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(Grimaud Castle, France, The sky is the limit)
For those of you who don’t know it (where have you guys been all this time?), last week was offers’ week for secondary schools (i.e. from 11 to 18 years old). In London, finding a secondary school is a very competitive process, and girls need to pass several exams and then interviews before they know where they can go in September. It is a stressful time for mothers & daughters (see my post on the prep here and my daughter’s version of the events here)
Back in October, I went to talk to my daughter’s teachers. I felt like I was back to school when a stern maths teacher with square spectacles made it very clear that my daughter was, as she put it, “borderline” for London’s top schools. She didn’t say “with hard work, she will get there”. No, she delivered the news that my bright, beautiful daughter would be better advised not to present the school she badly wants since she turned 5 – let’s call it Saint Peter in West London.
It is fair to say that I pushed her. Selection in the French system is ruthless, so I knew what to do and how to get ready. I took the bulldozer approach and I analysed all the past papers I could find. I identified all the different types of exercises and am now such an expert on all the 11+ tests that I am seriously considering starting a tutoring business!
I would like to think that I wasn’t as bad as other Mums as she could still go to her after-school clubs (ballet, swimming…) whereas most of her class mates stopped everything. I might be in denial here. To be fair, some of the girls had been tutored since the day they were born. I only gave her a push over the last three months. Again, I might be kidding myself.
We have just received the offers. She got a firm offer from ALL the schools she presented.  Each of them, including St Peter of course. But, best of all, her current school is now offering her an academic scholarship as apparently she did extremely well. How come that Borderline Girl has now become Bright Girl?
Oh, and we haven’t worked together since the exam. Instead of revising, we are now catching up with all the chick flicks we missed…I recommend “The Rebound”, it made me laugh. It is really good to get my life back.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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                                       (L’arbre des possibles, The tree of all possibilities – Muriel 2010)


Today is women’s day. However, we keep hearing, in Great Britain, that we women have never had it so good, that we have a choice (career or children) and that, in short, we shouldn’t complain. Best of all: studies made by women came to such a conclusion. Do we all live in the same planet? I sometimes wonder.
Of course, we have access to services and a quality of life that other sisters can not even dream of (tap water, health services, education…). But come on, we are far from being equal, aren’t we? Who are we kidding here? Did I dream the glass ceiling thing? Where are the girls in boardrooms? In Parliament ?  I believe that we will have achieved some equality when incompetent men and women will be treated the very same way. I once had a male boss who was corrupted. He was promoted (or, should I say, swiftly moved to another job). The female Human Resources director had been sacked just before, apparently because she was incompetent – the two events were not related-.
I will also believe in equality when my husband puts the dirty laundry in the basket, not on top of it.
I am an optimist and I am hopeful that, eventually, we will get there. In the meantime, I am exhausted every day and ranting on my blog is my therapy.


Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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Welcome to the SheWrites Blogger Ball!

A big thank you to Meg for organising this…Enjoy your visit!
I thought that I should take this opportunity to introduce myself a bit better. Here are some quick facts about me:
1. I speak 4 foreign languages, but all with a French accent (and believe me, you don’t want that);
2. I am a French Mum living in London;
3. I hate the way people (mostly men) look at me when I speak with a French accent;
4. A long time ago, I decided to be brutally honest with myself, even if it means facing some not-so-nice home truths sometimes;
5. Chocolate is my favorite thing;
6. I am passionate about Asia and would love to live there at some point;
7. My daughters are growing up beautifully and despite the fact that I feel 15 in my head I have to accept that I am middle aged now. Tough.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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In order to understand what life is about over here, I had to learn lots of new, sometimes useful words.
For instance, it took me some time to understand that you had freehold and also leasehold properties in this country. I thought at first: who would buy a property for a lease of 20 years -or sometimes even less? Once the lease expires, you are not sure to be able to renew it. Or it will cost you…But, once again, I was wrong: you need to be flexible here, and in any event you have no choice, most properties are leasehold anyway. Leasehold contracts come in all forms and shapes. Some are only for a year, others for 999 years. I am still struggling with what a peppercorn rent is. It has nothing to do with pepper and corn, I am sure of this.
Apparently, it is perfectly normal to buy a leasehold property in London, and to pay huge amounts of legal fees to get the share of freehold (i.e. all or part of the ground your property is built on) later, or to renew it at the end of the lease (which you are not sure to be able to do)… Weird…someone needs to finance the lawyers’ lifestyle-and the freeholder’s (who is usually part of the aristocracy), I suppose.

We live in Pimlico and are lucky enough to have bought a freehold property, which is a rare luxury in London. This is because, 150 years ago, Pimlico was were the honest businessmen from Chelsea were coming to drink a few pints and relax in company of women of little virtue.
The freeholder got slightly annoyed to have to sue various madams to get his rent and eventually sold the freehold of his properties, which can be considered to be a radical but effective way to solve the problem.
I like this history of Pimlico. The records of the Stuffed Cat’s house (http://mumugb.blogspot.com/2011/02/stuffed-cats-house.html#links)
do not appear to show any activity of this kind. That being said, they would not advertise it I suppose…Our house was initially rented by room, and former tenant shave included, apparently, a gifted musician, a dress maker, and various engineers.
For some unknown reason, Pimlico remains one of my favorite parts of London. Thanks, Sisters!
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London