Thursday, 29 December 2011

Grumpy Grumpy

I feel like I am in paradise. No meal to prepare, and everything I want is handed over to me in a matter of minutes. The service is discreet yet attentive.
The weather is nice and sunny, not too warm but not too cold either. Just perfect. We can lie down and have a swim or visit the city. Or go to the desert. Everything is taken care of.

But, believe it or not, I have met at last a couple of people who actually were not happy. Maybe some people are not meant to be happy. They thrive when they whine. They have to complain. It is who they are. It makes them feel like they finally exist. Surely it can be the only explanation!

The first one was a skinny French brunette. At the swimming pool, she started to explain to her husband that the hotel was too big, the service not good enough and she wasn't enjoying herself. She didn't know that we were French too so we heard the full list of her various grievances. She was quite passionate about not being happy. Not a good sign! We met them again during breakfast. You have to imagine the most fantastic breakfast buffet, with anything from sushis to croissants, with fresh fruits and Arabic specialties. I recognised her instantly. Guess what : she was sulking and hiding behind huge sunglasses. Maybe the coffee wasn't served fast enough!

Monday, 26 December 2011

Greetings From Dubai

Being officially on holiday is absolutely incredible. I had never been to Dubai and nothing replaces the pinch of excitement that I get when I go to a new place.

That being said, when we arrived at the hotel I felt that we were in Knightsbridge (the poshest area in London). Everybody was speaking Russian, and was skinny with blonde highlights. My first reaction was that Dubai seemed to be London under the sun.

It became even worse when we hit the breakfast buffet this morning. At the next tables, all the women looked vaguely similar, in a way that I couldn't really define. It felt a bit weird-in a creepy way... It wasn't the haircut or the age or even the silhouette. I simply couldn't put my finger on it. After another cup of coffee and yet another glance, it finally dawned on me: they all had the same shape of nose. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a remarkable nose, it was actually just perfect. The oval of the nostrils was just a little bit larger than for natural noses, more like circles. The base was just too perfectly symmetrical. Cosmetic surgery. They must have gone to the same surgeon. A package deal perhaps.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Urban Jungle

I am wondering how everybody survives the Christmas season. I have spent my days attending  carol concerts and the mandatory parties, buying, wrapping and sending presents all over the world (I haven’t received one for me yet. Christmas is for kids, you see).
But there are some good news. All should be over soon. I am going on holidays tomorrow…Today, after no less than two festive meals and the unwrapping of all the presents, we are off…More will follow soon. But it will be somewhere sunny!

Natasha Bedingfield - Pocketful of sunshine

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Legging It

I am so out of touch that it sometimes scares me. This morning, I went out for my daily ritual: coffee and people watching. I read an article about Piers Morgan testifying during the Levenson enquiry on the phone hacking scandal. 
Piers Morgan used to be the editor of the defunct tabloid News Of The World. He said something like: “I was not directly involved in phone hacking.” I was wondering what he meant: maybe he was indirectly involved? Or maybe he was not involved? It is one of those sentences: you can understand it any way you like. I am afraid I will never have such a (useful) talent.

It was, once again, very cold. I drank my coffee almost mechanically and went out, hoping that the caffeine would kick in soon.
I was wandering, half asleep and freezing despite my four layers.  That’s when I saw them. I managed to take a picture in case you don’t believe me. 

Sunday, 18 December 2011

War Of Words

I should be glad but, curiously, the whole affair feels bittersweet. The good thing is, during Christmas parties, we are not asked any longer whether all Frenchmen have mistresses. No, instead, it is all about the Euro crisis and the war of words against Britain.
If you have missed it, let me explain. France is on the verge of losing its triple-A rating. Instead of doing something about it, our politicians have behaved like petulant children on the verge of being told off by the head teacher in the playground: they have said that Britain was even worse than France and should lose its triple A before France does.
The British didn’t like the comment, which they believed was “not helpful” (what a very British understatement!) and this morning the British press is all about the complicated relationship between the French and the Brits.
It made me wonder: how did this happen? They will of course deny it until their very last breath, but the French and the Brits are more similar than they would ever admit. For starters, London is the biggest French-speaking city outside of France. And to make matters even worse, more than 500,000 Brits have bought a holiday house in France.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Party Time

It is this time of the year again: Christmas parties are in full swing. Today, I met fellow bloggers of BritMums and it was nice to put faces on all the names. On top of this, I had my fist sip of champagne at 11 am. That’s the beauty of Christmas parties: you can start having fun earlier than usual.

But not all Christmas parties are good. I have had a few Corporate Christmas parties (with and without hubby). After some drinks, I can guarantee that some well-meaning colleague will ask the dreaded question (we have had it at every single party so far. In most cases it was directed to my husband, but I wasn’t too far).
“ Is it true that all Frenchmen have mistresses? (Usually, a “Wink Wink” follows, with a heavy laugh. Lovely)
Here we go again. So, what are we supposed to answer?  We might be French but we have a pretty normal life. Between the business and our daughters we simply have no time to fool around. Not that we would want to.  I sometimes wish I could hit back with some comments like.:“Oh yes, actually my husband’s mistress is driving me back home tonight, we are very relaxed about the whole affair thing, it has been going on for so long…” But most of the time I am too polite to say something like that or not sarcastic enough. Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand that the DSK affair hasn’t helped, and that “we French” have such a reputation, but having the same question almost at every party is becoming a bit of a bore. Maybe we should pretend we are from Quebec? Worth a thought.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Citizenship Test I Will Never Pass

Hello from sunny St Tropez! Just for you to be a bit jealous (because that's what I want you to be) here is a picture:

Oh, and there is a lovely post from me on Nazima (or @workinglonmummy) 's blog on how to bake panettone. I am actually a bit jealous because hers look better than mine but never mind. Life can be unfair...You can read it here.

I have a confession to make: I feel more and more British. For starters, I rented a car in Nice to drive to St Tropez and, after three months of operating a Chelsea tractor in London I felt a bit lost. You wouldn't believe how fast the French are driving on the motorway. Scary. I miss my Chelsea tractor (yes, I have just written this), my rented Citroen is nice but not quite the same. What exactly is happening to me?

Anyway, this morning when I left for the airport (at the crack of dawn and I am not a morning person) it was freezing in London. I had at least five different layers on me, not to mention a hat, a scarf and the mandatory gloves. And there it was: my British neighbour was going for a run in his T-shirt and short pants. How does he do it? Mind you, he wasn't the only one: on the train to Gatwick airport, most Brits had no coats when all continental Europeans were wrapped up tightly in different layers. You could tell who was British just by looking at whether he/she had a coat. And, to make matters even worse, I saw a guy in his flip-flops. I felt cold just looking at him (no coat + flip flops + -2 celsius  = quintessentually British).

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Becoming British Part 2

All I want right now is to curl up with a good novel, fall asleep, and wake up in sunny spring. That’s probably what getting older and a sore throat do for me (or maybe the other way around?). But I have something to do every day. Duty keeps calling.
Today is no exception. Today, I have just passed my “Life in the UK” test. This is yet another milestone on the road to becoming British. And I am pleased to announce that I passed! The difficulty, for me, wasn’t the test itself (24 questions to answer in 45 mins, if you must know), but the long wait outside, the rain and above all having to pass yet another exam (I have had my fair share of exams already, I keep thinking that I am done with them, but I keep having to sit additional tests for some reason). All I need to do now is prepare and send my citizenship application form. I will probably have to pay a fee as well. And then, I will be invited to a Citizenship ceremony. With some luck, I will be able to vote for the next General Election.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Baking Frenzy

It is this time of the year again. I miss the freshness of the food, the soft bread with a crispy crust, and more generally the simple and tasty food of my childhood. I used to buy everything I needed on my way back home, after work. Well, it wouldn't be possible here. In London, it is not unusual, when you buy a croissant, to be given something from the day before, and someone will microwave it for you. What a shame! Most of the so-called French Croissants (and, as you know, for bread and croissants I am a purist) are usually bought frozen and heated in the oven. This is why they all look and taste so similar: they come from the same place!

The bread at Aubaine - Real bread!