Posted by / Category London /

This is what we left behind…

As soon as we got off the plane, it felt colder. A lot colder, actually. That was it, we were back in town. After two weeks of half term, it was time to go back to the old routine. We started queuing at passport control. The custom official took my French passport. As usual, it wasn’t working. It never does, and the French consulate will not do a thing. My British passport works better but I had taken my French one for some reason. Silly old me.

The custom official looked at me, typed my passport number on his computer, and looked at me in a stern way. I sighed. What was wrong with my French passport again?

“- There is a mistake in your date of birth”
“-  Oh no, not at all” I duly confirmed my date of birth, taking his question very seriously indeed. You don’t joke with an official, right? I didn’t think that they are allowed to joke anyway. It is part of the job description: don’t joke, don’t have a sense of humour.
“-  Well, you are a gorgeous woman then! And you look so young!” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and eventually managed to grin. My two daughters were with me and found the whole situation hilarious. I was too stunned to say anything. We have spent the last two weeks stuffing our faces and I felt fat, sweaty and tired. Not to mention that I badly need a haircut -my hair is really long. This proves that being gorgeous is relative. I France, I felt invisible. Over here, I feel like a goddess. It is all a matter of perspective. Maybe I was made to be British, after all?

We were back. The Gatwick Express was late as usual. I can’t even remember what their excuse was this time. The Tube was packed, with plenty of lines suspended or disrupted. We were back and everything was as we had left it, really.

And the smell. It smelled like curry and wet earth. The London smell. We are back indeed. What about you? How do you feel about going back to the old routine.
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London
  • Katherine Hetzel

    What an ego boost! I’ll make sure I’m in that custom official’s queue every time I go away!
    Routines – hmmm, part of me is glad to get the house to myself and be able to do what I’d like to do again, but part of me wishes I had more time with the kids to enjoy their company…

  • Anne

    Hi, I just came across your blog, and I have to say, this is everything I was looking for… I’m also French and I’ve lived in Ireland for 11 years. I wanted to find somebody with a similar experience who was blogging in English ( I’m thinking of starting my own blog but wasn’t sure if I was going to do it in French or English). As for your post above, I’m sure the comment was good for your ego 🙂 I know I always like when people think I’m younger!

  • Joanne Kaminski

    I love going back to the regular routine. I love how I spend each and every day and am grateful for everything that I have in life.

  • SarahHague

    Ooh, what a nice customs man, and all the more surprising because you don’t expect humanity from them, even less a compliment!

    As for your weight, you probably look healthy with a bit extra. I know my DB loves it when I display more generous curves. 🙂

  • Rochelle Gordon

    What a delight to read this post. All this time I thought your blog was about French food. Not that I have anything against French food. I could relate to everything you talked about and enjoyed the pleasant way you told the story. It gave me a warm feeling remembering my custom entry days and coming home to NY from UK. Right now, I am visiting from UBC and I will be back to read more of what you have to say from wherever I might be.

  • Carolina HeartStrings

    Customs is always a nuisance but I guess necessary. Especially when you are dog tired and really just want to get home. I am a routine person. A few days away is plenty. I know Europeans usually get extensive time off. Couldn’t do it. I went 12 years once without a vacation and didn’t really miss it.

  • Glad to see you, too, are meeting blog friends in person. I find it a great way to extend our conversations… (Sorry i missed you in NY, too…)
    And, now you are the subject OF a book- as opposed to an author of one…

  • Muriel,

    I remember that wonderful lunch we had together and perhaps we shall meet again when I return to Paris and my week of volunteering in Spain, next May. Thank you for the wonderful post and I know your readers will be interested in your story on page 14 of the Anthology. It is available on Amazon in the UK in print and Kindle as well. I just want to remind your readers that we’re working on the second Anthology which is called,

    My Gutsy Story® Anthology: True Stories of Love, Courage and
    Adventure From Around the World

    and if any of you wish to submit your own “Gutsy” story, please contact me at

    I can’t wait for your own book to be published. I shall be one of the first to read it and interview you.

  • I have been following Sonia also for several years now and feel that we have become blogging and “cyber” friends. I have also been fortunate to have met other bloggers over the years and it truly is amazing to form these kinds of friendships around the world. Best Wishes from Saudi Arabia!

  • mountaingmom

    I thoroughly enjoyed Sonia’s first book. If I win that would be awesome, if not, I will buy it when I get home.

  • SueraeStein

    I am a creature of habit. I do like routine. I often eat the same thing every day. I know, it’s boring, but I am grateful that I like the things I do most every day. Although, vacations can certainly be a needed distraction from the every day.


    The only plus side to be had with being in a wheelchair whilst travelling (and believe me the cons far outweigh the pros!) is that you skip through customs in minutes! The first time I travelled to New York it took me 4 hours to get through customs, the last time it took 15 minutes from plane to taxi!

  • Rohit Trilokekar

    Well, would love the book of course. But that being said, I really cherish having met you and perhaps someday we can meet for a real cup of coffee as well! I went through a lot of emotional pain in my life prior to a ten year stint in marketing. I think that pain really defined me, gave me the courage to embrace the unknown, to write. Thanks for this overwhelmingly inspiring post Muriel! And if you’re EVER in India, you HAVE to let me know! 🙂


    Good for Sonia! Where is she now?

  • Barbara LH

    I’m in…I like this post and I’d like a copy of the book.

  • Hi Barbara! I will put your name in then! Come back on Saturday to check the results!

  • She is in California but has plans to come to Spain soon. I might see her when she is back in Europe. I can’t wait!

  • Rohit, I would love to go to India. If only I could! Sorry you had to endure a lot of pain. I just hope that it didn’t leave you bitter and angry.

  • Well, watch this space then!

  • Hi from London Susie! Lovely to ‘meet’ you. That’s what i like about blogging: I can travel from the comfort of my seat. I love it!

  • Hi Sonia!
    Thanks again for you support and words of encouragement! As for the book, well, I have an agent -which is great, and the manuscript was submitted to various publishing companies 6 weeks ago. We have had two ‘No’ so far. I hope it will happen eventually!

  • Well, maybe it is a first step, Roy? I am the subject of a book and might soon be the author of another one…Keep your fingers crossed for me!

  • Well, as much as I enjoyed it in the end, I really thought that there was a problem with my passport and was a bit scared. As for me, I am glad to have some time to myself and don’t feel guilty about it at all… Maybe I am more French than I thought?

  • Hello Anne, and welcome! Let me know if you start your own blog and I will come and visit. For me, blogging is therapeutic. I would really like to know what it feels like to spend 11 years in Ireland, so keep me posted!

  • I love it too, Joanne. Especially after having spent two weeks with kids…Of course I am grateful for having them, but i am also glad to have some time for myself!

  • I think that you do have a point. When i am a bit fatter (like, hmm, now), my face looks nicer. That’s my excuse!

  • Hi Rochelle, and thanks for the visit! No, this is not a foodie blog. I love food and occasionally write about it, but I prefer to guest post to share recipes and the likes. Where are you blogging from?

  • 12 years without a vacation? Well, that’s impressive! We do have longer holidays in Europe, which is good but also bit disruptive as it takes time to get back to the old routine!

  • I love vacations, but if only it was only about me rather than about the children…in short, i have spent my whole time taking care of teh kids. Glad to be back!

  • Next time I will get in your luggage, right?

  • SarahHague

    That sounds a lively book. I’m in too. 🙂

  • Excellent!

  • My guts and me are in. Great post!

  • Barbara Boser

    What a funny story! It depends, sometimes I enjoy going back to the ‘routine’ when I’ve missed home or been gone a long time. Other times, I wish I could stay on Vacation forever because I was enjoying myself so much. Those are the times when I come home and it is all too familiar lol!

  • Tammy

    I went to volunteer with Tibetan refugees in India for 2 yrs. Self published a book abt it. Gutsy. I quit my day job to pursue my arts career. Also gutsy. I am now facing homelessness…really gutsy.

  • Good luck Muriel with your own book. I am so happy you’ve got an agent. That shows it’s quality work.

  • AnnMullen

    Wow. Getting hit on by a custom’s officer. How cool is that. As for getting back into the routine, even the time change has warped me. Trips are even worse to come back from.

  • I would love to read Sonia’s book. Lately I’ve been consumed with the thought of leaving Canada–traveling and perhaps finding a place I can belong. The thought of an adventure both terrifies and thrills me. I want to be gutsy–to do more than just survive. I believe there are books within me; perhaps all I need is a new environment to bring them out. And the thought of meeting all the bloggers who inspire and amaze me is exciting! Thank you for this post. On my way to check out Sonia’s blog right now. 🙂

  • Carol

    Curry and wet earth makes me want to go back to London. Nothing compares to the scents of London. On mild moist days I dream of London. Thank you for the reminder.

  • SueraeStein

    I would love to win that book! It sounds fantastic. She does sound like one gutsy lady. I could use a little inspiration these days!

  • I love hearing about people ditching the corporate world 🙂 You know I’ve been trying to do it for years…getting there slowly!

  • Carolina HeartStrings

    How cool. Proud of both of you! I have met a fellow blogger, Alana, and it was fun!

  • AnnMullen

    Wow. You are in a book. How cool is that? I wish with all my heart that my life didn’t contain drama, but I must draw it to me. So I wouldn’t be fit for story in a book about about ordinary people. I’d like to have one, though.

  • AnnMullen

    Tammy, what are you going to do? I probably will be facing homelessness within this next year. How do you keep on the internet if you are homeless?

  • Tammy

    I have a few more months to come up with a job or money and/or a place to stay before I’d be forced into a shelter situation. I guess if you have to go in a shelter, you use the public library for internet. Best wishes Ann.

  • Thanks for participating. Results will be announced shortly…

  • Tammy, I wish you all the best. Let me know if I can help in any way (pictures of your art on this blog, etc…)

  • Sorry to hear this Ann. Best of luck to you.

  • Hang in there Jenny! I love the way you write and can’t wait to read your books!

  • Some stories are quite dramatic. One of the authors (Madeline) talks about the death of her bipolar son…

  • It is funny, isn’t it?

  • Well, I can’t wait to read your posts about it…

  • We all could, Surae, we all could…

  • Thanks Sonia. That said, I find it very hard to wait for publishing companies to come back to us.

  • The name that came out of the hat is Montainmum. Congratulations! I will be in touch shortly!

  • You won! Please email me on and Sonia will send you your book! Congratulations!

  • Hi Caro,
    I live in southern California, but was born in Denmark and attended school in Paris and the UK. I left Europe at 25 and have lived n the US since then, except for one year in Belize. If you’re a writer and would like to submit your own “My Gutsy Story,” please e-mail me at

  • bob

    Getting back to your old routine is always difficult, going back to work is the worst bit, but there is something about smelling that old familiar London smell that still makes me smile.

  • Rohit Trilokekar

    Ah! Not at all dear Muriel.. it made me a stronger and much happier person thank you 🙂