Archive for the ‘France’ Category

Catch up
January 15, 2010

It’s official, I’m a ‘stop n’ start’ blogger. Life just seems to take over and there is never any time. I have no idea how you lot (aka my blog list…except for Housewife in the Highlands, who seems to have screeched to a halt at about the same time as me in May last year) manage to keep it up? Your lives seem as hectic, if not more so than mine but there you are, tap, tap, tapping away. So now that I have admitted that you’re great and I’m crap, here’s your bi-annual update, starting with today:

This morning: the ‘gastro’ (stomach flu) is ripping through this town like a dose of salts (pun intended). Everyone seems to have had it except for me and my son. Feeling a bit smug, I remarked to a friend yesterday that it seems to have passed us by. I should know by now to NEVER EVER tempt fate like that. Consequently, I woke up this morning feeling a bit queasy. As I haven’t had sex in ages, I’m definitely not pregnant. BOLLOX – that’s to having the ‘gastro’ and not to not being pregnant….Anyway, decided not to apply mascara this morning just in case I am required to say hello to last night’s roast pork dinner (with carrots I might add) at some point during the day. Vomiting and mascara (and carrots) just don’t go – makes my eyes smart just thinking about it. Every cloud has a silver lining though and this one’s weight loss. Come to think of it, god probably created the ‘gastro’ to help people lose those extra pounds after Christmas. That’s why it only ever seems to appear in January, a bit like those Weight Watchers ads.

Yesterday: I received a letter saying that I have won a prize in the local ‘Vitrine de Noel’ (Christmas Window) competition. I never win anything. I was so excited that I phoned all my friends to let them know. They no doubt think I am really sad now. Hey ho. The prizes are great. A holiday for two somewhere hot (must find a partner), dinner for two in a local restaurant (must find a partner), crates of wine (should be able to manage that one my own). Will find out what I’ve won next Wednesday when all the prizes will be handed out at the town hall. Will keep you posted. In light of my blogging track record, that’ll be some time in June.

Tuesday: In light of my current single status and the fact that I live in the country, surrounded by old men, alcoholics and pigs, I have swallowed my pride and joined an internet dating site. So far I have been on dates with one old man (his recent profile picture must have been taken circa 1980), an alcoholic (he had more than his fair share of wine over dinner, but maybe that was down to nerves?) and 3 little pigs – no change there then! Piglet No 1, after I refused to bed him on our first encounter, called me up the next day to tell me how handsome he was and…..wait for it….how, at the grand old age of 36, and with a kid in tow, I should be lucky if anyone wanted to bed me at all! Suffice to say, I didn’t give him a second date. Bacon boy No 2 only ever called me after 9pm on a Tuesday night when he knew I didn’t have my son – obviously in search of some free sex, rather than a relationship then! At least Piglet No1 had the courtesy to take me out for dinner before he tried. And the 3rd little Piggy is indeed a pig (a policeman), or le ‘Flic’ as he referred to himself, with a glint in his eye, over coffee on Tuesday. However, he was also very keen to let me know that he was a ‘nice’ policeman. And so far, it would seem that he is. We plan to meet again next week, however, I do have one reservation: my friends. They are not the most law-abiding of citizens. So, if I do decide to take things further with Mr Flic I can kiss goodbye to any future dinner party invites. Think I need some time to mull this one over!

To be cont…….

Heaven on earth
April 26, 2009

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Last night I looked out my window and saw this: a perfect ‘arc en ciel’ that spanned the entire valley.  As I stepped outside to get a closer look, I was bathed in the most ethereal pink light I have ever seen. I felt as if I had died and gone to heaven.  Beautiful.

Curiosity (could have) killed the cat
April 22, 2009

For those of you who follow my blog on a regular basis, you will know that I have had more than my fair share of ‘close encounters’ with shady Frenchmen. However, here is one with a less than happy ending – I was lucky, but another girl less so.

 

It took place six months after I had moved to France. My ex was digging up the floor to install the electrics, so we had temporarily relocated to a B&B just up the road. As my ex spent every day at the house, and there was little I could do to help with a toddler in tow, I took myself off for long walks in the surrounding countryside instead. Sonny was only one at the time, so enjoyed being pushed around, looking at cows, donkeys, horses and flowers. We would often collect stones or sticks on the way and turn them into little works of art on our return.

 

My favourite walk was through a small hamlet, in which only two of the four houses were inhabited. In one of the houses lived two brothers, both in their 60s; one of which slept in the main house, the other – for reasons unbeknown to me – slept on a bed of hay in the cellar. Although I never met the older brother, I would often speak (though it was more like him rattling away and me saying the odd word in both English and French) with the one who slept in the cellar, even though he had a rather disconcerting habit of talking only to my chest – and to my mother’s when he met her in the supermarket several years later. Most days he would delight in giving me fresh figs from his garden and showing me his cattle, but one day he surprised me. His gaze left my chest and he looked me straight in the eyes. Pointing to the far end of the hamlet he told me to be careful. As my French was still quite basic at the time, all I understood was, “Attention!” I assumed he was telling me to be careful of the busy, main road at the top of the lane. In hindsight, I think he was trying to warn me about his neighbour.

 

On first impressions, his neighbour seemed very nice. He was in his late 40s and was clearly in the middle of renovating his house. The first couple of times I walked by, we exchanged nothing more than a polite ‘Bonjour’. After several trips he initiated a conversation. He asked me where I came from and spoke a little about the difficulties of renovating a property on his own. When I mentioned that my partner and I were in the middle of doing the same, he asked if I would like to have a look at some of the work he was doing in his kitchen. Having a genuine interest, I said yes. As I peered through his patio doors I could see that he was a skilled artisan. He was halfway through laying a traditional, terracotta, tile floor and had just started to build his own ‘French country style’ kitchen. When I said that it looked lovely, he asked if I would like to go in and have a look at some of the rooms that were finished. As Sonny was still asleep in the pushchair, and I didn’t want to leave him on his own, I declined (knowing what I know now, it still makes me shiver to think what might have happened if I hadn’t). I continued to walk past the house for at least another week before I moved back home. I would always stop to chat but, thankfully, never took him up on the offer of a quick tour round the house or a ‘Pastis.’

 

Several months later I heard through a neighbour that he had been carted off to prison. When I heard why, I went white. Apparently, he had attacked and raped a young girl. Her car had broken down at the top of the lane late one night and seeing the headlights he had gone up to help. After assaulting her and leaving her for dead, he ran back to his house and shot himself through the mouth with a rifle. I have no idea whether the girl survived or not, but I think she managed to make a call to the police from her mobile. When they arrived at the scene they knew exactly who her attacker was: the man in the neighbouring hamlet, who had been arrested for a similar crime several years earlier. When they paid him a visit he was still alive. His suicide attempt had been unsuccessful and he was lying paralysed in a pool of blood on the floor.

 

Shocked, I asked my neighbour to fill me in on his history. Apparently, he had been diagnosed as having a mental disorder, and after serving time for his last crime, had been released back into the community on the condition that he continued to take his medication and checked in with a psychiatrist once a month. Now this is where it gets scary. Apparently he had stopped taking his medication several months before he attacked the girl (about the time when I was walking by), and that even though he had missed a string of appointments with his psychiatrist….wait for it…no one had bothered to follow it up.

 

Erm…….why? It leaves me cold to think that a man like this was alllowed to slip through the net. I wonder how the psychiatrist felt when they heard the news? In my opinion, not only did they fail their patient, but they put the lives of innocent people at risk. That poor girl. I have no idea what became of her, but everyday I thank my lucky stars it wasn’t me.

Une bonne nouvelle (good news)
March 17, 2009

Well, it would seem that 4 months of studying for a TEFL certificate has finally paid off. I’ve got a job! I’m now officially self-sufficient and able to work anywhere in the world. I AM FREE. I have a skill, a job for life. YES. For those of you who have been following my blog from the beginning, you will know how important this is to me. I have been at the bottom of a very deep hole for quite a while now and with no one to throw me a lifeline I have had to build my own ladder. AND I DID!

And the job, I hear you ask? Teaching business English to the employees of a very large French energy company. And the money? 3 times as much as I earned at the crèche. As you can tell, I am deliriously happy. Sorry.

Hee Hee.

Cake
November 25, 2008

As I write this, the oven is whirring away and the smell of Nigella’s Chocolate Cloud Cake is wafting through the air. Ooooh, it is diviiiiiiiiine…retribution for having a dirty oven. Sadly, the cake is long gone. It was made (and eaten) on Sunday and all that remains is what I am smelling now, some soon-to-be-burnt, chocolaty blobs at the bottom of my oven. If only I had removed them before putting the butternut squash in for lunch. It’s so unfair!

 

While I am on the subject of cake, I might as well show you one I made for my friends the other week. Three birthdays, one party and an empty purse meant I had to get a bit creative in the kitchen. This was the result:

 

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My friends brought to life in sugar paste. They all loved it, except for R (the heavy smoker), who I had depicted with a cigarette in his mouth. How was I supposed to know that he had stopped smoking a few days before and didn’t want to be reminded of his previous addiction?

 

“Nevermind,” said M, coming to the rescue. “I still like the odd puff now and again. Do you mind if I have it?”

 

And with that she lifted the offending white stick from the cake, popped it in her mouth, chewed on it for a bit then said,  “I can see why people give up. That was disgusting.”

 

Friends!

 

Wheelie useful
November 18, 2008

Brace yourselves. After several months without transport I have a new…wheelbarrow.

 

 

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Yes, that is my shopping inside. I love it. It is easy to park, builds muscles, costs nothing to run and is environmentally friendly. Ask your partner for one for Christmas. It is never too late to start saving the planet.

 

Ps. Kids love to ride in it too! Think of how many calories you could burn doing the school run (literally, if you are running late).

 

Reeling – Part 2
November 13, 2008

I have come to a decision. I am not going to confront my ex about K and her 6 yr old daughter (I forgot to mention that she has a daughter in my last post) moving in, I am going to wait for him to tell me. I have my reasons for this:

 

  1. If I initiate the conversation and an argument ensues, Sonny will feel to blame. As he is only 6, he is far too young to be having guilt trips over things he has said, or situations he has caused.
  2. My ex may tell Sonny off for telling me what goes on between him and K, and I wouldn’t want him to feel that he had to start keeping secrets, or to censor everything he said.
  3. If Sonny is happy with the situation (which I think he is) and my ownership rights remain unchanged (call to lawyer required), is it really such a big deal?

 

I suppose I am just annoyed that neither K nor my ex has had the decency to come and speak to me about it first – especially before they sat down and discussed it with the kids. To be honest, K probably doesn’t even know that I still own the house. My ex has always been very economical with the truth, and as we were never married, he could quite easily have said that the house belongs to him.

 

There are times when I wonder if K even knows why I left. If she did, she might not be so keen to move in. As my mum said, “give her six months, and she’ll be out of there like a shot.” That remains to be seen, but in the meantime I am going to take some legal advice and play this one very carefully indeed.

 

Reeling
November 12, 2008

A conversation over dinner with Sonny:

 

Sonny: “K is moving in with Papa.”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Sonny: “She is not going to live in her house anymore.”

Me: “Do you know when she is moving in?”

Sonny: “In December…I think.”

 

I knew this day would come, but I wasn’t quite sure how I would feel about it when it did. I suppose I have just been burying my head in the sand, hoping it never would. Now that it has, I am less than happy. It is not that I am still in love with my ex, it’s just that I don’t like the thought of another woman enjoying the comforts of my old home (which I still own 50/50 with my ex), while I am forced to rent a small flat 10 kms down the road. Is that petty of me?

 

Most of you will be wondering how I have managed to get myself into this situation? Why haven’t I taken my ex to court and forced him to sell, to give me my half? I could, I suppose, but I am just not ready yet. I know that as soon as I take this route my relationship with my ex will turn sour (very sour) and Sonny will suffer as a result.

 

I think I have made the right decision, but it still doesn’t make it easy.

 

 

Who would have thought it? (and with a dodgy ticker too!)
October 16, 2008

Imagine this. There is a lovely old man in your street who you say hello to most days. You know that he lives on his own so sometimes you stop to say more than hello. On one of these occasions, whilst admiring his garden, he invites you to come in and have a look around his house.

 

 “There are lots of original features,” he says, trying to tempt you.

 

As someone who loves architecture (and having a good nose around other people’s homes), you jump at the chance – he’s a 92 year old man with a heart problem after all…what could happen?

 

He leads you into the kitchen. “Very nice,” you say, looking at the original stone floor. Upstairs is the sitting room; a beautiful mantelpiece and some very nice antiques. Your eyes dance around the room taking it all in, and then they fall upon a pile of well flicked through porn mags (about 50, to hazard a guess) on a chair next to the fire. Pretending you haven’t seen them, you edge your way towards the door saying how lovely it has been to have had a look around and that it is probably time that you made your way home.

 

“But you haven’t seen the bedroom yet,” says the old man with a twinkle in his eye.

 

“Oh I think I have seen quite enough,” you say, hot-footing it down the stairs.

 

As you make your way into the street outside, you bid the old man farewell and thank him again for having shared his home (and possibly his private life) with you. You then head off down the road, trying not to think too much about what he might get up to after you have gone.

 

So you tell me. What do you think this lovely old French man uses this type of literature for: lighting his fire or ____________ ? On second thoughts, please don’t answer that. I really don’t want to know. Honest…I don’t.

 

 

  

Wordless Wednesday
October 15, 2008

 For once, Sonny is lost for words.

Or

(thanks to East Anglian Troy)

 

“Well Mama, can I call these Frogmen?”