23 November, 2010

Flooded and Spoilt

And I don’t mean the weather, although we’ve had plenty of rain recently, and there have been quite a lot of little floods on the road. The River Nith in Dumfries hasn’t burst its banks yet, so we haven’t officially had proper flooding yet!

No, it’s not the weather, it’s the car.

I made a complete fool of myself yesterday. I felt like a pathetic, girly wuss.

Frazer was here for the weekend, and yesterday morning he headed off to work, as he had to do a site visit not far from here. As I was leaving to go to work, got into the car as normal, and tried to turn it on. Nothing. This is my nice, new car remember, so to say I was annoyed is putting it lightly. I thought it was the battery, so I called Frazer, who came back to try to jump start it. The last time I needed a jump start I discovered that there are loads of men, some living in my street, who don’t know how to do it! Incredible really. Every man should at least know how to ump start a car. Anyway, I digress…

The jump start didn’t work, and we decided that the battery was fine after all. I then called the autocare plan I have with the dealership where I got the car, and they said they’d send someone out.

An hour or so later, the nice AA man arrived (no, not Alcoholics Anonymous!). I explained what had happened, and he said he thought he knew what it was. He got into the car, turned on the ignition, and floored the accelerator until it started. Apparently the engine was just flooded. He asked me if I’d been anywhere the day before, or if I had just moved the car. I had only moved it, because we had spent Sunday afternoon cleaning the cars, and they were lovely and pristine! He said it’s a common fault in Vauxhalls, that if you start the engine and then stop it again within a few seconds, the engine floods, and because you haven’t let the engine run, it doesn’t un-flood. Not one I’ve ever heard of before – it never happened with the Corsa, and we had that for 13yrs. Anyway, he said that to sort it out you just put your foot down on the accelerator pedal and don’t pump it.

I felt such a fool. I buggered up Frazer’s work day and he had to resort meetings etc, I called an AA man out, and I was 2½ hours late for work, which I have since had to make up. All because the engine was flooded. He did say that he gets called out a lot for the same fault though.

So, not a good start to the week.

However, the end of the week should more than make up for it. After work on Friday, I am getting the train up to Glasgow to meet Frazer. Isla is staying over at her best friend’s house, and we are having a proper, grown up night out. I’ve never been to Glasgow, other than the airport, so I’m really looking forward to it.

Frazer told me he’d booked a cheap hotel for the night, which I was perfectly happy with, but then he told me he hadn’t actually booked that one, but the Grand Central Hotel instead! It’s seriously posh and smart, and I am so excited! We’re going out with some friends of his for a smart dinner (I have been told no jeans! L), and then some Christmas shopping on the Saturday before we come home. Massively excited, I’ve never stayed in a really posh hotel before! No idea what we’re eating, will wait and see!

And meanwhile I am preparing for Christmas. I’ve got quite a few presents sorted, and will get Isla’s and Frazer’s at the end of this week. Not a clue what to get my parents, but I’m sure I’ll find something! We’ve got a wee while to go yet!


A more light hearted topic today – chavvy names people name their kids. I’ve been collecting the worst ones I’ve come across over the last few months, and some are truly awful! I have no idea where the parents find the names, or why they even think they are nice.

I think the easiest thing to do is list them and let you decide if you like them or not! Apologies to anyone whose kids’ names appear!






Braedigh (Brady)


Cayce (Casey)


D’Andre (pronounced dee-andray)




Acerjoe (I think a few people love their computers far too much!)




Ptolomy (maybe not chavvy but terrible anyway!)

Rubii (Ruby)



Nevaeh (Heaven backwards!)



Jazmine (not too bad as a rule, but never with a Z!)













Nimoy (maybe they didn’t like Spock?!)




Amoy (Stirfry anyone?!)








Neev (liked the name obviously but couldn’t spell it – it’s Niamh dimwits!)










And, of course, the old standbys…

Kayden and Jayden

What I can’t get over is the fact that some people like to name their kids perfectly nice, normal names, but for that little bit of “individuality” they muck about with the spelling – eg Emaleigh, Abygayle and Zakari - it's unique innit – what’s that all about? Perfectly good names until you mangled them! And adding “ii” onto the end of a name – unfortunately we have Jordan to thank for that with her Princess Tiaamii! Some of the names are clearly made up too.

I can’t understand why people would want to saddle their kids with appalling names. For example, how is Brie going to get on when she decides she wants to become a doctor or a solicitor? She’ll never be taken seriously! Dr Cheesey anyone? Or the Reverend Kayden? Or Destiny QC? Unfortunately, there is a section of our society that, in all probability, won’t get far in life, thanks to the names they have been saddled with by their parents. Thanks Mum and Dad, you ruined my dreams of becoming Prime Minister by naming me L’Mel!

I have looked at the top 100 baby names of 2010 for boys and for girls, and the vast majority of them are pretty normal. Some owe their origins to our multi-cultural society which is fair enough. And some are just simply awful.

What’s your opinion?

02 November, 2010

Britain vs France

It shouldn't come down to this, but it does, time and time again. This post is in support of a fellow blogger who feels that she has been forced to stop her blog, due to some small minded people who seem unable to accept that there is another viewpoint to their own. I have had similar trouble in the past because of cyber bullying, and am sad and disappointed tht one of my favurite blogs is no longer being written. I am even sadder for the blogger, who really enjoyed writing it.

We have had similar experiences in moving back to UK from France, and it all happened around the same time, so it has been nice to be able to compare the experience.

I moved back here last year, and I have not regretted the decision one little bit. I do not miss France at all. If you are retired, and have the money to live there comfortably then yes, I'm sure it's a very lovely life, and good for you if that's the case. However, if you are younger and trying to eke out a living then it's a damned hard place to live. I spent nine years trying to get a proper job, and that's with fluent French. I spent all that time doing bits and pieces and living a hand to mouth existence. It's not living, it's surviving. And while I do know that not everyone has that experience, most of the people I know and knew, did have that experience.

My daughter went to school in France, and I actually had a good experience of the education system. She left half way through CM2 having been there since she was 3. The education was good, the teachers were brilliant, and the food was top notch. She made excellent friends there, and is constantly in touch with most of them still, through msn and facebook. The only complaint I had was that it was all a little too "learn by rote" for my taste, and I hated the fact that all french school kids have exactly the same handwriting, leaving little room for personality or creativity to shine through. My daughter is now at a school in Scotland and loving every minute of it. The education system in Scotland has always been regarded as excellent, and it gives her the chance for that creativity to blossom. The school food is ok - not a patch on that in France - but not as bad as I had feared it might be. Vegetables do actually appear regularly on the menu, despite what many people may think.

I don't get why some people get a perverse thrill from slagging off the country of their birth? They come up with reasons - I think they're excuses - as to their hatred of Britain.

It's too cold, it's too expensive, people are so miserable, it rains all the time, it's all so built up, it's all ugly, there is nowhere beautiful, the food is dreadful and so on and so forth. France is wonderful, France is this, that and the bloody other - get over yourselves! Why do you feel the need to do this? Does it make you feel big and clever to do nothing but criticise the country from whence you came? Does it give you pleasure?

It drives me mad!

OK, I used to live in France. But that does not mean that I hated Britain. In fact, it's quite the opposite. I love it, particularly Scotland.

OK, the weather in Britain isn't that great. But it's not constantly bad. On a sunny day there is no place more beautiful than, for example, Somerset or the Highlands, or Devon. The autumn in Scotland is the most beautiful season - the colours are incredible. In France the summers are hot, the winters are cold. Simple. The countryside is not as green as in Britain, and this is due to less rain. So, either more rain and beautiful, lush green grass, or less rain and brown dull fields. The one thing I desperately missed in France was the greennesss of Britain. Ok, we have to put up with more rain, but it’s worth it to not have to look out of the window and see brown, drab fields.

Too expensive - don't make me laugh! Have you tried filling your car up with petrol in France recently? It's cheaper in Britain you know. I generally shop in Tesco or Asda and the great majority of products are cheaper than you would find in Leclerc or Carrefour. Yes, this is probably due to the weak pound, but that's not going to change any time soon. About the only thing I can find that is more expensive is cigarettes and wine. Apart from them, most things seem cheaper. OK, in UK there is very expensive council tax, but for most people in France it's not that much cheaper. So stop whinging that Britain is expensive because, if you do your research, you'll find that it ain't necessarily so.

People are miserable? Durr, there's a recession on you know. And it isn't just in Britain either. Jobs are no easier to find in France, in fact it's harder to find a job in France, especially in rural areas, which is where most expats settle! In UK, people can find jobs, if they are willing to do anything. But stacking shelves or cleaning is so below some people that they would rather be on the dole and sponge off the government. And that's good why exactly?

It's all so built up is it? Have you ever been to rural Hampshire? Or Somerset? Or Dumfries and Galloway? The cities are built up, the countryside isn't. You could say the same of France, which has many cities that are hugely bigger than those in UK. Every country has its beautiful parts - don't generalise on the basis of inner cities.

The food in France is, in my opinion, not much cop. It's fine if you like steak, duck, greasy duck or goose liver, or baked bean with sausages which is all that cassoulet is. I'd rather have the Heinz variety personally. I have no idea where France's reputation as a gastronomic nation has come from. Britain, on the other hand, has some delicious food, and no, it's not all swimming in grease. Steak and Ale pie is the food of the gods! I know that Britain has some wonderful food, because I used to cook it for a living.

Compared to Britain, France isn't so wonderful. The thing that is wonderful about it, is that people can move there, where nobody knows them, and completely reinvent themselves, which is what a lot of people do. They can be anything they want to be, and there is no one around to contradict them. The expat community can be great, but you have to be careful who you tell what to, because if there is an opportunity to stab you in the back, there are many people who will do so.

The amount of people with whom I keep in touch, I can count on one hand. The friends that count are the ones I have had for years. Most of the people I knew in France were fairweather friends. Out of sight, out of mind, and that's just fine.

To those people who say they are “living the dream” – how I loathe and detest that phrase – are you really? Is it really your dream, and who are you trying to convince? Why do you think that you have to justify your overseas life by bashing the UK? For most of us it’s something we’ve tried because we quite fancied it. For some it works, and for some it doesn’t. Don’t criticise those who have had the balls to admit they’ve made a mistake and decided to go home again. Because it doesn’t matter how long you’ve lived in France, never forget that Britain is still home (in fact many people still have a house there so they have a bolthole in case it does all go horribly wrong).

So what's my conclusion? France has its good points, but so does Britain folks. And don't forget that, because, for most of you, it is Britain that is still paying your pension, your winter fuel allowance and your health care. Don't criticise the country that is paying for you to live out your old age in another country.

And don't be afraid to be proud to be British, whether it is English, Scottish, Northern Irish or Welsh. Well, maybe I'll let you off if you're Welsh!! But be British and proud. We should accept and embrace our own culture and country, and be proud of where we come from, and not deny our own roots.

Your country is not awful, it's actually a pretty great place.

01 November, 2010

Introducing F

Ok, so for the last year or so (despite my absence of several months!) you’ve heard quite a bit about F. Well, he’s given me permission to use his name, not just his initial, so I’ll tell you a little more about him.

His name is Frazer, and we’ve been together for just over a year. We were actually at school together, and we went out for about three weeks at the end of 6th year, back in 1995. It wasn’t the romance of the century, we decided we were better as friends, both went off to separate universities and lost touch for years. We kind of got back in touch through Facebook two or three years ago, but never actually corresponded. It wasn’t until I came back up here last year that we spoke again.

You know the story of me losing my job at the pub in Cheltenham and coming back up north? Well, Joocey arranged a night out in Dumfries for that first weekend I was back, and she contacted Frazer on Facebook and invited him along. As luck would have it, he was down that weekend for his mum’s birthday anyway, so he said yes. We had a great night out, and got on brilliantly again. We arranged that I would go up to see him the following weekend for a Festival show and a night out in Edinburgh. He’d bought a bottle of Moet for when I arrived, which I was impressed with! We had a great evening, and a really lovely weekend together, and have been together ever since.

Frazer lives in Edinburgh, but is working in Glasgow at the moment, so he’s down here more weekends that I’m up there, mainly because it’s easier with Isla, and she can still go out and play with her mates here, whereas she gets quite bored in the flat in Edinburgh, so we have to try to organise stuff to amuse her. Also, from Glasgow, it’s just as easy for him to come down here as it is to drive back to Edinburgh on a Friday night. We see each other most weekends, although now and again we have a weekend off to do our own thing. I miss him like mad during the week, but on the other hand, it makes the weekends more special, and after a year we both still make the effort for each other. He and Isla get on amazingly well, which was a massive worry.

We’ve had a few little ups and downs, but, without wanting to tempt fate, I’m really happy at the moment.