Thursday, August 29, 2013

Going away song

Arrived to a dinner party to find this bunch of lunatics.... my going away song from France. What a great bunch of girls! 
Made it all that harder to leave!!!
Bring on the trip to Ireland!!!!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

French Foodie in Dublin

French native Ketty Elisabeth tells us about her love affair with Ireland in her guest blog post
Dublin's fair city
Ireland was supposed to be a 6 to 12 months period of my life. However, after just 4 weeks I met my fiancé and never left.
I fell in love with the country and especially Irish people. They’re laid-back, easy-going, chatty and know how to have fun. It was such a breath of fresh air moving from Paris to Dublin and life was much easier all of a sudden: no smelly metro, no grumpy people and no nightmare bureaucracy. I was amazed at how easy it was to rent a flat, set up a PPS number and do other administrative things that are such a hassle in France. I was totally living the Celtic Tiger dream back in 2004!
I made many expat friends in my first few years in Ireland, unlike me they didn’t have Irish partners and decided to leave, it was very difficult for me at this stage. They couldn’t stand the weather, the drinking culture, the food, the expensive cost of living or they just didn’t want to be foreigners anymore. Locals have their childhood friends, do stuff with them after work or go home to their families at the weekends which make it difficult to make real friends sometimes.
Now it’s different and easier as I get older. I don’t know people who leave every week anymore and I have friends with Irish other halves who I’m sure won’t leave the country. Being engaged to an Irish man certainly helps me feel more at home and more integrated. I’ve now made Ireland my home, feel I belong here and I’m never homesick. I don’t mind if the weather isn’t great and I miss Ireland when I’m away. I feel a connection to this little island that I don’t have with France anymore. Somehow I’m always reminded I’m not from here but I have to get on with it. People ask me the same questions; ‘Do you like it here?’ or ‘Do you go home often?’, I often get ‘Welcome to Ireland’ from the garda at Dublin passport control or people ask me if I’m on holiday. I wonder if I’ll still get this in 15 years’ time or when I’ll have my little Irish kids with me.
France lacks of craic. People complain a lot, seem unhappy and don’t seem to enjoy the little things in life. I don’t miss the use of the ‘vous’, people giving out about the heat, French men who chat you up in a vulgar way, skinny women who just eat salads, people analysing the way you dress, the French management style and so on. Sometimes I think about the food and the healthcare with nostalgia but that’s about it. Of course I miss my family and friends but not to the point where I’d want to move back.
I think you’re dead right to be back in Ireland. The rainbows, the atmosphere of the pubs, the Irish wit, the work mentality, the beautiful landscapes and your family are only a few of the reasons why you should be happy to return. I still wonder how you managed to cope with the French for so long.
I wish you the best of luck and a very happy life in Ireland!

French Foodie in Dublin, Ketty, blogs here on
She has also just set up her French Foodie tours in Dublin which I am looking forward to trying out when up in the big smoke. You can book a tour here

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Taking the leap - moving back to Ireland

Article on the Irish Times today

Au revoir France
They say moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do, after death and divorce. We made the decision early this year to leave our beloved France with our two children and head back “home” to Ireland, a country where we haven’t actually lived in for over 16 years.
The decision was a difficult one as France has been good to us and we have no regrets. Where we are living is probably one of the most beautiful places in Europe, with the Med and the mountains within spitting distance.
Yet, at the end of the day, it’s just not home. We have a close network of expat friends whom we get on very well with, but most will eventually leave here. We are constantly saying goodbye to good friends. We swear we will stay in contact, but rarely do.
Our French friends are equally lovely, but they never really let you in. We’ve had hundreds of nights out with them, perfectly staged dinner parties with exquisite food and wines to match, but at the end of the evening we’d often realise we had had little craic.
Our decision to leave was made in the depths of a very bad French winter. Personally and professionally we both felt held back and unfulfilled. Trying to run a business here in France is like beating your head against a brick wall while the French bureaucrats watch, mocking and deriding you. It really is that bad.
You realise pretty quickly that France only plays lip service to Europe and in reality does it’s own thing which reeks of protectionism and cronyism. On one occasion as we tried to get a business off the ground, our Irish MEP, Brian Crowley, took our case to the Minister of Justice because he felt we were being discriminated against as they were refusing to recognise my accountancy qualifications. France’s answer to the problem was to change the law, so I had to have a French baccalaureat (equivalent of Leaving Cert) to work in my chosen field.
All that aside, life in France has been mostly good and we have been extremely happy here. Now, as the mercury begins to rise, the doubts about our decision, in direct correlation, are too. I’ve had sleepless nights wondering are we doing the right thing for the children, now aged six and eight, who are now completely and naturally bilingual. Will they fit into the Irish culture? How will they cope with the drinking culture in Ireland when they reach their teenage years, and will my daughter want to start dressing like a pop star once she hits Irish shores? Will we be able to handle the terrible weather?
Our beautiful house with it’s happy memories of all the people who have visited us and the fun we have had, has gone under the hammer and we must leave in a couple of days.
We will miss the sunshine, the wine, the food, and our circle of lovely friends, but for all that, Ireland still beckons. It takes time living away from Ireland to fully appreciate how warm, lovely, helpful and genuine Irish people are. “There are plenty of assholes in Ireland too,” my father warned me when I broke the news of our return, and we know that we’re not going to have 320 days of sunshine. Yet, we want our children to be Irish, to have that Irish sense of humour, to have a healthy working mentality and to be surrounded by our extended family. We want to be there for the good times and the bad. In a morbid way, I want to be there for funerals, for sicknesses and the tough times as well as the celebrations and the good times.
It’s au revoir France for now. Yikes!

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