Posted by / Category London, Looking Good /

If you follow this blog, you know that I had my 20-year university Alumni reunion over the weekend. The thing is, I am not too big on reunions. But somehow this time I wanted to catch up with old friends. So off I went to Paris, and despite the late arrival of my Eurostar service I made it on time (just!). I had rented a dress for the occasion (this one here). You see, I wanted to look my best. I was a bit stressed, I am not sure why. Maybe because my own daughter will soon go to university. I also remembered that I had had a good time, albeit sometimes a bit challenging, but I couldn’t really remember why. It was so long ago. Frankly, the whole thing felt a bit surreal. Could 20 years have passed? Damn it. I couldn’t believe it!

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The Power Dress I was wearing…

I bumped into an old classmate on my way to the Parisian restaurant where we were all meeting. I recognised him instantly. It had to be a good start, right? Old university mates kept arriving and I was pleased to recognised most of them They all recognised me of course, because out of less than 400 students we were only 35 girls. I was ashamed not to recognise some faces at all. Most of my old friends were now living in France. I felt a bit, well, different. I clearly had taken a wrong turn (and become British –what a shame). There used to be a guy who looked like a cool surfer. Well, he was still cool, but he had put on weight. Not a surfer any more. Then I saw the guy who was trying to grab my bottom at every possible opportunity, and steal my bras from the laundry to staple them on the class door (Don’t worry, I took matters into my own hands and he never bothered me any more. Suffice to say, I can be quite scary when I want to). I started to feel slightly uncomfortable, but I must admit that I shouldn’t have, because he was absolutely charming. He was now married and had three children, and was great fun to talk to. The old bully had mellowed! Unbelievable!

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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /

I keep receiving the same messages from family and friends, and would like to clarify a few things. You know, just to clear the air. Right, where do I start? First of all, we have water and electricity in London. Amazing, right? I know that we don’t have external shutters but I can assure that blinds work just as well.

Now, I know that it will be hard to swallow but the same goes with food. Yes, we have everything we need in London. Yes, there is food, and actually we eat quite well, save for the occasional sandwich of course. And if you are not convinced, just visit the Brixton market. It is a feast for the eyes…and the tastebuds!

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Posted by / Category London /

I have been living in London for the last twelve years. Twelve years! What can I say? Time flies. I thought that I was British by now. As it turns out, I am not. I remain still very, very French. What happened? Well, the Rugby World Cup. That’s what happened. A friend of mine asked me whom I would be supporting. Without even thinking, I answered “Les Bleus of course!”. It wasn’t a rational response. It just came out.

What? So much for thinking I was fully integrated.

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Posted by / Category London, Looking Good /

Let’s face it: marathons are so last year, right? And seriously, why should the fun stop at 42 km? When you run somewhere, you just run somewhere, no matter how far it is. You just want to reach your destination, whatever the distance.

The thing is, I didn’t know that ultra running even existed until a few months ago. I grew up in the countryside, and running up and down the hills (especially walking up, and running down in my case) all day long was what you’d do. As it turns out, this activity has a name: it is called ultra-running. I didn’t know. It made me wonder where I had been. Probably working, and bringing up my kids as best as I could. Anyway, we are where we are, no need to dwell on the past.

Granted, I will never be a champion. But it doesn’t mean that I can’t be a fun runner!

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So here I am, at the starting line of the Thames Path Challenge in Bishop’s Park, Fulham, wondering whether I will make it in one piece at the finish line, in 50km. Why do I love running? I have no idea, but I believe that it has something to do with the fact that when I run, I can’t think of anything else, I just have to carry on. And for once my priority is, well, me. Just me. Pure bliss!

Everybody thought I was mad. Because I happen to be 42 (almost 43 if you must know), I was told (in no particular order) that I would hurt myself and especially my knees, that I wasn’t ready, that I should run a few marathons before (I didn’t), that I was addicted to running, and so on, and so forth. So here is a newsflash for everybody: I am fine, thank you very much.

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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /

Here is the latest instalment…I am still talking about schools (I am still traumatised…). Let me know what you think!

Chapter 10

School Stories

Schools often like parents to help by listening to children reading or supporting other activities. Getting involved in your childrens schools can be a full-time job (unpaid, of course): most schools have a parent-teacher association (PTA). You will be asked to help for fund-raising events such as bake sales and fairs. If you manage to get your child into the school, that is.

 

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

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March 2012 – She’s got a place!

 

Work is as busy as ever and I still need to find a good school for Alexandra. It just never stops. As I don’t want my toddler to miss out on a good school I have talked to friends and colleagues about the situation. They all tell me that I am far too naïve and that children need to be prepared for such assessments. How the hell was I supposed to know? Apparently, everybody does it but nobody talks about it.

 

A friend sent me straight to an acquaintance of hers, who, for a mere £300, prepares Alexandra for the assessment and the interview. She has been coming twice a week for the last three weeks. I am not supposed to tell anyone about this, it is all very hush-hush. The tutor, apparently, did me a favour. She said that she has a long waiting list. This is a business opportunity I need to look into, when I have some time. When you tutor a child, you get paid but the family can’t complain. In fact, the family can’t say anything.

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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /

Right, it’s this time of the year: back to school and back to work. But here is a today’s treat: the latest chapter of Carine & Archie’s story. In this case, it’s more about Carine’s struggle to fit in…I hope that you can relate!

And in case you have missed it, here us the latest chapter: http://frenchyummymummy.com/a-cross-channel-romance-chapter-8/

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Chapter 9 – My New British Boss

Speaking English

 

To apply for UK citizenship or permanent residency, which TWO things do you need:

A A UK bank account

B An ability to read and speak English

C An ability to speak and write Oxbridge English

D A good understanding of life in the UK

E An Oyster card

F A driving licence

E An above-average ability to drink beer without getting too drunk.

 

Official responses are B and D. Dont be fooled, C and E are life savers in the UK.

 

Life in the United Kingdom, (almost) official Practice Questions

 

 

February 2012

 

I arrive late at work to find out that we have a new boss. His name is James. He looks serious, and very British too. I can’t help noticing that he is wearing stripes. The stripes are definitively back this year. He introduces himself to everyone, and I like the fact that he doesn’t gather us for a pep talk on his first day.

 

That said, my good mood quickly fades away when one of my notes on the governance of one of our major projects comes back to me by email with the following words.

“ I don’t understand. Please write in proper English’

Regards,

 

James”

 

Perplexed, I have a look at my note and can’t spot any grammatical mistakes. I can’t see any typos either. I read the note several times without understanding what is wrong with it. Come on, I don’t want to sing my own praises but it is actually quite good! I don’t get it and feel stuck. What is wrong with this guy?

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Posted by / Category London /

 

 

The beauty of writing a blog is that it can lead to all sort of different experiences. You might wonder what I did. Well, here it is: I shot a commercial for Kleenex. How to you like it?

As for me, I love it. Here is what I wrote the day we shot it…tell me what you think!

Shocking news: I was selected for shooting a commercial for Kleenex. It came completely out of the blue: the production company found me through this blog, called me and then invited me for a filmed interview. They were looking for a French woman in London, and somehow chose me, despite the fact that there are tons of French women in London. I will never understand what they saw in me. What the heck, I thought. It was going to be a new experience: it would be fun and exciting, and at the ripe age of 42 I couldn’t help being proud of myself. I decided to go for it.

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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /

And here is the 7th chapter. Thank you for all your words of encouragement, I am so glad that you like this story -or that, in some cases, that it made you react! In case you have missed it, the latest chapter is here.
 
Happy New Year!
Values & Responsibilities
 
Which values and responsibilities should you have as a UK citizen or Permanent Resident (more than one response allowed)?
A To have lots of noisy house parties
B To stare at women’s cleavages at every possible opportunity
C To treat everyone equally
D To drink booze
I wonder if you can choose all four.
 
Life in the United Kingdom, (almost) official Practice Questions
 
 31/12/2011
Everybody at the office enjoyed the food. Archie seems to like his new job and has invited friends and new colleagues at home for a New Year Eve’s party. I love cooking and I thought that it would be nice to present a united front with Archie. After all, new year, new start, right? Onwards and upwards, as they say over here.
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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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