We’re just back from a few days in France. Since we live ten minutes’ drive from the border, is is generally easy to pop over and back for groceries or for a cafe au lait and croissant on a Saturday morning. It is a perk of living in our part of Germany and the novelty has never worn off in the 17 years I have been living here.
When the border closed in mid-March, it was odd. Yes, France is a different country. Yes, borders closed all over Europe that week. But it was still just down the road, as near us as our local large town, just in the opposite direction. So our camping trip for the last few days felt all the more holiday-like because we hadn’t been over the border in over four months.
We camped outside of the small town of Seltz in Alsace. There is a small campsite with a lake, playground and cafe-bar, ideal for a couple of nights away from the hum drum of daily life. Apart from popping out for groceries, we didn’t leave the site. Our few days were spent fishing, paddling our mini canoe, chatting to our friends who had come along with us and, of course, enjoying the weather and food.
Number Three, our youngest, broke his leg recently and couldn’t really partake in much of the fun. Luckily the mini canoe, when on land, provided the perfect seating from him and his cast-bound leg. By another stroke of luck, we were gifted a book through Hachette Children’s Books. We read a lot and have a whole wall of books in our sitting room, so a book in itself is not that exciting. However, this was a book about going on holiday in France! Plus, it introduces children (and parents) to lots of simple and useful phrases and vocabulary in French.
The book, ‘Monsieur Roscoe on Holidays’ by Jim Field, follows the main character – an adorably illustrated dog named Monsieur Roscoe – as he travels about visiting various friends at various locations. From packing to goodbyes, hellos, skiing, seaside and city vocabulary, this delightful picture book covers a lot of ground.
Monsieur Roscoe even goes camping, just like us, and later to a lake. I find it is very important to pick up a few words of the local language when travelling and am passing this on to the childen. It was ideal for us to be able to learn that we were using un canoë, sleeping in une tente, wearing un t-shirt et un short or un maillot de bain, paddling in le lac and eating une glace.
Th illustrations are so colourful and lively that several children from our group and the surrounding tents came over for a look and to hear the French words. Seeing them so engaged over a new language was wonderful.
As Monsieur Roscoe says towards the end of the book “What a wonderful holiday! But now, it’s time to go home”. After three chilled out days, we dismantled la tente and packed up la voiture. We said au revoir to le lac and a bientot to our friends. But the book we’re keeping.