Blyton called The Faraway tree collection. I bought it again when my daughter was 2 in anticipation!
My children love Julia Donaldson books especially The Gruffalo, Room on the broom and Monkey puzzle.
How do you buy your books? Bookstores? Online?
Mostly online now, but I do miss a bookstore. I had a job many years ago in a bookstore and spent all my wages before I had them.
What are some nice activities you can do with children in your area, and what would you recommend when people are visiting?
As we live in the mountains, all activities are outdoors. Rock climbing, walking, skiing, paragliding, rafting. It’s all on the doorstep.
What movies do your children like to watch, is there one from your childhood you would love to show them?
My son is obsessed with “The Gruffalo” and “The gruffalo’s child”. My daughter is a Barbie fan I’m afraid. They both love Toy story and many others. My husband and I both have films we can’t wait for them to see when they are a little older. E.T , The Wizard of Oz and “Princess Bride” , My husband is counting down the days until the Star Wars films will be appreciated.
Are you a ‘cook’ or ‘food lover’ or both?
Both, in my life before children I was a head chef.
Do you cook together with your children? Does Dad cook?
I love to bake with the children, though I suspect they only do it to lick the spoon. Dad, never cooks unless for some strange reason, I’m not there. Recently we have started making dinners together. Tonight they made their own pizza, choosing their own ingredients to top it with. They were absolutely delighted with their effort and ate more dinner than if I had made it for them.
I have a brother who lives in Sydney and his partner has just had their first child. I just want to jump on a plane and go and meet her.
What place do your children love visit?
My parents live on the east coast of the Scottish Highlands. Their house is metres away from the sea and they could sit on the beach and throw pebbles into the water all day long. Happily, we are going to spend this summer there and go camping on the west coast with friends.
What a gorgeous Mom Story, thank you Lesley for sharing it with us!