Tuesday, 6 December 2016

The Ghost of Christmases Past.....(Food and Drink)

Back in my childhood, Christmas food was special because it was only available at that time of year.

The food we have now we can get all year round, want a turkey for Sunday lunch?   Sure!  Go to the supermarket and buy one any day of the year.   Want the trimmings?   Go ahead!   Also available 24/7/365!   

When I was little there were foodstuffs that were ONLY available at Christmas time; juicy, sweet clementines, bitter sweet cranberry sauce, Quality Street chocolates, Roses chocolates, turkish delight covered in icing sugar, that created sweet clouds when you pressed the lid down, dates, syrupy and sticky, with a strange fork in the middle, tins of Cheesy Balls, cheese paste surrounded by wafer and shaped into a football, chocolate coins in net bags, tubes of Jelly Tots, Fruit Pastilles or Smarties, the list goes on....   Nowadays most of this stuff is there. All. The. Time.    

 MrStanleysTurkishImage result for clementine
Image result for chocolate coins christmasImage result for tubes of Jelly Tots

For me, being in France, I get to revisit my childhood to a certain extent, because my memories of Christmas fare are not available here, so I can source them in the UK and either persuade my son or another willing victim to bring them over.    The lack of ready availability has re-elevated seasonal fare to its rightful position on top of the list of preparations and all things Noël.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

A time for presents and trimming the tree....Part One

It is my favourite time of the year, I love the preparation and anticipation of Christmas, I do not, however, like the expense and the obligation.

This year I will be adding some trimmings to my tree that my daughter and I have made ourselves, thanks in the main to the social media application Pinterest.   I am not a fan of social media, I only have an account with LinkedIn (for business purposes), WhatsApp (so I can keep in contact with my best friend and my son) and now Pinterest.    I use a nickname for the latter and find the creativity and generosity of the people that use it inspiring.

The gift giving this year will be frugal, my twin boys are going back to the UK to spend Christmas with their father, whilst their older brother (who is at university in the UK) will be crossing the Channel to spend Christmas with me and his little sister.    There will be token presents under the tree and we will spend the day itself mainly eating lots!

France is a secular country, the schools do not perform Nativity scenes and the religious aspects of the festival are not highlighted within the school curriculum.   However, nearly all the communes will have a Nativity scene near the local town hall or church and Nativity crèches are sold in all the shops that sell Christmas decorations.

I was brought up in a Christian family, was baptised and even went through confirmation.   I love Christmas carols and I will bring out the Nativity crèche each year.   Nowadays, in light of the mess that religion on the whole is in, I would say I was more a spiritual agnostic than ardent Christian.    Although with the way things are turning out with other less flexible religions in the world seeming to dominate there may come a time when all agnostics have to choose a religion in order to survive, but I will save those rantings for the New Year.  

For me Christmas isn't about the day itself, it's about my close family and friends.   I love the preparations, the present buying, the decorating, the food, all of it, although not so much the the card writing (this year will include the making of the cards which may, or more than likely may not, go according to plan!!).

I will write a post about my idea of a perfect Christmas versus the reality in part two.


Entente cordial has been severely diluted!

I am putting this in writing for two reasons, first I need to get it off my (rather generous!) chest!   Writing is supposed to be therapeutic.   Second, I am making a sociological statement on the declining social fabric that is happening all to quickly here in France (it's just my opinion and is not based on any scientific research, just non-empirical observation!).

I am not sure whether I have mentioned it before but, in an effort to supplement my meagre income, I work as a teacher, teaching English as a foreign language.   With my private one on one clients it is a dream and the most rewarding thing ever.    With the primary school children I teach every Friday afternoon it is a nightmare!!!   

Last Friday a particularly odious little boy decided to ruin the class for everyone else and I asked him to write out the words "I must not play around in class" in English ten times.   He was told what the words meant and I asked him to take it home to have his parents sign it, thus drawing his appalling behaviour to their attention.    Now, if that had been my child, I would have been mortified, I do not see my children as little deities who can do no wrong.   However, here in France, there is a new breed of parent, the Snowflake parent.

The "snowflake parent" is part of the social justice movement, except in France they have little Napoleonic syndrome too.   Their little darlings are just "expressing themselves".    NO. THEY. ARE. NOT. They are disrupting the other children in the class and preventing them from learning a language that could expand their horizons.   

The particular "snowflake parent" of this child felt that it was acceptable, not to excuse his son for his parlous behaviour, but to write on the bottom of the written punishment that the "course was not an actual lesson but a non-obligatory peri-scolastic activity".    The written punishment this particular child received was not his first that day and the other staff member was also taken to task for reprimanding the "golden child" in such a fashion.   This parent was recently elected as a "Conseiller d'Ecole" (effectively a "governor") so is now so full of his own perceived importance he feels compelled to criticise the disciplining of his child instead of dealing with the child's behaviour.    But then what did I expect from a family where the mother can criticise me for riding my bike, without lights, at dusk on a little used country lane, in order to get home because a sodding school meeting has taken two hours to dissect problems that could have easily been resolved in half an hour!  Yet her own husband (he of governor status) can roll up outside school on his Ducati motor bike to collect his (then) five year old son (who was (and still is) well below the 25 percentile on the height chart) to ride pillion on the back of said Ducati with nothing but a BICYCLE HELMET to protect the precious one's head!!

I have had it!!! These ridiculous, self-important mini Napoleons with snowflake tendencies are going to be the death of France.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Murphy's Law? or the Law of Sod? - Take your pick!!

Anyone who is lucky enough to live in a rural environment will understand that the need for reliable independent transport is not a luxury, it is a necessity.

My darling car broke down at the end of July, at the worst possible time financially.    The absolutely worse thing happened, the clutch went, spectacularly so, even if I do say so myself.   Fortunately for me, I was at a friend's house and not on the open road.

Number three son is, again fortunately for me, doing a mechanics course specialising in heavy goods vehicles.   My go-to mechanic was mired in family problems and cars were piling up left, right and centre at his place so he couldn't help immediately.

Again, fortunately for me, my other half had his car and we were mobile, for a while....    Then it happened, a suspension spring on his car snapped and in August!!!   Dun! Dun Dun!....anybody that lives in France or has dealings with anyone in France knows that August is the month that nothing gets done.   Nada, Nichts, Rien!

As mentioned, our go-to mechanic couldn't be gone to and he didn't have the tools to do the specific job required (Sod's Law came into play here, the part that broke rarely fails, therefore, the tool required to remove said part is expensive and not all mechanics have them!! - Joy!)   So off we went to the next village and enquired at the newly taken over garage whether they could repair the spring. It took the owner four days to get back to us with a price and availability.    At this point, I must point out that we ourselves were looking on-line for a replacement spring.     

We tried VW in St Lo, who tried to convince us that both springs needed to be replaced and he would call me back, that was never going to happen!!!   When the village mechanic came back to us he said it was nigh on impossible to find the part for my partner's VW Golf in France, because the sports chassis wasn't sold in France!!!  He quoted a 200% mark up on the part and factored in eight hours of work!!!  And we had to agree then and there or there would be a four-week wait because (you guessed it!) they were going on holiday!!

Thankfully my next door neighbour gave me the number of his go-to mechanic.    In this case, he really was "go to", he has been banned from driving so we had to limp there with the car!!!  We ordered the part from Euro Car Parts (a fantastic company in the UK see link below) it was with us within a few days (delivery companies in France appear to work on a skeleton staff also during August).    Was the sorry saga over?   Nah!   Don't be daft (remember Murphy's Law?   Well it turned into Sod's Law!)   

We dropped off the car, making plans for the rest of the summer, trips to the beach etc, only for our hopes to be dashed!!!   Told Ya!!

Apparently, we needed another part (stabilising bar) which we ordered from a French website with a 24-hour delivery.    Redemption?!   Nope!!  It didn't turn up the following day, we chased it and were informed that it takes up to 48 hours to action the order (remember we're in August!?).   So I cancelled the order and ordered the part again through Amazon France, again a 24-hour delivery, and due on Saturday morning.   The Saturday morning came and went, we checked on the on-line delivery status and guess what?!   The driver had tried to deliver in the morning with no response (according to the system), this was, of course, absolute bollocks!   Amazon France delivery notice stated that the address couldn't be found!   So needless to say I was not amused!!!    Call me pedantic ("You're pedantic!") but one cannot state that no-one was home when the address cannot be found in order to ascertain whether anyone was home or not!!!   Amazon France was brilliant, they refunded my express delivery charge because it was anything but and the part was delivered to a nearby DIY store for collection.

Now I will digress a little here, I have always looked at motorbikes with a degree of fear, why would you want to bowl along at 90+ miles per hour without a shell to protect you?!    Necessity being the mother of invention (and in our case lack of transport) we were forced to use John's motorbike.    He has been a motorcyclist for nearly four decades, so he gets it, loves it even!   Me?   Petrified!!   But I donned Number three son's crash helmet and manned up!!!   Wow!! I loved it!!!  It was amazing!! 

Anyway, back to the sorry tale of two cars...second part found, ordered, delivered to the mechanic, who.....went away on a four-day bender with his new girlfriend!!!!    When he eventually came back (and sobered up) he then told us ANOTHER part was needed!   Back we went on-line, Amazon France again came up trumps and delivered the third part express delivery to the DIY store.

John's car fixed, the last week of the summer holidays, it rained!!!   We managed two days on the beach, two wonderful days!

Number three son volunteered to strip out the engine and clutch on my Citroen C4 Grand Picasso.   It was going to be under the watchful eye and mentoring of our go-to mechanic, but the latter was still dealing with personal family and work issues.   So Number three son had to go solo.    With the aid of a manual, he started dismantling the engine.    I would say at least two-thirds of the engine had to be dismantled in order to get to the clutch.    But before that, we needed to take off the two front wheels.    Easier said than done when you have locking wheel nuts that have worn and refuse to budge!!!   Seventy euros poorer and with the new key and some expert advice gleaned from the wondrous invention that is the internet, the two wheels were removed.  Then the brakes, then the suspension, then the drive shaft, then the particle filter and turbo, not to mention the battery and all the electrics.     

Anyway, to cut a long story short, it's fixed!!! Three and a half months without a car and it starts, it goes into all the gears and it stops, except....it is now belching black fumes, lacks power when the accelerator is depressed (I could very well be depressed myself at this moment in time!) and it will most definitely fail its emission test for its French equivalent of a MOT!!!

To be continued.....


Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Strictly Come Dancing - Royal Special

Here 's an idea for the BBC to get back into the good graces of the normal* British viewing public. 

When normality returns to Britain, maybe a panacea could be to screen a Christmas edition of Strictly Come Dancing from Windsor Castle?   Promoting everything that makes Britain great, traditions, culture, history, you know the type of stuff the leftist wankerati want banned from our TV screens only to be replaced with multi-culti, gender non-specific rubbish that I wouldn't want to watch with someone else's eyes let alone my own.

It could be scheduled to run either side of the Queen's Speech, thus ensuring a dedicated viewing public.   Minor and major royals could partner with, suitably vetted, celebrity dancers and the judges could be the the usual four with the addition of Her Majesty herself and the Duke of Edinburgh to add his acerbic wit to the occasion.

Properly produced it could be the apology programme that the BBC will need to broadcast when the multi-culti, feminist, LGBTQ, BAME, diversity rhetoric is shown for what it is.   When the trustees and employees of this once bastion of television are hauled out of BBC Headquarters and publicly stripped of their jobs, to be replaced by loyal, traditional, open minded, patriotic personnel previously removed from their posts due to the rabid rantings of aforementioned wankerati.

One can but dream.......

*those of us who have all but given up on the BBC ever being able to produce non-partisan fact based news and not the leftist propaganda currently being disgorged on the nightly news and dedicated news channels.

Update to my girl crush heroines

Sometimes in life, we have to confront disappointment, in ourselves and in others.   Today is one such day and it is with sadness and regret that I am removing Christine Lagarde and Meryl Streep from my list of female faves!!

I fear we believe and strive for different things, I believe in honesty and democracy, Christine Lagarde obviously doesn't (Project Fear promotion from the IMF during the run up to Brexit).   As for Meryl Streep, well she is a vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton and seems to be able to overlook the egregious catalogue of sins that the latter has been party to; Benghazi, emails on private servers, corrupt dealings at the Clinton Foundation, the list is endless.  Personally, I think the only way the USA is going to halt its rapid decline is to vote in a business man first and a politician second.   All countries should be run like public limited companies, with the citizens as the shareholders and that is what Donald J Trump brings to the table.   A business acumen that may well be the saving of the U S of A!

P.S.  I am sure neither woman is going to loose too much sleep over this fall from my graces, but never let it be said I am incapable of changing my mind!!!

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Gender Neutrality - the myth.

The link below will take you to an article about a set of twins who are being brought up in a "gender neutral" environment to the extent that they are encouraged to wear princess dresses when playing make believe.

In my personal experience, my three sons and my daughter have been/are being brought up to be proactive, empathic, polite and productive members of society.    Don't get me wrong, angels they are not!   I won't go into their many personality traits that I don't appreciate and believe me there are many (I should know they inherited many them from me!!)!!

Children play dressing up all the time, if you give them a trunk full of dressing up clothes (including dresses etc..) and tell them to get on with it then that's all well and good.   The virtue signalling of the parents is, in my opinion, more of a concern than the behaviour of their children.  

Gender neutrality does not exist when applied to humans, except in the rare cases of hermaphrodites.   That is science, IT'S. A. FACT.   No matter what sex you "identify" as being when you are an adult, it's your chromosomes that determine your gender and it is a parent's job to raise and nurture you accordingly.   If, at a later date, you find you are sexually attracted to the same sex, then so be it.   It means you are a homosexual not "trapped" in the wrong body.   The need for these parents to declare the gender neutrality of their children is a crass attempt to conform to the moral ambiguity prevalent in the p.c. world we have the misfortune to live in today.

Amongst the comments made was one made by a poster who, in their role as a councillor stated they "have seen very confused men commit suicide over the desire to wear women's clothes. As much as TV shows acceptance, it's still a battle everyday for them if they go outside....some of the agonized "cross dressers" mention that the trigger for the involuntary aspect of it comes from a specific trigger, i.e being in a dress and being told they are pretty by their mother is a continuing theme (nurture). Gender identity and finding a role in life as a male/female is a very delicate thing."

Unfortunately, the term "gender neutral" has been hijacked by some third wave feminists and social justice warriors who are keen to highlight the perceived inequality within society towards women.   The fact that these people are being given a voice and a platform, completely negates their argument.

As parents it is our role to ensure our children become stable, polite, productive and empathic members of society, which is only possible when boundaries are set.   Too much ambiguity has created the narcissistic, celebrity obsessed, virtue signalling, regressive society we are now living in. 


Friday, 25 March 2016

A little late but.....Yeah we won!

I'm  a little late in posting this,  but my heart felt congratulations go to Eddie Jones and Dylan Hartley for their epic deliverance of the Six Nations trophy and the Grand Slam last weekend.    As previously posted I was somewhat sceptical of the choice of coach and captain of the England Rugby Squad, but I was forced to eat humble pie and I am woman enough to admit when I am wrong! 

 See original image

Sunday, 21 February 2016

I still don't get it!!!

I saw this on YouTube this morning, it is hilarious but I still don't get it!   Is there a book on Physics for Dummies, factor chess into the equation and I'm lost!!!

My daughter loves Dr Stephen Hawking!!

I was remonstrating with my little girl the other day over a particularly bad case of constant misbehaviour and we started to go down the road of the "demons on our shoulders" (you know the angel on one shoulder, the devil on the other, or in Izzy's case the Good Izzy and the Bad Izzy!).  When out of the blue she said that "Dr Stephen Hawking must be a really good man because his head is always listening to his Good Stephen!!"   Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings never rang truer!

 See original image

Monday, 15 February 2016

Social Media Good or Bad? Discuss!!

This morning I was trawling through the "news" on the internet, when I came across an article about Rebel Wilson and her speech at the BAFTA's last night.   She was asked to present the award to the Best Supporting Actor and, in my opinion, she was hilarious.    She made a risqué remark about the gorgeous Idris Elba and how she was "socially programmed to want chocolate on Valentine's Day" (which it was).   At the time I thought "Oh no! The liberal lefties will not like that" and I was proven right.


See original image

Now the question is two fold, we are all entitled to our opinion, Freedom of Speech, is the tenet we should all live by.   Indeed there are many armchair warriors (and I am fully aware I count as one!) out there more than happy to give their opinion on any and all topics.   The irony is these very warriors who stand up for their idea of social justice are the same ones that want to stamp on the Freedom of Speech for others.

The liberal left appear to be the worst of hypocrites.   They condemn something said by someone to someone else, as in the case above, then they go about labelling the speaker fat, talentless, ugly etc...   YOU CANNOT BE OFFENDED THEN SEEK TO OFFEND.

The world wide web was the brain-child of Sir Timothy Berners-Lee, the idea of being able to share information being the ultimate goal.    The ability to be able to look for a piece of information on the web is far easier that searching through a mass of encyclopaediae to find something only to find, subject to the date the book was published, it was out of date!   Such easy access to this knowledge has enriched everyone lucky enough to be able to access the web.

However, the dark side of the web, in my opinion, is the social media aspect.    The ability of people to insult others under a cloak of anonymity and the obsession of people to constantly update their profiles has imbued them with a sense of false self-importance.    I know of quite a few people who's self esteem is based directly upon the number of "friends" they have on Facebook.    Yet this very same social media, and Facebook is just one of many, is responsible for a inordinate amount of cyber bullying, indeed Daesh have been known to attract and recruit from their various Facebook accounts.

I respect the right of others to have their point of view, only in as much as they respect my rights to my point of view.    Unfortunately, in this day of political correctness gone mad, the sane, level headed, rational people's voices are being drowned out by the agenda driven, politically correct, mob mentality.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

I'm eating Humble Pie and it doesn't taste so good!!!

Okay.   I will admit that eating Humble Pie can stick in the throat.   But I am big enough to admit when my opinion is proved wrong.    I wasn't the only one questioning the choice of the captaincy of the England Rugby Union team, but that does not hide the fact that I was wrong.    Dylan Hartley handled himself with a maturity that impressed me greatly.    Eddie Jones's two weeks in charge of the England team has appeared to sharpen their set pieces.    They were better in the scrum than they ever were under Stuart Lancaster and the passing was crisp.    Billy Vunipola was deservedly awarded the Man of the Match, he has acquired a fleetness of foot that has previously been missing, his normal lumbering physique replaced with a toned and agile one.  Now. Swallow.....Yuck!!!!

Monday, 25 January 2016

Bring back Stuart Lancaster all is forgiven!

Eddie Jones has yet to manage the England Rugby team on the field of play but, in my opinion, the retracting of the Captain's armband from Chris Robshaw in order to give it to Dylan Hartley is quite frankly disgusting.

Dylan Hartley is the king of the penalty (giving them away due to lack of discipline) and is in not worthy of the armband.    He is not a leader and I am disgusted that Chris Robshaw's dedication and sacrifice for the team has been repaid by Eddie Jones in this manner.    Dylan Hartley is not a good ambassador for the game nor a suitable role model for young players coming through the ranks.    One of the many things that sets rugby union apart from the yob culture of today's soccer is the respect players show the referee - their word is law and you do not abuse them (see Hartley's appalling disciplinary record below).

An Australian should not be the coach of the England Rugby team, we have many English ex-rugby players and coaches that should have been picked over and above Eddie Jones.    Australians would not be happy having a non-Australian coaching their team.    Eddie Jones was their coach when we lifted the trophy on their turf in 2003.   The England Rugby Team has never had a coach that wasn't English, not even prior to the game going professional in 1995.    Australia has never had a coach that wasn't Australian.

We'll see on Saturday 6th February at Murrayfield.    It will be interesting to see the result.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

This is beyond cute!!!!


This is beyond cute - this sloth was found clinging to the central reservation barrier in the middle of a road in Ecuador!!!   Full story in the link above.

© Comisión de Tránsito del Ecuador

Thursday, 21 January 2016

I've gone political!!!

Events here in Europe are unfolding in an alarming fashion.   I am trying to maintain a positive outlook despite the worrying storm clouds looming on the horizon...

To this end I will be posting as irregularly as normal (see last year's resolutions!) but I will be regularly venting my metaphorical spleen about the current state of affairs in Europe and across the world as a whole...

My other blogsite is at


It will contain my thoughts from the point of view of a migrant, a mother and someone with an agnostic view to religion.   I will no doubt offend some people (it seems to me that there are more and more people in the world as a whole who seek to be offended) but that is not my aim.   My aim is to add my voice to the increasing number of people who are overcoming the suppression of the socialist multicultural ideal and are putting their heads above the parapet to question it's success.

I do not consider myself to be a right or left wing (do bingo wings count?   If they do I've got 'em!) but someone who is starting to question why?

Ciao for now!