Thursday, 29 December 2011

Social Life - part 2


I love the French custom of having aperitifs. You know exactly what is expected of you - you turn up about 6.30pm, have a couple of drinks and a few nibbles and then you're on your way home again for dinner by about 8.00pm. Occasionally you get invited for an after dinner drink and again you know exactly what is expected of you - you turn up about 8.30pm, have a couple of glasses of wine and some cake, then a piece of fruit, then coffee and Calvados. This is usually over by 10.30pm but can go on a lot longer!

After our first Soirée (see previous blog!), we invited the two French couples we met there for an aperitif at our house the following Friday. We served a selection of nibbles and offered them a choice of red, white or rosé wine. They looked a little confused at the choice of wine but drank it happily and one couple then invited all of us to their house the following week. That's when we found out where we'd gone wrong! The nibbles were fine - fairly standard - but we now know you don't offer wine as an aperitif. The usual choices are Kir, pastis, whisky or port, although there are many others to choose from. We now have a very comprehensive drinks cupboard!

Friends invited us, as we thought, for an aperitif one evening so we decided to have lunch out so that we didn't have to bother cooking when we got home in the evening. We went to the local bar and had a lovely four course lunch with red wine for Gerry and cider for me (all for 11€ each!). Having slept that off during the afternoon, we duly turned up at 6.30pm for our aperitif. It was immediately obvious that we'd got it wrong and we had actually been invited for dinner - gulp! While Alise carried on cooking, Paul took us along to have a look at his allotment, where we met a friend of his who immediately invited us to his nearby house for an aperitif. He poured us huge measures of pastis and added a teaspoonful of water. Before we were halfway through those, he insisted on topping us up "to finish the bottle". Our lips were rapidly going numb and the legs weren't working too well either.

Then the phone rang - it was Alise to say that dinner was ready and would Yannau please send us home. So we threw the remaining pastis down our necks and wobbled back to Paul's house. Alise of course had set out some nibbles and was now ready to sit down for an aperitif with us. Next came a superb four course meal with copious amounts of wine, followed by coffee and generous glasses of Calvados. By midnight, Gerry and I could barely speak English, let alone French! We left our car there and stumbled home, with many a detour into the ditch.

The moral of this tale? We now double check exactly what it is we're being invited to - our livers couldn't take many days like that!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Put on your dancing shoes

When I was young, I wanted to be a ballerina when I grew up. I nagged and nagged until finally I was allowed to go to ballet class. Naturally, I had visions of myself prancing around on points (pink naturally) in a pale pink, sparkly tutu with pristine white tights. The reality, of course, was somewhat different - plain white tunic and BLACK ballet shoes with white socks. Being a bit of a tomboy (despite the desire to be a ballerina!), I invariably had grubby knees - not quite the look I was hoping to achieve.
Miss Johnson's School of Ballet was in the centre of Edinburgh, which meant getting a bus by myself. The bus dropped me off right outside but coming home I had to cross a very busy main road to catch the bus. I had strict instructions not to try to cross the road by myself but to ask an adult to see me safely across. I must have been about 10 at the time - can you imagine telling a 10 year old these days to approach a stranger to see them across the road??!! Anyway, I survived - which is more than my ballet career did. Despite being an extremely skinny child, I was very heavy-footed and not at all supple and when I discovered it would be years before I could twirl around in the desired manner, I soon lost interest.
As a teenager, I loved going dancing but was always surprised that everyone was out of step with me. This happened in our Scottish country dancing classes in school too. What was wrong with everyone? My ex-husband used to enjoy dancing but his sense of rhythm was on a par with mine. We always looked as though we were dancing to totally different tunes. Story of our life together really!
When Gerry and I met, he wasn't at all keen on dancing. After a holiday in Malta watching couples who had obviously been to classes twirling effortlessly around the floor each evening, we decided that we really had to learn to dance. The only class I could find in our area was line dancing. Gerry wasn't remotely interested in that so I went by myself. At last I had found something I could do! I think I find line dancing easy because the steps are so precise, the music has a strong beat and, most importantly, I don't have to follow someone else.
Although I was really enjoying the line dancing, it still wasn't something we could do together so when we saw Swing-Jive/Lindy Hop classes starting up nearby, we signed up immediately. We both loved it from the start, especially since we love the music of the 40's and 50's. I have to say that we're not particularly good but we thoroughly enjoy it and we used to go to one or two classes every week and two or three dances a month.
Since moving to France, we haven't been able to find any classes or dances in our area. We've been to various parties and soirées where the odd Rock'n'Roll tune is played and we have been able to strut our stuff. However, more traditional dancing is popular over here, especially to accordion music so we're going to have to learn a whole new reportoire!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Facebook and email

This is going to be a bit of a rant but I must start by saying that I love Facebook. It helps me keep up with what is going on in friends' lives and it is an easy way to keep in touch and share photos, videos etc. Because of FB, I am back in contact with many people I had lost touch with and I think that is one of the great strengths of FB.

BUT! Am I the only person to find some postings offensive? You know the ones I mean - "if you have an angel in heaven looking out for you, post this as your status, even if only for one hour" (pass the bucket please!) or "I know who will repost this and if you don't, maybe you're too busy talking to your friends to care about our soldiers (or whatever)". I find that sort of posting truly offensive, some emotions are too private to be plastered over FB. I'm aware that by writing a blog, I'm parading some private emotions but I know that many people don't bother to read it (dear God - now I sound like one of those postings!) and those who do are generally people who are genuinely interested in what I have to say.

I'm sorry if I'm giving offence to anyone reading this who likes to post this sort of thing on FB but those of you who know me well know how I feel about it anyway.

...and as for those emails which promise bad luck (or even good luck!) if you don't pass it on within 5 minutes to the world and his wife, I always delete those immediately. I also loathe the emails which try to make you feel guilty if you don't pass them on. They're usually along the lines of "if you don't care about blah blah, you won't pass this on". Again, I delete them immediately. I have to say I don't get many of those any more as most friends know how strongly I feel about them and know that I never, ever pass on anything along those lines.

Finally, on FB do people really have 400+ friends? I don't think I've had that many friends and acquaintances in my whole life put together! Is it me? Am I just a grumpy old woman?