Somewhat naively, it has to be said, we assumed that French schools would not go down the Bake Sale fund-raising route. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that there is a boulangerie on every corner selling cakes that, let’s face it, we could only hope to produce in our dreams. Sadly, this is not generally the case - especially if you choose an international school for your little darling(s).
Bake Sales, are at some point in most parents lives, inevitable. And, as sure as eggs are eggs, if you don’t contribute then your children are mortified and the PTA hate you and if you do contribute then, without fail, your contribution looks like something the cat threw up. The end result is that your children are not only embarrassed by you and, in some extreme but not unheard of cases, scarred for life. In a nutshell, you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
Of course, it’s a given that your child will remind you at 8pm the evening before that you are expected to produce a tasty masterpiece for the following day. To avoid major panics we now stockpile a selection of sprinkles, marshmallows, popcorn, food colouring, cup cake cases, bars of chocolate, ribbons and sweetie bags. If it looks good the marauding groups of children assume that it tastes good too and you will avoid the shame of having to take your efforts back home with you whilst your child scowls at you (or worse, sobs) in the rear view mirror.
If you don’t have children or have passed the Evil Bake Sale point in your life then skip this blog post, open a bottle of wine and run around the garden in your undies congratulating yourself on successfully getting through this particularly stressful phase of your life.
If you would like to have a chat about the educational options available in Bordeaux for your children then please don't hesitate to drop us an email. We have considerable experience of international schools (Bordeaux International School, Montessori International School Bordeaux etc), private French schools and state schooling in Bordeaux and surrounding areas and are more than happy to share.
We also know where to source all the equipment, sprinkles and chocolate chips required for your bake sale delicacies and, if necessary, exactly where to buy (and how to "personalise") these goodies if you don't have the time, or inclination, to bake yourself! #notcheatingreally
Last weekend, the team at BordeauxLife, in a bid to ignore all things Brexit, decided to celebrate the arrival of spring in our outstandingly beautiful part of France.
A Saturday morning trip to the local market yielded new season green asparagus, locally grown and hand picked that morning. In addition to fresh eggs and baby potatoes we added a couple of barquettes of Gariguette strawberries to our baskets. An old and much loved variety, sweet and juicy with the promise of summer in each bite.
After a couple of pleasant hours in the kitchen we enjoyed the fruits of our labours under a warm Spring sun.
In an attempt to walk off Saturdays lunch, we took the dog down to our local stretch of canal for a chilly early morning walk - even after 10 years of living in this area, the stunning views never fail to give pleasure, whatever the season.
Lunch with friends at La Co(o)rniche in Pyla-sur-Mer was next on our agenda - in just over an hour the landscape changes from rolling vines to flat, never-ending horizons, impossibly tall pine trees and almost deserted white beaches.
We may continue to ignore all that is happening in Europe next weekend too!
BordeauxLife believe that this certainly a major contributing factor to the success of transferring employees around the globe.
In many international companies, relocating staff from one country to another has become common practice. The willingness to relocate is often a vehicle for employee career development and existing, proven and trusted members of staff are often preferred over the “unknown quantity” of a local new recruit. This, is especially true, when it comes to crucially important roles in executive positions and subject matter expertise.
However, international relocation does not come cheap. According to the Workforce Mobility Association, the average cost of relocating an existing employee ranges from between 20,000 euros to 90,000 euros depending on their status (ie, existing home-owner, renter, etc). With such a large investment in one member of staff, HR professionals are being put under increasing amounts of pressure to ensure that their new transferee settles in quickly and achieves optimal results during their course of their assignment.
In reality, a high percentage will not.
According to a 2014 study by INSEAD, up to 50% of all overseas transfers fail, with staff being repatriated without achieving their targets, often prior to the end of their contract. This is not a new phenomena - over the past 40 years failure rates for overseas assignments have remained largely the same.
It is likely that the relocating employee has been rigorously assessed for their skills and cultural fit to the new organisation and role, however it is less likely that the impact on the employee’s family has been assessed.
Contrary to popular belief, family does often come before work. Of all the causes of failure to successfully transfer, research shows that family related problems represent 70% of the total.
Moving overseas is a stressful and challenging experience which, in turn, can lead to culture shock, homesickness, difficulties in settling-in and, in some worst case scenarios, family division. These issues can never be completely overcome, but the impact can be significantly reduced by the introduction of a local, experienced and family-oriented relocation agency.
The key is to identify and then remove the primary pressure points associated with the move. A relocation agency can help the new hire, not only with the complexities involved in finding a new home and schooling, but with getting to know the local area and integrating into the community. They can provide support with day-to-day issues, banking, language training, insurances, car purchases and act as a ‘first friend’ to the family.
Moving to a new job, country, school and culture can be one of the most exciting, and at the same time, most difficult, things a family can do. Attention paid to the planning of the move, providing local support on the ground and being proactive in the help families receive through the first few months, vastly improves the chances of a success.
At BordeauxLife we have, collectively, over 60 years of experience in relocating internationally. We have been the trailing spouse, we have been the isolated parent, we have been the supportive friend, we have been the new international hire and we have been the HR support.
We are not a large, faceless mobility company. We put the needs of our clients and, more specifically their families, first and foremost.
Whether you are an HR executive struggling to keep up with your ever increasing workload or an individual moving to the Bordeaux area, contact us to see how we can help.
Today, at BordeauxLife, we are very much looking forward to reading a new book. We adore our adopted city and wouldn’t change a thing but we would be lying if we said that the Bordeaux weather in January and February can be somewhat challenging. Cold, wet and still dark at early o’clock - well let’s just say it isn’t Miami!
One of our favourite past-times is curling up with a good book and if that book makes us laugh, if it makes us think of long French balmy summer evenings and if it makes us feel slightly better about some of those silly mistakes we have made over the years, then all the better.
Dan Jones has hit the nail on the head. His first novel - Extracting Goats from Jean-Claude’s Kitchen - is a wonderfully entertaining look at the challenges of expat integration to life in rural France. Whether Dan is contemplating the ins and outs of septic tank management or the pitfalls of “les bises”, his book is a combination of humour, empathy and a very obvious love of french life.
Making mistakes, culturally or linguistically, is one of the pitfalls of moving to a new country (I still blush, some 10 years later, remembering my local butchers face when I resorted to mime, having temporary forgotten the words for “chicken breast”, and his cheeky response - “desolé Madame - j’ai n’en ai pas d’aussi gros”). Nice!
We’ve loved reading the extracts and can’t wait to read Dan’s book in it’s glorious entirety. If you would like to order a copy then please click on this link www.danjonesauthor.com.
Today at BordeauxLife we are doubly excited by yet another excuse to load on the calories with a Galette des Roi and the upcoming Winter Sales next week.
After a few glasses of sparkling water (dry January - please send help) we decided that we could have our cake and walk it off.
Epiphany marks the end of the Christmas season and celebrates the day that the three wise men visited the baby Jesus to give their gifts and in France this is celebrated with cake.
Each cake contains a little charm (une féve) and the person who finds it (and manages not to choke or break a tooth) gets to wear the golden crown that is sold with every cake and is king or queen for the day.
Our top choice for cake (and bread, pastries, tarts and,and, and) has to be the Boulangerie Maison Lamour on rue Juadique. They don’t just offer the traditional frangipane galette but also a pecan nut version. We may try both.
But enough about eating (for now) and on to shopping - the Winter Sales start on Wednesday 9th January.
Sale periods in France are strictly regulated by the government and only held twice a year. Sales last for six weeks and discounts increase as the period progresses.
BordeauxLife top tips
Whatever your plans are for the week - have a good one and happy bargain hunting
Here are BordeauxLife we aren't quite sure what we are more excited about - our website going live or Christmas! After much lively debate and the inevitable vin chaud - Christmas has won. So what's happening in Bordeaux and it's surrounding areas this festive season.
Bordeaux Christmas Market
31/11/18 to 31/12/18
Allees de Tourny)
Almost 130 chalets make up the largest Christmas market in the heart of Bordeaux. Celebrations, sharing, gifts, fun for children - everything comes together to make Bordeaux Christmas Market the biggest in South West France
Christmas in Arcachon.
Arcachon is seriously cute at Christmas, the town feels really festive and there are some lovely activities including an outdoor skating rink. Don’t miss Father Christmas arriving by boat. A special moment to share with young children.
A Basque Christmas (not quite as naughty as it sounds!)
The Biarritz Festival of light illuminates the whole city. All the buildings in town (Sainte-Eugenie Church, Tourist Office, Bellevue Casino) feature amazing light shows.
Head to Biarritz’s Grande Plage to admire the celesta lanterns launch - 2,500 lights lanterns to be exact.
Where-ever your are and what-ever you chose to do for Christmas - this part of the world is a truly gentle, easy going, low key, family and friend oriented place to be
Blogs At BordeauxLife
A mostly light-hearted look at life in South-West France