This year, for some reason, I can’t get into the mood for Valentine’s day. I have had enough of pink hearts, romantic gestures, and sweet love declarations. Can we move on please? Come to think of it, it’s all so incredibly boring once you stop being a teenager. I might be French, but maybe I have finally turned into a responsible adult after all. Miracles do happen.
Why am I becoming so cynical? Well, you can buy one red rose (just one), at my local supermarket, for £5. You can also buy lovely chocolates for a tenner. They come all wrapped up in red, which apparently double the price. In short, you can be romantic, but it will cost you. It feels a bit like a charade. Because you can’t buy love, right? So why would you? I don’t get it.
A sweet Valentine’s day doesn’t mean a lasting love story. Right now, lots of friends are divorcing, despite some of them being used to flying off first-class to Thailand just for a romantic weekend. This year, some of them are spending the day on their own, wondering how their are going to make ends meet, while their divorce lawyers are working on their financial settlement -or what will remain of it after the legal fees. And what about the single ones? The elderly? The sick ones? The depressed ones? Who will bring love to them?
Do you remember when we had the luxury of seeing the world in black and white? We were young and idealistic, and we thought that the only way was our way. Well, I am generalising of course. But I was like that, and I hope that I am not the only one who’s changed. Please reassure me. What am I talking about? Well, nowadays, I am hedging my bets all the time. It’s a second nature.
What’s happened to me? Well, life, I suppose. Take my daughter’s exams, for instance. She is now having lots of interviews for secondary schools. One of the questions she keeps getting is “Which school do you prefer?” I must admit that I told her to lie. Not as bluntly as this, of course. I packaged it. I said, for instance, that she shouldn’t hurt the feelings of the person who’s interviewing her, that she mustn’t say anything negative about the school, and should stress the positives of each school, and so on, and so forth….Again, we are hedging our bets. So much for telling my kids not to lie.
It must have something to do with age. I am becoming cynical. What can I say? I don’t put all my eggs into one basket. The other day, a friend of mine told me that I should buy a ticket for the lottery jackpot. I did, and hedged my bets with sites like this one. I was dreaming of far-away destinations and beaches. It couldn’t hurt, right? Well, it didn’t happen anyway. I didn’t win. But at least I tried. I clearly need to work on my hedging strategy. Must try harder.
A woman has got to do what a woman has got to do. What do I mean? Well, here it is: I keep eating all the time. My excuse is that it’s this time of the year. What’s happened to me? I am usually quite reasonable. I have no idea. Well, that’s not exactly true. I have always loved food. Always have. Always will. That’s just me, I suppose.
It all started with the Christmas celebrations. I spent a few days in France, and stuffed my face with marrons glaces. I love marrons glaces. I find them as delicious as chocolates. And I didn’t want to carry them all the way back to London. So I ate them. That’s how organised I am.
It’s all over the news and I still can’t believe it. What am I talking about? Michael Gove’s wife Sarah Vine, a well-known journalist, hails separate bedrooms as key to a happy marriage. Oh, and for those of you who don’t know him, Michael Gove happens to be this country’s Justice Secretary. What can I say? It’s a small world. The article can be found here if you don’t believe me: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3361842/SARAH-VINE-Sorry-chaps-women-love-sleep-FAR-sex.html
As you will see, I didn’t invent anything, and the title of her piece is really ‘ Sorry CHAPS but women love sleep far more than sex !’ Wow! And it was in the front page -no less.
I can’t take it anymore. Christmas is everywhere, and for some reason, the spirit of Christmas should miraculously make everybody happy. Well, here is a newsflash for you: I have it up to here with Christmas. No spirit of Christmas for me. Why?
Well, in no particular order, I had to give countless donations (for presents, for all the fairs, for charities), endure the rehearsals of the concerts, prepare some stalls, bake some cakes, and so on, and so forth. I must admit that filling jam jars with stationery or sweets isn’t my cup of tea. That’s it: I am done. I am going on strike. I am escaping and taking the first flight I can for a much-needed business trip. Yes, now. Some of us have to work, you see. I have a life outside of the Christmas preparations. Am I allowed to say that I miss France? In my home country, schools might have a Christmas tree at this time of the year but that’s as far as it goes. Parents don’t have to do much, if anything at all.
Christmas lights at Heathrow T5
Yesterday I was asked by the friend of an acquaintance what my secret to look so young was (really? I feel my age, this much I know). I was very embarrassed. I didn’t know what to answer. The secret is, well, there is no secret. I still feel 15 in my head but I will be 40-something + one year very very soon (just don’t mention it. Birthdays are overrated anyway).
I therefore decided to tell the truth. Because I am well-behaved. Because I am honest. And, most importantly, because I have nothing to sell. I therefore said:
” Well I run almost every day ”
I even run in the bloody British rain
She looked so disappointed. She was clearly expecting something else. Like ‘I have found the youth elixir, and here is what you need to do…”
She didn’t believe me. She looked suspicious.
I felt ill-at-ease. I shut up.
“Really? Nothing else? No miracle product?”
I didn’t sleep well. What can I say? I am stressed. Why? Because today my younger daughter had her first pre-assessment for secondary schools.
She will have to endure 4 or 5 sets of exams over the next two months, with two or three papers each time. Then, there will be the interviews. She is ten years old and a big baby, if you ask me. But that’s the way it is. We have to go with the flow. I am starting to question my choice to stay in the British system. Gone are the days when you just went to your local school, as I did in France.
I am freaking out. What if she doesn’t get into the school she wants? What if we end up with a school that is on the other side of London? And what is it with this testing frenzy?
Life is full of challenges. Today was no exception. Let me explain. I was contacted by Tesco to participate to #FestiveFoodSwap, and I said yes. What is it about? This Christmas, one of Tesco’s helpful little initiatives is to inspire people to experience new flavours, with a range of products from across the world available in store. I had to give them a festive recipe from France that another blogger will make, and they said they would send me a festive recipe from someone that I would have to make.
The packet arrived yesterday. I hadn’t realised that it included a superb hamper with everything to feed an army until Christmas. Oh, and I had forgotten how good lebkuchen tasted…Yummy!
My daughter found that there was a gingerbread house, and was jumping with joy. I felt guilty about the fact that I had never, ever, given her the opportunity to make a gingerbread house before, and it was clearly something she wanted to do. Well, she did it there and then, and the result was amazing!
I discovered this side of the Channel that we French were supposed to be (in no particular order) romantic, sexy, cute, stylish, and so on, and so forth… Don’t you find it amazing what people assume about us? The reality may be quite different. Here is a list of 10 things you probably didn’t know about us. So much preconceived ideas, right? Read on…
Obviously as you know I am a glass-half-full sort of person. I keep complaining about all the cliches about French women, but I thought that I should let you know what the main advantages of being a French woman abroad are. Because after all, it’s all about being balanced, and all isn’t doom and gloom. Quite the opposite in fact. So here we go: