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We are all in this together, right? Right, that’s what I thought too. That said, we often forget how lucky we are. This is why I decided to sponsor a child in India, with a charity called ActionAid. His name is Suresh, he lives in the Orissa (Odisha) province and he is 7 years old. He sent me a beautiful drawing of what makes him dream and guess what: he drew a pile of potatoes. I was stunned. My 7-year old is emotionally blackmailing me to get more Legos and he is dreaming of potatoes. Go figure. 

Sponsoring a child is, for me, a good sanity check. I tend to worry about my daughters’ school exams or birthday parties when in fact an important part of the planet hasn’t access to tap water. Being reminded of this fact is, I believe, a good thing. 

We are indeed very fortunate: we have access to water, food and medical care. It doesn’t prevent me from moaning all the time, and I guess that’s what human nature is about, right? Well, I hope so. I have therefore decided to continue to support Action Aid and will attend their blogging party on the 15th of August (you can see all the details here and maybe join me? ). 

I hope that it will give me new ideas and new topics to blog about. Yes, we tend to take what we have for granted. I sometimes wonder what sort of education I give to my daughters. I am thinking of sending them to do some charity work at some point, with the hope that it will keep them grounded. Raising children is nothing short of a conundrum. Right now, I am spoiling them rotten and they have a very privileged childhood without probably noticing it, because they don’t know anything else. Having said that, why would I give them a hard time? I find the right balance impossible to strike. A happy childhood is such a strength for the future! Sponsoring a child is probably a way for me to try to be a better mother and keep things in perspective. I look forward to my journey with Suresh. 

 We are all in this together. 

 Nb: if you want me to continue to sponsor children and give to charities please don’t forget to join the competition of the summer here ). 

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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OK, I need to come clean here: I love shopping.  As we are mostly staying in London during the summer because we are attending the Olympic Games, I thought that I could take this little ‘staycation’ as an opportunity to shop a little bit. I even had a little speech in my head to convince my husband that it was all going to be for the greater good, and it really didn’t matter because we are not paying for expensive holidays anyway but I had to forget about all my well-prepared points when I saw the price of the Olympic Tickets. It was all worth it but, believe me, it is REALLY expensive… To make matters even worse, my daughters don’t like shopping with me, because apparently my tastes are really boring. My 12-year-old could spend a day trying clothes on at Topshop and Juicy Couture -not for me, thanks… As for my 7-year old, she always wants to buy some Legos, and I feel like I am a tad too old for Legos.
In short, it was going to be a bit more difficult that I initially thought. But I had a little help. Westfield (in Sheperds Bush) opened a bit less than 4 years ago and is a home from home. When I was younger (in my 20’s…) I used to love spending time shopping in small, independent shops, but obviously with children and little time I can’t do it anymore: Westfield is the answer. It is a all-in-one, you can find everything you need and I seem to be spending my days there when we are not going to the Olympic park. And guess what: it is empty!
So when I was contacted to partner with Westfield to give you the following information, I could only say a big YES!
Basically, Westfield is giving everyone the chance to share their own ‘I was there’ story which will live on as part of the legacy of London 2012.

“If you want to play, please sign up to one of Westfield’s teams. I personally support team WEST obviously -I like a little challenge…, so please follow the link here if you agree with me. If not (It is the Olympic Games, I play it fair), you can always click here. That’s it, you’re ready to take part in the competition of the summer!

Tweet #IWASTHERE #WEST (Follow Westfield here and here); join in on Facebook (here and here); take photos on instagram and earn points for your team.

The more points you score the more chance of winning. I know that I am nearing 40 and all the rest of it, and I should be reasonable, but I am excited, and I am taking part. What’s wrong with a little competition anyway?

And don’t forget the free entertainment here. All the kids services can be found if you follow the link. Let me know if you intend to go, I seem to be spending all my life there!
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category London /

I am in an Olympic sort of mood. The opening ceremony blew our minds away and we are going to see the athletics on Friday, fencing on Saturday and beach volleyball on Monday. I can’t wait! My husband got the wrong tickets for beach volley and we are seeing the men. YAY! My daughters are obviously delighted…My husband, well…, less so.
What gets me, though, is the condescending coverage of the London Olympic Games.
It started with Mitt Romney’s visit to London. He criticised London’s organisation of all the events, saying that “it is hard to tell just how well it will turn out”. He also questioned whether the British people would support the Games. It is fair to say that the comments stunned the Brits and earned Mitt Romney the nickname “Mitt The Twit”.  The French media were also fast to criticise the so-called ” British materialism”, writing that, in order enter the Olympic Park, you had to walk through a commercial centre, which is simply inaccurate…Why am I not surprised?
And it looks like the tide will not be turning any time soon: right now, there is a big scandal about all the empty seats that can be seen on TV. History keeps repeating itself: I remember seeing the same headlines for the Beijing games, 4 years ago. There also seems to be allegations of doping. The Chinese delegation were prompt to answer back and accuse the Americans. Lovely. I might be becoming British here, but I think that if you suspect something like that, you have a follow the adequate process: the athletes are innocent until proven guilty and you need to voice your concerns to the proper Olympic channels, not the media.
But anyway, my question is : why do some always stay locked in their condescension bubble? Why do they feel the urge to score points and put the others down? Why can’t they accept that there is a lot to love in the Olympic spirit and even if things will never be perfect, what is wrong with a little enthusiasm ? If even an old cynical like me can be moved by the Olympics, why can’t they?
I find the Olympic experience very humbling: there were more than 200 delegations. To me, this proves that there are many different ways to become a champion.
And what’s not to love about this? So please, show a little enthusiasm and pop the condescension bubble!
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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Where to begin? I was there and it was fantastic!
We arrived really early and had a chance to visit the facility. It is huge…

The show was also in the stadium with some very interesting hairdos…

The stadium represented the British countryside. There was some Morris dancing involved.

And as it wasn’t raining they even brought some clouds:

There was a huge bell too…

It all started with some blue piece of silk above our heads…I was a bit worried that we might have to keep it for the rest of the ceremony but my fears proved unfounded. Phew…

The ceremony was great, touching and mind-blowing at the same time. You could appreciate it at many different levels. Chimneys popped out of the stadium to represent the industrial revolution. There were also nurses and children dancing on beds, pop songs, Voldemort and Mary Poppins, and of course the suffragettes.

Then the athletes arrived and I found out about countries that I never knew could exist. Some delegations were huge, others only consisted of a few persons. Some athletes didn’t have a country and had to compete under the Olympic flag (They were from the Dutch Antilles or from South Sudan). I  was also surprised to see a delegation for Palestine. Eritrea followed Ethopia -the joy of the alphabetical order, eh?

I had never attended an Olympic ceremony and it was fantastic. We almost had to remortgage the house to attend but it was all worth it. My daughters loved it and are now glued to the TV, watching the re-run. I hope that they will remember it!

And finally, here is a short video with the Olympic flag…And watch this space for the next updates!

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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Whatever your nationality is, some things never change. I am turning 40 by the end of the year and, to me, it is a big milestone. The problem is that I am still 15 in my head. I might be going through some sort of midlife crisis. I have talked to various friends of mine and apparently it is perfectly normal. That said, the midlife crisis can manifest itself in many different ways, and I can’t help being a bit worried.

A sporty friend of mine decided to climb mount Kilimandjaro on a whim. Another one took a sabbatical and went travelling around the world with husband and kids. Some become depressed, some take a much younger lover; others get a breast enlargement (it seems to be quite dangerous nowadays, especially with the PIP scandal) or start drinking heavily. The list is long, but my point is that, when you turn 40, something happens.

So here it is: I have started to do Bikram yoga and I am becoming addicted to it. The thing is, I don’t normally do yoga. I like running but that where it stops. But Bikram came highly recommended by a couple of friends. A week ago, I received a flyer in my mailbox and decided to give it a go.

Well, I felt great when it finished. The session lasts 90 minutes but it feels more like 4 hours. The studio temperature is about 105F or c. 41 Celsius. Each session consists of 26 different postures and two breathing exercises. I didn’t know that I could sweat so much. Actually, my skin was peeling the first time. For some reason the guy next to me kept burping during certain postures –not nice. On the other side, the very thin girl was quite flexible but had apparently never waxed in her whole life and I kept staring at the dark, thick bushes under her arms. Do you have to use shampoo to wash them? I wondered. I am also very proud because two ladies who were in their twenties couldn’t take it after no more than 30 minutes and left while our instructor was trying to convince them to stay.

 But, in the end, it felt like my body had been flushed and I was feeling relaxed and positive. Well, I have done it 5 times in a week and I don’t intend to stop.
What is going on with me? Do I need to see a doctor? Is there something wrong with me?

I have other ideas crossing my mind, such as living in a boathouse for a while and travelling to the far end of this world.
Well, if I stick to Bikram yoga I will have a lucky escape don’t you think?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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We live in a complicated world. Naively, I thought that the Olympics were only about sport. Once again, I was very naïve. Silly old me.
In London, there is a big debate about ambush marketing right now. As everybody knows, you have the official sponsors for the Olympics, such as Adidas and Coca-Cola. They had to fork out a hefty sum to be sponsors (Adidas paid in the region of £100m, according to a quick research on the web). But the organisers are worried that competitors, such as Nike or Pepsi for instance, will give flags or T-shirts to spectators. They might even pay them.  This practice is apparently called ‘Ambush Marketing”. As the Olympic committee has the responsibility to protect the commercial rights of official sponsors, it is not clear whether people will be allowed to wear whatever they want, especially if you wear Nike trainers or T-shirt displaying the brand of an official sponsor’s competitor. Ambush marketing will not be tolerated.
But where does it start? Where does it end? This promises to be interesting.
To make matters even more twisted, there has been a huge controversy around the choice of some official sponsors, such as BP for instance. As a result, BP’ Olympic ads have been splashed with oil on Crowmell Road (see the pics here). Protesters felt that BP, who was responsible for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, was trying to rebrand itself as a “clean” company as an Olympic sponsor. The ads have now been cleaned and there is a 24/7 vigil to make sure that they will remain oil-free.
Don’t get me wrong: I can’t wait for the Olympics to start. We can’t stop whingeing that it will rain, that it will be a mess, but we tend to forget what the real point of the Olympics is, and I am growing more and more impatient to be part of the buzz and enjoy the unique spirit. I just hope that I will be able to get in despite the brand of my trainers!

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Politics /

Everything is doom & gloom and it was time to talk about something a bit more light hearted, don’t you think?
So here it is: Fleur Pellerin is a newly appointed French Minister.

She is in charge of the digital economy, but I am not quite sure what it entails. Naively, I thought that she had an office on Second Life but no, I was wrong, that’s not the case. But I digress. Have you seen the picture of the skirt she was wearing a couple of weeks ago? First of all, is it even a skirt? Might it not be a large belt? Is it even possible that she forgot her skirt?
OK, I will admit it: I am a bitter old lady who might be (a bit) jealous of her legs. Actually that’s not true and to prove my point here is a picture of my legs. Yes, it’s me and no, you won’t see more. Not bad for an almost 40-years old, eh? See, I am absolutely NOT jealous.

Anyway, I might be more French than I thought, after all. What I like about London is that I can go out in my PJs or with my husband’s shirts and nobody bats an eyelid. In this country, you are not judged by the way you look and it feels great. Actually, it is more than great, it is liberating!
But here it is: Fleur Pellerin’s non-existing skirt is simply too short. She looks like she is going to paint the town red. I might let my teenage daughter go to a disco dressed like this but that’s about it…Fleur Pellerin was, in fact, going to a crisis meeting following the outage of a major mobile provider. It might have been a crisis, but come on, she doesn’t look too stressed, does she?
So why do I feel so judgemental? What is wrong with me? I like the fact that there are more women in politics and Fleur Pellerin, an adopted child, is a living proof that the social elevator might still be working in France. I am not the fashion police and should not care about what she wears.
But I do. And I feel slightly cheated. Come on, I am sure that her colleagues could see her ministerial brief and that’s simply a step too far, don’t you think?
Nb: if you could leave a comment saying that you prefer my legs it would make my day. Thanks in advance.

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Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category London /

There is a new fashion in London. I don’t know whether it is this time of the year of whether I have missed something, but I can’t take the Tube without seeing couples passionately kissing, sometimes with a hand in their partner’s shirt. It is starting to get on my nerves because I have to bend over backwards and pretend that I can’t see them despite the fact that they are doing it less than a yard (that’s more or less 1m) from me. Maybe I am just becoming a bitter old lady, after all. Maybe it is because it is raining all the time and they can’t do in it the parks?

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against discreet signs of affection like holding hands or quick hugs, but, honestly, why do couples feel the need to kiss in other people’s face? Surely they can do it at their own place? Do they need other people’s looks on them to approve of their love? Do they have something to prove (Look how much I love him/her…)? Apart from the fact that I sometimes feel that I am stuck in their bedroom and can’t escape, I don’t understand what’s in it for them.

I thought that the British were reserved and completely against such over-the-top displays of affection. But, clearly, I was wrong. I saw a posh-looking British guy kissing his French girlfriend (with tongue, if you must know) and it looks like he couldn’t be stopped. She was not impressed and I wonder if she ditched him by the end of the Tube ride. I hope she did. That said, I don’t know whether she was embarrassed because he was such a bad kisser or because they were kissing in a crowded car. Probably both.

Being an accidental witness of faltering love stories doesn’t really appeal to me. And voyeurism isn’t really my cup of tea. But here is what I did: I managed to snatch a couple of shots of enamoured couples…Maybe I should create a website for them: the love stories that never made it to the outside world?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category London /

We have managed to get some tickets ! YAY ! It took us several tries and, frankly, after the third lottery, I thought that we were not going to get anything. But everything has been delivered by now. I am very excited as we will get to see the opening and closing ceremonies, the athletics, the beach volley (my husband got the wrong tickets: we are seeing the men, I am very happy, he looks a bit disappointed. Life can be tough), and other disciplines too…watch this space!
I can’t wait. But I am concerned too. I might have to attend the wettest Olympic games in history: it keeps raining. And it is not a light drizzle: no, every day we have a complete washout! Not nice, given that we are in July. The Games might go down in history for all the wrong reasons.
What to do? Well, we have bought some raincoats for all the family. I hope we won’t need them but it’s better to come prepared, eh?
And who said holidays are less busy than school time? I simply never stop. I am now able to drive around most parts of London without any satnav, which is a major achievement for me considering that I used to hate driving -ah, the things we have to do when we get older, have to do school runs, be more responsible, I still get honked but, frankly, I have learned to ignore it. Driving in London has been a nightmare for the last couples of months: roadworks were everywhere and it sometimes was quicker to jog. Recently, they have painted “Olympic Lanes” on some roads. I am not entirely sure of what they are for, apart from the fact that I keep taking them. I hope that they are not like bus lanes, otherwise I will soon get a fine, especially with my legendary luck, and such fines, at £150 a pop, don’t come cheap!
I really don’t now what to expect for the Olympics. I have never attended the games. What about you? Have you ever attended the Games? How was it?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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What a week! The children have finally finished school and I have spent the week, when it wasn’t raining of course, going to each school’s field day…

Field day is definitively an Anglo-Saxon tradition. I don’t remember anything similar in France. We had fairs at primary schools, but that was as far as it went.  Well, here, in London, I seem to be spending all my days at school at the end of the academic year.
During field day, the children (or teenagers) are supposed to show their fitness skills. I had to attend gun runs, gym displays, 100m school runs, and so on, and so forth. If you are lucky, you might even participate and have to do a mother and daughter run. Luckily I didn’t have to. Phew!
You are supposed to dress up for field day, and it is difficult to get it exactly right. Light make- up and summer designer dresses seem to be what is needed. Field day is a good time to show off your summer wardrobe and your hair extensions, from what I have seen. Some sexy mums even put their short pants and minuscule T-shirts on and parade on the wrong side of the fence in order for everybody to see them while more normal mums (like me, I am afraid), are sitting quietly, getting annoyed that all the dads are looking at the bimbos.
But now that I am a veteran mum, I see things that I wasn’t noticing before.  For instance, I never understood why some mums seemed to be having so much fun. Well, I know now. They sneak in bottles of champagne and plastic cups and start drinking well before the start of the display, because they arrive early to get the best seats. What an organisation!
I couldn’t believe it. Don’t get me wrong: I have nothing against a glass of wine or a cup of champagne from time to time but I simply wasn’t expecting some mums to get sloshed while their children were showing off their athletics skills. I suppose that I am still learning how I should behave. That said, alcohol in the sunshine is a killer: I would go to sleep immediately. How do they do it? They obviously have a training I don’t have. I still have so much to learn that it sometimes scares me.
Anyway, I am glad that I can relax now…And guess what: we managed to get tickets for the Olympics…I can’t wait!

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London