About Tea and Excel sheets in bicultural couples!

TGregre thé BLOG (2)alking with couples about experience as parents, especially parents influenced by their respective home countries, is always exciting. Lots of laughs, pauses for reflection, and also moments in which the couple discover things about each other…
Learn more about my project Bilingual Families: Bringing Up Children between Cultures.
With younger couples, I spent a little bit more time discussing the way their perceptions about their partner’s culture, and indeed their own, have changed over time. In what ways does he or she conform to stereotypes about their culture of origin? Let’s have a look at the anecdotes that some of them recounted to me…

Alice is French, she lives with James who is Welsh.

Alice Tea is such a big part of your life. It’s kind of grown on me and I’m now drinking tea all the time at work, but I just can’t put milk in it and it’s not English tea, it’s green tea…
But James is so into his tea. The first thing you do in the morning is put the kettle on. If we go to France, it stresses me out if the hotel doesn’t have a kettle in the room because it’s a big deal for you and you get annoyed about it. “How could a hotel not have a kettle…?”
Continue Reading

Open doors in Oxford: SPECIAL FAMILIES

Dear OGregre St Marysxfrognews-followers !
Six months ago I launched this blog with my dear chap Gregre. Together we went to different events, playgrounds as far as Russia! We met as well Oxfordian stars like Nick Cope and Mini Grey! Thank you so much for sharing these explorations with us.
For this week, a very quick reminder about the Oxford Preservation Trust and the Open Doors which is a unique opportunity to explore Oxford’s heritage and sneak into some Colleges. It takes place this weekend 13-14.09.2014.
Don’t be misled and think this event revolving around old stones and famous architecture is only for grown ups. A lot of venues offer activities for kids and the whole family! Have a lovely weekend (all the activities can be found here)!

Here is my personal selection of the top 5

Fire Station
Bring the children to see fire engines and find out what happens at the station and appliance bay, demos & displays of equipment and fire safety and wider work.
Saturday: 9am-5pm
Sunday: 9am-5pm

Oxford Bus Museum
Take a trip back in time celebrating 100 years of motor buses in the city, free vintage bus rides. For timetable and bus stops see website.
Saturday 10-4pm.

Story Museum
Free child-friendly activities. Drop in handprinting demonstrations…
Saturday 11am-1pm, 2-4pm.

St Micheal at the North Gate Church
Visit Oxford’s ancient City Church and climb its Saxon tower for wonderful views on the ‘dreaming spire’. See inside the working clockmechanism and the cell door of Cranmer.
Saturday: 10.30-5.30pm
Sunday: 2-5.30pm

Magdalen College School
Stroll through the beautiful school gardens crossing over the white Chinese bridges.
Sunday : 12-4pm



Bilingual Siblings: Gibberish or Exploring New Languages?

gregre&soeur (2)After a great and sunny break, here news from the book project, Bilingual Families: Bringing Up Children between Cultures (learn more here). I have already interviewed 18 couples and single parents about their experiences of multilingual parenting. I’m glad I got to spend such happy times listening to everyday life stories involving two or more languages. One interesting point some parents emphasise is the relationship that develops between siblings while they are in the process of picking up new languages.

Here are some interesting extracts from my latest interviews…

Céline from France is married to Ridvan from Albania. In the interview they talked about their experience with both their kids, age 1,5 and six.

Céline Since going to nursery and then school she is more and more reluctant to speak French. I keep speaking to her in French and she keeps answering in English most of the time. Socially she wants to speak the same language as her friends. Understanding is not an issue, it’s the speaking. Continue Reading

From Russia with love

After some days with a “cultural jet-lag”, I’m still feeling as if I’m lying in a hammock between two worlds! Saint Petersburg was simply an amazing experience and an adventurous holiday time. It changed my view on Russia and the Russian themselves.
Being there with my other half, a frog and two small children was incredible exciting: infinite escalators, plenty of coloured playgrounds, lovely salads, magnificent palaces nearby run-down houses, smiling babuschki (only thanks to the kids!), fantastic ballet-evening, peaceful churches with lots of candles, tasty pelmeny (russian tortellini), matrioschka-dolls not only made in China (sic!), refreshing swims in the Neva, train trips around Saint Petersburg…

I’m happy to share some of our pics! Clic on one of them to have a little slide-show with the name of the different places. Some more impressions wait for you on #GregreTravels (more than 30 Tweets with pics and comments about our trip to Saint Petersburg).

A frog on holidays

gregre + st petCroak, why should I go on holidays? The weather is just amazing in Oxford right now!

“You are right, dear little chap, but taking some weeks off means that you will open your eyes and your mind to new horizons, explore other realities and may as well just have time to relax.
It’s very important to appreciate the different times in a year and especially the summer!
Are you ready for the departure? What’s our destination this year?”

Saint Petersburg, croak! And I’m well prepared indeed!

“Great Gregre, don’t forget your sunglasses and the  suncream! Now let’s go and enjoy our time off! :) Bonnes vacances à tous nos lecteurs et à bientôt! “

Would you like to jump with Gregre?
Follow us on @oxfrognews #GregreTravels

A parent-friendly Oxfam-shop on Cowley Road

Oxfam  1postIn the heart of the vibrant centre on Cowley Road – which is by the way the best place where you can find charity shops next to one another (ok, second best if you take Headington into account)– there is a good old Oxfam charity shop. A lovely meeting with the shop manager Nikoletsa (on the picture with Francesca, volunteer [left]) offered some interesting details about giving a second life to toys, children’s’ books and clothes!
There is no hazard! In 1943 when Oxfam’s adventure began the aim was to support the Greek population during World War II “when the shopmanager where I worked as a volunteer told me this, it became very special to me, I couldn’t imagine to work for any other charity…” tells Nikoletsa, who is herself Greek. She loves working here and underlines that she never looks at her watch whilst she is managing her volunteer-team and the Cowley Road shop.

A spot for second hand children’s stuff
Mother herself, Nikoletsa admits “I try to keep the children’s area stocked up and encourage to donate things. I know how important it is to find affordable things which are also in good quality. And for us at Oxfam we always remember that one or two pounds maybe seem to be not much here, but are hugely important in countries we support, like for example South Soudan.” Continue Reading

L’été pour les familles bilingues : vacances ou visites familiales ?

(English version here, please)

Gregre vacances 1bisAprès des mois intenses à l’école pour les petits et au boulot pour les grands, est arrivé le temps du repos et de la détente ! Les Allemands parlent de « Tapetenwechsel » (littéralement « changement de tapisserie ») et en effet il est crucial de recharger les batteries en famille.
En ces mois estivaux, je vous propose de découvrir quelques extraits d’interview de mon projet de livre « Familles bilingues : la parentalité entre les cultures ». La question ? Comment gèrent-elles le défi entre vacances en « petit comité » au sein de leur cellule familiale et les attentes de la famille élargie ?

Bonne lecture de ces trois réponses recueillies au fil de mes interviews (pour en savoir plus, lisez ici)

Melanie (36) et Nathan (37) ont deux enfants de moins de 6 ans qui parlent les langues de leurs parents, allemand et hébreu.

Melanie Au début nous avions établi la règle qu’on partirait au moins une fois par an dans chaque pays. Mais finalement, pour être plus réaliste on en faisait plutôt deux voyages par an. (Nathan acquiesce) Et aujourd’hui on en est arrivé à un point où l’on insiste sur nos vacances à quatre, car rendre visite à la famille, ce n’est pas toujours de tout repos.

Nathan Et cette année nous partons pour Israël, mais nous louons dans une autre ville que celle où habite ma famille. C’est près de la plage, dans un lieu idéal pour passer des vacances. De là nous pourrons rendre visite à ma famille, mais ce sera différent. Nous serons indépendants tout étant immergé avec les enfants dans un environnement hébreu. Continue Reading

Summer for Bilingual Families: Holiday or Family Visit?

(Version française ici , merci)

Gregre vacances 1bisAfter a busy time at school for the children and at work for the parents, everyone needs a little rest and relaxation. The “Tapetenwechsel” (literally, ‘Changing the wallpaper’), as the Germans say, is very important to recharge the batteries. In these summer months, let’s have a look at some interview extracts about the holidays of bilingual families. How do they manage being torn between holidays as a family unit and the expectations of their extended families?

These are some extracts from my book project Bilingual Families: Bringing Up Children between Cultures (read more here)

Melanie (36) and Nathan (37) have two children under the age of 6 who speak both parents’ languages (German and Hebrew):

Melanie We had started the rule that each country would get at least one trip a year…but to be more realistic it was more two… (Nathan agrees) And now we insist more on family holidays which don’t involve other family members, because visiting family isn’t vacation-time.

Nathan This year we’re going to Israel, but we’re renting a place in another town than where my family lives. It’s next to the beach, in an area you would go for holidays. From here we can meet my family, but it’s different; we’re independent and the children will still be in a Hebrew environment. Continue Reading

Les vacances sourient à l’Angleterre

Trolley WallyPetits et grands sont dans les starting blocs pour les vacances ! Détail particulièrement amusant de l’autre côté de la Manche : personne n’attend d’être sur les plages de sable fin pour enfiler ses tongues, shorts ou mini-jupes. Dès que le soleil pointe son nez plus de quelques dizaines de minutes -allez j’exagère à peine- on expose sa peau couleur Aspirine pour chopper un brin de Vitamine D. C’est drôle, j’ai alors l’impression d’être en vacances quand je vois mes voisins en tenue estivale dès le mois d’avril!
Pour les amateurs, voici un billet écrit justement en avril, le voici : Ne pas avoir froid… aux yeux !
Revenons à nos… vacances, puisqu’elles sont devant la porte ! Je voulais vous partager cette photo en guise de clin d’oeil déniché à la gare de Paddington à Londres. C’est une façon bien british d’éduquer les personnes à la civilité, la sacrosainte politeness comme dit sur l’île. On peut lire en gigantesque sur le sol de la gare “Don’t be a trolley wally” pour inviter les voyageurs à prendre soin de ne pas écrabouiller les doigts de pied ! Le mot wally désignant de manière familière “une gourde, un zozo ou encore un balourd”. Sur ces entrefaites, je vous laisse faire vos bagages les juillettistes -moi je suis aoûtienne donc les vacances ce sera un peu plus tard… et avec un sac à dos pour éviter tous doigts de pied !

Hinksey – not just splash, but also play!

  Hinksey 1You can’t miss the playground between Abingdon Road and the famous Hinksey Splash Park! We discovered it on a somewhat “catastrophic” day in the summer of 2013, while the water games didn’t work. The neat recreational park looked like a rescue area back then! We had a memorable time – mothers sitting with their babies in the shade of the trees and children discovering the different games offered by the park.

Some months laterHinksey water (1), there was a flood at the playground and a part of it went underwater, however this didn’t stop the children from playing… It’s a good option when you think to yourself  “gosh, where can we go to change a bit from the usual playground down the street?”

What?  The Hinksey Park Playground

Where? Lake Street, off Abingdon Road, Oxford, OX1 4RP

How can I go there? Several busses coming from Oxford’s City Centre stop close to the park. You can also cycle there from the City Centre (Abingdon Road) or from East Oxford via Donnington Bridge (take the fabulous walk close to the Isis and then left [before the University College Boathouse], pass by the Four Pillars Hotel and here you are in front of the Hinksey Park Playground.) Continue Reading