Best of times?
Saturday, August 22, 2009
And now the end is near........
Well this is it folks, my last hurrah as Mme VLiF. The 24th August is fast approaching and it's time to draw my French blog to a close.
Best of times?
After almost 5 years here it's been a great adventure which I don't regret for a moment but it's time to move on. So, here are a few thoughts and ponderings about our time in France
What do I love?
The views from the village
The weather in summer - not this summer. Too bloody hot!
My friends I've made here who I'll miss like mad but who hopefully are already planning their next trip to Wiltshire
Croissants from the lady in the village market on Sundays - but then they probably account for my expanding waistline
The fields when the wheat turns gold
The vast swathes of rape in Spring - apart from the coughing and sneezing it brings!
Sitting on our balcony watching the Milky Way and the shooting stars
What do I hate?
The nastiness that exists on some France forums
The weather for the rest of the year,
French customer services. Actually, that's something of an oxymoron, French and Customer Services!
French TV -- I really tried my best with it but it's pretty awful
The word 'integration'
People who say 'it's like the UK in the 50s' - what with malnutrition, polio, inequality of the sexes, backstreet abortions and hidden domestic violence? It's like France in the 2000s!
The word 'expats', we're not expats, we're immigrants. In fact, most of us are economic migrants really having moved to France so we could buy a bigger house. We are the Poles of France, except most don't actually have to work!
What drives me mad?
That you can't find things in the shops that have been available in the modern world for years - and I don't mean Marmite and Baked Beans, I mean, like ordinary things.
Paying for something in a shop and despite them having a drawer full of change they always want the odd centimes, even if there's 97 of them!
The lack of joined up thinking that seems so prevalent here
So not that much really!
What makes me smile?
The gallic shrug as the answer to everything.
The fact that Barko Sarko seems to be the world's biggest Francophobe, and he made Prez
Monsieur L's dancing
My lovely neighbour for whom I really hope life takes a turn for the better
What has been most suprising?
That despite everything you read it really is the same merde just different shaped bread. Maybe for the retired it's different but for me it just isn't. I'm quite convinced, as I have been for some time, that the authors of these 'Living the Dream' books are all taking mind-altering substances.
How few bilingual British people are actually employed in France.
How many people are prepared to live in absolute penury and accept things they absolutely wouldn't accept in their home countries just to live in a bigger house in France. I mean, it's great but .......
What has been most disappointing?
The education system. Dull, rigid, outdated. It's intended to produce drones who will work uncomplainingly for the ruling elite. So much for Egalité. One of the main reasons we are leaving is because our children, are so unhappy in the school system here. They can't wait to go back to 'proper' school in the UK. Let's hope it's not a disappointment.
Being ripped off by supposed friends. It can happen anywhere but it happened here.
The realisation that French couture doesn't really exist outside Paris. I can happily spend a whole day shopping and find absolutely nothing that I like. Shoes are the worst, hence my attachment to my Crocs
Hairdressers - I've lived in fear of coming out with aubergine or orange hair, or even both
The lack of opportunity for our bilingual British children. The French still seem to prefer to employ a French person with limited English than an English person with fluent French.
Best of times?
Christmas with some of our closest friends at the Chateau de L'hoste, Marchés Gourmands, time spent with friends, barbeque chez OnlyMe and Karlos Fandango, trying and largely failing to win the Quiz night (but we won this week, Allez les filles!!), the childrens' music concerts at Beauville Arts, listening proudly under the shade of the lime trees in Jon and Claire's garden, the High Security Music camp shows and singing my heart out with OnlyMe and of course, the Last Hurrah - our leaving party last weekend, of which I haven't had time to blog, sadly.
Worst of times?
Chopping wood in the winter, in fact anything to do with the winter!
Seeing good friends go through bad times and not being able to do anything to help.
Losing my beloved Mad Baz and Teabag and (whisper) accidentally running over DD's cat on the way to school one day. There.... I've said it. My name is Mme VLif and I've killed a family pet.
Telling the CH that I don't want to live here anymore because he loves it but he must love me more as he's agreed to move back. Aaaah!
Life in France vs Life in the UK?
UK for me I'm afraid. I try really hard to be a good 'expat' but I find after 4-5 years I realise just what a great place, despite everything, the UK really is and what opportunities exist for my children. France is, undoubtedly a great place to retire to but I'm not sure it's the place for families. All the reasearch I've done shows that most children brought up in France return to the UK. DD and DS are keen and very happy to return to the UK. There's lots I could add that has contributed to our decision to leave France but much of it is personal and not for sharing. All I would say is before passing judgement on someone's decision you need to walk in their shoes. I'm sure those of you desperate to leave the UK or whereever you live will think I'm bonkers but don't forget I was you 5 years ago. Sometimes it takes time away to make you realise what you had and also what you want.
Well, that's all folks, as they say. Thank you so much to everyone who has read and enjoyed my blog, to those who have commented and especially to all those clever people who's blogs I enjoy. I shall remain forever indebted to my Mum and Dad for encouraging me to start 'What French Dream'. It will serve as a permanent reminder of our French Adventure, assuming the Interweb doesn't get sucked into a black hole! Au revoir........