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The Riff-Raff Element

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Everything posted by The Riff-Raff Element

  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.

  16. [quote user="tinabee"]

    Secondly, the Maire has asked me to stand for the local council - probably to liaise with the international residents of the village (English, Irish, Russian, Dutch and German apparently) since some don't speak French. I am hoping that the Riff Raff element will be able to pass on some pointers from his wife [:)] - and all other contributions gratefully welcomed . . .

    [/quote]

    I asked. She echoed what Val said - be sure that your French is very good. Otherwise,  be prepared for quite a lot of hard work (particularly if you take on any committee work), don't expect to be able to remain neutral,  however much you might think you can, and accept that quite possibly there will no recognition at all for what you do! It is quite astounding the extent to which France runs on volunteers.

  17. Drifting just ever so slightly, and in all probability people already know this, but if the urge to drink something wine-flavoured & foreign becomes strong, Noz is often a good bet. They often have Spanish, Italian or Portuguese wines in stock, offered at silly prices and largely ignored by the French clientèle. It's worth spending a few minutes with a guide to the regions and label-reading for these countries first just to get a feel for what might be good, but we've had some outstanding quality wines, ludicrously cheap in the past. Lord knows where they get the stuff from and why it isn't bought up by other businesses first, but there it is.

  18. [quote user="Val_2"]

    So many people have moved back to the UK since I came to France, let alone came on this forum and to be honest, they have not been replaced in the same numbers by brits moving here which means less action on these francophile forums because people are no longer interested if they have no more ties with France, I certainly would not continue looking at forums if I had moved back. Even now, some long standing brits in this region (only one in my village) are desperately trying to sell up and return because in the main, they are getting on in years and are scared stiff at either being widowed,ill or lonely in a country they still have not mastered the language sufficiently nor understand how things work or have family here. I don't think we will see the likes of the numbers of people coming here to live that we did in the 90's again and with work prospects here for foreigners declining and the exchange rates taking away a chunk of pension each month that retirees can ill-afford to lose, think many more will try and return than ever this year if they can sell up and go. All this has a knock-on effect on forums such as this and as has been said, you don't need to ask questions these days when you have google and the like or good neighbours. My OH always said that moving to France was for the wealthy retired with no cares nor worries and how right he has been proven by some of the horror and sob stories we hear on forums from very desperate people stuck here who did no research before they came and found out too late it was a mistake.

    [/quote]

    Broadly, and with due deference to Idun, I'd agree with what you say here. Though I'd never trust Google on anything even remotely important.

    My wife is the only English speaker on the council and is named in each municipal bulletin as being the contact point for any new anglophone residents or second homers coming into the commune. Her 'phone & email details are displayed at the marie. In the last four and a bit years she has NEVER been contacted.

    There were never very many anglophone residents here anyway; now I think we're down to four aside from us. Second homes for the most part have either been sold or are offered for sale. Those that remain (about six from memory) are seemingly seldom visited and a couple even appear to have been abandoned. It's not as though this is a dead village: the population steadily increases. We have two schools, bar, bakery, post office, shop, doctor, pharmacy and a saddler. But no hairdresser, which is a bit odd. Communal life is busy. Things happen. This is not the middle of nowhere. But as far as Brits are concerned, the traffic in and out of this village has all been one-way since about 2008.

  19. [quote user="PaulT"]

    As for French tax systems I am UK resident so do not have to worry about being taxed at 75% [/quote]

    In some ways I'd quite like to have that as a worry  [:)]

  20. [quote user="idun"]

    Anyway 'my' point of view was not really that welcome by quite a lot of posters when I first came on here and that is OK.

    [/quote]

    I recall vividly. Used to annoy the hell out of me. [:P] That said, back in 2000 / 2001, what you posted (you and some others with real experience, many departed, a handful still here) was often very useful and I thank you for it.

    But if someone new comes on here these days, what do they see? A half dormant forum with some categories that haven't moved for months or even years. That doesn't instil confidence.

  21. I think the same thing has happened to quite a few forums, both those concerned with France and those concerned with other things. As to what's behind it... the rise of social media such as Facebook has taken away much the social aspect of forums and a lot of questions that can be asked have been asked and the answers are available online via a search without any really any need to post a question. So what is left? Some forums die off because they simply become home to a clique of insufferable know-it-alls whose pleasure in life seems to be the belittling of anyone showing any sign of ignorance. People can go elsewhere these days: they don't need to put up with that s**t.

    It might help, perhaps, if this forum slimmed down a bit - the range of categories is bewildering. I don't bother much with French forums these days: after 11 years here I don't really need them for information. However, another forum I do use is Horse & Hound (can't abide hunting, but the horse management stuff is useful) and that is incredibly busy. It also has a mere 11 categories, which makes using & viewing it really straightforward.

  22. [quote user="The Riff-Raff Element"]It did make the radio news, but I didn't see it elsewhere. I'm finding the hunt-lark increasingly tiresome. Our local mob used to be very considerate - the previous president is our only neighbour and he used to rule with a rod of iron.

    But he retired due to age, along with most of the committee.

    Now they are run by a right bunch of, well, cowboys. They've managed to get themselves excluded from about half the land in the commune because of their lax behaviour around livestock in general and horses in particular.

    There's now only two of the big farms whose owners are active members of the hunt and only another couple who continue to tolerate them. Other than that they can access to communal lands but these are getting very crowded of a weekend and I fear that it is only a matter of time before natural selection thins out their numbers.

    [/quote]

    And so it continues. A couple of days a ago, the owner of the stables were we ride and where our horse is quartered was surprised to find a man with a gun wandering around the paddock that houses the mare next to ours. This horse is both pregnant and is prone to get agitated, particularly around people she doesn't know. To get to this point, our hunter mast have passed at least two electric fences and numerous signs pointing out that this was private property and that hunting was forbidden - the place is properly registered with the departmental chasse committee as being off-limits.

    The stable owner photographed the man (apparently you can do this without people's permission when you believe a crime is in progress and solely for the purposes of evidence) before challenging him. Bloke claimed he was quite within his rights because "he was following a hare." By this time he was only 50m from a house. The gendarmerie, it seems, are unamused.

  23. [quote user="Chancer"]

    I had to read up on the film, I'm assuming it was Brazil and you were using the French spelling (I also often do)

    Brazil's bureaucratic, totalitarian government is reminiscent of the government depicted in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four,[1][2] except that it has a buffoonish, slapstick quality and lacks a Big Brother figure.

    Now where does that remind me of..........................................

    [/quote]

    Pretty much everywhere with an established civil service, I'd say. Except possibly Scandinavia. And there I'm only guessing.

  24. [quote user="Chancer"]

    What is wrong with just leaning on the proprietor a little? Having a quiet word in his ear, "someone has reported you to us and whilst we havnt caught you with your pants fully down yet, its only a question of time, we know, and you know that the complaint is not without foundation, we will be keeping a close eye on you from now on so you are advised keep your nose clean.

    [/quote]

    This is how it should work, particularly in a case such as this where - at face value - it appears the infringement was technical and inadvertent. But to what extent is it wise to give bureaucrats discretion to decide when to impose the rules? Not easy.

  25. It did make the radio news, but I didn't see it elsewhere. I'm finding the hunt-lark increasingly tiresome. Our local mob used to be very considerate - the previous president is our only neighbour and he used to rule with a rod of iron.

    But he retired due to age, along with most of the committee.

    Now they are run by a right bunch of, well, cowboys. They've managed to get themselves excluded from about half the land in the commune because of their lax behaviour around livestock in general and horses in particular.

    There's now only two of the big farms whose owners are active members of the hunt and only another couple who continue to tolerate them. Other than that they can access to communal lands but these are getting very crowded of a weekend and I fear that it is only a matter of time before natural selection thins out their numbers.

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