Posted by / Category London /

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Today I am taking you to a nice Sunday stroll in Kensington. Can you see this wall? It looks like any other wall, doesn’t it?
 
Well, appearances can be deceptive. This is Garden Lodge, the house of the late Freddie Mercury.

Fans are still leaving tributes next to the door.

Or on the pathway.

I am chuffed to bits to have found this place. Apparently, Mary Austin, Freddie Mercury’s lifelong friend/partner, still lives here.

My daughters didn’t really understand why I love this place. I grew up on Queen’s hits. It must be a generation thing.

Oh, and someone will have to explain to me how the houses are numbered in this country.

Looking right, this is what I saw.

And just in front of the house, on the other side of the street:

Go figure. I will never get it.
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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When I look at my life over here, I can see a succession of daily hurdles that I have to overcome. That said, help is at hand, and I have just come to realise that I rely a lot on some products or services that make my life easier. I suppose that we all go through a similar process, and I would be interested in knowing what your tips to make it easier are. Come on, sisters, don’t be shy, please share them!

TOP FIVE DAILY HURDLES
1. The Dirty Laundry Basket
Honestly, why is it always full? And does my family think that everything washes itself just by magic? I am wondering whether my daughters are using the dirty laundry basket as extra storage, because I found a couple of clean pairs of socks in there. I am thinking of going on strike.


2. The Daily Commute
Whatever I do, it is going to be stressful. And there is always something with the London Tube, buses or roads. This morning, the machine wouldn’t accept my Oyster card (local pass). Go figure.

3. The School Opening Times
Not only are they ridiculously short in London compared to France, but things keep changing, and you had better keep up. After school clubs are cancelled at a moment’s notice and, from time to time, the school decides to have a day off. They call it different names: teacher training day, Valediction, festival, whatever… They can be creative and make it sound like it is fun, but the bottom line is always the same: as a mum, you are going to be the one who will take care of the kids.

4. Food, Glorious Food
Some things drive me mad. It is usually comments like “Darling, why are there no eggs any more?” or “Where is the orange juice?”. Again, it doesn’t miraculously come to the fridge, does it? But with food, nobody is happy. Ever. “Why are my pastas cold?” Well, if you had arrived on time they wouldn’t be. I simply can’t win. I am thinking of putting all the family on some fasting diet to show them how lucky they are.

5. Poor Customer Service
Have you noticed how difficult it can be to talk to the right person when you have a problem? The amount of time I spent trying to make appointments and solving various issues is simply ridiculous. Everything is difficult: talking to your bank, your energy supplier, reorganising a delivery…The list is endless.
That said, all is not bleak, and lots of things are helping me to go through the day. I sometimes wonder how our grandmothers were managing without such help. I am not sure that I could survive without it.
TOP 5 LIFE SAVERS: 
1. Internet and Google
Honestly, how were we managing before? I research everything on the net, from schools to properties and health issues. Google has helped me through all the different phases of my life. I try to do as much as possible from the comfort of my own house. And I love it.

2.  My dishwasher. 
Having the best dishwasher is a life saver. I just stuff mine with all the dirty plates and dishes and I don’t need to do anything else. If you don’t already have a dishwasher, just read some dishwasher reviews to see how much your life would be easier with it. As for me, I wonder what would happen if it were broken. I think that I would suffer a breakdown. The prospect of taking forever to clean everything doesn’t appeal to me. At all.

3.  My Microwave. 
I know that it is a controversial one, but life is so much easier with a microwave. Too cold: here we go, and 30 seconds later it is perfect.

4. Grocery deliveries. 
That’s the ultimate luxury, isn’t it? When I was younger, we were shopping every weekend and carrying all our bags back home. In London, you can have all your water bottle and heavy stuff delivered to your very own door. What’s not to like about it?

5. Yoga. 
I wasn’t a yoga person at all but I am starting to get into it. It is probably the only time when I don’t think about anything. And it feels good.
How about you? How do you overcome your daily hurdles? What makes your life easier?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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Whichever nationality you are, some things never change. One of the questions I get asked most of the time, when I am meeting female friends, is “So, does my bum look big in this?”.

My skinny French friends have asked the question, my not-so-skinny other friends have asked it too. I am pretty sure that I must have asked the question to them at some point too. Come to think of it, do you also have the nasty habit to check your bum in the mirror before going to work? Well, I have to admit, guilty as charged.
So, why are we obsessed with the size of our bums? What is wrong with us? I have just recently realised how annoying this habit must be. After all, a bum is just, well, a bum. If you are skinny, it will be skinny. If you are curvy, it will be bigger. And it is not the end of the world, right?


We have different ways to deal with the bum issue. The Brazilian way is to show as much of it as possible. Fat, flat, skinny, peachy, it doesn’t matter. Your swimwear must show at least half of it. I once had to work in Rio De Janeiro (ah, memories) and was surprised to see so many women on the beach, wearing practically nothing as the lower part of their bikini. That said, the bra was definitively there. Weird.

Then, you have the French way. It is called creating a diversion. If you don’t want others to look at your butt, then you must show something else, i.e. your legs, your cleavage, whatever. I believe that’s why so many women (of all ages & shapes) go topless on the beach. See, problem solved.

The Anglo-Saxon way is well, more prudish. You just cover yourself or hide behind huge towels. Granny pants are back in fashion and I am pretty sure that this is why: we women don’t want to show our wobbly bits.

Where does this leave me? Well, I just think that we are ridiculous. We are what we are and shouldn’t care what size we are. Why do we put so much pressure on us? So, please, stop worrying about your shape. Don’t you think that it is time to just be happy and enjoy the present? I do.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category London /

Who said that London was grey and dull? I was walking in  Kensington and this is what I found: a little square with colourful houses. For a minute I thought that I was in Scandinavia. It brightened my day, and I hope that it will brighten yours too!

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category London /


I had an epiphany today. I can’t believe it. I was taking the tube to go to work when some country singers boarded my carriage. The buskers started to play.
They were good and it was helping me to wake up. A toddler, probably on his way to the nursery, was beaming and clapping his hands. He was loving it and it was a pleasure to watch him.
Actually, most people on the District line train were smiling for once, some were even clapping their hands. It simply was one of these unexpected bonuses that life throws at you from time to time.
Naively, I thought that everybody was enjoying the moment, only to notice that a  woman, who was sitting next to the toddler, wasn’t amused at all by the whole experience. She had put her head between her hands and was saying quite loudly that she wished it would stop. How unlucky was it that they came to her carriage? , she was asking. I ignored her. Everybody ignored her.
So here it is: what was nice for me was clearly a torture for her. How come? How could we be so different? I guess some people are simply never happy. In short, I realised that you can’t please everybody. Maybe that’s just life. Some people will not be happy, no matter what.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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What is your favourite time of the day? For me, it is my first cup of coffee of the morning. I usually have it after the school run and before starting my day of work. It is an important breather, and a good time for me to relax and to start organising my day.
My ritual hasn’t really changed over time. In Paris, I used to have a strong double espresso. No sugar of course. Things have evolved a bit, actually. Maybe I have mellowed out, after all:  I now have a smooth cappuccino, with a sprinkle of chocolate powder on top of it. And I love it. Especially the first sip…


I try to limit my coffee intake to a couple of cups a day. Some of my friends have completely removed coffee from their diet. I couldn’t do it. I don’t think that it is too good to be perfect anyway. You have got to keep a few small pleasures, right? I might be in denial here. Where does this love of coffee come from? I simply have no idea. A bad coffee puts me immediately in a bad mood. I can smell it, I can taste it and it is disgusting.

Is it a bad habit? Should I stop? Why is that the best things in life, such as chocolate and coffee, can also be so harmful? So unfair.
Right, now the difficult part: it is time to start my day…

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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I have just been to my butcher and, despite the fact that I had never seen before the guy who was serving me, he called me ‘Darling, Sweetheart and Honey’ in the space of a couple of minutes, as if buying some steaks made us old friends. That’s just the way it is over here. I am told that there is nothing personal; it is just a way to make you more at ease, apparently. Well, it had the opposite effect on me. I miss the French shops where you are greeted by a lovely ‘Bonjour, Madame!’.

I then had a conference call with various colleagues and despite the fact that we have never met face to face, we were all on a first name basis. At some point, one of the participants started to shorten everybody’s name and from then on I was called ‘Mu’. After all, why not? I can’t say that I like it but I put up with it. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter, does it?


Most of the time, I like the fact that things are less formal over here, but it can get a bit too much for me. Where do you draw the line? A British colleague once gave me his card with his hotel room number written behind ‘In case I needed anything’. Thanks, but not thanks. The thing is, the way he said it felt completely natural, as if he was asking how the weather was. Weird.

In France, we have two ways to address someone: the formal you (‘vous’), and the informal one (‘tu’). I am told that things are changing fast and that now, everybody uses the informal way at the office. When I was working in France (9 years ago), things were still rather formal.  That said, I remember one of the big bosses grilling me during a meeting and then, during the evening, explaining to me the benefits of dating older men. Thanks, but no thanks. Come to think of it, unlike the British colleague, I am not even sure that he knew my first name.
This got me thinking: where has chivalry gone? Don’t get me wrong, I am not expecting men to bow to my every whim on a white horse and in shiny armour, but some respect would be nice. Maybe I was just unlucky with these two. I don’t think that maintaining a safe distance goes against feminism. What do you think?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category London /

Page Street, Westminster

I would like, every Sunday, to share with you a picture of London. Do not expect big landmarks and well-known features. No, I am more interested in the details that make London what it is.

This one was taken on Page street, In Pimlico. It looks like a chessboard, doesn’ it? For me, it is a checkmate: I am so not moving back to France! What about you, where do you stand on the chessboard?
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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There is a new trend in town. I believe that it started at the Cannes festival and it simply hasn’t stopped ever since. Forget about showing a little cleavage, nobody cares any more. In fact, forget about wearing your bra. It is all about showing some side boobs now. Your age doesn’t matter, apparently. Sharon Stone has done it and she is fifty five. It is never too late. In theory, anyone can do it. Well, at least that’s what someone wants us to believe!
Teenage girls even put a bandeau (otherwise known as a boob tube) underneath their torn T-shirt to make it more acceptable. Right now, in London, they are all doing it. It simply is the latest craze. I don’t get it. Bandeaux seem to come in all sorts of colours. Some are all glittery, others are black and sober. It is the new must-have accessory!
As for me, I can’t really go braless –  I just can’t, it is beyond me. Maybe, after all, I am getting old. Honestly, when did the side boob become acceptable ? Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against a little bit of cleavage and I don’t think that I am such a prude, but I don’t get the appeal of the side boob. A shirt is a shirt, right? Why would you show some boobs on the side? See, I am becoming very conventional.
Honestly, do you find it beautiful? Graceful? I don’t. And, let’s be honest here, side boobs can look sort of ok for the flat chested, but for, let’s say, more mature women, I can’t really see how it might work, unless you are not afraid of the ‘OMG it is all going south’ comment. Granted, some boobs (especially the ones full of silicone) seem to defy gravity, but, if I were a man, I would be scared of the flying boob. It is simply not natural, is it? And what if it bursts?
It short, I think that I will stick to regular tops and T-shirts. Come on, what’s next? Underboob? Why not let it all hang out?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category London /

Staircase

My old Victorian house is full of steps. To be precise, there are 87 of them in total. You have the whole story now, with facts and figures, so don’t complain please. The thing is, most old houses in London have lots of steps. We simply got used to it. And the silver lining is that we exercise without even thinking about it. Climbing up and down the stairs make our bottoms a lot firmer, right? In short, it doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, I like it. Each floor is quite isolated from the rest of the house and it is easy to spend time together on one floor or to have some private time on another floor.

What still bothers me is all the comments I have to listen to when I get family and (French) friends coming over. I can be sure that they will complain about all the steps. Maybe, after all, complaining is part of the French culture. It is only a question of time before someone asks about the stairs. It usually takes a drink or two and the complaining squad starts firing. 


Sometimes, it is a criticism hidden in a concern for my family:
“Aren’t you afraid to fall with all the steps? “
“What about your children?”
Well, we have never fallen so far, and it has almost been ten years now.

My mother is especially good at making complaints and reproaches in a seemingly helpful way. She is all about:
“ It would be great if you could have the same surface in a flat. It would feel so much bigger.”
“If you ask me, the lounge should be on the same level than the dining room.”

Such comments drive me mad. Not to mention the fact that London service charges are rocket high for flats and in a house, you are less likely to hear your upstairs/downstairs neighbours, right? But no, the complaining squad doesn’t want to see all the positive sides of living in a house. They have to make their points, even if nobody asks them to.
Here is the thought that crossed my mind last time I had such a comment: well, if the worst comes to worst, I will push them down the stairs. I am sure that they will be delighted to be right: stairs are so dangerous, right?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London