Our French Life

The One With Second Degree Burns – Part I

toffee apples
Never. Ever. Make these.

So I have Je me suis brûlée les doigts or J’ai brûlée mes doigts but never, I have been reliably informed,  Je me suis brûlée mes doigts I’m pretty sure I used a mixture of the two and yes, I kind of understand why you would say, “the fingers” when you’ve already said it’s happened to you as in Je me suis. But ultimately, when I held my fingers up heavily bandaged, this transcended any grammatical errors. That and saying it was hot sugar to which the clever Frenchies proclaimed “caramélisé?!”. Prior to that it hadn’t occurred to me to give boiling hot sugar its correct term. They stopped short of calling me an Fffing idiot.

Now on the face of it, if you have only just discovered my blog, you might well be forming the opinion that this move has been one disaster after the other.  Or even that I might be a bit, shall we say, unfortunate. Maybe we have had our fair share of ups and downs but I am still clinging to the fact that these things happen and 1) people don’t normally write about them and 2) it’s just more entertaining as a reader when it’s happening to me and in a different country.

So the reason being for my enforced absence has been the fact I could not type.  It was Fireworks night back on the 5th November (remember remember). Last year was pretty manic and with the risk of being a little Englander – I thought I’d ask our Mairie if we could launch a few fireworks.

Actually, this came about as my lovely old neighbour had found (who finds fireworks just before the 5th November in France?! Err she does!) some. So this was the whole driving force. I had some fireworks like who wouldn’t want to set these off in November? This gal did.

I bypassed the forums through risk of the wrath. The cries of  “why on earth would you want to do this?” “you’re in France now” “why are you talking English?” “who are you even?”. Blah blah. You can read about my comprehensive character assignation of people on forums here. I decided to cut out the middle man and trotted down to the Mairie’s. I got the go ahead. I invited the neighbours. I even printed out the French version of what it was all about. And then did think…. mmmm maybe best not to give them a detailed account of why we burn an effigy of a Catholic, on a bonfire and set off fireworks. Yeah I just said it was national holiday – they don’t need to know the whole go Protestant thang.  I love living in France but I do miss fireworks night. I’ve always loved sharing it with the kids and I was going to go all on out to make this one special. How? By making toffee apples of course.

penny for the guy 1
Yeah come to think of it explaining the whole burning a Catholic thang might prove tricky – plus I’m actually disappointed he never blew up the Houses of Parliament.

By the way, I’ve already been to the dentist recently to get a partial broken tooth repaired – seaweed nut. But they were for the kids. I could take them to the dentist with broken teeth instead of me, as taking my son to have his knees scanned (last week) is just too relaxing. I need to visit more public services to give you all a good rounded account of what to expect.

Digressing as ever. Then I was told the whereabouts of a shop that sold fireworks all year round. Not only that I only went and found some sparklers. Granted they were of the small variety that are meant for cakes. However, my friend came up with genius idea of putting them into carrots to give the kids extra non-burn protection.

I than decided to invite two couples and their kids, buy burgers, sausages and potatoes and that little fireworks party morphed into something much bigger.

Electrical cables – woods all around and a donkey. Perfect for fireworks.

It only dawned on me prior to the night, that we have dangerous electrical cables above our garden and the neighbours donkey was in the next field. Details. Mere Details. I popped over to 1) invite them and 2) ask if they thought the donkey would survive our fireworks. We were given the thumbs up. There is no health and safety here – donkeys and electrical cables #shrug –  we were good to go.

Anyhow, the night before I youtubed “how to make toffee apples”. Yarp can do this. So I was in the process of making them and everything was going to plan. And I quote when Mr Normandy entered the kitchen “this is an accident waiting to happen!” chortle chortle. Yeah well I wasn’t laughing 10 minutes from saying that. Being a total dick I decided to pop the boiling caramel into a plastic zippy bag. Someone later said to me “why didn’t you just leave it in the pan and then add water – it would have reverted back to liquid?” But that’s what a well educated person would have done. Eighties education was messed up – that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

I was too busy – I thought got myself some brownie points here – no hard caramel down the fosse for Mr Normandy. No sooner had the smug thought crossed my mind.. the bag slipped and the hot caramel poured over my two fingers.

Oh my gawd. The bag was dropped onto the floor, sending the rest all over the kitchen, over the floor and up the units. No word of a lie I’ve never felt pain like it and I’ve had 3 kids. Granted all C-sections but first one was full on labour. The last one was pretty horrific – the spinal block wore off after an hour and I lay there for another hour while they were pulling up my stomach and other stuff (separating scar tissue from bowel and bladder) you don’t want to feel. I know what pain is (in my best Forest Gump voice) and this was worse.

I got to the cold water tap well under 5 seconds and later soaked it in ice. The worse pain was it coming out of the iced water. I didn’t know what to do with myself – I couldn’t cry as it was too painful to cry – that came later. Anyhow, Mr Normandy wrapped it in clingfilm and after about an hour or so the pain subsided a little. That night I said “I have so much respect for burns victims” to which Mr Normandy replied “are you seriously comparing yourself to a proper burns victim like Simon Weston?”. Point taken. Man up.

The next day (and look away now), the day of my grand fireworks night, my ‘blisters’ began to grow and grow.


The show must go on and whilst my fingers did feel like they were going to explode – the semi-safe display went ahead and a good time was had by all.  However, my well-meaning friends insisted that I go to the local hospital the next day. I begrudging agreed to forgo the weekly shop. The next day I experienced the first part of my introduction to the French bedside manner à l’hôpital.

Stay tuned for Part II…

You have been reading Our Normandy Life.



7 thoughts on “The One With Second Degree Burns – Part I”

  1. Another cracker madame; merci from an Englishman in Pas de Calais. Our 14 juillet fireworks are a riot of fun but I have never thought about a 5 november event-it’s too close to 11 novembre and then Beaujolais night. Hope the fingers improve and I look forward to part 2. (Did the donkey make it OK?)


    1. Thank you so much David! Hope you are enjoying the Pas de Calais a lot further up than us here in Normandie. I don’t blame you re 5th – I think it may have been our first and last. The fingers have improved massively thank you and the donkey did survive – Olive is alive and well.


  2. Oh dear. I laughed out loud at the bit about your pre-firework health and safety risk assessment – not so much about the burnt fingers. I’m guessing that in part two that ring is cut of – or did you sacrifice the finger to save the ring?


    1. Hi Emma – you guess right! Am about to write ti now – and thankfully I still have all my fingers in tact!


  3. I love your blog it’s so entertaining.
    We have had a house in Normandy for 18 years now but never made the final jump across from Blighty..still commute! Now retired but family in U.K. hold our heart ties to persuade us to keep a base here.
    I was horrified to see all your blisters it made me feel quite queasy. I hope that you recover soon x


    1. Hi Lynne – thank you that’s very nice to hear and I’m glad people enjoy it. I love writing it. Fab that you have a home here – I can imagine if you have strong family ties it’s not an easy move to make and if it works for you then you have the best of both worlds! My fingers are 100 x better thank you!


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