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What’s new on my writing blog?: Vanessa Couchman
I never cease to be amazed by the inventiveness of potential scammers. Not content with phoning up and pretending to be Microsoft’s help centre, or emailing to tell you that someone you don’t know in Cameroon wants to place millions of … Continue reading
Here’s another seasonal hazard: mosquitoes. I am their favourite meal. There are several reasons for that (see below) and they are becoming more of a pest down here. Do you have blood group O? Do you have a high metabolic … Continue reading
Much has been written – some of it by me – about driving in France, including responsibilities at the wheel and penalties for infractions. Much less is written about pedestrians and how they should behave. A recent story in The … Continue reading
Now, here’s a controversial topic. I usually stay off them on this blog, since nothing is more likely to get the green ink brigade going. However, this time I’m going to stick my head above the parapet. What’s the beef? … Continue reading
Political correctness sometimes verges on the downright barmy. France is a secular society, which is fair enough. Public employees in France are not permitted to display ostentatious symbols of religious affiliation, such as foulards (headscarves) or large crucifixes. These issues … Continue reading
It’s a while since I had a rant. This week provided two opportunities. The first concerns Électricité de France (EDF), about whose emergency call-out service I have been complimentary in the past. The second is about the bureaucracy surrounding the … Continue reading
During our weekly walk with our walking group this Wednesday, we were horrified to come upon a cat entangled in a bundle of barbed wire. Fortunately, several walkers’ dogs barking alerted us, otherwise we might have passed by without noticing, … Continue reading
The SF and I toddled off to the Préfecture in Montauban today. There it is above in its splendour. However, we were round the back in the modern annex. We wanted to renew our Cartes de séjour (identity cards). When you … Continue reading
The word “couac” (false note or mistake) is being bandied about a lot in the French press. The hapless Premier Ministre, Jean-Marc Ayrault is making his fair share of them at the moment. Yesterday he apparently endorsed a return to … Continue reading
I know, I know. I’ve blogged about this before and I will be marked down as a whingeing Brit. But I have to get it off my chest. The concept of customer service is, alas, in its infancy in France.
Time for a little rant, I think: the first of 2012. Those of you who follow my blog will know that I have a bee in my bonnet about some people’s inability to dispose of their refuse correctly. My indignation was … Continue reading
Why are dustbins called poubelles in French? Round by us they are anything but belles. I know I’ve blogged about this recently, but forgive me if I vent my irritation at the lack of civic responsibility that some of our … Continue reading
Don’t you just hate cold sales calls? You drop what you’re doing – normally on your foot – and rush to answer the phone only to find that it’s someone trying to sell you something that you have absolutely no … Continue reading
I’m absolutely sick of this. These are this week’s offerings at our local rubbish bins: an armchair, a fridge and a child’s tricycle. That’s not all. In the bin reserved for items for recycling was a wooden box containing a … Continue reading
We moved into our house 14 years ago today, but we actually moved to France on 21st August 1997, bearing only a suitcase each. The rest of our possessions were in a huge removal van that – we hoped – … Continue reading
Like so many Brits who move to France (I count the SF, who is Swedish, as an honorary Brit), a swimming pool was on our list of must-haves. Having lived with one for 14 years, it will be on our … Continue reading
In an earlier post, Surviving in France: 10 Top Tips, I suggested that being nice to builders was a good idea. I’m starting to regret it. To say that we have had difficulty getting work done over the past couple … Continue reading
I shall never be reconciled to some French icons. I knew there was a horrible inevitability about my covering the issue of French plumbing at some point, specifically, that abomination known as the ‘à la Turque’ lavatory. So those of … Continue reading
Are we the only people on the planet without broadband? This is not a rant, more of a whinge really. But it increasingly affects our daily lives.
It’s a while since I had a little rant on these pages, so thought I would indulge myself in a topic close to the hearts of most expats – bureaucracy.
Speak to any British (and probably any American) expat in France and they will unanimously tell you that customer service in France often leaves a lot to be desired.
If you want to be truly integrated into French society, you must learn to drive as the French do. Here is a crash (excuse the pun) course in the rules of the road to help you get started. The 2CV … Continue reading
‘House guests are like fish; they are only good for three days.’ This often (mis)quoted aphorism, possibly a Danish proverb but certainly immortalised by Benjamin Franklin, has a certain ring of truth about it.
Went outside this morning to check on any damage after the 120km/hour tempest last night. Fortunately, nothing to report except a few sticks down. What I did find, though, was that the deer had, yet again, made a meal out … Continue reading
As an expat in France you have to get used to being a 2nd-class citizen in a very important respect – voting.