Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Winding Down


It has been a pretty full-on year. Come to think of it, it has been a pretty full-on decade. Of course on the paper I am British now, but every morning I flick through the French press. I am probably better informed than when I was living in Paris. You can take the girl out of France, but not France out of the girl, right? We settled down in London, bought a house, renovated it, had a baby, struggled with the British educative system, set up a business, and so on, and so forth. Oh, and as you may know I write a blog too...

Monday, 28 July 2014

Monday Morning

Trafalgar Square at 6.15am


In France, in Great Britain or anywhere else, there is nothing worse than a bad Monday morning. Mine was no exception.
It was all about work today -don't ask...-. I had booked a car to pick me up from home, and drive me to the airport at 6am -which means that I had to get up at a ridiculously early time. Not nice. Not to mention that I am not a morning person...

It soon was 6am, but no car had arrived. I had to call the company to find out that the mini-cab had been delayed/canceled/whatever excuse they could make up to hide the fact that they too were probably having a tough Monday morning. Undeterred, I managed to hail a black cab on the street. I even made it on time to the airport. It was actually quite nice to see London waking up, even if I wasn't completely awake...

Once security was cleared, I waited for my flight's gate. All other flights already had a gate, but not mine. Sigh. Some things never change. 

Friday, 25 July 2014

Back To My Former Self?



What a week! It was hectic, and I barely had a minute to myself. Except today. It was nothing short of a miracle: I had the whole day without anything planned, which hadn't happened for a very long time. Because usually, between work and family duties, I have to be on the ball. Always. It just never stops.


Monday, 21 July 2014

Mistral



The day had started so well. I had reached City airport on time to catch my flight to Toulon. I had cleared security reasonably fast despite the fact that it was a busy day. The flight was full of pale English men and women in desperate need of some some sun. I was of course no exception: my own daughter called me Snow White the other day. So much for living in London.
Once onboard, the captain mentioned something about strong winds in the South of France. Ah, the good old mistral, the dry, northerly wind of my childhood...I remember smiling. Silly me.

The flight was fine. I started reading, and I barely noticed that a middle-aged couple was sitting next to me. Soon enough, I could see the Mediterranean through the window. We were told to prepare for landing.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Gearing Up For The Summer Holidays



It is this time of the year. Some mums have it all planned out. Well, I haven't. This means that I am running around like a headless chicken. As an example, my little one insisted on getting a bikini. What can I say? She must be British. When I was her age (she is 9), I was never, ever wearing the top half of a bikini. To be frank, on French beaches, nobody was wearing a bra. Not even adult women. But she absolutely wanted one. I am ashamed to say that I gave in. I feel slightly cheated because she has absolutely nothing to cover, but hey, I have to go with the flow.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Happy Bastille Day!

Monet Montorgueil

Today is Bastille day, aka French National day. Obviously everybody has to work this side of the Channel, but that's not the case in France. In my home country there was a huge military parade on the Champs Elysees, and everybody was watching it, just like any other 14th of July. If I were in France, I would probably be at the village ball by now, dancing the night away. I always thought that the 14th of July was the real start of the summer holidays. Ah, memories...

But no, instead, I spent the day working, like any other day. I couldn't go out in the evening because I hadn't booked a babysitter. Maybe I should have. Going out when you have kids is a bit like planning an expedition : you have to do it a lot in advance, and I couldn't be bothered. In short, it was just a regular day. Nothing more, nothing less.

Does it mean that I have become British? Well, I wouldn't be so sure. I am starting to miss the Mediterranean like mad. It's something about the light and the cicadas, and I badly need it right now. And for some reason, I remain the French expert. I often get questions about 'the French' -if there is such a thing!-. A friend of mine called me today: she was all excited because after a few days her brand new French boyfriend had told her that he loved her. I had to explain that he doesn't really mean it. He just means that he kind of likes her. I was as diplomatic as I could, but I think that she couldn't help being a bit disappointed. She thought that he was going to ask her to marry him soon. Well, the average French guy probably says 'Je t'aime' more than the number of times he brushes his teeth -and French guys usually have good teeth. So much for cultural differences. Or maybe I have just become too cynical. That's just me, I suppose. I hope I didn't ruin her day. I might have, actually. I will never get it right. Sigh. So much for trying to help. 

On this note, I hope that you enjoyed Bastille day! And I will go to sleep listening for French music to put me in the right mood!



Thursday, 10 July 2014

How Far Would You Go To Make Your Life More Beautiful?


Armenian Church In London

It is the small things that matter, right? Let me explain. When I take the Tube, I can walk to the station along the High Street, but I tend to find it a bit boring, and also noisy, if you must know. I prefer to take what I call the 'quiet route'. I stroll along lovely Victorian houses and lush trees, then I take a left and admire one of the few Armenian churches in London. Of course, the quiet route is a bit longer, but it always makes me feel happier. Always.

It got me thinking: what would you do to make your life more beautiful? How far would you go? 
What would you give away? Obviously spending a few more minutes walking isn't that big a deal. And if it makes me happier, well, it can't be that bad. But what about other choices, as in the big choices you have to make to change your life for the better? 

Monday, 7 July 2014

Getting Too Much Attention 20 Years Too Late...

My first (and probably last) buttie ever!

What a stonking start of the week! I was walking to the bus stop with my younger daughter this morning, because my beloved Chelsea tractor is at the garage for a MOT. I didn't understand what was happening, until suddenly I heard a few cars tooting their horns, and another car braking violently. Such chaos was slightly unusual because it was still early morning.  I noticed that a white van was following me slowly, hence blocking the whole High Street. It was followed by a bunch of frustrated drivers. There was nothing wrong with us, and the only logical explanation was that the guys in the white van were admiring me and/or my bottom. I couldn't believe it. My daughter was finding the whole episode hilarious 
"Mummy, they like you!" she said. Bless her.
Are they for real? I stared at the driver, only to notice that he was so young that he could have been my son.

Has the world gone mad? I asked myself.

We eventually reached our bus stop, and the guys in the van waived enthusiastically at us, and finally started to accelerate. Phew! The few people waiting with us looked at me as if I was some sort of alien. I didn't say anything. Maybe I need to write to Levi to let them know the effect of their skinny jeans. I wonder. Seriously, what the hell is going on? I don't remember anything like this happening to me in France.


Picture By Jo Crawford of theonlyplaceblog.blogspot.co.uk

In fact, come to think about it, I spent most of my teenage years in France trying without any success whatsoever to get a boyfriend. I remember fancying a few guys, but they ended up going out with my best mates. Some friends I had back then, right? In French, se prendre un rateau (lit-'to take a rake') means to face a rebuttal. Come on, it is much funnier in French, right?

Let's just say that if there had been a price for taking 'rateaux', I would have been a champion. Not to mention that my butt back then was probably a lot better-looking.
Fast-forward more than 20 years, and here I am, getting so much attention that I almost caused a traffic accident.

How did it all happen?

Maybe I was in the wrong country. Maybe French women are better appreciated outside of their home country. Maybe 40 is the new 20. Well, this much I know: I really will never understand men, French or British. Please, does any of you have a sensible explanation? Oh, and this much I know too: I can't wait to get my car back!

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Failed Meet Cute


London is great right now. The light is amazing, and we can finally use our summer clothes. What's not to love? I was walking on High Street Kensington this morning, with my sunglasses firmly stuck on my face. Everything was going well, and the morning was soon going to become even more interesting. I put my hand in the pocket of my denim trousers to try to find an old receipt. The thing is, I always keep all sorts of things in my pockets. Often, I am too lazy to put back my small change in my purse, and instead I leave the odd coin in any pocket instead. I always find long-lost objects in there before doing the laundry. But I digress. This morning, I didn't find the receipt I was looking for. Instead, a yellow coin flied as soon as I had removed my hand. It fell on the ground and started rolling. It was about to slip on the road and be lost forever, when suddenly a guy managed to stop it. He promptly crouched and skilfully caught it. Very impressive.

Monday, 30 June 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour



Hard At Work, Picture by Jo Crawford of theonlyplaceblog.blogspot.co.uk

I was humbled to be mentioned by the super-talented Sanya Hudson to participate in the in the #mywritingprocess blog tour. Please check her fantastic blog, Love? I'd rather Eat Ice Cream.

Each person participating in this illustrious tour must answer four questions. Hopefully after reading this, you will have an informative manuscript of my writing journey. Are you ready? Come with me, here we go…

1)    What am I working on? 

As usual, I am working on many things at the same time. Obviously, my own business (you know, the one that pays the bills, not my writing) is keeping me incredibly busy. I am waiting to get some feedback on a manuscript I submitted to various publishing companies, but nothing exciting has happened so far. I am under the impression that, being French, they would like me to write something saucy. I am not a prude and I don't mind the odd joke, but, simply put, I don't write mummy porn. If nothing else works, I will consider the self-publishing route. I will make a decision by the end of the year. I have also been invited to a couple of radio talk shows, and I will also publish articles in some newspapers. For the first time I have published an article in French (watch this space, it will soon come out!). I would also like to step up my involvement with charities, and travel more. In short, life is pretty full-on.



2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I am a self-proclaimed French Yummy Mummy living in London, and I write about all the differences between France and Great Britain. Don't expect big political debates and theoretical issues. No, I write about day-to-day life over here. I write about being a woman, and bringing up bilingual children. I write about British food, British art, and sometimes about my British colleagues. I write about the growing gap between me and my home country. That said, I don't take myself very seriously. According to an exhaustive statistical analysis of my posts, what I write is:
- 73% parody
- 19% opinion
- the rest couldn't be categorised.
But here is the twist: you will have to figure out which is which, because I won't help you. Come on, you can do it. Just chillax.


3) Why do I write what I do?

Well, I don't know. I just do. Sometimes it is easy to indulge in self pity, and to think that you are the only one in the whole world feeling the way you feel. Writing has allowed me to find my voice, and thanks to the blog I started seeing the funny sides of expatriation. As I work on my own, my blog is also a way to connect with old and new friends, and interact with my readers. I am part of a supportive community, and I love it! Actually, I am addicted to it... 


4) How does my writing process work?

I write whenever I have a minute. On the bus, while I wait, at the school gate. I think of something and I write it down on any old paper in my handbag. When at home, I sit and I empty my bag. I throw away some papers, and I keep others. Then, I start writing whatever comes to my mind. It might be related to one of the papers, or it might be completely new. I am never happy with what I write, and often I start again and again. I like writing. I could do it all day long, but I have to allocate a specific amount of time to it because otherwise I wouldn't be able to do anything else.

Continuing this blog tour during the week on the 7th of July, I am proud to introduce:
- Anne left her native Brittany to settle down in Ireland...She blogs about her experiences here: Nearly Irish
- A Frog At Large Moved to Britain at the tender age of 18. Check out her blog and you will not be disappointed!

NB: and there are more pictures of my at work on Jo's blog here

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Thinking And Dreaming In Two Languages

I am soooo confused...

Following my last post, I keep being asked whether I think in English or in French. 

Guys, I wish it were that simple...This morning for instance, a guy asked me on the street whether he knew me from somewhere. Obviously he didn’t. He probably just thought that he was funny. Well, I hadn't had my morning coffee, and didn't fully appreciate his sense of humour. The very first thought that came to my mind was, I am proud to say, in English. If you must know, it was: “F**$k off!”. Me being me, I simply answered ‘No you don’t’. I told you I was British. So there you go: I think in English. But does it mean that English has become my main language ? Well, I am not so sure.

Shortly afterwards, I went to run a few errands. The shopkeeper was quite rude and had no small change. As a result, I caught myself thinking -in French this time- ‘Quel incompetent!’ (What an incompetent person!). I think that I like complaining in French. It is always snappier to complain in French, right? I just love it.

In short, I never know which language will prevail. That’s just the way it is, I suppose. I sometimes think in English, and sometimes in French. And it doesn't matter. 

Monday, 23 June 2014

Does Splitting Languages Split Your Personality Too?

Me: French Or English? About To Go Out...

Today, I had an epiphany: I am not the same person in French and in English. Come to think of it, it is really weird, right? But it is true: for instance, I am stricter in French. When I tell my daughters off, it is always in French. I wonder why. Apparently, I am scarier in French. As in, really scary.

That said, I write almost exclusively in English. Somehow it is easier for me, because in French I tend to rewrite the same sentence over and over again. In English, I can go straight to the point, and I like it. And, if I am completely honest, I feel less judged in English. Maybe I have had too many bad grades for my essays in France. However, I still count in French. This is probably because I don't do the imperial measures. Never have. Never will. The only thing I can't say in French is my mobile phone number. I know it by heart, but in English. Life is complicated, right?