It is a while since I last had the chance to sit and write this eagerly awaited column, what with the novel I am writing, the new website I am building, visiting customers in my new capacity as computer consultant, not to mention leaflet dropping and finding cheap, ie free marketing methods to scare up more customers.
On top of all this it rained for at least 10 seconds and the grass grew 3 feet immediately.
The point is that we have a great life here in France but the real world still has a habit of barging in. The simple fact is that the pound against the euro rate of exchange has dropped from about 1.45 euros to the pound in 2003 to not far from a euro and a pound being the same. You do not have to be a great mathematician to realise that if you are relying on pensions from the UK to live on, your income has dropped by almost a third.
Sadly this has meant that a fair few people including people we know and are friends of, having to give up their dream and sell up and move back to the UK, find jobs etc.
Fortunately France is still a lot cheaper to live in than the UK, providing you know what to look for. I know I have said it before but when you go to the supermarket here you buy whats fresh and on promo. For instance, our french neighbour has invited us to her birthday party on saturday, more of which later. We went to Evron to buy a present, next to the super U there is a shop which sells an amazing variety of things, from ornaments to vases, scented candles, sex costumes and paraphanalia, I kid you not, to guns, I nearly bought an uzi.
After making our purchases we went to the supermarket next door to buy dinner. Steak was good at 5 euros for 5, so we decided on steak and french fries. The lettuce was a snip, and it was iceburg which you do not often see in france and is my favourite. The fish counter was next, and the smell of the sea was unbelievable, not fishy just salty sea air.
Huge prawns were on promo so a kilo was quickly ordered and the crab was so cheap it made me almost want to cry and it was already cooked, I have been buying live crabs recently because they are even cheaper than cooked but I still feel a bit sad having to dispatch it first.
Strawberries were good at 2 euros for a half kilo punnet and a fresh pineapple was 95 centimes, bargain.
We also noticed that a 2007 Bordeaux was half price, well out of our price range normally but at less than 3 euros a definite must for the steak, a still hot baguette was scooped up and away we went.
So bearing in mind this was a wednesday our dinner was some prawns out of the kilo, the rest will freeze for future use, the crab claws and legs, the brown and white meat from the body I will have for thursday lunch, the lettuce and mayonnaise and a bottle of sparkling muscadet that we bought the saturday before at the princly sum of 85 centimes.
We then had frites, very thin chips with the steak which I had marrinated with fondue oil, flavoured with herbs, salade and mushrooms cooked on the george with the steak, the baguette, crunchy outside and fluffy inside, and the bordeaux. Strawberries and cream for pud, oh and the milka chocolate was on promo, 6 bars for 2 euros, so a bit of that with the coffee.
We have been entertaining recently and have been entertained, a 60th birthday party, a couple of dinner parties, we had a seventies themed dinner party on saturday, prawn cocktails, steak fondue, chocolate orange mousse, after eights.
Then this coming saturday lunch our french neighbours birthday party which is at a very posh place near Evron. If it is the one we think it is, it is beside a large lake and we once tried to get in but it was full. I will definitly be getting some photos for the next instalment.
So back to the grind, washing to hang out although the weather looks a bit ominous, then fight my way through the jungle and mow the lawn. Must check the vegetable patch as well, we had some really nice asparagus out of it on tuesday, it is a hard life.