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I hate to say it, but I am getting older this week. Of course, it is not the end of the world, but I feel like I am becoming more and more invisible. From memory, it started shortly after 37. And it culminated a few months ago when I noticed that a young guy was checking out my teenage daughter (What a perv, she is so young!) and not even noticing me –I felt like I had been pushed on the side, you know, next to the bin. Weird. I could interpret the meaning of his long look at her, but he didn’t even give me so much as a glance.
Every cloud has its silver lining, and it is nice not to feel any pressure to seduce or look good all the time. I am what I am and, to an extent, it is liberating. I can also observe as much as I want, as my invisibility cloak seems to protect me everywhere I go. Maybe I could start picking my nose in public, I am sure that nobody would notice anyway. Interesting thought… It is also funny to see the younger ones dancing around each other. Been there. Done it. Moved on. Now, when people are nice to me, it is because they want me to make a donation or buy something. Sigh. Ah, the joy of getting older!
In France, for your birthday, people take you out for lunch or dinner, or buy you drinks. You don’t have to lift a finger, everything is being taken care of. Not in London. Over here, you have to buy some cakes for the whole department, as if being a year older wasn’t difficult enough. I think that I won’t say anything this time, everybody seems to have forgotten it was my birthday anyway. I am invisible, remember? I will hide in a dark corner while everybody is running around.
Recently, I found out that some (most) of my friends over here had had Botox or other fillers, and some had even had some “work” done (believe it or not, some are younger than me!). Where does this leave me? I don’t want to end up with a “Pillow face” and I hate needles anyway. This gives me no choice: I will have to age gracefully (or as gracefully as I can), and stick to my chocolate and olive oil diet. 

Come to think of it, maybe it is time to add a little bit of champagne to it. At least, that’s something to look forward to…

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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Patronising comments are the one thing that makes my life that little bit more difficult over here. I hate patronising comments (and, by proxy, patronising people) with a passion. I simply hate to be patronised, but here they do it all the time. Sometimes, they don’t even notice that they patronise you. That’s how natural it has become to some. It is part of their very identity and they don’t understand why you suddenly become angry. It can be a nightmare and I can feel my blood boiling. Urgent action is needed. We need to act together against this major issue. In England, people can call you ‘Darling” and put you down in a polite but really nasty way in the same sentence. Please help me eradicate this problem. I beg of you!
Let me give you a few examples:
1.     When I was pregnant, I couldn’t get an appointment soon enough to get a nuchal scan. This is a test that is less invasive than an amniocentesis (which I didn’t want to do because there is some risk of miscarriage involved) but you only have a short window of opportunity (a few weeks) to get it done. It gives you a good indication of whether your baby suffers from genetic conditions such as Down Syndrome. When I eventually managed to secure an appointment, it was too late because they had postponed it twice. Instead of profusely apologising, the nurse lectured me on odds and probabilities: ”Don’t worry, Luv, you are young, the chances of having a Down Syndrome baby are very low. No need for such a test…” And she went on to explain the statistics. Not helpful at all. Where do they find these people?
2.     I once arrived at an appointment with my banker five minutes late. I explained the reason why and apologised: the Tube line had been suspended and I had had to rush to find a cab. The receptionist gave me a lecture on the fact that the time of an appointment is meant to be kept, because, you see, that’s the reason why they give you an appointment. How nice. I thought I would kill her.
3.     You don’t know what being patronised means until you have heard the primary school’s head teacher explain to you that you should not tutor your child. You will be explained that they know when a child is tutored and they don’t accept him/her in their school. You wouldn’t believe the number of passionate speeches against tutors that I have heard. At some point, I almost took their word for it. Then, eventually, I found out that the head teacher is running a tutoring business on the side.  If you were fool enough to believe what he/she said, your child might have missed out on a good school.
Against this backdrop, I decided that urgent actions were needed. Now, when I am patronised by a receptionist or a server, I just complain to the manager or to the customer service department. Or I leave without a word. It sometimes works. For all the other cases, let me show you my latest creation: a “Stop Patronising Me!” T-shirt. 


What do you think of it? I think it is going to be part of my armour over here!

NB: A big thank you to my fellow PBAUer Joy. She has given yet another award to 40blogSpot and you can read her blog here .
I also strongly recommend you to have a look at a new mummy blogger, Claire Jeffreys, who has also kindly given this blog an award. You can read her blog here.
Thanks again for your support!
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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London is getting ready for Christmas. It is dark when we wake up and even darker when we go to bed. We have had rain, fog and cold weather. It feels like this is as bad as it can get. Winter can be challenging over here.

If I were on my own, I would fly to the other side of the world to soak up the tropical sun and forget about it all. But I can’t. I have to take care of my family, you see. I just have to get on with my life here. How boring.

But I had some unexpected help…My Indian friend Nisha (see here or read her blog here if you don’t know her) has sent me an early Christmas present. Two Bollywood movies were delivered at my very door by DHL yesterday. What a lovely surprise! The thing is…How can I say it? Well, I have to come clean: I had never ever watched a Bollywood movie before.

So I did what I had to do: I put the DVD on. It was a romcom called “Jab We Met”.
Suffice to say that it was exactly what I needed. I just loved it. I loved the colorful sceneries, the travel around India, by train and car (I want to go to India again soon!), and I caught myself dancing to the Bollywood tunes. My daugther found me extremely embarrassing. Once again. That’s what mums are for, right? What is not to love about the main character, Geet, who keeps putting herself in sticky situations? And the movie is about growing up and finding real love (I know, I sound cheesy). And the light…I love the Indian light (it is really dark over here you see).







Come on: who can really resist this? Just stand up and dance please.

So tell me, how come I didn’t know that Bollywood movies were so colorful and entertaining?
Who would have thought that a Bollywood movie would lift me up? Thanks, Nisha!

NB: I am keeping the other DVD for later….
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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WAG: is an acronym, used particularly by the British tabloid press, to describe the wives and girlfriends of high-profile footballers

My daughter had an occasional day of holiday on Friday. This is because the year 6 girls are starting the 11+ exams and had the computer-based tests at her school. I am so glad that we have passed this phase…(see here to understand how traumatised I was about the whole thing). We therefore decided to have a nice breakfast in a coffee shop close to Sloane Road. We had never tried it before and were looking forward to it.
We sat down and after a while a reluctant server came to take our order. You will be pleased to know that the croissants were nice.
Then, 5 minutes later, a well-known footballer came in with his latest squeeze (if even I know him, he must be really famous – I tend to prefer rugby, I like men to be men, not pretty boys). She had high heels, a mini skirt and was fully made up (as in plaster on the face) at 8 am.
The happy couple was swiftly served and started snogging shamelessly. Lovely.
It was only the start. Another WAG-look-alike entered, with huge sunglasses, track suit bottoms and high heels came in and sat with her boyfriend.
My daughter and me were under the impression that we were not quite fitting in. This was confirmed by the fact that we were joined at our table by a blonde russian-speaking lady. She was middle-aged, skinny, and her facial expression was impossible to read. It was, well, frozen. My well-informed daughter muttered “Botox” to me and as usual she was spot-on.
We quickly paid and left. A last glance at the window confirmed that the footballer and his WAG were still kissing -a relationship that survives breakfast is probably a serious one  in such a world!
Let’s just say that I don’t think we will come back. Or if we do, I need to invest in higher heels.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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Sometimes I feel like I belong here, sometimes I don’t. One thing I am still struggling to come to terms with is the fry-up, otherwise known as the British breakfast. Simply put, a No No for me.
Let me explain. I was brought up having a piece of bread and some cereals for breakfast. That was it. It was a nice and slow start of the day, and I got used to it.
Over here, things are completely different. It is perfectly normal to have fried eggs, fried bread, sausages, bacon and beans for breakfast. In fact, you can have anything, as long as it is fried of course. And the more, the better. The plates they use look like dishes to me, and the portions could feed a giant.
The smell of fried oil first thing the morning simply makes my stomach churn. When you walk to work, in London, you can see all office workers having a huge British breakfast in the coffee shops. Worst of all, where I used to work, it was common practice to turn your computer on, and then go to the canteen to come back with a plastic box full of goodies such as fried wedges, fried eggs and the mandatory bacon of course. Lovely. I also let you imagine the smell (and chewing noises) when I was replying to my emails.
I have read a lot about the nutritional qualities of a British breakfast. Apparently, it is a good cure for a hangover. And eating proteins in the morning makes you feel fuller for a longer time.
Maybe I am not a morning person. I need some time (and a couple of cups of coffee) before I can take it. It would be a good brunch at, say, 11 am. But I think that it would be my only meal of the day! And I wouldn’t do it every day (what is your level of cholesterol after such a breakfast?).

Maybe people have a fry-up over here because it is almost impossible to find a decent croissant in London. It is not unusual for coffee shops to sell you croissants from the day before, and put them in the microwave to soften them. Simply unacceptable!  I now have a carefully selected list of addresses for a decent croissant in the morning but, believe me, it was hard work.
So tell me, how about you, are more into croissants or fry-ups?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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A question I often get is why we decided to stay in London. Because I am French-educated and, to top it up, from St Tropez, my well-meaning friends assume that there is something wrong with me.
Well, maybe there is. But in the meantime, here is my attempt of an answer:
1.    In France we don’t have mince pies in the run-up to Christmas;
2.    It is nice to go ice-skating at Somerset house in the winter;
3.    The other day, I was walking home when a lady who was coming in the other direction, decided that her tights needed to be lifted. She shamelessly did this in the middle of the street, I could even see her pants. She didn’t seem bothered at all. You have got to admire such confidence!
4.    Here, if you are hungry, you eat. I don’t feel any pressure to be skinny;
5.    I love coffee. London has fantastic coffees;
6.     Harrods;
7.    You can find perfect macaroons over here (there are even Laduree shops);
8.    No-one will judge you if you do the school run in your PJs. Well, almost no-one;
9.    Where else could I watch Spooks (MI5 in the US)? And Richard Armitage? (let’s just say that he is a very good actor!);
10.  Have you seen the Turner collection at the Tate Britain?
In short, I love my life here. For some reason, it is not something that my family or friends understand. There is something else as well. I was reading a book of Margaret Mead the other day and she was describing how certain personalities were a misfit in their tribes. And then it dawned on me: maybe I am a misfit in France. Amongst other things, I have itchy feet and always want to travel and learn new languages. Not very French, don’t you think?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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The beauty of a foreign language lies with its expressions and idioms. It can sometimes make me laugh in the middle of a sentence, and this sudden hilarity is usually not very well understood by the person I am talking to. Tough for them!

The problem with me is that the more I try to refrain myself from laughing, the more I have his urge of actually having to laugh. A vicious circle.
And, to top it all up, they have lots of funny expression over here, such as:
 “It is raining cats and dogs” (You might not believe it, but the French equivalent would be “It is raining like a peeing cow”). I was a bit surprised when I first heard it.



“Excuse my French” – that’s what you say when you use a bad word. As I happen to be French, this is a tough one to for me to comprehend!
But I heard the best one, in my view, when a colleague of mine described someone as a “Fountain of knowledge”. You see, the equivalent expression in French would be, literally, a “well of science”.
Initially I thought that it was some sort of literary joke. It wasn’t. I can’t help thinking that it is quite telling that the British are talking of a fountain: you can’t miss a fountain, it usually is in the middle of a park, for everyone to see and admire, and the water flows continuously. Simply put, a fountain shows off.
The same cannot be said of a well. A well is usually hidden in the garden, and you use it when you need to get some water. No one admires a well. It is something useful, as natural as the air that you breathe. And don’t be fooled either: when the French say “science”, they mean knowledge in his instance.
So tell me, are you a fountain or a well? I think that I prefer a well. I may still be more French than I thought.
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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Yesterday was bonfire night. Bonfire night is a very British celebration. It all started in 1605 when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding explosives put beneath the House of Lords by fellow plotters. The celebrations are because the King (James the 1st), survived the attempt on his life. Apparently, the celebrations are also a focus for anti-Catholic sentiment (something to do with the fact that Guy Fawkes was a Catholic). The tradition remains quite strong in this country, and I usually feel a bit left out during bonfire night. I think that it is because Guy Fawkes was eventually tortured and executed. According to his museum in York, his body parts were then distributed to “the four corners of the Kingdom”, to be displayed as a warning to other would-be plotters. Lovely. Not something I would celebrate.
On top of this, it has been a weird week. When I was reading the newspapers, Kim Kardashian’s divorce seemed to be everywhere. Her marriage, apparently, lasted something like 72 days. Millions were spent and made out of this. Reality TV is big business and, worst of all, we seem to be addicted to it.
Then I also read that Tamara Ecclestone, the daughter of the Formula 1 boss, is frustrated because people think that she is vain. Poor darling. She bought a crystal bath for a million pounds (That’s c1.5 million dollars, if you should ask), collects Birkin bags (at £10,000 a pop – for the cheapest that is) and sees a dermatologist as soon as she spots a pimple on her beautiful face. To be fair, she does some charity work too, but the sad reality is that she mostly appears to be interested in herself and the way she looks.

Where can I hide? Where have normal people gone? I feel a bit out of sync today (too much wine yesterday probably). Why do we celebrate the execution and torture of Guy Fawkes and report every single move of women whose sole achievement is to look good?

My antidote to this feeling is to immerse myself in reality.  I take it easier on Sundays. We cook, we bake our own bread, and have a nice home-made soup for dinner. I turn the TV set off and try to enjoy my own simple life.  How about you? How do you manage to keep grounded in all the on-going chaos?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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One of the problems of living in London is to find a decent hairdresser. In Paris, for 20 Euros you can have a haircut with a natural-looking blow dry. Well, in London, things are a tad bit more complicated.
First of all, most hairdressers are independent and have their own ways of working. You can pay as little as £5 for a haircut around Camden (I wouldn’t risk it though. At my age you don’t want to take such risks), or as much as £100 at Harrods, where you will see wealthy women getting completely drunk while their hair is being styled (they don’t cut, they style there).
Neither option appeals to me. I have tried everything. Sometimes, I have found French hairdressers who just knew what I wanted, but after a few months they left London to go elsewhere and I had to find somebody else. I tried once a new salon, only to finish with a “funky” haircut. I don’t do funky. I want simple and natural-looking. Not possible apparently.
You have all sorts of haircut styles in London. Some seem to date back from the seventies. The fringes are quite big over here. Especially the ones that seem to have been cut with a bowl on your head. A No-No for me.
I once was sitting with a friend at a Motcomb Street coffee. This is a very exclusive part of London and we were watching people passing by. I quickly noticed that most women had a similar hairstyle. It was kind of weird: they had really big hair that was staying perfectly in place despite the wind. Impressive. And then it suddenly dawned on me. This is not a haircut, this is hair sculpture. It simply follows a different set of rules:
       the bigger, the better;
       if it sticks, it’s fantastic;
       the hair must look and feel like cardboard;
       you must walk as if you had a soufflé on your head. This is because you do have a soufflé on your head.
Walking a bit further, I realized that they were all coming from he same exclusive hairdresser (no names will be given on this blog). They had created a new fashion: the Motcomb Street Blow Dry. Again, not for me.
As for me, I am now going to my cheap local salon and trying to boss my hairdresser around.  With limited results. That’s what London does for you!
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London