Every Tuesday I intend to do a quick review of some of the posts from the last week that have made me smile, made me chuckle or, even…. just made me think.
Some of these you may have seen yourselves.
And some of them you may have missed.
I don’t think of these in any competitive sense at all.
This isn’t a top-ten listing.
They’re merely the posts that have stuck in my head.
1). The Study of Motorway Rest Areas is, I understand, a relatively new hobby in France although we can see that Andy at Prunings From The Vines has already taken up the sport (is it a sport, I wonder?) with gusto!
In his Quiet Relief Andy gives us a gentle introduction to what must be one of the finest and most civilised hobbies that respectable & right-thinking people may enjoy these days.
His wonderfully detailed post delighted us with beautiful photos of parking spaces and toilet blocks (I can really see why people take up this fascinating pastime!)
And he wrote about his experience of a French Autoroute Rest Area (he didn’t give us the exact location; I guess he’s keeping it to himself, the cheeky monkey) is a wonderfully poetic manner…
“It was late morning and I was the only car there. The waste bins were orderly and there was no litter. The toilets were clean, worked and were not covered in mindless graffitti. Although it was cooler with the autumn leaves changing colour, the outdoor seating areas still looked inviting.”
Now, didn’t that just bring a tear to your eye?
I’m hoping that Andy will be prepared to do a guest post here all about his new hobby which…
Might encourage a few more of us to join him in this entertaining new pastime. After all (and not a lot of people know this)…
There is one Rest Area every 20km on Autoroutes in France.
More than enough to go around!
This is one of those great posts where it’s vitally important to read the comments as closely as the post itself!
The post is a largely about those people (expats themselves) who don’t like us other expats from complaining about our chosen homes (although that seems a very French thing to do – at least in my eyes?) and tell us that if we don’t like the way things are, we should pack our bags and move back to Basingstoke or Baltimore (or wherever we came from.)
No, I’m stuck between the two camps here as I love taking the piss out of thsoe Brits who move over just so that they can complain that you can’t get Malted Milk biscuits in France or…
That the shops all shut at lunchtime; it’s a disgrace!
But that lot tend not to stick around for more than two or three Breton winters before…
Buggering off back to Britain themselves!
Piglet, this has been an excellent return to blazing blogging and a tantalising glimpse of your former form!
If you keep this up we might consider letting you into the the Girls Gone Wild section….
In a few weeks time!
3). Christa from It’s All Downhill From Here doesn’t appear to be one of those Service Station Spotters or Rest Stop Researchers that seems to be popping up everywhere these days but…
I do rather suspect that she is a secret (or not so secret) Ski Centre Specialist?
Her wonderfully acerbic An A-Z for Seasonnaires tells the gritty truth about all those people mad enough to pay good money to be hauled halfway up a mountain just so that they can slither down it on a couple of planks of wood and hope that they don’t break too many bones in the process!
I don’t actually ski myself; partly because I don’t understand the attraction (it’s up there with blindfold parachuting on the list of games I don’t play!) and partly because we don’t have any mountains here in Brittany and, even if we did, we have a special micro-climate here and it never snows (at least, according to the estates agents who sell us our houses here!)
But I do quite fancy taking up that very interesting hobby of ski watching…
Which involves, I understand, sitting in a nice warm bar at the bottom of a mountain whilst watching people in baby suits paying to be hauled up to the top of the aforementioned mountain before being carted off to hospital with a handful of broken bones.
And, of course, betting on which of the Au Pairs is going to get knocked up first and…
Trying to guess how many pints of Liebraumilch the guy puking in the toilets had to drink last night!
With Christa as my Ski Watching guide I’d consider taking that hobby up!
4). And Haley from Haley in France answered that often asked question…
“Where do you go if you live in Lille and you want a good night out?”
The answer, as explained in Back in Bruges would seem to be obvious…
You go to Belgium…
And I’m sure that there’s no truth in that rumour that was floating round some of the expat forums recently that, the only reason that Belgium exists is….
a). To provide a place for the residents of the windswept wastelands of north east France to go for a decent glass of beer.
b). Belgium has to exist because neither France nor Holland wanted to have Ostend (the colonic passage of Europe?) or…
c). To slightly slow the Germans down every 30 or 40 years?
As Haley was kind enough to point out; Belgium exists so that Language Assistants in North East France have somewhere to go on their days off.
I may have slightly been a little bit untruthful about that rumour that was supposed to be going round the expat forums.
Sorry about that.
That she should be allowed to stay in France.
I must admit, it all sounds a bit suspect to me?
No one has ever asked me to strip off and have my man boobs x-rayed.
And none of the local expats, in my neck of the woods, have ever mentioned ever having to do such a thing?
I suspect that it’s just some clever little joke that some bored fonctionaires are playing on unwitting female visitors to France and there’s probably one of those pervy websites somewhere with all the photos/xrays on view to be rated and voted for?
Either that or Nichole is just a bit of an exhibitionist?
OK – now all that stuff is out of the way, let’s get on to the really important stuff…
Of course, it’s Awards Time!
And, I am proud to announce a new winner of the Blog of the Week Award!
This is awarded to the Blog post that has tickled my fancy the most during the past seven days.
This week’s Blog of the Week has been won by that… “Failed wife and poet, terrible teacher and unworthy mother of three beautiful girls”, Gigi from French Windows.
Gigi has been down in the dumps recently (mainly because her favourite George Benson CD is stuck in the CD Player in her car!) and is finding that life is catching up with her a bit.
So, in It’s not all bad she decides to go for a walk up a mountain and discovers a bag of lemons in her rucksack (or something like that?)
This, I have to say, is the sort of thing that happens to Gigi and is an excellent introduction to her blog for any of you who haven’t taken a good look before.
It is, if I may be so bold as to suggest…
Not really a “sat on the patio with a nice glass of champagne whilst watching the sun set over the mediterranean” type blog?
It’s more of a real life soap opera with Gigi somewhere in between Annie Walker and Hilda Ogden (although possibly with a touch of Bet Lynch thrown in?)
And for those of you who are either very young or very American (or Australian, I guess?), you won’t know what I’m talking about there but…
You’re probably far better off that way!
Gigi, if you’d like to place your award on your blog sidebar just email me and I’ll send you the code.
New blogs on the block….
A New Life in France is a blog about the “difficulties” of moving to France, primarily from a mother’s point of view.
There is already a wealth of interesting reading on the blog and I’m sure that that will only continue to be the case.
Emily writes the blog with a sure hand and seems to be steering the focus towards both parenting and working in France.
I’ve only just come across Chez Foti but it looks right up my street!
Louisa has only just started the blog but it seems to be going great guns!
Lousia says of Chez Foti… “My name’s Louisa Foti and I write my blog from a quiet little corner of South West France (in the department of Haute Pyrenees) where I moved with my husband, Philipe, and two small children at the end of 2010. Our daughter Francesca is now three, and son Jacques a wee eighteen months (though with an appetite of an eighteen year old at times!); obviously these two are my biggest food critics.”
The blog is primarily about family food and recipes with a little bit about general life in France
Take my advice; pay Chez Foti a visit and say hello!
The French Life is a fascinating new blog based on the French Riviera
Nadia says of her blog that it’s…
“A new adventure, new places, new people, new cities and million new things to explore. From streets of Nice to the hidden villages in the Cote D’Azur mountains this blog is about my experiences and daily life in the land of baguettes, wine, bad underarm hair, and manic drivers. From stilettos on cobblestone streets to yachts in Monaco, the fashion, the style et la vie ici.”
Loads of lovely photos; a nice sense of humour – all this combines to make a lovely new blog.
Go there, or be square!
A very interesting sort of community blog is TAG on-line and is… “News and views from the Tarn, Aveyron and Tarn and Garonne corner of SW France.”
I like the concept and can see it working well in other parts of France.
If you live in the Tarn, Aveyron and Tarn and Garonne corner of SW France (or are thinking of doing so), you should take a look…
But then, you probably know all about it already, don’t you?
Victoria Corby is a bright new blog by someone called Victoria Corby (which shouldn’t have surprised me as much as it did?)
Victoria says of her blog… “I moved to the South West of France in 1993 with my husband, three daughters and elderly cat and we currently live half an hour from Bordeaux in what we firmly believe in one of the prettiest parts of the country. As anyone who comes to the house can tell I have no difficulty in finding things to do that are more important than doing the housework, usually reading, walking our two Dalmatians or wasting time on the internet. I’ve had three novels published under my own name and after a long hiatus am in the middle of writing another.”
The blog has started off nicely and has posts that range from Zombie Walks to Food Cravings.
If you fancy reading a blog by someone who has no difficulty in finding things to do that are more important than doing the housework then…
I guess that this is the one for you.
I shall certainly come back soon and take a far deeper look!
A Paris Journey is an interesting blog/site by Roniece Dawson-Bruce
Roniece says that… “One of my passions is to travel. However for the last 6 years I seem to have found myself visiting Paris for extended periods of time.. well, make that weeks at least! i know it won’t last forever but while it does… I’m going to enjoy every moment!”
I like the way that the blog is laid out and that there are posts about Marseille and Strasbourg too.
For an idea of what to expect, take a look at the Strasbourg post.
A worthy addition to blogland and one that I shall be keeping my eye on!
Everyone seems to be having one!
I’m even more than a little bit worried (judging from the size of my belly), that I might be having one too!
What am I talking about?
Well, Lady Jennie at Lady in France said…
Congratulations Lady Jennie, you’ve obviously done a wonderful job with the first three…
Why, I have to ask, stop at four?
Just a thought?
Baby no 3 seems to taking his time for Peggy Rice at Rue Rice.
She told us what was going on While We Wait and also said…
“I’m drawn to boobs on statues. Sorry.”
No need to apologise, Peggy – I feel the same way too!
Hope Rice Child no 3 comes soon!
Crystal from Crystal Goes To Europe seems to be inundated with job offers…
Or so I understand from When it rains, it pours…
One of which is a job in a cake shop…
A no brainer really?
You know, I would pay to work in a cake shop!
Of course, being Sarah, she had to have a little winge about money and bills and all that sort of stuff but…
You know, I kind of like that?
Anyway, Sarah’s cunning plan seems sensible enough and even a viable alternative…
To sending her boys down the mines?
The rants are widespread and cover pretty much everyone and everything.
A reminder, in a way, of Sarah at St. Bloggie….
In her younger days, of course!
I believe that Mya is planning on finishing by poisoning the whole village…
Or something like that, so…
If you live halfway up a mountain in the French Pyrenees….
It might be an idea not to eat out for a while?
Those girlies have been at it again and, as Kirsty from You Had Me At Bonjour reported…
There was a Blogapalooza Redux in Avignon!
I wasn’t invited (and that’s seven ladies off my Christmas card list – let me tell you!) but I did manage to bribe one of the waiters and thus…
Will shortly be able to reveal…
Who didn’t eat all her greens,
Who did a stinky one in the toilet and…
Who’s husband dances round the house in the nude!
Now, you might think that they look all innocent in this photo but…
Let me tell you, the waiting staff would disagree!
They tell me they’ve have less cleaning up to do after the local rugby club Christmas dinner!
Xavier (the head waiter) described it to me as follows…
“Kate” (everyone calls me Kate; Keith is unpronouncable for most frogs?)
“You know the last 20 minute segment of Apocalypse Now?”
“Well, that’s tame compared to what we had here!”
Ladies (if that’s really the right word to use after all that I’ve heard….)
Congratulations on a wonderful get-together!
You look like you had a wonderful time!
Now for the rest of the awards….
Which is a charming tale all about offering to look after Guillaume (small sprog of the French persuasion) at the park for the afternoon and then…
Take him home and feed him.
And all this was done without LA Mom saying a word!
This week’s Award for Being Different goes (as is only right) to Amber from Travelling Amber who explained that, unlike the rest of the population of the frozen wastelands of north east France, chose not to go to Belgium for a weekend away and went to England instead!
And whilst some here were doubting her sanity and many of the Award Judging Committee were heard to mutter that… “Even Ostend would be preferable to Dover; and that’s saying something!”
Amber described her trip in The England Invasion and seemed to have a good time…
Apart from both Victor and Jeremie getting sick,that is!
But then, that’s England for you, isn’t it?
Which is probably why anyone who can afford to is leaving England to move to the Dordogne (the chance of being on television is rather an attraction too!)
And whilst I have many happy memories of cod fishing trips to Dover…
Or, as happy as memories can be when they involve spending all night on the breakwater in the middle of winter in the peeing rain trying to catch fish that have been extinct for at least 50 years…
I would not disagree with anyone who wished to suggest that, if Ostend is the Colonic Passage of Europe, then Dover must be the Hemorrhoid at the end of the Colonic Passage of Europe?
And I would like to apologise to any expat who was born in Dover (or had the misfortune to have lived in that godforsaken place); if you’re reading this then you’ve probably done the sensible thing and moved to France or…
Are planning to do so?
Amber, I suggest that, in the future…
You follow everyone else’s example and go to Belgium instead?
We couldn’t quite work out if he had caught a cold from his computer or whether it was the other way round but…
Whichever it was, it seemed worthy of an Award!
Ken, I hope you and computer get better soon.
We were a bit divided about handing out that award on the grounds that the title of Breadispain’s post might possibly cause offence to any French people (of whom there are rather a few in France) who might read it.
However, we decided that it must be hard enough… “to be the gross, sweaty girl at the gym (who runs while listening to trashy romance novels), existing in a world without air-conditioning and with a people without sweat glands.”
And that any normal French person would probably be more offended by the gallons of sweat dripping off Breadispain rather than anything she has written on her blog.
Congratulations (I think?) on your award, Breadispain!
Ashley, we have come to rely on your constant search for the most essential item of all male accessories and look forward to the day when you can show us a photo of your husband…
Proudly sporting his own man bag!
Actually has nothing to do with flowers (in agony or otherwise) and is…
Mainly a manifesto for her plans to run for village mayor!
Think Mein Kampf….
Think Das Kapital…
Well, Sara Louise appears to be somewhere in between the two…
But with pink shutters and…
I’d vote for her, wouldn’t you?
And possibly hoping (assuming that Sara Louise wins by a landslide), for a job as National Gardens Dictator is Susie from No Damn Blog who has admitted in Anarchic Gardening, Part1 that she likes making islands so that she can destroy them!
Now, on the rare occasions that Mrs A Taste of Garlic allows me on her sit on tractor I like to pretend that there are people staked out in the grass; people who know that I am on my way, people who know that I’ve spent all morning sharpening the blades!
Generally these fantasy people consist of the entire 1982 Conservative cabinet (and those from 1983 to 1988, inclusive), anyone who has ever played for Arsenal, Jeffrey Archer and most, if not all, Manchester United supporters (apart from the very few who were actually born in Manchester and may have actually visited Old Trafford at least once in their lives.)
And, you know, I always thought that I was mad for having this fantasy but…
Compared to Susie…
I’m a model of sanity!
There were two shortlisted entries for the Romke Soldaat Award for being Romke Soldaat and they both came from Romke Soldaat at Frogsmoke himself!
The first was a subtle hint, described in When I’m Rich I’ll Buy You A Pram that Sarlozy’s little stroll in the park with his bit of fluff and new sprog might just have been a publicity stunt, even though Carla Bruni had vowed that her newborn daughter would remain out of the limelight and had been especially insistent baby Giulia would not become a publicity tool in her husband’s campaign to be re-elected as French president.
And the second was the wonderful Don’t know much about geography…
In which CNN (and tell me, those of you of American persuasion, is CNN a popular news channel in the States?) believes that Cannes has slipped about 500 miles westwards to….
The north coast of Spain!
When we start making pre-emptive strikes in Iran (any day soon, you mark my words!) let’s hope the bombers are slightly better informed?
Romke, you deserve your award this week…
But don’t rest on your laurels!
And it might be an idea to climb onto your roof and paint, in big letters… This is not Tehran?
As rants go it’s really quite a gentle and well reasoned one but, I’m still going to award our famous Rant of the Week Award to Crumpet at Survive France for Yes folks, the world’s worst blogger is back again….
And Crumpet’s little rant is something that is rather close to my heart.
You see, Crumpet (together with her husband) run a Life in France Network called Survive France.
Designed (I think) to help people who have moved to France; either in a practical manner or, just as a meeting place.
And it seems that some people don’t like that?
I’ve seen this happen before, in my part of France. People start up little forums to help other expats get together (in a virtual sense) and, sooner or later, someone comes along to ruin things.
Strangely enough I feel that the ruiners tend to be those who would benefit most from the forum/network in the first place?
It’s a funny old world, isn’t it?
I don’t go on Expat forums any more and, although I am a member of Survive France (I think I was one of the first; no 30 if I remember right), I spend very little time on there but…
From what I’ve seen it is doing a wonderful job of bringing together people who want to be brought together and for that it should be congratulated…
Rather than hated.
I’ll say it again; it’s a funny old world and it would appear to me that some people living expat lives in France seem to spend more time criticising and generally being unpleasant online than actually getting out there and living in the real world.
And that’s a shame.
This gentle tale describes…
Well, I can’t even begin to describe what this post describes but….
You know the last 20 minute segment of Apocalypse Now?
Well, that’s tame compared to this!
The Girls Gone Wild Section!
Despite international sanctions being threatened and negative editorial comments in most newspapers (apart from the Daily Mail who were very supportive – and we’re more than a bit embarrassed about that!) – we are still determined to carry on…
In our quest to keep you fully informed about the antics of our….
Girls Gone Wild!
Whilst, as far as we are aware, she hasn’t gone as far as having her head shaved and sticking safety pins in her nose she is, at least, frequenting the sort of dive that those sort of drongos might attend.
Bravo Wendy, you’ve been accepted into the Girls Gone Wild section of this review!
Humiliated and shamed by her inclusion, last week, into the Girls Gone Mild section of this review, Gwan from Where in the World is Gwannel Sandiego? fought back valiantly….
Unbuttoned her cardigan (do real Girls Gone Wild wear cardigans?) and..
Thrust her chest out!
This was more than any of the male members of the International Award Judging Committee could take (and, interesting enough, more than one of the female members of the aforementioned committee could take, judging from the visible palpitations – who would have guessed?) and we decided unanimously to allow Gwan back into the Girls Gone Wild section of this review.
In much the same style (although there have been no reports of cardigan unbuttoning?), Amber from Travelling Amber tried to recover her rightful position as Naughtiest Nellie in the Neighbourhood and told us all about it in Girls Trying to Go Wild.
And try she did….
By arguing with drunken French idiots,
Visiting complete strangers,
And fighting over a coat!
Is it any wonder that most respectable inhabitants of Lille go to Belgium if they want a nice night out?
Amber, welcome back to the Girls Gone Wild section.
You can keep your place here as long as I get all the juicy gossip and photos from your Metz roadtrip!
And, after heated arguments with the protesters camped in the front garden, we have finally caved in and reached a compromise!
For all of you who feel that you are too old and decrepit to manage the stairs and climb up to the lofty heights of the Girls Gone Wild section without peeing yourselves (you know who you are!)….
We have been forced, against our better judgement, to open a….
Girls Gone Mild section!
So, without further ado…
Please meet some Girls Gone Mild!
Many, many hours have been spent in our offsite conference centre (also know as the village bar), hunched over a bottle of Ricard trying to decide on the right thing to do.
But in the end we really had no choice!
Anyone who admits to going to a George Michael concert, and enjoying it!
Is not really cut out to be a Girl Gone Wild and is, unfortunately….
A prime candidate for the Girls Gone Mild section of this review.
Kirsty, I’m so, so sorry but…
Take my advice…
Stop listening to George Michael and…
Start listening to your Blogapalooza friends; especially the Texan ones!
And, if you make a real effort over the next week….
You’ll be able to put all this shame and humiliation behind you and…
Be allowed to show your face in public again!
a). Only contained one swear word (although that was the F one!) and
b). That she is secretly looking for a nice French boyfriend (presumably to sip Ovaltine with whilst sat on the sofa watching Poubelle Le Monde?
Not the sort of behaviour that we expect from a Girl Gone Wild and rather worrying, to be honest!
Even in a last ditch attempt to make us change our minds, her post Crying and Consuming: Part 1 contained only two swearwords (if you discount one incidence of dick, which isn’t really that rude anymore) and they were both shit and that’s not even that rude these days!
And all of the shenanigans described in the post were carried out by other late night trollops and much of the post was devoted to curling a four year old’s hair and eating Gummy Bears (although not at the same time, for any of you health and Safety freaks out there!)
So, it is with deep regret that I have to say to you LBM…
You’ve let the side down – you’re a disgrace to the people of Manchester and, indeed, your nation!
And for that you’ll have to suffer the humiliation and shame of being known,henceforth as…
A Girl Gone Mild!
And just for the people who didn’t win an award this week….
Here are the famous Awards for not Winning an Award!
Shannon at A Little Bit Chaunoise was last heard on Wednesday 12th October muttering about going to Chauny the next Friday and…
Has not been heard of since!
I do hope that Laura’s serial killing canal murderer hasn’t got her!
Shannon, if you’re not sleeping with the fishes could yo pop round to let people know that you are OK and to collect your…
Award For Not Winning An Award This Week!
I fly a starship was last heard of on Wednesday September 21st saying…
“So this past weekend, I went out on Friday night, got absolutely shit-faced, cycled home in a blur, fell asleep, woke up at 3pm on Saturday, read for a few hours, then went out to an African themed party at the residence, with my new ‘residence friends’.”
And not a peep has been heard from her since!
Iflyastarship, always assuming that you haven’t been chopped up and dumped in the nearest canal, could you make an effort to remedy your slight lack of posting and to..
Pick up your..
Award For Not Winning An Award This Week!
And just when you thought it was all over….
I’m going to sneak in a little bit of Idle Gossip and Chit Chat….
Laura (of Serial Killing Canal Murderer fame) gave us a lovely history lesson in La Légend de Lille over at The Everyday Life of a Young American Girl in France.
Full of violence, you’ll love this tale if you want to know what Lille was like in the olden days…
Before the war, in other words!
Meanwhile, CW at Yours Sincerely, the French Chapter was investigating The Curious Case of the Laundromat Creep and the White Coat which makes me start to wonder about anyone who lives in the frozen wastelands of north east France!
Don’t they have TV up there?
Is it there proximity to Belgium that makes them all so strange?
I dare you to read CW’s tale and then not cross Picardy off your Places to visit before I get chopped up by a serial killing canal murder list.
And I thought that they were a funny lot, that lot down in Montpellier!
Just goes to show, you can never tell!
This lot in Chi’tesland make those Montpellierians look positively sane!
That’s all I’ve got time for this week, folks!
Same time, same place
And a quick for for all of you…
Especially you lot in the frozen wastelands of north east France (those of you that aren’t visiting Belgium today, that is)…
“Hey, let’s be careful out there.”
All the best