Taking those first steps… Flirting across cultures

Gregre couple BLOG(3)  (Version française ici, merci)

I can see you smiling whilst reading this title, dear readers! We all know that every love story has its charming (and often very funny) moments. Especially when one of the individuals concerned doesn’t understand that they’re being courted.
I can’t resist humming for you a German song about a French girl “Aurélie so klappt das nie”  (2004, Wir sind Helden).
Here are some bits in English:

(…) But Aurélie never gets it
Every night she wonders
when someone will fall in love with her.

Aurélie, it’s never going to work like that
You expect far too much
The Germans are such subtle flirts!

Aurélie, the men here really like you.
Look down the street – They’re all looking up at you
But you don’t notice because they ‘re not whistling
and if you whistle at them they run away
You gotta learn that around here, less is more. (…)

For my book project Bilingual Families: Bringing Up Children between Cultures (learn more here), I couldn’t resist asking parents about how they first met and how they managed the first few steps in their initial courtship. There were some lovely stories, particularly those which provided insight into the different cultural expectations and habits of each person.

Let’s look at Elise and Manuel’s story first, then Anne and Shaief’s, before turning finally to Suay and James.

Elise and Manuel: a French-Colombian couple

Elise “I remember how we met, here in Oxford, in a school for students who wanted to improve their English. I was astonished because you came closer, and closer, and closer – I had to step back, you were almost stuck on me. I kept stepping back while you kept talking and coming closer.” (she laughs)

Manuel “Yes, that’s right but totally normal for me. In Colombia, when we talk to women we get closer, there’s a natural proximity.”

Continue Reading


Ces premiers pas… la séduction au-delà des cultures

(English version here, please)

Gregre couple BLOG(3)Je vous vois déjà sourire chers lecteurs, en découvrant ce titre. Nous le savons tous, chaque début d’histoire d’amour a ses instants plein de charme et des côtés amusants aussi. Surtout quand l’un des deux ne comprend pas que l’autre essaie de le séduire. Je ne peux pas m’empécher de vous fredonner une chanson allemande que vous connaissez peut-être, puisqu’elle a été traduite et chanté en français. Le titre original est « Aurélie so klappt das nie » (Wir sind Helden, 2004), en français on parle de “Aurélie, c’est pas Paris”.

(…) Ach Aurélie – kapiert das nie
Chaque soir la même question
Quand m’aimera enfin un garçon

Aurélie, c’est pas Paris
Tu demandes trop aux Allemands
Les Berlinois flirtent subtilement

Aurélie, mais oui tu plais aux hommes d’ici
Ouvre les yeux et vois ce regard qui te suit
S’il ne te siffle pas, tu ne le vois pas
Tu fais le premier pas, et il s’en va
Mais sache qu’ici un non peut bien dire oui (…)

Pour mon projet de publication Familles Bilingues, la parentalité entre les cultures (plus d’informations ici), j’ai voulu en savoir plus sur les couples que j’interviewais. Je leur ai demandé de me parler de leur histoire d’amour, comment tout avait commencé, les premiers pas…Gregre couple BLOG(2)
Ainsi, de merveilleuses histoires m’ont été narré, dont certaines dévoilent ô combien en matière d’amour les attentes et les coutumes sont différentes de pays en pays.

Découvrez l’histoire d’Elise et Manuel, ensuite celle d’Anne et Shaief, avant de terminer sur celle de Suay et James.

Elise et Manuel, un couple Franco-Colombien

Elise “Je me rappelle de notre rencontre dans une école linguistique à Oxford où nous étions avec d’autres étudiants pour faire progresser notre anglais. J’ai dû reculer tellement tu m’as collé ; on discutait pour se présenter et tu étais de plus en plus près et je reculais, reculais, reculais… ” (elle rigole)

Manuel « Ben oui, rien de bien étrange pour moi. En Colombie, avec les femmes il y a une proximité quand on leur parle, c’est tout á fait normal. »

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Looking for Bicultural Families!

Gregre lunettes BLOGThe end of April 2014 found me starting the writing project for my book Bringing Up Children between Cultures. The main idea behind the book is to interview bi-cultural couples in Oxfordshire about their day-to-day experiences. This involves couples in which both partners come from different countries, speak different languages, and have different traditions, habits and therefore different parenting styles.
Through anecdotes, stories and their own personal perspectives, these couples will illustrate how enriching and sometimes challenging parenting can be between different cultures.

In now close to one year I have interviewed twenty couples and single parents: French-Colombian, German-Irish, English-Thai… parents shared with me their experiences as couples and parents. We talk about subjects like communication in two (or more) languages, couple life between different cultures, expecting a child and children’s upbringing, bilingualism and how to transmit values from another country…

Would you like to join in this exciting book-project? I can’t wait hearing from you!

Bring some Journl in your life!

Journl Blog2Pictures on our phone, some documents in our Dropbox, others on our hard disc, a to-do list in the pocket another one in the kitchen… we are struggling every day to remember where we put our stuff” tells Lina smiling, she is chief marketing officer at Journl. Based at the Centre for Innovation in Oxford the twelve people team is passionate about the idea to develop a virtual place where you can put your notes down in notebooks, store photos, documents and bills, collect emails, create to-do lists, check shopping-lists or other kinds of lists… Together they animate Journl, a service to help you get better organized! “It’s particularly useful for families who have lots of things to plan ahead for, for the Journl Blog3parents as well as for their children. You might have a big wall calendar in the kitchen but as soon as you are out of the house, you can’t access the information, emphasizes Lina; and you would probably agree, organisation is not just about using a calendar. Journl offers among other things different tools like shopping, money and to-do lists…” As a matter of fact you can also store and collect as much documents as you want in different sections. “A clear design, easy of use tools, a well organised front page where I can put my own sections like Family, Me, Projects… it’s very appealing, tells Dana, mother of two and self-employed. My favourite tool at Journl is the check-list where you can really tick off and see all the done work.”Journl Blog5
Currently Journl is available to one user who has the option to share a section for example with a partner, or a group of friends. This can be very useful when you plan holidays together! Concerned about security? Continue Reading

Starting signal for the Bicultural Families Book

The end of April 2014 found me starting the writing project for my book
Bringing Up Children between Cultures.
The main idea behind my book is to interview bi-cultural couples in Oxfordshire
about their day-to-day experiences. This involves couples in which both partners
come from different countries, speak different languages,
and have different traditions, habits and therefore d
ifferent parenting styles.
Through anecdotes, stories and their own personal perspectives,
these couples will illustrate how enriching and sometimes challenging
parenting can be between different cultures.


TOP2 LinkedIn

Fin avril a commencé l’aventure du livre
“Familles bilingues  : la parentalité entre les cultures”.

L’idée est d’interviewer des couples vivant dans le comté d’Oxford
sur leur expérience quotidienne avec deux ou plusieurs cultures,
langues, traditions, habitudes et styles d’éducation…

A travers des anecdotes, des récits et
des analyses personnelles, ils mettent en avant combien il est enrichissant
mais aussi délicat d’être parents entre plusieurs pays.
(lisez la suite en français en bas, merci)

For today, here is an exclusive extract from the interview of a franco-colombian couple, Elise and Manuel (pseudonyms), parents of a nine months baby. During the interview we tackled the issue of being pregnant in Britain. They shared how challenging it was for them to bridge the gap between their cultural expectations and those of their host country. Continue Reading

Nick Cope on OxFrogNews

When you see him walking in East Oxford with his dog Norman, green wellies, relaxed, smiling, probably daydreaming –you may not believe it, but he is the star of many Oxfordian children and their parents. “As I lie here in my bed, I should be sleeping bit instead…” is one of our favourites at home, closely followed by “Let’s take a walk…” and we love singing them in the kitchen at the top of our voice whilst trying to prepare diner.

  • If you don’t know Nick yet, I would really recommend that you join one of his sessions which are all over Oxford and beyond. His music captivates the whole family!
  • If you know Nick already, I am sure that you will be delighted to discover a little more who this is behind trendy glasses and the guitar. Enjoy this little chat we had around tea and sparkling water.

Nick, let us make a time travel and take us with you back to your childhood: singer, book, toy – what were your number ones?Nick enfants orig
Mhhhh (he smiles and looks like when he’s singing with the children) give me some seconds to remember. My very, very first musician was… Mary Hopkins, a folk singer – she is stuck in my mind I think because Mum and Dad had an autograph from her, she sang the famous “Those were the days” Knowing that will reveal my age… (he grins).
My favourite toy, this is easy, going back to the late 60s, it’s a little figure, an astronaut called Billy Blastoff.
And then, a book read by my parents… let me think, not to confuse with the books I have read to my children… Ah yes, my favourite book was Harry the dirty dog (Gene Zion)!

When did you discover the guitar?
I was about 13! cd_aw.qxdWe did the recorder at school and my sister was learning the guitar from a little old lady in our village. I just couldn’t figure out, how that could possibly work when you have 8 notes but only 6 strings… I was baffled and wanted to work it out. I took some lessons with the little old lady and later started in a band, when I was about 14. Later on, I was 15 or so, we played on Saturday evenings at “The Oranges and Lemons” which was a very famous Punk Rock pub at that time (today “The Angel and Greyhound”).

As a child did you know that you will become a singer?
I guess that I was sure to do something creative, because that’s what my parents used to do. I think you often follow your parents’ footsteps. And to be in an artistic family helps when you have projects like that – you find it easier to believe in yourself. Continue Reading

Wonder Walk through Oxford

Wonder Walk mapAnd now close your eyes, turn around yourself, anticlockwise…” if you see a group close to St Mary’s Church or on Christchurch Meadow reacting upon these instructions, don’t be worried, they are simply on a Wonder Walk!
The Story Museum located in the heart of Oxford just re-launched their Wonder Walks for families (and grown-ups who like stories). A rather unusual activity which guarantees a lot of fun, laughs and unexpected details about Oxford and those places where fantasy stories originated. It would be a shame to reveal all the stories now, but let me just say that I learned new things about sweet Alice, the daughter of the Dean of Christ Church in the 1850s… but pssst, you should discover the other details by yourself 🙂 Your “Wonder-Tourguides” will protect you from dragons and safely lead you through the different universes with humour, creativity and pizzazz!

What is the Wonder Walk? Wonder Walk JaneDo you like stories, fantasy, time travelling, imagination, fancy dressing? Than you will be happy to join this family friendly walkabout through some of Oxford’s beautiful sights which you may not know under the “storytelling” perspective. Equipped with a storytelling map, you explore some of the backgrounds of well-known stories such as Alice in Wonderland or CS. Lewis’ Narnia. At every place you will receive a sticker for your map (great souvenir for the children!). And don’t forget, watch the dragons and follow “P-Body” the flamingo…

It’s for families, but which age is the best? I would recommend Continue Reading

NCT on your doorstep in Oxfordshire

NCT Skin to SkinDuring the last 70 years the world around birth has definitely changed: mothers are encouraged to eat and drink during labour, fathers are allowed and even expected to attend the birth, mothers can breastfeed confidently in public, parents are advised to choose their birthplace carefully…
Thanks also to the campaigns, contri-butions and engagements by the National Childbirth Trust, better known under the name NCT, these facts are now established. Set up 1957, the charity counts today 5,000 volunteers and more than 100,000 members in 320 local branches.

NCT’s main idea: Support for new parents on your doorstep for the first 1,000 days – which means from conception to the second birthday of your child.

What does NCT offer in Oxford? Different courses and activities are set up by the local branch: ante-and postnatal courses, a group about home birth support, Baby cafés (Breastfeeding support), First Aid courses, Bumps & Babies group, Speed Bump and Coffee groups. NCT Oxford offers also a hire service for Valley Cushions (to help mothers who have difficulties to sit after giving birth).

NCT Mum+BabyWhat are Bumps & Babies, Speed Bumps and Coffee Morning groups? One of the main aims of NCT is to offer places where parents-to-be and young parents can meet one another. There is nothing worse than to stay alone with this new and often overwhelming experience of expecting or having a baby.

  • Coffee Mornings come off twice a month at a volunteer’s home. It’s a friendly and informal meeting between parents! Drop in whenever you can make it with your baby from 10am to noon. Need to talk about bad nights, want to have some good advice about weaning or just happy to have a chat with other parents – this is the right place to be! There’re two Coffee Morning Groups in Oxford: one South/East Oxford, another in West Oxford.
    Contact: secoffe.oxford@nct.org.uk (Sarah)
  • Bumps & Babies takes place every Tuesday from 10.30am until noon at Wesley Memorial Church (New Inn Hall Street – OX1 2DH). Pregnant or with a tiny one (up to walking age), you are more than welcome! In a pleasant atmosphere there’re some toys for the babies and refreshments for the adults!
    Contact: bumpsandbabies.oxford@nct.org.uk (Hannah)
  • Speed Bumps is a social event for parents-to-be, in the spirit of “speed dating” but simply for couples who are expecting a baby. Keep your eyes and ears open, the local NCT Team do their best to set up the next one in the summer of this year!
    Contact: secretary.oxford@nct.org.uk (Sarah)

Do I need to have a membership?  Continue Reading