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It is an universal truth that, if you want to impress your interlocutors, you need to use French words and expressions when you speak.
Well, as I happen to be (less and less, I must admit) French, it doesn’t do the trick for me. The thing is, most of the time, I don’t understand what is being said. It has something to do with pronunciation. We usually stress the last syllable in French whereas the British seem to love stressing the first one. Believe me, it changes everything.

However, I am trying hard to be nice. Really hard. I will do my very best to understand what is being said but it is not as easy as it looks. I will even compliment the other person because he/she has made an effort. This is also because I hate it when people try to correct me. I am sure that they are trying to help, but don’t you think that there is something deeply annoying when someone makes a point of correcting what you have just said despite the fact that they understood what you meant perfectly well?
Well, now, here is my dilemma: a colleague of mine keeps writing, at every possible opportunity ‘un fait a complir’, instead of ‘un fait accompli’.  You all know that a fait accompli is a thing that has already happened or been decided before those affected know about it, leaving them with no choice but to accept it and get over it.  I am concerned that it might, at some point, give the wrong impression of the team (look at those who-it-alls who can’t even spell correctly…) So, should I correct him or not ? He seems very proud of being able to show off his French skills and I don’t want to give him a lecture because I am not a teacher and, unlike far too many people around me, I hate to show that I am right. I have learned to choose my battles and I don’t really want to fight this one.
The thing is, whatever nationality you are, some things never change: some people have to be right. My former boss used to be like that : she once asked me how to write a French word (I think that it was savoir faire). I obliged, only to be told that she was sure that it wasn’t the right spelling. You see, she was certain it was savoirfair. I knew I was right but didn’t say anything. What was the point? She was so convinced that she knew better that I had to let it go. What if the same happens with this colleague on ‘fait a complir’?
So tell me, what should I do? I was thinking of waiting for the right time and casually mention that it was ‘fait accompli’. It might be worth a try. What would you do?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Cultural Differences /

My Lovely Daughter

There is a defining moment in every mother’s life. It happened to me this week, when I was wandering in Paris with my teenage daughter, making the most of a short break. She was getting a lot of attention, and it made me feel even more invisible. This is yet more evidence that I have passed my sell-by date. Life is tough. I wanted to shout at passers-by that she is only 13 and, basically, just a kid, but it didn’t seem to bother them. What a bunch of perverts! She was offered a seat on a busy train, and politely declined. The young man insisted. Men were holding doors for her, and smiling stupidly at every possible opportunity. To be fair, it didn’t seem to bother her and it looked like she didn’t even notice their pathetic efforts. It must have driven them crazy. Good girl!
I thought that they would be discouraged when they would see her mouth full of lovely blue braces stuck on her teeth (by the way, they are costing a fortune) but, again, they didn’t seem to care.
Don’t get me wrong, she is beautiful and I am a proud mum but, come on, French men need to be restrained !
I also had a couple of guys asking me out, just like that, on the street. I had completely forgotten that French men were so warm-blooded. In fact, I am not sure that I remember how to deal with such attitudes. I had completely forgotten about them. The thing is, I don’t believe in stereotypes and I hate to generalise. That said, I had to admit that I was surprised (and not necessarily in a good way) by all the attention we had.
What is going on? It simply didn’t feel right. Are French men more sexist than their British counterparts? I really wonder. How come I didn’t really notice when I was living in Paris? Maybe we have become more British than we thought.
 So, where does this leave us? Well, I don’t know. That’s not entirely true. The last couple of days in Paris made me realise that we don’t belong there any more. What a difference a few years make!

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Uncategorized /

Love Actually, one of Hugh Grant’s movie

I was pleasantly surprised to read in today’s newspapers that Hugh Grant has become a dad for the second time. That said, there is something that I don’t really understand here. Celebrities don’t seem to have babies like the rest of us. You see, when, in 2011, Hugh Grant announced that he had just had a baby daughter, his spokesman said that the baby was the result of ‘a fleeting affair‘ between Hugh Grant and Tinglan Hong. Well, it looks like the very same fleeting affair has produced another surprise baby.
I am confused. Let’s go back to basics here. What does ‘fleeting’ mean? According to my beloved dictionary, fleeting means ‘lasting for a very short time’. It doesn’t say anything about having a couple of kids in the space of 18 months. Maybe it has something to do with the elasticity of time? In love, everything is subjective, right? In short, when you are madly in love, a couple of years is just too short. Even ten years are too short. A fleeting affair for Hugh Grant might well be the real thing. 
Maybe the commitment phobe actor has just become a family man and is too scared to admit it? Even if he is not in a relationship with the mother of his children (which is pure speculation on my part) he will have to spend a fair amount time with her. If that’s not commitment, then I don’t know what is.
Hugh Grant has testified during the Leveson enquiry because he had been stalked by paparazzi who didn’t think twice when they hacked his voicemail and possibly broke into his flat. More than ever, he must want to keep his private life, well, private. Which is probably why we will never know what exactly is going on. That said, I have a sneaky feeling that Hugh is happy and, -who knows ?- , may want the fleeting affair to produce another sibling.
Honestly, what’s not to love about such a fleeting affair? Congratulations to both parents!

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Uncategorized /


After two weeks spent in apnea because of a stupid cold, I am pleased to announce that I am in good form again. Phew! I now need to share with you what kept me going over the last few days: Lemon Drizzle Cake. It is fair to say that Lemon Drizzle Cake is the only drizzle that I love. As I keep complaining about the food over here, I thought that, for once, I needed to mention this classical, timeless British specialty. You could call it intellectual honesty.

Why do I like it so much? Well, the secret of such a cake is that it needs to be moist. It melts in the mouth. In order to achieve this pure state of perfection, you obviously need to bake a lemon cake. Once it is ready and a bit colder, you have to dig little holes in it and fill them with a mixture of lemon juice, sugar and, if you fancy, the zest of one lemon.  You need to do this carefully, and make sure that the cake absorbs the juice. It will totally be worth it in the end. Because of this, you need to eat the cake reasonably fast, because otherwise it becomes a bit drier (which is less nice, I must admit). In short, you have the perfect excuse to stuff your face immediately. You can even replace the sugar with honey, which will give you another excuse to eat it (everybody knows that honey is good for colds, right?).


Now, I need to clarify something. In my home country, you are not supposed to dip your bread/toast/cake/biscuit/whatever in your morning tea or coffee. It is rude, you see. Well, the beauty of the lemon drizzle cake is that it is pre-dipped for you! What’s not to like about it? Honestly, don’t you agree that this is a perfect example of British pragmatism?
In short, I highly recommend lemon drizzle cake to cure a nasty cold.
P.S.
40blogSpot is not a food blog but I thought that I should give you the recipe of my personalised Lemon Drizzle cake in case you feel a sudden urge to start cooking after this post. I deny any responsibility whatsoever should this happen. The beauty of this cake is that you can customise it if you wish.
For the cake itself, you need to mix:
       175 g of melted butter with 3 eggs and 175g of sugar (you can replace some of it with honey)
       the zest of 2 lemons (finely grated)
Then, slowly add 170 of self raising flour. For something a bit different, you can replace part of the flour by ground almonds
If the mixture is too hard, add some milk
 Bake at 180C for 45 to 55 mins or until a knife in the cake comes out dry.
Let the cake cool for 10/15 mins
Mix the juice of the two lemons you have used for their zest with 100 of sugar (any type). You can use honey if you so wish.
Drill little holes on the cake and pour the juice in them until it is all absorbed…Voila! Serve fast…You have been warned!

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Uncategorized /


It was bound to happen. As the old saying goes, ‘when you have too many plates in the air, occasionally one is going to get dropped’. If only it had been just one!
My schedule has been hectic for the last few weeks. I have tried to keep running the household as best as I could with groceries, housekeeping and school runs. Then, I had to organise various birthday parties. There were also school plays, play dates and places that I didn’t even know existed (how did we manage without satnav again?). Finally, I am refinancing my business, hunting for a new house closer to the schools and trying to stop sneezing all the time. My husband is spending some time on business trips abroad, which means that I can only count on me.
I realised that it was all going pear shaped when I saw a guy on the street and thought it was my bank manager. I waved and shouted a big ‘hello’. Well, it wasn’t my bank manager after all. Maybe, on top of all the rest, I need to book myself an eye test.
Then, because of my cold, I kept sneezing and crying. I was therefore being asked all the time whether I was alright. Yes, I am fine, I just have a bad cold. Usually, a condescending comment follows :’ You need to have a rest, Darling.’. As if I could. Who would do the school run? Prepare the meals? Do the laundry? I am sure that they all mean well, but do they really think that I would do all my chores instead of lying in bed if I had a choice?  Honestly?
It reached a new low when my phone rang and, as the number looked unfamiliar, I thought that it was my husband calling from wherever he was to let me know that he had landed safely. I replied ‘Hello Handsome!’ in a jokey sort of way, except that it was my bank manager (the real one, this time). I was mortified.
I apologised profusely. In fact, I think that he was slightly amused.
Anyway, in French we say something like ‘le ridicule ne tue pas’, which would translate ‘ridiculousness doesn’t kill’. It is a good thing that it doesn’t…

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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It is freezing in London and to make matters even worse I think that I am becoming like my Mum. You have to understand that my mistake is to believe that, when it is cold, you need to cover up. I am talking about wearing a coat, a pair of trousers and warm pullovers. Nothing revolutionary, really. Or so I thought. Well, clearly, I was wrong. British girls in general (and my daughter in particular) believe the opposite to be true. When it is cold, you absolutely need to show off your legs and wear just T-shirts. You see, it is all about looking cool.
Mind you, some school uniforms include short pants (knee-length). Maybe, after all, it is a national thing. You have to pretend that the cold doesn’t exist. Or that you can’t feel it. The sale of short pants remains strong over here, even during cold winters. Go figure.
My daughter bought shorts recently. Actually, they are so short that it is barely longer than her T-shirt. It made me wonder: what is the point of buying something so minuscule that you can’t notice it?  Again, clearly, I am out of touch. For a start, everybody does it. I warned her that she would catch a cold but I have to admit that she didn’t. Once again, I am not cool. I feel like I have become my Mum. She made me wear a hat during winter and I hated her for it. Obviously, I removed the hat as soon as she was out of sight. Now it is my turn to feel the same way as my own mother. Except that my daughter and her friends are wearing minuscule short pants during the British winter. Clearly, I am being punished for something that I did in another life. That’s the only explanation, right? What did I do to deserve this? My Mum would have a heart attack. But what can I do? Should I force her to wear a pair of trousers?
Me being me, I had sneaked a pair of trousers in the car, thinking that she would change her mind and admit that she was cold. But no, she was fine and stayed in her short pants. I can not win. It is a cultural thing you see. British genes must include resistance to cold.
That said, apparently, as soon as she is at school she puts her track suit bottom on, with her hooded jumper. Maybe the short pants are just here to drive me crazy.
From now on, I will act cool and say nothing. She seems to be managing very well without me anyway. Great. On top of being uncool I am becoming redundant now.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Politics /


Have you heard the news? David Beckham will be playing for a football club in Paris. A British icon in France! Apparently, his family will remain in London, because he only has a contract for a few months.
I can’t wait to hear him speak French. That’s something to look forward to!
He has also decided to give all of his French salary to a charity, which I believe is great. However, he has been at the receiving end of a torrent of abuse because of his decision. French newspapers especially have had a field day: they say that he did this to pay less taxes.
I don’t get this logic. He could have kept his salary for himself. Instead he gave it to a deserving charity. What is the problem? Why are some journalists (especially French ones, actually) giving him such a hard time? Shouldn’t we all be happy that children in need will benefit from his action? Why are people trolling him?
In fact, I really wonder why we have all become so cynical. Yes, David Beckham doesn’t have any end of the month worries, but does this fact make him a bad person? Don’t you think that people are in fact, well, jealous?
Maybe it is in our genes. Maybe we like nothing more than a good old scandal. Maybe giving to a charity is a good deed that doesn’t interest the newspapers. They would have preferred him to have been unfaithful to his wife or to have done something against the law, it is probably better for their business. How pathetic.
And who would blame David Beckham because he prefers to give to a charity rather than to the taxman? Well, not me.

That said, I believe that David needs to go even further. To show his real involvement and proves that he means business, he should strip off. For a charity, of course. I promise that I will contribute if he does it. David, don’t disappoint me! I am sure that lots of women will join me. I am not talking about Armani sultry shots here. We want the full monty – all for a good cause, of course. Come on, David, it has been a difficult start of the year and I still have a stupid cold. I need some cheering up here!

On a similar note, please note that, on 4 February, ActionAid launched our Ready for Anything campaign, which will help the world’s poorest people everywhere from Afghanistan to Burma to prepare for the next big disaster, helping to save lives NOW. Throughout the campaign from 4 February to 3 May, every donation made by people in the UK will be doubled by the government, helping twice as many people. 

Finally, a big thank you for your support. Thanks to my readers, I sponsor a child in India. His name is Suresh.

Do you know what? If we all do something, maybe we will make this world a better place.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category London /


The weather is officially crazy in London. One day it is freezing, the other it is pouring, and today finally we have blue skies but somehow it feels extremely cold. To make matters even worse, I have caught a cold. It is not a big deal, just a stupid cold. My French friends have told me to go to the doctor and get a prescription. As I am British now, I will get over it with hot tea. And I don’t want to take the risk of being prescribed suppositories anyway -French doctors love them. Now you know.
That said, you would have thought that, in this day and age, they would know how to cure a cold in a couple of hours. But no, they don’t. You just have to take it easy for a few days and wait until it goes away. Easier said than done when you have to take care of a family and a business.
There are some news. Apparently we will be staying in London for a few more years. Basically, it could have been Montreal or Perth (in Australia), but no, we will be staying. I suppose that it is a good news, but right now I could kill for some sun. I am dreaming of Australia, I need a travel fix. I was trying to relax, so I  started googling hotels in Australia. Some Sydney hotels just looked lovely and made me dream. Maybe I should book a room and go. If only I could! I have never been to the Sydney Opera House. It must be fantastic. But I can’t. Have you ever felt like, if you had been explained what duties and responsibilities meant, you would have said ‘thanks, but no thanks!’. Surely I can’t be the only one. Anyway, I decided that googling Australia wasn’t relaxing after all so I just stopped. It doesn’t make me feel relaxed at all, quite the opposite in fact.
So here I am, in cold London, water hot bottle at the ready, sipping tea mixed with lemon juice and honey, feeling miserable. Any advice for me?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London