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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

From SW19 to 59260

Next Tuesday morning is Jour J as the French put it, the day we finally take possession of our new house in Hellemmes-Lille. The house is in rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, cheek by jowl with the city of Lille, capital of Flanders as the tourist sites have it. It will be just over seven months since we had a place to call our own though we won't be rushing to move in. We are hoping to have gas central heating installed and solar panels too. There is so much to arrange apart from shifting everything we own from Rumaucourt. The new sofas arrive sometime late April or maybe May, appropriately from Cuir Center (sic) and another corner seating unit has been bought from Ikea with "integrated bed system". I am almost 100% decided that the cypress which currently gives the garden an air of mystery ie it blocks the view to the rest of the garden, will need to go. I have discovered a large magnolia which is in danged of being completely unenjoyed as it stands directly behind said fir. And that stone-cladding in the sitting room; no, I don't think I can live with it after all. Bring out the hammer and chisel thing!

Staying with the in-laws has been a delight and now we are ready to be back in the city where there is a Fnac, a Furet du Nord, a Carrefour, a railway station with Eurostar! All this and only a 20 minute walk to work for Max. Bring it on!!

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Oh dear! I should be writing for The Sun and its tenuously "amusing" punning headlines. Just to say that I have not been feeling particularly creative over the last week and thus no updates on this here blog. It could be something to do with the fact that I have spent eons of time correcting the main English-version Lille tourist website and translating the bits they forgot , or couldn't be bothered to translate. I have a cunning plan you see: to be a translator, you need the usual diplôme and a lifetime's experience. I am going to offer my services for free to the Lille Tourist Office and ask them to recommend me to other similar organisations. At the same time I shall send my translation and proof corrected version (some 19 pages!) to the translation agencies to show them I can do it! Wizard wheeze? Try this: "The Le Corbusier viaduct is an ideal observation point to have a large view on this modern district built in 1994. The Lille Europe station welcomes everyday TGV ( High speed trains) and Eurostar. The Crédit Lyonnais tower (architect Christian de Portzamparc) conceived as a block in the sky signalling renewal, the Tour Lilleurope (architect Claude Vasconi), the Euralille Centre, designed by Jean Nouvel" Imagine trawling through that and changing it to readable but also informative and interesting English.

Before I forget- the quote!! Not a new one but new to me.

"Definitions belong to the definer, not the defined" - Toni Morrison.

Loving it.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Pourquoi not comment!

France is different. Perhaps that statement is one with which most would concur. But why is it different? Brits escape here from the UK for a "better way of life", amd of course there is the cheese and the wine and hours spent eating and philosophising, postulating, contemplating etc.

Keep reading for ongoing articles about the French and how they are. For now click here for a very interesting Observer article about Nicolas Sarkozy.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Wonderful women.

Today is International Women's Day and an opportunity to reflect on the contribution of females to all our lives. Where would we be without women, literally, unless children are really being grown in laboratories? Indeed, where would we be without feminine traits whether we are female or male?

We can rejoice in the knowledge that characteristics and approaches traditionally associated with women and weakness, are now, rightly, feted as strengths and essential elements of any well-balanced individual - caring and compassion, consensus and encouragement, nurturing and protecting.

I listened to the daily phone-in as we ate lunch today and cringed a little at the announcement of one caller who said, "I think women are just as intelligent as men". Of course it didn't need saying, but no doubt he meant well, and of course, he was only a man!

Women don't need to be thought of as equally intelligent when they are differently (and possibly more) intelligent already, we still have much to learn from them.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Frites in the city

Thanks to so many of you for taking a look at these witterings. There have been 139 hits so far and some positive feedback. Merci! I have been away for the last 10 days so this posting is more of a report than the usual pseudo philosophising, but, you never know, some opinion may find a way in! Thanks to all who fed us, bought us drinks and accommodated us. You know who you are!

Colchester eased us in to being back in the UK and a wonderful time was had by all. I love weddings and this one was nothing short of glorious: two wonderful people choosing to commit to each other in front of their friends and family. It was really an honour to be there and to meet with many people who have only been names before. The bride, unbridled by her nuptial celebrations, as selfless as ever ensured that the weekend was one when everyone met the right people and was able to extend their social and professional networks.

Colchester town centre was the place for our drug hit and we stocked up on paracetomol, aspirin, Vitamin C tablets and Dentyl mouthwash, all things that are either not easily or cheaply available in France.

Thence to London! Again it was a treat to be able to meet up with some friends. Apologies that it was not possible to see more of you this time. I noticed a 2-4-1 offer on Eurostar with the Telegraph whilst I was there and would be delighted to share the details with anyone who is interested. London was nicer for not being home.The sun shone out of a clear blue sky and it was enjoyably cold. I dropped the biggest H ever - in Fortnum and Mason actually when I showed Clare W bis my "finished" marketing materials and found that, somehow, I cite 'arrods as one stepping stone in my career. The French accent is obviously coming on in leaps and bounds.

I left London on Thursday with bags full of Cheddar cheese, Marmite, an incredibly good shaving oil spray - only 99p in Asda - and Ugly, the best-selling autobiography of a friend of mine.

Rumaucourt was a whistle-stop on the way to Paris where we were at the weekend to observe the half marathon and to support Tiff. Paris is a very wanderable place and humanly-sized too. Max noted that the frites on the menu at our restaurant on Saturday night were 8€ ie £5.50.

Got back yesterday evening to find Chico is number one: if there were any small doubts about leaving the UK then there is proof we have done the right thing!

For hen groupies, they have laid for the first time since their removal to Hen Hotel, three feathers!