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Nicola Lathey’s Life Blog

Nicola Lathey’s Life Blog (33)

Communication tips and tricks, and the daily life of a Speech Therapist, Author, and Mum.

Monday, 27 March 2017 13:00

A Truffletastic Mother's Day!

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Today we had the most fantastic meal with some dear friends of ours, Pinni (Rods' school friend) and Tracey (the co-author of my book Small Talk) and their children, Minnie and Monty (7 & 4).  We went for a walk along the beach early doors and then to a truffle restaurant about 18 miles from where we live for a 7 course truffle extravaganza!  Funnily enough, truffles seem to be a theme of our friendship - on a previous holiday with Pin and Tray we went to Croatia and actually went truffle hunting with a dog and an old man.  We have also had a 7 course meal with them before which was a total disaster as horrendous hangovers kicked in and meant a range of different things for each of us; one of us could hardly stay awake, one could hardly keep it down, one had massive hangover munchies and the small plates of food were definitely not what the doctor ordered, and one spent most of the meal on the loo.    Anyway, this meal was a total truffle triumph and we all came away with big smiles on our faces.

The children.

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The mums.

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Here you go:

1.  Truffles on Toast - we tried to disguise this as cheese but no such luck as not one of the children even licked it - nor would they eat the toast that had been contaminated by disgustingness.

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2. Truffle soup - yum, with two scallops at the bottom of the cup.  Jess took a sip and spat it back into the espresso cup.  Nice one Jess.  The waitress then questioned us as to why no one else had eaten it - ummm.  Not today thanks.

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Truffle soup - disgusting!

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3. Truffle salad with truffle dressing - I think.  

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4. The Piece de resistance - Risotto with lobster bisque.  I'm afraid I'm not sure where the truffle was in that possibly becuase it was gobbled down so quickly.  Delicious.

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5. Pigeon with truffle mash.  Interesting.

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The children's meal was fish and mash.  Jess ate it and then started crying at the thought that she had just eaten a fish.  I blame my mother in law for this, an avid vegetarian and is always on about how that nice little lamb or sweet little chick will soon be on Jess' dinner plate!  Rods goes to comfort Jess; he is better at the circle of life conversation than me, although Jess challenged his claim that the death of a fish implied any kind of circle at all. I'm not sure if Rods had an answer to this.

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6. Goat's Cheese salad with grated truffle?  

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7.  Dessert - my choice was Pineapple liquer, pineapple ice cream and fresh pineapple - scrumptious!

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7.  The boys chose a grapefruit and orange tart.

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8.  Hang on a minute.  Where's the best truffle of all?  The chocolate truffle.  Nowhere to be seen...  Complete and utter truffle failure.


But in all seriousness, this was an excellent meal and I enjoyed every mouthful.


Happy Mother's Day to you all.


Nic x  


Friday, 24 March 2017 14:44


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Business as usual Chez The Latheys while we await the arrival of our Pinniger friends tonight.  Can't wait!


Wednesday, 22 March 2017 19:06

Things are on the up!

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Yes, just are we are about to leave, things are massively on the up; both in terms of Jess and her getting to grips with French and a trip 'up' Mont Blanc!

Today, with tears in my eyes, I watched our ‘French’ school girl run to her friends, calling their names and hugging them like long lost friends who’d been apart for years. I never thought this day would come because for at least the first two months of our 6 month stint in France, Jess was a girl with ‘selective mutism’ - she had barely uttered a single word in the school grounds, and we found ourselves in a meeting with her teacher talking about whether she was ‘ok’ or not. Six months later it’s a very different story. She has learnt that you can communicate with single words and a few hand gestures, that looking and smiling are enough to show that you’re trying even when you don’t understand, you can still have a good laugh with a friend by pretending to be a cat or dog and fundamentally that she has made her parents proud that they belong to her. I am honestly amazed. Yesterday she ordered her whole meal and her drink in a French restaurant. She was told by the waitress that only spaghetti bolognaise was on the children’s menu and not the spaghetti carbonarra that she had asked for, in French, and she replied, in French, saying that she liked spaghetti bolognaise just as much as spaghetti carbonarra so that’ll be fine. Heart melt. And today after more than a week away from school, as she arrived at the school gate, she ran without looking back to check whether I was watching through the school gate and spoke in French to the teacher and her friends, I knew it has probably been a very worthwhile and life changing experience for Jess and us all.

In other news, we’ve just come back from a brief trip to Wales for my lovely Aunty Jo’s 70th birthday at Caldicot Castle (because one of our ancestors, Jospeh Cobb, renovated it) and then to a fabulous skiing trip to Chamonix with some fab friends. Rods decided not to ski after realising it’d take him too much time and too much money to get good at it but Jess and I had a ball. We fell into each other too many times to count and we are both covered in bruises from head to toe but surely that’s what apres ski was designed for, to take away the pain from the day!

See you back in Blighty in a fortnight, people! x

The video shows the car trip to my aunt’s party. When we realised I had directed them to Raglan castle instead of Caldicot Castle, there was a sudden shout of “Arhhhhhhh” from my nephew which pretty much continued for the rest of the journey, much to Rods’ delight. The other clip is of our skiing trip.

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Thursday, 09 March 2017 14:30

Pizza addict

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Last night, we went had a fairly typical 'Lathey' evening. After school Jess had her French class with Jenn our American friend (and Jess’ class’ English teacher at school), so Rods and I went for a drink at Le Chic and when Jess had finsihed with Jenn, she was dropped at Le Chic, and then we went to the local Pizza Place for supper. We are locals in both the places I mentioned above - locals enough to get kissed (or hand shaken) and have very friendly “how things?” conversation.

(Saying that, kissing doesn’t mean a thing here. EVERYONE kisses everyone and anyone. Jenn said she went to a party the other day and when each person walked in they kissed every single person in the room, twice, regardless of whether they knew them or not. Jenn, who is pregnant was going up and down like a yo-yo and was very relieved not to be the 40th person in the room - yes that would have been 80 kisses. Wooah!)

Anyhow, I digress...

After our kisses at the pizza place, we sat down and I asked for 'a glass of red wine' and the owner said "is that all?  Are you ill?".  Can you believe it! You see I usually order a caraf.  He even knows what my favourite pizza is!  Neither of these things are anything to be proud of and today all I can think about is how to get a grip on a bloomin better eating plan / diet back on track...  Any tips welcome!

The pizza place is owned by Enzo's dad.  Enzo is a friend of Jess' at school and she adores him.  Have a look at the video below.  So cute.

I am also very proud of Jess who happily went to sit at the table of a local family in the pizza place becuase she really loves Maenna who is 13 who we know from bumping into her from time to time around town.  She never would have done this even a month ago - the fear that a French person *might* speak to her in French stopped her from even giving eye contact at one point and now, just as we're coming home, look at her go!  

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Thursday, 02 March 2017 18:34

Birthday Blog!

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Today it was my birthday. We’ve had a lovely day with my family including with my father in law and Kate.


7.30am - Wake up to a massive pile of cards, presents, 5 tier chocolate cake, helium balloons, kiss-a-gram and a hot bubble-filled bath!
In your dreams girl ....
Reality = 4 cards and a hand written piece of paper from Rods and Jess about a back moustache (massage)!

7.35am - Start to feel annoyed that yet again my husband has had an epic fail on the birthday card / present front. This piece of paper was obviously an afterthought. I put on a brave face for Jess who is very excited about my birthday.

7.40am - Tea in bed and an almighty apology from my husband. Things start to look up.

7.45am - Get Jess ready for school. There is a mardi gras celebration going on at school today and Jess is going as a Welsh Girl in honour of St David's Day. She looks fab - outfit is homemade of course!

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9am - Listen to my friend on Radio Gloucestershire talking about her business - Recruit For Spouses. She’s fab and she is my biggest advocate when it comes to ‘women in business’ and we love talking shop together as well as all the other gossip.

I hang out with my in-laws who arrived last night - and catch up on all the gossip from Wales.

11.30am - collect Jess form school (school’s only for 1/2 a day on Wednesday here in France). All the pupils look fab! There are often police at the school gate and rather than feeling reassured by their presence, it sometimes unnerves me - do they know something I don’t?  I suppose with a bit of a party going on at school, they want to be better safe than sorry.

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Emma, Madame Vollery, Jess' teacher, and Jess.

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11.35am - We head off to Le Chic for an aperatif. Immediate red cheek alert (my cheeks go red after the very first sip of alcohol - is this normal? I am going to end up with purple cheeks when I’m older because the capillaries in my cheeks are so over-exercised, my future as not only The Lady Who Wears Purple but The Lady Who Is Purple is a dead cert).

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12 pm - Siren for the war memorial goes off. It’s a shock when you hear it for the first time!

(see the video below)

12.15pm - Bus to the local beach restaurant for lunch. Yummy - the creme de la creme was the cafe gourmand dessert.

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Choosing tea is always tricky - pretty much all of them are yuck!  Look at the beautiful beach in the background.

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Customary food on my shelf alert!

2.30pm - A walk on the beach. We were the only ones there and it’s gorgeous.

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5pm - Le Chic for al fresco drinks in the beautiful, beautiful sunshine.

7pm - Home for cheese and baguettes.

12 am - Listening to the bells in La Garde. Have I told you about this? The bells chime all day and all night every day and every night - not only once but twice, one minute apart, so that’s a whole 24 chimes at noon and another 24 rings at midnight. Whenever we first arrive here, I always find it quite difficult to sleep through the bells. Now I barely notice it.


And so to bed....and that’s it for another year! Night night all x

Sunday, 19 February 2017 11:39

Dangerous Driving on the Coast of Lake Como

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I've woken up to tea in bed (I'm hoping that breakfast will follow shortly). The reason... after a completely wonderful week in Italy, I had a terrible journey home to France - I had a serous bout of car sickness and ended up throwing up into a bag which had holes in it (of which I was not aware!), and therefore needed a change of clothes and a plastic lining for my sick-covered car seat. And to top it all off I then had to listen to a conversation between Rods and Jess about how much they'd pay each other to eat it! Yes. This is my life!

Anyhow, we're back. We still have another week for half term and we're going to do some nice day trips. And after what's apparently been the coldest winter for years, it's hotting up here nicely so we might even try and get our surf board out later for a stoll on the beach.

Lake Como

Wowsers - to say it's beautiful is a serious understatement. It's completely and utterly beautiful! (Really need to expand my vocabulary). Snow-topped mountains, sheer cliffs made by gullying erosion from spring waters and ephemeral streams with alluvial fans down below (thanks Barney who helped resolve a dispute about whether the creases in the moutains were caused by an extinct volcano or not); colourful houses balancing on the cliff by a whisker, and a brilliant blue lake with sea planes landing and taking off intermittently throughout the day. I presume the airplanes are tourist trips because they go quite close to the cliffs - my idea of hell.

We didn't do an awful lot while we were there. We enjoyed sitting on the balcony or in the flat overlooking the lake. We watched an array of films:

Little Miss Sunshine
Life of Pi
Charlie and The Chocolate Factory x 3
100 Feet Away
Happy Feet
The Imitation Game

We went to Switzerland to build a snowman, lots of eating out and playing games - no wifi! - feeding the ducks and swans, scootering around our little complex, and a couple of picnics. Here are a few pictures so you can get the gist:

One of the highlights has to be the driving.  The scenery is breath-taking, but honestly, to return unscathed considering the narrow streets, vespa extravaganza and 100mph convertible cars is nothing short of a miracle!

Sending love to you all,

Nic x


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We met up with old (and new) friends in Lake Como.  The most gorgeous Christina Bassi and her family.  Elisa, 3rd from left, will spend 6 weeks with us in Cheltenham in the summer.

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Jess at sunset.

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A pint for Jess and for Doggy - someone is about to steal Jess'.


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After a few drinks whilst watching the rugby, we end up in a Cordon Bleu restaurant - not what the doctor ordered! 

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Movie night every night! 

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Snowman in Switzerland

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Games on the balcony.

Vespa fiesta!





Our lovely friends Sal and Ferg came to La Garde for the weekend and brought Storm Doris with them - to say it was a wet and windy weekend was an understatement!  In fact Sal had a very close encouter with a plastic bin that blew narrowly past her head and smashed into smithereens on her leg.  My scream, as the bystander, was enough for our neighbours to poke thier heads out of their windows and have a look at the commotion.

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I've put a few pictures together: our windy trip to the beach, me pretending to eat snails, Jess unimpressed by the 'child-sized' portion of lasagne, burgers at the local Veggyvan, watching the rugger and a windy wander around Nice.  You'll see the very poignant memorial to the 87 people who died on Bastille Day last summer when a 30 something year old man of Tunisian origin, who had lived in Nice since 2003, drove a hired lorry into the celebrating crowds.  There is still a very heavy police / army presence in Nice which is comforting and scary, especially to a 6 year old who can't understand how these horrors can happen - neither can a 40 year old, saying that..

Much love to you all. Nic x

Wednesday, 01 February 2017 08:06

Am I a failure?

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Am I a failure?

This was the question my little 6 yo daughter asked to her dad last week. He tells me it was a passing comment but I have taken this seriously and literally, I am utterly speechless, horrified.

We are a fairly upbeat sort of lot who tend not to take life too seriously. We certainly don’t bash the word ‘failure’ about and I don’t even think our behaviour or emotions shout the word ‘failure’.

This stemmed predominantly from the fact that Jess is finding division (maths) difficult and she keeps getting these silly little stamp faces in her book with a straight mouth rather than a smiley mouth. She is desperate for the smiles although there is no reward for effort - perhaps I should be teaching her reliance (excuse the buzz word). But furthermore, she is still finding French a massive challenge, which doesn't help her learn maths concepts, although, to be fair, this is improving day by day. It's certainly a lot easier now that she isn't completely out of her comfort zone in a French speaking school.

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I’m actually furious and I can assure you that operation ‘confidence boost’ has begun, starting with us bigging her up last weekend and two internet searches this morning: 1. How do you build confidence in children? and 2. How long does it take English children to learn to speak French?

Answer to question 1:

1. Practise Attachment Parenting.
2. Improve Your Own Self-Confidence. ...
3. Be a Positive Mirror. ...
4. Raise a Confident Child by Playing Together. ...
5. Address Your Child by Name. ...
6. Practise the Carry-Over Principle. ...
7. Set Your Child Up to Succeed.
8. Encourage your child to be home-wise before street-smart
9. Raise a confident child by losing labels
10. Monitor school influences on your child
11. Give your child responsibilities
12. Encourage children to express their feelings

Answer to question 2:

6 to 18 months! Yikes.

Hope you're all having a wonderfully successful day, particularly those who struggle to get out of bed and those who have managed to go for a jog for the first time in ages!  

Nic x


Thursday, 19 January 2017 19:45

You know you're a local when this happens...

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You know when you've been accepted by the locals when this happens... 


But on a more serious note, we were talking about how our 'circle of friends' is increasing slowly and, during that conversation, Jess and I drew our own 'circle of friends' diagram, showing all the people we know in France.  We use this tool for Speech and Language Therapy when we talk about the kind of social interaction we have with each tier and the social skills we employ within each.  The funny thing about our grid (apart from some of the unlikely names that Jess mentioned from seeing them continuously on BBC World Service) is that we hardly know any of our friends' names. We're working on it!  Nic x 

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Wednesday, 18 January 2017 11:59

Man Buys Bread

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'Man Buys Bread' - We used to joke about this in Blighty as this was about the most exciting story that our local paper could manage, but here in France, especially in 157 Rue Doumet (our address), this is big news - ‘Which bread do you buy today?’

I know I’m lucky that such a mundane thing as choosing bread is worthy of writing about, but this is a geniune dilemma I face each day. I walk into the boulangerie and this is what I see - 11 varieties of baguette!

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Only one is named ‘baguette’, and since we arrived, we have tried every single one of these loaves - we have bread for breakfast and lunch, and in all honesty, I am stumped to find the difference between them. I tend to choose by the colour, I prefer the paler ones, or whether I fancy a crunch lunch or not. Some are a little airier, I think, and some are pointier at the end. In my opinion, they all taste pretty much the same (I’m obviously not a connoisseur). I did once ask the boulanger ‘qu'est-ce que c'est le difference?’ and had a very elaborate answer of which I understood the word ‘pain’ and ‘baguette’, ‘grand’ and ‘petit’. That’s about it. Anyone else know? And does anyone have any innovative ideas about what to do with the runt of the baguette that is always left over, every single day. Merci.

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