questions from Hutchesons’ #1

This post is specifically for pupils in 1F1 at Hutchesons’ in Glasgow, to answer some of their questions about life in France. But if you’re just here for a nosey, that’s okay too.

  1. What do you do during the lunch hour? (Katie) – The lunch breaks in France are two hours long and so sometimes it can feel like a bit of a task to fill the time, especially if you have no pressing lesson planning to do! I’m only in school for lunch on two of the four days I work, and usually I will eat lunch in the staff room and take a book to read if there’s no lessons for me to plan.
  2. What years do you teach? (Alison) –  I teach all the way through from the equivalent of P1 to P7 in each of my three schools, which makes for an interesting job!
  3. What is lunch like at the school? (Saffiyrah) – I’m not sure what school lunches are like because I always take a packed lunch, but lunchtime itself is always nice as it gives you a chance to rest before your afternoon classes! It’s usually a good opportunity for me to improve my French as well, as I speak mainly in English in class.
  4. What subjects are popular with the younger pupils? (Adityah) – I’m actually not sure, because I’m only in each class for their English lessons, but I know that a lot of the pupils really like English! They find it difficult but it’s also exciting for them to have a visitor from a strange land in their class and I think that’s a good motivator for them to learn. They’re always full of questions!
  5. How many classes do you take? (Aubrey) – I have 13 different classes, three of which I see twice a week. That’s a lot of faces and names to remember!
  6. How many hours are there in a school day? (Rhona) – In a primary school, the school day usually goes from 8.30am to 3.45pm, apart from on a Wednesday when school ends at 11.30am. In a high school, lessons can take place any time between 8am and 6pm.
  7. What’s your favourite part of the school day? (Abbi) – I think my favourite part of any school day has got to be hearing the kids repeat after me, in a French/Scottish accent! Makes me laugh to think that there are lots of wee French people running about with a Scottish accent every time they speak English!
  8. What are the differences between Scottish and French lessons? (Amna) – I can only really speak from my own experience of teaching here as I’m not in class for any lessons bar my own, but there are a couple of main differences when learning a language at primary school in France. For example, they start learning English at a very young age – I have a friend here who is an English assistant in a nursery – whereas I started learning French in P6 back home. Also, the speaking and writing aspects are very different. At home we are always expected to be able to write and speak at the same level when it comes to learning another language, but here there is a lot more emphasis on oral work and hearing how the language sounds before writing it down and learning the grammar.
  9. How tired are you at the end of the day? – Usually quite tired! It might seem like teaching is an easy job, but trust me, it’s not! All good fun, but very tiring!
  10. How many pupils are usually in class? (Maryam) – Class sizes are similar to back home, usually up to 25 in a class.
  11. What has been your favourite part of the experience so far? (Jessica) – We did a Q&A in class a few weeks ago, and this tiny voice piped up with “madame, avez-vous les tables en Ecosse?”… I’ll let you translate that one, but it was hilarious!
  12. How much homework is given? (Sara) – In my classes, I tend not to give homework, but if I do it is only minimal! I’m not sure how much homework is given otherwise but I can try and find out if that’s something that you want to know!

Thank you to 1F1 for all their questions! Feel free to comment below if there’s anything else you’d like to know!


(one of my CM2/P7 classes)


paris is always a good idea

In the eight weeks I’ve been here, I’ve been to the capital twice. It’s not exactly on my doorstep, but at an hour and a bit’s train journey away, what’s a girl to do?

The first time I went to Paris was with some of my fellow ELAs from Amiens, and my friend Amy who is also an ELA in Rennes. We were only there for the day, so we had a lot to squeeze in! We had to figure out how to use the Metro in Paris for a start – it’s not just a wee clockwork orange like the Subway back home! We visited the Musee d’Orsay and got to some Van Gogh paintings, which was my highlight of the day. After that we went to Montmartre to see the Sacre Coeur, a beautiful big basilica which overlooks the whole of Paris. Then it was Eiffel Tower time, and time for lots of cheesy touristy photos (see below). After that, Pizza Hut – stick with what you know, right? I was only slightly overjoyed to have my favourite Hawaiian pizza, as that doesn’t seem to exist here. It’s the little things…


We had a great day in Paris and so when my friend Ginger from Seattle told me she was planning on stopping in Paris on her way to Berlin, how could I resist?

We both got into Gare du Nord mid-afternoon, and from there we went straight to check in at our hostel. After checking in and having a good old natter, we started our wee adventure. We went to see the Eiffel Tower, l’Arc de Triomphe, and the Sacre Coeur as it got dark, and then found the cutest wee pizza place for dinner! We also got to go and see the Moulin Rouge in all its lit up glory before heading back to the hostel, which was amazing!

On Sunday morning we were up bright and early for breakfast before setting off. Our first stop was the catacombs, which although had a two hour long queue was well worth the wait! That took up most of our day, but we managed to get back to Montmartre for one last crepe and some postcard shopping before I had to go and catch my train back to Amiens.


Paris is such a big city and there’s so much I still have to see and do, so I’ll definitely be back! Next weekend, in fact, when my grandparents come to visit… I just can’t keep myself away!


À bientôt!


Gemma, Turnip and Honey


questions from Callander #1

This is a post especially for Callander Primary School pupils, where I’ll be answering their questions!

  1. What school are you in? (Ruaraidh) –  I’m not sure if I can name them for security reasons, but I teach 5-11 year olds in three different primary schools in the subrubs of Amiens.
  2. Can you get haggis? (Aaron) – Aaron, afraid not! You do get some weird and wonderful food and drink in France, but haggis isn’t something that they do here. Neither is Irn Bru! My mum had to send me some in the post!
  3. Do you get kilts? (Ellie) – Nope, they don’t have kilts here either. The children in my schools all found kilts a funny concept!
  4.  Is there a beach? (JJ) – There’s not a beach here, but there are beaches a couple of hours away on the north coast in places like Deauville and Dunkirk. We visited Deauville when I first got here so I’ll put a picture at the bottom for you to see 🙂
  5. Is there a shop near you? (Jesse) – Yes, there are a few boulangeries and wee shops near me. I live only 20 minutes from the centre of town, so I’m pretty close to everything I would need!
  6. Have you had snails? (Ruaraidh) – Not yet, but it’s on my list of things to try!
  7. have you had frog legs? (Oliver) – The same as snails! Not yeat, but I’d like to try them before I leave!
  8. Can you try not to go to a amount of shops in a day? (Kayley) – Actaully, most shops are shut on Sundays apart from a couple of small supermarkets, so no-one really can shop on a Sunday!
  9. Are you going to go to Paris and see the Eiffel Tower? (Harris) – Yes! The school holidays have just started here and I’m off for the next two weeks, and in fact I’m going to Paris tomorrow! I’ll make sure to take lots of pictures so you can see them!


(the beach and boardwalk in Deauville)

back in the land of the living, or something like that

Hello everyone!

Firstly I’d like to make a wee apology. It’s taken me a wee bit longer to adjust to being here than I had expected, and so I’ve not much been in the mood for blogging. But don’t worry, we’re back now!

Okay, so – where have we been?

I’ve spent the past month getting settled into a tiny room (blog post on that on the way), filling out a lot of paperwork and finding our way around the city. Amiens itself is quite small, a bit bigger than Stirling maybe, but it’s still easy to get lost! I’m getting used to it now though, which is good. I started work last week too, and that has been great so far. I’m in three different schools and as such have managed to become a master of the bus system here!

I’m planning lots of different blog posts on different topics – the school system and how it works, things to do in Amiens etc – but for now I just wanted to let you know that we’re back in the land of the living, or something like that.

À bientôt!

Gemma, Turnip and Honey



(we’re still here, honest!)

how many pairs of pants do you need for eight months?

The last time I wrote, I said that time was “flying away”. I wasn’t wrong. This time two weeks from now, I will have just landed in Paris and will be ready to start the big adventure. But until then, I have lots to do!

Firstly, I’m meeting my link schools this week to have a wee chat about what we want to get out of LLGT. I’m looking forward to hearing from the pupils and teachers at both schools, and discussing any ideas they have for the year. I also have a lot of boring (and important) adult stuff to do, like arranging to get copies of my birth certificate and sorting out insurance, which isn’t so fun. I’m starting to think about packing too, which has lead me to ponder some of the following:

  • how many pairs of pants do you need for eight months?
  • will I need to bring suncream?
  • what if I need that one pair of ridiculous shoes that I’ve never worn?
  • can I bring my dog? please?

Okay, so I’m not sure how many pairs of pants I will need for eight months away, but there are washing machines/shops in France so minimal packing mode has been officially activated. My friends Lizzie and Tristan moved to Amsterdam last week (I am so proud of them) and managed to fit most of their lives into a couple of rucksacks. I was super impressed by this, but anyone who knows me will also know that I won’t be able to do that. Too much stuff!! The suncream thing was a genuine worry. I assumed that the north of France would be just as cold and rainy as Scotland usually* is, but when I checked the weather in Amiens this week, it read as a ridiculous 28 degrees. For someone as peelywally as me, that’s enough for a good dose of sunburn. I was at a music festival a couple of weeks ago near Dumfries in the south of Scotland, and got very sunburnt – it doesn’t take much! But, again, I am moving to mainland France; not a desert island with nothing or no-one around. If I need suncream, I can get it there! That ridiculous pair of shoes can stay at home. And my dog… Well, we’ll see about that.

*I say usually with good reason. My family and I visited the Isle of Bute this weekend, and the weather was amazing! Another thing I’m looking forward to teaching my class(es) about when I get there is the weather in Scotland. It’s not always wet and windy!!

After my visits to my link schools and finally starting to pack, I’ll update the blog and let you know how I get on. Who knows, maybe I’ll solve the unanswerable question: how many pairs of pants do you need for eight months?

À bientôt!

Gemma, Turnip and Honey


( top left and right = Lizzie and Tristan with their rucksacks / centre left = the weather in Amiens this week / centre right =my best pal Ciaran and I pre-sunburn in a tent near Dumfries / bottom image = the weather in Bute yesterday. amazing! )

the recap: “wait… where are we going again?”

In just over 4 weeks time, we’ll be beginning our adventure to Amiens, which is both exciting and terrifying! Below is a map showing how we’ll get there:


The purple line shows our journey. First, we’ll fly from Glasgow to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, which should only take a couple of hours. Then, after collecting our luggage, my mum will be bravely driving us up the A16 (which is a French motorway) to Amiens, which should only take around an hour. Funny to think how we’ll be there in such a short space of time. Speaking of which, I am finding that time is flying away already! The countdown is on, and there is so much that needs to be done before I leave! I have a to-do list as long as my living room, and probably more things to add to that as I go along! I’m not sure what I’ll pack yet, or how I am supposed to fit my life into two suitcases… Any ideas?

Amiens itself is somewhere totally new to me, and so I am very excited to explore the city and see what I can find. Apparently there are lots of old churches and cathedrals, as well as a canal system and, amongst other things, a zoo. The zoo is also quite close to my school, so who knows, I may be taking my lunch breaks with the sea lions! Below are some pictures I have found of Amiens on the internet. In 4 weeks time, I will be able to take my own photos of this lovely city!

This is the first of many blog posts, so keep your eyes peeled for more to come. You can also follow us on Instagram at . There you’ll be able to see what we’re getting up to inbetween blog posts!

À bientôt!

Gemma, Turnip and Honey