Posted by / Category Cultural Differences /

Today I would like to talk about another myth about French women: apparently, we French women don’t shave our legs. I have heard it countless times and, frankly, I don’t find it amusing any more. In my local salon,  I once bumped  into an intern who was working in our department. I was having a leg wax, if you must know. The next day, when she arrived at work, she shouted that she had seen me in a salon, and said out loud: “- French women do shave, after all”. How embarrassing ! In fact, technically, I didn’t shave: I waxed. It was probably too subtle a difference for her to notice.

Right. Personally, whether or not people wax, shave or thread is of absolutely no concern to me. I don’t care and would never comment on someone’s hairy legs. As long as you are happy the way you are, it is none of my business at all. The only time I noticed something was at a Bikram yoga session. What I saw made lose my balance while doing my Awkward pose. I seemed to be the only one who was kind of horrified at the sight of the hairy legs of the lady next to me. I am not talking about the type of leg hair that was awaiting a fresh wax, but long, unkempt, never-tended-to leg hair like a man’s. Then, I realised that I was silly and ought to spend my energy actually doing yoga rather than looking at the lady’s legs. I looked away and quickly forgot about it.

Maybe British women don’t shave their legs. Major generalisation, yes, but that’s how these things start, right? So why do we have such a reputation? And why do I keep hearing it again and again? Give me a break, and forget about my legs!

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Uncategorized /

I need to declutter my house. You wouldn’t believe the amount of junk that we have accumulated over the years. I even found stuff that we brought from Paris and never used. I have asked my daughters to give me the clothes that they don’t need any more and ended up with a huge bin bag full of outfits. I will have to give them to charity shops.

I need to declutter my calendar. It is easier said than done. The schools always find something for us parents to remember. This week is no exception: we were supposed to bring non-perishable food on Monday, fresh food on Thursday and an apple on Friday. This is because it is Harvest week. It just never stops. If you want to do everything 100% right, it is a full-time job. I don’t remember things being so complicated when I was growing up. In France, you just go to school. Over here, you have to make a good impression on top of everything else. Exhausting.

I need to declutter my contact list. For some reason, I am always the one people call when they need help. People seem to love to take the Mickey out of me. That’s how I ended up driving a few girls to and from school without anything in return a few years ago. It took me three weeks to find an excuse to stop the charade. More recently, on eBay, I was asked whether I could offer free postage on a £0.99 bed cover. Maybe the guy wanted a cheque on top of this? Why do people do this?

How about you? How do you declutter? Any advice?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Uncategorized /

I was recently tagged for the LiebsterAward by Janine from ReflectionFrom A Redhead.  Janine is a fellow blogging friend and she has been supporting me since the start of my blog.
The concept of the Liebster Award is to tag 11 bloggers and ask them 11 questions.  I personally see this as a way for people to get to know me better, and for me to get to know everyone I tag better.
Now let’s get into it.  Here are the questions Janine asked, and my answers:
1) What is your favourite movie?
I love Chick Flicks. To me a good movie has to be light-hearted and have the feel-good factor. I don’t have a favourite movie. Recently, I went to see About Time, directed by Richard Curtis and I loved it. It just does the job and made me feel happy about my very normal life.
2)What is your highlight for 2013 so far?
When my daughter was selected competed in a national athletic competition. We might have a future Olympian in the family!
3) Tell us about one of the blogs you like to read.
Have a look at my What I Read Page and feel free to add to it.
4) What is one of your most treasured memories from your childhood?
I don’t live in the past. My childhood is firmly behind me. I have moved on.
5) How did you get into blogging?
I started blogging as a new year resolution in 2011. I decided to leave the corporate world shortly afterwards and blogging was a nice way to interact with a new audience.
6) If you could eat one food forever, what would it be?
Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. Did I mention chocolate?
7) If you were stranded on a desert island, name 2 people you would like to be stranded with.
Could I be on my own for once? I am not in a very social mood today. And I love to have time just for myself.
8) What is your guilty pleasure?
I have many! In no particular order: food, yoga, shopping, coffee…
9) What is your soundtrack to 1998?
It has to be “My heart Will Go On”, of Celine Dion
10) If you were given a ticket to travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I have always wanted to go to the Maluku islands to see the spice plantations.
11) Do you have a 1 or a 5 year plan, or do you prefer to fly by the seat of your pants? There’s nothing wrong with either!
I would like to think that I am a very organised person. Over the next 5 years, I want to grow my business and, hopefully, publish a book. I have already written a manuscript and sent to my agent. I am waiting for some feedback. Maybe it will work, maybe…not. Keep your fingers crossed for me and watch this space!
I now would like to introduce you to some new blogs I came across recently. They are really good, so go and have a look:
Rohit’s blog, In Search Of Meaning  is always a lovely read.
Caro has this amazing capacity to write poems about everything  in life. Check it out here.
Anita-Clare is a foodie and I love it! Check out her site, Lover Of Creating Flavours.
You can travel to Caroline without moving. have a look at Carolinaheartstrings .
Enjoy the lovely pictures of Surae at Redbarnartwor.
Carol’s whimsical posts can be found at divineknits-infiknit
Roy will explain to you all the new developments on his blog: Adjuvancy
And finally, Fran’s blog makes me travel far away from London. Check it out here.
And here are the 11 questions that the lovely nominees will have to answer, if they want to of course:
1.     Why do you blog?
2.     What makes you happy?
3.     Where do you live?
4.     What is your favourite food?
5.     How do you relax?
6.     If you could jump in a plane right away, where would you go?
7.     What helps you to write?
8.     What was 2013 main highlight so far?
9.     What are your plans for 2014?
10. How do you see yourself in 10 years?
11. And finally, what would you do if you won the lottery tomorrow?

And last but not least, up to you: nominate 11 new blogs! Pass it on, fellow bloggers, pass it on!
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category London /

I like to take it easy on Sundays. Some mums tend to entertain their children every day of the week. I don’t. They need to get time to get bored and entertain themselves. They simply need to have time to be children, right? That said, today, the world is against me. I ventured outside to buy my Sunday newspapers and I saw this:

Yep, that’s a race car. Right in front of my place. It is a bad sign. Even on a Sunday, the rat race will not stop. Not for me.

Some women of the neighbourhood are running on the street. They all have very flashy gears. I will not join. They would like me to but I don’t want to run. And I don’t have any shiny outfit anyway. I just want to rest. Do they never stop? Sometimes, I just want to do nothing. What is wrong with doing nothing?

Mind you, doing nothing is not as easy as it sounds: there are birthday parties to attend, competitions to win, homework to supervise, stuff to do. It never stops. When did we become action-junkies? is it a London thing? Why are we always on a schedule? I might be wrong, but things were a bit quieter in France. In fact, there is less pressure. There you go. There were no after-school activities and not a lot of play dates when I grew up. When I explain this to my children, they look at me as if I were 150 years old.

So, tell me, what happened to taking it easy and enjoying a quieter day? I wonder. Did I take a wrong turn? Why is there always something to do?

Oh, and I don’t know if you can see it on the picture, but the race car got a parking ticket. See: there is no point in having a race car in London. I knew it.

As for me, I have made up my mind. I will stay at home and do absolutely nothing. What about you? How do you spend your Sundays?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Uncategorized /

After a busy start of the week I decide to treat myself to a lovely lunch at my favourite sushi restaurant. I am on my own. I just want to enjoy the food – and boy! it is fantastic! The place is quite busy but I manage to find an empty table in a corner. I sit down. Shortly after, three women join me. I am in the awkward position of having my lunch with three persons whom I have never met before. I don’t want to talk to them, so I pretend to be playing with my iPhone while they are talking as if I were not here. I can obviously listen to their conversation and soon realise that I am in the company of three alpha mums. Lucky me!

The Alpha Mum strives in London. Alpha Mums have an above average drive to succeed in every aspect of their offspring’s life. With all the exams and competitions in London, Alpha Mums have a field day over here. Alpha mums also usually share similar traits: skinny, long hair, chatterboxes. Alpha Mums don’t listen: it si all about the achievements of their own children. Alpha Mums love boasting.

Alpha Mum number 1 explains how she managed to get her little darling into one of London top nurseries. The selection starts really early over here. You see, he is 3-years-old and his intelligence is soooo clearly above average. Of course it is. He didn’t even need any tutoring, can you believe it? Good boy.  I have been living in London far too long now. I just know that she is lying. All Alpha Mums have tutors for all aspects of their kids life. It is a wonder that children can wipe their bums on their own after being tutored to death. I really wonder how they can start working without a tutor. Maybe they don’t need to work?

Alpha Mum number two is clearly unhappy because her daughter is never selected in the sport squads of her school. She wonders what she can do. Alpha mum number two is clearly naive. Spot squads are extremely selective and she will have to pay a coach for some one-to-one sessions. The other Alpha mums don’t offer any advice. It is a competitive world out there. She will have to figure it out by herself.

Alpha Mum number 3 is happy because her daughter has made it into the swim squad at her new primary school. Alpha Mum number 1 can’t let Alpha mum number 3 boast about her daughter without snapping back. She says: “Well, it is a small school, isn’t it? It is much easier to get into the squads there. Much less selective” I almost burst off laughing and have to pretend it is because of something I read on my iPhone.

I am about to ask them what there is to win. It is a lot of pressure for a kid to fulfill his/her mum’s expectations, isn’t it? I end up not saying anything. That’s the British thing to do, right? Of course I want my children to succeed. But not at any cost. More importantly, I want them to be happy. I finish my sushi and leave. They are still deep in conversation about the best secondary schools.

Maybe it is their way of being happy. Well, it is not mine. When did we become so competitive at such a young age? Why are we doing this? Time to get a life, ladies…

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /

The unthinkable has happened. I have just had a very London moment. I might be more British than I think, after all. Let me explain: I had just caught a black cab back to go home as I was, as usual, running behind schedule.

Once I had told him where to go, the cab driver looked at me and asked:
“- Do you have a preferred way to get there, Love?”
“- No, not particularly. Whatever is easier.”
“-Not a problem, Darling”

And then, five minutes later, it downed on me: he had called me Love and Darling and I hadn’t even noticed. It hadn’t bothered me at all. When this had first happened to me, I was on the verge of calling the emergency services. And now, I don’t notice it any more. What a difference a few years make! Don’t get me wrong: I can’t say that I like it, but I think that I might be suffering from a severe case of selective hearing.

Maybe, after all, I am more British than I think? Where is this coming from? It must have happened gradually, little by little. I used to hate being called Pumpkin, Sweetheart and the likes. Now I can’t hear it any more. What is wrong with me? My hearing seems perfectly alright. This is something deeper. My brain is just skipping the words I don’t want to hear.
When we finally arrived, he said.
“- Goodbye, Sweetheart!”

Well, he can sweetheart me as long as he wants to, I don’t care anymore.
Do you have any idea of what is happening? Have I caught the British bug?
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Politics /

It had all started so well. One of my old university mates is in town, and we have arranged to have a morning coffee together. Her hotel isn’t very far from my home. I am really pleased to see her after all these years.

She is late. Of course she is. Anyway, I am not in a rush, so I don’t really mind. There she is. I waive and smile. She looks a bit dishevelled. She is upset, I can tell.

“- What is going on?”

“- How do you find your way in London? All the streets have the same names, with different extensions: close, garden, villa, and so on, and so forth…”

“- Oh, I am sorry you got lost.”

I am not sorry at all. Come on, it is not that difficult, is it? Surely she can read a map? After all, she is an educated lady.

We order a cappuccino. This is my favourite coffee place in the area. It doesn’t belong to a chain and is run by a lovely couple.  I come here almost every morning.

When her cappuccino arrives, she is not happy. It is too milky, you see. I wish I could bury my head in the sand and escape somewhere really far.  She has it redone. What a bossyboots!

“- How can you survive here? When are you going back to France? You know, there is such a thing as economic patriotism. You have been trained in France, you need to come back!”

 I hadn’t realised that I was going to get a good old-fashioned lecture.

I try to change subject.

“- Well, we are all British now. How about you? How is C, (her boyfriend)?”

Wrong question. Silly me.

“- Oh, we broke up a few months ago.”

“- I am sorry to hear this.”

I am a bit sorry for her, but not that much. She is clearly a pain in the neck. We haven’t seen each other for the best part of a decade, and here she is, lecturing me. I totally understand the guy. And she hasn’t even asked how I am.

“- And I have had a few health issues.”

Here we go again. It is all about her.

You don’t want to know the details. Suffice to say, she gave them to me and it was a case of too much information.

Sadly, I slowly come to the conclusion that we don’t have much in common any more. I feel like she is in need of a good therapist, and I can’t really help. I have barely managed to say anything anyway. I just nod and smile, and eventually, I stand up.

“- Well, it was lovely to see you!”

I can’t believe I said this. That’s clearly a lie. I am becoming more British by the minute. I really belong here.

“- And you too…Please think of what I told you. You need to go back! Don’t waste your talents! ”

Chances are, I will not see her again within the next ten years. No need to say anything, right? I let it slide. I would like to snap back, but I don’t.

I walk on my own, glad to be rid of her. What a difference 10 years make! Have you had such experiences? Am I a bad person?
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Uncategorized /

Impatiens: it could me my flower!
It is official; I am becoming a bitter old lady. I have never been very patient, but it is getting worse. Far worse. I don’t know why. Is it an age thing? Is it because I am French? What is going on? Yesterday, I had an appointment with my GP and was really upset to be waiting. Mind you, I hadn’t eaten anything because they were doing a routine blood analysis. The lack of food made me really grumpy. To make matters even worse, for some reason they couldn’t do the analysis yesterday (A missing kit, despite the fact that the appointment was made two weeks ago!!!). I was furious. I had to redo the whole shebang today and couldn’t have any breakfast apart from tea without milk or sugar. Try preparing your kids without any food in the morning two days in a row, and you will understand my pain. Of course they apologised. But they were not the ones doing the school run and feeling dizzy. I could have had an accident. I don’t like the fact that they are so disorganised and will change practice. I am becoming less and less forgiving. And come on, you have to be able to count on your doctor, right? And how can you if the practice is so disorganised?

I can’t tolerate bad customer service any more. I will not shout. I will not complain. No, I have passed that stage. Now, whenever they are late, I just stand up and leave. It happened the other day when I was supposed to get a haircut. Getting an appointment for a haircut in London is sometimes as difficult as having a papal audience. And on top of this they were 30 minutes late. I left. I couldn’t take it any more. There is only so much silly magazines that you can read, after all. I will change hairdresser.

What is wrong with me? I used to wait patiently, but I don’t do it any more. What has changed in me? Have you experienced something similar?
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /

How do you fight against stereotypes? How do you make the point, as gently as possible, that there is no such thing as “the French”? Let me tell you a little story. I used to be working for this company in London, and I was the only French of the team. I had the occasional comment about French politics and they seemed to struggle to understand my bad accent from time to time, but, all in all, I was pretty happy there. One day, I found a better job elsewhere and resigned. They wanted to buy me a little present on my last day. I insisted that it wasn’t necessary -after all, I was leaving them!-, but my colleagues really wanted to, which I thought was nice. I ended up giving them the name of a charity I support, saying that a small donation would be appreciated. On my last day, we all gathered up, and they insisted on giving me my present. It turned out that they had ignored my wish and bought me an ashtray.

The thing is: I don’t smoke. Never have. Never will. I had worked there for a couple of years, and they hadn’t noticed. This is because, according to them, all French people smoke cigarettes. Well, I don’t.

I was confused. I didn’t know what to do. There was clearly no point in telling them that they had it completely wrong, and I was leaving anyway, so why should I have educated them? I ended up thanking them them profusely. I think that I delivered a pretty good performance. I felt a lot happier to leave the company. They clearly didn’t know me well.

Why did my colleagues assume I was smoking? Where did this come from? I came to the conclusion that it probably said more about them than about me, and it was better to let it slide.

What about you? How do you deal with stereotypes?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Uncategorized /

Whether you are French or British, some things never change. This is my convoluted way of saying that I hate Monday mornings. Today was a little bit worse than usual because I couldn’t eat or have my daily cappuccino first thing in the morning: I had to have a blood analysis first. A routine test, but not nice.

Of course, my daughter found out that she didn’t have her coat just before we were supposed to leave. Of course. Exactly what I needed. And she broke a glass while looking for it. Of course she did. I found the bloody coat eventually. Of course I did. Because that’s mum’s job, right?

We walked to the car. No car. Instead, we saw the neighbour’s car being towed. Right in front of my eyes. Lovely. I started to panic. Where is the car? You need to understand that, over here, in London, parking fines are hefty and you can’t escape from them. They use cameras to spot cars parked in the wrong places. You can’t hide and nowhere is safe. I suspect that they have a special task force dealing with us drivers trying to do the school run. I once got a fine for dropping off my daughter on a double yellow line. We just stayed a couple of seconds, but that was enough for the camera to take a picture of the car. I have been traumatised ever since.

It turns out that the car was parked around the corner. Phew!
On a brighter note, it can only get better from here, right? I certainly hope so.

NB: In order to brighten up the dull month of October I will try to post once a day. Watch this space and wish me luck…

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London