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The Riff-Raff Element

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  1. [quote user="BIG MAC"]Cheers Frederick I haven't tried a Flunch yet but I may[/quote]

    I ate in a Flunch once. It was in Toulouse. It was also very grimy. I've not been in one since and I'm not sure I'd recommend them.

  2. Ah, the sausage & egg McMuffins... it's been many years since I was in a McDos for breakfast (many years since I was in a McDos - due to an appalling character defect I have a curious preference for Quick! Pass me a bucket!) but I agree that the sausage / egg / muffin combo was the pinnacle of their culinary genius.

  3. [quote user="woolybanana"]When people perceive that they are being overtaxed and unfairly taxed they will cheat more and more. This has been the case in France for too long.

    And denunciation as a means of control has been used here for hundreds of years. Nothing changes.[/quote]

    Some people will cheat whatever the level or degree of fairness of taxation. Those best able will avoid it and just live off the rest of us,becoming in the process the worst form of social parasite. Since those making denunciations can no longer be anonymous if they are to be taken seriously, I am given to understand (from our accountant) that the success rate of controls has rocketed.

  4. Hello Missy,

    I would echo what idun has already said. Certainly things are better for dyslexic and special needs children than perhaps they used to be (I have school aged children, and I have been involved in the education system as a parent representative for some years), but the system, nonetheless, is geared to children who speak French in the first place.

    With the best will in the world, a 13 year old is not going to pick up the language nearly as quickly as a younger child. I've heard numerous times of 16 year old children arriving, becoming seamlessly bilingual in six weeks and then qualifying as doctors, vets or engineers in record time, however I myself have never met one of these titans. My experience, conversely, (and I think this is rather more general) is that most children brought here after the age of about 7 never truly catch up and often don't fulfil their potential.

    If your move is not an optional one, I would imagine homeschool would be your best choice, though this does mean that your daughter wouldn't get the exposure to the language in the same way. I know very little about homeschooling in France - it doesn't seem to be that widely practised - but I'm sure there's plenty of information out there. I seem to recall there was a group of Brits somewhere in the South West who set up some kind of homeschooling network, though I think they spent a fair amount of time beating off the authorities who wanted to check whether the children were getting an adequate education. It might be worth trying to find them.

  5. La Poste decided to shut down our village post office, so the commune took it over.

    The shut down was a slight mystery since La Poste admitted that the office made money. Now I imagine that they're making even more from it: they give the commune €1200 per month and furnish all the equipment. They also get to keep the revenue.

    The commune employs someone to work six mornings per week, but her expense plus the running costs for the building (which belonged to the commune anyway) amount €2000 per month, costs which were previously for the account of La Poste. So the commune is subsidising to the tune of €800 per month, or about one prioritaire stamp for every man, woman & child in the village.

    I think it's worth it, because it does mean that someone who needed a job has got one and we still have a post office (a lot of people here use the banque postale, particularly the elderly). The alternative is driving to another office elsewhere, and even a few trips per month would quickly eclipse the cost of the additional stamp, as it were, but it still grates a little.

    Is it just here or is post taking an inordinately long time to travel at the moment everywhere? A lettre verte that arrived yesterday took six working days to make its way from our nearest town; one from the Ile de France (prioritaire) took four days. Our postman was tight-lipped on the affair and quickly changed the subject to the matter of his van being half filled with water as he has valiantly struggled through the floods to deliver to outlying houses.

  6. [quote user="NormanH"]

    I think that there is a difference between reporting things as you see them around you and being unhappy.

    [/quote]

    Yes. Absolutely. I have seen plenty of the seamier side of life here, there & elsewhere and I agree that there is a huge difference between being aware of the more unpleasant aspects of life and being unhappy.

    Personally, I think that I have considerably improved my morale and quality of life by moving to France. As an adult, I never really liked the UK very much, except for that bit of London delineated by the North Circular and the Thames. Actually, the South Bank was OK, but there be dragons in Battersea & beyond.

    I like it here. I like my life with its various tribulations; I like the intellectual stimulation of doing everything in French; my children thrive in this place. True, I could have made a great deal more money staying in oil trading, but having witnessed the debris of alcoholism, ulcers, divorce and general collapse of my former colleagues, I think I may have made the better choice. Provided you have enough to indulge your pastimes, money isn't everything. Though the first part of that sentence is the important bit.

  7. [quote user="Pickles"][quote user="The Riff-Raff Element"][quote user="Pickles"]PLEASE NOTE: open the following links in "private windows" (Firefox) or "incognito" windows (Chrome) or whatever their equivalent is in the browser of your choice.

    [/quote]

    I did as I was bidden (and the articles were interesting, though, as you say, the Economist has its agenda), but WHY did I need to open them in a private window?

    [/quote]

    The reason is that if you open them in a "normal" window then you only get to see two or possibly 3 articles in a month before it demands money. Same thing works with the Torygraph (you get 10-20 pages there before it wants money).

    [/quote]

    Ah. Right. I very seldom have cause to look at the Economist (or the Torygraph) these days, so I hadn't clocked that. Thanks.

  8. [quote user="Pickles"]PLEASE NOTE: open the following links in "private windows" (Firefox) or "incognito" windows (Chrome) or whatever their equivalent is in the browser of your choice.

    [/quote]

    I did as I was bidden (and the articles were interesting, though, as you say, the Economist has its agenda), but WHY did I need to open them in a private window?

  9. Mind you, Pat, for more than a few people, downshifting to the rural idyll can quickly lose its charm when they end up skint and bored out of their tiny minds in the middle of nowhere. 

    If they do scrape togather a few shekels to go out for drink to drown their sorrows they're stymied because the nearest bar is 15km distant and closes at 7pm when everyone else goes home for their tea and a spot of bestiality, or, if they're lucky, incest. Alcoholism, divorce and repatriation quickly follow.

    OK, a touch tongue in cheek, but I have seen something like this come to pass more than once when people haven't the faintest idea that rural France does entail being more than 10 minutes from a 24 hour Tesco superstore.

  10. [quote user="Catalpa"]

    The people who seem to do best are a bit less sociable and more insular and very self-contained.

    [/quote]

    Catalpa - your post in its entirety was insightful, but I particularly noted the above, and I think you are quite right: couples / families / individuals who can be socially self-sufficient when necessary do far better from what I can see.

    The thing is, making friends takes time. Making acquaintances is easy. When we first moved here there was no end to the parents of other children in the school inviting us over for aperos to satisfy their curiosity. However, developing a circle of actual friends with whom we had more in common than just children the same age and the human race took a long time. I'd say about six years. Some couples would have murdered each other in that time.

    It's not just the linguistic differences; friendships root in shared experiences and, given that we had neither of us grown up here nor been schooled here, these took a while to arise.

    [quote user="Catalpa"]

    The France she - and Norman, for that matter - describe

    isn't "my" France. But, of course, my life experiences in south-western

    England might not have been replicated in Wales, Lincolnshire or

    Perthshire.

    [/quote]

    Likewise. Everyone's experience will naturally be different. I expected the transition, setting up a business, dealing with the bureaucracy, etc to be far, far, harder than it turned out to be, a streak of natural pessimism on my part. When it all turned out relatively straightforward, from my point of view, I couldn't see what people had to complain about. Conversely, if I'd been expecting it all to be a piece of cake, my view would have been entirely different.

  11. [quote user="Cendrillon"]

    Pierre ZFP wrote the following post at 20/01/2014 9:16:

    "That will be because of all those gay marriages Whistles [Www]"

    LOL ! I had the same thought!!![;-)]

    [/quote]

    I wonder if anyone is looking at maps and trying to do a correlation...

    Some of the pictures from the Var are staggering. Poor, poor people.

  12. [quote user="Pickles"]And so it goes on: the latest allegations are that the affair has been going on for two years.

    During the presidential election, some said that Hollande - who had been viewed as being rather characterless and grey (a la John Major, tellingly!) - would reveal himself to be more dynamic and a good leader of the nation.

    What a disappointment.

    [/quote]

    Great. A concubine and a mistress for two years? No wonder it seemed as though his eye was never on the ball. A commentator on RTL this morning presented a fairly convincing argument that anyone aspiring to the office of president should leave any notion of a private life at the door of the Elysée when they arrive, viz, they need to be available at the service of the nation at a moments notice. That's the job. With him off for a discrete bit of discreet shagging, who exactly was in charge? Memories of Chirac being incommunicado for hours after Diana got herself killed, off enjoying his vie privée somewhere... 

  13. I am very pleased that my distaste for cup cakes is not just me being middle aged & grumpy. Galette des rois is OK, but you really have to pay up to get a good one, and I've never seen the point in macaroons. The prices! I saw a "presentation" box in the window of a patisserie in Poitiers before Christmas which contained 25 in assorted lurid colours with an asking price of €38. OK, the box was quite nice, but who buys these things?

    My current favourite is boiled fruit cake. My children sometimes have it for breakfast if it is cold.

  14. As an aside, has the fetish for cupcakes died down in the UK yet? The last time I was there the bloody things were everywhere, icing half a metre thick and unbelievably sickly sweet. I struggled to find a decent slice of actual cake and ended up in some health food place, that didn't seem to have succumbed to the lunacy, eating low sugar carrot cake that was a bit too carrot and not enough cake. 

  15. Talk about fiddling while Rome burns. I know I'm the wrong gender & orientation to really be sure, but he really isn't the most preprossessing physical specimen, is he? And given the state of the nation I can't help feeling he should be concentrating his energies elsewhere.

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