Monday, 28 March 2016

La Tour Eiffel

The Eiffel Tower

This is somewhere I would like to visit someday

This is a picture from A fellow bloggers blog, take a look here at her wonderful musings
All of us who blog about France do it because we love the country for lots of different reasons and some like myself are lucky, I have lived here for 7 years with my husband John and we are still learning about the wonderful people of France and their way of life, before we lived here we thought that our cultures were very similar or in fact the same but as time has gone on we are beginning to realise that this is not so, as I find the differences I will surely put them on here hopefully for your amusement.
One that comes to mind right now is the lunchtime here, in our part of rural France it is always 12h00 - 14h00 without fail in fact our church bells are rung at midday to tell everyone it is time to stop work and they will always take the full two hours, we see some workers go into the restaurant opposite on the dot of midday and they don't come out until 13h45 ready to walk back to work just down the road, .. now the problem we have is, now we are retired we don't get up until late and then have a leisurely breakfast before we think about doing our jobs, so if those jobs are outside we are just going out when the French are thinking of stopping for lunch, our neighbour once asked " do you not take your lunch at 12h00" so I explained no and why not, she just turned and as she was walking away shaking her head she could be heard muttering ""Bizarre"" so now out of courtesy to our neighbours we tend not to be doing anything outside during the Dejeuner - lunch...

Friday, 25 March 2016

Our French life - Good comment

Below is a comment left by a fellow blogger in reply to my post  
(The cheek of it) I only know her as Vagabonde but you can find her blog here -
she has given me permission to print it as many of you may not see it in comments, It gives a good insight into the French culture and gives details of a good book to read, it can only help to know how their minds work
Also a big thank you to Paulita from An Accidental blog for pointing her in my direction.

I have just ordered the book too and will let you all know how I find it

I came here after writing a comment on An Accidental Blog. Your post gave me a good laugh. You see, that is the French culture. I just finished a book, sent to me by a friend, about an American woman who married a French man and talks about all these cultural differences – you should read it, it is funny – it is by Harriet Welty Rochefort and called “French Toast: An American in Paris Celebrates the Maddening Mysteries of the French” – I saw that you can get it secondhand on Amazon France. You see the French will take advantages like this, because for them it is normal. It is the same in banks, at the post office or going on an airplane – everyone does it. I am French, raised in Paris (now living near Atlanta, GA.) I was so surprised while studying in London to see people “queuing” at the bus stop! In Paris we had to get tickets with numbers – don’t know if they still do it. What you should have said, in French, and very polite “excusez-moi madame, je ne savais pas que vous aviez tants de choses – nous sommes pressés, alors nous reprenons notre place” (excuse me, madam, I didn’t know you had so many items, we are in a hurry, so we are taking our place back.” Voila! And that would have been OK, no problem. With us French, you need to put your foot down! 

You will get many cultural shocks like this. I did also in the US. I’ll give you an example: I remember the first time I went to a Thanksgiving dinner at American people’s home and they said “grace” before dinner – I was surprised as in all my years growing up in Paris I had never heard it (although you living in the Mayenne I think, they may be more religious.) But wait - then each guest had a Bible on top of their plates – we were supposed to read a verse from it. Well, being from very “laic” (secular) Paris I was shocked beyond belief and thought they were fanatics – I said I did not feel well and escaped. Then later I found out that most Americans are super religious and it’s OK for them to pray in public or with foreign guests at dinner, without knowing if the guests are religious or even what religion or no religion (certainly not done in France!) So every country has its particular culture. Bonne chance!

Have a very happy Easter x

Friday, 18 March 2016

The cheek of it

 Friday 18th March 2016
Today we were doing our shopping in Super U Craon, we were waiting at the till when this young woman trotted up behind us with some baby clothes and a gift box for them, we had quite a bit of shopping and as it was lunchtime I was aware that she might be on a lunch break and being kindness itself I said she could go first if she liked, as we moved our trolley out of her way, she thanked us very gracefully then called her husband who was waiting at the next till with his/their trolley which was loaded up even higher than ours, I was gobsmacked in fact I said as much to John, he said you will be if you ever do that again..I mean did she think that was the right thing to do, would you have done that if a French person had made the same gesture?


In fact when I look back over the whole shopping experience of today, 3 times I was pushed out of the way and once as I was walking in a straight line a woman blocked my path in order to get something she wanted, this is the norm here especially at lunchtime, ... yes I know what it is like to be on a lunch break and having to juggle shopping but at the same time eating properly, the thing is the majority of workers here get 2 hours,  in UK sometimes you are lucky to get 1 hour but I don't think I have ever been this rude, when in Rome and all that.

On the subject of workers here, I was talking to a friend who works here (she is still young) and she was saying that normally bank holidays are taken off on the actual day and not the nearest Monday but this year due to it being a leap year all the bank holidays have fallen on a Sunday so the workers are not happy as it means they have lost at least 8 days holiday and they don't get a day in lieu, watch this space it will mean more strikes...

Speak soon lovely's

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Our French Life - The sun has got his hat off

It is 16th March and the sun is shining so we are in the garden ( well eating lunch at the moment ) John is marking out the patio to put up the Pergola that we have bought to replace the Gazebo we bought last year that promptly blew down and got totally twisted in the Mistral winds that whip across the bottom of the garden, so in the hopes that this solid wooden framework if properly secured in the ground will be the last thing we have to erect for our Jacuzzi, we thought that once up we could actually make wooden sides and put a corrugated perspex roof on to allow the sun and light in, therefore we would be able to jump in the hot tub well into the Autumn and also leave it out over winter and not have to lug it upstairs.

           And so we start

I have of course been supervising, John says it is me being bossy. more pics as we erect it.
Almost done

But the really good news of the day and I am so pleased to tell you that yesterday John overcame is awful phobia with needles and had injections in his knees for his Arthritis, and today he is like a spring chicken, I have to keep telling him to slow down and take it gently but it is the first time he has been pain free for so long and it feels like we have won the Euro millions, and it is all thanks to the health service here which is second to none, everything is done as soon as it is needed, he even had his x-rays given to him on a cd, how cool is that..vive le France..

Now if you haven't joined my blog yet please jump on board as I love to have you as my shipmates on this journey, go to the side where it says join and sign up there, thanks in advance, Roz x

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Our French life - du boeuf

One week ago we decided to have some beef for our Sunday dinner, we don't have it often mainly because it is to expensive but also because we have yet to find a decent piece that our old teeth can chew, they cut it on the cross here for reasons known only to them, even the steak is tough unless it is cooked on the barbie, well someone kindly said try leaving it in the fridge for a week because the French don't hang their meat as soon as it is cut up it is in the shops so to speak, now I didn't like the idea of this but thought it was worth a try.

Well the beef was kept in the fridge for a week getting darker by the day and I was convinced it would be off by now but when I took it out of the fridge this morning it didn't smell bad at all, so I seared it and put it in a roasting bag with some stock, it cooked nice and slowly...The result was a piece of meat that was considerably more tender but there were bits that were still tough and chewy, one thing we did notice was it had a better more beefy taste that we were more used to - overall I think I must try beef from the butcher
and see if there is any difference so will let you know.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

French Life - What a service

Dear Readers,
You are most likely aware that my lovely hubby John as bad knees, he also doesn't like injections and I mean really doesn't like them, well I eventually got him to see a specialist, a very nice lady who told him that his knees were just about as bad as they can get and that she would try the injections in his knees but if she was honest surgery would eventually be his best bet otherwise he would be in a wheelchair, the thought of this is quite scary especially as our house has many stairs, our kitchen and dining room are on a different level to our living room and of course the bedrooms and bathroom are upstairs. It really is time to look for a property that is on one level but it seems so daunting and I am not even sure if we can afford to move, the fee's are so high for the estate agents and then you have to pay so much to the notaire it leaves you with such a small amount for the actual house, This is one that's looks perfect..

Picture 1

Anyway I digress... back to our visit with the nice lady, she informed us that we would have to get the injections ourselves from the pharmacy with a prescription and she would also give John a prescription for some knee supports on our way out along with paying a princely sum  (most of which we will get back via our Carte Vital ) 3 more appointments were made for the afore mentioned injections once a week for the rest of March, next stop was our ever friendly Pharmacist to get the injections, these are all ready in individual syringes and don't need keeping in the fridge, John was taken into the back to be measured for his knee supports, again we use our Carte Vitale, this is the social security card that we are entitled to as pensioners here which pays for 70% of our health care and we have to have a top up insurance for the other 30%.
This was at midday and the Pharmacist said to come back at 17h30 and they would be there and sure enough they were... now that is a brilliant service.
Next stop the till, now for our normal monthly medication we don't have to pay but the knee supports come under a different category and we were expecting to pay quite a lot, the knee supports price was 248€ but we only had to pay 32€ and that we can claim back from our insurance so win win I would say, but what do you think.
The upside is that John can walk much better with them and virtually pain free, the Pharmacist has nicknamed him Robot Cop, love it.

Please go to the bottom and click comment to leave your thoughts, many thanks, and if you haven't already done so please join as a follower, Merci Beacoup  

Friday, 4 March 2016

Our Life in France - And I wait

I look out of my dining room window and espy a world that I don't recognise, they tell me it is my garden but my garden is a wonderfully warm and colourful area where I sit on the decking sipping wine with my very best friend in the whole world who is my John, where we plan all the wonderful things we are going to do (one day) and reminisce about the past wonders that is our life together, the reason I don't recognise it is because it is not summer but this awful wintry watery late winterdom, everything is soggy yet the spring flowers are out due to our earlier attempt at spring which was just to fool us, so I stand here at the window like Miss Haversham waiting but unlike Miss Haversham my love will come.

Of course to make it happen I must get motivated to turn a sod or two, plant a mammoth amount of seeds for this beautiful floral display will not happen unless I put the work in, alas at the moment my will power is at a very low ebb as the afternoon telly is still beckoning me to cuddle into the chair with a warming fire to toast my toes leaving this comfort only to make even more comforting meals to keep us sustained, where my mind wanders to warm hazy days when I can go barefoot and wear sleeveless tops and lazily sit in the Jacuzzi with bubbles easing my old bones after a long fight with the weeds (Mauvaises herbes)
Tomorrow I will look out of that window and who knows it could be the very day that I say " it is time to get out there" and once again the daily conversations with my French neighbour will begin, hopefully this summer I will understand so much more, hopefully she will be pleasantly impressed.

So my dear readers - I wait

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Our French Life - A milestone

Hello dear readers and followers,

Today I sort of reached a milestone in my French language learning, at approx 11h30 this morning the telephone rang and John answered it, I heard him say the usual "Do you speak English"  the lady on the other end clearly didn't and so he handed the phone to me saying " I have no idea what she is going on about".

I said Allo and the lady babbled so I said " vous parlez trop vite pour moi" so she slowed right down and I got that she was the secretary of the Doctor John has to see tomorrow regarding his knees and she was making sure he was going to attend and for him to bring last blood tests, x-rays and letter from Doctor.
Well I can tell you it was such a brilliant feeling finishing that telephone call having understood everything, I still struggle to put a sentence together sometimes, I seem to clam up, its like a barrier comes down whenever I am confronted by someone and I just want to become invisible, but one day I hope I will be able to say "YES" when I am asked do you speak french.

But if any of you are trying to learn a language the understanding part is the last to come, I am the first to say when asked that I speak a little French but one day when you realise that you have just had a conversation with a French person and understood it all then you also realise that you are improving or going in the right direction at least..

So 1. don't give up
    2. Always use the telephone calls as a free french lesson
    3. Never give up

Please leave a comment below as it helps me get further up the blog ladder.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Our French Life - A trip too far

Hello dear friends and followers..

I thought I would write today about our trip to Jersey, well we decided that we would pop over to the darling little island to get some new glasses, as you know the island comes under English jurisdiction and so they have have all the normal shops you would find in the UK Specsaver being one of them.
Ok we saved for months because even though they do the usual buy one get one free offer, we both have verifocal lenses, you would be amazed at how the cost mounts up with all the little bits and pieces.
Anyway, enough about our glasses it is really the trip itself that I am writing about.
To try and make the experience as easy and cheap as possible we decided to drive to St Malo  as that is where we were getting a ferry at stupid o'clock on the Saturday morning, we had booked a room at the Ibis budget hotel there for Friday evening and were quite looking forward to it, this was the first mistake, talk about basic, all the room had to offer was a bed, thankfully an ensuite and a very small TV on the wall. no chairs to sit on and only one pillow each - well the bed was as hard has bullets  when we looked it was just a box with an inch thick mattress, there was a bunk bed over the head of the bed which John kept hitting his head on, we did get two extra pillows but the TV was so far away and so small we could hardly see it.
Next we ventured downstairs to look for the restaurant, when we asked where it might be located we got a real look of shock on the receptionist's face, oh no we don't have one just a buffet breakfast in the morning, so we thought we would find a shop and get a sandwich or similar, we found an Intermarche in a complex where there were some restaurants and thinking of prior experiences where we struggled to find anywhere open in the evening we made the decision to eat at lunchtime instead so in we went and ordered a steak, the lovely waitress asked how we like it cooked, we both said well done, I don't mind my steak rare but a good vet could have got these going, NO a bad vet could have managed it. 
As we had to be at the ferry for 7am we had to get up for 5am so that we could fit breakfast in ( I must say the breakfast was excellent albeit a continental there was plenty of everything but you had to serve yourself even toast your own bread in a toaster, bearing in mind we stayed over so that we wouldn't have to get up in the middle of the night to get to the ferry on time, we gained absolutely nothing and lost a whole nights sleep 

We decided to go as foot passengers, the journey out was ok they provided a coach to the ferry but on the way back we had to walk and with John's poor knees this wasn't good, leaving Jersey was a bit of an ordeal, we had to take all outer clothes off and put in a tray with our keys mobiles etc to go through the x-ray machine, I went through the posts and no bleep then John went through and set it all off, it turned out to be his hearing aids, then my bag gave them cause for concern as well as me ( you always feel guilty even if you aren't) Mine was a very tiny battery in a torch on a keyring.
All in all it was a pretty traumatic time but at least we will have our new glasses and be well informed for our next visit..
The moral of the story is: 

  1. Don't stay in a Budget Ibis Hotel
  2. Don't go as foot passengers and take the car
  3. Stay overnight in Jersey so that you don't have to rush about and you can see the sights
  4. Don't go in the winter

Hope this helps any of you thinking of doing the same