Our French Life, Our School Life

What If?

noodle cake

So, it’s my son’s 14th birthday today! His first birthday living in a different country. Who would have thought? I remember saying to him in Year 2, walking to school, one day we might live in France. In fact, I remember saying it to his teachers (who were glazing over no doubt) and still being there in Y5 and then Y6 in primary. Then onto secondary Y7, Y8… Continue reading “What If?”

Our Review Life

Beauchêne Christmas Lights


Okay so I know Christmas has been and gone and it all feels like a distant memory but I wanted to share these wonderful pictures of the lights at Beauchêne.

Beauchêne is in the Orne region of Normandy – we live in the Manche region. However, like a lot of things here, it was only a 35 minute drive away and we were told that we must see these Christmas lights.


By the way, here’s a link to all the village lights in this region and by all accounts you can get a free bus tour http://villagesillumines.fr/

What I love about France is that you can go and do things that don’t cost you a lot as a family. However, more than that, as I’m not famous for counting the pennies – it feels more natural and less pressurised. Even the Christmas decorations don’t get put up until well into December. I love that. Christmas in December. Who would have thought?!

Getting myself some Christmas Spirit

This is very different to the UK where people are squealing about it in August when you still haven’t unpacked the clothes from your summer holidays.  As soon as the kids are back to school in September, Wham! The shelves are being filled with Christmas stock and the Christmas music is being played. It ruins it for me. It makes it less special.

I also find family days out in the UK are very contrived – there’s a need to do stuff or maybe a pressure? Maybe life is so stressful and full on that this is the only thing (and a summer holiday) that people can look forward to? A reward if you like. I’m not sure.

30 years of serving the community

All I know is, there feels a pressure to go and do things that are bigger and better than the outings before, but in doing so it feels forced. Granted there are lots of things to do in London at Christmas time. You can go to Winter Wonderland. Personally, I couldn’t think of anything worse on this one. Everyone trying to capture the spirit of Xmas in a heaving atmosphere of overpriced booze, food and the kids whingeing about the tube journey and the smell of London. Not for me.

Inside the church – mmm maybe shouldn’t have taken a picture!

Then there’s Father Christmas at Harrods (which you have to book in August), wander around Convent Garden and take the kids to a show – which will set you back over £100 and again, you’ll have to book way in advance. I’m sure mums are probably planning days out now for Christmas time.


I’ve done a lot of these days out. I too have been sucked into the Christmas Vortex experience. I took the kids to Copenhagen last year for goodness sake! Yes, pot and kettle spring to mind. Tivoli gardens and yes it was fantastic! I’ve been on the Bluebell Railway at Xmas, admired the Christmas lego displayed in Convent garden and then gone onto the Transport museum (a must actually).

Not a real woman I might add

The closest we got to a really relaxed Christmas outting was at Hever Castle where we walked around the grounds at night time. There were hardly any people (it was their first year of doing this), there were camels, donkey’s etc telling the Christmas story and we saw the big man himself at the end – not Jesus but the man in his coca cola suit. I think it was just over £80 for the five of us.

So, last year was totally different. Our first Christmas in France.  We took the kids to see these wonderful lights on Christmas Eve and it really was a relaxed affair. There were lots of people who come from a far to see this impressive display created by the villagers.


There were no parking fees, no entrance fee (a donation if you liked), there was the stable with the animals and the church was open. They had carols playing and if you wanted something to eat there was a small stand selling some crepes and a few drinks. That was it. No fun fair, no waltzers, no balloons being sold and it was lovely. Who knows maybe by next year I’ll be chomping at the bit for some razzmatazz at Christmas and won’t be happy until I part with 100 euros. For now, I’m liking this just fine.


I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as we enjoyed visiting these lights and Happy New year!

Or as they say in these ‘ere parts Bonne annee!


Our French Life, Our Renovation Life

The Magic Roundabout

The enigma that is Enedis

That would be getting yourself some electricity here in France. Now, our house did not have any water, electric, mains drainage or a telephone line. Am I selling you the dream yet? We don’t live off the beaten track or a few roads off the main track. We live on the track.  We are the last house in a village of over 500 residents and it’s on a main D road.  Positively urban in Normandy terms. Continue reading “The Magic Roundabout”

our relocation life

Top 10 Tips For Relocating


Okay so everyone loves a Top Ten don’t they? So here’s mine, on your essential checklist, when moving to France.

1.  Have a Massive Clear Out of Gigantic Proportions

Obvious. You’d think. I did about 20 bags and felt pretty smug if truth be told. I started at the top of the house and worked my way down. We then hired a skip and cleared out the loft and yes you’d think that would be enough. Wrong. Do it again and then repeat this about 5 more times.  Continue reading “Top 10 Tips For Relocating”

Our French Life

Now We’re Cooking With Gas!

True Love

Well not entirely. The hobs are gas and the oven is electric. Having spent months cooking with a crappy gas oven which had one setting = #1 burn this has been an absolute delight to cook with. I cannot tell you how frustrating it was to cook with a gas oven. I don’t really see the point of having a top and bottom shelf in a gas oven. The middle shelf is your only hope of something remotely resembling what it’s meant to and just estimate an hour for everything. 20 minute pizza = one hour, 15 minute cupcakes = one hour. So yes, this bad boy has been a very welcome addition to life in France.  I hadn’t realised people have so much oven envy until I popped a picture up on my facebook. Continue reading “Now We’re Cooking With Gas!”

Our Renovation Life


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I don’t think I’ve ever stopped using this phrase from the Watergate scandal. Sorry. Not sorry.  Anything that involves aggro and makes for good evening entertainment fodder means __________ (insert word) and then add the word ‘gate’. Anyone over the age of 40 should get it but depending on their general knowledge, this might result in a tumbleweed moment. Do other people do this? Or maybe I should ask doesn’t everyone do this? Or maybe I need some 21st century sayings that anyone under the age of 30 will get? I digress. Get on with it. So what is this #fossegate you speak of? Continue reading “#FosseGate”

Our School Life

What Colour Is Your Stationery Badge?

If you’re moving to France with kids then you need to get yourself acquainted with stationery and lots of it.  I’m not talking about your light weight WH Smith range I’m talking about hard-core stationery that you never even knew existed! If you’re into a bit of stationery then you will love France. I’d go so far as to say you will need a stationery cupboard at home. There I’ve said it. They don’t mention that on their renovating forums now do they?

This is just for my youngest going into CE1 (aka year 1 but really Year 3 in UK)

Continue reading “What Colour Is Your Stationery Badge?”

Our French Life


Literally translated this means ‘meal’ and is a social event in your commune/village. During the summer months, you will see many a sign for Repas, practically in every village you drive through.  They’ll have bunting out, a big banner telling you the date it’s on and what they will be dishing up. Maybe moules and frites, jambon and frites, porc and frites (seeing a theme here) and so on.

Now, I didn’t know what to expect at a Repas, if truth be told turning up for one can be a little daunting for a newcomer and one that doesn’t speak much French at that. But I would recommend it to anyone looking to settle and integrate into the community. Continue reading “Repas”

Our Review Life

Zoo de Champrépus


Now, when I say in French we are going to the ‘zoo’, I get really puzzled looks . Much the same way I do when, just when I think I’m rocking this French malarkey, I churn out a sentence and the person I’m speaking to crumples their face up like a piece of paper whilst taking a few steps backwards. There is no disguising that they just don’t get what I’m saying.  Not at all. Continue reading “Zoo de Champrépus”

Our French Life

Mobile Woes

Now most people’s mobile phones are surgically attached to their hands.  You don’t leave home without it.  It’s your little computer, social contact, entertainment centre and if all else fails it can make phone calls. When moving to France, I did not consider for one moment, that obtaining a mobile reception would be a problem. In my ‘moving to France’ to do list, this did not even feature.  Continue reading “Mobile Woes”