Usually I look forward to a decent full-day hike at the weekends, exploring the peaks and forests of the mountains we’re lucky enough to live in. Enjoying stunning views, taking the mountain air and a cheeky lunch break at a little restaurant with good friends – what’s not to love? There are dangers of course. Trips and falls, being caught in bad weather, getting shot. Wait, getting shot?
Our rustic hideaway holiday home La Petite Grange has had a makeover! RustiKatie and the team spent 10 days down in Monpazier (Dordogne) replacing and extending the decking – adding a super-chill new hammock area – re-painting the shutters, re-concreting the steps, taming the garden and generally making the place even more awesome. An outdoor fridge next to the BBQ on the porch means you can now keep your beers cold and close at hand while you relax on the comfy chairs looking out at the view over the fields and listening to tunes on the outdoor speakers. Heaven! The pictures say it much better than I can – what do you think?!
Continue reading “The Perfect Hideaway In Monpazier”
I attended a French Loto event last night. I spent 4 hours at it so I feel I’m well qualified to advise on this. If you’re thinking of going to one – don’t.
You might be tempted by the fact that a bingo session is considered a good night out in England. Not necessarily my cup of tea, but my cousin took me to one a couple of years ago in a Working Men’s Club and it was quite hilarious. Plenty of bar breaks, lots of audience interaction, entertaining bingo callers, music, all quite sociable and everyone merrily cheering the winners on. Not so in France.
Walking down the aisle at my wedding, on the arm of my dad, I remember feeling so happy and pretty – until I looked down and realised in horror that I’d forgotten to take off my woolly cardigan. No-one had turned round to see me walk in yet, so I quickly took it off before anyone noticed. But under that cardy was another, equally woolly, and another – in fact I was wearing 5 cardigans. Suddenly racked with self-doubt I turned to my dad and asked what he thought of the mop I was wearing as a wig. He looked unsure and I tore it off, while noticing I wasn’t wearing any shoes.
Obviously, this was a dream.
Before I got a dog I’d always been mistrustful of them and, although England is renowned for being an animal-loving country, I’ve found the attitude of most shopkeepers, restaurant owners and people on the street backed up my opinion. In England you can’t take your dog into any shop – you’d have security on you in seconds in anticipation of a stray pee on the products. You certainly can’t take your dog into a restaurant – there’d be so many diners refusing to eat due to the hairy, potentially flea-ridden beast slavering over their meals. In France, you’re welcomed with your dog in both shops and restaurants, and most people’s houses – in fact you’ll be the most popular person in the place due to your cute furry friend.
I was never outdoorsy, or I thought I wasn’t. Completely uninterested in sport or any strenuous activity, it never even occurred to me to try skiing and when Steve first took me I remember saying that I couldn’t imagine a worse job than being a ski instructor. Out early every day in freezing blizzards, what a nightmare! I liked my nice warm desk job. Now on my second season living in a ski resort, my whole attitude has completely changed. I love seeing nature’s extremes every day and getting out amongst it. If I feel a little low I pop my skis on and get up a mountain. The stunning scenery lifts the soul and the crisp, clean air in your lungs and your hair as you slide back down will blow any cobwebs or cares away. The sky is so unbelievably blue here in our isolated, high up spot with so little light pollution, the stars and the moon are so bright, the snow covering everything so pure and white. If I’m sat at my laptop for too long my feet are itching to get out. Leaving the safety of employment to work for myself was terrifying, but the reward has been this unreal life – here’s a taster of my favourite 24 hours this week…
Translation is not an exact science. Think about all the sayings we have in English that wouldn’t make sense to a foreign person who took them literally…
“Spend a penny” “Mad as a box of frogs” “Spanner in the works”
When translations go wrong the effects can be disastrous. A missed word, or even a single erroneous letter, can change the meaning of a sentence completely. I love reading French menus the staff have translated into English for this reason. “Grandmother’s balls with pistachio” or “warm goat dung on toast” anyone? You’d have thought a ski resort press office would have forked out for a proper translator, but apparently not – leading to my favourite translation mistake so far. Sainte Foy’s Winter 2016 English press pack had the resort’s tagline as:
The Sainte Foy spirit will impregnate you. Ski differently. You will never be the same.
If that isn’t doesn’t sound like a threat I don’t know what does. And, bless them, that was how they were trying to tempt English people to book a holiday in the resort.
The French do have a much more healthy attitude towards drinking than the English. Drinking steadily throughout the day means you’re constantly slightly tipsy, rather than downing it all in one go in the evening and getting plastered as is our proud cultural heritage. As the Americans will uphold their right to bear arms to the death, so will the French uphold their right to drink wine at lunchtime. French police even threatened strike action when in 2011 bosses tried to ban them from drinking on the job. Yes, French police were routinely on the wine at lunchtime before tottering off to solve a crime (or push some documents round a desk and scribble rude drawings on them). I’ve written before about government-employed labourers given vouchers for lunches that include unlimited wine despite their jobs involving driving heavy machinery.
France is one of the most innovative countries in the world – it’s leading the way globally in technology research and IT, ranking way above the UK in a recent study. They’ve invented new online systems used in other countries to make payments easier and boost economies by facilitating trade – which is why it’s so baffling that the nation is still using cheques as its main method of doing business. Yes, CHEQUES!
Of course you can get bad customer service anywhere. I thought I’d had some bad experiences in England – until I moved to France.