Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, French food /

Usually, just because I am French, I am asked to choose the wines for outings, conferences and the likes. The thing is, I have no idea what to do, because I know next to zero about wine. But I can’t say so, because I am French and all French are supposed to be experts in such things, right? I had to learn a few tricks to be able to talk about wine. Why didn’t I just tell the truth? Well, because I would have had to write and print dozens of fliers and distribute them every day to acquaintances, friends and colleagues. That’s how bad it was. What to do? Once again, I learned to go with the flow…Here is how I did it:


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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /

In case you have missed it, you can read the last chapter here

Back To London

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Boxing Day

Bank holidays and public holidays are not the same thing. Christmas Day, the 25th of December, is a public holiday because it is a religious festival. Nobody knows whether Boxing Day should be a public holiday or a bank holiday. Dont count on the official books to enlighten you.

p93, Official study guide Boxing day on 26 December is a public holiday

p179 Official Practice Questions and Answers Boxing Day is the day after Christmas day and is a bank holiday

Nobody really understands the difference between the two but the common consensus is that you dont have to go to work on either a Bank holiday or a public holiday, which, after all, is what matters. That said, be careful not to get it wrong on the day of the test.

Life In the United Kingdom, (Almost) Official Study Guide


I wake up and start getting ready for another day of work. Steven half sits on the bed and mumbles, half-asleep:

“-What is going on?”

“-Well, it is Monday, I am going to work!”

“-Darling, you don’t need to, it is Boxing day!”

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Posted by / Category French food, London, Stereotypes /

It is impossible to talk about the French without mentioning food. To cut a long story short, there are two things we French are supposed to be good at: sex and food. When I mention that I am French (which everybody knows by now anyway), we usually start talking about food. Why food first? Well, because the British don’t like talking about sex when sober. It usually comes after a few pints. But I digress. I could write the script of the conversation in advance: my interlocutors start mentioning the restaurants they have been to lately, and try to get my approval. They want me to admire their exquisite tastes. Alternatively, they list the bottles of wine they have recently bought at an auction, and want me to say that they managed to get a fantastic deal. Most of the time, I don’t know the restaurants they are talking about, and I would never buy super-expensive bottles of wine, because I simply don’t see the point. Most of my British friends have a wine cave in their house. To cut a long story short, we don’t. Nor to we have a sex dungeon, for the record.


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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London, Politics /

Back by popular demand, here is the latest chapter of Carine & Archie’s story. You can read the last chapter here.


I need to prepare my citizenship test.

The UK did not join the European Economic Community (EEC) until 1973. Still today, it is a sore subject. You will not read anything else about the EEC in this guide. No questions on this subject will be asked during the Life in the United Kingdom Test anyway. There is absolutely no need whatsoever to revise this paragraph.

Life In the United Kingdom, (Almost) Official Study Guide


Christmas 2011


With a heavy heart I manage to get Alexandra and myself to France, in the small city where I come from near Nice. There is a direct British Airways flight, which helps. There is even a quirky Anglican church there, I don’t know why. My ankle feels a lot better. I think that I overreacted a bit. I must be tired. All I needed was a few good nights sleep.

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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences /

Here I was, walking along the beach in Bali, looking at the huge kites in the sky when I started to notice that everyone around me was speaking French. Was I dreaming? I thought I had left it all. That’s when it dawned on me: I was walking in front of the Club Med resort in Bali. So much for thinking that old Europe was far, far away. Simply put, I was in my very own French bubble in the middle of Bali. It felt familiar, and odd at the same time.

I quickly noticed a pattern of behaviours that I knew all too well:


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Posted by / Category Travel /

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the hotel had a running club. I didn’t know what to expect, because apparently they had just started it. Me being me, I was wondering whether I would be too slow. I really needed to stop being scared, but that was another story. I decided to give it a try.

I didn’t manage to get up the first day. 7.30 am was simply far too early for me, because I was still jet-lagged and had finally fallen asleep around 5 am. I managed to get up the second day. As usual, I was at least 10 minutes in advance. That, again, was just me: I might be French but I have always hated being late.

The Balinese instructor’s, Elit, arrived shortly afterwards. We were also joined by an Autralian guy, and by a British lady from Hong-Kong. Elit showed us some stretches, and we swiftly walked to the beach.

We started running. In fact, we started jogging. This was a little bit faster than a walk, but not by much. What a relief! Elit explained to us that his knee was playing up a bit, and he had to start slow. Fine by me.


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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /

If you have enjoyed Carine and Archie’s story, here is the next chapter…You can read chapter 3 here.


Stiff Upper Lip – December 2011


Life with Archie back at home is easier than I thought. I still get the odd moment of panic: yesterday my closet padlock was open and I thought that I had locked it. I was suspicious all day. Has Archie found what the code was? Did I forget to lock it? Has Graeme broken into the house? I will probably never know. I need to chill out a bit.

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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, Travel /

I don’t know if it’s my French side, or if it’s just me. But this much I know: I can’t stop. I can’t stop learning, I can’t stop thinking, I can’t stop worrying, I can’t stop working, and I can’t stop having new ideas. Yes, I know: most of you will feel tired just reading this. Sorry.

The thing is, I am on holidays in Bali -of all places. But I still have to do a lot. I just have to. Despite the stunning sceneries, the rice paddies and the amazing art, there is always something to do. Always. Not to mention that as a mum, you are never off duty. Never. There is always a drama waiting to happen.


How do I switch off? Why can’t I switch off? I have no excuse whatsoever…

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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, Travel /

Never. It must be a French thing. I hadn’t realised that there was a bikini police, but apparently when a woman hits 35 or 40 she has to dress more conservatively. This means that we are not supposed to wear crop tops, mini skirts, or bikinis. I know that it may come to a shock to you but although I feel 25 in my head my official age says something slightly different. What can I say? Time flies. It’s part of the many unwritten rules more mature women have to follow: dress sensibly.

Seriously? Says who?

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Posted by / Category London /

Don’t forget to read chapter 1 here and chapter 2 here…Tell me what you think!


Christmas Parties- December 2012


It’s been two months of leaving on my own. I feel divorced without even being married. Christmas party season is now in full swing and every time I reach for a dress in my closet I am wondering whether Graeme has tried it on. Not nice. I am trying to come to terms with what has happened. This means that Archie is still living in a hotel, and I don’t know what the hell to do. I haven’t figured it out yet. Of course, he tried to explain that this is a cultural difference as he went to a very posh boarding school with no girIs. He assured me that the whole incident is nothing to worry about. Graeme has always loved to cross dress, according to Archie. I am still not convinced. This is not a situation I have heard about. I know that men can have mistresses. Sometimes they become gay. That said, I had never ever heard of cross dressing before. Maybe it is a British thing.

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