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Freya’s last day at nursery in Lux

As I was going through my old posts, this picture really stood out as representing the moment perfectly. It was a sad time, incredibly sad actually, and that surprised me. It was Freya’s last day at précoce, or nursery school, in our little village of Sanem. She hadn’t been going for all that long really, but she’d got into the routine and so had I. I used to pick her up at lunch time with Hamish on my back in the Bush Baby. Sometimes we’d go up to the chateau to get Lorraine and walk home together, but more often I would use the opportunity to take some pictures with my Nikon.

I was never particularly happy in Luxembourg, so it’s surprising how sad I was feeling during these last few weeks and how nostalgic I feel now looking back. I think it must be largely because I got to see so much of the kids then, although I didn’t fully appreciate that at the time. In which case I should extrapolate that forward to now, so that I do make sure I appreciate the time I have now.

The walk home from précoce was about 10 minutes and it really was a lovely wee village where we lived.

The hardest goodbye was at the forest creche. I took Freya there every afternoon and picked her up at night. It’s the one thing I miss most about Lux. Freya loved it and had a lot of friends there. It was funny to watch her playing with her friends and listen to her speaking fluent Luxembourgish. Ho hum…

Sandy and Eliane

Freya’s last day at nursery and the crèche

Walking home from précoce

It was a sad day yesterday. Freya had her last day at the précoce (nursery school) in the morning and then her last afternoon at the forest crèche. She’s been going to précoce only since September but is already a favourite of her two teachers. I haven’t really got to know them so well so it wasn’t so terribly sad for me and Freya seems quite oblivious to the emotion of it all. Well, she is only three!

The forest crèche was quite another matter though. I’ve been driving her there every day, Monday to Friday, for almost a year and a half now. When she first started going, she hadn’t started to talk yet and then I would listen to podcasts or my Robert Ludlum Bourne audiobooks. Soon she started talking and then we started listening to music in the car. I remember one of the first things was the Yellow Submarine, and she would come home and tell mummy “rine, rine” – that was all she could say to say that she’d been listening to the Yellow Submarine. It’s funny to think that she couldn’t say those words back then. Fast forward to her last day and she’s now fluent and able to express herself very well not only in English, but in Luxembourgish too.
The music grew and she soon had several playlists strung together. Then I rediscovered All Aboard, a tape that I had when I was a youngster and the Laughing Policeman soon became a firm favourite, along with the Hippopotamus song, Goodness Gracious Me, the Bee Song, Granddad, My Brother, Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf, etc. And, of course, the last week has been taken up with Christmas songs.

Forest Crèche

The forest crèche is such a wonderful concept and she has learned so much there. The building itself is right in the middle of the forest, right off the beaten track, and every day they go out into the forest, rain, hail or shine. You should see them all dressed up in their snow suits, gloves and balaclavas or their boodlebox and raincoats (boodlebox is Luxish for waterproof trousers – no doubt I’m spelling it wrongly but I really must write it down lest I forget as I’m sure I would very soon!) And in summer it’s t-shirt, had and sunscreen and off they go. She’s learned a lot of confidence by going there. I remember after her first week Lorraine telling me that they were throwing rocks off a sheer drop and laughing, but I thought she was exaggerating. She stayed with Freya for her first few weeks you see in case she got upset at being left on her own at the tender age of two. I went along with them one day, and, sure enough, the drop was as sheer as could be. They would climb trees and slide down muddy slopes on their behinds. You should see the state that their clothes got into. It must be great to be so carefree and be able to have such fun.

She’s made a lot of friends there, one of whom we’re spending the morning with on Sunday as it happens – a little boy with a Russian mother and Lux-ish father, so Mikhail is one of the few other kids there that I can actually talk to!

It was terribly difficult saying goodbye to her teachers, well, difficult for me and the teachers anyway. One of the teachers was in tears and I admit that I was having to fight them back myself (and am now, as it happens). We’re so fortunate to have got a place there and that Freya was able to go for so long. It’s such a pity that Hamish will never know such a place, but when we move we’ll have the beach and mountains on our doorstep and an au pair and mum will be home every day too, so, although it will be different for him, hopefully it will be just as good. I must say though that I’m feeling terribly sad about it, but nostalgic and happy for the memory of taking my little girl to crèche every day. Once we move I’ll be working every day and not even home for lunch so I won’t get to spend the afternoons with my little boy at home either. It’s all going to change and I know that we will all be much happier being back home and being by the sea again.

We’re lucky parents to have such great kids and their whole lives ahead of them. I can imagine now how my mum and dad must have felt when Brian and I were that age, but it’s something one can never really imagine until one becomes a parent. I’m grateful to have found out the secret of true happiness and the love of a parent. I couldn’t be without it now.


So thank you everyone at the bëschcrèche!

A good day at school

I took the camera with me today when picking Freya up from playschool. She brought out this little smiley face and handed it to me when she came out, then went on to tell me that they played at animals. I guess she had a good morning!

Freya’s first day at nursery school

Freya had her first afternoon at nursery school (called précoce in Luxembourg) on this day in 2007. Mum was worried that it wouldn’t go well and that Freya wouldn’t let her leave. She can be quite funny can our little Freya. Even though she’d been going to crèche on her own for nearly a year, she still didn’t want to go in to Little Gym on her own. But she was fine. Mum dropped her off at two and she was perfectly happy.

Freya getting her hair done ready for her first day at nursery

Hair Done

Just after lunch and getting ready to go out. It’s only a five minute walk from our flat but mum took her early so that they could go to the park first.

See you at 10 to 4 daddy

That actually takes me back as that was when I finished school too, until they changed it to a more respectable 3.30 that is.

I’m one of them now

I drove past the gathering crowd outside the school countless times, knowing that my time would come. And I was right – it did, today.

Daddy? Where are you?

She’s looking a bit bewildered, but that ain’t nothing – you should’ve seen me!

Okay, I was good. Now can we go to the park?

There’s a great little park just behind the nursery school. That’s where mummy took her before school started and was the first place she wanted to go when she came out. She had a lot of fun there.

The slidey slide


Walking home

And finally on our way home, only to get there we had to pass yet another park. Naturally, we had to play in there for a while as well.

All in all it was a fun day. She still hasn’t really told us much of what she did there. She told me that they did a puzzle after dark, whatever that might mean, and that they didn’t do any painting. I think she was rather hoping that they would, so we did some painting when we got home.

She’ll be going from now on on Monday, Tuesday and Friday mornings and I really think she’s going to get a lot out of it. I imagine her Luxembourgish will come on in leaps and bounds. It’s such a shame it isn’t French that they use at the crèche and at précoce, you know, something useful. But I guess that the language acquisition thing will be good for her regardless of whether it’s a real language or not. Not that I have any feelings about it of course!

Schoolbag Trial

This must be the schoolbag that we bought for Freya the day before in Esch. This is her getting ready to start précoce (nursery school in Luxembourg).

Freya trying on her new schoolbag.

New Schoolbag

Freya packing her new schoolbag
© Alan Campbell 2007

I got these shots today. Little did I know that my camera was set to ISO 1600. Of course, I took many more shots and they looked rubbish, but it was a good lesson to see what happens with ISO 1600 and how it affects things. I’ve been shooting in aperture priority at f/1.8 as well with the new lens to see what happens. One day my posts will be about the subject of the photos rather than the camera and settings! Needless to say I really like this and the Schoolbag 2 shots, which is why I blogged them.

Freya’s new school bag

Freya starts précoce the week after next and we got her school bag for her today. She brought it home, filled it up with her hand-knitted cakes, some socks, her slippers and some wooden sausages. These are what she wanted to bring with her for her packed lunch in town. She insisted on wearing the bag around town too, and, even though she complained after a while about the weight, she was stoical and carried it around until we got back to the car.This shot of her is quite sharp and is a good one of her first day with her new school bag I thought. Hope you enjoy it!

Oh, and today was her last session at Little Gym and it went really well. She even did a fully rolly polly completely on her own for the first time. A memorable day to be sure!