6th December 2014
I have always felt that one of the advantages to living here in France and having to organise two sets of shopping trips, one for the family and another for my French friends, is that I am forced to get myself organised for the holiday season weeks in advance.
I have had a few really hard drives out to Cambrai in dreadful conditions trying to deliver presents just before Christmas so if possible I like to give myself some alternative dates.
That means getting to England for a pre-holiday family get-together when Anton and Debs are having one of their rare day’s off, ensemble, early in December.
It is possible to go shopping in Bluewater without feeling like a salmon battling the current. In many respects these days I only have one real reason for going to Bluewater. They have an HMV. Music CDs are half the price in the UK compared with French prices, even with the current strength of the pound against the Euro. With special offers and targeted purchases I can save a tidy sum. As for DVDs, I picked up Season 3 of Grimm for about sixteen quid which was a marked improvement on the nearly forty Euros on amazon.fr. Still comes with the French soundtrack, mind.
For once I was well organised. Armed with my Nexus7 I had a shopping list made up of items for perusal and their French prices.
It also contained the chart reminding me of how many puddings, packs of mince, pipes, boxes of biscuits, Haggi and swede I needed to buy. Don’t forget custard (the French equivalent which they call an English cream is like water). Wandering around M&S I reckoned that the prices were going to be pretty much the same as Sainsbury’s so I decided to start there. Biscuits, tick and highlight, Christmas puddens, tick and highlight. The man in front of us at the till was most impressed by my organisation. Didn’t like to tell him that I was as well. At home I rarely shop with a list. I work on the male theory that if I go in mumbling “toothbrush, toothbrush” I’ll actually remember to buy one. Most of the time it works. I just forget that I also needed bread and milk.
11th January 2015
No snow to talk of so far this winter but we have had storm after storm. Going over for Anton’s birthday was no exception. Lovely morning, but the drive up the coast was a hang on to the steering wheel job.
I had had the choice between the two weekends 10/11th and 17/18th. The first being Anton’s birthday the second, dad’s 85th. A celebration not to be missed. It might have been blowing a gale but I did manage to arrive. The following week there was a fire on a lorry and the tunnel was chaos all weekend.
Nigel and Lauren came down from the Midlands, and mum and dad wound their way around a partially closed M25. Coming from France, I was the first to arrive.
The two birthday boys got presents and the rest of us well fed and watered.
Part of our entertainment was watching one of the neighbour’s trees quite obviously crack in the storm that was blowing and slowly incline into one of the other trees. Would it fall, when will it fall. It became hard to tear your eyes away for fear of missing the what seemed inevitable moment.
We were, however to be disappointed. However it had come to rest against the other seemed to provide enough support to keep it upright even if dangerously inclined.
When we weren’t watching the neighbour’s tree we let Marlow chase the chicken. Fair enough the chicken is in fact a duck, but then ducks do not usually fly into walls.
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The drive back on the Monday night was one of the hairiest I have had in years. I don’t mind driving in a string wind but this one was coming with gusts of up to 120 kph making it tricky not to over compensate for the effect on the steering. At times, as I turned away from the coast, the car would suddenly go from 80 kph to 120 kph within seconds, simply because I was no longer driving into the wind but driving with it.
By the time I reached home my arms felt as though they had been for a work out in the gym.