I was tagged by the lovely Zaz at Mama and More in a challenge to write an A-Z of me, so here goes:
Atheist – I was born, christened and confirmed Church of England. I went to church every Sunday from in utero until around the age of 16 when it was no longer obligatory in our family, I went to a Church of England secondary school. I never particularly questioned it and whilst my parents were always practising christians when I grew up it wasn’t too “in your face”. Then in 2001 I met Hubs, a confirmed atheist. As someone with a scientific background he just failed to see any truth in any of the religions. We didn’t argue over it, we just respected each other’s views. I continued to go to church at Christmas and we even got married in an Anglican church in Cannes. Then in 2009 we went on holiday and he asked me to read the book “The God Delusion” which he’d just read. Something in it made sense, and I converted to atheism. I have every respect for religions and the people who practise them, but I do not personally believe. However we are careful to raise L (and later C) to understand the different religions, and to let her/them choose whichever path they want. I am a firm believer in ignorance breeds intolerance, so it’s important to me that our daughters know and understand others’ beliefs.
Blogs play a massive part of my life. I write this one, Hubs writes his own (called Bourse Ensemble: about the stock market, written in French, can be found here), we are currently planning a combined blog (in English!), and I read many many blogs. I love the blogging community and I get an awful lot out of reading and writing blogs.
Chatterbox & cheesy music. I’m cheating and picking more than one here, but it’s my blog, my rules and all that.
Chatterbox – anyone who has ever spent more than 5 minutes with me will tell you that I’m a terrible chatterbox, it’s hereditary, my mum is, I am, and L is (bit early to tell for 10 month old C yet!). I even warned Hubs the night I met him that I was a “vrai pipelette” (a right chatterbox). That’s me, like it, or walk away as I’m too old to change now
Cheesy music – I have never really been trendy, I like what I like and I don’t pretend to like what others like just to be fashionable. I like totally cheesy music, 70s disco (including Abba), ‘terrible’ Euro dance music and much more that I won’t list here.
Dogs and cats are a pretty big part of my life – Franglaise family have a French dog, a French cat and two English cats (brothers). Although I doubted their part in our life recently, I have since realised how important they are to our family, and they’re going nowhere
Eating I LOVE food. Cooking it. Eating it. Discovering new food. Going out to restaurants. Eating, eating, eating. I love eating, from a simple jacket potato with cheese and beans, through to a full on 5 course gastronomic meal. Yum!
Francophile This possibly goes without saying considering the name of this blog. My love affair with France started when I was 8 and went there for the first time on a family holiday, it took me through French GCSE, French A level, a French (and Spanish) degree, 5 months living in Nice during my degree, accidentally moving to France post-degree (more about that here), marrying a Frenchman and having half French children. I don’t have dual nationality (my decision), but I do feel half French, and our family is certainly half French.
Girls I always knew I wanted at least one daughter, and preferably as a first child, I remember crying when L was born and the obstetrician announced “c’est une fille”. When C was born, nearly 6 years later, I was convinced she was a boy, so was surprised when Hubs told me our new baby was a girl, but I couldn’t be happier. Poor Hubs is surrounded and over-run but neither of us would have it any other way
Hubs & holidays & hugs Again, too many to just have one “H”, so here goes:
Hubs – my amazing, long-suffering husband is French, my soul-mate, my best friend and so much more. I knew he was my future husband a week after I met him (which I announced to my best friend, who told me I was crazy!), we moved in together after 3 months and got engaged after 6.5 months, many people told us it wouldn’t last but we celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary this summer, and are as happy together now (if not happier) as when we first met.
Holidays - I LOVE holidays. Especially lazy beach holidays, with several good books on my Kindle (see ‘R’).
Hugs - I’m a big hugger. I hug Hubs all the time (he’s a big hugger too fortunately), I hug my kids all the time, I hug the kids I look after, I hug my family, I hug my friends. Hugs are an excellent medicine I find. If I don’t get enough hugs I get withdrawal symptoms.
In-laws – no one ever warns you when you get married that you’re not just taking on that person, but their whole family too. Sometimes that can be a good thing, sometimes a hard thing, sometimes a bad thing. I won’t say anymore on it here, but let’s just say there’s a reason the wedding vows have “for better and for worse” in them, and I’ve had my fair share of both over the last 10 years.
Just do it - not a famous tagline but a motto for life: don’t procrastinate, make a decision and go for it. I can’t bear indecision – by not making a decision you are already making a decision of not changing the status quo. Change is hard and scary but standing still and not daring anything is worse in my eyes.
Killer heels - I think they are beautiful, but since having children I have discovered that I can no longer wear them for more than about 5 minutes, unless I’m sitting down. Is that old age?!
London has been my home for the last 3 years, which is funny as so many of my friends aspired to live here when they left home/graduated and it never appealed to me, I never in a million years thought this would be where I would raise two small children. Yet, here we are, and we couldn’t be happier, it’s an amazing place and living here en famille is perfect for us.
Mummy - I remember when I had L and was referred to as her mummy, it felt so strange. Fast forward nearly 7 years and it’s my alter ego (see ‘S’ for the other half of me). Whilst I am still important in my life, where I live, how I live, what I do and so much more is based on what is best for my daughters. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. In a few short years I will just be mum, we won’t live together and they will carve out their own lives for themselves, so I can put them first (mostly) now.
Nice - in the two senses of the word. I try to be a nice person, and I’m always on at L to be nice to people, I try to help people where I can (both those I know and strangers), be it favours for friends/family or through charitable actions. I say I try. I’m no saint, but I do what I can. The other sense of the word is Nice – the city – my first home in France, where I did so much of my growing up. Despite no longer living there, this place will always have a special place in my heart – it was also here that I met Hubs
Organised - I’m an organised person, that’s who I am. Amongst friends I tend to be the one that organises nights out, weekend breaks, and mummy/baby meet-ups. I’m the one in our extended family who is behind Christmas celebrations and family get-togethers. In the Franglaise family I organise what we’re doing, who with and when. Sometimes it’s hard to stay on top of it all, but I’m OCD and have to be in control!
Positive - the glass is always half full with me, when I got dumped by a long term boyfriend that I’d bought a house with, when Hubs and I had to close down the business that we had created and nurtured, when we decided to leave the French Riviera for London, I always looked on the bright side, and still do. I always try to put a smile on my face and be grateful for what I have, rather than envying others what they have and I don’t. It’s not always easy but it’s my way, Hubs jokes that my catchphrase is “it’s not that bad because….”, no matter what.
Quality over quantity - for everything in life – I try to put quality blog posts out there rather than lots of them. I encourage L to read a little and to do it well, rather than lots done badly. I aim for quality time with Hubs rather than lots of time together just watching TV.
Reading – I am an avid reader. I had a Saturday job in the local bookshop when I was 14, I come from a family of bookworms and to my delight Hubs is as voracious a reader as me. As L has grown up in this atmosphere, with these genes, she too has become a lover of reading, and can now read pretty much anything, aged 6, including now reading in French. Hubs – who is a total geek – adopted e-readers before the Kindle existed, and we both have Kindles now as we ran out of space for books, so made a conscious decision to only keep a few paper books for us and to read electronically (although we have tons of books for the girls). I think teaching children to love reading is one of the best gifts you can give them.
Sophie – the other side to Mummy. Not many readers of my blog know this, but as well as being Mummy I also answer to Sophie. I don’t like to take life too seriously, I like to spend time with my family and friends. I have very little sense of shame and will stand up on a table to dance or sing, it is hard to embarrass me. I believe in living life to the full every day, and being happy with whatever it is you’ve got, as it’s so incredibly short.
Teacher – I have worked in many jobs in my life (Hubs jokes that the only job I haven’t done is prostitution!), I have been a cleaner, worked in shops, bars, restaurants, offices, been a PA, worked in PR and Marketing (in-house and agencies), but one job that I am really proud of, and got great satisfaction from, was when I worked teaching French and English as a foreign language.
Umbrella – I mentioned I am a bit OCD, but I never leave the house without an umbrella. This is not so shocking when you live in London, but I used to do this when I lived in the south of France too. I hate not being prepared. (I also always have sunglasses on me – even in London!).
Vouchers - since coming back to the UK I have discoverd discount vouchers everywhere and good deals for money off (my favourites are Merlin annual pass, Historic Royal Palaces annual pass, Tastecard and Gourmet Society card). We never had anything like this in France and love the options they open to us in London.
Wedding vow renewal – one of these days I want to have a wedding vow renewal ceremony, coupled with a naming ceremony for the girls. Nothing to do with actually renewing our vows, I just want an excuse for a big party with friends and family, and a chance to get a lovely new frock
Xavier - the name that I wanted to give our son if C had been a boy. Hubs refused, as apparently the Brits don’t say it properly. I pronounce it “Zav-ee-ay” and the French pronouce it “Gzav-ee-ay”, which quite frankly doesn’t sound anywhere near as good Probably just as well C was female then….
Yacht – when I was 21 I returned to Nice at the end of my third year of uni to work in a bar, and party hard before going back to uni for my finals, and I was taken out on a (male) friend’s yacht for the day with two (female) friends. The yacht owner was the perfect gentleman, and it was an amazing day out, although 12 years of living in Nice subsequently taught me that most yacht-owners are not like this at all!
Zodiac sign – I’m an Aquarian and whilst I don’t really believe in star signs, I googled “Aquarius traits” and the first site that came up described them as the following, which I think sounds quite familiar:
“Those born under this sign have the social conscience needed to carry us into the new millennium. These folks are humanitarian, philanthropic and keenly interested in making the world a better place. Along those lines, they’d like to make the world work better, which is why they focus much of their energy on our social institutions and how they work (or don’t work). Aquarians are visionaries, progressive souls who love to spend time thinking about how things can be better. They are also quick to engage others in this process, which is why they have so many friends and acquaintances. Making the world a better place is a collaborative effort for Aquarians.”
Hopefully you now know me a bit better. In turn I’m going to tag the following lovely bloggers to carry on the theme: