26th May 2013

Seems I'm a little bit famous. Well, this week anyway. Not only did I appear in the local Gaillac mag but now in the much more glossy 'French Property News', the biggest and best UK guide. It started with a call from Vicky Leigh, the Asst. Editor.  She wanted to do a piece comparing expat bloggers in different parts of France, trawled the web, and found me!
When you think of blogging, you picture someone young, not someone my age. Certainly, the original French founder of the concept, Louis Pouzin, would be amazed. He's rightly receiving the Queen's award for Engineering in June, but who is he?  He's unknown because in the '70s M. Puzin saw that the French government wanted to develop a computer network and suggested his own innovative design - but, typically, they turned him down, calling it 'absurd'! They preferred the now defunct Minitel system. Scroll forward - and the Americans won hands down.  But, at last he's getting the recognition he deserves.
And me?  You can read more on page 42 of the June edition of French Property News - yes, a whole page. Back in the '80s the computer age opened up a whole new world for me, something unimaginable.  Merci beaucoup M. Pouzin.
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against the sea of troubles and by opposing, end them? Well, that's what Hamlet thought. But after 8  years of living in France, what do I think? 
Last week I was contacted and interviewed for the local Gaillac magazine. They were doing a survey of recent new arrivals. Unfortunately, for me, the French are the most unfriendly people towards strangers I've ever met. Surprisingly, however, the reporter from the Maire's office agreed with me! 'That is the French way'.  The best comparison I can make is with the Americans, whom I've found to be the most friendly in the world.  They go out of their way to welcome new arrivals in every way imaginable. Of course I also told the Gaillac reporter of my love for the French sunshine, food and quality of life. But, in a recent survey, amongst other EU nations France was also named as the most arrogant. Clearly, then, M. Hollande needs to do something about the attitudes of French people in general if he is to improve tourism. But what of me? Because of my family health background I need as much sunshine as possible, but because of my East European background, I need to relate to friendly people to improve my innate pessimism. Oy vay!

12th May 2013

It's now exactly 8 years since we picked up our dog Bruno from the SPA rescue centre in Montauban.   Learning from past experience, we decided to pick the one who was jumping all over the place, full of energy, i.e. healthy.  Him indoors always said he wanted one like the one he had as a child, full of personality. But look where it's got us -  a catalogue of disasters. In our old village of Varen, Bruno did his utmost to upset everyone, particularly a neighbouring farmer whose sheep grazed right next to our fence. In the nearby tourist spot of Cordes, we tied Bruno to a metal bollard whilst in a shop, only to see him flying past the window, a metal bollard bump bumping past him right down the cobbled street.  Then we moved to Gaillac, with a much bigger garden. But, no matter how high the fence, Bruno can climb up and over with all four paws. We decided that he must stay below in the sous-sol when we go out. Surely nothing can happen down there? Hmm.....he's now managed to knock a tin of paint over a bag and open the valve underneath our hot water boiler, fusing the electricity and filling the basement with paint and water.  A bad case of distemper.......

5th May 2013

I'm worried about UKIP. It's a political party that's insidiously creeping up the voting lines. A lot of people voted for them in this week's local elections in England. For me, they're like the BNP in sheep's clothing - racism under another name.  Friends say 'why worry? We live in France now'.  But, already - buoyed by their success - the UKIP leader has asked David Cameron to hold that promised In:Out referendum on the EU 'before the next general election in 2015'.  And I seriously think the result would be 'Out'.
In France, one year after his election, Francois Hollande continues to plummet in the ratings.  The doughboy has received a pin-prick and is slowly deflating as we speak.  Despite his success in Mali and the recent Airbus deals, no-one likes him. Yesterday's French press reported that rich people and expats(!) are leaving France in droves. High rates of tax, rising unemployment, diving economic results....  For English expats in France, it's all very disheartening. Even if we wanted (or were pushed in the future!) to go back to England, many of us have fallen off the 'housing ladder price lists' so would struggle. But, Him indoors isn't worried.  Margaret Thatcher might have said 'You kip if you want to, but we're not for turning...'