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Tropical Storm in Malaysia

My friends have all told me: what a funny time to come to New York! Have you lost your mind? Have you come especially for the hurricane? And so on, and so forth.
So let me make something clear. So far, it is simply perfect. We did all the things tourists usually do: Horse ride in Central Park, 5th Avenue, Time Square and the look in my daughters’ eyes was worth more than all the reproaches we have had so far. The only drawback is the lack of an open Starbucks around our hotel. That said, it made us discover a really nice corner bakery. Every cloud has its silver lining, right?
Knowing that hurricane Irene was coming, I didn’t really want to go – my husband called me a wimp-, but our flight to New York wasn’t cancelled and yesterday was a truly magnificent summer day. The only thing we risk now is to have our flight back cancelled, which would mean that we could stay longer (actually, I could live with that!). We have been through tropical storms in Malaysia and monsoons in Jakarta. And frankly, as long as you stay indoors and at a higher level, you are reasonably safe (I would know, we were once caught on a tropical storm on a plane and believe me, I thought I was going to die –either from a crash or a heart attack).

New York tonight: no rain, no wind so far!

Despite the weather being actually quite nice (a few wet spells today, but nothing frightening, especially if you are used to living in London), hurricane Irene has hijacked the news. It is simply everywhere. Everybody is talking about mandatory evacuations and the metro has stopped, which means that not a lot of businesses are open. On the bright side, we have stocked up on crisps, water and biscuits and it feels very nice to have so much junk food in our hotel room. I haven’t heard anything about Libya for a couple of days (have they caught Gaddafi yet?) and the motto here is “prepare for the worst, hope for the best”. I am struggling to understand what is going on. This is a tropical storm, a type 1 hurricane (i.e., the weakest one) and even in upper Manhattan some stores have put anti-flood sand bags. Nothing else matters except Irene.
I had forgotten about New York and despite everything happening, it is good to be back. The portions in restaurants are simply huge (I had to go for a run twice today to try to burn the extra food). People are nice (guests in the hotel are talking to each other, in the lobby or on the lifts, which would not happen in London. Definitely not. Simply impossible. Even at work I wasn’t talking in the lifts). The service in restaurants can be a bit aggressive: this morning, I found what seemed to be an open place at 6am to get a much-needed coffee. So I politely asked whether the place was opened. The response I got was “What does it look like?”, a far cry from what I would have had in London (It would more have been around “Of course madam, what would you like?”).
Well, it is good to be back to New York.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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First of all, thanks for all your responses to this blog hop. I was amazed to see all the reactions and also reassured to read that I wasn’t the only one to have crashed the car in front of my parents (Thanks, Stacey, I will remember it).
I started this blog hop to explore the fact that we are at our most free when we make mistakes. It has something to do with the fact that, if you don’t do anything, well, you don’t make any mistakes. I am still unsure of where this idea will take me, so feel free to help me on that one.
Now, to build on Penelope’s suggestion, I have decided to categorise the mistakes. And this week’s themes is “funny mistakes”
Which one do I choose?  A few years ago, I was working with a big law firm on an even bigger construction case and, come the Christmas season, we were invited to our barrister’s chamber for some Christmas drinks. If you don’t live in the UK, you probably don’t know what a barrister is (I am still struggling with it and it has been 7 years, so don’t worry –it gets worse!!!). To cut a long story short, they have good acting skills and are in charge of convincing the judge of the strengths of your case (this means that, as a client, you have to pay twice: once for the solicitor who prepares your case, and another one for the barrister who presents it.). Oh, and I almost forgot: they wear a wig when they plead –you can’t miss them.

They usually work in lovely buildings around the Temple area in London and have very nice Oxford-type yards and buildings. We arrived at the chamber and got in. After a couple of drinks we started laughing loud and some barristers came to talk to us. We eventually realised that this was the wrong party: they were dealing with criminal cases, which was the reason why we didn’t know anybody.
We swiftly got out and tried to find the right chamber, and a short while after we ended up in the building next door with an even bigger garden (and somehow for once it wasn’t cold –maybe because of the drinks?). We got in without anyone asking anything and had a few drinks and lovely canapés, only to be greeted by the barrister of the other side. Ooops. He was obviously very polite despite being a bit surprised to see us there. We got out again.
We were passably inebriated at this point and decided to have a closer look at the invitation card. I was obviously of no use because even when sober I can’t find my way anywhere. We finally walked a bit further to get to another barristers’ party. Well, suffice to say that it wasn’t the right one either. At this point I decided to call it a night and go back home. To this date I still don’t know where the right party was.
So how about you, what is your funniest mistake?
The rules of the Blog hop are very simple:
1. Follow me on GFC and Twitter if you have an account – I will follow back ;
2. Leave a link to your blog below -if you have one-;
3. Share a mistake you have made in the comments. Please do it for the rest of us!
4. Visit as many other blogs as you can!
5. Have fun!

 If you want to co-host the blog hop, feel free to copy this in your post:

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Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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It is all over the press. Gerard Depardieu, a well-known French actor (actually, something of a human legend), has, once again, made the headlines. But for all the wrong reasons this time. Let me explain: he was on a Cityjet flight from Paris to Dublin and badly needed the loo.  So badly that he ended up urinating on the aisle and all the passengers were delayed by more than two hours as a result. He was disembarked and had to take another flight (I understand that he went to the toilet before embarking this time, which is good news and shows that he can handle himself). It is unclear whether he was drunk or not, and there is a story about him using a bottle but, really, you don’t want to know all the details, do you?

As a result, there is a flurry of (sometimes derogatory) comments about French in general and Frenchmen in particular.
Let me list a couple of examples:
1. Jan Moir, from the Daily Mail, says “If someone is going to urinate like a horse in the aisle of a packed international flight taxiing along a runway, then that someone is going to be a Frenchman. You could bet your last croissant on it. No doubt about it. “ How kind!
2. Other comments include “the French at their finest”, and so on, and so forth…
I would like to set the record straight here. This has nothing to do with the French and everything to do with Mr Depardieu himself. Despite two pregnancies and numerous air travels, I have never relieved myself outside of the toilets (on a plane, that is), which I didn’t think was an achievement until this new development.
But, at work, I have been reminded that it is typical of the French to behave in a such a (bad) way. Apparently, we are soooo gross. No manners, really. I wouldn’t know. I am French. I don’t notice it anymore.
So let me reply to all the authors of patronizing comments here by sharing a true story.  When we started visiting houses in London, I was shocked to see that a lot of them still had carpets in the bathrooms and toilets. Usually the colour was greenish brownish. I was horrified. And I won’t even start to describe the smell. Maybe that’s why the Brits need to be better behaved? Just a thought.
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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I need some cheering up. You see, my last day of work is next Thursday and, to cut a long story short, I am scared.

Paid employment has always been an important part of my life and giving it up to spend more time with my daughters and expand my own business feels, quite frankly, a bit daunting.
As a result, I came up with an idea. Every Wednesday, I will host a We All Make Mistakes Blog Hop.
The rules are very simple:
1. Follow me on GFC and Twitter if you have an account – I will follow back ;
2. Leave a link to your blog below -if you have one-;
3. Share a mistake you have made in the comments. Please do it for the rest of us!
4. Visit as many other blogs as you can!
5. Have fun!

As for me, today’s shared mistake still haunts me. I was 18 and, having just obtained my driving licence, I smashed my Mum’s car  on the family house wall’s ramp while the whole family was looking from the balcony.
Believe it or not, I have remained the-one-that-smashed-the-car.

So please, what is your mistake today?

NB: If you want to co-host the blog hop, feel free to copy this in your post:

<script type=”text/javascript” src=”″ ></script>

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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Last week I was tagged by Hajra and she asked me to rate my own blog posts. Well, that’s scary, because, you see, I love them all.

Anyway, I am going to give it a try (Please note that Hajra made me do it!), so here we go…

My Most Beautiful Post: I am not sure that I understand what beautiful really really means. That said, if it is beautiful then it must have something to do with art (can you follow my thinking?), so here we are: My Difficult Relationship with Art .

This post is about an art competition that my younger daughter won. That said, I must admit that I was a bit disappointed when I saw the painting in question!

My Most Popular Post: I don’t know why, but my most popular post, with over 400 page views, happens to be this one: DSK-A Follow-Up. Go figure!

My Most Controversial Post: I don’t really do controversial because I want my blog to be a feel-good one. That said, I once got a surprisingly nasty comment from someone (“anonymous”- a pretty common name for nasty comments…) on this post: Come On ladies, Please Behave! I suppose that it should be enough to nominate it my most controversial one!

My Most Helpful Post: Helpful for whom? If we are talking about me, my most helpful post was Should I Stay Or Should I go? . I should have left my job a long, long time ago. This post and the comments gave me the final push I needed to walk away. My last day of work is the 25th of August and I can’t wait.

A Post whose Success Surprises me: It has to be my post about the weather, A Very British Obsession . To me, it confirms that the weather is indeed a very British obsession!

A post I feel didn’t get the attention it deserved: A funny post about the British style…The Empire Stripes Back. But apparently, I am the only one to find it funny. Life is tough. Sigh.

The Post I am Most Proud of: It has to be French Style . This was the first post that I wrote for Technorati as well.

That’s it for me. I now have to nominate fellow bloggers for the same challenge. Good luck, guys!

– Alexandra of She Talks Too Much

– Jennifer of Serendipity’s Library

– Stacey of Nail Polish

Have a great day !

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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A new step in my blogging journey: today my friend and fellow blogger Samantha Bangayan has posted an interview of me here.

She is a very talented writer and you can read her blog here.

A big thank you to Sam and all my readers!

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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Hopefully, the worst is now firmly behind us and London is almost back to its former self –cleaning operations are still in progress. In the press, the words “senseless” and “meaningless” seem to be everywhere.
The rioters are being brought to justice and apparently a petition asking to remove their benefits has gained more than 80 000 signatures in a couple of days.

But all rioters are not on benefits. Far from it, in fact. Some are indeed reasonably wealthy. Some even had good jobs (primary school teaching assistant, chef…) but somehow decided to participate. In the spur of the moment, as shop windows glasses were being smashed, they just entered and stole what they could. Afterwards, they boasted about it on Twitter and other social networks. In short, they were just looting for pleasure, helping themselves to get stuff they wouldn’t normally get or stealing just for the excitement. This year the Ramadan falls in August, which means that the riots cannot be used to stigmatise the Muslim community. The rioters come indeed from all ethnical backgrounds
To me, this reinforces the point that we are all free to decide what it is we want to do with our lives. At the end of the day, it is an individual choice: whatever your family, your background and your beliefs, at some point you have to decide what to do with yourself. When we are free, we are also free to make mistakes. Maybe, to an extent, we are never as free as when we make a mistake (I know, I am deep today!). Maybe such riots prove that we have indeed a free society. But freedom is also fragile and too many mistakes might jeopardise it.  Maybe it is time to start appreciating more what we have.
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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I am home again. In London. To be frank, I didn’t know what to expect: in the various airport lounges on my way back from Bali, I could see unsettling pictures of London on fire. Rioters were smashing shop windows and then stealing everything they could before burning the rest. It isn’t the sort of scenes you expect to see in London, especially a year before the Olympics. The police have arrested many rioters, and one of them is an 11-year old boy!

How can this happen in London? What started as a peaceful demonstration against the shooting of a man (who happened to be a father of 4) by the police in Tottenham ended up as the most violent riot in London in living memory.

As I am writing, things are not under control and 16 000 police officers will be patrolling the city tonight. London feels empty, and there are more policemen than tourists in the streets today. I can hear sirens and fire alarms every five minutes from my office.

What went wrong? How did it come to this debacle? I won’t enter into a political debate here as I am not sure that stigmatising specific communities will help. It seems to me that the only way to be seen and heard, for the rioters, is to loot, destroy and create as much chaos as possible. They don’t know, haven’t found or maybe haven’t learned to express themselves in a different way. When you destroy shops, there are news reports and suddenly the whole world is watching you. It is very difficult to have the same instant impact on society when you work honestly. So they went for the “easier” option, the one that, they perceive, give them instant gratification.

To me this is, amongst other things, a problem of social mobility. Most state schools in London are, to put it politely, not very good (I would know, my daughter didn’t know her 2 time table when she was 7, whereas in France she would have been expected to know most of them by the same age. Her school was supposed to be “outstanding” according to the Ofsted report –the Ofsted is the body that inspects state schools over here). In short, in London, if the parents don’t have the money or the time and skills to educate their children, well, basically, their kids don’t stand a chance to get a proper education, find their vocation and get a job they like.

Don’t get me wrong: I am not excusing what the rioters have done. Far from it, I think that it is unacceptable and they should understand what effort and hard work mean, and hopefully that is what they will learn when they get punished. But we also have an obligation to give the rioters some hope in their future. And the only way to do this is to give them a proper education. I don’t have a ready-made solution. It might be to bring back the selective grammar schools. It might be to learn a useful job at a younger age (why wait until all hope is lost?). But it is about giving them some skills and restoring their hopes in the future. Yes, there is another way. It is not an easy one, but it is an honest one.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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There is a new species in town: the white Balinese.
They convert to Hinduism while in Bali and when you ask them where they are from, they say: “ I was reborn in Bali”. Not very helpful.
 I met some of them in Tampaksiring, a beautiful Hindu temple close to Ubud, the cultural centre of Bali.

There is a holy water source there and the white Balinese were all getting purified (and believe me, the water was freezing), which means that there were bathing, chanting and praying in the pool.

The native Balinese were doing their laundry in the pool next to them.
The funny thing is that, at sunset, the white Balinese were all having Bintangs (the Indonesian beer) in the bars of Ubud, and they quickly got drunk. Go figure.

I don’t intend to convert to Hinduism and I didn’t get drunk. I love the Balinese dances and rituals but I am what I am and I accept Bali as it is.

Anyway, if it makes them happy, it can’t be that bad.
After all, I am a French Londoner. Life is complicated…

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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It is my lot in life to be mocked for my bad accent. In London, especially during business meetings, you can be sure that, when I say something, some condescending chap will take a few seconds to answer me back, as if he (it is usually a he, I must admit) needs some time to process my French accent and understand what on earth I am saying. The curious thing is that most people have absolutely no problems in getting what I say. For some reasons, I seem to have more problems with self-proclaimed posh, white, English, middle class men. Usually, they look concentrated, eyes half closed and slightly putting their ear closer to me. I absolutely hate it and can feel my blood boiling when they do that. I am sure that they believe it is polite: they are making an effort to listen to me. I have come to the conclusion that it has probably something to do with their lack of cultural awareness –there is a world outside of Britain, believe it or not. Or maybe they are genuinely a bit hard of hearing (middle age, probably). Or maybe they are in love with the sound of their own voices (that’s a real possibility)? I apologise for such low-level comments, but my blog is my (petty, I admit) way of taking revenge. And it actually feels good (Please don’t judge me too harshly, I had to endure 7 years of this. Yes, 7 years).

That being said, I have the same problem in Bali. I have tried to practice my Bahasa Indonesia and apart from the fact that I suck at it, apparently my accent is, once again, hilarious.
There is something a lot more refreshing with the Balinese way of showing it. They just laugh to my face and try to repeat what I have just said. Some Balinese boy was trying to sell me newspapers yesterday. I answered “Tidak Mau”, which was just my way of saying “No”.  I said “Mau” the German way (as in “Frau”). Well, it didn’t make the cut, but at least I made someone happy!
What I am trying to say is, I suppose, that if someone is trying to speak your own language, please be gentle. After all, he or she is making an effort. As for the ones who are giving me a hard time in London, well, guys, get a life! 
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London