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It is official: I am not in London any more. What I like in Bali is the fact that everybody is an artist to an extent. Actually, there is no such thing as the word “artist” in Balinese as it is already included in the word “person”(that’s probably because they don’t know people like me who are absolutely hopeless at arts & crafts).
Anyway, Bali has many different types of dances, most of them based on the Ramanyana (The Ramayana depicts the duties of relationships, portraying ideal characters like the ideal father, ideal servant, the ideal brother, the ideal wife and the ideal king.). One of such dances is the kecak. It is the story of Prince Rama rescuing princess Shinta


It is performed by at least 150 men, usually during or after sunset. They are all dressed the same way, wearing a black and white fabric around their waists and legs with a red belt on top of it. There are no musical instruments, the rhythm comes from all the men chanting “kecak, kecak” while they sway their bodies and arms while sitting and chanting. It is a bit hypnotic (you can watch a video of this here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HL5P6wlQPU), and at the end of the performance they usually walk on incandescent wood. Some can be in trance, either swaying gently as they walk on the fire or in full-on trances, in which case other dancers have to hold them.
Apparently, the capacity of being in trance during a performance (a planned trance if you want) is seen as a gift of the Gods.
I think I would find such a dance a bit creepy in London. But not here.  Here, it feels perfectly normal and I even find it beautiful.
Actually, it reminded me of one of the scenes in the movie “Avatars”, at the end, when they are trying to revive the dead teacher.
Maybe, after all, one needs to come to Bali to find inspiration?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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Today, I have a very special guest blogger: my own daughter or Miss Agie 1018 (you can see her blog here). She doesn’t want me to tell you her age, but she is starting secondary school in September and she is more British than French. Here is what she has to say…

Yesterday, on our first 24 hours of paradise we decided to sneak a peek at the spa at our resort. In the end we booked a massage appointment for 8:15pm local time. But of course as my mum always does, she booked herself a ninety minutes massage and for me just a short hour. How kind of her. Sigh.
Okay. So we arrived at about 7:45pm to register the booking and to explore a bit we were going to try out the stem rooms and Jacuzzi. So we were led to the ladies lockers and were given a tank top and shorts, made out of normal clothing material. So I kept my underwear on. So out we went in the dead of night in the most magical surroundings. Okay. Then we arrived at a hut, which had an amazing Jacuzzi but the guide said: “Oh you have to take a shower by the Jacuzzi.” The only problem was, it was an outdoor shower which was very public and plus we had absolutely no idea if we were to keep our weird clothes on or not. In the end we decided to skip the shower. So the steam rooms were good but when the Jacuzzi came along there was a bit of a problem to solve. Firstly, we had no idea whether to keep the ‘trunks’ on or not and when I decided to keep the trunks on I forgot I had kept my underwear on and let’s just say I ended up wet while my mum, well… let’s not go onto that and I’m still ashamed of her. Yes I still am.
So after this… let’s say experience, we had a massage but not just an ordinary one though as it was a proper Balinese massage, and we finally got dry clothes. Now we know what to expect and I think we will definitely skip the Jacuzzi and next time I’ll have the longer massage. Mum, wink wink.


Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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Hello from the other side of the world. Apologies for the late post/delayed comments, etc…Getting Internet here is a bit of a challenge, but we will get there, I promise! While on the plane (and believe me, it was a long journey!), I was wondering where I was from. Technically, I am French. But my home, for the time being, is in London. And finally, for some weird reasons, I feel at home in Bali.
In short, my life is complicated. Sigh.
Look at the beautiful plant!


Why couldn’t it be more simple? I could have stayed in my village near Saint Tropez where apparently my grandmother has found an ancestor who was living there more than 400 years ago. But no, I had to escape. I don’t know why.
There is something about Bali that resonates with me. Is it the deep sweet smell of the warm earth? Or the beauty of the temples, the beaches and the landscapes?  Or the colourful clothes and immaculate women walking down the street with piles of offerings on their heads?
I have absolutely no clue.

Look at the fabric!

Coming here does the trick every time. I can feel my energy levels coming back, slowly but surely (I had a stressful year. Honestly). There is an order that I like here, something about the slow pace of the people walking in a procession. The sound of the gamelan seems to push everything else in my head, and, for once, I can enjoy the present –usually, I am a serial worrier –on Sunday, I think about all the parties that my daughters will have to attend during the week, and what they will bring, who will pick them up…and if something is missing I usually freak out.
Being on holidays is also the time when stark realisations dawn on you:
       My leg wax doesn’t last as long as it should. And I will not mention the bikini wax. I thought that being married meant that you don’t have to wax that often but once again I was wrong.
       My beautiful little dress is too tight this year. I can barely walk in it.
       The guys start eyeing my daughter and not me any more. Bunch of perverts. Surely it means that I am getting wiser. Yes, surely.
       French behave in a funny way when abroad. I sometimes make them try to speak in English. Just for fun (for me, not for them!).
       I need to brush up my Bahasa Indonesia skills (the language here). I thought that I was still good but once again I was wrong.
Lots of new creatures here

And we arrived only yesterday! Watch this space, I am sure that there will be more to come!

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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Our homemade cards



What do you do in London here when you want to be polite but not too involved?  You just send a card. There is a card for every possible opportunity. Over here, you can find Christmas cards, Easter cards, Happy Valentine cards, I-am-sorry-you-are-leaving-cards, Thank You cards, Bar Mitzvah cards, Birthdays cards, Baptism cards, Wedding cards and I am sure that I am forgetting most of them…
 In France, we don’t have such a culture of sending cards at every possible opportunity. If you care for someone, you just talk to this person. Or you call. Or you send a real letter – or, as times have changed, an email, but a personalised one. The only formal occasion when you are required to send a card would be at the start of a year (French don’t do Christmas cards, we do Happy-New-Year cards). Initially, I thought that this habit of sending cards was nice. Now I am not so sure. You can be awful to someone and then send some I-am-sorry card. To make matters even worse, it is not necessary to write anything in the card.  You just have to sign and send. You can add a few words -usually something as vague as “you are a very special person”, and it should do the trick. Surely if you care about the person you are sending a card to, you would try to make more of an effort? Come to think of it, maybe that’s the whole point: you don’t send a card to people you really care about, do you?
Over time, I grew tired of cards. I believe that most of the cards I have received were some hypocritical excuses of pretending that the senders cared about me or my family. It was given to me to avoid a conversation, or a more direct contact, or simply because it was polite and they didn’t know what to say. Most of them finished in the bin. That said, I have kept a few, because they were genuinely nice and referred to something I could actually relate to. Usually, I have to force myself to reply to cards. I know that it is supposed to be polite, but I can’t help thinking that I am just perpetuating a tradition I don’t like.
 Sending cards over here can be an art. It is all about finding the right card (you can’t send a happy birthday card when you meant to send a Christmas card), and having something “witty” to say (I think that this is to relationships what McDonald’s is to haute cuisine).
So, where did it all go wrong? When did we start to box relationships into cards? I am trying to design my own cards and write something personal in them, but, more often than not, my efforts are unnoticed.
How did we let this happen?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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Welcome to the SheWrites Blogger Ball!

Hello from London everyone! Please sit down and have a cup of coffee. Welcome to my blog, 40blogSpot (despite the name of this blog, I am not 40 -yet). Have a look at some of my posts, make yourself comfortable and tell me what you think. I am a newbie: I started this blog as a new year’s resolution.

I belong to She Writes community and I have always been amazed by the amount of support I have received. 

Take a biscuit please. Yep, they are homemade. You see, I am not French for nothing. I love good food.
Feel free to introduce yourself in the comment section. I simply love to hear about fellow bloggers.
As for me, I blog at least twice a week –once on my struggle to understand the British, and another one on the news (with a French twist).
Enjoy without moderation…

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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Where do you stand on PDA?  The question was asked in the news yesterday when Arnaud Lagardere, a leading French businessman, decided to inform the whole world of his relationship with a (very, very tall & pneumatic) model with cheesy, borderline pictures (have a look at the video here –no need to understand what they say anyway, just look…).


What on earth did they want to achieve? Apparently, various articles mention the fact that this is an “old, robust” relationship (5 of 6 months – would you believe it?)…Yeah, right.  Maybe it is some sort of mid-life crisis (he turned 50 in March). Poor guy. Maybe he wants to prove a point (he loves brunettes? He is not gay? He can have a relationship that lasts more than 2 weeks?). Anyway, to cut a long story short, I don’t understand what went into him. After all, he is supposed to be a businessman, not a reality TV star.
That said, I have a theory (actually, I have many theories, but that’s just one of them): if a couple needs public displays of affection it is often because their relationship is not strong enough. They must suffer from some confidence issues and need to be seen in public to feel stronger. After all, it is a (sometimes mild) form of exhibitionism, don’t you think?
I don’t like it when people are all cuddly with each other on the Tube or in the street, oblivious to the fact that other people are trying to go to work, and feeling immensely proud because others are shocked. Maybe I am just a bit old-fashioned.
For some reason, I see more PDAs in London than in Paris. Who said the British were stuck up? I remember this guy – a bit chubby, pale skin and home-made haircut with geeky glasses. I felt like I was a witness to his love life for a few months. He must be working in a building next to mine. He was walking, from time to time, with what looked like a female colleague of his (a petite brunette with long hair). At first, they were just friends. They I saw them holding hands and, based on the large smile he had, he was very happy. She seemed more reserved. Then, I saw them kissing passionately on the street. I could even see his tongue. As I was on my way to my morning coffee my sense of humor hadn’t woken up yet and I stood there, staring at them for a couple of seconds to show my discontent. They found it hilarious.
A couple of weeks later, he was on his own again. I felt like telling him “I am sorry it didn’t work out.”, but I decided against it. After all, I must be becoming British.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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Please have a look at my today’s post here:

Life Through Lucylastica’s Lense: My Very First Guest ‘ChooseDay Choon-ster’!:

“Having joined some great blogging groups this year, I often feel humbled being in the company of some great writers. My occasional rants and raves here pale into comparison compared to the talents there are to be found out there in the world wide web-o-sphere! So I’ve decided to use ‘ChooseDay Choon’ as a way of introducing you to some of these writers…it’s always good to broaden your horizons and I think you will find some new blogs you really like. Each guest ‘Choon-ster’ will introduce themselves by way of a song.
 I urge you to not only turn up the volume and sing along with them, but also to visit their blog, comment, let them know you popped by and what you thought. It’s about having fun – enjoy!

Now over to our first ChooseDay Choon-ster –  Bonjour Muriel!…”

Enjoy without moderation!

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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In my seven years in London, I think that I have been lectured like never before. I have had my fair share of condescending comments and guess what: I can’t take it anymore.  From now on, I will fight, with humoristic weapons, all condescending comments. Simply put: enough is enough! On top of this, I hate to be patronised.

In this country you see, condescending comments are made in a very subtle way, which means that the answer must be adapted. Here are a few examples and some suggested responses –feel free to add more in the comment section, we need to devise a strategy for each type of comment and fight consistently:
1.       “We need to tread more carefully with you women every month.”I confronted the author of this comment and told him that it was plain sexist. He maintained that no, it was the opposite:  he understands women and knows that they are more difficult to handle at this time of the month. I was fuming. The next time he was a bit nervous, I asked him whether he had PMT. It did the trick. He hasn’t mentioned it ever since.
2.       “He is very bright: he had a first at Oxford”. This basically implies that you are plain stupid (the Brits find it hard to believe that they are other universities than theirs in the whole world – Something to do with living in an island perhaps). You should point out that he is nearing 50, and things change in 30 years, you know. Not to mention that he hits on his 4-year old PA (what an old pig!).
3.       “I am sure that knowing X, Y or Z helped you get the job”. That one is a classic. There is no point in denying it, it would make your case even worse (“she is trying to justify herself”). The best defence, in this case, is to attack. Your various lines of attack range from “yes, we made out on the sofa last week. It was intense. You should try it, it is obviously the sort of things you have never experienced.” to “yes, and I even got my friend the Prime Minister involved. He is the Godfather of my son, you know”.
4.       “Why didn’t you tell me that we had a meeting today?” Well, if you had opened your inbox surely you would have seen it. The fact that you “worked from home” last Friday didn’t help. (“working from home”, in my company, usually means that you are in reality taking some undeclared leave. I am one of the unhappy few who is not “working from home” on Fridays. Go figure).
5.       “You can work late because you have a nanny”. Well, I actually pay for it, you disorganised moron!
The list doesn’t stop here.  There is always the old trick of saying “that’s a very condescending comment, isn’t it?”, but all it will achieve is a long-winded justification that no, it is not a condescending comment. Or it wasn’t meant to be.
I sometimes ignore such comments, just to give me a break. Is it worth educating the guy/woman who has made the comment? I wonder.
Please let me know how you fight condescending comments. We simply need to eradicate them -and frankly, I think that I have had all I can take!
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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There is a new story in town: the phone-hacking scandal. To cut a long story short, it seems that all the scoops made by some newspapers over the last twelve years (News Of The World, the Sun and the Sunday Times) have been published because some ruthless journalists have managed to hack into private phones. I wasn’t born yesterday and I know that there is no such thing as a free scoop, but where has real investigative journalism gone?

I am not talking about a small size scheme here. From the latest news, it looks like approximately 4000 (yes, four thousands) persons might have been the unfortunate victims of phone hacking.  In short, it was an industrial organisation, almost comparable to the Government Communications Headquarters based in Cheltenham. Apparently there was some sort of police investigation into this matter in 2002, but eventually the case was dropped, because the priority was to fight terrorism. As a result, the phone hacking went on, unpunished.
But this pathetic story doesn’t stop here. Families of victims (7/7 victims in particular)–or even victims themselves- were targeted, and, their phone were hacked. Is this what freedom of press is about?
The funny thing is that, being French, I am all about the independence of the press. In France, the press is by no mean independent and the best way to be informed is to actually know and talk to journalists rather than read the newspapers. If you don’t believe me, here are a couple examples:
      –     Francois Mitterrand was well-known for ordering the French secret services to hack into sexy actresses’ phones so that he could try to seduce them later. No one reported it until years later. Furthermore, he had a natural daughter, Mazarine and she was living at the taxpayers’ expense in one of the state properties. All the journalists knew. No one said anything.
      –   More recently, Nicolas Sarkozy,  the French president, had an editor sacked because he had dared to publish a picture of his ex-wife Cecilia with her then-lover, Richard Attias.
As a result, most French newspapers are pretty dull (journalists need to make sure they please their ultimate masters) and, funnily enough, very condescending.

In short, one of the few things I used to admire when I moved to London was the press. They are ruthless and the tabloids are full of kiss-and-tell stories (of disputable taste) but, naively, I thought that the journalists were just doing their job and, to an extent, working in the public best interest. I loved the way they were grilling politicians and personalities. Now I am not so sure. It is all about making a profit and increasing the sales. If you need to listen to the conversation of the family of a murdered girl, then so be it. One day you can say something and the next the opposite. It doesn’t matter. It is all about increasing the sales. Where have honesty and hard work gone?
Neither the French nor the Anglo Saxon model seems to work. So, what’s next? Do we need a stronger regulator of the press? I don’t really believe in regulators –in the short term, they just lead to more bureaucracy and they all seem to get very cosy with the business they are supposed to regulate over time. Or do we just need to go back to good, old-fashioned values of honesty and ethics (I sound like my Grandma and I hate it, but that would be my preferred option). I simply don’t know and would like to have your views on this. How did we let this happen?
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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Despite the fact that in this country you talk about the weather all the time, weather bulletins over here are pretty dull, if not plain boring. Just read the latest Met office report ( see here) :
“This Evening and Tonight:
Evening showers should gradually disperse to give late sunny spells for many, although one or two may continue overnight in parts of Scotland, where it will be cloudier. Perhaps a few fog patches forming by dawn in the light winds.
Tuesday:
Sunshine and showers for most, with light winds. The showers will mainly affect western UK, with some becoming heavy during the afternoon. Windy in far southeastern UK, with occasional rain.

Maybe that’s the reason why everybody here feels a burning need to embellish the reports and talk about the weather all the time. After all, it is only human to interpret harsh, brutal facts. We all need to interpret facts. By contrast, the French bulletins are much, much more creative. And pragmatic. Take, for instance, the Channel 1 website (see here) and you have a very useful application where, if you enter your postcode, you know whether it will rain within the hour. How cool is this? Come to think of it, this is probably because, in London, you KNOW that you need an umbrella at all times. What a depressing thought!
And on the MeteoFrance site (the French equivalent of the Met office), you have so much more that the weather!(have a look here). You know the exact times , to the minute, of the sunrise and the sunset; you know what will be the highest temperature and the lowest one, and where it will all happen. And finally, you even know which Saint to worship today (Benedict, apparently).
Furthermore, the French forecasts are written in a much more poetic way. Let me try to translate the MeteoFrance bulletin for this afternoon: “It will feel more like summer today despite a few clouds in the North. But the sun will reclaim its rights in the evening and all of the South will experience a hot summer night.” You have to admit that it takes weather forecasts to new levels.
So here is today’s theory: maybe the British are obsessed by the weather because their bulletins are much too factual. As for me, I will now enjoy my hot summer night!

For another post about the weather see here as well…

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London