Sunday, January 29, 2012

French ads Part V

For all my English friends...What do you think of this guys accent ??? And the catch phrase .. C'est Anglais, mais c'est bon !!!!




Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Want to look 10 years younger?

The Hamman experience
If you have never had a proper Hammam before, I highly recommend that you treat yourself , and treat yourself soon..the first time I ever indulged was in Paris at The Medina at 45 rue Petit in the 19th Arrondisement. On a girly weekend, we spent one wet and grey Sunday afternoon being pampered in this female oasis of femininity and relaxation.
What usually happens is you strip off to your swimmers and make your way to the steam room, where you hang out with your friends. It's female only, but there are certain days when the Hammam is mixed as well. The atmosphere is very chilled out and all the women are chatting quietly among themselves. You then lather yourself up in the savon noir before getting scrubbed down by a fat Arabic woman with a scratchy mitten. This is followed by a dip in a cold pool ( aie aie aie!!) and then you are enveloped in a special body wrap called gassoul followed by a deep massage. There is a quiet room lit by candles where you can relax and unwind , drink your mint tea and nibble on your oriental bon bons.
Total and utter bliss.
And it doesn't break the bank either with prices Starting at 39 euros for a "forfait classique"..
I'm not exaggerating when I say that I felt and looked 10 years younger on exiting. I've tried a few here in Perpignan and the best, by far is A Fleur D'eau at 14 rue Alfred Rives. Jean Michel is the head dude here, a trained osteopath, he truly does have magic hands.
Another good reason to visit us here in Perpignan!!!! 

Monday, January 23, 2012

I am the master of my fate

Watched the movie, Invictus last night,  in VO ( Version Originale) with Mr Getrealfrance .. he, of course loved it, all that male bonding, ugh ughing and macho rugby scenes. I must say, I am a total sucker when it comes to watching movies as we rarely watched tv as kids and I'm totally swept away by any stupid plot ( I have been known to cry at The Simpsons, for chrissake!)
As an aside, I don't think that Morgan Freeman's voice should ever be dubbed ... I've watched him in a few dubbed movies here in France and it is just not the same at all. "ça casse tout" as our polish friend Greg is fond of saying...
Anyway, here's the inspirational poem , Invictus by William Ernest Henley, which kept Nelson Mandela alive apparently, while imprisoned in South Africa for over 27 years .. I like it...

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Quotes of the week


A French guy who tagged along with my girlfriend and I as we ran around the lake " You guys are so easy to chat to. The French are not like that, they are very suspicious. Me, I'm a humanist. I talk to everyone. Even if you were 120 kilos, I would still talk to you" !! .. As if this was the worst thing he could think of .. not a mass murderer, a rapist or a drug trafficker....non, if you were fat, I'd still talk to you....weren't we the lucky ones ?!

I dropped in an Irish cheque to my bank this week, as I normally do, filling in the lodgement slip and dropping it into the allocated box in reception. A couple of hours later , Madame KnowItAll called me and I  was told that Irish cheques need a different lodgement slip which needs to verified by "la siège" ( head office). Ah bon, says I, but why now after 10 years of depositing cheques with you , do you ask for this? "Well madame, you see, Irish cheques are classified as International cheques as "Ireland is not in Europe". She could not be persuaded otherwise so I had to go back to the bank to sign the flippin bit of paper. On second thoughts , maybe she knows something that we don't? You heard it here first folks! Ireland is no longer in Europe....

I gave Mr Getrealfrance a loan of a book I got at Christmas, NLP, Neuro Linguistic Programming ( Think positive, Believe positive, Be positive etc). " Yeah, that shit is good, but NLP could never work in France"

Sarkozy ; the end of his chances of a second term? "If we lose the triple-A, I'm dead." Uh oh...

Friday, January 20, 2012

There's a New Bar in Town


Irish bars abroad are, generally, to be avoided, unless you want to watch a hurling or rugby match or pine for a pint of guinness, which never really tastes the same outside of Ireland! Full of clichéd memorabilia , shamrocks and guinness signs, they usually lack the most essential ingredient, ie Irish people who make the other essential ingredient ; the craic!
So , it is with bated breath that we await the opening of O'Flahertys Pub in Perpignan , 27 ave General LECLERC ( Parallel to Bd Clemenceau). The guy who is taking it over has gone to Ireland to soak up the culture and to learn how to properly pull a pint of guinness. It promises to be a real Irish pub with a real Irish ambience, so I guess that means that we'll have to get our asses down there lively!
Opening on the 17 February, we wish them the best of luck .
Go n'éirí an t-ádh libh lads ( that's Good Luck in Irish!) Looking forward to a creamy one!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Baking for Idiots - Fool Proof Cake


Hands up, I can't bake and after posting a "baking for idiots" appeal a few weeks ago, I received loads of recipes from readers which I am going to try one by one ...
This one came from Rachel Treloar of Domaine Treloar , the most exciting vineyard in the Roussillon .. She herself is another one of my good friends who effortlessly turns out delicious baking creations while I look on in awe ( and then help scoff!!)
I've tried and tested this one and it's the first cake I've ever made that actually worked and looked and tasted like a cake on completion! Hurray! If you follow the directions to the letter, I think you'll find this one really is foolproof:

Sharons's Never Fail Sponge Cake

It really is easy but when making any sponge or whipped white egg mixture make sure you have a really clean bowl and get the measurements correct. 
Preheat oven to 180
4 eggs
6 oz of cornflour (mais)
1 heaped tsp Baking powder  (they come in little sachets here)
6 oz sugar
1 heaped tablespoon (1 desert spoon) of plain flour
2 tablespoons of boiling water
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract/essence

Separate eggs and beat egg whites until stiff with electric egg beater
Add boiled water at boiling point to the mixture while still beating
Add sugar gradually while still beating and keep beating until the sugar has disappeared as such or fine
Add egg yolks and vanilla essence and keep beating
Remove beater
Sift cornflour, flour and baking powder and mix bit by bit folding it with a fork into the batter until the flour mixture and the batter are all one 
Pour into two cake tins which are lined with greaseproof paper – très important. 
Bake at 180 for 25mins – at least until the wooden kebab skewer comes out clean.

Et Voilà!!!! Now, to work, it's my little sister's birthday today and I have a cake to make!

Ladies of the Night



Last week, after a visit to the cinema with a girl friend, she hopped into my car and I drove her to her car a few hundred metres away. We chatted in my car for a few minutes saying goodbye, when suddenly, there was a knock on the car window. The two of us jumped out of our skins before realising that we were being propositioned by a dirty old man. Unwittingly, we had parked up in an area known for soliciting, and in Perpignan, the ladies of the night like to hang out in their own cars. We belted him with our handbags and hightailed it out of there - the cheek of him!!
Prostitution is not illegal in France , although brothels ( maisons closes) and advertising your wares are .. most prostitutes do their business out of their parked car, very discreetly, or in their vans as is the case in Lyon:
Prostitutes in Lyon doing their business in vans
When au pairing as a teen in Lorient, I happened to be in the bank one day when this gorgeous glamorous lady dressed in furs sashayed into the bank and was met with respect and deference. My eyes boggled as I was informed me that she was a "madame" and a very weathly one too, living in one of the most bourgeouis neighbourhoods in town. 
There isn't the same taboo about prostitution in France as there is in other European countries .. the "traditional" sex worker is a part of society, the French "Fille de Joie" holding her own place in France's cultural heritage ( and in every french town!). In fact, a traditional independent "madame" can make up to 500euros per day..
France does pride itself on being relaxed about sexual practices and the oldest profession in the world is allowed within certain parameters. However, there are moves to change all this as France's parliament has backed a proposal to fight prostitution by making payment for sex a crime punishable by fines and prison.
There is, of course a darker side to the romantic 'Pretty Woman" image and with over 30,000 working in the sex industry (80% of these estimated to be foreigners), one wonders would new legislation just make the industry go deeper into the very seedy underworld?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mass in Perpignan


New Years Resolutions, I have a few .. one is to stop throwing my eyes up to heaven, which is a seriously annoying habit I've picked up, especially since I've come to France. With my 6 year old daughter punctuating every sentence with an exaggerated adolescent eye roll, it's time to stop!!
Another one is to inject a bit of culture into my life; cinema, exhibitions,books, theatre, yadda yadda yadda dahling .. it's all on our doorstep here and sometimes for free. With this in mind, I headed off last Sunday to the Cathedral in Perpignan to hear a rendition of Benjamin Britten’s “Ceremony of Carols” by a local choral company from Banyuls. Off I marched last Sunday frosty night and with all the philistines in my house cuddling in on the couch to watch The Simpsons, I knew I was going to enjoy a fabulous evening of highbrow music.
The cosy philistines had their last laugh. The carols weren't on. Mass was. And, as I had positioned myself at the top of the church in order to hear the acoustics better ( I take my New Years Resolutions very seriously!!), there was no way out. I had to sit through an hour and a half of being lectured to by a man in cloth. DIFFICILE.
For us, living in France , it's time to make a decision whether to go down the Catholicism road or not. Our kids go to public schools which are non denominational. If they want to be good little Catholics, they have to go to Sunday school and do extra studies for their Communion and Confirmation etc. If we were living in Ireland, to be honest, we'd probably just go with the flow and fall in with the Catholic school curriculum but here it's decision time. DIFFICILE?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Where is it?

Where in the PO is this?
Castellers doing their amazing human pyramids.



An amazing team sport of trust, strength and balance. See this video filmed in Barcelona:
Events are held throughout the year here in the PO, not to be missed!!! 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Des Dames Qui Dînent Club



Ok, here's the deal, we have a Dames Qui Dînent ( Ladies Who Lunch) lunch out once a month on a dedicated day , eg last Friday of every month. Those that can make it, can make it ... doesn't have to be an expensive restaurant, doesn't even have to be in a restaurant, could be a picnic on a beach or a tasting in a vineyard, tapas in Spain or cheese and crackers on top of a mountain...
We'll review the food and eventually as the media snowball starts, we'll become infamous reviewers and people will be begging us to review their restaurants. A la Sex and the City, they'll be throwing designer handbags and high heels and clobber at us for the shoot.
We dress up and We make it a date. The Ladies Who Lunch Club...
Who's up for it?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cantona for President?



The Presidential Race begins here in France in earnest as prospective candidates start throwing their names in the hat. The election will be held on the 22 April AND the 6 May. Yes, they have two voting days ; the first is the whittle the nominations down to a few candidates and the second date to vote for the favourites.
Today , Eric Cantona, ex Man United football star announced his intention to run for presidency .. so is this election going to be as farcical as the last Irish presidential campaign?
To recap, last year, the 7 candidates for the Irish presidency looked as follows:
  • A self made business man who, during a very important last minute debate, was ruled out of the race with a live accusation from an anonymous tweeter
  • A past Eurovision song contest winner
  • A man resembling a leprechaun
  • A known terrorist ( now Deputy first minister of Ireland)
  • A gay activist
  • A lady known for wearing red dresses
  • A seriously boring politician
    (No, this is not a Craggy Island scene, you couldn't make this up!!)
The race for this ceremonial position (the president of Ireland does not really have any power) was as dirty and below the belt as you can get, with accusations, skeleton closet digging and all kinds of underhand tactics being employed.
The leprechaun won.
So, there may be hope for Cantona yet .. first of all he has to obtain the support of 500 mairies in France which is a prerequisite for the race, and after that , who knows??

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Lose weight? You Know DuKan Do It





The Dukan Diet has been around for over 30 years, promoted by  nutritionist  Pierre Dukan. His book, The Dukan Diet published in 2000 has remained on the best seller list in France since publication. Similar to the Atkins Diet, the Dukan diet promotes eating a diet rich in proteins, it's a diet that is immensely popular in France and has spawned many websites, blogs and shops.
Dukan is in the news at the moment, as he suggested that losing weight should be on the school curriculum, even a subject for the Baccalaureat!!  In an open letter to Sarko, he proposed that there should be a subject called "Ideal weight" which students can pass purely by obtaining their ideal weight. It has of course, created widespread uproar and debate.
Intrigued, I got on to his website and entered my details. I'm 5'10" ( 178cm) and weigh in at 10.5 stone. I'm happy with my weight and my BMI ( Body Mass Index) is normal. According to Dukan, though, I could do with losing a few pounds and he, of course has the plan for me. 
How flipping dangerous is this for young teenagers who are obsessed about how they look and weigh? Even more dangerous in France, a country where one can never be too thin.. my 6 week old little girl was told to go on a diet by our doctor, FFS!
The media have of course pounced on this outrageous suggestion and like the La Redoute scandal, the story has gone viral on the Internet. One has to ask is this the new PR/marketing ploy à la Mr O'Leary .. All PR is good PR and let's just shock 'em into media coverage with crazy stunts?
After all, had you ever heard of Dukan before you read this article?

Thursday, January 05, 2012

La Redoute Scandal

The photograph that is causing the scandal :
La Redoute, one of the largest mail order catalogue stores in France, recently published this photo as part of their campaign .. 4 children dressed in summer clothes running happily towards the camera on a sunny beach.
In the background, one can clearly see a naked man.
Come on, how did this get past editing?
Bad buzz for La Redoute or a very clever PR campaign?
The internet certainly has gone into nude man overdrive. He is everywhere...



Snigger snigger

Fancy a joint?


Le Perthus is a funny little French town on the border of France and Spain. The main street is bisected by the border line so that half the street is in France and the other half in Spain.
The Spanish half is devoted to the sale of booze, fags and stuff that is much cheaper in Spain. Le Perthus is open 365 days of the year catering for mainly French bargain hunters who swarm down to buy their ciggies and booze in bulk.
The latest draw for the French public is a number of specialised shops : L'Elefant Rosa, Maria Grow Shop and Design: Nova Store .. selling cannabis products.
Relying on the relaxed Spanish regulations, these shops sell everything one needs to set up a cannabis farm .. the LED lights, the cannabis tents, cannabis seeds, special fertilisers, irrigation techniques etc etc and their main clients are Les Francais..
It's difficult to estimate how many "cannabiculteurs" there are in France. In Spain, one is allowed to grow and consume only for own use and not for resale but in France, a drag of a doobie could get you in serious trouble with the law.
Obviously the 30 year old lady from Le Soler didn't think so when she reported the theft of her cannabis plants last year from her garden to the gendarmes. She was detained by the police and insisted the plants were for her own use and that she bought the plants in Le Perthus!! She eventually got off with a warning , much to the amusement of the gendarmes in Le Soler!
All sorts of cannabis products are also for sale even Cannabis lollipops ... just be sure your children don't get their hands on those ones!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

French Ads Part IV

Another good one - My Mommy said that I could ....


Maman-a-dit-je-peut par dafy14

Good Bye to our oldest lady



The oldest lady in France, who was born in 1898 and lived in a nursing home here in Argeles Sur Mer passed away this New Years Day 2012
A life straddling 3 centuries, she lived to be a whopping 113 years and 282 days. Married twice, she never had any children and according to the staff at the nursing home, died peacefully , with a smile and no regrets.
In her life, she had known 19 presidents of the Republic, 9 popes, the arrival of such things as the fridge, television, paid leave (1936), the ancient franc, the new franc and the euro.
May you Rest in Peace, Marcelle Narbonne. 

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Eager to get back to school


Today is La Rentrée for us in France; Back to School and Reality after the silly season. Nearly a relief to be honest after two weeks of late nights partying, pigging out and guzzledom..The kids, who have been up at the crack of dawn every day of the holidays had to be shoe horned out of their cosy beds this morning of course ..
Spare a thought for one poor young fella in Carcassonne who, yesterday morning stood , all alone outside his school waiting for it to open at dark thirty in the morning.
At 4 years of age, he had made his way to school and was waiting there patiently until somebody raised the alarm. The police were called and eventually escorted him back to his own house. "My Mom works all the time while my Dad sleeps" the little chap informed the police..
A wake up call for Daddy?

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