Friday, September 12, 2014

French for little francophones


CONTACT : KAREN O'REILLY : 087 - 9722498
(L'atelier de francais-FLAM est une association a but non lucrative dont le mission est de proposer des cours de francais aux enfants francophones)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Canned air for sale

Who says there is no such word in French for entrepreneur? Who says the French are stuck in the past and not open to new ideas?
Well, one enterprising young man from Montcuq is certainly bucking the trend and has come up with a product that is flying off the shelves in France .. L'air de Montcuq (sounds like mon cul, or in other words, air from my ass) is collected in Montcuq, a small commune in the Lot department in the South of France.

Air from my backside
Sold in tin cans , according to his website, L'air de montcuq is 100% organic, must be consumed immediately and tins must be kept closed to conserve freshness.
What started off as a bit of a joke, young Antoine Deblay from Montcuq, launched his idea on kisskissbank and before too long had crowd funded enough euros to sell his tins of fart. Now, one can order his original product online on his website for the perfect gift for that special someone for Christmas. They are available for delivery only in France and cost only 5euros (€5.50 with postage) .. I think it is going to be énorme!!!!!!
Now, what didn't I think of that?
See his website here

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Falling in Love again

One thing I miss about France is, that in Ireland, I am completely invisible. In France, men openly appraise you - they look you up and down and comment on what they see 'beh, t'as maigri Kar-Hen!' they exclaim 'J'adore ton look aujourd'hui ma cherie' - very gay I know, but then it is hard in France to tell who is gay with the straight guys wearing white suits, tight capri style pants, pink scarves and more hair product than Jedward on a down day.
In France, a man will meet you for the first time with a flirtatious 'Enchanté' ( Enchanted to meet you - don't you love it?) while their eyes sweep over you, hovering openly on any assets you may have on display. In Ireland, you may get a handshake but the Irish dude will barely look you in the eye. Once you have broken eye contact and are not looking at him, he may, if he is feeling cheeky, chance a sneaky glance at your bum.
Flirting in France is a national pastime and for the most part, harmless, adding a bit of excitement and frisson to one's day. Flirting in Ireland, as far as I can see, only happens after 15 pints when the lads get brave and the lassies get brazen...
In the meantime, I'm busy falling in love again ... with Ireland, the only one seducing me these days! Vive L'Irlande!
Road to Eyeries from Allihies

Colourful Skibbereen

Broad Strand

Simon's Cove
My son's dream house 10 metres from the sea


Thursday, October 24, 2013

French Kiss or Irish Hug?

Image from
The rhythm of life is so different here in Ireland than in France and our body clocks are just about getting used to the new timetables as we potter along in our new life in Clonakilty.
For one thing, we all miss "La Cantine" , that wonderful French luxury of a 4 course delicious 2 hour lunch at school. These days, Irish kids are given 20 minutes to wolf down their sambos and get out into the yard to play. The lunch box used to be a fairly simple affair in my day, now, the list of forbidden foods is the length of your arm :

  • Crisps
  • Chocolate or anything containing chocolate
  • Fizzy drinks or fruit drinks
  • Cereal bars
  • Biscuits
  • Nuts and anything containing nuts
  • Sweets or anything sweet etc etc

While I agree totally with the healthy eating concept, lunch box filling has become rather a challenge ( ideas welcome)
The kids finish school at 2pm and 3pm ( how handy is that - NOT!) For my two who are used to finishing at 5pm in France and then launching into homework, as far as they are concerned, they have a half day every day! Whoopeee! That 's a lot of hours to entertain them though! After school activities take place every evening, not just on Wednesdays ( their day off school en France)
For us adults living in a small town, social activities don't usually start until about 9pm or later! Dancing classes, toastmasters, music sessions, they all start after 9pm. In France, in sleepy suburbia, the shutters would be coming down and people bunkering down for the night. If you are going to the pub, you might start thinking about going out around 10pm or later. Huh? but that's way past our bedtime! I recently joined a running club and we start training at 8pm. As we finish at 9pm, there are others just starting!!
Setting a fire and drying clothes in front of it and watching the weather like a hawk for signs of rain when the clothes are out .. these are things I haven't done in over 18 years!
I still go to kiss people on each cheek when I meet them, resulting in usually head butting the recipient - It feels funny not to physically greet people you haven't seen in a few days ; a "howzitgoan?" will do. In place of the sterile French air kissing though, what you do have is the Irish hug. At a family gathering recently, it was a veritable hugathon as I got lost in Aunties' perfumed bosoms and long lost cousins' embraces.
French kissing 'aint all it's cracked up to be anyway ;-)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Buying shoes in Ireland

When you move to a new country or indeed back to your home country after being a period of 16 years away as we did, you have certain expectations.
In our case, we thought that the people in Ireland, our Mother land, would be friendlier, that bureaucracy would be easier, that socially,we would feel more at home and that we would live a more naturally rounded life with all that is going on in Clonakilty, our adopted new town.
For the most part , that has been true and we are lapping up all Ireland has to offer and every time we leave the house, we are blown away by the friendliness and helpfulness of everybody.
We do realise that nowhere is perfect ( Mr GetrealFrance's van was recently broken into while parked in Dublin with many of his tools swiped ), but for now , for us, it is ticking all our boxes.
I could give you hundreds of examples since I've been home of the generosity of the Irish spirit, that, quite frankly, I have never encountered anywhere else...
Take last week when I went shopping with my son for shoes in Clonakilty. We popped into the local shoe shop and tried on a few pairs that were not satisfactory ( Not fast enough Mummy!) for our little tearaway. With all the time in the world, the shop owner patiently played with Dylan, chatted to me and finally found the perfect pair of shoes for my budding Usain Bolt.
As the shoes had just arrived in that day, the guy had no invoice for them and therefore was unable to give us a price
"Sure just take the shoes away there girleen and drop in any day to pay me" says he
Flabbergasted, I offered to pay him a deposit, leave some kind of a down payment but he was having none of it. My word was good.
"I trust you. Take the shoes and call in any day next week and I'll have a price for you"
Now, that's what I call retail therapy!
Kevin O'Regans Shoes
8 Pearce Street,
(no affiliation!)
Which reminds me, I must go in and pay for them!!!!!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

School's cool!

Uniforms! Halleluiah!
Well, we've been back in Ireland for over 6 weeks now after living in France for 11 years. How are you settling in, people keep asking us and what do you miss about France?
We're settling in as if we never left the place, except for now, we have an appreciation for Ireland that we never would have had before, warts and all, we are loving all that this fair isle has to offer.
While I am very aware that we are in the honeymoon period and everything is still new and shiny (yet all so familiar and comfortable ... like finding an old pair of comfy faded jeans at the back of your wardrobe that still fit after 11 years), It feels real and it feels like home.
The welcome we have received in the town we have chosen has been extraordinary and the schools are second to none. Our main concern moving here was that the children would fit in ok in their new schools considering all their education had been in French up to this point. Aged 6 and 8, we felt the French education system was too rigid and strict with no room for personal development, art or expressing oneself.
The amount of stuff on in their new schools here would make you dizzy ; there is an orchestra, orienteering, surfing, kayaking, drama, swimming, chess, dancing, singing, gardening, every kind of a sport you can imagine as well as gentlemanly awards and deportment classes.
The mission statement of the school states, among other things that :
"Every pupil is encouraged to achieve his full potential – socially, personally and intellectually – in a happy, secure learning environment.
The discipline in our school encourages and fosters respect and self-esteem among the pupils.
We endeavour to develop supportive and open communication among pupils, teachers, parents, Board of Management and the community." 
Music to our ears - the children seem to be extremely happy and skip into school every day. Long may it continue.......10/10 for the schools in Ireland so far...W

Friday, September 20, 2013

I'm Sorry, Irish style

Well, we're back in Ireland 6 weeks now and are love love lovin' it. This is partly helped by the fact that the weather has been glorious and also that we have probably picked the friendliest, liveliest and coolest town in Ireland, ie Clonakilty.
More anon, once I get a chance...
One little thing I had never really noticed before is that Irish people say sorry all the time. We are constantly apologising, like the Japanese bowing to everyone they meet , we say sorry at every encounter. The barman will say sorry when they run out of the guinness, people will assume responsibility for the weather and apologise for it, sorry for your troubles, sorry for having loads of groceries at the cashier in front of you, sorry for walking faster than you and passing you on the street, sorry for eating my bag of taytos too loudly, sorry sorry sorry. What are we all so sorry about? And if we're not saying sorry, we're saying thanks. Thanks a million, thanks thanks thanks.
No, Thank You!
Love it!

Ardal O'Hanlon (AKA Dougle) talks about Irish people saying sorry :

Monday, September 09, 2013

Get Real West Cork. I'm lovin' it

Our new local - Clonakilty

This is Ireland  

De Barras, famous music pub in Clonakilty

Our fave beach so far - Simon's Cove, view from smugglers cave

Welcome Home pressie. Wild Atlantic salmon

Present from the neighbours

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

The pull of Ireland

Guest post :
Brigitte from Brittany has this to say about our decision to move back to Ireland .....
I'm half-Irish/half-French and we moved to France in June 1996 with our three children for a new life in Brittany (where I was born). It was really "taking a blind leap" in those days, and even more difficult without internet to help you in those days.

Just like you, we had sold our house in Co Dublin and there was no going back. Even though I myself am half-French, it was a very difficult time settling in France, even though I had the advantage of having lived there up to the age of 17.  But still, the bureaucracy drove us crazy ("Vous avez un dossier"?). Dossier dossier, the favourite word of the French, right? You bring your car to the garage : "dossier". You go to buy a pair of glasses : "dossier". I'm sure you'll agree with me.

But there's always the pull of Ireland. There's no place like Ireland.  Landing at Dublin airport, or seeing the coast approach if you're on the ferry, how can one describe those emotions?! Ireland is not only a country, it's a person, that's the way I feel. I'd never feel that for France, even though my father was French and I was born there. 

So I totally understand your decision to move back to Ireland and well done on this hard decision which was not easy to take, I'm sure. You will appreciate Ireland all the more now, after your life in France. You will probably regret social security, and the wine  at 2.49€ (!), and the sun, but that's all, I'd say.  Your children will be happier in the Irish school system, which I now realise is not as stressful as the French system. Am I glad that my youngest has finished school, having just got her Bac, and that we don't have any more school-going children! The ongoing stress of the school marks, of the tests, the huge emphasis on maths, the long school days, the lack of personal development skills such as drama, sports, in schools, all that was wearying and I only realised that after moving to France.  Although I've just mentioned the negative aspects of the education system, it has to be said that we were able to put our children in very good schools for next to nothing, compared to the horrendous prices in Dublin, and they have been able to have good university education for also next to nothing!

Having said all that, we don't regret having moved to France (free education even up to third level, good health care), although we miss our family and friends in Ireland and going back on a visit is a tonic and the best medicine!

Having only now discovered your blog, I will read the other posts in it and wish you all the best in your move back. In your case, both of you are Irish, so I understand the pull back to Ireland. Your children are just at the right age for that decision. Our own children in 1996 when we moved to France were 7, 5 and 1, and we knew then, it was "now or never".  

All the very best, I hope you continue your blog, and also "bonne rentrée" in Ireland in September for your children!

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