Thursday, 5 September 2013

French Living

Obviously, I am 'living the dream' - this is just what happens the rest of the time:

Got back from the coast to find that the bakery was shut.  Monday closing.  So was the Co-op. No bread, no milk, no cereal.  The boys were not amused. I’ve been here for nearly five years now and I still can’t get used to the French way of life. 

I get up between 7.00 and 10.00 depending on who needs me to be conscious and in the kitchen.  I don’t plan much, so meals are last minute inventions.  Yesterday we had cheese with tortillas and fig jam.  They were quite nice, actually.  So, today was not too much of a challenge, once I’d found some burger buns in the freezer and made ‘sandwiches’ with lardons, and tomatoes from the garden.  Went down well.

I talked about writing a list, over coffee with my husband.  Too many things to do, depressing not to get stuff done, blah, blah.  He dozed off in his chair, basking in the sunshine before work. Then I started on the laundry room – the least renovated and most uncleaned part of the house.  The washing machine is in one corner, with the tumble drier on top (I sometimes like to shrink clothes).  There is a manky Butler sink with a tap that spurts water in most directions.  The laundry basket is generally overflowing with clean clothes that my children shove in regardless, fresh from their bedroom floors.  Most horrendous of all are the temporary plastic shelves that house 101 almost empty bottles of lotions, soaps, sun creams, etc and millions of out-of-date potions from the pharmacy.

I have to mention that the pharmacy is the most important shop in the village and is always busy.  In France people love to buy medicine.  You can’t get anything in the supermarket, not even a box of paracetemol  - you have to go to the pharmacy.  I went with my son today to get a certificate for him to play football from the doctor’s (all to do with insurance, apparently!) then to pick up some becotide and a knee strap.  We were offered various other medication for no particular reason, and the assistant was amazed that we only wanted what we came in for.  I advised my son to forget about languages and train to be a pharmacist.

Anyway, back to the laundry room.  Cobwebs, dust from the stone walls, various stains – it would not be a one-hour job (I refer you to my unmade list).  I hung out the washing and snipped off a dead sunflower, deadheaded a million roses and stick-flicked a cat poo (not recommended).  Cup of tea.  ‘I’m hungry’ alert went up – still no bread.  Thank God for baked beans and omelette. 

Dishwasher loading by eldest son.

Spider chasing re-commenced at around 3.00 and mopping followed hoovering (hoover had to be coaxed  three times after choking on small stones - from mortar currently holding walls up).  Then, I went shopping.  Spent a fortune and watched my purchases pile up as I tried to unload and pack at the same time.  Did not thank the assistant for not stopping the conveyor belt or noticing that I was willing her to break the habit of a lifetime and help me pack (in France you are on your own at the checkout).

Back home and a reluctant return to the laundry room, via petrol station (where I was behind a man with a deathwish -smoking) and a shop called Foire Fouille where I bought some of those funny 80s shelves that look like boxes and are stepped – meant for ornaments, I think, but perfect for shoes that normally reside on laundry room floor.  Bingo.

Self assembly.

Laundry room finished, shoes stacked on shelves  (rocket science degree required to put together).

Glass of wine in the garden was nice, as was mosquito bite on instep.  Then re-appearance of boys led to preparation of newly purchased chicken kievs with potatoes dauphinoise (canned) and haricots verts.  I wasn’t hungry.

So, tomorrow?  Stuff the housework, I’m going to work on my book, which has been ‘finished’ for months and will never be published if I don’t ignore the chaos of a crumbly old house in France for a while and just get on with it.

You will find direct links to all my books, and what Amazon readers say about them, at the top of this page.  


  1. Hi Bev--

    Sounds like you had a bumpy transition from holiday time to "real" time. Still, you've got the makings of a great memoir there--your five-year adjustment to life in France and the renovations of your home. Even spiders, plastic shelving, and cat poo can be funny in hindsight!

    1. Give me a chance! Just about finished with An Accidental Killing and hoping for a quick break (won't happen). Just waiting for the cover design. Thanks for commenting, Carrie - shall email soon. xx

  2. Great 'Day in the life...' Can relate to the cat poo and spiders, had one in my hair the other day, spider not cat poo!

    Hope the book is going well and you've had the chance to write.

    Sherrie xx

    1. Thanks for commenting, Sherrie. Think I'd prefer the poo to the spider in my hair. Really. Nice to have An Accidental Killing finally finished. Should be published before the end of the month. Exciting. Be in touch soon. xx

  3. Bev, your crumbly old French house sounds a bit like my rusty Duch iron barge…haha. Lovely start to what it's really like to renovate an old house. Less of the sunflowers and lazy wine immersed lunches and much more of flaking plaster, spiders and smelly corners and, of course, France being shut for most of the day. Yay! Love it :-)

  4. Thanks, Val. Cleaned out a river boat once, then someone set fire to it. Sod's law.